Well After Two
Title: Well After Two
Part: The Fifth (Well After Nine AM)
Fandom: Transformers (2007 Movie)
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Sam, Bee, Arcee, Melissa, Cast
Summary: They'd switched seats somewhere in Ohio and 'Bee's hologram was currently half-slumped against the steering wheel in a very good impression of an exasperated teen driver who hated road construction.
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).
About ten minutes after Arcee's arrival, Melissa (and Ironhide) pulled into the lot.
"Sorry!" Melissa yelled as she climbed down from Ironhide's passenger side, pizza in hand. "We made another stop! Can you help get things from the back?"
"Sure," Sam said as he slid down from the garbage can, a little curious why Arcee followed him with her hologram. She stopped before circling around behind Ironhide (line of sight, Sam reminded himself as he reached for Ironhide's tailgate), instead resting a hand on him (or not).
Laughing at the assortment of soda, oil, and other goodies packed into the back of Ironhide, Sam grabbed an armload and headed for the building. He figured he could at least put everything on the concrete slab that acted as a stoop, at least until Ironhide could transform and clear the area.
He guessed that Arcee was filling in Ironhide on the next day's plan, even though he wasn't involved. Melissa bounded over and stopped cold. Apparently because of Ironhide's size, she hadn't even seen Arcee.
"Who're you?" she asked sharply.
"Arcee," Arcee said, making her hologram look up with a smile Sam could only describe as sickeningly sweet. Or defiant. He wasn't sure. "Sam's cousin."
She was going to get him in trouble.
"Sam's..." Melissa frowned and then held out the pizza boxes. "Take these, then."
Ready to grab for dinner, Sam watched as Arcee managed to take the boxes and very, very quickly drop them off near the door as Melissa looked away to continue unpacking Ironhide.
Sam set down the box of oil that he'd been handed and stared. But apparently that was the limit on her ability as she let the hologram fade and simply transformed. Her physical form was small enough that she wouldn't damage anything human-sized and Melissa, wriggling around to get something that had rolled to the front of the pickup box, didn't notice until she sat up, stray can of lithium spray in her left hand.
"Huh?" she said as she looked up at the real Arcee and quickly did the math. "Oh... you carried something! How did you do that?"
"Practice," Arcee replied as she easily took several white plastic shopping bags and deposited them over at the door in just a couple of steps. "It is not an easy skill to learn."
"You know, if Sam hadn't mentioned you earlier, you might have gotten that 'cousin' line past me," Melissa said as she climbed down from Ironhide, skirt pushing up momentarily. She held up a hand in greeting. "I'm a former Sector Seven Agent - Melissa. I've been asked to assist and offer resources for however long is necessary."
Arcee leaned down and offered Melissa a pair of fingers to shake. Ironhide, finally free of cargo, pulled forward just a bit and transformed, looking slightly grumpy about his time as a pack-horse, though Sam wasn't sure that it wasn't just the usual Ironhide grumpiness.
"Pizza?" Sam suggested. He was curious about just what Melissa had brought home, but at the moment, his stomach came first.
And then he could see if that bed felt as good as it looked.
He woke to daylight and stretched, a little unsure where he was for a moment until everything untangled itself in his mind. It was already well after nine in the morning though Sam was fairly sure he just needed to give up on his body clock for the rest of the summer. Melissa had brought home enough food to keep them both from starving for a few days so he knew he didn't need to bother Bumblebee right away to find him breakfast.
Almost nervously walking over to the window, Sam glanced out to see Melissa talking to Camshaft while gently cupped in one of his hands. Things seemed normal enough - for being completely abnormal and involving giant alien robots. At least he felt rested and his back had worked out all the kinks it had been gathering from sleeping curled in 'Bee's front seat.
What he really needed to do, he realized, was laundry.
In only the sweatpants he'd mostly forgotten that he'd even packed, Sam headed down to the main floor of the building and began to poke around. He hadn't really done much but pass through the main room, noting only the most basic of things about it (like the decent tv and the game controller).
Smiling when he pulled open a door that was half-hidden beneath the stairs, Sam stared at the compact combination washer-dryer that was crammed into a space barely big enough for it.
