|Edge of Heaven
Author: Dragonfly-Moonlight PM
G1. Hot Rod meets a Femme.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Romance - Hot Rod - Words: 5,394 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-13-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2483344
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
'At'prafen smiled softly to herself and sighed a rather contented sigh. The past six months had been one huge whirlwind since she and her siblings had arrived on Earth. Now she could finally relax and take stock of what had been going on. She nestled herself close to the one who was lying next to her and sighed another contented sigh. He wrapped his arms around her waist even tighter and kissed her lightly on the nape of her neck. They had just made their pairing official that night and it felt good to be held by him after everything she'd gone through and the obstacles that they had both overcome.
"Are you all right, my love?" he murmured.
"Mmm-hmm," she nodded. "Just thinking."
"Oh?" he grinned. "What about?"
"Everything," she replied as she turned some to kiss him. She pressed a little closer to him. All 'At'prafen wanted right moment was him, and she intended to make sure that he knew it, too. Their bodies pressed closer to each other once more . . .
Six months before . . .
'At'prafen and 'At'pren Pax walked out of Repair Bay, her leaning against him. Behind them were Electra, Star, Goldstarr, and Silverstreak. Chromia, the Pax twins' and Goldstarr's and Silverstreak's mother, had just passed away, leaving them with a terrible emptiness inside of them. Of course, Hot Rod, Springer, Arcee, and Slingshot did not know that as they watched the six of them leave Repair Bay.
"Check out the red Femme," Slingshot whispered. "She's a definite hottie!"
"Shut up, Slingshot," Hot Rod muttered. "Show a little respect, will you? For Primus's sake, we just lost Chromia. Can't you see that they knew her and how upset they are?"
"Relax, will ya?" Slingshot growled. "Sheesh, lighten up. I was just making an observation."
"At the wrong time," Springer informed him. "Just cool it, okay?"
Slingshot muttered something incoherent but Hot Rod merely tuned him out. Instead, his attention was on the red Femme that was walking out with the two new Mechs, the new Femme, and Electra and Star. There was just something about her, something about her optics, about the way that she moved that held him in thrall. The hurt he saw in her optics was simply unbearable.
Rod, what are you thinking! She's obviously taken so don't even think about her.
But, as they walked pass, Hot Rod found himself watching her and drinking in every detail that he could. He had to say something to her but found that he couldn't. It was like his vocoder unit had malfunctioned so all he could was just watch her, slack-jawed, as they walked on by.
Great, Hot Rod. Just great, he cursed at himself. One chance blown. Idiot.
Still, he watched her and silently wished he could talk to her. After all, he'd fought countless battles and had been leader of the Autobots so he should be able to talk to her, right? Hot Rod was brought out of his musings by a vicious jab by Springer.
"Snap out of it," he growled to him. "Before Slingshot and Arcee see you and before they see you, too."
Hot Rod quickly averted his attention, getting her out of his sight but not out of his mind. Over the next few days, before Chromia's memorial service, she would be in his thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. Optimus had raked him over the coals several times for either staring at her whenever she was around or for just not paying attention when he needed to.
At least I know her name now, he thought as Optimus was currently chewing him out. It was only a few hours before the service and, from what Hot Rod could hear, Optimus didn't want him staring at 'At'prafen and making her uncomfortable.
"Do you understand, Hot Rod?"
"Yes, Optimus," he nodded absently, wandering away when Prime dismissed him.
'At'prafen Pax . . . lovely name. Wonder who named her . . . It's appropriate for such a beautiful Femme. If only I could talk to her . . . I bet she . . .
Hot Rod was brought out of his musings rather abruptly when he ran into someone. He was about to make a rude and snippy remark when a slightly Southern-accented voice said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to run into you. Are you okay?"
It had been a long time since he'd heard a Southern accent and it reminded him of Ironhide. He looked to see 'At'prafen standing in front of him, concern etched onto her face. Dumbly, Hot Rod nodded, his fuel pump skipping several beats. Here she was, standing right in front of him and she was apologizing for him walking into her!
What is wrong with me!
"Actually, I'm sorry," he managed to blurt out. "I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
"That makes two of us," she replied with a slight smile. He noted the sadness in her optics that belied the smile.
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked. He wanted to reach out to her and pull her close to comfort her.
