Note: Beyond the link is dragons and stickyfic. Beware. Though not really dragons. Just... proverbial dragons. The proverbial dragons being the sticky, mostly.

Astrid let out a very long sigh and looked behind her. Boxes everywhere; dozens and dozens of them to be opened and sorted through in due time. Her sister would be flying up to visit the following week, to check our her new pad and to help her unpack. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be necessary and she didn't quite know how to broach the topic.

"How are you going to tell your family about me?" asked the familiar and comforting voice from outside the kitchen window. "And what about the warehouse?

The warehouse. Astrid sipped her tea slowly, staring out into space. "I don't know," she concluded.

About a month had passed since her arrival in Anchorage, which meant a little more than that since her second dance with death on the highway. She'd been inconsolable for several days afterward, unable to do anything but relive bad memories. Bad, bad memories. The Jeep had somehow managed to tow, or push, or pull-she couldn't remember-the moving van along the road to the next speck of a town on the way where she spent all day curled up in his back seat, trembling, not quite able to speak. It took her two days to gather her wits about her; Hound wouldn't allow her back behind the wheel unless she felt absolutely sure she could drive. Fortunately, they made it to Anchorage in the end, and Astrid quietly decided to herself that she would be looking into therapy once she got herself settled. The hike had left a deep mark on her, and if she didn't have the courage to face it, she knew that it would turn her into a paranoid, fearful wreck in the years to come. But she would deal with that in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there was much to do, and fortunately, she was feeling like herself again.

"But you have to tell them sometime. I can't be your secret forever." The woman looked out the large window at the green robot sitting on the ground just outside as he examined a small yellow flower he'd plucked from the otherwise dead yard. His optics were that sullen shade of blue that they turned when he felt bad. Oh dear, she'd hurt his feelings.

"No, no, that's not what I meant!" she backtracked. He looked up at her. "I'm going to, but I just don't have a plan. I figure the best way to go about these things is to just go about them and be honest about it. If she flips out, then... shame on her and too bad. Though I imagine that the only thing she'd be truly iffy about is all this government involvement in my life now."

Hound let out a warm chuckle. "Hey, how about you come out here so I don't feel like I'm talking to a window screen?"

Astrid smiled. "Yeah! What the hell am I doing in here?" she laughed and stepped outside onto the deck next to where Hound sat, planting a kiss on his head and he put his arm around her waist in a childishly possessive gesture. She looked at the deck itself; it was in terrible shape. "You know, I'm kind of glad I won't have to tear this thing out now," she said, gesturing to the rotted wood with a nod of her head.

"I could do it in 30 seconds, I'll bet," Hound grinned.

"And not freak out the neighbors any more than you have already? I think not, big guy." She paused for another sip and then decided to have a seat on Hound's knee. The mech let out a quiet sound that almost bore resemblance to a purr or a sigh. He began to stroke her shoulder with a finger. "I think living in a space that would accommodate the both of us is pretty exciting, though. I mean, especially since BREME is going to be paying off my mortgage on this place and letting us live there for free. I guess they really want to make sure you stay, huh?" she laughed.

She was extremely grateful that his commanding officer, an Optimus Prime, with permission from the BREME committee, approved for his relocation to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation. The state had actually been petitioning BREME for Autobot aid for some years now, as there was a long waiting list for that sort of thing. There were plenty of Autobots to go around for sure, but as Astrid had found out, each one had their own areas of expertise and vehicle modes that would make them more or less useful in certain areas. You wouldn't enlist Blaster's help in shipwreck expeditions in the Great Lakes, for instance, or Hot Rod's help in clearing minefields in Laos.

Hound had proven himself as an extremely capable tracker over the years, and was more or less built to be an imaging and data collection expert; couple that with his insatiable love for the natural world, and you had the perfect mech for the job.

"It's going to take me a little while to get used to this whole midnight sun business," she said, looking up at the still light sky, a dusk that was 3 hours in the making. "I mean, hell; I need to go to bed soon and the sun hasn't gone down yet!"

"Are the blackout shades working?"

"Yeah, they do just fine. It's still weird though."

"You know, it's a perpetual dusk on Cybertron. Or perhaps early morning, depending on your preference."

"That would drive me nuts. I'd probably kill myself, actually."

"After getting to experience such intense day/night cycles as you've got here on Earth, I don't think I could go back to that easily either." Astrid yawned and rested her head on his grille. Hound peered down at her, and their eyes met. "You want to head over to the garage for a bit?"

"Sure," she smiled. It had become a routine for them, and sometimes she'd just sleep out there with him anyways. She lazily slid off his leg and stoop up, stretching a bit, trying to shake the sleep off a little. Hound rose up behind her (she'd always gotten a secret thrill from standing next to him at his full height) and took the long way around into the structure.

The human found it funny that the garage was still the most well-furnished and "moved-in" part of the house. Though, it was appropriate and expected given the situation. So in the settled; Hound rested on the numerous area rugs piled on the floor, reclining against an old couch against the wall and flipping on the TV to the 10 o'clock news program.

She sat beside his head and shoulders on the couch, getting in as close as she could, letting drowsy bliss overcome her.

But Hound, she knew, seem to have something else on his mind. Tonight was indeed their last night together before he was being sent away for a week to Denali National Park, and neither of them were looking forward to it in the slightest.

So when he turned his head to the side and looked at her with deep, bright optics, completely ignoring the TV, she knew exactly what was going through that mind of his...

If you want to read the rest (i.e. EXPLICIT SEX) then you can find it at archiveofourown org works 275018- I take it you'll be able to figure out what special characters go where. Enjoy, and when you're done with that, don't forget to read the sequel, Body Check!