A/N: Holy cow! This is probably one of the creepiest things I've written. And no, is not a coincidence that I posted this on Halloween.
After day Optimus had come back to the Autobots, everything seemed to be going all right, and Jack was happy to see this. Especially with how the other 'Bots had acted after the Prime had been gone. Currently, he was leaning on a rail in the Autobot silo and watching everyone interacting.
Miko and Bulkhead were off with the girl's guitar, annoying Ratchet with the sound. Bumblebee and Raf were playing video games, and Jack wasn't really sure where Optimus was though. His mother was at the hospital, allowing him to be at the base as long as Arcee was with him, she seemed to trust his partner with keeping him safe.
And that whole thing with going to Cybertron might have had something to do with it too.
But his mother still instilled a curfew and he was pushing it. "Arcee, we gotta get going." He called and made his way down the platform and his guardian met up with him at the entrance. He stretched his arms and stifled his yawn before grabbing his helmet and putting it on after Arcee had transformed.
The ride back to Jasper didn't take a particularly long amount of time, and he patted Arcee on the handle bars and said goodnight before going into the house. He saw his mother standing in the kitchen with her arms crossed. "Uh, hi mom." He said sheepishly.
"Did you forget something?" June raised a brow knowingly.
Jack furrowed his brow before his eyes widened and he winced, glancing down at the garbage bag. That had been another one of their agreements; he could go once he took out the garbage. He grabbed the elastic handles and uneasy made his way to the front door. "Uh, I'll, get right on it." He said opening the door. "See? I'm taking out the trash." He said and saw his mother shake her head before going to sit down at the table.
The teen wrinkled his nose at the smell emitting from the bag, but still made his way across the grass lawn and to the curb. He tossed the bag beside the others, knowing he really shouldn't have forgotten that the next day was trash day and he turned on his heel to head back to the house, but froze as he looked over at the end of the street, squinting his eyes as he swore he saw a flash of red in the streetlight overhead. He shook his head and passed it off as his eyes playing tricks on him.
It didn't stop him from running back into the house though.
Jack was starting to feel jumpy, he thought that he was only seeing things when he caught a flash of red in the streetlight, but now it was like he was seeing it everywhere he went when he was alone. And since Arcee had taken to leaving him be during work and school and letting him walk home, there were still plenty of opportunities for paranoia to set in.
He didn't want to think he might have a stalker, seeing as he couldn't actually prove it and it might only be a coincidence. After all, Jasper was a small town and nothing really much to do. He couldn't go to his mother with his concerns because the flashes of red were never around when she was either.
And it not's like he even knew what was possibly following him seeing as he never could see more than just flashes as it moved out of sight. It was creepy and irritating.
One night, to try and make sense of what was going on, Jack kept the blinders closed on his window and peered through them to see if he could spot any red flashes in the streetlights. He wasn't really counting on seeing anything coming out right now. Eventually though, he started to get sleepy and he was starting to feel like a creeper for staring out of his window like this. He pulled away from the window just as he saw the flash of red glint in the streetlight and he tried not to trip over himself as he carefully peered back through the blinders and finally saw what was following him.
What he saw made his blood run cold and the color drain from his face.
Slowly and silently moving along the asphalt was a slick red sports car. The car slowed to a stop just outside his house and Jack gulped inaudibly before the car seemed to jerk and went speeding off just as sudden as it appeared, and more importantly, just as silent. No tire squeals, no lines in the asphalt, no nothing to indicate that it was ever there.
And Jack had the sinking suspicion the car knew that they'd been spotted.
Now knowing who was following, unless there were other red sports car 'Cons, Jack had no idea why he was being followed. He knew he probably wasn't popular with the 'Cons for the whole 'giving Optimus his memory back,' but would Megatron relay that to his troops? It would be a hit to his ego that's for sure if he said that, so for now Jack was going to say 'no' on the whole revenge thing.
Then what other reason could there be for Knock Out to follow him around when he was alone? Kicks? It's not like a 'Con needed a reason to terrorize a human, and that could be why the 'Con was doing this, just to scare him. Probably before he eventually would get bored of seeing his fear and just try to kill him, Jack betted.
But still, the previous night had only proved that Knock Out had made a drive by and sped away was because he got caught and probably thought Jack would alert Arcee, so just how many times had this happened before? He made no sound, as Jack knew the engine noise were for show with the 'Bots. Jack's mind supplied him with the images of Knock Out sitting outside his house, or even at his window and trying to look in. It creeped him out something fierce, and it terrified him to even think past that.
After work, he wanted to hurry home and tell Arcee about his suspicions, hoping she'd give him the benefit of the doubt and believe him. But even to his thoughts this was a dubious gamble; she might not believe him and Knock Out would continue getting his stalk on.
The end result likely ending with Jack as a red paste on the asphalt.
The slightest sound made him jump, but he had to remind himself that Knock Out wouldn't make any noise and that just made his pace speed up more before his pacing turned into a full blown run for his home. He'd had taken his argument with Vince earlier than this, at least with him he could defend himself. His only defence from Knock Out was Arcee, and that was if she believed him.
