A/N: Well, it took forever. And it drove me to the point of madness and back. But it's done. I never meant for it to become a trio of stories. I never even meant for it to be a duo. Yet a trio it is and a trio it shall stay. Needless to say, I've never actually written something like this before. And now that I have, I'm not sure whether to be proud or just scared. Huh…
First Aid was a pacifist. He believed in peace with his whole being. Believed in it even when his patients were screaming for mercy or Primus or him or anyone at all to end their pain in any way possible. He believed in it when he was trying to do the impossible with shrapnel and missiles buzzing by his head close enough to leave marks. He believed in it so much, many had often remarked that he might very well die for it. Usually he just shrugged and went back to work. It was true, what they said. Medics did not last long enough in this war anyway without them being complete pacifists on top of it.
But somehow, he never really thought that one day he'd actually have to face that truth.
One moment he'd been alone, carrying supplies from around the room into their various drawers. When he returned to the main room, he suddenly discovered that someone had appeared in his absence.
Sideswipe stood there inside the room, the door behind him shut. He didn't do anything. He didn't say anything. Primus, he didn't even have an expression upon his handsome face.
But there was something about the way he stood there, so still, that made First Aid's spark thrum frantically in terror. It was like one of those scary movies that so many of the soldiers loved to watch. You could see the murderer standing right behind the victim, but you were unable to do anything but watch the deed be done. But now… now he was the victim and viewer all in one.
There was nowhere for him to run and there was nothing he could do except let the warrior do as he would.
What broke the spell was the usual hissing of the doors as they opened. Cliffjumper entered, grumbling unhappily, not even noticing what was going on. "First Aid! My slagging knee is still all messed up! Why can't you…"
Then he finally saw the situation at hand.
"Scram, pipsqueak," Sideswipe hissed in a tight unearthly voice. Like it wasn't even coming from his vocalizer.
First Aid remained perfectly still.
Cliffjumper looked from one bot to another and then back again. He was no fan of Sideswipe and First Aid wasn't much better. However, he knew what this was about and he knew why Sideswipe would be here, looking like he did. And not even the little Autobot would wish that upon the young Protectobot.
"Well?" Sideswipe barked in a clipped tone, staring at First Aid. He could see in the way the medic stared at him with expectant trepidation that he knew very well why the warrior was here. "Don't you have anything to say?"
"What do you want me to say, Sideswipe?" First Aid asked quietly. "Would you honestly listen?"
The warrior's optics were slits now, twin slivers of molten ice burning into the medic's own calm sapphire. He looked as though he might say something, but at the last moment he remembered the mini-bot at the door. "I told you to scram!" he snarled, leaving no room for disobedience.
Part of First Aid was hurt by his abandonment though he knew he shouldn't have been so surprised. What loyalty did the mini-bot owe him, especially faced against someone like Sideswipe? The medic would probably have fled too.
The red warrior stared once more at First Aid like he had never stared at a single Decepticon. "I should kill you."
He had every reason to. What had been done to him had been like committing murder in a way. Vaguely First Aid wondered if he would be like that if he ever lost his brothers like that. Some part of him didn't think it was so far-fetched.
Yet somewhere between knowing he deserved the sentence and agreeing with him, First Aid came to the realization the he did not want to die. Yes he was wrong. Yes there was no way he could take it back as much as he would like to. But he did not want to die.
"Probably," was the medic's quiet answer.
Striding forward, Sideswipe pinned the smaller mech still with his hard gaze. Slamming his left piledriver into the wall just a foot from First Aid's face, he leaned in close, ready to extract his answers.
Cliffjumper raced through the halls, ignoring shouts of surprise or annoyance from those he weaved around. His knee didn't hurt so badly anymore. Yes he disliked the medic. And he didn't trust him any more than he trusted Grimlock with a laser scalpel.
But that didn't mean he wanted him to die.
He didn't really think of where he would end up. All he knew was that Sideswipe was angry enough to take a life, and that he had to be stopped. First Aid needed muscle to defend him and he needed support. He needed his brothers, so to his brothers Cliffjumper would go.
