Three Protoforms

Looking for the Moon

By: Sinead

He was asleep, Anarkye knew. She could hear his breathing as she passed his room. Sighing, watching Dinobot's door forlornly, she managed to walk straight into Xephyr. "Oh! I'm sorry!"

"Our boy asleep in dere?" Xephyr asked, watching the younger femme with an almost-indifferent stare.

"Yeah. He had a long patrol yesterday, so Optimus let him sleep in."

Xephyr rubbed her hands togther, grinning a little maliciously. "Good. Then he won't be able t' refuse me, dis time."

Anarkye grabbed Xephyr's wrist before she could open the door. "You can't do that!"

"Excuse me, missie? Are you tellin' me what I canand can'tdo?!"

Anarkye released Xephyr's wrist, shaking her head. "He needs his sleep, is all. It doesn't matter if it's past noon or whatever. He's been covering for your brother's shifts since Rattrap took that shot in battle two days ago."

"And why haven't youtaken over for him if you're so concerned about it?" Xephyr asked, taking a step closer to Dinobot's door. "Actually, I don't care. Go . . . go play, or do somethinga kid like you should be doing."

Her fingers would have brushed the door, but she stopped, and looked back at the Fuzor watching her silently. And saw the glare that had been aimed at her for quite a while. It dawned upon Xephyr, and she grinned maliciously. "Oh, oh I see! You like Dinobot, too!" She barked her laugh, then stopped it too suddenly. "Get over it. You think that he'll like you, a little girl? You're hardly of age. Hardly anything worth looking at."

The voices continued outside the door.

"I don't care, Xephyr."

"'Bout Dinobot? Good."

"No! That's not what I meant! I don't care about my appearance! Hey!"

"What? I'm goin' in."

"No, you're not."

"You gonna stop me? With what? Besides. Do you like 'im or not?"

Silence, for a moment.

"I take it dat you think you love 'im. Dat you think dat 'e's da only one f'r you. Things like dat happen. Dey're called infatuations. You get over 'em."

"I am not infatuated with him!"

"Really."

"Yes, really!"

"Den you're only in puppy-love. So what? You'll grow outta it. Now get. Out. Of my. Way."

"No."

"You blasted little–"

Having heard enough, Dinobot slammed the door open, glaring down at Xephyr. "If you ever slagging try to get into my room again, I'll slagging rip your blasted core processor out and feed it to you. Haven't you gotten the idea that I don't like you?!"

He spotted Anarkye starting to edge away. He glanced at her with a small glare, telling her silently to stay where she was in that one look. It was the same look that he knew his sister used. She learned it from him. Returning his gaze to Xephyr, letting her bear the full brunt of his scowl, he hissed, "I don't want you near me. Ever. Get out of my sight."

Snorting, she stalked off. Dinobot looked at Anarkye, who was still watching her feet, not wanting to attract any attention to herself. Sighing, he growled, "Dinobot to Shangrila."

"Yeah?"

"Tell Primal I'm taking his daughter out to train a bit more."

"Any strings attached?"

"Only one: That your tell that blasted beloved of yours to keep his sister on a leash. If I find her near me again, I'll not hold to my oath and I'll beat her within an inch of her pathetic life. Dinobot out." He looked back at Anarkye, who glanced up, then back down. "We're taking a walk. Follow me."

The snow crunched beneath padded feline paws and the taloned toes of a velociraptor. Finally, they reached a warmer volcanic area, seeing springs bubbling. The warmth from them wafted over the two Maximals. Neither had said anything else since they left the base, but once they were completely alone, Dinobot said, "You should explain yourself."

"How?" she asked sullenly. "You heard Xephyr."

"You're lucky that I don't listen to lying rats."

"She wasn't lying about that."

"How so. Elaborate."

Anarkye sighed, then transformed and walked closer to the springs, feeling the warmth wrap around her like her father's arms had when she was younger. She heard Dinobot transform and walk up to behind her. She couldn't look at him. "She's wrong about me being infatuated. I'm old enough that I've been through that before. I know what it's like. And I don't think that I'm infatuated." She paused, wanting him to speak so that she wouldn't have to. Knowing that he wouldn't, she continued. "I'm sorry that I didn't come to you earlier, but I . . . I'm still afraid."