"Yeah, I'll be okay," she nodded. "Just didn't expect to arrive here only to see her die. It's just . . ." She shook her head.
"How did you know Chromia?" He knew he shouldn't ask her but he couldn't help himself. For a reason he hadn't been able to identify just yet, Hot Rod had to get to know her, had to hear more of her voice, and just look into her optics. It was almost like hearing Ironhide talking but he didn't mind the accent coming from her. It only added to her appeal.
"She's my mother," came the quiet reply.
"Oh . . ."
There was an awkward silence between them for a moment. Finally, 'At'prafen broke as she brought something out of subspace.
"How well did you know her?"
Hot Rod blinked a little, somewhat surprised by her question. He had been rather busy drinking in every detail about her. Again. Mentally shaking his head, Hot Rod thought back to his memories of Chromia for his answer.
"Well enough, I suppose," he replied. "She always seemed a little sad after the last great battle but that was all she let on. Why?"
"'At'pren and I were going through her old apartment and sorting stuff out when I found this," she said, showing him a red piece of metal bearing an Autobot sigil. "Do you know what it means?"
Hot Rod looked at it closely. He never knew that Chromia even had this but he thought he had seen it once before. Upon closer inspection, it looked like it had been Ironhide's sigil. Hot Rod hesitated before he replied, "I think it may have been Ironhide's . . ."
"I was afraid of that . . . Thank you," she smiled weakly. "What was your name?"
"Hot Rod," he answered.
"I'm 'At'prafen," her smile got a little wider and a little brighter. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he managed to say. They stood for a few more moments. Finally, 'At'prafen said, "I'd better go. My brother is waiting for me."
Hot Rod nodded but it took a moment for what she said to sink in. Brother? Did that mean what he thought it meant?
"Your brother?" he echoed.
"Yes. 'At'pren is my brother. Twin brother," she added. "He's the one who was more like Mom and a little closer to her than what I was. I was closer to Dad. It seemed like I was the only one who spoke his language."
Hot Rod felt an overwhelming sense of jubilation despite the severity of their conversation. She was available.
"I'll see you around, Hot Rod," she said, standing on the tips of her feet to kiss him on the cheek. "Thank you."
"Y-you're welcome," he stammered as he watched her go. One hand went to the spot where she had kissed him and he felt like he was floating on a cloud as he wandered off. He felt like that for several hours, even during Chromia's memorial service. In fact, Hot Rod felt that way for two weeks, even though he hardly saw her during that time. He didn't even seem to notice when Optimus Prime, Elita-1, and Ultra Magnus gave him a dressing down for not paying attention! It was starting to get on his nerves, however, but he wasn't sure on how to get them to leave him alone.
"Snap out of it, lad!" Kup snapped as he cuffed him upside the head. Hot Rod scowled at the older Mech and settled back to what it was he was supposed to be doing, which was target practice. He didn't want Kup on his case as well.
"What's the matter, lad?" Kup suddenly inquired, an unusual gentleness in his tone. "You haven't been yourself since Ironhide's kids came to Earth. Are you feeling all right?"
Hot Rod blinked at Kup's questions, rather surprised by the older mech's tone. Hesitant, he set his weapon down and looked at Kup.
"I'm fine . . . There's nothing the matter, Kup."
The older Mech gave him a pointed look, like he didn't quite believe him. He said nothing, however, and Hot Rod thought it was the end of it. Until Kup spoke again.
"It's 'At'prafen, isn't it?"
"That is none of your business, Kup," Hot Rod snapped, glaring at him.
"Easy, lad," Kup held his hands up in a placating manner. "I was just making an observation."
"And to rake me over the coals like Optimus has," he fumed. "Well, you can forget it, Kup! I'm not taking it anymore from anyone! Got that!"
Hot Rod left as soon as he said it, not even waiting for Kup to say anything. His anger fueling him, Hot Rod left the firing range, his weapon still in his hand. Why couldn't everyone just leave him alone?
He was brought out of his musings when he, once again, ran into someone.
"We really need to stop meeting like this."
The voice that said that stopped him from making a snide remark. In front of him stood 'At'prafen Pax and she was smirking in amusement. Fortunately, neither of them were carrying a lot or it would have been scattered everywhere. Still, Hot Rod felt more than a bit embarrassed for nearly running over her a second time. Miraculously, he managed to find his voice to speak to her.
