Never Did Run Smooth (Ch. 1)

Thing With No Talent

Pairings: Dinobot/Rattrap, mention of Terrorsaur/Waspinator and others

Summary: Shakespeare was right. Love is never easy... especially with these two.

Warnings: Oh, the usual. Drama, drama, innuendo, drama, some violence, swearing, drama, angst, drama, epic snark, abuse of the English language and probably way more sex than there needs to be. Did I mention drama?

Notes: This is going to be long and sporadically updated. Reviews are always appreciated. Other stories are on hiatus for now since this one is burning my brain.

- - - - -

Slaggin' Pred!

Rattrap pegged Dinobot squarely between the eyes with a small twinge of satisfaction. The scowling blue face did not flinch or flicker, and his satisfaction quickly ebbed. Sighing, the spy walked across the room to retrieve the dart from the target on which he'd printed Dinobot's image. He would have to make another of those soon, he noted vaguely in the back of his mind. This one was already so pocked with holes that one could hardly make out where the warrior's hooked nose had been.

Of course, noted another part of his mind, home of his seldom-acknowledged sense of personal honesty, if I'm gonna do that, I may as well put my own face on it. I'm only throwin' darts at Chopperface to distract me from kickin' myself in the tailpipe.

Next shot was half-hearted, went wide, and instead of retrieving it Rattrap plopped himself on the edge of his berth and scrubbed his face with his hands. Everything had gone wrong today. This current mess was largely of his own making -- he had no right to blame Dinobot for it. Except he didn't actually blame him, when he got right down to it. Just thinking about him made Rattrap frustrated as hell through no direct fault of Dinobot's. It had nothing to do with his former allegiance, his smell, his eating habits, or any of the million other things which they argued over regularly and which Rattrap had in truth long since gotten used to. Rather, it was the fact that he had gotten used to them, that somewhere along the line they tread he'd forgotten that the raptor was an enemy, and that everything about him which used to annoy -- his mood swings, his sharp tongue, his brooding scowl, his voice, even the carrion reek of his breath -- were now things Rattrap couldn't imagine living without. That scared him. It angered him. It made him question his sanity.

And today, he'd finally lost it.

"Rattrap," he said softly to himself, allowing self-honesty a voice just this once, "you're an idiot."

A more sullen voice from the defensive quarter of his mind popped up then. 'Course, it wasn't quite all your fault, either. There was Optimus, sendin' him on that stupid assignment with Spots in the first place. An' Mr. Polkadots himself, for walkin' into an ambush and gettin' hurt so's Dinobutt had to drag 'im home. An' don't forget the Pred, Scorpinok or Eight-eyes or whoever set off that bomb that left the command center quieter'n it's ever been...

He remembered that silence all too clearly. There was nothing from the comms, not even a hiss of static, and nothing from any of them in the command center either. They'd all stood looking like witnesses to the end of the world -- Optimus and Rhinox, and Rattrap manning the silent comm -- as the weight of incredulity and grief settled on the room like a hundred tons of rock. Optimus stricken, Rhinox stunned... Rattrap didn't know how much his own expression showed, only that his sensors had gone utterly numb and the world seemed to be receding as panic and denial began to scream in twin shrill voices from the bottom of the empty well of his Spark.

Hope tentatively reasserted itself after a few moments of the awful silence, and Primal (his voice only just breaking; how did he manage to hide it so?) put out a call to Tigatron and Airazor to search the blast site for survivors as soon as the Predacons cleared out. Their report, arriving shortly after, caused Sparks to sink once more. The area looked to have been utterly destroyed. There was no evidence that anything had survived the explosion. They had no way of knowing that the blast had missed their comrades by a rat's hair, and knocked their commlinks offline; that Dinobot and Cheetor were already on their way home, battered and shaken but very much functional. No way of knowing... until Sentinel abruptly stood down without warning, and Rhinox, activating the external vids, let out a shout that shattered the horrible silence for good.

Scarcely had they all gathered in joyous disbelief around the monitor than the entry lift -- completely overlooked in their excitement as the obvious place they should have been crowding -- rose with two welcome passengers aboard.

Both looked like scrap, naturally. Cheetor was the worse by far, his whole pelt singed and badly charred along one flank, a knee twisted out of alignment and making it impossible to walk. He was slung over Dinobot's shoulder -- the warrior had made the trek back in robot mode, and was beginning to suffer energon surges, but for all that and his battered condition he seemed unperturbed. As three heads whipped around to regard the pair, Dinobot greeted them with a weary look and a flat, "What?"

He must've found their reactions utterly baffling. Rhinox, practically skipping to the CR chambers to prep them for the new arrivals, a grin threatening to crack his head in two. Optimus's hands shaking with joy and relief as they took Cheetor from the warrior, giving Dinobot a warm smile before hugging the young cat so hard he squeaked like a squashed toy.

And Rattrap...

At first he couldn't move. He had to grip both arms of his chair and stare speechlessly at the raptor (Spots barely registered in his mind except for a passing sense of relief, a fact he tried to feel bad about later and failed), trying to make certain of reality and to accept that he was actually there, solid, alive and scowling as if the last hour or so had never happened.

When acceptance set in and he was sure of his own senses, he moved.

He wasn't thinking. Wasn't even feeling yet, really -- time enough for all that later. For now there was only himself and the big lizard and the realization that death had just missed, and might not do so again, and that he might never have another chance.

So Rattrap closed the distance between them in three running steps, sprang up to the startled warrior's chest, hooked his fingers into the large shoulder joints for purchase, and slammed his mouth into Dinobot's. The raptor's scent was ripe at this range and his fangs rasped shrilly against Rattrap's mouthparts, and the rat knew it would probably be his last act among the living, but it. Felt. Good.

