Every Drop

A Transformers Prime FanFiction

Jack gripped the game controller tightly in his hands and stared unseeing at the TV screen. There was a screech from the speakers and he was aware of Miko shouting gleefully as his car dove off the side of the track and exploded. The girl contained herself long enough to finish the last lap before going into her victory dance.

"Woohoot! Who rocks? I rock! Eat that Jacko!" she shouted as her lithe form bounced around him.

"You rock Miko," the young man said absently, trying desperately not to look over where Ratchet was closely monitoring the consol. "Best three out of five?"

The girl stopped for a moment and stood there arms akimbo, glaring at him.

"Like, NO way!" she enunciated clearly with a mischievous smirk dancing around the corners of her mouth. "There is no sport in this! You," she pointed dramatically at the lanky teen, "are not bringing your 'A' game. I feel the need for battle! Not slaughter. Raf! Get you geeky little self over here and give me a challenge!"

Jack bit back the harsh words that rose up at Miko's casual attitude. A defensive mechanism, his mom had called it. Just like Raf burying himself in the computer he was now pulling reluctantly away from, the girl's attitude shielded her from the fear. The young man idly wondered if he could develop something similar as he pried his fingers off the control and handed it over to the younger boy.

Like a moth to the flame Jack found himself drawn to the main consol. Four blue life signals.

"Optimus, Bee, Bulkhead, and Arcee," the human whispered to himself, identifying each individually, taking comfort in their strong vital stats. He tried very hard not to count the red life signs surrounding them.

There was a sudden flurry of activity. The lights moved rapidly across the board. Ratchet let out a small noise. Jack looked into his optics and saw the rapid flickering he had come to recognize as comm. chatter passing far too quickly for human ears to follow. The human glanced over at the two younger children, completely engrossed in their game. Thank heaven for small favors, his grandmother's voice chimed in the back of his mind. He shifted his attention back to the screen.

The four signals were retreating rapidly up a canyon now with a pack of Cons almost on top of them Optimus slightly in the lead. Jack felt a surge of hope. The pattern meant they had collected enough energon that only the Prime could carry it all. The others were running interference until they got enough space between them and the Cons to safely bridge back to base.

"Ratchet?" Jack rested his hands on the groundbridge controls.

The medic gave him the briefest of glances and a curt nod. The human entered a set of coordinates several hundred yards down the ravine and watched as the blue signs slowly pulled ahead of the red.

Suddenly one of the blue dots slowed. Ratchet let out a low string of curses. Jack focused on the controls and forced himself not to look at who had taken a hit. The key board was hot under his hands and there was a cold weight in his gut. The medic spun away from the controls and rushed into his lab. Jack heard the rising hum of medical equipment.

"Groundbridge now," Optimus's voice suddenly rang through the base.

Before the Prime had finished the first word Jack had shoved the levers down. The portal flared to life and a filthy semi came roaring through. Breaks screamed in protest as the truck decelerated and slid sideways to a stop, barely avoiding the far wall. A green SUV, also covered in mud and dust, followed leaving skid marks on the concrete floor. Jack held his breath and stared at the portal willing her to appear. Finally a yellow sports car burst into the base with a blue figure clinging to him.

"Arcee!" Jack called out; the pain in his voice tore through the silo.

"Get her in here!" Ratchet snarled.

Bulkhead transformed and scooped the fembot gently off of Bumblebee. He had to take a moment to gently pry the servos of one hand off of the muscle car. Her other arm hung limp covered in glowing blue fluid; the frame it connected to was crumpled and torn. Jack silently followed the green mech into the lab. He watched as Ratchet hooked Arcee up to an energon drip and began sealing the worst of her leaks. Slowly the energon stopped dripping onto the floor. Jack noted with detachment the ped-prints Ratchet left around the lab from stepping in her spilled energon.

The human felt utterly useless, watching the red and white mech work so efficiently. Optimus and Bumblebee were silently unloading the raw crystal energon to be processed. There was a lot. Bulkhead was calming Miko and Raf. Jack waited and watched until the medic turned to him and said curtly.

"Tell Optimus she's stable for now, but he'd better get that new batch processed soon. She's going to need it."

The human nodded and reluctantly left his partner to deliver the message. He found the other bots and children back in the refining room. None of them looked happy.

"Optimus?"

The human suddenly found himself the center of attention.

"How is she?" Miko asked eagerly.

"She's stable," Jack said and watched the wave of relief spread through the room. "But he says she'll need some of this batch soon, so it needs to be processed."

"Dang it! Isn't that just how it works?" Miko exploded.

"What's wrong?" Jack asked.

"These crystals are tainted," Optimus said calmly. "They can still be processed into useful pure energon," he reassured the human, seeing the fear in Jack's eyes, "but it will take time, and the refining process will use nearly half this supply."

