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Title: Hot Rod Is A Headache

PCs: Hot Rod, Shiftlock

Location: Orion Pax's Apartment, Rodion

Date: 26 January 2015

Summary: Hot Rod gives Shiftlock a massive headache and he wasn't even trying.



So. Hot Rod knows where Orion Pax lives, now, and has an invitation to come visit because Shiftlock is there.


...it's everything he's ever wanted in life.


He plays it cool. He doesn't show up immediately after being invited (in fact, he takes an awful long way to make his way over, and there's a surprising degree of trepidation on his features when he considers it as long as there is no one around to watch him, no one for him to posture in front of). He doesn't show up every day and linger outside just to catch a glimpse of his hero. THAT WOULD BE RIDICULOUS.

Not that he isn't tempted.

But Hot Rod does, eventually, make the trip. He does, in the end, arrange the visit. He does, finally, show up and hit the buzzer and wait to be let in. He carefully straightens out the inward hunch of his shoulders, adopting a posture of confidence, whatever his inner feelings.



The door opens. "HI IS THAT YOU OFFICER PAX? I SWEAR I DIDN'T DESTROY YOUR KITCHEN AGAIN COME ON IN."

Yep, it's her. She certainly sounds well, if not volume-challenged.




"Actually, it's a friend. Pax gave me permission to visit. I'll be right there." Hot Rod makes an anticipatory adjustment to the settings of his audials, then enters. He does not gawk at everything (he just gawks at most of everything, oh my PRIMUS ORION PAX LIVES HERE) on his way in. "Shiftlock?" he calls ahead. "It's Hot Rod." That's usually a much more boldly declarative sentence. Maybe he's not sure who he is. Metaphor.



Shiftlock leans out of the kitchen area, covered in food-grade energon splatters. Her optics are huge. "... is that you Hot Rod?"

It takes only a question for Hot Rod's hesitation to transform into broad delight. "Come on, you know anyone else who looks this good?" He throws his arms wide. It is not clear if it is a demand for a hug or a ta-da-look-at-me, but there's no reason it can't be a multi-purpose gesture. Even if she's a mess. How good he looks is actually an open question, given that he carries the roughly healing marks of fairly fresh welds on his side and his paint in the area is naturally looking just as rough. "Why do you look like you've been rolling around in piles of energon?"

"HOT ROOOOOD!" Shiftlock -runs- forward and glomps onto Hot Rod, if he wasn't asking for a full body leg-wrapping hug he shouldn't have opened his arms like that. She left a trail of energon footprints and well those flames are gonna be a little pinker now. "I'm so glad to see you I don't care that Prowl says you're a terrorist and Ow I'm getting a real headache now but that's okay I can manage I'm tough but you know that already because if I wasn't they wouldn't have sent me to Master Banzaitron for super secret martial arts training oh crap I shouldn't have told you that because you're supposed to be a terrorist ow my head oh well!"

She grins up at him, wincing just a bit. "Oh all this? I've been trying to make energon goodies for Officer Pax when he comes home so he can just fuel and sleep, they're working him extra hard so I am trying to pull my weight. Ow."



It's not often that Hot Rod is caught without words, but for a long moment, he's just quiet as he wraps his arm around Shiftlock. To be fair, she is more than making up for his silence, and it's unlikely he could get a word in edgewise. Tension melts from his frame, which warms in relief. When she looks up and explains the mess, he steps back to get a better look at the splatter, and where it has transferred. He laughs, open and easy. "How's /that/ going? Energon goodies, huh? Sounds like you're living it up. Show me?" He nudges her into retracing her footprints, and keeps closer to her side.

"Prowl's full of it. I've never known anyone more focused on rules and less focused on what actually /results/ from them. Don't worry: your super secret training will stay a super secret if you want. So -- headache? How much do you remember? How is everything?" Hot Rod grows a little more serious with the last two questions, watching her and studying her for signs of health and well-being -- but even in his voice it is obvious that seeing her, seeing she's doing well, /that she remembers him/ has made a world of difference.



Shiftlock hops off of Hot Rod and zips right into the "kitchen". There's a slightly smaller than normal mess and a batch of, at last, perfectly cut energon goodies. TA DAH. She learned. "I don't know if it's really living it up, I mean, before Officer Pax took me out of the super secret training place I can't say by name, all I did was train until I was so tired I couldn't move anymore. Master Banzaitron is very, very strict. But there are others like me too that are in training so it wasn't SO bad. Like this big guy that changes into SIX DIFFERENT THINGS, is that cool or what?"

She stops again, and rubs her head. "nngh. This is getting worse. It's making me want to hit something." She vents and tries to go on. "Okay so I remember uh... " She thinks. "Well I remember Barricade and Whirl and Megatron and Blast Off and Drift..." She taps her chin. "You know they tell me I'm a hundred and eighty three but I just don't feel like I should be that old. I don't have enough memory for that." She rubs her head again. It's getting worse.


