therizinosaur: (Default)
Nellasaur ([personal profile] therizinosaur) wrote2014-01-05 09:31 pm

[FANFICTION] Informal, 1/1 [CROSSOVER (TF Rescue Bots/TF: Prime)]

Title: Informal
Fandoms: Transformers: Rescue Bots, Transformers: Prime
Rating: PG-13 I guess??
Summary: A routine maintenance appointment for Blades with Rescue Force Sigma-17's new attending physician leads to a frank conversation about said physician's past.
One shot; complete
Notes/warnings: Post RB season one and TFP Preds Rising crossover AU where Knock Out has ditched Cybertron and returned to Earth. Imagine his surprise when he realized the Autobots had left a whole team of fellow 'Bots behind when they pulled out-- and imagine his further surprise when they and their human family were willing to give him sanctuary on their island.

CONTENT WARNING for allegorical transphobia, as well as discussion of institutionalized class- and caste-based oppression.


**

"All right, Blades. This is going to feel strange, so I need you to hold as still as possible for me, hm?" The doctor had a rich voice, effortlessly projected to fill the room, and this rhythm to his speech when he talked that was compelling. Certainly Boulder, sitting in on the procedure as an observer, seemed captivated.

Obediently, Blades settled himself more firmly on the makeshift medslab-- which really wasn't much more than a bench of metal girders that had been inelegantly welded together in one corner of the bunker they all called home. "All right," he said, his voice only a little tremulous as he gripped onto the edge of the bench, "go ahead."

"You're going to feel a pinch, but that's normal," the doctor warned, out of sight behind Blades' wide chassis but still perfectly audible despite that. "Try not to be too alarmed.

"Now--" Boulder couldn't see what the doctor was doing, but he could see the way Blades' shoulders stiffened in anticipation. "--why don't you count down to three for me?"

"O-oh." Grinning sheepishly at Boulder, Blades relaxed. "All right. Three... t-two-- augh!"

The doctor came out from behind Blades with his arms full, stepping around the bench and bringing the helicopter-bot's rotor assembly with him. "There," he said, beaming at the both of them, "that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"I thought you said you were going to do it at the end of the countdown!" Blades sounded more affronted than Boulder had ever heard him, his wide eyes accusatory as he stared at their attending physician.

Smile stretching wide enough to show off his dentals, the doctor tsked. "All I said was that I wanted you to count down. I didn't say anything about when I was going to pull your rotors."

"That wasn't very nice, Knock Out!" Blades protested.

"Ah, but it worked, didn't it?" The doctor set his burden down on the worktable they'd erected beside the medslab-- what a fun project had that been, Boulder and Graham and Doc Greene all collaborating to figure out how to utilize human construction equipment for the Cybertronian-scale project!-- and then turned. He wagged an admonitory finger at Blades. "I promise you, if I'd waited until you'd counted all the way down, you would have flinched, and we would be dealing with damaged connectors instead of routine maintenance right now."

"I would never--! Boulder, tell him I wouldn't have!" He stared pointedly at Boulder, but the construction-bot could only shrug apologetically.

"You are kind of a flincher, Blades."

"Ugh, you traitor!" Huffing hard from his vents, Blades crossed his arms and turned his head away. For a moment, Boulder worried that he'd really upset the other 'bot, but then he caught Blades peeking over at him, and the two of them shared a smile.

Head down, the doctor let them have their little moment in privacy, focusing instead on the mechanism he'd just removed from Blades' back. His long claws picked and probed at the joints, the expression on his smooth white face intent. As soon as his evaluation was complete he went to work, using his long claws as much as the tools he'd produced from a compact little medkit to disassemble the rotor mount. Though he appeared totally engrossed in what he was doing, he didn't seem surprised to look up and find both that Boulder and Blades had crowded up to the other side of the workbench, just as riveted by his work as he was.

"You're standing in my light," he remarked mildly, flicking his headlights on and off as he said it.