"Hey, 'At'prafen . . . How are you?"
"Pretty good, I suppose," she shrugged a little. "Been keeping myself busy. How about you?"
"Doing okay," he managed to smile.
'At'prafen smiled and pointed to his rifle.
"Going to target practice?"
"Er, no . . . I just came from there . . ."
"You didn't fire that, did you?" she asked sharply.
"No . . . Why?" he looked at her, perplexed.
"Your firing mechanism is jammed," she pointed out. "If you would have fired it, you would have taken off your hand. Here. Let me see it."
Stunned, Hot Rod handed her his weapon as she handed him hers. He watched as she inspected it closely then tore it apart. Just as quickly, she had it back together, a rather proud smile on her face.
"There you go. Good as new," she said, handing his rifle back to him.
"How . . ." He was at a loss for words.
"I told you. I spoke my dad's language," she grinned. "He taught me everything he knew about weaponry, being very proud of me when I specialized my training in it."
"You're a weapons specialist?"
"Uh-huh," she nodded enthusiastically. "I know about and can use just about every kind of weapon possible."
"That's pretty . . . amazing," he grinned.
"Thank you. Unfortunately, I'm stuck on light security duty," she confessed.
"How come?" Hot Rod frowned.
"I don't know," 'At'prafen shrugged. "I know how I did on the test. Kup told me and said that there'd probably be no problem placing me in weapons. He said that the current weapons specialist was a lazy lunkhead. Instead, I end up in security and on light duty and I don't get it. I'm not injured or anything. We arrived here in good health."
"That is odd," Hot Rod agreed. "I'll talk to Kup and find out what's going on, if you'd like."
"You would?" She looked at him, her optics filled with hope. Hot Rod could see why Ironhide would be proud of her. She was almost exactly like him in every way, though she looked more like Chromia than him.
"Sure I would. I know where he's at right now so I'll go ask him. You can come with me if you'd like."
"Let's go," he smiled, offering his hand. Hesitantly, she took it, and they walked to the firing range. Well, 'At'prafen walked. Hot Rod floated. When they reached their destination, Hot Rod managed to clear his thoughts enough to ask Kup what it was that he needed to.
"Yes, lad?" Kup turned to face him.
"Do you know why 'At'prafen was placed on light security duty instead of in weapons?" His voice sounded distant in his own audios.
"What do you mean light security duty!" Kup all but shouted. "I recommended her to be the city's weapons specialist! She shouldn't be in security!"
"I am in security and on light duty," 'At'prafen interjected. "And I wanted to know why, especially since I did have such a high rating for weaponry."
"I'll look into it, lass," Kup assured her. "And I'll get you to where you need to be. In the meantime, why don't you two head to the Rec for some drinks and relax for a while?"
"Sounds good to me," 'At'prafen said. She looked at Hot Rod. "How about you?"
His fuel pump skipped a beat and he nodded. 'At'prafen smiled, gave a slight wave to Kup, and they were gone. For a while, they said nothing and Hot Rod enjoyed being near her . . . until he realized that conversation would eventually be in order.
What will I say? he wondered frantically. I don't even know that much about her! Where do I begin? Do I talk about Ironhide and Chromia? Her relationship with her brother? The things I've done? What? Why can't this be easier? It was never like this with Arcee . . .
"Is something wrong?"
'At'prafen's voice brought him out of his fretting and he looked at her, slightly confused.
"Is something wrong?"
"N-no," he stammered. "Nothing's wrong. Why do you ask?"
"You started to walk by the Rec," she pointed out quietly.
"Oh . . . Sorry about that," he said, giving her a rather boyish grin. "Guess I just have a lot on my mind. Let's go in. I know of a great energon mix."
"Oh really? So do I," she smirked. "How about we try to surprise each other? Make it like a contest or something."
Hot Rod was intrigued by what she had just said. He grinned as he asked, "A small contest, huh? Like . . . whoever has the best mix wins? Loser has to do something for the winner?"
"Something like that," she replied slyly. "Shall we?"
He just grinned even more as they walked into the Rec and headed for the energon dispenser. They selected their ingredients and began to make their drinks. As they were mixing them, Hot Rod tried to settle on what he was going to ask her.
