Grimlock doesn't talk about sex, baby...unless it's necessary.

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Title: Attention Paid

Warnings: Let's talk about sex, baby.

Rating: PG (for implication!)

Continuity: G1

Characters: Dinobots, Autobots, Decepticons (Megatron/Optimus)

Disclaimer: The theatre doesn't own the script or actors, nor does it make a profit from the play.

Motivation (Prompt): A requested Valentine threesome? Sure, why not. 1. "practices in self-control" ; 2. "the concept of personal space" ; 3. "sometimes size is everything"

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Everyone thought that Grimlock was too big and dumb. Or too dumb and big, depending on how much they were trying to insult him that day.

"Why don't you ever say anything?" Ratchet said, exasperated by yet another fight over the order of words.

Because the order of words was important, even if the other Autobots didn't remember that when talking to the Dinobots. They never remembered it.

"Me Grimlock say many things," he said blandly. He knew what Ratchet meant, but Ratchet didn't know what he'd really said. "Me Grimlock should not have to say many things. Me Grimlock do many things, too."

Ratchet opened his mouth, riled, but deflated as quickly as his temper rose. His optics saddened. One red hand came to rest on Grimlock's snout, and the Dinobot leader let it stay. From Wheeljack and Ratchet alone would he accept being petted like an animal, and then only because the Dinobots' two creators knew their creations down to basic coding. They knew the Dinobots weren't animals. They knew the Dinobots weren't dumb in any meaning of the word. Big, sometimes slow to speak, and definitely clumsy outside of combat - but stupid? No.

What Ratchet had really said was that the Dinobots weren't doing enough, but that was untrue. Grimlock said many things. Grimlock did more.

The Autobots just weren't paying attention.

Which is why the Dinobots got into so many fights.

"I applaud your self control," Optimus Prime said later, after Ratchet had patched up the wounded. "I understand that the Dinobots find the other Autobots…difficult, some days. However, violence begets violence. I must be fair in administering discipline as a result, or bad feelings will fester and harm us from within. Do you understand?"

Grimlock respected Optimus Prime most days, but sometimes he just wanted to beat the mech until some common sense popped out. "Do you Prime understand?" he asked in return.

Ratchet had repaired the fighters, but the medic had also spent a good while hitting Sideswipe repeatedly with his own detached arm. He'd been trying to get the concept of insulting a much larger mech being a bad idea through the daft frontliner's head. "Stop hitting yourself!" Ratchet had shouted while Sideswipe yelped and ran away.

"I'm not hitting myself!" Sideswipe had shouted back as the medical bay doors opened and Prowl walked in behind him. "Ya glitched-up waste disposal unit!"

Prowl had looked at him. He'd looked at Ratchet, who was standing there looking more insulted by the moment as that sank in. "You just hit yourself," the Autobot Second-in-Command had informed Sideswipe.

"He has my arm," Sideswipe had complained, frustrated. "That doesn't mean I'm hitting myself!"

"If you think you didn't bring this on yourself," Prowl had prudently vacated the immediate area surrounding the red Autobot, "then you aren't listening to what's coming out of your mouth."

Ratchet hadn't hit Sideswipe again, evil-eye threats or not. He'd just reattached the arm and asked Ironhide to pair the obstinate frontliner with Grimlock in the next sparring practice. Violence might beget violence, but it also made a point better than talking once the words ran out.

Grimlock had run Sideswipe around the rink until the Autobot collapsed from exhaustion. The lesson, if the watching Autobots had been paying attention, was that Grimlock was the better fighter. He'd smacked Sideswipe so many times with the flat of his sword that it should have been obvious he could cleave the smaller mech into pieces at any point. No matter how Sideswipe tried to provoke him, Grimlock had never lost control. He'd never started flailing erratically or punched too hard. He hadn't transformed and stomped the red Autobot into the floor, or even chomped on him. He'd nipped and smacked and chased until Sideswipe fell down and surrendered, then thrown him around some more until something clicked over in the mech's stubborn head.

