A/N: BIG NEWS! FINALLY and at long last the 2nd and 3rd parts of my "Tinman" audio drama are posted on audiofanfic .com!!!! So if you haven't heard it already stop by and have a listen. I was so impressed I practically cried joyful tears. And again it's ALL thanks to you the fans and the wonderful crew at Audiofanfic!
Boys, Meet my Truck
"Dancing with the Bride"
Annabelle and Paul's wedding reception…
Ironhide (or rather "Uncle Hide") managed to achieve his objective of ushering without a hitch. The wedding proceeded as human custom demanded: the hallowed readings, the words of bonding, the exchange of rings, and of course the ending mouth interface. It was all so baffling to Ironhide that such a quick, simple act needed so much planning, stress, and finances to achieve. But it was finished and the only thing left was attending the wedding reception and dancing with the bride. Apparently, it was the fun celebration that followed the ceremonial aspects of the wedding. But Ironhide wasn't thinking about fun. He was thinking of Annabelle.
She stood at the head table behind a lavish, tower of a dessert called a "wedding cake" with her bond mate. Her smile was so radiant. Ironhide had never seen her so happy and yet, despite his best efforts, he was having trouble sharing that emotion.
"So your 'ushering' task went well?" Ratchet's unmistakable voice asked from behind.
Uncle Hide inclined his gaze to Ratchet's hologram, a stout, silver haired, clean shaven, man with square glasses and a very educated look about him. He wore a dark suit with a yellow tie.
"It was not difficult." Ironhide assured but then grimaced reaching into his hologram vest pocket, "But I received several numeric sequences scribbled on paper from several female guests."
Ratchet snickered, mimicking the human gesture of adjusting his glasses, "I believe those are known as 'phone numbers', Hide."
The holographic Ironhide gave a very convincing look of disturbance as he stared at the small scraps of paper in his hand, "You're saying they were…"
Ratchet clapped Uncle Hide on the back, "Congratulations Hide. You've finally become attractive to the opposite sex…of an opposite species."
"Oh sit on a bolt and rotate." Ironhide snarled, stuffing the numbers away. "You know very well the femmes couldn't resist me."
"Right. Mainframe fantasies are fun aren't they?" the man smirked.
Uncle Hide squared his shoulders, "I wouldn't know. You're the expert on such 'fantasies'."
Ratchet continued to smile and he dipped his head knowingly, "I know you're going to miss Annabelle."
The cowboy looking hologram stared at him a moment but nodded, "Yes."
Just then Sam, Mikaela, a young man about Annabelle's age with blonde hair and blue eyes, and a tall man about Will's age with dark brown hair and rugged strong features approached. Ironhide tipped his black cowboy hat at them.
"This is a very interesting human celebration." Optimus's hologram observed, "I have yet to congratulate the young couple on their bonding."
"Me too." the young Bumblebee hologram nodded.
"You guys will have plenty of time I'm sure." Sam assured.
Mikaela smirked at Ironhide's hologram, "Looking good there cowboy."
The hologram's eyes wandered up to the brim of the hat then to Ratchet hissing, "You think it's the hat that's attracting these human females?"
Mikaela burst out laughing, trying to stifle it with her hand.
Ironhide and Ratchet looked over at her, "Is it?"
The young woman giggled, "Well lots of women DO have a thing for cowboys."
Uncle Hide removed his hat promptly.
"What's the matter Hide? You shy around the ladies?" Sam audaciously asked.
Optimus and Ratchet laughed ironically. They knew very well Hide's reputation with femmes and it was ANYTHING but shy.
The hologram narrowed his blue eyes, "No. I just don't want to mislead any of the females here. This IS only a hologram after all."
"Point taken." the young man nodded.
Mikaela took the hat from him and placed it back on his head, "Keep it on. It completes the look."
