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The More Things Change

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Rodimus couldn’t remember the last time he woke up this late. Staring at his chronometer, looking at it in tired befuddlement, he could hardly believe what it read. He didn’t move immediately, just blinked dimly, still drowsy. Sure, some of the times he spent drinking himself to a stupor resulted in sleeping in the next day, shirking his duties over to the next mech in line.

But this? Even by in-space-time-is-a-lie, two whole days was a long time to be on his recharge slab.

The moment Rodimus started to fully wake, he was bombarded with several messages, followed by the sudden and very painful need to purge his tanks. His HUD screen cluttered with commands and notes that need him to respond and they flashed horribly right in his eyes. His EM field flared to life with sudden need.

He didn’t even have time to yawn, as he shot up from the bed and stumbled off. Nausea hit him like a train; he wobbled toward his private washroom, nearly tripping over his own feet to make it. His tank lurched and he feel his abdomen tighten. He prayed to Primus himself that he give Rodimus this one favor of preserving his dignity and letting him make it to the washroom.

The messages blurred together as he held in his energon till he made it to the modest sized room. Rodimus prompted the messages to go away and curled on himself once he was fully in the bathroom. Instantly, he wretched over the floor drain and fumbled with the shower knob. Hot, cold, as long he got it on, it didn’t matter, but by virtue the solvent was cold.

He groaned, holding his stomach as cool liquid washed over his heated frame. Two days of rest should’ve settled anything wrong in his stomach. The Prime knew he’d have to make a trip to the medbay. He dreaded the visit. The CMO was a prick and a half, but Rodimus couldn’t avoid him, not when he was in this state. He could already hear Cascade fussing at him and berating him for yet another visited due to Rodimus’ drinking habits.

The CMO on board the Exitus was an off-putting mech, who wasn’t afraid to show his disdain for the Prime. It probably had something to do with Rodimus’ frequent visits to the medbay after a few times drinking himself to black out. His staff was alright though, but the CMO practically lived in the clinic, so he was near unavoidable.

It made him ache for his old life on the Lost Light.

Rodimus reached into his subspace for a drink, but found the pockets of space didn’t have anything in them and groaned as he sat properly in his washroom. Probably for the best, he thought bitterly.

Warnings in his HUD screen slowly stopped flashing so rapidly as everything eased down and his frame had stopped steaming. He didn’t even realize how hot he felt, which was odd. Rodimus opted to not think about it. Now he was just wet, cold and slightly disoriented. He didn’t dare move from the spray of solvent being showered on him and the tiles.
The Prime gave his inbox a nudge to open now that he wasn’t so overcombared with warnings pop ups and his stomach threatening to explode. One or two of the mechs who had cover for him had messaged him, and handful of from the medbay or memos from other staff, and the majority digital mail came from an overly concerned Thunderclash.

Captain Thunderclash.

Rodimus would ultimately have to explain to the him. And this wasn’t exactly the first time this has happened. This was definitely extreme, but he could already feel the bigger mech try and urge the speedster to seek help. Not directly, never directly, he was kind enough to never bluntly point out the mech’s obvious drinking problem. And Rodimus was no longer allowed to bring drinks back into his suit. But it was aggravating that Mr. Perfect was trying to selflessly save him.

Rodimus tried to shake the resurfacing disdain he felt towards the big guy. Thunderclash was an understanding mech, but that’s possibly the worst part. He was genuinely good captain. Excellent captain, the speedster thought as he righted himself in the shower. He didn’t even override the locks to his hab suite when he could’ve and opted to trust and respect his privacy.

The very hab suite that had its own person despincerary and washwrack, given to him as a gift, Captain to former captain. A gift that was very clearly given to him out of respect. And… Skipping out on two days of work and late to whatever came next was Rodimus’ way of repaying the literal physical embodiment of kindness (aka Thunderclash).

