Author's Notes: The beginning of the most prominent friendship in the Metaverse; Grimlock and Bumblebee. Enjoy. "Hello!" Grimlock's audio sensors picked up the cheerful voice, and a fresh wave of frustration swept over his clouded mind. Alone time, upon a ledge on the outskirts of Iacon, clearly meant nothing to other Autobots, foolish weak Autobots that failed to comprehend his hatred of their pitiful natures. He swivelled the turret of his vehicle mode around, utilising the optic circuits within the weapon's scope to look at the intruder to his space. Urgh, of all the Autobots it could have, it was a rookie, nauseatingly yellow in colour and far too happy in demeanour, rolling around with wheels in place of feet. Judging by the small size and an expression not at all marred by war, he was young, not even an adult in terms of spark development. Clearly a new body fresh off the Iacon Spark Well. Another wave of frustration, larger than the first, at having to deal with the presence of a Pit-forsaken rookie, and Grimlock fought the urge to simply shoot the youngster. He was not in the mood to be sent to the brig over friendly fire. Again. Instead, he grunted: "Leave." The young 'Bot seemed surprised at the hostility in the tank's voice, but was not deterred, instead saying in that annoyingly cheerful voice: "I was assigned to this sector this morning! Lieutenant Jazz personally had me listed as a potential canditate for Energon exploration on his team! I think my mentor, Chief Scout Hound, told him that I was coming along well in my training, and so Lieutenant Jazz-" His voice was drilling into Grimlock's processor, leaving a wake of infuriation that was slowly collapsing his restraint. It would be so easy, you know, just to fire his cannon and blow the annoyance's chattering head off. The thought of ending the noise-maker tickled at his neural net, but as before, he forced himself to show restraint and thus settled with a snarl: "Shut up, and go away." The youngster was taken aback by the sudden snap, wheeling backwards in shock, a look of utter surprise and dissparkened pain on his face, as if he'd been struck a physical blow. The alien expression caused Grimlock to feel a slight pause in his thoughttrack; Autobots regarded him with either fear, suspicion, hatred or forced tolerance, but never had any of them seemed legitimately upset at his temper. But the scout was upset, honestly and truly upset, a childish pain that did not apply to the perspective of the war, and yet was devastating to the youngster himself; his optics were dimmed in sadness as he nervously tapped his fingers together, unsure of how to continue in face of rejection, before he finally murmured: "Sorry. I... didn't think you'd be angry. I just wanted to say hi.... sorry." He was apologising. No-one apologised to Grimlock, the monster of the labs, the abomination of science. Everyone just regarded him with dislike, saw his wish to be alone as another primitive feral trait of his. Through the cloud of annoyance and aggression, the lust for battle that perverted his thought ever since he was changed, Grimlock felt a tiny stir of some other emotion. He tried thinking back to a time before he was a beast, but his memory circuits were altered and damaged, removing any hope of knowing what that feeling had been. He shook his turret slightly. Why should he feel odd for telling the annoyance to shut up? The stupid rookie interrupted his alone time. He should have realised that Grimlock did not appreciate intruders to his alone time. Bad enough every other Autobot was an intolerable fool who never took the right amount of action against the Decepticons, but rookies had no place pestering their superiors! Shaking his turret again in conviction, he grunted: "Didn't think at all. Leave." Just like that, the scout wheeled away, sagging in rejection and sadness, shoulders slumped down, head hung low. A quick glance back at Grimlock, optics dejected, before he left. That was that. Grimlock huffed a flare of heat out of his vehicle mode's hover-systems and turned his attention back to the blackened sky, determined to forget that pained look and the sad optics. There was no use dwelling on it. The annoyance was gone, he hadn't shot him, and now he was alone again. Peace at last. ------ Or so he wished. Grimlock's mind was taunting him now, really taunting him. There was always the fire of rage, the insatiable desire to kill that tainted his every thought, barely controlled by what little amount of rational mind he had left, but now, there was the chilling feeling of wrongdoing, a sense he had done something bad, a sense that stemmed from that rational part of his mind. He didn't like it one bit. He was in his quarters now, walking in a circle, following the tip of his tail around and around. Since he'd returned here from his alone time, he'd been plagued by that odd sensation, that sense of doing something wrong, and he was sure it led back to the scout. He honestly couldn't comprehend it. An Autobot annoyed him, he told him to leave, that was all. What possible atrocity could be linked to that? It boiled his Energon, not knowing, and heat filtered from his mouth, inches away from escalating into a burst of frustrated flame. How he wanted to rip something apart, to do anything to reset his mind, however twisted it