The first thing he noticed was just how cold it was. The second was that it was dark. Usually, when Ratchet came to see him the light blinded him so badly he saw stars that only slowly dimmed to reveal blue optics and an in-your-face yellow-green color that covered most of the medic’s body. Sam did not like this darkness; it made him feel more claustrophobic than normal.
His arms were tingling, nothing too new there, but his legs were too. That was new; usually Ratchet did something or other to him so that only his arms were able to move and send signals to his brain. Everything from his waist down was always numb. But today, he could actually feel the cryogenic unit underneath his feet.
He spent time wiggling his toes, twisting his ankles while his arms wrapped around him, trembling the entire while. With shaking legs he tried to bend his knees, the first time in how long – he did not want to think about that. When they finally succumbed to his control, Sam’s knees knocked against the unit’s top, rattling against the glass. There was a hiss and the lid folded over, exposing him to the entire chamber.
Sam laid there, just taking deep breaths in time with the beeps of the computer monitors around him that he could now hear. He could not see them, just pale splotches in his vision, but he knew where they were. In the times when he and Ratchet conversed he had memorized his surroundings. It was something the medic had seemed surprised at, the photographic memory he had developed.
Knowing where everything was around him did little when he did not know what they did. Well then, he’d just have to shuffle around in the dark. First things first, he had to get out of the cryogenic unit. It took awhile to remove the monitoring devices on his skin and the IV needle in his arm because his hands were trembling so badly. The stick on devices detached themselves from his body as he rolled out of the unit, the computer's beeping turning into a wail.
Struggling, Sam pulled himself upright against a wall, pressing buttons as he did so. He was lucky enough to have one of them shutting off the monitoring displays. Sighing he slipped back down to the floor, breathing heavily. He fumbled, trying to get his right hand to pull out the IV needle in his left arm. It took him five tries before he was finally successful.
He sat there trembling, eyes closed. God, why was he so weak?! He never felt like this when Ratchet woke him up. Then again, he never woke up to anything but Ratchet’s face. So what was going on?
You know what, I don’t want to know, he thought. No Ratchet meant no questions and no one to force him back into cryostasis. If he wanted to leave, now would be the time to do it. He just had to figure out how to open the ceiling and haul himself out.
The first was the easy part, fixed by pressing random buttons on the wall. The light was a shock to his eyes, giving him a headache, but it did not make things any better. Still just blobs of gray color, only able to tell what was lit and was what shadow.
Getting out of his floor cage was simply a matter of climbing on top of some of the computers and pulling himself over the edge. His body tended to disagree with the simplicity though. He needed the support of the wall to walk even two steps; just reaching the sturdy electronics tired him out. He paused, panting before gritting his teeth and climbing, still relying solely on his memories. There should be a rail here for his foot, a crevice there for his hand.
He did not know how long it took him to climb the piece of technology, but when he was done Sam just collapsed on top of it, unable to move. His heart beat a staccato rhythm in his chest that also resounded in his ears, making the motion of lifting his head too much of an effort. It passed eventually, but he spent the entire time thinking that Ratchet was going to come in and stop him. That thought was the only thing that gave him the strength to pull himself up the last couple of feet and climb out of the floor chamber.
Sam tried to stand, but his legs collapsed underneath him. He bit his tongue to keep from crying out in pain and drawing attention to himself, the salty taste of blood moving down his throat with a groan. He knew where the door was, one hundred and forty degrees to his right and a football field away.
Biting his lip to prevent any sound from escaping his mouth Sam crawled on his hands toward the door. He forgot about the other door, the one that used to be his ceiling, and ran right into. It started humming and Sam panicked, looking towards where he knew the first door to be and expecting to hear the loud footsteps of a Cybertronian. But none sounded and the noise that had started up was simply the floor covering slipping back into place.
It was a long, long crawl towards the door. He would have loved to take a rest, relieve the weight his arms were holding up,
but Sam knew that the motion sensor that opened the door would not allow him. The half a foot distance between an automatic door and the human walking toward it that activated the sensor expanded to twenty yards for Cybertronians. Sam crawled as fast as he could, the door already closing before he got to the threshold, because this close to it the sensor could not pick up movement as small as he was. The door swished shut just after he crossed the line, his body once again collapsing from exertion.
This next part would be tricky; while he had memory of the Autobot’s med bay it was from before his mind developed it's now photographic ability. It was not completely dark however; the lights were dimmed, causing the objects in the room to cast odd, partially seen shadows Sam could not distinguish from the dark side of the objects themselves. He wanted to just lay here, catch his breath and try to orient himself before moving, but it was too big of a risk. Sam did not know what time it was, did not know how long he had to get out, did not want to be found and forced back into that unit and feel the blood in his veins turn to ice.
He did not know where to go, but he knew he had to move. He struggled to bring himself to all fours and slowly made his way towards where he thought he remembered the door was. Sam ran into something solid on his way; head first and thumping to the ground with a muted cry of pain. He thought the odd shaped and colored form in front of him had been a shadow, not something to collide with!
Slowly, he pulled himself up on shaky legs. It was harder than he expected, the object in front of him was cylindrical and seemed to be made out of a slick metal, if that was even possible. He roamed his hands to the side and his fingers clasped an edge. It was hollow, some type of pipe, and large enough for him to crawl through it. Sam breathed a sigh of relief, going through the obstacle instead of around it would save him a lot of time.
