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Sugar, Sugar

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“Rodimus, this is absolutely, positively, the stupidest plan you’ve ever come up with,” Rodimus turns and looks unimpressed, “Ok, maybe not the stupidest – but it’s up there!” leaning back against his couch, Drift looks towards Rodimus' ever growing grin shine brighter with the glow from the laptop's screen.

“Dude, come on – this is a brilliant plan and you know it! You need cash, they got cash! You’re looking for love, they’re –“

Drift tenses, “They’re looking for a fuck, Roddy! I’m not doing that anymore – I gave up that life! You, of all people, should know this!”

“Hold on,” Rodimus lifts his hands from the keyboard, and looks at Drift with raise brows, “Who ever said anything about fucking?”

Drift opens his mouth, then closes it as Rodimus continues on, “Not all Sugar Daddies require you fuck them, Drift! Some just are old, rich men who just need a date to dinner! It’s as innocent as that!”

Drift crosses his arms, muttering a: "Well that's just sad, Rod," and giving a disbelieving look at his best friend. He becomes increasingly agitated as Rodimus fills out his profile on SugarSugarMeets.org.  After Rodimus finishes his typing, he hands the laptop to Drift, grin slacking as he watches Drift’s frown deepen. 

“’Likes: Meditating, Long Walks in Contemplation, and Sweets.’ Long Walks in Contemplation? Really, Rod?” Before Rodimus can defend his decision, Drift hands the laptop back to his friend, sighing. “Well, even if I don’t want it, you’ll just post it anyways, won’t you?”

Rodimus grins, “You know me oh, so well,” Drift snorts, craning his neck back to rest on the couch, “Listen, you don’t have to do anything.  You can ignore any request given – all I’m saying is that you should have your options!”

Drift rolls his eyes, “If your so hell-bent on making me this profile on this damned website, why aren’t you on it?”

“I am,” Rodimus laughs as Drift snaps his head forward to look at him, “Yeah dude, I’ve been on here for a while – my confidence that you’ll be fine is based on my own experience.  I’d never throw you into something dangerous.”

“How endearing, but seriously – Rod, what the fuck? Have you, I mean like, you know!”

“Have I fucked any old, crusty, rich white men?” Rodimus shrugs, “Not yet, actually – the man I’m talking to isn’t into that kind of stuff.”

Drift, head swirling, stands – mumbling along the lines of “I need a fucking drink, hold on.” Rodimus laughs and presses the PUBLISH button on the website. The night progresses, as Rodimus tells Drift of the man he met through the website and Drift shaking his head in disbelief at Rodimus’ stories of the “Strict, older hottie with a nice salary” needing a “date to some inaugural ball of some-bullshit,” which lead to Drift questioning:

“So, have you gone to the ball? Have you met this man?”

Rodimus clicks away on the computer, shifting through the never-ending requests Drift continually gets, “Going to ball? No, not yet. Met him? Yeah, we go on dates every Sunday.”

That’s why you don’t come to Meditation Sundays? Because you’re seeing your Sugar Daddy?” Drift accusing tone makes Rodimus frown, “I mean like, Roddy, seriously?”

“What can I say,” Rodimus laughs, “I’m a sucker for a man in uniform, and don’t knock it till ya’ try it! Maybe you’ll meet a handsome older man who takes you on fancy dates,” Drift rolls his eyes, “Wait, for real – what is your type? Like, if you had to have an older man, what’d he be like?”

Drift sits back, brows pinching together in thought. He hums as he shifts through numerous older men in Hollywood, or his older teachers – even some of his higher up from “the Family,” but he shudders away from those faces. But from the thoughts of some of the older men he’s known through his life, he pauses in thought – remembering a time where he was taken to the ER after overdosing on a bad batch, a face blurred, and a voice mixed with static. Instead of reprimanding him for his habits, the, what he assumed, Doctor gave him words of encouragement and hope. The kindness in his eyes gave Drift a sense of warmth he’ll never forget – but he can’t seem to remember the shape or color of those eyes, let alone anything else about the Doctor.

Rodimus snaps Drift out of his memories, “Drift! Damn, man.  You are getting a lot of Sugar Daddy ass!” Drift snorts, and looks towards the screen with disinterest, “I mean, Head Banker? MLB Player?! CEO of luxury cars?! Drift, you’ve got it made!”

“Rod, look at the messages they are sending,” Drift points to one sent by one with the username: Mr. Lon An. Harder, “’Hey, sexy babe – If you’d be mine, I’ll take you for a ride in any one of my cars, and if your naughty – or nice – I’ll let you ride my –,” Rodimus shrieks with laughter, “I’ll give you a nice allowance, as long as you meet with me every weekend, spend some time with Daddy, and do whatever I say, when I say. How about it?’” Drift ends with a sneer, ad Rodimus continues to laugh as he hits DENY on the request.

“Ok, but we knew not all of them are winners, Drift. Just shift through the garbage and you might find gold!” Rodimus hands Drift the laptop and turns on the TV. The two of them sit on the couch, channel cruising and occasionally checking Drift’s profile. Drift zones out, shifting through the creepy, overly dominant, and plain nasty messages – tolerance slowly dwindling.  Just as he resigns to shut his laptop off, a request pops up – and a message along with it. 

Drift clicks on the message and begins to read. The message stands from the rest, it’s polite, addresses Drift as if an equal – and admits to being not into the whole “Sugar Daddy nonsense.” Drift’s interest piques, and he clicks the profile.  He stares at the picture for a moment, then two moments, then three – until he finally yelps, jolting Rodimus’ concentration on the TV.

“Dude, what the fuck?” And Drift just makes unintelligible noises as he points to the computer, “Yeah, what? What’d ya’ find?” Rodimus looks at the screen, and slowly reads aloud: “’Head Surgeon at Iacon Hospital’ – Dude, holy shit!

Drift’s face heats, his heart pounding as he studies the features of the man’s profile photo. A handsome, rugged face stares back, eyes containing a flicker of annoyance – at what, Drift assumed the person taking the photo – but, behind that annoyance was something that made Drift’s stomach drop, there was a familiar feeling to those eyes. A familiar feeling of warmth washes over Drift, though he’s not sure if it’s the embarrassment or the fact that he knows who this is, well – he thinks he does.

“So, are you going to message back, or just face-fuck him through the screen,” Rodimus grins.

Drift whips to his friend, “Shut up, Rod. This, I mean like – Fuck, I don’t know what to do man!”

Rodimus grabs the laptop from Drift, “It’s cool man, I’m the veteran here.  Just tell me what you want from this guy,” Drift babbles excuses, “Cut it out, you just awkwardly blushed and damned near drooled on the keyboard at the sight of this guy, clearly you want to bone ‘em.”

Drift rubs his face, “God, Grant Me Strength,” Rodimus snorts but Drift grabs the laptop back, “I want to meet him, Rod.”

“Alright, a little bold – I like it.  So, let’s begin by addressing him: ‘Hey Dr. Sexy-aft,” Drift punches Rodimus’ shoulder, gritting out a Be Serious, to which Rodimus snorts, rubs his arms and continues, “Ok, ok, let’s do simple. ‘Hey Ratchet, Drift here – I’d like to exchange contact info. with you, and maybe later meet up?’”

***

Ratchet sits in his office, paper work shuffled throughout his desk. He watches the modem’s lights blink and shudder – and he sighs.  A moment of rest is a moment of boredom and paper work, and he’d rather be helping people that sitting on his ass. But, his shift break was scheduled for now, Pharma had the floor covered, and First Aid insisted that he take a break – least he pass out or overwork his hands.  Ratchet leans back against his leather chair, splaying said hands against the desk, crumpling some of the papers. These days, his colleagues insist that he take a break more and more often, as if he hasn’t spent that last fifteen years dedicating his career into keeping his hospital and any patient that enters in tip-top shape. He grumbles, picturing First Aid’s worried glare and scolding on how they know what he’s done for the hospital, and they want him to continue doing it by not working himself to the scrap yard. He huffs and closes his eyes. The hospital is the only thing he has, Orion – now Optimus Prime – was busy in the political realm, Ironhide was overseas on active duty, and Jazz was with Bee and Prowl who-knows-where. All he had was the hospital, and the bars. He sniffs and twists his face at the thought of only having his work and the bars as his life were a sad thought indeed.

“Not a thought, a reality,” He grumbles as he rubs his eyes.  He glances at the clock, “Only two hours, if God was real, he’d spare me.” Pushing away from his desk, he puts his coat on and makes his way to the Cafeteria. 

Making his way down the halls, patients and colleagues alike greet him. He half-heartedly waves, his normal frown gracing his features. As he nears the Cafeteria, he sees the back of First Aid. Slowing his pace, Ratchet listens as First Aid whispers into the phone:

“I’m telling you, Pharma – He’ll hate it! And then we are left with what, the Hatchet trying to kill us for a few weeks? A never-ending grudge?! No – Pharma, don’t you – Pharma! Oh, Jesus fucking –“ Ratchet grasps First Aid’s shoulder, causing the shorter man to yelp, “Ratchet! Oh, god!” Ratchet can hear cackling on the other end of the phone line as First Aid scrambles to hang up.

“What. Did. He. Do?” Ratchet’s frown, paired with glare, makes First Aid gulp – but before First Aid can answer, his pager goes off. Ratchet sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, waving First Aid away, “Never mind, I’m sure I’ll find out in time. Go, and do your job right.”

First Aid glares at Ratchet for the dig but runs off to his find his next patient. Ratchet shrugs of the feeling of impending doom that Pharma has no doubt set for him and continues to make his way to the Cafeteria. He orders his meal, grabs a table in the back near the window. He takes out his phone, unlocking to find the usual: messages from Optimus – “Ratchet, I need insight on the Medical Field, the Senate is intending…” “Ratchet, please meet with me soon, this meeting will be on…” “Ratchet, I know you work, but I truly need…” More budget cuts from the State, Ratchet thinks with a grunt, and replies to Optimus’ texts with a “Meet me at Swerve’s, or I can come to yours.”  – A message from Ironhide – “Ratch’ I’m texting in the middle of the night so ya’ can see this while ya’ awake! See if you can send ya’ pal some good ol’ porno mags !! the platoon is killin’ me with this scrap, the chicks on these ones don’t even –“ Ratchet rolls his eyes, Ironhide, per usual is needy overseas. Nevertheless, he replies with a “Maybe, ‘Hides. Maybe.” – he continues on throughout his phone. His only apps being Spotify – at First Aid’s insistence, “Music is good for stress! Here, download this one, I made some nice relaxing playlists!” – and his email. Though, he checked his email earlier, he notices an increase in unread mail. Before he clicks the app open, he hears the screech of the chair across from him.

“Dr. Ratchet,” A sly grin graces Pharma’s angled face. 

“Dr. Pharma,” Ratchet nods, “What’s brought you all the way away from your floor?”

Pharma snorts, “All my cases and patients are settled in, for now. Your shift is not for another hour, right?”

 “Don’t ask questions you know the answer to, Pharma,” Ratchet grumbles.

“Of course, Dr. Ratchet,” Pharma sneers as Ratchet takes a sip of his drink. “Checked your mail lately, Dr. Ratchet?”

Ratchet’s eyes narrow, “No, not yet, anyways. Why? Pharma, what did you do?” Ratchet’s leer turns fierce, but Pharma raises his hands in defense.

“Now, Dr. Ratchet! Making conclusions before proper examination? The board would be pressed at your unprofessional-ism!”

“Cut the crap, I heard First Aid – so tell me: What. Did. You. Do?” Ratchet leans forwards, hushing his strained voice. 

“I may – or may not have – signed you up for…a program, of sorts,” a sly smile dances on Pharma’s lips, as Ratchet rumbles a “For fuck’s sake,” under his breath.

Ratchet unlocks his phone, clicking open the Mail app. The first ten new messages come from the same source, “What, the fuck – Pharma,” he grits out, “What is SugarSugarMeets.org? Pharma,” Ratchet breathes in through his nose, a frown turning into a snarl, “You absolute – God, I cannot believe – Did you message someone?!”

Pharma snorts as Ratchet scrolls through the messages, anger seeping from his frame. “Dr. Ratchet, control yourself,” Ratchet snarls a “Don’t you –“but is stopped as Pharma continues, “You need to get out more, this job is becoming your life – and there needs to be a separation. You need a life, Dr. Ratchet.”

“I have a life, Pharma,” Ratchet grips his phone, “I’m currently living it, and I don’t need a – a, a fucking ‘Sugar Baby’? A sugar baby, for fuck’s sake!”

Pharma sits back, “The hospital can’t be your entire life, Dr. Ratchet. Neither can the bars, and all your other friends and loved ones are living their own. You need to find someone, since hobbies aren’t your thing – clearly.”

“Pharma, you can’t be serious. Out of all the – stupid, degrading – I mean, I just –“ Ratchet angrily rambles on as Pharma patiently waits. A few moments of frustration pass and Ratchet looks pointedly at Pharma, “Why didn’t you just sign me up for a dating site? Why,” His face scrunches, “a site for Sugar Daddies?”

Pharma rolls his eyes and scoffs, “Two reasons: One, your personality is absolute shit and you’ve seem to have forgotten self-care over these past few years – the bags under your eyes alone could scare off any suitor.  Two: You’re loaded. You and I both, but where I have a charming personality and use a nightly de-aging routine, you have money. Money with no one to spend it on, so I’ve helped you fix that.” Pharma shrugs, and Ratchet crosses his arms over his chest.

“You do realize we are only in our forties, right?” Ratchet deadpans.

Pharma laughs, “Our late forties, mind you. And with all the work you do, you are starting to look like you’re in your late fifties. But, the people on this site don’t care about that.  They care about the cash you have.”

Ratchet huffs and sarcastically replies, “As always, your pep-talks brighten even my darkest days.”

“Good, so – I’ve messaged a few for you, I know you don’t particularly find younglings attractive, so I’ve searched around in some of the older crowd, per say. Among the few I’ve chosen, the youngest age – I believe – is 25. The rest are in their early thirties.”

Ratchet scoffs, “And what makes you think I’ll pursue any of these choices?”

Rising from his seat, Pharma leans across the table – a coy smile gracing his lips, “Because, Dr. Ratchet, the last time you got laid was with me. And that, was millennia’s ago.” Pharma turns to leave, and as he passes through the door way, he looks over his shoulder to give Ratchet a wink before disappearing into the hallway. 

Ratchet is left alone at his table, frowning at his phone.  Five minutes before his shift starts, he grunts as the messages from potential “Sugar Babies” – he cringes at the word – swarm his inbox. He receives a text from Optimus Prime – “We can meet at Swerve’s, or Maccadams. The choice is yours, old friend. See you then.” – and replying with a swift “Maccadams it is, see you there.” He promptly shuts off his phone, mumbling a disgruntled: “Fuck you, Pharma,” under his breath.