"I'm sorry, okay?" Sideswipe yelled down at him, hanging by both hands from the wall he'd managed to scramble up. The T-Rex below him waited patiently, tail swishing and jaws just slightly parted. Ironhide was watching them worriedly. "I'm sorry I called Sludge a stupidasaurus and I'm sorry I tried to ride Slag like a bronco and – and – " creeeeeak went the wall panel his fingers were wedged between, and Sideswipe's feet scraped at the wall in a fruitless bid for a foothold, " – and I'm sorry!"

Grimlock's head cocked to one side, pinning the frantic frontliner with one cold optic. He stared for a long klik as the panel slowly gave. "Yes," he decided at last. "You Sideswipe sorry."

With that, he turned and clomped from the room. Behind him, the panel snapped and dumped Sideswipe to the floor in a pile of limbs. They twitched faintly and didn't even bother trying to get up.

Everyone thought that Grimlock was too big and dumb, but he understood more than he said – or they knew. They twisted things up in words and concepts that only covered the real issues, and they were so caught up in the past that they didn't see the now.

"Pink-bot no good for you Prime," he said after the transmission cut off, and half the control room sputtered. He blinked at the spluttering Autobots, shook his head, and looked back to Optimus. Who was staring at him like he'd transformed into a petro-rabbit suddenly. "Pink-bot too soft. Megatron better match for you Prime."

The other half of the control room began sputtering. It sounded like a cold morning at a used car lot in there.

"Megatron and Optimus are mortal enemies," Wheeljack said later, after the shouting match and laughter and bouts of angry yelling. "Optimus and Elita One have been together since the beginning of the war, and they are compatible in ways you and I can't understand." His optics had the far-away starry-eyed glaze some of the Autobots got when they spoke about Cybertron and the time before the war.

But this wasn't that time anymore, and Prime had never left the intense warfare of the battlefront. He'd stayed hard in a way that Elita One hadn't. She'd lived in secrecy on Cybertron, concealing her group and taking subtle resistance against Shockwave. She hadn't faced actual battle in four million years. Sabotage was not the same as charging into battle, shooting or grappling the Decepticons. The two Autobot leaders worked well together, but that wasn't the same as being a good match.

"Pink-bot too soft," Grimlock repeated to his creator, and Wheeljack didn't understand. The engineer idealized the past, not seeing the present as unchangeable by nostalgia. "Shockwave soft, too," the T-Rex said more thoughtfully, reflecting that the Decepticon hadn't conquered or gone into battle for four million years, either. The only leader still strong and fast enough to not stand in the Prime's shadow was Megatron. Shockwave and Megatron worked well together, as did Elita One and Optimus Prime, but what nobody else seemed to have noticed was that working well together didn't mean ending the war.

"Megatron balance him Prime," Grimlock decided again. He shrugged and added something so noticeable everyone else must have seen it: "Steel melt when they Prime and Megatron lock optics."

Wheeljack stared at him, but this wasn't the first time Grimlock had followed this train of thought. The other Autobots bogged down on the details of history. Nine million years of civil war was important, but the Autobots did nothing but snivel about how they wanted the war to end. Fine. Grimlock had sat down and thought about how to end it. Now they wouldn't listen to his solution for all the history in the way.

If the Dinobots gave a frag about history, they wouldn't have rejoined the Autobots. Despite Wheeljack's well-meaning explanations and Ratchet's kind hands, all five Dinobots clearly remembered rock dust and darkness. They'd been half-aware, but they'd been alive, and Optimus Prime had declared they be buried anyway. That was history, more recent and ruthless than Cybertron's war.

Optimus Prime wanted the war to end, but the Autobots dithered too much to do it themselves. The Dinobots liked the Decepticons better than the Autobots most days, but Megatron was far too abusive of his faction's power. In order to reach a future where these facts combined, history – of people or places – was ultimately expendable in the now. Here, now, today, Optimus balanced Megatron. The Decepticons balanced the Autobots in general, and since both factions followed their leaders, the solution seemed obvious.

Everybody would win, Grimlock decided, so long as he didn't give them the option of losing.

