Title: No Longer Mourn
Author: Tirya King
Feedback: Of course!
Timeframe: Set sometime after the movie before Optimus returns for good.
Warnings: Language (Oh, come on, it's the twins!), and character death.
Summary: G1. All too late, one realizes the impact his best friend had on his life. Saying goodbye is never easy. Especially when you've never had to before. Or thought you'd have to.
Disclaimer: Cons' eyes are red. Autos' are blue. I don't own Transformers, so please don't sue! The poem 'No Longer Mourn for Me' belongs to one William Shakespeare.
A/N: Up until a few hours ago, this was called 'For Good' after the song from the musical Wicked. Then I named it after an Aaron Neville song and so on and so forth until I reached a decision at last. (sigh) So now I'm putting this thing up before I have a chance to fiddle with it any more than I already have. The explanation as well as inspiration for this story is at the end since it's a bit longish. Enjoy!
No Longer Mourn
The room was silent save for the quiet hum of medical machines littered around. Much too quiet for the multitude of thoughts racing through the lone warrior's processor as he sat there in the dark. He wanted to scream, to cause some sort of racket that might come close to reflecting his inner turmoil.
But that would require moving.
And moving would take him from his brother's side.
And nothing would take him from his brother's side.
First Aid had gone to recharge hours ago, absolutely exhausted, suggesting that the red Lamborghini do the same. He would be out of commission for the rest of the night at least. But Sideswipe hadn't budged since first entering the med bay that afternoon. No, there would be no rest for him until he knew his twin would be alright. And considering Sunstreaker's condition, that time was far far away.
Sometimes, Sideswipe felt that he and his twin were in the medical bay more than their own room. Back in the early days, back when Ratchet was alive, the two would often suggest he carve their names into two cots and put them aside for the frequently visiting pair. But that's what happened when one was a front-line melee warrior. It came with the job and the pair did it happily. Fighting was what they were born to do. They lived for it. And, if need be, they would go down doing it.
There was plenty of fighting for them to do too; never a lack of it. With the regime change on both sides during the conflict with Unicron, the war had only escalated.
Rodimus was a young leader, younger than the twins who were still considered mere pups by the other veterans. Being young and in charge, the new Prime was tends to be more gung-ho about campaigns, and as a result, found himself in scuffles his predecessor could have avoided. Casualties were higher, but not so high as to cause alarm. Not that Galvatron helped matters any. He had all of Megatron's cunning but none of his sanity or restraint.
For warriors like the twins, this meant more chances to let completely loose. But it was without the fun it had been once. The red warrior stared down at his brother who could barely get the rest he needed because of the pain running up and down his battered body. The smooth brightly painted yellow plating he prided so much was torn and warped. If the shaky, pained rise and fall of Sunstreaker's chest didn't show otherwise, one might think him already dead. Where was the fun now? The jokes that Sideswipe could crack even at the direst of times?
It seemed like the crazier old Galvy got, the more ruthless his troops became. Whether because of fear of their leader or their own rising madness, Sideswipe didn't know. But looking at Sunstreaker's wounds, he knew this was too much. Never had the battles been so bad.
Or maybe, he wondered, they had always been this bad and they were the ones changing. This certainly wasn't the first time the red warrior had sat by his brother's broken body, wondering if the next day he would be left alone in the universe. And he knew their positions had been switched just as many times. The older veterans, the late officers like Ratchet and Ironhide, had been tired long before they crashed on Earth. Was this what they were going through while Sunstreaker and Sideswipe were playing 'jet judo'? Was this weariness Sideswipe felt now what they had to live with when they finally fought too many battles and lost too many comrades? Was the pain that he used to see in Ratchet's optics every day the same pain he felt now?
Either way, he knew he couldn't do this alone. Either way, he needed Sunstreaker to help him through this war without losing his mind. He had seen way too many warriors lose themselves to the monotonous horror of war and he didn't want to be one of them. He didn't want to wake up one day and decide that he couldn't do it anymore. Or worse, become one of the mindless shell-shocked zombies that was good only for cannon fodder.
"Come on, Sunshine," he sighed, staring at the weak blips on the screen that represented his brother's central core activity. "Don't fucking do this to me."