  ***

After a grueling shift, Ratchet makes his way to the bar. Optimus Prime meets him, and the two of them chat and discuss matters of budgets and requests. Over several pints, Ratchet concludes to the Prime of his best options for the upcoming Senate debate over the Medical Field and excuses himself for the night.

“It's late, Ratchet, I can walk you home – if you’d like?” Optimus says as he follows Ratchet out the exit.

Ratchet shakes his head, “No need, Pax. I’m a grown man – and you’re the Prime. Of all people needing protection, it’s you. I’ll see you around.”

Optimus nods, “As you insist. It was nice seeing you, Ratchet. I would like to do this more often, if you would have me, old friend.”

Ratchet snorts, “Humility at its finest, as always,” Ratchet lightly punches Optimus’ shoulder, “As long as the shifts at the hospital don’t keep me, and the Senate doesn’t keep you – we’ll make plans.”

Optimus nods, a rare small smile makes its way onto his chiseled face. The two friends part ways, and Ratchet makes it to his apartment in good time. He hangs his coat up and makes his way to the kitchen to put on tea. Glancing at the clock, he grunts when he read aloud: “3:45 AM.” He waits for the teapot to whistle, waiting on the couch. He reaches for his phone, only to remember he’s turned it off after the most frustrating talk with Pharma. As his phone starts up, he mulls over what Pharma told him.

Thinking aloud he mumbles, “Maybe he’s right, I don’t have much interaction. Orion won’t be free from the senate anytime soon, and the only reason he made time was so I could aid him with the senate. Fuck – god damned Pharma.  Piece of scrap, a fucking –“ Ratchet stops his rant, opening his laptop. He accesses the website, only to find a new profile being advertised on the main dashboard. Ratchet read the profile, brows furrowing at the description of “Walking in Contemplation.” As he comments, “Sounds like a nut-job,” he clicks on the profile’s picture –  only to find himself completely smitten. The man was gorgeous, a brilliant smile paired with bright, beautiful eyes – a slender nose, peaking at the tip, perfectly angled eyebrows framing the angular face of what Ratchet believed to be the most beautiful man he’s seen yet. Pharma’s words echoing in his head, he couldn’t stop himself from pressing the MESSAGE button on the profile. As if in a trace, he pours the truth into a message:

“Greetings.

As my profile tells, I am the Head Surgeon at Iacon Hospital. Truth be told, I’m not into this Sugar Daddy Nonsense, but I’ve decided to try it. If you’d have me, I’d like to talk with you – get to know you. I haven’t been in the dating scene in a long time, but if your patient with me, I’d like to try with you.

Thank you for your time,

Dr. Ratchet”

He re-reads it over, and over again. He scoffs at his language – at how desperate he sounds. He runs his hands over his face, shaking his head.  Just as he gently lays his hands against the keyboard – the teapot whistle blows loudly, jolting his hand into pressing the keyboard too hard. The pressure from his poorly placed hand causes the ENTER button to be clicked, and with the computer’s gentle PING! Ratchet’s eyes widen in dismay.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” He looks at his screen, anger bubbling as he sees the confirmation:

“Thank you for sending you message to: Drift. We hope all the good Sugar-Lovin’ comes your way!”

Groaning, he closes his laptop. He presses his palms into his eyelids, the continued whistling of the teapot making his headache worse. Getting up, he makes his cup of tea, and drinks it soberly in the middle of his kitchen. He looks towards the clock: 4:15 AM. He downs his tea, grumbling at himself as he deposits the cup into the sink. Trudging his way to his bedroom, his phone vibrates with a new message.  Assuming it’s Ironhide – or worse, Pharma – he places the phone on his nightstand, and gets ready for bed.  After completing his own nightly routine, he lays in his bed – staring at the ceiling. His phone vibrates again, messages from Ironhide – “Ratch’ come on! Have you seen the porno they got in this god forsaken country? It’s not tasteful at all!” –  and, surprisingly, Bumblebee – “Hey, Ratch’! Just dropping a text to say hey, and I miss you and Prime. Don’t work yourself too hard! See you soon!” – Ratchet replies to Ironhide a quick “Next Tues. Expect your favorite,” and for Bumblebee “Of course, Kid. Miss you too and see you then.”

What Ratchet didn’t expect was seeing a notification for another email from SugarSugarMeetings.org. Opening the email, he received a message from none other than Drift, the man he was absolutely overwhelmed with attraction towards. His stomach does flips as he opens the message, and a soft gasp escapes his lips as he reads:

“‘Hey Ratchet,

Drift here – I’d like to exchange contact info. with you, and maybe later meet up?’”

Chapter Text

Ratchet stands, cigarette in hand. The rain cascades down on the street, as the bleary headlights of passing cars blur by. Under the shelter of the Café’s overhang, Ratchet puffs his cigarette and checks his phone. Several messages pop-up, along with notifications from his email app. He hums, clicking his phone open to read the newest messages:

A message from Pharma, “Hey, I’d like to see your progress with the ‘suitors’ I picked out, be waiting for you next shift. :)” Ratchet grunts, messaging back, “Shove off and get back to work Pharma.”

A message from First Aid, “Dr. Ratchet, I’m sorry to bother you on your shift off, but there has been a problem with the reports filed, and the receptionist is giving me a difficult time with clearance, do you have any suggestions? She just won’t listen to me!” Rolling his eyes, Ratchet replies: “Tell her to give you the fucking files, and if she doesn’t she’ll have to deal with me. Show her this message if you must. Good luck, kid.”

A message from Jazz, “Ay, Dr. how ya been? Me n Prowler gona be stoppin by the city soon n wana kno if u wana meet us for drinks,” Ratchet smiles, “Jazz, please stop typing like an illiterate five-year-old. And, I would love to. See you then.” Just as the message delivers, Jazz immediately replies: “Never! n c u then ;)”

A message from Optimus Prime, “Ratchet, the other night was lovely, and I am pleased to inform the plans for the Senate – with help from your revisions – went over smoothly. I would like to invite you to celebrate in our shared efforts, if you would like. I can meet with you anywhere, but I must relay the option of spending a night at my place, for I have obtained a splendid bottle of Kalis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.” Ratchet chuckles, “Sounds like a plan, Prime. When should I come over?” It takes only a few moments – the Prime has always been prompt with messaging – for Optimus Prime to respond with a simple: “This Saturday, after your shift.”

A message from Drift, “Hey, I’m on my way to the Café! I can’t wait to meet you,” Ratchet’s heart flutters, the reality of his situation setting in.  He sends Drift a simple, “The feeling is mutual. I’ll get us a table, don’t rush – the roads are wet, and I’d rather you be safe. See you soon.”

After putting out his cigarette, he enters the Café. Once he walks in, he finds himself faced with a crowded table of noisy teens. He sighs, moving past the pushed-out chairs – he fails to notice that one teen follows his movements. As his finds a secluded table in the corner, the teen quiets his friends momentarily. The teen looks towards Ratchet, then towards his friends.

“Ay, you guys know who that is?” The teen says, loud enough for both his friends and Ratchet to hear.

“Wasn’t he in the news sometime ago?” Another teen questions.

The kid who spoke before, one that wears a bright red sweatshirt, nods, “Yeah, he was all over Twitter. Wanna know why?” The table collectively nods, “Because, rumor says he was shagging the Prime!”

The teens gasp and giggle, and Ratchet rolls his eyes.  In fact, he was indeed in the news briefly – a tabloid reporter followed Optimus, and it happened that one-night, Ratchet went over to the Prime’s household for a night of drinking. After he left Prime’s home, hazy and clothes ruffled, the reporter assumed he and the Prime “had a night of fervent love-making,” which, when the article came out, made Ratchet and Optimus laugh. The night had certainly not consisted of “fervent love-making,” but in fact a game of Scrabble and one shot too many. After a dispute on a medical term, things had gotten quite out of hand – the two grown men began to scuffle and wrestle onto the ground – Scrabble pieces flying everywhere. After Optimus finally got off Ratchet’s pinned body, the Prime quickly googled the term to find, indeed, Ratchet had spelt the word wrong – therefore he did not win the game. It had been a silly night, as most their nights together are, yet the media had blown it up into something provocative. 

Ratchet chuckled under his hand at the memory, and the children continued their conversation. “So, that guy is shagging the Prime? That’s pretty insane,” one teen states.

“Yeah, I thought the Prime was seeing that other dude, anyways?” Another teen questions.

The boy who spoke before, who Ratchet notices is in a strikingly red sweatshirt, shakes his head, “I don’t know the details, but if I had to guess – I’d say the Prime has multiple lovers!”

Ratchet snorts, and some of the teens turn to look his way.  Before he can quip at them for insinuating that Optimus – the Prime – sleeps around, a voice booms through the Café: “Speaking of such matters is unbecoming of upstanding civilians of Iacon. Refrain from speaking about and to those older than you in such manners.”

The teens quiet, and Ratchet turns to the source of the voice. Standing in a tall man, in a sharp, pressed military uniform.  His hair is cut short and has a freshly shaven face. His blue eyes sternly look at the children, then soft at the sight of the Doctor.  He briskly walks past the once-noisy table, in perfect posture as he greets Ratchet. Ratchet stands to salute, and the man returns the gesture.

“I haven’t seen you in a long time, Ultra Magnus,” Ratchet offers the seat across from him, and sits when Ultra Magnus is seated.

Magnus nods, “Indeed, some time has passed. I’m glad I have met you in this Café, rather your med-bay.”

“Me too,” Ratchet snorts, “Not to be terribly rude, and while I’m thrilled to see you – and grateful you shut those brats up, before I had to – it’s only fair to warn you that I’m,” Ratchet pauses, collecting his thoughts, “I’m meeting someone, a bit later on.”

Ultra Magnus nods, “It’s perfectly fine, and in fact, I am meeting someone as well. I only stopped to pick up their order, but the misdemeanors of the teens caused me to pause in my errand. I’ll be leaving soon, but I would like to quickly catch up with you, since it has been a long time.”

“Of course, Magnus,” Ratchet smile, “You’re meeting someone? Like, someone –“

“I am, in fact, seeing someone romantically.”

Ratchet’s eyes widen, “No kidding. Well, damn, Magnus,” Ratchet smiles, “I’m happy for you. Congratulations!”

Magnus returns the smile, “Thank you. And the person you are meeting here, are you involved?”

“Well,” Ratchet tilts his head, blood rushing to his ear tips. “Too be honest, it’s something like that. We met in a very,” He grunts, “non-traditional way.” Ultra Magnus raises his brown in question, “Don’t think I’m a weirdo, but this person I’m involved with is on the younger-side,” Magnus’ eyes widen, “Wait! Wait, before you prattle of how my actions being –“

“I must inquire where you met,” Ultra Magnus states bluntly.

“We,” Ratchet coughs awkwardly, “We met on a website.”

Magnus leans in, “SugarSugarMeets.org?”

“What the fuck. Magnus, how do you – Oh.” Ratchet finishes dumbly.

Magnus nods, “It’s true, I met my partner on the same website. A date is required for the Inaugural Ball this upcoming winter, and since everyone I know has a date – it was paramount I acquired one, especially because it is stated in the handbook under Article 88 of Section 342 B.  I had tried many sites, but each person I came in contact to was,” Magnus frowns, “not a particularly desirable. They often left indecent comments in my inbox. So, after voicing my struggle, a co-worker in the department suggested SugarSugarMeets.org – presumably as a joke, I doubt he thought I would go through and make an account.

But I did, and I met my partner. He’s,” Ultra Magnus gives the faintest of smiles, “He’s different. A bit of a hot-head, stubborn at all times, arrogant beyond comprehension, but he’s got a heart.  A kind one, and he cares for the people he loves.”

Ratchet smiles, “I’m glad, Magnus. You seem genuinely pleased,” Magnus nods, “That’s good. I really do wish you the best with your partner.”

“As I do to you. Was your situation similar?” Ultra Magnus questions.

Ratchet grimaces, “More of Pharma pulling his usual antics, but in the end, it seemed to have worked out. This is the first time I’m meeting this kid,” Ratchet shrugs, “I can’t say I’m not nervous – I am, extremely. But there’s something about him, and I want to give him, and this situation, a shot.”

“Then, I wish you the best of luck,” Ultra Magnus stands, “And hopefully, we can see each other again. I have missed our talks, Ratchet.”

Ratchet nods, “You and me, both.  I’ll find you somehow, Magnus – Just don’t come in on a stretcher.”

“I will do all in my capability to avoid that situation Doctor,” Magnus returns to the counter, ordering his drinks. After receiving his order, He nods to Ratchet, and the Doctor in return gives the officer a salute.  

After Ultra Magnus leaves, Ratchet returns to being alone at the table, and the teens continue to murmur. Ratchet considers looking at his phone again, but then he hears the Café’s door open, and the bells connected to the door chime. He looks towards the door, and sees a beautiful man stand in the doorway. His hair is slicked back, and he’s dressed in a simple combo of raincoat and black jeans. He looks around the Café, until his emerald eyes land on Ratchet. He smiles brightly, teeth perfectly align, and stunningly white. He makes his way over to Ratchet’s table, and Ratchet immediately stands.

The man greets him with a soft, silvery voice: “Hey, it’s so good to finally meet you!”

Ratchet stares, only for a few seconds, and then allows a small smile to play on his lips, “The feelings mutual, Drift. So, would you like to order first, or do you prefer chatting first?”

Drift’s smile never falters, and his eyes never leave Ratchet’s. Drift looks Ratchet up and down, eyes roaming almost everywhere – to the point where Ratchet’s face feels like fire. Ratchet clears his throat, snapping Drift into attention, “Oh!” He scratches the back of his neck, bashfully saying, “I’m sorry, it’s just – I can’t believe you’re here – with me!”

Ratchet blinks, “Of course I am, we’ve been texting for weeks now,” Ratchet deadpans, “Who else would I be with?”

“No that’s not,” Drift chuckles, “Never mind, anyways – Let’s get our drinks first, and talk about ourselves later.”

Ratchet nods, moving towards the counter, he orders his drink and looks towards Drift, “Get what you want,” And frowns when Drift shakes his head, “What? I thought that’s how this is supposed to go?” Ratchet quirks his eyebrow.

Drift sheepishly smiles, “I know, but honestly, I’m not into that system. I just want this to be a normal date, you know?”

Ratchet mutters, paying for his drink, “Normal dates consist of covering the other’s ticket too,” Ratchet looks up to the barista, “Whatever he orders, put it on my card.”

“Ratchet!” Drift scolds, but Ratchet turns with a smirk, and Drift feels his face heat – killing his protests swiftly.

The two get their drinks, and proceed back to their table. They begin by speaking of the little things, schooling, careers, goals for the near future. Ratchet finds that he connects with Drift right away, their conversation flows easily, and despite disagreeing on certain subjects – namely, Religion – he finds that they can easily settle on their differences and move past them respectfully. He admires Drift for holding the conversation, and for not feigning interest in the topics. He sees Drift as an honest, caring man, someone who carries hope in the light of all the cynicism in their society.

