Will Lennox wriggled into his winter jacket. The December air felt crisp against his exposed neck as he opened the side door leading from the house to the garage. It did not snow in Tranquility, but the weather became cold enough that Ironhide preferred the shelter of Will's slightly warmer garage at night.
"Will?" the large, black Topkick spoke. "It's a little late for an evening drive."
Sheepishly, Will opened the driver's side door and climbed in. "I ran out of wrapping paper." He buckled his seat belt and glanced at his watch. "Mind if we take a spin to the mall real quick?"
They said nothing more. Will opened the main garage door so Ironhide could back out. The outside of his house was decked out in white icicle lights and large, dimly-lit plastic candy canes lined the walkway leading to the front door, which had a simple wreath hung on the metal screen. It was Christmas eve and the soft glow of the house made him remember his own childhood--of how Christmas meant waking up to presents, family and fun.
Will draped a hand lazily over the steering wheel to give the appearance of driving. Ironhide turned on the radio and the dial moved back and forth. Will chuckled, he doubted there were any stations that didn't have Christmas music playing. The radio settled on a station playing "Jingle Bell Rock" before shutting off altogether. Ironhide seemed...tense...even jumpy.
"Hey, what's up?" Will asked. "You're acting like you're about to be fired on."
It wasn't until they halted at a red light that Ironhide spoke up.
"Will, you need to secure your house tonight."
"Huh?" Will sat up straight. His years in the military taught him that if one soldier was on alert, he should be as well. Especially since meeting the Autobots also involved being shot at by some really nasty bad guys. "Are you picking up a Decepticon?"
"No! I've been examining the internet to better understand this 'holiday' you humans celebrate." Ironhide almost peeled out of the intersection when the light turned green. "This 'Santa Claus' poses a security risk to your home. Slipping in unseen while you sleep and dropping off packages that could contain explosives or dangerous substances...it's foolish to encourage visits from this...flying sleigh."
For a moment Will couldn't even talk. If he did, he'd break into helpless laughter. Ironhide, afraid of Santa? He decided to play along a bit just to have a little fun. "Thanks for the input. I'll make sure everything's locked up when we get back."
They pulled into the mall parking lot.
"Good." Ironhide replied. "How long will you be gone?"
"Twenty minutes if I'm lucky, and hour if the lines are long."
Ironhide shut off his engine. Will climbed out without bothering to lock anything and walked towards the brightly lit building.
Midnight came and went, and Ironhide sat in the garage with all his sensors on alert. He could detect the familiar heat signature of Will going back and forth between the hall closet and the living room. Good, that meant the human was guarding the house. Ironhide decided he could take a short stasis nap...
...and woke up nearly four hours later to something wrapped in gold paper with a shimmering red bow sitting on his hood. Scanning the contents told him it seemed to be an empty cardboard box.
Then he sensed the label.
Ironhide slowly...very slowly and carefully...generated the signal that opened the garage door. He gingerly backed out until he'd cleared the house and drove slowly to the end of the block where the street split into a relatively unpopulated intersection.
And gunned it in reverse, causing the package to slide off his hood. He spun around, speeding back to the house.
Will was standing on the lawn with a cup of coffee in his hand and reindeer slippers on his feet. Steam rose from the white mug in little white filaments against the early morning sun. He hadn't shaved yet, and his eyes drooped in a way Ironhide learned meant a lack of sleep.
"Morning," the human said sleepily.
"Will!" Ironhide growled at him, "You're incompetent! You didn't guard the garage!"
"Me?" Will blinked, "I thought you were guarding the garage."
"I was. Santa Claus still left me a package! I didn't even sense him!" Ironhide roared. Suddenly, he realized he hadn't heard an explosion. There was no smoke on the horizon. No sirens, no screaming...it was too quiet.
"I told you, Ironhide...he's pretty sneaky." Will's face was as red as the ridiculous noses on his Christmas slippers. He covered his mouth and burst into convulsive human laughter. "Guess you got lucky. The package was probably a dud."
Then he turned on his heel and headed back inside, oddly unconcerned about nearly having his house blown up.
"By the way, Ironhide," he said from the front door, "This happens every year."
"By the Allspark..." Ironhide bellowed. "I'll just have to shoot the slagger down!"
Then he started to hear the neighborhood kids emerging from their houses. Each one made joyful noises about the cool new toy Santa brought them. One rode by on a brand new bike.
And it dawned on Ironhide. He'd been had by this human.
"Merry Christmas," Will lifted his coffee mug with a shit-eating grin, as humans called them, spread across his stubbly face.
"Frag you," the Topkick growled. He rolled back into the garage and sulked for the rest of the day.