There was silence for a moment. Then, "don't call me Sunshine, asshole."
It had been so soft that at first the red Lamborghini thought it was a trick invented by his exhausted mind. But no, there was the deadly dandelion himself staring up at his brother with ice blue optics. Optics clouded with numbing pain.
"Sunny," Sideswipe breathed in relief, "you're awake. How do you feel? Need anything?"
True to form, the more volatile twin gave the relieved warrior an ugly look. "Bruticus fucking danced on my back and you're asking how I feel? Did I really get the looks and the brains when we came online?"
'Dancing on his back' wasn't quite what Sideswipe would call what Bruticus did to him. No, what the giant combiner had done to the proud warrior had been enough to make Sideswipe lose whatever energon he had in his energy converter. For the longest time, he had been convinced that his twin had died. Even First Aid declared him gone before the stubborn mech that was Sunstreaker fought to come back online. Those first initial minutes where every system in his body lay still and silent felt like years for the frightened Sideswipe. For those few minutes he knew what it was to be an only child.
He did not fancy feeling like that again.
"You scared about a millennia off my life, Sunny," he sighed. "Don't do that again, ok?"
Sunstreaker managed a pained smirk. "You worry too much. What happens happens. We both know that."
His brother nodded. "Doesn't mean I like it."
"Pfft," the yellow warrior snorted. "Pansy."
"Sunstreaker!" Sideswipe cried, visibly upset. "You were gone for a whole 5 cycles. You were dead!" You left me, went unspoken. They both knew the other's greatest fear. Why voice it and make it reality? "And you're still hurt real bad. First Aid said…"
His twin's ice-blue optics softened as he took in Sideswipe's terrible condition. And his internal computer, what little part of it still functioning, told him the damage really was that bad to worry about. "Hey, Sides," he said sternly, calming down his other half. "I'm still here. Got that? Screw First Aid. Right now, I'm still here." I didn't leave you.
"Do you need anything? I could go try to wake…"
"I said screw First Aid. I don't need him to tell me I feel like crap, I know that all by myself. I'm just a bit tired, that's all. By morning I'll be ready to go get some payback on Bruticus. See how he likes it."
Sideswipe chuckled despite himself. He had no doubt that his fierce brother would try his best to do just that, wounded or no. Seeing Sunstreaker's determined look, he knew the young medic had to be wrong about the seriousness of his brother's condition. He had to be. Good ol' Sunny was too strong to be taken down by anything for long. He would be just fine in no time at all.
Seeing the exhaustion in his brother's eyes, Sideswipe stood up from his chair. "If you want me to leave so you can rest, I can…"
"Would you just calm down! Who died and made you slagging mother hen? If I want you to go I'll tell you. Now sit your ass back down and relax." His voice was light and teasing and scornful in the way that was uniquely Sunstreaker.
"Oh fine then, you big buttercup." Sideswipe obediently sat back down. There was silence for a moment. "Now what?"
"What are you asking me for? I'm the one on my freaking death bed here."
Identical blue optics narrowed in warning. That wasn't funny. "Sunstreaker…"
"Just…" the wounded mech sighed apologetically. In a softer voice, one only his twin ever heard he asked, "Just talk to me, Sides."
"I thought you hated my 'inane babbling,'" Sideswipe accused humorously. "What should I talk about?"
"Correction. I hate your inane babbling when I have better things to do than pretend to listen," Sunstreaker replied with an utmost solemn expression that could put the late Prowl to shame. "I don't care. Tell me a story."
"A story?" Now he was definitely confused. He hadn't asked for a story since he was a young infant.
"Yeah. One about a handsome and brave warrior who became a galactic war hero as he saved the day time and time again. Femmes worshipped him and mechs fought just for the chance to serve under his command."
A wry fox-like grin came onto his brother's face. "And was his name, by chance, Sunstreaker?"
"Oh, you know that one too? It's one of my favorites."
"And did this handsome brave warrior have an equally handsome and brave brother?"
"Oh yeah, there was this one bot. A little tubbo thing who trailed after him wanting to be just like him when he grew up."
If the mech weren't already wounded, Sideswipe would have smacked him. "I'm glad you're not vain beyond all comprehension, brother mine, cause that would be annoying."
