“Let me guess,” Knockout said smoothly. “You were just walking along, minding your own business, when suddenly your foot just... well, it didn't fall off, but this damage is-”
“Yes, yes, I know,” Starscream snapped. He jerked his foot out of Knockout's hands. He was lying on the repair berth, with its surface adjusted so it was almost completely horizontal so Starscream could recline on his back at a comfortable height for Knockout to work. “I don't have to put up with this, I can fix it myself.”
He began to sit up, but Knockout placed a hand on his shoulder and pushed him down again. Starscream grunted and bared his teeth, and Knockout felt his frame tense in preparation to fight Knockout off. But then he relaxed and his expression turned from irritation to sullen acceptance. Knockout gave a quiet, smug “hm” and moved back to the seeker's feet.
“You need to stay still while I repair them,” he said. He picked up Starscream's right foot in both hands, gently. He then transferred it to his left hand, so he could use his tools with his right. Starscream had somehow managed to get his feet partially crushed – not enough to require replacements, but enough that the plating was rumpled and the internal support struts needed testing and recalibrating. “This is delicate work.”
“I am not delicate,” Starscream said. He kept his arms by his sides, tense with the claws pressing into the berth just slightly, and stared at the ceiling.
“I didn't say you were.” Knockout began lifting aside some of the damaged strips of plating. “But your servoes are. I've told you before, you should be more careful. A mech with your build-”
“My build?” Starscream propped himself up on his elbows and glared at the medic. Knockout gave him a placating look – which was somewhat undermined by the little smirk on his lips. “You're saying I'm weak.”
“No...” Knockout looked down again. He was wearing an apparatus on his helm that allowed extra lenses to flick down in front of his left optic – unsightly, but admittedly very useful for fine work such as this. Starscream's feet were small, the workings inside them even more so, and Knockout knew that if he made a mistake Starscream may be left unable to walk until further repairs were made. Besides, Knockout didn't allow himself to make mistakes. It was a matter of pride. “Your frame is a piece of fine craftsmechship, that's all.” He had finished tuning up the mechanisms in Starscream's right foot. He set the foot down while he straightened out the strips of armour that would cover them again. “Lightweight armour, economical inner systems.” Knockout was focusing on his work, and not the mech warily staring at him. “This might sting a little-” He applied the newly smoothed metal to Starscream's foot and activated a small welding-torch attachment to his arm. When the flame touched Starscream's armour he started and again tried to jerk free. Knockout sighed. “Do you want me to leave you lame forever?”
“...No. No, of course not.” Starscream relaxed down onto the berth again, grudgingly. He allowed Knockout to complete his work. “What was your point, anyway? That I'm lightweight-”
“You're designed for flight,” Knockout said. He was finished with the right foot now. He deactivated the torch, transforming his servo back into a hand and spent a few moments smoothing his fingertips over the curves and planes of the seeker's foot and ankle. They were almost a work of art, really. Starscream's claws curled deeper into the berth and his intakes stuttered, very quietly. “More so than any of those drones. Yes, they can fly, but they're not built for precision operations. You, on the other hand, are a streamlined machine.” He wasn't in the habit of handing out compliments – as far as Knockout was concerned, as Starscream's medic, this was simply the truth. “I just need to do the other one, then you'll need to turn over so I can check the backs of the heels.”
Starscream nodded with a terse “mm”. Knockout gently put down the one foot and lifted the other, and began the process all over again. Starscream remained still save for the occasional twitch if Knockout's work hurt him. Knockout prided himself on the artistry of his work, so he endeavoured to make those moments few and far between.
“Okay,” he said, setting the foot down again. He ran his hand from Starscream's shin down to the toe, brushing off specs of dust he could only see through his magnifying lens. Starscream's intakes hissed. “I need to take a look at the heels.”
“Of course...” Starscream grumbled. His wingspan made it difficult for him to simply roll over, so instead he sat up, and then turned onto all fours. Knockout snuck a quick look at that tiny aft before Starscream caught his optics over his shoulder. Knockout only smiled. Starscream lowered himself onto his chassis and shuttered his optics. Knockout resisted the urge to touch the smoothly shaped wings – or the pert aft – and focused one the seeker's elegant feet once more. The arch of one heel was slightly out of line. He bent and concentrated on his work. He manipulated the struts and mechanisms within the foot, as well as gently coaxing the outer plates back into position with his hands. He was very careful not to scratch Starscream's armour – Starscream was a tit-for-tat kind of mech, and might respond to that kind of vandalism in kind.
“There...” Once he was finished, he finally became aware of a soft, rhythmic sound – Starscream's intakes, he realised as he straightened. He removed the lens apparatus from his helm and put it aside. Starscream's optics were shuttered, and what Knockout could see of his face held an intent expression. Knockout glanced down at Starscream's feet and then back to his face. He gave one heel a light tweak. “All done.”
“Ah!” Starscream pushed himself back onto hands and knees, and Knockout fought not to say anything. The seeker manoeuvred himself back into a sitting position, and refreshed his vocals. “...Thank you, Knockout.” He flexed his feet, watching the movements carefully. Knockout followed his optics.
“They're good as new. Better, actually.”
“What are you implying?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Knockout said with a smile, and waved his hands.
“Hm.” Starscream slid to the edge of the repair berth and hopped down. He tested his newly repaired servoes by transferring his weight from one foot to the other, and then taking a few experimental steps. Knockout watched him strut around the med-bay with mild amusement. It was nice to see that his handiwork was appreciated. “...Satisfactory,” Starscream said.
Knockout smiled crookedly. “Always.”