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Chapter Text

"You're Goldbug, right?"

The seeker remained still, his frame not giving away his shock. The Middle Witwicky child hovered near Goldbug's head, standing on a thick hanging chain. His yellow boots dug into the metal links as he leaned back like he was standing on a swing. The fourteen year old was wearing his 'Bomber Jacket,' Goldbug's database supplied: brown leather coat with a white furry collar that hung too loose on his frame. Goldbug hadn't heard the boy climb down the chain, nor noticed his approach.

Sloppy, Goldbug thought to himself, as he stared optic to eye with this little human invader.

The Witwickys had been an odd, yet oddly welcome, addition to the Ark.

Sparkplug, Butch, Spike and Buster. Goldbug had memorized their names and personal histories on the first day. His old blackmailing days kept up Goldbug's drive to stay informed, and it wasn't every day your leader permitted a set of "Human Autobot Allies" to move into their sacred Ark.

Not that they didn't fit in, Goldbug relented.

If the Witwicky's had been Cybertronian, those four would have been right at home with the Autobots. Perhaps that's where their leader's curiosity toward them lied. Or maybe their Prime just liked having a set of pets around to remind everyone of their inferiority.

It had been hard to tell some days.

Odd as it was to be conscious of the organic creatures under foot the first few weeks, the Autobots adapted. The four humans wormed their way into the ranks like they had always belonged there, like parasites. Goldbug was caught between being impressed, and concerned by their effect on his peers when they started making requests, and getting them.

For example, Sparkplug had been near immediately absorbed into Wheeljack and Ratchet's bubble of madness. Goldbug didn't think it was possible for a human to be frightening, but with access to Wheeljack and Ratchet's equipment, Sparkplug was managing at least a base level of intimidation. He had suggested some project involving a hand-made Autobot no one wanted any part of, and somehow got Wheeljack's full support. And Goldbug shivered at the thought of the human assisting Ratchet in repairs.

Butch and Buster were less of a threat, tagging along behind Rodimus like ankle biting cassettes. The purple hot rod didn't complain about his additional posse, and rather, his ego had gotten worse lately from the constant affirmation from the Witwicky siblings.

Fourteen year old Spike Witwicky was the odd one out.

Optimus Prime had taken to him early on. Spike didn't so much as interact with their glorious leader, as he somewhat existed as a trophy piece. Goldbug found 'Pet' to be the best comparison for Spike's position with their grand and glorious leader. Spike could usually be spotted sitting on Prime's desk, waiting to be pet, or have his back rubbed absently while their Prime reviewed paperwork. On the rare occasion, Prime would carry him, or allow Spike the privilege of staying in the Prime's private quarters during recharge.

But one day, Prime had placed Spike on the ground and nudged the boy away without looking at him, and that had been that. Whatever amusement their Prime had gathered from the boy, it had been spent. Prime still pet Spike, or acknowledged him every so often, but for the most part, the boy had been free to wander.

So much time early on with Lord Prime made Spike a taboo around the Ark, Goldbug observed. No one wanted to touch something that 'belonged' to their Prime, whether he was being 'used' or not. But Spike was persistent, almost aggressively so. Eventually, he found company in an Autobot here or there in the same fashion as his family.

Most often, he was spotted going along with Hound or Trailbreaker on scouting missions. He bothered Mirage, and annoyed Jazz. When he pushed his luck too far with Goldbug's more dangerous peers, Spike would hang around his brothers or father as his shield. However, Spike didn't belong anywhere.

Until he caught Goldbug watching him.

"So are you?" Spike asked again, shifting on the chain so that he was hugging the one side.

"I'm fairly certain you already know the answer to that," Goldbug said. He clicked the last few bits of information into his report on Teletran. Finished, Goldbug strode away quickly, hoping to escape the boy's curiosity. Spike frowned, and yanked on another loose chain. It tumbled to the floor, and he transferred from one to the other to slide down to the floor. Goldbug heard the small tapping of feet follow up behind him. He sighed, "What are you doing?"

"I've seen you looking at me," Spike said. He tagged along Goldbug's side, with his arms behind his back. His wavy brown hair bounced on his head from the lift in his steps.

Goldbug pushed the boy aside with his foot. Spike fumbled, but not enough to fall over. He glared, and Goldbug asked, "What's your point?"