"Hey, is it vanity if it's true?"
"Oh, I don't know, Tracks."
Ice blue optics frosted over just a bit more. "Now that's just low."
Sideswipe crossed his arms and shot his twin a triumphant look. "Is it low if it's true?"
Sunstreaker sighed in defeat. "Alright, fine, no story. Talk about anything you want."
Sideswipe heard a faint pleading tone in his injured brother's voice. "Why is it so…"
"I just want to hear you talk, ok?" Sunstreaker snapped testily. "I'm going to shut down for a bit, but I want to hear your voice. Is that so fucking hard?" So he too was afraid of being left alone, even only wounded.
"No," the red warrior said softly, trying to calm him down. "No, that's fine. I'll talk." He knew how wounded Sunny's pride must have been to admit that he needed to hear his brother's voice before he could sleep, even if Sideswipe would have asked for the same thing. Siblings should be able to ask for these kinds of things without feeling strange, yet it still stung one's ego to voice their need out loud. Especially one who prided himself on being so strong.
"So…" Sideswipe racked his processor, trying to think up an acceptable subject to ramble on about. Odd, he could usually go on and on about everything. Now, though, his mind was a complete blank.
"I heard Operation Chia Pet was a success," Sunstreaker started him off, seeing him flounder.
The red Lamborghini smiled at the mention of his latest prank against their young Commander. Filling every tiny crevice in Rodimus' room with Miracle Grow and as many seeds as possible, the effect was quite a stunning and stubbornly enduring garden overnight. No one could trace it back to Sideswipe of course, he was much too professional to be caught. But from the dry, unamused glare he had received before this afternoon's battle, his reputation pretty much spoke for itself.
"Oh, man," he sighed with the pride of a mech over its newly built protoform. "You should see it, Sunny. I really outdid myself this time. Roddy will have a green office for weeks."
Sunstreaker smiled almost wistfully. "Prowl would have really blown a fuse."
"Yeah," his brother agreed softly with a pained grin. "He would have."
There was another moment of silence as memories of the dead filled Sideswipe's mind. He never knew how much he would miss them until one day they were no longer there.
"Where did you find all the seeds?" the yellow warrior tried to ease the conversation away from the memory of dead comrades seeing as it bothered his other half so much.
Sideswipe quickly recovered, retelling the tale of his flower shop raid during their last leave on Earth. He had been saving this prank for a long time, waiting till the moment was right. And the other day seemed as good as any a time to make much mischief. If anything, it eased the stress that filled the troops' lives.
And on he went, filling the time with story after story, some even featuring their dear Ratchet or Prowl or even Ironhide. And as he spoke, Sunstreaker slowly began to shut himself down, leaving his audios at full power so as not to miss a single word.
Sideswipe leaned back in his chair staring at his brother contemplatively. "Y'know, Sunny, sometimes I get to thinking…"
"Don't," the wounded mech interrupted groggily. "You'll hurt yourself."
"Oh ha ha. No, seriously, I wonder what we would be like if Pinch didn't make us like he did." The memory of their Creator usually brought unwelcome feelings to the twins. They were built with the one intention of creating the ultimate deadly force. Good teams were hard to come by, so sibling teams were usually formed. The Constructicons happened to be one of the first quintuplet teams seen on the field.
But Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were different. Where the Constructicons were victims of the war, dragged into it like it or not, the twins were children of it. War was their function. Not only were they built and programmed with it in mind, but their very raising made them what they were now. Upon reading up on the different raising techniques of young bots, Spike had likened their experience to how one raised a junkyard dog. Sideswipe was never quite sure what that meant, but from what he did know, he could agree with the analogy.
Triggerpinch wasn't abusive to his fierce children. Not exactly. Breaking their spirits would only produce worthless products. But he did make sure they came out vicious. And he liked separating them at times to see how they could cope being away from their twin. Those times had been the worst out of all their 'training exercises,' only solidifying their need to be in near constant contact. Even millions of years later, it was rare to find one more than a room away from the other unless it was for a special mission. Being separated those couple of years before the battle for Autobot City had such a profound effect on them that the higher ranking officers promised never to do it again.
