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Echoes of the Past

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His hands shook, his fingers curled into useless claws. When he tried to move, every motion was comically exaggerated. His legs neither willingly bore his weight nor did what he told them. He sat in a float chair in the hallway, waiting for First Aid to take him down to the gym for physical therapy, and fumed at the world.

The damaged motor control circuits had been replaced, but his auto-repair still had grow neural connections to the new parts. That meant weeks, if not months, of disability and hard work to regain what he had lost.

He really wanted a drink. He didn't want to contemplate the embarrassment and inconvenience and absolute slagging misery that his near future held. He would be reliant on others until he was back on his feet (literally, back on his feet) and one of those 'others' was Resonance. The absolute last thing he wanted to do was spend any time at all in Resonance's company. Pit, he wanted a drink. He wanted a drink now, and then several more.

Resonance, who hadn't left his side in several days, and who was almost unnaturally patient with him, clearly overheard that thought. He gave Ratchet a sharp look, then said, "Is that wise?"

"No," he replied, truculent, and annoyed by his inability to maintain shields. Resonance seemed to have phenomenal mental discipline. The only thing he detected from the big shuttle were the occasional flickers of emotions and his sheer presence. He glared up at Resonance (looking up made his head bob erratically due to his damage) and tried not to notice that the shuttle was too handsome for his own good. Ratchet had always liked tall mecha, and Resonance, from the angle of Ratchet's position in his float chair,  was a long-legged and broad-shouldered giant, with upswept wings and shiny, shiny, paint.

Irritated at himself for noticing Resonance's gorgeous frame, he snapped, "Nobody ever accused me of being wise. I'm smart, not wise. "

His answer earned him a flicker of irritation from the shuttle, but no real anger.

"You're running clean," the shuttle pointed out. "If you start drinking again, you'll have to detox all over. That was absolutely no fun; you were hallucinating that there were scraplets under your plating for several days straight. You gave me hallucinations, and it was a literal nightmare."

"I don't remember that, and I don't want to be sober. I don't have to detox if I never stop drinking again."

Resonance sighed. "Are you always this angry?"

"Pretty much, yes."

"Oh, don't let him lie to you." Anodyne's voice carried the length of the hall. "He exaggerates. He's only pissed off about fifty percent of the time."

Ratchet didn't want to be seen in a float chair, particularly by his youngest protege. He started to struggle to his feet. Resonance planted a hand on his shoulder and forcibly kept him in the chair. He growled, but subsided. It wasn't worth making a public scene over, though he'd be sure to give Res a piece of his mind later.

"I'm Anodyne," the host said, as he approached. He looked up at Resonance, and Ratchet didn't miss the way that Anodyne's eyes scanned the handsome young shuttle's frame. "I haven't seen you around before ... are you Resonance? Skyfire's sons have mentioned you a few times."

There were only so many shuttles left alive.

"I am Resonance, yes."

"What are you doing with Ratchet?" If Ratchet was reading him right, 'Dyne was being protective. Hosts were programmed to protect those they considered weaker than themselves. That Anodyne felt like he had to protect Ratchet grated. He snapped, "Anodyne, why are you even out of bed?"

"First Aid cleared me to resume normal activities two days ago, old mech." Anodyne said, genially. To Resonance, he repeated, "Resonance, how do you know the good doctor?"

"Cool it, 'Dyne." Ratchet said, firmly. "Resonance is a friend of mine. I know him from Earth."

"You haven't been on Earth in almost a vorn." Anodyne said, stubbornly skeptical. "And Resonance is a youngling -- I know he was found in a vat, because everyone knows his story. He's not any older than I am."

"He's had a total frame rebuild. He's older than he looks." Ratchet growled.

Gratitude pulsed across the bond, which he could have done without. He hated that bond. Every time he felt it, it reminded him of what he'd lost. However, Resonance said ruefully to Anodyne, "I've also had a processor replacement, so I am a youngling."