is, to the way it was before the scout. Okay, look back now, Grimlock. What might you have done to earn such a distorted sensation? There had been annoyance as that rookie yammered on and on about stupid Jazz and stupid Hound and how he was assigned to go to Jazz's unit, of course. Then he had told him to shut up and leave and- The scout had apologised. The scout had been shocked, saddened, at his hostility. Grimlock paused in his pacing, and considered. Every Autobot he knew treated him like a trap about to go off, and for good reason; his bestial fury and anger was infamous, and he'd caused more than a few injuries to other Autobots out of pent-up fury. Even when hiding his changed form in vehicle mode, everyone knew who he was and to avoid him at all costs. But the scout hadn't been suspicious or fearful or any other emotion most Autobots typically showed. He'd simply been dejected at Grimlock rejecting his company. Rejecting company. The scout was sad because Grimlock did not let him stay. This was a new one. No-one wanted to stay with Grimlock, the monster, the beserker, let alone scared little rookies. Who would ever want to keep company of the most savage Autobot alive? He wondered if somehow, some part of who he was before the scientists twisted him was behind this, forcing him to actually acknowledge this Autobot. He didn't know why that might be the case; could the rookie somehow be important to him? Did he remember him from before? Or some sense that somehow, the youngster might be the change he needed, something other than distrust and hatred. So, the scout's unique reactions were the root of the odd sensations in his mind, but what was this feeling of wrongness? More importantly, what was the cure? As much as he hated to, Grimlock knew there was only one thing he could do: Go see Ratchet. --------- "To what do I owe the pleasure?" Ratchet sneered, his voice postiviely dripping with cyber-venom. He didn't like Grimlock. He hated Grimlock, saw him as a crude monster and a Decepticon-spawned abomination. As such, Grimlock hated him as well, and had entertained many fantasies of crushing the idiot's spark between his jaws. But right now, he needed help, and thus, through a haze of dislike and contempt, Grimlock rumbled: "Grimlock need help with something." "Like what?" The medic asked coldly, turning his back on the tank to show just how little he cared for any troubles of Grimlock. Once again, he mused on simply ripping Ratchet's head off and finding out the problem himself, but that would not be productive. So, with great effort, he grunted: "Grimlock need you to help Grimlock understand why he feels..... wrong." "I have many theories on why you feel wrong, Grimlock." Ratchet replied. "All of them based on the fact you are a wrong being yourself." Grimlock snarled in anger, the cloud of red hatred spreading throug him, and he reared up, exhaling heat from his mouth as he gave a feral snarl, but suddenly, the sensation of feeling.... bad, in his mind, about that scout forced restraint upon him, forced the haze of rage to spread thin somewhat, and he took a step back, shaking his head to get his thoughts back on track, forcing himself to not kill Ratchet and instead ask: "A rookie annoyed Grimlock. Grimlock told rookie to leave. But rookie was.... sad. Upset. And Grimlock feel..... wrong. Grimlock want to know why." Ratchet paused in typing on his computer. Slowly, he turned to the tyrannosaur, skeptical wonder in his green optics. He stared at him for a moment, as if stunned by an EMP, before stating: "Grimlock. Are you feeling guilty?" Guilt. The emotion of feeling bad when one has commited a wrong-doing against another. Grimlock knew the definition, but had never felt the sensation itself. He froze slightly, comprehending this development. If he was guilty about upsetting the scout, then that would explain his rather confused and frustrated mindset regarding his encounter. The rookie had not acted like Grimlock had expected an Autobot to act around him. He had been friendly. He had been more saddened at rejection than fearful or hateful. An old memory must have reawakened in his processor, a concept regarding the defeat of guilt, because it clicked at once what must be done, and Grimlock turned, being sure to smack Ratchet with his tail, and fled the med-bay. He knew there was only one cure for guilt, and that it would take more power for him to administer this cure than fighting the entire Decepticon army. To cure his unnerved mind, he would need to apologise to the rookie. --------- Despite pessimism of never seeing the rookie again, finding the scout was easy. No sooner had Grimlock made his way into the courtyard of the base, he saw the youngster wheeling around, pretending to be shooting at attackers, giving off excited sounds of conflict as he battled his imagination. Grimlock watched him for a brief moment, confused slightly at the concept of war being used like a game, before slowly approaching. It felt odd, actually seeking out another Autobot, odd enough that it quelled his typical temper, allowing him to think more clearly than he normally could. He'd never had any need or want to spend any more time with a pacifistic fool who distrusted him than he had to. But the situation was different now; finding this Autobot, and performing the pride-destroying