AN: Here it is: the end of Pint Sized. I've gotta admit this was a freakin' awesome story to write. Longer note at the bottom because I don't want to keep you guys from the story ;D
Big news spreads like wildfire in little towns. So it wasn't surprising to hear that the strange occurrence was the center of gossip the very next day. One of the EMTs that had been on the scene told his wife that night when he came home; she told her friend as they were dropping their kids off for daycare the next morning; her friend told the story to coworkers before their business meeting; each of those coworkers relayed the news through some form of text via phone or social networking site; and so and so forth until the town knew what happened
Or what they thought had happened.
By the time the news had spread, the details had become so convoluted that no one really knew the true story. Some said that the poor girl had been attacked, beaten unconscious, and left to freeze outside. Others concluded after finding out that she had been related to the infamous Eric Anderson that the crazy gene had just been given to her as well, and she had probably offed herself. And still others said that she had been mauled by a wild dog (where that came from, no one knew).
If it was even possible, the truth ended up being the strangest thing of all.
Starting with the phone call, the 911 operator on duty openly admitted that the unknown caller had been strange but nothing to worry about as he had just criticized the worker's choice over what emergencies were more important. The operator, having dealt with his fair share of strange calls, had simply shrugged that off for the caller's worry of his friend.
Then there was the low level sonic boom that the ambulance had run into about halfway up the cabin's driveway. It had freaked the driver out, and he had almost swerved off the drive from the force of it. It came and went within a brief second, and the EMTs had shrugged it off. They also did not put it in their report later because no one else mentioned feeling or even hearing the "sonic boom." They ultimately wrote it off as too much coffee.
When they reached the house, they automatically went to the backyard, as the caller had specified, prepared to assure some panicked man that there was nothing to worry about. Imagine their surprise at finding wood strewn around the yard and a barely smoking lawnmower in the background. After a quick investigation, they had found a woman slumped over by the grill with little action figures and the body of a small kitten bunched underneath it. The EMTs had not bothered to question it as they quickly focused on the unresponsive woman, packing her up into the ambulance and quickly taking her to the local hospital.
The doctors there had been just as stumped by her condition as the EMTs. Other than a nail in the heel of her foot, they could find nothing wrong with her. She was a perfectly healthy person for her age—everything functioning as it should have been, no foreign substances were found in her body after a blood test was ordered, there were no outward signs of struggle other than a few scraps and scratches mostly centered around her feet, and (after finding her medical records) no history of any illness or prescribed medication that would have caused her to just fall into the unconscious state she was in.
A brief investigation was launched when it was discovered that the living room and kitchen of the cabin had been ransacked in hopes of finding answers and inspiring more rumors to fly through the town. It was closed shortly afterwards due to lack of leads and on a request from the woman's father.
He proved to be, perhaps, the strangest piece to the whole story. It did not take long to find out who the woman had been due to the cabin she was found in and the help from the lawyer who came forth after hearing the news of her hospitalization. A brief phone call had brought the man and his tiny family to the little hospital where doctors gently gave him the prognosis. In all aspects, his daughter was fine. Her systems were functioning just fine; only requiring a feeding tube due to her comatose state to receive the nutrition that kept those systems going.
However, she was what the doctors classified as brain dead. As far as they could tell, there was no brain activity other than the section of her brain that controlled bodily function. The only thing keeping her body going was the feeding tube.
While a nurse kept the young boy occupied, the father wept over the state of his daughter while his wife comforted him in any way she could. He had just lost his oldest son little more than a month ago after years of regretful separation, and now the only thing keeping his only daughter alive was a flimsy tube inserted in to her stomach.
For the next few weeks, the tiny family of three moved into the cabin that the police had opened back up after officially closing their investigation. The wife cleaned up to keep herself occupied while their son investigated the house, and the father spent most of his time at the hospital at his daughter's bedside, praying for a miracle that would cause his daughter to open her eyes and chide him for not taking care of himself during those weeks.
A miracle never came, and it was not until he found his son playing with a familiar blue and red toy that he snapped out of his daze.
"Where'd you get that, Benjy?" he asked one morning before leaving the cabin for the hospital.
Benjy, or Benjamin as was his full name, looked up from the bowl of cereal he had been consuming and looked at the toy he had set up on the table beside it. "I found him outside with a lot of other toys." He bent down to pick up a few he had not been allowed to set up on the table and showed them to his father. "These two are bad guys from that movie that I like, but mama won't let me watch 'cause of the fightin' and that girl. This one looks like Optimus, but I'm not sure 'cause he aint got any flames or mouth. His arm falls off a lot, but mama said I could keep 'im. Oh! Look at this one daddy."
The man listened silently as his son began to explain the characters the toys represented. The red and white one was Ratchet because Ratchet was a doctor, and the toy changed into an ambulance. The pure red one was Ironhide for the simple fact that he had a big gun, and though Benjamin did notremember the Autobot ("'Cause that's the name of all the good guys.") very well, Ironhide always carried a big gun. They yellow one he pretended was Bumblebee though he knew that was not the right name, but his knowledge of the Transformers universe was limited to the movie, and the only yellow robot was Bumblebee. The one with the four on its chest was Jazz because of the "sunglasses" he wore. And on and on he went, making up new names and backgrounds for the toys he did not know of and reminding the older gentleman of a long forgotten past of another little boy who had exasperatingly and painstakingly explained to his father who each Transformer was. He regretted never taking the time to sit down and listen to that boy.
He was never an overly emotionally man, but in that moment he felt like hugging his only remaining child close and weeping as he finally came to terms with a decision that he had been fighting against since learning of his daughter's hospitalization.