Uncle Hide was about to protest when the DJ in the corner of the reception hall announced it was time for the first dance of the evening. The reception guests began to circle around the empty floor and Annabelle and Paul took the center, positioning themselves for the dance. Annabelle was still in her lavish wedding gown and Paul in his dress shirt and tux slacks. The gentle ballad began and Paul expertly led his new wife in a slow waltz in the center of the crowd.
"He seems a healthy male specimen." Ratchet observed in a quiet voice. "And they appear genetically compatible."
Ironhide nodded. For several minutes the new couple danced until the DJ announced it was time for the father of the bride to dance with his daughter. Will, dressed in his military dress suit, stepped forward and Paul handed Annabelle over to him. Father and daughter danced and Ironhide could see the tears welling in both their eyes. Through the music he listened to them talk.
"I'm so proud of you Annie." Will said in a choked whisper.
Annabelle smiled, "Don't cry daddy, you'll get me started."
"I never thought this day would come…my little girl all grown up and married."
The young woman let some tears fall and quickly wiped them away, "I love you daddy."
Ironhide retracted his surveillance hearing.
"Is that sad crying or happy crying?" Bumblebee asked.
The Autobots had witnessed the strange and often confusing behavior known as "crying" many times during their time on Earth. Once they figured out it wasn't a damaging leak in the humans' eyes they had to interpret what the crying meant. The paradox was that the crying never meant the same thing each time.
"It's happy with a mix of sad." Mikaela smiled.
Bumblebee's hologram cocked his head, "How can you tell?"
The dark haired woman smiled even wider, "Captain Will loves his daughter and knows she'll be leaving home. That's sad for him. But he also knows Annabelle is entering a new chapter in her life…so he's happy too."
"Hmm." the blonde hologram scratched his head, "I'll never figure this 'crying' thing out."
"Don't try Bee. You'll just run your logic processor in a continuous loop." Ironhide explained.
On the dance floor the song changed and Will handed the bride back to the groom, moving back to stand next to Uncle Hide. The former soldier wiped his damp eyes.
"Will you be all right?" the cowboy hologram asked.
The man nodded with a smile, "Just feels like I'm losing my baby girl."
Uncle Hide inclined his head toward him, "She hasn't been designated a 'baby' for quite some time Will."
"I know. It's just…you're never really ready for them to grow up. One day she's learning to walk, the next, she's married and ready to start a new life." he stated in a reminiscing tone.
"I…" Ironhide began, "Shall miss her very much."
Will grabbed his shoulder gently, "That's something we need to talk about."
Several dances later…
Uncle Hide was just finishing his conversation with Captain Lennox when he felt a slender arm hook onto his. He turned to see Annabelle radiant as a new sun in the cosmos.
"Can I steal Uncle Hide for a dance?" she asked her dad.
Will smiled, "Sure. He's all yours."
The cowboy in the black suit smiled and gently took her hand, following her to the now filled dance floor. Ironhide could see Ratchet's hologram dancing with Sara Lennox and Bumblebee's was dancing with one of the bridesmaids. Optimus was off to the side speaking with Paul, probably congratulating him on the bonding. Paul had been introduced to the other Autobots earlier that year and though intimidated, took the meeting much better than Ironhide's. Paul seemed the most comfortable with Optimus for some odd reason.
Ironhide assumed the dancing position, counted the music beats, and gently waltzed Annabelle across the floor. She smiled up at him, allowing him to lead.
"You dance like Paul." she observed.
Ironhide's eyes shifted around, "And that is… good?"
"He taught you didn't he?" the young woman laughed, genuinely astonished.
No doubt Sara had blabbed about the lessons.
"Maybe…what of it?"
She smiled, shaking her head, "Nothing. I'm glad you're starting to like him."
"It was a necessary lapse I assure you." he insisted gravely.
Annabelle gave him a chiding look, "Liar. You like him."
"He is…tolerable." the cowboy hologram admitted. He decided to change the subject, "You look like you rolled right off the assembly line tonight."
Knowing he meant "beautiful" the young woman smiled, "Thank you. Your hologram is looking very dapper tonight."
