Sorry folks but running your own business tends to take it out of you somewhat. I'm still working on chapter 5. By way of an apology for all you Jack/Arcee fans out there, here's some of the material excised from chapter 2 detailing how exactly Jack got into that compromised position. (Cue dirty old Ratchet brow wiggle).
Transformers Prime: Chimera (Vignette 01: What's In a Name?)
"This is our stop partner." Jack looked up at Arcee with a perplexed expression as they stopped short at one of the smaller storage rooms that had been converted into her private quarters. "You need rest and you're not going to get it in a dorm with Miko."
"Never found out how a small Japanese girl could snore like Godzilla." Jack admitted gratefully, "You know in all the time I've known you, this is the first time I've ever seen your quarters."
"Despite being small enough, in all the time I've known you I still have never seen your room." The femme quipped back as they entered, smirking at the sudden shocked expression that crossed his face.
"You're not missing much." He replied, knowing full well he was providing her with more ammunition.
"Typical bachelor pad then, clothes all over the place, hot pin-ups…" She continued ushering him inside, knowing full well that at some point he would snap.
"Hey! All I had were a few bike posters!" Jack shot back, immediately regretting his outburst as her grin grew even wider. He didn't admit that recently he'd redecorated and had removed them; in a peculiar way looking at them with Arcee in the garage had made him feel uncomfortable. Almost as if he were cheating on her somehow.
"Like I said hot pin-ups." She concluded with a snicker, closing the door behind them. "Make yourself at home."
Jack threw the bedding he had hastily acquired on the oversized memory foam mattress and tried to take stock of his surroundings. Although the weapons rack ensconced in one corner certainly seemed in keeping with what he knew of her, the rest was somewhat of a revelation. Wall-mounted display panels showed the flora and fauna of Earth in almost impossibly crisp definition, whilst on shelves and cubby holes were fossil specimens and polished geodes. Jack's mouth opened and closed a few times as he struggled to match what he was seeing with the hardened warrior he knew, especially with what seemed to be a recurring jackrabbit motif.
"Not what you expected huh?" Arcee finally took pity on him and voiced his internal question.
"Yes…I mean no, I uh, didn't really know what to expect." The teen replied glancing warily at some of the blades, some of which were so spiky that even a Klingon would've deemed them excessive. "There's so much I don't know about you, I kind of always thought of you as Arcee the tail-pipe kicker."
The femme's smile became a little wistful as she processed his comment, "No I wasn't always like this. Before the war I was a member of the Academic Caste."
"Academic as in scholar?" Jack was trying to picture her in a library studying; unfortunately the sheer incongruity was causing his sleep-deprived brain to lock-up.
"No as in teacher." Arcee replied cocking one brow-ridge.
Jack blinked a couple of times as this new information sank in before a slow grin appeared. "Well that explains a few things." He concluded trying his best not to chuckle.
"Explains what exactly?" Arcee suddenly felt like she was on her back-foot after her admission.
"Well, it explains how you keep Bulk and 'Bee in line with just the look." Jack sniggered. "You know the kind only parents and teachers have. The 'Do as I say right now or you're knee deep in scrap' look." The teenager composed himself, realising that his partner was allowing a rare glimpse into her past, before the war, the shell-shock and the nightmares. "Sorry 'Cee what did you teach?"
"I guess you'd call them the natural sciences." Arcee replied sitting on her berth next to him, "When I arrived here it was so different than my home world, so naturally I studied it as much as possible."
"A good scout always knows the terrain." Jack replied, one of his lessons with her suddenly popping back into his mind. "Do you mind if I ask you another question?" Jack suddenly enquired, emboldened by her confiding in him.
"Sure shoot…as long as it's not the one about where sparklings come from." The femme replied nudging him.
Jack looked gobsmacked for a moment before continuing, "Well I was wondering where you got your designation from. I know that you guys have long natural names, but Arcee doesn't seem to fit like the others."
"That's because it's more of a nickname." She replied, "The gist of my actual current name is something like 'The small blue pretty two-wheeler who gets easily irritated and will punch you repeatedly in the bearings', always hated the small part." She finished with a frown.
"I'll stick with Arcee; it has more of a ring to it." Jack replied easily.
"Anyway, I was one of the first two-wheelers to sign up and one of the other greenhorns made a joke in basic training about whether I was a femme or a Remote Control drone, hence RC." She sighed.
"Ouch, again with the short jokes, that must've smarted." Jack sympathised, reaching out to squeeze her hand in a gesture of comfort.
"Yeah, I got the last laugh though. That joker got his processor ventilated first time out in the field, and little Arcee is still here." She finished sardonically. "Anyway Jack you need to get some sleep, we've got a big day ahead of us."
Jack dutifully arranged the bedding and within moments of his head hitting the pillow had dropped off the edge of the planet. Arcee smiled at her sleeping partner and brushed a forelock of hair away from his face. Carefully lying alongside him, she connected to the display panels and changed the slideshow settings.
"See that partner?" She whispered, trying not to awaken him, "Deal's Gap, San Juan Skyway, Stelvio Pass and the Transfagarasan Highway. Once this is over just you and me Jack, the open road and nothing to come between us."
Jack mumbled something in his sleep, turned over and unconsciously slid an arm around her waist. "Wow 'Cee you look…do that some more…" he muttered before his words became unintelligible.
Arcee stifled back a full-blown laugh as Jack rested against her dermal plating. "Smooth Jack, really smooth." She thought as she positioned herself so he'd get the biggest eyeful in the morning, the look on his face would be priceless.