The speed and sincerity with which they both apologized and hopped out of the way was stunning to him. It wasn't that he was used to being disobeyed, exactly-- the majority of his patients had been Vehicons, after all, who could be relied on to obey their superiors-- he was just used to get a lot more attitude while it happened. Once he had them settled where they wouldn't obscure the bunker's overhead fluorescents, he got back to work, making a point of dictating for his appreciative audience what it was he was doing as he methodically disassembled and cleaned the rotor-mount.

"Maintenance like this is key," he was saying as he wiped down the last of the actuators, checking the cloth for dirt. "Grit in the joints is a concern for any cyb with mobility, of course, but for you--" He pointed at Blades so emphatically that the copter-bot actually recoiled a little, startled. "--it is imperative. You have a lot more to lose if a joint locks up or an actuator blows out on you unexpectedly in the air than does a grounder in a similar situation."

Seemingly oblivious to Blades' very real alarm at the prospect, Knock Out used the cloth to next clean his hands. His voice was a lot gentler when he continued. "That said, you seem to be doing well enough on your own. When you said you hadn't been keeping up your maintenance, I feared the worst, but whatever it is you're doing seems to be working out well enough."

"Oh, it's not me!" Blades said quickly. "I meant it when I said I wasn't doing anything. Dani does it. She says a copter can't be trusted to fly if you don't keep it clean."

"Your little human friend?" It was Knock Out's turn to look startled, although he rallied quickly. "Well, as long as someone is doing it, although I'd like to offer her some tips, if you think she'd be willing to listen."

"I can... talk to her?" Blades offered.

"That's all I can ask," Knock Out said, the very picture of graciousness. Setting aside the cloth, he began to reassemble the rotor-mount, naming components and describing the connections he was making as he did it. Then he directed Blades back to the bench, and ordered Boulder to assist him in carrying the rotor assembly over for re-attachment.

"Knock Out?" Boulder asked as he patiently held the assembly in place against Blades' back.

"Hm?" Knock Out's attention was focused primarily on the connections he was making inside Blades' armor.

"What was it like going through medical training? I pretested into medical, but they assigned me into engineering after my first vocational battery, and I've just always wondered what it might have been like."

Well. That explained something of Boulder's absolute fascination with watching Knock Out work-- although the doctor was not quite so self-absorbed that he hadn't realized that Boulder was just fascinated by things in general. The engineer absorbed information as enthusiastically and indiscriminately as an exploratory dataprobe.

It was a shame he was going to have to disappoint him.

"I'm not the cyb to ask, I'm afraid," he murmured, glancing up from his work to meet Boulder's optics for a moment. He held his gaze as he said, "My training was a bit, oh, informal."

"Oh...?" The 'bot looked puzzled-- not exactly a surprise.

"Well, I wasn't medical caste, for one thing," he continued, making the last of the necessary connections and removing his hands adroitly from under Blades' plating. The helicopter-bot squirmed a little, twisting to peer over his shoulder at the doctor behind him. Both of the rescue bots just looked confused, now-- still not a surprise, though. Knock Out had never met a group of cybs so in tune with their assigned functions in his life.

"You weren't?"

"What are you supposed to be?"

"How did you get your medical training?"

It wasn't the first time Knock Out had been the target of an interrogation like this, but it was the first time his interrogators had ever sounded so... excited. He was used to this revelation-- more normally dragged out of him, reluctantly, in exceptional circumstances-- being met with hostility and recrimination. Of course, if he'd expected actually hostility and recrimination from the rescue bots, he wouldn't have said anything in the first place.

Stepping back from the makeshift medslab, he put up his hands, palms out. "One answer at a time, I think, hm?" He folded his arms over his chest, the claws of one hand tapping thoughtfully against his plating. "I started off in the artisan caste, actually. I did cosmetic exo-augmentation. Worked in a boutique in the Tradewinds Tower on the south side of the Stratodistrict."

He paused there, expectantly, and wasn't disappointed. "But wasn't that in... Vos....?" Blades said slowly. He'd turned all the way around on the bench to face Knock Out, and poked his fingers together nervously in front of him as he said it.

Knock Out caught his gaze and held it as he said, mildly, "That's right."

