A/N: This is for the lj comm hidexratchet's December challenge
Many of these ideas are due to lj user="macx-larabee" and lj user="tainry". I've also been influenced by lj user="saesama".
1. Ice Skating
Ironhide rumbled to himself. As much as he complained about the weather conditions of this planet, he'd rather be in the desert getting sand in his joints than dealing with this frozen water.
"Slow down, Ironhide!" Will Lennox grumbled at him. "It's black ice under the snow, and even you won't be able to stop yourself if you slip. I don't want to go ice skating up here."
Ironhide did slow, but his speed crept up again. They were both eager to get back to Will's ranch in the mountains of southern California. Driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains was always an adventure; doing so in the winter took a special kind of crazy. Ironhide slung himself around a curve and had to hit the brakes. He'd run into a white-out and his visuals were completely worthless. He switched to infrared and sonar just as Will yelled.
"Stop, right now!"
Ironhide did so. Or, he tried to do so. He found himself sliding instead, unable to maneuver on his tires at all. There was no friction. He transformed slightly, just enough to be able to put his feet down. The flexible toes dug in, breaking through the ice and allowing him to stop. He pulled his feet back and resumed looking like an innocent truck.
Will blew out a breath and slumped, resting his head against the steering wheel. "Slow. Down."
"Yes, Will. I'll be more careful."
2. On a open fire
Will Lennox and Ironhide arrived at the ranch safely, two hours late. Sarah didn't say anything, just held Will tightly, the worry easing from her eyes and mouth.
"I'm glad you're both here. Ironhide, you're wanted out by the barn. C'mon, Will."
Will followed her into the house, while Ironhide obediently rolled back and went around the house, heading toward the barn that served as his home while with the Lennox family.
A bonfire burned in an open area away from the barn and curious, Ironhide moved to investigate.
He quickly transformed at the sight of Ratchet leaning against a tree, optics fixed on Ironhide.
"You're back. It's good to see you." Ironhide moved carefully toward Ratchet, his optics watchful.
Ratchet didn't say anything, simply moving toward Ironhide until he could press against him. Ironhide wrapped his arms around Ratchet as much as he could, holding him close, the firelight flickering over them both as they sank into each other's company.
The next morning Annabelle Lennox was squealing at her window. The storm Ironhide and Will had passed through, but another storm had followed on its heels and the ground was covered in white, with more falling. The snow covered the remains of the bonfire, hissing into vapor as some of the snow fell on still warm coals. Ratchet and Ironhide, lying together in the barn, watched the snow falling through the partially opened doors of the barn. Annabelle's squeal caused Ironhide to switch his sensors to the house, but after scanning for any danger, he returned the sensors to scanning the surrounding area for any threats to the Lennox family.
"What was that?" Ratchet murmured, nuzzling into Ironhide's chest.
"The sparkling is excited. The parents are taking care of her."
"It's good that you and Will were able to make it down here." Ratchet was clinging, and Ironhide wrapped his arms around him, basking in the closeness and warmth as they watched the snow fall.
Will and Ironhide reluctantly left the ranch after five days of enjoying their leave. Will stood in the driveway for a long time, his arms wrapped around Sarah, his face buried in her hair while she nestled her face into the crook of his neck.
Ratchet and Ironhide were together, both pointing down the road away from the ranch house, waiting while in each other's company.
Finally Will broke away from Sarah and picking up his bag, walked to Ironhide and slung the bag into the cab, hopping in himself. He didn't look back as Ironhide accelerated away.
Hours later, still on the road, Will pulled his bag closer to dig into it for the lunch he'd packed for himself. He stopped as his hand touched something he hadn't put in his bag. He pulled out a small box, elegantly wrapped with a big bow on it. Will took his hands from the steering wheel and pulled on the end of the bow. It came apart and he pulled it from the box, then tore the wrapping paper off. He pulled the top off the box and shook out gold, square, boxy thing. He explored it and found that it opened – it contained a picture of Sarah and of Annabelle. It was small enough to tuck into his pocket, but large enough that he didn't need a magnifying glass to see the faces of his ladies. He smiled and tucked it away.
"What is it?" Ironhide's voice rumbled out of the radio.
"It's a locket. It has two pictures in it." Will stopped, overcome for a moment.
"Sarah and Annabelle are in the pictures?" Ironhide asked, filling in the silence.
"Yeah. It's a good present. Sarah's amazing at finding just the right gift." Will once again dug for his lunch, pulling it out to start eating. "Did you exchange presents at all in your culture?"
"In a way, yes." Ironhide answered him.
"So did Ratchet give you a present?" Will asked before taking a bite of his sandwich.
"Yes. He gave me the frequency and coding for a private comm line." Ironhide was gleeful.
Will looked puzzled, and Ironhide elaborated, "I can reach him anywhere in the world now – even off-world as far out as your Alpha Centauri – and even Soundwave couldn't break into our communications."
