Title: Spare Part
Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction. No harm was intended in the creation of this work. All rights belong to the original creators.
Pairings: non-romantic Sideswipe x Ratchet x Sunstreaker
Summary: The war is over and Cybertron is reborn. Soldiers whose lives evolved around fighting for survival, can finally become themselves again. However, not all mechs have found their place in this new society and one lost spark no longer knows who he is and he finds himself in the med bay, seeking solace.
A/N: This is really just a silly little fic (not silly haha! Just silly stupid, maybe^^) I started it a few nights ago and of the idea was born of my current circumstances so I had to get it out of my system. I am in the process of being made redundant from work and after years of working long hours and building a career that has become my life, this last week has seen me sat in the office with absolutely no work to do whilst waiting for my last day to arrive and suddenly, I feel like a complete spare part. :/ I guess I needed something to take my mind off things and this is what happened.
This story is in no way based on me other than the overwhelming feeling of Who am I? and Where do I go from here?
Apologies: To anyone who read this with the incorrectly formatted bond speach towards the end, before I posted the preview screen showed everything as I had input it but somehow FF messed with the formatting and dropped words. Thank you to DemonSurfer for pointing this out.
No one believed it would happen, the idea having become, inconceivable. Of course they could not be blamed for thinking this way as after all, it had been over ten million stellar-cycles since the war began and now, it was over. Now it was time to live their lives again but not all found this so easy. Some had become so defined by their role in the bitter war that they no longer knew who they were, no longer held any dreams and while others went around, busy with their new lives, a lone Autobot came seeking some kind of assurance that he was not as useless as he felt.
Ratchet was busy working through an inventory list, he had a demanding number of cycles ahead of him, starting in two solar-cycles and a lot to get through. The calibre of medics within the neutral camps had been poor, with most unqualified, and if this race of sentient mechanical beings was to succeed in rebuilding their world, they would need to be in tip top shape to do so and Ratchet was the one medi-bot that could be relied on to ensure mechs were in peak physical condition.
Humming an old Cybertronian melody of eons ago to himself, he almost missed the gentle swish of the med bay doors opening but this mech was no fool, he was always completely aware of his surroundings, always had an audial on alert. War had ingrained this behaviour into him and it would be something he would never forget.
What he did not hear though were any pede steps heralding the arrival of whatever mech had just entered his domain. Dropping his already low toned humming down a fraction of a decibel, he continued with what he was doing but all the while, his scanners searched the expanse of the med bay.
He was surprised when his scan came back clear, showing there to be no other energy signature within close proximity, well not in the med bay anyway. Outside, mechs were passing all the time but the door sensors were not so sensitive that they would open merely at the presence of a passing frame. Never breaking from his not quite in tune melody, the medic shrugged his broad white shoulders and continued with his task.
Meanwhile, outside the med bay a lone mech lingered, unsure of what to do. He had gone to enter the medical facility but as the doors had cycled open, he changed his mind. Instead he stepped to the side of the doors and allowed them to close again as he started pacing a small path back and forth, all the while twisting his servos as he tried to make a decision.
Finally, as he walked back towards the doors for the umpteenth time, he continued forward until he stepped over the threshold and into the med bay.
This time Ratchet knew that he clearly heard the door open and immediately scanned the space around him.
"I'm busy Sideswipe." His tone was low and warning.
The visiting mech remained silent, the momentary gentle hitching of his finely tuned engine the only audible evidence that Ratchet had company.
"You want to get that hitch checked out!" The medic never broke his concentration from the task he was already under taking, swiftly moving from one overly organised storage container to another.
Deeply hued optics dimmed, a small pout forming on his lips in protest. "I don't have a hitch!"
With his back still to Sideswipe, Ratchet's smirk was concealed. "It speaks!"
Not even an engine hitch responded that time.
"So what did I hear?"
The crimson mech glowered at the medics back, his servos tightly balling. "It was just…a hitch!"
Ratchet swung his frame around to meet his uninvited guest, smirk firmly packed away. "You're becoming more like Sunstreaker every cycle."
Sideswipe's brow furrowed in a deeper frown. "Not!"
