"Will? Oh, god! Will!"
He should recognize that voice, he knows he should, but the sounds have driven everything from his mind. Everything's gone, except for the need to get to safety.
BANG BANG POP POP POP SIZZLE CRASH
And that's it, that's all he can take. He's up, running for all he's worth. He has no idea where he's going, but as long as he can keep ahead of the explosions, he'll be ok. He has to be ok.
BANG BANG BANG
The lights flicker.
He's made it to the door and there it is, his escape. He's gasping for air, fighting for consciousness, and somewhere deep in his mind, where he can still think, he knows he's going into shock.
BANG!BANG!BANG! The last thing he hears, explosions.
POP!POP!BANG! The last thing he sees, blinding flashes of light.
SIZZLE!BANG!BANG!BANG! The last thing he feels, the earth shaking beneath his palms.
"I was under the impression that this holiday is a celebration. Do you not celebrate your Independence Day as well as the rest of the country?"
A soft sigh sounds, coming from somewhere on his left, "Yeah, we do. It's kind of hard to explain, I guess."
"Captain Lennox's reaction then, it was not normal." A statement.
"No," came the soft reply. "This happens more often than the military wants to admit. They call it PSTD or Post Tramautic Stress Disorder, some people confuse it with Shell Shock. It doesn't really matter what you want to call it in this case; they all mean the same thing. The sound of the fireworks exploding literally threw Will's mind back into the warzone, he thought there were bombs going off all around him and that he had no escape.
"God, he was so damn scared when he woke up. You guys really tired him out today and he wanted to take a nap, rest a little, before going to see Sarah and Annabelle. It was peaceful, lying there with him. One minute he's sound asleep and the next he was flying out of the room like... like he had his own personal Megatron on his tail.
"I've never seen him so frightened," came the soft admission.
And then he's drifting back into the dark. He welcomes the silence it offers with open arms.
"I know you are no longer recharging."
"We call it sleeping, you know," Will replies, as he tries to push himself up. He hates talking to other people, robots, when he's flat on his back.
"Sleeping. Noun, the condition of being asleep."
Will finds himself chuckling a little at that, "Sam told me all about your experience with the 'World Wide Web'. It's really kinda cool that you guys can pull up any information you want at any time of the day. Creepy, but cool."
He finally manages to sit upright without seeing spots in front of his eyes.
"What happened? and where'd Sam go?" he asks.
Ironhide leans down slightly, so he can see eye to eye with the human. "Bumblebee convinced Sam to go and retrieve your sparkling and wife with him. They should be returning in a few moments. As to what happened, Ratchet's initial analysis had no results. Sam was able to shed light on a condition known as PTSD. Are you familiar with it?"
"PTS..." Will trails off, "Wait, you all think? That I? Woah, you guys are all way off base! I'm fine! and you're all wacked! Totally wacked!" He's shouting now and he knows he should stop, but he can't, it's like he's lost all control and he wishes he knew how to get it back.
He's up again. This time there's no running, but that doesn't seem to matter as he's throwing anything he can get his hands onto as hard as he can and as far as he can. He's destroying the little MedBay the Autobots set up for their human friends. Ironhide just stands quietly and lets him take his anger out on the inanimate objects. Looking back, it was probably for the best that there were no other people around, he'd probably have hurt them.
Will wears himself out pretty quickly and sinks to the floor, he's crying dry tears and is eternally grateful when Ironhide gently picks him up and places him in a remarkebly undisturbed bed before turning down the lights and sitting next to Will as he falls into a shallow sleep.
"You'll let him know we stopped by? I wish we could stay, but Anna and I are going to visit her grandparents and the only flight I could get leaves at six AM."
"Yeah, it's not a problem. I know he appreciates you both coming by and I'll make sure he gives you a call as soon as he can," Sam says reassuringly.
He's insanely grateful to Sarah for not taking his daughter away in the divorce, when his daughter leans down, whispering into his ear, "I love you daddy. Please, get better soon."
About a year later.
He finds himself grinning like a fool when Sam leans back, solid warmth pressed to his front, resting against his chest. The teen's head is on his shoulder and Will just can't help himself, he places a soft kiss to Sam's temple.
He is so happy to finally be here, he knows that without his friends support, without Sam's unwavering belief in him, that he would never have made it to this point in time. To this day, where he can sit with his lover, surrounded by his friends, human and Autobot, and just enjoy the spectacle.
Sam turns, grinning impishly, and leans in, kissing Will with all he has.
And Will? He sees fireworks.