"To what."

"Tell you."

"That you love me?"

She simply nodded. Dinobot moved to stand beside her, not looking at her. He understood what his sister had told him, and he knew that he'd have to let Anarkye ride this one out. Finally, she spoke quietly. "Someone already told you."

"Someone who youshould have sworn to secrecy," Dinobot said, chuckling on the inside, stoic on the outside.

"Oh."

"At least you trust her."

"She's . . . she's really nice. And she wouldn't tell me lies, no matter how much it would hurt me."

"I know."

Silence fell. Dinobot indicated the hot springs. "What do you think of them?"

"Warm. Soothing. Nice. Why?"

"Because I knew that it would comfort you." He turned, resting his hand upon her shoulder briefly. "Come. You have watch tonight."

"Yeah."

They started walking back.

"Dinobot?"

"Hn?"

"Do you mind?"

"Mind what?"

"That I . . . I love you."

Dinobot chuckled, looking back up at the clouded sky. "Negative. At least you are able to tell me." He looked back at her, eyes serious. "But this is a war, Anarkye. You understand this. I . . . I do not find it wise to hold relationships in a war. My sister is different, for obvious reasons. Females, like yourself, wish for a companion to help them get through in trying times. And this I understand."

"So . . . you don't like me."

"Did I say that? You are a promising young femme, and you have a . . . an appearance that isn't unappealing to a male." He cleared his throat, hearing Anarkye giggling slightly. Good. She was still able to laugh. "And you are a valuable friend that I am honored to have."

The base was just within sight, now. Dinobot turned to Anarkye. "I do not discourage your affection, just so you know. But please, slaggit, don'tstart acting like that blasted rat."

"Don't worry," Anarkye snarled. "I won't."

"And one more thing."

She looked up at Dinobot, seeing his face soften slightly. "Yeah?"

He blinked, then shook his head. "It . . . is nothing. I'll take care of it."

"Oh. Okay."

"Optimus to Anarkye," the comm screeched.

Wincing, she replied, "Yes?"

"Can you patrol over the southern border of Delta quadrant?"

"Sure. I'll be back in a few megacycles."

"That's fine. See you when you get back. Optimus out."

She shrugged a little, then said, "So I'll see you when I get back to the base?"

"Yes," Dinobot replied, already moving back towards the base. She smiled, then took off, not knowing that Dinobot watched her before continuing on. He walked into the base, seeing Optimus and Rhinox at the map, tracking a few of the Predacons' movements over the past megacycle. He transformed. "Optimus, if I may have a word with you?"

The leader looked at Dinobot, then back at Rhinox. "I'll be in my quarters if anyone needs me." He nodded to the ex-Predacon, who followed him into the dual office/personal room of his leader. Once alone, Optimus asked, "So what's this about?"

"Two individuals that have to stay separated."

"Please don't say your sister and Rattrap. She's kept him in line for the last two weeks."

Smirking slightly at the Transmetal rat's behavior, he replied, "Negative. Your daughter and Xephyr. They are . . . competitors, if you will, as I found out today."

"Comp- oh. Oh. Wait. What are you implying?"

"Your daughter is . . . rather fond of me."

Optimus nodded, knowing that Dinobot wasn't one who could speak of matters of love easily. "How did you find out?"

"They were arguing outside my door earlier today. I have known of Xephyr's intentions, and I finally was able to tell her straight off that I was most certainly notin need of her attention."

"That training you brought my daughter on . . ." Optimus said warily.

"I knew that you would be around others. It was merely a chance to let her talk herself out. I knew that she wouldn't admit to anything where there would be someone who could overhear something that she wouldn't want to be known. We were just up by the springs."

"Okay," Optimus replied, fears at ease. "So she told you."

"After some talking, yes," Dinobot replied, watching his leader's reactions.