He went back to the Cupboard, ignoring the usual chorus of whining that accompanied him not reporting for the inane duty-shift Prowl kept trying to assign him. Prime occasionally got uneasy and asked Grimlock why the Dinobots' insisted on calling their bare cubbyhole a Cupboard, but he was apparently too idealistic to understand that the Dinobots called it how they saw it. They didn't need much, but the Autobots gave them less. Ratchet and Wheeljack just mumbled apologies that nobody had given them quarters inside the Ark.

The five Dinobots accepted their creators' excuses with impersonal, unexpectant acceptance and spent most of their time in the fossil cavern, apart from the Autobots. Here, where they'd once been stored, deactivated, they felt the most at home. Grimlock's only request/demand had been a second door to be installed inside the first.

This one locked from the inside. If the Autobots were going to keep them in a Cupboard, then the Dinobots were going to keep the Autobots out of it.

He opened the first door's heavy deadlock and banged on the second door. "Me Grimlock want in!"

"You Grimlock wake me Snarl up," Snarl said when he opened the door. It was less an accusation than a tired fact, calling it as he saw it.

Grimlock pushed him aside and headed toward Swoop's perch. The pterodactyl Dinobot had nested in the very back, almost inside the huge, dark crack in the wall that the last earthquake had opened. The smallest Dinobot liked it there. It was snug. Wheeljack's protests about possible danger from the crack were based on seismic predictions and a creator's well-meant worry. He fussed about it every time he came to visit, but his focus on geology and his precious creations missed the greatest danger entirely.

On stormy nights, puffs of dust skirled from the crack. On other nights, other things were born on the air currents. Little wings came into the Cupboard, and this too was something Grimlock understood that the Autobots wouldn't. He wasn't dumb, but about this, he chose not to speak. The other Dinobots didn't tell, either. The Dinobots had their own plans and limited loyalty, and the majority of that was exclusive to each other. Outside of their close-knit group, respect for the Prime was no more or less an emotion than any other. If the Autobots didn't pay enough attention to see what other emotions were in direct competition, well, Grimlock wasn't going to say more. It wasn't like the Dinobots were trying to hide.

Grimlock crouched at Swoop's side and grabbed one wing. The pterodactyl lit one optic and chirruped a question, but let his leader unfurl the wing. Laserbeak was more nervous when grabbed. She squawked in binary at the T-Rex, but didn't struggle. Grimlock, they were both aware, could crush a Cassetticon in one hand.

He nearly had, the first time the little flyer had squeezed through the crack and hopped hopefully toward Swoop. The comparatively massive Dinobot flyer had been startled, not stupid; Swoop had promptly nabbed the Decepticon spy in his beak and given her to Grimlock. The Dinobots had been collectively puzzled by her sudden appearance and lack of subtlety. Grimlock hadn't raised an alarm. He'd just walked outside the Ark and pitched the Decepticon into the sky like a baseball.

Two days later, and Laserbeak had returned. This time she'd brought a tinfoil flower. She'd presented it to Swoop, warbling mechanical speech that the Dinobots weren't programmed to understand. Swoop had hesitated to pick the little spy up this time, just nudging her with his beak toward Grimlock. Laserbeak had gone reluctantly, tape rustling sadly. Grimlock had taken her outside again and released her after trying, unsuccessfully, to talk with her. Admittedly, a talk made up of threats should she return, but he'd had no idea if she understood him or not.

Apparently not, as she'd returned that night with a tiny cube of high grade in an interesting shade of blue. Once again, she'd presented it to Swoop, who'd looked at the other Dinobots helplessly. Short of killing the little technimal or walling up Swoop's favorite sleeping spot, none of them had known how to make her stop 'infiltrating' the Cupboard.

The Dinobots admired stubbornness. They also saw nothing wrong with Decepticons in general, especially stubborn Decepticons. They'd let her stay. They also kept the second door closed at all times, now, and double-checked that there was no Cassetticon slipping through it when they did open it, but they let her stay. The presents were kind of cute. The intent was more questionable, but it seemed fairly clear what she wanted.

The Autobots probably would say that Swoop was being gullible. He allowed Laserbeak to gift him tiny things, silly things, serious things, and he let the spy nestle under his wing after midnight. In the early hours of morning, the Cassetticon beeped binary goodbyes and crept out through the crack again. The Autobots would see the spy and fail to see the femme for the insignia. Grimlock, however, picked up the small Cassetticon and saw possibilities. When ages-old Decepticons start taking traitorous chances for the sake of love, then there might be merit in upping the stakes.

