Anarkye paced in her room, unsure of the emotions brewing within her. Something was making her edgy around some people, and yet . . . around others, she was giddy and almost helpless.
This is so frustrating! She couldn't talk about this with her father . . . Cheetor . . . Rhinox . . . forget Rattrap . . . but . . .
Shangrila would know.
The femme was in the middle of researching some weather patterns upon her laptop when her door was knocked upon. Saving her work, she walked over and opened it to see an embarrassed-looking Anarkye there. "Well, look who's here."
"Can I talk with you?"
Smiling, nodding, the older bot stood to one side, and closed the door after her younger friend. "What's on your mind?"
Anarkye relayed her problem. Shangrila knew immediately what the issue was, but she needed to know whothis girl was talking about. "So who can't you stand?"
"My brother and Rattrap. No offence."
"None taken. Anyone else?"
"And who are you around when you feel giddy?"
"Silverbolt and Dinobot."
My brother?! Ooh, I hope he's gentle about this, Shangrila thought. He sighed, but said nothing, thinking over all the different possibilities.
"So . . . what's wrong with me?"
"You think that this is a glitch?"
"Well . . ."
"Ann, you're . . . hm. All right, I'll tell you what's going on, but I don't want you flipping out on me because of the wording."
"You're in love with one of them, and the other you're infatuated with."
"Hey! Sit, before I make you! I told you not to get all that huffy about the wording of it! Let me explain before you rip my head off!"
"But how can I be in love?!"
"You just are! There is no rhyme or reason to it!"
"But . . ."
"'But' nothing, Anarkye!"
"But who am I in love with? I mean, Dinobot's way older than me . . ."
"How old are you?"
"I'm only twenty-two. Rattrap's twenty-five. Dinobot's twenty-six."
"That's almost ten years."
Anarkye rested her head in her hands. "But . . . I don't know . . ."
"About Silverbolt? He's only a year or so older than you are, but . . ."
"Well, he's interested in Blackarachnia. She's a bit older than I am, as you should remember. And I think that she likes him as well."
Anarkye sighed, and rubbed at her face. Shangrila smiled and helped her up. "Come on, then, to bed. You're tired, and thinking about heavy matters such as love don't bode well when you're too tired to make sense of yourself."
Without a complaint, Anarkye was guided to her room, and the moment she was asleep Shangrila went to her brother's room and opened the door, catching him cleaning a sword she hadn't seen in years. Smiling, she walked in and sat on the floor, legs askew and relaxed. "I found something out, Nintai."
"Oh? Usually you tell me only the most important things."
"You have an admirer."
Dinobot fumbled with the sword, staring at his sister in incredulity, then laid it upon the floor. He glared up at his sister. "Rattrap's bratty sister?" He snorted. "I'd rather throw her off of the falls, thank you. Her 'affection' has been known for quite a time."
"Not Xephyr, brother. Someone else."
"Primus . . . not . . ."
"Matrix," the bot breathed. "Her?"
"Can you tell how love will turn? How it will always manage to always surprise the most experienced of us? I never thought that I would come to love Rattrap, and . . .don't look at me that way, Nintai . . . and I think that Anarkye is rather surprised that she is fond of you."
"She is not in love?"
"Not yet, but I have the feeling that soon, brother, it will blossom."
Snarling softly, the elder ex-Predacon stood to pace from one end of the room to the other. "But surely there is another?"
"He's in with the she-spider. Don't say that you know that, because Primal will have bothour striped hides for not telling him."
"Blast it, sister, but couldn't you have waited to tell me this?"
"Dunno. Why should I have?"
"Xephyr slagging wants to share my bed! Either that or I come to share herbed with her, and tonight I nearly didn't have an excuse not to! I can't deal with–"
"You mean you don't want to deal with something like this."
Dinobot looked at Shangrila, sighed, and then nodded. "Affirmative."
"You know how Maximals think about ways of love."
"No, actually, I don't," Dinobot grumbled, moving the stool at his desk so that he could look at his sister. "I only know the ways of Predacons. You were the one well-versed with the differences between our culture and theirs."
"As if you haven't adopted a few Maximal ways since we parted back on Cybertron, each of us needing time to grow on our own. But anyway, as long as two love each other, know that they love each other, and have admitted it, then there is nothing wrong with nine years being the diving factor."
"Slaggit!" Dinobot hissed. "First off, I don't love her. Second, she's only seventeen! How the Pit is that supposed to look?! She's barely an adult!"
"Dinobot, think about it. At least hear her through."
"Because at this point, she's tender and her feelings are brittle. To deny her even the small amount it takes to listen to her . . . Dinobot, even you're not that cruel."
The brother sighed again. "When would you have me talk with her."
"When she comes to you on her own. She will. Trust me. Don't deny her the chance to tell you what she feels for you. Don't say that she's being a silly girl, or that what she feels can't be true, since she's young."
Dinobot nodded, taking that in. His sister had once gone through this, and she knew what she was advising him to do. She stood, and walked over to him, watching his face for the subtle emotions that she always managed to see. With a sigh, he stood to embrace her carefully. Her voice was muffled against his shoulder. "Dinobot?"
"Thank you for raising me the way that you did."
"What's bringing this up?"
"Well . . . because I've just never thanked you before."
Smiling, Dinobot hugged her tighter, replying, "But you've never had to."
