Breathe

Breathe.

Shadow tightened her grip and sucked in a deep draught of cool air, optics squeezed shut and her grey cheek pressed to the rough surface of the steel I-beam.

Breathe.

Her right shoulder ached, a dull throbbing as support struts and joints were stressed beyond their usual use. She made sure her legs and free arm were securely locked around the beam, metal grating against metal.

Breathe.

This rhythmical inhalation was a purely learned reflex, but one that helped her focus, away from the pain, away from the warning creak of the beam's weld seams, and away from the very, very long drop that waited should either her grip or the seams fail.

Breathe

The wind blew again and she tightened her tenuous grip on Nightwatch's hand, feeling his fingers locking around hers. They had been called up here, to the top of the construction site, to deal with a Decepticon seen lurking up here. The Decepticon had shot Nightwatch, disabled his flight systems and tried to throw him off the building. Shadow had caught him only by chance.

Breathe.

The seam creaked again as the wind picked up and set Nightwatch swinging, pendulum like. A cable in Shadow's back, strained to its limits, began to fray.

Breathe.

Nightwatch looked down, then back up at the femme holding him, unable to see her face. The Decepticon was still out here somewhere. "Shadow, let me go!" He ordered. "There's no sense us both dying." He loosened his grip, expecting Shadow to do the same.

Her fingers tightened.

Breathe.

She did not dare reply, for to reply would mean to move and to move would risk falling. But even as her fingers locked around her commander's, her mind called out the answer. "No! You are Pack, and the Pack is to be protected."

Breathe.

It was her founding absolute, an irrefutable constant that formed the basis of every action and reaction- Protect the Pack. No matter what the cost, the Pack was to be maintained.

Breathe.

The cable snapped, pinging against the inside of her armour. Shadow hissed in pain, knowing that the joint was soon to follow. If that happened, all that would support the triple changer would be the various tubes and wires between her shoulder and arm and he would soon fall.

That was not acceptable.

Breathe.

Slowly, Shadow shifted her weight, carefully letting her left leg dangle and gingerly shifting her right as she pulled, combining her weight, her strength and the pull of gravity to haul the triple changer up to a point where he could easily grasp the beam.

Breathe.

A shot rang out, the glow of a red laser streaking over the two Autobot's heads. The Decepticon was back. Nightwatch was still clinging to the beam with shaking arms, trying to maintain his grip on both it and Shadow's hand.

Breathe.

Shadow twisted slightly, a pistol materializing in her left hand as she opened fire. A scream told her she'd hit the target.

The beam creaked as Nightwatch finally pulled himself up.

Breathe.

It wasn't strong enough to hold both of them. She knew it, and accepted it.

Breathe.

She let go.