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Animal Magnetism

Chapter Text

Cheetor spends a lot of time recharging, after the crash.

It’s the most obvious change, but no one really knows the cause. He does spend a lot of time running around and fighting now, and that can be tiring. Plus, the energon they’re refining themselves isn’t nearly as efficient as what they could get on Cybertron. Maybe the extra recharging is warranted.

He chooses the strangest places to do it, though. Under tables. Curled up in chairs, and on desks, and in cabinets barely large enough to fit him.

It’s when Rhinox leaves out a box that held a backup part for the ship’s engines, and then finds Cheetor asleep in it not long after, that Rattrap gets the idea. Clearly, the kid has something messing with his head, but that doesn’t mean Rattrap can’t have some fun with it.

He sets up a box of his own construction and hides. It doesn’t take long for Cheetor to stumble across it, and he looks delighted with the find. He steps inside and makes himself comfortable, even though it’s a little small for him. As soon as he’s sure Cheetor is asleep, Rattrap closes the lid.

He’s hoping for something entertaining to happen. There’s not much fun to be had when you’re marooned on a primitive planet, so you have to make do with what you have. The plan backfires, though, when it takes several megacycles for Cheetor to even wake up and realize something is off. He doesn’t even bump his head on the lid, just pushes it up and slips back out again.

Okay. New plan. Rattrap is going to see just how far this goes.

He starts leaving out smaller and smaller boxes.

It doesn’t feel much like a prank, considering how pleased Cheetor seems to be every time he finds one, but Rattrap starts to amass a pretty impressive picture collection which he’s sure will come in handy someday.

It’s entertaining enough when he does it in beast mode, but it’s even better when Cheetor is in root mode and curls up in a box that is clearly too small for him. He ends up with limbs sticking out more often than not, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

Finally, Rattrap builds a box Cheetor can’t possibly sleep in. It’s shallow, and barely big enough to fit his two feet. Rattrap leaves it out on the bridge during his monitor duty and waits.

Sure enough, Cheetor comes by. “Hey, Rattrap! Guess what I can do,” he says.

“Taxes?” Rattrap guesses.

Cheetor rolls his eyes. “No, listen,” he says, and then starts making a sound like a rumbling engine.

Rattrap stares at him. “What’s that supposed to be?” he asks. The sound wasn’t coming from his mouth.

Cheetor shrugs. “I don’t know, it just happens sometimes. Weird, right?”

“I think you should get yourself to a doctor, kid,” Rattrap says. As if they have one of those.

“I already got Rhinox to look at me. He said he couldn’t find anything wrong,” Cheetor told him. He looks down, and notices the box on the ground for the first time. His head tilts to the side, and Rattrap can practically see the gears turning. Then, he steps inside. “Anyway, I think it’s just a thing I can do now. D’you think I can learn to do it loud enough to scare the Preds?”

As if nothing had happened. Ridiculous. “Yeah, sure, kid,” Rattrap says. “I’m sure they’ll be real scared by you makin’ a weird noise.”

“I bet I could do it,” Cheetor says defensively, and doesn’t move from the box. Rattrap sighes and covertly takes a picture.

It gets worse, is the thing. Rhinox leaves a wire looped on the floor, and Cheetor chooses to stand in that. Eventually, Rattrap just draws a circle on the bridge and Cheetor refuses to leave it. He doesn’t give any explanation, even when Optimus looks at him funny.

“Why do you do that?” Rattrap demands, when he finally reaches his wit’s end.

Cheetor, currently in beast mode inside the Axalon and stretched out across some control panels, looks up with surprise. “Do what?” he asks.

“The boxes. The circles. What’s the deal?” Rattrap asks. “Why do you like bein’ in a box so much? It’s weird!”

“Oh. I dunno,” Cheetor says while stretching. Clearly, he is unconcerned. “I just like it. Why do you keep stealing energon crystals?”