Optimus walked over to the window, seeing Cheetor working on his target practice behind the base. Bowing his head, he whispered, "Their mother died not too long ago. I was worried that my daughter would never recover. She began slipping back into an unsure little girl. I sent her to be with her aunt, my wife's sister, since I couldn't stay upon the planet I had shared with my wife. She managed to follow us somehow." He turned to look at Dinobot. "And through you and your sister, she's becoming more of who she was meant to be."

"I could neverhurt her," Dinobot said, his voice low.

"If she doeschoose you . . ."

"Optimus, I have told her as gently . . . as kindly as I could, that I am a warrior. That I do not find relationships to be belonging in a war. But I also told her that I do not want her to suppress her emotions."

Optimus smiled slightly. "So you don't mind her coming to you when she needs a shoulder to cry on, or going to with trivial annoyances."

Groaning and rubbing at his forehead, Dinobot muttered, "In this blasted base, no annoyance is trivial." He indicated the door silently.

Optimus opened with a voice command, revealing Xephyr. The leader sighed, then said sternly, "I thought that it was you. Listen here: I won't have any more of your whining or griping about the fact that Dinobot has expressed on numerousoccasions that he does notwant to sleep with you. I don't care about your reasoning, but you'd better listen up and knock it off. There are other individuals who have come to me and told me that it was starting to get annoying, so kill the attitude."

"But . . ."

"No 'buts'. Rhinox has your assignment. Dismissed."

She sighed, then turned, flinging a glare at Dinobot before leaving. The door slid shut again. Optimus sighed. "Rhinox has already talked to me about that. She'll be working with him exclusively for the next few weeks." He looked at Dinobot silently for a moment, then asked, "Did she say anything else that I should know about?"

Dinobot shrugged. "She might come to tell you, she might not. If you wouldn't mind acting as if you haven't heard . . . ?"

Optimus chuckled. "I know. I've raised her this far, Dinobot. And I know that you've raised your own sister, so you know how females tend to act about quite a few things."

Dinobot nodded, then turned to leave. He stopped, then said over his shoulder, "She has watch tonight. Would you mind if I continued talking with her?"

"You haven't figured it out yet, have you?" Optimus replied, chuckling, relaxing against the window. Cheetor had finished his target practice.

"Figured whatout."

"That I don't mind her liking you. You're a good bot, Dinobot. Honorable. Caring, in your own ways. Don't think that I haven't seen it. I wouldn't be more glad that she chose to trust in you. So I don't mind you around her. I'm not over-protective over her, as some fathers are. I trust her decisions, and I trust you, Dinobot. I know that you won't break her heart."

The ex-Predacon stared at his leader, soaking in the complements he had just been given. He nodded, and wordlessly left the room, walking slowly to his own room. As he opened the door, he saw Shangrila waiting for him. He closed the door, then waited for her to start. She smiled. "So you know."

He nodded.

"And, brother, what are your thoughts?"

After taking a moment, he replied, "She . . . was honest. And she . . . I think she understood that I didn't want a relationship of the kind she was hoping I'd offer."

"You said it nicely?"

Dinobot nodded again.

"You're unusually silent."

"Primal trusts me with her."

Smiling, Shangrila went closer to her brother. "You trust Rattrap with me, don't you?"

"Yes . . . but . . ."

"Why do you trust him."

"Because I know that he wants the best for you. He wants you to be happy, to . . . to just simply smile at him."

"Optimus knows that you would protect his daughter. He also knows that you want her simply to be."

Dinobot looked at his sister. "Shangrila, what are you saying?"

"That I can see right through you. You care for her. But you're lying to yourself. I know that you care for her, and I know that at the same time, you don't to." She sighed, resting her hand upon his shoulder. "And I know that you've never really had a favorite girl back home. You didn't want anything to do with them, simply because you had your hands full with me. This time, Dinobot, Nintai, it's different. There istime. There isa way. I'm not a problem to you, so you don't have to hold back. I know that you think she's too young, but listen to me on this. As long as you'll let her just be who she is around you, as long as you don't drop the fragile friendship that's been just thrown up in to the air today, things will work out fine. Sparks love each other no matter what happens, regardless of age."

