"It Felt Like a Punishment"

Juana la Cliker-Rooster

Ugh...okay, this one took me, like, three months to write. I had sooo much going on that it was hard to make myself focus on anything. So this is kinda crappy. I don't hate it, I just dont think it's my best. None of my fics are particularly good; I just write to have something to do.

ALSO! I may have mentioned this before, but I am now on LiveJournal at h t t p: / cliker-rooster dot livejournal dot com. Yep. So yes. Hope you guys like this one. I think I have an update for soemthing else on the way soon, too. Chao!

-Juana


The night air was chilly as the wind blew sporadically, sharply whipping the branches of trees around with snaps and creaks. The occasional branch went sailing across the open, empty park, shattering against rocks or faded pavement. Overhead, the looming shape of a Cybertronian ship lowered closer to the park's large baseball diamond, mere yards away from the shores of Lake Eerie. Moments later, the ship touched down and was placed in parking mode, searing the grass and sending up a cloud of dust in all directions. Seconds later, the ship assumed the form of trees and bushes, hiding its true form from any riff-raff that might come traipsing along.

Fifteen earth minutes later, the ship's owner stepped out, quiet and sinister. He looked around, although it was unnecessary—he'd seen all he needed to know while parking his ship. It came more as a paranoid habit to him than anything. He carried one item with him, a lone pair of stasis cuffs, just in case. One never knew anymore.

Lockdown looked toward the water of the lake and sighed. He had no desire to step into that body of water. The air was cold already; he was going to be freezing down there, he knew it. Lockdown hated to admit it, but he was old. He didn't look his age, and for that he was grateful. But he also knew that it wasn't natural how young he looked—his body wasn't entirely his, but the parts of younger mechs he'd stolen from. Disgusting, yes, but the old mech functioned as though he were a youngling again. His addiction to mods would catch up to him soon; it was merely a matter of time.

He shuddered involuntarily as he thought about what the cold water was going to do to his aging systems and joints. There was a fifty percent chance he would be frozen down there and left for Primus knows how long until the Autobots picked up his energy signature and brought him up. And then, he'd be delivered to the Elite Guard. Prowl had promised him that much. Any young mech would be able to handle the cold water, but an old mech like Lockdown… he couldn't say the same for himself. Even in the cold void of space he'd been forced to wear what the humans called a 'poncho' just to keep his body heated. It was humiliating that Prowl had seen him that way on the moon; he had seen the proof that Lockdown was just another old mech that was nearing his last few centuries.

Lockdown shook the depressing thoughts out of his head and again tried to focus on the seemingly black water. His scanners had picked up Allspark energy in the water after his scuffle with Prowl and reported it to Megatron, knowing full well the Decepticon leader would pay very well for even a shard of the relic. As expected, Megatron was intrigued and excited by the find, and commissioned Lockdown to find the shard immediately. The bounty hunter had obviously agreed, and remembering what was in it for him after he retrieved the shard, Lockdown started to walk towards the water's edge.

He peered down and off-lined his optics for a moment, just to tell himself that he was crazy for doing this, braced himself and plunged in. The water was dark and a bit murky, and Lockdown found himself coming face to face with fish for the first time in his function. They were odd little organics, that much was for sure. He liked how their iridescent little bodies reflected the moon's light and confused him for a moment, and he wondered if there was a way he could replicate the effect on his body. It would be most useful.

He continued to fall through the water, keeping an optic out for the shard. Lockdown's body, incredibly enough, wasn't freezing up. He could move his joints perfectly, and he realized he had nothing to worry about—the renegade shard had powered the traces of metal in the water, which in turn warmed the water up just slightly enough for him to stay safe, preventing the old mech from being turned into a giant, terrifying Popsicle.

Time went by slowly down in the lake after Lockdown touched the bottom. He walked around for what must have been a few hours at least, moving slowly in the cold, dark water. More than once he was caught in a stray rope or tripped over a few old oil barrels (and hurting his elbow in the process) from the twentieth century. He'd read in his research prior to his arrival that Lake Eerie hadn't always been so clean, and he was tripping over the proof. He swore at the barrels and continued on, rubbing his sore elbow. Pain made him feel even worse about his age. Older mechs felt pain in their joints all the time as a natural part of aging—Lockdown normally did not, thanks to the mods. This was a sudden blow to his confidence. This night couldn't have been worse.

