Title: Of Friends and Stalkers

Rating: PG

Fandom: Transformers Armada

Sequel: Matches. Not necessary to have read this to understand Matches, but this helps to explain the difference in Sideswipe and Blurr's relationship in the fic as opposed to the series.

Summary: Blurr's apartment on Cybertron is broken into.

Disclaimer: I own nothing

AN: As with all of my Sideswipe and Blurr stuff, take it as you will. If you want to see just two unlikely friends okay. If you want to see slash, go right ahead. EDIT: Yeah, re-reading this, I found that it seems like I'm taking a jab at the Blurr/Sideswipe shippers. That's not the case. As a few of you have probably guessed, I am a Blurr/Sideswipe shipper (especially in my alter ego), so yeah.

The door to Blurr's sleeping quarters slid open. "Slagging pit!" Blurr growled.

His room was in complete disarray and his personal affects were scattered amongst the wreckage. The weapons collection that he wasn't supposed to have anymore had been gone through and replaced messily. Some spare cleaning supplies lay broken against the far wall, cleaning solvent still staining the metal ominously.

Blurr stood in the doorway for a moment, trying to decide if he should investigate by himself or go fetch someone from building security. Deciding that it wasn't worth it to wander in without backup and get attacked by someone hiding in his closet, he stepped back and shut the door. He keyed in the lock code, for all the good it had done at keeping invaders out the first time, and headed for the elevator.

On the annoyingly long ride down to the ground level he ran through a list of possible suspects. Decepticons were unlikely, as the peace was doing fairly well. There were a few dissenters who were still causing trouble, but they tended to stick close to the wastelands, which were in a completely different hemisphere. He considered run of the mill thieves, but quickly discarded the idea. His living quarters were located on the sixtieth floor of the complex. There were far more appealing prizes closer to the ground…unless the invader was a seeker, but surely someone would have noticed a seeker trying to squeeze through the window.

He'd made some enemies during the war. Tossing his room could be a terror tactic. If it was, he would be highly offended. He'd gone head to head with plenty mechs in his time. Some were honest warriors while others were little more than bullies. If whoever wrecked his room was one of his enemies from the war, they were of the latter category obviously.

For just a moment he considered Sideswipe. No, that didn't even make sense. Maybe a few years ago he would have thought so due Sideswipe's strange fascination with him, but not now. Admittedly, for a while back on Earth he'd been worried the young 'Bot might have had a crush of sorts on him. But once Sideswipe was assigned to train under Hot Shot, the blue mech had lost interest in him so quickly that it was almost insulting.

Scratch that, it had been insulting. And made even more so by Jetfire and Smokescreen's heckling.

His musings were interrupted when the elevator came to a halt. The doors opened to reveal Sideswipe and Hot Shot, who shared a living space two floors below his. The pair seemed to be deeply involved in yet another one of their furious debates.

"Furies Wax is toxic. I swear it burned through my paint job the last time I tried it," Hot Shot insisted.

"If it were that bad for you, the manufactures would have taken in off the market by now," Sideswipe countered.

"Not if it's making them a decent amount of capital, they won't," said Hot Shot.

"If it eats through a mech's paint job, who's gonna buy it?" Sideswipe asked.

Blurr pinched the bridge of his nose. They hadn't even noticed that the elevator had arrived. Slag, with his luck they probably weren't even waiting for the elevator, just using the space in front of it as convenient place to stop and prattle on at each other.

"Ahem," he coughed, trying to get their attention.

"Oh, hi Blurr," Hot Shot acknowledged his presence briefly before turning back to Sideswipe.

Blurr gave up and pushed them aside. He didn't have time for this.

"Hey, watch it," Hot Shot called after him. "Oh, the elevator's here."

Blurr suppressed the urge to go back and throttle him. It wouldn't be worth getting the kid worked up. What he really needed right now was to get to building security, report the break-in, and get his quarters cleaned up so that they were livable again.

"Hey Blurr, wait up." Blurr turned to find both Sideswipe and Hot Shot hurrying up behind him. "You okay?" Sideswipe asked, upon catching up with him.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Blurr threw back.

"Well, you're pissed off and headed toward the building security office," Sideswipe pointed out.

"I'm not pissed off," Blurr snapped.

"Uh-huh," said Sideswipe, clearly unconvinced.

"Just…" Blurr sighed. "Not now."

"It can't be that bad," Hot Shot said, appearing on his other side. "What's up?"

"My sleeping quarters were broken into," Blurr admitted.

"Seriously?" Sideswipe asked in surprise. "Our apartment was tossed last week."