"Me Grimlock want to talk to Soundwave," Grimlock said to the small technimal, and Laserbeak went very still. She gave him a surprisingly meek look and beeped a question. Not that any of the Dinobots understood her, but the others all turned to look at their leader holding onto the Cassetticon. "Me Grimlock," Grimlock repeated, "sick of this frag. Me Grimlock and him Soundwave talk, settle this once and for all."

He might have, Grimlock reflected three nights later, phrased that better. Not everyone was a Dinobot, after all. The other Dinobots had nodded and growled agreement, but they all knew their leader's well-worn turn of phrase. They knew precisely what frag he was talking about.

Soundwave, on the other hand, showed up for the meeting polished to a fare-thee-well and clearly ready to talk about other things. He looked tenser than meeting an Autobot powerhouse alone could account for, too. He landed before Grimlock and half-bowed, as if acknowledging a fellow – what? Parent?

…well, it was nice to know that Laserbeak's intentions were honorable. Swoop would be happy.

Too bad for Laserbeak's amorous intentions and Soundwave's host-duty to his Cassetticon, Grimlock wasn't here to talk about romance. Not theirs, anyway. "Me Grimlock need you Soundwave to kidnap Megatron," the Dinobot leader said bluntly, and the Decepticon tapedeck dang near fell over from the shock.

Two hours of discussion later, and they still hadn't talked about the Laserbeak-Swoop situation. They had talked about assault, mutiny, and sex, however, so Grimlock counted it as a successful meeting. He knew very well that the Decepticon telepath had probably rifled through his thoughts again, but in this case, it was probably for the best that Soundwave know exactly what Grimlock was talking about. Apparently, other mechs had trouble following Dinobot thought patterns without excessive amounts of explanation.

Grimlock stomped back toward the Ark feeling very put-upon. It was a heavy burden, being king.

Optimus Prime was almost as heavy. "Him Prime need to cut back on diesel," Grimlock grunted, dumping the unconscious Autobot truck down beside a similarly unconscious Megatron. "Him Prime have heavy aft only Decepticon could love," he observed, eyeing the aft in question almost distantly. Soundwave looked up from cuffing his own leader and blinked at him. "It true! Him Prime's aft nice," the Dinobot leader admitted, since it was only fair, "but only him Megatron love it."

He bent down to adjust Prime's cuffs himself. Two sets per leg and two sets per arm, attaching him to Megatron: ankle to ankle, knee to knee, elbow to elbow, and wrist to wrist. All weaponry removed, of course, and set aside in the outer room. Soundwave had volunteered this particular Decepticon outpost for its remote location, and Grimlock had agreed because the Dinobots heading out into the wilderness raised no questions. The Autobots had watched the herd of dinosaurs leave for 'training' with expressions of relief, in fact. They'd been so relieved that they probably wouldn't notice their Prime being missing for at least a couple more hours.

Those were a couple hours Grimlock would use well. Here, in this two-room outpost made of nothing but stone and metal, the war would end. It wouldn't be resolved, because resolutions required far more fanfare and politics, but endings could be small and made by the two main players deciding to end things, one way or another. Grimlock and Prime had, once upon a battle, ended the Dinobot-Autobot divide. They were still working on the resolution of the same. Now it was up to Prime and Megatron to end the Autobot-Decepticon divide and begin that resolution..

Blue and red optics began to flicker back toward the land of the conscious. Grimlock waited until they lit and steadied, then leaned over the two leaders while they were still staring in rage and horror at each other. "You Prime and Megatron being morons," he informed them. Outrage snapped toward him, and neither leader noticed that they were almost cheek-to-cheek as they glared at the Dinobot. "Decepticons and Autobots no longer fighting for original reasons. Now why fighting? No one tell me Grimlock good reason. Always tell me Grimlock old reasons, past history reasons. Not important reasons. Me Grimlock know important reasons to stop fighting. Autobots know reasons but keep fighting. Decepticons know reasons but like fighting. If you no know solution, then me Grimlock kill you Prime and Megatron and take over. Me Grimlock end stupid war."

