Disclaimer: The Transformers movie and all related material belong to Hasbro, Dreamworks and Paramount, concept originally created and licensed through Takara Co. LTD.

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Author's Note: This takes place post Mission City battle, springboarding off the scene where Sam and Mikaela are reclining on Bumblebee's hood with the other Autobots nearby. As I am an old school Transformers fan, I've mixed in some Gen1 references, particularly regarding a certain character who was not in the movie. This fic is dedicated to my friend Shiribot, as the discussed pairing is one of her favorites. :)

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"Waiting to be Found"

The evening was quiet, save for the chirps of crickets and the low sounds of modern soft rock drifting from Bumblebee's speakers while Sam and Mikaela lay back on the Autobot's hood, watching the last rays of light fade from the horizon.

A short distance away, Optimus Prime watched the trio a moment longer before turning and moving off as silently as possible, heading for the road. He had promised a check-in call to the Secretary of Defense, who was still recovering from the incident at Hoover Dam while simultaneously trying to sweep the mess at Mission City under the rug. As the semi truck retreated from the peaceful scene, Ironhide backed up a little and reoriented himself, cameras focusing on the sunset. Not ten feet away, Ratchet shifted a bit himself. There was no need to keep all optic sensors on the pair of teenagers; Bumblebee was with them.

The near silence stretched out for several minutes before the medic spoke in low, barely audible sonic tones, his native language of Cybertronian. "You're thinking about her again, aren't you?"

Ironhide rumbled a little in response, hunching low on his shocks as he hesitated to answer.

"There's no shame in it, but you don't have to admit to it, either," Ratchet continued softly. "It has been difficult to observe our two human friends without being reminded of you and yours."

Sighing through his grates and vents, the Topkick relented somewhat. "Earth hasn't changed you. You're still as nosey as ever."

"Not that you're one to talk, though I have always said you were closer to 'blunt' rather than 'nosey' or 'tactless.' The latter two are my territory."

"Hrmph. At least you're willing to fess up."

"But are you?" The emergency vehicle stole another glance at Sam and Mikaela before focusing on his old friend once more. "Hoping she's still out there shouldn't be just wishful thinking."

"It isn't. And I know she's out there."

The smile was evident in Ratchet's tone. "So you two did go through with it, after all?"

Ironhide growled deeply, barely maintaining an acceptable volume. "What business of that is yours, you medical menace? You're pushy enough when it comes to my patch-weld hip and the tick in my right shoulder. Stay out of matters of the spark."

Ratchet wisely did not respond, so the two fell silent again for a bit.

Eventually, curfew time approached and the two teenagers abandoned their scenic view on Bumblebee's hood, still talking quietly as they slipped inside the vehicle. Bumblebee pulled out as both doors shut, sending a silent communications message to both his comrades, informing them that he was going to give Mikaela a ride home before returning with Sam to the Witwicky residence for the night. The medic responded with a plain "affirmative" while Ironhide sent the Cybertronian text message version of a grunt in acknowledgement.

As soon as Bumblebee was out of sight and the calls of twilight insects were the only noise detectable, Ratchet transformed and took a seat in the grass. When Ironhide failed to follow suite, the medic reached over and shoved the old soldier, rocking him on his wheels.

"Keep your mitts to yourself," Ironhide growled as he converted to robot mode and sat down roughly. "And we shouldn't be exposing ourselves like this."

"You need the time to stretch your limbs and exercise your hydraulics. There are no dangerous life forms within range, unless you count a variety of insects and a few species of rodents."

"The last rodent I dealt with lubricated on my left foot."

"That was Sam's canine companion, Ironhide. Mojo."

"I don't care if it was a fire breathing, purple petro-rabbit with wings. It was disrespectful, tiny and hairy."

"And you're loud, brutish and blunter than a shot to the cranial unit with a two ton slab of concrete." Ratchet ducked a swipe from his companion with a smirk. "And yes, I'm tactless, rude and more neon than half of Las Vegas. We've covered part of this, already."

Ironhide snorted. "You really know how to take all the fun out of a retort, Ratch. It's gone the astrosecond you start mocking yourself."

"It quells the guilt."

"What guilt? Guilt for being a complete smart aft?"

"That...and being faster with a retort than I am with a weapon."

The other mech grumbled to himself and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "You try, but you're no soldier and we both know it. Not in comparison to the likes of Prime, Bumblebee and I." He paused. "But I guess I have to give you points for trying. Bumblebee is our scout and now that Jazz is gone, you really are the closest thing I have to a partner on the field."