"Maybe I've been looking at you, too," Spike answered, brushing off his sleeves. He heaved himself up on a piece of pipe running along the corridor to give himself an extra foot or two of height. He wasn't optic-to-optic, but Spike's head came up to at least the same level as Goldbug's spark instead of his knee-joint. Spike turned around on the pipe and walked backwards to easier look up at Goldbug's visor. His yellow boots peeking out from under the dark blue jeans tapped heavily on the metal conduit. "You guys have intuition?"

Goldbug didn't humor the boy with an answer.

"I think you do," Spike said. He waved his finger back and forth between the two of them, and tilted his head to the side. It knocked a wave of hair in between his eyes. "You're too much like us humans to not get gut feelings about things."

"Is this going somewhere?" Goldbug asked. There was something twisting in his spark as he tried to figure out the kid's angle. What did he want?

"I have a feeling about you and me," Spike said. He shoved his hands into his pockets, and turned back around to walk straight. A mischievous smile tugged at the side of his lips, and it made Goldbug wary in a way he hadn't felt since before the Ark crashed. Spike nodded toward Goldbug, and the feeling deepened. "A good one. My gut's telling me that we should hang out. We can be good for each other."

Goldbug stopped. He held his shoulders back straight, pulling up his full height over the boy. He looked spike eye to visor, and rumbled his engine. "And what created that feeling?"

Spike shrugged, and tapped the tip of his boot on the pipe. "Yellow's my favorite color."

Chapter Text

Goldbug had a problem.

It had only been a month, but Spike Witwicky had burrowed into Goldbug's spark like one of those ticks that had attacked Spike after an overnight trip with Hound in the woods. Only Goldbug planned on keeping his little parasite, instead of using a pair of tweezers to rip the thing's head off after it was extracted from its burrow under Spike's skin.

The two of them fit together like it was the most natural thing in the world to have that small warm body taking residence in the front seat of Goldbug's alt mode.

Spike groaned, leaning on Goldbug's steering wheel like a dead weight. His arms were wrapped around the leather and metal spokes like a pretzel, gripping tightly to Goldbug like his world would be ripped away if he let go.

"Butch is such an idiot," Spike mumbled. His breath was heavy, and the scent of alcohol laced the edges. The emptied bottle of bourbon tipped over on the car floor as Spike shifted his foot. "I told him to stay away from that Astoria chick, and he didn't listen. 'Big Man Butch' had to hit on her anyway. I told him!"

"It sounded like he got what was coming to him," Goldbug said. He kicked his engine on and pulled out from his spot in the parking lot. He'd been 'off the clock,' so to speak, for about an hour when a stake out at a charity drive proved futile. The Deceptiwimps were a no-show, and Goldbug was calling it a night. And somehow, the brat Spike had talked Goldbug into making a liquor stop. Goldbug huffed, "I don't know why you seem to be so bothered."

"Ain't that the truth. He totally had that coming for being so stupid," Spike snorted. He shifted until his cheek rested on the wheel. His voice got small. "But, he's…he's family and shit. That's my big bro, Bee."

"Don't call me that," Goldbug growled, slamming on the breaks. The stop threw Spike forward, and he smashed his face into the wheel. The boy yelped, and fell back into the seat, moaning as he held his face. Goldbug sped up as he took the corner. "You're making me regret telling you my first name."

"Ow, take it easy," Spike said. He rubbed the side of his nose, before tapping the underside and looking at his fingers. Goldbug had no clue what he was checking for, but Spike slid down into his seat when he finished. He crossed his arms and dropped his head against the door. "'Goldbug's' a mouthful when you're drunk."

"Then don't get drunk," Goldbug said, matter of fact.

"My big brother got his arm ripped off because he wouldn't stop hittin' on Powerglide's girl," Spike said. He punched the door in a childish, and useless, effort to pay Goldbug back for the bruised nose. "I think I earned the right to get a little shit-faced."

"Ratchet's making him a new arm," Goldbug offered as a compromise.

Spike rolled over and crawled between the front seats to collapse in the back. He shrugged off his jacket, and shoved it in the corner as a pillow. Goldbug's back seat was cramped-Spike's head would hit the ceiling if he sat straight up-but Spike could fit if he laid on his back and curled up. It was snug, but he wouldn't get thrown around if Goldbug took a quick turn, either.

"That doesn't make it much better," Spike said, dropping his head on the jacket.

"I like to think a metal arm is an improvement," Goldbug hummed. Spike breathed in the back, seemingly in recharge. However, the boy shivered a second later in a violent shutter. Before he could help it, Goldbug asked, "Spike?"

