(Sneaks onto the internet) Um… hey everybody! Did you miss me? Heh, ya I know I've been gone for a while but I have a nice big juicy chapter for you so you can't be too mad eh? I tell ya writing this chapter was like pulling teeth, and I've had it done to me before so I know! I'm really hoping the next chapter won't be so hard to write out since I pretty much have it planned out. I have a number of classes I have to study real hard for but in between I will do my best to hammer out the chapters for you guys. This chapter title is the song Tik Tok by Kesha. Ok enough talk, Read and Enjoy and don't forget to Review!

Disclaimer: I don't own scrap, song titles, or any recognizable Transformers but the general plot and OC's are my own invention so please ask before using them. Also, credit for this inspiration goes to the story 'Juxtaposition' by Vaeru. I bow to her greatness and hope she can forgive me for hijacking her plot bunny and turning it into… whatever this is. So without further a due, enjoy!


'Nicole's thinking'


Sparkling talk

Nicole sat in a corner of the abandoned warehouse on a large crate and watched the sparklings playing happily with their newly found brother with a small smile on her face. She was relieved at how quickly they had bounced back from the Decepticon attack. The fledgling, Helix, seemed more than content to sit still and let his much smaller siblings use him as a jungle gym and listen to Sonic chatter about anything and everything. She was glad that they had found him, relieved even, but now that the shock had worn off Nicole had to think about all the complications that looking after such a big sparkling could bring.

Hiding him would be an issue, but it also depended on his alt-form and how long he could stay in it. For the moment Nicole wasn't too worried about someone walking in and seeing the sparklings in their bi-pedal forms. The street outside had been abandoned and there was a heavy layer of dust over everything in the warehouse, including the high windows which were caked in grime. So Nicole sat keeping a wary eye over her sparklings while she and Jazz talked/thought over their next move.

'I thought you told me that Decepticons all have red eyes, and now you're telling me that it's not a voluntary thing?'

~Sorry about that Nic. I keep forgettin' that ya don't know about the stuff that's obvious ta every other bot. Ya see optic color didn't much matter until the end of the Golden Age and it slowly became a way of identifying somebots class in the chaste system. As da war started some Decepticons started changin' their optics ta red ta gain favor with Megatron, since red optics identified a bot as a fighter in the gladiator pits of Kaon. The Autobots optic color became blue kinda by default, 'cause most of us were scientists and peaceful bots before the fightin' started. Neutrals sometimes have yellow or orange optics but ah haven't seen any neutrals in a long time.~

'I wish you had told me that before I almost threw a rock at Helix just for having red optics.' Nicole groused grumpily as she watched Helix awkwardly coaxed Cinder from the top of his helm. She felt a stirring of shame for almost having hurt the gentle giant of a sparkling.

~Ah said sorry, what else do ya want from me kid?~

'I want for you to stop calling me kid or I'll start calling you 'old man'.'

~Old man?! Who da heck ya callin' old?~ Nicole smiled and chuckled a bit as Jazz sputtered indignantly.

Nicole's smile didn't last long and she sighed while running a hand through her dirty hair, grimacing at the filth that was caught in it. Her clothes were not much better and what she earnestly prayed was mud was beginning to dry on her skin from the trek through the city's storm drains.

~Mebby ya should rest for a bit Nic. All that runnin' took a lot out of ya.~ Jazz said, concern washing over the barriers as they both felt the bruises on her back throb painfully.

"Can't do that Jazz, there's too much to do and not enough time." Nicole muttered distractedly as she thought over plans and made lists in her mind of what needed doing.

She could sense Jazz's exasperation at her dismissal but paid little attention to it, he couldn't deny that she wasn't right after all. The first thing that Nicole needed to do was get Helix to trust her, or at the least come to an understanding that she wasn't going to hurt him. The large fledgling was very shy and nervous of her and flinched if she made too sudden of a move around him. The blue haired girl was concerned about this behavior but had no idea what to do about it. Nicole also needed to get something for Helix to eat and get her things from the hotel. She didn't know if the Decepticon knew where she was staying but it was better to move locations than risk discovery a second time.

Nicole was jarred from her thoughts as the sensation of something scurrying onto her shoulders interrupted her. Not at all bothered by the disturbance she gently held her arms away from her body like a scarecrow giving the three femmes more room to scurry back and forth. Shy Pixel reclaimed her spot under her hair with a happy coo while the brash while the still excited Cinder paced the length of her left arm. Neon perched quietly on her right wrist and tapped her hand to get her attention.

"Yes Neon?" Nicole asked as she took note of how dirty the sparklings were from crawling around in an underground pipe, and made a mental note to give them a bath. Neon's little chest screen lit up with a message.

We hungry Creator. Refuel now, please?

Nicole wondered for a moment on the use of the word 'creator' but shrugged it off and nodded at Neon's request.

"Ok we'll go find you guys some fuel, but there's a few things we have to do first so you have to be patient for a little bit."