"No, of course you're not. Now, unless the Unmaker himself has sent you here with a message, I suggest you get your aft outta my med bay now." The white and red mech had a lot to get through before the hordes were due to mess up his med bay and the last thing he had time for, was whatever immature plan the overgrown mech had planned.
The frown that had adorned Sideswipe's face had disappeared now and Ratchet caught sight of something small flicker through the front liners optics, correction, the former front liners optics. There was no longer any reason for a mech to be defined by what role he had carried out in the war. The former front liner looked as though he was about to say something but as quickly as he opened his mouth, he closed it again.
The two Autobots just stared at each other for a brief moment before the elder raised a single optic brow. "And…"
Sideswipe was in two minds over whether he should stay or not. He had not intended to rile the medic, for a change. Deciding the result of wandering this way was better than leaving, he finally found his vocaliser. "I just thought you could do with…"
Ratchet waited expectantly.
"…a servo in here." There, he had said it.
Aegean blue optics blinked once as Ratchet checked his audials. Yes, he had heard correctly, Sideswipe had just offered to help him. Of course, it had to be a prank. "Oddly enough Sideswipe, I think I'll be okay. Now go find someone else to wind up!"
The lone twin actually looked crestfallen at his response and once again, Ratchet's optics flickered in confusion. If he was not careful, he might find himself pulling a Prowl.
Dropping his optics to the ground, Sideswipe said nothing further and turned to leave, his frustration beginning to simmer slightly. Why was it that no one would take him seriously!? He did have a serious side, Sunstreaker could vouch for that. It was at the thought of his twin that his shoulders visibly drooped.
Ratchet failed to stop the small tug on his spark at the dejection that shrouded the normally annoying mech. Wondering if he was just about to fuse his circuits, he found himself vocalising. "Wait Sides…" What the slag was he doing!? "Maybe I could do with a servo around here."
Pausing mid step, a black helm whipped around, a rare look of uncertainty on his face. "Really?"
Nodding once, the medic walked over to a table and picked up a data pad. "Just outside the stock room door there are a bunch of spare parts, basic frame pieces that need to be catalogued before putting away."
If Ratchet was honest, he half expected Sideswipe to vent and dilate his optics at the mundane task, just as he always had in the past when sent to the med bay to serve his punishment for whatever stupid thing he had done that cycle, but much to Ratchet's surprise, the crimson mech silently took the data pad from the cherry servo and made his way over to the pile of parts.
Shaking his helm, the Autobot CMO returned to where he had been working before he had been disturbed and continued with his inventory.
With only a few metres separating the two mechs, not a word passed between them. Unable to bear the uncomfortable air that had settled around them any longer, Ratchet forced himself to break the silence. "So, where's Sunstreaker?"
Sideswipe's servo stilled for a moment before his digits clasped the next part he was about to catalogue and not looking at Ratchet, he gave a small shrug. "Out."
The medic looked up from the data pad he was working on. "Out?"
It seemed that Sideswipe would not be elaborating on his answer and Ratchet wondered why Sideswipe had not accompanied him. The two rarely moved anywhere without each other, which had always bemused the medic, when he was not fragged off with them, as some cycles all they did was snarl and throw insults at each other. "And you didn't want to go with him?"
Sideswipe tried to mask the sadness that cloaked his words. "He didn't need me."
Oh! What was one supposed to say to that!?
"I'm…well I'm sure that's not true Sideswipe." It was the only thing Ratchet could think of to say. A despondent Sideswipe was a new one to the medic and he was not sure how to deal with him.
Sideswipe momentarily glanced up, "Why does he need me when he has Smokescreen doing his bidding?"
Before the medic could respond, could even think of a response, the crimson mech had turned his attention back to his task in servo.
Ratchet continued to watch him for a breem before moving to the next stack of storage containers.
Sideswipe's processor had been idling away as he worked, wondering about things he never had to ponder about before. Sunstreaker did not need him any longer. It was the truth, nothing more, nothing less. Now that the war was over, now that the inhabitants of this damaged planet had started living their lives again, Sunstreaker had found time to paint, and paint he did. So much so, that before long he had enough pieces for a gallery showing, had there been any galleries left on Cybertron.