"Powerglide ripped Butch's arm off like he was plucking a hair off a dog," Spike said. He pulled his foot in an inch, curling tighter around himself. His breath hitched, and his voice sped up as he started to ramble. "It was so easy. You saw it! There was blood everywhere, and he was screaming and trying to stop it and it kept coming out. I mean, we know you guys are bigger, stronger, and all that, but it doesn't really hit until you see it.

"Butch could'a died. Right there from blood loss. He could'a died, Goldbug.

"And over something as dumb as flirting." Spike shook his head, and dug his palms into his eyes sockets. "There's always been that threat of us getting squashed if we screw up or say the wrong thing ta' the wrong guy, but this is the first time someone's actually acted on it. It's like a big slap in the face how tiny I am, ya' know?"

"Lesson learned: Don't be stupid and keep your limbs," Goldbug huffed. "It's not that complicated."

"Yeah," Spike said, yawning into his hand. He tucked his hands into his sides, and pushed up against the back seat. Goldbug could feel his heart rate lower as he slowed down for recharge. The insignificant and vital heartbeat fluttered in his chest. "Do me a favor though."

"Oh?" Goldbug asked, amused at the boy's slurred words.

"If I do somethin' stupid," Spike said, eyes closed and breaths even. "Get ta' me first. I'd rather you do it, than one of those other guys. Won't be so bad if it's you…"

Spike fell asleep. Goldbug revved his engine as he picked up the pace back toward the arc. The road was rough under his tires and the living clump of meat in his back seat became infinitely more fragile. "Yeah. I can do that, Spike."

Chapter Text

"Looking for my bro?" Butch Witwicky asked.

Goldbug glared through his visor at the cocky human, and held his head higher. The metallic arm that'd had been the center of his charge's distress the week prior gleamed in the dim light. Ratchet had done good work, for a change. Goldbug had indeed been looking for Spike, but Butch didn't need to know that.

So Goldbug didn't answer.

"Fine, fine," Butch shrugged. He smirked in a way that was far too familiar to Goldbug's 'Boss,' and the kid's master. All Butch was missing was the mustache to match Rodimus' facial ornament. Butch tapped the top of his head with a finger. "Silent treatment, I got it. You don't like Rodimus, and he don't like you. Dislike by association."

"Did you need something, or are you just here to annoy me?" Goldbug asked.

"Just making the observation you and my bro have been tight," Butch said. He licked the edge of his lip, and scratched at the connection of metal to flesh at the top of his shoulder. "That's all. And since you're all by your lonesome, I figured you might be looking."

"I think you should go back to kissing Rodimus' aft," Goldbug said.

He walked past the smirking kid. How was that worthless little scratch related to Spike? He had nothing going for him, other than being a cocky little 'Yes Man.' At least Spike was useful company. Goldbug rolled out his shoulder at the turn. He had been hoping to get Spike to check out a loose bolt for him. Having a human with tiny hands and a bit of mechanic skills was saving him many, many nervous trips to Ratchet.

"He's with Lord Prime," Butch said out of the blue, though the smugness in his voice dripped out over every word. "Just so you know."

"Prime?" Goldbug said. He cursed to himself immediately after. Gave too much away.

Butch nodded in affirmation. He saluted with his metal hand, and walked away with the other in his pocket.

Goldbug kept walking. He shoved any worry he had down to the bottom of his spark and smothered it. Making a scene would be stupid for them both.

Goldbug didn't see Prime or Spike for the rest of the day.

The door to his hab-suite swished open, awaking Goldbug and all of his sensors. An intruder would't be the first to try and kill Goldbug in his sleep, and it wouldn't be the last. Goldbug was ready. He kept his optics off, and systems in a mock 'recharge state' to fool the intruder. He listened, and was impressed by the mech's silence.

Maybe it was Mirage. He had that sort of cloaking at his disposal.

The door swished shut again, trapping the intruder inside with the alert Goldbug. He turned the sensitivity level of all of his sensors to max, to catch any hint of approach. The footsteps were light and small...and very familiar.

"Spike?" Goldbug asked, flicking his optics on and leaning up to stare down at the floor.

He gripped the side of his berth, staring down at the tiny human. His spark picked up in his chest, relieved to see that small silhouette in his doorway in a way that should have been downright shameful. Autobots didn't make attachments to such things. But. Goldbug shook his head, and shifted to sit up.