The sparklings shifted to rest comfortably and securely on her shoulders as she jumped down from the crate she had been using as a chair. As calmly and unthreateningly as she could she approached where Helix and Sonic were playing. The large black fledgling seemed to shrink in on himself nervously but Sonic, who's paint looked more brown than white, waved excitedly from his perch on Helix's shoulder and called down to her.

"Look Creator look! I'm taller than you." Sonic giggled and Nicole couldn't help the small smile that pulled at the edges of her lips at the energetic sparkling's antics.

"I can see that Sonic just be careful not to fall ok?"

Sonic nodded and then proceeded to give her slight heart palpations by jumping over his brother's helm to his other shoulder. Holding back the scolding she wanted to give the little mechling she focused her attention on Helix. She tried to put the nervous fledgling at ease by giving him a gentle smile.

"Hey Helix, how're you doing?"

Helix put a servo hesitantly over where she assumed his fuel tanks were and nodded.

"H-hungry." He stuttered, and despite his size Nicole's heart melted just a little bit and she couldn't help but find him to be adorable.

"Ya I imagine you haven't had a chance to refuel yet have you? Well we're planning on getting out of here and getting some fuel now but first there're a few things you should know. Did Sonic or the triplets tell you the three rules?"

Helix nodded enthusiastically, his optics brightening and his little antenna ears perking up.

"Ya they told me. We can only talk to you, we gotta listen to what you tell us and stay hidden and in our alt-modes. They also said you chased away a mean human, and a big scary bot, and you promised to protect us, and you're going to find our other brother too." Helix said in a rush almost buzzing in place with his enthusiasm.

Nicole bit her lip and refrained from correcting Helix and breaking their belief in her, so instead she smiled and nodded.

"That's right. You wouldn't know where your brother might be would you Helix?" Nicole's fragile hope was quickly crushed with a sad shake of Helix's helm.

"No, sorry."

"It's ok, don't be sorry. We'll find him, but first why don't we go get some fuel? Let's see your alt-mode and then we'll go refuel."

Helix nodded and with gentle servos pried Sonic from his forearm and after placing his brother on the ground Helix haltingly began transforming. Nicole hoped as Helix's black armor shifted and came together that his alt-mode wasn't too conspicuous or out of place to drive around the city. She was pleasantly surprised and impressed to see Helix's alt-form was black SUV that looked almost new. Those feelings quickly transformed into something close to horror, and Nicole had to hold back a gasp at the sight of the damages that were now apparent on Helix's alt-form. Long scratches that seemed almost intentional ran along the sides, marring the otherwise pristine black paint. Her heart clenched at the sight of the driver's side window which was spider webbed with cracks. Slowly she approached and traced a gentle hand over one of the scratches, snatching her hand back when the vehicle flinched a bit from her touch.

"Helix, how did you get damaged?" She asked in a calm voice that revealed none of her inner turmoil.

Helix hesitated before speaking tentative voice, like a child expecting to get into trouble. Then his words rushed out of him like a dam had broken making his words a little hard to understand.

"I-it was after I first woke up, after I was sparked. I was so s-scared and confused and there were three humans inside me and I didn't understand, so I scared them out with my steering wheel. Everything was really loud and confusing and scary so I ran really far away. I stayed in my alt-form and hid under an overpass until dark b-but then…" Helix's choked voice trailed off and Nicole pressed her hand on his hood trying to comfort the now shaking SUV.

"It's ok Helix, you can tell me."

"I-it was some humans," the fledgling cried softly. "T-hey came after it got dark and tried to open my doors and pick my locks. When I di-didn't let them in they got mad and started scratching and hitting me. I told them to stop and they got really scary telling me to come out, but I didn't want to. I didn't want to hurt them so I drove away really fast before they could start hitting me again. I-I was so scared."

Nicole's heart broke for Helix as she could only imagine all too well how scared he had been; alone, lost, hurt and confused. He was only a sparkling for crying out loud, it was no wonder he was cautious around her. She placed both of her palms on Helix's hood and tried to comfort him through the shaking and crying sounds he was making. Internally, Jazz was pouring a number of contradictory emotions through the mental barrier.

There was compassion and sadness for what Helix had gone through, but there was also pure fury and anger at the humans that had attacked him. Nicole was inclined to agree with the snippets of plans to squish them should he ever find out who they were, and since she couldn't crush them underfoot added her own details and inventive punishments. The other sparklings, understanding that their brother was sad if not why, climbed down from her shoulders and cuddled Helix's wheels. Nicole continued petting his hood as the four other sparklings cooed and purred until his crying slowly began to subside.

'Jazz, will the scratches and cracks heal on their own?'

~Don't worry Nic, those pieces of slag didn't do anythin' that Helix can't heal from on his own. He just needs some sun an' a good refuel an' he'll be right as rain. The glass will take longer ta seal up but it's all superficial damage. Which is not what those slag heaps will have if I ever get my-~

'Good' Nicole interrupted with a sigh of relief as Helix's crying sounds were coming to a close and his trembling lessened.

"You alright Helix?" She asked gently and the fledgling replied in a shaky but much more confident voice.

"Y-yes, I'm ok."