Until….

"Hello? HELLO?" Lockdown stopped suddenly, tense and—dare he think it? Just a little spooked. Someone had called out to him openly and freely, without any restraint. He did not recognize the voice, but he could tell it belonged to someone very young. And very stupid, apparently. Lockdown didn't want to answer, but if he'd already been seen, then what other option was there?

"Who's there?" he asked calmly, doing a fantastic job of hiding his sudden surprise, fingering the stasis cuffs tensely. The little voice called back,

"I am Wreck-Gar! And I am a hero! . . . Can you help me out of here?" Lockdown relaxed himself immediately and thought to himself,

'What the frag kinda name is Wreck-Gar? And where is he? I don't see him.' Out loud, as he looked around and tried to see through the dark water, he called back,

"Maybe. Where are you?" Wreck-Gar answered,

"You're about to step on my face." Lockdown looked down at his feet and jumped nearly a foot in the water with a very small, very embarrassing scream. He had seen much in his function, and he himself was one of the more bizarre and terrifying Cybertronians, but holy Primus, this was way too much for his old spark.

There was a face in the sand. Lockdown could only wonder if he was going insane, or demented, or whatever it was that happened to older mechs. He was imagining this, he had to be! Any normal Cybertronian would be screaming, begging for help if they were stuck at the bottom of a freezing lake on a foreign planet. But this little Wreck-Gar fellow was smiling a big and happy smile, as though nothing were out of place here. Lockdown took a moment to stare in shock, then shook himself out of it and kneeled down.

"What the frag are you?" He asked, keeping his distance. Wreck-Gar answered,

"I am Wreck-Gar! I am a—"

"Yeah, yeah, I already heard that part. I mean…what…who…Are you Cybertronian?"

"No, I'm Wreck—"

"I KNOW!" Lockdown yelled, finding that his patience was wearing thin. He took such pride in his patience, too! He decided to try again, this time rephrasing the question slowly and carefully.

"Wreck-Gar, are you a member of the Cybertronian race, from the planet of Cybertron?" He leaned in closer for a better look, and gasped as his optics fell on the face's markings. White face, black marks…could it be…?

"Are you part of my tribe? On the Eastern side of Cybertron?" Lockdown hadn't seen another from his own tribal people back home in millions of years; he didn't even remember what they were called…could this Wreck-Gar be part of his clan?

"I don't think I am," answered Wreck-Gar, "I think I was created in…wherever this is." Chuckling, Lockdown dismissed the face's words as delusional; he had to be a tribe member. It only made sense. He must have crash-landed on this pathetic little planet and scrambled his processor. Lockdown shook his head and reached down, grabbing the face and pulling as hard as he could. The body was really trapped down there, but a few tugs and swears later, the two went flying backwards with Wreck-Gar landing on top of Lockdown, accidently kneeing the bounty hunter in the stomach.

"OW! Primus fraggin' little….gah! Get off me!" He shoved Wreck-Gar off and rubbed his stomach, rocking back and forth slightly in pain. Primus, this was humiliating. Wreck-Gar sat down next to him and mimicked the motion, carefully watching Lockdown. The bounty hunter flashed a look over at him, then said in a deep, aggravated voice,

"What the pit are you doing?"

"Doing what you're doing. Are we supposed to do this?" Lockdown stared incredulously at the odd little mech and growled,

"What…? NO. Are you serious?" He stood up, still clutching his stomach, and began to walk off with a very slight limp. He called to Wreck-Gar reluctantly,

"…Let's go, kid. Maybe we can jog your memory back on my ship." In a rush of excitement, Wreck-Gar jumped to his own feet, sending the sand below into little dust clouds that frightened away the fish swimming around him, and chased after Lockdown with a squeal of joy.

