Exercise in Foldility

A/N: Please forgive the insanity, but this is a “thank you” to all those who have read Prime’s Number.  I thank Yiggersentia for all of her suggestions. They were very funny, as you will see! This is meant to be a one-shot, so my OC isn’t appearing. Pretend she’s asleep…in a very sound-proof room…


“Hey, Hide, check this out!”

Ironhide turned in surprise, only to glare at his yellow friend who had just taken their new-found folding ability down to about ten feet tall. “Bumblebee, would you quit folding down? It’s getting irritating. We know you can fold. We all can.”

The yellow mech jutted his chin up defiantly. “I bet you can’t fold smaller than me.”

“What?”

“I said—”

Ironhide held up a hand and shook his head. “I know what you said, Runt.”

Bumblebee flared his antennae at that. He’d never liked to be called Runt. Which was why Ironhide did it.

“Well?”

He rolled his optics. “I can fold as small as I want to.”

The little mech crossed his arms. Which was not possible in his natural size. “Prove it.”

He scoffed. “I don’t have to prove myself to you.”

Ratchet came around the corner, fiddling with a small collection of fuses. “C’mon, Ironhide, show us you can fold smaller. I, for one, don’t think you can do it.”

Bumblebee was one thing, but Ratchet challenging him always had a way of urking him. “Stay out of this, Ratchet.”

The medic smiled. “What, I’m supposed to eat a marshmallow on a dare, but you can’t do a simple mathematics application?”

“It’s not that I can’t—”

“Sure. That’s why you’re talking instead of doing.” He nodded sagely and walked towards the work table against the far wall. Ironhide growled just as Sam walked in from outside.

Sam had apparently heard the tail end of the conversation. “Who’s talking instead of doing?”

Ratchet turned back from the work table. “Ironhide. He’s too…What was it? Chicken? To fold down smaller than Bumblebee.” Just like Ratchet to get that little dig in.

Sam looked curiously to his friend, now ten feet tall. “Well, how small can you fold, Bee?”

He proudly folded down to about the size of a human child. There was no way Ironhide would even want to be that little. “Wow, that’s small. I don’t think Hide can do it.”

“What? Of course I can. There’s just no need to.”

“We don’t need you to do anything that might wound your pride, Hide.” Why did Ratchet have to be in this conversation?

“Shut up, Hatchet.”

“Don’t call me that.” Ironhide delighted in aggravating the medic. Especially with the nickname he so hated. Optimus never fully explained why he hated that, but the gist of it was relative to his pre-medic days.

“Why not? You find it easy enough to insult me, why can’t you take it yourself?”

Ratchet pointed at Ironhide. “It’s not the same, I asked you not to call me that.”

He was really getting rusted about this. “Oh, little Ratchie-Watchie afwaid I’m gonna hurt his feewings?”

Ratchet growled. “Ironhide…” Was that a coiled position? Maybe he was taking this a bit too far…

Bumblebee thought so. “Hide, come on. That’s not nice. Especially in front of people who don’t know.”

Sam decided to pop into the conversation. “Don’t know what?”

“Nothing.” Bumblebee replied at the same time Ratchet interjected.

“It’s nothing.”

The little human obviously didn’t like not being informed, but let it slide. “Uh-huh.” He glanced between the three mechs.

Ironhide looked around the room. There was no way to save the situation. Better beat a retreat. “Eh, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to the practice range.”

A shadow fell across him before he could step two paces. “Nope. You’re not going anywhere.” Uh-oh.

He looked up. “Optimus!” Great. Just what had their leader heard? He sounded…what did the humans call it? Oh, yeah. Pissed.

Optimus used every foot of his height to intimidate Ironhide. “You’re going to apologize to Ratchet.”

“What! He started it!” Ironhide pointed futilely at the medic.

Optimus planted his large hands on his hip-tires. “I don’t care. You took it too far.”

Movement at the corner of his eye pulled him away from the staring contest Optimus was sure to win anyway. Did the bot never flinch? He looked between Optimus’ legs. Oh, it was just Mikaela.

“What the heck is going on? I can’t study with you guys yelling. It echoes awful in here.” Her annoyance quickly flipped to disbelief. She covered her mouth with one hand and pointed with another. “Homigod! Chibi Bee!”

“What?” Bumblebee backed up a couple of steps.

“Bee! He’s Chibi-sized!”

Bumblebee looked confused. Which was funny on so small a face. “What the heck does that mean?”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, you’ve got computers, look it up.”

Ironhide did a quick scan of the web. “Oh. Oh, HAhahahahah! Yep, Bumblebee, you look like a chibi!”

