Where I am Needed

A Transformers Prime Fanfiction

Set Before "Project Predacon"

Swift.

Ratchet stared blankly at the wall of his laboratory, grey faceplates slack with shock and his azure optics wide with terror and awe. Worn servos trembled violently; resting on his lap where he had collapsed in a sitting position, and coming close to dropping the scanner that rattled against his plating. The interior of hanger E was darkened for the night, the powerful arclights powered down and only the soft yellow emergency lighting filled the steel and concrete structure. In the small area he had claimed for his medbay the flickering light of one monitor cast a green glow over the twitching lip plates of the red and white mech.

Swift.

"Impossible," he whispered harshly to the empty air.

The one word echoed off the silent walls making the medic flinch and braking the spell he was under. The warriors and their human charges were scattered across the planet; some working, some playing, leaving the medic in blissful peace for a few short hours. For a fleeting moment Ratchet wished he had simply defragged the base computer as he had planned but dismissed the thought. It was always better to be aware than to be ignorant, no matter if that knowledge shattered your world irreparably. With a groan he staggered to his peds and began to close the medical records he had been backing up in preparation for the defrag process. The records that had survived the destruction of Autobot Base Omega One for the simple reason that he always kept the backups stored to his own external memory.

The first was Optimus's, and attached to it Daybreaker's. An impossibly long list of battle injuries interspaced with mercifully few records of infection and illness and regular maintenance checkups on the part of the Autobot. There, at the very end of the record was a large subfolder detailing the link that existed between the last if the Primes and his human sparkling. Ever since the medic had been made aware of the guardian bond the number of checkups had risen sharply. Ratchet would have liked to blame the increase in attention on Starswarmth's concern for her son but honesty impelled him to admit his own scientific curiosity and personal care prompting the scrutiny. Fortunately the many scans had showed only the strengthening and maturing bond and the healing of Jack's heart where the nearly imperceptible traces of three broken bonds showed as energy scars.

The healer's optics lingered over the glowing green Cybertronian script that detailed the very nearly complete bond between the Prime and the human. A pang of bittersweet regret flickered through his spark. Soon the connection between Optimus and Jackson would prime (an ancient and sacred term, very appropriate to the action); perhaps in only a few short years. The free exchange of emotion and sensation between the two would slowly dry up and end, leaving only the permanent awareness of the other. For now the two made the most of their time together, wise beings. With a warm exvent the medic closed the file.

The next was Bulkhead's. Fewer combat injuries, more accidental damage. There, close to the end, was a single spark scan taken before they had had to abandon Omega One, when he had still had access to his lab there. It had surprised Ratchet only that the Wreckers had been the first of the partners to come to him. He had thought it far more likely that the sensitive scout would approach asking for the confirmation. The memory file played over unbidden in the quiet of the base as he reread the data.

"Uh, Ratchet?" the medic heard the powerful green mech shifting nervously as he stood behind the red and white Autobot.

"What is it?" Ratchet snapped shortly, his optics never leaving the scrolling data.

"We feel funny!" a smaller voice interjected quickly.

The healer glanced sharply down at the thin girl standing uncomfortably close to his peds and triggering his sensors. He shifted his legs to get away from the itching sensation but she followed staring up at him pleadingly.

"We need you to run some scans," she blurted the words out quickly and snapped her mouth shut as if she wanted to reclaim the escaped request.

The medic arched his optic ridges and felt a small flicker of concern light in his spark. Miko and Bulkhead both detested being at his mercy. For them to request a scan was odd to say the least.

"Very well," he consented watching as both Wreckers visibly relaxed."What are your symptoms?"

"Ah," Bulkhead looked oddly at Miko and the girl stared blankly into space for a moment.

"We feel…funny?" she offered.

The medic snorted and rolled his optics.

"I need something slightly more specific than that Miko."

The tension between the two was clearly rising with the girl giving off stress pheromones and Bulkhead shifting nervously from ped to ped, optics darting around the base as if looking for an excuse to bolt. His thick green servos came up to brush his spark chamber and suddenly something clicked in the medic's processor. Understanding brought a flood of compassion and he briskly turned off the monitor and ushered the mech into the medical bay, scooping up the girl in one hand as he moved.

"Very well. A few quick scans will not interrupt my work schedule unduly. I will start with a general spark health scan. Bulkhead," the medic nodded towards the medical berth and the Wrecker climbed almost eagerly up. "Miko lay here," Ratchet placed her on top of the broad green chestplates and took a few moments to carefully tune his integrated scanners.

Both lay perfectly still as the light played over them. Turning away he fed the data into his lab computer. Bulkhead sat up and stared with a hungry intensity at the scrolling code and reflected in the gleaming metal of his lab the medic saw Miko cross her fingers. Within moments the analysis was finished and a diagram of a healthy spark displayed brightly on the screen. His own spark gave a small twinge as he turned with a careful calm and reported the null result. The warrior's broad shoulder guards slumped and Miko gave a small sound of protest.

"Are you sure? I mean, maybe you can do another scan or a different one?"

The twinge in his spark sharpened a bit at the look in her golden eyes and the medic crouched speaking to them both but never taking his optics off of the girl. As gently as he could he explained that the test was sure, that the results were certain, and the girl nodded silently in acceptance. Bulkhead tenderly scooped her to his shoulder and they left the medical bay with dragging steps.

The file closed and Ratchet gave a bittersweet exvent as he moved onto the next.

Raf had been far more eloquent, more sure of his questions and not afraid to ask it frankly when he had scampered up to the medic after school one day. His brown eyes had been aglow with eagerness and Bumblebee had been bouncing behind him on light peds radiating hope and wistful longing. The scout had let the boy do all the talking as Ratchet had once again agreed and positioned them on the medical berth.

