Memorial Day

"Explain the purpose of this holiday again, Lennox?" Optimus asked as he rolled down the road, leading a long procession of Autobots and NEST soldiers.

"To remember our fallen soldiers," the human said as he glanced at the dashboard. "It's... to remind ourselves that people have died for us."

Optimus was silent for a long moment. "It is a holiday to remember. Then explain why most of your country celebrates it by meeting with family and friends and having a meal outside?"

Lennox sighed. "They... I don't know. I mean, I do that, too. I always said that it was celebrating my freedom; I can meet with my family, eat with my family, because those soldiers died for us. I don't know how that tradition came to be, though."

Optimus rumbled his acknowledgment, and for a few long moments, they drove on without speaking.

::So?:: Ironhide commed Optimus.

::It is as they said before; to honor the dead. Those who have sacrificed their lives to protect the freedom of their country.::

There was silence over the comms for a long moment.

Then, Prowl spoke up. ::Prime, you know I am not usually a supporter of the human traditions, but in this case, I believe it would be prudent to... adopt this holiday as our own.::

::Agreed,:: Optimus said, and the affirmation was echoed by multiple other Autobots.

The procession soon arrived at the NEST cemetery. Lines of smooth, white headstones spread before them. As resilient as the humans were, they did die all too often. Too many had died in the time they had been here.

In silence, the humans got out of their rides and the Autobots transformed.

Lennox, after closing his eyes and breathing deeply for a moment, glanced up at the Prime. "Now we spend a moment remembering, then we eat," he said. The assembled Autobots nodded, and, slowly, the soldiers of both species spread through the cemetery, stopping at friends' headstones, remembering the people who had sacrificed their lives.

The Autobots, after walking the cemetery, met back up at the front gates at some unspoken request.

Optimus vented. "Remember Elita-One," he said softly. The other Autobots nodded. Optimus had barely survived his mate's passing; only the Matrix had kept him alive.

"Smokescreen," Prowl said, bowing his helm. The loss of his brother had never quite stopped hurting.

"Mah agents," Jazz said, visor dimming. The other Autobots may not have been privy to their names even now, after they were gone, but the whole army knew how necessary those unnamed agents were to their continued functioning.

"Armorhide," Ironhide offered, the name of his mentor spilling almost awkwardly from his vocalizer.

Ratchet closed his optics tightly and cycled a quick draft of air through his vents. "All of the frontliners that aren't online anymore. Primus knows I saw too many of them go to the Well."

There was a long silence after that, in honor of the fallen frontliners and Ratchet, who had held too many of them as their sparks went out.

A moment later, they started again, names of comrades flowing like the ocean around them, fast and angrily and with so much pain.

Then the humans came back. Optimus glanced down at Lennox, who had stopped at his pede.

The human smiled up at him. "Now, we eat, and remember happy times."

NEST cooks had brought food out to a grassy field across the road from the cemetery and set up portable tables and chairs. In the back of a large truck were crates of what the Autobots recognized as energon.

Slowly, they followed the humans. The soft murmuring that had filled the cemetery transformed into happy chattering and laughter. The Autobots followed, taking their energon, slowly beginning to smile again.

Jazz began the happy stories. "Ah remember a time when Ah was on a mission wit' two others, an it was so crazy... See, Shockwave was there, an' we were there t' set charges..."

His multitude of stories of the wild escapades of himself and his agents set the Autobots to laughing.

Slowly, the sun moved through the sky, then disappeared behind the horizon. The soldiers on the hilltop stayed there for hours, talking, eating, and remembering their friends, all those brave souls who had sacrificed their lives to protect what was important.

. .oOo.

A/N: Thank you to anyone and everyone who serves to protect our freedom. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.