Once their formal raising was done, Triggerpinch sent the infants to the Academy to learn everything else they would need to know. One couldn't program that kind of knowledge into children. It had to be experienced first hand. Upon recruiting the deadly pair, Prowl was advised by their Creator that they could perform any task given. But also that if one was lost, the other too would die.
"We wouldn't be us," Sunstreaker finally said after a while. "We were commissioned by the military to be built. Pinch wouldn't have slagging made us if he didn't have to." That was certainly true. The quick-tempered engineer had very little paternal feelings to waste on two war machines. And he made sure they knew it.
"You haven't thought at all of what you might have wanted to be besides Sunny the Great Deadly Dandelion?"
"What, like a civi? Not really. I fight. Maybe I could have been an engineer too or something. I definitely know enough about body structure. Or maybe an instructor or something."
"Well what about when we get out then?"
"Yeah, when the war's over. What do you wanna do then?"
"We ain't getting out, Sides. You know that."
"Well I know not now, dummy. I meant when the war is over."
"The war isn't going to fucking end, Sideswipe!" he bit out harshly, hissing as his body tensed. The pain flared back up for a moment before subsiding again. "And we ain't gonna see it even if it does."
Sideswipe stared down at his injured brother, an almost hurt expression on his handsome face. "Sunny…" Somehow, he knew that he wouldn't ever see peace. It was unspoken among the others that neither Lamborghini twin would survive each other or the war. Sideswipe always knew it, yet to hear it actually spoken out loud…
"Pinch was one nasty slagger," Sunstreaker mumbled out tiredly. "And smarter'n Perceptor. But he was wrong."
"Wrong? Wrong about what?" His brother looked back down at him, confused and slightly unnerved at the strange lilt in his voice.
"We ain't gonna go together." Another system shut down.
Now Sideswipe was just getting scared. Why was Sunstreaker talking like this? "Sunny?"
"Tell me a story."
"Sunny!" His systems shouldn't be dropping so quickly. This was no recharge his brother was slipping off to. "Sunny, you need help. I'm getting First Aid." He stood up from his chair, ready to run to the young medic and shake him awake. His Sunny wasn't well, he could be dying, and he was just sitting there telling slagging stories! Why hadn't he paid more attention?
"Sides, knock it off," his brother murmured. He weakly lifted a mangled hand to grab Sideswipe's, stopping him from leaving his side. "Stay here."
"First Aid!" the red Lamborghini cried, hoping his voice made it to the back room. He wouldn't dare rip his hand away from his brother's, but he wouldn't obey his wishes to be left alone. Not when his health was on the line.
"Damn it all, you red pansy, I told you he couldn't help me."
"First Aid!" There was still no movement from the back. What was taking him so long! "Sunny's hurt! First Aid!" Then he remembered with a sinking dread that the medic had gone into a deep recharge and would not awaken until morning. Upon leaving, he had told Sideswipe that he had done all he could for his brother and that it was up to the yellow warrior to pull through on his own. He could do no more for him.
The mere fledgling of a COM was not coming. He could not, not in the exhausted state he was in. Nothing could wake him until his systems deemed him good and ready. And the rest of the medical staff wasn't due to arrive for another few hours at best.
They were alone.
With the last bit of his strength, Sunstreaker pulled his frantic twin to his side. "Sideswipe, stop it," he ordered, willing his other half to calm down.
"Why didn't you tell me you were hurt this bad?" Sideswipe demanded, putting his free hand on the cot near his brother's head so he would be forced to look at him. Pain laced Sideswipe's optics, identical to the ones staring weakly back. "Why, Sunstreaker!"
"Cause I know my own damn body. I didn't want you to make a fuss like you're doing now," his grip weakened, but Sideswipe didn't dare pull away, instead lacing their fingers together tightly.
"You asshole," he hissed, furious at everything in his life that brought him to this moment. At the whole universe that liked nothing better than to conspire against he and his brother so they could have no peace. At his beloved twin who wanted him to believe he was only going to sleep until it was too late. "Sunny, you…"
"I'm sorry," his brother went on softly even as Sideswipe laced their other hands together as though the simple act of increasing contact could keep him grounded in this world.
The red melee warrior's words were harsh, but the love just beneath the surface undeniable. "You damn well should be sor…"
"I was a bad brother. I'm sorry."