"What?"

"Yeah," Hot Shot confirmed. "It was a wreck when we got back from visiting Smokescreen last week. Nothing was missing, but somebody tore the place apart."

"You reported it to building security?" Blurr asked.

"Well, yeah." Hot Shot looked insulted. Hot Shot's gaze slid beyond Blurr to Sideswipe. Of course. Hot Shot's protective streak was still going strong. The break-in rattled him more because Sideswipe could have been hurt had they been at home, rather than any real fear for himself.

"They couldn't tell us much," continued Sideswipe. "Just that somebody had hacked the lock. No idea who."

Hot Shot frowned again. Blurr got the impression that if he weren't between them, Hot Shot would have put a comforting arm around Sideswipe's shoulders. That was one of the uncomfortable things about the brothers, they had little problem with showing each other affection. It wasn't a common practice on post-war Cybertron.

"I thought the door locks were supposed to be unhackable," said Blurr, trying to shake off his discomfort.

"For a sparkling, maybe," Sideswipe snorted. "Anybody with a little training can do it."

"Anybody with a lot of time on their hands," Hot Shot corrected.

"It's not my fault that most warriors never bothered to pick up a few basic computer skills," Sideswipe grumbled.

Blurr frowned under his battle mask. Last he'd checked Sideswipe had been a warrior during the war. A rookie admittedly, but he'd showed promise and had taken part in the Unicron battles even though he was obviously more comfortable behind a computer than with a gun in his hand. Hearing him speak as though he weren't was just… wrong.

They reached the security office just as Bladewing, the head of security, was leaving. Upon spotting the group he sighed. "Not you two again. I told you already, there's nothing new to report on your break-in."

"Not us, Blade," said Hot Shot, pointing at Blurr.

If anything Bladewing appeared even more exasperated at the news. "Not your stalker again?"

Blurr carefully avoided Hot Shot and Sideswipe's curious stares. He did not have a stalker. What he had was a paranoid mentor and someone who had a crush on him with too much time on their hands. He'd been receiving the messages for months, not acknowledging them or responding to them in anyway. This sequence of events probably would have continued on indefinitely if Scavenger hadn't stopped by unexpectedly one day. His friend and mentor had taken one look at the missive left stuck to the door of Blurr's sleeping quarters and insisted that Blurr report it to building security. Upon finding out that it wasn't the first, Scavenger had dragged him down to Bladewing's office and insisted the harried mech do something about it.

"No," Blurr replied to Bladewing's query. "Someone broke into my quarters."

"Apartment," Bladewing corrected absentmindedly.

Blurr fought the urge to sigh. If he wanted to call them his quarters, why shouldn't he? But for some reason, after the war ended, human phrases had started to become popular among young Cybertronians, replacing the older military vernacular.

"I'll be up to take a look at it after my break—don't give me that look, Sideswipe. I've been on duty for twelve hours straight, I need this break," Bladewing growled at the frowning Sideswipe. "Blurr, don't go into your apartment. You might disturb whatever evidence is left. You haven't already gone in, have you?"

"No," Blurr growled in annoyance.

"No need to get snippy," Bladewing admonished. "Just stay away until I get up there to take a look at it."

"How long?" Blurr asked.

"A few hours. I need a quick catnap before I do anything else," Bladewing announced, once again with an unhealthy dose of human slang.

"And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?" Blurr demanded. He needed to recharge too.

"I'm sure Sideswipe and Hot Shot can put you up for a few hours," Bladewing said dismissively.

The idea of recharging on the floor of the brothers' quarters was less than ideal. Spending any prolonged amount of time with them was undesirable. He wanted to recharge in the familiar confines of his own quarters.

"We've got room," Hot Shot admitted.

"If you want," Sideswipe added.

Blurr fought the urge to sigh yet again. Some recharge would be better than none, he guessed, and his shift at the base began in nine hours. "Fine," he agreed miserably. Bladewing and Hot Shot nodded their assent, but Sideswipe gave him a small smile that did strange things to his spark.

"I'll call you when I'm finished with your apartment," Bladewing yawned. "Goodnight."

The group parted, Blurr with Sideswipe and Hot Shot, Bladewing on his own. Blurr and the brothers headed for the elevator. On the ride up, Blurr stood stiffly between the brothers, feeling more like a prisoner than a guest. Upon arriving at their destination, Blurr was surprised to find that their quarters were no bigger his own. He would have thought that their combine income would be enough to rent one of the larger rooms. Then again, maybe they hadn't thought they'd need more room. He often thought his own quarters were too large for one mech.

