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A Pet Squishy
Chapter 10: "Arguments of the Mind"
Later that night…
Lana shivered as a crisp wind whipped over the ocean and made her skin texture with goose bumps. She hugged her knees as she sat in the sand, trying to keep herself warm. Her light pants, sneakers, and T-shirt were proving insufficient for warmth. The hiss of the sea rolled across the sand, threatening to make her even colder. She wisely sat closest to the center of the island away from water near the half-dead palm trees.
"Well? Are you happy now, Lana?" her mind asked sarcastically,
"I wasn't going back." she insisted.
"At least THERE you were warm and taken care of." her mind argued.
She cringed, "But I was nothing."
"And you were SOMETHING before?" it retorted. "Please! You were an object BEFORE Thundercracker took you. How was stripping and barely scraping by on those tips any better?
"At least I had freedom."
She shivered as a fresh wind bit through the fabric of her clothes.
"Oh yeah, you're free now…free to freeze to death on this waste of an island and probably die of dehydration in a couple days." her mind bitterly reminded.
She bit back, "I'd rather die than go back in that cage and just wait for those monsters to kill me."
"I WOULD!" she insisted, "I almost did it!"
Her mind shook its unseen "head", "You KNEW he wouldn't let you fall."
Lana couldn't argue with her own mind. It was right. But she still couldn't figure out why—why did he care so much if she was nothing but a pet?
Thundercracker flew hard and fast through the night sky, his sonic booms dispersing the clouds and rattling the very molecules of the air. His Spark was thrumming loudly in his chest and his vents were working frantically to keep the heat generated by his anger under control.
"That ungrateful little speck of carbon!" he grumbled nastily to himself, "I did everything to keep her happy and cared for, and she would rather terminate herself?"
He spun sharply cutting his wing through a thick cloud bank. It didn't make any sense to him. She had been stolen from him and when he came to rescue her she turned on him. Why? Hadn't he cared for her? Hadn't he provided for all her organic needs? Why was she so dead set against him? He'd never once hurt her though he was perfectly capable and often justified. Why couldn't she accept being his pet?
He flew faster, blurring the moonlight on the ocean below into lines of light. His confusion rippled through his mainframe. The Decepticon part of him burned with fierce anger at his pet's unappreciative mannerisms and yet his "other" part demanded he retrieve her immediately.
"If she doesn't WANT your care then leave her! Ungrateful little squishy!" his Con thoughts snarled. "If she can't appreciate you then let her perish like the rest of her species! She was a pain in the afterburners anyway."
The other part calmly replied, "But you can't just leave her to die. She needs you whether she admits it or not. You need that little human."
"THAT'S A LIE!" snapped the Con rebuttal. "YOU don't NEED anyone. You've NEVER needed anyone. You can only rely on yourself!" the Con in him bitterly asserted.
His often quieter side seemed to smirk smugly, "Then why did you waste your time caring for her and reclaiming her if you don't need her?"
"Because she's MINE! She belongs to me and NO ONE steals from me!" his Con side snapped.
"Then why didn't you destroy the ship and the humans who took her?"
His Con side surprisingly had no answer. That went completely against his whole programming. Sure he didn't like to take out humans as much as the other Decepticons for the simple fact that humans were puny, weak, and, quite frankly, unworthy of much attention. But this time he had an actual motive to destroy them. And yet…he didn't. His pet's pleas had halted his natural responses.
"You DO need her, more than you want to admit." his other side continued.
The Con side of him was squirming uneasily, but kept silent. Thundercracker expelled a hot gust from his air vents, relinquishing victory to his "other" side.
Much later into the night…
Lana, shivering uncontrollably, huddled against the sand in the tiniest ball she could form with her body. The wind was so bitter. Suddenly she heard the roar of a jet engine. From the dark sky above, a pair of hot blue flames descended, parting the clouds like a curtain. The young woman sat up, feeling relief as the powerful backwash of heat from the roaring thrusters swept over her cold skin. In mere seconds the colossal form touched down on the tiny strip of sand, moon peeking from behind arched jet wings.
She looked up at the crimson optics glowing in the dark and then averted her gaze. Thundercracker tipped his helmeted head but didn't speak. A wide silence grew between them. With a groaning of mechanics, the big blue Decepticon knelt down, extended his hand out to her, and rested it on the sand, waiting.
Lana looked at him, shaking her head, "I'm not going back."
The mech frowned but said gently, "You're cold."
"So?" she mumbled bitterly.
He curled his fingers a bit, "Come on, Lana. Cold isn't good for you."
The Decepticon shook his head, "You have no resources on this island. You won't last long." he inched his black hand closer, "Come on."
"Leave me alone!" Lana quickly stood up and ran in the opposite direction.
Making an irritated growl, Thundercracker easily reached out and caught her before she could get very far.
The girl fought back, "Let GO of me!"
Ignoring her protests, the Con cupped her in both hands, warming up his metal. Though she fought hard, the redhead eventually submitted, her body enjoying the warmth. Thundercracker felt her relax in his hands.
"There we go. Nice and warm." he rumbled quietly.