“I do not!”

“You do.” He looked around and wondered what the other bots would look like that small…. He shook his head awkwardly. Waaay too much time since his last recharge. Or interface, for that matter. Holoform interfacing just wasn’t the same thing.

Optimus broke into his thoughts. “Alright, then Hide, that’s what you have to do to apologize to Ratchet.”

“Huh?” He couldn’t possibly be suggesting…

“I heard you, earlier. You have to prove you can fold down smaller than Bumblebee.” He looked to Ratchet. “Chibi-sized.”

Oh. Well. While that was a relief, it still wasn’t fair. “Aw, Optimus…”

“Do it.”

He sighed and folded down. It really wasn’t wise to argue with Optimus when he took that tone.

Whoa. Everything looked really strange from down here. Bumblebee and Ratchet looked slightly triumphant, while Optimus looked ready to split from holding his laughter. Grrrr.

“Awwwww! Ironhide, you’re too cute! Maggie! Get in here!” Mikaela ran to the interior door but stopped short when Maggie almost ran into her.

“What’s going on? What are you yelling about?” The younger female pulled Maggie into the room. Oh scrap.

She pointed. “Look!”

“Oh. My. God. I have to get a camera. Glen will never believe this.” She runs back into the other room. Probably to her purse. Rusted folding. If he’d only kept his mouth shut.

Bumblebee apparently felt merciful. “Quick, fold up before she gets back.”

Optimus did not. “No. You two will stay that way until she gets back. I want you both to remember this.”

Bumblebee really had that confused look down. “But…why?”

“This picking at each other is getting out of hand. I want it to stop.”

“We’ll stop if you and Ratchet fold down, too.” Ironhide looked at Bumblebee in fascination. That wasn’t a bad idea.

Optimus sighed and looked to Ratchet.

“I hope you know what you’re doing, Prime.”

He bladed a hand in irritation. “Just do it, Ratchet.”

They folded. Chibi-sized.

“Haha! Oh, God, this is funny! Wait till Lennox finds out you were all Chibis.” They had all forgotten Sam was still there. Primus, they’d never live this down… “Maybe you could fold into toy cars for his little girl. Bee! You could be a Barbie Camaro!”

Perhaps some intimidation was in order. “Keep laughing, human. Next thing you’ll know, we’ll fold down into the things you use every day. You’ll never have a moment’s peace.”

Apparently size did matter when you were trying to threaten. Sam didn’t even blink. “Oh, there’s no way you guys could fold that small. You wouldn’t let your guns get any smaller than they are right now. They’re just little laser pointers, now.”

“I can still shoot a big enough hole to do damage.”

Bumblebee laughed and put his hands over his eyes. “Haha! Blindness to thine enemy! You couldn’t shoot the broadside of a barn with that little heat lamp!”

“Wanna bet, Runt?” With a loud crack, Ironhide let everyone in the room as well as a pile of tires just behind Bumblebee know that his guns were still in working order. Thank you very much.

Bumblebee dove for cover behind Ratchet. “Oh scrap, he’s still packin’!”

Maggie had ran back into the room when she heard the blast and apparently heard the last thing said. “How can you tell, he’s so small?”

Bumblebee responded. “I meant his guns!” They all looked at the melted rubber.

Sam spoke up. “I still don’t think you can fold any smaller.”

“I bet I could.” Bumblebee relaxed and stepped out from behind Ratchet.

Optimus groaned. “Bumblebee…do you have a gambling problem?” Sam splurted laughter.

“I bet I do.” Sam laughed even harder.

Optimus shook his now tiny head. “Oh, brother. Maggie, hurry up and take that picture.”

“Just a sec—Oh my God!” She apparently hadn’t noticed that Optimus and Ratchet were Chibi-sized until that moment. “All of you? This is fantastic!” She turned on her camera and clicked a picture. A little meow signaled the recording. What the— “Get closer together.” Somehow, for some reason, they complied. Another meow. “Closer…”

“Any closer and we’ll be up each other’s afts.” Maggie poked her head from around the camera. She blinked at Ironhide with interest.

“Now there’s an idea for a photo.” Crap. Bumblebee had seen her look.

“Shut up, Bumblebee.”

Ratchet on the other hand was utterly confused. “Why would she want to take a picture of us on top of each other?”

Mikaela started laughing so hard she sat on the floor. “Bwaahahah! Chibi-Autobot-Slash! Omigod, no way!” She started slapping the concrete with her hands and feet. “Oh! Oh! Omigod!”

