With or Without You
Characters: Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Hunter, Bluestreak, Hot Rod.
Pairings: None.

By Acura RSX

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"That is not my brother." Sideswipe glared through the crystal of the window of the training grounds of the Ark-19.

"Sideswipe.." Bluestreak's optics locked on the face plates of his friend, the once cheerful, playful, and mischievous smile that was almost permanently embedded on his face was long gone. His blue optics were cold, dull, almost lifeless.

"He's not. He's not Sunstreaker, no matter what he wants to believe." Sideswipe watched the golden Lamborghini in the training grounds. The movements as precise and characteristic of the one called Sunstreaker. His reactions, decisions, everything was exactly like Sideswipe remembered them, but that didn't ease the cold bite of a searing pain within his spark.

"Hunter is doing the best he can, Sideswipe." Despite his own words, Bluestreak didn't feel any better, either. It was Sunstreaker's body, it was his mind connected to Hunter's body which now functioned as Sunstreaker's head and central processor.

"Hunter can do as perfect as he wants. He can do as good as anyone else wants him to." The words came so cold, almost hateful, but Bluestreak could tell Sideswipe felt a bit of pity for the human boy that was now Sunstreaker's headmaster. "No matter how hard he tries, he'll never be Sunstreaker. He'll never be my brother."

At that, Bluestreak didn't know what else to say. He had lost so much to the war as well, but he never lost a sibling. He could only begin to imagine how much it hurt Sideswipe.

"Can you still feel him?"

The red Lamborghini didn't bother to look at Hot Rod. "No."

"Your bond is broken?" Hot Rod couldn't hide the wave of pity towards the other red warrior.

"I can feel... his presence somewhat. But it's not like the bond we had before. I feel the connection with his body, but no longer with his mind or spark. I can trace the body still, but can't communicate with him."

"I'm... sorry, Sideswipe." Hot Rod placed a hand on his comrade's shoulder, "Will you..."

"Be fine?" Sideswipe powered his optics down and smiled a little, pressing his head against the crystal. "I'll live."

Bluestreak shot a worried glance to Hot Rod, who merely shook his head. For the longest time neither spoke, until Hunter disengaged from Sunstreaker's body and Sideswipe tensed visibly.

"I need to recharge, guys. See you around." The red Lamborghini waved lightly and headed for his quarters with an unreadable expression. He couldn't remember how he got to his quarters, his mind was somewhere else, wandering to the past and happier days. To days when he and his brother would spent days together, bickering or playing, holding each other tight to re-assure each other when assaulted by self doubt. To the days when he could feel his brother's presence within his own spark and know he was all right. Days that were now gone and he was certain would never come back.

Sideswipe dropped himself on his Berth, staring at the ceiling with pleading optics, as if the cold metal plates could give him direction. "Sunny..."

Don't call me that. It's Sunstreaker. That's my name, use it.

Sideswipe chuckled without amusement. What he was supposed to do now? Sunstreaker was one of the reasons that kept him going. One of the reasons that reminded him this war was worth fighting. But now he was gone, he was there but it wasn't his brother, and that made the hurt ten times worse.

It was so easy to want to give up on everything and just wither away, pull the plug as humans would say. That thought seemed more and more inviting, but Sideswipe knew he just couldn't go and drop himself dead. He felt a heat within his spark, a burning sensation demanding retribution for what he lost. Revenge. Sideswipe's optics flared to life, glowing bright with fury and spark ache.

"I'll live for you, bro. Someone's going to pay for this. It's a promise."

In the following days Bluestreak and Hot Rod watched Sideswipe mourning. Some days were better than others, some days he'd still smile and laugh and toss a little joke. Some days someone would find him curled in a corner, mourning, choking cries of desperation and despair.

And as days went on, Sideswipe kept going, fighting with a fury nobody saw him display in the past. Day after day the red Lamborghini's cheerful demeanor drained away, and a very different Sideswipe began to take over. He rarely smiled anymore, he was solemn and somber around everyone. Even facing Hunter merged or not with Sunstreaker's body no longer brought a reaction from him. Bluestreak feared they lost Sideswipe as well.

On a clear night, Sideswipe sat atop the Ark-19's outer layer, watching the star filled sky. These were moments when he allowed himself to remember those happier days when he still had a twin.

A figure watched the red Lamborghini's back, with blue optics full of concern and sadness. The figure approached silently, knelt down and wrapped translucent arms around Sideswipe's chest. A golden and black helmet pressed against the other's shoulder. "I'm sorry, bro..."

But Sideswipe couldn't hear the words spoken. The warmth of something familiar calling his spark sent him into a shock. "Sunny?..." Sideswipe looked around, unaware of the ghost that held him tightly.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, 'Sides..." words that couldn't be heard but somehow were felt within that spark that was once part of a single one.

The golden twin's hand moved to rest atop the spark chamber of his twin. "Love you, Sideswipe. Always will."

Sideswipe let out a choked cry, hearing the words spoken straight into his spark. A warm presence surrounded him and engulfed his being until he felt that warmth nestle into his spark, completing him. "Sunny..."

And for the first time in several Earth years, Sideswipe could feel an answer to his calls, coming right from his spark. Sideswipe couldn't help but smile and rested a hand over his chest where his spark chamber resided. "Lazy slagger. Gonna make me carry you around, now." His smile widened as he felt a tug within his spark once more. "Love you, too, bro."

For the first time in years, Sideswipe smiled a true smile. Sunstreaker had returned to him.