task of apology, was the only way to remove this awful guilt and relieve himself at last of it. The scout saw him approaching and stopped moving, looking at him with confused and rather nervous optics. Confused. Not hateful, not fearful, nervous sure, but not truly fearful. Simply confused. Grimlock shuddered at how utterly alien the expression was. Why didn't this rookie act like the others? Why didn't he just hate Grimlock like everyone else, and save him this trouble of actually feeling bad of hurting his feelings? Nevertheless, he reached the scout, easily towering over the smaller Autobot, and the two were met with an awkward silence, Grimlock pondering on what to say, how to approach this, the rookie simply waiting for him to make the first move, still in stature and with nervous puzzlement in his optics. Finally, Grimlock spoke, to try and set himself up: "Grimlock saw you this morning, at ridge." The scout nodded and replied, voice not as cheerful as before, now quiet and... apologetic: "Yep.... I, um, wanted to say hi, because you were on your own and I thought-" He suddenly went quiet, and glanced at Grimlock nervously, expecting him to tell him to shut up again. But Grimlock shook his head and grunted: "Grimlock know. Grimlock told you to leave. But that was.... not right, how Grimlock said it. So Grimlock wanted to...." He hesitated, his vocal processor suddenly glitching into silence, his pride boiling up, blocking further speech. He had never apologised to anyone before, even before the Decepticons turned him into a monster, and to be honest, he wasn't sure if he could. But the knowledge that this abominable guilt would plague him just as rage and battle-lust plagued him was unbearable, enough to overpower his pride, and he forced himself to continue: "Grimlock wanted to.... apo-apo-liiiii-giss-" Tentatively, but with a flicker of hope, the youngster spoke up: "Apologise?" He paused, mind suddenly relieved of the pressure, then replied: "Yes." Silence, and suddenly, that maddeningly happy expression lit up the scout's face so fast, Grimlock honestly backed away a step in surprise, as the rookie jumped up and down and squealed: "Thank you, thank you! I thought you were gonna hate me, 'cause I interrupted your time to yourself! But you don't hate me, and that's great! I accept your apology!" Grimlock was stunned. This was not quite how he pictured the scout's reaction; at best, simply nodding and leaving, rather than an exuberant display of happiness, as if he honestly and truly cared for Grimlock's apology, perhaps even his opinion on him. He wondered if the rookie should be the one to go see Ratchet over mental problems. The youngster stopped jumping and, toning down to an air of sombre apology, said in what he probably assumed to be a dignified tone: "And I'm sorry for annoying you. Do you want to start over? Hound says first impressions are really important, but there's also second chances and stuff!" He straightened his posture and smiled widely at the stunned tank, optics shining with cheerfulness: "My name is Bumblebee. And you?" Grimlock honestly did not know what to do. Even his legendary fire within seemed to have simmered down in complete disbelief. He couldn't quite comprehend this youngster, this Bumblebee, who actually apologised to him, actually seemed to hold a view of him other than a monster, actually seemed as if he might even want to be..... friends. Who in their right mind would want to be friends with him? Everyone hated him. And yet, somehow, his vocal processor acted: "Grimlock." Bumblebee's smile, if possible, widened: "Nice to meet you again, Grimlock! Let's be good friends!" It was official, Grimlock realised. He'd gone insane. A scout he had barely known for even a cycle inspired guilt in him, led him to apologise and now wanted to be friends. Nothing in war had prepared him for this, nothing. He wasn't sure how to respond, wasn't sure what to even think. He'd never been exposed to such a scenario before. Friends. Friends were just a weak term used by other Autobots, to further alienate him from them. Could he honestly stand, or even comprehend, this rookie as a friend? He'd always been alone since the Decepticons changed him, always hateful of the weaker Autobots and their pathetic inactions. He couldn't stand it, hated them, hated- Hated himself. Hated himself for being a monster, unacceptable by Cybertronian society. No-one could ever in their right mind wish to be a friend to him. Who would ever be friends to a monster? But now, that tiny part of rational thinking within his processor thought of something. Bumblebee didn't hate him. Bumblebee did not act like other Autobots. Wasn't that good enough to accept his offer? So, against all odds, he nodded: "Sure. Grimlock be friends with... Bumblebee." Bumblebee let out a yell of joy, as if he'd been told by Primus himself to become ruler of Cybertron, and shouted: "Awesome! I can't wait to tell Hound I made a new friend already! We're gonna be the best friends ever, Grimlock! Yay!" As he went on and on, Grimlock wondered if this new sensation he was feeling was horrified regret. But as time went on, as their friendship strengthened, Grimlock looked back on this first encounter, and decided apologising to Bumblebee had quite possibly been the smartest decision he'd ever made.