The two bots exchanged uncertain looks, but neither of them seemed willing to come out and say it: that no grounder artisan, no matter how highly lauded they were, would have been allowed to work in Vos, especially not in an upscale shopping district like the Tradewinds Tower.

After a moment of pregnant silence, Knock Out continued. "Then I, ah, found myself downcasted. Artisan to tech. I was still doing augmentations, but it was a lot more... utilitarian. Function-specific exoplating, swap-and-replace hand upgrades, that sort of thing. I know some of the training modules they put upgrade techs through overlap with medical, but they rushed me through the bare minimum before I was moved out of Vos-- something about upgrade artisan and upgrade tech being close enough that I didn't need extensive retraining."

He heaved a theatrical sigh and turned away, plucking up a cloth from the workbench. Wiping his hands clean again was the perfect excuse to give them a moment or two of privacy to process that.

"Knock Out?" That was Blades, his voice sounding as small as Knock Out had ever heard it. "Why did they downcaste you...? I thought they only did that to punish criminals."

Knock Out laughed. He couldn't help it. He remembered being as naive as that, but those days were long behind him.

"Let me put it this way," he said, back still turned as he continued methodically cleaning off his hands, claw by claw. "The cybs who ran things in that part of Vos-- the ones who'd been instrumental in the selection and training of such a 'gifted young artist' as myself? They sort of took it personally when I transitioned my alt-mode from flier to grounder."

He wasn't sure who hissed their surprise through their vents behind him, but he found the sound very gratifying regardless.

"But wasn't that illegal?" Boulder asked. "Oh, I bet Chase would know! We could comm him--"

"It was very illegal," Knock Out interrupted, turning finally to face them again. He leaned back against the workbench with a shrug. "But before the war, trifling things like legality didn't mean much to Vosian high-castes-- any high-castes, really."

"Just because you changed your altmode?" Blades asked, his voice strident in his distress. "That's not fair!"

"Would they have done that to Blades, too?" Boulder asked, quiet and serious in contrast to his friend.

Knock Out couldn't help a bitter little laugh. "No, they wouldn't have," he said bluntly, staring at Blades with narrowed optics as he did. "As far as they would have been concerned, you moved up in the world when you took that flight-capable alt of yours."

He'd expected that to alarm Blades even more, but if anything he now looked angry. "That's even more unfair!"

"Cybertron before the war was a very unfair place," Knock Out said; there was enough of a snap in his rich voice that both 'bots withdrew a little from him. He purged his vents and said more gently, "But that was a long time ago. If it gives you any comfort, most of the cybs responsible are long dead."

Blades frowned. "Did they admit that what they were doing was wrong before they... died?"

Knock Out shook his head. "If they'd been willing to admit that, they might not have had to die at all. The war would have ended a lot sooner if the people in charge of our planet had owned up to being wrong about the way they were treating people."

Blades looked away, frowning even deeper. "Then I don't really feel any better about it, no."

There wasn't anything Knock Out could say to that, and he knew it. He'd made his peace with what Cybertronian society had done to him and other cybs like him, but he'd done so by dispatching as many of the council-supporting Autobot scum as he could during the course of the war. It wasn't exactly something he could talk about with the Autobot-aligned rescue bots, especially not the aggressively non-violent Boulder and Blades.

The silence that fell on them was heavy, each cyb lost in thought, and far too uncomfortable to tolerate for long.

"All right, Blades, we're almost done here," Knock Out declared, clapping his hands together briskly. "I want to check the connections back there one more time, and then I'll close you up. Boulder, if you'd like to watch?" He indicated the far side of the medslab with a gesture.

"Sure, I--" Boulder started; a pointed purge of Blades' vents interrupted him. The two 'bots exchanged a brief glance, and then Boulder continued almost without missing a beat, "--think I'm going to go see what Graham's working on, actually." He smiled at both of them, then retreated with a surprising amount of grace for someone who'd just been kicked out.

Blades watched him go, and then as soon as he'd ridden the lift up to the ground level of the bunker, whirled on Knock Out. "You used to be a flier!"

