Random Ratchet-ness. We love Ratchet, yes we do. :3

-/"War isn't Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chalk full of them - little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander." --Cpt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce/-


Another long night.

Another long night that served to thoroughly piss him off and remind him of how many ways he had considered taking Sunstreaker apart chip-by-chip and then rearrange his pieces as a shiny yellow toaster.

Of course, that was before he received a pleading look from the ever-changing, tricky little shit those around the Ark referred to as Sideswipe. He didn't quite understand why he liked the red warrior. Most of the time, Ratchet found the prankster under his scalpel just as often as his brother, and that just made him angry all over again. But still, he was fond in what humans might consider a fatherly sort of way of the scruffy little bastard, and that bothered him.

Sunstreaker was understandable. He threw himself headlong into trouble and liked it, but Sideswipe was just plain wreckless, and sometimes, Ratchet found himself wondering if maybe he did it just because his brother did too.

Stupid reasoning, but it was the only thing that sounded even halfway logical as to why anyone would follow a nutcase like Mr. Sunshine and Missiles straight into the pit. There was love, of course.

Ah yes, there was that. That nagging emotion Ratchet simply did not understand, nor did he understand exactly why Sideswipe could feel that way for that impossibly thick-cranialed brother of his or why he felt the yellow warrior deserved such an undying amount of loyalty.

Sideswipe was a puzzle in and of himself, and the Chief Medical Officer - he who held the keys of life and death - was still racking his circuits trying to figure him out.

Then, there were warriors like Bluestreak. Bluestreak of a thousand words in under five minutes. The gunner whose life was still a total mystery to Ratchet, and he wished it wasn't. He couldn't count the times he had been working into the small hours and gone down to the lounge for a quick shot of energon before getting back to work, only to find Bluestreak awake, sitting on a couch with his arms folded and staring at the floor looking for all the world like he wanted to disappear.

In that one moment, Ratchet felt that twinge of feeling return to him. For the most part, he had learned to bury any feelings of compassion or sympathy when dealing with the majority of the soldiers. If he grew attached, his job would be that much more difficult, but he found that working here with mechs he had grown to know was far different than being Chief Medical back on Cybertron. Back there, they were faces without names, but here, he couldn't tear away from them.

He wondered if he should say something until he realized that Bluestreak's optics were shuttered. He was, oddity of oddities, offline in restorative sleep and despite his horribly dark and depressed expression, he looked peaceful.

And that irked Ratchet for some reason.

How the hell could anyone find peace in this whole slagging fiasco? He had seen the innards of so many of these poor kids, half of them hardly even knowing why the blasted hell they were there, and still others not even entirely certain if they agreed with it.

There was also him.

Ratchet was the image of calm and poise when he worked. His head bent, hands moving with precise care. He could hear two symptoms and tell someone the problem 99.9 of the time. He was not a normal medic by any far stretch, of course. He was loud-mouthed, boisterous, and - he admitted it - sometimes very bitchy. Crotchety as a wet hen, as Ironhide would often quote the Earthan phrase. Mean, irascible, and downright nasty when his patients didn't do as they were told.

He had heard rumors that he had been compared to Sunstreaker when giving orders to those he had found in his medbay. They simply said he gave life as opposed to ending it.

There were very few Ratchet could talk to openly, for too many of them had been too open in front of him. Only Wheeljack was decent enough company, and that was because the nutcase was hardly in the field himself. He had been the one to repair Jazz's faulty vision after a nasty knock to the head on Cybertron. He had been the one to save Ironhide's life when his age had fried a crucial circuit, freezing his fuel pump. It had been he that had restored Trailbreaker's memory after the black mech had taken a nasty tumble off a cliff. Yes, he had even been the one to ensure Optimus Prime remained their vigilant leader after the semi had one leg mangled and nearly lost at least three-quarters of one arm.

There were times he would hear First Aid prompting him from behind, reminding him that he was still working, when he had to do a quick patch-job in the field. Usually one of the warriors, of course... they were always in the heat of things. Occasionally, the mini-bots got too close to the main conflict and found themselves sitting on his doorstep as well.

In all truth, Ratchet hated it. He felt horrible for these boys, all of them - yes, even the terrible twosome - good kids who had more to live for than spilling their internal systems for somebody else's war.

He had never fancied himself sociable or nice. He liked to party... that much everyone knew about him. If there was a lull in the combat and Ratchet found himself with a blessed lack of wounded, any Autobot could find him singing out-of-tune down in the lounge, totally and blissfully sloshed. He supposed that for them it was entertainment, but for him, it was a sick, sad sort of release.

Those few happy hours of total ignorance to the world around him left him with a pleasant, heady buzz that allowed him to get through at least two or three patients without wanting to rip someone to shrapnel.

