It began as a typical winter's night – cold and dark – and in the midst of the lush pine forest, the local fauna settled down to sleep away the hours till sunrise. Rabbits dove into warm burrows, birds settled in their nests, and deer curled up in whatever patch of foliage they could find.
But there was nothing typical about the mechanical being, almost as tall as the trees themselves, that lumbered a little clumsily along the small forest paths, scaring the wildlife into bewildered awareness. The few slivers of moonlight colored his armor a rich cobalt blue, but offered no other assistance in making his trek easier.
For that he turned to his smaller organic companion. The human walked beside him even though he barely reached the mech's knee, and made a lot less noise than his Autobot counterpart did. Despite being out in the wilderness in the middle of winter, the young male wore only jeans, boots, and a thick jacket over his t-shirt. His raven-black hair was pulled back into a ponytail and out of his olive-brown skinned face.
"Pine Barrens ain't all that barren anymore now, huh?" he asked the Autobot.
The mech's white-framed face contorted into a scowl as he stopped to untangle one of his overhead missile launchers from a branch.
"Don't remind me," he replied in a slightly accented voice. "Honestly Raoul, did we have to come here of all places, considering you were nearly vaporized the last time we were here."
"You worry too much Tracks. Besides, I showed that old Decepticon who's boss didn't I? Anyway, it's the closest place to the city I could think of, unless you intended to drive for miles and still make it back within the hour."
"Incase you've forgotten, I can fly."
"Yeah, but there ain't that many pumps along the way for you to stop and get refueled every time you use up crazy amounts of gas."
"That's 'energon' to you."
"Whatever, now get a move on or we'll be here all night!"
"Easy for you to say," Tracks said as he followed the boy. "You don't have pine branches slapping you in the face every few meters."
"Yeah, but look on the bright side, at least you'll smell good."
Raoul walked a few more steps, trying not to trip over any roots or burrows, and finally stopped in front of a young tree only half the size of its sky-scraper-like cousins. This one, though eclipsing him by a few feet, came only upto Tracks' hip.
"I think we gotta winner here," he said.
"Have you even given any thought as to how exactly we're going to get the tree back?" Tracks asked as he took out his gun.
"Sure I did. 's why I asked you along, man."
Some time later, once they got back to the main road, Raoul finished strapping the now-felled young tree to the roof of Tracks' Corvette alt mode, and opened the passenger door to climb in.
"I can't believe you're making me drive back to New York City with a pine tree on my roof," Tracks said. "If anyone sees me like this…"
"Oh quit whinin' man," Raoul replied, as he got in and shut the door. "Think of all the kids back at the orphanage that're gonna be happy to have a Christmas Tree delivered to them by an Autobot."
"Delighted, I'm sure." Tracks strapped the boy in and gunned his engine. "You owe me for this Raoul."
"I already repaid the favor."
"And how's that?"
"The way you smell right now? You're not gonna need a carwash for days."