"That's right," Knock Out said quietly, leaning back against the workbench again.

"Why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you tell me?"

"I just did, didn't I?" Knock Out pointed out, his voice dry. He saw Blades straighten up indignantly on the medslab, and continued firmly, "Very few cybs left alive know this about me, Blades. I don't often have a good reason to share."

The helicopter-bot closed his mouth and laced his hands together in his lap, settling back on the slab. "Oh." He thought about that for a moment, then peered over at Knock Out with a lopsided smile. "Well. Thank you, then."

Knock Out couldn't help returning the grin. "Don't mention it. Now sit still, hm? I really do want to finish up with your rotors."

"Oh! Sorry! Go ahead!" He straightened up on the berth, then flinched a little as his rotor assembly wobbled behind him. "Ah, sorry, you said sit still--"

Knock Out chuckled as he stepped around behind the slab. Taking Blades' shoulders, he straightened him up again. "Just like that, my dear, thank you."

He went back to work, deft fingers delving in and out of the struts and actuators of Blades' back. He double checked his connections, made sure all the hardware was attached properly, then closed up the maintenance hatches with a click. "All done," he murmured, pushing Blades gently up and off the medslab. "Go find Dani and hit the skies. There's--" He paused, then said quietly, "there's nothing quite like flying fresh off a tune-up."

Blades, already halfway to the elevator, stopped then and turned to look back at him with wide optics. Knock Out smiled and flicked his hands, shooing him on his way. The smile that broke across Blades' face was spark-stutteringly sweet, though Knock Out only got to see it for an instant before the bot turned and hopped on the lift. He waved as he was carried up through the ceiling to the ground floor, and Knock Out surprised himself by waving back-- if only with a flutter of the fingers of one hand.

He remained there for a moment, watching the place where the elevator platform had disappeared through the ceiling, half-expecting it to return with another 'bot or one of the ubiquitous humans that lived here as well riding down on it. When he was sure it wouldn't, he turned back to his workbench, saying casually as he did, "You can come out now."

There was a long pause where there was only silence in the bunker, but Knock Out trusted his sensors and they did not disappoint him. He heard the scuff of little organic foot-coverings as the patriarch of the clan the rescue bots had paired up with emerged from the shadowed alcove in which he'd been loitering.

"I hope you'll forgive me for eavesdropping," Chief Burns said, and when Knock Out twisted to peer down at him-- well, didn't he look legitimately contrite? "The 'bots don't like talking about their homeworld, and I know they missed most of your war." He tilted his head to the side, little eyes in his little organic face crinkling as he squinted up at Knock Out. "And you, I don't think I've heard you talk about yourself at all."

Shrugging, Knock Out turned back to the workbench. "I suppose I'm just a reticent sort of cyb," he said, starting to sort his tools back into their case.

"I'd wager you're guarded," the human murmured. "I can't say I blame you. Combat's a hard thing, and you spent most of the war fighting for the side that lost."

Hands stilling for a moment, Knock Out had to bow his head and cycle his vents. "Understand something, Chief Burns," he said finally, choosing his words with care. "Both sides lost in this war." He pivoted on one heel to face the human, hands curling into fists. "Cybertron lost. Cybertronians lost. The Autobots just lucked their way into control of what remains."

"I'm sorry," the human said, meeting Knock Out's gaze unflinchingly, and Knock Out was surprised to realize that he meant it.

He smiled, though he knew the expression was a wan, mournful one. "Me too," he said quietly.

The human came a little bit closer. "All I know about your Decepticons and why they fought is what little Optimus and the 'bots have told us, which hasn't been much. I have to admit, I'd be interested to hear your side of it." Knock Out glanced back at him, but could read nothing more than sincere interest on the little organic face. He turned slowly, and just as slowly went to one knee, laying one hand down palm-up on the floor. The human glanced from his face to his hand, and then-- without appearing to even think it over-- crossed the distance between them and stepped up onto his palm.

With infinite care, Knock Out lifted him up to the surface of the workbench. He let the human off his hand, then braced both on the edge of the table and looked down at him.

"What would you like to know, Chief?"