A/N: First of all, I wanna give a big thanks to those who reviewed the first chapter. Seriously, nothing makes me happier than some feedback, and I hardly expected the wonderful things some of y'all said, so thanks ;)
But yeah, so, this is random, eh? Wrote the first part over two years ago, and now this popped into my head. Truth is, I've been having difficulty with the other fics I'm currently working on (two Transformers fics and two Team Fortress 2 fics, all of which are rather long and plotty) and was just looking to do something else. It was a nice little reprieve, quite therapeutic actually.
Oh, and I am incapable of re-reading something and not editing it, so the first chapter actually got some significant re-hauling in a few areas ::facepalm::
Anyway, this is mainly just further characterization, and my inner flufftard decided to pay a visit, so if you like that kind of stuff, have at it XD (Funnily enough, ALSO started at the beach)
Ratchet's optics flicked back on, glowing blue in the darkness of his office. There was an alarm coming from the monitor next to his door. It was only a soft beeping, blipping in time with the screen flashing a bright blue, alternately lighting his office in soft hues and blacking back out again.
Over the vorns, he'd trained himself to recharge lightly when in his office, ready to be up and alert at the slightest indication. But this was nothing more than a scheduled alarm he'd programmed the previous day. He swung out of his berth and walked over to the monitor, keying off the alarm. The beeping stopped, and the screen dialed down to a much more tolerable level of brightness as it flicked over to a text box.
Ah, Jazz was coming online. Ratchet looked at the time in the corner and realized it'd only been a little under two cycles since he'd turned in. That was sooner than expected.
He pushed the small plate next to his door and it hissed open quietly. The OR was dimly lit, just enough for him to work by without disturbing those on the berths. He grabbed a datapad sitting on the counter and walked over to Jazz' berth, seeing that the saboteur's visor was already glowing.
Jazz turned his head to watch Ratchet's approach, and cracked a wry grin when the medic reached his table. "What's up, Doc?" he said quietly.
Jazz, ever the humorist. Ratchet ignored him and instead asked, "How are you feeling?"
With a slight purse of his lips, Jazz sighed, "Tired, an'a bit confused. How'd I end up in here this time?"
Ratchet hmph-ed at that, scrolling through the text on the datapad that he'd hooked up to Jazz' berth. "You got yourself shot," his optics continued scanning the read out, "by Starscream." Satisfied with the report, he looked down at Jazz and whacked him lightly on the head with the datapad, "In the face," he finished.
Jazz' expression took on a slightly worried look as Ratchet disconnected a scanner from its dock on the side of the berth. Starscream's null rays were intended to incapacitate, scrambling a mech's electrical circuits and essentially paralyzing him, but if the CPU was hit, they could cause permanent damage, even termination.
Ratchet saw Jazz stiffen, and as he wired the scanner into the datapad said, "Don't worry, that interminable luck of yours kicked in." Jazz released his held breath and chuckled as Ratchet ran the scanner over his face a few times, staring intently at the 'pad as it scrolled through its readings. "According to Prowl, Starscream was over twelve hundred meters away when he fired the shot. The fact that the arrogant Pit spawn got you at all is stunning," he said as he turned off the scanner and put it back in its dock. "It also appears to have just glanced off your faceplates, not getting fully absorbed." He rapped the back of his knuckle against Jazz' visor, "Your optics working?"
Jazz looked around, "s'it supposed t'be dark in here?"
"Then I guess they're fine, Doc," as he smiled up at him.
"Hmmm, I'll look them over more closely in the morning," he clicked the datapad into its dock as well. "The real question is: how much of yesterday do you remember?"
"Uh, how much of yesterday should I remember?"
Ratchet's mouth twitched, "We got the alert at 1300 that the Decepticons were giving a plant on the Gulf coast some trouble. You remember that?"
"Yeah, but you said 1300?" Jazz thought for a moment, then shrugged and said, "Yeah, I got that, but the last thing I remember before that was relieving ole Gears from monitor duty at 0700." He rolled his head over and gave Ratchet a sheepish smile, "I gotta bit of a hole in between there."