Glancing around for detergent, Sam realized there were half-damp towels hanging everywhere.
And he probably needed to ask Melissa if she had anything that needed to be washed, just to be polite. She was starting to be tolerable, after all.
Carrying the clean, dry (and mostly fluffy) towels out to Melissa, who was frantically trying to stop an arguement between Ironhide and Camshaft over line position for carwashes, Sam was rather glad he had already loaded his repacked bag into Bumblebee for the trip north.
"That is a technicality," Ironhide protested, looming over Camshaft as if he expected Camshaft to do something other than hold his ground.
"Fleshling custom is for one who gets out of line to lose that spot," Camshaft countered.
"She is the one who removed me," Ironhide retorted, gesturing at Melissa (complete with canon). Melissa dove off towards the garbage cans, peeking over one as the two Autobots continued to argue.
Sam just set the towels down and quietly inched to where 'Bee was waiting. If Melissa hadn't mentioned that the temperature was somewhat cooler up along the lakes, Sam wouldn't have bothered washing his sweatshirt but it had seemed like a good idea. One sweatshirt, a few towels... shouldn't have dropped him into a potential armageddon.
"I don't think I'll ever find this as normal as Melissa does," Sam commented as he closed Bumblebee's driver's door and reached for the seatbelt.
"You don't have to," 'Bee said as his hologram appeared in the passenger's seat and gave him a quick wave. "You just have to be here."
There was a pause that Sam knew meant that Bumblebee was talking to Arcee, who powered up her own hologram and offered a thumbs-up.
"This was not a shortcut," Bumblebee complained as they inched forward along the interstate on their way to where a massive three-lane freeway merged off into a miniature shoulder-lane. Sam thought if he ever saw an orange construction barrel again, it would be too soon.
"I don't think there are shortcuts," Sam replied. "I'm glad you're driving. The roads here don't make any sense whatsoever."
"And the construction..."
"Welcome to Earth, roads under construction," Sam interjected. They'd switched seats somewhere in Ohio and 'Bee's hologram was currently half-slumped against the steering wheel in a very good impression of an exasperated teen driver who hated road construction.
Bumblebee flipped through a few radio stations, settling on the Who again - Baba O'Reilley. Sam sighed. Traffic didn't move.
Arcee was a few cars ahead of them, getting admiring stares from the construction workers as far as Sam could tell.
"'Bee?" Sam asked after a moment. He'd wanted to ask all day but the time didn't seem right. The time still didn't seem right. "Can I ask a question?"
"I believe you just did," Bumblebee replied, glancing up. Sam wanted to reach over and push shaggy blond hair away from blue eyes but he resisted. There were too many other sets of eyes around to risk a holographic glitch.
"At least you're doing well with Earth humor, if not our inferior highway system," Sam remarked. He reached to tilt his seat back just a bit more. Looking out the window while asking sounded like a good idea.
"Anything you'd like, Sam," 'Bee said. They inched forward for a few seconds before stopping again halfway under an overpass.
"What's going on with... Well, do you guys... pair up like humans do?" Not quite what Sam wanted to say or how he wanted to say it.
Bumblebee chuckled. "I've been waiting for you to ask that - it's a very human question."
"Your culture likes to impose its rules onto others," 'Bee explained. "It's not surprising that you'd be curious about..."
"Yeah, I guess," Sam interrupted. He hadn't thought of it quite in the way Bee had put it, but it was very much the truth - he was judging the Autobots based on his own beliefs, regardless of theirs.
"But to answer your question," Bumblebee continued once Sam had nervously glanced over and then back again, half out the window and half nowhere. "Yes, sometimes one will choose to take a... lifemate of sorts. There has to be... a very strong bond. I can't figure out a word in your language that corresponds."
"I think I understand," Sam said. He hadn't even noticed that Bumblebee had made his hologram sit up and start to drum his fingers on the steering wheel. The look was good, but the slight thump-thump noise was missing and ruined most of the effect of the act.
"But that wasn't your real question, was it?" The look on Bumblebee's face was nearly wicked, something that Sam wasn't sure the Autobot could have conveyed outside of using a hologram.
