Well After Two
Title: Well After Two
Part: The Second (Well After Six AM)
Fandom: Transformers (2007 Movie)
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Sam, Bee, Arcee, Cast.
Summary: Part of the reason Sam didn't get a chance to ask questions was that as soon as he'd finished confusedly mumbling, there was a knock on the window.
Notes: This unofficially takes place in the 'Target Exclusive' alter-continuity of the movie-verse (where Jazz lives and is sporting a sexy G1 redeco, the Decepticons have ties to corporate America, and scouts are everywhere).
Part of the reason Sam didn't get a chance to ask questions was that as soon as he'd finished confusedly mumbling, there was a knock on the window. The hologram was back, smiling and beckoning for him to step outside. Sam wasn't entirely sure what to do - they'd all decided to rest for a bit before heading onward.
Bumblebee was the one who rolled the window down.
"I was told to take you to get you breakfast," Arcee said with a smile as she pointed at... herself. Or, well, her hologram pointed at her real body - Sam wasn't quite sure how to make the distinction since her hologram appeared outside of her physical body.
And could manipulate things, he realized a second later. She had knocked on the glass of 'Bee's window.
"Yeah..." Sam stammered. It was well after six and he was fairly sure someone had mentioned a town about a half-hour down the interstate. Breakfast would indeed be a good thing since the last time he'd eaten had been during the previous afternoon. "Okay."
He'd never ridden a motorcycle before, but he wasn't going to admit that as Arcee stepped back and Bumblebee opened the passenger door to let him out. Sam gently patted 'Bee's roof after climbing out, closing the passenger door carefully before turning to Arcee.
"Go ahead," Bumblebee said. "Arcee will not let anything happen to you."
Sam blinked. That wasn't what he was worried about.
Still, he let himself be led over to Arcee by Arcee (it was not getting easier to differenciate or unify, mainly because he wasn't sure which he was supposed to be doing).
"You can touch things," Sam said as he awkwardly slung a leg over... (at this point he decided not to think too hard about it, because it sounded wrong in his head and nothing would make it right)
"Not easily," Arcee admitted as she gestured for Sam to slide up so she could hop on behind him. "You just hold onto the handlebars and I'll hold onto you. You just won't be able to feel it."
"But why bother if I'm..."
Arcee's hologram smiled at him as he glanced back at her. Her arms were around him, but like she'd said, he couldn't feel a thing. "Well, the lone sherrif in that town thought it would be a good idea to pull me over to admire my body. Both of them. Needless to say, it might be a problem if he saw the same motorcycle with a different rider."
"Right," Sam said as he reached forward to grab the handlebars. Her... yeah, so not going to think about it. "So I'll just hold on."
Holding on was about all he could do as they sped out of the dirt lot and onto the county road. He wanted to look back and see if the hologram was still behind him, pressed against him... A quick glance down did reveal arms around his midsection, gloved fingers woven together loosely.
Autobot, Sam told himself before he could feel any more awkward. Just camoflage. She was a soldier doing her duty. If it wasn't her and couldn't be 'Bee, it would be Ironhide. Or Camshaft. Or any of the others.
He was really glad that she was the one driving.
The sun was well above the horizon when they pulled into the parking lot of a small diner that glinted silver in the sun. Arcee hopped off first, which was fine because Sam wasn't sure he'd be able to walk right. There had been a lot of vibration and some of it had not been in the good way.
"You'll have to hold the door for me," Arcee said with a smile as she took her helmet off and hung it on one of the handle bars.
"You're going in?" Sam asked incredulously, glancing around the parking lot to make sure no one was in hearing range of the exchange.
She nodded as she walked towards the door, leaving Sam to stumble after her.
Sam was happy that only a couple of farmers occupied the diner and that they only gave the pair the barest of glances. Arcee slung into the booth directly on the other side of the wall from her physical body, flickering for only a split second and in a way Sam was fairly sure that he had blocked from the lone waitress who seemed to be busy gathering coffee mugs and silverware anyway.
"You've practiced," Sam said as he reached behind the salt and pepper shakers for a menu. "Really practiced."
"I believe there's a fleshling saying for that," Arcee replied, obviously thinking. "The reason for invention is necessity?"
