A/N: Ugh. My brain is so random and shifty with its ideas. One day it's smut, the next angst, a dash of crack fic, then fluffy cuteness, with a sprinkling of violence. I just need these ideas to SLOW down and quit pestering me when I've already got WAY too many stories still brewing! Well today it's fluffy cuteness that wants attention, so here we go.

Note: This won't be a full blown story…more like fluff to stuff the seams of Tinman. I'll be writing chapters as new situations come to me.

Tinman: the Untold Chapters

"Walking with a Weapon"

Set approximately when Annabelle is almost 3 years old…

It was a sunny afternoon on the Lennox farm. Will was in the garage, trying to complete one of the "Honey Do" jobs Sara had been begging him to finish, which happened to be repainting said garage. The soldier complied, knowing the task was long overdue. He gathered the house painting supplies and began to situate his ladder. Luckily for him Sara had managed to get most of the scraping done while he was overseas so all he had to do was paint and scrape the eaves. Not the most fun of jobs. Paint brushes stuffed in his back jean pocket and a paint-can in hand, the man climbed up the ladder to begin. He hadn't made two strokes when a large shadow fell over him.

"Hey, Ironhide." he greeted, not even bothering to look.

The Autobot tipped his head, "What are you doing?"

"Oh, painting the garage. It has needed it for a long time." the man explained.

Ironhide observed the garage and the man, "Do you require assistance?"

"Nope. I'm good."

"That ladder does not seem sufficiently sturdy." the mech mentioned.

Knowing this was going to turn into yet another one of Ironhide's over-concerned analyses of his personal safety and efficiency, Will decided to cut him off, "Thank you for your concern Ironhide, but I'll be just fine."

The Autobot huffed quietly but decided to take the hint, "Very well then. I am going to patrol the outer rim of your property. I will be back shortly."

Will saluted with his brush, "Ok. Keep up the good work."

As the black guardian paced across the farmyard the screen door squeaked open and Annabelle ran out with Sara behind her.

"Thank you Will!" the woman smiled when she saw her husband painting.

Annabelle looked up, "Hi Daddy!"

"Hi Annie." he waved down to her.

While Sara began talking to Will about the painting job at hand, Annabelle peeked through the gate and immediately spotted the hulking form of Ironhide marching away from the house. She smiled broadly, thrust open the gate, and dashed after him. In her mind there was nothing more fun than getting Ironhide to play with her, albeit he was a three-ton, battle mech with more destructive force than an entire division of tanks.

"Ironhide!" she chirped as she ran between his great stomping feet.

The big black mech froze immediately, his sensors scanning wildly for the tiny presence. Every time the child came close to him warning lights would literally go off in his head. The Lennox's daughter was so small and quick-moving his ultimate dread was he'd accidentally step on her. He made it a personal promise and a top priority to mind his steps and never harm her—even if by accident. Unfortunately for Ironhide, Annabelle didn't make his vow easy. The child didn't seem to fathom the potential danger the giant mech posed to her.

Annabelle stood between his feet with wide eyes of wonderment. To her the Autobot was the biggest thing in the world and to gain his undivided attention was her greatest joy.

"Hi!" she beamed up at him.

His horned head tilted down with flashing blue optics.

The mech frowned sternly, "Annabelle…"

"Hi!" she repeated.

"Annabelle what have I told you about coming so close to me without my knowledge?" he chided.

The little girl shifted from foot to foot, "Don't."

"That's right. I don't want to accidentally hurt you." he pointed at the house, "Now…go back to your mother."

A mist entered the girl's eyes, "But…I wanna play with you."

"Oh. Umm..." Ironhide grunted uncomfortably, "Perhaps later. I must make my rounds of the property."

"I help?" she asked with great hope.

"Well…I…"

"Pleeease?" the child begged.

The Autobot looked around, "I don't think you could keep up with me."

She pouted noticeably, "I wanna go with you! Please?"

"Umm…"

"Please Ironhide? PLEASE?" her begging intensified.

Ironhide tried to think of some excuse to deter her, but that pleading shimmer in her wide blue eyes was enough to bend his resilient will.

"Oh…very well." he relented.

