There was something weird about that truck.
Sarah Lennox watched it from the kitchen window. She didn't lift up the curtain and peer suspiciously like an old biddy from a sitcom, but sat in a chair, peeling potatoes and pretending to watch the sky, the curtains wide open, and if her eyes sometimes wandered over to the truck, no one would find it strange. Concealment by being in the open.
Arms were all of a sudden around her shoulders, hot breath against her neck, and she really must be losing her touch if her beloved lunk of a husband could sneak up on her in a kitchen. "You know," Will murmured into her hair, sliding one hand down to gently cup her breast through her shirt. "It's never not funny to see you, of all people, doing housework."
"Watch it, soldier," she said dryly, giving her peeler a vicious twist to dislodge an eye from a potato, but she leaned back into his touch anyway. "I'll have you scrubbing the toilet until I can apply my makeup in the reflection."
"Yes, ma'am," he said cheekily, not bothering to remove his hand. "Would you like me to dig out my old academy grays to wear while I do?"
"Don't tempt me," she replied. His hands grew bolder, stroking along her torso, and she let out a hitching sigh. "Damn it, Will, I'm trying to cook here."
"Mmmhmm. Housewife is a good look for you." His mouth brushed along that one shivery spot behind her ear, and potato salad all of a sudden seemed a lot less important. She arched back against him, her eyes half-closed and unfocused - until the truck caught her attention.
It had moved.
Not much, but it was a few feet back from where it was, so that she could only see a slice of the front end from where she was, instead of most of the cab. Sarah sat bolt upright, earning a protest from Will, and stared hard. Yes, it had most certainly moved. She could see the tracks where it had sat before. "Will," she said urgently. "The truck is moving."
Will Lennox was good, but she was better, and as much as he tried to be completely casual in the way he leaned over her to look, she saw the tension in his shoulders. "It looks pretty still to me, babe," he pointed out, but he didn't look at her, either.
"It's been moving," she insisted. "All morning. It's been creeping backwards, a bit at a time, all day."
Will shrugged, standing upright. "I'll go check on it," he said. "Maybe I left the parking brake off."
"There's no slope to that ground," she pointed out, but he was already heading out the door. She watched as he got in and started the huge machine up, then drove it around the other side of the house.
It would be hours later when she realized that he hadn't grabbed the keys from the hook when he went.
o o o
The next day, Will cleared out the main floor of the old barn at the back edge of their property and stored the truck inside. Sarah felt relief at not having to look at the weird vehicle, mingled with dread at having it out of sight. She was with Annabelle in the living room when he came back in, covered in hay and rusty streaks from old machinery. "It's not going anywhere now," he said, satisfied. "That floor is as level as man can make it, and I made sure the parking brake was on."
"Good," Sarah said decisively, carefully peeling Annabelle's tiny fist from around her hair. "How long is it ours?"
Will shrugged, ruffling his own hair to dislodge flecks of ancient grain. "Government loaner, like I said," he answered. "I'll probably be required to take it back when I report again."
"Hn." The sooner it was gone, the better Sarah would feel about it. "I don't like it, Will," she admitted. "It feels creepy, like it's haunted or something."
"Truck-ghost," Will said solemnly. "An old sergeant probably got stabbed in the bed of it, by a private who went over the deep end and couldn't take his yelling anymore."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "You're an asshole," she pointed out. "I'm serious. And you're insane if you think I, or my daughter, are stepping foot inside it."
Will sighed and crossed the room to kiss her on the forehead. "You're not the type to get weirded out over a car, Sarah," he said quietly, sitting on the arm of the couch next to her. "You think it's bugged, or something?"
"Maybe," she said, chewing on the inside of her lip. "No, I don't think... It's just weird, Will."
"I'll see if Pep Boys has anti-weird spray, then," he promised. Sarah shoved him off the couch arm and onto the floor. Annabelle burbled happily in her lap.
o o o
There were voices from inside the barn.
Sarah stood on the back porch, clutching her elbows as she listened. The wind was just right, carrying snippits of conversation, and if she watched long enough, she could see a dim blue light from inside the barn. Will had gone up the road to borrow something from their nearest neighbor, and wasn't back yet, and he'd left his phone on the counter. Annabelle was asleep, Sarah was alone, and there were apparently two men in her barn.
