A few nerve-wracking breem passed, and Ratchet finally wiped down his surgical tools with a clean cloth before retracting the scalpels into his arms. He vented a sigh and sat beside Solus. He turned his helm towards her. She was beautiful, even in unconsciousness. With the troubles of the world far away, an innocent expression graced her face. Ratchet tentatively took her servo in his own and leaned his helm against the berth. "What am I going to do with you?" he asked softly, rubbing the palm of her servo with his thumb in lazy circles. "Primus…"
She said nothing for a click or two. Finally, though, her limbs began to stir. Her helm turned to look at the medic. "Ratchet?" she asked drowsily. She frowned slightly in puzzlement. "What is-? Where am-?"
"You were injured," Ratchet said. "Ironhide found you and took you here so I could fix you up." He paused a moment. "How do you feel? Do you have any pain?"
Solus shook her helm. "No," she replied. "Thank you for asking, though."
"It's my job," the medic said sheepishly, shrugging off the comment.
"Still, though," the Prime said. "I owe you several times now." She leaned over and, arms drawing Ratchet's helm closer, pulled him into a gentle kiss. Ratchet's optics widened in surprised before he returned the gesture with vigor. His CPU was screaming at him that this was wrong, that he could be offlined for this behavior towards the current Prime. However, his spark wanted him to continue, and he had no intentions of disobeying.
The click of a door opening made the two spring apart, Ratchet's optics wide. Ironhide stood stock-straight in the middle of the doorway, mouth parted slightly and optics wide. "What in Primus's…?"
The blacksmith found that he couldn't finish the question, leaving it trailing off. It still had the desired effect, though.
"Uh, nothing, Ironhide," Ratchet said quickly, flustered. "I'll explain later. Right, Solus?" He looked towards the Prime, who had effectively covered herself with a sheet in her surprise. It didn't matter anyway, though; Cybertronians didn't have need for clothing, as their armor covered their most vital and private systems.
Ironhide vented a sigh. "I don't know what's going on here, but it sure doesn't look like nothing," he said. "And don't medics take some sort of oath to not interface, of all things, with their patients?"
Ratchet said nothing, confirming the blacksmith's suspicions. "I'm not going to say a word," Ironhide said, "but you better be careful. Optimus and Magnus are some of the most curious sparklings I've seen in a while." He paused. "Oh, and that reminds me. I think Optimus caught some sort of virus somehow. He's been purging his tanks for the past click or so. I've been trying to keep Magnus away, but you know how twins are…"
"Uh, right," Ratchet said, jumping to his pedes. "Solus, I should go ahead and take care of him. Just rest for now, all right?"
The Prime nodded, and Ratchet left the room after trailing a servo along Solus's delicate jawline. Ironhide closed the door behind the medic and turned to glare at him. "What in Primus's name are you thinking?" he hissed.
"About what?" Ratchet asked. His systems began their defensive protocol and he could feel battle subroutines powering up. He fought the subconscious command for his scalpel to emerge from its sheath.
"Kissing the former Prime," Ironhide replied. "You must be out of your processor. That sort of thing can get you killed here, Ratch."
"So can abandoning your post to basically kidnap the former Prime and taking her to a mech medic so she can get care for the wounds that the current Prime gave her," Ratchet said bluntly. Ironhide winced.
"Good point," he said. "Look, all I'm saying is that you could be offlined for this sort of thing. You don't plan on starting a relationship with her, do you?" The blacksmith looked at Ratchet with critical optics. The medic vented a sigh and said nothing in return. Ironhide's jaw dropped slightly. "You do plan to start a relationship with her. Ratch…mech…you really must be out of your processors."
"Can we just see Optimus?" Ratchet snapped right before opening the door. His face dropped its peevish expression in favor of its more mellow counterpart. He walked towards the small mech laying on the mattress and squatted beside him, resting a servo on the sparkling's shoulder. "Ironhide told me you weren't feeling well. What's the matter?" Ironhide's jaw dropped; he didn't know that Ratchet could be that gentle with anybody, really.
"My tanks don't feel good," Optimus said weakly, and purged on the bed again. Ratchet rubbed the sparkling's back to comfort him. "Ratchy, what's going on?"
"You're sick, sparklet," Ratchet said, reverting to the language he had used when Optimus was a newspark. "We'll take care of you, though. I promise."
"Okay," Optimus said, closing his optics and curling in to spoon his caregiver. Ironhide, used to taking care of younglings, cleaned up the spilled energon on the mattress without so much as a word of discomfort. His forehelm felt feverish and clammy as Ratchet held the sparkling's head to his shoulder. The medic scanned the sparkling for any signs of infection and stiffened in surprise at what he found.
:What's wrong this time?: Ironhide asked through the com-link, watching his friend's reaction.
:The virus is a very rare one.: Ratchet said, looking down at his adopted sparkling. :I haven't seen it for vorns, yet…: Ratchet vented a sigh. :Yet Optimus contracted it. This isn't good, Ironhide. I need to keep a close optic on him.:
:Is there anything I can do?: Ironhide asked.