"Prowl said you were in combat for .48 cycles before being shot. Remember that?"
"Half a cycle? Shoot, man, no way." He worked his jaw back and forth for a second, "I do remember an explosion."
"That'd be part of the plant going up."
"Theeeen, waking up here," he shrugged again, "that's all I got."
Ratchet hmmm-ed as he connected a few more wires next to those already running into both sides of Jazz' helm. "Well, I'm going to put you back out."
Jazz gave a slight pout, "What for?"
"Some of your impulses still need sorting, and your memories will come back more cohesively if you're not wracking your CPU trying to actively reconstruct them." He twisted a few of the cables, making sure the electrodes were in securely, and then straightened up.
Jazz sighed, "Alright, Ratch-man, you're the boss. When'll you be bringing me back online?"
"Six cycles from now." He keyed a command into the berth, which was followed by a low hum, and Jazz' visor dimmed as specific systems were turned off. In addition to the induced offline, steady pulses of electricity would speed the recovery process as Jazz' affected systems continued to unscramble themselves and default back to their standard settings.
Ratchet took the datapad out of its dock, scanned the last bits of the readout, and turned to head back into his office, only to realize that another pair of optics were watching him appraisingly. He scoffed lightly and began making his way over to Sideswipe's table.
"What?" the red mech said with a smirk as he propped himself up on one elbow, "Jazz gets a special alarm when he onlines, and the rest of us just get to lie here?"
"None of you," Ratchet replied, glaring down at him, "had possible CPU damage."
Sideswipe shot him a victorious look.
Ratchet rolled his optics and snorted, shoving Sideswipe back against the table and looming over him face-to-face, "None that was treatable anyway."
Sideswipe just smiled smugly at him, and Ratchet pushed against the smart-aft harder than was necessary as he straightened himself back up.
He was awake, he was here, he might as well run a check-up. He put the datapad down, leaned over, and put his left hand on Sideswipe's helm, holding him still. The red mech narrowed his optics at him, but cooperated. Ratchet ran his fingers over Sideswipe's neck and partway down to his shoulder, where the plating had been blasted away and the cables ran exposed. He prodded his fingers into the cables lightly, spreading them apart, looking beneath them, checking for any signs of further needed repair. Sideswipe's mouth twitched, obviously still in pain, "You done?" he snipped.
Ratchet glared at him, but stood up and said, "Almost." He pulled the scanner out of Sideswipe's berth, connected it to the cable running out of the datapad, and ran it over the mech's neck and shoulder a few times. The receptors were still repairing themselves, with many still inert and those that were functioning no doubt pulsing pain, but the junctions were connected snugly and whatever jumbled signals were being received were at least being transmitted along the cables smoothly.
It would still be a good mega-cycle before the pain really went away, and several more before those sensitive systems lost their ache, and probably near a deca-cycle til their finely tuned inner workings would be fully repaired, but Ratchet had reconnected, replaced, and repaired all the major damage, and there was nothing more he could do. Certainly nothing threatening lingered, and the medic had every expectation of turning the red mech loose later that day, and he also expected he would be happy to be well rid of him by that time, if either Sideswipe's or his brother's previous behavior towards being cooped up in the medbay for prolonged periods was any indication.
"Looking good," he said as he straightened up, putting the scanner back in its dock.
Sideswipe squinted and sneered "You're so kind" as he stretched his neck and tried to resettle comfortably on the berth.
Ratchet bit back a retort, knowing it was just the proud warrior's way of dealing with pain, and really, he was more cooperative than a certain yellow glitch he could think of. Ratchet was too tired to really engage in the usual verbal jousting anyway. "Hmph," he said dismissively, and scanning over certain sections of the readout again, he said, "You could still use more rest, and your circuits will repair more quickly in you're recharging."