"You have a ship!? And I can go with you!? Can I drive it?" For a moment, Lockdown smacked his forehead and pinched the space between his optics in disbelief. He remained silent and continued to walk back towards the ship, blocking out the sound of Wreck-Gar's high-pitched vocals as the happy junk-bot danced around, behind and over the bounty hunter. After Wreck-Gar had swum over Lockdown's head for the eighth time while singing some nonsense song, the hunter had had enough. He reached up, grabbed Wreck-Gar's arm, pulled him down and yelled,

"SHUT THE FRAG UP. NOW. FOLLOW ME, DON'T TALK, DON'T SING, AND DON'T DO ANYTHING THAT I'M NOT DOING, OR SO HELP ME, I'LL LEAVE YOU DOWN HERE. AND I'LL LEAVE YOU HERE WEARING THESE STASIS CUFFS. GOT IT?" Wreck-Gar looked up at the taller mech with big, sad optics and whimpered,

"I'm sorry. I'll be good, I promise." Lockdown glared at him for a few kliks, just to let the threat really sink in, then replied,

"Good. Now shut up and follow me." Wreck-Gar saluted Lockdown and said with a brand new giant smile,

"OKAY! I'll be good, I promise, mister…uh…"

"It's Lockdown. Now don't tick me off. I'm very good at hurting people, and you'd be easy to take apart. You look like you were built from j—" Lockdown stopped himself before he said it. He didn't want to insult one of his own, if Wreck-Gar truly was part of his tribe. He could already see those big optics getting ready to leak if he said anything hurtful, so he sighed, clenched his fists and simply walked on, doing his very best to ignore Wreck-Gar.

The smaller mech followed obediently after his new 'friend' and did his very best to 'shut the frag up' by jamming his knuckles against his mouth to prevent any noise from escaping. He looked around in wonder at the scenery around him, amazed by everything he hadn't been able to see during his entrapment in the lake's bed of sand. After the first hour of staring in wonder like a child, he focused his optics on Lockdown's back.

"Why do you have spikes on your back?"

The seemingly innocent question led to a brief, deafening silence. Wreck-Gar's hands flew back to his mouth, trying to pretend he hadn't spoken, but Lockdown turned around slowly, and so very threateningly, he reached out and grabbed Wreck-Gar's shoulder.

"What did I tell you?" he hissed, baring his teeth as he shook the smaller 'bot angrily. His optics were lit with aggravation while Wreck-Gar's were so full of fear. Lockdown repeated his question. Wreck-Gar tried to answer without fear, but failed miserably.

"I—I was just curious. I'm sorry! Please don't hurt me…." Lockdown pushed Wreck-Gar to the lake's floor and growled,

"Just shut up, kid. It ain't hard. Just shut UP. We're getting close to the ship, and then we'll be able to figure out where you're from. Personally," he muttered to himself, "you're too obnoxious to be from my tribe. Unless you too were banished…" Lockdown shook his head and turned back around to resume his walk. Wreck-Gar quickly and quietly got back to his feet and followed after him, this time staying perfectly quiet. He entertained himself by looking at more of the small underwater mountains and fish that they passed by, resisting the urge to ask them questions or make new friends.

Another hour passed. The two had begun their ascent up the lake's slope. Lockdown was able to push off the slope with his feet and began to float to the surface, slowly but surely. His body was starting to the feel the effects of extreme cold despite the All-spark shard's charging power, and he found it difficult to move his left arm. Silently cursing himself and the temperature, he kicked as best he could. He looked back to make sure his newest discovery was following, and grumbled as Wreck-Gar floated quickly past him, enjoying the swim as though he were a sparkling.

The joyful orange 'bot swam in circles around the bounty hunter, wearing a content little smile on his face. He was able to move every part of his body with ease, and it only infuriated Lockdown. It made him feel so pathetically old; he wanted to rip Wreck-Gar's arms off and use them as his own, but such a feat would prove difficult in his current situation. So Lockdown just kicked through the cold water, and eventually, the two made it to the surface.

As they walked toward the ship, Wreck-Gar remained silent, though Lockdown could see it was no easy task. For some odd reason, Wreck-Gar was scrunching his face into some weird kind of pout; it was similar to a human holding their breath. 'Whatever', Lockdown thought, 'as long as he doesn't talk, I don't care.'

Moments later, Lockdown walked into what looked like a mass of trees, which in reality was the entrance to his ship. Wreck-Gar, in his sudden surprise ran forward and yelled,

"WOW! This is so neat! How'd you do that?!" Exasperated and tired, Lockdown grabbed Wreck-Gar's arm in a sudden rage and pulled him into the ship, resisting the urge to kill the loud 'bot. The junk 'bot silenced himself the moment he felt the incredibly strong grip on his arm; he tried to pull his arm out of Lockdown's grip of death, but of course, it was to no avail, and Lockdown responded by simply squeezing tighter.