"I see," Jack said gloomily as he turned to give the news to Ratchet.

The medibot only grunted and continued working when Jack told him. The human climbed up to a vantage point where he could watch the proceedings without getting in the way. Arcee looked bad. Her optics were shuttered and her face tight with pain. Her chassis under her left arm had taken a direct hit and was crumpled in dozens of places. He thought he was handling it rather well. But after a short time Ratchet glanced up at him and frowned.

"Go home Jack," the medic said flatly.

"What? But I want to stay. I want to be here when she wakes up," he protested.

"Jack, I've seen this before," Ratchet said, Jack was surprised by the sudden compassion in his voice. "There is nothing you can do for her and it's eating at you."

"I guess," Jack admitted awkwardly.

"If you were one of Prime's bots I'd pull rank and order you out of here. Seeing as your not will you simply take my word that this is for the best and go home?."

Jack felt the weight of the responsibility the Autobot was placing on his shoulders. He hung his head and stood. The human got as close as he cold to the injured bot and murmured goodbye. He walked heavily over to the groundbridge and dialed up his garage. With one final look over his shoulder the young man disappeared into the green mists. Ratchet gave a sad smile and returned to his patient.

Jack stalked through his house for a few minutes. He tried watching TV, homework, housework. But he was caught up on his studies, June kept the house too clean to need much work, and nothing served to keep his mind off his injured partner. Finally he jumped on his bike and just peddled like mad. Riding a bike a top speed without much care for where you're going is not the safest of pastimes. This imprinted itself firmly into Jack's mind when he rounded a corner and rolled into a sandwich board that wasn't usually there.

A few seconds later, legs tangled in the bike's frame, palms stinging from their sudden impact with the concrete, Jack stared down at the offending sign as he caught his breath. Bright red letters and an arrow pointed the way into a parking lot. 'Find someone else you can do something for. It will help.' Ratchet's words circled around in his head. With a sudden grin Jack leapt back on his bike and rode home.

It took a little searching but he soon found everything. He grabbed his backpack and walked out the door. It took longer on foot but soon he was standing in front of the large plain doors of the local community church gym. He realized he was holding his breath and shook his head. There was nothing to be afraid of. He stepped firmly through the door.

The gym was filled with a quiet sense of nervousness and pride. White coated figured moved efficiently among the reclining tables with glowing smiles on their faces. Groups of people with looks varying from outright fear to boredom sat in two separate collections of folding chairs. Jack shivered and rubbed his arms. It was cold in here.

"Young man, are you here to donate?"

Jack jumped slightly at the kindly voice. He looked over at the reception table. Two elderly women sat there smiling benevolently at the entire world but at him in particular right now. Their curly white hair was held in place with identical red cross-shaped hair pins and both wore white dresses with red vests. The only difference he could see between them was one wore glasses and one didn't.

"Um, I don't have an appointment. Is that okay?" he asked nervously.

"Of course dear," Grandma One smiled even wider, filling the massive room with good will.

"Just come over here and we'll get you started," Grandma Two continued for her. "We'll need to see some ID first."

Radiating peace and contentment the two women, who were sisters he discovered, led him through the paperwork. The kept up a steady stream of chatter, taking turns as they signed all the documents.

"Oh, this is your first time? Remember there are doughnuts for you afterwards!"

"Yes the local Lions club was good to us this time."

"Last time we had raisins and fresh fruit from a local farmer."

"Now if you just have the signed consent for from your mother. Oh you have it here already! How efficient you are dear boy! Oh, this was signed several months ago."

"Yes, she gave it to me then but I never ended up using it," Jack stumbled to a halt and glanced at the ground. He'd backed out of the school blood drive at the last minute. Needles. He shuddered and stiffened his spine.

"Oh, it will be fine. Now you have a seat and read this packet all the way through," they finally said and handed him a thin plastic folder.

Jack sat down next to a man in miner's garb, boots still covered in jasper dust, and carefully read through the pamphlet. It listed several illnesses; some he had heard of others not. There were long lists of forbidden medicines. Questions about what countries had he traveled to recently, and doctor's prescriptions. Finally he closed the booklet and handed it back to the smiling women. They gave him a number card and a small survey to fill out after everything was done and directed him to another set of chairs.

Jack found himself next to the miner again. The man smiled at him.

"First time?"

"Yes. Is it that obvious?" Jack asked nervously.

"Nah, I just over heard the two receptionists. This'll go quick. Don't you worry," the big man said confidently. "Boss lets us all out to donate when the Red Cross drive comes through. No way to set it up over at the mine so we all take turns coming here in the company rigs."

Jack nodded, he had seen several of the mining company pickups out in the parking lot.

"I'm O negative so I like to give as often as I can," the miner continued.