Smokescreen was ahead of the game. He somehow had managed to cast his optics on what Sunstreaker had created and the shrewd mech had succeeded in arranging a small gathering to showcase the golden artist's talent. If the Cybertronian inhabitants were rebuilding their cities, their lives, their homes, surely they would want to decorate their new homes, right?
At first Sunstreaker had been reluctant, telling Smokescreen to frag off and mind his own business but Sideswipe had talked him round, made him realise that this was his chance at a new life, a chance to start again and eventually, his twin had conceded that maybe Sideswipe was right.
Of course, Smokescreen had taken over all of the arrangements and as he finally whisked Sunstreaker off to meet his potential buyers, Sideswipe was left alone.
Shifting his optics sideways, he checked Ratchet was no longer watching him and once he was happy that the medic was lost in his inventory list again, he pressed the back of his servo against his cheek plate, just below his optic, stopping the small pool of lubricant that threatened to spill down his cheek.
Unfortunately for him, Ratchet had been watching through his peripheral vision, catching the small action.
Keeping his secret glance cast on his unexpected assistant, Ratchet watched as Sideswipe picked up another part and started turning it over in his servos. Slowly he ran his lethal digits over the structure of the frame, it was clear that it was the lower part of an arm; this one even had the mechanisms for a servo waiting for plating already attached. Maybe it had been built for someone specific before no longer being required.
Sideswipe started musing over the reason why this part may not have been used. Possibly the mech it was intended for did not survive or maybe it had just built ready, waiting to be used one cycle but whatever the reason was as to why it was still here, it was nothing more than a spare part.
"Dontcha think it's sad."
Although the words were almost softly spoken, Ratchet was still startled when Sideswipe spoke. "Eh!?"
"This." The younger mech held up the arm frame for Ratchet to see, before nodding his head to the rest of the pile. "All of this. All useless parts, all completely lifeless when not part of…something…" Then almost as an afterthought, he added, "part of a frame. They just lay here waiting to be…useful…" finally the disconsolate words tapered off and Sideswipe just stood there, staring at the part in his servos.
He could not explain why this little pile of parts made him feel so sad, all he knew was that he felt a connection with them in his spark as he looked at them.
For the second occasion in the short period time that Ratchet had been in Sideswipe's company, the medic felt a tug at his spark and he wondered if Sideswipe was actually talking about the spare part in his servos, or if he was referring to himself.
Sideswipe did not give the medic the opportunity to come back with any response as he finally continued.
"Who do you think this arm was intended for?" A soldier, a wrecker…what about a fearless front line warrior!?" His optics brightened for just a nano-second before they returned to the dull shade that Ratchet now realised that they had been.
"Like I said…" Sideswipe vented. "A spare part. Not really needed, well not now the war is over."
Finally Ratchet understood what Sideswipe was saying; he felt like that spare part he held onto.
Had he not said that Sunstreaker no longer needed him, not when he had Smokescreen to do his bidding for him?Sideswipe had spent an inordinate part of his life fighting, both as a gladiator and an Autobot front liner, Sunstreaker had lived the same life too but now the war was over, now that the Cybertronian race could look to rebuilding their lives, Sunstreaker had his art, he was an artist but Sideswipe, well he clearly he did not know who he was, not any more.
"Oh Sides…" Ratchet faintly vocalised. "Have you told anyone how you feel? Have you spoken with Sunstreaker?"
Gruffly Sideswipe replied, "I don't feel anything about anything!"
The white and red mech stepped a little closer. "Sideswipe…"
Sideswipe eventually looked at the medic face on, no longer bothering to hide the coolant that visibly pooled in his optics. "I shouldn't have to tell him! 'Sides, I'm the one who told him he had to take the opportunity to sell his art so what right do I have to complain."
An unexpected urge to comfort the younger mech pulsated through Ratchet's systems and he continued to move ever closer.