"Woah now, slow down, little red," Groove smiled easily as the mini-bot skidded into Hot Spot's quarters. Groove and Hot Spot were there, Blades off fetching them some energon. "What's the rush, m' mech?"
"It's… it's First Aid," panted Cliffjumper, trying to catch his breath from the mad run through the base.
"What about First Aid?" Hot Spot asked, frowning. If the little warrior was coming to them, looking so shaken, it had to be a real concern.
"Sideswipe," was all Cliffjumper managed to gasp out before the situation became clear to both of the assembled brothers. "Med-bay."
There was a nanoclick where the two Protectobots were still and silent. Then, swiftly springing into action, Hot Spot stood, striding toward his door. "Groove," he ordered. "Find Blades and Streetwise and come to the med-bay. Hurry." Nodding, the young scout fled the room, calling his two wayward brothers on the comm. They had to move fast if they still wanted their fifth teammate fully intact by the end of the day.
Hot Spot gave his thanks to the red mini-bot and fled as well, going straight toward the med-bay. First Aid might be a pacifist, but the Protectobot commander was not. And if Sideswipe touched a single servo on his brother's chassis, Hot Spot would have quite a bit to say on the matter. Many of these words would be spoken with the business end of a rifle if it came to it.
"I'm listening, 'Aid," Sideswipe growled low in his throat. "Tell me what I lost! What did you take from me?"
"If I told you that," was the quiet reply, "you would have aimed that driver differently." The medic's words were calm, yet the very obvious fear behind his visor was enough to show that there was no mistaking the red mech's intent. "Listen to me, Sideswipe, please. Just listen to what I have to say before you do anything."
"Did you try listening to me before you took my brother away?"
"I tried. I tried for over a year to help you! But you were the one who wouldn't listen. You were dying, Sideswipe! And there wasn't anything I or anyone else could do about it. I'm a medic; my job is to save lives. And I saved yours."
"Well fix it! You're Primus' gift to medicine, aren't you? Ratchet's little pet protégé? Bring him back!" Sideswipe's right hand, not changed into a piledriver, shook the young 'bot desperately. If the Protectobot could bring Sunstreaker back to him, even just the memory of him, he'd forgive it all. He'd never say another word against First Aid just as long as he could remember the feel of his brother and the sound of his voice.
Regretfully, the medic shook his head. "I'm sorry, Sideswipe. I can't fix it. I erased that part of your memory rather than block it off. I was afraid it might return if I didn't. And… once something's wiped, it's gone forever."
First Aid was awed by the change that came over his would-be assailant. Sideswipe was defeated, finally. Every strip of him. Ever since losing his brother, there'd been the hope of death. The hope of being together. Then the yellow warrior had been forgotten, and there was once again the hope of life that both twins had shared when they were together. Now there was no hope. Not in death and not in life, because either way, Sideswipe was alone. As alone as a mech could be. There was no brother waiting for him, because there was no brother that existed.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "It was the only thing I could think of to save your life."
"And what made you think I wanted my life to be saved?" Sideswipe hissed, spark broken completely. "Since when does getting your crosses mean you get to play Primus?"
First Aid shook his head vehemently. "No, Sideswipe, you don't understand…" The protest was cut off as the warrior's free hand pressed against his neck, keeping him against that wall.
"Maybe I don't," he growled. "And maybe I had a damn good reason if I wanted to die so bad." The grip became near crushing. "But you must know a whole lot about death wishes, don't you?"
That was it. The one small part of the young CMO that didn't desire death took control. Shoving Sideswipe away, and half-surprised when it actually worked, First Aid leapt toward a rack of syringes, wielding one like a dagger. "Stay away from me!" he cried, holding it up as a warning. "You have to calm down, Sideswipe, you're not yourself."
The red mech hardly blinked at the younger mech, stepping forward despite the unspoken threat. First Aid would not stab him, and even if he did, it wouldn't even slow him down let alone cause any damage.
"Not myself?" he snorted darkly, striding toward the frightened medic with sharp decisive steps. "And who's fault is that?"