Jack was out of breath by the time he reached the garage and made his way inside, breathing heavily.
"Jack, what's wrong?" Arcee asked in concern.
"Knock Out…stalking…me." Jack rasped.
Arcee was silent for a moment. "Jack, did you just say that Knock Out is stalking you?" she repeated incredulously. "That's quite impossible, I would have been alerted by a 'Con presence if he was; are you sure you're not just seeing things?"
"The glimpses of red, seeing him out on the side walk last night; I am definitely not imagining him." Jack retorted. "Maybe he's masking his presence somehow, I don't know, but he is stalking me." He said before storming into the house, trying to tell himself that this reaction was to be expected. Arcee had no reason to think Knock Out was following him because she'd never seen him around town.
The 'Con was good, Jack grudgingly admitted.
That night, his mother didn't get home until ten, looking weary and once she caught sight of Jack, she hugged him. "Whoa mom, what's wrong?"
June sighed. "I just done assisting with a new patient in the ICU, a classmate of yours, Vince I believe his name was."
Though Jack didn't like the guy, he wasn't heartless and it had made his mother worry. "What happened to him?"
"He was in a car crash; if I didn't know Arcee would keep you safe, I'd never let you go out on your motorcycle again." June said seriously and Jack knew better than to assume she was joking.
He wanted to tell her about Knock Out, but what good would it do? She couldn't do anything either.
"Ah!" Jack exclaimed and practically jumped out of his skin.
Miko snickered. "What's up with you?"
Jack glared at her. "Just a bit…on edge." He answered lightly, more lightly than he certainly felt this deserved. But there was no way he was telling Miko his problems if he couldn't tell his own mother.
Besides, Arcee already knew, as skeptically as she was about this.
"Because of what happened to Vince, right? You're mom not letting you drive Arcee around?" Miko questioned.
"Uh, something like that, she's just worried." Jack replied and took a quick look around.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you? You act like something's going to jump out and grab you." Miko said rolling her eyes.
Jack glared at the girl more fiercely, as that that was another thought he had to worry about; if only Knock Out could prolong this torment. He had been so much to try and avoid thinking about what else the 'Con might do to him. "Very funny." He said stalking off on his way home.
This whole thing was freaking him out enough without Miko making it worse.
That night he'd went to bed thinking his mother was simply taking a late night shift again, but he was awoken from his slumber by the ring of the phone and he blearily got out of bed and made his way to the hall where the cordless phone was. He yawned and answered it. "Hello?" he asked. "Uh, yeah I'm Jackson Darby, what's going on?" his eyes shot open, awake and on full alert. "You-you're kidding, right?!" he exclaimed and he gritted his teeth to keep himself calm. "No, I'll be right in." he hung up the phone and quickly put on the clothes he'd been wearing the previous day before hurrying down the steps and into the garage. "Arcee, wake up!"
"Huh, what's wrong?" Arcee asked as her voice sounded alerted by the panic in Jack's voice.
"It's my mom, she's in the hospital, I need to get there right now." Jack said grimly.
Arcee didn't pause as she straightened up. "Hop on."
Jack put the helmet on and the two made their way to the hospital, the teen trying not to think about the condition his mother was in or what happened. When they arrived, Jack hopped off and rushed into the hospital before he was directed to his mother's room, the staff letting him see her because she was their friend. "Mom?" he asked seeing the woman hooked up to an I.V.
His mother opened her eyes and beckoned him closer with her free hand, a weak smile on her lips. "Hey Jack. You came."
Jack smiled weakly back and put his hand in hers. "Yeah, I did. Can you tell me what happened?"
"It was the strangest thing; I was going to my car after my shift ended when this red car came out of nowhere and hit me. I don't remember much except seeing it speed away and the next thing I know, I wake up here." June explained tiredly.
Jack felt his breath start to become more laboured. "You mean it didn't make a sound?" June shook her head. "What kind of make was it?"
"I'm not sure, it all happened so fast." June replied.
"Of course." Jack said sympathetically before kissing his mother on the forehead. "I'll let you sleep; I'll even stay here with you all night if I have to." He said and looked for a chair to do just that.
June laughed weakly. "No, go home, Jack. You've still got school tomorrow." She said and Jack stared at her; even now she was still thinking of him.
It made him even angrier at who could have done this before fear set in and he thought about who probably had done this. "Are you sure you don't want me to stay?" he asked.
"I'm sure, you have Arcee after all." June replied. "Now go home, honey."
Jack reluctantly let go of his mother's hand before kissing her on the forehead and made his way to the door. He looked back to say goodbye but saw that June was already asleep. Not wanting to disturb her, Jack quietly closed the door and made his way back outside.
"Is June okay? What happened?" Arcee asked worried.
"Hit and run, she's gonna be fine." Jack replied, but it sounded like he was trying to reassure himself. "Le-let's go home." he said and they took the drive back to the house in silence, neither of them wanting to talk. Only when they pulled into the driveway did Jack speak. "What the hell?" he questioned aloud as he saw something on the wall underneath his window.
"What is it?" Arcee questioned.