The crimson Autobot turned away, no longer able to control the stream of coolant that now streaked his cheek plates. Clenching the spare part tightly in his servo, Sideswipe berated himself for his youngling type behaviour. He was…no, he had been…a fierce front liner, he should not cry. As he tried to control himself, his engine hitched as his frustration over his inner feelings boiled over and he slammed the incomplete appendage to the floor.
Turning on his pedes, he tried to flee the med bay but he had missed the moment when Ratchet had closed the space between them, his first awareness of the mech's close proximity was when a cherry servo grabbed his arm.
"Get the frag off me!" He mumbled.
He was beginning to feel humiliated and just wanted to get the pit away from the med bay. It had been a stupid notion to come here in the first place and he had no idea why he sought out Ratchet's company, after all, it was not as if the medic liked him. Sideswipe had spent too many stellar-cycles deliberately fragging him off.
"You're not alone Sideswipe." Ratchet intoned.
Dull optics flickered at that comment as they pierced the floor.
"You cantalk to me…if you want to."
Sideswipe almost sneered at the medic as he threw him a sidelong glance, almost confirming Ratchet's earlier comment about becoming more like Sunstreaker.
At that reaction, Ratchet released the white and crimson arm. The mech may be a bit of an idiot but when he was upset, he was not to be trifled with. "Or don't." He would not force the Autobot.
The older of the twins remained rooted to the spot, he was torn between remaining there and fleeing, however his desire for company compelled him to stay. Not moving from his stance, Sideswipe's barely audible words floated through the silence. "Who am I Ratchet?"
The medic watched Sideswipe intently as the younger mech's optics shuttered, leaving dark orbs of contemplation.
Ratchet wanted Sideswipe to know he could open up to him without fear of ridicule and he placed his servo back on Sideswipe's lower arm. "Sideswipe, talk to me."
Optics flickered back into life, back to their normal hue and Ratchet assumed the moment had passed but they settled into a dulled light once more. It was almost as though the raucous mech had lost his spark.
Sideswipe kept his frame only half twisted towards the medic. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. Sunstreaker has his talent, his art but me, I'm nothing. I'm a front liner, a fighter and that's all there is to me. Without the war, I'm nothing...just a spare part waiting for someone to come along and find a use for me."
Sideswipe's despondency was palpable.
Pulling the crimson mech towards him, Ratchet released his arm and cupped his face in his servos, forcing his normally mischievous optics to look into his own. "You are not nothing!You may play the fool but I know there is more to you than that."
A small frown creased Sideswipe's pale brow plate. He wanted to believe Ratchet, believe he was more than a fighting machine but where was the evidence to prove he was anything but.
Ratchet was disappointed to see that he had not reignited the fire that usually burned in the optics that looked imploringly at him. "This is your chance to become whoever you want to be Sideswipe. Live that life that you never had."
Not sure what else he could say, Ratchet loosened his hold on Sideswipe's face but the younger of the two raised his own arms and placed his servo's on Ratchet's white plated arms, holding them in place. He wanted the older mechs' comfort just a little longer and the two stood in silence, optic to optic, both in their own little bubble of contemplation.
Suddenly the sound of the med bay doors sliding open, sliced through the reflective atmosphere and the latest visitor to the med bay stopped mid stride, not quite sure if he could believe his optics.
Neither mech acknowledged the third presence immediately and it was only when a surge of intrigue and annoyance ignited in Sideswipe's spark, that he came back from wherever he had temporarily lost himself to and whatever moment was happening between Sideswipe and Ratchet, was gone.
Sideswipe finally pulled his helm away from Ratchet's servos to look over his shoulder, confused as to why his twin was here. "Sunny?"
:What the Pit are you up to?:
Sideswipe felt embarrassed to have been caught like this, sharing a moment with the medic but he was still trying to clutch at the tendrils of comfort that Ratchet had provided and he became defensive. :Nothing! What's it to you anyway!?:
Sunstreaker cocked an optic brow. :Nothing going on eh!?: He drawled through their bond. :So why d'you feel embarrassed?:
Trying to focus on anything but Sunstreaker, Sideswipe shrugged in response.