That was just the way life was.

In his medbay, he was bitingly funny, and he liked to tease the men to keep them on their toes. Bluestreak often found him the most amusing, especially depending on the injuries he received. The poor boy, laying on his front side with his arms dangling loosely off the sides of the table, looked positively mortified, even as he spoke to the quietly working medic. "What if the guys ask me where I got hit?"

"Look them right in the optic and say without blinking, "I got hit in the skid,"" Ratchet responded good-naturedly, trying his damnedest to hide the amused smile that kept flicking back onto his faceplate. "And if they keep bugging you, give a turn and show 'em your scar, because believe me, until you get a full body overhaul in robot mode, you're gonna have one."

That made Bluestreak snort. "Make me laugh..."

Pausing in his work, Ratchet walked around to stare the young mech in the face, leaning to optic level with him. "Blue, we're talking about your body. It's been invaded by laser fire and there's nothing amusing about that."

"Don't I know it," the gunner grumbled.

"On the other hand, you should be proud. You have a very special wound - it's symbolic of this entire war." Here, Ratchet gave him a weak smile, although the thin humor behind it was readily visible. "This whole thing has been one giant pain in the skidplate. When they wanna hand you your medal, you can tell them where to pin it."

Of course, things only got worse when he was dragged out into the field... and it was there on the field that he was the most in his element.

A far cry from the semi-peaceful, partial silence of his medbay, what with whistles whizzing past his audios, Bluestreak firing off shots with deadly accuracy every five seconds, blares of light and sound from Jazz, Prime shouting orders, Ironhide snapping at the twins for yet another brilliant launch into the very thick of things... he almost missed being hidden away halfway inside a mountain.

Shortly, Tracks and Sunstreaker were brought his way. The Corvette and the Lamborghini were busy hurtling insults at one another, even though both of them could hardly even move a finger. What Tracks' excuse was, Ratchet couldn't fathom, but from the way Sideswipe looked, he wagered Sunstreaker's was another round of the twins' favorite battlefield tactic. Jet judo.

He winced as he heard the red warrior let out a wordless battle cry and launch himself into the air with a sudden burst from his jetpack, landing himself squarely on Thundercracker's wings, and he tried not to think of the numerous ways the Lamborghini would come spiraling back down to say hello to the ground with his face.

A sudden explosion brought Ratchet to painful reality, and without even thinking, he moved to shield his patients with his bulky form. Sunstreaker hissed angrily, trying to flinch back as he ordered, "Move your ass out of the way, Ratchet! You don't have nearly enough armoring--..."

"I don't leave my patients!" Ratchet barked hoarsely, pain rattling through his frame, interrupting Sunstreaker's rant with an angry glare. "I'm not leaving either of you two alone!"

Tracks and Sunstreaker exchanged glances, but neither could work up the energy to move as behind Ratchet, Starscream and Skywarp came down to land. Both of them were grinning, exchanging glances before they looked towards the medic. "This is rich," Skywarp snickered. "Two Autobots that can't move and a medic with about enough firepower to tickle my shinguard."

"Utterly terrifying, isn't it?" Starscream followed him, an ugly smirk resting on his face. "We should kill these weaklings and go. Unless..."

Immediately, Skywarp's grin twisted to match his fellow Seeker's. "I've always wanted to see what the innards of that yellow bastard looked like... see if he really bleeds..."

Ratchet's optics went flat as he glared at the two Seekers. The jets were much larger than him, and both of them packed away a great deal of firepower. Starscream may have been a slag-spewing bastard and more full of himself than any mech Ratchet knew, but he was lethal in his element... and this was his element. A stretch of flat land where he could take off and land with ease, sniping from the air and moving quickly about. Even the twins would be hard pressed to deal with him on this sort of terrain.

And it was here that Starscream obviously knew he had the upper hand. He stood beside his fellow Seeker, arms folded with his lip curled in a nasty sneer of a grin, everything in his posture proving that he was confident in the fact that he was every bit the great warrior he made himself out to be... and in that moment, standing on the level ground in front of a pair of injured mechs, staring up at Starscream's towering form, Ratchet did not doubt it.

Starscream looked for a moment as if he was contemplating something, brow just slightly lifted over a ruby optic. "Go ahead and kill the two warriors. But let me have some fun with their good doctor. I haven't had the pleasure of a good mauling in quite some time..."

Ratchet felt his energy converter lurch. This was a bad position to be stuck in, but...

Without even having to think about what he was doing, the medic moved to block Skywarp's path to the wounded mechs behind him. The Seeker frowned, glancing at Starscream briefly before attempting another angle. Ratchet simply moved to intercept again.