"You did the right thing Helix. I'm very proud of you and you don't need to worry about humans like that anymore, alright? I promise I'll look after you and your siblings." Nicole said sincerely, knowing that she would kick the daylights out of any one who tried to hurt Helix or any of her sparklings ever again.

"I know." Helix sighed with such trusting innocence it tightened Nicole's throat for a moment, before she quickly shrugged it off so she could focus on what had to be done next. A stray thought occurred to Nicole as she opened Helix's driver side door and settled in the seat.

'Hey Jazz? Do I need to buy Helix car insurance or life insurance?'

Jazz just laughed as she herded the other four sparklings into Helix's alt-form and with some difficulty convinced them to also transform into their alt-modes. Once they had gotten out of the warehouse Nicole had taken over the driving, since Helix had answered with 'what rules?' when asked if he know the rules of the road. Her first stop was the gas station since Jazz told her that Helix would need fuel instead of electricity like the other four. Her filthy appearance got a number of strange looks and upturned noses but Nicole simply paid for the gas and went about her business.

Getting her things from the hotel proved to be much more nerve wracking than she anticipated. The blue haired girl didn't know if the Decepticon knew where she was staying with the sparklings so she was extremely nervous about going there. Jazz tried to reassure her that Barricade was likely highly damaged and too busy hiding to be a threat at the moment, but Nicole wasn't willing to run any risks. She convinced the sparklings to wait for her to come back a few streets away from the hotel inside Helix's alt-form. Within several minutes she had gotten her things and had checked out of the hotel as fast as she could. Nicole had been so focused on not being followed and looking out for any police cars she had almost walked right past where she had left the sparklings.

For a little extra insurance she took them to another hotel on the other side of the city, though it was a bit more expensive it made her feel safer. She parked Helix right outside of the hotel door with the assurance that all he needed to do was honk his horn to call her. The triplets and Sonic ate and played quietly in the other room while Nicole took the time to thoroughly scrub herself clean in the shower. Once that was done and she no longer smelled like something that had recently died Nicole realized just how exhausted she was.

Nicole collapsed with a soft groan on the mattress wanting nothing more than to sleep for a few years and have nobody bother her. The sparklings must have felt just as tired as she did because it wasn't very long after she lay down that she could feel all four of them climb up onto the bed and curl into her sides. Nicole tried to convince herself to get up because there was still a lot for her to do; she still had to find the last missing bother, she needed go over her music set for tomorrow, and she should probably get something to eat since she was starving again. She pried one of her eyes open, looked over at the clock and jumped when she realized how late it already was. Carefully she pried herself away from the comfortable bed and pile of sleeping sparklings with a small groan.

~Nic ya fought off a Decepticon today, it's ok for ya ta be tired. Relax and get some sleep for Primus' sake. If ya keep goin' on like this yur gunna burn out an' then where will the sparklin's go, uh?~

'I can't help it Jazz,' Nicole sighed mentally as she sat on the edge of the bed and ran a hand through her messy blue locks. 'I'm an all or nothing kind of person. Once I start something I have to see it through to the very end. It's just the way I am.'

~Yur gunna get yourself killed with a motto like that.~ Jazz tried to tease but Nicole only rolled her eyes and reached for her coat and left the apartment to get some food.

Several minutes later she was back and munching on a horribly unhealthy but undeniably delicious fast food burger. While she ate she turned on the small television that came with the room, making sure to keep the volume low enough so that she didn't disturb the sleeping sparklings. Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest when she saw that they were reporting on what had happened earlier on the street that Barricade had attacked her on. Apparently the government was keeping things quiet again since the reporter was calling it an unfortunate gas explosion. Nicole listened anxiously as the reporter mentioned there would be an increased military presence in Mission City.

'This is a bad thing isn't it?'

~Well it's not a good thing. I wish this could be as simple as goin' up ta yur military Nic, but ta be honest I don't trust 'em. We don't know where the Autobots stand with yur government, especially with Optimus outta the picture. The soldiers posted here would just shoot first, especially since Helix has red optics.~

Nicole had to nod in agreement, because even she had jumped to conclusions and had almost hurt Helix as a result.

~We have ta contact what's left of the Autobots on earth first, but we gotta take care of the sparklin's and find the last missin' one before that.~

"Agreed." Nicole muttered as she finished the last of her fries and tossed her garbage. She stood and stretched her tired and bruised limbs and gazed longingly at the bed, knowing that she should work on her music set for tomorrow night. Jazz sensed her hesitation and mentally pushed her toward the mattress.

~Go ta sleep Nic. Ya gotta big day tomorrow and one more sparkling ta find. Ya can always wake up early if ya need to.~

Not having the energy to change into pj's or the strength of will to argue with Jazz she turned off the lights and crawled under the sheets. It wasn't long before she promptly passed into oblivion while unconsciously curling protectively around the sleeping sparklings, and keeping one ear open for Helix who was sleeping peacefully just outside.

Both Lennox and Optimus were having a very bad day.