Rodimus rubbed at his optics and pinched the point of his crest in lue of frustration at himself. He really knew how to frag a good thing, didn’t he? Carefully, he got up, and turned off the faucet.

Soaking wet, nauseous and dizzy from the sudden vertigo, he could do little more than shake off what he could and towel dry the rest, Rodimus did his best to quickly wash up and dry off before he made a call to let the medbay know he was on his way. He’d let Thunderclash know he was still alive after the fact to try and keep the opportunity to disappoint him as short as possible. He made a quick note to the medbay, and unfortunately got an acknowledgement from Cascade.

Great. He was surely in for it now.

The first thing the former captain did was assess himself, he looked like slag but that wasn’t exactly new. He was still wobbly and just barely upright. He should definitely go to the medbay. If he felt and looked as sick as he did, he should go soon. He prepared by keeping his EM field wrapped tightly against himself.

He saw only a few mechs along the way, most of them kept to themselves, eyeing the former captain with some level of worry or scrutiny. Rodimus said nothing, but the silence was enough to get him to transform and race down the hall when the quiet judgement became too loud.

Rodimus drove himself toward the clinic. It was good to be closer to the ground, there was less chance of falling over and making a fool of himself to any other passer byers. As he arrived close to the automatic doors to sweet sterilized bliss, he transformed back to route mode and walked himself inside. No less wobbly than before, he noted.

Thankfully the medbay was mostly deserted and only the on-duty medics seemed to be alert to his entrance. Cascade more so than the rest, unfortunately.

“Ah, Rodimus, so you’re alive after all.” The doctor on duty gave him a once over, ignoring the embarrassing twitch the mech in question gave at being acknowledged. “You’ve looked better; here for another system flush? This’ll be the 15th sense you’ve joined us on the Exitus, Rodimus. If you’re trying to break a record, you should know you’re the only one competing.”

Cascade had a motorcycle altmode, and unlike most medics Rodimus met, was mostly white blue and yellow. Though the two-wheeler wasn’t apart of the 4 million war, he did come from the New Cybertron. He never spoke much about his home or what his life was like. At least not to Rodimus.

What little he did know came from other’s: that he had followed Functionist scripture and wasn’t overly friendly to anyone who made anything more than acquaintances. The few amicas and conjunx aboard the Exitus sought different staff members as often as possible. He was deeply devout to Primus, and abhorred contempt to anyone who caused unnecessary problems. Especially self inflicted ones.

A far cry from the medics Rodimus had on the Lost Light. Rodimus wondered how Thunderclash kept such a belligerent afthole on board, but then again, Cascade’s skill was unquestionably good.

That, and through shame, Cascade convinced some of his more at risk patients to not say anything. And it unfortunately worked, even under someone like Thunderclash.

Rodimus tries not to think about how it might’ve been had he been captain.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Cascade, if I wasn’t feeling like I’ve been scraped off the underside of someone’s foot right now, I’d give it right back at you.” The Prime might’ve felt insulted if he wasn’t feeling like slag right now. Rodimus stumbled reaching for the nearest leveled surface. “ Please, just scan me, tell me I caught something and prescribe me some minerals and I’ll go back to hab suite.”

Cascade simply stared at him before making any moves to help -- or touch -- the speedster. He really did look and feel like slag. The shower he had early only compacted any oils or grease he managed to have on him now. With his paint lacking any hint of former luster, it was hard to tell, but right now, Rodimus just cared about sitting down in the nearest private room.

Like most medbays, it was sparse, cold, and void of any comforting objects. Very unlike the ship he captained, the Lost Light. No, the Lost Light was made simply home-y and welcoming. Even Ratchet didn’t entirely mind the fanfare that went into making the medbay as non-threatening as possible.

Rodimus shook the thoughts from his mind, thinking about the Lost Light and what happened to it and his crew… It only made him sick AND sad, and being sick was bad enough. He didn’t need Cascade berating him about still being sentimental. Plus he was pretty sure he’d be banned from the bar for a few days.

