"Oh Mojo, Mojo, Mojo," Sam sighed to himself, frowning. He was kneeling on the kitchen floor of his parents house, lovingly scratching around the ears of his mother's pet Chihuahua. The feisty little dog was loving the attention. Mouth open, tiny tongue poking out, eyes closed. Sam ran his hand over the dogs head, thinking.
His parents had left on their annual holiday sojourn to Italy. Leaving Sam in charge of the house for three whole weeks – it was a glorious time of Chinese takeout, pizza boxes, zero homework time... and lots of Mikaela time. LOTS. Strangely, or perhaps not so, considering the events of the last few months, Sam had not been forbidden from having his girlfriend in the house while the killjoy adults where away. And having Mikaela around had meant... well, fun of a sort different from basketball, X-Box games and huge alien robots.
The kitchen door swung open, "So?", Mikaela looked at him expectantly, blinking, head inside the door but body still planted on the porch.
Sam straightened up from being on the floor with the dog. Mojo 'ruffed' a bark at his new friend Mikaela and bounced over to her. The girl responded by adding a few of her own pats to the dogs head.
"I'll ask, what the heck, Optimus owes me, like, big time," Sam said hesitantly. "But they really have to swear not to step on him. "
Mikaela smiled, "You know they won't hurt him."
Sam rolled his eyes at her, slouching his way over to the door with his hands shoved in his jeans back pockets, and joining her outside, "You think so? You believe that?"
"Yep, sincerely," Mikaela reassured him. They left Mojo behind in the house with the dog door locked securely, and headed across the backyard.
Bumblebee was parked in the back driveway to the house, engine already rumbling and waiting for them. Sam got inside his Guardian as Mikaela slid in the passenger door, and he tried not to freak when Bumblebee insisted on playing the song 'Who Let the Dogs Out' as his Camaro form backed up out of the drive and into the rear laneway.
"Cut that out, or you'll be the one staying home and looking after him," Sam growled as Bumblebee turned onto the main street and headed for the Autobots temporary base of operations. The radio gave a sudden pop and switched over to generic elevator music.
Bumblebee parked outside the huge hanger doors and transformed after his human occupants had exited his vehicle form. Sam glanced up and could swear his friend was grinning wildly, even if he had no mouth to do so with. The sparkle and slant of the Autobot's optics were obvious. The yellow bot easily retracted the old hanger door open, allowing admittance for himself and his friends.
Inside, the cavernous building had been transformed (so to speak) into a comfortable living and working space for the occupants; namely, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Ironhide and Bumblebee. Individual private spaces for recharging were at the rear of the hanger, working and recreational areas closer to the front doors. Not knowing quite what else to do with its illegal alien immigrants after Megatron had been destroyed and the other deactivated Decepticons dumped at the bottom of the sea, the US Government had allowed the Autobots to take over the disused old Zeppelin aircraft hanger. It was a long way out from town, and the bots took great care with keeping their identities and operations secret from the general public.
"Hi guys," Sam said, as the Autobots looked up at their visitors.
"Sam, Mikaela, Bumblebee," Optimus Prime's optics glowed brighter in welcome, a slight smile warming his faceplates.
Mikaela waved, wiggling fingers, "Hi big guy."
Ratchet looked up from where he was bent over one of Ironhide's arm cannons on his surgery table, Ironhide himself was sitting impatiently while his arm was immobilised. The medic cocked one optic at them and grunted, "You need me?".
"Uh, sort of, 'Ratch. I was hoping to ask you guys a favor," Sam followed Optimus' progress as the huge robot's long legs propelled him around the group to swing around and lean himself back against the vacant side of the table Ratchet and Ironhide was using. The Autobot Leader folded his arms, looking down at the humans with kindly optics, waiting.
"Correction, WE were hoping to ask a favor," Mikaela added.
"Is it important enough to stop Ratchet working?" Ironhide enquired with a crabby edge to his voice. Still the corner of his mouth quirked up in welcome to the visitors as he gave them a glance.
"I wouldn't need to be working if you hadn't been mucking around with your cannon internals again," Ratchet grumbled back, not lifting his head from his delicate tinkering.
Ironhide's hand made a fist next to his cannon on the table, "If you could have made the addition like I asked, with minimal effort-"
"An addition that was illogical and ill-advised considering our current battle status," Ratchet shot back.
Optimus sighed and covered his face with one hand, dimming his optics at the continuing crossfire banter, "Quiet, you two. Manners."
"Manners," Ironhide muttered with disdain.
"Not like you have any, programmed them out to make more space for missile trajectory data, didn't you?"
"ENOUGH!" One of Prime's feet stomped the floor in anger, causing Ratchet's instruments lined up on the table to all jump in unison like miniature frightened soldiers.
Bumblebee's medium sized body was shaking with silent laughter, little high pitched whirring sounds coming from his vocaliser. Ironhide's expression looked mutinous but he refrained from making any more comments. Ratchet muttered something the others couldn't catch and reached out a hand to instinctively straighten his equipment. Optimus gave him a foul glare.
