"Ratchet," said Bumblebee, walking alongside Spike as they entered the medical bay. "Are you busy?"
Ratchet, elbow-deep in someone's chest cavity, turned to look at them. "Oh, not really," he replied with surprising calm. "Almost through. Should be done in a moment. Hello, Spike."
Spike nodded hello. "What happened to him?"
Suddenly the someone—Sunstreaker, as it turned out—sat up; Ratchet vented a deep sigh and withdrew his hands; he cocked his head, looking irate, as if to say: now you've done it. Good going. "I'll tell you what happened—those lousy, rotten Decepticeeps got the drop on me! Great army, all right. Attacking when someone isn't looking!"
"You act surprised," Bumblebee pointed out, smirking.
"Isn't it an unwritten law or something to lay off a guy with a fresh wax or new paint job?"
"Oh, please," Ratchet grumbled, approaching Sunstreaker again. "This is a war. Lie back down."
Spike agreed. "It's not a bad idea, but I doubt they'd actually follow through."
Sunstreaker scowled, shifting away from Ratchet. "Probably not."
Ratchet swept his hand between the chatterbots. "May I continue?" he set a hand on Sunstreaker's chest and pushed him back on the berth. He only just picked up his wrench when the bot shot up again. "Not this time, you don't!" he pressed an elbow into Sunstreaker's shoulder. Hard.
"And would you believe Sideswipe drove away with everything intact?" Even Ratchet's roughness wasn't enough to quiet the annoyed bot. It was markedly harder to rant with one hand in your chest and the other jammed into your shoulder plate, but he managed. "Not a scratch on him! And here I am, in need of another wax job. He couldn't make sure he was the one getting banged up back there? Some brother."
Everyone knew he wasn't really upset with Sideswipe; he always was a little explosive after a scratch or ding. Or worse, such as in this case. Bumblebee guessed it couldn't be easy being so vain; sort of like having your hands welded together. You'd be constantly inconvenienced, and maybe even desire special treatment. When it came down to it, though, even though Sunstreaker could be brash, conceited, and difficult to get along with, he was a valued asset to their team, and extremely loyal.
"Gee, Sunstreaker," was all Spike managed to say; that about summed it up. "I'm glad you're all right."
"All right?" he scoffed. "I ripped his—" Ratchet dug his elbow in even harder, making him wince. "Let's just say he won't walk back to the Decepticon base. Or drive. Or go back at all." His voice was grim, but also prideful.
Eventually he was back on his feet, thanking Ratchet for a job well done in his own way, which was mainly complaining: couldn't he have been a little more gentle? And if he found so much as a dent, he'd be back, bet your nuts and bolts. Spike and Bumblebee waved goodbye and watched him leave, then looked back to Ratchet, who was wiping first his wrench (and not his hands, Bumblebee noticed), with a greasy rag. He kept on wiping it, too, even after the grease was gone. Polishing, almost. Well, at least he wasn't brandishing it.
"What'd you two want?"
"Oh, right...I wanted to talk to you about something."
He nodded. "Go ahead."
"You haven't noticed anything...weird, have you?"
He looked skeptical, and maybe a little bit amused. "Define weird?" he set the wrench down and finally wiped his hands clean, muttering. "Well let's see here...Prowl's had his foot jammed up my tailpipe the last couple of days." He shook his head, waved his hand. "Something to do with Jazz. I tell you, those two are really starting to grind my gears."
"Yeah!" Spike said. "He just told us in the rec. room that Jazz wants a ki—uh, a sparkling," he finished, sending an unsure glance to Bumblebee.
"You're joking," was all Ratchet said. He didn't even frown.
"You mean neither of them has talked to you about it?" Spike looked shocked. "He said they'd been arguing about it."
Bumblebee verified that it was indeed true. "He was practically laying on one of the consoles! And he did this thing with his mouth—egh. The point is, he's hasn't been acting like himself for a while now."
"I could've told you that." Ratchet snorted. "I've checked him over, though; he's fine. Jazz, too. I thought maybe he developed a personality glitch or something, but I guess bots change..." he trailed off. It was something everyone said, even the humans; that people changed. Bumblebee supposed it could be true for certain people, but not someone like Prowl. It just didn't make any sense.
Spike said, "Bumblebee says he isn't the only one."
"Oh?" the CMO's voice was intrigued. "Well, you seem fine to me Bumblebee, and Sunstreaker didn't seem any different than usual."
"Prowl and Jazz are one thing, but the others...they're acting odd, Ratchet, I'm telling you. I just can't put my finger on it."
Ratchet casually shrugged. "If you say so. I'll keep my optics peeled, if it'll make you feel any better."
"It would, thanks."
"I've got some work to do," Ratchet announced, shooing them off. "Run along."
Exchanging a curious glance with Spike, Bumblebee did as he was told. He desperately wanted to poke his head back in and catch Ratchet in the act of polishing that damn wrench again.
He was almost positive he was.
There was no sugar coating it, no way around it: Inferno hated him. After all, he'd just went off somewhere without telling him—without taking him. Without even offering. They weren't bonded, but it just didn't seem right. Inferno was his.
Red Alert stared at the floor in disbelief as he walked. It didn't matter where he was or where he ended up, what was important was that he kept moving. He feared what could happen if he stopped.
What if the reason he hadn't seen him all day was that he was dead, and no one had had the spark to tell him? Poor old Red Alert, all alone with no one to care for him. He felt his systems surge, his insides felt odd; and then he felt a flare of anger hit his processor.
No, that...that was crazy talk, that wasn't him talking. Inferno was not his—he shook his head, tried to think clearly—and could go where he wanted, do what he wanted. The strange, possessive thoughts began to wane, but just barely. It wasn't Red Alert's job to keep tabs on him; he was a grown mech, and more than able to fend for himself. He had interests that didn't involve Red Alert at all, and that was perfectly acceptable.
...Still, he would feel better knowing where he was, at least.
It took him a second to realise where he was, and how far from Teletraan 1 he was. As luck would have it, he only had to back-track it a couple feet, and so he did. Even better, no one was around. Good. At least this way, he thought, approaching Teletraan 1, he wouldn't have to hide what he was doing. They checked on things all the time, he told himself. He wasn't doing anything wrong.
"There they are."
Inferno was, as Bumblebee predicted earlier, with Optimus. They were heading back, by the looks of it. He felt instantly better, very much relieved. He smiled, even, thinking how ridiculous he had been before. Must have been the glitch talking, he thought.
He decided he had done enough worrying for the day ("would be nice, wouldn't it?"), and would for his quarters to rest, and maybe recharge. He was obviously in need of one, judging from the panicked and somewhat possessive thoughts from before. The other mechs could go slightly longer without, but due to the (sometimes overwhelming) amount of stress he put up with (or created), he tended to need a quick recharge every so often.
"Thanks, Teletraan. I appreciate the help."
Nodding his thanks, he stepped out into the hall, and took off for his private quarters.
He could wait until later to see Inferno. No big deal.