Author's Notes: Sometime this summer, I will update the rest of my many, many fics. But this plotbunny hit me when I was watching Triage for the millionth time. It also came from two lines of dialogue from a completely unrelated series, and of which the context of said dialogue is not known. These quotes are at the top and bottom of the story and should be centered, if the formatting works correctly. I also got all my know-how on scratch repair from a website.
"I don't know why I ever helped you."
"You needed something?" the acid in the medic's tone would have been obvious to a hatchling, but Soundwave chose to ignore it. He remained where he stood, in the doorway of the sickbay.
Knock Out turned to face him. Irritation was apparent on his scratched faceplates. In one hand, he held a welder and was clearly in the process of repairing his tire. It lay on a large instrument tray along with a variety of other tools.
Slowly, Soundwave moved forward. Knock Out narrowed his optics, but there was none of the good-natured deduction and reaction that movement signified when the medic talked to Starscream. There was anger, and a healthy amount of fear. Cautiously, the medic limped forward, leaking a trail of Energon.
With a grimace, Knock Out straightened to look into Soundwave's visor. The medic's optics, undamaged despite the abuse his face suffered, scanned his visor, looking for some tiny crack, some justifiable reason for Soundwave to be back.
"The sealant appears to be holding, so unless you plan on getting into a fight anytime soon you should be fine."
Soundwave held out his hand.
"What do you want?"
Soundwave looked pointedly at the welder.
"I can handle it by myself."
His outstretched hand remained. Knock Out seemed to swallow a growl before putting it into his hand.
Soundwave gestured to the operating table. Knock Out glared at him before flopping down on it, and wincing as he did so.
Knock Out watched as Soundwave approached, optics jumping from the spymaster to his surroundings and back again.
Soundwave picked up a syringe of anesthetic. He plunged it into Knock Out's leg, just above the knee and waited for it to take effect.
The medic was silent, but his shoulders were shaking ever so slightly.
After the requisite amount of time had passed, Soundwave put the welder back on the tray and selected an instrument to clean the wound; a sickle shaped probe that would scrape out whatever was stuck in there.
The angle of the table didn't allow Knock Out to sit up entirely, but he managed to watch Soundwave closely as the other Decepticon began to examine the wound.
Soundwave's free hand rested on the medic's leg, holding it in place when he jerked away. Although his leg was numbed, Knock Out could probably feel the rocks and debris being scraped out. And he could certainly hear them hitting the metal tray that caught them before they could hit the floor.
His dental plated were gritted as he watched Soundwave clean and wash out the wound. Fresh Energon dripped into the tray.
It was an uncomfortable silence, but it was silence. And Soundwave was used to working in silence.
The injury sterilized, Soundwave picked up the welder and Knock Out's tire. Knock Out tensed.
"Why are you doing this to me?" his voice was tight, with barely contained anxiety.
Soundwave paused his work.
"…strive to run a tight ship, Knock Out." Starscream's voice played back.
Soundwave removed his hand from the medic's leg. Two hands would be required for this, and he highly doubted Knock Out would be comfortable with his feelers anywhere near the injury.
His answer seemed to remove Knock Out's fear of death by surgical instrument. Though the medic continued to stare at his work, he visibly relaxed; his shaking stopped and he began commenting on Soundwave's work.
"A little to the left." Soundwave obliged, aligning the tire against the white-hot metal. Carefully, he pulled two parts of the medic's damaged leg plating together with a clamp, applying the cooling sealant in response to the medic's dry comment of leaving him with a scar worthy of usurping Starscream's punishments. Steam rose up as hot metal met the gel-like substance.
Upon closer examination, the spymaster noted coolly that the damage was more extensive than he'd first guessed. He hesitated.
"Keep going," Knock Out waved one hand absently. "You're almost done anyway."
The medic paused for one moment, looking nervous as he realized how insubordinate the comment sounded. But Soundwave continued, ignoring the somewhat penitent looks he was sent. He applied sealant liberally; until the racer's lower leg was nearly covered in it.
Knock Out looked at his leg with a grimace that only held malice toward all the body work that lay ahead. He moved to get up, but Soundwave looked at him pointedly.
Soundwave straightened, feeling his backstruts pop back into place. He made his way to the Energon dispensary and removed a full ration of Energon. He handed it to Knock Out, who injected it into his arm with only one suspicious look.
Knock Out leaned forward, resting one hand on his newly repaired leg. His optics met Soundwave's visor.
"Thank you." The medic sounded like he was choking on his words. Soundwave couldn't help but note how the medic's tone had changed.
Soundwave nodded once in acknowledgement of Knock Out's thanks. He stood, making his way to the cabinet where he knew the racer kept his cleaning supplies. Considering the sheer variety of products the Knock Out possessed, Soundwave chose several quite at random and turned back to Knock Out.
From the medic's tenuous thank-you to Soundwave returning, Knock Out looked suspicious once again, as if Soundwave was planning to kill him with a buffing rag.
"Did Megatron put you up to this?" he asked abruptly, leaning back into the operating table as Soundwave approached as if he was trying to get as far away from the other Decepticon as possible.
Soundwave placed the cleaning supplies on the instrument tray and shook his head, once.
"Oh." The medic usually had a comeback for everything. Not this time. He didn't resist as Soundwave pulled his back away from the operating table. Looking at it closely, Soundwave could see exactly where the train had hit him and dragged him across the wall.
Deftly, Soundwave pulled Knock Out up into a standing position, and gestured to where exactly he should put his hands to support himself. His injured leg was useless, limp under him.
Soundwave washed off the medic's back, hearing the liquid splash to the floor as it removed the particles of dirt that coated it. While it was still wet, he applied sealant to fill out the scratches and to ensure none of them were actual injuries.
With the easy part done, Soundwave paused to take a cleaning rag from the instrument tray. Knock Out's arms were shaking as they struggled to balance his unbalanced, drugged body. It was almost unnoticeable, but Soundwave could detect the slight displacement in the air.
Soundwave dried the medic off, trying to be as nonthreatening as possible. The scratches were becoming slightly less visible as the sealant had time to settle in, so he applied a glossy liniment to the paint. Knock Out tensed; it might have stung.
Soundwave took the portable oscillating polisher in one hand. It felt unbalanced, too unwieldy, and not his first choice of a weapon. He moved it in slow strokes down the medic's back as the device's deafening whirring drowned out whatever protests Knock Out might have made.
When Knock Out began to move away, Soundwave turned off the polisher and picked up a rag. Thoroughly, he rubbed off the white dust the polisher left in its wake, leaving the medic with a scratch-free back. The liniment must have also been some sort of wax, because the plating shone in the dim light.
Knock Out turned around to face him. He looked slightly more relaxed than before, but the fear, the suspicion and the anger were still there.
Soundwave placed the rag on the instrument tray. He nodded once to Knock Out, who relaxed again once he realized Soundwave was going to leave, though his arms were still shaking from the effort of holding his body upright.
His work was done. Soundwave walked out of the sickbay, glancing back only once to see the medic touching the paint on his back as if it was something he had never felt before.
"Because you like broken things."
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