Sam looked helplessly at his girlfriend on the floor. “What the—?”

Ratchet was still confused. “What’s slash?”

Bumblebee leaned over and whispered. “Oh. O-oh.”

He looked around. “Ew.” He looked back to Bumblebee. “How did you know what that was?”

Ironhide took offense. “Not that ew.”

Ratchet shuddered his little shoulders. “Ew enough.”

Ironhide rolled his optics. “Maybe for you.”

Bumblebee responded to Ratchet. “Maggie’s computer.”

Maggie and Ironhide both swung around at Bee. “What!”

Ratchet nodded very affirmatively. “Yeah. Pretty much. Ew for me.” Well, there went that idea…but Maggie had that on her computer? Hmm… Ironhide eyed Bumblebee.

He returned the look oddly at Ironhide. “Are you saying it’s not Ew for you?” Ratchet stepped out of the circle of small mechs about half a pace.

Ironhide glanced around the group. “Umm…can I plead the fifth?”

Maggie was ready to start laughing. He could tell from the warble in her voice. “You’re not an American citizen. You don’t have the fifth. And you guys have gotta stop messing with my laptop.”

Bumblebee seemed latched on to the subject. “Wait, you mean, after all this time…you like mechs?”

“I like femmes…too…” Why did he feel cornered all of a sudden?

An evil gleam lit into Bumblebee’s optics as he started playing some kind of odd music. “So all that time you spent training with Hotshot…”

Ironhide shook his head. “No, he’s not like that.”

The humans started laughing again.

Bumblebee smirked. “Are you sure?”

“Uh…yeah. Why are they laughing now?”

Ratchet woke from his Ew-fest and spoke up. “So you tried…”

This was getting irritating. “Not everyone is as freaked out by it as you are, Ratchet.”

Sam leaned over to Mikaela. “I can’t believe we’re standing here talking about Autobot sexuality, listening to seventies porn music.”

Ratchet whipped his little green head around. “You three don’t even need to be in this conversation, and what kind of music?”

Sam looked from Ratchet to Ironhide to Bumblebee. Mikaela and Maggie followed suit. “We’re old enough to watch ‘R’ rated movies.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” For being so smart, Ratchet sure didn’t catch on quick.

Sam responded. “It means we can handle a little conversation about sexuality.”

“Wait, Bumblebee, what kind of music is seventies porn? It’s rather irritating.”

Optimus swung his little blue head around. “Porn! Bumblebee…” It really was difficult to be threatening in this size, but Optimus pulled it off.

It didn’t phase Bee, though. He just started laughing and clicked off the music.

Ratchet shook his head. “I still don’t think the humans should be here. Prime?”

“In American culture, they’re considered old enough, but this is a little awkward to discuss in front of them, so perhaps we should just change the subject.”

Ironhide was feeling a bit like scrap metal. “Oh, Prime, not you too?”

He blinked. “Pardon?”

“I thought you were okay with…this kind of stuff.”

“I am. I just think that we don’t need to talk about it in front of anyone willing to listen.”

Mikaela crossed her arms and interjected. “And I am definitely willing to listen.”

Maggie made a downward motion with her hand. “Hush, Mikaela.”

“Well, if Bee or Hide end up wanting to seduce Sam, I want to know about it.”

Bumblebee blinked for a bit, but recovered. “No offense, but while mechs and femmes can both be fun, I don’t think I’m Sam’s type.” Ironhide’s optics flew to the young yellow mech. Oh, really?

Sam sputtered. “Well, I…uh…” He caught the glare Mikaela shot him. “You’re darn right you’re not.” Sam grabbed her waist and pulled her close. “No offense.”

Bumblebee nodded. “None taken.” He flickered a glance at Ironhide, but quickly averted back to the general group.

Maggie broke the silence. “Okay, so now that we have all that settled…are you going to fold down or up or do I put my camera away?”

There was that glance from Bee again. “I still say I can fold smaller than Hide.”

“You are smaller than me.” Hmm…

Ratchet interrupted. “But mathematically, you should be able to fold down infinitely.”

Ironhide pointed out. “Which means that as long as he folds first, he’ll always be smaller.”

Ratchet took a moment to think about it. “Well…yeah.”

Bumblebee apparently needed to have some kind of competition today. “Can you fold faster than…this?” He flipped into a yellow Yamaha Vmax.

“Aw, Cool!”

Mikaela held Sam back from his approach. “Easy, Sam, don’t pee your pants.”

He rounded on her and pointed at Bee. “You don’t think that’s cool?”

“Well, yeah.” As if to say, Of course, you bolt.

