A/N: There now seems to be something of a pattern emerging here…
Disclaimer: Transformers – Takara and Hasbro. Nowt – me. I also don't own the fabulous book that's quoted at the end. Sadly.
Key: italics denote telepathy.
He didn't know what was wrong with him.
He'd felt fine yesterday, he'd been playing battle tag with the twins and Skywarp most of the day, then he'd gone into Medical to get his antivirus patches with the rest of the Cassettes, and then he'd fallen into recharge on Soundwave's shoulder…
Now he felt as if Devastator and Menasor were holding a stamping contest inside his cranial unit.
'Open wide and say ah.'
Ratbat miserably complied and tried not to gag as Hook pinned his glossa down with a spatula and directed a torch towards the back of his throat.
The medic sighed and removed the spatula. 'Close enough.'
The little bat coughed, whimpered and burrowed into Soundwave's chest with a sickly chitter. Soundwave wrapped a protective arm around his youngest charge and glanced at Hook, now busy tapping something into his computer.
'Same as the last time. The antivirus patch is interfering with his diagnostic system. Fairly minor problem, but not much fun for him.'
Hook gently tilted Ratbat's head left, right, up, and down. 'I'm installing a reformatted software patch and upgrade in his core system which should be fully functional within twelve hours. Until then…'
Ratbat shivered, looked up at his creator with watery red optics and instantly reverted to sparkling-mode.
Ratbat not feel good. Ratbat want snuggles.
Soundwave looked down at the mechanoid rodent and stifled a resigned groan.
He knew exactly what the next twelve hours had in store for him.
Rumble and Frenzy looked up from the Sega as Soundwave strode into the room, Ratbat still cuddled in his arms and whimpering pathetically as the Communications officer settled him onto his bunk.
The red Cassette was the first to hit the pause button and wander over to the recharge berth.
'Hey boss. What's up with Squeaky?'
Soundwave ignored the new nickname for the youngest Cassette and set about gathering the necessary supplies.
'The antivirus patch has disrupted his systems. An identical situation to the previous patch installation.'
Rumble grimaced and shot a sympathetic look at his rodent sibling.
'Eeesh. Sucks to be Ratbat.'
Frenzy was slightly quicker on the uptake. 'So this means…?'
The twins simultaneously groaned.
Ratbat sneezed and sniffled. Ratbat feel sicky.
Frenzy sighed and shuffled towards the door.
'One energon lolly comin' up.'
Rumble dove under the berth and started rooting around in the storage crates.
'…In here somewh—ACK…aw, c'mon…oooh, spare box of goodies…awwwww, ewww...OK, I know it's here somewhere…HA!'
The blue Cassette emerged triumphant, one hand clutching a decomposing vulture, the other holding a battered, oil and energon-goodie stained, chain mail blanket.
'You reckon there's any way we can stop Ravage hidin' his toys under the bed?'
Within Soundwave's tape deck, said feline opened one optic and growled at Rumble through the plastic and metal partition.
No way exists for you to do that and still keep all your limbs.
'Hey, I'm just sayin', you wanna play with the stupid squishy things, maybe do it outside?'
Sadly I have had previous experience in playing with the 'stupid squishy things' outside. You and Frenzy complained I was digging my teeth into your heads too hard.
Nothing mattered now to the increasingly queasy Ratbat except for one critical object…
He opened his mouth and started to wail.
Ratbat want Bo-bo! Rumble, give me Bo-bo!
Back on Cybertron several million years previously, the little bat had been activated prematurely after complications had arisen with his spark, necessitating full vital support and constant high temperature to stabilise his life-force. Whenever he was given the opportunity, Soundwave had wrapped the sparkling in the blanket for comfort and warmth, and carried him around the medical bay with the other Cassettes huddled inside his chest, and thus as close to their delicate sibling as possible. Ratbat from that time had been almost symbiotically attached to the knackered blanket, now christened Bo-bo, whenever he was ill in the smallest way.
Like right now.
With startling speed for one so poorly, Ratbat darted over to Rumble and burrowed like a turbofox under the blanket, clutching one corner in a tiny paw and sucking one of his claws.
Soundwave quickly retrieved the little bundle of bat and Bo-bo and placed him next to the head-rest at the top of the bunk, carefully tucking the corners around the yellow and purple Cassette.
'Do you require any further form of aid?'
Can Ravage stay here?
The mechanoid feline emerged from Soundwave's chest compartment within the space of a spark-beat.
I am commanded and thus I appear.
He settled down next to his rodent sibling with a purr and rested his head on his paws. Rumble glared at the scene and narrowed his optics.
'So how come you tell us where to shove it when we ask you to do somethin', but one peep outta Squeaky gets 'im the cute'n'cuddly treatment?'
Ravage sent the blue Cassette a deadpan look.
He asks nicely.
'So do we.'
His activities generally don't involve a dressing down in front of Starscream and Megatron, or a visit to Hook afterwards.
Rumble waved his hand dismissively. 'A detail.'
Soundwave rolled his optics and gazed back down at his youngest charge.
