Daniel's parents created him by accident. Perceptor said so.
"Organic replication is entirely miraculous," he expounded, while Daniel lay under the microscope lens, allowing himself to be studied. Daniel didn't remember what he said next--there was something about DNA and Vector Sigma and gamma-something or other--but then Perceptor said, "Organics are even capable of reproducing themselves accidentally! Like you, Daniel!"
The lens got closer. Daniel flinched. "Wait, I was an accident?" He knew all about accidents. Sometimes they blew up. Occasionally they made surprise things that were better than what they were trying to make in the first place.
"Affirmative!" Perceptor said, excitedly. "Can you turn over?"
Daniel did. "Am I gonna explode?"
"That would be an extremely unlikely eventuality! Your chemical structure is remarkably stable." Daniel could feel the microscope's focus moving over him. It was reassuring. Perceptor would be able to tell.
"As long as ya don't spend too much time in here." That was Brawn. He tended to hang around Perceptor's lab a lot. Daniel assumed that meant they were friends. "C'mon, Percy, give the human a break." A small hand grabbed his leg, covering only most of it, and pulled him off the specimen tray.
"I was examining him!" Perceptor shifted to mech mode as soon as Brawn had Daniel clear of him. Daniel watched as best he could, upside-down, trying to remember how Perceptor did it. Not that he wanted to be a microscope when he grew up. He was going to be a cool car! Or a Dinobot.
"It's break time. We need ya on the practice field. C'mon, Percy, you need ta show Cliffjumper he ain't all that!" Brawn flipped Daniel around in his hands. It took two. Soon, Daniel thought, he'd be taller than Brawn!
Perceptor sighed. "You are perfectly aware that I do not enjoy your violent amusements." But there was a smile under it. "Place our homo sapiens on the floor, first, please."
"Of course! I'm not stupid." Brawn put him down. Daniel was taller than his knees, now. "Get going, kid, run play with the Dinobots or something, 'k?"
"'K!" Perceptor was looking at Brawn like he was being rude or something, but the Dinobots sounded like an excellent idea. Sludge gave the best rides! Of anyone that didn't have wheels, anyway. Daniel ran off.
Daniel's Dad came back the next day. His job as Ambassador meant he had to visit Autobot City frequently, and he always made sure to spend Quality Time with his son.
So Bumblebee took them off to the pond and they sat quietly with fishing poles all day.
"Dad?" Daniel asked, after what must have been several vorns of no fish. "How did you bring me to Vector Sigma by accident? Did you and Mom get lost or something?"
Dad looked over Daniel's head at Bee, and Bee shrugged. "Um. Who told you that?"
"Perceptor!" Daniel said, annoyed. It seemed this was one of the things Dad didn't want to talk to him about, like when he was going to get an alt-mode.
Dad looked worried. "Perceptor is very smart, but...you might not have heard him right. You didn't come from Vector Sigma, you came from your mommy's tummy!"
Daniel frowned. That didn't make any sense. And Dad wasn't nearly as smart as Perceptor, so it must be Dad that was wrong.
Bee shifted next to him. "Hey! I think I got a bite! Help me haul it in, Danny!"
It turned out to be the football the Dinobots had lost last week, and Daniel was too distracted returning it to try to get the real story from his Dad.
He didn't find out how little humans were really made until Hot Rod came to earth, and he sat on his lap while Roddy read through the dossier on humans they'd been given.
Hot Rod had apparently missed the part about not telling Daniel. Or maybe it had been rescinded--Daniel was almost 10, now, and was nearly up to Bumblebee's waist.
The two of them stared in horror at the diagrams of placentas and zygotes, and the...interfacing thing that his parents had apparently done.
"Ewwwwww!" Daniel stood up on Hot Rod's lap. "I didn't come from that! I'm an Autobot like the rest of you! And I don't--" He knew he had the thing that his Dad had used in the diagram. But Roddy was so cool and didn't know about the time he'd thrown up human food all over Optimus Prime, and he certainly didn't need to know that. "I just plug in like normal people. And I don't put babies in people! Not even Blaster."
