A/N: It's Christmas, so here's my gift to you. It was snowing last night, and I was itching to write something concerning our dearest Hound and Mirage. This isn't holiday-themed per se, but it's winter-themed. Which is just as good. :D
Disclaimer: They aren't mine.
It was a very foreign concept. Frozen water (pure, not acidic, Hound had to remind himself) falling from the sky – not in a hard, icy pellet form, but in soft, fluffy flakes, lilting slowly from the clouds. Winter had come to Oregon for the first time since the Autobots had reawaken on Earth, and Hound was mystified by it.
The first time it snowed, the precipitation had been little more than something Spike later called flurries. On that particular afternoon, the fat snowflakes hit the ground and the metal hull of the Ark and quickly melted away, but the phenomenon enthralled Hound nevertheless. What was this strange, yet beautiful and pleasant stuff raining from the sky? It was water, yes, but not in a form that Hound had encountered before… In the blink of an eye, the flurries ceased to fall, and the weather system moved on through the valley, soon replaced by a frosty, cloudless sky.
Hound retreated back inside the Ark at last, shuffling through the halls and joining his comrades in the rec room. As it usually was between battles with the Decepticons, the place was a hub of activity – Optimus Prime was busy explaining something of importance to Ironhide and Ratchet; Prowl was reviewing a datapad while Jazz mercilessly tried to distract him; Bluestreak, his mouth never closed, hovered near Bumblebee and several of the other mini-bots. Nodding to Optimus on his way in, Hound plodded to the rear of the room, where he found Mirage and Cliffjumper sitting at a table and sipping energon, engaged in casual conversation.
Hound smiled to the other two Autobots as he took a seat to join them. "Hey, guys."
Cliffjumper returned the grin, pushed a drink to the Jeep Wrangler, and sounding oddly jovial, asked, "Where've you been?"
Mirage nodded in agreement. "Indeed. You've made yourself rather scarce lately, Hound."
The scout accepted the fluorescent pink liquid and took a small sip. "Either of you been outside lately?"
Mirage shrugged his blue shoulders. "Not for several cycles, why?"
"The weather," Hound explained, an excited smile on his facial plates and his hands gesturing animatedly, "it's fascinating. It's – it's something I've never seen before. The humans – I believe they call it snow."
Cliffjumper made a tutting noise and rolled his optics. "Here you go again, Hound, praising this Primus-forsaken mudball of a planet." He sighed dramatically. "I'm sure this snow is fascinating to some degree – but I've gotta recharge. Yesterday's action was pretty taxing, even for me." The red mini-bot knocked back the rest of his energon, then rose to his feet. "I'll see you boys later."
Hound nodded to the smaller Autobot as he left, then turned back to Mirage. "A little bit of exciting Earth weather doesn't interest you, huh?"
Mirage took a sip from his drink. "In all honesty, Hound? Probably not as much as it interests you. This planet…"
"… is no replacement for Cybertron," Hound finished, nodding. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Mountains don't do it for you…"
"Right you are. I'd like nothing more than sparkling, metal spires, receding into the horizon as far as the eye can see. Smooth, steel skyscrapers. Command towers. Streamlined, covered walkways – cleanliness. Order." Mirage locked optics with the green Autobot sitting across the table from him. "This planet is far too alive. Everything is always changing and moving. It's… dirty."
Hound forced a smile. "It's a lot different than what we call home, that's for sure. Still – I don't know why, Mirage, but I think I'm really starting to like it here. Maybe it's the unpredictability. Or maybe – it's how organic this planet is. It's so different from Cybertron…" His voice trailed off.
"If you had the opportunity to return, would you?"
The question caught Hound by surprise. Oddly enough, he found himself shrugging – shrugging! – and he took another mouthful of energon. "Oh, I don't know. I'd like to visit, of course – go home again and see how it looks after four million years…" At this, he chuckled and finished off his drink. "It's strange, but I really haven't missed Cybertron all that much."
Mirage smiled and examined a scuff on an arm panel. Not looking up, he asked quietly, "And what would you do if I wanted to go back?"