"Huh." Hot Rod leans over to eye the goodies with the curiosity of someone who sure doesn't get to see a lot of freshly made treats in his life. "You made them? Nice." He straightens without even a backward glance. They are Orion Pax's goodies. /He wouldn't dream of stealing/. (From him.)

"That sounds totally excessive. Six things. Come on," Hot Rod scoffs. His tone teases, because he is totally absolutely definitely not jealous. "Pax said you remembered enough to warn him that the Decepticons would be after you, so -- I guess that's good. That you can take care of yourself. There's a lot you wouldn't remember anyway. Do you remember Mercury?" he asks. He watches the rubbing with slowly mounting concern. "Who's your medic? Do you have one you can trust, like Ratchet, or something? That doesn't sound right."



"Who?" Shiftlock asks, concerning Mercury. She's getting a little distracted by her head pain. "Oh, if you want some goodies go ahead, there's enough energon for me to make more and I need a taste-tester anyways. My medic? Uh... Pharma! Yeah, that's the name. Almost slipped my glossa."



Everything else that Shiftlock has said falls right out of Hot Rod's memory with her last words. "/Pharma/," he says, planting his hands on the counter and leaning forward. "/Pharma/?"



Shiftlock's optics flicker like a blink. "Uh... yes? Is... that bad?" she querries.



Hot Rod wipes his hand down his face, but the drag of his fingers can't erase the dismay which has stained his expression. There's a moment's flash of hot rage before he settles. "Yeah, that's pretty bad. He's been involved in some of the worst stuff the Senate's gotten up to, Shiftlock. I wouldn't trust him to fix a turbopup, much less a friend. You should see someone else."



Shiftlock frowns. The headache is turning into an impulse that is getting harder to ignore, and she's trying very hard to ignore it. "HEY!" she protests, pointing a finger at Hot Rod's torsoplate. "He helped me! He doesn't have anything to do with the Senate, he's a -doctor-. The only bad Senator is Ratbat and we're going to bring him to trial. I don't know where you get off talking about Pharma like that, he helped me when I needed it most! I'm not confused anymore, I know /who I am/ and /what I am supposed to be doing/!"



"Why? Because Pharma told you?" Hot Rod asks. "He told you who to be, what to do? Shiftlock, you don't need that. It's hard, and it hurts, and I know it was bad, and I'm sorry we weren't helping you like you needed, but sometimes the easy answer in sa bad one, /especially if it is Pharma/," he finishes in a snarl.



"HEY!" Shiftlock argues, engine revving up, "It's not like I just CHOSE to have him as a doctor! Recruits don't get to just pick their doctors, DUH!" It's a sound argument, that. -Water tight-.



"Well you can choose /now/," Hot Rod argues right back. "You're not just any recruit, and you're living with Orion Pax. If you asked him, he'd help. And you /should/. Pharma was neck-deep in all that Institute slag, Shiftlock. That's not the kind of guy you want anywhere near you."



"The Institute? Oh come on, that's just a conspiracy theory. There was one bad lab and they already took care of that." Holy slag her memories of the Institute are GONE.



Hot Rod just huffs (oh no, Blast Off /really is contagious/) in disgust, but there's no disbelief in his manner. It is amazingly, incredibly, mind-blowingly easy for him to believe they'd wipe that FOR SOME REASON. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure that's what they told you. I don't care if you believe me. I just want you to see a different doctor. Pharma's bad stuff, Shift."



"Fine -- Nngh, Hot Rod... m-maybe you'd better go." Shiftlock's hand goes to her head and she leans against a counter with the other. "It's like... I can't ... ugh!"



Yeah, Hot Rod probably should go, so instead he moves closer to her with aggravation fading in favor of concern. "Hey, you okay?" he asks, reaching for her shoulder. "Do you need me to call someone?"



Shiftlock holds both sides of her head now. "It's everything I can do to stop myself from beating you up!!" she cries. "Please, Hot Rod, just go, run! I can't stop this forever~!"



"What?" Despite what she's already said, Hot Rod seems totally surprised by this particular manifestation of her headache. Because he's stupid. Stupid enough to stay. He drops his hand after a moment, but folds his arms and very seriously says, "I'm not going to just leave you if you aren't okay. Let me see if I can reach Ratchet." He's way better than Pharma. He opens a line to Ratchet ... to get the equivalent of voicemail, but WHATEVER.



In one swift, 9* speed motion, Shiftlock aims a solid haymaker punch towards Hot Rod's gut. "I'm sorry!" is all she can manage to get out as soon as the fist starts to move. Well, at least she managed to give him a warning, but he's going to need to do zero to sixty in 0.25 to react to it.



