Summary – "In loneliness, in sickness, in confusion – the mere knowledge of friendship makes it possible to endure, even if the friend is powerless to help. It is enough that they exist. Friendship is not diminished by distance or time, by imprisonment or war, by suffering or silence. It is in these things that it roots most deeply. It is from these things that it flowers." (quote credit Pam Brown) – In the early days of the war, a young engineering student and a medical intern are thrust together for survival when their school becomes a battleground. A long-lasting friendship is born in smoke and terror.
Author's Note – Roughly based on the G1 continuity, pre-canon. This is part of my "Designation 24601" series, my version of Wheeljack's background. Please see my profile page for reading order. Cybertronian time measurements: vorn = 83 Earth years, stellar cycle = 1 Earth year, deca-cycle = about 3 Earth weeks, solar cycle = 1 Earth day, a joor = about two Earth hours, breem = 8.3 Earth minutes, astro-second = .498 Earth second.
The format of this story is something a little different for me. This stems from a role-play log on LiveJournal between me and my friend Reve ("yellow_ideya" on LJ). I played Wheeljack, she played Ratchet, and we kind of both handled the NPCs as needed. What we wound up with . . . kinda blew us both away. We felt it was worth cleaning it up and sharing it with others so, with her permission, I've done just that. The difference in format is that the story is told more or less simultaneously from two points of view. I know that it breaks a cardinal rule of fiction writing (looking at you, MyAibou :winks:), but to adapt it any more than I have, so that it sticks to one's POV or the other's, would be to lose a great deal of awesome material by either one or the other of us, so I've not changed that. Hopefully, it won't be too distracting or disruptive. Also . . . I normally have stuff beta'd before I post it, but . . . uh, yeah. Again, I'm sure it needs to be edited more than I'm willing to do at this point. So. Enjoy!
Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. We get no monetary benefit from this. Our benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
"The Ties That Bind"
by Yellow_Ideya & DragonDancer5150
Chapter 1 – "Not You Again!"
Strangers are just friends waiting to happen. – unknown
Wheeljack was in the university med-bay. Again. This was . . . what, the third time this deca-cycle? He was on the verge of getting kicked out of his thermodynamics class. But he was so sure his statistical agency theory was sound! He just had to work out a few last variables!
And clean up the lab. Again.
He swung his feet a little as he sat on the repair berth waiting for whatever intern the head medic sent to deal with "that crank-cased glitch from Engineering". He didn't think there was actually anything wrong this time, maybe just some adjustments needed. He wasn't obviously injured, and nothing internal really felt out of place. He was pretty sure his teacher had just wanted to get him out of there before shehurt him.
At length, he heard footsteps in the hall outside the exam room and braced himself for the usual tirade.
The word 'long' didn't even begin to describe the shift Ratchet was so closeto finishing. It almost made him miss the days of academia where at least if he was losing recharge cycles, it was over a relatively energy-taxing act like studying. But this was just one of those shifts where it felt like no one else had wanted to deal with the things they passed on to him just because that was what you did when you were top mech in the ward. Oh for the day when he'd be the one up there rolling the slag downhill.
The datapad he'd been given with his last visit of the shift didn't mention a name, and it looked easy enough; maybe there was someone cutting him a break after all. The moment the door slid open and he caught sight of the mech waiting for him, however, that momentary glimmer of optimism went up in a puff of ether.
"...Oh no." He knew this one- who didn't in this ward? It was getting to the point of a running gag, and Ratchet was feeling like he was being made into the aft end of it. "Again?"
He chucked the data pad onto a nearby table, giving up on whatever it might have said because, with this one, it could be anything. A quick visual assessment ruled out anything obvious, but he wasn't about to get his hopes back up. "Wheeljack, our favorite accident victim," he started, his tone measured and calm, "why are you here? For once, you're in one piece. Don't tell me you've managed to poison yourself now?"
It was hard to get too upset with the mech- he struck Ratchet as nice enough, and for the most part he seemed to mean well, but the intern just wished that he didn't have to see him show up here for things that could probably be avoided.