Drift sees Ratchet in the different ways. The gruff exterior Ratchet shields himself with in the most endearing and (one of) the most attractive parts about Ratchet. He finds himself wanting to be close to Ratchet, to be in that inner circle of protection and constant care. He admires Ratchet for his loyalty and skill, and for his wisdom and fearlessness. He wants to show more of himself to Ratchet, to let Ratchet understand that he isn’t in this for his money, he’s here for Ratchet. Even if Ratchet doesn’t recognize him, it doesn’t matter to Drift.  He wants to be with Ratchet, or at least try to be. He wants this to work.  And as far as he can tell, this date is going well enough for Drift to find confidence in them meeting again. Ratchet’s eyes carry a spark, and the soft rumbling of his laughter make Drift burn with desire. He feels as if he’s a car’s engine, and every time Ratchet looks at him that way, someone slams their foot on the gas pedal.

“So,” Ratchet finishes his story, “Tell me again, what got you interested in an old man like me?”

Drift rolls his eyes, “You’re not even old, Ratchet.”

“I beg to differ,” Ratchet takes a sip of his drink, “in the eyes of the media, 47 is the age of dinosaurs.”

Drift snorts, “Please, maybe to the kids over there,” Drift nods towards the table of teens, still talking loudly, “But to me, you’re not an ‘old man’.”

Ratchet allows a smile to grace his lips, “Well, aren’t you sweet?”

Drift bats his eyes, “Like sugar,” and, feeling bold – he leans in to kiss Ratchet on the cheek.

Just as Drift pulls away, chuckling at the star-struck Ratchet, a voice is heard in the Café: “Are you kidding?! He gets to shag the Prime and that model?!” The boy in the red sweatshirt stands and is immediately pulled down by the boy (who wears a contrast of a strikingly yellow shirt) next to him, “Let me go, Sunny! I can’t believe this!”

Drift and Ratchet look towards each other, Ratchet’s blush becoming more predominant by the second. Drift speaks first, “You slept with the Prime?”

Ratchet groans, “No, I did not sleep with the Prime!” He glares at the group of teens, then looks back to Drift, “Can we please get out of here?”

Drift allows a devilish grin show, “With you? Anywhere.”

Chapter Text

The two walk out from the café, the murmuring silenced once the door finally closes. The rain has subsided to a light drizzle but Ratchet still grumbles – much to Drift’s amusement – about how the channel 5 weatherman can “shove his ‘little cloudy with patches of sunshine’ forecast where the sun doesn’t really shine!”

“Geez, Ratch’,” Drift laughs, “How ‘bout you really tell me how you feel?”

Ratchet looks at Drift, lips curling into a smirk. “I think I'll save that conversation for later, for now – how do you want to get out of here? My car, or yours?”

Drift thinks on this, if only for a swift second, “Let’s take mine, since you paid for the coffee.”

“Alright,” Ratchet grins and the two walk towards Drift’s parked car.

Once strapped in, Drift says, “So, where are we going?”

Ratchet hums, “Well, since the weather isn’t too great, how about a movie? Theatre’s only a 10-minute drive from here.”

The car’s engine thrums to life and Drift peels out of the parking lot. Drift laughs as Ratchet curses, “Ah, my bad. I guess my driving is a little extreme?” 

Ratchet snorts, “Yeah, extreme is one way of putting it – Hey, left up here!”

Drift’s tires squeal as he whips his car and once they roll up to the theatre, Ratchet looks at Drift with a frown. “You realize how dumb and dangerous driving like that is? Do you know how many patients I get in my ER just from traffic accidents alone?

Drift winces, his grin slips away from his face. He looks down at his hands, “I guess, ah, I was a little giddy about the movie and being with you some more. Let it get to my driving, I’m sorry, Ratchet.”

Seeing Drift frown, Ratchet sighs, reaches over, and puts his hands on Drift’s folded ones. Drift looks up, eyes hopeful, and Ratchet lets a fond smile grace his lips. “Sorry for lecturing and turning the mood sour – But, I lecture ‘cause I care, kid. Don’t be foolish and end up on my table – been told my bedside manner is not the best.”

Drift turns his hands over and grips Ratchet’s, “Thanks, Ratchet.” Drift smiles and brings Ratchet’s calloused hands to his soft lips.

“You really are quite the charmer, ain’t ya, kid?” Ratchet huffs and Drift nods with a laugh. The two unbuckle their seat belts and leave the car, making their way to the ticket booth.

Once reaching the ticket booth, Ratchet leans towards Drift, “Anything particular you’ve been wanting to see?”

Drift’s eyes fall on the screen times, and luckily enough they came at the time where most movies had showings. As he ponders the choices before him, Drift fails to notice Ratchet walking right up to the ticket booth’s window.

“Swerve?!” Ratchet’s startled voice causes Drift to see his date staring agape at the worker behind the window glass.

“Hey, Dr. Ratchet! How’s it hanging?” the man, Swerve, returns leisurely.  Drift comes up to stand next to Ratchet, causing Swerve to look towards him. Swerve looks Drift up and down – letting out a low whistle. “And, hello! To you, Mr.?”

Ratchet raises his hands, waving in front of Swerve’s face, “Mr. Not Interested.” Drift chuckles, and Ratchet looks at him with a grin. Ratchet then turns back to Swerve, “What’s going on Swerve? What happened to your clinic? Don’t tell me you shut down and threw away your practice?”

Swerve shakes his head, “Nah, business is just slow right now. So, I took up a hobby – a paying hobby. Was going to be a bar tender, but Blurr and I got into a fight over rent again. So, I come here for the free movies, discounted popcorn, and to debate reviews on box-office hits. Hey, did you know that recently in the Kaon Theater district – the one where those mob groups used pick up those glitz and glamour stars way back when – that there was an underground –“

“Swerve,” Ratchet interjects, “You’re rambling.”

Swerve snorts, “How long have you known me? Of course, I’m rambling. But, I’m not paid to ramble, paid to serve. So, what’ll it be, boys? I highly suggest Fighting Fleet: The Story of Vos. Insanely good casting, good script writing, and get this! Little to no romance! Perfect for you, Ratchet!”

Ratchet rolls his eyes, “Surely that can’t be all there is.”

“Actually,” Drift perks up, “there’s this film Whispering Fates, that looks pretty good.”

Ratchet nods, “Alright then, two tickets for Whispering Fates, the 4:45 showing please,” Ratchet looks towards Drift, “Gonna need some popcorn and sweets. Have any idea what this movie is about?”

“It’s about Japan in the Edo period, where Samurais were held in the highest regard. The main character, Adachi Yasumori, is charged with an unspeakable crime against the village and emperor he was sworn to protect. So the whole film is about him fighting for his innocence, and for – “ Swerve stops as Ratchet pins him with a deadly glare, “My bad, anyways, it’s a good film. You guys will love it!” Swerve hands the couple their tickets and waves them goodbye.

Ratchet buys the popcorn, much to Drift’s dismay – he wanted to split the price, “Movie theaters’ overcharge!” – and head to their screening. Finding seats towards the back of the theater, Ratchet and Drift merrily sit through the opening previews – passing snide comments on actors they don’t like and what movies seem unfit to see. Finally, the lights dim, Ratchet settles into his seat while Drift straightens to give the movie his full attention.

Ratchet looks at the glow the projected screen leaves on Drift, the shine of the reflecting images captured in his eyes makes Ratchet’s heart swell with fondness. He reaches for Drift’s hand, and Drift quickly snaps his attention to Ratchet. Ratchet pauses his movements, silently waiting for Drift’s consent, when Drift’s face lights up and happily grasps Ratchet’s hand, entwining their fingers. Ratchet balances the popcorn on his legs, letting his free hand cover his mouth while he chuckles at how adorable his date is.

The film carries on, and occasionally Drift shifts in his seat as the action unfolds. He makes under-breath comments on some of the historical inaccuracies, which Ratchet promptly, but half-heartily hushes him. As the duration of two hours and forty minutes unfold on the big screen, the two men find themselves shifting to lean on each other. Ratchet resting his head on Drift’s, as Drift cuddles ever so delicately into Ratchet’s shoulder.

Once the move ends, the two wait for the rest of the audience to filter out. “I didn’t know you were a history-buff, Drift,” Ratchet says, a sly grin curves his lips.

Drift feels heat rise to his face, as he chuckles, “Yeah, sorry about that. I’m just really into samurai culture, and spiritualism – but that much you knew. I find myself drawn to Asian culture a lot, especially Hindu and Buddhist teachings and traditions. But, the samurai culture? That’s something I truly admire.”

Ratchet watches as Drift smiles lazily, and he mirrors it.  The two make their way out of the theater and pass by the ticket booth on their way out. Ratchet tells Swerve goodbye, and the smaller man waves to the couple from behind the counter, grinning widely.

As Drift drives them back to the café – much more carefully, to Ratchet’s joyful surprise – it dawns on Ratchet that the movie took up more time then he imagined. He checked the clock, and the time was already 7:30 pm! Ratchet checks his phone, but before he can get to his impending messages, Drift asks: “Hey, Ratch’ where did you park?”

Ratchet grumbles, his felling of impending doom growing more predominant as he informs Drift that he parked down the street of the café. Drift continues to go down the street, but much to the dismay of both of them – Ratchet’s car is no where to be found. 

“Ratchet, are you sure you parked down here?” Drift asks, eyes scanning each parking space.

Ratchet lets out a painful groan, “Yes, I did. But, I believe I parked in a tow-away zone. The sign said, ‘TOW AWAY ZONE: TWO HOUR LIMIT,’” Ratchet puts his face in his hands, “God, how can I forget that. I really am getting too old.”

Drift laughs, “No you’re not. My roommate gets his car towed like it’s his ethereal calling! Here, how’s this: I get off of work tomorrow around 6 p.m. Since it’s partly my fault you got your car towed –“ Ratchet tries to interject, but Drift hushes him, “No, no, it is. I said I’d drive. I’ll pick you up after your shift, and we can go get your car.”

“Drift, my ‘shift’ is a flexible and circumstantial. I only got this date because co-workers insisted they could manage. I don’t know when I’ll have this much free time again,” Ratchet sighs, “But, I’m sure Pharma will be absolutely giddy to find me asking for something, let alone giving him control of my floor again. I’ll talk to him tomorrow, and message you if I get the floor covered.”

Drift smiles, giddy to have another chance to see the Doctor again – and so soon! They drive to Ratchet’s apartment, and before Ratchet leaves the car, he leans over and gently kisses Drift. They stay like that for a moment, lips locked and sheltered within the warmth of the car and one another. Then, Ratchet pulls away, to find Drift’s flushed face and hazy eyes. He smiles, “Consider it payback, for the café.”

Drift dumbly nods, a grin finding his way to his face. Ratchet leaves, closing the car door and making his way into his home. Drift drives away, honking at the waving Ratchet, who then closes his door.

Once Ratchet is inside, he finally unlocks his phone. He grunts at the messages, predictably one from the local towing company, another from Pharma, three from Jazz, one long-paragraph message from Prowl, and one emoji filled message from Bumblebee. Ratchet grunts, deciding to ignore each message until the morning. He moves to make dinner when his phone vibrates, and he looks at the screen to find a notification that reads: “New Message from Unknown Number (1)”. Ratchet quirks his brow and opens the message.

“hey sunshine, miss me?”  And with just those four words, Ratchet’s heart sunk right into his gut.

Chapter Text

Drift flicks his headlights off, unbuckles his seatbelt, and lets out a high pitch “Ohmygosh!” before slamming his face on his steering wheel. He mumbles incoherently, gushing over the events of the day, “He was everything and more? He was so sweet and caring and handsome and just God, in heaven help me! I’m falling so, so quick! How am I – what I am to do?”

Drift places his head in his hands, sighing, “I’m going to fall too soon, it’s inevitable,” But, just before he slips into an existential crisis – a hand raps against his window. Drift’s eyes widen as he lets out a blood curdling scream but calms himself when he hears laugher outside his window.

“Hah! Oh fuck!” Rodimus heaves, leaning over and grasping his knees.

 “Rodimus!” Drift yells as he grips the door handle, swinging the car door open with enough force to knock Rodimus – who continues to hysterically laugh – onto the ground. “Rodimus, oh my Holy Lord above – Why would you ever?”

“You mean,” Rodimus rolls onto his back, “Why don’t I all the time?”

“No, Rod,” Drift snorts, “No, I did not mean that,” Drift offers his hand, to which Rodimus gladly accepts. After Rodimus rises from the ground, the two make their way into their shared apartment.

Rodimus plops himself on the couch, turning on the television while Drift makes his way into his room. “So,” Rodimus calls out, “What were you doing in your car for so long?”

“Remember when we watched that episode of ‘My Strange Addiction’ Roddy? The one where that guy just absolutely loved his car?” Drift retorts sarcastically.

“Oh, oh! So instead of fucking the hot-sugar-daddy-surgeon, you opted for the car?” Rodimus grins as Drift rushes to where he is sitting.

Drift jumps onto the couch, knocking Rodimus over, “Oh please, don’t come for my date like that.”

Rodimus groans a laugh under Drift, “Dude, buddy, pal – you gotta stop knocking me around.”

“Only if you kill off that snark of yours,” Drift sits himself comfortably on the couch, allowing Rodimus to get up. 

Rodimus gasps, “Never!”

Shrugging a laugh, Drift turns his attention to the television. The two settle down momentarily, watching a re-run of a cop-show on TNT. For once, Rodimus sits completely still, absorbed into the mundane show. Drift leans forward, tilting his head to get Rodimus’ attention, but to his surprise Rodimus’ eyes stayed locked on the screen.

Drift quirks his brow, “Didn’t know you where that into these shows, Rod. Would’ve put all 800 of them on our Netflix List if I did.”

Rodimus whips his head to Drift, “What? I don’t, well I mean they’re ok – Look it’s just!” Drift faces him with a patient look, “Ok, don’t laugh – seriously don’t! – But, it’s just this character reminds me of the guy I’m seeing.” Rodimus’ face reddens as he finishes his thought, and much to his dismay Drift breaks out into a huge grin.

“Oh, Rod. Oh, Roddy! You’re completely smitten!”

Rodimus shoves Drift, “No, no, I’m not!”

“Yes,” Drift laughs, “Yes, you completely are! Oh Rod, this is so! You, of all people, completely taken by a Sugar Daddy!”

Rodimus stands, his neck and ears mirroring the tender red that his cheeks carry. Once Rodimus becomes emotional over something, he tends to become very, very heated. Knowing the signs, Drift relents and calms himself down.  Rodimus makes his way towards their kitchen, grabbing a glass of water when Drift looks toward him to break the silence.

