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Always Come Back

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They didn't really tell Yuuta at first.

He assumed, of course, that Deckerd had gone on patrol alone to clear his head. He did that, sometimes. Yuuta knew some tension was growing between some of the other police 'bots, but he didn't know why and no one would explain this to him. Oh well… Deckerd would come back feeling better, and if he didn't, Yuuta would try to help. He set his mind to this when Mr. Saejima drove him home that first night.

When the boy woke up the next morning, he smiled knowing Deckerd would be back. Upon finding the garage empty, he felt sad. Maybe he went in early to finish up some late work? Yuuta hopped a bus, feeling a bit lonesome. Usually Deckerd woke him up if he overslept, worried he was ill or he'd had bad dreams. This was puzzling. Maybe the robot was a lot more upset than he was letting on…

Running into the building as fast as possible, Yuuta threw open the door, wanting to talk to Deckerd before work started—but he wasn't there either. The others looked at him curiously, before Shadowmaru spoke up.

"Where is Deckerd?"

And he couldn't answer.

Deckerd was gone for a few days… a week...too long. The others would search for him. Saejima ordered Yuuta to stay at home, to not worry about work. If a call came in that required the bigger 'bots, they would let him know.

Power Joe went missing and Yuuta panicked, but the yellow shovel came home… without Deckerd. Gunmax searched while both on and off duty; Duke was doing the same. Dumpson and McCrane ran lists of places he could have gone to, gotten to, been taken to. Drill Boy and Shadowmaru searched neighboring cities.

Deckerd was simply gone.

And Yuuta, though he was surrounded by friends, by family, felt incomplete. Alone. Lost. Afraid. Very, very afraid.

He didn't really sleep; when he did, it was filled with nightmares and he woke in tears. He'd go to school and not talk to anyone, and no one bothered him. He carried his communications badge everywhere, waiting, hoping. He'd hardly eat, the fear that Deckerd was in danger was too sickening.

They were partners, and the boy couldn't do anything to help find him.

Then one morning, Yuuta woke up to a tap at his window and the shadow of a large face on the other side of his curtains. He shot out of bed, opening the window in a flash.

"DECKE-?"

No. Not Deckerd.

Duke blinked back at him and the boy fell back to sit sadly on the floor, eyes brimming with tears. He'd really thought…

"Ah, Boss," the ambulance robot began, his pedes shuffling awkwardly. He still wasn't used to comforting the small human. But hopefully he wouldn't need to, soon. "We found Deckerd. Last night—" He suddenly had a face full of distressed child, Yuuta leaning against his nasal ridge and looking into his optics with a mix of excitement and worry.

"Deckerd? Where?! Is he okay? What ha—" He felt the robot shift his head slightly, and stopped talking. If Deckerd was okay he'd be here instead of Duke… tears started to flow down his face and he tried to hide it by crying onto the robot's cheek..

"Boss…" Duke's optics dimmed sympathetically, and he vented a sigh, gentling his voice. "He requested you not see him in this current state, but Mr. Toudou assured us that he would be fit for visitation later today." The little boy in front of him rubbed his eyes and looked up hopefully as the other continued, still speaking softly. "Deckerd is hurt, but in capable hands—he will be fine after some repairs…" The British 'bot trailed off, thinking. He'd had morning patrol, and had volunteered to tell Yuuta the news, but now he didn't want to leave the boy alone and in the dark… He shook his head free, startling the kid to step back into his own room.

"Duke—" the child began, but stopped as a large hand was held out under the window.

The robot tilted his head, forcing a small smile. "Yuuta. Will you accompany me on patrol?" he requested, optics patient. "I am sure that after my shift Deckerd will be online and want to see you. I am positive he has missed you terribly." He paused, waiting for an answer. "You won't need to worry alone, then. And if you have questions about him, I will try to answer as best I can."

Yuuta wiped his eyes on his sleeve before nodding and mumbling "yes" in response. Throwing on some clothes and petting Urunyan goodbye, he crawled out of the window and onto the hand. He couldn't wait until later, but until then… it would be nice to have company that understood.