Will thought about that, finally saying, "So, a good present then?"
"The best." Ironhide's voice was rich with satisfaction.
"Mine, too." Will told him.
The base was rife with holiday mischief. Lennox was doing his best to keep his head down and get his work done, but even he got dragged into some of the festivities. He demurred when he was teased about the mistletoe handing in the center of the common room. Ironhide finally asked him about it.
"The tradition is that if you stand under the mistletoe, you're worthy of a kiss and the first person that passes by you has to kiss you." Will told him, leaning against the front of Ironhide's truck form and eating his meal, which consisted of a sandwich, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water.
"So why is Epps trying to get you under the mistletoe?" Ironhide questioned, trying to fathom Epps' reasoning.
"Because he's a lunkhead and he likes to tease." Will replied.
"Doesn't he have a mate?" Ironhide asked.
"Yeah, but she knows what he's like and cuts him a lot of slack. Me, I have no interest in kissing Lt. Ramirez, even if she's quite cute."
"And has an interest in you." Ironhide responded absently.
"I did not need to hear that." Lennox finished his sandwich and tidied away the debris to be thrown away on his way back to his office.
Ironhide got an image capture of an unmarried officer giving a kiss to one of the female officers. It was brief, they smiled at each other and joined in the laughter of the group surrounding them. Ironhide sent it to Ratchet along with his impression of what a kiss would be like between them – the feeling of Ratchet's mouth sensors against his, the friction between them, the crackle of the energy generated by their mouth plates…
A feeling of arousal was sent back to him, and Ironhide smiled to himself. Their next visit with each other was going to be interesting.
6. Silent Night
Ratchet stood on a small hill, gazing up into the stars dotting the night sky. In the middle of the Indian Ocean there was little light pollution to mar the sky. It was one of those breathless nights, still and quiet. Ratchet was happy to come and check out this base as a possible place for the Autobots to establish their own place within the auspices of the human military system, but tonight he simply missed Ironhide.
Over their secure link, he sent a wordless pulse of missing you and received in return a me, too. For some reason, this connection, even over such distances, soothed his raging spark. He relaxed and fell into a meditative state, content to share across the distance, gazing at the stars.
7. Milk and Cookies
Ratchet was back on the North American continent after visiting over ten bases scattered across the globe. Mikaela had met him to 'drive' him to Washington, D.C., where Optimus Prime was discussing the Autobots role in future military maneuvers. As they drove down the highway, snow piled on the sides of the road, Mikaela sang along with the songs on the radio.
"I sure do like them Christmas cookies, sugar! I sure do like them Christmas cookies, babe! The ones that look like Santa Claus, Christmas trees and bells and stars…"
"What is a Christmas cookie, Mikaela?" Ratchet asked.
"Oh, it's…well, it's a dessert, made of sweet dough. We often make them in shapes and decorate them with frosting or glaze. It usually is a family tradition. Besides, you need to make Christmas cookies so you can leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus."
"Milk and cookies for who?" Ratchet was bewildered.
They passed the long hours of their drive exchanging information about the various cultural events of their people and enjoying their time with each other. A friendship was forged on the road that lasted many long years.
In Washington, Mikaela insisted they drive past the National Christmas tree. Ratchet accessed the internet and told her the story of the tree as they drove through the slow traffic of Washington. Once on Constitution Avenue NW, the traffic began to move a bit faster, but Ratchet was cautious, concerned about the recent snowfall and the drivers surrounding him.
They made it to their rendezvous sight with no problems, and Mikaela was glad she had seen with her own eyes something she never thought she'd see in real life, the beauty of the DC area decorated for the Christmas holiday season.
9. Red and Green
Mikaela kept pressure on the wound. She and Ratchet had been heading back to New Jersey from the DC area and had run into a massive pileup on the interstate. More than forty cars, at least two fatalities, and numerous other injuries had strained Ratchet's resources to the limit. He had generated a hardlight holoform and was doing triage. He'd found someone bleeding badly and had Mikaela put pressure on the wound as he went back to his vehicle form for the hemostatic agents. He reached the rear of his vehicle form and clambered inside to get supplies, grabbing the ready bag and shoving in some items he thought necessary based upon the traumas he'd already seen.
As Mikaela leaned over the young woman's leg, she looked at the red lights of Ratchet's vehicle form reflecting off the still falling snow and the various vehicles. The red of the lights brought out more of the green in Ratchet's form, and Mikaela mourned. Christmas colors should not mean pain or death, and she bowed her head in grief as Ratchet came up, tearing open the bag of powder to pour it over the gaping wound.
Long hours later, Mikaela was finished giving her statement to the patrol officer. He praised her for her quick actions.
"We're in an ambulance. It would have been criminal to not try to help." Mikaela was too tired to guard her tongue.
