Ironhide was not afraid of Optimus Prime. Never had been, never would be.
He sincerely felt, right down to the last scrap of metal in his fearsome twin cannons, that it was the job of Prime’s closest friends to provide their Commander with amusement and comradeship. To supply an outlet for smiles and laughter which could overcome the worst depression and loneliness that came with bearing the weight of the survival of the Autobot species. This happened strictly off-duty, of course.
And the Weapons Expert was proud of himself tonight. While Ironhide’s definition of funny differed from other ‘bots, he was pleased he had provided Optimus with something running through his CPU for this night’s recharge which didn’t have anything to do with death, war or survival.
For what was left of the evening after the ‘Optimus & Mojo Incident’, Ironhide carried out the rest of his duties calmly. The only difference being the snickers and chuckles adding their own melody to the quiet hanger interior.
Even when Optimus sat down across the bench from the old warrior and gazed at him with an intensity which was frightening; while saying nothing; Ironhide did not tremble or pause in his data processing. Finally, sometime after midnight, Ironhide gave a derisive snort and bade goodnight to his companions, heading off for a few hours recharge in his room.
Ratchet put down his tools and turned to his Commander and friend, waiting. Mojo was snoring quietly on his dog bed in the corner of the medbay. Oblivious. His tummy was full of his nightly dinner plus several forbidden dog treats. Ratchet had felt that since this was the dog’s last night with them, he deserved something special.
One of Prime’s optic ridges quirked upwards at his medic’s expression. “Yes, Ratchet?”
“I absolutely know there is something awful running through that sharp CPU of yours,” Ratchet said.
“Awful? No, clever and perfect, maybe. Not awful, Ratchet.” Optimus stood up from the bench, casting an optic over the sleeping canine. “Do you remember Sam saying that Mojo loved riding in cars? Especially large SUV’s?”
“Nooo... and I’m sure you’re going to enlighten me about this piece of secret information,” Ratchet expressed. “This is going to hurt Ironhide, I’m guessing.”
“He won’t be hurt,” Optimus smiled, “he might get tired though. And possibly dirty too. But ‘Hide has never minded a bit of mud stuck to his chassis before.”
Ratchet looked flummoxed, “What?”
“Sam and Mikaela said they should arrive about 11am Earth time in the morning. Do you think you can make some excuse to have Ironhide in his car mode inside the hanger for some routine med scans at approximately 10.55am?” Optimus asked.
Ratchet blinked, his optics dimming, “Yeah, I could, he will get suspicious. There isn’t anything wrong with his alternate form for me to look at.”
Optimus walked forwards, placing one hand gently on the medic’s shoulder, “Ratchet, it would mean a lot to me if you could manage this small task.”
“Okay,” Ratchet shrugged, “if this is what you want to do to get payback with Ironhide. You sure you don’t want to fill me in on what you’re planning?”
“Very sure, thank you,” Optimus’ faceplates broke into a sadistic grin which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Megatron himself, “See you in the morning.” Optimus strode off to his own room for recharge with a lightness to his step which was comical.
“Primus, just which bits on which ‘bot will I be putting back together tomorrow,” Ratchet muttered, tidying his bench before he retired.
The next morning, Ratchet made good on his conversation with Optimus, and at 10.55am, Ironhide had been persuaded to be sitting in truck form on the floor of the hanger. Ratchet pottered about the Topkick truck, muttering obscure phrases and poking around to keep Ironhide thinking he was busy.
Mojo was nowhere to be seen. Optimus himself was leaning against one of the medbay work benches, arms folded offhandedly across his immense chest. He was giving off an aura of relaxation and unconcern.
“Ironhide, your right passenger door looks crooked. Have you been in an accident?” Optimus asked easily, scratching one hand along the base of his neck.
“What? No... it feels straight.” Ironhide grumbled.
“Let me see, it doesn’t look right,” Optimus pushed himself away from the bench and carefully kneeled next to the truck. Ironhide popped his door open.
Got you! Optimus thought gleefully. He scooped Mojo up from the crate he’d been hiding in and gently plopped the dog into the passenger seat, closing the door with a slam once the dog was clear.
“WHAT!!” Ironhide’s roar of fury caused his truck body to shake violently. “PRIME!! Get that monstrosity out of me!!” Ironhide flipped all of his doors open, wobbling on his suspension to encourage the dog to jump. Mojo was having none of it. It had been a long time since he’d been inside such a nice, big, car! He wasn’t getting out. Putting his little paws on the dashboard and his hindlegs on the centre console so he could see through the windscreen, he started barking happily.
“Primus, you are really asking for it, Optimus!” Ratchet said with awe, backing away.
