I woke up around noon the next day and slipped on a pair of green cargo pants, a black t-shirt and a black hoodie, carefully slipping shoes on, especially over my right ankle. I hopped out of the room to the cafeteria and was greeted by Armstrong, who was getting my food for me as I told him what I wanted.
"How are you feeling?"
"Just sore all over." I replied honestly as we went over to the table with the other soldiers in the base.
"Did you hear about the Transformers on the news?" he questioned, taking a sip of his coffee.
"Well, ever since we found out the Transformers were real; every single Transformer DVD, cartoon, VHS, movie, toys….all of it has disappeared. In fact, everyone who knew about the Transformers, lost their memories of any of it. So, the only people who know they are real are us, your parents and some others." Armstrong replied.
My eyes narrowed slightly. "That's really weird."
"Yup." He agreed.
Later on that day, Ratchet assigned me a therapist that would help with my nightmares and recovery. Her name was Dr. Reese Alans and she was young, around middle twenties with short, dark hair that was curly and blue eyes. Ratchet told me she knew about the Transformers ever since they came to Earth for the first time and I was quite surprised.
I hadn't seen Optimus at all yet today, but I heard something about "him being upset" from Sideswipe. I hadn't really thought of it until now and I reminded myself to ask him about it later.
I hobbled into the doctor's office and she smiled as I came in. "I assume a broken bone?" she asked.
"Sprained ankle." I mumbled and sat down on the couch that was across from her and sighed.
"Well, let's introduce ourselves. I'm Doctor Reese Alans." She held out her hand to me.
"Shell Hartford." I spoke and we shook hands.
"Is Shell your nickname?" she asks.
"Yeah, I don't like my full name." I replied and leaned back against the couch. It was so soft….
"Well, let's start off the appointment." She spoke and got a clipboard out. She asked me my age, birthdate, height, weight, all those unimportant things. Then came the more serious questions. "Has anything physically happened to you before the final battle?"
I glanced over to the right, at the window. It was early December now and snow was lightly falling. "Yes…." I muttered a reply, but she heard me.
"I…..I fell into a lake last month." I replied quietly, clutching my jeans. "I was…I like to be outside, even though it was cold out. I didn't care. I wanted to be alone ever since I found out I was immortal. I was just walking across the frozen lake and I thought it was safe….."
"And you fell in." Reese spoke quietly and I nodded. "Did…..did someone save you?"
I felt tears come to my eyes and I struggled to get them back. I looked at her. "Can you promise not to tell anyone, especially Ratchet or Optimus?"
"I promise." She nodded.
"No one saved me. I drowned." I sighed shakily. "But how am I here? The Seven Primes brought me back, saying that I fought well and the war was not over and they brought me back while I was still in the lake. I don't know how I managed to get to the surface, but something…something made me fight. I got bitched at by Ratchet after I recovered from the lake incident, saying that I was trying to hurt myself. Well y'know something…." I felt my voice break. "I was. I wanted to die. How am I supposed to live for the rest of eternity while I watch my friends and family age and die? They don't know. I lied to them and told them I just fell in." I sniffled and felt a couple stray tears fall down my cheeks. "I hate lying….but what was I supposed to tell them? That I was trying to commit suicide…?"
The entire room was silent and Reese handed me a tissue, which I gladly used to blow my nose and wipe my eyes. I sniffled loudly and glanced at her.
"I would not understand how you feel Shell. I am not in your position." She said softly and reached over to squeeze my hand. "Ratchet said something about you having nightmares."
"Most of them were about the lake incident….but I had one last night." I sighed. "I was in the lake again…..except Megatron crushed me instead of me drowning. I woke up after that. Yer the only person I've told because I can't tell anyone else…."
"But isn't Optimus Prime your guardian?"
"Yeah." I answered.
"What is he like with you?"
I glanced at her. "Well….he's overprotective…and he cares about me, I know those things for sure."
"What about a romantic interest?"
I froze. "Uhhhh, what?"
"Well, they have holoforms, so is there any romantic involvements?" she asked and quirked an eyebrow when she saw my face flush.
"N-no….." I replied, looking away slightly. "Even if there was…I'm not the type of person…or even the same species. Yeah, we can physically touch each other in his actual form and holoform, but…..I mean, look at me. I'm a mess. He's a leader, noble and wise. What do I have that he would like?"
Reese smiled slightly. "Would you like to know what I found out about Optimus a few days ago, when I started working here?"
"Sure." I blurted.
"There was a female Autobot, named Elita-One?" she asked and I nodded. "And she was killed by the Decepticons?" I nodded again. "I was speaking with Ratchet and he told me before Elita-One was killed, she and Optimus…had a relationship together."
I was taken back. "I never knew that…"
"Optimus doesn't like to have public relationships, so I heard." Reese chuckled and then frowned, taking on a sad look. "When Elita-One died, he was sad. I think he has sort of clung to you, since he is your guardian. I think…he's afraid of losing you too."
I looked down at my lap. I never knew he and Elita-One had a relationship. Elita-One was tough like him….but she was killed in the forest incident, when I had ran away after finding out I was now immortal.
