The question came from a small, young form, his voice echoed a bit in the empty and impossibly large hall. Raphael or just 'Raph' as the boy preferred to be called by both family and his closer friends... some part of the was both amused and just a tad bit sad the only true friends were two teens far older than him and giant alien robots.
...he had such an interesting social life.
Something went clump somewhere in the semi distance and the sound echoed and re-echoed down the halls, making Raph flinch a little. The boy stayed close to the right wall, not quite confident in the semi dark that was most of the Autobot base when alone. The mechs didn't need nearly as much light as the humans did after all, so half the base, as Ratchet explained once, was kept at minimum light levels to none for power conservation.
"Bumblebee?" Raph called again, and no his voice wasn't any higher than normal. There was nothing in the Autobot base that could possibly hurt him the boy knew (other than a poorly placed foot), but there was still that part of him that was leery and maybe just a little afraid of the dark still.
The boy wondered for the first time if he should have listened to what Ratchet was saying when he left the main 'common' room. It had been something about leaving the yellow mech alone, but how could Raph? After what had happened with Megatron in Bumblebee's head and taking him over...
Raph had to go find his friend, because you were supposed to 'be there' for your family as much as your friends. That's what his mother and aunt always told him, and just recently in the last year had Raph really started to understand what his two family members meant. Funny how it took getting to know a mechanical life form so many times his size to trigger that understanding... Thus why the boy had gone off on his own to find Bumblebee.
At the moment Raph was regretting the 'on his own' part of that.
Turning a corner Raph spotted the yellow glow coming from a door ahead. Like so many things in this old base that said 'door' had long since been altered to accommodate Optimus Prime and Bulkhead's size. The child headed to the beacon in relief, confident that Bumblebee had to be there.
He was so focused on getting to the light again that Raph failed to see the large form stepping out of one of the dark passage ways behind him. Or the glowing optics that tracked his movements as the boy approached the lighted open door. But Raph opened his mouth to call out, a sound came from inside the lighted room. It halted the human in his tracks all of half a foot from the light.
What was drifting out was something between a warble and a keen, followed by the distinctive chitterling, clicking and chirping that was Cybertronian speah.
The boy hesitated before peeking around the doorway, trusting his small size not to let him be seen right away. The massive room was one that Raph had been to before actually. A great pool of sorts had been carved into the base rock for the transformers on one side, 'showers' on the far side as well as a chamber that Optimus could sit in rather comfortably while drying out. This place was one of the common places for the Autobots to be found together, and a few times Bumblebee, Raph and Miko had spent time in that pool playing as much as swimming lessons for the boy.
Arcee was leaning back on one of those 'alien robot bean bags' (as dubbed by Miko) that both she and Bumblebee favored others the hard couches the others used. Comparatively it was very soft, made out of the Autobot's flex-mental and filled with... with something that made if like a bean bag, thus the name. There were a few of the things around, mostly just one size that was a little too big for Arcee and a tad too small for Bumblebee. Neither complained about the sizes, grateful they had something that didn't push or hurt wings and spines. Now and then Cliffjumper was found sitting in one, often to annoy Arcee and/or coax her to sit with him.
Raph wasn't the only human to have a slightly broken brain when it was realized that the Autobots could and did openly flirt with each other. Granted, most of the flirting was a cretin red warrior's doing, and the slender blue femmie keeping up. Though hearing Ratchet making pleased sounds in check-ups for both Arcee and Bumblebee (let alone the 'Nice aft as always' line...) had actually put Miko into a three hour mute shock- all but putting Bulkhead and Optimus Prime in mild panic.
It was a good think that as the youngest, Raph adapted the fastest to this.
Even so, seeing Arcee and Bumblebee stretched out together, with the latter having arms wrapped around the femmie's torso, confused him to say the least. Where Arcee and Cliffjumper together…?
Bumblebee's head was on Arcee's chest, optics dimmed almost out, the yellow mech was as holding on tightly as Bumblebee was snuggling. Arcee had one hand resting on the arm over her front, while her own left arm was wrapped around the back of Bumblebee. This let Arcee reach that spot between Bumblebee's sensory panels (the door wings), and her long fingers were scratching that spot.
Bumblebee's mournful keens were slowly turning into mumbles of wordless pleaser at the attention he was getting in sensitive areas. Arcee's humming wasn't helping Raph understand what the situation was, or what was possibly going to happen. So the boy backed up, taking quiet steps and turning with eyes down and focused on his feet as he tried to make sense of that scene.
"Wrong way runt." The deep voice of Cliffjumper made Raph give a high squeak and near jump out of his shoes.
The boy looked up just in time to see the large, tree sized and clawed tipped, red fingers reaching for him. Despite the size of the metal digits, the boy was plucked up off the ground with not a bourse. Some vertigo for sure as Raph was lifted so many feet up in the air before finding himself in the cradle of Cliffjumper's left hand.