"He's out of his slagging mind," Skywarp finally snorted.

To that, Starscream passed his wingmate an obviously disappointed look. "Oh, please, Skywarp... you can't possibly be frightened of a fragging medic."

Instantly, Skywarp puffed himself up, obviously insulted by Starscream's accusation. "Excuse me? Hmph! He's a pathetic excuse for a mech, Starscream, there's no reason I should be."

"Then blast his sorry skidplate out of the way and finish those two off. I grow tired of this waiting."

Skywarp rolled his optics, but he didn't second-guess his commander's orders. Grinning wickedly, he lifted his machine gun...

Across the battlefield, Sideswipe tumbled to the ground, rolling with a wild cackle as Thundercracker slammed into a heading of trees. Bluestreak shook his head and pulled the red warrior to his feet. Sideswipe skipped back a little, then slipped his piledrivers into place, looking around for someone else to have at.

A good distance away, over terrain too bumpy for him to rocket across in his Lamborghini form, he could see the other two Seekers facing... Ratchet?! On the ground behind the medic, he could just catch the gleam of his brother's armor, and Tracks' as well.

Without even stopping to think of the consequences of his actions, Sideswipe gave one look at Bluestreak then took off at a sprint. The battle kept stopping him, and mentally, he cursed.

At this rate, he would never reach his brother and the medic in time!

At first, all he registered was pain.

Skywarp had certainly given him a runaround. One of the medic's optics was shattered and totally off-line, throwing off his depth perception. Mech fluid dripped from his mouth, and ran from cuts on his face and various other parts of his body.

If he didn't get repairs soon...

His optics narrowed dangerously, despite his blindness in the one. Getting repairs didn't matter anymore. What mattered was protecting his charges. Tracks and Sunstreaker were too badly damaged to fight... and he himself could still stand. If he could still stand...

Sunstreaker had forced himself to sit up and was glaring at the medic's back quite pointedly. "Get out of the way," he growled. "Let us take the jets."

Tracks nodded in agreement, but Ratchet would have none of it. "Not while the two of you are damaged," he hissed back. "Stay where you are."

Grumbling in annoyance, Starscream flipped open his chest panels, revealing a full arsenal of missiles ready for launch. "I'm through playing games with you, Autobot. This ends now."

Starscream had no time to launch off any missiles, as suddenly, his back and wings were assaulted by an Autobot that was bellowing out such a scream of rage that Skywarp staggered back in shock.

The steady pounding noise of a pair of thrumming piledrivers was all the clue Ratchet needed. Behind the stunned Seeker, now being pulled out of the way by a startled Skywarp, was Sideswipe, optics and faceplate as wild as a feral thing. The big red warrior swung out, looking to land a strike on Skywarp, but the Seeker was a split second quicker, taking to the air with a downed Starscream in tow.

As soon as the Seekers were out of sight, Ratchet took a moment to survey the battle scene. The Decepticons had finally been forced into a retreat, and Prime just barely managed to miss a blow at the fleeing Decepticon leader by a scrap.

His one working optic returned to the twins. Sunstreaker, however, was ordering his brother not to check on him... but on the medic. Sideswipe did not shoot back a retort, getting to his feet and walking over to gently steady the medic's swaying posture. "...You okay, Ratchet?"

Slowly, Ratchet nodded, a smile spreading across his face. "I'm fine. Your brother and Tracks... are they all right?"

"They're okay... not a single one'a Skywarp's blasts got to 'em. That was real brave, y'know... jumping in front of them like that. You've gotta have ball-bearings of chrome steel." The prankster flashed him a fox-like grin. "Can you walk back?"

Though wobbly, Ratchet gave his best attempt at looking like nothing was wrong. "Like I said, Sideswipe, I'm fine."

But that was far from the truth. Before he could even take two steps, his knees buckled beneath him, and before he knew it, he had crumpled to the ground, the shouts of the three Autobots around him fading into the distance as he shut down.

The next thing Ratchet remembered, he was waking up on a medical shelf, the sounds of bickering around him. He distinctly heard the voices of Tracks and Sunstreaker, and he felt amazingly relieved that they were alive.

He heard the sound of another voice, this one Sideswipe defending his sibling, and finally, Tracks growled and headed towards the door, grumbling and grousing rather loudly about how annoying Lamborghinis could be when they were in their rut. Sunstreaker responded with a string of angry and colorful phrases before he huffed indignantly, rearranging himself on his own medical shelf before he turned his attention to Ratchet. "You don't have to act like you're dead to the world, Ratchet. I know you're awake."

Ratchet let his optics slide online, relieved to find that the one that had been painfully shot out was working fine again. "...Astute, aren't you?"