"Yes," he absently agreed with her, "but you both saved lives tonight. There are people are their way to the hospital that wouldn't have made it if it hadn't been for you."
Mikaela's eyes fastened on a twinkling light making its way toward them. As the form got closer, she realized it was Ratchet. The center of his chest was gleaming, giving off glitters of blue light. She realized he'd reached the end of his resources and the spark energy that gave the holograph a hard form was showing itself.
She thanked the officer and hustled Ratchet back toward his vehicle form.
"Let go." She said, walking quickly.
"It would look suspicious for me to simply disappear. When you go in the passenger side, keep going over and close the driver door. You'll have to drive. I'm going to be recharging." Ratchet stumbled. She moved as if to help him, but her hand went right through his body. Worried, she watched as he reached his own form and faded even as the driver's side door opened.
She opened the passenger side, pulling the door shut behind her and reaching for the driver's door. She closed it firmly and started the engine, putting him in gear and carefully moving forward.
As Mikaela drove, she reflected on the selflessness Ratchet had displayed. Of course, she'd see him in battle situations, where he would quickly repair and send back into battle his friends. After a battle, though, he sought out anyone he'd had to repair and done a thorough check of their systems, moving on to the next mech until he'd checked every single one that had been anywhere near the war zone de jour. She had never seen him around humans before, and had marveled at his kindness tonight. In such a situation, people are screaming, trying to help their loved ones and putting themselves in danger from the other vehicles sliding around. One of the fatalities had happened right before their eyes. A young man, stumbling toward them crying about his wife who'd been injured, had been unable to move as a car slid out of control toward them and crushed him to death between itself and another vehicle. Ratchet had pulled the car away, but had been unable to save the man from his massive injuries. Mikaela, sobbing, had followed Ratchet's directions. Other medically trained people had stepped up to help, while others had set out flares and called emergency services.
But as far as Mikaela was concerned, the angel of the hour had been Ratchet, pouring his energy into saving people he didn't even know. She vowed to write this down so that in the future, should there be questions about the Autobots caring about human life, she could pull this out as an example of just how much they cared.
12. 12 Days of Christmas
Ironhide had been called and had managed to have Ratchet and Mikaela transported to his location. He and Lennox had met the plane. Ratchet was still in recharge, though he'd woken up for a few minutes in New Jersey, long enough to instruct Mikaela on the SOP of the situation. She'd called Lennox and waited for instructions. Now where she was supposed to be, she followed Ironhide to a remote hanger. She drove Ratchet in behind the black truck, not surprised to see Sam, Bumblebee, and Optimus Prime waiting for them. Lennox got out of Ironhide and walked over to Ratchet. Mikaela popped the door and hopped down as the three mechs transformed and began to discuss the situation in Cybertronian.
After a couple of minutes, they approached her. Optimus asked her to tell them what had happened on that wintery highway, and she told them the story.
"He's overworked himself. Again. There's nothing to do but guard him, make sure he's got sufficient energy, and wait." Ironhide summed up.
"Sam and Mikaela can be taken home by Bumblebee. I need to return to Washington. That leaves you, my friend, to guard Ratchet. Can you take this duty on?" Optimus asked.
Ironhide assented. "Yes. Lennox, will you help me if I need it?"
"Sure, 'Hide. Not a problem." Lennox reassured him.
So for the next week, Ironhide spent all his time in the far away hanger with Ratchet. He sat and told the mech stories, some from his time as Optimus' bodyguard, before the war, some of the war stories he could share with Ratchet, other stories were of his discoveries about the planet they now lived upon and the cultural oddities he'd discovered.
"…and did you know they can't even decide what days on their own calendar are the twelve days of Christmas? It depends upon the religion you follow and their interpretation of the calendar. And the gifts! What would you do with all those birds? If you took the song literally, you'd end up with twelve trees and birds in each one of them. I'm telling you, Ratchet, sometimes the humans do not make sense."
"You should get along well with them, then." Ratchet's voice was raspy with disuse. Ironhide heaved himself up and came over to the chartreuse ambulance.
"Yeah, and you scared the next 2 million years off me with that little stunt you pulled, medic." Ironhide waited for Ratchet to transform, catching the mech when he staggered. 'Hide offered a container of energon, and Ratchet drank it hastily.
It took over an hour for Ratchet's systems to be refueled enough for him to function properly. The first thing he did was set up a complete diagnostic scan on himself. After starting it, he made himself comfortable, sitting on the floor of the hanger and leaning against Ironhide.
"So, 'Hide. All these gifts in this song – the twelve days of Christmas, I assume – and you can't believe someone would do that. What would you gift someone you love?" Ratchet asked idly.
Ironhide turned to Ratchet, catching his face in his hand. "If it were you, I'd give myself to thee and ask for thee in return."
"Archaic language use, 'Hide," breathed Ratchet.
"Don't care." Ironhide closed the different, fitting their lips together in a sweet kiss.