Juana la Cliker-Rooster
Disclaimer: FAN FIC. I AM A FAN. THIS IS MY FIC. I WILL WRITE WHATEVER I WANT TO WRITE, AND STILL BE NON-AFFILIATED WITH HASBRO OR CARTOON NETWORK.
Oh my God. I loved this episode.
It had started so innocently, so harmlessly. The EMP, a complex yet wonderful device created for the sole purpose of healing. It was a beautiful machine with beautiful intentions. Lockdown, of course, had changed all that back during the Great War, leaving Ratchet mentally scarred, broken, guilty. The device that was meant to offer healing had suddenly been turned into a weapon, one that cost a wonderful, bright young Autobot her life…her entire memory core, gone in just a few kliks. All of her memories, her friends, lovers, comrades…all gone from her stored data banks and replaced with white static, nothing more. It had been one of the most spark-breaking moments in the old medic's life.
He had retrieved his EMP from Lockdown after their second encounter, and vowed that the device would never cause harm or distress to another Autobot as long as he functioned. And so, under this vow and belief that the EMP could cause no more harm simply because he willed it to be so, Ratchet had lent the device to Prowl, the quiet, responsible, simple Cyberninja. He could be trusted with it, he could be counted on to take care of it and himself.
Ratchet never thought even once that Prowl might have an unfortunate flaw: he was easily addicted. He had so many addictions, but there had never been a reason to worry about those. His addiction to nature was harmless, even healthy for him; his addiction to stillness, meditation and the care he took of his body was only slightly obsessive, and his addiction to television wasn't as bad as Bumblebee's. Prowl, unlike the mini-bot, wasn't rotting out his CPU with the horrendous MTV or disgusting Fox channels. He was educating himself in various aspects of the planet Earth, and so, there was no reason to panic.
But his newly discovered addiction to modifications was, in a word, alarming. Optimus had viewed Prowl's sudden change in behavior as mere disrespect, and had reacted just as childishly, barking orders that fell on deaf audios. But Ratchet saw the symptoms almost instantly, and while he made some remarks, he didn't voice his deeper concern to Prime; the young, naïve leader didn't need to know his soldier had an addiction just yet. For now, it was just Prowl behaving like a headstrong youngling, and nothing more. Ratchet wanted to get to him first, talk things out, develop a plan to quit the drug known as mods, but of course it was too late. The stubborn ninja had taken off, leaving the planet, ignoring his commander and even faking static, a trick he'd learned from Bumblebee.
It was childish, yes, but it was worse than that. It was an addiction, and although Prowl was too proud and stubborn to realize it, he was feeding the addiction, and quickly. His meeting with Lockdown had been the first mistake. The EMP held power, the glorious power to heal! It should have been enough for the small ninja. But Lockdown, a longtime friend of addiction, saw the symptoms just as quickly as Ratchet had the moment he saw Prowl sporting the EMP, and used it to his advantage. The ninja had even stolen one of Lockdown's own hard-earned, stolen mods. Further proof of his growing need. This youngling could be easily taken advantage of, the hunter realized, and so, offered Prowl his next fix.
The ninja never once suspected this was happening. He saw only a small, temporary allegiance with his enemy to capture a Decepticon. After that, they would return to being enemies. But, Lockdown knew, if he helped feed the misguided ninja's addiction to mods, he would own the Autobot, make him his slave, his test subject, his target practice, his lover, even….anything he wanted, as long as he continued to offer the drug.
The suit of armor, the latest installment on Prowl, was almost too much for the small ninja's ego and body, and while he never showed it, he could feel a sudden rush coursing through his circuits, filling him with a shocking bliss. He felt invincible! His spark twisted in pleasure, loving the buzzing high it was receiving. In that fateful moment, he knew he wanted more. But how to get it? Ratchet would never allow him to use the EMP or any other device again, not after that little stunt he pulled earlier. No one else on the base could offer him anything that amazing, but Lockdown….
No, he told himself firmly, you don't need Lockdown for your next fix. You can find something else, go somewhere else for what you want. Steal it if you need to; there are auto body shops all over this planet.
But oh, said the drug-like modifications, no, no, it doesn't work that way. It's not that simple, it's never been that simple, and it will never be that simple. Those mods will be useless, heavy and let's not forget unattractive. Stay with Lockdown. He'll give you everything you want, if you give him something in return. Stay with him, let him be your friend. You don't need the others—they'll hold you down, refuse your need. Lockdown will never hold you back.
But Prowl pushed the drug's voice away and told himself that he was old enough to make his own choices, and he chose to find his next fix elsewhere. But for now...
"We have a Decepticon to catch. Let's go."
"All right, kid. Now you're speaking my language."