Annabelle clapped her hands and then lifted them, "Pick me up! Pick me up!"

The weapons specialist hesitated. He'd never held Annabelle before. Sure, he'd removed her from his foot when she decided to climb on him, but he never lifted her more than a foot off the ground. To be honest it was another disturbing notion that plagued his processors. What if he dropped her? What if he squeezed too hard?

"Pick me up! Please?" Annabelle demanded, completely oblivious to his worries.

As he was debating the action in his mind, he recalled what Will had said the day they talked under the oak tree, "Sara and I trust you with us and Annabelle. You just have to learn to trust yourself. Relax a little."

Releasing some built up heat from his air vents, the black guardian knelt down and placed his hand on the ground. Annabelle wasted no time scrambling into his massive palm. Ironhide waited, mentally preparing himself. With great care the Autobot curled his fingers as a barrier and stood up. The child squealed with delight when she rose twenty feet off the ground within a couple seconds. She didn't appear the least bit afraid, but Ironhide was feeling like he'd dropped out his engine.

So far, so good.

"Annie? Annie!" Sara began to call when she noticed her daughter wasn't in the yard anymore.

Habitually, Ironhide returned to the house.

"Hi mommy! Hi daddy!" Annabelle waved from the lofty height in Ironhide's hand.

Sara's eyes widened. Her subtle reaction unsettled Ironhide. He hoped he hadn't overstepped his bounds by holding the child. The parents might not like the idea of their daughter being up so high and in his powerful hands. Ironhide approached the house and readied himself for a reprimand.

"What are you doing up there Annie?" Will asked with a playful smile.

"I go with Ironhide!" she announced.

Sara seemed mildly concerned, "Where exactly are you going?"

"I will be patrolling the outer rims of your property." Ironhide pointed as he explained.

Though Will didn't appear concerned, Ironhide could immediately tell Sara was worried for her daughter. Whether it was because of him or because of something else the Autobot couldn't be sure. The little girl was becoming a burning coal in his hand.

Perhaps this wasn't a good idea?

"If…you do not wish Annabelle to go with me I can leave her here." he offered bending down to give the child back to her mother.

Annabelle immediately embraced one of his fingers shouting, "NO! NO! Wanna go with Ironhide! WANNA GO!"

The woman at last said, "No it's fine. You don't mind taking her?"

"Umm…as long as you don't mind." he answered carefully.

"I don't mind. Just have her back for her nap at 3:00." the mother nodded.

Ironhide stood back up again, "Affirmative."

Annabelle rocked in his hand as she pointed, "Go! Go!"

"Annie! You be good for Ironhide!" her mother called after them. "And BE careful!"

The mech turned and walked down the driveway to the forested area behind the Lennox farm. He always made a point of patrolling the surrounding area of the Lennox's secluded homestead. There could be enemies hiding in the tree or some other threat. Anyway, it was something to do besides stand around. But now he had the challenge of taking Annabelle with him.

The little girl was beside herself with excitement as her guardian carried her away from the house and into the trees beyond. Ironhide was tall enough that many of the tree branches were in reach so Annabelle reached up and snagged a handful of leaves as they passed by. Like throwing green confetti she pitched the leaves into the air, many of which flew into the grill on Ironhide's chest and into his face. The black mech quirked a brow at the strange behavior, but said nothing.

Another branch came into range and Annabelle snatched some more leaves to throw.

Finally Ironhide had to ask, "What are you doing?"

Annabelle looked back at him and was about to answer but she giggled instead. Ironhide had a big leaf on his nose plate.

He tipped his head, "What?"

She pointed to his nose and giggled.

"Huh? What is it?" Ironhide didn't understand her point.

Then she pointed at her own nose, "Leaf!"

Making an educated guess, Ironhide touched his nose plate and found the source of her amusement. Annabelle giggled even harder. The mech pitched the offending vegetation, grumbling.

Ironhide continued his walk through the trees until his sensors detected movement nearby. The great Autobot stopped and leaned up against a sizeable tree in a sneaking combative stance. He focused on the movement and increased the visibility provided by his heat vision.

A threat? A Decepticon?