I can't ask her to go out on a date with me. She'd just laugh at me. But I can ask her about the things that she's done. I'm sure she's done a lot of fascinating things . . . It's settled. I'll ask her about that . . . But how do I ask her? Primus, what's wrong with me!
"I'm done," 'At'prafen announced. "How about you?"
"Ready and waiting," he smiled, handing her the drink that he made. She handed him the one she made and they began to drink them. Hot Rod was very surprised by the flavour and texture of the drink she'd made. It was very rich, strong and yet smooth. Very different from the one he'd made. Quite relaxing, too.
"This is good," he commented. "Where did you learn to make this?"
"On Cybertron a long, long time ago. A friend of my parents' always used to make this for me when I was younger. Always helped me to relax," she said, a glimmer of sadness in her optics. "I caught up with him at a neutral colony a while ago. He'll be devastated when he hears about Mom and Dad."
"He close with them?" Hot Rod inquired quietly. He didn't want to push her too far.
"You could say that," 'At'prafen replied. "He took me and my siblings in for a while before we came here."
"You traveled a lot?"
"Yeah," she nodded. "We left with Electra and Star long before Optimus left on the Ark. After a while, Electra and Star went their own way and we went ours. We still managed, though."
"Shall we sit down and talk some more?" he asked suddenly. "I'd love to hear about your travels."
"Yeah," he grinned. "I'd love to. It sounds fascinating."
"I wouldn't say that . . ." she began.
"Let me be the judge of that," he interjected. "I know what sounds fascinating to me. Okay?"
"Okay," 'At'prafen hesitated. "I guess we can do that."
Hot Rod smiled as he led her to an empty booth. They sat down and talked quietly, paying no attention to the time. Finally, 'At'prafen set her container down.
"I better go," she said. "My shift starts soon and I don't dare be late. Thanks for the drink. It was good."
"You're welcome and thank you. I had a good time."
"Me, too," she smiled, standing up.
Ask her if she's doing anything tomorrow, you ninny! The worst she could do is say 'no,' a little voice shouted at him. If you don't, someone else will.
"Yes?" she looked at him, her optics glimmering like sunlight on a lake. He almost forgot what he was going to ask her.
"I was wondering . . . if you'd like to do some sight-seeing tomorrow. I don't have a shift tomorrow so after you get some rest . . ."
"I don't rest," she stated. "My shift ends at seven. Shall we meet at the south gate?"
"Sure . . . You sure you won't need a recharge cycle?" He was absolutely astounded by this revelation.
"Pretty sure," she smiled. "I'll see you at the south gate shortly after seven."
She turned and walked out of the Rec just as Kup walked in. The older Mech approached him and sat down. For a moment, Kup said nothing and Hot Rod watched him warily. He was becoming too used to everyone calling him out over 'At'prafen.
"So how'd it go, lad?"
"What do you mean?"
"Between you and 'At'prafen," Kup answered. "How did it go?"
"Fine," Hot Rod responded cautiously. "Why are you asking?"
"Because I can tell that you like her," Kup replied gently. "A lot. She's all you can think about. You can't get her out of your mind and you don't even want to. You've been like this for two weeks, ever since you first saw her . . ."
Hot Rod felt his defenses going up. It was sounding like Kup was preparing to hand him his aft on a silver platter and he was not about to take it anymore. He got up to leave.
"I don't need to listen to you," Hot Rod spat. "Just leave me alone."
"Face it, lad, you're in love with her," Kup continued. "And there's nothing wrong with it."
Kup's words stopped him in his tracks. Did he just say what Hot Rod thought he said? He was in love with 'At'prafen? No way!
"I'm not in love with her," Hot Rod retorted. "You're imagining things."
"Am I, lad?" Kup questioned. "Tell me then, how did you feel when you walked with her to the firing range? How did you feel when you sat in her and talked with her? You feel something for her, lad. If you didn't, you wouldn't be so distracted nor would you be so defensive."
"I'm not in love with her," Hot Rod repeated. "Stop sticking your nose in where it's not wanted."
Having said that, Hot Rod stalked off, heading for his quarters. Along the way, he kept telling himself that he wasn't in love with 'At'prafen, there was no way that he could be. At least, that's what he told himself.