:Help me out here?: the medic ventured to ask. :I have shifts that I need to go on and I can't possibly expect Magnus to watch Optimus all of the time, so could you watch him some when you get off-shift?:
:You got it, buddy.: Ironhide said with a smile. He looked down when Magnus rubbed his servos against the blacksmith's leg plating. "What is it, Ultra Magnus?"
"Up," he said, raising his arms up in the universal "pick-me-up" gesture. Ironhide heaved the sparkling in the air and drew him close to his spark. The small mech stuck his thumb in his mouth and blinked up at his caregiver, sleepy.
"Optimus, I'm going to do something to help your tanks, but it isn't going to be pleasant," Ratchet told the small mech.
The young Prime nodded. "All right, Watchet," he said, voice small. Ratchet plugged into the port at the back of the Prime's helm and began to shift through all of the data streaming through Optimus's processors. A questioning ping from the young mech was quickly comforted by an answering ping from Ratchet. He started to erase all of the offending data from the virus; however, it was easier said than done. The virus clung to Optimus's core coding like a barnacle to a ship. Suddenly Ratchet jerked out of Optimus's systems, grabbing his helm and gasping in pain.
"Are you okay?" Ironhide asked, diving to Ratchet immediately. "What happened?"
"The virus is clinging to his core coding," the medic said, "and it doesn't want to let go without a fight."
"Please be careful," Ironhide said with a wince.
"I'm fine," Ratchet said. "I've seen worse. Trust me on that."
"I'm sure you have," Ironhide replied softly, remembering. Some time ago, before the slavery even began, Ratchet had worked in free clinics to help all sorts of Cybertronians with all sorts of ailments. From gladiators to noble mechs, he really had seen it all. It was one of the things that had shaped the medic into the mech he was today. "Where do you think he could have caught the virus?"
Ratchet shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "Slagged if I know," he said. "With the patients I see on a daily basis, you never know." He paused. "The important thing is that we get Optimus up to speed. I knew I should have upgraded his defenses solar cycles ago."
"Will it hurt?" Optimus asked.
"No, youngling," Ratchet said. "It's just like going into recharge for a few clicks. It's programming passed down from a caretaker to a sparkling, but a medic has to oversee it. Since I am a medic, I can go ahead and give you the programming now."
:Are you sure that's safe?: Ironhide asked. :He could give you the virus if you stay in his systems too long.:
Ratchet briefly gave his friend a dirty look before he smoothed it into a blank expression. :Who is the medic here, Ironhide?:
Ironhide had the grace to be sheepish.
:Just make sure that nothing happens to us. I'll be in stasis for a fourth of a click.: The medic looked down at Optimus and retracted a cable he never thought he would use: one for his sparkling. Normally Cybertronians wouldn't be able to use it on others' sparklings, but since Ratchet had taken care of the young Prime for such a length of time, he was able to do so. Once again, Optimus looked up at Ratchet in confusion, but the medic sent a pulse of love and comfort through the cable and the feverish sparkling relaxed slightly. Then Ratchet gave the signal for Optimus to fall into a deep recharge right before the medic himself slumped over, succumbing to stasis as his more paternal instincts began to send valuable code to the sparkling.
He awoke to a dark ceiling and glowing blue eyes above him. "Wha-?" he asked drowsily, stretching his limbs.
"You scared the living slag out of me, Ratch," a familiar voice said. "I thought you had offlined!"
"What do you mean?" Ratchet asked. His voice slurred together as if he had a little too much high-grade to drink. "I'm fine."
"You didn't move for the longest time," Ironhide said. "It's been a breem since you finished the defense upgrade. You said it would only take a click."
Ratchet vented a sigh. "I'm a bit rusty, it would seem." This made his friend laugh, more out of releif than of pure joy. "Good news is that he's all up to code, however. Hopefully that newest data burst will keep him from getting another virus. Maybe it'll get rid of the current one as well."
"I wouldn't put my hopes on that just yet. He's still purging his tanks every two clicks or so."
"Great." The medic rolled his optics. "That's just what we need."
"At least he's still online," Ironhide said, making Ratchet vent a sigh. "That's all we can ask for."
"Guess s-" Ratchet's optics widened as a wave of nausea traveled through his tanks. "Oh great. I think I caught it from him." The medic purged his tanks with a nervous Ironhide onlooking. Ratchet wiped the side of his mouth with the back of his servo. "This has to be some virus if it got past all of my firewalls and medic shields." Ironhide said nothing in response - what could he say?
Finally he found his voice. "Is there anything I can get you?"
"I don't think so," Ratchet replied. He looked around the room. "Where is Optimus, anyway?"
"In the wash racks," the blacksmith said. "I had him take a shower so he could get rid of the purged energon. You should go and take one too."
Ratchet looked at his friend with a patented Ratchet look of annoyance. "You would make a very good medic assistant. I can even paint a little uniform on your armor for you."
"Oh, shut up, you old slagger."