Then his optics found the source. Three deer were bounding away through the woods, causing a crashing stir. The Autobot relaxed and stepped away from the tree.

"There is no need to worry Annabelle it was only…" he looked in his hand only to find it empty. "Annabelle?!"

Ironhide's Spark crackled with panic. Where was she? He feverishly turned his hands over. Then he lifted his feet, spinning in a frenzied circle to find her. Did he accidentally drop her? Where did she go? HOW could he have LOST her?

"Look at me! Look at me!" Annabelle's little voice crowed.

Ironhide followed her voice and spotted her nestled in a large fork of the tree he'd leaned against. She must've climbed over into the tree when he was fixated on the non-threat.

"Annabelle!" he barked, quickly reaching out for her.

"Tweet! Tweet!" Annabelle chirped like a bird, clearly not seeing anything dangerous about being up a tree.

The Autobot held out his hand, "Annabelle, come here."

Ironhide was trying to figure out the safest way to extract her from the tree if she failed to comply. He might have to uproot the whole thing.

"I'm a bird!" Annabelle flapped her hands.

Ironhide grimaced, hoping the child's imaginings of being a bird wouldn't prompt her to try "flying".

He pressed his open hand to the tree with insistence, "Annabelle, come to me."

Then she said the one thing he hated to hear, "No."

Ironhide narrowed his optics at the willful child, "Don't tell ME no. Come here so we can finish the patrol."

"No!" she scrunched her face stubbornly. "Don't wanna!"

One of the mechanisms on the side of Ironhide's jaw rotated with a grinding noise. His left cannon hummed, lighting up slightly.

"Annabelle…" his deep voice warned.

As a finality the child hugged the tree trunk. Ironhide felt his temper rise but quickly smothered it. He couldn't pry her off; not without hurting her. He COULD uproot the whole tree, but he'd risk harming her in that manner too. Force wasn't the answer. He'd have to approach the situation with some…finesse.

How would Optimus handle this?

After a quick decision, Ironhide uncharacteristically opted for a psychological course of action. He removed his hand and slowly walked away. Out of the corner of his optics he could see the shocked look on Annabelle's face and as he moved further from her he could detect a rise in her heart rate. She was getting anxious.

Ironhide hadn't walked five steps when Annabelle suddenly shouted, "IRONHIDE!"

He stopped and glanced over his hefty shoulder.

"Ironhide! Come back!" she cried, eyes welled with tears, "Come back!"

The black Autobot returned promptly and offered a hand to her again. This time the child eagerly crawled over into his hand. He stroked her back to console her quiet sniffles.

"Good youngling." he smirked. "Are you ready to resume our patrol?"

She nodded and Ironhide began to walk again. Ironhide continued his patrol, walking further from the Lennox farm until he came to the creek that weaved through the further reaches of the property.

"Creek!" Annabelle pointed.

"Yes. That is the creek." the Autobot confirmed.

"Want down!"

"We have not yet completed our patrol." was Ironhide's curt answer.

"Want DOWWWN!" Annabelle whined.

The black mech grimaced at the irritating noise but decided a short break would not hurt. He gingerly knelt down and allowed Annabelle to scoot out of his hand and run toward the water. Ironhide reached out quickly and snagged the back of her T-shirt with his fingers. She kicked, trying to free herself.

"No! Ironhide!" she protested.

"I do not want you to get in that water." he said firmly.

Annabelle began to whimper; the start of a cry.

"BUT…" Ironhide relented, "You may explore. Just do NOT get in the water."

The cry stopped, "K."

The guardian released the tiny girl and she kept to the sandy, grassy "shore" of the creek. Often the Lennoxes ventured to this particular creek and allowed their daughter to explore in their sight. So he saw no harm in letting her hunt for "treasures", as she called them. Ironhide stood watch, scanning the area while keeping an intent sensor array on Annabelle and her activities. The blonde skirted the edge of the water, looking in the murky shallows.

[KREE! SPLASH!]

Annabelle jumped with surprise when she startled a bullfrog into the water.

"Frog!" she exclaimed.

She moved further down the bank

[KREE! KREE! SPLASH!]