"Don't bother getting out of bed," Spike said, shifted near the doorway. Goldbug settled back down as the kid tapped across the room. Spike huffed heavily as he climbed up onto the low berth via a small chain hanging off the side. He shuffled across the space between the edge of the berth and the mech, collapsing near Goldbug's chest with a wet thud. He snuggled up until he was a hair's distance from the warm metal, parallel to Goldbug's spark. "Go back to recharge."

Goldbug olfactory sensors picked up blood, and he could see a dark patch of something wet spread from around the tiny body. He switched his optic mode and looked over his charge: Spike's clothes were soaked in the human energon. "Spike—"

"It's not mine," Spike said, cutting off Goldbug with a tired voice. He turned and rested his head in his arms. "Not Buster or Butch's either."

Goldbug hissed, "What happened with Prime?"

"You'll find out tomorrow," Spike said, his voice a whisper. Goldbug struggled to hear the restrained words. Spike drew his knees in close, and started to trail a picture in the blood with his hand. Spike sighed, "He wants it to be a surprise."

Goldbug held his hand out, hovering over the shaking boy. "But—"

"Please," Spike begged, eyes wide and voiced hitched. He pulled his arms up over his head, and rolled toward Goldbug. He was a miserable lump of flesh, and Goldbug wondered how such a thing could twist his spark. "I just want to go to sleep."

Against his better judgement, Goldbug turned on his side. He used a hand to cup the little creature near his chest, and gently rubbed the boy's shoulder and side with his thumb. Spike breathed out, the air shaky but relieved. The boy's breathing evened in time with Goldbug's petting, and he was asleep within a few seconds.

Goldbug shoved down his anger as he hid Spike away under his hand. He could never challenge the Prime for this, but Goldbug guaranteed someone would suffer for this.

He was in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

"Impressive isn’t it?" A tall, muscular human said. He stood in Lord Optimus Prime’s palm. Dressed in a sharp black suit and tie with a purple button up, he radiated authority no human should have. The burning red eyes hinted at the deception hidden behind the handsome (by human standards) face. "These new holomatter forms are going to our secret weapon against the treacherous rebellion that has plagued us for so long.”

"Holomatter," Goldbug repeated to himself.

The entirety of the Autobots had been summoned to the main room of the Ark for their leader’s announcement. He, Spike and the other Seekers were standing to their leader’s right side at the front of the room.

The human hid his nervousness well, but Goldbug knew he was still shaken from yesterday night from his total silence throughout the morning.

Both Prime and the Human raised a hand out in perfect sync. Their leader’s voice boomed across the room. “With this new tool we can infiltrate the humans more easily than ever and manipulate their systems.

“They’ll trust us without question and we’ll have total control of their resources before the year is out. By the time they notice what’s been happening, we’ll have destroyed their defenses. Without their human allies, the Decepticons will crumble.

"With the assistance of young Spike, we have confirmed the effectiveness of Wheeljack’s contraption,” Prime said, pausing in his speech to gesture toward the boy standing under Goldbug’s feet. “I completed the first field test myself, accompanied by our small companion here.

“Not only were we able to go undetected for an entire day among the pitiful populace of humans, yards away from my body hidden in the distance, but this form’s other uses were put through the grind. I have found this superior holomatter body can easily hold a solid form long enough to rip a human apart with your bare hands, should such a thing become necessary."

Spike shivered, his breath picking up as his calm mask slipped. Goldbug gaped as the human form in Prime’s hand flickered away into nothing and he formed a fist in his hand where the small figure had once stood. Their Lord Prime tilted his head in satisfaction and spoke once more. “Prowl shall handle the mission debriefing from this point forward. All of you will be receiving a holomatter update of your own within the week. Dismissed.”

Optimus Prime’s holomatter appeared again, this time at floor level and strode toward Spike with the same ease as if he’d been human his entire life. Their leader settled for nothing less than perfection and it appeared being human was no exception.

He placed a hand on Spike’s shoulder, and smiled. “I look forward to your future cooperation toward the Autobots, Spike.”

"Yes, Sir!" Spike spit out, his voice cracking on the end of the “Yes.”

The human visibly shivered as Prime nodded with a smirk and walked away, patting the boy on the back as the holomatter form disappeared and their leader’s true form retreated to his quarters.

When the door to the room closed, Spike fell to his knees, though it went unnoticed by everyone but Goldbug and the boy’s father, who only spared him a glance before he followed Wheeljack and Ratchet out of the room.