“Hey. We’re talkin’ about you, not me,” Rattrap says. Besides, that’s perfectly logical behavior. “The Preds could leave out a box with spikes on the bottom and you’d jump right in. You got a problem.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Cheetor says, his tail flicking in annoyance. “Have you ever tried being in a box?”

“No. Because I’m a normal person,” Rattrap says.

“Maybe you should try it. I’ve got some, if you want one,” Cheetor says. He sits up suddenly, and looks a little more alert. “Hey, speaking of which. Wanna play Legend of Zeta?”

There is no relation between those two things aside from ‘things Cheetor has,’ and Rattrap doesn’t think he’s gotten a very good answer, but he does want to play Legend of Zeta. “I guess,” he grumbles.

Cheetor jumps up and transforms, and the two of them go to his room, which is full of boxes, many of which Rattrap himself had left out. With all this, Rattrap doesn’t even know why he would need a bed. Or, for that matter, why he even needs a room—he’s perfectly content to recharge wherever he likes around the ship. His room should be donated to someone who needs it more. Like Rattrap.

They get out their gaming devices—which had survived the crash due to being virtually indestructible—plug in the connecting wire, and get comfortable. Rattrap is much better at this game than Cheetor is, he’s not ashamed to say, but it’s nice to have help. Even if they’ve played through this one three times before simply due to lack of options. When they went out on their exploration mission, Rattrap hadn’t thought they’d be completely cut off from the new releases.

Half a megacycle in, Cheetor shifts and ends up in an uncomfortable-looking position across Rattrap’s lap and midsection. Rattrap glares at him. “You mind, kid?” he asks. He’s trying to focus, and he’s being jabbed in three different places.

“No,” Cheetor says and does not move. A beat later, he starts making that engine noise again, and for all intents and purposes seems as happy as can be.

Great.

Chapter Text

It doesn’t start immediately. Waspinator feels different after he gains his beast mode, but they all do. After the adjustment period, things mostly go back to normal. Megatron gives Waspinator and the others orders, and they follow them (or don’t, sometimes, in the case of Terrorsaur). Any unusual behavior from his teammates is easily explained by the unusual circumstances they find themselves in, and the fact that they’re stuck on a primitive planet far from Cybertron.

Waspinator doesn’t notice he’s acting any differently.

“What is wrong with you?” Terrorsaur demands one day when they’re out scouting together.

Waspinator freezes. He’s clinging to a tree trunk and gnawing on it. He has no idea how he got here. “Nothing,” Waspinator says, and spits out the pulp he’d collected in his mouth. “Nothing is wrong with Waspinator!”

They finish their patrol, and Terrorsaur gives him weird looks the entire time.

That’s nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. Anyone could be caught doing something like that. Tarantulas has already proven that some of the local vegetation and organic creatures can be ingested by them. Maybe Waspinator just wanted to see how trees taste.

The next time he’s out, he keeps the incident in mind, and is determined not to repeat it.

But… the trees look so inviting…..

So okay, he does it again. But he doesn’t eat the stuff. He takes it back to their ship, finds a place that feels right, and starts to build.

It takes a long time, and a lot of materials gathered from a lot of different places. Mostly different kinds of plant life that he takes back and breaks down, then positions just right. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, honestly. But he knows that it feels good.

It isn’t too hard to figure out, once the first part is done. It’s a hexagonal tube, and as soon as it’s finished and dry, Waspinator finds himself climbing inside it.

It’s very good inside. Yes, Waspinator likes this a lot. He takes a nap there and awakens happier than he has been since they crash landed here. He thinks this will be the end of it and he’ll be able to stop gnawing on organic materials, until his new creation is discovered a few solar cycles later.

“What is this?” Tarantulas asks, puzzled. “Where did it come from?”

Scorponok and Megatron stare at Waspinator’s pod, while Waspinator stares at the floor.

“Did it… grow?” Scorponok suggests.

“Well, whatever it is, it’s in the way,” Megatron frowns. “Yes… You three, get rid of it.”

