Author's Note: I'm so sorry for the delay. Life hasn't been kind this past six months, but things are looking up. As such, I'm back to writing and hopefully entertaining my faithful readers. Thank you to everyone who reviewed.


He looks up from the book he's reading as his superior officer walks into their shared room having a less than pleased look on his face. It takes a great deal of will power not to start snickering at that visage. When the officer walks up to a wall and starts banging his head against it, he has to bite his lips to keep from laughing.

"So, how'd it go?" he asks several minutes later, when he's sure he won't start chuckling.

"I would have an easier time convincing this wall to become a window then convincing those two that a little sand and dirt won't kill them," Will grumbles, his forehead now resting against said wall.

"They do seem to be a bit...particular...about their cleanliness," Bobby responds, still fighting the grin that wants to break out.

"My mom used to have a cat that was constantly washing itself. About drove me nuts with its constant licking," Will huffs as he finally turns and leans his back against the wall. "That damn cat had nothing on those two. What the hell am I going to do with them?"

"I think that's Hound's problem," Bobby points out. "We don't have to keep them clean."

"I know, but they're helping us track down and hopefully get rid of a certain hunk of junk," Will shoots back.

"Considering that hunk of junk is from their home, kind of the least they can do," Bobby counters.

"Good point," Will replies and then lets out a sigh. "Hound was only able to find a faint energy reading that was obviously Transformer in origin. He's not sure how long it's going to take him to track down Scorponok."

"That's what Hound told me while I was vacuuming him out," Bobby states. "Guess it was too much to hope that he'd have found that monster right off the bat."

"It would have been nice," Will says as he pushes himself off of the wall and then plops down on his bed. "Getting this mission over with would have been great. I would love to be home with Sarah and go through this pregnancy with her, instead of just hearing about it in letters and video calls."

"You go back too soon and you're going to have to get around with only one car," Bobby points out.

"Poor Hide," Will moans. "I wouldn't wish Alex on my worst enemy and here I've lent my friend to her. I'm going to be washing and waxing him until I'm old and gray to make this up to him. That's if I don't get that way from the Twins."

"Could be worse," Bobby states.

"How?" Will demands.

"We could have the Twins but no Hound to try and keep them in line," Bobby answers, his grin finally escaping.

"Thank you little Miss Mary Sunshine," Will growls as he gets up and stalks out of the room, grumbling all the way.

Bobby just chuckles to himself as he goes back to reading his book.


For the past three mornings he's refused to except the extra ration of Energon from her. It hasn't been all that cold for him, even if her teeth were chattering last night when she fed him. Since the heat his body produces has been keeping the small shed fairly warm, he doesn't feel he's needed the extra Energon.

However, last night the temperatures dropped low enough that now he's sitting in this Pit blasted shed hoping she'll hurry up and bring him that extra cube. His sensors aren't good enough to tell what she's doing, just that she's still in the cabin and not moving around. He can also tell that all of the cubes are still being stored in the wood shed behind the cabin, so she hasn't gotten him a cube yet.

Ok, it's still dark out and he hasn't noticed an increased use of electricity indicating that she's awake, but he doesn't care. He wants his Energon and he wants it now! He wonders if he can accidentally break the doors down to the shed so he can get it himself.

'Hound to Ironhide,' a familiar voice breaks into the mech's musings.

'Ironhide here,' Hide replies. 'How goes the battle?'

'We haven't found Scorponok, so there hasn't been a battle yet,' Hound points out.

'I was talking about the pair of Pit spawns you're stuck with,' Hide chuckles.

'Oh, sorry,' Hound mutters before continuing with false cheerfulness. 'It's going fine.'

'Hound, you're the finest tracker I know,' Hide states. 'However, you're also the worse liar. Now spill. What have those two been up to?'

'You mean besides constantly complaining about how dirty they are?' Hound grumbles. 'A little dirt and sand and you'd think the universe was coming to an end.'

'But that's not all they've been doing, is it?' Hide presses.

'Unfortunately, no,' Hound mumbles. 'They've taken to pulling pranks on the humans while I'm in recharge or while I'm looking for Scorponok.'

'Such as?' Hide presses.

'They found where the humans store the spare tires the other night and used them to barricade the barracks in, making it impossible for anyone to get in or out the building for a couple hours,' Hound huffs. 'They've also taken to rearranging the vehicles in the motor pool.'

'What's so bad about that?' Hide questions.

'They're stacking them on top of each other,' Hound responds unhappily and Hide can't help but chuckle.

'Sounds like they haven't changed a bit,' Hide muses. 'Primus, but I don't envy you.'

'How does Optimus do it?' Hound wonders. 'He makes it look so easy.'

'That's because he's a Prime and we're not,' Hide points out.

'That must be it,' Hound agrees.

'So, what are they doing now?' Hide inquires.

'Cleaning,' Hound happily tells him.

'Dare I ask?' Hide asks with amusement.