Things had started out fine with numerous early morning meetings and arguing in a passive-aggressive manner with the government. It wasn't until just a few hours after noon that things went sideways. Both the Autobot leader and the newly appointed Major were in a meeting with the board of directors when the report came in. It was Lennox who had to break the news that Barricade had ripped up yet another Mission city street and they had lost his location once again. The Prime and Lennox then spent the next few hours getting lectured and blamed for the Decepticons actions and inability to do anything about it. Lennox was almost beginning to wish that Optimus would step on him when they were finally dismissed and the meeting adjourned. Lennox vehemently cursed the government under his breath as he speed walked down the hall to keep up with Optimus' very slow walk away from the meeting hanger in the light of the sinking sun.

"That was almost more frustrating than arguing with Simmons was. We told them that pulling you guys from the Mission city area was a mistake, and of course when it turns out we're right they blame us for not stopping it." Lennox cursed again and ran a hand over his tired face as he tried to smother his bubbling frustrations.

All he wanted was to see his family for more than twenty-four hours, a good meal, and a bed in that order. He had hardly even convinced Sara that he was still alive before he had to leave again, however he was beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel since it seemed the worst of it was behind them. Lennox had been simultaneously reprimanded and promoted to Major for his work in Mission city, a base to temporarily house the Atobots had been found, S7 had been effectively disbanded and their base under the Hoover dam was being cleared out, there were talks about an Autobot/human taskforce being made to handle the Decepticon threat on a global scale. But that wasn't all, a fully encompassing treaty between the Autobots and the world's govornments as a whole had been signed. Optimus had refused (and was still refusing) to share cybertronian weapon technology, a choice that Lennox fully supported.

"At least General Morshower seems to be fully behind our efforts and decisions." Optimus rumbled diplomatically overhead though Lennox had a feeling that under his saint-like patience he too was reaching a limit.

Lennox scoffed and shook his head. "Morshower may be the head of the council but even he can only do so much until we prove we're an advantage against the Decepticons. We're just lucky that no one died and we were able to keep the situation contained."

"Were our efforts in Mission city not proof enough of the Decepticon threat?" Optimus questioned, looking down at Lennox with a perturbed look.

"You would think," Lennox scoffed as the pair reached the hanger that had been chosen to be for the Autobots to rest in. "The government is still trying to wrap their heads around the idea of aliens and deciding if you guys are an asset or a liability. That's just one of the reasons we can't go letting Barricade roam around and blow up whatever street he wants."

"What disturbs me, Major Lennox, is why Barricade chose to reveal himself. He did so at great risk knowing that he is greatly outnumbered against our combined forces. Hiding and waiting for an opportune moment to strike is more Barricade's style, he would not stray from that without good reason." Optimus gazed thoughtfully into the distance as if it could provide the answer.

They entered the hanger and were greeted by several soldiers who were listening avidly to a very enthusiastic Ironhide, who was telling them of one of his more violent escapades in battle. Lennox was about to speak further to Prime but was interrupted by a young blond woman who came dashing out from a human sized office with a slightly chubby, dark skinned man panting after her. Lennox recognised the pair as part of the team who had been hired for their advanced tech abilities to keep knowledge of Cybertronians and the Mission city battle off the web and news.

"Come on and keep up Glen, Major Lennox we found something!" The woman spoke excitedly in an aussie accent while holding a thumb drive aloft and a panting Glen came up beside her.

"Maggie slow down. Dang it woman you know I have asthma, short legs and big bones so keep it at a walk ok?" Glen gasped breathlessly while leaning over to catch his breath.

"Big bones? Is that what they call it these days?" Epps chuckled as he clapped a hand on Glen's shoulder as he walked past. The two men always seemed to lapse into playful banter when put in the same room, much to everyone else's amusement.

"Hey watch it man I'm sensitive and besides, we all know the lady's love having more man to hug." Glen quipped with a grin and causing Epps to laugh in response. Maggie on the other hand appeared annoyed at the interruption when she was so excited to share her findings, Lennox turned to her and gave her his attention.

"What did you find?"

Maggie beamed and dashed over to a computer terminal with a monitor large enough for the bots to see without them needing to bend over to see. Ironhide and several soldiers paused their story time to come over to hear the news.

"I was able to track down one video feed from a convenience store that was on the same street that Barricade blew up a few hours ago. I cleaned it up as much as I could and this is what I got."

With a final punch of the computer keys the monitor came alive with a blurred, grainy, black and white video of a moderately busy city street. The view was obviously taken from above street level and poorly positioned at an awkward angle.

"Pay attention to the top left corner." Maggie said as she tried again to further clean up the image.

As Maggie directed, Lennox turned the majority of his attention to the corner of the screen in time to see a saleen police cruiser pull into what looked like an alleyway. The cruiser was easily recognisable as Barricade's alt-form and for several moments it remained out of sight. There was a blur of movement as something dashed out of the ally and off the left hand side of the screen as the mouth of the ally exploded. What could be seen of the street dissolved into chaos as bricks and dust filled the air and obscured the screen for several seconds.