"You were saying, Sam?" the Commander asked, settling back into his relaxed position. Mikaela poked at Bumblebee's leg when he continued to let out bouts of snickering.
"Do you like dogs?" Sam spoke quickly. "You know, dogs, a dog, uh, my dog. Mojo."
"The rodent?" Ironhide's head lifted from watching Ratchet's fingers inside his cannon.
Optimus's optics blinked slowly, "Dog?". He was clueless. His data banks informed him exactly what a 'dog' was, he just didn't know what it had to do with him.
"The rodent that lubricated all over my foot," Ironhide informed him solemnly, head tilting as he stared askance at Sam. Mikaela grinned, rocking back and forth on her feet, hands tucked behind her back.
"Would you like to look after one? I have one, he's nice, he's well-trained-"
Mikaela burst out with a laugh, that was so NOT true. Bumblebee moved himself in front of her, making shooshing movements with his hands. Mojo was sweet, but barking non-stop, peeing all over the place and chasing everything that moved was his thing. And the little dog still had somewhat of a crack head problem going on. He had irritable snapping moods.
Sam continued, "and me and Mikaela, we're going away, and he can't go to a kennel, he really can't, Mom's not home, and I won't be either, he needs feeding, and walking, and Bumblebee can't do it, he's driving us there, and I promise he will be a good boy, so you can look after him, right?" Sam's words came so fast and without pauses that they didn't make sense. Optimus Prime didn't have trouble putting the words together, his thought processes; even more then the other Autobots; were too fast to be measured by any known standard. He just wasn't sure he got the right impression from them.
He responded slowly, "Look after a dog?"
"Mojo. My Mojo. Just for a week. One week. You said you were in my debt, right? For terminating Megatron with the Allspark?" Sam prompted the large robot hopefully, looking earnest. "I'd like to use just a little bit of that debt. I can, can't I?"
By now Ironhide was looking thoughtful, Ratchet was frozen with wide optics and Optimus Prime's arms had slipped out of their folded place across his broad chest and were hanging numbly by his sides. His mouth was open. Sam wanted to entrust the Autobots with a much loved member of his family?
There was silence.
Always cool in stressful situations, Ironhide spoke up, "I knew you had a rodent problem. You should have let me take care of it before."
Bumblebee stalked forward, snatched up a large pointed tool and advanced on Ironhide with dangerous optics.
"Bee!" Optimus intercepted him and grabbed the tool from the Camaro's upraised hand. "Primus..." he muttered, pushing Bumblebee away with one effortless shove while dropping the tool on the bench again. He stepped between Bumblebee and Ironhide who were making rude silent gestures at each other.
"We're going away, Optimus. Sam's parents are away for the next two weeks. Sam and myself would like to have a week to ourselves. My uncle has a holiday house, at the beach, he said we can use it for a week, which is next week. However," Mikaela shrugged helplessly, "we need someone to look after Mojo. Dogs aren't allowed at the beach."
The Autobots all looked at each other. Ratchet and Ironhide looked simultaneously at their leader and waited. It was his call.
"Isn't this 'dog' very small?" Optimus asked, thinking back to what he had noticed of the so-called 'rodent'.
Sam nodded, "He's a Chihuahua. Tiny. You'll like him."
A glint of battle tactics flashed in Optimus Prime's optics, "Then, logically, he would be of a size too small for us to handle safely, correct?"
"What? No, no, he's ok, you don't step on us, right? You'd never do that." Sam brought all the arguments into a list into his head. "I've got it all worked out. He can be kept in a fenced off area, so he really won't be under your feet, all he needs is a bed, food, walking twice a day, a bit of love and attention," Sam shrugged, "its easy, and its just one week."
"Walking?" Mikaela once again burst out with feminine laughter. She had a picture in her head of Optimus Prime holding a long, LONG, pink leash with a hyperactive Chihuahua at the end going for happy walkies.
"I'll provide everything he needs, honestly. Just for one week?" Sam asked hopefully.
"Can't someone else look after this, er, Mojo?" Ratchet enquired.
"Nope, no one else I know is into dogs, and Mikaela's parents are anti-dog and allergic to pet hair." Sam looked up imploringly at the mortified Autobot Leader. "Please Optimus? I'll bring everything he needs tomorrow and set it up for you guys."
The big mech sighed, looking at his fellow Autobots. Ratchet was looking thoughtful. "It shouldn't be that hard. I've just accessed all the dog information off the World Wide Web. Seems easy enough," the medic said, starting to warm to the idea of having a biological creature to study.
Optimus Prime lowered his head, thinking. "Alright, I'm sure we can endeavour to look after this dog for you. It should be.. interesting."
Sam pumped a fist, grinning. Optimus Prime's posture sagged from his usual proud stance. Ratchet was contemplating. Ironhide let off a few Cybertronian swear words.
The deal was on.