"OW! Hey, that hur—"

"SHUT THE FRAG UP BEFORE I DEACTIVATE YOU."

The threat hung in the cold air for a few seconds, the two making optic-contact as the dense silence surrounded them. Wreck-Gar looked terrified, while Lockdown was resisting every urge he felt to beat the slag out of the little 'bot. He was getting exhausted—this was like babysitting! He could only wonder just how old Wreck-Gar was, and if he was telling the truth when he'd said he was created in Detroit. Shaking his head, Lockdown dragged Wreck-Gar onto the ship, closed and locked the door.

He continued to keep a strong grip on Wreck-Gar's arm, worried that if he let go, the 'bot would run off to touch something, or manage to blow up the ship in some way. Considering Wreck-Gar's behavior, Lockdown wasn't going to take any chances. He pulled him into his med bay, where cold steel tables waited for their next victim. Wreck-Gar shuddered as they walked past wall racks, dripping with oil-stained tools and shelves displaying the remains of nameless mechs from times past. Lockdown said nothing about them and simply continued to walk. Wreck-Gar tried to stop once or twice to view something frightening, but the larger mech violently pulled him along, earning a small cry of pain from the younger 'bot.

"In here," he growled as he finally released Wreck-Gar's arm by throwing him into a chair, "Sit still. I need to get something. Don't move, don't talk. I'm not going to hurt you if you lis—HEY!"

Wreck-Gar, the moment he'd been released, ran off to touch something on Lockdown's shelf of trophies. The little junk-bot snatched an arm with a laser for a hand off the shelf, aiming it at his own face as he inspected it and tried to comprehend what it was. Lockdown stormed over and grabbed the dangerous item out of Wreck-Gar's hands, then tried to grab the 'bot himself, but Wreck-Gar proved that being younger made one faster.

He ducked out from Lockdown's grip and grabbed another trophy, this time something that looked like a helmet. He tried to stick on his head and said joyfully,

"Do I look pretty?" Lockdown groaned and snatched the helmet off of Wreck-Gar's head and made to punch the 'bot in the head, but once again, Wreck-Gar eluded his wrath and ran off into another room. Lockdown was left to stand there, stunned, shocked, angry and just a little exhausted. He hated sparklings, and he hated babysitting. Wreck-Gar must have been sent to him as a punishment, because it felt like one.

"This sucks," he grumbled out loud as he trudged his way into the next room. His tired body ached—his energy levels were getting low, and he needed to recharge, badly. He wanted to scan Wreck-Gar for any signs of him being from Lockdown's long-forgotten tribe, and kick him out if he wasn't.

He found Wreck-Gar dancing around the room, singing some more nonsense songs about the mods, and using a huge sword as his dancing partner.

"WRECK-GAR!" Lockdown bellowed, feeling like a father yelling at his bratty kid. Wreck-Gar stopped abruptly and dropped the sword with a loud clang as he stared at the fuming Neutral 'bot. Lockdown glared at the sword, then ordered,

"Pick up the damn sword, youngling. NOW." Primus, he felt old.

Wreck-Gar obeyed and placed it back where he found it, then said,

"Are you mad at me?"

"What do you think?" snapped Lockdown, causing Wreck-Gar to cringe slightly, "Now get your aft over here and shut the frag up. I never get angry, youngling. You are the first to see me pissed off in several thousand cycles. I had a freakin' ninja ram my face in, and that didn't even piss me off. You, however, are. Shut up and get over here."

"Are—are you gonna hurt me?" Wreck-Gar asked nervously, playing with his hands for maxium cuteness and innocence. Lockdown rolled his optics and growled reluctantly,

"NO. No, I won't. Get over here."

"Promise?"

"Promise. Now shut up and come here." The two went back into the medical room where Lockdown kept his tools, and Wreck-Gar was instructed to sit on the exam berth. Lockdown walked off and returned a moment later with a simple looking tool. It wasn't sharp, and it wasn't covered in the oil of dead mechs, so Wreck-Gar made no sound. Lockdown made a few adjustments, twisting and turning various parts of the less-threatening tool in his hands until it was ready for use. Lockdown took a few steps toward Wreck-Gar and said,

"This won't hurt you; it's just a memory locator. It searches for fragments of one's memory chips, to locate anything that might have been lost when you crashed into the lake. We're going to find out once and for all where you're from, and if you're really this obnoxious all the time, or if it's just a result of being down there for so long. Just sit still and don't talk. Got it?"