The screen flickered dangerously for a moment but as the dust settled Barricade's back could be seen as he loomed over something that couldn't be seen off screen. Barricade made several threatening gestures but Lennox couldn't see what he was doing. Suddenly there was another blur of movement as something dodged past Barricade's peds and ran for several meters before the Decepticon could react. Barricade leapt to his peds and motioned as if to pursue but it seemed that out of nowhere there was another detonation and the camera went to static.

There was a moment of silence as the watching soldiers tried to make sense of the video. Lennox turned to Maggie as she continued to type frantically at the computer.

"Could you rewind and slow down the frames just before the second explosions?"

Maggie's fingers dashing faster over the keyboard was his only answer as the monitor displayed the piece he wanted. Once more on screen Barricade was towering over something indistinct but fast moving that dashed past his peds.

"Pause it."

The screen froze and Lennox squinted at the screen trying to discern what the fuzzy figure was.

"Is that a person or a furby?" Glen leaned over and asked Epps who rolled his eyes and focused on the display.

"Let me see if I can clean up some of the motion distortion, give me one- there!" Maggie declared triumphantly as the monitor zoomed in on the mystery outline.

The screen cleared up a little, becoming only slightly less pixelated but managed to succeed in showing the persons face more clearly. While the details of the persons face were still very blurry the gathered soldiers could now tell that the figure was a young woman either in her late teens or early twenties. Her long hair looked to be of darker color on the black and white screen and she had the strangest look of fright and determination on her face. The mystery woman seemed to be holding something to her chest with her arms locked around it. Lennox turned to Maggie with a serious expression.

"This was the only recording you could find of the incident? There's no better angle?"

"No sir," she snapped trying to hold back her irritation. "This was the only one that was salvageable and pointed in Barricade's general direction."

Lennox nodded and gave her a half smile to acknowledge her hard work so far before becoming serious once more.

"Ok new task for you and Glen then. I want you guys to find out who that is." Lennox pointed to the woman on screen.

"I want you to find out who she is, where she lives, and if you can why Barricade would break his cover in a city bursting at the seams with military personnel to get her."

Maggie nodded and dashed off with Glen cursing at her heels trying to keep up. Lennox then turned to the watching soldiers, standing by for orders.

"As for the rest of you keep on your duties but remain on standby in case of emergency. Barricade is still at large and if we need to move fast we don't want to be caught dragging our heels got it?"

"Yes sir." The soldiers chorused before moving along though they chattered about what they had just seen.

Lennox turned back to the monitor and scrutinized the young woman on screen before looking up at Optimus who had been silent all this time.

"Prime, what's your opinion on this?" The Major asked, honestly curious by the look on Optimus' faceplates.

Optimus gazed with concern in his optics at the young woman before giving a low reply. "I am not sure what to think Major Lennox. It is unusual for Decepticons to single out a target unless that person has something they want. A good example of this is Sam and the glasses. However I cannot imagine this human having something that Barricade would want seriously enough to break his cover."

"Well it's obvious that he's chasing her I just wish we knew why," Lennox muttered as he folded his arms over his chest and stared at the monitor. "I wish I could tell you that you guys that you could go back into Mission city and hunt Barricade down, but the government is being more than a bit paranoid right now. They want to know where you guys are at all times, at least until they get the specialized base built for you guys. It's on rush order but it's still going to take a week or two to build in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky just to convince them to let Sam and Mikaela go home for a bit with Bumblebee for protection."

Optimus hummed and nodded. "I will have to contact Bumblebee and have them both come to back to base for the time being. With Barricade at large and Starscream still unaccounted for they are too exposed, too far from help should they be attacked. They should be here by sundown tomorrow."

"Sounds like a plan. Speaking of plans how's it going with fixing Jazz?"

Optimus sighed and looked out the hanger door toward the building that Ratchet had commandeered for his med bay.

"I worry that Ratchet is working himself into the ground but he is presently ahead of schedule. The plans to attempt and revive Jazz have been moved forward. If all goes as planned we hope to call his spark back from the Well of Allsparks as soon as tomorrow and as late as the next day."

Lennox smiled. "Right around Independence day, which is slightly ironic since he fought to keep earth free of Decepticons. I know more than a few of us owe him our lives so I really, really hope it works. It's still hard for me to believe that it's possible to come back from the dead but from the way you guys talk about him if anybot can he can." Lennox gave the Prime one last nod of encouragement and turned for his still new office.

Optimus watched Lennox walk away for a moment before looking toward the slowly darkening sky. "Indeed, if anybot can defy the odds it will be Jazz." He rumbled with a sad but hopeful look in his optics as the sun lowered over the horizon.

Nicole woke early the next morning after Sonic playfully jumped on her stomach, knocking the wind from her and likely further bruising her ribcage. After another meal of greasy fast food, Nicole and the sparklings spent the morning and a good portion of the early evening driving around the city hunting for the last missing brother. The process of searching was made easier since Helix's alt-form gave them a mode of transportation and she no longer had to carry the sparklings. There had been several times they had to avoid a military aid convoy and one scary moment where Nicole thought she had spotted Barricade following them. She was relieved beyond words that it had only been an ordinary cop but she doubted she was ever going to be able to look at a police vehicle the same way ever again.