He had found something that time; an odd synchronicity between Bumblebee's spark pulse and Raf's heartbeat he had not recorded before. That had been easily traced back to the energon infusion that had saved the boy's life after he had been infected with dark energon. It was well known that energon retained the rhythm of the spark it had been circulating in for some time after removal, and human cardio cells were certainly documented in their tendency to synchronize beats when exposed to each other.

Still the red and white Autobot could tell that it was not the result they were hoping for. Although Bumblebee looked as if there was a little relief mixed in with the disappointment. The forlorn little sigh the human had let out had made Ratchet's spark clench painfully, a reaction far stronger than he had had for Miko. It took all of his self control to leave comforting the boy to his young partner and not snatch Raf up himself. The strong emotions disturbed the medic and he was perhaps a touch harsh shooing them out of his lab when the examination was over.

Closing down the file Ratchet shook his helm in silent disbelief and concern. How had he missed this? All of the signs were there. The horrific damage he had taken when he had challenge Megatron under the influence of the synthetic energon. Of course he had attributed the weakness in his armor to the corrosive effects of the vile concoction he had injected himself with. At that point there had been no reason to believe that there was any other reason, that it was physically possible for there to be any other reason. Also there were signs that the expected reactions had been muted by programs similar to what he had found in Optimus, a prospect that made the medic's energon burn with personal rage. It made sense given the twisted logic of the long dead Senate to hamper the medic of the Prime and he cursed the arrogant mechs. Still, he frowned in frustration at his own blindness; at the precious time it had cost him.

Time. A shiver ran up his frame at the thought. How much did he, did they, have? So few years, already ticking by so swiftly. Each beat of the small pump a countdown to the inventible stop. His own attention needed for the war effort; unable to give his everything where it was truly needed. Was this what Optimus was going through? Of course it was, the medic scolded himself as he shook off the wave of self pity, only compounded infinitely due to the Prime's greater responsibilities. How did his friend handle it? With a groan the old mech hit the lever that turned off the computer display.

"Primus," he whispered the sacred name; a curse at his own stupidity and a prayer for forgiveness. "I told him to his face I was abandoning him."

He shivered at the memory of the junkyard. The brown eyes looking to him for support, for reassurance, for hope, and then simply finding it within himself when the medic had nothing to offer him but harsh words. A glow of fierce pride nearly eclipsed the pain of the memory. Nearly.

"Don't you have little ones who need you?"

The question was now like a stinging slap across his faceplates. Would he still be there had it not been for that strange encounter with the odd Earth creature Franklin? It was something he didn't want to think about. Darker still came the memory file of the defeated Autobots carrying their human charges back from Cybertron. Ratchet felt as if ice were gripping his spark as he ran over what he had said, what he had implied. Placing the restoration of a dead planet over the home, over the very life of the children, and yet Rafael had still trusted him enough to seek the old mech out. A sickening wave of shame washed over him. He was not worthy to carry this gift. How could Primus grant it? Or was this the twisted joke of some Earth deity?

Fortunately Ratchet's dark musings were interrupted by the sound of a powerful engine. Ultra Magnus rolled in pulling a trailer he had acquired from some far corner of the human's base for the storage capacity. Once the container was in place he transformed and nodded absently with a murmured, 'Doctor', before rolling out again to check some function on his ship.

"This is all your fault you know," the medic muttered with a small quirked smile at the retreating commander.

It had been indeed a scolding from the strict officer that had prompted the scan that had so stunned the red and white Autobot. When looking over the base records in preparation for the necessary computer defrag the rigid mech had noted that while each of the warriors had a detailed medical file Ratchet's was conspicuously barren; with a few of Optimus's careful and accurate notes and a scattering of the others'. After a long and icy debate the medic had thrown up his hands in frustration and declared he would simply run every test on himself now and take copious notes for the Commander's peace of mind. Somewhat to his surprise and annoyance the red and blue mech had taken him at his word and seem quite pleased with the preposterous solution. Thus the medic had ended up performing a through spark scan on himself with the base computer in disarray.

What he had found.

Despite all of the worries and fears flitting through his processor the old mech could not keep a broad smile from creeping over his face plates. He had been slowly reaching out with his processor and spark feeling for what he knew must be there. He had found it easily enough, hidden by the cursed programs foisted on him long ago, but hesitated. Better to wait until Rafael was safely back at the base and would not be disconcerted, until he could explain in person, until he could watch the look on the precious face. So the old mech continued his work and waited. In due time the hanger filled with the hum of a high performance engine and a black and yellow sports car swung in through the door. Bumblebee transformed and called out happily to the medic but paused seeing the odd look on his faceplates.

"Come Swift. We need to talk," the medic held out his hand to the small boy clutching a remote controlled car tightly at the same time he ever so gently reached out with his spark.

Shock and wonder bloomed in the small face and Ratchet felt a sudden flood of emotion fill his spark, both alien as anything on this organic and familiar as his own pulse, as the boy rushed forward to wrap both hands around one servo with an inarticulate cry of joy. Bumblebee's optics were dilated with shock as Rafael whispered out, 'Guardian' over and over; seeming to need to make certain that what he was feeling was real. The medic cast an apologetic look up at the scout but only saw joy reflected once the shock had faded.

*Honestly I'm glad it's you and not me,* the younger mech laughed as he stepped back to give the pair some room. *I get to be the fun big brother. You get stuck with the discipline and scrap.*

Giving a snort of amused annoyance at that the medic scooped his sparkling up and cradled him to his chestplates. As the human snuggled happily into the broad expanse Ratchet felt a deep peace settle over his spark and it was without a hint of regret that he realized that no matter if Cybertron was restored tomorrow, so long as this small heart beat, his home was on Earth.