Sideswipe narrowed his optics and worked his jaw, obviously not the response he was looking for, and looked about to try and bait the bear again, but instead shrugged and acquiesced, for whatever reason Ratchet certainly had no idea. Instead he just scoffed and smiled. "Whatever," he said with a smirk and a slight wave of his hand, and laying his injured arm over his chest, he ended the conversation by quite obviously settling in to recharge.
Ratchet reached down towards the plate near the back of Sideswipe's helm, but when the warrior noticed he pulled away with a snort and a slap to Ratchet's hand, "Hey, what's that for?"
Ratchet slapped his hand right back, "Keep your voice down!" he hissed in an overly hushed whisper, as he pointedly looked back over his shoulder at the dark medbay and its recharging patients and then back at Sideswipe.
Sideswipe just glared at him, with nothing he could really say to that and instead ignored it, "I can recharge on my own just fine."
Ratchet sighed; the Twins never liked induced offlines, several of the warriors didn't. It made them feel vulnerable. "Sideswipe, you'll recharge more soundly if I induce it, and I don't want to listen to your complaining if I wake you up while I'm working."
Sideswipe took in a deep breath, but again seemed to hold himself back and finally visibly deflated, and with an obvious pout gave a very grudging "Fine."
Ratchet reached forward again, but Sideswipe suddenly turned to speak.
"Primus" Ratchet heaved with a sigh.
"No, no" Sideswipe interrupted, trying to keep his voice down to keep from disturbing the other mechs. "Look, about Sunny..."
Ratchet looked at him contemplatively, "Conscious through that were you?"
"Conscious enough, look-"
"Don't," Ratchet cut him off, "your brother and I worked it out ourselves."
Sideswipe looked rather concerned with that answer.
"Peacefully," he said, crossing his arms, but when he saw the mech's completely disbelieving look, he amended, "Relatively. Sideswipe," he dropped his arms, "it's fine. I promise. Your brother did some disastrously stupid things yesterday, but we've covered it. And besides," he said with a sigh, "this is as much his business as mine, and he's touchier about these things. If you want to know, ask him first. There's nothing about this he shouldn't want to talk to you about.
"But," he added, "you make it clear to him that if something like that ever happens again, I will ban him from this medbay unless he's carried in here."
Sideswipe seemed to chew that over, and settled for asking, "So you're okay?"
"Yes, Sideswipe, I'm okay. We're okay. Now then-"
"Where is he?"
Ratchet was about to just forcibly shut the mech down, but he took a calming breath and said, "Our spark to spark seemed to mellow him out some, and I actually managed to get him to recharge in the examination room instead of in that chair right there. I'm sure he'll be in as soon as he wakes. Anything else?" he asked, tone very clear there better not be.
Sideswipe seemed able to settle with that, if still eyeing the medic a little suspiciously, but shrugged his shoulders and laid his helm back on the berth.
Ratchet huffed and finished opening up the back plating on Sideswipe's helm, the Lambourghini not resisting and seeming more or less consoled. Ratchet sent in the signal to put the red mech offline, and when his optics dimmed and the hum of his processors whirred down to a lower pitch, he closed the plating and turned away.
Ratchet shook his head to clear away some of the awkwardness of that conversation. There were few mechs he could tread through inner ground with, and he and the Twins hadn't quite worked out that system yet. With a sigh, he leaned one hand on an empty table and looked over the rest of the medbay. Everyone else seemed to be as offline as they were expected to be, and Ratchet had every intention of leaving most of them alone til morning, but there were a few he needed to check up on.
As he walked across the room, he looked at the drains in the floor and the corners of the tables, knew how much precious fluid had spilled into them yesterday, and also knew that all that energon, coolant, and lubricant was already being filtered, separated, sterilized, and tanked for future use. Inevitable future use.