As time went by Nicole became slowly more anxious to find the missing brother. She knew she needed to get back to the hotel and start getting ready to go to the club to set up her equipment. She was going to need extra time to mingle with the crowd and finish fine tuning her set. Still, it was with a heavy heart that she decided to head back to the hotel after getting Helix more fuel. Nicole reluctantly changed out of the comfy t-shirt and jeans she normally wore and into what she dubbed her 'uniform'.

It consisted of a white fedora along with a loose white and gold crop top that hung loosely from her shoulders and showed just a flash of her stomach. This, paired with dark tights, a mid-thigh jean skirt, flashy earrings and black knee-high boots with just a hint of a heel made up her outfit. Her make up consisted of dark smoky eyes that seemed to make her green eyes glow, red lipstick and making sure her blue hair which was her DJ namesake, was gently curled. Nicole loved being a DJ and making music but she disliked how dressing this way made her feel like a cheap slut. However it had been proven to her time and again that how one dressed made a big difference between success and failure in this business. Jazz hated it even more than she did and made sure she knew it by complaining incessantly.

~But it's so uncomfortable. Come on Nic, even I can tell ya don't like this get up so why do ya have ta wear it?~

"I told you Jazz it's a part of being a DJ ok? Drunk people react better to eye candy regardless of if their music is good or not." She muttered to the bathroom mirror as she finished applying her lipstick.

~That's stupid.~ Jazz sulked childishly.

"So are you, get used to it." Nicole countered with a smile as she slipped on her coat and double checked on her equipment.

The sparklings were watching curiously from the bed chirping and beeping to each other as they watched her prepare with interest. She had explained to them earlier that she was going to work and they would be staying at the hotel. They had seemed slightly worried that she was going somewhere without them but there wasn't much she could do. As far as she knew there wasn't a babysitter for aliens in the Mission city area and the clubbing scene was not one made for sparklings. She had considered bringing them but Nicole didn't want the added stress of trying to keep any eye on them while also trying to do her job.

Once she was sure she had everything she placed the duffle bag by the door and gestured for the sparklings to come over. Sonic leapt from the bed and nearly took her out at the knees and the femme trio scurried over just as quickly to nuzzle her feet. She picked up the femmes and placed them on her shoulders before wrapping her arms around Sonic in a little hug. Nicole didn't want to leave them alone, especially since everything that had happened yesterday, but there simply was no avoiding it. The blue hired girl glanced at the clock and realized she had little time if she was going to get to the club in time. Giving Sonic one last quick hug she released him and reach up and took the femmes from her shoulders and set them gently on the bed.

"Ok so you guys know the rules while I'm gone right? You can play and have fun but you can't make too much noise. You can watch all the TV you want just keep the volume down. If someone comes to the door or into the room you get into your alt-form and hide until they leave. I have my cell phone if there's an emergency and I will come as fast as I can if something happens. Don't fight, stay safe and be good ok?"

Sonic nodded enthusiastically and the femmes beeped an affirmative. Nicole nodded and quickly hauled the duffle bag over her shoulder and left the apartment before her already weak resolve crumbled. She made sure that the door was locked twice before turning to Helix. The black SUV seemed perfectly ordinary, sitting there on the cement, but since Nicole knew the truth she could somehow feel that Helix was just as nervous about her leaving as she was.

"You ok Helix?" She stepped closer to the black SUV just in case someone was near enough to wonder why she was talking to herself.

"I'm ok." Helix's shy voice whispered back but he sounded uncertain.

"Are you sure?" She asked and placed a hand on his side mirror.

"It's just… do you have to go?"

Nicole held back the sigh that wanted to escape at the question, and her shoulders slumped as she wished once more that she could stay.

"Ya I have to. I don't want to but if I'm going to take care of you and your siblings I need to go make money. If I had a choice I'd stay but I don't. I trust you to look after your siblings ok? I know you can't be in there with them but at least make sure they keep the noise level down and that kind of thing alright? Did you hear all the rules and stuff I told them or do you need to hear it again?"

"No, I got it all." Helix giggled and Nicole smiled while giving him one last pat on the side mirror.

"There's a good sparkling. I'll be back a bit after midnight but it could be longer so be good and get a good sleep ok?"

"Yes creator." Helix said obediently and with that Nicole started walking and hailed a taxi as soon as she could. She couldn't seem to resist looking back several times trying to check on them even after they were long gone around the corner.

A line was already waiting under the glowing neon lights of the Nova by the time she arrived. The bouncer, a big burly brute of a guy in a black t-shirt, let her in at the door after checking her ID. Inside the Nova the lights were already dim and a number of employees and bartenders were finishing setting up. Nicole gnashed her teeth and she could feel a tick developing in one of her eyes when she spotted Madison Wood arrogantly directing a scrawny groupie setting up her equipment on the raised DJ stage. Madison was dressed in a tiny black mini skirt that didn't cover much and a bright lime green tube top that looked she could pop out of if she so much as bent over too far. Her blond hair was tightly curled in elaborate golden coils and her face had perhaps a little too much makeup, but she still looked enviously beautiful.