"Close." Sam smiled and didn't bother to correct her. She'd said something about being elsewhere in the universe - he certainly didn't expect her to have everything about Earth sorted out. "But what about eating?"
"Can't do that," Arcee said. "Do you like coffee?"
"With enough sugar," Sam admitted. "Why?"
"What can I get for you two?" the waitress interrupted, setting down two mugs and two handfuls of silverware. Somehow she was still clutching a pot of coffee and a ratty green order pad.
"Just coffee for me," Arcee said before looking at Sam. "Sam, what would you like?"
Sam ordered, making sure to add coffee to the end even though he wasn't entirely sure of the reason why.
"You sure you only want coffee?" the waitress asked Arcee as she quickly poured both cups full.
"I'll be riding all day," Arcee said as she pointed out the window and then to Sam. "I spent the night with my cousin here and will be heading on once I take him home. This is a very lovely area."
The waitress smiled. "Well you have a safe ride, dear." And with that she bustled off, yelling back towards the kitchen to start on Sam's breakfast.
"Put the cups next to one another and make them however you like," Arcee directed softly. "Keep them both in the middle and switch them now and then. It will look like I've been drinking."
Sam chuckled - Arcee certainly had thought everything through. Then he frowned.
"How can you talk?" he asked. "I mean..."
"Radio waves bounced off the particles of the hologram," Arcee said with a smile. "One of our scientists figured it out when we were stuck on a boring, cold moon for a couple of years."
"Oh, okay." Sam was going to pretend he understood everything she'd said. Or, he understood it well enough, he just didn't have a clue how it worked.
"I probably can't talk down by the door," Arcee added. "And can't leave my own sight. I'm basing my own sitting position based on yours, so just wave a bit or something if I'm floating or sinking."
Glancing quickly to make sure skintight purple was indeed in the proper places, Sam nodded silently.
A minute passed in silence. Sam drank from both coffee cups, adding a bit of cream and sugar to each but stacking the empty packages into two different piles.
"So... you know Bumblebee?"
Arcee laughed. "Know him? Of course. I served under his command for decades. It's nice to hear his voice again."
Sam grabbed at the edge of the table, leaning intently over towards Arcee. "You knew him when..."
"I was there," she softly interrupted, looking away and down as if it was a memory she would never have dredged up if not asked. "And after - I was there."
Swallowing hard, Sam turned his attention to the window where Arcee - the real Arcee - sat unassumingly. He wasn't sure he'd wanted to hear that from her hologram, beauty aside. For a few seconds, he ached to be able to just talk to her as she was.
"Huh?" Sam looked back at her, into purple eyes that echoed her life.
"Why? I mean, I brought that up," Sam said quickly. "And... it's a little awkward to talk to you while... hey, how can you hear me?"
A smile. "The glass between us isn't much of a barrier."
"I don't mind talking about the past," Arcee continued as she reached to put her hands around one of the coffee mugs, slipping a bit at first and putting her hand through it. "I'm guessing that Bumblebee didn't tell you much?"
"No," Sam admitted. But he hadn't asked, to tell the truth. In a way, he had trouble grasping that the war for the AllSpark had been going on for more than hundreds of thousands of years.
"I definitely have some stories for you, then," Arcee said with another animated smile. "But... oh, here comes your food."
As hungry as Sam realized he was when he inhaled the delicious aroma of the mounded plate of eggs and pancakes and bacon and potatoes, the sudden desire to know more about his friend was stronger.
"Here you go," the waitress said as she set down his plate, glancing at their coffee cups. "More coffee?"
"Just a bit," Arcee replied. "Thank you."
Sam waited a couple of seconds after the waitress vanished before speaking again, using the interim to stuff the better part of a pancake into his mouth. He was going to ask the important question.
"You're a girl. How are you a girl?"
There was an interesting pause during which Sam poked at one of his eggs and subsequently broke it. He considered repeating himself in case the glass had suddenly become very thick between them.
"'Girl' is appropriate in your language," Arcee said slowly. "Or... it is appropriate for me to use this form to communicate because it feels comfortable to me. However, on this world there are physical differences between your 'girls' and 'boys' that we, as a race, don't have. Despite the difference between my natural appearance and Ironhide's, I can assure you that all of our ports and wires are the same."
"Oh." Sam felt vaguely let down. "So you're not actually a girl..."