The warrior just gave an annoyed scoff. "For once, I don't feel like gracing that with a comeback. Just with the sheer joy of knowing I get to scold you for once!" The yellow mech, laying on his back just one table away, was at eye-level with Ratchet, and the medic remembered in a million rushes of painful memory exactly why Sunstreaker uneased him so, what with those painfully ruthless optics that bore into his own. "What the hell were you thinking, letting Skywarp lay into you like that?!"

"Shut up, Sunny." Sideswipe interrupted smoothly, one hand resting so gently on his brother's shoulder that Ratchet thought he hadn't even seen the gesture. Then, the slightly smaller warrior turned his attention to the medic as well. "Ratchet, I really gotta thank you for what you did out there... you probably saved Sunny's life... and Tracks' too, for what it's worth." His gaze lowered. "But... you should've radioed for help. Me or Bluestreak or someone could've gotten over there fast enough!"

From the look in the young mech's optics, Ratchet became painfully aware that unlike his brother, Sideswipe was showing a great deal of concern for his well-being. The red mech was quietly admitting a silent respect for his superior. Ratchet knew quite well that none of the other Autobots - save perhaps Trailbreaker - were going to have the luxury of Sunstreaker's concern. His mind was totally and utterly on his twin brother, and no one was more important to Sunstreaker than that aside from himself. But a thankful look stayed guarded in the depths of Sideswipe's optics that told Ratchet he was grateful, despite how close the boxy white and red medic might have come to death, and no matter for what stupid reason.

For a moment, the medic just stared at the boy in front of him. He sometimes felt bad for what those two went through. He had little time to muse beyond that, however, as Sunstreaker's growling voice cut in, "My skidplate, Sideswipe! Tracks and I coulda handled those bastards!" He tensed... Ratchet wagered that Sunstreaker must've been hurt worse than Tracks. Either that or Tracks had won the bitching contest and gotten repaired first. "He was being a dumbass, standing in the way like that!"

"Come off it, 'Streak," Sideswipe retorted, using the nickname that Ratchet had only use him refer to his brother by when he was frustrated. "If Ratchet hadn't stepped in the way when Skywarp started peppering daisies out of his machine gun, you would've looked more like swiss cheese than a Lamborghini."

Sunstreaker's expression darkened, mouth tightening into a grim line, although he did not argue his brother's point. He just huffed, turning his head away and tactfully ignoring his twin as Sideswipe flashed another sideways grin.

Ratchet felt a little better for that, at least.

A week or so passed until First Aid had Ratchet back on his feet, and the medic was more than happy for it. He got Sunstreaker out of the medbay quick as he could, clenching his jaw to keep from screaming at the Lamborghini as he bitched and moaned for hours about the state of his bodywork.

Once the medbay was again blissfully free of Autobots, Ratchet slumped into his seat, rubbing his optics tiredly until he heard a light knock at the door. The woosh of the moving door caused him to look up to where Wheeljack stood, leaning with his arms folded there in the doorway. Ratchet grinned. "Good to see you in one piece, Wheeljack."

"Always a pleasure to see you too, Ratch," chuckled the engineer. "Feeling better?"

Ratchet shrugged. "Well as I could be." He grinned, his internal clock reading out the time to him, and chuckled. "No wonder they execute people at dawn. Who wants to live at six in the morning? Even an Autobot gets worn thin."

That brought a chuckle out of the inventor, who cocked his head to one side. Ratchet swore he saw the engineer smirk. "I have to agree with ya, there." After a moment, he regarded the medic steadily, his unseen expression turning strangely serious. "Tell me the truth, Ratchet... did you even think about what you were doing out there?"

After a moment's contemplation, Ratchet shook his head. "To tell you the truth, 'Jack, no... I didn't. Although... I thoroughly believed my life was about to pass before my optics."

At that, Wheeljack gave a chortle. "Let me know the next time that happens. I love a parade."

"Even short ones?" Both the medic and the engineer shared a good laugh at that, and Ratchet finally allowed himself to grin, glancing up at his old friend. "You know, Earth's pretty much the same story as Cybertron was: the fighting goes on, the hatred, the violence, the senseless brutality, men behaving like animals - and then there's the war..."

Wheeljack chuckled again. "An endless cycle, huh?"

The medic gave a deep sigh, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "Like one of those damned B-rated horror flicks Cliffjumper likes so much. It's the same story, and we all know how it ends every time, but it's like there's nothing we can do to stop it."

"We'll get through it, Ratch, don't worry," Wheeljack encouraged with a pat to his friend's shoulder. "After all, we're the guys who keep things runnin' around here. You just watch, Ratchet."

After a moment, Ratchet finally smiled, lifting his optics to gaze at the ceiling above. "Good. Because I have a whole lot of living yet to do."