'Are there any additional requests?'
When does Laserbeak come back?
Ah. Slightly trickier, considering the red condor and her twin had both been sent on a recon mission earlier that morning and had yet to report in. But there was no use in telling Ratbat that little gem of information.
'Laserbeak and Buzzsaw will return as soon as their mission is complete. I will inform her personally of your condition.'
Ratbat nodded miserably and closed his optics, tightening his grip on his Bo-bo.
With only the Cassettes surrounding him, Soundwave risked a small demonstration of concern. He gently stroked one giant finger down Ratbat's nose and carefully rubbed the underside of his chin.
'Be at peace. I must attend to my duties; however Rumble, Frenzy and Ravage will attend you.'
All three healthy Cassettes looked up in sheer dismay.
Anything but bat-sitting.
The feline sighed.
Ratbat buried into his sibling's side with a chirrup of contentment. Ravage offered a purr in response and tucked a paw round the little bat as he made himself comfortable.
Want energon lolly.
'You already had two.'
But they taste so nice…
The red Cassette sighed, paused his game and trudged out of the room towards the energon dispensers.
Want drink of lubricant.
'You sure that's a good idea if you ain't feelin' too perky?'
The little bat's lower lip wobbled tremulously. Rumble's optics widened in panic.
'Hey, hey, s'ok lil' guy, big bro Rumble's on the case.'
The blue Cassette quickly filled a flask with lubricant and placed it in front of his tightly curled sibling.
Can I have a straw?
Rumble censored his expression and managed to locate a small metal straw from his subspace, plunking it into the fluid and giving it a cursory stir.
Ratbat demolished the contents in three seconds flat before burping genteelly and cuddling back against Ravage. Frenzy returned a moment later, armed with a grin and an energon lolly in the shape of a petro-rabbit.
'Just what the bat ordered, huh?'
The mechanoid rodent happily accepted the lolly with a squeak and settled down, biting the lolly rabbit's ears off. Rumble and Frenzy returned to their game of Mortal Kombat 3 while Ravage shuttered his optics for a nap.
The feline sighed. What?
I'm too hot.
Barely opening one optic, Ravage loosened the folds of blanket with a paw until the little bat could be properly seen.
Ratbat rubbed his nose with a claw and stared up at the roof of the bunk, feeling something akin to tiredness creeping into his CPU.
It turned out unfortunately to be…
The red Cassette sighed and hoisted himself onto the bunk next to his sibling.
The little bat made himself comfortable sandwiched between Frenzy and Ravage, and leaned against Frenzy's shoulder as he began one of his favourite stories.
'It all took place on Cybertron waaaay back in the past, before you were even a glint in Soundwave's spark, and just after Optronix was made the new Autobot Prime…'
'…and then he saw Megatron lookin' like the Great Unmaker had just pummelled him t' the Pit and back. He said he'd fought Prime and somethin' had happened that he couldn't remember…'
Frenzy was getting into his stride; so much that he didn't notice the increasingly woozy look in Ratbat's optics.
The little bat swallowed and grimaced as his fuel tanks made an unpleasant lurch.
And…what were you and Rumble doing…?
'Got assigned t' help the 'Structies and Starscream defend the engines from the Autobot infiltration team. We were doin' a pretty kick-aft job too, 'til Prime showed up on the surface…'
'Turned out he'd got away from the battle with Megatron and fought his way back up. Rumble took a hit t' the chest and went offline. Nearly went into shutdown tryin' haul his aft outta the way…'
The red Cassette glared down at his now-shivering sibling, the look of annoyance in his optics changing immediately into dread.
Ratbat's optics widened as he clamped a tiny paw over his mouth.
Rumble chose that unfortunate moment to glance behind him.
'OH PRIMUS NOOOOOOOOO!!'
'That has gotta be the grossest thin' I've ever seen.'
Rumble finished washing his face and glared at his twin.
'And why are you bitchin'? You're not the sucker who got a faceful of puke.'
'No, but who had to look after Ratbat 'til Soundwave got here? That lil' guy can bawl for Cybertron after he's done the Technicolor yawn.'
Ravage wrinkled his nose in disgust from his perch on the desk as Frenzy ran a mop through the puddle of half-digested energon covering the floor.
Do you blame him? He had a fairly massive tank purge and all you two could do was run around screaming like new-built femmes.
Frenzy snorted at the mechanoid feline and resumed mopping.
At least that was the worst aspect of bat-sitting over and done with. Generally following a tank purge, Ratbat's overall condition would leap from feeling-like-fresh-slag through to grumpy-but-better within an hour or so.
Soundwave had charged down from the control deck at something approaching light-speed after Ravage had alerted him to the situation, taken one look at the room, ordered the twins to begin cleaning up with the feline supervising, and whisked Ratbat off to Hook and then to the wash racks.
With an anti-emetic patch installed, the freshly scrubbed Ratbat snuggled into Soundwave's arms and sniffled back a sob of discomfort as his creator carried him back towards their quarters.