Before he could mentally and emotionally delve too deeply into the subject of their deceased comrade again, Ratchet altered the subject slightly. "Until she and the rest find us through the communiquИ Prime sent."

Ironhide's irritation was plain, his unscarred optic narrowed as he shifted uncomfortably. "Shut it, Ratchet. I've managed to keep my hopes held low for a long time and you're making the pattern a difficult one to hold."

"Even though you know she's still functional?"

"Functional now, but that doesn't mean she'll make it here alive. You know as well as I that Starscream's group did not comprise the only Decepticons to leave Cybertron in search of the Allspark. Still..."

"Still?"

"I...can't really blame you for making me think about her so intently again, so recently," Ironhide admitted grudgingly. "I did take Captain Lennox home to see his family, and seeing his wife and offspring greet him reminded me of Chromia."

"We've witnessed several alien species and their behaviors since leaving Cybertron behind, but I do believe this is the first time we've dealt directly with any sort of military unit and then come into close contact with their families," Ratchet said. "Even humans, for as painfully short as their fragile lives are in comparison with ours, seem to have a true appreciation for dedicated companionship. And theirs is not even based upon the same bonding rites as our own."

"I did research their bonding rites on the world wide web," Ironhide admitted with a half embarrassed look and a shrug. "It is somewhere between religious and legal, with long ceremonies full of spoken vows, pomp and circumstance. Some of it seems completely unnecessary."

"Their life essences cannot bond the way ours can, Ironhide. It is likely that, in the absence of something that so powerfully transcends the physical, they seek the spiritual through vows."

The two watched the moon rise for several moments before the old soldier broke the silence. "For only a somewhat decent soldier, you really know how to wear the crack's in a mech's armor, Ratch."

"The right words can sometimes be just as effective as the right ammunition," the other mused, inwardly treasuring his old friend's decision to show his softer side. Ironhide was the toughest of the tough, and it was only once a millennia that one could coax him into being so open.

"It's just difficult to be patient, now. This world is imperfect and so organic, but I want to show it to her. It may be the only second chance we can afford."

Ratchet smiled. "The time will come for that soon enough, and when it does, you may feel free to leave me by my lonesome while you and Chromia seek out your own diversions."

Ironhide's expression suddenly darkened. "'Diversions'? You realize that sympathy for you over the 'lonesome' part is the only thing keepin' me from putting my fist in your intake, right?"

"Now, now, I did NOT mean it that way!"

"Hrmph. I wouldn't bet any energon on that."

Chuckling, the medic leaned back on his hands. "You know I mean no harm. If anything, I will be more pleased than just about anyone else to see you and Chromia together, again."

"Eh, don't get overly sentimental about it," Ironhide retorted as he stood up and transformed. "Now let's get on out of here before it gets too much later. We're supposed to rendezvous with Optimus at the observatory, since it's still closed for renovations. Until we locate a decent base of operations, we'll have to keep changing locations so we can offline regularly and safely."

Ratchet sighed as he followed his friend's lead, transforming back into vehicle mode. "I will be glad when we are allowed to establish a headquarters, somewhere."

As the two drove back towards the road, Ratchet chuckled to himself.

"What now?" Ironhide demanded defensively.

"I was just imagining you and Chromia going through the legal bonding rites of marriage here on Earth, in addition to your existing sparkbond. Do you suppose Optimus Prime would consent to being the 'Best Man'? Perhaps Mikaela could be your flower girl?"

"Perhaps whenever it is some femme finds herself attracted to you, I'll make sure I give you as much slag as you're giving me now!"

"Sorry, but I seem to be terminally single."

"Primus, I can't possibly understand why."

Ratchet's good natured laughter echoed off the road and surrounding hills as they drove back into town. Ironhide merely grumbled to himself and continued onward, leading the way. Overall, he felt better, his spark stronger for their conversation, but he felt no urge to tell Ratchet as much; the medic likely knew already, anyway.

Ironhide would continue to wait for Chromia as long as his spark continued to burn in its housing. Someday, a star would fall to Earth - his star - and he would be waiting for her.

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End notation: For those not familiar with the original TF series, Chromia was one of the few remaining female Autobots on Cybertron, and Ironhide was her "partner" (for lack of a better word). She was infamous for her ability to improvise on the battlefield, and was one the most skilled and trusted field commanders of Elita-1, Optimus Prime's canon love interest.