With groaning, banging metal, the huge robot sat down, legs almost stretching across the entire width of the island. He hissed hot air out of his vents. They sat in silence for several minutes, Thundercracker's fingers automatically beginning to stroke her shoulder.
Lana sighed with frustration, "Why'd you come back?"
The jet Con was silent as if thinking about a proper response.
Lana gave him a critical stare, "I thought you didn't need me. I'm just a pet after all."
The Con made a mechanical rumbling sound but didn't answer.
"Why DO you need me?" Lana demanded very seriously.
In the dark the red optics directed at her but he didn't give an answer.
Lana shoved his fingers away fervidly, "I just want to know WHY you feel the need to keep me at all!" She made a sweeping gesture of his massive form, "I mean look at you! You're a giant flying jet robot with enough weaponry and power to level a city; you've got a bunch of other giant robots to hang out with, what the HELL do you need a human pet for?"
After a long silent moment Thundercracker finally looked at the starry sky, "Because…because I wanted one."
The young woman huffed, "That's not a reason! If that were the reason then you could go find another human to replace me. Why do you want ME?"
"You're a good pet." he replied quickly.
Lana dropped her head, "UGG. Stop being so vague!"
His optics roved upward, seeming to show his unwillingness to say what was on his mind. "I protect you, I feed you, I give you shelter. You…need me."
"BULL—SHIT!" Lana spat.
He sat up straighter with offense.
"You kidnap me! You cage me! You demean me! WHY the HELL do I need you?!" the redhead shouted.
Thundercracker minutely clenched his fingers, making Lana fearfully hold her breath. He ground his mouth components and growled, but then relaxed his hand again.
"WELL?" Lana demanded.
"Because no one ELSE does!" was his gruff reply.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Thundercracker fixed his red optics on her, holding her up with a roll of thunder in his voice, "Do you KNOW what happens if I go into battle and get busted up bad enough?"
Lana drew back, "No."
"I get recycled for parts." he gestured angrily, "My weapons, my thrusters, my wings, my armor…all of it gets stripped off me and reused. I don't even have to be offline for anyone to rip it off."
"I thought you said you get fixed if you get hurt." the girl refuted.
He snorted looking away bitterly, "I'm an expendable asset. As soon as I can't fight I'm scrapped. In MY faction no one cares if you come back or not. It's just one less gun on the line and one less Energon ration to distribute."
Lana blinked, totally floored by such a statement. He was a soldier, a dispensable grunt.
Thundercracker looked at her again, voice sounding uncomfortable, "After so many centuries of fighting, it was consoling for me to know someone needed me to come back—that someone wanted me to come back for reasons other than filling the ranks."
Lana blinked again. Her conscious was now beating her brains to mush. He was just…lonely. Now she finally understood what a giant alien robot wanted with a human like her. He needed to feel wanted, like someone cared. It was so clear…why hadn't she seen it before? Humans kept pets to fill a void of companionship or to give them a sense of purpose through their care. Thundercracker, though a robot, viewed her in the same way. Her protection and care gave him purpose.
The blue Decepticon frowned, lowering her back to the sand, "But…I see that you don't need me either."
He removed his hand but Lana grabbed hold of his index finger.
Thundercracker blinked, stunned by the reaction.
Lana shook her head, not believing she was admitting it but…"Look…I…I didn't mean to make you feel…unappreciated." she confessed. "You've actually done a good job of caring for me."
He gave her a disbelieving look.
"It's just…you've got to understand that humans DON'T like to be caged up."
Thundercracker's optics glanced around a moment, "Well…you don't HAVE to stay in that enclosure. I could cut some little doors out for you so you could wander around my quarters."
Lana sighed, "That would be nice but…"
"I could also take you flying whenever you wanted." his tone lilted with persuasion, "And let you run around with other humans sometimes if you promised to come back."
Lana dropped her head. Good Lord he sounded desperate. It was like letting a date down "gently" because he wasn't your type.
"Thundercracker I don't…" she started but was interrupted.
"Thundercracker," a loud humming voice called over the Con's communication line, "Report: Why haven't you returned to base?"
"Just polishing my combat maneuvers Soundwave." Thundercracker replied.
"Return to base." was the short order.
Rising to his feet, Thundercracker gently placed Lana in his cockpit.
"Hey! Wait a minute…" Lana started but he was already transforming and shooting off into the night sky. Rolling her eyes back in defeat she leaned into his seat.
He STILL didn't understand, despite all she'd said!
No, that wasn't it.
He understood…he just couldn't let go. And she understood now. He wasn't just imprisoning her for his own amusement; he was keeping her as a source of comfort to deal with the plight of being a disposable soldier. In all honesty she felt pity for the metal giant.
And yet…she couldn't help but want her own freedom back. But did she really want to go back to her old life? Her old job? Did she really have it so bad as a pet? Could she ever make Thundercracker understand her need to be free?
A/N: A shorter chapter I suppose. But something very JUICY is going to happen in the next chapter! I promise! Oh and if anyone is in the mood for a darker fic featuring Animated Starscream check out my new story "You Are Mine".
And don't forget to cast a vote for "Tinman" if you're a fan!