With the change in Sideswipe's frame language, Ratchet knew that they were conversing through their bond and he felt like a spare part, just as Sideswipe was feeling. How could none of them have seen this!? If he thought about it, Sideswipe had become withdrawn, had not been so loud and tending to keep himself to himself when Sunstreaker was not around.
'I'm so sorry Sideswipe.' Ratchet silently apologised to himself, his guilt over not picking up on the mech's state of mind, washing over him.
Not wanting to break the silence but wanting Sunstreaker to know his twin needed taking care of, Ratchet braced himself for an abusive onslaught. "Sunstreaker, Sideswipe is feeling a bit…"
He was cut off by a dark flash in Sunstreaker's optics as they flicked from Sideswipe to Ratchet, before the cold cobalt light settled again, a smirk settling on his lips at the same time. "You think you need to tell me how my twin is feeling!" His vocaliser dripped with sarcasm.
The medic narrowed his optics at the arrogant behaving mech. He wished Sunstreaker would just drop this slag, stop being such an aft all the time. "So I don't have to tell you Sideswipe is feeling…left behind."
Sunstreaker's haughty expression softened as he moved his optics back to his crimson counterpart. "I know." He whispered loudly. "I know."
Turning to face his twin fully, Sideswipe felt the first reaches of spark deep comfort from him. "I never meant to leave you behind Sides and when I realised, when I felt how you were feeling, I came back."
Sideswipe found he could not respond, his self-pity threatening to choke him.
Sunstreaker stepped into the small void between them and pulled his brother into an embrace. "You're the most important thing to me, no matter what."
Eventually Sideswipe croaked, "But the exhibition…."
"Is not important right now. You need to know your place is by my side, as mine is by yours." Sunstreaker, who would sooner slag a mech than let them see him show any tender feelings, was not at all phased that Ratchet was watching and he pulled his twin in tighter. Sideswipe needed him and he let him down, unwittingly leaving him behind.
"You've a chance to make something of yourself Sunny and me, I'll just drag you down." Coolant threatened to spill down Sideswipe's face again. Feeling this way was unusual for the boisterous mech and he was not sure how to handle it.
The medic knew he should leave the twins to their privacy but he found himself mesmerised by their interaction. Their closeness had always been evident but their constant bickering and fighting had hidden the depth of their connection to one another. Of course, they all saw how the bond united them when they were in battle, the two almost becoming one but now Ratchet was witnessing the true bond between them and he could not help but be in awe of it.
Pushing Sideswipe away from him slightly, Sunstreaker pressed his fore-helm onto his brothers, his optics boring into Sideswipe's own. "You'll never drag me down. You've been my foundation and without you, I'm nothing."
Sideswipe surged through their spark bond, searching for the truth behind the words and as Sunstreaker met him, there it was. His twin meant every word and Sideswipe relaxed into his brother's embrace, relieved that he still meant something in Sunstreaker's life.
"So, what d'you say to persuading a couple of punters that my work is worth spending their newly earned credits on!?"
"But Smokey, he…"
"Doesn't have a patch on you Sides. Yeah, he can talk the talk, got me the gig but he doesn't have the optic for my work, whereas you, you know me like no other, you know what those paintings mean."
Finally the dullness that had clouded Sideswipe's optics cleared and they became orbs of mischievous light again.
Letting go of the crimson frame in his arms, Sunstreaker started to lead the way out of the med bay. Sideswipe immediately followed him but before he left, he paused, turning back to the medic who had comforted him, who had not ridiculed his feelings. "Thank you."
Ratchet felt a warm glow in his spark at Sideswipe's gratitude and he gave a small warm smile.
When Sunstreaker realised that Sideswipe was not beside him, he quickly reappeared at the door, mock venting "C'mon glitch, my art isn't going to sell itself."
Before leaving again, he cast a glance over at the medic, his optics relaying his own kind of thanks.
Ratchet gave a small nod at Sunstreaker in acknowledgement and as the twins left him to his peace, he allowed himself a small chuckle. Now Sideswipe would be in his element, smooth talking his way around a room full of mechs is what he did best and maybe, he would just find his place in this new world.