That's one awkwardly aborted voicemail. Hot Rod's attention flickers back to Shiftlock much too late to avoid the hit, but just fast enough to fall back a step. It reduces the damage that she could've done as he twists to take the hit on his undamaged side rather than letting it impact healing welds. It still leaves a dent and he vents sharply. "Whoa, hey!" He falls back another step and holds his hands up and out all non-threatening and friendly. "Shiftlock, come on. Look, I'll step back, okay?"



"I tried to warn you! It's too strong to ignore now!" Shiftlock holds up her right forearm; her hand disappears into the wrist, and a grappling hook extends out. "Now I have to take you in for being a terrorist. Dangit Hot Rod why did you have to be a bad guy?!"



"I'm not a bad guy!" Hot Rod insists, all fire and outrage. "I'm not a /terrorist/. Shiftlock, come on. You know better. I don't care what they put in your head, I know you can control this." Right? Right.



"I know it doesn't make sense because you don't SEEM bad but AAGH! I can't stop myself!" Shiftlock cries, before shooting that grappling hook at Hot Rod's midsection to try to lasso him.



Hot Rod intercepts the hook with his arm, which ... just means that she has his arm, instead. Good planning, buddy! "Oh, come on!" If he wanted to use it to try to hold off whatever she does next, he's at a disadvantage. Arm tangled, he tugs back toward the door. "Look, drop the hook and I'll go into the other room. I'm quiet, you turn off your optics, it's like I'm not here, right?" Yeah. He's quiet. That won't last.



Shiftlock starts to pull on that grapple, winching in Hot Rod to get him closer. "No - no it's no good, the only thing that's gonna stop this is if you knock me out--" She looks at her other hand as if she's getting equally bad ideas.



"I'm not /knocking you out/." Hot Rod wraps his hand around the line and pulls back against the winch. He settles his weight against hers. If he's getting pulled in, so's she! He angles his other arm at the line, lining up a careful shot to try and heat and break it. He takes for granted it'll take more than a tug or a cut to sever it.



"You aren't leaving either and I told you to leave WHY ARE YOU NOT LEAVING!" Shiftlock shouts. The grapple line is an energy field; the shot severs it and both of them are suddenly pulling with all their might against nothing. Shift goes sailing back, but her training kicks in and she catches herself with a controlled landing and a fast roll back onto her feet. Hey, all that "wax on, wax off" stuff really does work!



Hot Rod gives Shiftlock an incredulous look. "I can't, because--!" But Hot Rod doesn't get to finish the thought. The shot actually /works/, and he falls on his aft. It's totally as much from surprise as the sudden release. Totally. He looks up to watch her roll to her feet with a muttered, "Oh, come on." He lunges to the side toward the hallway. "Hard to leave if you grapple me!" he says once he has a wall between them. "Is not seeing helping?" He was also supposed to shut up. That's not happening.



"I tried to warn you before I grappled you or even punched you but you were being a STUBBORN EXHAUST PIPE AND NOT LISTENING!" Shiftlock shouts, extending her hand from the now hookless grapple mechanism. "ALSO I CAN HEAR YOU!" Yeah, she did notice that.



"I WAS TOO LISTENING," Hot Rod shouts back, then slaps his face with his hand as he realizes what he did. He tries to be silent, but this lasts only five seconds. He can't do it. In addition to all the small noises of life running hot through his frame, there's also the words rising fast to be cut off in a sharp, "Fine. Okay, I'm going outside. But I'm telling someone who /isn't Pharma/ to check in on you."



"FINE YOU DO THAT! AAUGH PRIMUS MY HEAD IT'S ON FIRE!" *kathunk* That's the sound of Shiftlock falling to her knees and holding her head in complete agony. This is your brain on reprogramming. Any questions?



One question: where is Pharma, and can Hot Rod shoot him. Out on the street, he tries Ratchet again, and leaves a slightly more coherent voicemail before following it up with a note to Pax all 'oops, my bad'. He lingers, glancing up at the building, and watches for a long moment to see if anything changes.



There's nothing going on outside except the normalcy of daily life, as if the world had passed by and been none the wiser for the exchange that went on inside. As for Shiftlock? She's lying on the floor, vent fans blasting at full speed, wicking away the heat of an intense mental struggle between the regenerative properties left behind from extended contact with a Shifter, and the pervasive code alterations that keep trying to assert themselves over her consciousness.




Hot Rod lingers until he starts getting funny looks for it -- which, let's be real, probably doesn't take all that long. There's nothing for it. In the end, messages sent, he transforms to make the long drive back to Nyon, filled with all sorts of awfully muddled things -- and above all else, a clear, hot rage that centers around the name 'Pharma'.

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