The Communications officer managed to keep the waves of guilt in check as he held the little bat close to his spark. He should have requested temporary duty cover while Ratbat was unwell, Megatron would have granted him that much. He should have ordered Laserbeak and Buzzsaw to return post-haste to the Nemesis at the first sign of Ratbat's illness.
But self-recriminations would not make his youngest creation recover any faster.
He looked down at the little bundle of bat and Bo-bo in his arms and studied him closely.
'Are you feeling less nauseous?'
Ratbat nodded and clutched Bo-bo a little tighter, letting a few drops of optic fluid roll down his cheeks.
'Thundercracker has agreed to serve my duty shift tonight. I am therefore available to spend that time with you.'
The little bat chirped happily, his spark lifting along with the soreness in his tanks.
Rumble glanced up at the door as Soundwave and Ratbat entered.
'Hey, the Barfin' Bat returns.'
The Communications officer levelled a steely glare at the blue Cassette. 'Rumble, silence.'
Ratbat chirruped a greeting as he stared down at his two eldest siblings, both of whom gave him filthy looks in return.
Frenzy made a brief gesture with his mop. 'Do that again you little rat, and this handle goes straight up your exhaust port.'
Ratbat stuck his glossa out at his sibling in response.
Soundwave immediately registered the presence of two others in the sleeping quarters and gently turned the little bat around to face the newcomers.
The red condor gently cawed her own greeting at the bundle of bat and blanket.
How are you feeling, little glitchmouse?
The purple and yellow Cassette squealed in glee as he spotted Laserbeak and Buzzsaw perched on the bunk across from the reclining Ravage, almost falling out of Soundwave's arms in the effort to reach his elegant scarlet sister.
Ratbat burrowed into his sibling's side, chittering and sniffling as he felt one metallic wing wrap around his body. Buzzsaw fluttered across to sit next to his twin and gently touched his beak to Ratbat's nose in a gesture of greeting.
Feel better now, shrimp?
Much. I missed you.
Behind Soundwave's back, Rumble and Frenzy both mimed heaving into a storage bin.
'I do not recall giving either of you permission to stop cleaning up.'
The twins rolled their optics, glared at their creator and resumed puke-duty.
The Communications officer chose to ignore the mutinous thoughts the twins were merrily generating; instead he lifted both Ratbat and Laserbeak into his arms, and settled himself against the recharge berth. Ravage elegantly bounced down from the desk, padded across the floor and leapt up to settle on Soundwave's torso, while Buzzsaw elected to perch on his master's shoulder cannon, and Ratbat and Laserbeak snuggled into a Bo-bo covered ball on Soundwave's chest, directly above his spark-chamber.
Frenzy glared as he wrung the mop out and plopped a fresh portion of soapy water over the floor.
'So how did we get picked t' be the entertainment for the night anyway?'
Ravage uncurled briefly and smirked. You were sparked, that was your first mistake.
Rumble growled. 'Hey, no hecklin' from the audience.'
Now that just takes half the fun out of it.
'You wanna have some fun, kittykat? Get your feline aft down here and help.'
I was ordered to delegate, not dirty my paws with menial work. That's your job.
Frenzy pouted. 'We're one of the oldest sets of twins on Cybertron and Earth. We have a position! We have rights!'
The right to remain stupid is clearly one of them.
Ratbat giggled and started sucking his claw again. Soundwave gently rubbed the top of the little bat's head and continued to watch the twins and Ravage bickering.
'Are we nearly done yet?'
No, there's a patch on your…ah, no, I see you've just found it. Carry on.
Rumble wiped the energon off his foot with a spare cloth and gave Ravage the evil eye.
The feline sniggered and stretched out with a yawn. Delegating could take it out of a cat, especially one as old as him. A small nap would probably be a wise move at this time…
Ratbat gazed up at the roof of the recharge berth with wide optics. The rest of the nausea had passed quickly after Laserbeak and Buzzsaw's return. Rumble and Frenzy had both crashed out at the foot of the bunk, the blue Cassette holding onto the mop like a teddy bear while his red twin had curled up next to him, resting his head in his brother's lap.
The twin condors were now deep in recharge on Soundwave's shoulder; Laserbeak had only moved after making certain that her younger sibling was less in need of snuggles. Ravage was lying on his back, one paw gently batting at the air as he chased glitchmice in his dreams.
That left only the little bat and his creator both still fully awake. Music was out of the question, but maybe there was one thing…
The purple and yellow Cassette crawled up Soundwave's chest and chirruped softly.
The Communications officer glanced down. 'Yes?'
Can you read me more of my book?
Soundwave held a small smile in check at Ratbat's expression as he tucked Bo-bo safely around his wings before pulling a battered purple, yellow and red covered book from his subspace.
Ratbat watched as his creator found the start of the new chapter and settled back to listen.
'…In years to come, Harry would never quite remember how he managed to get through his exams when he half expected Voldemort to come bursting through the door at any moment…' (1)
As the ocean outside the window grew darker, creator and creation became absorbed in the story as they did every night, always feeling the warmth of each other's sparks as they read.
(1) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I couldn't resist.