“It’s ok to like someone, Rod. I know I’m giving you shit for it, but honestly, it’s not a bad thing. Sure, I don’t know the guy – and, I have my suspicions on most, if not all people – but, I mean, if you think he’s a good guy, then I’m inclined to believe you. And, I hate – and I mean absolutely hate – to admit this, but SugarSugarMeets.org doesn’t have all bad, disgusting, revolting human beings,” Drift quiets himself, as he looks back towards to television, “There are kind, sweet, caring hearts everywhere, Rod.”

Rodimus returns the couch, glass in hand. He sighs, takes a sip, and looks towards Drift. “So, date was good then?” He cheekily grins.

Becoming flustered, Drift coughs and stutters at first. He takes a “cooling” breath, as he teaches in his Meditation Sundays, “It was honestly everything and more.”

“Woah,” Rodimus whistles, “Big words, considering the profile picture made the guy look like a grump!”

“Roddy!” Drift pouts, “He’s not a grump. He’s caring, generous, sweet, and just – Oh gracious Lord above,” Drift puts his head into his hands, “He’s just too good for me, Rod. What if he finds out everything? I’m scared I’m not enough for him.”

Rodimus puts his hand Drift’s shoulder, “Drift, if he’s everything your saying he is, then he won’t be a fucking asswipe. Think logically, if he’s got a heart of gold he’s not gonna think of you as anything less than you are. And, by the way, you’re a helluva lot more than anyone has ever been.”

Drift smiles, placing his hand on Rodimus’, “You’re the best friend everyone wants, you know that?”

“Yeah, I know,” Rodimus smiles, “Bad news is: I can only give myself as a ‘Best Friend’ to a select few. Good News is: You’ve made the list, pal.”

Drift laughs, “The only list I ever want to be on!”

Rodimus smiles, “The only list that will ever matter, pal. But hey, besides gassing up Mr. Grump, what was the date actually like?”

“Not a grump, and it was wonderful – We met at that café you like, and we chatted a bit there – he paid for my coffee, even though I asked he didn’t – there were some kids there that were a bit nosy, and they cracked a few jokes but we left soon enough and he offered the idea of going to the movies. We saw that samurai film, Whispering Fates and – “

“You went and saw Whispering Fates without me?!”

“Not on purpose, Rod, spur of the moment choosing! Anyways, we watched the movie – I did the thing you don’t like, but –“

“’The thing you don’t like,’ you mean when you turn into a Wikipedia article on Japanese Culture and History?” Rodimus snorts, “And he didn’t run?”

“No! he was actually impressed! Rodimus, he just has this smile and – Oh! I forgot, I drove there and –“

You? You drove?! Street-racer-Drift drove?! And didn’t crash or give the medic a heart attack!?”

“Well, if you would let me finish, Rod!” Drift chuckles, “In fact, he was very concerned about my driving, but instead of scaring him off – he gave me a lecture and was sincere and told me he cared, and I know – I know! – These seem like small and stupid reasons to like someone and that my standards are just low or something but honestly, Rod, I saw his aura, I saw his heart – he’s genuine. He’s the most genuine heart I’ve seen since yours.”

Rodimus smiled at his besotted friend, “Well, are the wedding bells ringing or what?”

Drift blanches, “Wedding? Oh, Rod I don’t think he’d ever – I don’t even know if we’d make it that far! And with everything that’s happened in the past –“

“Drift, Drift! It was a joke, my bad. Take this one step at a time, don’t think to far ahead. Live in the now, the present, the moment!” Rodimus leans back, and soon Drift follows suit, “I know love can be scary, and acceptance is always a 50/50 no matter where, but if he is genuine and you feel like your feelings are – then, you have the Rodimus-Stamp-Of-Approval, and I know you’ll be fine.” 

Drift chuckles, “Thanks, Roddy.”

“No issue. Anyways, I’m sure ye ole Doc got some stuff in the past he ain’t to proud of either – We all do.”

Drift hums, “I don’t think he’s the type. But, he is connected to some top authorities,” Rodimus looks over, interest piqued as Drift continues, “Yeah, those kids I mentioned at the café? Well one of them mentioned about how Ratchet was involved with the Prime,” Drift looks at Rodimus’ open mouth, “I know, crazy right? I didn’t get to ask – be he assured me he wasn’t ‘sleeping with the Prime.’”

“Your Sugar Daddy knows the Prime? The Prime? Optimus? Optimus-fucking-Prime?” Rodimus jumps on the couch, standing above Drift, “Drift, you have to get me in on this!”

Drift stares at his friend incredulously, “’In on this’? Rod, what are you talking about?”

“You could get me an internship – or at least some contact information – with the Prime! Drift, it’s been my dream to work with the Prime – hence the whole name change pal, remember? – And now here we are! You have a connection that can get me connected! This is perfect!”

Frowning, Drift tries to calm Rodimus down, “Rod, slow down. I don’t think I can!”

“What,” Rodimus plops on the couch, “What do you mean?”

Drift fidgets, “Rod, I don’t want Ratchet to think I’m using him, least for his connections to the Prime! I don’t want to fuck this up, seriously.”

Rodimus huffs, “You won’t fuck it up, just casually mention me – I’m bound to come up, I’m your best friend for life and your roommate – and just say that I’ve been looking to meet with the Prime and work with him my whole life!”

“And if he’s misunderstands? If he thinks I just am using him for political gain?”

“’Political gain’?” Rodimus mocks, “Drift, he’s a fucking surgeon, not the next running senator!”

Drift shakes his head, “I can’t, Rodimus, I can’t risk something that’s just started.”

Rodimus throws his hands up, “Well, fuck me then! Go ahead, and fucking fuck my plans! Christ, Drift.”

Drift shakes his head and stands, “This is something that is important to me, and I’m sorry if it’s frustrating you but I’m not giving you a false promise if I know I might not keep it. Respect my decision and don’t guilt me for it! I’m sorry, but I won’t ruin my chances with Ratchet for your internship – especially since I know you can obtain it given that you are a phenomenal individual and anyone would be lucky to have you on their team! Just apply for one yourself, you don’t need Ratchet as a connection to obtain the things you need!”

As a silence falls between the two, Rodimus stands to match Drift’s height. After staring each other down, Rodimus sighs, “I’m going to bed. Goodnight, Drift.”

Drift blinks, “Rodimus,” he says defeatedly, “Rodimus, don’t do this!”

Rodimus answers by shutting his bedroom door leaving Drift alone in the living room, end credits to the TNT cop show filling the silence.  

***

The Prime and Doctor exchange "Good Morning"s as Ratchet seats himself in the passenger side. “So,” A soft rumble of a voice fills the momentary silence, “How was your date?”

Ratchet blinks, “Oh, Christ. How did you find out?”

Optimus Prime chuckles, hands braced on the front wheel of his truck. “I have my ways, old friend.”

“No, you don’t, you old fool. You have interns - who were probably making coffee-runs - that don’t mind their business.”

“Ah, so you’ve caught me.”

Ratchet snorts, “So I have,” the car quiets as Optimus waits for an answer to his previous question, “Oh fine, it was wonderful. He’s wonderful,” Ratchet grumbles and looks out the window, “Happy?”

“For you? Always,” Optimus smiles softly, “I’m glad someone has found you, and connected with you. It is important to always search for one that –“

“Orion, please shut up. I know damn well what you want to say. And, the answer is, yes. Yes, he is incredibly handsome.”

Optimus hums, “I was momentarily worried. Your taste as of late was a bit concerning.”

“’My taste’? I haven’t been involved with anyone in years, Pax!”

“You ramble when your drunk, Ratchet.”

Ratchet stutters, “I – Well, I mean of course – Alcohol consumption can lead to –“

Optimus’ chuckle cuts off Ratchet’s stutters, “What’s his name?”

Ratchet quiets, “Drift.”

“Drift?” Optimus’ eyes narrow, “And he lives here, in Iacon?”

Ratchet rolls his eyes, “Yes, Pax, of course he does.”

“I’m surprised, I’ve never heard of him,” Optimus mumbles.

“’Never heard of him’? Optimus, it’s not like you can memorize every citizen in the city,” Ratchet snorts.

“Well, actually,” Optimus begins.

Ratchet whips his head to Optimus, “Pax, you are not.”

“I was advised by the former Primes that each knew at least the main residents of their cities, and so I have taken to over looking the documentation of each citizen and memorizing their names and faces so I can be better acquainted with the people who look towards me for guidance.”

Ratchet stares at Optimus, frown placed on his lips, “You do realize previous Primes were present in times were population was – at maximum – 1,000.”

Optimus continues to look towards the road, silence filling the car once more. His lips are pressed into a thin line, until he finally says softly, “I am aware.”

Ratchet lets out a chuckle, “Always making the choices that give you a headache,” He looks towards his friend, “Glad you always stay the same, Pax.”

“And I am glad I always have you at my side, Ratchet.”

Ratchet shrugs, “Where else would I be? Someone has to make sure you don’t throw yourself into chronic back pain again.”

Optimus shudders, “Those times were some of the hardest I have faced. I am glad you were able to heal me.”

“I didn’t heal you,” Ratchet rolls his eyes, “The medication did. I just tell you how much to take so you don’t overdose.”

“Nevertheless, I am grateful.” Optimus pulls his car into the driveway of the ER entrance. “Are you sure you do not need a ride to pick up your car? I can have one of my interns pick you up?”

“No need, Pax. I got someone already – if the shift turns out well enough. But, I’ll call you if I need you.”

“Of course, Ratchet.” Optimus smiles. Ratchet unbuckles his seatbelt and moves to leave the car, when Optimus says softly, “Ratchet, I want you to know,” Ratchet pauses his movements, “I was not informed that he was coming home.”

Ratchet grimaces, “I know, Pax. Looks to me like no one was.”

Optimus nods, “Per usual, his timing is sporadic and unconventional. I have been informed that he has come for a conference concerning the Iaconian Scientific Developments Committee. The conference preparation is to last for two months, while the conference itself is to last for three-weeks.”

“Perceptor’s doing, no doubt,” Ratchet grumbles.

“You are not wrong in your assumption. I have been asked to make a brief appearance and seeing as though you are the head Iaconian surgeon, I have been informed that an invitation is coming your way.”

Ratchet rubs his face, “Can I decline it?”

“You can,” Optimus nods, “But, it is at the cost that you will be left out of the findings that could be paramount in your and the hospital’s future.”

“You,” Ratchet starts but he breathes through his nose to calm himself down, “Might as well just say, ‘You’ll be fucking us all over if you decline, Ratchet.’”

“I very well could have, but I refuse to use such language,” Optimus smiles.

Ratchet mirrors the smile with a frown, “Of course. Well, I have a shift to get to, saving lives and all. I’ll see you around, Pax.”

Optimus nods, “I will contact you later – Jazz and Prowl have invited me for dinner later in the week and have asked for you to accompany me.”

Ratchet rolls his eyes fondly, “Of course they have. I’ll call you if I need you.”

Optimus chuckles as his passenger door shuts. The Prime drives away and the medic makes his way into the hospital.

Chapter Text

  “Remember to use –“

Pharma!” Ratchet seethes, “Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

Pharma answers by walking away from Ratchet with a hearty cackle. As he watches Pharma retreat, Ratchet rubs his brow, his eyes closing in strained-relief. Standing in the hallway of his floor, Ratchet releases the tension he’s been carrying on his shoulders. He glances at the clock stationed above the information desk. “Only two more hours,” he mumbles.

“Two hours until what, Dr. Ratchet?” a voice comes behind Ratchet – making him yelp. “Sorry,” First Aid chuckles. 

Ratchet huffs, “Damnit Aid, don’t do that.”

“I apologized, didn’t I?” First Aid places his hand on Ratchet’s shoulder, “Anyways, anything good happening after shift?”

Ratchet gives First Aid a deadpan look, “I’m picking up my car from being impounded.”

First Aid removes his hand and cheekily narrows his eyes, “So, you’re not meeting your date again?”

“Aid!” Ratchet growls, but before he becomes enraged he lets out a sigh. “Pharma can never keep his mouth shut, can he?”

“No,” First Aid shakes his head, “He can, you guys just talk too loud when patients aren’t present.”

Ratchet swats at First Aid, who dodges while giggling, “You – I can’t believe!”

“Aw, Ratchet,” First Aid backs away far enough, “I was just trying to –“

“RATCHET!” Pharma yells, barreling through the corridor, “You need to go to Room 384!”

Ratchet falls in step, taking the clipboard from Pharma’s hands. “What are we dealing with?”

“Skateboarders, but one decided to be Tony Hawk and attempted to grab onto a car going 20 miles.  Got clipped by a passing car, and –“

“Alright, enough, I got the chart here. Any complications to anesthetics?”

“No, his twin informed us of most of the –“

“Twin? How old are they?”

“Teens, Ratchet. Left in the system, so no parents to call,” The two open the doors to the operation room.

Ratchet walks right to the table of the groaning boy. His face is bloodied and marred, his arm is twisted, and his legs are mangled. Ratchet steels himself and orders the nurses to cut away the clothes. He looks towards Pharma, “Looks like a compound open fracture on the right leg, what of the left and his arm?”

“Arm is a displaced fracture, and the left leg was scanned and found to be a complete fracture.”

“Alright,” Ratchet breathes, “Put him under and let’s get this done.”

***

Finally, after five hours in the operation room, Ratchet trudges out into the hallway. Thankfully, the teen took to the anesthesia and is resting comfortably enough until Pharma can do evaluations and screw placements in the kid’s arm. Ratchet rubs his face, tired eyes scanning the ground. He already knows he missed his date with Drift and didn’t have the time to inform him of the operation.

“I hope he doesn’t think I stood him up,” Ratchet grumbles, making his way towards his office. As he rounds the corner, he notices a familiar yellow sweatshirt and the boy wearing it hunched over in a chair. The kid has his face in his hands, and his shoulders tremble ever so slightly. Ratchet begins to move towards the boy, but then notices the figure next to him, who’s murmuring and rubbing the teen’s back.

“Drift?” Ratchet questions quietly.

Drift looks up, eyes brightening ever so slightly, “Hey Ratch’, heard about the surgery. Any news on Sideswipe?”

“Sideswipe?” Ratchet questions, taken aback by Drift even being at the hospital. He looks away from Drift to the kid in the chair who stares back with tearful eyes. “Oh,” Ratchet mumbles, “In simple terms, He’s recovering. He had multiple fractures and needs screws in several places, but he’s taken to the surgery with zero complications. I’m assuming you’re his twin?”

The kid nods, rubbing his eyes, “Yeah, I’m Sides' twin, Sunstreaker.”

Ratchet nods, “Right, well, Sunstreaker, what your brother attempted today was absolutely reckless, and he’s lucky to be alive. I know this is a hard time for you, seeing as though your sitting here and he’s in the operation room, so I’m going to tell you…” Ratchet pauses, noticing the kid’s eyes dilating and his trembling continuing. He reaches for the kid, Drift looking at him quizzically. Ratchet places his hands on the kid’s face, tilting the kid’s head and ignoring his dismaying grunts. He grabs the kid’s arm, “Never mind, seems like both you twins are foolish,” Ratchet looks towards the desk where Ambulon, one of the newest transfers, sits comfortably.

