Title: Ironhide -is less than- Annabelle

'Verse: Post '07 or '09 movie

Characters: Will/Sarah, Annabelle, Ironhide/Ratchet

Summary: William wishes his Guardian came with an instruction manual. ...and doesn't notice Ratchet is awfully tender with Ironhide.

Rating/Warnings: PG-13, ouchy and fixy, general marriageness between Will and Sarah, implied bond between Ironhide and Ratchet

AN: Muse was me sick. And dedicated to SugarKitteh who needs fluffs 'bout nao.

Sarah had sent Will out to talk with their guardian after making her family dinner. Anna squealed and latched onto her father's leg, asking if "Hidey-hide" was hungry, too. Her father laughed and agreed that they'd ask him. So now Lennox was leaning against the doorway of the garage, looking at the large black pickup in his driveway and his young daughter toddling around its frame. "Alright, 'Hide," he ribbed the old Cybertronian. "What's the big problem with the grocery store, all of a sudden?"

Ironhide rocked on his suspension, keeping a scanner on the little girl while she was out of her father's sight behind him. "Too little space and too many darting organics." He'd had a close call during Sarah's last shopping trip, with a little boy darting behind him while backing out of a space. Scanners had picked child up with plenty of room to spare, but he stopped suddenly which startled Sarah and Annabelle had started wailing. Just a reminder of the fragility of his charges, and it left his circuits rattled.

"Ahh, nerve wracking the way those kids scurry away from their parents." The Captain chuckled lightly because he still held little Anna's hand with a deathgrip or kept her in his arms in crowded parking lots. Sarah thought it was adorable, but he wasn't comfortable with her and all those distracted drivers. The Autobots, however, he trusted implicitly. Will knew that none of them would hurt her, all surprisingly gentle and aware of their own size when dealing with the tiny child.

He watched his little girl scurry into the house, then come tromping back out happily chanting 'lunch munch crunch…' with something in her arms and disappear back on the opposite side of the truck.

"Creators should be able to keep control of their bitlets," the truck grumbled moodily.

Lennox snickered and stepped up to pat the hood in a jokingly condescending manner. "Hey, we poor primitive little humans don't all have magical senses that can look through walls and see behind our heads. We do our best to keep the young sprog from getting eaten by wolves."

"Wolves?" Ironhide jumped on his suspension, scanners flicking for the young girl. She was at his back quarterpanel, patting at his plating. As long as she wasn't using the paints to make him "pretty" again…

All Will could manage was cackling and holding his ribs to keep from hurting himself. "The- the way you all bicker with each other, why are you so bad at catching sarcasm?"

"Your cues are different," the old warrior grumbled, with an odd little hitch of his engine.

"Do you just not pay attention?"

"Do too!" 'Hide barked. "Just organics are-" his chassis twitched with a grating squeal. "A-annabelle, what are you-"

Lennox was fairly used to the feel of a pointed scan, it felt like static shifting the hairs on his arms. Dad-radar piqued and he circled the vehicle to find his offspring. She was standing on a bucket gleefully plopping M&Ms and candy into the pickup's mimicked fuel tank. He bit his lip on the curse and swooped to pick up the little girl. "Anna, baby, what are you doing?"

"Said was hungry!" she squealed, showing a whole assortment of opened candy and cookie containers, pixie stick wrappers and pretty much most of the Halloween stash around the ground.

The Captain gaped, she'd seen him put gas into the Cybertronian in a pinch. 'Hide's systems didn't run as well off it, but he could manage until he could head back to the base. With horrific clarity, he remembered joking with his little daughter that's how Ironhide 'ate.'

But chocolate and crumbled cookies did not seem to agree with the mech, who make a choked rattle and was now visibly shaking. "Lennox, I did not think she was…" the black warrior rasped, he started to transform, but even Will could tell it was wrong. Shaky and it sounded awful. The Ranger's memory flashed to the long hours of cleaning out a car's fuel lines after his frat had done the sugar-in-the-gas-tank prank on another house and gotten caught.

"It's ok, 'Hide. Hold on. Sarah! Come get Belle!"

His wife came darting out, a look of horror on her face, which quickly turned to confusion when her baby seemed unharmed. "Will?"

"Honey, take Belle inside. 'Hide, uh, 'Hide ain't feelin' so good, ok?"

"Are you sure?" she answered, taking her daughter.

"Think so."

"Hidey-hide ok?" Annabelle murmured, bringing her fist to her mouth.

"Yes, my lady." He patted little blond curls. "He'll be fine. Go play with mommy." Lennox nodded his wife to go, and she turned back into the house mouthing 'call if you need.' Then Sarah distracted Annabelle with a tickle and got her into the house.

As Will turned back, Ironhide was on his hands and knees, systems making strained groans that sounded like movie sound effects of a bridge about to collapse.

"Ironhide, buddy?"

The old warrior shuttered his optics and shook his head. "Frag," he choked out, wrapping an arm around his abdomen. "Should- kept her from fuel tank…" He shuddered and wretched, the organic crumbs and sugar feeling like it was scraping through the gears in his tanks and through his energon lines.

'Hide chirled, sending a distressed pulse through his bond then turned his helm away-

Poor William stared in mute shock. He knew they drank that glowing energy… so logically he should have considered that process being reversed. But he just wished that he wasn't subjected to the visual.