The two walked out in the hallway, Lockdown nearly clapping a hand on Prowl's shoulder, but thinking better of it an instant just before he did it. That kind of familiarity was inappropriate at the moment: Lockdown obviously didn't want the ninja to know he was falling into a trap, filled with the ecstasy known as mods and upgrades. Lockdown stayed quiet about the very apparent, dangerous addiction Prowl was developing. He didn't offer any more upgrades, but he would eventually, to keep the child by his side.
The problem was even more evident outside in the streets of Detroit. Prowl had always been arrogant with an air of superiority, but the mods made him so obnoxious it was almost as though it wasn't Prowl at all; he could have been mistaken for Bumblebee dressed as the ninja like a Halloween costume. Prowl's speech, his actions, and his sudden lack of common sense…it made Lockdown feel good inside, knowing he had helped unleash this demon within one of the most responsible Autobots he had ever encountered. And Prowl…stupid, addicted Prowl was hopelessly oblivious to his own plight.
The day had continued on, with Lockdown and Prowl working together as a team, and, surprisingly enough, a great team. The mods and the upgrades brought out a new side of Prowl. He had always been a show-off, but he was a modest show-off. He had always made it look as though he was unaware he was doing it, but now, he did it because he wanted the attention. He wanted Lockdown to watch him, he wanted StarScream (whichever was the real Decepticon, it didn't really matter to him anymore) to see just what he was up against, and he wanted his Autobot comrades to see him as…what? Stylish? Hip? Cool, even?
All three, and more. He wanted them to realize he was better than they were, and the drug helped bring out that extra-arrogant air in him. It was too bad, Prowl had thought as he chased after whichever StarScream he had run into, that Bumblebee and Sari weren't there to witness how very awesome he could be. But no matter. They would see him later, and they would love him. It was ideal, and he expected it to happen.
But then, a sudden and unexpected tragedy occurred, and it was his fault. All his damn fault, and he knew it. Ratchet pointed to the damaged tree and the destroyed eggs, splattered like oil on the ground, and Prowl felt that sudden twang of guilt and deep shame tug at his spark as he stared at the little lives he had just stolen away, even if it hadn't been intentional. Even StarScream, locked in stasis on the ground had commented,
"That sneak attack was PERFECT. Much more affective than all that 'fighting with honor' nonsense."
Prowl's air vents sucked in a sharp intake at the cold, true words, and the weight of the situation crushed his spark so much that he was unable to move for a moment. It was in that instant Prowl realized he had a problem, and that he needed to kick the addiction. NOW.
Well, he would do that after he spirited the more cowardly StarScream away from Megatron, since Lockdown had gleefully carted him off. The Elite Guard needed that worthless Decepticon slagger, not Megatron. Prowl needed to make everything right again: he finally saw the light and he knew he needed desperately to kick the awful habit he had picked up. It was destroying him already. It was amazing how quickly an addiction could eat away at someone and turn them into the person they never wanted to be.
The mods had even affected Prowl's performance in the warehouse where Megatron was meeting with Lockdown. His foot had actually slipped, kicked over a lone nail, and alerted Megatron to his position. Never before had something like that happened before. Yet another sign that the mods and upgrades needed to go.
Taking the upgrades off had been both relieving and torturous at the same time. Their weight had begun to hurt him, but as he ripped them off his body began to scream at him, begging for its new toys to be placed back. But Prowl ignored them, barking orders at his teammates to take his mind off the ache in his spark. By removing them, he had saved the day. Wasn't that enough to make him feel better?
At the end of the addiction-driven ordeal, Ratchet smiled at Prowl, proud that the ninja had recognized at last that he needed help, and happily took his EMP generator back. Lockdown had contacted Prowl only moments earlier and tried to use the addiction to his advantage, to get the ninja back, but he was denied quickly, and threatened by the ninja. Lockdown had sighed, annoyed and a little angry, but he hung up. He didn't want to be turned over to the Elite guard, as Prowl had threatened, and so decided that maybe next time he would win the ninja.
Prowl himself didn't feel better for several days afterward, however. He suffered a brief period of withdrawal from the mods, and although the withdrawal was short, mere days, it had hurt. He spent much of his time in the med bay those few days, being watched by Ratchet, who had been ordered to do so by Optimus Prime.
Neither Bumblebee nor Sari were informed about the incident. They were too young to understand the complications of any kind of high, be it modifications or even substance-based, as the humans had, and it would have only worried them. Optimus simply told them that Prowl had been injured in battle, and that Ratchet needed to keep an optic on him for a while. Only he, Prime and Bulkhead were allowed in the med bay for those few days.