Oh well. She'd always worked best alone, anyway.
She slipped back into the house, padding up to her and Will's shared study. The guns were kept in a secure locker under one desk, each clean and ready. She picked up her preferred 9mm and pocketed a couple magazines before heading back outside. Old training came back quickly, and she eased across the dark landscape with a minimum of noise, moving quicker when the wind blew enough to cover her.
She kept to the shadows of the barn as she crept around to the back entrance. She could hear clearly now; a deep, husky man's voice, and one that sounded a little too much like Will's for comfort. She paused at the edge of the door, her ear pressed against a crack in the wood. "It is not right," Husky was saying. "She is your partner; she should be informed."
"I know, I know." Oh god, it was Will, and he was keeping secrets. "But I really, really, don't want her to have to go through all the secrecy and Sector seven bullshit I had to deal with. You think I want that Simmons creep threatening my wife into silence? Shit." Silence, and a thump of booted feet, as if he were pacing. "Besides, how do I explain you? Just say 'honey, there's someone I want you to meet, don't mind the weaponry'?"
A snort, and Husky sounded like he was up in the air. The hayloft, maybe. "If you don't tell her about me," Husky said. "She may end up finding out on her own."
"Damn right I will," Sarah said loudly, shoving open the door and storming into the barn. She was going to give Will the ass-chewing of his life, and whoever his rough-voiced friend was could-
There was a monster in the barn. A twenty-foot-high behemoth towered over her, standing in the center of the building, icy blue eyes the only detail she could pick out in the gloom. Sarah let out a breathless shriek and raised the 9mm by instinct, firing at the thing's face. Will yelled something and the monster moved quickly, raising one arm to shrild it's eyes, and she could hear her bullets ricochet off of metal.
The gun clicked on an empty and she ejected the magazine with a smoothness of long familiarity, but before she could reload, Will's arms were around her, pinning her arms down. "Sarah, stop!" he yelled, and she elbowed him in the gut. The monster was watching them struggle, not moving, and Sarah fought against her husband's grip to get her hands free before it decided to smash them both flat. "Sarah, he's friendly, stop! Please!"
The monster's head cocked sideways, like a curious cat. "Do females always shoot first, ask later?" it asked, in Husky's voice.
Sarah froze, momentary outrage overcoming the blind need to kill the thing before it killed her, her daughter, her husband (though the way he was acting, he was definitely low on the list right now) "No, we certainly do not!" she snapped. She turned her head to glare at Will over her shoulder. "Let go of me, before I break your nose."
"Don't shoot at him," Will ordered. "He's not going to hurt us." A pause. "And it's a waste of bullets. Those won't hurt him."
"I'm pretty sure it'll hurt if she takes an optic out," the monster pointed out. "Your mate has good aim, Lennox."
"I won't shoot at him," Sarah said grudgingly. She'd definitely need something bigger. Will slowly let her go, tensed to grab her again, and she stood upright to fix him with the coldest glare she could muster. "Explain yourself, soldier."
"Ironhide," Will said, gesturing at her. "Meet my wife, Major Sarah Lennox of the US Army. Sarah, meet Ironhide of the Autobots."
o o o
Sarah Lennox had been surprised many times over her life. She had been pleasantly surprised when a punk Lieutenant she'd beaten in a boxing match during a command-wide event started courting her. She'd been more surprised when he asked her to marry him. She'd seen things during some of her missions that would make little old ladies faint away. She'd felt deep wonder at the miracle of her tiny daughter.
This surpassed all of that.
Sometime during Will's very abbreviated explanation of the behemoth in their barn, her eyes had grown used to the dim light, and she'd realized Ironhide was the truck, unfolded and upright, and she sank to her knees, gaping at the split 'GMC' on it's chest. Will kenlt at her side, concerned, and part of what he had said started to register. "He's an alien," she said carefully. "You're keeping an alien truck in our barn."
"Kind of," Will hedged. "More like he likes me, for some reason, and he's sticking around."