“GET OUT DOG!” Ironhide was yelling frantically.
“Stay there Mojo, good boy,” Optimus smiled, he had been counting on the little dog refusing to leave. He’d been right. The dog loved car rides! “Ironhide, I believe you owe our little friend here a ride in your cabin. You haven’t been nice to him at all.”
“WHAT THE &#!!”
“Language. Now shut up and listen. You are going outside and you will drive around the paddock beyond the hanger, non-stop, until I see fit that Mojo has enjoyed himself enough and you can come back inside. Am I clear, soldier?”
Ironhide was so upset he was shaking on his tyres. “Slag it! Slag YOU!!”
“Ironhide?” Optimus prompted sternly, prodding Ironhide’s front bumper bar with one large foot.
“Grrrr... fine. But this ain’t gonna be no funeral procession!!” Ironhide spat out. His engine screamed, the car doors slammed shut, and the truck tore out of the hanger.
Ratchet cursed and jumped back before he got his feet run over, “Don’t hurt Mojo!” he shouted into the dust clouds kicked up by the racing Topkick.
Inside the truck’s cabin, Mojo was beside himself with joy. His barking and tail wagging was endless. Ironhide swerved in loops at top speed around the grassed and mud strewn paddock. Mojo didn’t care how bad his driving was – he leaned into the turns, pushing his paws into the dashboard and riding the hectic motions.
Coming alongside the paddock on the dirt road leading to the hanger, Bumblebee and his two human occupants were startled when Ironhide’s truck form came thundering past them. Dirt flew up and smacked into ‘Bee’s newly washed paint. Cautious, Bumblebee slowed down as he picked up a long string of violent curses in rapid Cybertronian coming from his Autobot friend.
“What the heck was that about?!” Sam demanded, staring at Ironhide’s crazy antics. He was driving like he was a horse that had been bitten on the butt.
“I swear I just saw Mojo’s face in Ironhide’s windscreen,” Mikaela spoke, bewildered.
“Ironhide is... annoyed,” Bumblebee explained, his body shaking with a laugh. “I can’t repeat what he said, but in essence, Ironhide is swearing to do such things to Optimus Prime that he will have great difficulty in being able to spark-join with a femme in the future.”
“Wha... ?” Sam spluttered. “Are you talking about, oh, oww. Man. That’s not right.”
“Ironhide and Optimus had a little fight, did they?” Mikaela asked, smiling.
“This must be about the dog walking incident,” Sam muttered, “C’mon ‘Bee, get us down there.”
Bumblebee accelerated along the road to the waiting hanger. Ironhide tore past him again. The GMC Topkick was becoming covered in mud and grass.
“Barkbarkbarkabarkbarkbark!” Mojo was hanging his head out of Ironhide’s driver side window and yapping at the other car. His doggy face was grinning from floppy ear to floppy ear.
“Mojo!” Sam squeaked. He thrust his own upper body out of Bumblebee’s window, “IRONHIDE! Moron! What are you doing with my dog?!”
Ironhide did a power slide, “ASK THE FEMME MAGNET!!” he screeched. His back tyres spun and he was off again, making long deep tracks in the ground.
“THIS IS NOT RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP!” Sam screamed back, almost falling out of the window. Mikaela grabbed him by his jeans waistband as ‘Bee bounced over the rough ground.
“Femme Magnet? Hurt Optimus’ private bits? What? Why do guys always bring things down to sex when they get angry?” Mikaela asked despairingly, bracing herself on the dashboard. “And they don’t HAVE sex, Sam!” Mikaela said and poked her boyfriend accusingly.
“My poor dog, my poor dog!” Sam had shrunk in his seat, hands covering his face.
On the other side of the wide paddock, a tiny metallic being was watching the fiasco, enraptured with the behaviour of the Autobot Ironhide.
“Stu-stu-stupid AUTOBOT! R-r-r-racing round like S-s-slag! Dumb!” Frenzy spat from behind the cluster of rock boulders shielding him from view.
“This does not sound like suspicious activity,” Barricade snarled over Frenzy’s comlink. While Frenzy was able to get close to the Autobot base without his spark signature being detected (he was too small and under-sparked to be picked up on sensor scans) Barricade had to stay well away. It had been left to Frenzy to leg it in and make reports. Barricade was determined that any Autobot activities would be carefully logged and recorded for the use of the new Decepticons when they EVENTUALLY arrived on Earth.
“N-n-n-not suspi-icous. Giving o-o-organic Earth creature r-r-rides!” Frenzy warbled. His antennae optics wobbled on their stalks, amazed.
“You like rides too, Frenzy,” Barricade responded.