Title: Cuddler
Rating: PG13 to be safe
Universe: Beast Wars
Warnings: some insinuation, implied mech-seckz, and character bastardization
Summary: He shouldn't have been surprised. After all, the slaghead read poetry. For FUN.

Authoress's Notes: This is in honor of my father, the bad-ass, 6'8" demolition worker who cuddles my mother to the point of near suffocation every night -- or so she still complains after 25 years of marriage. I figure if he can be all lovey-dovey, so can a poetry-reading, Shakespeare-quoting raptor. Just a little fanalysis on my part.

He shouldn't have been surprised. After all, the slaghead read poetry. For fun. Still, it threw Rattrap for a complete loop.

Dinobot was a cuddler.

It started out slowly. After interfacing, the larger warrior would simply stay close, pressing himself up against Rattrap's side. Then an arm was added, wrapping itself around his small waist. After a while of this, a leg, bent at the knee and hitched up, was draped across both of Rattrap's shorter ones.

Rattrap tolerated it – Pit, he rather enjoyed it – quietly, saying nothing to Dinobot. (Wouldn't do to scare him away now, would it?) But finally, a few months into their intimate relationship, the progressively increasing cuddling was brought to a point where Rattrap simply had to speak up.

He'd just fallen into recharge when Dinobot suddenly gripped him by the chest plates, scooted him farther up the berth, and dropped him down with a soft clunk! This put his shoulder at the same level with Dinobot's head, a fact that the raptor exploited happily, transferring his helm to lay on said shoulder.

Jolted awake – and rather cranky at having been so – Rattrap muttered, "Yo Lizard Lips, what gives?"

Dinobot did not respond, save for one contented grunt.

"You couldn'a done that when I was awake?" the rat went on, poking his partner with the hand that was not trapped beneath the hulking warrior.

No answer. Either Dinobot had already fallen into recharge or he was pretending to have done so.

Rattrap opened his mouth to say something more, but then closed it, deciding to just let it be. Besides, it wasn't as though he was hurting anything.

Rhinox had first noticed it about a deca-cycle earlier. It was small, an unconscious movement, as if something unwanted were resting on Rattrap's shoulder that shouldn't be there and he was trying to shrug it off. It would happen at odd times, at uneven intervals. Rattrap himself didn't even notice it. It was simply the fact that Rhinox was Rhinox, a curious mech at spark, that it was of any importance.

His curiosity came to a head one day in the command center. Rattrap had made that little half-shrugging motion at least three times in the hour that Rhinox stood there working. Finally, as the rat reached up with his left hand to rub absently at his right shoulder, Rhinox's curiosity could stand no more.

"What's wrong with it?"

"Eh?" The spy turned from the monitors – or, rather, the game he was playing at the corner of one of said monitors he was pretending to watch – and gave the rhino a questioning look.

"Your shoulder," Rhinox clarified. "Why is it bothering you?"

Rattrap, to his surprise, immediately went on the defensive, stiffening in his seat and glaring at the larger mech as he said somewhat waspishly, "Never said it was."

Rhinox snorted. "Like I believe that." He stomped over to where his friend sat and bent over to get a look at the joint. "Let me see it."

"Ain't-cha already doin' that?" Rattrap groused, though he did not pull away as Rhinox's thick fingers began probing at the juncture.

The engineer pulled away in surprise. "Your armor is buckling! It's pinching your circuitry." Fixing his old friend with a stern glare, he demanded, "Just what did you do?"

"I beg yer pardon?" Rattrap put one hand to his chest, feigning insult. "Just what makes ya think moi has done anything?"

Rhinox crossed his arms over his burly chest. "You didn't report any damage, meaning it happened while you were doing something you shouldn't have."

"Ya ever think it just might not hurt that bad?" Rattrap countered with a half-hearted sneer. He involuntarily shrugged the injured shoulder again.

"Right," Rhinox snorted. "You, who complains solar cycle in and solar cycle out about so much as a loose bolt, don't find some pinched sensory nodes to be of any merit. I'll ask again: What. Did. You. Do."

"I ran into a doorframe," Rattrap replied smoothly, faceplates carefully schooled into a neutral expression.