Cascade asked him a series of questions in the most annoyed tone of voice possible. Mostly about his alcohol consumption, or what else he has been “torturing his systems with”, and Rodimus gave him the usual answers. ‘No, I don’t remember how much I had to drink’ and ‘No, I haven’t had any of the experimental candies Coil has made recently’.

Taking a metal stick off Rodimus’ glosa, and tossing it away, the Doctor made a face. “Well, at this point, you could’ve burned a hole in any number of your internals through the consumption of as much engex as you tend to. So I’ll do a quick scan to see if anything pops up.”

“Just get it over with, doc, I’m starting to see double again.” He held his face has he burped slightly as a ping of naeusa popped up again.

Cascade rolled his eyes and grumbled at him, “Hold still.”

Rodimus held as still as he could, gripping the sides of the medical berth, cold as it was. There was a brief, soft buzzing noise followed by dead silence. Cascade scratched at his helm and made a face at the small screen.

“Primus, still my spark, this… Can’t be right.” Rodimus heard the CMO whisper, “No, you must’ve moved… Rodimus, I told you not to move, I need to scan again.”

Before he could even protest, the Cascade was scanning him a second time. “No… No, there’s something wrong with this scanner then, hold on.” Cascade then disappeared out of the private room for all of 5 minutes before returning with a brand-new, only just now being opened scanner. “Alright, this should work. Now Rodimus, I can’t stress this enough, stay still.”

“Trust me, Doc, I couldn’t reach Mack 5 even if I wanted to right now.”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny.” He responded stiffly.

A second later, another soft buzz went as quickly as it came. The former captain had been completely still, even held his vents as Cascade helped him to a seated position. The medic turned away to looked over the scan with bewilderment. Rodimus tried peer over his shoulder kibble to get a picture of what all the fuss was about but the vent-towers were too tall. “Stay here. I’ll be right back, I… I need a second opinion on this”

“Seriously, Cascade? If you’re trying to scare me--”

“For the love of primus, Rodimus, just stay here.”

Rodimus snapped his mouth shut. He had no ranking here, so he did as told and made no smart remark. Instead he opted to glare at the floor as once again, Cascade left the room. Seriously, for a CMO, Rodimus wasn’t sure if it was humoruos that Cascade of all mechs needed a second opinion or if he was worried, for the same reason.

If this was the Lost Light, First Aid would’ve just politely told him that he’s fragged with playful quip. Or Ratchet would be blunt and get it out already, and call him an aft for getting in this situation. Or-- no, no, it’s better to not think about it. Hurt to think about. Rodimus’ spark ached and spiraled. He tried to stifle his field from being too overwhelming.

But… As time passed, the harder it got.

It wasn’t much longer till Cascade returned, alone, thankfully. “Rodimus, you really know how to just. Make yourself an affront to nature, don’t you?” Cascade’s hurried and tempered tone didn’t inspire any confidence per usual, and Rodimus could really feel the energon rolling in his abdomen now. “Primus forgive me, I know he’s one of your 13...”

“What?”

“Only to you would this happen. Only you, and whoever you’ve been -- been, augh, I swear, canoodling with. Are you seated well?”

“Y-yes, why? Cascade you’re freaking me out a little,” an understatement. Rodimus’ field eked of worry. He knew Cascade wasn’t exactly a charitable mech, but what could possibly be going on with Rodimus that he was an “affront” to his very religion? “Please, just tell me!”

Cascade turned from him, arms folded, probably trying to think of a way to deliver the news. Rodimus straightened when the CMO turned back to him with bewildered and tired look. “Well, there’s simply no other way to put this… Rodimus Prime of Old Nyon…”

He waited a moment, pausing either for dramatic effect or sheer disbelief at his own words, Rodimus couldn’t tell as his vision started to swim.

“It appears you are carrying a new spark.”