Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own the Transformers© franchise or the characters it contains. All publicly recognizable characters are copyrighted to Hasbro, and the respective artists/writers/et cetera. No infringement intended.
Fandom: Transformers
Continuity: Transformers: Animated, set at some vague time before 'Black Friday'.
Characters: Swoop, Snarl, Grimlock, Blackarachnia
Summary: They really shouldn't get along so well. A series of one-shots revolving around the Dinobot trio and their dynamic.
Warnings: Alluded slash, general silliness
Author's Note: Because we've referred to the Dinobots as "Grimlock's Harem" one time too many. Sort of slashy, in an understated, blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of fashion. Criticism encouraged, technical points preferable.


Grimlock whuffed unhappily, his thick fingers digging little furrows in the dirt beside him. His sword lay dormant and cold across his hips, a comfortable warmth emanating from its quiescent core. He glanced askance at the cave before him, eyeing it doubtfully, and puffed up his chest for another long-suffering sigh.

It had been so fun, to wrestle and brawl with his fellow Dinobots, where 'play' and 'combat' were nearly one in the same. Affection was measured by tooth and claw, and dents told the story of their simple affinity. Peace had never lasted long; but then, there was never any true need for it to. There had never been anything to upset the balance of their world. Grimlock – naturally – led in all things, being the strongest among their trio, with Snarl consistently and eagerly providing a challenge, whilst clever Swoop in turn harried both combatants, effortlessly changing sides.

It had seemed there had never been a quiet day on their island home; roars and shrill cries rent the air through the day, startling the few creatures that co-habituated alongside the Dinobots. One could satisfy the urge to clamp down with powerful jaws, and scratch at the sun-warmed plating of one's companions, and be grappled in kind. It had always felt right, when he was with them. The proper way of things. There was never any wrongness in their contests of strength – no true hurt or hate that fouled the easy bond between them.

It was not like with the outsiders, the other 'bots. Among them, such behavior was bad, even if one did not begin with the intention to do harm. They did not appreciate the games – not the green-bot, or the scrawny bike-bot, or any of them.

How strange they were, to fear such play so, when it wasn't so very unsafe, and all wounds would heal eventually. Even Swoop was resilient enough to take the harder sport, and he readily joined in any of the frequent clashes between Grimlock and Snarl.

It had worked for them, this uncomplicated dynamic, the frequent brawls segueing into a softer kind of scuffle, which, in its own way, could be even more fun than simply scrapping it out. Their days of roughhousing progressed steadily into long nights; the three would cluster together in a contented pile – made lethargic by the lack of solar energy – to wait out the dark, until the next morning came about.

He had never thought beyond such things, had never considered the opposite end of the spectrum, where gentleness and care were required. It was so much work, to refrain from using one's full strength against one's opponent. To soften aspects of themselves to accommodate someone else. Snarl could not quite get the hang of it, and Swoop had always been more interested in the chase-and-grab aspect of such interactions, which this new and unusual tagalong to their trio seemed inclined to ignore.

But Grimlock had learned, and found this facet of their contact mesmerizing.

Though enamored in ways they did not completely comprehend (and mostly by following their leader's example), neither Swoop nor Snarl really understood what Grimlock felt. He was enthralled. Ensnared. Utterly and completely smitten.

Certainly, the others were charmed by her, intrigued by her peculiarity and endeared by their similarities in form. She – despite the way she moved, and spoke, and walked about almost always as a robot and seemed so cranky when she was compelled to take on her infinitely more attractive aspect – was not a car, or a truck, or any treacherous variation of automobile; she was like them. She was, by communal understanding, something of a Dinobot. An albeit small one, a bizarre one, but of their number nonetheless, and treated accordingly.

She did not join their nightly heap; instead, she left at the first sign of stars, clambering up glistening threads and into the darkness between leaves and sky. Grimlock would watch her go mournfully, wishing she would join them, would snuggle in somewhere near him where it was safe and comfortable and good. But she never returned to them in the night, and, sighing, he would nuzzle his snout into Snarl's ample side – even when Snarl would grumble and wiggle about like he didn't like it but he never really moved – and loop his tail around the triceratops as far as he could, Swoop nestled firmly between them.