Raph looked up once he was sure his internal organs were back in place, he took on a sheepish expression as the Autobot rested the back of a claw to gently on the top of his head and then down his back. "Umm... I didn't mean to, I mean..."
Cliffjumper snorted, "You're a sparkling, you always getting into things." He said as he took the few strides into the room where Arcee and Bumblebee were in. The former arching an optic ridge and the latter letting out a chirp of greeting as well as a questioning warble, neither moving other then look over. "Got ya' something Bee."
The red mech angled his cupped hands at just the right angle for the yonger Autobot to see the boy.
"You and strays," Arcee shook her head, but smiled, and grinned at Bumblebee's next words.
"Can we keep him?" The scout asked, in Cybertronian, widening his optics pleadingly.
"You're as bad as each other, look what you did to him Cliff." But Arcee didn't really protest at Cliffjumper set a still confused Raph down beside Bumblebee's head.
The scout mumbled at the human as Raph had to reach out, grasping at Bumblebee's face mask in a failed attempt to keep his balance. He ended up sitting heavily on Arcee's armor with his side against his guardian. The boy looked around at what he could see of Arcee and then leaning more fully against Bumblebee, arms outstretched to try and hug him. The yellow mech hummed in response and shifted just slightly to nuzzle against the boy.
Raph smiled, only to jump once more at the half crash, half thud as Cliffjumper dropped down on the other side of Bumblebee. Neither scout or second in command flinched, and Raph watched as his guardian shifted back to look over his shoulder as the red colored warrior. He clicked softly and made another mumble as the other mech was settling down, stretching out his legs before Cliffjumper turned to be on his side.
Grinning down at the three, propped up on his right elbow and forearm, Cliffjumper reached out to grasp Bumblebee's own side before rubbing up and down. His dark indigo optics flashed as he grinned, watching in shared amusement with Arcee at the scout let out a pleased sound and lifted his arm to give Cliffjumper better access as much as the baffled human.
"It's okay kid." Cliffjumper said, focusing on Raph and smiling.
"It's like what you humans call a back rub." Arcee explained, her hand loosely wrapping around Raph to keep the boy from sliding too close to any moving parts.
"Do you like it Bee?" The boy asked pushing his glaces up a bit.
Bumblebee nodded, "Yes." His gaze softened as he touched a finger tip to Raph's hand, "I love spending time with family."
"Family?" Raph tilted his head, looking to Arcee and back.
"Who do you raised this big yellow bratling?" Cliffjumper laughed, giving Bumblebee's side a more energetic starching and then partly lifting him off the femmie, letting the warrior reach around to scrap his fingers along the line of Bumblebe's chest and then the muscle cores in the neck. Cliffjumper's grin was as much that strong, brash and confident fighter as normal, but there was a different edge now...
It took a second to realize it was the same look Raph's mother and Aunt got when talking about him to friends.
Bumblebee gave a buzzing, razzing sound squirming as Arcee moved back to keep the human out of the way. Raph grinned as he realized that Cliffjumper was attacking what could only be ticklish spots on Bumblebee. "Family..." He looked up, craning his head back until the boy flopped, his back to Arcee's armor and able to look up easily now at her optics, "Does that mean you're Bumblebee's mother?"
Arcee chuckled, "I guess it does, but I was never made to be a Caretaker."
"I was perfectly happy," Bumblebee gasped out once he had gotten free for a moment from the slightly bigger mech. He chirped as Cliffjumper's arms wrapped around him from behind and the two rolled away in a mock wrestling fight.
"Is is okay for me to...?" Raph started to asked, understanding now that he had stumbled into a close family moment. Like when he, his mother and aunt were cuddled up watching their nightly movie or reading.
"It's alright," Arcee assured, humming again as she shifted, rubbing the back of one finger against the boy's side. It took a moment and then Raph smiled up at the Autobot as he realized the femmie was treating him like a sparkling- one of the Cybertronians' own young again.
And then Bumblebee was back, murmuring and chirping softly before wrapping his arms around Arcee again as he settled down. Behind him, Cliffjumper was doing the same, wrapping his own arm around the other two. Scratching Bumblebee's side against before reaching around to grasp Arcee's hand, curling his larger one around hers beside the human boy Cliffjumper made a deep rumbling sound. Raph reached out to put both of his hands on the side of the red mech's, spreading his fingers over the living metal before leaning against it and looking at Blumblebee.
The scout made a lighter rumble then Cliffjumper did, but it was still a happy sound. Bumblebee warbled next as Raph came over to sit against him now, and glanced up at Arcee, "Can we keep him?"
"I'm pocket size!"
Cliffjumper burst out laughing.