He searched the net. Oh, yeah. If she thought that was cool, “How about this?”

Mikaela’s hands flew to her mouth as soon as he finished the transformation. Faster than Bumblebee, too. He heard him curse under his breath. “You gotta get up early in the morning to beat the Hide, runt.”

Mikaela scoffed while she looked to figure out what kind of motorcycle Ironhide had folded into. “The Hide? Oh, Maggie, please tell me you’ve got pictures of these?”

“Oh, you bet I do.” Little meows were filling in as background noise.

Optimus folded up to normal size and stepped out of the room, shaking his head. Ratchet folded up and leaned back against the work table.

Bumblebee revved and turned around to face the medic. “Enjoying the show, Ratchet?”

“It is somewhat satisfying to watch two grown mechs make utter afts of themselves.”

“Ratch, why don’t you go play with a substation or something?”

“You just don’t know how to leave well enough alone, do you?”

Bee rolled forward between them. “Ratchet, just leave it for now.”

“Alright, alright. Just don’t come running to me when you get stuck.” He left, and a dawning light of appreciation lit Mikaela’s eyes.

“Oh. No way. Hide! No you didn’t. Where’d you find the schematics on that?”

It was Sam’s turn to hold the other back. “Easy Mikaela, don’t pee your pants.”

She swatted at his hand and walked towards Ironhide. “Shut up, Sam, do you know what this is?”

“Uh, yeah, it’s a really cool looking black and silver motorcycle.”

She rolled her eyes in frustration. “Gah. And you call yourself a boy. That’s a 1951 Indian Blackhawk Chief!”

He shrugged his shoulders. “And…?”

“And it’s really, really awesome! Not to mention kick-ass!”

Oh, yeah. That’s what he liked to hear. Mikaela slipped a hand over his seat as she walked by, up the gas tank, through the handlebars and over the headlight. He revved his motor enough to reverberate through the hangar.

Maggie cleared her throat. Oops.

“Why don’t you guys try folding into something smaller…like a Quisinart or something?” She gave Mikaela a ‘back-off’ look. She complied and retreated to Sam with an apologetic look at Maggie.

Sam completely missed the interchange between the females. “Oh my God, if they start folding into household appliances, I’m gonna grab the video camera.”

Mikaela slapped his shoulder. “Well, what are you waiting for? Go get it now!”

With one final look over his shoulder, Sam ran out the room to get the blasted video camera.

Maggie shook her camera, as if it needed it. “Oh, crap, my batteries are low. Miki, do you have any?”

“Yeah, I have some in my backpack.”

Maggie looked at Mikaela with a pause. “Do I want to know why you have extra batteries in your backpack?”

She kept an admirably straight face. “…probably not.”

Maggie looked long at Mikaela, then burst into giggles. Mikaela started giggling, too, and they both left the room.

He watched until they’d shut the door and then turned his headlight to Bumblebee’s. “You know, I think we’ve provided enough entertainment for these guys. I think it’s time we had some fun.” He folded back up to normal size and watched Bee follow suit.

He placed a hand on his chest in mock shock. “Oh, Hide, I’m hurt. You weren’t having fun with me?”

Ironhide rolled his optics, yet again. “Can it, runt, I mean we play a joke on them.”

“Wait. You’re instigating a practical joke? With me?”

Why was Bee so surprised? “Well, you’re not the only mech with a sense of humor.”

“Yeah, but mine is harmless and lighthearted. Yours is usually macabre and disturbing.”

Macabre? “You wanna do it or not?”

It was Bee’s turn to roll his optics. “Well, since you ask nicely…”

Scrap it. “Fine, I’ll just—”

Bee rushed forward and placed a withholding hand on his arm. “No, wait, Ironhide, I think it’s a good idea. What do you propose?”

There was that look again. Maybe the little runt might be interested…

He brushed that aside for later and looked around the garage. Ah. Perfect!

“Okay, quick, get that phone…and I’ll use this tape measure. We need two of those micro-transmitters Glen was working on for the humans.”

“Oh, Hide, I like the way you think. I think they’re over on the worktable.” They both rushed over to outfit their respective products with mikes.

Bee held up the phone. “Okay, mine’s outfitted with the mike. Now what?”

“Dial in the frequency.”

“Got it.”

“It’s set on speaker, right?”

“Yes, I’ve got it on speaker.”

“Okay. Let’s set them on the floor here, and hide.”

“Huh? Are you talking to yourself?”

“Idiot, hide!”

“You okay? I didn’t think you were the type to call yourself names…”

Ironhide raised an optic ridge in exasperation.