He wasn't a foot away from the cowed CMO when the doors slid open and four 'bots burst in, each with varying forms of defensive anger on their faces. The brothers didn't even pause to take stock of the situation before going into action.
Sideswipe barely had time to prepare before finding himself pinned to the ground by the Protectobot Commander. A mere fraction of the red warrior's age, Hot Spot did have two things he did not. Rank, and most importantly, mass. Not that either could take down Sideswipe in a fair fight, but he wasn't thinking straight and neither was he prepared. The struggle lasted all of a minute.
"Did he fragging touch you?" Blades growled, optics on the red warrior, but words directed to his brother.
"N-no," First Aid responded shakily. "No, I'm fine."
"Let me go!" Sideswipe struggled against the larger mech holding him down. "Let me up, you giant tin can!"
Surprisingly, Hot Spot did as he was told, backing up so he was next to his brothers. The only sound in the room was the warrior's angry panting as he rose to his feet, baleful optics glaring at the four barriers to his prey. "Move."
Groove held up a calming hand, gentle face screwed in worry. "Calm down, man. You don't know what…"
"I said move!" his sharp bark echoed off the walls, making it seem emptier than it was. As though they were the only ones in the base, in the world. Certainly they where the only ones that mattered.
"We can't do that," Hot Spot said in a low voice, trying to keep his anger in check. "Now stand down before someone gets hurt."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing! Were these four, these self-proclaimed protectors of those who had none, honestly defending this corrupt medic? "How can you stand up for that… that medic?" he snarled that word out, covering it with sarcasm and disdain and hate. "He deserves what's coming to him, he took away my brother!"
"So to be fair, you're gonna take away ours?" Groove asked softly.
"We won't let you!" Blades growled, half-crouched. "We'll deactivate you ourselves before we let you!"
Even Streetwise, who had been his young protégé in mischief since his creation, had his face set. Determined to protect his brother to the last.
A flash of a thought made its way through the red warrior's unreasoning mind. He wondered, just briefly, if he and Sunstreaker were ever like that. Even just a little. Even just once.
And it was this thought, the one that made the strange parallel between his family and theirs, that forced his mind to calm. He couldn't do this, no matter how badly he wanted it. Killing First Aid, even if it were still possible at this point, wouldn't bring his brother back. Wouldn't make him feel at all avenged or satisfied. It wouldn't even bring the shadow of a memory.
With this knowledge, the proud warrior was defeated.
"I just want my brother back," he said quietly, looking at the slumped medic who leaned back against the wall. His optics still shone with betrayal and hate, but most of all, they were filled with his plea. The unspoken promise to beg on bended knee if any hope remained.
First Aid hunched further, feeling as miserable as Sideswipe looked. "I'm sorry…"
And looking at the red and white, Sideswipe almost believed him.
He watched the tapes again that night, memorizing everything about them. The way he and Sunstreaker looked at each other. How naturally the twin's name flowed off his lips in the tapes.
He made sure to practice until the same flow was on them again.
Over and over he watched them, as if the act itself would do what the chief medic could not.
Sideswipe couldn't remember the last time he'd had energon or recharge; surely not after he'd suspected something was wrong with him. Not that it mattered, really. The thought of energon made him feel nauseous. He also vaguely recalled missing his third shift in a row. But he didn't care about any of that. Only the tapes mattered. Only his brother mattered.
Sometime between one and two in the morning, he began to drift. It was hard to tell if he was awake or asleep at times; the lines blurred. His brother would be on the screen. Then beside him. On the screen. At his desk. At the screen…
"Hmph," a snort snapped him from the distorted reality. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were going insane."
Sideswipe stared at the golden mech leaning so casually against the wall. He glanced around the room as if he owned it, handsome face curled into a familiar half-sneer.
"Sunny…" Primus, it sounded so much better when there was actually someone there to address it to.
"But I do know better," Sunstreaker continued as though he didn't even stop. "You went nuts a long time ago."
"I must be," the red twin whispered. "Because you're not supposed to be here. You're dead."
