The only reason he ever read his email was because, sometimes, Spike Witwicky sent him emails. Some genius had managed to create a Cybertron-to-Earth internet bridge. Sometimes, he responded. He missed Sparkplug and Spike.
The emails contained pictures. Spike's son Daniel, entering high school. Daniel's newborn sister, who arrived as a surprise when Daniel was sixteen. Daniel's own firstborn son, several years later. The kids, growing up. Carly, at her fiftieth birthday party. More grandchildren. Spike and Carly, at their fiftieth wedding anniversary, both grey and wrinkled. A great-great-grandchild, in Spike's arms, and Spike was now so very frail. Cybertonians were not considered adults until they were one vorn old. One vorn -- eighty-three years -- was nearly the length of a human lifetime. Even with Cybertronian tech, few humans lived much longer than a century.
Still, he was surprised that just a few human years past a vorn after Optimus's death, the emails from Spike stopped coming. Human lives were so damned short and he'd deluded himself into thinking that Spike might live at least a little longer.
All Ratchet really wanted to do was to drown himself in high grade, but for reasons even he couldn't explain, he attended the funeral.
There was a space bridge, now. It took half a stellar cycles' worth of his pension to pay for a ticket to Earth, but what did he need credits for? Besides high grade, he didn't spend much money on anything. Basic energon rations were now free and plentiful. (Wheeljack, Starscream, and Perceptor were behind that, and Titan's wealth of petrochemicals and wind energy) . He had to pay for high grade, but it wasn't overly expensive even in the volumes he drank. He bought the cheap stuff. He had a vorn's worth of pension accumulated in his bank accounts.
The kid was an adult. He realized that as soon as he stepped through the bridge and felt the sudden awareness of other in his spark. The kid had grown up, and he was on earth. For a startling instant, it felt as if Optimus was in his spark. It was just the kid, he told himself, and he tried to ignore the unwelcome sensation. It was a bitter reminder of Optimus, however, for he had deeply welcomed the love and trust and companionship that had once, for a brief few days, accompanied that bond. He'd thought he would never be alone again.
Resonance felt so very much like Optimus. It was hard to ignore him, and it was a bitterly painful reminder of what he had lost.
As it turned out, the kid was attending the funeral. He wasn't safely away on Titan, where Ratchet would only distantly feel him. He was physically far closer than Ratchet had ever intended to allow.
He had assumed that Resonance was cloistered away on Titan, but it turned out that Res had made friends with the Witwicky family and, as a shuttle, he was making a weekly supply run between Titan and Earth. He was on Earth quite a bit. Nobody had mentioned this to Ratchet, quite possibly because they knew Ratchet would have never have come to the funeral if he was aware that Res would be there. He'd made his feelings about meeting, or even talking about, Resonance very clear.
Well, he was tough. He'd gritted his denta and soldiered through the days before the funeral, and managed to be elsewhere than where Resonance was for the entire time. He paid his respects to Daniel and Daniel's children and grandchildren (even the grandchildren were grown!), then hastily left when he felt Resonance approaching.
He initially agreed to go out to dinner with some of Spike's friends and Jazz and Bee, then changed his mind when he learned Res that was planning to go too. When he told Bee that he 'needed to run some errands' and he wouldn't be at the dinner, Bee gave him a dirty look and muttered under his breath, then refused to repeat what he said.
He even ducked into a parking garage when he detected Res flying overhead, so that he wouldn't have to see the kid. He didn't want to know what Resonance's alt mode looked like.
Now, however, after the funeral, a mixed crowd of Cybertronians and humans stood around and made somber small talk. The funeral had been held outside in a park due to the large number of Cybertronians. Ratchet had not been able to avoid seeing Resonance, and he was vaguely surprised that the kid was gold, not red. Gold, with red trim and blue biolights that were the same shade as his optics, and a graceful and alert upwards sweep to his wings. He had to admit, the kid had turned out rather well. Those wings were striking, and he was so very tall ...
Wheeljack was with the kid. Wheeljack saw him, and Primus damnit, headed in his direction with the kid in tow. Ratchet considered hiding behind one of the many small pine trees that dotted the park. However, Res was taller than the trees and had already seen him.
The 'kid', a vorn old now, was bigger than Optimus had been. He was the same height as Skyfire, and he appeared to have some growing left to do, as he was all long limbs and overlarge hands and feet. He'd just about outgrown his current set of armor, which was too short for his arms and legs. In wartime, that might have been an issue, but they'd been at peace for a vorn. Ratchet suspected Wheeljack would replace the kid's armor once this last growth spurt was done, but there was no point in doing so now.
Wheeljack embraced Ratchet. Ratchet awkwardly returned the hug. Wheeljack gestured at the kid and said, "Res, this is Ratchet."
Res nodded slowly. He wasn't nearly as bubbly as he had been as a sparkling. His spark felt twisted with grief. Ratchet tried to block him, and failed. He'd never been good at mind tricks.
~Can ... can you hear me?~ The kid asked, tentatively. There was real concern in his spark, despite his grief, and that concern was aimed squarely at Ratchet. Ratchet couldn't block the bond, and the kid was certainly feeling every bit of Ratchet's dread and misery and grief -- grief that wasn't just about Spike. ~Ratchet, could we talk? I want to talk to you about ... some matters.~
~Don't talk to me!~ Ratchet snapped. He recoiled, taking two big steps back. Then he spun around, leaped into alt mode, and fled.
The kid called after him, ~It's okay. I understand!~
The worst part of it was, by Ratchet's reckoning, that Resonance felt like he did.