Waspinator latches himself to Megatron’s arm before he can think to stop himself. Not the arm with a mouth on it, though. That would be terrifying. “No! Waspinator can move it,” he says.

“You did this?” Megatron growls. “You put it right on top of important equipment! What were you thinking?”

Waspinator was probably thinking that it seemed like a cool, dark place and protected from the weather, but he isn’t prepared to voice that at the moment.

His creation is destroyed, and he starts feeling the itch again. He begins the collection and construction process all over again, but he picks a less important place than the engine room to build in. This time, though, he doesn’t stop with just one. He makes another pod next to the first, and then one on top, and continues with it until the hexagonal pods are covering half of a wall in the storage bay.

It’s good. He’s done a good job, and he is proud of himself. He recharges in his compartment, and he is content.

...For a little while. Before long, it starts to feel lonely. Waspinator has all these empty spots.

Someone should be using them.

He starts with Terrorsaur. Terrorsaur is the most convenient to talk to. They go on missions a lot together, so Waspinator has more opportunity than he would with his other teammates.
They're patrolling a quiet stretch of land when Waspinator decides to take his chance.

"Waspinator has something cool to tell Terrorsaur about," he starts. He thinks this is a good strategy to start with—Terrorsaur gets bored easily, but if Waspinator does a good job describing it, maybe Terrorsaur really will think it's cool.

"Oh yeah? What's that?" Terrorsaur asks. He does sound interested (success!), but wary at the same time. Waspinator needs to press his advantage.

"Yes, Waspinator built something he thinks Terrorsaur will like." He hopes.

"Built? Like what? A weapon?" Terrorsaur asks.

"Well—"

"Hey! There's something down there!" Terrorsaur screeches, effectively swallowing what Waspinator was saying. "Let's go check it out!"

They aren't supposed to be engaging with anything during this trip, but Waspinator isn't going just ignore him and keep going. If he does, Terrorsaur might not even agree to look at his creation.

Terrorsaur swoops down into a deep valley, and Waspinator buzzes along behind him. Eventually the two of them land on a rock outcropping and survey their surroundings.

"I could have sworn I saw something down here," Terrorsaur mutters.

"Like what?" Waspinator wants to know. The sooner they get this over with the sooner they can get back to the important things.

"Shhh! I'm trying to listen," Terrorsaur hisses. It's ironic because he's louder than Waspinator pretty much constantly. But Waspinator obeys, and the two of them listen to the silence of this primitive planet's natural world.

"Waspinator doesn't think there's anything here," he says.

Terrorsaur turns to glare at him, and opens his mouth to retort.

They hear a loud rumbling sound from right behind them that causes both of them to jump and shriek.

Waspinator whirls around to find Cheetor, of all mechs, a gun leveled on Waspinator and a grin on his face. "Hey! Did you see that?" he calls to the bushes. "I told you I could scare someone with it!"

"Shut up, kid," Rattrap grumbles as he emerges from some bushes and transforms.

Terrorsaur screams again, this time in anger at the situation. It ends up being a big fight, which, of course, leads to Waspinator going back to the Darksyde in pieces. Definitely not how he'd wanted that to go.

It goes even more poorly when, after he's put back together and has had some time in the CR chamber, he pesters Terrorsaur into coming with him to see the shelters he's built and invites Terrorsaur to have one. Waspinator wants acceptance and a couple words of gratitude.

"You expect me to recharge in there?" and cruel laughter is what Waspinator gets.

Well, okay. There were other Predacons Waspinator could talk to.

And he did. Scorponok refuses to even go see what he’d made. Tarantulas seems oddly fascinated, and does inspect the inside, but he won’t agree to recharge there. He say he’s too busy for recharge, which seems unlikely. Blackarachnia levels a glare at Waspinator that halts him mid-sentence, before he can really manage to ask anything.

Silverbolt joins him for a couple nights, before he defects to the Maximals, and Waspinator is momentarily able to experience the joy of having a neighbor.