"Oh." Abruptly, she rounded on Will, full of righteous fury. "And just when were you planning on telling me?" she demanded.
Will was surprised into falling backwards, landing on his butt with a thud. "I... wasn't?" he offered. "Babe, you know how much shit you'll have to go through now? Know how many forms you have to sign now? The stack could keep a hobo's fore going for a month and then some. And the people involved are inot/i the kind I want you to have to deal with."
"I was Spec Ops, Will," Sarah hissed. "I know damn well what a non-disclosure agreement means."
"This is a little more than a simple non-disclosure," Will snapped back. "You're a itarget/i now. You think an alien robot with guns the size of a tree is on Earth on a pleasure jaunt?" There was another snort from Ironhide, which both humans ignored.
"I've been shot at before, too," Sarah pointed out. She eyes the great silver-gray cylinders on the thing's arms. "And by bigger guns than that."
"Yeah, Kosovo, I know," Will said distractedly, while Ironhide made some kind of protest. "And I don't mean by him. There's other ones out there, and they're not as nice as he is."
Sarah gaped again. "How'd you know about Kosovo?" she demanded.
Will grinned wickedly in the gloom. "One of your JO's was at Qatar," he said smugly. "He'd developed quite the crush on you while in Kosovo. I never knew you could belly-dance."
Blood slammed into Sarah's face, and Ironhide made a sound that could have been a laugh, and could have been an engine rev. "That information could get you killed," she said darkly. "And not by me."
"And knowing about him could do the same to you," Will pointed out. He sighed, running a hand along his hair, still too short to run through it properly. "Sarah, I don't want you involved in this." he said finally. "It's... it's big. Too big, and I wish like hell that iI/i wasn't involved in it. I had no choice, though, and now I'm in it to the end. I didn't want that for you."
Sarah was silent a moment. "Qatar wasn't just a terrorist bombing, was it?" she asked.
"He was disguised as a helicopter," Will said in a dead sort of tone. "And he had a pet scorpion the size of a Volvo."
"And he's dead now," Ironhide said firmly. "You delivered his death blow yourself, Lennox. And Scorponok can't hide from us forever. We'll have him."
Sarah looked back and forth between Will and the hulking Ironhide. "This is an honest-to-god war," she said. It wasn't a question, but Will nodded anyway. "Between alien robots who want to kill us, and alien robots who want to help us." Another nod. "And you trust him." A third nod, and Sarah thought for a moment, then stood up and crossed the dusty cement floor to Ironhide.
Despite being so much larger than she was, he seemed a bit apprehensive at her approach. She stopped almost between his feet, craning her neck to look up at him. "My husband trusts you," she said flatly, her hands on her hips. "So far, his character judgment has been pretty good. But I swear to you, you wake up my baby revving that engine of yours, or shooting those pop-guns, and I will teach you a new meaning of the phrase 'wrecked transmission', am I clear?"
"Ma'am, yes ma'am," Ironhide replied smartly, firing off a neat salute, and it was hard to tell, with the dim lighting and the oddities of his face, but she thought he might be smiling. "Keep it out of my cab until it's old enough to properly retain it's fluids, and we should have no problems."
"Good." He could have protested the threat, gotten indignant, or angry, or any of a hundred other responses, and he chose to play along instead. Sarah liked him better already. She whirled on Will, who was dusting off his jeans from his trip to the floor. "And you," she said coolly. "Are on night baby watch for the next week. She's probably just about to wake up for her next feeding, so hup to."
"Yes, ma'am," Will said, rolling his eyes. He crossed over to her, spun her around, and dipped her over his outstretched leg, kissing her soundly. "I really am sorry," he murmured before he spun her back upright and walked out.
Sarah took a moment to catch her breath, and she didn't realize she was resting her hand on Ironhide's leg until she noticed it vibrating faintly under her hand. She snatched it away quickly and muttered an apology, hurrying after Will. As she closed the barn door behind her, she heard a low chuckle, and a peculiar clanking noise. Peeking back into the barn, she saw the truck sitting there again, still and pristine, with no sign of the alien itself. The truck's lights flashed once, almost like a wave, and went dark.