His wife looked upset as he explained to her later what he was going to do and attempted to protest, but he just sighed in a resigned manner. "Ariel, sweetie, as much as it pains me to do it, I can't just let Vicky lay there for the rest of her life. Remember that day that all I did was pace 'round the house?" She nodded, and he sighed while running a hand through his thinning hair. "I had been talkin' to her earlier that day, and she said somethin' that got me feelin' uneasy. She told me that if anythin' happened to her for me to not dwell on it. To move on with my life and take care of you and Benjy 'cause you two needed me more."
Ariel looked at him with pained blue eyes. "And you think this is how you move on?"
He tightly squeezed his eyes shut and nodded. "You heard the doctors. There really aint no chance of her waking again, and I don't want my baby girl to spend the rest of her life as a vegetable. I know for a fact that Vicky woulda never wanted that. She was like her mama, and her mama refused to be put in that kinda state even if it gave her a few more years 'cause that aint living."
It was not as simple as snapping his fingers and having it all over. He stalled for a few more days, still hoping for a last minute miracle and weeping when one did not come. When he spoke with the doctor and informed him of the decision that had been made, he locked himself in that hospital room with no one else except his daughter and came out hours later, dried tear streaks under his reddened eyes that held a grimly resigned look.
By the end of the week Victoria Shay Anderson was officially pronounced dead and her strange story was promptly forgotten by the gossips. However, the memory of the young, independent woman and her estranged brother lived on in their father, who passed down those fond memories to a little boy who would never meet his siblings.
The first thing she noticed was the strange feeling of suspension. It was like floating on her back in a pool only she did not have to worry about the water sneaking its way up her nose. It reminded her of the last time she had stepped foot in a pool when she was ten. Except she had the feeling she did not have to worry about Eric trying to be "funny" and dragging her under the water. No more swimming for Victoria after that.
Wait a minute…why would she be floating? The last thing she remembered was talking to her dad, then finding the living room a mess…the pain of having a nail jabbed up her foot…something with Skywarp and shocking…Wheeljack!
Victoria's eyes snapped open as the recent events came spiraling back. For a moment, she had to wonder if her brain was sending the right signals to her eyes. She rapidly blinked, bringing her hands up to her face to make sure they were opening. She was surrounded on all sides by one thing: darkness. Inky, black darkness. And it scared it her in a way that nothing else had ever done.
That serene floating feeling was not so relaxing anymore, and Victoria begin to thrash around, looking for something, anything, to grab on to. Wherever she was, there was no up or down, left or right. There was nothing. She could not even see the hands the she was flailing about.
Finally, Victoria stopped, panting from the exertions of her actions and just looked straight ahead. Slowly, she turned her head from right to left, trying to keep the slowly building panic she felt under control. "Wheeljack?"
The woman flinched as her voice somehow echoed through the empty space around her, but that was the only response she got. "Bluestreak? Skywarp? Optimus! Where are you guys?"
The panic she had been attempting to deflect surged through her, and she twisted around, almost pulling her hair out as she tried to keep her hands busy despite the fear she was feeling. "Anybody? Dammit, I'll even take Starscream right now!"
The only sound now was her frantic panting, and her mind struggled to figure out what was going on. "Okay, okay! M-maybe I'm just asleep! This is all a dream." Her reasoning did not help with her panic or the faint pain that was emitting from her chest. "Dammit, you don't feel pain in dreams!"
She curled up on herself, arms wrapped around her knees as she floated in space. The pain in her chest increased as she felt the overwhelming urge to cry as her emotions reached their peak. She had never felt so helpless, so confused, so utterly alone before. She did not like the void she had been propelled into via the Dimension Bridge. She should have at least been with the others, right? They had been together when the device went off—where were they now? This was the fate that Prowl had been attempting to make her choose?
And what was the deal with her heart feeling it was about to rip in half? It was like having a hook impeded into each side, both of them tugging in opposite directions. One of the pulls, the stronger one, was prompting her to what she would consider her right (if she had any sense of direction in this fathomless abyss); the other, much weaker than the first, was urging her to the left. Each pull was playing a vicious game of tug-of-war that made her feel like she was about to rip in half.
Victoria choked on a sob as the pain became almost unbearable. And she thought the worst pain she would ever have to endure was the one time when she broke her leg in two places when she was six! "Please, I don't wanna be here. I don't wanna be alone. I'll even go to Cybertron if it gets me out here!"
For a split second, she did not feel so alone. In fact, she felt the overwhelming presence of another, one that felt greatly concerned while at the same time emitting guilt. Instinctively, she tried to grab hold of that odd presence, but of course, she did not understand how to. By the time she figured out that it wasn't something she could physically grasp, the presence had been shut out and attempting to find it once more was like running into a reinforced steel wall.
The next few moments had her gasping in pain as a searing burn flashed through her, taking that wall along with it and making her feel disturbingly empty. Victoria balanced in that air of nothing for a moment, trying to figure out what had happened before realizing that that tugging feeling she had experienced had vanished. The weaker pull was gone while the stronger one, which she vaguely realized was more than one "presence" woven together like a rope, wrapped around her and tugged her in the same direction it had been pulling earlier.
Without the other "hook" urging her in the opposite direction, Victoria was able to focus on one direction, allowing herself to be pulled along. She blinked at the sudden appearance of a small pinprick of light, and struggled to twist around and reach for it. She wanted out of this dead place, and dammit, she wasn't about to let a chance to do just that pass her by! Wherever it took her, she did not care. The rope pulling her around was taking her in that direction, and that was all the prompting she needed.
It was difficult to maneuver because she was basically running (more like swimming actually) on air, but the light slowly grew from a little orb until it was the only thing that filled her vision. Without a second thought, the young woman reached out as if to grasp the light in her hands and felt a sudden pressure surrounding her before blacking out.
"Vicky, sweetheart, it's time to wake up!"