Though, Blurr thought, his quarters weren't so…cluttered. Most of their available shelving space was filled with knickknacks and mementos from various adventures. There was a hunk of Earth rock on a lower shelf. Next to it sat a plush dog that, if Blurr recalled correctly, was a get well present from the kids when Sideswipe was laid up in the infirmary for a week. A familiar singed length of rope was curled up in an inconspicuous corner. It obviously belonged to Sideswipe. That the younger mech had kept it gave Blurr a nice boost to his ego.

"You can take my berth if you want," Sideswipe offered. "I'm heading out soon."

"Didn't you just get off?" Blurr asked, knowing the brothers shared the morning shift at the base.

"I did," Sideswipe confirmed. "I've got a class."

"You're taking a class?" Blurr asked in surprise. With computer skills like Sideswipe's Blurr would have thought the young mech was set for life.

"He's teaching a class," Hot Shot announced proudly.

"Really?"

"Yup," Hot Shot continued. "For all of those computer illiterate ex-warriors."

The brief image of Sideswipe instructing the likes of Scavenger and Tidelwave on the proper use of a computer nearly pulled an uncharacteristic chuckle out of Blurr. Instead he merely nodded.

He sat down heavily on Sideswipe's recharge berth while the young mech flittered around gathering the supplies he'd need for his class. "When do you recharge?" Blurr asked.

"After class. Don't worry, I can take the floor tonight if Bladewing's not done with your apartment by then," Sideswipe assured him. Blurr shifted uncomfortably, not liking the idea for some reason.

Shoving the last of his supplies into a subspace pocket, Sideswipe turned to Hot Shot. "I'll be home at the usual time," Sideswipe promised.

"Call and let me know when you're leaving, ok?" Hot Shot asked.

"Sure," Sideswipe nodded, turning toward the door as the door comm. beeped.

"You expecting anybody, bro?" Sideswipe asked.

"Nope," Hot Shot replied. Sideswipe frowned, but answered the door anyway.

"Hi Sideswipe, have you seen Blurr?"

Blurr flinched at the perky voice. Not now. Please primus, not now.

"Um, hi MourningStar," Sideswipe greeted the cheery femme. "Aren't you going to be late for class?"

The femme waved him off. "I really need to talk to Blurr. He's not in his quarters, so do you know where he is?"

Deciding to face the music rather than leave the poor kid to fend her off, Blurr stood. MourningStar had to be one of the most annoying beings in existence. Once on a campaign he made the mistake of sharing his rations with her and had been unable to completely shake her since. The only place she hadn't followed him was to Earth for the Minicon Wars.

"Blurr!" she exclaimed as he came to stand behind Sideswipe.

"Did you want something?" he asked, not bothering to conceal his irritation.

"I was just wondering where you were," MourningStar smiled brightly. "You weren't answering your comm."

He never answered his comm. link these days unless it was Scavenger calling. There really wasn't anyone else he wanted to talk to. "I've been here."

MourningStar's smile became fixed in a rather stiff manner. "Oh, I didn't realize you moved."

"I haven't," said Blurr.

"Then why—"

"Uh, can you move please?" Sideswipe asked.

"Excuse me?!" MourningStar asked, affronted.

"I'm going to be late," Sideswipe shrugged. "My students tend to wander off if I don't get there on time."

Blurr felt the beginning of a grin. Scavenger had often complained about Sideswipe and Hot Shot not showing up for their training exercises if he wasn't in the training room before their lessons were set to begin. He believed the humans would call it karma.

"Oh," MourningStar said, stepping aside. "By the way, I probably won't be in tonight."

"It's your grade," Sideswipe said dismissively.

"Okay," MourningStar frowned as Sideswipe made his way by. Then she turned back to Blurr. "So, why aren't you at your apartment?"

"Guys night in," Hot Shot interrupted.

"Oh," MourningStar's smile tightened. "It's nice that you're keeping in touch with your old friends from the war."

"Yeah," Hot Shot said with barely concealed dislike. "The others'll be here soon."

"Oh," MourningStar repeated. "I'll see you tomorrow then, Blurr." Then she beat a hasty retreat.

"Good riddance," Hot Shot growled as the door slid shut.

"You don't like her?" Blurr asked. With her personality he would have thought she and Hot Shot would have gotten along perfectly.

"With the way she treats Sideswipe?" Hot Shot scoffed.

Oh.

"I would have thought they would get along," Blurr said.

"Not likely. She's nice to him, but it's condescending. Sideswipe hates that," Hot Shot answered.