One by one the remaining Autobots filed out of the room, gossiping and whispering back and forth about the new holomatter forms. Goldbug made his way out after Blurr and Rodimus, but had to stop when he noted the lack of small footsteps behind him.

Spike remained on the ground, frozen in place—his eyes wide and breath shallow. Goldbug scooped him up, holding him close to his chest before someone could notice and hurried them away to a storage room before they could be seen.

"What’s wrong?” Goldbug asked, dropping the boy onto a crate. “Prime is gone.”

"Sorry," Spike said. He shook his head. Spike’s breathing increased rapidly as he stood on the crate in the dark room. His words spilled out in a glitched jumble. "Sorry, sorry. I just. Prime, he’s…he’s really scary. Like, I know he’s the biggest, and the strongest, and our leader, but yesterday. He was terrifying. Riding in his cab to the park alone and alongside his holomatter. Being eye to eye. Watching him, watching him rip those people apart because he could. I…so much blood. Just so much…and I—"

"No," Goldbug cut Spike off, almost snarling. His human companion was getting uncomfortably close to questioning their Lord Prime, and that was suicide. He slammed his hand onto the crate, shaking it hard enough he knocked Spike onto his aft. Goldbug leaned closer, his voice harsh and without question. “Yesterday, you were overwhelmed with excitement for the privilege of being with our Lord Prime when he was working. You’re in awe of him. That’s all. This thing you’re doing now? You’re just confused. You are a primitive little life form that wasn't prepared to handle so much of his magnificence in one sitting."


"Spike," Goldbug growled, cutting the human off once more. His voice cracked in a spark but he got it under control before too much of his emotions could slip free. "You were in awe of Lord Prime. Do you understand?"

The boy’s shoulders dropped and his simple brain registered the hidden message Goldbug needed him to know.

“Okay.” Spike pulled his knees forward and dropped his face into his legs. “Awe. I got it.”

"And you’re grateful you’ve already seen and accepted the true path of following the Autobots, putting you leagues ahead of your human peers," Goldbug said. "Correct?"

“Very grateful,” Spike repeated into his knees. “It’s an honor to be with the Autobots.”

"Good," Goldbug said. He stepped away from the box and looked away when the young human shivered one more time before he scrambled up and vomited on a corner of the crate. Goldbug rubbed the human’s back with two fingers and leaned against the crate. “What am I going to do with you?”

Spike snorted and wiped his mouth off on the top of his shoulder sleeve. “Keep me, I guess? That’s what you’ve been doing.”

Goldbug snorted and grabbed the teen by his jacket, dropping him on his feet on the floor. “I guess I have.”

The human patted Goldbug on the leg and left the room first.

He ignored the way his insides twisted at the thought of the human facing the same fate as any other traitor.

Humans were too weak.

Goldbug would have to keep a closer eye on him.

But if what Prime said is true, that might be easier than ever in the future. Despite Spike’s hesitance and fear, Goldbug had to admit there was a part of him that looked forward to seeing the youngest Witwicky eye to eye.

"The holomatter form produced is mostly random, but the clothing choices will match your personality at least,” Sparkplug said. His boot rested on Goldbug’s arm as he sat back in his chair with a datapad, configuring the settings of the new chip Wheeljack welded into the back of his head. “Isn’t that nice?”

“A wonder of technology," Goldbug grunted, his fingers digging into the table. The pain of the surgery had been excruciating and a lingering headache remained, but the only thing more suicidal than questioning Prime was to take an anesthetic in Ratchet’s medbay. “Are you done yet or what?”

“So impatient,” Sparkplug said. He pulled his leg back and hopped up onto the table. He tapped the tablet twice more and turned it off. “Okay, that should do it.”

The man clapped his hands together and ignored the scream of Hound getting his chip in the background. Sparkplug grinned wider and said, “Try it out.”

Goldbug’s optics shuttered as he searched his programming for the new commands and prompts lodged in the back of his head.

He clicked on the prompt and grabbed the table to steady himself when the world split into two.

“Give it a minute,” Sparkplug said, hopping down from his stand to walk to the floor. Goldbug saw him from both eye level and from above as he stared at the man with two pairs of optics. “Steady now?”

“Yes,” Goldbug said. He took a moment to fully sort the two feeds before he got the hang of being in literally two places at once. His inner saboteur rejoiced at the world of possibilities that had just opened up. “Weird being so short.”