Then the dead warrior turned and looked at him at last. The sneer fled to be replaced with a gaze of half exasperation and half fondness. "Then it's a good thing you're the crazy one, and not me." He sighed, rich voice taking on an edge of sadness. "Still don't remember me, do you?"
Sideswipe shook his head. "I just know you from the tapes. That's the only thing left of you now…"
Again the yellow twin snorted, though this time it was gentler. "What are you talking about? I'm right here, aren't I?"
"But… but you aren't… weren't. I mean…" How could he say the yellow twin was dead and gone when he was quite obviously right there? "But you… haven't been here, Sunny," he settled with instead.
Sunstreaker shook his head as though he were dealing with an exceptionally slow sparkling. "If you can't remember me," he said, "then how do you know I haven't been here all along?"
And for that, he had no answer.
The dead mech, or was he alive after all, pushed away from the wall, stepping closer to the couch on which his brother laid. "Come here, you're gonna slag up your joints if you sleep like that." He held out a flawless golden hand out to help him up, a bemused smile on his face. The act was so fluid, so natural, that the red twin had no choice but to accept it. And as he stood to his feet, looking at Suntreaker, he couldn't help but feel as though he'd been in this position, and the other, so many times before.
The yellow mech's smirk was so familiar. The feel of his hands. The way the light played off the sharp angles of his body. The ice of his optics as they stared over the battlefield, the deep lazuli as he laughed… and the dying indigo as he asked his brother for one last favor…
"Oh Sunny…" his voice was soft and hoarse, filled with his misery.
Those optics softened and he nodded, leading his twin to the one remaining berth.
"You had a long day, bro. Get some rest, you'll feel better in the morning."
Obediently the red one lay down, but not before making sure his brother would not be leaving him. Curled up like they were sparklings again, the twins fell silent, needing only the other's presence.
It was some time later that Sideswipe spoke again, his voice a mere whisper. "Sunny… am I dying? I can't…"
The other smiled a little, a touch of sadness in his optics. "But you're the crazy one, remember? I wouldn't trust you if I were you."
But the room was blurry, and the more he tried to focus or move, the worse it got. His systems weren't responding properly; they were sluggish and faulty. The first major system started to fail and he felt a touch of fear. "But Sunny…"
"Don't tell me you're scared," the yellow twin said softly. "I'm right here, bro. So unless you decide to go away…"
The red one was half insulted his brother thought he would leave him at a time like this. Even if he was able to, he wouldn't. He'd never. "But I won't," he insisted.
The yellow warrior chuckled darkly. "So damn stupid," he sighed affectionately, nestling his head against his brother's. "You're going to leave me and you don't even slagging know it."
Sideswipe rested his head on his brother's shoulder, holding him tightly. "Moron," he murmured with affection. "I'm not going anywhere."
Our Revels Now Are Ended
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a tack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
A/N: This was originally posted on my lj account when I couldn't load things here. Thanks to some awesome feedback from my friends there, I tweaked a little bit of the ending. Thanks, Starhorse, I thought about it and decided to 'steal it back.'
Ok, funny story time! This trio of stories, 'Thou Art Too Dear' to be precise, was the first time I'd ever written for First Aid. The first time I'd ever even thought about him. After writing him I decided 'ok, Ti, time for you to actually get into this guy and write him like you know him.' Then I was like 'ok, well you might want to know about the other Protectobots too while you're at it.' The rest, it seems, is history. Arguably my favorite character along with his brothers, 'Aid's taken my heart away '' Not that too many people would be too interested in this story, but I do write for him quite a lot these days over on my LJ account, and I play him on the TFBlogs rpg. Well, for those who were wondering, it all started with this trio of stories.
A/N2: Sorry for those of you who have been waiting for other fics of mine that seemed to have come to a standstill. Next on my Tackle List™ is 'Mr. Nice Guy' though I think 'NvN' may squeak out ahead. I do have an account on LJ at Tirya56 (I'm original donchaknow) where I write as well, so feel free to check there if you'd like. See ya'll in the funnies!