Nicole had known that Madison would have already monopolized the DJ stage when she arrived but that didn't mean it didn't piss her off any less. However she couldn't deny that Madison had gotten here first and gotten first pick. So she remained outwardly calm, ignored the tall willowy blonde and began setting up in the corner beside Madison's impressive display of DJ equipment.

"I'm surprised you had the guts to show up."

Nicole didn't so much as turnaround at the sound of Madison's condescending tone as she set her turn tables on the plain table.

"Then again no one said you need a brain to make bad music."

Nicole's hands tightened on the cables she was pulling from her duffle bag as she entertained the thought of choking Madison out with them.

~Do it, please. This femme needs to be knocked down a peg.~ Jazz growled from the other side of the barrier.

Instead of acting on her impulses and Jazz's urging Nicole turned around with a sickeningly sweet smile on her face. After all, nothing confuses your enemies like a smile.

"You would know all about that wouldn't you, Madison? You're a natural blond after all."

Madison's pretty face twisted sourly as Nicole turned her back on her once more. It wasn't long before the club doors opened and young, scantily dressed men and women began filing in. General dance music that was neither Madison's nor Nicole's began playing and the bar opened as the alcohol began flowing. It wasn't long until people were dancing, grinding and swaying to the music while talking loudly and excitedly over the music about the coming DJ battle. A number of people were pointing at Madison while the males of the club simply outright ogled her. The looks that Nicole received were a bit more sparing but some of the faces of the crowd seemed to recognise her. While she couldn't hear them over the music she could see them saying her stage name, 'Bluejay'.

Nicole finished setting up her equipment, occasionally looking up and smiling at the crowd making sure to make eye contact. Within the hour the place was hopping and Nicole was as ready as she was ever going to be. With nothing left to distract her anxiety pooled in her stomach as she watched the wildly gyrating crowd and the designated time for the DJ battle slowly approached. So much hinged on her being able to win; if she was going to be able to keep her promise to the sparklings and be able to find the last missing brother she had to win. Her palms began to sweat and her throat became dry as a kind of stage fright overcame her. She had never had stage fright before, normally she reveled in the chaotic energy of the club and the music and her own beating heart. However, tonight she felt like she was going to melt from the body heat and choke on the smell of smoke from the crowd.

~Easy there Nic. This is no time ta be freakin' out. Come on you got this, ah know ya do but ya gotta keep yur cool.~

Nicole realized of course that Jazz was right. She had never lost her calm composure like this before a DJ battle before but never before had she had so much riding on winning. She needed a distraction and there was only one thing that could calm her when she felt like this. With slightly shaking hands she walked behind her table of equipment and plugged her headphones into her computer. With a few clicks a cascade of violins and pianos filled her ears and drowned out the sounds of the club. Nicole closed her eyes to the flashing lights, dancing crowd and with a small smile focused solely on the soothing classical sounds.

~Nic? What's this? This ain't your music.~

'No, it's Beethoven. It may come as a surprise to you but I'm actually a big fan of the classics. I played the violin growing up and wanted to become a composer slash songwriter when I grew up. Unfortunately to become that you need schooling and my parents… are less than supportive. They had other plans for me; I refused to conform to their standards and basically ran away.'

Jazz was interrupted from asking more questions when she felt a shy hand tap her on the shoulder. Startled, Nicole's eyes snapped open and for a moment was temporarily blinded by the dance floor lights. Once her eyes had adjusted she recognised the person who had tapped her shoulder was the same boy that had been helping Madison set up her equipment. The guy was tall and scarwany with a shaggy head of dirty blonde hair and washed out brown eyes. He seemed to be around her age and was dressed in a pair of plain jeans and a wrinkled 'Green day' t-shirt. Overall he was completely unremarkable but his nervous smile was adorably earnest. The violin in her ears was exchanged for the heavy beat of pop music as she pushed her headphones back to hang around her neck. She raised one of her eyebrows as she looked him over.

"Can I help you?" She asked curiously.

"Yes- I mean, no. A-actually-uh I mean." The young man's words came to a stuttering halt as he sighed with embarrassment and ran a hand over his face. A small smile quirked the corner of Nicole's mouth as she realized he was blushing and resisted the need to giggle at him. The young man ran a hand through his hair and straightened slightly as he tried again.

"My name's Bartholomew-"

~Geshuntite.~ Chuckled Jazz.

'Quiet you.' Nicole admonished as she tried to pay attention to what the young man was saying.

"-but my friends call me Bart. It's nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you Bart." Nicole said politely much to Jazz's annoyance.

"Can I get you something to drink?" Bart asked earnestly.

Nicole glanced over at the bar where it appeared Madison was getting to know the crowd and downing a shot of a clear liquid that certainly wasn't water.