And so the nights would pass.

When the sun rose again, she would already be gone from her perch, leaving him to shrug off his dew-enshrouded companions and pad off into the trees, her scent still tickling his nose. When he found her he would transform, sit and watch as she did whatever she wanted. If he was lucky and she was in a mood, she would climb up his back and ride on his accommodating shoulders, pointing in whatever direction she cared to go. Occasionally she would talk to him – sneering and hissing and raving about things he didn't really altogether understand, or, rarely, when her voice softened and the morning was still dark enough to bear such reflection, she would tell him of other things, past things, lost things. He would listen, silent and attentive, as she would move effortlessly between cruel and kind, draped on his arm like she had been there all his life.

He didn't really mind it. Not in the way he minded Swoop landing on him, or when Snarl was in a funk and tried to sit on him. Even when she smacked his nose, and snarled such hateful things, and he had half a mind to snap his jaws at her just for the principle of the thing, it wasn't really all that bad.

By slow measures, he partook less in the gratifying clashes between the Dinobots, leaving his fellows to themselves when they took such flights of whimsy. Even when she went away, slinking into the undergrowth, he would still not participate, even when Snarl head-butted him and he had had to fling him off the edge of the precipice for the sake of dignity. He would wait patiently in his unbalanced and awkward robot body, and watch the others tussle and raise up great clouds of dirt and grit, rolling about without a care in the world. Sometimes one or the other would call to him, urging him to join, to lend his bulk to their mêlée. Their inviting roars stirred something warm and painful-sharp in his chest; something not altogether unpleasant, despite the ache.

But he would get up, move away, and sit with his back to them, watching where she had first slipped away from him, waiting.

She did not care for their games, so neither would he.

And so he rested before Meltdown's cavern entrance, where she had slipped away to so very long ago, though it smelled so foul and he was certain there was nothing good to be found inside such a place. But she never listened to him, even when he puffed himself up to look so much more intimidating and roared right in her face.

Grimlock shifted, pawed absently at the ground, adjusted his sword so it lay more comfortably against his thigh. It was so boring, staring into the blackness of the underground, caught in his cumbersome alternate. And behind him, Snarl and Swoop were not-so-quietly passing the time, crashing into trees and rocks and making the ground shake with their play. Not that Grimlock had the slightest impulse to join in, of course.

… Though it had been so fun, when it had just been the three of them…

… And Snarl was getting so uppity.

Which was kind of a problem, because he couldn't let Snarl just get on thinking he was the leader, after all. Maybe, just a little bit, he could go sort them out, and put his companions back into their places. So long as he was only setting things to right and give Snarl a good clobbering, and she couldn't really fault him that…

Grimlock frowned, and squinted over his shoulder at the embroiled Dinobots. Snarl seemed to be winning, for the moment, putting his bulk to good use and pinning the smallest of their trio to the ground. Below his right forefoot, Swoop pecked and clawed at the hefty Dinobot, flapping his wings ineffectually against the unyielding earth. The pteranodon screeched stridently, heaving upward with all his might, though to little avail.

Grimlock got to his feet, feeling oddly stiff, like he had been resting too long and all his joints had been filled with gravel and foliage. He tottered about to face them, sword point resting against the grassy ground.

From across the narrow divide, the pair caught his motion and froze, caught midway in a grappling for supremacy. The three eyed each other suspiciously for what felt like an untowardly long stretch of seconds before, warily, Snarl thumped his thick tail against the ground, pulverizing a log to rotted, splintery pieces. Swoop squawked indignantly, back legs not quite long enough to reach Snarl's underbelly to score him in retaliation. Ignoring the shrill protest beneath him, the triceratops waggled his head back and forth in a gesture of challenge.

"Bah!" Grimlock rumbled, authoritatively thumping his chest with one hand. "You not leader."

Once more, Snarl walloped and whacked his tail against the ground until a partially unearthed tree shuddered, and fell with a tremendous crash. He lifted his snout proudly at his handiwork, all daring and spite, and gave Grimlock an unmistakable look, grunting out coarse approximation of a laugh.