When the TopKick shivered and collapsed onto the driveway, Lennox was astounded that a big 25 foot walking death machine could make the same plaintive trills and churrs as that cute little robot in Annabelle's favorite Disney movie. He skirted around the glowing puddle, crunchy with sugar crystals and reached out for black plating, then jerked his hand away with a hiss; instead of warm living metal, Ironhide's armor was scalding hot. An instant of looking at the pained mech curled on the ground and the Ranger knew he was now officially out of his league.

"Ratchet!" he hollered into a cell phone that wasn't a cell phone. "Something's wrong with -"

"- Ironhide, I know," the medic's voice replied. "I'm already on en route."

The soldier looked at the phone in confusion. "He managed to call you?"

"… yes," the Hummer answered, slightly cagey. "ETA: 5 minutes. What happened?"

"Annabelle got sugar and munchies into his gas tank. Why the hell did no one tell me you guys can puke!" Seriously, he thought, that page was utterly missing from his "Care and Handling of your Cybertronian" handbook.

"Now you know, we can purge our fuel tanks," the medic snipped. "And just like you, the reasons can be physical or mental. Anything else, is he conscious?"

"Think so." Ironhide made a few jerky movements, curling in on himself, then swiveled his optics to look at Lennox. "Yeah, and he's hot."


"Like, burn-my-hand hot."

"Frag, Pit-forsaken moron… lets the stupidest slag…"

Will held the phone away from his ear like it could bite him. "Ratchet?"

"Two minutes." Then the connection was cut with finality.

True to his estimate, 1 minute and 47 seconds and Lennox heard the growing wail of sirens. Ironhide had quieted, half on his… well, stomach for the lack of Will's knowledge of terms. Shudders intermittently broke the high whine of fans from somewhere under his shoulders and neck. The ambulance roared up to within feet and broke into the familiar form of the medic. Ratchet dropped in front of Ironhide, William took half a few steps back as the CMO scanned over the prone mech. They spoke to each other in what the Ranger understood to be their native language, while to him it sounded like the lovechild of a modem and a humpack whale. The Hummer used snapping tones, while the weapons specialist replied in panted rumbles.

After a few moments Ratchet softened and purred, visibly soothing the TopKick. He flicked a glance to the distant street, then nudged on a black shoulder. Ironhide winced and rolled onto his back.

"Ratchet?" Lennox ventured, sidling up as close to 'Hide's shoulder as he dared, considering the little twitches and shimmer of heat above the armor. "I… My daughter killed him with M&Ms!" He threw his hands into the air, then stared at the chartreuse mech peering back at him. Ironhide even managed to twist his helm and give him an askance look.

The CMO put his hand on the old mech's chest, "Open up," he murmured and glanced down, then turned back at the obviously perplexed human. "Our dearest boltbucket has survived both his legs sheared at the hip, most of his chassis torn away, a flashbomb to the optics, acid in his intakes, and… let's just leave it at 'a lot' else."

The frontliner growled and shifted, Will stared at plating folding away from his chest and abdomen, folding into massive shoulders and around his waist.

"While anything with energon lines, yes 'Hide, hurts to the Pit and back, he will survive." The medic reached into the other's chest and started fiddling with what seemed to the Ranger a lot like a fuel injector.

A few elegant gestures and something similar to a syringe materialized in the Hummer's hand, Lennox blinked. He watched Ratchet connect it to the fluttering pump low in Ironhide's chest, then siphon out the sugar-crystaled gunk. Once clear glowing energon was flushed through the old frontliner's system, Will's Guardian seemed to relax. Scrubbing the back of his neck, the human sighed, "So he's gonna be alright?"

Ratchet gestured again, the initial tool vanished and was replaced by what seemed like an IV bag. It was Cybertronian technology too advanced to be comprehended so William's mind just categorized it as 'magic' to save his own sanity. The CMO nodded, piercing a different line and feeding the blue liquid into the TopKick's systems. Ironhide huffed a few times and stopped panting. He also stopped radiating heat like a giant sentient toaster.

Lennox gingerly reached out, tapping plating quickly. As it was cool enough to touch, he patted 'Hide's shoulder. "Sorry, buddy."

"Lennox," the old mech brushed off the apology.

Ratchet rolled his optics. "If the slagger is incapable of gratitude," he slapped the crested helm. "Is it acceptable to rest in the rear yard for a few hours?"

The Captain thumbed to the backyard, "He gotta sleep off the rest?"

"Decent assessment," the CMO replied, helping Ironhide nudge plating back into configuration.

"Yeah, it's fine. I'm gonna go tell Sarah and Bella that 'Hide ain't dead."

The soldier snorted while his human companion trotted for the house. Will turned at the porch and watched Ratchet duck under the TopKick's arm to help him to his feet. They were buzzing and clacking back and forth to each other again. By the time his family had been reassured that their mechanical buddy was going to be alright and Will made it to the back door to check on the two mechs, Ratchet had sat himself against the elm, with Ironhide laying at his side. The warrior's head was in the CMO's lap and Ratch was petting over the crests on his helm. Lennox heard them make a soft whistle purr back and forth.

It seemed wanting someone to sit with you when you felt like crap was universal.

He gave them a lazy salute. "G'night, guys," Lennox said softly, knowing they could hear. Slipping back into the house, Annabelle had started crying, seems someone else needed to be put to bed, as well.