~Can we try one of those? I wanna see if you humans getting drunk is anything like a bot on too much highgrade.~

"No thanks," she said both to Jazz and Rick. "I don't really like the taste of alcohol very much and I never drink until my set is over. Sorry." Nicole sighed apologetically, honestly feeling a bit bad that she had to turn him down, he seemed like a nice guy. Bart blushed and stammered while running a hand though his shaggy dirty blonde hair.

"Oh no that's not what I meant. I brought some health drinks and thought you might like a bottle. N-not that I wouldn't want to buy you a drink but you don't like alcohol and-"

Nicole smiled and interrupted to spare him the embarrassment of his rambling. "I'd love one, thank you."

Bart grinned nervously and handed her a bottle of what looked like soda, which Nicole put beside her computer since she would no doubt want it later.

"So, what brings you here? Are you a fan of Madison's music?" Nicole asked sincerely hoping he wasn't. She was relieved when he shook his head and looked over where Madison was grinding against several men with a slightly sour look.

"No I'm not a groupie, she's my older sister actually." Bart muttered in a disgruntled tone.

Nicole was slightly surprised by this since other than how tall they were Madison and Bart didn't share many characteristics. This must have shown on her face because Bart cracked a smile and went on to explain.

"I know right? In truth she's my step-sister from my dad's earlier marriage so we've never been very close. Maddie drags me along to do her dirty work while she takes the credit."

Nicole could more or less assume from his tone that he slightly resented Madison and it was kind of nice to find they at least had something in common.

"So you have an evil step-sister? She doesn't make you sweep the chimneys does she?" Nicole asked half seriously but winked to show she was jesting.

Bart laughed at her joke and Nicole was surprised to find that she was actually enjoying talking to Bart. It was nice to talk to someone other than the sparklings or Jazz for the first time in days. Speaking of the aforementioned cybertronian, Jazz was currently sulking in a corner of her head and leaking a number of disgruntled feelings over the barrier before he spoke up.

~Ya do realize yur fraternizin' wit the enemy don't ya Nic?~

Nicole was at first confused by the confusing collage of negative emotions coming from Jazz that were directed at both her and Bart. However Jazz's mood swiftly affected her own and she quickly became defensive.

'Your point?' She spat mentally trying to hold back her emotions and control herself. Jazz apparently didn't get the warning in her tone because his disdain flowed freely over the mental walls.

~Mah point is that we have a lot ridin' on winnin' this thing and here ya are chattin' with that bimbo's brother! Have ya forgotten if we don't win we won't be able to keep that promise to find all the sparklings, or have ya just stopped caring?~

Nicole's fragile temper snapped at what Jazz was even daring to suggest. In an almost physical attack she poured all of her feelings of frustration and fear that she had felt and suppressed over the past week since the Mission city attack. It was like slapping Jazz in the face with a mental wall as his consciousness reeled back and she mentally screamed at him.

'Why you jealous, egotistical, useless excuse for a fragging robot! How dare you! You, of all people, know how much I've worried and agonized over possibly screwing this up! You have been in my head this whole time so you know exactly how much the idea of failing the sparklings scares me. I've been electrocuted, chased, shot at, attacked, injured, and accosted all while dealing with you and the splitting headache you give me. I've been risking my life for both you and the sparklings so don't you DARE, EVER, tell me I don't care!'

Nicole mentally shored up her side of the mental barrier and distanced herself from Jazz while shielding her thoughts and emotions. Her constant headache increased drastically by completely cutting herself off from Jazz but she was far too angry to care at the moment. She smoothed her features before anyone could notice the fury that had etched itself on her face. Bart had obviously not noticed her internal conflict as he had been scanning the crowd.

"Hey it looks like you might be starting soon." Bart yelled to her over the music.

Nicole looked over to see that he was right. A young man who must have been the regular DJ for The Nova was grabbing a good quality wireless mike and coming to stand on the edge of the small dais. The music on the overhead sound system slowly quieted to the crowds' disappointment, but then they cheered as they realized that the time for the main event had arrived. Madison appeared out of the crowd and hopped gracefully onto the platform and took her place behind her equipment. Nicole ignored her for the most part, but couldn't help but notice the blondes condescending smirk in her direction.

"Mission city! Are you ready for the DJ battle of the century!" The man with the mike howled, and the crowd roared a wild response as people crowded onto the dance floor.

"Well that's my cue to get out of here," Bart said with a smile as he slowly retreated while giving her a last shy smile. "Good luck!" He shouted as he hopped off the stage.

Nicole couldn't help but feel like she was going to need it.

So there you go, not a bad chapter I think. Jazz and Nicole really know where and when to pick a fight don't they? Me thinks Jazzy is a little possessive no? Also in this chap you get to know Helix a bit better, (he's cute ain't he) and we hear a bit more from Optimus and how it's going with Jazz's repairs. MWAHAHA! I have a twist planned and you don't get to know what it is yet! I don't know if you guys realize but this story is doing almost two times better than my other transformers story (Titled: Never Say Goodbye), and it's not even half the length of the other one yet. So what are your thoughts so far? Comments? Critiques? Let me know! REVIEW! DO IT BECAUSE THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD COMMAND YOU! (and do it for the sparklings of course)