“You get used to it,” Sparkplug said. He gave Goldbug a look over from head to toe and whistled. “Not bad. I like the spiked jacket.”

Goldbug’s holomatter form huffed and adjusted the leather jacket with spikes on the shoulders and metal studs on the lapels. Under the jacket, Goldbug saw a brunette, human female with a dark blue tank top with yellow stripes under the black jacket and a pair of ripped jeans.

“Spike’s going to love it,” the man said, grinning too wide and something lecherous sneaking into his gaze. “Get out of here and don’t have too much fun, now.”

The man slapped Goldbug’s holomatter ass and laughed as he climbed back up to his work station and retrieved his datapad, calling out “Next!”

Goldbug dismissed the holomatter form and left, looking for his human companion.

“Wow,” Spike said, staring after the humans that kept staring at Goldbug like he was something to eat. “I can’t believe how much you look like an actress. I thought your holomatter things were supposed to be random, but everyone I’ve seen looks like a freaking model.”

Goldbug crossed his human arms and leaned further into the side of his alt mode door. It pushed his new breasts higher and earned a few more stares. A spy did not need that sort of attention when your main activities were going unnoticed.

Mirage and Jazz were the seducers, not Goldbug.

“How do I get them to stop staring?” Goldbug hissed, smacking Spike in the arm. It wasted his energy going solid for the minute, but it was worth it. “I don’t like this much attention.”

“You’re a hot rod,” Spike answered back. “You always get attention.”

“I told you to stop using that term,” Goldbug said, thinking of Rodimus. “I’m a sports car.”

“Same thing.”

Goldbug snorted and dropped his arms, leaning on his elbows and forearms as they watched people walk by and tried out his new disguise. “Being physically attractive helps us fool the humans, so I’m guessing that’s why we’re all supermodels according to you.”

“Makes sense,” Spike said. “There’s quite a few humans that’ll fall all over themselves to please a pretty face.”

“Are you one of them?” Goldbug asked, flipping his hair over his shoulder. He saw the dilation in Spike’s eyes and almost laughed. “Your father was quite certain you’d like this form.”

“Maybe if you were blonde,” Spike answered back, licking his lip. “Or did you forget yellow’s my favorite color?”

“Sure,” Goldbug said. He pushed of the car and opened his door. “Get in. I’ve had enough people watching for one day and Prowl wants a field report before the end of the day.”

Spike shrugged and hopped over the hood, sliding across to get to the passenger side door on the other side. He slumped into the seat and crossed his legs in the footwell. “I miss the driver’s seat already.”

“Too bad,” Goldbug said. He laughed, his voice a pitch higher to match his new form. Goldbug mimicked the human motions of driving as he started his engine and pulled out of the parking spot. “It’s not like you ever drove anyway.”

Spike laughed before pulling out his phone and playing a game.

Blondes, huh? Bumblebee thought to himself as the human snuck hungry glances at his new human form the entire trip back.

As if Spike would have eyes for anyone else.

Chapter Text

Spike didn’t move.

The sounds of Autobots and Decepticons ripping each other apart continued around the small group in other areas of the battlefield, but Goldbug’s small corner of the carnage screeched to a halt when his human didn’t stand back up.

“Slag!” Rumble shouted, staring at the small body. His pile driver switched back into a hand and the minicon’s voice cracked. “I didn’t mean to hit him that hard!”

Goldbug and the Decepticons alike stared at the panicking minicon and the too still human.

“Spike?” Goldbug cursed himself for the show of weakness—but it was only the ‘Cons around with no backup Autobots in sight. Who cared what a bunch of Decepticons thought? They were bleeding sparks anyway! Goldbug kept his blaster aimed at Astrotrain in case the standstill ended, though. “Spike!”

The kid didn’t get up.

“Is he bleeding?” Frenzy asked, standing next to his brother. “That ain’t good, right?”

A small pool of red had formed under Spike’s head.

“He shouldn’t have gotten in the way!” Rumble shouted, taking a few steps back toward the larger triple-changer behind him. “What was he thinking?”

Spike hadn’t been.

Goldbug’d been sloppy and took a hit from Rumble’s pile driver that knocked him to the ground. The minicon had powered up again for another hit to the back of Goldbug’s helm—that he was prepared to counter and already halfway to his feet—when Spike came out of nowhere and tackled Rumble.