Victoria felt a hand gently shake her as another just as gently combed through her hair. For a moment, she basked in the gentle ministrations and the softness that surrounded her before the annoying shaking returned, making her squeeze her eyes tightly shut. Why couldn't the shaking just go away? She wanted to sleep! "Sweetie, it's time to wake up. You can't just sleep all day!"
Victoria tensed at the painfully familiar voice. Well obviously she was dreaming now. Why couldn't her subconscious let her rest in peace? And what was with the freaking shaking? Seriously, it was more annoying than having Swoop poke her in the cheek until she woke up!
"Mom, hurry up! Our shows are about to come on!"
"I'm trying Eric, but you know how deep of a sleeper your sister is."
Victoria's eyes snapped open, and it took her a few precious seconds to focus on the person within her line of vision. Shock coursed through her, and the only thing she could do was gap at the woman beside her.
Her mother chuckled at her, the bright smile that she remembered so clearly from her childhood beaming down at her. "What's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost!"
"I told you not to let her watch that ghost movie," her father's voice commented as his heavy steps passed by the room. "She's too young to be watchin' that junk."
"Nu uh, ghosts are cool," the second voice commented. "Casper wasn't scary anyways!"
"Then why have you been jumping at every little thing for the last month, boy?"
Victoria struggled from the comforter to gap at the little blonde boy huffing in the doorway. Eric noticed her gaze upon turning back around and a smile brightened his face. "Come on Vicky! We're gonna miss our show and today's episode is brand new!"
The mother smiled as her oldest child ran off and turned back to the youngest when she felt faint touches along her shirt. "What's wrong baby?"
"You're really here?" Victoria asked, noticing how small and childlike her voice sounded as her equally small hand rubbed the sleep from her eyes. When she looked back up, she found that the vision of her mother was still there. "It's not a trick, is it? A dream?"
"Of course I'm here sweetie," her mother said with a light chuckle as she combed her fingers through Victoria's messy raven hair. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Victoria sniffed. The sight of her mother, a woman who had been dead for nearly twelve years, was playing all sorts of tricks with her emotions. She did not know whether to laugh, cry, or write it all off as some hallucination. And by the small tint of sadness that the older woman tried so hard to hide, but could easily be seen now that Victoria knew what to look for, this must have been around the same time her grandfather had passed away. That would make her eight years old. What was going on?
"Here," her mother started, standing up from the bed and moving over to dig a pair of shorts and a random t-shirt out of the dresser that was standing against the wall not far from her. "Why don't you get dressed, and I'll go down and whip you and you brother up a batch of pancakes?" After placing the two articles of clothing on the foot of the bed, she bent down to kiss her daughter on the top of her head. "Don't keep your brother waiting for long. He was really excited about seeing that new episode!"
Victoria blinked as the woman smiled and left the room. Now alone, she took the time to examine the room from the bed she sat on, still dazed by the sudden events. She could only vaguely remember what her childhood room looked like but the purple walls were definitely remembered as well as the hissy fit she had thrown when her parents had tried to paint it pink. Her walls were covered with Eric's pictures, and she briefly skimmed over them to scan the trinkets that were lined up on her dresser—the little angels that she had received on every birthday up until her mother's death (eight was the highest number, her mind subconsciously catalogued), Beanie Babies that mostly included cats, and a simple lamp that any child could turn on.
Her eyes finally landed on the piece of furniture directly across from her bed, and she froze. It was a simple vanity set, no cause for alarm, that held a little jewelry box, piggy bank, and a scattering of little Polly Pockets that looked as if they had been haphazardly thrown up there the day before. But none of that interested Victoria as she climbed out of the bed and slowly walked over to it, keeping a close eye on the little girl the mirror reflected back at her. Her hair looked like a bird's nest, she was dressed in a Disney princess nightgown, and there were random Band-Aids up and down her arms and legs that signified a child who liked to play hard.
She reached out and touched image with wide grey eyes. "This can't be me. I'm twenty five years old—a woman! What is going on?" She brought her hand back to her side and studied them both with a critical eye, finding her usually perfect nails bitten down to the skin and a couple of scars on the palms of her hands from playing too hard. "Was –was that all a dream?"
"Hey, sleepy head!" Victoria twirled around to see Eric—her brother!—peeking around the doorjamb to look at her. "What's takin' so long? Are ya gonna look in the mirror all day or what?"
Despite her confusion, Victoria could not resist the smile that bubbled up from within her. Eric had always been impatient to get to his cartoons on Saturday mornings. It was a ritual that they would wake up at the earliest time possible and sit down in front of the TV, enjoy a plate of pancakes made special by their mom, and become absorbed with what they watched that day. Afterwards, probably around lunchtime, they would run into the backyard and reenact anything that had caught their interest and begin a storyline for the next episode that would keep them busy until supper.
"Come on!" he moaned impatiently after realizing all his sister was going to do was stand there and dopily smile at him. "Iron Man's coming on next, and I don't wanna miss anything!"
Victoria's smile suddenly fell. Iron Man? Eric had never been interested in superheroes like that… "What about The Transformers? Does that still come on?"
It was Eric's turn to look at her with confusion as he stepped fully into the room. "The Transformers? What's that?" He suddenly scowled and put his hands on his narrow hips. "Have you been watching the cartoons after dark? Daddy says we can't watch those Vicky!"
Victoria frowned as she stepped up to her brother and stared directly into his face. This behavior was odd for little Vicky, and her brother looked surprised that she could stare so critically at him, like how their mom did when she knew they were lying about something. "You've never heard of it? What about Ratchet? Megatron? Optimus Prime?"
Eric shook his head and looked at his little sister with worry. "No, I've never heard of those." Victoria almost pouted as he put a hand on her forehead. "Are you okay? Do I need to get mama? Or maybe you just dreamed all that up? Yeah, it musta been a dream." The little blond missed his sister's torn expression as his head whipped around at the sound of their mother calling them. "Oh boy, pancakes are done! Last one there is rotten egg!"