"Not unless you did it a few hundred times," Rhinox retorted.

"Well, you know me," Rattrap smirked. "Very klutzy guy, I am."

"Rattrap," Rhinox seethed through clenched dentalplates, quite tired of playing the rat's little game.

"Rhinox," Rattrap mimicked, still smirking, then, as though sensing his friend's patience was running thin, added in a sincere voice, "I swear, I didn't do anything."

The emphasis not lost on him, Rhinox's faceplates twisted in confusion. "You didn't do anything. Well, then who did? And why wouldn't you repor—"

Rhinox froze. Rattrap grinned.

"Dinobot," the technician answered his own question.

"Ooh, score one for Big Green!" Rattrap cackled.

"He's been hurting you?!" Rhinox thundered.

All mirth left Rattrap's expression. "What? No!" The look Rhinox was giving him must have been disbelieving, because the spy hastened to assure him, "No, I'm tellin' ya, things're just peachy wit' me and ol' Lizard Lips… minus the occasional exchange o' words, but hey, that's just us!"

Rhinox snorted, but he forced his emotions down, telling his protection subroutines to back off. So it was an accident, then. Still, he couldn't understand why his friend would not have come to him to have it repaired. Was he embarrassed by it? And just when did --

He very nearly flushed at the thought that came to his CPU.

"Did he, erm," the rhino mumbled. "Did he… you know – get, um… a little too… enthusiastic?"

Rattrap, slag him, knew exactly what Rhinox was getting at and grinned cheekily at his friend's discomfort.

"Ya mean does he get rough when he's jackin' inna me?"

Rhinox scowled, but said, "Yes."

Rattrap shook his head. "Nah, Chopperface is all about that 'warrior's control'—" he waggled his fingers in air quotes "—even when he's in th' throes. Real shame, but hey, whatcha gonna do?"

"Mm, yes," Rhinox muttered, not particularly enjoying discussing Rattrap's interfacing life, regardless of how long they'd been friends. In hopes that it would change the subject, he quickly added, "That still doesn't tell me why your armor is dented."

"Oh, yeah. That." He shrugged his damaged shoulder again. "You wouldn't believe me if I told ya."

"Try me," Rhinox said dryly.

Rattrap looked up at him with That Grin – that slag-eating grin that meant he was up to no good. The thought that he'd said the wrong thing briefly crossed Rhinox's CPU, but by this point he was just too curious to care.

"A'ight," Rattrap said, drawing himself up to his full height – not a significant act, especially while he was sitting – and fixing Rhinox with a challenging stare. "It's been brought to light over the past few deca-cycles that Chopperface likes to snuggle, an' takes particular enjoyment outta usin' my shoulder as a pillow."

Rattrap leaned back in his seat, arms crossed over his chest, still wearing that grin, awaiting Rhinox's response. As it were, the technician was unable to give one. He was unable to do much of anything but stare for a few moments, mouth agape.

"I don't believe it," he said at last.

"Eh, I toldja you wouldn'," the rat said resignedly.

"No, I literally can't believe it," Rhinox clarified. "My logic circuits are already strained enough trying to understand your relationship as it is. I might just actually fry something if I try to comprehend this."

"Yeah, well, you asked fer it," Rattrap accused light-heartedly.

"And why didn't you notice it before?" the rhino demanded. "It couldn't have been comfortable to have his greater weight pressing on you."

"It stopped bothering me after a few days," the spy said with a shrug. Then he grinned and laughed, "Guess that's cuz my armor buckled t' accommodate the shape o' his helm!"

Rhinox, logic circuits aching, merely shook his head and sighed. "I will never understand you. Now come here, let me fix that…"

Rattrap was lying on his back in Dinobot's over-sized berth, reading a bookfile and humming to himself when the raptor himself came storming into the room, looking rather livid. Noticing the spy lounging on his berth, he froze.

"You!" he hissed, optics narrowing.

"Me," Rattrap confirmed flippantly, sitting up and setting his bookfile aside. "Though, really, Chopperface, I'd-a thought the surprise at seein' me come back voluntarily would-a worn off after the first month."