'Sunny got bored of the unadorned walls in the building we've been assigned,' Hound replies, still sounding cheerful. 'I came back from scouting to find that he had painted all of the walls and the ceiling.'

'So?' Hide questions. 'Sunny's paintings used to catch a very good price back home.'

'It seems one needs permission to add permanent decorations to the buildings, inside or out,' Hound explains cheerily. 'Captain Lennox and Sargent Epps were none too pleased when they came in and saw what Sunny had done, so the two of them are now scraping the paint off.'

'How are Lennox and Epps doing?' Hide inquires after he stops laughing. 'How are they handling the Twins?'

'I don't have a lot of experience with humans, but I think they're handling the situation rather well,' Hound answers. 'At least I hope they are. The captain tends to sigh a lot just before he explains what the Twins did wrong this time.'

'I don't blame him,' Hide snorts.

'I can tell he's frustrated and it's not just with the Twins I'm afraid,' Hound sadly states.

'What's wrong?' Hide asks.

'I haven't been able to find Skorponok,' Hound admits. 'We've been here for more than three weeks now and I can't find the miserable slag heap. I've disappointed the captain, I'm afraid.'

'Why haven't you been able to find him?' Hide questions.

'He may have moved out of the area or he's hiding where I can't sense him,' Hound states. 'I've checked all of the places that he's attacked, but the traces are too faint and when he leaves, he heads straight down. There's metal bearing rocks under the sand and I have a feeling he's hiding there. All that metal is throwing off my sensors.'

'Have you told Lennox this?' Hide inquires.

'I have and he just says to keep trying,' Hound responds.

'Sounds like you need to draw the fragger out of hiding,' Hide suggests.

'I'm open to suggestions,' Hound eagerly replies.

'Let me think about it for a bit,' Hide says. 'Jazz was much better at planning than me. Maybe Optimus can come up with something. I'll ask him.'

'Thank you,' Hound says with relief in his voice. 'So, how are things on your end?'

Hide can't help but growl and Hound barely manages not to laugh.

'Lennox owes me big time for this,' Hide snarls. 'Who knew that the Pit could spawn humans as well as Cybertronians.'

'She can't be that bad,' Hound states, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice.

'Don't take bets on that one,' Hide hisses

Hide spends the next hour or so venting all of his frustrations out on Hound who gladly listens to his friend's tirade.

'Truth be told,' Hound states after Hide finally winds down. 'I'd gladly change places with you.'

'Have your circuits shorted out?' Hide demands.

'You know me, Hide,' Hound gleefully states. 'I love the dirt and the creepy crawly things. Organic things fascinate me. There isn't that much out here in the desert, but in the forest, there's organic life everywhere.'

'None of which you would get to see or explore because you'd be locked in this Pit blasted shed,' Hide reminds him with a growl. 'At least you'd fit better than me.'

'If I was there I wouldn't be a disappointment to Optimus and the humans,' Hound softly admits.

'Hey, it's not your fault the slaggard is hiding,' Hide assures him. 'Besides, you just have to out wait him. Sooner or later he'll pop up.'

'The only question is if my sanity will hold out until he does,' Hound jokes. 'The Twins seem determined to short my circuits.'

'You have me on that one,' Hide chuckles.

At that moment, Hide hears the chain that runs through the handles of the door move. A quick scan shows that she's just outside with a cube of Energon sitting on the ground next to her feet.

'Speaking if Pit spawns, mine has finally shown up with my Energon,' Hide growls.

'May I see her?' Hound asks eagerly.

'Sure, why not,' Hide grumbles as he transmits the video and audio of the inside of the shed.

A few seconds later the door finally opens and she slips in with a blast of cold air, the cube tucked under her arm. She's bundled up and her cheeks are bright pink from the cold. With eyes barely open, she shuts the door behind her.

"Ok, you overgrown go-cart, you better open up this time," she snarls as she shuffles along his driver's side. "I did not just freeze my butt off to feed just so you could not take your stupid Energizer juice."

'She's a tiny little thing, isn't she?' Hound observes, doing his darnedest not laugh at the go-cart comment.

'Small, but extremely annoying,' Hide huffs.

She scoots between Hide and the wall, teeth chattering all the way. With a shivering hand, she gets his compartment door open without a fight from him. She quickly shoves the cube in and shuts the door.

"Good boy," she mutters as she leans against him. "Goddess, it's so warm out here. Maybe I should start sleeping out here."

'Primus, no,' Hide groans.

"You're always so warm when you should be cold as ice," she murmurs as she presses her cheek against his armor. "I just about froze body parts off getting out of bed this morning just so I could come out and feed you. Not that you care. What do you think, beast? Should I put you in my paper? Things I did today: Get up, shower, dress, eat, feed the truck. If that doesn't get me a spot in a room with padded walls, I'm not sure what will."

'She's funny,' Hound chuckles.

'Fragging hilarious,' Hide grumbles.

'Does she always talk to you?' Hound asks.