Behind him, Soundwave shifted uncomfortably. That hadn't been something they'd discussed, but Grimlock hadn't thought it necessary. It wouldn't come to that.

"Soundwave," Megatron snarled, optics going angrily incandescent. "What is the meaning of this – "

"Me Grimlock give you Prime and Megatron one chance to end war," Grimlock interrupted the Decepticon leader. "Me Grimlock and he Soundwave leave room. You Prime and Megatron solve problem." Optimus Prime pulled on the cuffs and exchanged alarmed looks with his nemesis, whose anger seemed temporarily stalled by bafflement.

"Grimlock, I don't understand," Prime started.

Of course he didn't. Did Grimlock have to spell everything out? "Me Grimlock have one thing to say," Grimlock interrupted yet again. "You Prime listening?"

Blue optics blinked. "Ah…yes?"

"You Megatron listening?"

"I'm going to rip your fuel pump out with my – "


Dead silence.

Grimlock looked over his shoulder. "Who they Prime and Megatron thinking of?"

Soundwave dipped his chin. "Prime is thinking of Megatron. Megatron is thinking of Prime."

Satisfied, Grimlock just nodded. "Me Grimlock thought so."

Not Elita One. Not Shockwave, or even that annoying screechy jet who fluttered about Megatron constantly. Prime and Megatron; Megatron and Prime. Some things were so obvious only the people involved were oblivious to it until someone stepped in to make them see it. Now, to let them decide on the proper order of the words on their own…

He turned on a heel and left the room. Soundwave inclined his head to the silently staring duo cuffed into intimacy on the floor, then turned and followed the Dinobot leader out. Their work was done, here. The door slid shut, leaving Prime and Megatron in darkness.

The blue Cassette host joined Grimlock at the table. The Dinobot leader was reading about Cybertronian political history, already planning for the future. The Dinobots wouldn't be ignored much longer, and he had to carve out a place for them in the new peace. He figured that he had time; if the muffled thumps and groans from the other side of the closed door were anything to go by, the ending would be quick in coming but the resolution would take far more effort. Which was as it should be.

Dinobots were not Autobots, but neither were they Decepticons. Finding the right place between the factions would be complicated. Grimlock narrowed his visor at the history and rumbled to himself. Political complications were annoying. He preferred physical solutions.

"Soundwave: omitted information," Soundwave droned suddenly, and the Dinobot looked up. The Decepticon was sitting on the edge of his chair, refusing to look at Grimlock. The Dinobot could almost smell embarrassment hanging faintly around the blue mech. "Prime also thought of you."

Grimlock stared.

Prime and Megatron.

Prime and Megatron and Grimlock?

Grimlock blinked, listening to muffled cursing and crashes that might have been fighting but probably weren't.

Huh. Maybe that physical solution wasn't so far-fetched. Grimlock and Prime and Megatron, he decided, and began rearranging his plans accordingly.

"You would take the bottom position?" Soundwave asked, monotone breaking a little on surprise, and Grimlock's visor cut toward him again.

So. The telepath was reading his mind again. "Me Grimlock largest," the Dinobot said, irritated, and made sure to picture exactly why size mattered. An odd choking noise came from the Decepticon, and another thought abruptly crossed Grimlock's mind. He stood up quickly and strode toward the exit. Swoop and Laserbeak were cuddling outside somewhere.

"Query: where are you going?"

He stopped at the door and gave the blue tapedeck a weary look. Dinobots were all about actions over words, but he apparently needed to have a long conversation with a certain small technimal if Soundwave's flustered behavior was anything to go on. Was no one else even paying attention? Seriously, did he need to start drawing diagrams or something? "You Soundwave badly un-educated on facts of life," he said blandly. "Him Laserbeak dating Swoop. Me Grimlock need to give talk on safe sex."

The outpost door closed on Soundwave's garbled *WARK!* of static, and he heaved a put-upon sigh. Everyone thought that he was too big and dumb, but he was talking more and more every day. It wasn't his fault nobody wanted to listen to what he had to say.