Breakdown saw it coming a split second before it hit.

He tried to shout a warning, taking a step forward despite himself. There wasn't anything he could do, even if he'd had the time, and besides, Motormaster wasn't the type to appreciate Breakdown's help.

So all he could do was watch in horror as the missile streaked overhead and hit home with a deceptively soft-sounding whump.

The Stunticons were designed to take hits that would disable much larger and more powerful mechs, with heavy shields and in Motormaster's case, a frame designed to ignore head-on impact with nearly anything on Earth. But even he couldn't take a direct hit from a missile.

His shields absorbed the initial impact, but they couldn't hold up to the explosive power of the missile. The explosion lifted him off his feet and sent him skidding across the rough ground. Metal and dirt went flying as entire sections of his armor disintegrated.

"Ho-lyyyy frag!" Wildrider yelled, ducking as dirt and debris rained over the battlefield.

Breakdown ignored him, tearing off after Motormaster. He skidded to a stop next to the truck, reaching out with a shaking hand to check if he was even alive. Why do I care? What has he ever done for me besides torment and harass me?

But he couldn't deny the rush of relief he felt when one mangled hand twitched. Don't get your hopes up, the part of him that always sounded like Dead End warned. He's too far gone, he'll be dead before Hook gets motivated enough to work on him.

Hook! "Breakdown to Hook – Get over here! Motormaster's down!" he radioed.

"Buzz off, I'm busy!" came the snapped answer.

"Get over here or you get to explain to Megatron why he lost a gestalt for no fragging reason," Breakdown snarled back, half-surprised by his own bravado. I'm just looking after myself, he told himself. If Motormaster dies, then Megatron won't have Menasor, and he'll turn all of us to scrap.

"Fine. If it'll shut you up," Hook growled.

Satisfied, Breakdown settled back on his heels to wait, trying not to think about what'd be like without Motormaster around.

x-x-x

"Are you still out here?" Dead End asked, leaning against a wall and endeavoring to look uninterested.

"Yeah, so?" Breakdown fidgeted, optics darting up and down the hallway.

Dead End shook his head. "What's the point, Breakdown? Standing outside the door won't make him any less dead."

"He's not dead!" Breakdown's voice went shrill.

"Dying, then. It's only a matter of time until it becomes past tense." Dead End examined his forearm, rubbing at a tiny scuff.

"Is not! Hook's working on him, Hook'll fix him." Breakdown said it like a mantra. "Hook will fix him."

"Oh, joy, and then we can go back to getting beaten up every time he has a bad day." Dead End snorted. "Or a good day."

"Or any day," Dragstrip broke in, meandering up the corridor. "But poor widdle Breakdown misses his boyfriend."

"I do not!" Breakdown yelped.

"Could you get any more childish?" Dead End asked Dragstrip, looking bored.

"Yep. But then I'd be Wildrider," he answered, smirking.

Dead End conceded that with a nod.

Breakdown tried to talk advantage of the distraction to sidle away from the other Stunticons, thinking vaguely that he could slip in and check on Hook's progress.

"Hey, where you goin'?"

No such luck. "W-wildrider..." Breakdown cursed his vocalizer when it betrayed him, his greeting coming out as a stammer instead. "I'm just, um..."

"Come on, spit it out!" Wildrider bounded up. "Sneakin' off to hide from the evil cameras watchin' your every move?" he asked mockingly.

"Shut up," Breakdown muttered, slouching.

"Make me! Hey guys, guess what Breakdown's doin'!" he yelled up the hallway.

"Better question, who cares?" Dragstrip yelled back.

"Shut up," Breakdown repeated, glaring at them both. "Leave me alone."

"Yeah, whatcha gonna do about it?" Wildrider shoved him. "Snivel at me?"

"Just leave me alone!" His engine growlled, and the lights in the corridor flickered.

"Yeah, bored now," Dragstrip called. "C'mon, I'll race you to the seekers' quarters."

"I'll race you through the seekers' quarters," Wildrider shot back, Breakdown already forgotten.

Breakdown hunched his shoulders and watched them go out of the corner of his optic.

"I really don't see why you care, Breakdown," Dead End commented.

Breakdown looked up in surprise. "Huh?"

"About Motormaster," Dead End clarified.

Shrugging, Breakdown scuffed a foot on the decking. "Who said I do?"

"You're the one staking out the repair bay."

"If he dies, then we won't have Menasor, and Megatron'll scrap us all-"

"-Which he'll do whether or not you're sitting outside the door the whole time." Dead End leaned against the opposite wall and crossed his arms.

Breakdown slouched against the wall. "I'm staying," he said stubbornly.

"What, do you think he'll appreciate you being here? Be nicer to you because you stood here all day waiting?"

"Shut up." Breakdown's wheels hunched. "Go- go polish yourself or something."

"You do, don't you?" Dead End shook his head. "Arguing with you is an exercise in futility."

Breakdown watched him walk away, and wondered... Why was he doing this?

After all, Dead End was right.... Motormaster wouldn't thank Breakdown for hanging around while he was injured; the truck hated showing any sign of weakness, and this was about as weak as he could get. In fact, the only thing waiting here was likely to earn him was the dubious distinction of being the first on the receiving end of Motormaster's temper.

He should leave. Walk away and enjoy having one less vicious psychopath kicking him around. He should go...

But he stayed anyway.