He never made it though, his body collapsed halfway from exhaustion and Sam could not force his body up. Panting, he closed his eyes and waited for some strength to return to his arms at least. He never opened them, succumbing to sleep instead.
Sam woke up in a panic; the floor was rumbling, voices flooded his ears, and the bright lighting did nothing to help his vision. He was still practically blind. The rumbling he recognized as mech footsteps and Sam’s body tensed. He could not risk to be found, to be stuck back in that small, dark cage hidden in the floor. He had only seen Ratchet attend to him, but that did not mean other Autobots were not aware of his presence on base, did not side with Ratchet and would never let him taste freedom again. Not all Autobots were like Optimus Prime.
He curled into a small ball, trying to make himself as least noticeable as possible. Sam hoped they did not find him; he kept an ear open to listen to their conversations. He did not recognize any of the voices, and only one name sounded familiar.
“You sure Ratchet doesn’t mind us cleaning up his med bay Sideswipe?”
“Yeah. It’ll be a nice surprise. After coming back from fighting ‘Cons he won’t want to deal with this stuff. Can you imagine the look on his face Sunny when he comes back? He hates it when people enter the med bay with out his permission.”
Half of the mech’s answers, Sideswipe Sam assumed he was called, reached Sam's ears as clicks and clacks and yet sounded in his head in English in the same voice as that which had answered the solider.
“I know!” the other mech chuckled. “He’ll throw a hissy fit! And the best part is he can’t punish us for it cuz we’re doing something useful.” This voice was similar, but sightly higher. It took Sam a moment to figure things out, but then he realized that some how, he was understanding the Autobot's native language. He wondered when that happened, Ratchet had only used English when they talked.
There was a sound of an engine, something off about it that Sam could not name, but labeled the vehicle as an Earth based one. There were sounds of shuffling, human and Cybertronian alike, though the humans tended to talk as they worked more than the two mechs.
“Hey Jones, grab that other end.”
“What the slag is this stuff used for anyway?”
“Ug! Heavier than I thought!”
“I had no idea there was so much scrap metal in here.”
It was all accented with the clang of metal on metal. Sam guessed they were loading whatever vehicle had been driven into the room with spare robot parts, most likely to take to a recycling center or junkyard. He knew Ratchet liked to reuse everything he could due to the inferior quality of Earth metals, but ultimately there would always be pieces that could only be trashed.
A loud clang sounded out, seeming to come from the pipe he was hiding in. Sam clamped his hands over his ears and he felt air moving through his hair. He did not need to open his eyes to know that one of the two mechs in the room had picked up his hiding place to take to the trailer.
“If you could just grab the rest of that pile Sunstreaker, I think we're done. That’s all that'll fit,” a human called out. Neither mech verbally answered, so he did not know which one had unknowingly picked him up.
The next thing Sam knew, he was falling through the air, his head hit metal, and the bright flash of pain was overcome by darkness.
He woke up to the touch of a hand on his shoulder and a shout in his ear. “Trudy! ‘Ere’s someone in here!”
Sam groaned at the noise and tried to turn over, but the hand on his shoulder prevented him from doing so. “What are you doing here kid?” The male voice asked again.
“Peter! Get him out of there,” A female spoke from a few feet away.
“Right,” Peter replied, grabbing Sam’s feet and pulling him towards the pipe’s end. Sam noticed the change of light through his closed eyelids and opened them. He was met with a painful yellow-white that had him hissing and squeezing his eyes tight.
“He don’ look to good.”
“I can see that,” Trudy snapped. “Bring him into office, I’ll get the couch ready.”
Sam felt a strong arm slip under his back and another under his knees to lift him up. The chest he found himself pressed against was of someone who did hard work and smelled like grease. After a minute or two, Peter stopped.
“Trudy? Can you get the door?”
There was the sound of creaking wood and then the light dimmed as Peter walked into whatever building it was. Sam relaxed a little at the disappearance of the harsh light and sank into the couch the other man placed him on.
“I think these’ll fit him,” Sam heard Trudy say. “The pants might be tight, but it’s better than just wearing boxers. Can you dress him while I call the hospital?”
Hospital! No! His name would go on the record and Ratchet could hunt him down.
“Nn-oo…hos..pital…” Sam croaked out. There was a soft thud as something hit the floor and then silence. He was sure Trudy and Peter were most likely having a conversation of looks.
“All right then,” the woman said, surprising Sam with her simple acceptance, “But I can’t just take care of you here.”
Sam half opened his eyes in an attempt to see her, but failed. He could not even recognize the shape of a human that could be Peter, even though Sam knew he was close by and putting socks on his bare feet.
“Tell me where you need to go and I’ll pay the taxi fare.”
Where did he need to go? Some place safe, away from Ratchet and other Autobots who knew about his captivity. But also somewhere he could get help, so someone who knew him. Leo popped into his mind, more reliable than Miles, but he did not know how much time had passed. Leo could be still in school or across the country in the midst of a career. So who did he know that had a stable life, most likely still in the area, that fit what he looking for?
“S-simmons,” he hoarsely whispered, “Seymour…Si…mmons.”
There was the shuffle of paper, Trudy presumably going through the White Pages, and the rough feel of denim on his legs as Peter continued to dress him.
"Outside of Vegas?" Trudy asked.
Sam just nodded, eyes still closed.
"Lucky there's just one of those. All right kid, I'll go call you a taxi."