[CtE] With All Due Respect

The rap of knuckles against the frame of his open office door was unexpected. Hardly anyone knocked to announce themselves. Snarl tended to walk right in, and Breakdown scuffed his pedes against the floor to get his attention.

Knock Out looked up from his datapad – where he’d been writing up the last of his patient notes for the day – and stared.

Ratchet stood in his doorway. Why was the Autobot CMO standing in his doorway, leaning casually against the jamb, his arms folded under his windshield?

“Can I help you?” Knock Out asked, aiming for polite and hoping he landed somewhere reasonably close to it. The sight of Ratchet made his engine rev with irritation.

This was his medbay, damn it. Not an extension of the Autobot one.

Ratchet dipped his helm and coughed into a hand. “It has come to my attention,” he began, and shifted his weight, looking for all things, uneasy. “That I owe you an apology.”

Knock Out stared at him. He rebooted his audial sensors. “Come again?”

The Autobot CMO lifted his chin. “I am told,” he said, again with a long pause. “That I owe you an apology. That I intruded into a space that was not my own without invitation and that my behavior has been….” He trailed off and Knock Out swore he could hear the older medic’s denta grinding. “–Unacceptable,” Ratchet finished with a grunt.

Knock Out cycled his optics. “I….” am at a loss for words, he wanted to say, but a part of him was concerned it might result in Ratchet bristling at him. “Um, thank you?”

Ratchet scowled. “You don’t have to rub it in.”

Knock Out leaned back and arched an orbital ridge. “I wasn’t.” He braced his elbows on the arms of the chair and laced his fingers together. “I accept your apology. Does that mean you’re going to recognize that I am the Decepticon CMO?”

Once again, he heard the skreel of Ratchet’s denta grinding. “I never said that I didn’t,” he ground out.

“You understand why I’d be confused then?” Knock Out said slowly. He wanted to smirk, but was wise enough to know that provoking Ratchet was not in his best interest.

Besides, Ratchet was clearly trying to be gracious. Knock Out could stand to give it a go as well.

Ratchet huffed air through his vents. “Look, kid–”

“I am not a youngling, and I’m certainly not yours,” Knock Out interrupted with a sharp bite to his words, but Primus did he hate that condescending tone. He heard it often enough from those in positions of power, however slight, and he was tired of it.

Ratchet pressed his lips together again. He looked upward, as though searching the heavens for patience or for a sign from a deity above before he lowered his gaze back to Knock Out.

“You’re right about both,” he sad, and Primus did it sound grudging. Clearly both apologies and admissions of wrongdoing were outside of Ratchet’s wheelhouse. “But don’t take it personally. I call everyone ‘kid’ and you aren’t even half my age.”

Knock Out frowned. “I don’t care how old I am. I want the respect I’m owed and if you can’t offer that, why are you bothering with this apology?” He suspected that someone had all but ordered Ratchet here.

Clearly, it wasn’t Optimus Prime. Knock Out had doubts that Grimlock, for all that he was Decepticon Lord, had it in him to order his own creator around. The only person who possibly had an influence on Ratchet was his mate, though imagining Wheeljack being forceful enough to make Ratchet obey was laughable.

Ratchet straightened. One hand scrubbed at his chevron. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll do my best not to call you anything but your name or your title and next time I will ask permission before I tread on your turf. Fair?”

Knock Out worked his jaw. “Then the next time you storm in here ready to assume control, I can throw you out on your aft without a problem?”

Ratchet shifted his weight. He shuffled his pedes. He cycled a long and steady ventilation before he jerked his head in a nod.

“It won’t happen again,” he said.

Well, Knock Out supposed that was the best Ratchet’s concession would get.

He leaned back in his chair and rested his elbows on the arms of it. He steepled his fingers together, letting the taloned tips click when they met.

Ratchet flinched.

Ah. That felt better than it should have.

“Fair enough,” Knock Out said with a dip of his helm. “Now was that all or…?”

“That’s all.” Ratchet coughed into his hand, a clear sign of unease if you asked Knock Out. It was kind of hilarious actually.

Not that Knock Out was going to push his luck by laughing out loud. He had the feeling something might be building here. A bridge perhaps.

Knock Out lowered his hands back to his desk and shuffled the datapads in front of them. “Well, thank you for your apology. Now if you don’t mind, I have to get back to work.”

“Don’t we all,” Ratchet muttered, but he spun on a heel-strut, turning to leave. He paused as though he wanted to say something else, but then shook his helm and continued out.

It was probably for the best. Wouldn’t want to ruin the moment.

Knock Out cycled his optics and went back to work. One more chart to finish and he could return to his habsuite, content to know that his responsibilities were handled.

After all, he was Chief Medical Officer of the Decepticons.


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