"What's that stuff on the window?" Jack asked squinting. "Is that blood?"
"What?" Arcee said alarmed and a blue light shot out, scanning over the red stuff. "No, it's not, it's…paint? Why didn't you tell me you were redecorating?" she asked sarcastically.
Jack though was in no mood for jokes as his face had gone pale again under his helmet. That red stuff hadn't been there the previous night. A sudden realization came over him, making his breath hitch. Knock Out. He was responsible for this; he tried to kill his mother, and then he tried to peek into his room just afterwards!
Something was seriously messed up in that 'Con's mind and Jack would even bet that Knock Out had caused Vince's crash, as Jack had been arguing with him hours before. Fear trickled into his thoughts, it was one thing to make Jack terrified, but it was a whole other ball game when the 'Con started targeting people he knew. Vince because he'd made him angry most likely, but why his mother, was it because she was there for him? Did he want Jack completely alone and without emotional support before killing him?
Just what kind of sick game was Knock Out playing with him?
Jack was man enough to admit it, Knock Out was scaring him, and he didn't even know why. That was the most terrifying part of the whole thing; he didn't even know why. He'd thought it before, but he'd think it again. Was it just how the 'Con got his kicks? Was he terrorizing Jack for his own sick amusement, like a cat and mouse game?
Jack knew he was the mouse, and more importantly, he knew that the mouse ended up dead after being played with.
He didn't think he could go on keeping it to himself. He wanted to try and make Arcee believe him, but again; what proof did he have? The paint didn't count because it could have just been a coincidence that Knock Out had the same red paint finish. Nor could his mother say anything because she didn't know the make, and Jack didn't even want to ask Vince, he'd probably keep silent out of spite.
In a nutshell? Jack was officially walking on eggshells, sometimes too scared to leave the house while his mother was in the hospital and if school or work didn't loom over him like a dark cloud, he was sure he wouldn't leave the house permanently. And just when he'd been running home from work, it happened.
A red flash caught his eye and he'd almost tripped as a red sports car came swerving out from the corner of the road, like it was waiting, and though Jack knew it was futile, he kept trying to outrun the 'Con. He took a sharp turn, but the 'Con just turned smoothly and still chased him down relentlessly.
Jack could feel himself getting tired, but he didn't look back, not wanting to see Knock Out mow him down. He could hear a click and against his better judgement, he looked back; only to see the trunk in view and speed up to swerve and he was sent into the small space, the trunk door clicking shut.
Panic started to take over Jack as he thought that if Knock Out wasn't going to waste him then and there then he must have something even worse planned for him. He started banging on the door, trying with all his might to get it to budge, but his human muscles weren't helping.
A particularly harsh bump in the road sent him face first into the hard ceiling and he felt himself blacking out. If Knock Out didn't kill him, then the suffocation would.
Jack was surprised, more than he should have been, because he thought he was going to be killed. But when he'd opened his eyes, he found himself in a house, and for a moment he felt a thrill go through him that he'd just dreamed the whole thing up, but he took one look up and his hopes were dashed.
There wasn't a ceiling and the actual ceiling revealed a gray metal covering. He had no idea where he was, and the room outside the windows provided no help. He looked around the house and frowned, thinking about how much it looked like his own home. What the hell was this?
Jack heard something click and looked forward, seeing through the window that a door was sliding open in the bigger room and a red mech came waltzing in, Jack recognizing the 'Con tormenting him for the last week and a half. The teen felt his lips curl back as Knock Out's smug faceplate appeared overhead. "You," he hissed, "what is this? Some sick game to you? Tormenting me?"
Knock Out's expression didn't change and Jack wished he could punch him out. "Oh, this isn't a game anymore." He replied smugly.
"Then what is this? Why me?" Jack demanded.
"I heard Airachnid talking about you," Knock Out began idly and Jack paled at the mention of the femme, "about how what you did and how much you meant to Arcee. At first I merely wanted to torment you some before I killed you and let her find your remains. And I had such fun thinking of different ways to kill you, though all of them were far too messy and I couldn't ruin my pain job."
Jack refused to point out that he had when he peeped into his window and instead curled his lip back into a sneer.
"But then," The 'Con's face place shifted, the smug smirk falling away into a scowl, "it changed. I still felt the exhilaration of stalking you, making you jump; but it changed. I found myself reluctant to kill you, so I took substitutes," Jack felt sick as he thought of how many other people might have died because of him, "but it was never enough. Imagine my surprise when I realized that an insignificant thing like you had managed to get to me." His scowl turned into something like a cross between that and a frustrated smirk. "It seems you really have a way of getting to us 'Cons."
"Are you going to kill me or not then?" Jack bit out, tired of delaying the inevitable.
The half smirk turned into a full smirk. "Oh, I'm not going to kill you; doing that would end this for me."
Jack felt incredulous. "You really think this is fun? Scaring me half to death?" he hissed out. "For you own sick amusement?"
"It is for me," Knock Out retorted haughtily, "and believe me Jack," his red optics focused on Jack with such intensity that it made the teen cringe as the optics glowed brightly in the dark room, "the real fun hasn't even started yet…"