Grimlock stamped a foot and transformed, swinging his immense head to and fro furiously, displaying his massive jaws to full effect. "No," he declared, tail swinging wildly, as he drew himself up for a full show of dominance, clawing up the ground with his toes. "You Snarl shut up."

The triceratops worked his jaw again in amusement, and enthusiastically let out an oscillating bellow. Thud, thud, thud, went his tail, with perfect rhythm.

Roaring, Grimlock charged to meet the challenge head on, literally. Impact sent Snarl sprawling and Swoop scrambling out of the way of Grimlock's feet, throwing himself into the air. From there, the pteranodon continued his vociferous protest of his treatment, circling just out of jumping range. Across the recently rearranged clearing, Snarl dazedly managed to get to his wobbly feet, shaking his frilled head to rid it of static-echoes.

Triumphantly, Grimlock roared to the sky, "Me Grimlock, king!" startling most of the avian population of the island off of their perches. He puffed his chest out smugly, looking back down to Snarl.

Evidently fed up with the posturing, Swoop gave off one, final screech, and dropped like a rock, striking Grimlock precisely in the back of the head. Imbalanced by the force of the blow, the top-heavy tyrannosaurus toppled forward, tiny arms scratching unsuccessfully at the air to catch his fall. He kicked out with one leg as he landed heavily, trying to roll himself on his back to meet the second dive head on, but Snarl had already plowed back into him, exposing the triceratops's own hindquarters to Swoop's raking pass. The much-aggrieved Snarl howled in surprised pain, attempting to climb over Grimlock to escape further injury.

Prevailing upon the opportunity, Grimlock hooked his teeth on Snarl's frill, yanking back. Yowling with renewed vigor, the captured Dinobot pulled away with all his might, feet unable to find purchase on Grimlock's slick belly. He was, in slow, grudging measures, heaved into a better striking range, allowing Grimlock to adjust himself for a better grasp. The tyrannosaurus levered himself carefully over – teeth still clamped tight to Snarl's frill – until he stood with a foot braced on either side of the furiously bellowing Snarl.

From on high, Swoop screeched, dropping out of the sky once more to indiscriminately claw the pair of them.

Grimlock burbled happily, swiping his tail at Swoop's kamikaze strike, his undersized arms working furiously despite the pointlessness of the gesture. He attempted to tilt his head to get a better view of the darting pteranodon, tail lashing in eager anticipation. Snarl, feeling the attention and pose shift precariously, abruptly bucked out, hitting the inside of Grimlock's knee.

Roaring with frustrated distress, Grimlock let off his hold, toppling to the side. Snarl didn't waste time, ramming his massive head into Grimlock's side, ramming him into a stand of scarred trees. The foliage shattered under impact, falling in all directions as Snarl gamely pressed on, short, powerful legs churning at top speed.

Grunting, Grimlock took the brunt of the impact stoically, adjusting himself as best he could to get his feet under him again. Once in position, he dug in with his claws, grinding Snarl's wild run to a halt. The triceratops panted with effort, pushing with all his considerable might.

"Me Grimlock say," Grimlock hissed, once more mouthing the protruding frill. "Slag-head Snarl shut up!"

With that, he twisted up and flung, sending a terribly surprised Snarl soaring through the air. Swoop, plummeting like a stone to get out of the way, narrowly missed a collision.

As the pteranodon reached the nadir of his flight path, Grimlock leaped, jaws snapping closed. Swoop shrieked, feet caught inescapably between Grimlock's massive teeth. His wings flapped with a fury, batting around Grimlock's face and obscuring his vision and generally getting in the way, but a warning growl and a little shake fixed that problem right up. Swoop made a wheezy hissing sound, clacking his jaw and holding out his wings to make himself look bigger than what he was, glaring wrathfully up at a smug Grimlock.

Cautious to not clamp down hard enough to sheer the limbs away, Grimlock trotted after Snarl, an indignant Swoop swinging from his maw.

Oh, yes, he was just going to sort them out.

He'd be back in a moment, surely. Probably.