"You miserable little rodent!" the large warrior snarled, stalking forward until he was looming over Rattrap. "Why did you not tell me!"

Rattrap scrunched up his faceplates in confusion. "Uh… look, Dino-butt, until we – Matrix forbid – actually sparkbond, I ain't gonna be able to read yer CPU. So yer gonna hafta tell me what in the Pit yer talkin' about first."

With a snarl, one hand shot out and grasped Rattrap's right shoulder. "You were injured!" Then, just as quickly as it came, Dinobot retracted his hand as though burned, looking rather startled at his own actions.

"Oh. That?" The spy raised one optic ridge. "Wasn' anythin' big. Didn't even really notice it till Rhinox turned it inna some big production."

"Do not minimize it!" Dinobot growled. "It was my doing, and I apologize fully. Rest assured it will not happen again."

Rattrap felt his jaw drop. He was vaguely aware of his vocalizer producing a rather strangled noise, but his CPU was too busy rebooting from the little crash it had taken to fully process it. It wasn't until a full cycle later, Dinobot looking distinctly and uncharacteristically uneasy all the while, that Rattrap was able to properly form a coherent response.

"What?!" It came out as a bit of a shriek.

"I said," Dinobot frowned, looking a bit peeved at needing to repeat himself, "I take full accountability for the damage to your shoulder. I will not be so careless in the –"

"Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah!" the rat cried. "Just rewind and freeze, will ya? Yer sorry?! First off, since when do you apologize, an' fer somethin' as stupid as a little dent in the armor, too!"

The raptor merely scowled. Rattrap, however, prided himself on being able to read the warrior, and thus knew this particular scowl was Dinobot-ese for confusion. Calming his racing processor, Rattrap tried again.

"I mean, cummon, Lizard Lips," he said in a pacifying tone, "you didn't do much, an' I'm serious – I didn't even notice it."

Dinobot's scowl deepened. Confusion had given way to disbelief and irritation.

"And I meant what I said," he countered coolly. "Do not minimize your pain. I take the responsibility for every ounce of discomfort I caused you."

"I –" Rattrap started haltingly, then paused. There was just no reasoning with something as ridiculous as Dinobot's sense of honor. With a heavy sigh through his vents, he muttered, "Apology accepted."

Dinobot stood back, faceplates smoothing into a neutral expression. Approval. Rattrap scowled, feeling somehow that he'd lost this round of the game by conceding so easily. But he had other thoughts on his CPU.

"Great. Now, if yer done wit' all that baloney, would you get over here and 'face me senseless?" he snapped.

Dinobot smirked, but he closed the distance between them and acquiesced. It was a particularly good interface, too. Rattrap nearly forgot about their little tiff over an unwanted and unwarranted apology. He was reminded again, however, by the startling lack of weight pressing on his shoulder and legs after the fact, a comforting normality that he had come to anticipate and appreciate after each bout of interfacing. Sure, the arm around his waist remained, but it was not enough to satisfy.

"How'd you even find out?" he inquired of his lover, scowling at the ceiling.

"Hmm," Dinobot hummed, sounding distinctly grumpy now. "Rhinox ambushed me after I returned from patrol, demanding to know why you were protecting me when I had damaged you. He went into a… rather lengthy rant about what damage he in turn would inflict upon me if he had to spend another nanoklik repairing my handiwork."

Rattrap took a moment to envision that – Rhinox, playing the part of an over-protective creator, bellowing himself hoarse at the overtly dramatized damage created by his youngling's suitor. Rattrap would have chuckled if he weren't so mad at him.

"Yeah, well, did you note anywhere in his long-winded speech about damage done to my legs?" he growled, nudging at Dinobot's long legs with his own stubby ones in encouragement.

"Hn," the warrior grunted. "Good night, vermin."

Rattrap sighed in disappointment, but started his recharge subroutines nonetheless. There was just no arguing with Dinobot once his mind was made up.

It was sometime later, though, just as he was about to fall into recharge – already thought to have done so by Dinobot, no doubt – that he felt one long leg creep over his and settle comfortably across them. Smiling to himself in contentment, Rattrap drifted into recharge.