Victoria did not bother to chase after him as he dashed out of the room. She looked back at the mirror, her eyes scanning the image that it reflected back. Had it really just been a dream?
A faint and brief tugging in her chest told her otherwise, but Victoria was at a lost for what to believe at this point.
The next few weeks were not only physically draining but also emotionally taxing. For one, Victoria had forgotten the last time she had played so hard. Eric kept her busy with his many imaginative games. One day, they would be Spiderman and his amazing friend, the next they would take a break from superheroes and army crawl across the yard as Joes (which was funny when she finally stopped to think about it. G.I. Joe belonged to Hasbro, so where were the Transformers?). It was ridiculously fun, and Victoria loved to spend the time with her brother even if it meant collapsing on her bed at the end of the day with aches and pains in places that she never knew existed.
The emotional part was not as fun. With her new perspective of basically being a twenty five year old in a child's body, it amazed Victoria at how much she had overlooked as a kid. Her mom was suffering even as she smiled so brightly for her children, and their mother's depression was taking a toll on their dad too. Victoria now understood the muted conversations she stumbled across, and she silently cried right along with her mother as the woman broke down in privacy.
Not only did she understand her mother's depression more clearly, she was also struggling with an inner turmoil of her own. There was no denying that her past experience was real. It would be like a person trying to deny who they were. Victoria was still mentally an older Victoria, no matter what age she looked like on the outside. It was hard sometimes to just let go and be a kid again, and she realized that her tiny family was noticing the struggle because they constantly asked if she was alright. She would just smile and answer positively before retreating back to her inner thoughts.
There was also the issue of what she was feeling inside that she could not necessarily explain. There were multiple times when the Tugging (as she had officially dubbed it) would occur, kind of like it was trying to ask "Are you there?" There were multiple nights when Victoria would lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling and attempting to answer the pulls and sometimes smiling in victory as she managed to do just that it.
There were three distinct presences that she had been able to identify whenever they appeared—one was the one that asked the "Are you there?" question and seemed to be getting stronger as the days passed; one of them was slightly weaker and usually appeared when she was feeling overwhelmed by pretending to be an ignorant, happy-go-lucky child and somehow teased her back into a good mood; another was barely there at all but often accompanied the second one and stuck around a little while longer to make sure she was fine before abruptly shutting her out again. There was a fourth one too, but it was completely sealed off as if to block her out.
Victoria would often feel the phantom pain of the one that had disconnected from her in what she theorized was the gap between dimensions Wheeljack had worried over every once in a while. It often came in the wake of the others, but it was slowly fading away as the days passed. Victoria felt as if she should not allow it to fade, but she had a hard time figuring out how to hold onto it. It was hard enough just to learn how to respond to the others.
One night after successfully responding to the presence that had been growing stronger every day, she asked herself why she was even attempting to answer it back. The question had rattled around in her head throughout the next day, until she was once again in bed, feeling the tugs. She had finally countered the question with another: why not? It wasn't making her crazy; if anything, it was probably what kept her sane. They were a constant reassurance as she tried to acclimate to her new life.
But she was also constantly worried. What had happened to the others? Had they made it back home? Were the stuck in a place like she was, having to pretend that they were someone they weren't? Were they—she shuttered at this thought—stuck back in that dark place that she had been in for a brief amount of time?
Questions like those were constantly plaguing her, and it got to the point when her parents started questioning what was wrong and a simple smile did not deter them. Even right now they were talking about doctors that Victoria really did not need at the moment. The last thing she wanted was to be considered crazy at such a young age (and talking about alien robots would have gotten her labeled as such), so she just dealt with her own worries in private and tried to behave normally in front of everyone.
It was the only thing she could do.
Victoria was not in any type of mood to play with her brother that day. Eric had come up to her room earlier to try and coax her into coming into the backyard to play soccer with him and Buddy ("Steeljaw," she would constantly substitute anytime she saw the lovable dog). The woman-turned-child had turned him down in favor of sitting at her vanity/desk and writing in what one would label a "diary." It wasn't so much a book to document her everyday life in, but she did use it as a way to vent whatever she was feeling that could not be expressed to anyone else. Like how much she missed seeing the mechs every day.
She suddenly sneezed, and it was strong enough to make her drop the pen she had been holding. Well. That was strange. Normally, she was able to anticipate sneezes and keep herself from completely soiling the paper she was writing on.
"Hey girly." The little girl turned to see her dad standing in the doorway, one hand casually resting on the doorjamb. "Me and your brother are gonna go greet the new neighbors. Why don't you come with us."
Quite frankly, Victoria did not care about who had moved into the house across from them. She had not even glanced at the house when the first car had started appearing in the driveway and only knew that the family might have been rich because the topic of one of the family's supper conversations had been the description of three different vehicles that her dad had witnessed coming and going from the house. But she could hear the subtle order in her father's voice and figured that he just wanted to get her out of the house. Either way, the suggestion was non-negotiable.
With a sigh, Victoria hoped off of the chair and attempted to merrily skip over to her father. It failed when she tripped on thin air, but it also caused her father to chuckle, so it ended up being okay in her book. Her tiny hand was encompassed by his large, calloused one, and they trudged down the stairs together to meet her impatient brother by the door. She allowed him to grasp her other hand and roughly swing it between them as all three of them crossed the street to meet the family that had moved in across from them.
Lucky for them, their new neighbor was already outside hauling strange parts out of the back of his white pickup truck. Victoria noted the odd green decals that stretched along the side of the truck and paid little attention to her father as he greeted the stranger with a loud and cheerful, "Howdy new neighbor!"
