Part 2

Prowl collected the latest reports from the Command Deck and scrolled through them with a weary sigh, doorwings hanging limp and optics dim with exhaustion as he sat down in his traditional seat off to the side of Teletran's main screen. It had been a very, very long day in a series of very long days and though he wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner and pass out for a week Prowl knew that he had more pressing matters at hand. He settled into his chair and began reading, resolutely redirecting the corner of his mind that would always remain alert for the welcome blip of Twostroke's beacon. He had to focus.

He didn't even notice the Prime's approach until the massive warrior had eased himself into the adjacent chair and asked a single question. "Are you alright?"

"No." Prowl shook his head slightly, looking up from the datapads. "But then it seems that nobody is quite right in the head at the moment." He held up the reports to illustrate his point. "No less than eight attempts to leave the base unauthorized or deviate from assigned patrol routes today."
"More hunting parties?" Prime guessed.
"Yes. It appears Soundwave has earned himself the position of 'Most Hated Decepticon' for his act."
"Indeed."

There was a pause as Prime shifted his bulk to a slightly more comfortable position, the chair not really having been designed for someone of his height. "How is Bluestreak holding up?" He asked, knowing that the 2IC had been spending quite a bit of time with the younger mech in his off-duty hours.
"I am…unsure." Prowl's features twisted into a momentary expression of self-reproach at the reply, but it was gone before Optimus could confirm it. "He is extremely concerned about Twostroke's welfare. That is for certain."
"Has there been any further word from the veterinarian?"
"I have asked him to report any changes in her condition directly to me. There have been no reports in the last 12 hours, and I have not asked for an update yet. He was quite tolerant of all the calls in the first few days and I did not wish to bother him with unnecessary requests for progress reports."

Optimus nodded once. "Alright." He reached over and plucked the datapads from Prowl's grasp. "Go get some recharge Prowl. I'll take care of this."
"But Prime, I…"
"Go." Optimus repeated, a small smile crinkling the corners of his optics. "Ratchet will have my head if I let you run yourself into the ground."
"Yes sir." Prowl obediently replied, rising and making his way out of the Control Room. If invoked, the threat of the wrath of the Chief Medical Officer was not a thing to be trifled with.

Prime watched him go, feeling the ever present energies of Matrix hum with approval inside his chest. It was easy to see that the 2IC was exhausted, but even then it took an order to make him put his own needs above that of the unit. Optimus sighed and inclined his head slightly. "Primus, please do not let that bright spark of life die out. She has come to mean more to us than we realised."

0o0o0

Mirage suppressed an irritated expression as he selected the proper supplements to add to his last ration intake for the night. He had numbered among the eight attempts to leave the base during the day. In a rather stunning lapse he had allowed Red Alert to catch him in the Armory. The security officer had confiscated his rifle and missile launcher in an attempt to curb any future excursions.

Not that that would stop him for long.

But for now, the spy deigned to remain obedient until the proper opportunity arose. And when that happened, the hunt would be on.

His optics narrowed ever so slightly as he recalled the reason for his ire. Though he himself was not above occasionally stabbing someone in the back or an equally underhanded tactic when it was unavoidable, to attack a defenseless animal was a new low in the depths of cowardice.

"Good evening Mirage."

The familiar voice intruded on his dark musings. Mirage quarter-turned to greet the newcomer- a weary looking Prowl. "Good evening." He replied politely, stepping back to give the other mech access to the energon dispenser. Prowl nodded his thanks and set about making up his own drink. Mirage couldn't help but notice that the 2IC added double of everything into his mug.

"Has there been…" Mirage started, but Prowl held up one hand in a silent request for pause and knocked back a gulp of his much needed rations first. "Nothing yet, we can only assume that her condition is unchanged." Prowl informed him.
"Ah."

They stood there for a moment in more or less companionable silence, taking the occasional sip from their respective cups, when Prowl suddenly paused and touched one hand to the radio unit embedded in the side of his head. A frown marked his brow, followed by a brisk "I'll be there in a minute" to whoever it was on the other side of the line. He glanced over at Mirage and uttered a quiet "Excuse me" before slipping out.

0o0o0

The nurse was waiting at one of the open windows when Prowl pulled up at the vet's office and transformed, gingerly stepping over the carefully manicured garden before crouching at the window. "My apologies for taking so long." He said apologetically.
The nurse smiled at him. "No problem, we know you're busy." Her brow furrowed a bit. "Are you alright? You look about ready to sleep on your feet."

Prowl suppressed a rueful smile. This woman was just too good at reading people, alien robotic warriors or otherwise. "It has been a long day." He admitted.
She smiled. "Well, hopefully here's something that'll make your day a little better." She vanished for a moment then returned with a blanket wrapped bundle of black and brown tabby. "Twostroke." Prowl smiled and carefully held out one finger for the cat to sniff, which she did, starting to purr immediately.

That was when he saw the bandaged stump where her left foreleg had been. "What happened?"
"There was simply too much damage." The nurse readjusted her grip on the bundle. "We had to amputate the leg before infection could set in."

Prowl frowned at the stark reminder of the difference between robotic life and most organic life. They couldn't just replace limbs and internal systems like his kind could. It was…illogical. He shook the thought away and returned to the matter at hand. "May I have copies of the scans you took? Our scientists may be able to produce a suitable replacement limb."
"Of course." She nodded, then smiled down at the cat she cradled. "She's going to be on antibiotics for a while, but she can go home tomorrow if you like."
"Tomorrow?"
"Yup." She reached around to scratch the cat under her chin. "Is that alright?"

For the first time in a long time Prowl let a genuine smile crease his face. "It certainly will be. She has been sorely missed."
She smiled back at him, her sun-freckled nose crinkling a little. "We thought so." She chuckled. "It's not every day we have everything from sports cars to tractor-trailer trucks pulling up at our door."
"Tractor-trailer trucks? So that was what Prime was up to." Prowl neatly filed that bit of information away and stood. "Shall I return tomorrow afternoon with Twostroke's owner at 1300 hours?"
She paused for a moment then nodded. "One o'clock will be fine."
"Thankyou. Good evening."

The 2IC gingerly stood and walked back to the road, then transformed and turned for home. This was some good news indeed.