Title: Ozone
Author: Femme4jack
Prompt: Prompt 1 for Botcon TF_Speedwriting. (Song prompt - Canned Heat - On the Road Again)
Fandom: Bayverse (pre 2011 movie, not compliant with tie-in novel)
Characters: Mikaela Banes, Ratchet
Rating: R
WARNINGS: cussing
Summary: Mikaela's normal coping methods aren't working
Notes: This was completely influenced by Merfilly's recent delicious Mikaela-centric stories (found on An Archive of our Own) as well as Dwimordene's Bridges (which is head canon for me, and is also an amazing read. Find her on my fav authors). I especially loved the idea in Merfilly's story about Mikaela taking the place of Ratchet's microbots. I really wish I could write something other that jilted Mikaela right now, but the woman has bound up all of my other muses and is holding them hostage until she works through this crap.


Ozone


It really wasn't a surprise to find herself alone and on the road again. Whether it was her dad or her ex-boyfriends, guys had been in and out of her life so many times she'd found a system for washing away the pain. When she'd been younger, she'd take long walks in the desert, sometimes all night long. Not like there was anyone who noticed.

When she was old enough, she rode. She'd grab a bike from the shop and hit the roads that wound their way around the mesas, preferably just before or after one of the monsoon thunderstorms left the air smelling like ozone. Seemed like the most painful parting of ways usually happened midsummer, the time of year when the thunderheads would mass over the Sierra Nevadas on a hot afternoon and begin their march to the east.

But this time, the ozone charged air was not helping her forget. It was too much like the scent of the sparks she had been working so close to. She had gotten to know that hair-raising, charged scent all too well over the years since she had taken the place of Ratchet's long deactivated microbot drones (her hands, laced with a spiderweb of scars from the cuts and burns, were a visual reminder of the hours clocked in close proximity).

Perhaps it was her imagination, but each spark smelt (and felt) like a different part of the storm. Bumblebee's was the hair raising scent and feel of a storm about to erupt, mostly calm, but with downdrafts from the approaching supercell that could hit you hard and even force you off the road if you weren't careful: the promise of a fury to come. Ironhide and Sideswipe's were the raging climax of the storm (Hide's the kind that came with golfball-sized hail), unleashing madness on the desert and filling the arroyos with flash floods that could cover a road faster than you could cross it. Ratchet's scent was the comfort of a storm that had mostly passed, of thirsty ground now quenched. You could still smell the focussed-fury in his spark, but it was also the more subtle scent of the late afternoon sun reemerging and warming the damp, desert earth.

Then there was Optimus. His spark was the entire storm. She could smell every one of them in him, and more. His spark somehow contained them all, and was both violence and gentleness and the sound of thunder echoing through the canyons.

She stopped the Harley at one of the arroyos flooded from the storm that had pummeled the Sierra foothills. She got off and sat next to the brown, muddy torrent, deeper than anyone unfamiliar with the danger would suspect. Soon enough, an engine stopped behind her, and its pitch and resonance, along with the unique melody of the transformation sequence that followed told her exactly who was there. But she would have known without the sounds. She could smell his spark.

She smiled.

She was such a little girl sometimes. She had not expected one of them would follow her after word of the fight had spread as fast as comm signals. No one had followed her before when she fled to the desert. But she had hoped.

"You believe that your presence with us is no longer valued, simply because you and your former mate have chosen to nullify your short-lived affiliation," he stated simply, but after spending her young adult years working so closely with him, she could hear the hurt in his slightly acerbic tone.

"You've had the materials to build a couple of drones for over a year, Ratchet. Even without sparks, they are going to be more useful than I am, and will last, what, like about a hundred thousand years longer than I will?" She tried to keep the little pouting girl out of her voice, but knew she failed entirely when he gave the electric version of a snort, and sat down beside her far more gracefully than anyone that large should be able. He offered her his hands so he could bring her closer to his optics, which she accepted, curling into the warmth that radiated through her leather.

"Drones aren't nearly as interesting to argue with, nor do they tell off my patients so spectacularly," he replied, the glint in his optics saying nearly as much as his words. "Besides, if I recall, you have been the one who has stuck with us all along, Mikaela," he added, acknowledging what no one had ever spoken before.

She shook her head, and finally laughed. Sam had been the one who had demanded to have the "normal" life, treating his best friend (thousands of years older and wiser then him) like some family Golden Retriever that he could give a pat and leave at home. She had been the one who had used her own money and contacts from the shop to scrounge parts, trying to locate the seemingly endless list of supplies Ratchet had requested before there was anything called NEST (or Budget Liaisons) in the Autobot vocabulary.

"Well, if you really can't make it work without me, I guess I can stick around and help out your sorry aft," she said with a smirk.

The fuck if she was going to let Sam take the smell of that ozone away from her.