Early the next morning, Hot Rod stood at the south gate, anxiously waiting for 'At'prafen to arrive. He hadn't been able to recharge much throughout the night, he was so excited. Thoughts of her kept invading his mind, despite the numbers of times he told himself that he wasn't in love with her. Even after he had nodded off, she was still there, laughing or smiling. Finally, he had gotten up and prepared for the day. There was a lot they could do, after all.
I hope she doesn't mind, he thought as he waited. I had some ideas as to where we could go and one of them was hike up to the . . . oh . . . that wouldn't be a very good idea . . . Might remind her of her father . . . It isn't necessarily a bad thing but I don't want to be responsible for hurting her . . . I'll just ask her where she wants to go.
'At'prafen walked up at that moment, her optics shimmering. She looked like she was ready to start crying. At least, that's what Hot Rod thought as soon as he saw her.
"What's wrong?" he asked. He wanted to reach out to her and hold her close until her tears were gone.
"It's nothing," she smiled. It was a faint smile and it belied the hurt he saw there. He knew she was lying. How, he didn't know. He just knew.
But why would she lie to me? Does she now dislike me? Is she calling off for the day? What happened? His mind went into a frenzied panic as to what could have happened.
Maybe she's just like her father, a little voice whispered but it was drowned out by the roaring of his worries. Finally, he decided that he'd just ask her again.
"Hey, you can tell me," he said gently, smiling a little. "I won't bite. What happened, hmm?"
"It's not something I really want to talk about," she murmured, averting her gaze. Hot Rod thought he saw guilt and embarrassment in her optics.
Gently cupping her chin in his hand, he brought her gaze back to him.
"Tell me. Please?"
'At'prafen hesitated, actual tears forming in her optics. It twisted his gears in knots to see her like this. Dread suddenly filled him. Maybe he said something to offend her. Maybe he did something that he shouldn't have. . .
"I can't be the city's weapons specialist," she whispered. "Kup's recommendation got shot down and I got my aft chewed for even thinking about it. After all, my father and mother never asked for much so I shouldn't either . . ."
"Who told you this?" He felt himself growing angry at the person responsible for telling 'At'prafen this and hurting her in the process.
Hot Rod's jaw dropped in shock. He couldn't imagine Elita doing something like this. He also knew that, if Chromia was still alive, 'At'prafen would be the city's weapons specialist. Frantically, his mind began t come up with solutions to help her out.
"Maybe if you talked to Optimus . . ." he began.
"He backed her up," came the quiet reply. "Only he said something else, too . . ."
Hot Rod didn't like the way her voice trailed off.
"What else did he say?"
Again, 'At'prafen hesitated, her face contorting in anguish and torment.
"He said that, if I even wanted a chance at being a weapons specialist, I had to stay away from you," she whispered. "I'm sorry."
Hot Rod felt as if someone had dropped a six-hundred mega-ton bomb on top of him then added bricks for good measure. 'At'prafen had to stay away from him? The thought of never seeing her again left him feeling empty inside, like someone had taken the sun out of the sky, never to shine again.
"Oh . . . I see . . ."
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I . . . I didn't know what else to do."
"Don't be sorry. You did what you felt you had to do. It's okay," Hot Rod said. "I understand."
They stood in silence for a few moments before 'At'prafen took a deep breath and a couple of steps back. He wasn't looking at her, finding his hands to be of interest all of a sudden.
"Are you going to be okay?" she inquired. Hot Rod nodded and smiled.
"Sure," he lied. "I'll be fine. Go. Become the City's weapon specialist. You'll be great at it. I know it."
"Hot Rod, I . . ."
Other than those words, she made no other move to leave. Hot Rod worried that, if she continued to linger, she'd get into more trouble with Optimus and jeopardize her position. The next thing he did he soon regretted.
"'At'prafen, just go," he snapped. "Become the City's weapons specialist. Hell, become the greatest weapons' specialist in the universe! I don't care! Just leave!"
He hadn't meant to snap at her like that but he didn't want her to be in any more trouble. Her reaction, however, made him want to take it all back and come up with another solution. For the both of them.