“Hey Doc, what’s up?” Ambulon starts, but beings to frown when he notices Ratchet dragging the kid by the arm, “Something the –“

“I need a room, now,” Ratchet growls.

 “329,” Ambulon quickly answers and Ratchet starts down the hall, “Do you need Aid?”

“No! Not at the moment!”  Ratchet yells over his shoulder, dragging Sunstreaker along down the hall. Drift follows behind, matching pace.

“Ratchet, Ratchet,” Drift leans down and picks Sunstreaker up, who goes limp when being held, “He looked like he was about to pass out. Where’s the room?”

Ratchet allows a flicker of worry to cross his face before it hardens again, “Just down here, keep up!”

The two finally reach the room, Drift placing Sunstreaker down onto the examination table, “What do you need me to do?”

“Take that sweatshirt off him, I need to take his vitals!”

Drift follows suit while Ratchet prepares his medical instruments. After Drift takes off Sunstreaker’s sweatshirt and stand aside. Ratchet rushes over to Sunstreaker and begins taking his temperature, then checking the dilation of his eyes. “Drift,” Ratchet calls over his shoulder while checking Sunstreaker’s breathing, “Tell Ambulon to get First Aid, I need an IV and monitoring – He’s running a fever and possibly a respiratory infection that’s been untreated for too damn long!” As Ratchet finishes his sentence, Drift is barreling down the hall, but stopped by a smaller man.

“Who’re you?” The man questions.

“Drift, Dr. Ratchet needs help with a patient and needs First Aid to –“ Drift rushes but is quickly silenced as the man’s eyes widen.

“What does he need?”

“I need Aid, for fuck sake!” Ratchet bellows from the room, apparently overhearing the questioning.

“I’ll give you one better, I’ll give you myself!” The man calls back, rushing towards the room. ‘

“Meltdown!” Ratchet scolds, but quickly relents. “He’s got a respiratory infection, a heavy-set one.  I need you to –“

Meltdown shakes his head, “Don’t need to lecture me, Ratchet. I’m not Aid. I’m on it,” Meltdown rushes out the doors, leaving Ratchet to shift through the draws for cooling pads.

Drift enters the room, “Do you need anything?” When Ratchet whips his head towards him he steps back, “Sorry, it’s just –“

“No, it’s ok,” Ratchet returns to shifting through the cabinets, “Bet you weren’t expecting this for the second date, eh, kid?”

“Actually,” Drift walks across the room and grabs for Sunstreaker’s hand, “I did want to see you in your workplace again.”

Ratchet walks over to the table, placing the cooling pads on Sunstreaker and wiping some of the sweat away, “Again? What are you –“

“Got everything you need, Doc!” Meltdown yells as he bustles into the room, First Aid following close behind.

“We are going to have to move him to the second floor, we can’t risk him contaminating the post-op patients,” First Aid states.  

“No,” Meltdown argues, “Kid’s too unstable right now, can’t take to moving him –“

“He’s a risk for the patients on this floor!” First Aid retorts.

“We can’t just –!” Meltdown begins to start, well having a meltdown, but after a pointed look from Ratchet.

“Both of you shut your fucking mouths, the kid will be stable momentarily enough – if you didn’t fuck up when bringing the supplies I asked for. Aid, get over here and get the IV hooked up. Meltdown, go prepare the stretcher and get Ambulon to prepare a room on the second floor. I don't want this kid moved until we know he is stable, understand?”

The two break off on their separate tasks and Ratchet escorts Drift out of the room. The two make their way down the hall, Drift occasionally looking behind him. Ratchet reaches the desk where Ambulon is sat, “I want constant updates on the twins – email or text is sufficient,” He looks towards Drift, who is still giving lingering looks at Sunstreaker’s hospital room, “Drift, Aid and Meltdown know what they’re doing. He’s being taken to Aid’s floor, where he’ll be treated accordingly. Don’t fret.”

Drift sighs, “He’s just a kid…”

“Yeah,” Ratchet grabs Drift hand and leads him down the hall towards the elevator, “But, I just did a five-hour operation on his twin – who had a lazy grin plastered on his face during the whole operation. I’m sure he’ll be fine…they’re strong kids, Drift.”

Drift looks to Ratchet, eyes softening, “Something you come across often?”

“What?”

“The strong-willed kind.”

“No,” Ratchet grips Drift’s hand as the enter the elevator, “Being completely honest – most who enter hospital walls are laced with fear, doubt, and barely the will to carry past examination. Only a handful of times have I had patients who held onto their lives white-knuckled. Those kinds are few and far, but they come in.”

“Do you,” Drift starts, “Do you remember all of them?”

Ratchet looks at Drift, “Almost every –“

The elevator door opens, and Pharma stands expectantly in front of the couple. “Dr. Ratchet,” Pharma grins.

“Dr. Pharma,” Ratchet frowns, “What do you need?”

Pharma steps out of the way as the two brush past him, “Nothing at the moment – besides an introduction to your lovely companion.”

“I’m Drift,” Drift stares carefully, stretching out his hand towards Pharma.

Ratchet grunts as Pharma’s eyes light up, gracefully grasping Drift’s hand, “The pleasure is mine, Drift. Tell me, who are you visiting in our beloved establishment? Family, friend, or lover?”

Ratchet rolls his eyes, have a nerve to begin scolding Pharma, when he’s halted by Drift’s casual, “Lover, actually.”

Pharma visibly deflates, “Oh? Is he a patient of mine?”

“No, it’s a co-worker,” Drift says face brightening.

“A co-worker – Who?” Pharma blinks, flickering his questioning gaze to Ratchet.

Ratchet, at this point is holding back the most shit-eating grin he could possible muster, but loses his grip when Drift laces his hands with his hand happily states, “Dr. Ratchet, of course.”

Pharma looks between the two, completely bewildered. He stammers momentarily, before quickly excusing himself. Right as he leaves, Ratchet lets out a chuckle. Drift turns and looks at him, “Was it something I said?”

Ratchet gives Drift a lopsided smile, “It was everything you said, kid.”

Drift laughs and the two make their way towards the parking lot. Drift opens the door for Ratchet, and then makes his way to the driver’s seat. Before he gets in the car, he notices familiar plating in the parking space in front of him. “Hey, Ratchet –“

Just before he can question, Ratchet is out of the car. “Oh! Oh, he didn’t did he?!” Ratchet grumbles fondly. He makes his way over to the car, reaching in his pockets for his keys. Once hitting the unlock button, the car happily beeps much to his amusement. “Damn, Pax. Where do you find the time?”

“Ratchet?” Drift questions, joining him at the car.

Ratchet looks to Drift, “I promise, I’m not trying to waste your time – frankly, I’m still dazed on why you stayed so long at the hospital, you had no obligation to drive me to pick up my car and – “

“Ratchet,” Drift smiles, “I stayed because I wanted to see you. But, still if you had your car you could have spared me the worry of –“

“I didn’t! I didn’t have my car, I would have immediately texted you if I did. This,” Ratchet thumps his hand on the cars roof, “Is the work of the Prime, kid.”

“The Prime,” Drift’s eyes go wide, the fight from Rodimus still fresh and stinging at the mention of the figurehead, “But I thought you said –“

“Pax and I go back, way back to our college days. He’s a brother,” Ratchet reassures.

“Oh,” Drift says dumbly, “Must be nice having the Prime as a friend though,” He states carefully.

“Well, he’s a workaholic with tendencies to put himself in harms way for the sake of others, but that’s why I’m here,” Ratchet smiles.

Drift mirrors the smile with his own grin, “I got someone like that of my own, so I know exactly how you feel.”

“Really?” Ratchet looks towards Drift, “Anyone I’d know? Or should know?” Ratchet grins.

“Well, he’s bound to make his appearance at one point, he has a strong personality like that. His name is Rodimus, used to be –“

“Used to be Hot Rod,” Ratchet grin widens, “Oh, he may not remember me, but I know the kid well enough.”

Drift blinks, “You, wait – how? What? Where?”

“Let’s talk about it over dinner,” Ratchet looks at his watch then to Drift, “Know anyplace open at 2:30 AM?”

Chapter Text

The florescent lighting was dimmed and most of the booths were empty by the time Drift and Ratchet came in. They were seated in front of the one of the windows, the hum of the overhead light filling in the silence of the local diner. Drift studied the purple, poorly-graphically-designed menu, looking at every option, while Ratchet took a glance and promptly told the waitress he needs a black coffee.

“Oh Dr. Ratchet, I should have known you would order that,” The waitress teases, tucking her notepad in her apron.

Ratchet gives her a small smile, “Well, at this point it’s a staple in my diet, Mary.”

The waitress, Mary, clicks her tongue. “Even a doctor should know better than to allow that happen!”

“We should,” Ratchet chuckles, “But then again I never was like those in my field.”

“That’s why,” The waitress winks, “You’re the best, Dr. Ratchet.”

Before Ratchet can answer, Drift lightly places his menu down – drawing attention to him. The waitress blinks while Ratchet smiles and gives Drift a questioning look. Drift looks between the two, “Is something the matter?”

“No,” The waitress says happily, “Just never seen you around here before! New intern at the Hospital?” She looks towards Ratchet, who tries to reply but fumbles on his words.

“Actually,” Drift smiles sweetly, “I’m Dr. Ratchet’s close associate. Met him after shift and –“

“Oh doctor!” The waitress giddily interjects, “You have a date!”

Ratchet scratches the side of his face bashfully, “That I do.”

Drift looks between the two with a shy smile, “So, I hate to break up this revelation, but can I get an omelet?”

The waitress nods eagerly and then sets off towards the kitchen. Drift leans back in the plush neon colored booth, laying his head back. Ratchet in turn chuckles, mimicking Drift’s movements and becomes relaxed. Usually, poor fluorescent lighting is harsh against facial features, but to anyone who passed outside and peered into Kate’s 24-Hour Pie and Breakfast Diner, the two men looked as if they were basking in the moonlight. The harsh glow of the dimmed lights softened even more on them, and accompanied by the neon glow of the sign, which was placed just outside their window and was portrayed proudly on top of the building’s roof to lure customers in, Ratchet and Drift were picture perfect for a melancholy scene. 

Ratchet rubs his face, “So, shall I wait until our food comes out, or would you like to know my connection to that scamp, Hot Rod?”

“Oh!” Drift straightens, “I think before the food suits –“

“Actually,” sings the waitress, “You don't have to wait – food's already here!”

The waitress places the food upon the glossy table, winking at the couple when giving their utensils. She walks away, and Drift’s stomach grumbles loudly enough for Ratchet to bark a short laugh – waving his hand for Drift to get his fill first.

“I,” Drift says, while finishing chewing, “can multi-task!”

Ratchet laughs, “I’m sure you can,” Ratchet softly smiles, “Well, I guess I should start with Hot Rod’s mother.”

Drift chokes on his omelet, “His!” He coughs, causing Ratchet to move forward in a panic, “I’m fine – Lost my dignity, but fine.”

“So much for multi-tasking,” Ratchet rolls his eyes fondly, “Anyways, yes, I know his mother. Went to High School with her, as a matter a fact. Dainty thing, but once you pissed that woman off – she was unstoppable.

“We were friends who bantered enough, and surprisingly kept in touch after graduating. I went to Iacon University and she went to the Nyon University. Changed her major so many times, I’m surprised they didn’t kick her out! But, we studied, and she’d occasionally visit IU to see me. Good gal, wasn’t at all put off from my –“ Ratchet blinks, a blush rising at memory of how he acted in college, “Well, let’s say I wasn’t so much a bookworm on the weekends.”

“Oh?” Drift leans forward in interest, omelet momentarily forgotten, “What exactly does that mean, Dr.?”

Ratchet coughs, blush rising to his ears, “Nothing I can get into right this second – Anyhow! Around the time I graduated, Hot Rod’s mother decided to settle down with some lawyer from Vos.  Quite the good-looking couple, and of course the wedding was quite magnificent but, after two or three years of their marriage I had entered my internship at a pediatrician clinic and Hot Rod’s mother had just given birth to her first son.

“Now, I mentioned once angered, she was quite a force to be reckoned with – but once Hot Rod was born, that woman became a fire breathing dragon,” Ratchet snorts, “But luckily, her husband reasoned with her that I was someone she could trust with her beloved son.”

Drift blinks, “So,” He swallows the rest of his meal, “Roddy was your first patient?”

“Well,” Ratchet tilts his head in thought, “Not technically. I was still an intern, but I was forced to be at all his appointments, as you can imagine,” Ratchet leans further back into the booth, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t remember me, though. His mother insisted on him calling me by that god-awful nickname.”

Drift perks at the mention of a nickname, “What was it?”

“Well,” Ratchet huffs, “I mentioned I had my,” Ratchet shrugs his shoulders uncomfortably, “hobbies. His mother had taken to calling me,” Ratchet mumbles under his breath, “the ‘Party Ambulance’.”

Drift’s jaw goes slack, “You…’Party Ambulance’?!”

“Unfortunately,” Ratchet grumbles, “But Hot Rod only had a select vocabulary, so he often opted for calling me Ambulance, or – if he was particularly frustrating – Amb-Amb,” Ratchet ignored Drift’s stifled giggles, “That kid was quite the menace though, he often decided that being confined in the waiting room or the examination room was boring, he’d run off and around the whole office!

"Luckily, his mother would bring him during the times Orion was visiting for his lunch break and was often the one to wrangle the little bastard –“

“Orion?” Drift gapes.

Ratchet nods, “Yep, he’d visit on his lunch break. He was volunteering at the library across the street – community service hours for the Enforcer Academy, you know? – He’d come over on his break to help me organize the files and we’d get a quick lunch. But Hot Rod’s mother would always schedule his appointments just at Orion’s lunchtime. Given that he was also her friend, I assumed the more people she was familiar with the easier it was for her to bring in Hot Rod.”

“Wait,” Drift holds his hands up, “Wait, wait, wait. Roddy’s mother knows the Prime?!”

“Of course,” Ratchet scratches neck, “Seeing as though Orion is my friend, they were bound to meet each other. The three of us synced up quite well, in fact. Though, I’m sure once Orion took the job as Prime his communications with Hot Rod’s mother lessened, he barely can make time for me – Not,” Ratchet waves his hand in front of his face, “that I need him to, but making sure that over-working soft-heart is ok does give me a bit of relief. Though,” Ratchet mumbles trailing off, “he has been in contact with me more, and more lately…”

“Ratchet?” Drift questions.

Ratchet shakes his head, “It’s nothing. Anyways, Hot Rod was a handful in the office. Once you turn your back he’d zip off the chairs or table and zoom through the halls! He would escape from everyone, slippery little sparkling…But Orion seemed to be the only one who could ever really catch him – and make Hot Rod listen! The amount of times that baby cried until Orion held him was more than I could possibly count!”