Dinobot nodded, and the siblings were silent, watching each other. Neither wanted to cause the moment of simple understanding between the two to end. They've had too few of these moments lately, and both were missing the connection and understanding it usually left them with. A knock upon the door startled them both, and Dinobot opened it to see Anarkye. "You're back early."

"Xephyr's defected to the Preds. Dad called me in."

Shangrila cursed colorfully, causing Anarkye to stare at her in shock. Taking in a deep breath, she asked, "Does her brother know?"

"No. Rhinox wanted you and Dinobot to go to him while he was told."

"Where is he."

"Command center."

Dinobot sighed, then left his room, Shangrila right after him. "Anarkye, this won't be pretty. Lock yourself in here."

"Are . . . are you sure?"

In answer, Dinobot pushed her in and closed the door, striding purposefully towards the control room. Shangrila followed him, and as soon as they were there, Rattrap looked up at them, his face lighting up for a moment at Shangrila, but . . . fell, seeing their expressions. Optimus and Rhinox entered after the two warriors, and the latter walked to face Rattrap. "I have some hard news for you."

Weary after having to restrain Rattrap for so long, Dinobot stumbled into his room, not really bothering to turn his lights on as he stumbled into bed.

And landed upon Anarkye.

The younger Maximal yelping, the older cursing, somehow the lights were turned on. He rubbed at his face. "Blast it. I forgot you were still here."

"Why did you have me stay in your room?"

"Shangrila had Silverbolt stay in hers, and Cheetor was in Rhinox's. They know that Rattrap has a berserker side . . ." he growled out the last two words, looking out his window, "like me."

"You do?" she asked.

The tone in her voice wasn't fearful. It didn't have any of the usual reaction emotions or feelings that most felt when they found out about it. Dinobot blinked at her inquisitiveness. "You sound almost interested."

"Oh. I . . . uh, I guess I am. I mean, I never knew someone who had berserker blood, I guess."

He chuckled, leaning against his desk. "You really are an oddball, aren't you."

"What do you mean?"

"You don't seem to care about what I told you earlier, and you are interested in the fact that I'm a berserker."

She looked at her hands. "It's not that I don't care, Dinobot. I docare. It hurt a little, what you said, but . . . I can see that it's really a good idea. If something happened to either Shangrila or Rattrap, the other would be unstable. I've heard of stories like that. So you were right. Having a relationship in a war is wrong."

"Did I say that?" Dinobot wondered, thinking. "Slag. In a way, I did. Anarkye, I never meant it in that way. That was a personalbelief. I never said that it was wrong. If it was wrong, I would have made sure that Rattrap wouldn't be around my sister ever."

Anarkye watched Dinobot's optics, reading them like she could read Shangrila's. After a moment, she nodded. "I see."

"Finally. I've been explaining things all slagging day long."

Anarkye laughed, then sighed. "Hey, but I'd like to know what . . . what berserker's like."

"You would."

"No, really."

Dinobot paced the width of his room once, trying to see how he can explain to the girl what he felt like when he passed that boundary. Nodding, he said, "You remember when we went out to rescue my sister."

"Yeah."

"Remember when I couldn't control my anger. Your father had to make me swear on my honor that I wouldn't do anything rash."

"Yes."

"I had no control up until that point. You saw how I crushed the side of the table. You saw how I couldn't stand still without trembling, wanting to move."

"I saw."

"Then you saw Rattrap."

"Yeah. He seemed a little less angry than you."

"I wasn't even berserker at that point."

Anarkye blinked, then asked, "So what is?"

He sighed, then shook his head and looked at the ground. "Berserker is when you do things you couldn't do on a normal basis. When you do things . . . that you can't remember until days, sometimes weeks later. When you kill and not regret it."

Anarkye watched Dinobot's face. She didn't ask any more questions. He finally looked back up at her, seeing that she was yawning. Smiling slightly, he helped her down the hall to her own room. She smiled up at him. "Good night."