"Got it," replied Wreck-Gar, giving a thumbs-up. Lockdown rolled his optics and went to work. He placed the smooth edge of the tool against Wreck-Gar's forehead, and then traced a finger around it to start it up. The memory locator made a very quiet buzzing sound, then projected Wreck-Gar's memories in the open for both to see. Wreck-Gar smiled when he saw Ratchet telling him he could be whoever he wanted to be, and frowned when he had praised Megatron's name whilst beside Lugnut. Lockdown however made no expression—he was trying to find proof that Wreck-Gar was part of his tribe, but nothing was coming up.

The memory locator beeped, signaling that the process was complete, and Lockdown looked down at the little 'bot with annoyance in his optics.

"I had to deal with you for nothing," he muttered, "so now what to do with you…hmmm…." Wreck-Gar jumped to his feet, much to Lockdown's surprise and clapped his hands like a child.

"Wanna play a game? We should play hide-and-seek! Or backgammon! Or cards! I have a deck of Uno in my—"

"NO, we are not going to play a game, you nut," Lockdown sneered angrily, "Sit down and shut up. Piece of garbage, that's all you are. It's clear you're totally worthless and good for nothing all." Lockdown's words struck Wreck-Gar so hard that he began to tear up. He held his hands to his face to hide himself.

"That's not what the old guy said," he whimpered, "he said I could be anything I wanted, and I became a hero. You're just a bully and a jerk." Lockdown grunted and answered,

"I know I'm a jerk. I'm a professional jerk, kid. It's what I do. Now tell me about the old mech—is he red and white, and kind of paunchy?" Wreck-Gar crossed his arms and looked away defiantly. He refused to answer, so Lockdown grabbed his shoulders and gave him a smack across the face.

"Tell me," he whispered threateningly, "or I'll go and find that fat slagger myself. I've captured him before, I can do it again. And this time, I'll kill him. Is that what you want?" Wreck-Gar glared angrily into Lockdown's optics, terrified but feeling slightly braver than he thought he was, and answered,

"I don't know where he is. And even if I did, I wouldn't tell you. The old guy is nice, not like y—OW!" Lockdown gave the junk-bot another smack to the face. But again, Wreck-Gar flat out refused to talk. Lockdown on the other hand, knew damn well Wreck-Gar didn't know where Ratchet was. He just hated Wreck-Gar more than anyone he'd ever hated in his function and wanted to hurt him.

"Well," Lockdown began, "I guess I believe you. You can go now, since you aren't part of my tribe."

"What's a tribe?" asked Wreck-Gar, suddenly returning to his joyful attitude, much to Lockdown's dismay, "is it your family? Are they nice?" Lockdown growled just enough to freak the little 'bot out, then surprisingly enough, answered. The old mech had wanted to talk about it for so long, and never had anyone around to listen.

"My people. You aren't from Cybertron, so I'll fill you in. On Cybertron, there are Decepticons and Autobots. They had a war for millions of years, going back and forth, back and forth. I know because I was there."

"Were you a good guy or a bad guy?" Wreck-Gar piped up, getting excited by the prospect of story-time. Lockdown held back his groan of exasperation and answered,

"I'm getting to that. My people were Neutrals, or Cybertronians that didn't choose a side, and didn't believe in judging right and wrong as a whole. It all depended on the individual. What one mech thought was right, another might think was wrong. It was all about opinion, ideals, beliefs, etcetera. I loved my people, I still do. My family, my friends and my lovers—all of them were different. It never mattered to anyone. It was beautiful.

"During the war, my tribe was thrust into the battles. The Autobots forced them to make weapons, while the Decepticons wanted them to make weapons AND fight. Anyone who refused was deactivated, or 'killed' on the spot, regardless of who was with them. Femmes, sparklings, friends, anyone. My mech creator refused the Autobots, and one angry soldier shot him right there. I was hugging his leg when it happened. His oil got all over me, and still I refused to let him go. My femme creator grabbed me and threw me to the floor before she too was shot in the head. The Autobot would have killed me too if one of the other tribesmech's hadn't sworn his own allegiance to the Autobots right there. He held me in his arms as I watched my creators die. I never cried so much before in my life."