Drift’s eyes widen, “I can’t believe the Prime knew Roddy…Do you think he still remembers him?”

Ratchet hums, “Of course he does. Besides Orion having this new goal of memorizing all the designations of the Iaconian residents - don't ask -  Hot Rod’s mother sends us both holiday cards, and Hot Rod is always front and center, no matter his age. Personally, I have them in my office with all my other patient’s holiday cards, but I know Orion has them plastered all throughout his home. He’s a weird one, has a cork-board of all the family cards he gets – mind you, Hot Rod’s mother has sent one every year of his life and Orion hangs them all.

Drift’s mouth is agape, “I can’t believe the Prime has Roddy all over his apartment! This is amazing!”

Ratchet smiles as he takes a sip of his coffee. Drift reaches in his pocket, having the idea of informing Rodimus of the developments that Ratchet has given him. Ratchet watches on fondly, his tiredness finally catching up to him. He hums softly to himself as Drift texts away, and almost falls asleep in the booth until he hears the bell from the entrance door to the diner. Drift perks up at the sound, momentarily looking up. He makes eye contact and says cheerfully, “Percy?”

“Drift?” The new visitor replies, mild surprise in their voice.

“Hey,” a man who is with Percy says, “I’m here too!”

Ratchet straightens, “Perceptor? Brainstorm?”

“Ratchet?!” The duo replies at the same time.

After shifting in the booth, Ratchet sits with Brainstorm, and Perceptor and Drift sit across from them. After the newcomers' orders were delivered, Drift catches up with Perceptor while Ratchet scolds Brainstorm for straining himself for the upcoming convention. 

“Ah, it’s not all that bad,” Brainstorm leisurely states, “It was worse over-seas, the lab attendants were too intimidated to kick me out, so I would get so absorbed that the only way I left was on a stretcher!”

Ratchet whacks the back of Brainstorm’s head, “You,” He grumbles, “are the biggest moron I have ever met.”

“Not true,” Perceptor joins in, “The biggest moron you decreeded to have ever met was back when –“

“Perceptor,” Ratchet sighs, “I wasn’t being serious I was –“

“So, I haven’t been introduced to your partner, Ratchet,” Brainstorm interjects.

Ratchet turns to him, an annoyed look plastered on his face, “You can ask him for his name, Brainstorm.”

“My name’s Drift,” Drift smiles extending a hand towards Brainstorm.

Brainstorm accepts the handshake and smiles lightly, “How do you know Ratchet and Percy, Drift?”

Ratchet hums, “That’s true, how do you know Perceptor, Drift?”

“Well,” Drift starts slowly, “it’s a long, long story.”

“We met when Drift was being commissioned for the Wreckers,” Perceptor states simply, after taking a sip from his coffee.

“Wreckers?” Brainstorm starts, “What was a young kid doing with the Wreckers?”

“Well, for one – I’m not young. I’m thirty-eight, but thanks for the compliment,” Drift winks, “And I’d the Wreckers were in a situation where they needed help and I helped them, simple as that.”

“Drift,” Ratchet looks at him with his brow raised in question, “I know the Wreckers are a militant agency sanctioned by the state and the Prime for covert missions only, and I know that Perceptor,” Ratchet gestures flimsily at Perceptor, “Works with them occasionally when they encounter certain problems in the field or in investigation – but what line of work were you doing to –“

Ratchet does get to finish his question, much to Drift’s relief, due to Perceptor’s phone going off. Perceptor excuses himself, but Brainstorm questions him, “Who could possibly be calling you at this late a night?”

“A booty call?” Ratchet deadpans.

“Already here,” Brainstorm chirps.

Drift’s eyes widen and begins pointing between Brainstorm and Perceptor wildly. Perceptor ignores the group, Brainstorm nods cheerfully, and Ratchet leans back and watches the exchange fondly. The moment of peace at the table comes to halt when Perceptor finally becomes frustrated with the call.

“I – No, you cannot. I was reasonable enough to answer but I refuse – Yes, yes. No, I don’t care if you heard – Do not,” Perceptor grits, “I know well enough you can track my movements, and you know where I am at in this given moment. But, I am telling you now, do not come here.”

Ratchet looks between Brainstorm and Drift, “Any clue who he’s talking to?”

Drift shrugs but Brainstorm’s eyes narrow, “I have one conclusion.”

“Oh,” Ratchet leans forward, “Mind sharing your hypothesis, Professor?”

Brainstorm scoffs lightly, “You won’t like it.”

Ratchet’s eyes widen as he whips towards Perceptor, who know is pinching his brow in exhaustion.  Ratchet soft expression hardens and his lips turn into a frown, “Percy, give me the phone.”

“Ratchet,” Perceptor hesitates, “Are you sure you –“

“If he’s being that much of a pain in the ass, I’m the only one that can shut him up,” Ratchet reaches his hand out, “Hand it over.”

As the phone passes between the two, Drift looks on worriedly while Brainstorm sips his mug with little interest. Ratchet grimaces when he hears a gravely voice on the other side of the phone, “Hey Sunshine, it’s been awhile...”

Ratchet rolls his eyes, “Wheeljack.”

Chapter Text

“’Jack,” Ratchet growls, as he stands under the overhang of the diner's roof, “Why now?”

The voice over the phone is silent for a few moments, “Don’t tell me you’ve moved on, Ratchet.”

“Well, I’m trying to, you insufferable knob,” Ratchet rubs his brow, mentally trying to keep the on-coming migraine at bay. The voice quiets, then Ratchet hears a muffled cough, “Did you really think after all that happened, I’d wait for you?” 

Wheeljack chuckles, “Yeah, I guess I did,” the line goes quiet for a few moments more, then Wheeljack asks, “How long have you been with him?”

“’Him’,” Ratchet scoffs, “How do you know they are not a ‘her’, or ‘they’?”

Wheeljack grunts, “Just answer, Doc.”

“Not long,” Ratchet sighs, readjusting the phone on his shoulder as he paws for a cigarette. “Not that it’s any of your business what I do or who I date.”

“You’re right,” Wheeljack agrees, causing Ratchet to pause his lighting of his cigarette, “It’s not. But I want to know if there’s still time.”

“Time for what?” Ratchet mumbles into the phone as he lights up.

“Time to see if you change your mind,” Ratchet blinks as he can hear the grin through the phone. “But in other news, did you see what I recently published? What’d ya’ think?”

Ratchet rolls his eyes, “Well, if you must know…”

***

After Ratchet left the table to talk to Wheeljack, Perceptor finished the rest of his coffee, Brainstorm leaned obnoxiously forward on the table to concentrate on a game on his phone, and Drift watched Ratchet’s figure from the diner window.

“So,” Drift starts slowly, “Who is he?”

Perceptor hums, “Wheeljack is a renowned inventor and scientist who aids the Prime and militant enforcer units. He has won approximately thirty-two awards for his accomplishments in both his field and in national security. Wheeljack –“

“He means,” Brainstorm cuts in, still focusing on his game, “Who is he to Ratchet, Perc.”

“Oh,” Perceptor quiets, “That is a question you should ask Ratchet himself, Drift. It would be inappropriate for us to discuss –“

“Wheeljack broke Ratchet’s heart,” Brainstorm places his phone on the table, staring blankly at the two, “They fell in love in college, had plans to get married, but once ‘Jack’s rewards started, and his research was needed around the world – it strained the relationship. So,” Brainstorm shrugs, “’Jack broke up with him.”

Perceptor and Drift stare agape. Brainstorm blinks, “What? Was it something I said?”

“Yes,” Perceptor grits and runs his hands through his hair, “It was. You just divulged to Drift a matter that is completely personal and should only be told by the person it was experienced by – not through menial gossip at a diner!”

Drift swallows, “Is he still in love with him?” he asks quietly, opting to look at the table rather than the two scientists.

“Beats me,” Brainstorm says simply, gaining a cold-stare from Perceptor.

Perceptor looks towards Drift, “Drift, I think you should ask these questions to Ratchet, rather than us. We may be scientists, but we don’t know everything.”

“Speak for yourself!” Brainstorm chides.

“You just admitted to not knowing,” Perceptor deadpans.

Brainstorm tilts his head, then grins, “I did, didn’t I?”

The three continue on, Brainstorm restarting his game, Perceptor asking for a new cup of coffee, and Drift worriedly watching Ratchet from the window. Ratchet stands basking in the neon light, attempting to light a cigarette. Drift watches as Ratchet’s shoulders strain from tension, and his mind races as to what could be being said on the call. Drift’s mind makes snide remarks, reminding him that he’s only someone Ratchet found online, that when push-comes-to-shove, Ratchet would most definitely choose his former love over someone he just met. Drift begins to panic, the thoughts swirling in his head and making his skin go clammy. Perceptor notes his change in demeanor.

“Drift,” he asks, “Drift, are you alright?”

“Long day,” Drift replies quickly, “I’m going to the restroom, just for a moment.”

After Drift hastily excuses himself, Perceptor whips his head to Brainstorm, “I have concluded that any mess that follows in the coming moments in entirely your falut.”

Brainstorm looks up from his phone, his face twisted in confusion, “Me?” He gasps loudly, “What did I do, my dear, sweet, loving Perc?”

“Do not start with me, Brainstorm,” Perceptor scolds, “That was not your information to share.”

“As scientists,” Brainstorm sniffs, “It is our duty to answer all questions presented to us.”

Perceptor places his head in his hands, “You are absolutely intolerable, at times.”

Brainstorm hums, returning to his game, “But you love me, anyways.”

Perceptor lifts his head up and shoots a glare at Brainstorm, but before he can make a returning remark, Ratchet enters the diner again, a stern frown gracing his face. Perceptor takes the phone when handed to him, and waits for Ratchet to sit again, but instead Ratchet notes the absence of Drift.

“Where did he go?” Ratchet asks, taken aback.

“The restroom,” Perceptor nods towards the direction the facilities are, “I must inform you that while you were gone, Drift inquired about who you were on the phone with –“

“Aw, don’t snitch, Percy!” Brainstorm whines.

Perceptor and Ratchet glare at Brainstorm, but before Perceptor can finish his explanation, Ratchet makes his way to the restroom, calling over his shoulder, “Brainstorm, if you ever find yourself in my hospital, I will make sure you won’t make it out!”

“Aw,” Brainstorm grumbles, “Where else is my shitty health insurance going to take me?”

Perceptor chuckles quietly, “That is what you get for messing with the Hatchet.”

“It is,” Brainstorm grins, “Isn’t it.”

***

Ratchet opens the door to the diner’s restroom, first noting the open space by the sinks. All the stalls’ doors were wide open except for one, all the way at the end of the row. Ratchet slowly made his way towards the closed stall, where he heard the tapping of an iPhone keyboard. Ratchet sighs, standing in front of the stall, “Drift?”

The keyboard stops, and a shaky laugh resounds, “Hey, Ratchet.”

“You alright in there?” Ratchet asks softly, “I know Brainstorm said somethings, but I’d like to discuss them with you before you take it to heart.”

Drift stands, unlocking the stall door, a small smile placed on his lips, “I’d like that, Ratchet.”

Ratchet nods, “So would I,” He places his hand on Drift’s cheek – who in turn lets his face rest in the doctor’s rough palms. “Wash up, and I’ll be back at the table.”

Drift nods, moving towards the sink, “I didn’t do anything but text, though.”

“Do you really want to know how many germs you’ve come in contact with just by being in that stall?” Ratchet chuckles.

Drift laughs, “No, actually I don’t. I’ll see you out there, Ratch’”

Ratchet nods, “Yeah, see you out here, kid.”

Ratchet leaves and Drift begins to wash his hands. He splashes some water on his face and looks at himself in the mirror, “Ratchet is not the type to completely run-off,” he states quietly to his reflection, “He’s a respectful man who cares, you know this! It’ll work out,” He dries his face off with a paper towel, “I’ll make it work.”

After he finishes drying off, Drift walks out and towards the table to meet up with the others.

***

Soon after Drift rejoins the group, the couples part ways. Perceptor apologizes again for Brainstorm, followed by Brainstorm giving one final snarky remark (followed by Ratchet whacking him over the head). Drift and Ratchet walk towards their parked cars, waving off the scientists. Once they are alone, Ratchet sighs with a smile.

“It’s been an eventful day,” he remarks, taking out another cigarette.

Drift nods, “It really has. You must be exhausted, Ratchet. If you want to –“

“No,” Ratchet shakes his head, “I want to talk about this now, so it doesn’t fester,” Ratchet puffs on his cigarette, “I assume Brainstorm told you about Wheeljack and I, and for the most part – he was right. I loved him – in a sense I still do, but I absolutely do not want another relationship with him. I know him too well now, and he is not someone I can see myself settling down with, not anymore.

“When we were younger,” Ratchet looks towards Drift, searching his face for a simple explanation, “He was, he was someone else. He was goof-ball, his experiments often exploded, we’d argue but easily make-up. He was just happier. As we grew up, he went to work with an off branch of the Wreckers, and I was left to work here in Iacon.

“You’ve been in the Wreckers, so you know. It’s a hard life, and it changes people,” Ratchet ashes his cig, “Wheeljack was no different. The Wreckers let him find himself anew, his research was noted by people, his fame was rising, he became a more serious scientist with a cocky attitude,” Ratchet chuckles, “Not that I mind cocky attitudes, Drift. I don’t,” Drift reaches for Ratchet’s hands, holding them gently. Ratchet gives him a sad smile, “I mind when people cheat on me.”

Drift tightens his grip, “Oh, Ratchet,” but before he can say anything, Ratchet quiets him.

“No, none of that,” He chuckles, bringing Drift’s hands to his lips then lowering them, “I appreciate it though, love.”

Drift opens and closes his mouth, trying to find the right thing to say. “But,” He starts quietly, “Brainstorm said that you broke up because of the strain, he didn’t mention –“

“That’s because,” Ratchet gives Drift a tight smile, “No one knows.”

Drift blinks, “No one,” he breathes, “No one knows?”

Ratchet chuckles, cigarette hanging off his lips, “’Jack and I come from a very close group of friends. I’m sure you’ve noticed how we keep running into everyone and they all know me,” Ratchet releases Drift’s hands to scratch under his nose, “Not that I’m popular, but it’s just that Iacon is a small, small area. If I told everyone what really happened, ‘Jack would be ruined,” He finishes sadly.

Drift hums, “Yeah, and I bet the Prime would absolutely slaughter him.”

Ratchet breaks out into a heartful laughter, loosing the cigarette to the pavement. Drift watches on affectionately, before his own fit of laughter takes over. The two stand in the parking lot, lovingly laughing together over the idea of the Prime chasing around a aloof scientist in the name of his forsaken friend. Drift comes down from the high first, reaching for Ratchet’s hands again.

“The fact,” he says softly, “that even after all the hurt, your first instinct was to protect, is so incredibly you.”

Ratchet allows a lopsided grin to play on his face, “Is it really?”

“Yes,” Drift hums, leaning in, “it really is.”