Ratchet rubbed his face with one hand and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was exhausted, always exhausted. There was never enough fuel and the Decepticons were always hunting and the humans were never prepared and the Autobots always felt the need to fling themselves into danger and Megatron never stopped and neither did Optimus. Still pinching his nose, he took a breath and let it out, dropping his hand and approaching Cliffjumper's table. This was hard enough back on Cybertron, with a whole staff of doctors and aides, specialized ORs, and ships bringing supplies every deca-cycle or so. Now it was him, just him, and the mechs he had come to care entirely too much about. Medical work requires complete and total objectivity, and as he looked down at Cliffjumper's face, the brash and loud bot who was perpetually unaware of his being half his enemies' size and had a penchant for Earth speed metal, he revisited the grueling fact that he'd lost that objectivity thousands of years ago with this crew.
But, he'd accepted that fact long ago as well, and knew the affection would distract him but also drive him, give him the boost he'd need. Even if it would drive him mad one day. Pushing all that aside, he pulled the scanner out of Cliffjumper's table and held it over his chest, steady, right over his spark chamber. He stared at the datapad carefully, analyzing the spark-wave readout undulating across the screen. The intensity was low, but the frequency was steady and at an appropriate rate for a bot his size. Weak but healthy. Ratchet nodded and put the scanner back, pausing to look at Cliffjumper and shake his head before the door to the medbay suddenly whooshed open quietly. He flinched, not because he was startled, but because he knew what was coming.
"Ratchet!" Wheeljack hissed as he made a beeline for the white mech. "I only gave myself three cycles, how long have you been up?" As he parked himself in front of the taller medic, he leaned in with narrowed optics and added, "You did go recharge right?"
"Don't you look at me like that. And I've only been up a couple breems," Ratchet raised his hands placatingly, "I had an alarm synchronized with Jazz' monitors, he came online and I came to check on him."
"Hm," Wheeljack continued glaring, "this doesn't look like Jazz," he said, motioning to the red minibot whose table they were standing beside.
Ratchet got slightly irate having to explain himself in his own medbay, "I was up, I decided to check on the others while-"
"Yes, yes, back to your office. Now." Wheeljack had already grabbed Ratchet's shoulder and was turning him around. He was arguably the only mech on the entire base who could interrupt Ratchet like that and get away with it, as the medic even growled at Prime when he felt he wasn't being listened to.
Ratchet very pointedly stopped himself and said, "Brawn's energon levels need to be checked."
"Which I am more than capable of doing," Wheeljack countered, nudging Ratchet towards his office again. He knew better than to even try to get the CMO to go to his proper quarters, but a berth was a berth at this point.
Ratchet sighed and acquiesced. He really was exhausted, and he knew Wheeljack was only doing his job; as friend and as medical assistant. Someone had to look out for the doctor after all.
Wheeljack keyed the door open and ushered Ratchet inside. "Sit," he said as he keyed the door shut and dialed up the lights a bit, still dim but able to work by. Ratchet collapsed on the edge of his berth with a heavy sigh, elbows on knees and a hand rubbing the back of his helm.
Wheeljack stood appraising him for a moment and finally said, "You look awful." And he really did. The mech had obviously gone straight from the OR to his berth, probably just collapsing as soon as he got in there and going straight into recharge. He'd never bothered getting cleaned up.
Ratchet looked up at him, puzzled, then down at his arms and legs as if noticing this for the first time. He had dried energon all over him, long smears on his legs and splashes on his arms and chest, with bright green coolant running down most of his right side as well, and areas that had gotten lubricant smeared in with them were still wet and glossy. Ratchet reached for a large datapad sitting on a nearby shelf, still turned off and its screen black and reflective. He took one look, then flicked the datapad onto his berth and groaned, head hanging. He had energon smeared over his brow and coolant splashed on his cheek. No wonder Sideswipe hadn't played hardball, the glitch had probably pitied him. He ground his jaw at that, embarrassed that he'd apparently looked miserable enough for a Lambo to go easy on him, quite ready to go wake the mech up and tell him otherwise.
Wheeljack sighed and walked over to Ratchet's desk, "Ratch, come on, relax, whadda you think I care how you look?" he said as he opened a cabinet and pulled out some rags and a bottle.
"It's not you," Ratchet said, "it's Sideswipe, he was downright compliant when I was with him earlier. Now I know why." He was staring at the ground harshly when Wheeljack knelt in front of him.
