A/N: Okay, okay, so I probably shouldn't be starting another fic with Unexpectedly Blue only about halfway done—but I have discovered that plotbunnies pack a nasty bite. That, and the casual way that so many of my favorites were killed in TFTM really irks me. Like, bad. Thus, I wrote this, because I couldn't stand to leave it that way.

And I promise that the next chapter of Unexpectedly Blue will be forthcoming shortly. We swears, precious.

Beta-read by VAWitch—thanks so much!

It had been, mercifully, quick.

Sideswipe tried not to let himself think anything else as he stared at the cold, dead face of his bondmate, tried not to feel the gaping empty hole in his spark where the medic had once been. He wished he could shutter the staring optics; the dull shine of the glass was unnerving without the usual blue glow.

Sunstreaker had refused to come. He was not coping with the sudden silence in the bond, insisted he could still feel the echo of their partner's presence. He had barricaded himself up in their room, and Sideswipe knew that there would be no getting him out until he was ready short of dragging him.

Unsurprisingly, no one was brave enough to try.

Steeling himself, he turned back to his sorrowful task. "Oh, Ratch," he murmured brokenly, hands fluttering over the shattered windshield, not quite touching, as though to touch meant to make it real. "You were not supposed to die first," he whispered, finally gathering up the courage to brush black fingers along the grey chevron, so very gently. "Fraggit, we were the ones that everyone expected to get killed, not you—" His vocalizer shorted out, and he fell silent for a moment.

Trying vainly to gather his composure, he looked around the room, despite the fact that everywhere his optics fell lay the honored dead.

There were so many…

They may not all have been his friends, but they didn't have to be his friends to be his family—and that was what they had become, really, this motley crew of disparate mechanoids who had crashed on this backwater planet so very long ago. They had, one and all, been chosen for their skills, for the fact that there were none better at what they did in the entirety of the Autobot faction, rather than because their personalities were compatible with one another's.

There had been some interesting—and colorful—arguments.

Sideswipe's gaze touched on each of the other fallen, carefully avoiding looking at the one he had come for.

Brawn. Huffer. Windcharger. Wheeljack… Oh, Primus, Wheeljack…!

Ironhide—you were supposed to be indestructible


Sideswipe thought that he could happily have sat down right then and there and listened to one of Prowl's lectures on responsibility and the importance of following orders. He looked at the tactician hopefully for a moment, but he only lay there, cold and grey.

Disheartened despite the foolishness of his last thought, he walked over to stand beside Prime, laid out in state on a bier in the center of the room.

There was something so fundamentally wrong about seeing his commanding officer supine on that frigid metal slab, something that symbolized just how fucked up his world had become. Optimus Prime had been a constant—one of the few in his life.

And now he was dead.

Bowing his head, Sideswipe shuffled back over to stand next to Ratchet again. This time he splayed his hand across the medic's chestplate, right over the empty spark-chamber. "I wish that Sunstreaker would pull his head out of his aft long enough to come," he told the CMO softly. "I understand why he doesn't though. I kinda wish I hadn't come either. This hurts more than I thought it would—and I expected it to hurt like the Pit." He scrubbed a hand over his face. "Primus. I miss you. I keep expecting to walk into the medbay and see you there, but it's only ever that slagging jumped-up Protectobot…" He trailed off, momentarily unable to continue.

Finally, he shook himself. "Sorry. I know the kid meant a lot to you, and I shouldn't insult him, but he's just… not the Chief Medical Officer to me." His other hand drifted, almost of its own accord, up to stroke the cold white cheek.

"Sunny… Sunny swears that he can still feel you. I think he's delusional, though I guess it could be sensor ghosts. I could ask First Aid, but I don't really want to right now." The red warrior's face twisted in anguish. "Either way, whether it's ghosts or delusions, he's gone off the deep end. He won't come out of our quarters, he won't take in energy, he refuses to recharge—and Rodimus is starting to get pissed at him for all the times he's insulted his efforts at drawing him out. I don't blame Sunny, though—who'd have ever thought that that little pipsqueak would make Prime?" He huffed a short sigh, vents hissing.

"Listen to me, pouring my spark out to a shell," he muttered. "Sometimes I think that I've gone just as crazy as my brother. And you know what else is really funny? Seriously, Ratch, you would laugh yourself sick at this—but, if I concentrate… I can still feel you, too. And that, I think, is why I keep expecting to walk around the corner and see you there, even though I know that you're right here, waiting for whatever damned ceremony they're planning and not giving a fig about any of it."

A sudden commotion out in the corridor interrupted his soliloquy, and he looked up sharply as the door cycled open to admit his brother, dragging a protesting First Aid by one arm.

"Fix him," Sunstreaker snarled, twisting the arm he held up behind the Protectobot's back and pushing so that the younger mech sort of leaned over Ratchet's body.

"Sunstreaker, he's dead!" 'Aid squealed, obviously frightened.

"Sunny, what are you doing?!" Sideswipe went to pull his brother off of the medic, but Sunstreaker, in his desperation, was not letting go. "C'mon, Sunstreaker, think of what Ratchet would say if he saw this—you know he'd come after you with that arc welder of his. Now let go of the nice Protectobot…" His coaxing words were met with a wordless growl and a baring of dental plates. He tried a different tack. "Look, Sunshine, how's he suppose to fix Ratchet if you keep twisting his arm like that?" he asked bluntly—and finally the yellow twin released his captive, refusing to look at anything but the floor.

First Aid rotated his sore arm carefully, rubbing the hand-shaped dent just above his elbow. He watched Sunstreaker warily, expression hidden by the facemask and visor he wore.

"He's still alive, I know he's still alive," the yellow Lamborghini muttered to himself, wrapping his arms around his own chest. Suddenly he looked up, optics blazing angrily, and both of the other two mechs took an involuntary step back. "I can prove it, too!" he hissed. His gaze shifted to Ratchet, and he flinched at the sight of the scorched holes in the medic's chassis—it was the first time he'd seen their bondmate's body after it was recovered. The wild optics flicked back to his brother. "Sideswipe," he rasped, "come here—I'll prove he's alive, I will!"

Sideswipe hesitated, spark breaking at the madness his brother was displaying. When the yellow twin's expression became pleading, though, he relented with a sigh and stepped within arm's reach of his brother. He was unprepared for how quickly the other Lamborghini would strike.

Suddenly he was on the floor with Sunstreaker on top of him while the yellow mech pried desperately at his chestplate. "What the frag are you doing?" he yelped, just as Sunny found the clasps of his armor and released them, revealing his spark for all to see—and whatever else he may have said died in his vocalizer.

For there, nestled right next to his own spark, was another one, small and weak and flickering fitfully.

"Oh, Primus," Sideswipe whispered, shocked to his core.

"It'shim," Sunstreaker said fiercely, staring with rapt attention at the miracle in his brother's chest. "I dreamed about it."

"We have to get him to the medbay. Right now," First Aid breathed, stunned.