“Oh! Right! Uh…Where?”

“Honestly, you call yourself a scout. Let’s just go into the security room. We can watch them from the cctv.”

Bee brightened up at that. Huh. They snuck into the security room and took up post at the screen.

Bee turned to Ironhide. “Now what?”

“Call Ratchet, but sound panicked, like you’re stuck.”

“But he said not to—”

“Just do it, runt, he’ll come.”

“Okay…” Bee opened up the frequency and channeled it to feed sound to Ironhide.

/Um…Ratchet?/

/What is it, Bumblebee?/ He sounded as if he expected the call.

/I think I need your help/

/What did you do?/

/I think I’m stuck/

/Oh, Primus. What did I tell you two!/

/I know, but I’m really stuck…and I’m running out of Energon/ Ironhide gave Bumblebee a thumbs-up. That was a good addition.

He heard Ratchet mumble across the frequency. /Serves you right/

/Ratchet!/

/Alright, alright, I’m coming. How is Ironhide faring in all this?/

/I think he’s stuck, too/

/Just how small did you two get?/ He rounded the corner into the garage and looked at the spot he’d left Bumblebee and Ironhide last.

“Oh.” Ratchet walked to the center of the floor where a small yellow and black Uniden phone and a black and silver Husky tape measure sat facing each other.

Bee activated the microphone. “I told him not to do it, but then he did and I thought I could, but then we got stuck and Ratchet you gotta help us!”

Ironhide slapped Bee on his shoulder for a job well done.

Ratchet hollered, “OPTIMUS!”

He came running, priming for a loaded weapon-draw. “What! What’s going on?”

Ratchet could only point, he was so shocked.

Optimus retracted his firearm. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Just how the heck did you two get that small?”

Maggie walked in. “Are they still going at it? I had to go to the necessary. Oh holy crap!”

Mikaela followed. “I’ve got the batteries!”

“Where’s Sam?”

“What? He had to use the bathroom, too. Why?”

She pointed.

She stared, openmouthed, and handed Maggie the batteries. She put them in and took a picture.

“Um, can they talk when they’re that small?”

Ironhide triggered his mike. “What do you mean, can we talk? Of course we can talk!”

They almost couldn’t hold in their laughter in the security room. The speaker was so loud on Hide’s tape measure, it vibrated too much and fell over.

“Oh scrap. Help me!”

Sam ran in the door. “Hereiamwhadidimiss?”

Mikaela took him by the shoulders and pushed him towards the spectacle. “Oh, you just have to see for yourself. Your Camaro is now a portable phone.”

“Huh?” Sam looked. “Oh no. Oh no no no no no no no.” He ran over and did what looked like a little dance around the two little ‘autobots’. “Bee? Are you really in there?”

“Yes, Sam, I’m here.”

“Can you get out of…that?”

“I’m not sure.”

“What!”

“I think we’re both stuck.”

“Wait, this isn’t funny, Bee. I can’t ride a phone to school.”

“You’ll just have to ride your bike, Sam. Or one of the others can take you to school. I’m not sure if I can be fixed.”

Optimus narrowed his gaze. He looked around. “You two seem awfully calm about this…”

Ironhide’s voice trembled out of the little box. “Well, there’s no use in hysterics. Ratchet can fix us.”

Ratchet looked at Optimus meaningfully. “Actually, I’m not sure I can.”

“What? No. Ratch, I’ve seen you fix weirder problems. Surely you can figure out a way to help us unfold.”

“This is beyond my experience, Ironhide.”

“You really can’t fix it?”

“No. If you’re stuck, you’re stuck. I’m sorry.” Ratchet’s hand flew to his mouth, as if he were stifling laughter. He looked to Optimus.

“I guess I can always have you two become power accessories for me and Ratchet. You’re pretty much useless in those sizes.”

“Useless! Even if I were stuck in that little thing, I could still outshoot anyone in the universe!”

Optimus crowed. “Aha!”

“…oh crap.”

“Caught you!”

It was Sam’s turn to be confused again. “What?”

Ratchet explained. “These two were playing a joke on us…or trying to.”

Bee decided to come clean and leave the security room. He stepped into the garage. “And failed miserably. Hide, this wasn’t much of a joke.” Well, he might as well follow.

“It was funny at the time.”

Maggie looked from them to the little machines on the floor. “Well, how did you get your voices over there?”

Bee blinked. “The micro-transmitters Glen was working on.”

“Hmm. Well, I hope you didn’t solder them in. Glen wasn’t finished working on them and was coming over in a few minutes.”

“Oh, Scrap.”

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