Damn good.

About one-point-six seconds later, reality kicked in. He realized people were staring at him, at them, and that Dinobot had gone rigidly still. Rattrap started to pull back, but it was too late. He sensed the build of tension in the powerful frame that signaled Dinobot was about to move...

He didn't really feel his aft hit the floor, though it was hard enough to hurt later. His whole awareness was taken up with the mech now towering above him, tensed to the point that he was actually quivering, optics lividly bright, nostrils flared. The rat braced himself for attack, quite sure that his existence was about to be ended (Brutally!) or at least made a great deal more painful. He briefly envisioned his innards strung around the command center like Christmas lights, his head sitting on Dinobot's trophy shelf with its mouth open in a vain attempt at apology. Almost simultaneously, he imagined Dinobot scooping him off the floor and kissing him back hard enough to leave dents in his mouthplates. Oh, how he hated his brain.

Neither of those things happened. There was only a moment of frozen anticipation as their optics locked. Rattrap realized something was wrong, very wrong with the look Dinobot was giving him. He would've expected anger, perhaps disgust -- which would hurt, sure, but it was a disappointment he'd been prepared for since he first entertained the idle notion of locking lips with the lizard months ago.

What he was NOT prepared for was an expression on the warrior's face that looked as if Rattrap had pulled a gun and shot him. Betrayal, shock, alarm and -- was that fear?

It was, he now decided. The sight was still vivid in his mind. Dinobot had been more piss-scared than he was.

But WHY? Why, out of all the damn things Leatherhead SHOULD be afraid of and stupidly wasn't (Rattrap was sure he'd challenge Unicron himself to a duel if the dead god made an appearance in his backyard), did he choose to freak out for the most indecipherable reasons? Maximal torture chambers? Projectile seed-pods? Surprise faceplugging from a suicidal runt he could easily drop-kick through the nearest wall? He didn't know. He couldn't know, because the slagging saurian never told him anything. So in a way, it was Dinobot's fault after all. Right? Right.

Anyway, the ex-Pred had stared at him for a few nanokliks, then fled. He didn't just flee the room, either. He jumped right back on the lift and was gone before anybody could protest. The command center was suddenly silent again, and Rattrap didn't dare look around. He could feel his fellow Maximals' incredulous stares burning his back like lasers. The urge to flee had hit him too, then, and he'd picked himself up without waiting for offers of assistance and -- thankful for once that his short stature made it easy to avoid optical contact -- scurried back to his room as fast as he could.

And here he'd stayed since. He'd told off everyone who came by his door to talk, downed a cube of high-grade from his private stash even though it was the middle of the work cycle, and filled Dinobot's face with every dart in his possession at least a dozen times. And still he didn't feel the slightest bit better.

It wasn't the embarrassment; he knew that would wear off quickly. Rattrap was not a creature who shamed easily. Honestly, he didn't even give a slag what Rhinox thought, let alone the boss monkey or the kid. It was the Chopper he really didn't want to face. Cheetor had been kind enough to stop by once he got out of CR and give him an update (at least, Rattrap though, somebody had found a use for the kid's incorrigible addiction to gossip). According to Cheetor, Dinobot had returned to the base just after midnight and gone straight into the CR chamber without a word to anyone. At least he hadn't been scared out of the base for good, and that settled one of Rattrap's fears; unfortunately, that also meant that to step outside his quarters was to risk walking smack into the warrior any time he turned a corner. The rat still had no idea what to say to him if that happened.

Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll just kill me on sight. Then I won't have to worry no more.

The snide thought brought little comfort. Suicidal, he was not. Self-preservation was just too much of a habit to break.

The dart-riddled image of Dinobot glared at him now in silent mockery. Rattrap fell back on his bunk, to stare at the ceiling instead. Didn't help -- he still saw the raptor's face, the harsh red stare a judgment he couldn't avoid. The way Dinobot had looked at him wasn't going to leave his head any time soon. What made it even more awkward was that he could still feel that mouth against his own, teeth and all, and remembering it brought a thrill -- one of disbelief (Did I really DO that?) and excitement. Part of him was ridiculously, giddily happy while the rest felt uncharacteristically guilty about it.

"Damn you, you scaly-tailed paradox, you -- you conscience-stabbing jerk! Just get outta my head an' lemme go back to hatin' ya!"

There was a soft knock at the door. "Rattrap?" called Primal's voice. "You alright in there?"

The spy winced -- he'd shouted pretty loudly. His quarters were soundproofed better than most, so he could at least hope his boss hadn't made out the words. He rolled off the bunk and went over to the door, slapping his hand on the comm. "Yeah, what?"

"I was wondering if I could speak to you a minute."

Rattrap pressed his forehead to the wall. "Fearless, I told ya, if it ain't a mission--"

"This IS about a mission, Rattrap. It's important. Meet me in the command center in five, please."

Heh. Must be important all right, if he's resortin' to the "P" word. Rattrap released a long sigh before pressing the comm button again. "Fine. I'll be right out. Just you an' me?" He didn't know if he was ready to deal with anyone else just yet.

Primus bless Optimus, he barely hesitated. "That can be arranged."

This time the sigh was one of relief. "'Preciate it, boss," Rattrap said sincerely. "Gimme just a klik."

A mission. Just what I need. Anythin' to get my mind outta this stinkin' Pit I've put it in. Who knew, it might just be a stasis pod or a major energon find, something that'd distract everybody else too. Maybe he'd even get to pretend that yesterday never happened.

- - - - -

A/N: Yeah, right. Like I'm that kind. Next chapter, Mating Dance of the Predacons and just what is Dinobot thinking after all this?