“No you don’t!” Spike had shouted. The human grappled Rumble and got his yellow boot covered foot between the minicon’s legs to trip the brat. “Get away from Goldbug!”

He and Rumble were about the same size, giving the teen an even footing in the scuffle,  until Rumble turned and hit the kid with the full force of his prepared pile driver he’d been saving for Goldbug.

Spike flew across the concrete and hit the ground hard enough for a crack to sound, catching the attention of Decepticon and Goldbug alike. The Witwicky family got tossed around by Cybertronians all the time. The Autobots had learned long ago that their little human associates were hardy things, despite their fragility. Spike always got back up after he got hit aside.

The Autobots knew it.

The Decepticons knew it.

He always got back up.

“Spike,” Goldbug said, his gun lowering. Spike had been down too long. The red energon that flowed through his veins kept pooling and he wasn’t getting back up. Goldbug dropped his weapon and approached the form, a hand out ready to grab Spike’s crumpled form and make a run for it. “I’ve got you—”

“Don’t touch him!”

The sharp command from the human running at him held enough power and desperation behind it that Goldbug paused. The man in the bright yellow jacket with red hair shoved his way under Blitzwing’s feet and shoved himself between Goldbug’s hand and Spike.

“You never move someone with a head injury this badly,” the man said. He knelt near Spike and his grubby fingers touched the boy, checking his neck and body. “Severe head wound, bruises already forming, and who knows what that pile driver did to the kid’s ribs.”

“I didn’t mean to!” Rumble shouted again. “Honest!”

“You’re not helping,” Blitzwing said, tugging Rumble back and pushing him toward Frenzy. Blitzwing approached the human and asked, “What should we do, Coach?”

“What’s this we?” Goldbug pointed. “All of you are getting away from him and I’m taking him home!”

“No, you’re not,” the human said, looking up. He pulled a communication device out of his jacket and the whistle around his neck bounced. “The only place this kid is going is a hospital.”

“You aren’t taking Spike!”  Goldbug said, pointing his gun at the human. “Get away from him.”

“Look, you clearly care about the kid,” the man said, hand still on the phone. “So I’m only going to say this once: If he doesn’t get to a hospital now, he’s going to die.”

Goldbug lowered the gun a fraction.

“Listen to him,” Blitzwing said, nodding to the human. “He’s a school teacher. Coach deals with kids like your human all the time. He knows what he’s talking about and no one on our side wants your little human partner to die.”

But they were going to take Spike.

What if they didn’t give him back?

(What if he died on the way back to base and Goldbug lost Spike anyway?)

Goldbug lowered his gun. “I’m following him to the hospital.”

“You will not!” Astrotrain stepped up to join his triple-changer partner. “An Autobot near a hospital will cause a full on panic and probably attract other Autobots who won’t care as much about the kid’s wellbeing. The best thing you can do is to make sure none of your buddies attack the ambulance when it comes to get the kid!”

The triple-changer had a point.

Some might even attack Spike to take advantage of Goldbug’s weak mental state.


He stood back as the human called an ambulance.

Goldbug waited on the sidelines, eyes around the area to make sure the other groups fighting didn’t near. When it arrived, humans dressed in white with all sorts of equipment poured out of a vehicle that looked like Ratchet’s alt-mode. It gave Goldbug a shiver in his spark to see Spike in anything associated with Ratchet.

But the medics carefully transported Spike to a stretcher, calling out medical information and removing the jacket Blitzwing’s human had placed to stop the bleeding.

They carried him away.

“The kid’ll be okay,” Blitzwing told Rumble, still upset for his part in the damage. “The doctors’ll make sure of it.”

Goldbug wanted to rip Rumble apart for what he’d done.

But he couldn’t do it with two triple-changers and Soundwave fast approaching, likely sensing the distress from his cassette tapes.

Goldbug slipped away, forcing himself to head back into the main battle front over following the ambulance.

The Decepticons claimed the Victory, and Goldbug returned to base with his head low and his spark screaming at him to run back into the city to search for Spike.

But what could he do? Tear apart hospitals alone looking for the kid? He could only hope Spike escaped and came back on his own when the doctors fixed him up.

(If they could.)

“That could have gone better,” Bluestreak said, his door-wings down and head low. He glanced over his shoulder at the small returning group and twisted his face. “I hope Prime isn’t too upset.”

Goldbug didn’t respond.

Prime being upset was the least of his worries, and that scared him more than the thought of his spark getting snuffed out.