None of them had any idea how it happened, but one moment Victoria was reaching out to touch the strangely familiar designs and the next she was swept up into a surprisingly strong pair of arms and almost squeezed to death. "You were so adorable when you were tiny!"
Victoria gagged as the man unknowingly strangled her while commenting on her "cuteness." Her dad and brother watched in silent shock from the sidelines, not knowing what to do, until Eric asked, "Dad, why is he choking Vicky?"
The little girl was released as quickly as she had been snatched up, and the man took a few steps back, waving his hands in apology. "Sorry, sorry. It's just you're daughter's adorable. I only have…sons and always wanted a daughter."
Victoria noticed the brief flash of grief when the man mentioned his sons but dismissed it as she examined him. She needed to know what the man who had strangled her, whether by accident not, looked like so that she could avoid him in the future if she needed to.
His overall appearance was…chaotic. From head to toe there seemed to be something out of place. His curly black hair was frazzled and sticking out from his head in an almost comical way, a pair of goggles keeping it out of his face from where they were strapped around his head, which held twinkling dark blue eyes and a scratch or two that did nothing to distract from the jovial smile that spread across his tanned, handsome face. The once white lab coat he wore was stained with all sorts of colors or blackened spots and covered a dark green button up shirt that was tucked into brown khakis on one side while the other side was haphazardly sticking out. Those khakis were stuffed into brown boots that were scuffed and showed signs of just falling apart on the spot.
There was no doubt in her mind that she would ever forget this man's "nutty professor" appearance.
The stranger began to animatedly speak to her father, introducing himself as Jack, stating the reason for their move (apparently he had taken a position at the local high school as a chemistry teacher), ad describing his two boys, both of whom he assured would most likely be best friends with Victoria and Eric by the end of the day.
"Not likely," Victoria thought to herself with a scrunched up nose and noticed how her brother was zooming out, his eyes darting around as he searched for something, anything, to entertain him while the adults set up play dates. The familiar tugging suddenly appeared, as it often did during odd times of the day, except this time it had morphed from questioning tugs to a tout pull, as if to command "Come here!"
Victoria whipped her head around, her long, ebony hair slapping her cheek from the force of the turn. The pull urged her in that direction, and she spared a glance at the three males before creeping along the driveway that weaved around to the back of the house. She spared a few more glances over her shoulder until she could no longer be seen.
The pull momentarily morphed into confusion before transforming into excitement. It gave her the impression of someone jumping around, waving his hands in the air, and yelling "Here, here!" Victoria examined her surroundings, finding an overgrown backyard that looked as if it had not been cut for years (not surprising since, according to her parents, no one had lived there for a while). The grass tickled her scrawny calves as she walked through it. Her eyes landed on the carport that the driveway led too, and she tilted her head as she headed towards it.
Two more cars were located underneath it, one that had a slick blue and red paintjob and another that seemed ordinary in comparison, but both were the same model. It was the latter of the two—the solid grey car—that caught her attention and drew her in.
The feeling inside, the one that was not her own, made her feel as if she was about to burst with joy as the little girl carefully touched the part of the car above the back wheel She dragged her hand along the side as she walked towards the hood of the vehicle, trying to figure out why it looked familiar.
It was on the tip of her tongue when she reached the front and someone suddenly jumped out from nowhere. "Victoria!"
The little girl released a shrill scream, making the boy who appeared to be the same age as her take a step back in shock. Both of the cars under the port jolted, but that went unnoticed as Victoria allowed the eight-year old instincts that had come with her new body to propel her out of the port and to the front of the house.
All that mattered at the moment was that "Big Victoria" had watched one too many horror movies and people jumping out at you was never a good thing. There was no room for logic or calming down and assessing the situation. She was scared, and according to the unwritten laws of children, daddy was always able to keep her safe. So she sprinted to the front yard while yelling "Daddy!" and collided with his legs, ignoring the looks she had gained from her actions.
After the initial surprise, Victoria's dad knelt down and attempted comfort his freaked out daughter. "Now calm down. What happened, and what were you even doing back there?"
Victoria chose to ignore the second question and pointed towards the house. "Somebody jumped out at me!"
Eric snickered at hearing the reason, and Victoria glared in his direction. Her dad sighed as Jack rubbed the back of his head with an apologetic smile. "Well, I'm sure that's not the way my, uh, son wished to meet you."
Victoria received a pat on the head before her dad forced her to let go and face the boy that had chased after her, who had been joined by a second boy closer to Eric's age. The little boy looked back at her with repentant, luminescent, blue eyes, his messy, golden blond hair falling in front of those pretty eyes. Victoria glared at him with heavy suspicion, not swayed by his baby face or the apologetic tug she was getting at the moment. She viciously blocked the last thing out and thought it was strange that the boy in front of her noticeably flinched.
"I'm sure he didn't mean to," her father was repeating, and she turned to glare at him as well. How could he be so casual when she had just had a mini-heart attack? "What's your name son?"
"Blake," he said slowly, as if testing the name out for the first time. He nodded at his father in approval and went back to smiling at Victoria. "I'm Blake, and I hope you can forget that back there. I really didn't mean to scare you; I was just excited to see you agai...er, see another person my age again. My dad usually picks neighborhoods to live in that only have really old people. Not that being old is bad or anything. It's just a little harder to make friends."
Victoria glanced between her neighbors—the crazy dad, the cherub devil in disguise, and the kid that was staring at her brother with a strangely vacant expression. Was she the only one that noticed how they emphasized stuff, like the status they held in their little family unit? Wasn't it the least bit strange that they sounded like they had never introduced themselves? Wasn't anyone suspicious as to why none of them even looked alike, let alone related?