"...Oh no. Again?"
Wheeljack flinched in surprise and looked up from watching his gently swinging feet appear and disappear from view under the edge of the berth. He'd been waiting so long that he'd begun to wonder if they'd forgotten about him . . . or had just decided no one wanted to be bothered with him this time. He couldn't really say he'd blame them, either.
"Eheh..." His vocal indicator flanges flickered softly with the sheepish noise, optics lightening a little with the grin his immobile faceplates couldn't properly express. It took him only a second to recall this intern's name. He'd been making an effort to learn everyone's designations, figuring it was only right since they had to keep patching him back together every other cycle. "Hey, Ratchet. Ah, no. I . . . a-actually don't think there's anythin' wrong this time. I think Teach just wanted me outta the lab before shedid somethin' ta put me here." He looked down, kicking his legs again in a moment of pensiveness. "Probably writin' up the paperwork ta the doyen now for gettin' me out. Fraggit, an' I was so sure I had it this time!" He paused, then let it go with a soft cycle of air through his exhaust vents. "Oh, well. I've got my notes. Maybe I can talk the doyen inta lettin' me take the class again next semester with another teacher."
To pull himself out of the threatening funk, he looked up, head tilting a bit at the intern. "You? Must be close ta the end'a your shift, yeah?"
Ratchet just crossed his arms, shifted his weight, and listened to the explanation. Could he really be this lucky? On the one hand, he wasn't particularly happy that the faculty had foisted their student off on them-on him-but at the same time... he could probably just write this one off and actually leave on time. He did believe Wheeljack when he said there wasn't anything wrong, or at least trusted that he would know best what had happened to him. He was alert, coherent, wasn't displaying any signs of pain or discomfort... and Ratchet was getting off easy for once.
"You are all that stands between me and blissful freedom," he answered, considering the question further beyond the obvious answer; considering Wheeljack himself. Maybe the reason he kept getting the younger engineering student foisted on him was because somehow they'd figured it out that he could deal with this. A part of him understood what Wheeljack was trying to do each time he ended up in Medical.
Finally he moved, grabbing up the datapad he'd just discarded. "But since you've been given over to the tender mercies of my care, I suppose the least I could do is take you off your professor's hands for a while. Recommended treatment: outpatient care. Let's go."
Wheeljack winced, and his gaze dropped. "Nnnn, sorry." He knew what it was like to be almost close to done with something only for "one more thing" to come up and set him back.
He peeked up again as Ratchet went on, his tone wryly amused. "Ya do know that a phrase like 'tender mercy' comin' from a medic doesn't usually mean anythin' good for the patient, right?" The last surprised him a little, though, and his head popped back up the rest of the way. "Huh? Where? I-I mean...sure!" He hopped off the berth, ready to follow.
He half expected Ratchet to just sign him out and send him on his way, getting him off the intern's sensor nodes so he could leave on time. That's what most anyone else would have done, not that he minded - there really wasn't anything to do, after all - but something in the intern's tone suggested otherwise. If nothing else, the engineer was curious.
Ratchet answered Wheeljack's observation with a knowing smirk that left about as quickly as it came; of course he knew. It was exactly why he'd chosen those particular words. Quake in fear, lowly patient!
The deal was, this wasRatchet signing Wheeljack out and leaving on time. It all just happened to be transpiring at the same time and in the same direction. He palmed the door open and led the engineer out into the hall, entering a couple quick notes into the datapad as he walked. "As your attending medic, my diagnosis is that you're healthy and sound of processor aside from a possible case of overactive ambition. I recommend quarantine in the campus lounge while the symptoms subside."
He dropped the datapad off at the central desk, waved to the small group of fellow interns gathered together for the start of their shift and exited the ward with Wheeljack in tow.
Wheeljack tensed at "quarantine". He'd had plenty of medics - and other faculty - threaten him with as much, but no one had ever actually tried it! But then the rest of Ratchet's words caught up to him and he relaxed, nodding. "Yeah, I think I can do that."