"Don't think about it like a human," 'Bee reminded him. "We don't reproduce like your kind. There's no social taboo against companionship or pleasure. And despite the pronouns or appearances and voices we've chosen for this world..."
"Same ports and wires," Sam finished. "Arcee told me that."
He waited for Bumblebee to say something, but there was only silence. They inched forward again. Part of him wanted to ask what the obvious next questions - had 'Bee? Did 'Bee? Would 'Bee? And with who?
"Probably not very interesting to a species with an entire complex communication system capable of sharing information across the globe that is instead used mostly for retrieving explicit material," Bumblebee said as they reached the end of the construction and the one lane opened back into three.
Sam was glad he hadn't said anything further. This way he could just laugh and wave as they caught up to Arcee.
"You sure this is the place?" Sam asked as they pulled into the dark, vacant parking lot of a suburban mall. "We're at a mall."
"This is the location," Arcee's voice replied over 'Bee's stereo. "Your global satellite system leaves no doubt."
"She's correct," Bumblebee said. "Though... I'm not picking up anything."
"I'll circle the place," Arcee said as she revved her engine and took off towards the shadowy edge of a discount store.
"What should we do?" Sam asked. "Can I get out and stretch?"
"Yes," 'Bee said as he opened the passenger door for Sam. "But stay close."
"Not like the mall's open," Sam said. "Though I wouldn't mind picking up a few things if it was."
As Sam wandered over to a small island in the parking lot that contained a bit of ragged grass and a haphazard tree, he glanced upward at the stars. Most of the lot's lights were even off for the night and he was fairly sure they'd been the only vehicles on the road.
If the Decepticons had indeed set up an operation here, they were either stupid or obviously knew something that Sam couldn't fathom.
And then he heard what he guessed was Arcee coming back from the other direction. He froze. She wasn't alone.
"Bumblebee!" Sam yelled at about the same moment 'Bee transformed, charging his weapon immediately and firing at the vehicle pursuing Arcee.
The slightly-larger, pale-colored motorcycle lacked a visible rider and it swerved quickly to avoid being hit. At almost the same moment, both it and Arcee converted. Arcee was poised to fire but didn't move as the other motorcycle-robot shook its head as if it was momentarily stunned.
Sam tried to hide behind the tree, knowing full well that it wouldn't do any good. But he was at least out of the way for the time being.
Taking a slow step forward, Arcee screamed something in Cybertronian, the words harsh and for the first time in his memory, Sam didn't need a translation. He understood the raw anger in Arcee's voice as the Decepticon brought one metal finger down along its chest to trail along a burned black pointy emblem.
And when the Decepticon spoke, Sam realized two things - the first was that the Decepticon was a 'she' in the same sense that Arcee was a 'she' - and the second was that she and Arcee very obviously knew each other.
Arcee retorted and the Decepticon raised her own weapon. Bumblebee fired, grazing her leg in an obvious warning shot. He spoke, but more to Arcee than the Decepticon. But Arcee still seemed to waver, despite having a clear shot. The Decepticon kept speaking and Sam wished he could understand her because it was very obvious that whatever she was saying was upsetting both Arcee and 'Bee.
Bumblebee flipped his mask down. He was not going to waste another shot on a warning.
And then he froze. Sam stepped forward without meaning to, but Arcee had paused as well, after finally looking like she was going to shoot. It took a few seconds before he figured out that the female Decepticon was doing something to them - holding them in some sort of lock. She stepped closer, emitting a noise like a purr as she reached to lower Arcee's weapon. There was a flicker of recognition visible on Arcee's optics, but that was all. Arcee didn't move, even as she took a low-powered blast in the abdomen.
Sam took another step forward, kicking something. He looked down and saw a pair of filthy tennis shoes. And without thinking, he grabbed them and ran forward, lobbing one at Arcee with the sort of skill he wished he had at baseball tryouts in junior high. It caught her in the thigh, but it was enough that she broke out of the hold the Decepticon had on her. She fired quickly, screaming something that Sam definitely didn't want translated, creating a glowing hole in the Decepticon's side.
