A/N - So you're just going to play along and ignore the dates up there, alright?


The summer sun was relentless, beating down on her back and reflecting off the metal she was crouched over. The air was horridly still, not even a light breeze to alleviate the heat. It would have been a fantastic day to hit the lake and lounge by the water like a normal person. Instead, Mikaela was having a mostly one-sided conversation and marveling at the fact that her welding torch actually seemed to be putting off less heat than the air around her.

"Did you frag up this arm before? Because there is a ton of warped metal in here and it doesn't look new."

Red optics just stared down at her.

"Ok, fine don't answer. It's not like it's important for me to know or anything, I'm just trying to repair the support frame and get the joint back into alignment."

The hand next to her twitched slightly. Mikaela jumped, dropping the torch into the forearm and almost falling in herself. She met the red optics and glared as she pulled the torch out by the cord.

"I bet you thought that was hilarious."

"Actually, that was unintentional. You hit a connector. But yes, you falling would have been entertaining."

"You, sir, are a giant metal douchebag."

Barricade raised an optic ridge.

"So, you gonna help me on this one or not?"

"Is the old injury interfering with the repairs?"

"Well, not really but-"

"Then, no."

Not for the first time, Mikaela wondered if she should take a page out of Ratchet's book and start chucking wrenches. Sighing, she turned back to the limb in front of her and frowned. The sensory and motor wiring passed through a space between the inner supports themselves, or at least they should have. Instead they had twisted around a displaced piece of metal in the joint and were snagged on one of several odd looking struts welded midway through the forearm, and while she was pretty sure she could free the wires from it, she was also pretty sure they would just snag again. And, of course, she had no idea if she could smooth down that strut or if it was important in some way.

Barricade not helping was...not helping. She really shouldn't have been surprised by this, but he occasionally actually did help and she was finding herself relying on it more than she should have. It was incredibly frustrating – one day he would gladly read off error logs and hold panels for her, sometimes even giving her pointers on field patches; the next, he'd be slinging insults or stubbornly refusing to acknowledge her presence, even as she was dangling by a tangle or wires off his chassis.

She wanted to scream. She settled for ranting.

"How I spent my summer vacation, by Mikaela Banes. Instead of socializing with other human beings, I decided it might be fun to spend three months stealing from junkyards and welding an ungrateful pile of scrap back together, all while being splattered with unidentifiable, probably radioactive fluids and having insults flung at me," she mumbled, kicking a particularly stubborn panel into place. "Also, I got a cat. I named her mittens because I was too busy playing alien mechanic to come up with something better and she looks like she's wearing mittens."

"...It has not been three months...has it?"

She looked up, huffing as a strand of hair fell in her eyes. She hastily wound her hair back into its messy bun and huffed again.

"No. But at this rate, it'll be December before you're even able to crawl," she glared as he slowly blinked his three functional optics and looked away. "Unless, of course, you'd like to contribute more to your own repairs."

Barricade cycled his vents slowly in a deep shuddering impression of a sigh and gazed blankly at the horizon.

"That arm was...snapped vorns ago. Those struts no longer serve any function past guiding the chain for my flail. As you are not repairing my weapons, they are not important."

Mikaela stared at him for a moment, then patted his arm.

"See tough guy, that wasn't so hard," she crouched back down, carefully running a hand over the strut that had the wires snagged on it. "So these have always been here? What purpose did they serve before? I mean, if they're normal for this arm then there was to be away for your wires to not catch on them."

"Yes, irrelevant, and the last time I looked inside that arm, it was not attached to me, so I don't know. This...December...it is three months from now? Or from when you found me?"

"December is the last month in the year buddy. We've got six months before then."

"It will take that long? Or is that a normal increment of time for-"

"-Just forget I said it. You keep helping, stop going all moody on me, and we'll have you limping away well before then. Just remember – no squishing," she glanced back up, watching his expression closely. There was something...off about it, just as there had been something off about his tone when he talked about his arm. He seemed sad, almost. Or maybe he was just upset at the thought of his repairs taking longer. Or depressed about being helped by a human. Or maybe she was over analyzing it and that was just the way his face looked when he wasn't about to smash something. Either way, it was gone now, and Barricade was back to looking thoroughly bored with the whole situation.

"Right," he murmured. "No squishing the medic."

She grinned at him. He grinned back.

"No matter how disgustingly fleshy or bad at it's job it is," he added.

This time, Mikaela did throw the wrench.