Hound pondered this. "You got me there, Mirage. I guess I'd have to make some sacrifices, huh? Either that, or we could introduce you to a big Earth city – they've got those here, you know, with skyscrapers almost rivaling those on Cybertron…"
The blue Autobot sighed and smiled sadly. "Still not a replacement for home," he muttered. "I think this energon is making me somewhat melancholy – I haven't thought this much about Cybertron in a while. Four million years later… I wonder what it looks like…"
"Under Decepticon control, who knows?" Hound mused. "In any case, I'm sure we'll return there someday. But, hey, why not enjoy Earth while we're here? Now this snow stuff, it really is amazing, Mirage. The next time a system comes through, I'm dragging you outside to see for yourself, whether you like it or not…"
Several days passed before another wintry front rolled through the area. It had begun to snow overnight, and by the time Hound woke up from recharge and glanced at a monitor showing the immediate outdoor surroundings, over a foot of the fluffy white stuff had accumulated – and it was still falling. The Autobot scout grinned and promptly dashed from his quarters, afraid that the snow would cease at any moment. Hound walked briskly down the corridor, arriving at the door to Mirage's room. Keying an entry request, he waited – a minute passed – no response.
Hound sighed and, knowing the entrance code to Mirage's quarters, allowed himself inside. Both the recharge berth and the desk were empty – no blue Autobot spy to be seen. The Jeep Wrangler sighed again and exited the room, hearing the whoosh of the door sliding shut behind him. He doubted Mirage had activated his invisibility cloak – no, chances were, the spy was awake as well, patrolling the passageways of the Ark or consulting with Optimus Prime. No matter, Hound was sure he could find Mirage some other time, and he would get his chance to shove the race car into the snow then. Besides, from what he had seen on the monitor, there was a lot of fluffy white stuff out there, and Hound had every intention of seeing it for himself.
Picking up his pace again, the forest-green Autobot whisked through the quiet corridors of the Ark, finally stepping outside into a frosted wonderland of peace and solitude. The boughs of the pine trees were flocked with heavy snow, the hillsides turned a pure and sparkling white. Hound was immediately taken aback at how muffled and quiet the setting seemed to be – how, for once, everything seemed right in the universe. The flakes fell thickly from the gray clouds above, already sticking to the Autobot's armor. When everyone else was tucked away in their quarters, enjoying the warmth of their recharge berths, Hound was outside, enjoying the feel of the cold air on his metal frame and the splat-splat of large snowflakes hitting his facial components.
Hound shuttered his optics and leaned his head back to face the sky. So peaceful… No matter what the other Autobots said, he truly loved this planet. It was the opposite of what Cybertron stood for – and it was moments like this, as snow settled on his unmoving armor, that made Hound glad it was on Earth they had crash-landed.
So absorbed with the peacefulness of the moment, Hound didn't see the disembodied trail of footprints heading his way – he didn't hear the muffled sound of armor moving through the snow –
A hand ghosted against Hound's waist. The green Autobot yelped, then cringed as the sound echoed through the white landscape. A second hand joined the first, bringing the scout into a hug from behind. Immediately, Hound relaxed, recognizing the feel of the armor pressed against him, and leaned into the invisible embrace. "So… you decided to come outside after all, Mirage?"
"I was curious," came the disembodied reply, maddeningly close to Hound's audial receptors. The unseen hands worked their way upward, trailing over the grille on the scout's chest, fondling the rims of the headlights nearby. Hound shuddered and pressed himself closer to the invisible form of Mirage. "And," whispered the spy, "I wanted to see you."
"I – I see that," Hound said. "Rather, um, I feel it." Transparent digits traced the seams in his armor, carefully following the planes and curves of the metal plating. Hound felt his systems warming, melting the snow that had accumulated on his body – unseen lips placed a kiss on the side of his helmet – he shivered again. "And the snow?"
"It looks nice," Mirage admitted. "You're right – I haven't seen anything like it before. It's wet."
Hound chuckled. "It's frozen water, genius. Of course it's gonna be wet – " The scout's words were promptly cut off as Mirage took the opportunity to maneuver himself in front of the other Autobot and capture his mouth in a kiss. Before Hound could protest or complain about how awkward the scene might look, the spy deactivated his cloaking device. The kiss deepened – the snow continued to fall softly around them – the normally orange hull of the Ark was flocked in a layer of white that made it appear to be part of the natural landscape. And everything, even the quiet creaking and shifting of metal armor, was wrapped in a peaceful, muffled wintry silence.
Mirage pulled away from the kiss at last, blue optics meeting Hound's. "I concede," he said with a smile. "You were right. It is beautiful."
The Autobot scout smirked and gave Mirage a chaste peck on the lips. "I knew you'd see it my way."
And as the two Autobots stood together, embracing in a sea of soft, swirling white, Mirage realized that maybe – just maybe – Planet Earth wasn't so horrible after all.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this thing in all its fluffy and clichéd greatness. Whipped it up at the last minute, so excuse any mistakes. Have a great and warm holiday season!