On The Freedom Of Existence.


Three Weeks Later.

A/N: 1 joor - about 6.5 hours.

Ratchet looked up from his work to see Prowl walking in.

"What is it now?" he asked grouchily. Between Prowl's quite deliberate introduction to Salvage of some of the other Autobots – always those that were the subject of unpleasant rumours – and Ratchet's personal opinion that Prowl was now recovering, and recovering well - from his ordeal, his manner had gone back to normal.

Ratchet's manner in itself was both a useful tool and treatment for some of his patients. The 'bots knew that if Ratchet was brusque with you, you were going to be fine. It was when he was considerate and concerned that they began to worry, for that only happened if they were a new patient, or Ratchet felt there was something seriously wrong with them. Similarly, if Ratchet spoke quietly without swearing, it meant he was furious, and whoever he was speaking to began hoping his anger wasn't directed at them.

So Prowl was not in the least put off by Ratchet's attitude, but walked over.

"Salvage is to be permitted two to three hours out of his locked room every four joors, as long as he is accompanied by the Twins, or two other medium to large mechs. So do not be surprised if you see him out, but he if he is seen unaccompanied, call me or Ironhide." he said.

"Well, he was in the best possible condition he could be when I released him, so he is no longer my concern. Did you have to frag him up quite so badly?" Ratchet groused.

"Yes. You're lucky, what I really wanted to do was kill him. Perhaps the beating will make him think twice about treating anybody the way he treated me." said Prowl.

"You didn't come down here just to tell me about Salvage – and the sooner we exchange him back to his own side in return for something the better – you could have done that by comm. Why are you down here?" Ratchet asked.

"I was wondering, seeing as you are no longer working on Salvage, and we have had no battles with the Decepticons recently, if you had time to begin changing my appearance back into some semblance of what it was originally." Prowl said. He held up a clawed hand, put a hand up to the sharp contours of his face.

"The sooner these can be changed, the better." Prowl said.

Ratchet nodded. "Okay, I have to agree with you there." He said.

"Come over." He led Prowl over to his worktable, and got him to lie down on his side.

"Now, I'm going to offline you. I'll work on your face and hands, and if I get time, I'll work on your head and back as well."

"Thank you." Said Prowl.

Offlining the black and white mech, and sending a general databurst requesting he not be disturbed except for essential things, Ratchet took out his medical tools, and set to work.

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Prowl unshuttered his optics and saw Ratchet standing over him.

"How do you feel?" asked the medic. Prowl ignored the generic question and held his hands up in front of his face.

The vicious claws were gone, his fingers rounded and far less cruel-looking, although they were stronger than they looked, by virtue of the hydraulics Ratchet had advised him to keep. He moved the hands up to explore his face, felt the sharp features and spiky protrusions had been smoothed and flattened into a less terrifying countenance. As his hand brushed the top of his forehead, he felt a welcome, familiar sensor-chevron atop it.

"It was a simple matter to shift the sensor array into a more familiar arrangement with no loss of function." Ratchet said. Prowl smiled, then raised his other hand to feel that Ratchet had managed to restyle his faceplates to give him mobile liplike plating, and when he slipped a digit under them, he could feel that the teeth had been blunted and flattened, even though they would no longer be obvious unless he did a big grin.

He ran a hand over the back of his head, brought the other around to feel his back, and in both locations Ratchet had managed to mould the points into curves and flattened sharp edges and protrusions into the plating. It felt good, but what did it look like? Prowl sat up, swung his legs off the worktable, and headed for a shiny surface.

"I wasn't able to put your appearance back exactly the way it was before, but I think you'll find it an improvement." Ratchet stated. Prowl reached the reflective surface, and got his first look at his new face.

The features were a mixture of familiar and strange. Ratchet had done his best to reconstruct his old face, even to rearranging his sensor array and having it painted red, and reshaping his optic sockets to a more familiar shape, and altering his colour filters to turn his optics back to the piercing blue most Autobots favoured. However, Salvage had altered his cranial structure while creating his Barricade-form, a procedure Ratchet had earlier warned Prowl he would be reluctant to attempt to correct, and this made his face longer than it originally had been, the face shape slightly different. The mouth was slightly smaller than his original, and his chin was still a little sharper than it had been but Prowl had to agree with Ratchet's assessment.

"A definite improvement." He agreed. "Different, but I can live with it. Thank you, Ratchet, as always you carry out your work efficiently and to a high standard."

"Okay, Prowl, thank you. Now, if you feel up to it, we have a prisoner exchange to conduct."

Prowl looked up in surprise.

"We do?" he asked. Ratchet nodded.

"While I was working on you, we had another landing, but the Decepticons found him first. I had to pause in your alteration to negotiate an arrangement to swap our prisoner for theirs." Prowl nodded.

"I'm up for it. Like you, I am eager to have him taken off our hands." Ratchet smiled.

"I got the impression that they will be as glad to hand their prisoner over as we are to hand Salvage to them." the medic stated. At Prowl's look, he smiled again.

"Bluestreak is probably talking their audios off."