He wants that again, immensely. But he’s running out of options.

Megatron would be a hard sell. Virtually impossible. Something urges Waspinator forward, something that overrides his common sense protocols. But he does think to make some preparations

The existing pods aren’t big enough. Megatron could fit inside, but they aren’t as luxurious as a mech like Megatron would expect. Waspinator gathers more materials, and spends every bit of free time creating the new addition, the penthouse suite—it’s three times the size of the others, sitting atop them and reaching the ceiling. Waspinator sets up a nice, cozy area to recharge, and collects decorations for the rest of it.

It looks amazing, if he does say so himself. The perfect lodging for a… for a queen, as Inferno says.

He has to wait for the right moment. Megatron has to be in a good mood. That’s always hard to judge—his moods can go from jubilant to furious in microkliks. But Waspinator waits, and watches, and finds the perfect time.

“Megatron,” he speaks up in a quiet moment, after a battle that hadn’t gone too terribly and Megatron had taken some time to soak in the tub in celebration. “Waspinator wants to show Megatron something.”

Megatron looks suspicious. “What is it?” he inquires.

“Waspinator made something for Megatron,” Waspinator says, rather than explain. He doesn’t think he’ll be able to do it justice with words.

“Hmm,” is Megatron’s response. Waspinator does his best not to fidget under his leader’s scrutiny. But Waspinator is loyal. He has never done anything to make Megatron doubt his sincerity. “Very well. Show me.”

Buzzing cheerfully, Waspinator leads him out of the room. Inferno follows them, as he follows Megatron everywhere, unless he’s given a direct order to be somewhere else. So Waspinator leads the two of them down into the seldom-used storage bay and flips on the lights, revealing his creation.

Megatron looks confused. “What is this?” he demands.

“Habitation pods,” Waspinator says proudly. “Waspinator made them.”

“Yes, you did this before, didn’t you?” Megatron says, narrowing his optics at Waspinator. “I told you to tear it down and you decided to make more?”

Oh… Waspinator had forgotten about that. “Waspinator made one specially for Megatron,” he says, trying to recover some ground. “Waspinator decorated it.”

Giving in to curiosity, Megatron did stand on the tips of his pedes to peer inside. Waspinator buzzed hopefully.

“It’s tacky,” Megatron snaps, causing Waspinator to deflate. “You will tear it down immediately. This space is meant for storage, not for your little crafts.”

They aren’t crafts. This is where Waspinator has been recharging since he built it, and he has as much right to a space of his own as the rest of the crew. “But—” he tries to protest.

“No, I don’t want to hear it,” Megatron says with finality. “Inferno, make sure this is torn down and disposed of.”

“Yes, my queen!” Inferno says automatically, snapping off a salute, then rushes over to start dismantling Waspinator’s hard work.

Waspinator vents sadly. He really liked recharging in his pod, but if Megatron discovers a third attempt inside the ship, he’s sure there will be unpleasant consequences. At the very least he should go and salvage his small amount of possessions before Inferno gets to them.

As he approaches the structure, wings drooping, he realizes that Inferno hasn’t started tearing it apart yet. Instead, he’s climbed up so that he can see into the pod Waspinator had made for Megatron. After a moment of quiet contemplation, he hops down, turns to Waspinator, and puts a hand on his shoulder.

Waspinator instinctively braces himself for its impact, but since it isn’t an attack, he has no idea what to do in this situation.

“Your dedication to the royalty is admirable,” Inferno says. “We cannot predict a queen’s whims, but we must always be ready to make offerings.”

...Yes. That had been why Waspinator had done it. Absolutely.

“Waspinator is doing his best,” he lamented.

Inferno nods and pats his shoulder before returning to the task of completely destroying all of Waspinator’s hard work.

He’s sad to see it go, but… he doesn’t feel quite as bad about it as he had a moment ago. Maybe he would do what Megatron said, and construct his next home outside the ship in a safe location.

Maybe he would build only two pods, and invite Inferno to join him.