The two lean in together, their lips at first brushing against each other, but then, slowly, they fall into rhythm. In the soft glow of the neon light of Kate’s 24-Hour Pie and Breakfast Diner’s sign, those who are driving by at an early 3:57 AM can see the silhouettes of two lovers in a heart-swelling, passionate kiss.  

Chapter Text

“Hey, Roddy – I!”  Drift starts as he enters through the apartment door. He was promptly interrupted by Rodimus calling out, “Drift!”

The two stare at each other for only a moment, until Rodimus finally chuckles, “Close the door before all the bugs get in, dude.”

“Oh, shit!” Drift closes and locks the door, and says sheepishly, “We need to talk.”

Rodimus sighs, “Yeah, we do. I’m starting though. I just wanted to say, I was completely immature. It’s not your responsibility to get me anything, and I shouldn’t have persisted on something that would make you uncomfortable.”

Drift’s shoulders’ slump slightly, “Rod, I also need to apologize. I was too harsh in saying no, I should’ve explained my situation more and –“

Rodimus strides over to Drift, “No, Drift. You don’t need to explain why your uncomfortable doing something that you don’t want to do.  It’s your right to say no, and it’s my responsibility to respect you and your choice. The blame falls on me for pushing you, and I’m sorry,” Rodimus hugs Drift, who returns the embrace.

“Oh, Roddy,” Drift laughs, tears pricking his eyes, “You’re my best friend, no matter when or why we fight. Never forget that.”

“Forever and always, Drift,” Rodimus steps back from the hug, a small smile tugging on his lips, “Forever and always.”

Drift breaks into a huge grin, and the two step into the living room. The two crash onto the couch in a fit of giggles. They chatter for a while, time ticking close to sun-rise.  Rodimus’ eyes water when he yawns, “So, he’s got a past love? I mean go figure, he is old and all.”

“Roddy!”

“Well, he is!” Rodimus defends, laughing.  

“He is not that old,” Drift is slumped between the cushions of the couch, eyes closed as he continues, “He’s older than us, yeah. But I’m not dating a sixty-five-year-old. He’s forty-seven, Rod.”

Rodimus grunts, “That is prime ‘Daddy’ age.”

“Oh my god,” Drift groans as Rodimus chuckles.

Rodimus looks toward the window and then rises from the couch, “Well, we’ve effectively stayed up well-past sunrise, so I’m heading to bed.” 

“Yeah,” Drift murmurs, “I’m gonna sleep here, I think.”

“Be my guest, I used to sleep on the couch all the time growing up,” Rodimus laughs.

“Yeah, sure your mom loved –“ Drift’s eyes then shot open, “Your mom!”

Rodimus pauses in his bedroom door, “Dude, a ‘your mom’ joke, this early? At 8:55 AM? What the fuck.”

“No!” Drift stands, arms stretched out, “Dude, your mom!” Rodimus’ eyebrows shoot up in patient confusion, “Your mom knows Ratchet! Fuck it – your mom knows the fucking Prime!

“No fucking way,” Rodimus laughs, “Don’t you think I would know if my mom was tight with the Prime?”

“No! Because she wasn’t tight when he was the Prime! She knew him when he was Orion!” Rodimus blinks in surprise, mouth slightly agape. Drift continues, “You – You were one of Ratchet’s patients! When he worked in pediatric care! Your mom and him are high-school friends! She’d bring you to him and met Orion through Ratchet!”

Rodimus wobbles his way toward the couch murmuring repeatedly, “No fucking way, No fucking way!”

“Way-fucking-way, man! He, the Prime knows you! Apparently, you were an absolute terror in the examination room – go figure, right? – but the Prime was always there to help you calm down! And, oh, your going to fucking reel, he has every. Single. Christmas card.”

“No!” Rodimus’ eyes are as wide as saucers when he yells, “No, he fucking does not!

Drift screeches with laughter as Rodimus frantically calls his mother. Rodimus retreats into his room, continually saying to her, “Why didn’t you tell me, Ma?!” But before Drift could listen to anymore of the conversation (and Rodimus’ well-deserved freak out) tiredness overwhelms him, and Drift falls into sleep, the sunshine of a new day peaking through the apartment’s shuttered windows. 

***

Ratchet is outside the hospital, enjoying the courtyard fresh air. His break is early today, and he’s trying to appreciate every second away from his nosy co-workers. First Aid is in an absolute frantic panic on Wheeljack’s return, Pharma is constantly bugging him about Drift (and how he was not one that he picked out). Ratchet inhales, letting the events the previous night wash over him. Drift had been lovely, even if the night had a few ups and downs. Now, he just needs to not fuck this up and everything would be fine. Everything will be just –

“Ratchet!” a deep voice echoes in the otherwise quiet courtyard.

Ratchet rolls his eyes, “Mercy.”

A hand falls onto his shoulder, and Ratchet looks up to find a pair of piercing blue eyes stare back. Ratchet’s tension quickly rolls away, “Prowl. I thought we were getting dinner.”

“We are,” Prowl, as gruff as ever, states simply. “But, patrol had me on rotation, and I was close enough.” Prowl takes a seat next to Ratchet, looking forward. Prowl, as Ratchet glances him over, has ages only slightly. His black hair now has been shifting more towards a pepper-coloring, which aggravatingly looks handsome on him. His nose, despite being broken a couple of times, is still miraculously straight – something that Ratchet, despite being a renowned surgeon, could not comprehend.

“So,” Ratchet starts after a moment of silence, “How are things?”

Prowl shifts to place his hands on his knees, “Jazz has not fully recovered.”

Ratchet goes stiff, momentarily. “I figured something was wrong. Impromptu visits were never your sign of ‘everything is going well.’” Ratchet winces as Prowl scowls. “Alright, tell me. What are the symptoms? Is he limping still? Collapsed veins? Drowsy? What have you noticed?”

“He’s dying,” Prowl says it slow enough, his jaw clenching as the last syllable leaves his lips. Ratchet looks at him, eyes wide. “He,” Prowl’s voice cracks only slightly, “He’s bedridden.”

“What?!” Ratchet yells, making the birds resting near by flutter away, “Why haven’t you –“ Ratchet stops himself from a lecture, noticing how tense Prowl’s posture is. “How long has he been bedridden?”

“Since we returned. I don’t know what he was poisoned with. I’ve run through every possible black-market operation, I’ve talked to several sellers – none of them know of the poison he was injected with. At first, after you and Dr. Pharma treated him, he was fine – wobbly, unstable – but fine.” Prowl stresses the last word and grips his hands, “But after we went looking for the culprit, for the leads he had before the incident, he became sluggish. He started throwing up everything. Couldn’t keep a single-damned-thing down!” Prowl slams his fist against the bench they sat on, slowly seething. “I,” He heaved in a deep breath, trying to regain his posture, “I don’t know what to do, Ratchet.”

“Well,” Ratchet says calmly, “you’re in luck, because I do.”

Prowl turns, eyes full of somber hope, “You do?” 

“There must have been a dormant component of the poison that is only activated once the bulk of the poison his removed from the blood stream, all we need to do is isolate that component as created an antidote from it.”

“You,” Prowl blinks, “you make it sound so simple, easy even.”

“It’s not. It’s an extremely tedious project to do alone, plus – we are time constrained.”

“Then, how can we help Jazz? If it’s too difficult, how can we –“

“I said,” Ratchet says standing, “Doing this alone would be difficult. You’re not alone Prowl, and neither is Jazz. Bring him in by 5:00 PM. I’ll have everything ready.”

Prowl stands and walks briskly after Ratchet, “What does that mean? What is your plan, Ratchet?”

“I’m calling in a team. With Pharma and First Aid already here, all I need is Percy, Brainstorm, and…”

“’And’?” Prowl insisted.

“And Wheeljack. All of them have enough knowledge and out of the box thinking for a task like this.”

Prowl nods, turning to leave. He’s stopped when Ratchet calls out, “Is he showing any signs of skin irritation?”

“No, just blotchy from the fever…why?” Prowl questions.

Ratchet shrugs, “Just wanted to know if I had to call Swerve too. I probably will anyways, just in case.”

Prowl nods, quickly exiting the building. Ratchet watches his friend’s retreating figure, quickly reaching for his phone.

It only takes two rings for Optimus Prime to answer his cell. “Ratchet? How are you?”

“Not good, Pax. Jazz’s in trouble.”

The other end of the call is quiet, “What do you need?”

“Every and all medical equipment the senates budget has denied us these past five years. I’ve held back long enough, but now its personal.”

“Understood, I will send everything over,” the Prime pauses, “How bad?”

“Bedridden, sick enough that it’s to the point of breaking Prowl,” Ratchet rubs his brow, “So, fucking awful.”

The Prime grunts, “Should I go see him?”

“You could, but you’d bring more attention to one of you best…’informants’. Best to visit him when he comes in here for recovery.”

“Yes,” Optimus hums, “That would be most logical. Who are you bringing in on this? Who can help?”

“With the added First Aid and Pharma – I’m calling Percy, Brainstorm, Swerve, and ‘Jack.”

Optimus quiets in thought, “Perceptor and Swerve I understand, Ratchet. But what could benefit from working with Brainstorm and Wheeljack?”

“The mechanics of processing the antidote for the poison will go much quicker and more efficiently with those two around,” Ratchet states simply.

“I see,” Optimus agrees. “You really do think of everything, don’t you Ratchet?”

“It’s in the job description, Pax,” Ratchet grins.

“So it is,” the Prime chuckles, “I’ll get that medical equipment and budgeting as fast as possible, Ratchet.”

“5:00 PM would be preferable.”

Ratchet,” Optimus scolds.

“No lectures – only doing. Bye, Pax!” Ratchet cheekily hangs up the phone. Looking up to find just who he was subconsciously looking for, “First Aid!”

The smaller man turns, eyes wide, “Dr. Ratchet?”

“I have a very important patient coming in, one that needs your and Pharma’s help. I’m giving you the task to put together a team to run each floor in our absence. Make sure who you put in charge knows what they’re doing –  we can’t have anyone – or anything – interrupt this procedure. Understood?” 

First Aid straightens only slightly at his orders, “Of course, Dr. Ratchet. What exactly is the procedure?”

“I’ll brief you on it an hour before, for now I need to speak with Pharma,” Ratchet pats First Aid’s shoulder and nods to Ambulon when he passes by.

It takes him a brief ten minutes to get to Pharma’s office. The door, unusually, is closed and locked. Ratchet’s face scrunches in confusion, until he hears slight moans from the other side of the door. Ratchet leans his head back, holding in a scream. He closes his eyes, counts to ten, and briskly knocks on Pharma’s door. The moans don’t stop when Pharma quickly says, “Need something, Dr. Ratchet?”

Ratchet grits his teeth. “A fucking hole in my head, at this point,” He grumbles to himself. “Pharma!” He shouts, “We have a patient coming in that I need your assistance.”

The moans are now quiet – almost in audible – until Pharma’s sly voice resounds once more, “You need my what Dr. Ratchet?”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Ratchet slams his hand against the door, causing it to rumble and the hinges to squeak, “Don’t play this fucking game, Pharma. Get out here so I can brief and get the rooms prepared!”

The moans begin once again, louder than ever, and Ratchet is just about to burst. He’s face gets redder, and redder.  Patients and nurses alike turn away in the hall, as the steaming Ratchet writhes in his own aggravated pain. Just as the Hatchet almost springs out, Pharma opens the door, as calm as one could be face front with the Hatchet himself.

“Is it that serious, Ratchet?” Pharma quirks a brown, sweat dripping from his hairline. His shirt is slightly unbuttoned, leaving a sight of a sweat-sheen chest.

“Do you think,” Ratchet’s hands are clenched into a tight fist, “I would put up with listening to your fuck-fest, if it wasn’t?”

Pharma rolls his eyes, “And here I thought you were jealous, you never did like the idea of an orgy once you moved on from your college days.”

And just as the words left Pharma’s lips, Ratchet raises his fist, but before he can swing – he breathes. “Listen here, Pharma. Jazz and Prowl have recently returned from whatever mission they were sent on, and as they were on their ‘trip’, Jazz became ill. Ill from the poison that we thought we cured. It must have a dormant gene that activated once –“

“A dormant gene? In a poison?” Pharma crosses his arms in thought, “Highly unlikely, we traced every single essence of that poison. He took routine blood tests! It cannot be the poison.”

“Whatever it is,” Ratchet says sternly, “It’s killing Jazz. We can fight over semantics later, but for now I need you, Pharma. I need you to –“

“To help,” Pharma chuckles at Ratchet’s annoyed glare, “By the time you say the obvious, Ratchet, this hospital would be in flames.”

“5:00 PM,” Ratchet grits out, “He’s coming in by 5:00 PM. Make sure the room, the tools, the scans, the fluids, the –“

Dr. Ratchet” Pharma’s eyes are half lidded, “Do not treat me as some ‘fresh-out-of-med-school’ child. I know exactly what you need, and when you need it done. Now, be on your way and get the files ready. I’ll handle the hard bits.”

Ratchet parts with Pharma with hard glare and an exhausted huff. Ratchet makes his way to his own office, one that littered with paperwork and files of cases past. He searches through the roughage and after an hour finds they bulkiest file he’s ever complied.

’SCINTILLAM COMEDENTI’

Chapter Text

It was simple, so painstakingly simple. He was to get in, get the information, then come home. The plan had an 98.5% rate – Prowl always left room for error. “Like I ever slip up, Prowler!” Jazz had cheekily smiled.

And just as Prowl was about to give a lengthy explanation as to why he leaves such margins, Jazz had accidentally – while leaning over to peck Prowl on the cheek – knocked the stacked pile of paperwork Prowl had been avoiding for the past hour. “Really,” Prowl sighed happily as Jazz quickly bent down to clean up his mess, “That is why.”

“The mission is not just a terrible placed stacked pile of papers, Prowler. It’s a mission assigned by the Senate – not Spec Ops. Weird they hired me, though, right? Do you think OP suggested me?”

“It’s probable, but what we need to focus on is how the complications can –“

“Hush, Prowler,” Jazz laughed slightly, “It’s a simple, stupid mission. Senate just wants to see what that new political group is up to. The most that can happen is they throw a punch or two.”

“Jazz, even then!” Prowl grasped Jazz’s shoulders, “Don’t take politics lightly, they are what shape our world. These people could be dangerous. Maybe not the politicians themselves, but the people they hire!”

Jazz quieted, only for a moment, before abruptly leaning forward to snatch a kiss from Prowl, “I’ll be back before you know it.”

As just before Prowl could stop him, Jazz was out the door. Prowl watched the door slowly close, trying to ignore the knot in his stomach.  Prowl returned to his routine, waiting for a message from Jazz, or worse – the Senate. He waited a steady three weeks, before he finally got the call from Ratchet.