'Almost constantly,' Hide mutters unhappily. 'It might not be so bad if I could tell her to shut the frag up, but no. Optimus told me not to reveal myself, so now I'm stuck here.'

'I can understand the frustration, but what an opportunity to observe a human unhindered by her knowing what you are,' Hound states.

'Trust me, if I could change places with you, I'd do it in a spark beat,' Hide replies grouchily.

'And I'd gladly do it, too,' Hound responds.

Hide spits out the empty cube before any more can be said. With a tired sigh, she pushes away from him as far as she can. Stooping to pick up the cube, she closes the small door and pats his side.

"Good, beast," she mumbles as she heads for the door. "See ya tonight."

Without so much as a backwards glance, she slips out the door. A moment later, he hears her relock the doors.

'If I survive this with my sanity in tact, it will be a miracle,' Hide growls.

'I understand completely,' Hound agrees.

They talk a while more about those comrades lost to the war and those that may still be out there. Finally, Hound announces that it's time for him to go out scouting again. They sign off and Hide is left once more to his own silent musings.


She carefully parks him back in the shed, ever mindful of his side mirrors, his smoke stacks and the edges of the doorway. He hates being nothing more than her glorified garbage truck, but at least it gets him out of the shed, even if it is only for a little while. Once he's back in place, she turns off the engine and slides out. Discontentedly, he watches her go, knowing it'll be another week before she takes him out again.

At least he can look forward to his morning conversations with Hound as the tracker is still having problems locating Scorponok. It's been a couple weeks since Hound first called him, and he hates to admit it, but he's kind of glad Scorponok is being a slag head about being found. He wonders why Hound keeps calling since Hide hasn't been much help with coming up with ideas just as a sigh drags his attention back to his personal tormentor.

She's standing outside looking up at the sky, the doors to the shed still wide open. He scans the local airways, but other than the occasional airplane, there's nothing up there worth noting. Granted, there's a heavy cloud cover making visibility difficult for those planes, but it doesn't explain why she's staring at the sky.

He continues to watch her and after several minutes he finally notices strange small white dots floating down to the ground. He's confused for a few moments and then in a near panic he checks the world wide web for weather forecasts. Holy Primus, it's snowing and the forecast is for at least a foot of snow in lower elevations.

It's been raining on and off for the past month and even though he now has some mud plastered to his sides, it hasn't been too bad. He can handle muddy roads, but he's never been a fan of ice. It's not the cold that has him worried, but not being able to keep his traction.

How will he be able to keep his true identity a secret from her if he has to take control when they start sliding down the mountain? He knows she's not a bad driver, but even the best drivers can be taken by surprise by black ice. While he wonders if she's brought chains and if she knows how to put them on him, she heads back into the shed.

"Ok, beast, I guess that's it for the garbage runs," she tells him as she opens the driver's door and starts looking around for something. "If this snow sticks around after a week, I'll have go to the garbage bin by foot. Won't that be fun?"

What are you after, Pit spawn? he silently asks her.

"Ah-ha!" she exclaims a second later.

She grabs a leaver and pulls it which causes his hood to pop up.

What do you think you're doing? he demands, though he utters not a sound.

She scrambles up onto his front bumper and quickly finds the latch to release his hood. She pushes the hood up and lets out a whistle when she gets a look at what's under it.

"Holy cow, this looks like it should be on the space shuttle," she states in wonder.

As if that scrap of metal is anywhere as advanced as me, he scoffs. I'm amazed the first one didn't disintegrate the first time it was used.

"So where is your battery in all of this mess?" she softly wonders as she braces the hood up with the rod and leans over his 'engine'.

My what? he nearly shrieks.

He quickly looks up what she's after while she continues to look around under his hood. While he tries to fathom why she'd want to remove his 'battery', she climbs down off of his bumper and scrambles up into his cab. She opens the glove box and finds it empty.

"Where the hell is your owner's manual?" she demands with a huff.

He's never been so glad that he doesn't have one now that he understands that she wants to take out a part of his anatomy to keep it from freezing and cracking. She climbs into the back of his cab and starts looking around back there, specifically under the front seats. He watches her growing frustration with mild amusement.

"Damn," she mutters as she plops herself down on the back bench. "If your battery explodes, I'll have to hike out of here come spring."

You had better not be thinking of abandoning me it this Pit blasted shed, he snarls to himself.

"Will will have my butt if I leave you out here," she continues. "Not that I'm all fond of the idea of hiking all the way back to civilization."

Then let's go back now and save us both the trouble, he silently suggests.

"Ok, let's just hope that Energizer juice I've been giving you will keep you from falling apart," she sighs as she climbs back into his front seat. "Goddess knows you produce enough heat to keep the shed warm. I wonder if Doc Hatchet makes house calls."

With that thought, she gets out of his cab, shuts his hood and heads back out. He watches her as she swings the doors shut and a moment latter the chain is rattling through the handles of the doors. He sinks down on his struts trying not to think what would happen if Ratchet has to come out here to rescue them. He's sure it wouldn't be pleasant.