He nodded. "Hopefully. I will see you on the morrow. I've taken your shift."

"Oh. Thanks. See you tomorrow."

The door closed, and Dinobot walked back to his room, locking the door and dimming the lights further. He rested his head in his hands. Screams from his past echoed through his mind, torturing him.

"No! Stop it! Father, stop!"

"She needs to toughen up! So do you! You're spoiled rotten!"

"Daddy!"

"That's enough! You leave my children be!"

"You've turned them into spoiled little brats! They hardly have the backbone to stand on their own two feet!"

"Father! Leave Chi alone!"

Pounding his fists on the floor, Dinobot grit his teeth. He didn't want to remember.

His mother, dead. His eldest sibling, his sister, was . . . no . . . what was their father doing to her?! She . . . she screamed . . . trying to push him away . . . trying to . . .

To hold off the killing strike.

Chi was a mere ten-year-old at that time. She had seen the entire thing. He was fourteen, and knew how to use a sword and a gun. They were Predacon children, after all. They could wield weapons almost as soon as they could walk.

At that moment, his mind blacked out. He didn't know what he was doing. He didn't know what was happening. All he knew was that he would avenge his mother's and sister's deaths by killing the person whom he had once called father.

Nintai was the reason they were completely orphaned.

He came to, realizing that someone was holding his sobbing head in their lap, and a second pair of hands were holding one of his own. Not caring who was with him, he told what he remembered of that horrible day. He didn't care anymore. He couldn't hold what he was in anymore. He couldn't keep that information to himself, or he'd break down again, and he didn't want to be breaking down anymore. He couldn't handle the instability that came while he grieved for his mother and sister, while he relived the killing of his father.

Finally, finally, he was done.

Someone kissed the side of his head, embracing him as best as they could. Shangrila's voice whispered, "It's okay, Nintai. You know that things are fine, now."

"Chi . . ."

"I know, brother. I know."

Gathering his courage, he looked up to see whose lap his head was in.

Anarkye's.

She heard.

Smiling sadly, she just rested her hand upon his shoulder, squeezing gently once, before saying, "I had to ask you something, but I saw you in here the way you were, and I got your sister. She didn't give me a chance to back out so that she could be beside you."

Sighing, looking away from both femmes, he whispered, "I do not mind your company. You know this."

"Coming from you, that must mean that you like her," Shangrila teased. "I certainly don't see you jumping off of her lap in a hurry."

Looking up at his sister, he replied, "I can't slagging move. I'm too tired. Holding that blasted rat back from killing something wasn't easy."

Shangrila smirked and started to open her mouth. Dinobot growled, "Say something like what I think you're going to say, and I'll be forced to lock you away somewhere while I pin him to a wall, asking what the Pit he was thinking."

The two laughed and helped Dinobot to his bed. Shangrila rested her hand upon his shoulder for a moment, then said, "Anarkye, would you mind staying here with him tonight? I have to make sure that Rattrap will be fine."

Anarkye nodded, and Dinobot looked up at his sister. She smiled kindly to him, then left the room. He looked at Anarkye, then sighed. Just as he was about to explain, she shook her head. "Sleep first. You need it. We can always talk tomorrow."

Dinobot nodded, but said anyway, "Thank you for staying."

"Go to sleep, Dinobot," she said, smiling.

"Well. Look at that."

Shangrila looked over her shoulder at Optimus guiltily. "My fault?"

He chuckled, shaking his head. "No. I assigned you to Rattrap, and since you told me that Dinobot had a breakdown last night . . . well, I'm glad that someone was with him." He grinned openly. "Even if it's my daughter and she's somehow managed to crawl into the bed with him and end up halfway on his chest."

Shangrila laughed quietly. "Anarkye doesn't know that you know. I'll wake them up."

He shook his head, closing the door. "Later. They need their sleep."

The warrior looked at her leader with a smile, then nodded and followed him. Those two needed their sleep, he had said. She had wanted to add, and they have needed each other for far longer than that.