Pharma’s treating him, we don’t know what he was infected with. The police told us someone broke into his hostel room and injected a serum into him.  I’ve never seen anything like it, but then again this is more of Pharma’s specialty. If you want to come down – which I’m sure you are one your way right now – I have a place near the operation room where you can wait, but Prowl, I don’t know how long this will take. He might be in recovery for quite some time.

“I don’t care how long it takes, I’m staying with him,” Prowl gritted through the phone, racing down the highway towards the hospital.

“Of course, Prowl,” Ratchet sighed, “Though, I can hear your fucking engine from here, though. Drive safe – I’m not treating you as well!”

Jazz was in the hospital for seven weeks. For the first four, Prowl never left. He stayed in the resting chair, and when Jazz was stable enough, Prowl would curl up next to him and hum Jazz’s favorite songs. By the fifth week, Jazz could speak with a croaky voice, and ordered Prowl to go to work before, “We can’t pay rent!”  

At first, Prowl tried to fight against the idea, but Jazz reassured him that he could come back after shift.  They spend the next three weeks like that, until Pharma finally discharged Jazz. Because of this scare, Prowl decided once Jazz recovered, he’d take him away. Away from the hospital, the city, the Senate, the Spec Ops, everything. Prowl planned them a journey across the Rust Sea, a cruise that would land them in places Jazz always dreamed of going.

Pharma was against it of course, arguing that he needed to check Jazz from time to time. “You’ve cleared him, haven’t you?” Prowl argued, standing outside of Jazz’s room.

“I have. But still, if there is a relapse, or after-effects,” Pharma tried to warn.

Prowl furrowed his brow, “Why would there be a relapse?”

“There shouldn’t be. I have completely detoxed his blood, that’s what that whole process was early on, the –“

“Stop,” Prowl’s face went white when the memories of Jazz’s procedure came flooding back. “Then he should be able to –“

“Who is the doctor here? You? Did you go to Medical School, Prowl? No? Didn’t think so,” Pharma huffs, “He’s to stay here, and not leave until I completely clear him. Understood?”

It wasn’t until Prowl went behind Pharma’s back, pleading for Ratchet to give him the clearance to take Jazz away from it all. Ratchet begrudgingly agreed, only if the two bring along Bumblebee, one of Optimus Prime's most trusted interns, as a scout to watch over Jazz’s health.

“Poor kid needs a break as well,” Ratchet mumbles, ringing the Prime up after Jazz’s checkup. “I’ll finance his part of the trip, of course. You two enjoy yourselves. In the meantime, I’ll handle Pharma.”

And with that, Jazz, Prowl, and Bumblebee boarded a cruise and set off across the Rust Sea. It was a pleasant trip, they kept in touch with their friends as well as they could, but soon the trip toured sour. Jazz began to limp, then break into short fevers, and before Bee could report to Ratchet, Jazz had cried.

“I just,” he sobbed into Prowl’s chest, “I just want to be with you! No more machines, no more hospitals. Just you.”

Prowl was heartbroken, but he had his resolve. He kept the façade that Jazz wanted, while slowly making their trip inch back towards Iacon. He booked off course hotels and flights, and soon they were back in the city he dreaded to return to. Bumblebee was crushed, he felt as though he failed on his mission.

“You kept Jazz happy,” Prowl reassured, “That’s the only mission I ever wanted you to be on, Bee.”

Only two days after their return, Jazz was bedridden. Prowl rested his head on the bed, kneeling on the floor. He had taken to caring for Jazz the day. “I’m sorry,” Jazz croaked, and Prowl shifted from sleep.

Prowl reached for Jazz’s hand. His heart shuddered at how cold and clammy it was, “I’m going to Ratchet tomorrow. He’ll fix this.”

“Prowler,” Jazz tried, “Pharma was the one –“ but Jazz was stopped by a fit of coughs.

Prowl rushed to get him a glass of water, “Shh, my love, shh. I know, Pharma knew well enough what he was doing last time, he can do it again.”

Jazz’s face scrunched up, “Pr…owl,” A tear streamed down Jazz’s cheeks. Prowl wiped it away and let his had rest on his cheek. Soon, Jazz drifted into sleep.

“I’ll fix this,” Prowl murmured, “I swear I will.”

***

Drift parks his car in the VISITORS area of the parking lot. He notices both Ratchet and Percy’s car are parked in the REGISTERED parking lot. Drift sends a quick text to Ratchet, “Hey! Know it’s late, but thought I stop by anyways. Be in the cafeteria when your free!” Drift soon makes his way into the building, only to be stopped by a familiar face. 

The bags under Prowl’s eyes look more sunken then Drift had remembered them to be, but when Prowl grunts, “Deadlock,” Drift’s blood freezes all the same.

He rushes over to Prowl, who is sitting slumped in a waiting room chair, “Prowl,” Drift grits, “My name is Drift now. For the love of God please tell me you haven’t told anyone about me?!”

Prowl wipes his face, “I haven’t, and I don’t care to,” He sinks lower into the chair, a sigh escaping him.

“Why are you here anyways, Prowl?” Drift takes the seat next to him.

Prowl scowls, “Why does anyone come to this fucking place?”

Drift is taken a back, Prowl cursing is no small feat.  They sit quietly, until Drift asks again. “It’s best to talk about it.”

“Talk about what,” Prowl growls, “The fact that the love of my life is dying? The fact that I’m stuck here useless? The fact that due to my negligence, he’s at this state? I was weak! I should have told him no! I should have let Bumblebee call Ratchet and Pharma! I should have…” Prowl grasps his knees, his body beginning to quake in anger, “I should have never let him work for the Senate.”

“The Senate?” Drift says agape, “How could a mission for the Senate end up this skewed?”

Prowl leans forward, “I don’t know. It was a simple recon. It should have gone over just fine, but he was returned to me in a hospital bed barely alive. They still don’t know what exactly he was injected with, and –“

Injected?” Drift questions. “What were his symptoms?”

“I’m not entirely sure, Pharma wouldn’t quite say exactly, and Jazz was,” Prowl chokes slightly, “Jazz was too far gone to remember exactly.”

“That’s too strange,” Drift murmurs.

Prowl nods, “Ratchet says he had never seen anything like it, a new type of poison. Pharma was able to detox it incredibly fast, but apparently was still  unable the exact type of serum it was. I discussed it briefly with Ratchet and he claimed he had a file that could be related to Jazz’s incident, that might give us clues as to what it was. But Pharma dismissed Ratchet’s file, proclaiming it was no such thing. I honestly,” Prowl pauses, “I honestly might want Ratchet to look into that file once more, thoroughly this time. I think it might be a lead.”

“How so?”

“I went on an investigation while Jazz and I were traveling. I got in contact with local black-market sellers. I asked them about the new market selling, if there was a new serum that contained an altered strain that has never been used before being released and processed. But, no matter who I talked to, they seemed surprise about itand had absolutely no clue on what I was asking about.

“As you might remember, Ratchet once worked closely with,” Prowl clears his throat, “The darker parts of town, and had opened a clinic near Dead End. He might have seen some cases of the strain, or other components of the serum, before it was altered. You can’t just make a brand new poisonous serum out of nothing, after all.”

Drift shakes his head, “If that’s the case, Pharma would have found some source of the strains or components and altered it for a cure!”

“I think,” Prowl furrows his brows, “I think he did. That’s how he got Jazz stable the first time. Why he didn’t share this with Ratchet is beyond me, but he must know of the original strain and or components.”

“There’s something missing here, Prowl,” Drift says concerned, “If Pharma knew of the original strain/components  and didn’t tell Ratchet, doesn’t that mean he’s trying to –“

“Prowl,” a gravely voice calls from the doorway, “You can go see him now.”

“Wheeljack,” Prowl rises immediately, nods to Drift, and nearly sprints down the hallway.

Drift rises as well, blood rushing to his head the moment he heard Wheeljack’s name. He turns to ‘Jack, who’s grinning at him. Drift blinks slowly, trying his best not to have an outburst right then and there, when Wheeljack says smoothly, “And you are?”

Drift clenches his fists, but lays on a deathly mellowed smile, “Drift, at your service. Wheeljack, I presume?”

“That’d be it, kid.

Drift counts to ten backwards in his head, “Well, Wheeljack, if you’d excuse me, I’m meeting someone in the cafeteria later.”

Wheeljack shrugs, “You’re excused. Who’re meeting at this hour anyways?”

None of your fucking business, Drift wants to scream, but instead he is cut of by a loud, “’JACK! I told you to keep your machines in check! That thing that you half-assed earlier just exploded all over –“ Ratchet pauses in the same doorway Wheeljack stands in. Wheeljack grins at the Doctor, but soon that grin fades to a confused frown when he sees Ratchet’s entire frame relax.

Drift,” Ratchet says exasperatedly. “Drift what are you doing here?”

Drift blushes slightly, but his eyes crinkle with happiness, “Visiting you, Ratch’.” 

Ratchet steps quickly away from ‘Jack (who stares at the two of them absolutely floored). “You,” Ratchet kisses Drift’s cheek, “Are just too good for me.”

Just at the soft peck of Ratchet’s lips, Drift’s face absolute burn with glee, “Well, if I get rewarded like that I’ll come everyday then.”

The two share a chuckle, while Wheeljack stares, deathly still at the doorway.  “So,” He interrupts, “You gonna introduce me, Ratchet?”

Ratchet snorts, “Haven't you been introduced?”

“But who is he to you?

Ratchet loses his smile, “What’s it to you, ‘Jack.”

Wheeljack raises his hands, “No need to be defensive Doc. I believe we’ve already had that discussion,” Wheeljack lays on a wink, causing Drift to bristle.

Ratchet holds his own, “We did. I told you clear. I’ve moved on, I’m happy, and Drift is my lover. Any questions?”

“Woah, Doc. Might need to patch me up after those wounds ya just laid onto me.”

“Ask First Aid,” Ratchet shrugs. “Anyways, I have to go check on Jazz in a bit. ‘Jack, have you and Percy worked out that machine yet?”

“The Poison Processor 5000?” Wheeljack grins.

“Please tell me that not the real name, that’s not even what it does!”

Wheeljack turns calling over his shoulder, “We have. See you in an hour, Sunshine.”

Ratchet turns to Drift who watches Wheeljack’s retreating figure down the hallway, “He’s gone now, you can calm down.”

Drift flickers his gaze back to Ratchet, “I know – I’m sorry – but he was such a dick, and he was just!”

“He was trying to rile you up, it’s his thing. But sweetheart, really, what are you doing here? It’s so late at night, have you eaten? Don’t you have work in the morning?”

“Ratchet, are you my mother?” Drift asks, holding back a grin.

“No, I’m apparently your Sugar Daddy,” Ratchet deadpans, just to have Drift break out into a fit of laughter. “'Apparently,' I’m awful at it anyways. You’ve nearly paid for everything, had to drive me places, wasted you time –“

“Ratch’,” Drift places his finger on Ratchet’s lips to quiet him, “I was never looking for someone to pay my bills, I was looking for…well I wasn’t looking for anyone. But then I saw you, and you – you’re someone I thought I’d never find in a million lightyears.”

“Why’s that, sweet spark?” Ratchet leans closer to Drift, pulling his hand away from his lips.

Drift embraces Ratchet, hesitant only a moment before continuing, “I don’t know if I should tell you here, Ratchet. But, after the talk with Prowl, I –“

“You talked with Prowl?” Ratchet’s hands were around Drift’s waist, and Drift was lightly running his hands up and down the Doctor's arms, trying to ease him into the conversation.

“I did,” Drift says shyly, “Ratchet, I know Prowl from back, way back. Like my teenage years.”

“Ah, yes. So long ago, truly,” Ratchet quips as he rolls his eyes.

Drift pats Ratchet’s arm, “Hush, I’m being serious. I was part of –“

“Ratchet!” Prowl storms through, stopping briefly to analyze the position the Doctor and Drift were currently in, but then rushed forward as soon as the two broke away from each other. “We need to speak, now.”

“Is Jazz alright?” Ratchet follows Prowls steps.

“For now,” Prowl turns to Drift, “De – I mean, Drift, you come to. Your input on the matter could be useful as well, given our previous discussion.” Drift nods and follows the two.

“Where should we talk, Prowl?” Ratchet questions.

Prowl glances around the hallway, “Where is a place where no one can listen in?”

Ratchet takes the lead, grunting: “My office.”

The three men soon find themselves in Ratchet’s cluttered office. “Wow, Ratch’. Need an intern to clean this up or what?” Drift jokes.

“If the love of my life wasn’t in danger this very second I would lecture you on the dangers of allowing this much paperwork to pile up, but I need you,” Prowl points to Drift, “And you, to focus.”

Ratchet and Drift nod, and Prowl continues. “Drift and I were going over Jazz’s case. The conversation led me to think of the file you mentioned the last time Jazz was left on one of these hospital beds. Did you ever fully examine and compare the cases?”

Ratchet thought for moment, “No. I never got the chance to. Because Jazz was Pharma’s patient, Pharma has rights to his file, and never gave me access to them. He claimed he cured it, therefore there was no need for my reexamination. Which I agreed, begrudgingly – I did undermine him by sending you two off on that adventure, and he was furious at me for that.”

“Rightfully so, Ratch’,” Drift comments.

Ratchet waves his hand, “I know, I know. I have my flaws. But still, I did not get to compare them.”

“So,” Prowl starts slowly, “that leads to bring up what Drift mentioned before: Pharma cured it the first, that means he must know something about the serum, right? What has he told you about it.”

“What I’ve told you, nothing he’s ever seen before.”

“Ratch’, do you not see how vague that sounds?” Drift asks cautiously.

Ratchet grunts, “I do. But Pharma’s a renowned Doctor, he knows what he’s doing.”

“Then why,” Prowl grits, clearly getting irritated, “is he not sharing key information with his colleagues?”

Ratchet sighs, “He told me that the serum was one that was easily isolated from the bloodstream, therefore it was easy to create an antidote.”

“That could be feasible, but shouldn’t that process take – I don’t know, years, or at-least months! No way that can happen in the time that it did, Ratch'. ” Drift ponders aloud.

“Drift's right,” Prowl states bluntly. “There’s foul play here.”

“What?! In my hospital?” Ratchet gapes, “Prowl, what the fuck?! Are you out of your blasted mind!”

“Woah,” Drift steps in front of Ratchet, “Calm down, babe. I really, really hate to say this. But the officer is right. Ratchet, you may not want to see it,- I know for a fact you don't - but Pharma knows something, something he’s keeping from you and something that’s –“

“That’s hurting Jazz!” Prowl yells, slamming his fist against the nearby wall.

Ratchet’s face scrunches, as his eyes fall to the ground, “But why. Why would Pharma do this?! What’s his motive? Why –“

“We’ll find that out after we find out what Pharma is hiding, and what is coursing through Jazz’s body!” Prowl grits.

The three stand in silence, the tension weighing on them. Drift lightly grasps Ratchet’s shoulder, and just then Ratchet’s resolve hardens, “You’re absolutely right. We are getting to the bottom of this now.