"Hey me to," Jack interrupted him.

"Well, here's to us universal donors!" the man chuckled.

His number was called and he got up. Jack watched him follow the nurse into a little cubicle. He shivered again. It was cool in here.

"Number thirty eight?" someone called. Jack jumped and stood up.

"That's me," he said.

"Come right this way please," the man in the white lab coat said. His name tag read Joe. A phlebotomist Jack suddenly remembered. They were called phlebotomists.

The man led Jack to a cubicle and asked for his ID. He confirmed all of the information the receptionists had taken and then pulled out a lancelet. Jack stared at the innocent looking plastic device in trepidation. Being the son of a nurse he knew what that was.

"Now I'll just draw a quick drop of blood to test your iron levels," the phlebotomist was saying.

Jack held out his hand and the man swabbed it with and alcohol swipe. He held the lancelet up to Jack's finger and touched the trigger. The young man felt a small prick. The worker swabbed the puncture once more and gently squeezed the finger. He touched a thin white strip to the bead of blood that formed and dropped it in a small red machine.

"That will check your iron levels. You need at least a 12.5 to donate," Joe explained.

The machine chirped and displayed its results.

"13.7, you are almost ready to go!"

The next step was to answer each eligibility question covered in the pamphlet he'd been given at the beginning. The phlebotomist explained how the computer worked and then left. Jack read them carefully but answered the questions as quickly as possible. It was cold in there and he wanted to get this over with. Finally he flipped the sign over to show he was done. The man came back and led him to one of the recliners.

"All right, just climb on up here and get settled in," Joe indicated the padded table.

Jack obeyed and rolled up his right sleeve. The man carefully placed a series of items in a row.

"Now please put your arm in the arm rest."

He took Jack's arm and carefully swabbed the inside of his elbow with iodine, then drew two purple lines.

"Those will mark where the vein is," Joe explained. "Hold this please," he placed a heart shaped piece of red foam rubber in Jack's hand. "Now squeeze so those veins stand out. Now you may want to look away."

Jack stared up at the ceiling and felt one quick jab.

"There we go, now give the heart a good squeeze. There you go! This vial for testing and this vial too. Now just lie here and call me if you need anything!"

Jack lay there and tried not to think about his blood draining into the bag below. Arcee. That worked. His mind suddenly filled with the image of her lying on that berth, waiting for the new batch of energon to be processed. Suddenly being here wasn't so scary, thinking of his partner back at the base. This wasn't going to do Arcee any good he knew, but hopefully it would help someone in a similar situation.

"And you are done!" Jack's train of thought was interrupted by Joe's cheerful voice. He blinked in surprise as the man gently and quickly pulled the needle out of his arm and applied a piece of gauze.

"Now just keep your arm elevated and put pressure on this until I say stop. I'll get this bag tagged and ready to go."

Jack held the gauze against his arm and waited. Soon the nurse wrapped red medical tape around it and sent him over to the snack table with instructions to not do any heavy lifting for several hours. As promised there was a large stack of still warm doughnuts. Jack again found himself next to the miner who was happily munching away on a maple bar while filling out his survey. The young man selected a bear claw and sat down. The survey was a simple form and he was soon done.

"Not so bad, was it?" the miner asked as he got up to leave.

Jack shook his head and smiled through a mouthful of doughnut. Yet another grandmotherly woman urged a can of juice on him before he left.

The base was quiet when Arcee onlined her optics. It was late; eleven thirty local time by her internal chronometer. She looked down at her numb arm and saw that her entire side was in a brace. The cyclebot grimaced. That would keep her out of action for some time. She glanced around furtively for Ratchet. It sounded like he was out in the base proper. If she was careful she could be up and about before he noticed. It was always easier to argue points of your health with the medibot from a standing position. Then she noticed the form beside her.

"Oh, you are good, Ratchet," she muttered quietly to herself with a frown.

Curled up asleep beside her was Jack, his head pillowed on his backpack. He wasn't touching her but any movement on her part would no doubt wake him instantly. He looked exhausted. There was some kind of thin red bandage on one of his arms. Jack might have succeeded in insisting on staying in the base until she woke up; especially as it was not a school night, but the medic wouldn't have let him stay so close unless there was a very good reason.

"Emotional blackmail," Arcee growled very softly. She couldn't bear to wake her partner when he was sleeping so peacefully, and probably had been up worrying late too. With a long sigh she settled back down onto the berth and let her optics offline again. The warmth emanating from the sleeping human was soothing she had to admit. The healing subroutines slowly pulled her under again.

Optimus slipped silently into the med bay once he was certain Arcee was in stasis. Gently he laid a soft blanket over the sleeping human. The leader of the Autobots looked down on his charges and a slow warm smile spread over his faceplates before he quietly stole out.