Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Summary: One Autobot muses on the loss of a friend.

Warning: Character Death

AN: Came to me while I was working on Understanding.

He's gone.

It didn't make sense. One instant he was there, the next he wasn't. It just couldn't be. Something like that couldn't happen. It shouldn't have happened. It couldn't have happen. But yet… it did.

He's gone. His best friend, his confidant, taken from him in a moment. It defied his understanding. Constants were infinite, they didn't just cease to be. They didn't grow old, they didn't leave, they didn't fall ill. They were immune to such frailties. But it wasn't illness, age, or his friend's own choice that took him away. What was it then? Was it carelessness? Foolishness? Plain bad luck?

Had it been his fault? Was he the reason his buddy was gone? Would it be different if he'd been there? Would it be different if he'd done something more? Was it his fault that his friend had been there, in that one instant where the forces of the universe had aligned perfectly to snuff out the young human's life?

After everything the boy had faced alongside him, he would have thought that it would be an act of war that took the child's life. Maybe a stray shot meant for an enemy. Or maybe an act of vengeance, with one of their enemies seeking atonement for their defeat at the hands of the Autobots.

But it hadn't been.

The boy had been walking home from school. It was a warm day, and he hadn't been expected at the base until the next morning. Prowl had heard the call go out over the police channels. Words like 'hit and run', 'pedestrian down', 'emergency medical services en route', and 'victim unresponsive' were thrown around.

He'd raced to the scene to find that his friend had already been loaded into an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital. The fact that, as a nearby onlooker had informed him, the ambulance had not bothered with lights and sirens gave him a cold feeling in his spark. He continued on to the hospital where he tried to make contact with one of the emergency room doctors. Fifteen minutes after he arrived at the hospital, he was called back to base.

Prowl met him at the main gate and escorted him to his quarters. The older mech made him sit down and proceeded to break the news. His buddy had been officially pronounced dead at the hospital, though in all likelihood he had died on impact but that would be determined by the coroner. The details were still sketchy, but witnesses claimed that the boy had been crossing the street on the walk light. The car, a red sports car, hadn't stopped, hadn't even slowed down until slammed into his friend. Then it had kept on going, leaving behind a broken body and a few shattered lives.

He never sees the body. There's no reason for him to. It's kept in the hospital's morgue, away from prying eyes until the necessary funeral arrangements are made.

The arrangements take awhile. The boy's mother is so grief stricken that her own mother finally has to step in to arrange things. The funeral service is held in the open air to allow himself and the other Autobot representatives to attend. He attends, along with Optimus and his brothers. They stand in a line behind the crowd of mourners, made up mostly of school children and a few of the boy's relatives. The boy's father isn't present as he's still a prisoner of the Predicons. They don't look forward to the day the man is rescued from one hell only to enter another.

If any of the mourners wondered why there were so few Autobot representatives, they didn't voice their queries. The others couldn't leave their posts unprotected, even to attend an ally's funeral. Besides, the others didn't have the same deep emotional attachment to their lost friend as the original four did.

One week after the funeral, the driver is found. His car had been tracked down easily enough. A partial impression of the license plate had been left on the boy's leg. In interrogation, the driver breaks down and admits he'd been distracted by trying to find a good station on the radio. He hadn't seen the light change, or the boy step into the street. When he felt the impact he panicked and just kept going. The driver expresses deep remorse and receives a minimum prison sentence.

Life went on and Sideburn grieved his friend. When Dr. Onishi is rescued, the blue mech stays with the man while Optimus breaks the news of Koji's death. He looks after the scientist while the man throws himself into his work in an attempt to forget the loss. Sideburn sits with the bereaved father outside the cemetery that was Koji's final resting place while the man tries to come to terms with his child's death. He remained parked outside the Onishi residence every evening for the first few months, just to be sure that Koji's parents are all right.

In the end Megatron was defeated and the time came to return to Cybertron. They bid Dr. Onishi and their other allies goodbye and go. Sideburn continues his life, does his duty to the Autobots, and goes on. He never returns to Earth, even when their war does. He watches comrades die, felled by enemies, accidents, and their own hand. He accepts it as part of life, a warrior's destiny.

But even centuries later, he still doesn't understand how Koji could be gone.

AN: Originally Koji was supposed to die in a school shooting, but Archangel Ben talked me out of it. The subject matter is too sensitive only a few years after Virginia Tech, and I don't have the skill to handle it as it would need to be handled. Hit and runs, while more common, don't inspire the same horrific images as Columbine and VT.