That would explain it.

"Anyway, Sideswipe won't be back for another few hours, so if you want to get some sleep. I'll wake you when he get's back," said Hot Shot.

Sideswipe might have been willing to give up his bunk for the night, but it seemed Hot Shot wasn't going to let him. Blurr figured that was alright. It didn't look like Sideswipe slept much anyway.

As Blurr settled in on Sideswipe's bunk, Hot Shot sat down at the desk and began playing what looked to be a computer game. "Aren't you going to recharge?" Blurr asked.

"When Sideswipe gets back," Hot Shot answered.

Blurr nodded and drifted off into recharge.

Hours later he awoke to Hot Shot muttering. Turning his head he saw the other mech pacing the length of the room in agitation. Hot Shot appeared to be fiddling with his comm. link and didn't seem happy with the results he was getting.

"What's wrong?" Blurr asked, grogginess dissipating quickly.

"He hasn't called. Slaggit, Sideswipe always calls when his class lets out to let me know when he'll be home," Hot Shot said, still trying in vain to rouse Sideswipe on the comm. link.

"Is he always accountable to you for his movements?" Blurr asked.

"Yes! It's dangerous out there. Crime rates have skyrocketed since the war ended," Hot Shot replied. "Without the war to keep everybody entertained, mechs are finding new outlets for all that aggression. Do you know how many muggings happen within the city everyday? And Sideswipe's an ideal target. He's small, easy to over power, and walks home alone after dark. Damnit, I knew I shouldn't have let him go by himself."

"The kid isn't exactly helpless, Hot Shot," Blurr pointed out. "You taught him to fight."

"A lot of good that'll do him if somebody sneaks up on him. You know he never pays attention to what's going on around him."

A fair point, Burr conceded silently. "What time does his class usually let out?"

"Two hours ago," said Hot Shot.

"Any chance he stayed after to help a student?" Blurr asked.

"Not without calling to tell me he was going to be late."

Blurr didn't doubt that. If Sideswipe had ever forgotten and gotten this reaction, Blurr doubted it was a mistake he'd make twice.

"Besides," Hot Shot continued, "he said he'd be home at the usual time."

"How long ago was that?" Blurr asked.

"An hour and thirty minutes ago."

Short enough that it could be nothing, but long enough for the worst to have happened. Either way, there had to be something they could do.

"What do you want to do?" Blurr asked.

Hot Shot thought for a moment. "I'll comm. Smokescreen and Red Alert. If he stopped off anywhere on his way home, it would have been to see them. Then we'll go looking for him." Hot Shot frowned. "I'll need to comm. the school too, to make sure he actually made it there."

A rational plan. Good, that meant Hot Shot was thinking straight.

Hot Shot set to work, comming the school first and finding out that Sideswipe had made it to his class. Nobody had seen him leave afterwards though. Neither Smokescreen nor Red Alert had seen Sideswipe since the week before. Blurr and Hot Shot headed out shortly thereafter to search. They followed the route Sideswipe usually took to and from the school. At the school, which Blurr discovered was actually a converted weapons bunker, they questioned some of the lingering students and staff.

"Arg, how could no one have seen him?" Hot Shot growled in frustration, stomping out of the school. Their search had turned up nothing.

Blurr was getting frustrated himself. Sideswipe wouldn't make Hot Shot worry like this. Something had to have happened to him. That feeling of dread that had been welling up in his chest since the start of their search was on the verge of overwhelming him. He didn't know what to do. It was too early to call Sideswipe in as missing, but there wasn't anything else they could do on their own.

"We might have to wait until morning to do anything more," Blurr admitted.

"You mean when he doesn't show up for his shift and they list him as AWOL," Hot Shot sighed. "It might be too late by then."

Blurr didn't tell him that it might be too late now.

"What else can we do?" Blurr asked. "We've looked for him, we've called all his other friends, there's not much else we can do tonight."

"I can't just sit around and do nothing, Blurr. Sideswipe's out here somewhere, in some kind of trouble," Hot Shot protested. "I'm supposed to look after him."

Blurr flinched at Hot Shot's dejected tone. He knew about Hot Shot's issues regarding Wheeljack and the mess that followed Sideswipe's arrival on Earth. That it still got to Hot Shot was worrisome, but not unexpected. "Sideswipe isn't a sparkling, Hot Shot."

"Barely," Hot Shot replied sadly.