"I thought you were found in a vat." Anodyne repeated.

"There's more to that story. I was indeed grown in a vat, but my spark is older than that." Resonance glanced down at Ratchet. "Ratchet and my predecessor were friends before that happened -- good friends, apparently. I'm still legally his next of kin as he's never named another. They thought he might die, so they called me here to handle his affairs, if necessary."

All of that was the complete truth. Ratchet marveled at Resonance's talent for dissembling. Optimus had always been brutally honest. Ratchet, once a politician, had considered Optimus's inability to tell a lie, or even imply an untruth, to be one of his bigger weaknesses as a Prime.

Resonance added, "I expect we're about the same legal age -- about a vorn for you, right? I'm just over that."

"Yes -- I just turned one vorn. You know my age?" Anodyne said, curiously.

Resonance inclined his head in acknowledgement. "First Aid mentioned that you were Ratchet's apprentice. I asked around about you. Ratchet is vulnerable, so I wanted to make sure there would be no ... issues."

Anodyne bristled. "I may be a host, but I'm not the villain of the story. I'm sure they told you all sorts of horrible things about me. You'd have been better off asking Ratchet about me."

Resonance blinked at him in surprise. "I suppose I should have mentioned I trusted the intel I got from Blaster, Jazz, Skyfire, and Steeljaw. There were a few students who said uncomplimentary things about you, but that's just the usual prejudicial crap that you probably have to put up with every day. Did you know they think you're excelling in your classes because you're reading the professors' minds?"

"Yes." Anodyne answered that with a roll of his optics. "I've had it said to my face. Ratchet says if I ever try that with him that he'd throw things at me."

"I would, and you know it." Ratchet was annoyed by the way they were talking over his head. "'Dyne, why don't you take Res and show him around Iacon a bit?"

Anodyne had very few close friends. Resonance was just as intelligent as Ratchet's protege, and Ratchet judged they had compatible interests and personalities. Plus, if Resonance hung out with Anodyne, it would get him out of Ratchet's way.

"I am not going to leave you alone," Resonance said.

"Anodyne, help me out here," Ratchet said, a bit imperiously. "Res thinks I'm an invalid and he refuses to let me have any time alone. If I weren't stuck in this chair, I'd have strangled him by now."

Anodyne traded a look with Resonance, then lifted an optic ridge. "Perhaps we should give the good doc some time alone."

Resonance shifted back and forth, apparently torn. Then he said,  "I promised First Aid that I'd watch him. He's not supposed to be unsupervised. Perhaps another time. I would like to see Iacon."

"I am not a sparkling. I don't need babysitting."

Resonance rested a hand on his shoulder, and said, in a firm voice across the bond, ~Ratchet, I gave my word to First Aid. I'm not going to break it, particularly when I agree with the need.~

He sounded achingly like Optimus. Ratchet knew, from long experience, that when Optimus thought something was a matter of honor, he was utterly inflexible. Ratchet slumped in his chair, kicked irritably at the foot rest, and lapsed into stubborn silence.

Resonance added, ~I am sorry.~

~You shouldn't even be here. I'm not YOUR responsibility. You're a kid. You should be off doing kid things. Not taking care of a tired, bitter, angry, crippled old drunk.~

The hand on his shoulder squeezed tighter. ~I'm here because I want to be. And as you've observed yourself in thoughts you can't seem to keep shielded, I am an adult, not a child.~

He had no answer to that. However, he did have a reasonable suggestion to get Resonance out of his hair. ~Res, call Sideswipe. He can ... babysit ... my aft for a bit, and you can get some free time. You should see Iacon while you can. I expect you'll be going home in a few days.~

~Am I really that annoying?~

~Everything annoys me. Get used to it, kid, or get out of my life. The latter would be preferable.~

Resonance huffed. But he did call Sideswipe ... after calling First Aid to okay the change in 'babysitters'.