"Off course not." Roddy seemed kind of relieved. "Come on--!" He tossed the dossier aside. "Let's go driving!"
"Awesome! I'll show you all the sights. And the short cuts! They'll never catch us!" Daniel timed it just right to dive into Hot Rod's seat as he transformed, and started yelling directions as they zoomed off.
Daniel was almost twelve.
He didn't have cables. He didn't have an alt-mode, and he wasn't going to grow one. Sometimes he would go hide in his room and lie on his bed and be sad, because he would never be the Autobot he wanted to be, and Roddy or Arcee would have to come haul him out and cheer him up.
His parents tried, and the other Autobots tried, but he would just hide under a sheet of metal until they went away. Or hauled him out by force, and he hated even more than they could do that so easily.
The other Ambassadors were starting to introduce him to their daughters. There had been enough years and enough turnover for them to forget about what had happened when they'd left little Daniel with the other young children, and Daniel had never played with anyone less durable than an Autobot before.
His Dad gave him a pat on the shoulder and said that he would have to learn to be an ambassador, too, and represent them well.
Daniel tried. He wasn't in the least interested in human children, but he didn't want them thinking that Autobots were rude. They needed all the alliances they could get.
Mostly they ignored him, too. Occasionally they wanted to meet the interesting Autobots, the ones with sexy alt-modes, and they'd talk like Daniel wasn't even there.
After one of them--Minelba, something like that--talked Hot Rod into giving her a ride--without Daniel--Daniel sat sadly on the embassy steps. Hot Rod was his best friend!
Spike--Dad--came by and sat next to him. "Just likes you for your car, does she?"
Daniel looked up at him in confusion.
Spike patted him on the shoulder, very lightly, because he was almost as weak as Daniel was. "Don't worry, your mother was just the same way, when we first met. Always more interested in cars than boys."
"Carly still is." Daniel wasn't sure what this had to do with anything.
Spike put his arms around him and sighed. "She loves you, really, she does. She's just very busy. She'll be back tomorrow night..."
Daniel didn't get humans. He wanted Hot Rod back.
Hot Rod came back. Carly didn't. Not that night. Not for another week.
It made Spike sad, but Spike had Bumblebee and Daniel had Hot Rod and Arcee, so Daniel wasn't sure what the problem was.
Then Hot Rod went away, and came back as Rodimus Prime, and was worried and sad all the time, and hardly had more time for him than his parents did. Daniel still wasn't a proper Autobot, but at least he had a transforming car suit, and he was working on talking Perceptor into giving him cables.
(Wheeljack would have done it, he was sure. But Wheeljack was dead, along with half the other Autobots of Daniel's childhood.
Someday, Daniel would be big and strong and fight alongside Arcee and Rodimus and avenge them all.)
The car Daniel turned into wasn't anywhere near big enough to keep up with Roddy, even with his silly big trailer. Wheeljack would have given him an upgrade, too, but they were short on mechanics after the battle of Autobot City, and no one had the time.
Daniel was hanging out in his suit--just in case he was needed!--and didn't notice Carly until she was standing right next to him.
She walked so softly, and it wasn't like he'd been expecting her. (But he'd have to learn! He didn't want to step on anyone.)
"I remember when we made that for your father." She looked him over with more interest than usual.
"You made it?" Daniel said, surprised.
"Mm-hmm. I've got one around here somewhere, too, if it hasn't been cannibalized for spare parts." She petted the side of his chassis. "Yours is in pretty good shape."
"I try to keep it tuned up and everything." Daniel said, bashfully. "I wish I knew how to upgrade it."
"I can help you with that."
Daniel stared down--only slightly down--at her. "Really?!"
"Of course. Let's go talk about what you want and how we can build it." She opened his door. "C'mon out, easier to work on your car-mode that way."
His car-mode--Daniel stared for a second, then got out. "Thanks, Mom."
"Of course. Let me show you the new transmission I'm working on!" She smiled, and Daniel followed her eagerly. Perhaps this time, they could build him right.