Apparently not because her dad chuckled at the kid's long winded speech before turning back to Jack, and Eric was currently making friends with the still strangely empty faced older boy. Blake shuffled in front of her, suddenly shy, but her suspicion just grew. The tugging had turned into apologetic tugs, and that was when she decided that she had had enough for the day. "Daddy, I don't feel good. I'm gonna go see what mama's doing."
Her dad nodded and went back to talking to the other man, and Victoria ignored the sad and hurt expression on Blake's face as she turned around and headed back to her house. Even if she had not been overly suspicious of them, Victoria just was not ready to make friends in her age group. It was hard enough to pretend around her family; she did not feel like extending that to outsiders yet.
For the next week, Victoria conveniently forgot about the tiny family across street. She stuck to the little schedule she had created: get up, eat breakfast, play hard with Eric until lunch, eat, spend time with her mom that mostly involved sitting beside her while watching her arrange the current wedding she was hired for, have some time for herself, eat supper, spend time with her dad in front of the TV, go to bed and stay up as long as she could playing with the tugs that were still insistent yet had a sad underlining to them now, and fall asleep to start the cycle all over again the next day. Very boring but somehow contentedly reminiscent of her old life.
She would have been happy to remain blissfully ignorant of her neighbors. Of course, the crackpot dad had to go and blow up his backyard.
Victoria had been in her own backyard with Eric, playing a little skit that involved the X-Men today, when it happened. Both of them had freaked out at the explosion and ran to the front to see their mom dashing out onto the front porch, phone in hand and most likely calling the house where their dad had been scheduled to finish constructing an underground pool. They all froze at the sight of a small mushroom cloud drifting upwards from the backyard of the house across the street.
"Oh my God," her mom gasped, changing her plans and swiftly punching three keys on the phone. "I hope no one's been hurt."
Eric gaped at the dispersing cloud of smoke as he tried to calm their barking dog. "What just happened?"
Victoria snapped out of her shock and dashed across the street, ignoring her mother's frantic yells. Even if the family was screwed up, she was not about to stand on the sidelines when one of them could be severely hurt. Besides, she had learned a lot on how to deal with explosions with Wheeljack around the house.
Her mom was still yelling when Victoria swerved around the corner of the house and froze. Well…the grass was now short…and on fire! Her first instinct was to find a hose and fast before the whole yard went up in flames. The search yielded a water spigot jutting out of the house, and she rushed over to it even as the grinding of metal and gears caught her attention. She slowed to a stop and stared wide eyed as a familiar mech bent over to stay hidden behind the house and pat the ground to put out the relatively small fire compared to his size. "Well, that didn't work out the way I wanted it to. Guess that means it's back to the drawing board."
Her jaw worked up and down as the mech remained unaware of her presence, facial fins flashing lightly as he muttered to himself. She finally snapped her mouth closed, and she took one step forward. "Wheeljack?"
The engineer froze and looked up to finally notice the little girl. His fins brightened in his grinning way, and he abandoned the smoldering patch of grass to crouch down as close to the ground as he could in front of her. "It's about time you visited. We were starting to get worried that you were shunning us."
Victoria surprised him by reaching out and lightly touching his blast mask. "Is it really you?"
"Of course it is! Who else could explode so wonderfully?" He gently poked her with a finger twice her size. "Are you, you? Bluestreak got pretty upset when you shut him out, but I guess he got over it because you opened back up the same night."
She stared at him in bewildered surprise, blinking as the distant sound of sirens began to register through her shock. Wheeljack looked towards the sound as well and sighed. "Great. I've gotta sweet talk the firefighters again. Can you believe that this has happened over a dozen times since we touched down on Earth seven years ago? I was happy when our neighbors started ignoring us."
Victoria watched as Wheeljack stepped back and began to fold in on himself, armor shifting to fit together like a puzzle until a white pickup truck with green stripes on the sides sat in front of her. The driver's door opened and out popped the crazy father, dusting off his shirt and straightening his coat. He looked up and smiled, and she could easily see that grin on the real Wheeljack's face if he had not always had it covered. "How do I look?"
"You look like you just exploded," she answered truthfully.
"Great! Maybe they'll go ahead and catch on that this will be a common occurrence," he said gleefully as he walked towards her. The smile dropped a little when he made it over to her, and he carefully placed his hands on the top of her shoulders. "We really need to speak once all the hysteria settles down."
"I don't think my mom will let me come back over after this," Victoria answered automatically as her mind was still trying to catch up. This was unbelievable. Wheeljack was living across the street from her…oh dear God. That meant the neighborhood might not be standing for much longer.
Wheeljack patted her on the shoulders, ignoring the sudden look that her epiphany had spread across her face. "Well, sneak out later or something. Tonight around twelve? Not many humans are up past that time, so it should be safe for us to talk one-on-one, and Bluestreak should be back by then."
Victoria automatically looked over at the carport and noticed that the two cars that had been sitting under it the other day were missing. It was then that the name Wheeljack had said so casually finally registered with her. That would explain why the grey car had looked so familiar—it had looked like a slightly updated version of Bluestreak's alt-mode. So since the crazy dad popped out of Wheeljack, then…oh no.
Guilt washed over her as she finally realized what she had done over a week ago. She had inadvertently shunned Bluestreak the first day they had "met" and continued to do so by acting busy whenever the neighbor boys came over to play. No wonder "Blake" had looked so hurt.
Seeing her guilt written so plainly on her face, Wheeljack patted the top of girl's head while listening to the emergency vehicles skid to a stop in front of his house. "Hey now, Blue understands. You didn't know it was us."
Victoria sniffled as the urge to cry overcame her, whether from joy or guilt. While she did continue to feel remorseful for her actions, she was overjoyed by the fact that Wheeljack and Bluestreak were living across from her. She was not as alone as she had felt before, and maybe they could explain what had happened.