"Hmph, your Big Bad Medic image took a knock today," he said sarcastically, "about fraggin' time, too many don't understand what you go through around here." He unscrewed the cap on the bottle and began dabbing it onto one of the rags.
"I'm fine," Ratchet said, and jerked his head back when Wheeljack brought the rag near it, "and I'm fine now too," he said mulishly, moving to take the rag himself.
"Ratchet, please," he pulled the rag back towards his head and held Ratchet's gaze, "let me do this."
Ratchet stared at him. Wheeljack, the one mech he could let go and give the wheel to sometimes. The engineer's optics bored into him, wanting only to help his friend. Ratchet knew it wouldn't be fair to stop him.
He sighed and hung his head, Wheeljack putting a hand beneath his chin and picking it back up, that hand moving to Ratchet's shoulder while the other began dabbing at energon stains. "Primus, Ratchet, you've gotta take better care of yourself."
Ratchet hmph-ed as Wheeljack wiped above his optics, "That's what you're for, isn't it?"
Wheeljack pulled back to refold the cloth and dab more cleaner on and then shoved a finger in Ratchet's face, "Slaggin' right. So you listen to me."
Ratchet gave him a tired smile as Wheelack wiped the last of the coolant off his face. He folded the cloth over itself again and poured more cleaner on, moving down to wash the coolant out of the cables of Ratchet's neck.
Ratchet looked up slightly to give him better access. He sighed, "Thanks, Wheeljack."
Wheeljack looked up at him and flashed his headfins affectionately, then dropped the first cloth entirely and grabbed the second, pouring a liberal amount of cleaner on it and moving to clean the energon off Ratchet's arm.
Ratchet's optics dimmed under the ministrations, and he leaned forward slightly and rested his head on Wheeljack's shoulder, letting out a heavy sigh.
Wheeljack glanced back slightly, smiling beneath his faceplate. He gave Ratchet a playful bump with his headfin, which only elicited a tired grunt, and rested the back of his helm against Ratchet's as he settled in to continue wiping all the muck off.
They stayed like that for a klik, Wheeljack wiping down all of Ratchet's upper arm and moving to tackle his lower arm, which was nearly coated in various fluids. He shook his head and laughed softly at Ratchet's pristinely clean hands, as he'd continually washed and sterilized them between patients, but the rest of him had been completely neglected.
"What?" Ratchet asked, not moving from Wheeljack's shoulder.
"Nothing," he said, "just you," and he bumped one of his knees against Ratchet's.
"Hmph." Ratchet sat there, letting the tension leak out of his frame. He felt Wheeljack rubbing small circles down his arm, and let out a shaky breath. It was moments like these that kept him grounded, let him know that he wasn't fighting for every single one of these mechs lives by himself, that he wasn't alone. He nestled his head further into Wheeljack's neck, letting his friend take care of him.
Wheeljack finally cleaned off the top of Ratchet's lower arm and put the rag down on his knee. He grabbed Ratchet's wrist to pick up his arm and turn it over, and then noticed the extra weight. He sighed, "Ratchet, did you even empty out your vacuum tanks?"
"I was busy," he said, shifting to get more comfortable.
Wheeljack glanced at the ceiling and shook his head, Primus. "Open up," he said, tapping Ratchet's arm.
A small panel retracted and one end of the internal tank tilted out. Wheeljack grabbed the protruding end and pulled the rest of the tank out, nearly filled with energon and coolant, and put it on the floor. He'd dump that into the medbay's filtration system later.
He managed to get the last of the energon off Ratchet's arm, and feeling the medic cycling air against his neck, decided not to make him move just yet. So he dropped the rag he'd been using and picked the first one back up, which was still quite clean compared to the second, dabbed on some cleaner and began wiping down the half of Ratchet's chest he could see.
The rag squeaked over the broad windshield as he wiped it clean, Wheeljack steadily making his way down. He felt his other arm, currently snaked around Ratchet's waist, taking more of the medic's weight and smiled beneath his mask. Rarely did Ratchet let go like this, and after all these vorns it still touched the engineer, although he wished the surrounding circumstances weren't so inevitably dire.