Wreck-Gar was silent. His young, inexperienced CPU could never have even dreamed up such a horrible event. No wonder Lockdown was such a jerk! His family had been taken away from him by…the Autobots? But Ratchet was an Autobot, and he wasn't bad like that one who had killed Lockdown's family…was he?

Wreck-Gar placed a hand on Lockdown's arm and whispered,

"I'm sorry. I didn't know." Lockdown sighed. He hated feeling weak, and he hated being pitied even more. It annoyed him immensely. He pushed the junk-bot's hand away and continued.

"I was adopted by another family in my tribe, all of whom had already sworn reluctant allegiance to the Decepticons. My people did not fight each other, regardless of what the other had chosen. We did it to save ourselves and continue to preserve our way of life. But it wasn't without sacrifice. My surrogate mech creator took me with him to the Decepticon factory he slaved at, and that was where I got my first look at mods and upgrades. Everyone was making them, and Decepticons were trying them on. The mods were being designed and tested in various rooms, on various mechs and femmes.

"My surrogate…his name was Steelblaster…told me to sit down, offline my vocalizer and relax. So I did. And then, seconds later, he ripped my left arm off. I screamed like a baby, because I was just a kid, and cried. But I didn't online my vocalizer, otherwise he would have beaten me for not following his orders. I cried silently, waiting for the pain to dissipate when he finally began to attach a new arm in its place. This one," Lockdown held up his left saw-for-an-arm to show Wreck-Gar, who was stunned, "is not my real arm. It's my first upgrade. It was this size when I got it, which means I had this huge thing to lug around as a kid up until I grew strong enough to lift it with it. Took forever to grow, really. I was a runt for a while."

Lockdown suddenly laughed, the sound of his voice bouncing off the walls and echoing down the many halls of his ship. Wreck-Gar found himself, for the first time, feeling extremely uncomfortable around someone else. Why was Lockdown laughing? Wasn't he sad about his family? Wasn't he mad that someone had ripped his arm off? Was he…crazy? Someone to fear?

Lockdown could easily sense Wreck-Gar's discomfort, but he said nothing about it. He chuckled for a moment, then continued his story. It did feel good to talk about it—he'd been alone and angry since his sparkling centuries. In all honesty, Lockdown would have rather shared this autobiography with someone close to him (he had wanted this close person to be Prowl, too), but he truly was hurting inside. Perhaps it was the old man in him talking.

"After Steelblaster replaced my arm, he took me to meet Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons. Now there was a mech to strike fear into even the bravest sparks. I was still a sparkling, so of course I had nightmares for several vorns after meeting the guy. Steelblaster wanted to show him that the mods would work on younglings. Megatron glared down at me before coming over to inspect it. He has rough hands, I know because he grabbed me and took a look. He said nothing to me, not a damn thing. His optics were so cold, so full of hatred, and being raised a Neutral, I didn't understand what he was so angry about. So, like a dumb naïve kid, I asked, 'Why are you mad?' It was like time had stopped. Everyone else in the room was silent, Steelblaster looked like he'd been shot in the back."

Lockdown paused as he gathered the memory, trying to make it clear in his mind once more. Wreck-Gar waited silently and patiently, despite his fear. Now that he thought about it, Lockdown was the saddest mech he'd ever met. He needed a hug, badly.

"Now, get this," Lockdown continued as he slapped Wreck-Gar's back, "Megatron is a huge, ugly fragger. He's a bastard. But he's smart and knows what's he's doing. I don't consider him the greatest mech to ever live, but I do respect the guy. He's unreal. So you know what he does? He looks at me, staring into my optics like he'd never seen a sparkling before, then roars with the most incredible laugh I ever heard. Steelblaster nearly fainted, the other slaves were pretending to laugh with him, and I was confused."

Wreck-Gar was unaware that he was gripping Lockdown's arm tightly now—he wanted to hug the old 'bot terribly. Lockdown was so lost in his thoughts that he too was unaware that he was being touched. He hadn't had any physical contact that was caring or loving since his family had been murdered, and his body had been modified so many times that he couldn't actually feel the younger 'bot's hands digging into the plating. Instead, he continued on.

"Megatron gave me a pat on the back and said to me, 'I'm not always mad, sparkling. I just look it. Wouldn't you look that way too, if your people were constantly treated like garbage?' And I opened my smart mouth to tell him that HE was the one treating my people like trash, but of course Steelblaster grabbed me and twisted my arm so that I wouldn't say something so disrespectful. Megatron probably would have slagged me for it if he hadn't. And guess what? My OTHER arm was broken in the process."