"I never knew…." I said softly and that's when the timer went off.
"Oh, guess our time for today is up." She spoke. "Our next appointment, next week, same place, day and time."
"Thank you…for listening." I spoke quietly.
She smiled and patted me on the shoulder. "Anytime Shell. Have a good day."
I hobbled out of the room and outside to Sideswipe. I was surprised it was him and not Optimus. I groaned slightly as I got into the car and put my crutches in the back seat.
"So, how did it go?" he asked as he put the car into drive and drove off.
"Alright I guess." I replied and leaned back against the seat with my head against the window. I watched the scenery pass.
"Whatdya guys talk about?"
"Stuff between her and me."
"Oh, I get it. Girl stuff huh?" he joked and elbowed my side, jerking back when I had groaned a bit. "Sorry 'bout that."
"It's fine." I spoke and sighed, looking out the window. I eventually fell asleep on the way back and Sideswipe woke me up, laughing as he helped me out of the car. "Shut the fuck up Sides. I am not cute."
"Yes ya are Shell." He tried to stifle his laughing and then burst out laughing. My eyes narrowed in annoyance and I leaned against the car and whacked him in the side with one of my crutches. "Ow! Shell!"
"That's what you get for laughing you bastardo." (Translation from Italian: Bastard.) I muttered and hobbled into the base. The Autobots asked me how the appointment went and I just said it was alright. "I dunno…has anyone seen Optimus all day…?"
"Well, he's been sort of quiet today." Dino replied in his Italian accident and crossed his arms. "He's just been in the hanger most of the day."
"I think I'll go visit him." I spoke and then hobbled away on my crutches. I went to the hanger where Optimus usually re-charged and saw him in his vehicle form. I went over and leaned against the wall while I gently tapped his driver's door with a finger.
When he didn't respond, I pursed my lips and tapped his driver's door again, except a little harder this time. When he didn't stir, my eyes narrowed. So, I slapped my hand against the door, hard enough to make the slapping sound echo throughout the room. This time, he finally stirred and spoke in an oddly cute but sleepy voice.
"You should not be walking on that ankle of yours."
"It's healing quickly with my accelerated healing factor." I spoke. "You've been quiet today Optimus. What's on your mind?"
"Nothing important, mostly about how the war is now over."
I huffed. "Yeah, I guess so….." I glanced at the paintjob on the truck and my eyes narrowed a bit when I saw how much dirt was on it. "Oh boy…..hey, this is gonna sound really awkward but….."
"But can I wash you? You've got dirt all over you…." I lightly ran my finger on the door, bringing dirt and grime with it. "It's not meant to sound….well….perverted or anything. Like how you wash a normal vehicle."
"I…I have never experienced a 'vehicle wash' before."
"Well, you guys are robotic beings so you don't need to bathe…." I mumbled. "So….whatdya say?"
There was silence between us for a few moments and then he spoke. "I would actually like that."
I got all the supplies and washed him down with the hose first. The water was slightly cold, so he shivered a couple times. After hosing him down, I started using soup to get the dirt and grime off the paintjob. He had said that I had to avoid certain spots that were extra sensitive and he didn't like those being messed with. I had to use a ladder to get onto the roof and hood.
I thought it was my imagination, but when I started scrubbing the hood I thought I felt him shudder. It happened a couple times, so I realized it wasn't my imagination. I almost wanted to do it again, intentionally this time, but I decided against it. As I hosed him off, I wondered what sensitive spots he had as a holoform. Necks could be sensitive; I know that for a fact.
Oh gawd, why am I thinking this? I thought and sighed softly. After I was down hosing him, I dried him off using so many towels I lost track. And around 5 in the evening, he was finally clean.
"There we go!" I exclaimed as I sat on the hood. He looked squeaky clean. I swung my legs off the hood and then turned around so I could grab the edge to get down. When I landed, my ankle suddenly gave out and I fell backwards against the military hummer, hitting the back of my head. Black dots danced in my vision and I slumped to the ground with a groan.
Everything went black for a moment and I heard my name being called out loudly. I opened my eyes; I don't remember closing them and saw Optimus's blurred holoform kneeling down in front of me. His voice sounded distant, even though he was right in front of me. I felt nauseous….I wanted to throw up.
Warm, muscular arms went around me and I just wanted to curl up into the shoulder and go to sleep, but my body was screaming no while my brain was screaming yes. "Just lemme sleep…." I slurred, almost like I was drunk.
"I cannot." I was sat down in something, like on the edge of something. Warm and large hands grabbed my face and made me look up into vivid blue eyes. "Shell, you need to stay awake."
"But my head hurts….." I mumbled and my eyelids dropped, prompting Optimus to force them back open.
He suddenly got closer to me and pressed his forehead against mine, making me blink tiredly. "Shell…if you close your eyes…you may not open them again." He murmured and I could hear the worry in his voice. "Don't fall asleep."
"Okay….I won't." I mumbled.
"Yeah, promise. Hey…..get me a bucket of ice cold water. That'll wake me up."