Two more bullfrogs bailed for the safety of the creek. It soon became a laughter-filled game of scaring the bug-eyed creatures into the water. Annabelle ran up and down the bank until all of the frogs in that stretch were hiding in the creek. Ironhide wasn't sure what prompted the little girl's strange actions. Did she intend to catch the little amphibians and if she DID catch one what would she do with it? Did humans consume frogs?

As he contemplated the activity, Ironhide's left cannon hummed and slowly turned.

Annabelle immediately noticed the monstrous weapon's activity and pointed at it curiously, "What that?"

"What's what?"

The child pointed to his left cannon, "That!"

"Oh." Ironhide held up the prized weapon in question so she could see it, "This is my plasma injected, de-atomizing pulse cannon with...."

Annabelle scrunched her face with confusion at the big words.

Ironhide noticed her puzzlement and quickly formulated a simpler explanation, "Um…it's a really big gun."

"I touch it?"

"NO." Ironhide stated a bit louder than he wanted.

Annabelle visibly jumped at his loud tone.

The mech quieted his voice and lowered the weapon, "It is VERY dangerous Annabelle. It is not for touching."

"Oh." was the tiny reply.

The "frog scaring" game over, Annabelle began to search for freshwater clam shells and other "treasures". She scampered to and fro until she found something of interest near an old stump. As reached down near the tree stump a harsh buzzing sound made her head snap up. A few feet in front of her was a rattlesnake, coiled in a defensive ball and flicking its black forked tongue. Annabelle had never seen a rattlesnake before, but an instinctual fear rose up in her chest from the serpent.

Even as Ironhide heard the foreboding sound the child screamed at the top of her lungs, "SNAKE!"

Annabelle was about to scream her warning again when suddenly silver and black fingers wrapped around her and yanked her skyward. Annabelle gasped at the sensation of vertigo, but was relieved by her guardian's quick actions. Humming loudly with a dull whine the massive cannon on Ironhide's left arm cocked forward, glowing with blue light. With a rumbling in his chest, Ironhide dealt his verdict—the only punishment for anything that threatened the life of his charge. Annabelle flinched as Ironhide's cannon spat crackling, blue plasma from its barrel and completely engulfed the snake, the stump, and everything in the five foot circle around it. A brief explosion of dirt and smoke followed and when the dust settled Annabelle saw only a black crater where the snake and stump had once been. Her Autobot guardian scanned the crater again, ensuring he'd destroyed the threat and finally powered down his cannon. Then he scanned Annabelle to make sure she was unharmed. He found no injury. It suddenly occurred to the old Autobot that he was now holding the Lennox child again. He honestly hadn't thought about it, he just reacted. Yet, somehow he hadn't hurt her.

"Snake gone?" Annabelle asked timidly staring at the smoking crater.

Ironhide nodded, "Yes."

"You…kill it?" she confirmed in that quiet almost disbelieving tone.

"Yes. It is terminated."

"K." she nodded. "We go home now?"

The Autobot nodded, "Yes. I believe our patrol is finished for the day."

Slowly he rose and marched back to the Lennox farm. When he arrived, he could see Will putting away his painting supplies.

The man waved, "Did you two have a good time?"

Annabelle nodded vigorously as Ironhide knelt down and deposited the girl in her father's arms. The man propped his daughter on his hips, staring into her honest face.

The child pointed back at Ironhide, "Ironhide kill a snake!"

Will looked up at the Autobot, but said with mock disbelief, "He did?"

"Yeah!" Annabelle lifted her hands, "His big gun go BOOM and snake gone!"

Ironhide shifted, knowing Lennox had ordered him not to use his cannons on the local wildlife. However, the situation seemed to call for it.

"Well that was very brave of him." Will admitted, stroking his daughter's hair. "You've had a big day. Let's go have a nap."

Oddly the child didn't argue as she normally did. The whole "patrol" had worn her out.

Before Will walked over to the house he asked Annabelle, "What do you say to Ironhide?"

The little girl waved, "Thank you Ironhide."

"You are welcome, Annabelle." Ironhide remembered the exchange this time.

That funny warmth moved through his Spark chamber again. It had certainly been an eventful patrol.