Precious Gifts 2
A Transformers Prime FanFiction
Arcee cruised easily along toward the house Jack shared with his mother. There was no hurry and it was a beautiful day so she decided to just ease back on the throttle and enjoy the ride. Jack apparently agreed because she felt him relax on her saddle. Mindful of her scolding earlier he made sure to touch lightly on each of the necessary components to mimic driving. It was a precaution they'd decided on one day after he'd caught the collective eye of a large biker gang while riding hands free. Nothing had come of it, but the scrutiny was not something either of them had been eager to repeat.
When they finally pulled into the garage Jack became animated again. He jumped off the blue bike, and rushed to a drab green tarp bundled in the corner. Arcee transformed as soon as the garage door closed and made herself as comfortable as possible in the enclosed space. She rested her chin on one fist and smiled down at Jack sorting a variety of colorful objects on the floor. He finally chose an armful and hustled through the man door into the house.
Through the open door Arcee watched him perform the various duties human homes required. She made a game of ticking off the names. There was "cooking" and "sweeping" and "mopping" and then "dishes". Then he began to place various brightly colored objects around the central room. A variety of foods went on the main table. There Arcee saw most of the items they had purchased today. "Perishables" Jack had called them. She drew some of the air from the house across her chemical sensors. Judging from their composition the organic components would degrade pretty fast in this climate.
A clue to the proceedings finally arrived in the form of a banner Jack hung across the room. HAPPY BIRTHDA... was all Arcee could spot from this angle, but it was enough. A quick internet search revealed some interesting customs regarding this "Birthday" celebration. Logic told her the rest, since Jack was the one doing the preparation work. A related article showed her the intended recipient. 'Local H.E.R.O. Registered Nurse and Mother Serves Community Through Heat Wave." The story was about Jacks mother and told about how she'd gone above and beyond the call of duty taking care of the elderly humans in the area. It also mentioned the help of her son.
Jack came out to the garage finally and collapsed onto a tool box next to the Autobot with a sigh.
"Well, it's all ready." He said contentedly.
"So, what'd you get your mom for her birthday?" Arcee's optics glowed down at him. His face lit up with a grin.
"So you finally figured it out. Well I still won't tell you." Jack crossed his arms over his chest in friendly defiance. But the Autobot reached over and scooped up the bulging backpack from under the tarp. She held it carfuly in one hand and scanned the surface with exaggerated scrutiny. Jack jumped up with a yelp and grabbed for the bag but the warrior deftly kept it out of his reach.
"Give it back, Arcee." Jack gasped, leaping again for the prize. Arcee laughed and began tossing it from servo to servo. A loud ripping sound came from the bag and suddenly something brown and fuzzy spilled out into the Autobot's hand. Human and robot froze as a look of dismay spread across Arcee's face.
"Jack, I'm sorry." She began. But the boy just shook his head and smiled up at her.
"It's okay." He reached for the object again and this time she handed it over. Jack inspected the thing closely then carefully wrapped it in newspapers and replaced it under the tarp. Arcee handed him the ripped backpack, and he shrugged and tossed it onto a bench.
"It was old. Had to go sometime." But Arcee sensed sadness in his voice. She indicated the lump under the tarp.
"Teddy-Bear, right?" Jack nodded, and sat back down on the tool box. Arcee continued, "I'm sure she'll like it."
"I hope so." Jack said.
"I did a little research." Arcee continued. "Not much of these 'traditions' of yours seem to be all that common on this planet." Jack laughed.
"No. You could say they are specific to me, my mom, and my dad."
"Your dad?" asked Arcee surprised. She'd never heard Jack mention another parent before. Jack stared off into space for a few minutes without speaking.
"He was career Army." The human glanced at Arcee and she nodded her understanding of the phrase. "For as long as I can remember he would come home for the weekend before Mom's birthday and we'd plan out the party just like a military operation. I'd call him Commander Pop and he'd call me Corporal Kid. Mom always said the military was in his blood." Jack grew quiet again then after a few moments he murmured, "He died four years ago in a place called Kandahar." The Autobot reached out and wrapped her servo around his shoulders.
"Jack, I'm sorry. I didn't know." Arcee winced as she thought back to some of the things she had said to him when they'd first met. Jack leaned into her embrace and put his hand on his friend's. Any injured feelings had long been forgiven.
Just then Arcee caught the now familiar sound of a car pulling into the driveway. In an instant she had transformed back into a sleek blue motorcycle. Jack jumped up and ran into the house. The white car pulled into the garage beside the bike and came to a halt. A middle aged woman, tired but still beautiful, stepped out of the car and opened the man door. Arcee's view was blocked by the car but she heard Jack jump out from behind the short corridor and shout. "Surprise!" She heard the mother's laughter at the not-quite-a-surprise and the murmur of conversation that followed.
Suddenly something on the workbench grabbed her attention. A print-out had fallen out of the ripped back pack and lay there. On one side was the list of supplies they acquired that day. On the other was an advertisement for one of the coverings humans used, a jacket, Arcee remembered. At the top of the page was written in Jacks handwriting, FOR MOM. Below was a carefully kept ledger of simple math. Each addition was dated, numbered, and labeled KO Paycheck . They had stopped recently.
Arcee still didn't fully grasp the complexities of this culture's economy, but it didn't take a genius to see that the number under the jacket was larger than the number at the end of the list of additions. Arcee transformed and picked up the piece of paper. It was clear that giving up his job had cost Jack something more than just money. She glanced over at the lump of the teddy-bear under the tarp.
"Tonight was wonderful. Thank you Corporal Kid!" Jack's mom leaned over and placed a kiss on the young man's cheek.
"It's not over yet Mom." Jack led her out to the garage and felt a brief moment of confusion when he saw the distinct lack of a lump where the bear should have been. Then he heard a gasp and turned to see his mom standing over the blue Autobot. On the seat sat the teddy-bear between two helmets. The woman picked up the bear and gave it an experimental hug.
"Oh Jack, I didn't know they made anything this soft!" She held the bear out to admire it and opened the attached card. She read aloud, "For the universe's best mom; one huggable bear, and one motorcycle ride." If she noticed that the second gift was written in an odd sprawling handwriting the mother didn't say anything. "Jack glanced in surprise at the motorcycle but recovered quickly. Handing one helmet to his mom and donning the other he got on the bike.
"Ready to end this birthday right?" he asked. His mother got on behind him and said,
"Let's roll!" Arcee's motor purred as she eased out onto the road, paying close attention to the balance of her passengers. To her surprise the mother's seat was more skillful than the son's. The Autobot noted this for later study but at the moment caught up by the eager laughter of the woman and the boy. The motorcycle accelerated into the starry night with the sound of her engine mingling with the family's joy.