Her optics, a warm shade of blue, flashed once then iced over. Lips tightened in a straight line, her expression hardened. She was the visage of both Ironhide and Chromia in their anger. Hot Rod wanted to shrivel up and disappear under her gaze.
"And here I was going to tell you that I told Prime I didn't want the position if he was going to attach strings to it, especially if it was going to cost me a potential friend," she growled, her accent becoming more pronounced. "Then you . . . you tell me to go ahead and become something that'll cost me your friendship. Have you any idea as to how much I hate it when someone tries to tell me how to run my life?"
"'At'prafen, I didn't . . ."
"It doesn't matter," she stated, cutting him off. "After what you've just said, I don't think I can be around you anymore. Not if you're going to jump to conclusions and tell me how to run my life!"
She turned and stalked off, leaving him cold and feeling an empty inside. What had he just done?
"What is the matter with you?" Ultra Magnus hollered. "You're supposed to stay away from 'At'prafen Pax. She's . . ."
Hot Rod leveled a glare at the City commander, causing him to pause in his tirade. Behind Magnus sat Optimus and Elita, their optics suddenly going wide.
"Let me guess," Hot Rod sneered. "She's told you she's not going to become the City's weapons' specialist, right? Of course, she did and now you're going to blame me for saying something upset her or change her mind. Aren't you?"
When they said nothing, he continued.
"Yep. You are. Never mind, I wasn't the one who gave her an ultimatum. I wasn't who told her who she had to give up seeing a friend for a LOUSY POSITION! YOU ARE THE ONES WHO DID THAT! NOT ME AND I REFUSE TO PUT UP WITH THIS ANYMORE! DO YOU HEAR ME!"
Hot Rod stormed out of the office, leaving two shocked leaders and lieutenant in his wake.
He had no idea as to where he was going. His feet carried him as his mind wandered. He thought of many things, from the places he'd seen and the 'Bots and humans he'd met. Yet his thoughts came back to one Femme: 'At'prafen Pax. Was he in love with her, as Kup had suggested? He didn't think he was. Hot Rod considered her to be a friend. So what if he thought of her and dreamt of her all the time? It didn't mean he had a crush on her.
For a third time, Hot Rod had been lost in thought when he ran into someone. He started to murmur an apology and step to the side when he heard a slight fit of giggling.
"Sorry, Hot Rod, but we seem to keep running into each other. Literally."
'At'prafen's blue optics sparkled in amusement. It caught him off-guard as he hadn't expected her to be smiling if she saw him again. Then he chuckled.
"Yeah, I guess we do," he grinned.
"Will you join me for a drink?" she inquired. "We never did judge each other's drinks the last time."
He blinked. Had he heard her right?
"Are you sure?" he asked. 'At'prafen nodded.
"I'm sure," she smiled.
"Okay . . . you're not mad at me?"
They started walking to the Rec. She shook her head.
"No. I mean, I was at first. Don't get me wrong about that. But then I got to thinking about it and I got to talking to Kup. And I realized that you were just trying to do what you thought was best for me. Like so many other people around here," 'At'prafen sighed and shook her head. He glanced at her, confused.
"So why . . .?"
"Did I react that way?" she finished. "I don't know really. I wasn't kidding when I said I don't like it when people try to run my life for me. Taking orders about duties is one thing but being told to avoid someone because they might be using me . . . I think I'm old enough to make my own decisions, you know?"
"Oh no," he groaned. "They didn't . . ."
"They didn't say much," she assured. "Just that you'd been mooning over me, something I didn't quite understand until I talked to Kup. And I wasn't sure of how to react to that. You've taken me by surprise, Hot Rod. It's something no one has ever done to me. Mostly because I've never allowed it."
"What are you talking about, 'At'prafen?"
She looked at him, the intensity of her optics catching him off-guard. There was something there, something he couldn't quite identify.
"I'm saying I don't care what anyone thinks," she murmured then kissed him.
Before he knew it, his arms had wrapped around her and they were pressed together in a suffocating embrace. He ached for her. For how long, he didn't know. He just knew.
'At'prafen broke their kiss long enough to whisper, "Everything will work out. You'll see. We'll just have to stick together."
Hot Rod nuzzled her neck, his fingers running through her hair. Somehow . . . somehow he knew that she was right. In the meantime, they'd fight and be united as one. That's what friends were for, after all.