“Better luck next time, fellas,” Sparkplug said, leaning against the wall near Ratchet’s medbay. He always took delight in seeing if any Autobots were injured enough in the field that they’d have no choice but to visit the mad doctor and his experimental tricks. “But hey, at least you’re all back in one piece.”

“That’s not a good thing,” Ratchet said, popping his head out of the door. “How am I supposed to work when no one needs a checkup?”

Sparkplug snickered before he took a closer look at the group. He zeroed in on Goldbug and his eyes narrowed. “Hey, where’s Spike. He went out with you guys, didn’t he?”

Bluestreak and the others turned their heads toward Goldbug and looked at his feet. “Hey, he’s right. Spike’s gone.”

Goldbug kept walking.

“Hey!” Sparkplug shouted. His small footsteps echoed on the metal floor of the ARK. “Don’t walk away! Where’s my son?”

Goldbug didn’t answer.

He couldn’t say it.

“Sparkplug’s talking to you, brat,” Ratchet said. He grabbed Goldbug’s arm and yanked him back, slamming him into the wall. He smiled pleasantly and pinned Goldbug by the shoulder. “Maybe I should check your audio receptors. They could be on the fritz if you didn’t hear him!”

“I heard him fine!” Goldbug shouted. He shoved Ratchet back and stepped aside, until he was by himself a few steps down the hallway. “Spike is…he’ll be fine.”

“What does that mean?” Sparkplug asked. The man stood closer to Ratchet and tugged his hat off his head. “Where’s Spike?”

“A hospital,” Goldbug admitted. Sparkplug wasn’t going to let the subject drop and Ratchet was just itching for an excuse to back the human up. “A ‘Con hit him too hard and he…it was bad. They called an ambulance it took him.”

“You let the Decepticons take my kid?” Sparkplug’s face twisted in fury. “He just turned fifteen! The state’ll keep him because they think I’m an unfit parent because I live with you lot! Why would you do something so stupid!”

“He was hurt,” Goldbug said again. “There was energon everywhere!”

“Don’t give me that! Witwicky’s are made of tough stuff!” Sparkplug shouted back. “There’s no injury that we couldn’t have fixed up here! Where he’d get to stay with us!”

“He was going to die!” Goldbug yelled back, his voice screeching. “You weren’t there! You can’t judge my decision!”

The confrontation drew the eyes of others in the area. Goldbug didn’t care. He only had eyes for the callous man Spike called “Dad.”

Who’s face twisted in a new and different way, with an expression Goldbug hadn’t seen before. Sparkplug’s voice was quiet. “It was that bad?”

Goldbug nodded, his hands gripped to fists.

“What hospital did they take him to?” Sparkplug asked, looking up with a determined look. “I’ll go get him myself.”

“I don’t know,” Goldbug said. “They wouldn’t tell me.”

“Just…just tell me where the ambulance picked him up,” Sparkplug said, putting his hat back on. “I’ll figure it out from there.”

Goldbug gave him the coordinates and the human turned to Ratchet.

“Want to visit a human hospital?” Sparkplug asked Ratchet. He tapped the doctor’s leg with his hand and huffed. “Your alt mode’ll come in real handy for sneaking inside.”

“Sure thing!” Ratchet said, with his usual forced cheer. “But you’ll owe me one.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Sparkplug turned to Goldbug and pointed with a growl in his throat. “One more thing: If Spike dies, you’re next.”

Ratchet laughed and transformed, allowing Sparkplug to climb into the passenger seat while Ratchet’s plump holomatter avatar took the wheel.

They sped off and Goldbug calmed himself.

That was a good thing.

Sparkplug would get his son back and Goldbug could see Spike again.

Because Spike would be fine.



Goldbug turned around to face his leader, looking up into disapproving red eyes. He took a step away and stood at attention. Behind him, Bluestreak and the others on their small mission team did the same.

Optimus Prime stared them all down.

“Unless I overheard incorrectly, is it true that you have broken my favorite toy?”

Goldbug’s spark flickered in his chest and his optics widened.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Optimus Prime said. He put a hand on Goldbug’s shoulder and squeezed, denting the metal. “Perhaps allowing you to borrow him was a mistake.”

Prime ripped Goldbug’s arm off and left him stranded in the hallway before he turned to the others, fist raised to dispense punishment for failing their mission.

Goldbug watched his own energon spill to the ground and stared at the bright glow.

He’d be fine.

Just like Spike.