This certainly stopped Sideswipe in his tracks. His sapphire optics widened. Sunstreaker, the great, beautiful, god-like, infallible Sunstreaker apologizing? "What?"
"I held you back. Got you in trouble. I didn't…"
"Sunstreaker, shut up," Sideswipe whispered, almost surely causing his sibling pain with the tight grip he had on his hands. "You shut up right now. Don't say that. You've always been good to me. You're my brother…" He didn't want to hear this. He couldn't hear this. He was terrified, couldn't his brother see that! Why did Sunstreaker insist on frightening him?
"You always got hurt because of me. Stood up for me even when I was being a Prime-ranking asshole. Pinch said that…"
"Fuck Pinch! And fuck you! Don't you dare start saying goodbye to me! We're going together, remember?" he cried loudly, intake hitching slightly. Don't leave me!
Sunstreaker stared into his brother's tortured optics with the calm confidence he carried to the battlefield every day. He hated seeing the pain there on his merry twin's face, and he hated himself for being the one to put it there. "We're not going together. And if you even try to follow me, I'll never forgive you." I have to leave you. "Sides, please. I'm so tired…"
"And you think I'm not!" he pleaded. "You think I don't hate this fucking war just as much as you do? And what am I supposed to do without you, Sunny, did you ever think of that! How am I supposed to survive now? Why can't I follow you? Give me one reason why!"
"Cause you're not a coward like me," was the soft answer.
"But I am, Sunny. I'm scared."
"Don't be. Let me go, Sides. You don't have to be scared anymore." His optics, the color of the crushed heart of a glacier, reflected the fear in his brother. Fear for his own mortality, unsure of what was to come next. Fear for his other half who he forced to remain in the eternal hell this war had become. "Do what you have to to survive. Do whatever it takes. Live. If you have to forget me to do it, then…"
His brother had no reply to this. Lacking the energy to stand, he sank to his knees, holding onto the dying mech like a lifeline. Their foreheads touched, reinforcing their bond even as it faded. He was being tortured as surely and slowly as though Galvatron was running a blade through his body. He had never felt so helpless. Never. Not even in the thick of battle with dying screams and missiles filling his senses. How could his brother be so selfish as to leave him behind with no way to follow? "Don't say goodbye, Sunny. What can I do to make you stay with me? Just tell me what to do," he whimpered, not caring how pathetic he might seem.
Sunstreaker looked up at him with the expression of the innocent young infant Sideswipe remembered from so long ago. And he felt his own laser core receive the final blow. "Tell me a story, Sides?"
The red warrior couldn't speak for a moment, unable to immediately grant the request. But he never could deny his twin anything. This fact alone gave him the strength to do this one last favor. "Sure, Sunny. Whatever you want," Sideswipe murmured, trying to gather whatever shred of composure that remained. And failing miserably.
Sunstreaker's body relaxed as system after system continued to deactivate in quick succession. But his audios he refused to relinquish. He couldn't fall asleep properly without hearing his brother's voice. He wouldn't die until he did.
"Once upon a time there was a handsome, brave warrior, and his little tubbo of a brother…"
No Longer Mourn for Me
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan
And mock you with me after I am gone.
A/N 1: So yeah, a few years ago, I had a conversation about this topic where the death order came to some sort of conclusion. And until recently, I forgot it entirely. Suddenly remembering it, I finally looked further and found this tid-bit. After G1 # 41, Sunstreaker no longer makes an appearance, so we may assume that he has died. Not a crazy assumption when one considers how violent the later stories are. In G2, Sideswipe's psyche has changed slightly to back up this idea. He is much darker than before, not as playful as he used to be, but more ruthless like Sunny. He cares little for himself. It seems he has lost whatever reason he had to fight or even live. An allusion to a fallen brother, to the only one who could cause such a change in him? I'd like to think so. I know that it's combining cartoon and comic, but I kind of liked it.
A/N 2: The sequel to this will be up sometime soon I hope. I'm sure you can guess the direction it's heading in. It's been giving me a bit of trouble because right now it's at the point where it can go in any direction. My other TF fics are in production as well, so don't expect me to be absent from the scene for too long!