He reached Ratchet's hip and refolded the cloth again, then began wiping down Ratchet's thigh. He scrubbed the long smears in small circles, the dry purple stains slowly lifting away. Wheeljack reached Ratchet's knee, and gave his shoulder a small shrug, "Alright, time to sit up."
Ratchet did, and looked steadily into Wheeljack's optics, "Thanks 'Jack." He leaned forward slightly until his chevron clinked against Wheeljac's helm, "I needed that." He sat back again and smiled softly.
Wheeljack beamed at him, then flashed his headfins. "Always," he said, as he reached down and grabbed the other rag and tossed it at Ratchet.
Ratchet caught it and opened and folded it a few times, looking for a clean spot, and both mechs went about cleaning the rest up. Ratchet wiped down his arm, while Wheeljack wiped down his chest and leg, the two of them sitting in companionable silence.
Ratchet finished first, and let his arms drop while Wheelack rubbed the last of the coolant off his knee. The engineer rose from his position on the floor, took the rag from Ratchet's hand, and walked across the room, dumping the dirty cloths into a receptacle in Ratchet's counter.
Ratchet leaned forward and sighed; he felt immeasurably better. He pushed off his knees and stood up, stretching slightly.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Ratchet dropped his arms and glared at Wheeljack questioningly, not appreciating his tone. "I told you, there's several things that need checking."
"Primus take you Ratchet," Wheeljack sighed in exasperation as he recrossed the room, "you're going back into recharge!" As he reached Ratchet he pushed on the large mech's shoulder and seated him back on the berth.
"I know your routine, they need rest and you're not actually going to do any work on them. You just need some readings for reference in the morning, which is," he quickly checked his chronometer, "three cycles from now." Wheeljack dropped his arm from Ratchet's shoulder, "Primus knows you need more than that, but you will recharge at least that much before you begin the next stage of repairs."
Ratchet sighed, "And what about you?" he asked slightly challengingly.
"I'm going back to fraggin' recharge too!" Wheeljack leaned down so they were on optic level, "The only reason I'm down here is because I knew you needed those readings and were probably up taking them." He put his hand on Ratchet's chest and pushed slightly, "Now lie down."
Ratchet gave in and lay down, helm thunking back against his berth. He really did need the rest. "Brawn's energon levels need to be kept up."
"I know." Wheeljack said, backing towards the door.
"And check the suspension cables in Smokescreen's shoulder, I'm probably going to have to tighten them more."
"And go over everyone's soldering lines that are easily accessible, make sure they're ready for proper welding tomorrow."
"Right." Wheeljack stood there patiently, letting Ratchet indulge his need for control by at least giving orders.
Ratchet stared at the ceiling, going through his list and deciding the rest could wait. Except for one thing. "And make sure Sunstreaker's still recharging."
Wheeljack's hand paused over the keypad and he looked back.
"Don't open the examination door, he'll be up in a astrosecond, just check the camera feed and make sure he's out."
Wheeljack smiled beneath his mask, "Can do, Ratch." Ratchet cared about each of them immensely, entirely too much than was good for a medic, but there was no denying there were some he was more attached to than others. Primus knows why, Wheeljack shook his head and wondered, as he keyed open the door and left Ratchet's office.
Ratchet watched his friend go, wondering not for the first time how long ago he'd have snapped without him, but shuttered his optics and went back into recharge. Tomorrow was going to be another long day.
A/N: And there ya go, an impromptu chapter two. The medicalness took a backseat, and characterization was by far the focus, so that's what I'd like critiqued. Everyone seem right? I reworked Ratchet and Sideswipe's conversation four times, because they both care, but neither of them are touchy feely, so RatchTwins moments are always difficult. And I'm really hoping I didn't lay on the fluff with Wheeljack too thick, I can do that sometimes. Anyways, hope y'all enjoyed, and hopefully I can start making some more progress on my other projects too. Til next time!