The first day was the intervention, and while Prowl saw it as unnecessary, telling them all very angrily that he had learned his lesson, Optimus had said what he needed to say, expressing his extreme frustrations with the ninja's recent and past actions. He told Prowl things needed to change, otherwise he would send the ninja back to Cybertron. Prowl would never be hired for any job ever again if that happened.
Bulkhead, the giant sweetheart he was, unwittingly made Prowl feel terribly guilty about his actions, informing the ninja that he saw him as a role model for Bumblebee and Sari, and something of a personal hero and close friend. Bulkhead's intentions were good; he merely lacked the tact in his delivery.
Ratchet wasn't upset, nor was he angry. He was simply concerned and worried about what had happened. It had opened his optics to Prowl's addictive personality, and he said they would have to work together on solutions to keep this from ever happening again.
Prowl had apologized, keeping his optics on the floor, scratching nervously at his arms and legs, and holding his self-loathing in as long as he could. Optimus repeated his threat one last time, and then got to his feet to leave, followed by Bulkhead, who patted his little friend on the back (this time without knocking him down) and they left the med bay in silence.
Once out, Ratchet reached over, placed a hand on the ninja's shoulder and said gently,
"Let it out."
Prowl had sobbed for over three earth hours that night.
The second, third and fourth days had been a slow rehabilitation period, and Prowl had spent much of his time whimpering, sobbing, scratching at whatever he could, talking to Ratchet about nature, then rambling to Ratchet about nature, and begging to be let out of the med bay. Ratchet never let him out, of course, and more than once he had been forced to use the EMP on the ninja, disabling him for a short period of time. But for the most part, Prowl behaved himself and instructed that whenever he felt the urge to upgrade again, he should meditate, as he had done in the past, and soon, the need to feed the addiction would be kicked away.
After his release from the med bay, Prowl headed toward his room and was quickly ambushed on the way by Bumblebee and Sari, who were both concerned and curious to know what happened. He merely smiled at them and hugged them both (without squishing Sari somehow), told them not to worry, and that he needed to be alone for a while. They smiled at his reassurance, then took off to play. Prowl sighed silently as he watched them go, carefree, happy, untainted by the sins of the universe and blissfully oblivious to the pain surrounding their friend.
He walked quickly to his room, ready to just lock himself up for a while and meditate in his tree, but Optimus was waiting for him outside his room. The door was closed for some odd reason, and for a moment, Prowl thought he was being evicted, but Optimus stuck out his hand for a shake and said,
"How are you doing?"
"I—I'm fine, sir," Prowl answered, averting his optics despite the fact that his leader could not see them behind his visor, "I'm doing well."
"Good. I expect a lot from you, Prowl. You should expect a lot from yourself as well. You're not a bad person. You just need to work on your teamwork skills. I need you to be a team player, everyone here does. Can you do that for us?"
"Yes, sir." Prowl's voice was so dead, so full of shame and self-hatred. Optimus noticed it, and he told Prowl that bots made mistakes, it happened. There was always room for change, and this was just another one of those times that change was needed. There was nothing wrong with making mistakes. It was not learning from them that led to problems. Prowl nodded and answered again,
"Yes, sir. I understand." Optimus nodded slightly, understanding what Prowl was going though and stepped aside to let the ninja enter his room and close his door quietly. Prowl stared at the floor as he entered his room, and he slowly moved down to the floor and leaned against his tree, off-lining his optics in the same movement. When he on-lined them again, he gasped in surprise. The walls were covered in crayon drawings drawn on giant paper, and they all looked like they had been drawn by Sari and Bumblebee. He got back to his feet and walked over to look at them.
Most of them were drawings of him, Sari and Bumblebee with little stick hands and legs, and giant grins and big chins. Several had smiling mandalas in them, and some had trees and animals. Others had just the figures themselves, and some had only nature scenes. There was one, however, that caught Prowl's optics: Sari had drawn a very big one of just herself and Prowl holding hands and surrounded by hundreds of green, blue and yellow hearts. The two figures wore giant smiles that were physically impossible for both of them, and Sari had neglected to draw herself to scale. They were nearly the same height, Sari's head reaching Prowl's waist. There was a message written in pink and purple on the bottom of the drawing:
"GET BETTER SOON!! WE MISS YOU A LOT!! LOVE SARI!!"
Yet more hearts surrounded the message, and Prowl had to smile. He had to be a good role model for her, she already looked up to him as someone she could trust and love. There was a sudden lurch in his body, sending a shiver through his circuits…his body wanted an upgrade, something satisfying and now. But he shook his head, smacked his arm where he'd kept the EMP generator and looked back at the drawing.
He didn't need the upgrade, not really. He had everything and everyone he needed right here. He would never have to feed his addiction again.
Yep. I totally loved this episode. It was funny, and yet sad at the same time. Hope you liked this fic.