As the female Decepticon fell, the hold on Bumblebee was released as well and he moved forward. Yet they all froze at the sound of a jet overhead.
Sam ran back for the tree, still holding one ruined shoe as it descended, opening fire. He almost missed that it was the female Decepticon that took the first hit as the rest blew holes in the parking lot behind her. Bumblebee yelled something and raised a hand as the jet circled for another flyover.
And that was when the Decepticon fired, hitting the jet's wing and sending it spiralling off in a trail of smoke. Arcee yelled something. Bumblebee blasted the energy bow clear out the Decepticon's hand and across the parking lot, spinning before hitting a dumpster at the edge of the mall's Chuck E. Cheese.
They all heard the sirens at the same time.
"We've got to go!" Bumblebee called. Somehow English sounded out of place, but Sam merely nodded as 'Bee transformed and skidded over to the tree. Sam dropped the spare shoe almost as an afterthought as he jumped into Bumblebee. He was thankful to see Arcee following them out of the parking lot.
"What was that?" Sam asked, panicking a bit as they sped off towards the east. "I thought..."
"I'll tell you later," 'Bee said as he picked up speed. "We've got to find Skyblast."
"Water," Arcee's voice echoed over the radio, a little too loud and a little too upset. "He says he landed in the water."
"Skyblast," Arcee corrected. "He says he isn't totally under water."
"He's in the lake?" Sam asked. He knew a bit about the Great Lakes from geography glass. The thought of being in one was not particularly a happy one.
"Nearby," Bumblebee commented as they turned a sharp corner. "We're almost at the water."
"What about... the... I mean, the police..."
"They won't find anything," Arcee said bitterly. "She couldn't have been alone."
"If what she said was true, she definitely wouldn't be alone. Ever," 'Bee added.
"What did she say?" Sam asked. The treeline vanished as they came upon the water - black in the night and only broken by the marker lights for the shipping channel. "Who was she?"
"It's complicated..." Arcee began, only to interrupt herself as she pulled in front of Bumblebee. "Dammit!"
Sam saw the jet-robot, Skyblast, a few seconds later, about twenty feet out into the water and thankfully in the middle of a vacant public beach.
"We've got to get him hidden," Bumblebee said as he jumped the curb and headed for the water. Sam wished he'd have put his seatbelt on. Safety first, and all, especially as they skidded down towards the water. He grabbed at the seat beneath him, watching as Arcee transformed and ran, a much more logical choice for the rocky sand.
"Let me out," Sam said as he pulled at the door handle. "Can you guys even go in the water?"
"Let's find out," 'Bee said as he came to a stop to let Sam out.
Together, the three of them dashed into the water before Sam could even pause to stop and think that the water might be absolutely freezing. Recoiling for a second, he winced but headed forward. He probably should have asked for a ride on Bumblebee's shoulder but there just hadn't been time for that much thought. Arcee and Skyblast were speaking quickly in Cybertronian though Skyblast looked over at Sam when he approached and offered a hand in greeting.
"Can you move?" Sam asked. "We've got to get out of here. Someone had to have seen that."
"He can't," Arcee said. "And the waves are causing the sand to shift. We're sinking."
"But," Skyblast said in smooth, practiced English, "I'm no longer on fire."
"We have to try to get to shore," 'Bee said. "Even if someone does see us."
"I've already sent a distress call," Skyblast said as he tried to shift a bit. The resulting splash nearly dunked Sam under the water and he wished he would have at least taken his shoes off. He was soaked. Hopefully Bumblebee had left his bag up on the sand somewhere.
"Any response?" Arcee asked as she looked around quickly before reaching to pull on Skyblast's arm.
For five minutes they struggled to get Skyblast closer to the shore, finally figuring out how to use the waves to their advantage even though floating several tons of Autobot was mostly impossible.
Sam was exhausted by the time they neared halfway and with a nod from Bumblebee, he headed toward the shore.
Yet again, he heard the incoming jet before he saw it. Beginning to hate turning his back on anything, he spun around quickly and slid on the sand, falling back as he flailed to catch himself. His hand landed on the familiar strap of his bag.
And all he saw was white.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!