Her questions were put off though as two firefighters ran around the house with her mother not far behind. Victoria was shuffled back over to her house as Wheeljack began to explain what had happened in his cheerful way, getting a dressing down by the lead firefighter about the danger of handling explosive materials and inciting panic throughout the neighborhood. Eric was eager to hear from her what she had seen, but Victoria was too preoccupied with the thought of the planned meeting that night to pay much attention to him.
Victoria glared at her bedroom door as she shuffled from foot to foot, tugging on the oversized shirt she had thrown over her two piece nightgown as soon as she had been sure her parents had fallen asleep. On the nightstand beside her, a digital clock, which she had requested during a shopping trip instead of the ritual toy, flashed five minutes before midnight. She took a deep breath. It was now or never. All she had to do was open the door and sneak out of the house.
There was only one problem to that simple task: she had never snuck out of the house before. Even as a teenager, she had never felt the need to. Although that stemmed from the fact that she never had anywhere to sneak out to, but she decided to ignore that fact. She was a grown woman; she could sneak out of the house…so why was it so hard for her to even open her own door?
"Screw it," she finally decided, reaching for the doorknob and turning it slowly. "If I get in trouble, I get in trouble. The worst they can do is ground me, but I don't think you ground kids as young as I am. You take away a favorite toy or TV privileges, and I can survive that. You also break their trust in you for the rest of your adolescent life, but hey, that's a small price to pay." She paused creeping down the stairs. "Well, that thought didn't help."
Victoria made it to the front door without attracting any attention, having a mini-panic attack along the way when she realized her dad was laid up in his favorite chair in the living room snoring as the channel he had been watching lit up the otherwise dark room. She cringed as the door squealed open and glanced over her shoulder as she waited a few precious seconds, expecting her dad to suddenly appear and start questioning her.
Once she had closed the door behind her, the girl dashed across the dimly lit street, trying to stay in the circle of light the street lamps provided to avoid feeling smothered by the darkness around her, and automatically ran to the back of Wheeljack's house. She had been expecting them to be up and waiting for her, so she was vaguely surprised to see their choice of alt-mode sitting quietly in or beside the carport, looking for all the world like ordinary vehicles.
"I imagined the whole thing," Victoria concluded after staring at the two vehicles for a couple of minutes. She suddenly noticed how dark it appeared in the backyard and felt a panicked flutter go through her. "I am going crazy. Maybe I should go talk to those doctors…"
The pickup suddenly rumbled to life and began to break apart and form the shape of the bulky mech it really was, his headlights flashing on to illuminate the yard. Wheeljack stretched for a moment, hidden noisily gears grinding together. "Primus, I never thought staying in vehicle mode would be so taxing on my old gears." He rubbed his elbow joint before noticing Victoria standing off to the side watching him. "Oh! You're early."
Victoria ducked her head, suddenly feeling shy for some reason. It was like meeting them all over again with the size reversal. She felt a searing flash of excitement and anticipation before the car rolled out from under the carport and began shifting parts. Soon a familiar face was bent down beside her, the red chevron prominent on his helm and periwinkle blue optics flashing with excitement as he stared down at her tiny form. "I'm so sorry for scaring you earlier! I really didn't mean to, but I didn't think before turning the holomatter generator on. I was just so happy to see you again, and I couldn't transform without giving myself away, and I'm so sorry!"
The shyness she felt slipped away as she reached up to touch the face that towered over her. "I'm sorry too. I didn't mean to shut you out or anything. You and Wheeljack were just acting so weird."
"But we've been perfecting our human act for seven years now!" Wheeljack said, sounding like he was pouting. "Your dad didn't seem bothered."
"That's because guys don't notice things like women do," Victoria pointed out, giggling as Bluestreak poked her in the side with a tiny shock that made her giggle louder. He looked surprised by how small she really was up next to him. "The third guy was just creepy. You should tell him to work on actually looking and acting like something more than a mannequin."
"Smokescreen's experimenting with something along the lines of first impressions," Wheeljack explained, carefully crouching down close by and seeming to not want to interfere with her and Bluestreak's reunion. "He's interested in seeing how they play a part in human relationship development. I tried telling him it was the same way with us, but he doesn't seem to believe it."
"Whatever impression he made, my brother seems to almost love him," the little girl answered with an eye roll. "It's 'Shawn this' and 'Shawn that.' I've had to tune him out a lot of times."
Wheeljack chuckled before growing serious. "How have you been adjusting?"
Victoria shrugged as Bluestreak sat down in front of her. "I'm okay. It was weird the first few days, but I've grown used to it over the last two months."
Bluestreak tilted his head while Wheeljack looked astonished. "You've only been here for two human months?" She nodded, wondering about the engineer's shock and the fact that Bluestreak looked as if he had already known. Wheeljack rubbed his right fin in frustration. "Even if Optimus hadn't specifically ordered me to put the idea of the Dimension Bridge to rest, I wouldn't have tampered with it again. None of this is making sense, and it's annoying the pit outta me!"
Victoria hesitated before moving to the engineer, placing a tiny hand on his bulky leg armor. "What doesn't make sense?"
"A lot of things," he said exasperatedly as he reached down to pick her up. She gasped at the loss of stability and grasped the finger he curled around her to ensure she would not fall off and splatter to her death. "For one, all of us were plopped down at different times in this dimension. As far as I know, Optimus, Ratchet, and Ironhide 'woke up' around the same time a little before the war began. The original Jazz here suffered grievous injuries on a mission, and when Ratchet brought him back online, it was our Jazz, wondering what was going on and why he was already sprawled on the Hatchet's work table. Prowl, Red Alert, the Twins—they showed up at some of the oddest times."
"I came online right after Praxus fell," Bluestreak supplied quietly, his door-wings slumped. "At least I didn't have to witness that again."
