This takes place after Predacons Rising. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Facing Fears He could still hear the sound of fighting off in the distance. How long had it been? How long had it been since he had been tortured – mutilated – for information that he refused to give up. How long had it been since he had been here? It had been a long time – not as long ago as the torments of some of the others, but long enough – though to Bumblebee it might as well have been yesterday. Tyger Pax looked the same as it had the last time he had been here. Perhaps more ruinous now, because Bumblebee couldn't recall so much falling debris before. Maybe there had been though; his memory banks were a bit fuzzy about a few details of that day. After all, the conditions of the buildings hadn't been his primary concern. Everything that was missing from his last encounter, his mind added. Smoke billowed and curled around himself and the remaining buildings, shadowy figures hid behind corners. Bumblebee half expected to see Megatron around one of the turns, and it was possible he could. None of them knew where the ex-warlord was at on the planet, though personally Bumblebee would have considered Kaon or another part of former Decepticon territory would be a likelier place to find him than Tyger Pax. He couldn't deny the possibility of coming across Megatron – and considering where he was at, Bumblebee sincerely hoped he wouldn't – but he was doubtful that he would cause him any harm. The tyrant really had died when Bumblebee had ran him through with the Star Saber, the mech that had returned after being freed from Unicron's control was different – how different hadn't been determined yet. That didn't mean the youngling scout wanted to find his former tormentor to chat, after everything Megatron had done to him in the past, he'd much rather avoid contact with him. Bumblebee shook his head, trying to remove Megatron from his thoughts. This was the worst place possible for him to come to mind. He just wanted to get through the city so he could head back to the others. Ever since he had gotten his voice back after he had died, or almost died, and fell into the Cyber-matter, nightmares of Tyger Pax had returned. He'd always had them ever since that fateful day, but they had lulled off and had been replaced with other nightmares. Now they were back full force, mixing with his death experience, and he had reasoned that the best way to get rid of them would be to face his fears and return to Tyger Pax. He had always known that one day he would have to come back here. In the past Optimus had offered to bring him back after the war was over, and Bumblebee was sure that Ratchet would have come along as well. But Ratchet was back on Earth, and Optimus was... gone. He could have asked one of the others to come with him, but he didn't. Arcee and Bulkhead were really the only ones who knew how this bothered him, but both of them had been busy with rebuilding. He wasn't close enough to Ultra Magnus or Wheeljack. Smokescreen wouldn't have understood and would have just joked around, and it just would have been weird having Knock Out tag along. He knew that none of them would have liked it, but he didn't know when he would have another free day or if he would ever gather up the courage to go anytime in the near future, so he had went alone. In all honesty, it probably wasn't his best idea. This wasn't the place to come to by himself. So he imagined that Optimus was there with him – he could have imagined Ratchet was there as well, but Bumblebee figured it would take multiple trips to get used to Tyger Pax, so he would ask the medic next time he visited to accompany him. It wasn't too hard to imagine that Optimus was there, he just simply imagined that a comforting hand was on his shoulder and his mind supplied questions that he figured Optimus would ask. Are you alright? If you are not ready to be here, we can turn back. It wasn't the same. Nothing could be the same as actually having Optimus there with him. That couldn't happen now, so it at least gave him a small comfort and made him feel slightly less alone as he forced himself to get to the exact spot where he had been tortured and left for dead. He reminded himself that he needed to do this. Eventually they would have to come to Tyger Pax to start rebuilding it. He needed to be able to come into the city and stay in it without freaking out. He couldn't be a hindrance to the others. When he was almost there, he stopped to question if he was actually going to be able to do this. The closer he got, the more his mind reeled. He was having flashbacks of his interrogation, and he had the feeling that it was only going to get worse when he got to the exact spot. What if it got so bad that he wouldn't be able to make it back to the others? They would be able to track his signal and find him, but it would be risky. Megatron might have disbanded the Decepticons, but that didn't mean that every single one of them knew that. Plus Shockwave and Starscream were unaccounted for, they might not be as willing to let the war end. He would be putting both them and himself at risk if he couldn't go back on his own. Do not do anything reckless. Go back to the others and come back when someone is with you. "But what if I never can?" His mind didn't supply him with an answer. He liked to think that he was brave, but how brave was he if he couldn't face a silly fear? Not facing your fear alone, does not make you any less brave. It is brave to ask for help when you know you need it. It was almost scary how clearly Bumblebee could imagine that it really was Optimus who was saying those words to him. Maybe his mind knew that he would be more likely to listen to Optimus than himself. Before he could put anymore thought into it, a large piece of debris fell next to him with a loud thunk. The next thing Bumblebee knew, his arm blasters were out, ready to fire until he realized that no one was there. Now he was embarrassed. He was so panicked that a piece of debris was enough for him to think that someone was going to attack him. That was just sad. He really shouldn't have come to Tyger Pax alone. Even if he wouldn't have felt comfortable coming with Ultra Magnus, Wheeljack, or Knock Out, he should have known that Arcee and Bulkhead would have found time to come with him. And Ratchet was just a 'Bridge away. The medic probably would have come if he had asked. Even Smokescreen may have treated the situation more seriously than Bumblebee thought he would. He didn't have to do this alone. And it would still be a while before reconstruction on Tyger Pax would begin, he really didn't have to be in any hurry to come back. He was about to transform and head back to the others, when he noticed light reflecting off something in the distance. Even though he had been promoted to warrior class, he would always be a scout by nature. He was just too curious at times. He couldn't explain it, but he felt like he was being drawn towards the object. Bumblebee wasn't paying attention to how much further into Tyger Pax he was going; he just had to find out what the object was. When he reached it, he could see that it was a piece of metal. It was dirty and dented, though something had scraped against it removing some of the residue. That must have been why the light had been able to reflect off of it. Bending down, Bumblebee picked up the piece and felt his spark clench inside of his chest when he realized what it was. It was a piece of his armor. Frantically he looked around. How had he not noticed where he was at? His spark was racing from the panic that was coursing through him, and he was fairly certain that the rapid cycling of his vents could be considered to be like hyperventilation in a human. His mind was replaying his torture in his mind, and he couldn't make it stop. Bumblebee, calm yourself. There is no one here that will hurt you. His mind attempted to focus on the voice of Optimus that it was creating – though Bumblebee was starting to wonder if something else was making it, because it was sounding too real to him. Maybe being in Tyger Pax was making him go crazy. He offlined his optics and tried to forget where he was at, instead focusing on what imaginary Optimus was saying. You are the only one in Tyger Pax at the moment. You are safe. "I can't do this," Bumblebee mumbled. "I should have left and come back with one of the others." You were going to talk yourself out of ever returning. Bumblebee didn't want to admit it, but deep down he knew that was true. He would have kept pushing off returning until he absolutely had to come back. He felt like a scared sparkling and that made him feel ashamed. "This place terrifies me. I don't want it to. I want to be brave, but I can't come here without panicking." You are brave, Bumblebee. No one would expect you to be able to come here without remembering what happened to you. No one would blame you for panicking or feeling scared. It will take time for you to fully overcome your fear of this place, but you have faced your fear. You came here and nothing bad happened to you. You can take that knowledge and know that you can come into Tyger Pax without someone hurting you. That was true. This trip would be proof that while he would be panicky, he could go to Tyger Pax and not have anything bad happen to him. And next time he wouldn't be alone. He would make sure to bring someone with him, to provide support when he needed it. Though really he hadn't been alone this time either. While he was physically the only Cybertronian in Tyger Pax, Optimus had been with him in spirit and Bumblebee liked to think that he always would be. And as long as that was the case, he would truly never have to face his fears alone.