Anarkye rubbed at her optics, trying to stay awake on her watch. With a sigh, she pulled up a human book she had been reading lately on the computer. Finding her bookmark, she found where she had left off. It was a long book, the second in a trilogy by an author called Garth Nix, about a girl becoming something completely separate from what the rest of her culture became. There were trials and small victories, and reading about someone else's troubles kept her mind awake and busy, distracting her from her own troubling emotions.
"It is called 'watch' for a reason, Anarkye."
The younger bot looked over her shoulder at Dinobot, standing on the lift. She had heard Sentinel stand down and then reactivate, admitting a late-night scout, and had heard his transformation before he had stepped upon the lowered lift. She knew that it had been Dinobot.
"Watch doesn't just consist of using your vision."
Dinobot blinked. "Point."
Smiling slightly, Anarkye went back to reading. Dinobot watched her for a second, then walked over to the holographic map, activating it and adding a few new notes to the features of one of the canyons that he had look over. Anarkye listened to every movement, not really reading the page she was on. Sighing, she added another bookmark to the file, then turned it off in favor of watching the hull's camera views.
A velociraptor head appeared to her left, not really surprising her, but causing her to stiffen slightly, not knowing what to do. His eyes flicked to one screen to another, then pointed."That."
She looked, and saw a strange creature trying to sneak in. "Silverbolt? What's he doing out this late?"
"Cavorting with Blackarachnia, I suppose."
Snorting with amusement at the word usage, Anarkye looked up at Dinobot for a second, before shaking her head. "That was cruel."
"I'm born Predacon, you must remember."
"Yeah, well . . ."
"And I want to know how you know that, Dinobot," a slightly-angry voice said from behind them.
Anarkye smiled. "Evening, Optimus."
He nodded to his daughter before looking back at Dinobot. "Well?"
"It was a guess, Primal, and nothing more, based upon his performance in battle while facing the she-spider. And even then, the comment was made in jest."
Optimus looked from Anarkye to Dinobot, then sighed and said, "Fine. But try not to let him hear you say those things. If you're wrong . . . I just have the feeling that Silverbolt has a temper that may match your own, given the chance."
Dinobot nodded, and the leader turned and left the room. Anarkye sighed, then looked up at the raptor. "That was close."
"Mhhhrrrrr . . ." the scaled one growled. "Closer than you could have thought. Don't fall asleep on watch."
"I won't. That's Rattrap's job."
Grinning slightly, Dinobot left the room, but heard Anarkye's faint whisper.
"Sleep well. I . . . I love you."
Not pausing his pace, he went straight to his sister's room, opening the door. With a yelp of surprise, he slammed it shut again. "Shangrila! Blast it all!"
Shangrila's laughter from inside was accompanied by Rattrap's grumble. The door opened, and Shangrila smiled at her brother, leaning against the doorpost. "We weren't doing anything bad, and you know that."
"I don'twant to see you . . . blarrgghhhh. Brothers never should have to witness their sisters kissing!"
Laughing again, Shangrila looked at his face, then sobered immediately. "Oh . . . did . . . ?"
"I wasn't supposed to hear it."
"Then you didn't."
Rattrap walked over. "What?"
"Nothing, Vermin," Dinobot hissed, turning abruptly and leaving.
Shangrila watched him enter his quarters, then tugged Rattrap back into her room, closing the door. Rattrap looked at her. "What's goin' on?"
"It's . . . it's something between me and Dinobot and one other."
"Who would be . . . ?"
"Rattrap, please, leave it be."
"Simply because I have to ask you to. This isn't something that you should really get involved with. And I think that you know that as well, don't you?"
Rattrap smiled slightly. "I think that I know what it is, though."
"Someone, a youngersomeone than my sister, also likes dat scale-face. Someone who has a sibling on the original crew of dis ship." He paused, then reached up to brush his fingertips against Shangrila's cheek. His face saddened slightly. "An' he doesn't know what da Pit ta do."
The femme sighed. "She really likes him. And I don't think that this is a childish thing at all. She just doesn't know what to do yet."
"So what happened, den?"
Shangrila blinked at the Transmetal, then draped her wrist over his shoulder. He smiled and held her other hand. After a moment, the ex-Predacon replied, "When you're a young femme starting to admit your feelings, generally you don't want to tell the bot straight out. So you whisper it sometime after they leave your presence. You don't want them to hear it. Sometimes they do, though."
"Dis was one o' does times?"
Rattrap sighed. "An' neither o' dem wanna hear from me."
"Anarkye doesn't feel much kindness to you at the moment, I'll admit. However, my brother trusts you . . . in a strange, twisted sort of way that could also get you killed by him."
Snorting with amusement, Rattrap moved Shangrila back to where she had been sitting, so that she looked up at his face. "Dat doesn't surprise me."
"But he might end up talking to you."
"Think about it. You're close to me, his younger sister. The fact that I trust you has strengthened his confidence in you. You and I are also in love. So he knows that you'll understand what he's talking about. But seriously, Rattrap, do you think that he'd talk to someone like Primal or Rhinox? They've known Anarkye since her birth."
"He's gonna trust in me t' keep his secrets," Rattrap said doubtfully, optics skeptical.
"Rattrap, you have to let him speak to you."
"Why not? You're close in age. You're both either romantically attached, or have someone who's admitted to having affection for you. Besides. He needs a friend right now. Not just a sister."
Rattrap sighed, then moved his face towards Shangrila's. "Fine. But on one condition."
Smiling, the femme asked, "And that would be?"
"He slaggin' learns how to knock."