Wheeljack looked at him with an air of sympathy before continuing. "We were starting to get worried that you might have been lost like-" He cut off abruptly, and Victoria thought that she saw something glint on the edge of his optics before it vanished. The engineer shook his helm and continued. "But the mech's that had forged bonds with you assured us that you were still there. They could feel your presence over the bond, but they couldn't pinpoint where you were."
Victoria allowed her brows to furrow in confusion. "What bonds? I didn't 'bond' with anyone…what are bonds?"
The Autobots looked surprised by her question for a moment before realizing that, as a human, Victoria really was not aware of what bonds were. Victoria vaguely remembered Prowl mentioning them once before, but he has not gone into much detail. Bluestreak was the first to speak as he carefully took her from Wheeljack's hand. "You've been feeling emotions that aren't yours, right? A sort of tugging sensation?" She nodded and suspiciously looked up at him. How did he know that?
"The way our sparks work is still a complete mystery," Wheeljack continued for the sharpshooter. "Every mech and femme knows that the spark is our life-force. We can transfer our sparks to other frames and still be us, but once it goes out, we're gone. Our group knows, even if the rest of population here finds it an archaic practice, that when two sparks interact with one another, there is a chance that another spark can be created. Those are really the only two definite facts that we know. No one understands how or why our sparks are able to create bonds with others, though we do know how it happens in some cases. On top of that, there are multiple types of bonds: a bond between parent and creation, lovers, siblings, and Guardians with whoever they're put in charge of.
"You, on the other hand," Wheeljack said, reaching over to poke her in the chest (which basically meant her whole body because his finger was ginormous), "are a complete and utter mystery. By all means, we shouldn't even be able to bond with you because you lack a spark. Now Ratchet thinks it has something to do with the fact that when we first appeared in your dimension, our sparks didn't have the normal barriers that protected them. So the mechs that hung around you the most and felt closest to you formed fledgling bonds during that short period. How it happened is still a mystery that will most likely never be solved, but now we have another mystery on our hands."
"When we were being teleported here, we didn't have any physical barriers to separate us," Bluestreak took up, reiterating what had already been explained to him, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker. "Our sparks and your soul were able to complete the bonds that had started to develop." He held her close to his chest, and Victoria gasped at the warmth emitting from his center. Inside of her, she felt the tugging (the bond) that had been growing stronger every day suddenly became so overwhelming that it momentarily blocked out the other bonds. It slowly dissipated into a more bearable sensation, but it didn't bother her as she put her cheek against his armor to listen to the droning of his spark. It was a very pleasant sensation.
But something was nagging at the back of her mind, and after a few moments, Victoria finally sat up and looked back over at Wheeljack. "What happened to the one that disconnected?" Wheeljack's bright optics dimmed, and he looked so pained that Victoria ducked her head back against Bluestreak, letting her question go unanswered. Bluestreak felt her guilt and sent her a burst of reassurance that had her asking another question. "How do you do that? Can you teach me?"
"Later," Bluestreak said, looking over at Wheeljack for a moment. "You should probably get back home before your creators find you missing." The little girl outwardly pouted, making him laugh. "We're not going anywhere! Optimus approved our journey to Earth under the premise of finding alternate energy resources, but the real reason we're here was to find you. We were kind of surprised that you didn't end up on Cybertron with us like Nuisance did."
The expression on her face had both mechs laughing. "What? Nuisance gets to go to Cybertron while I'm just plunked down in a prepubescent form of myself? I might not have wanted to go to begin with, but I feel cheated right now."
Bluestreak laughed. "Yep, Ironhide found the little guy in the body of a cybercat. The only reason he knew it was Nuisance was because animals on our planet usually run away instead of towards him. That and the feline was 'a natural Autobot.'"
Victoria laughed along with him and scooted closer to feel his spark once more. Being in this familiar yet strange place did not seem so bad now that she had others around who understood her plight. She had been gradually adjusting on her own, but she got the feeling that it would be so much easier now that she knew Wheeljack and Bluestreak were not so far away. She also felt like they were omitting some stuff, but if they were sticking around, then she would eventually get the whole story.
Until then, she had a lot of work cut out for her. It had just occurred to her that she would have to live out the majority of her life again. School, her mom's death, the chance of her brother leaving again—all of the crap that had basically turned her into the anti-social person she had been before meeting the Autobots and Decepticons.
Bluestreak put her down, and he and Wheeljack transformed once more. The older mech rolled underneath the carport to power down, but Bluestreak remained where he was until a flickering appeared in front of his hood. Within minutes, "Blake" stood in front of her, cute dimples appearing as he sweetly smiled at her. She smiled back and accepted the hand he held out to her, allowing him to walk her back home.
Victoria got a feeling that her second chance at life would turn out to be a whole lot different than what she had originally anticipated.
AN: Going to Cybertron was too expected, so Victoria just got turned into a 8 year old :P At least she's got Bluestreak and Wheeljack!
Anyway, this is the official end of Pint Sized :( But I do have a sequel in the planning stages right now :D When it ever gets posted is a question I cannot answer. I need to focus on my schoolwork right now or run the risk of failing a class I've barely even started, which sucks because I actually like that class. I do, however, have a working summary of it already posted up on my profile if you wish to take a quick look at it and see if it's something you'd be interested in :) Anything that might have felt unresolved or unanswered will most definitely be addressed in the sequel.
Much appreciation to Beowulf828, who stepped in early on to review most of my chapters before I posted them. If it weren't for his excellent feedback some stuff just would have never made its way into the story :D Thanks to all of you people who reviewed, favorited, followed, or just read along the way, and I hope that even after this is completed new readers will continue to do so as well (except following it; don't feel obliged to follow a completed story ;).
I think that's it :) Watch out for the sequel sometime in the future!