"Is it the hat?" Ironhide brought up the question again.
She laughed, "Probably. I know my High School Principal, Paul's mother, and several other ladies have been asking me who you were and if you were single."
Uncle Hide's eyes suddenly darted around, "Oh…perhaps I should've reconsidered this hat."
Annabelle tweaked the stiff brim of the fake hat, "I like it. It fits you."
They danced for a few more seconds until Annabelle leaned into him, eyes wet again, "I'm going to miss you."
"Well, your father just gave me an order, one I am obligated to follow but only if you approve." Ironhide explained.
The hologram took on a solemn expression, "He wants me to transfer my guardianship to you and your husband."
"You'd leave mom and dad to guard us?" Annabelle sounded shocked.
"I told him I would, but only if you wished it." he smirked, "I made the same offer to your father over twenty earth years ago."
The young woman looked away a moment, thinking. Ironhide patiently danced with her until the song ended and slowly she took him aside. She held his hologram's hands.
"Ironhide I'd want nothing more than to have you as our guardian, but…"
He looked questioningly at her, "But?"
"But your duty is to my parents first."
"And you." he insisted.
She nodded, "I know. But I want them to have you."
"So…you do not wish it." the hologram concluded.
Annabelle squeezed the false hands, "I wish it…just not yet. Promise me that you will guard my parents for as long as they live."
His large hands clasped hers in return, "As long as I function, I will guard them for you Annabelle."
The blonde bride jumped up and embraced him around the neck, "Then, you'd better come visit us often."
"I will. Whenever you want." he promised.
She released her holographic "uncle" and took his arm again, "Dance again?"
Ironhide looked to the dance floor, noticing the song was much faster and quite frankly not of the "waltzing" variety. The younger humans were popping and swaying their bodies to the wild beat in a very…disturbing manner.
Ironhide spotted Bumblebee's hologram dancing with Sam and Mickaela as well as a larger group of young women. The scout's hologram was, how the human's put it, "ripping up the dance floor" with precise, almost slow-motion movements. He looked like his motor controls were in suspended animation. But, the cluster of humans seemed enthralled with his skills.
"Umm…perhaps when a slower song is played." Ironhide bowed out.
At that moment, two fingers tapped Ironhide's back. He turned to see Paul.
"Mind if I dance with my wife?" he asked politely.
The holographic cowboy narrowed his eyes at the young man and faced him. Paul went stiff, thinking he'd just asked the wrong thing. Without warning the larger man seized Paul's hand and shook it firmly. Uncle Hide smiled upon seeing Paul's dumbfounded expression.
"What's this for?" the groom asked indicating the handshake.
"I wanted to…congratulate your bonding to Annabelle." Uncle Hide explained simply. "Isn't a handshake the proper gesture?"
"Oh…OH! Yeah, it is." relief swept over him, "Thank you, Iron…er…Uncle Hide."
They released hands and Uncle Hide rested his on his silver belt buckle, "I wanted you to know that since you and Annabelle are bonded, my guardianship encompasses you as well."
Paul blinked, "It does?"
"Yes." the hologram nodded, "So if you two need me, I will come." He glanced at Annabelle and leaned closer to Paul with a mischievous smirk, "And uh… if you 'irritate' Annabelle, I will also make an appearance."
"Uncle Hide!" Annabelle scolded, smacking the hologram's arm.
Paul smiled, anticipating the all too familiar intimidation display from the tough guardian, "I guess I'll have to be the best husband I can be then."
The hologram smiled and clapped the young man soundly on the shoulder, "Then I welcome you to the family…Paul."
Paul's brown eyes widened considerably. It was the first time Ironhide had addressed him by name and not "boy".
Uncle Hide gradually nudged Paul toward Annabelle saying, "Now go dance with your wife."
Annabelle smiled happily at the event and took her husband's arm, tugging him toward the dance floor. It was hard watching her, knowing she was not going to be around, but Ironhide knew he would adapt as he had always done.