Wreck-Gar shuddered involuntarily at the thought of having both arms broken in one day. Lockdown, however, only gazed far off as he contemplated his less-than-ideal youngling-hood. He was thinking hard about it now, despite his best efforts to repress his memories. They came back so easily, and always at the most awful times.

"Steelblaster replaced my other arm with some old scrap lying around. Now you're too young to know, but these mods—they're addictive. Drugs, as they are sometimes known. I was hooked immediately, being young and easy to control, and I began to desire new mods, badly. I craved them so much that I would steal them from the factory Steelblaster worked at, or attack other younglings for their parts. As I grew older, I studied the way of the bounty hunter, and right then I knew what I wanted to do with my life. My tribe banished me for it."

He was silent again. The sounds of the ship whirring and settling were the only sounds in the room. He smirked to himself, feeling a little upset about the memory, but then reminding himself that he was nothing without the mods. He would have ended up just as a slave, pretending to follow the Autobots or the Decepticons to stay alive. That was not the life he had wanted, and so he pushed back all the repressed negative feelings he had held in for so long.

Lockdown suddenly felt Wreck-Gar's hands on his arm and looked down to see them sitting there, gripping him like a scared child. The bounty hunter didn't know if he should have felt offended and annoyed, or grateful for such an attentive audience.

He decided he was offended.

"Get off me, ya dumb kid," he hissed at Wreck-Gar, "I don't want your sympathy," he got to his feet, "and I definitely don't want you. You aren't from my tribe. So just go, get outta here." Wreck-Gar, predictably enough, jumped up and threw his arms around Lockdown and sobbed,

"NO! You need someone to be your family!" Lockdown rolled his optics and pushed Wreck-Gar off. He waved his hand in the junk-bot's face and growled,

"Get out, kid. Go find Ratchet, that old guy. I hate kids."

"You were a kid once, too! Why do you h—"

"Because I can, ya brat," Lockdown snapped, suddenly feeling more irritable than he wanted to feel, "Now GO." Wreck-Gar refused once more, and once more, Lockdown felt the need to off-line the little glitch. It was shocking, he thought. Never before had he felt so angry. He never allowed his emotions to get in the way, yet here was this stupid little junk 'bot driving him to his last few circuits. Lockdown had sworn to never become a cranky, angry old mech, yet here he was, getting cranky and angry.

He felt the need for a nap.

Lockdown got to his feet, pushed Wreck-Gar aside and growled,

"Get out of here. NOW. I need to be left alone, otherwise I might disassemble you for the fun of it." Wreck-Gar made a move to protest, but he was suddenly saw something he hadn't seen before—when Lockdown had found him, he had looked fine, young even, but now his face was lined with the Cybertronian equivalent of wrinkles. He looked tired, worn, and in desperate need of a break. Lockdown, for the first time in a very, very long time, looked his age.

Wreck-Gar, young and stupid though he was, knew better than to say anything about it, and instead replied,

"Okay. Thanks for rescuing me…it was nice meeting you." Lockdown was silent, contemplating the statement with suspicion. This dumb kid had to be playing a trick. But Wreck-Gar simply smiled at his rescuer, then turned to leave, recalling his steps and finding his own way out of the ship. Lockdown watched carefully for any sudden movements, but none were made. Wreck-Gar disappeared into darkness, a door slid open, then slammed shut.

Lockdown was alone again.

"Finally," he muttered, "Damn kid." He walked off to his recharge berth, ready for a long nap. After he activated his ship's security systems and got comfortable on his berth, the sting of loneliness penetrated him deeper, and his last thought was of how nice it would have been to have company for just a little longer.

Seconds later he bolted upright in his berth, remembering why he had gone to find Wreck-Gar in the first place—the Allspark fragment! It was getting away! He wasn't going to be paid!

He didn't move.

"Whatever," the old mech grumbled as he lay back down with a few creaks, "I'm getting too old to care that much about anything. I'll just…let this one go."

Minutes later, Lockdown was curled up and snoring away, just like he did when he was a youngling.

END


The only reason the ending sucks is becuase I stopped caring about this fic. Life was being stupid again and I just didn't care.

-Juana