"If you consider the other Autobots you have met thus far to be male, then I am female," Arcee said simply, switching her hands to the other coffee mug.
Quickly eating the rest of his breakfast in contemplative (and confused) silence, Sam was almost sure that he shouldn't have asked.
"Earlier, before you asked how I could hear you... I said I was sorry," Arcee said as Sam pushed his plate back a bit on the table. "I didn't get to explain why."
"I thought it was because I..."
"It's because I was originally very angry to hear that Bumblebee decided - no, requested - to stay with you," Arcee admitted. "Though he is no longer my superior officer, I hold a high respect for his skill and thought it a waste to devote himself to you."
Sam frowned. Arcee's words cut deep inside and hurt. He almost wished he hadn't just inhaled a small mountain of food. Trying to look at it from her perspective wasn't easy - they each knew a different side of the same 'bot.
"During my original mission on this planet, I came to the conclusion that your kind was full of hate and not worth saving, but I put that aside to focus on the Decepticons," Arcee continued. Her speech was a bit slow and Sam wanted to reach over to her and tell her it was okay. He just... couldn't.
"Bumblebee tells me of how you saved him, and that he's happy we're getting along."
Arcee frowned again.
"And he says you're staring at my breasts."
Sam turned so quickly he nearly upset everything on the table as he caught his leg underneath it. Sitting next to Arcee was a familiar yellow Camaro with a familiar blond driver.
"You're talking to him?"
Nodding, Arcee froze and pointed to another new arrival - a battered county sheriff's car that pulled into the empty space on Arcee's far side.
"Your other new friend," Sam guessed. Arcee had to be talking to Bumblebee, because she didn't reply.
"Now would be a good time to leave," Arcee said as the sheriff entered the diner and went straight to the register. Sam watched in horror as the sheriff pointed at their table - he hadn't forgotten any of his previous run-ins with the law and the last thing he needed was to get arrested in Nebraska for... something or other.
Moving to stand, Sam found himself being stared down at.
"Cindy Lou says this is your cousin," the sheriff said, glancing around Sam at Arcee. "And that you're on your way."
"I am," Arcee replied. "Actually, we were just leaving. One of Sam's friends from school just arrived to pick him up."
The sheriff glanced out the window and then smiled. "Not a farmer, I guess. Can't all be. I'll catch your bill as long as I don't catch either of you speeding in my jurisdiction."
"Not a chance, uh, sir," Sam stammered. Arcee, apparently, had a positive effect on everyone.
"Thank you," Arcee said, smiling as she carefully stood. She tossed her hair and managed a bit of a bounce (which, Sam didn't figure he should have been looking at, being her cousin and all except that he wasn't), distracting from any other errors in her animation. "We'll be off."
"We will," Sam echoed, sidestepping just behind Arcee and giving a quick wave before getting ahead of her to open the door. The sheriff didn't follow and Sam let out a sigh of relief as they crossed in front of 'Bee.
"May we meet again," Arcee said as she stepped oddly to the other side of her physical body. Then she held out her hand like a handshake, putting her hand directly over a handlebar.
"Wait, this is it?" Sam asked, shaking his head. "This can't be it. Where are you going? We're headed east."
"You're headed east," Arcee corrected. "I will be taking an assignment here in the American midwest."
"No, that's not right," Sam insisted as he grabbed the handlebar, not intending to complete the handshake but instead clinging. "What if I don't let go?"
"Sam -" her voice was suddenly harsh. "This is war. We do what we're ordered to do."
Letting go, Sam nodded. He'd momentarily forgotten the warrior beneath the purple paint.
"Well take care," he said, trying to make it sound like an order. "And... thank you."
"Thank you." Arcee winked and then jumped onto... (again, Sam wasn't sure how to process the thought of Arcee-on-Arcee.)
Sam just stepped back, nearly bumping into the partially opened door of the Camaro. He was still a moment as she backed the motorcycle awkwardly up and then sped out of the lot.
"'Bee?" Sam asked as he got inside, gaining a curious stare from the holographic driver.
"What is it, Sam? Arcee said that she approves of you."
"Yeah, but..." he wasn't sure how to say it and they were already most of the way back to where the other Autobots were apparently still resting.
"I think I have more questions than answers."
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!