Knowing that there's nothing to say to that, Blurr merely put a hand on his shoulder and took him home. There he convinced Hot Shot that he needed to rest and promised to wait up incase Sideswipe found his way home or called. Eventually Hot Shot stopped fidgeting in his bunk long enough to drop off into recharge.

True to his word, Blurr waited. Eventually he had to put in call to his superiors telling them that he was taking care of a friend and wouldn't be in. During the war, pulling that kind of stunt would have gotten him shot, but these days the department he worked in was more or less redundant, so no one really batted an optic at it. Besides, he had plenty of unused leave saved up.

An hour before Hot Shot needed to get up if he wanted to be on time for his shift, the door comm. sounded.

Hot Shot was sitting up in his bunk in an instant.

"I'll get it," Blurr told him. Hot Shot got up anyway and followed him to the door.

The door slid open to reveal Smokescreen. From the look on Smokescreen's face Blurr doubted this was going to be good news. "Hey," Smokescreen greeted them wearily.

"You've heard something," Hot Shot said, calmer than he'd been a few hours ago. No not calm, Blurr thought, but resigned.

"Red Alert called me. He went on shift a few hours ago at the Med-Center. Sideswipe was brought in sometime last night," Smokescreen said, thankfully not bothering to baby Hot Shot's feelings. After years of friendship Smokescreen knew better than to treat Hot Shot with kid gloves in a situation like this.

"How is he?" Hot Shot asked.

"Alive. That's all Red Alert could say."

"Nothing about how he was hurt?" Blurr queried.

Smokescreen gave Hot Shot a sympathetic glance. "Someone attacked him. There'll be somebody from the city security office at the Med-Center who'll want to talk to you, Hot Shot."

"Got it, now let's go."

They were at the Med-Center in under an hour, after arranging some emergency leave for Hot Shot and letting the base personnel office and Sideswipe's CO know where he was. Smokescreen and Blurr were both displeased when the investigator looking into Sideswipe's case insisted on interrogating Hot Shot before he was allowed in to see Sideswipe, but Hot Shot accepted it with as much grace as he could manage given the situation. After the investigator was through with them and relatively convinced of the alibi Blurr gave Hot Shot— in which Blurr conveniently forgot to mention he'd been in recharge for most of the night rather than sitting up reminiscing with Hot Shot about their glory days, but he knew well enough Hot Shot would be the last mech on the planet to purposely hurt Sideswipe— Red Alert appeared and led them to the wing Sideswipe was in.

"He's awake, but the center's policy dictates that until his condition is downgraded he can only have one visitor at a time," Red Alert explained.

Hot Shot went first, which went without saying. He spent well over the regulation thirty minutes with Sideswipe, but none of the staff said anything. That may have had something to do with Red Alert standing guard at the door. Smokescreen took a much shorter turn, emerging from the room after only ten minutes and, to Blurr's surprise, motioned for him to go next.

"You'll make his day," Smokescreen whispered.

"I don't see how," Blurr grumbled in return.

"Hot Shot might be his brother, but you're still his hero."

"He grew out of that back on Earth."

"No, he realized how uncomfortable it made you so he stopped being so obvious about it," Smokescreen countered.

"I don't want to be the kid's hero," Blurr protested.

"Then be his friend instead."

Blurr didn't see how that would change things, but Smokescreen was insistent. Besides, the kid wasn't such bad company that he couldn't put up with him for a few minutes. So he went in. He found Sideswipe sitting up on a recharge berth, idly contemplating the far wall.

"Aren't you supposed to be resting?" Blurr asked.

Sideswipe broke his trance to stare at Blurr in surprise. After a moment he seemed to catch himself. Recovering his composure, Sideswipe shrugged nonchalantly. "I've had worse and been back to work already."

"Only because the infirmary at the old base wasn't equipped for long term convalescence."

"There isn't anything that requires 'convalescence'. I just got beat up."

"Uh-huh. That's why they stuck you in the Critical Care Ward," Blurr snorted.

"I was knocked out when they brought me in, and they weren't sure how bad off I was so they stuck me in here."

A cursory exam would have told them if Sideswipe was only superficially injured and if that had been the case he would have been shunted off to the General Care Ward to come around in his own time. Sideswipe didn't want to tell him what was really going on. For a moment Blurr considered pushing but decided against it. It was Sideswipe's business.

"I take it you didn't get a good look at the guy?" Blurr asked.

"Um… actually I did. Why?"

"Well, the guy they sent to look into your case seemed to think Hot Shot was a pretty good suspect."

"What?!" Sideswipe demanded. "I talked to him before you guys even got here. Why would he think Hot Shot attacked me?"

"What'd you tell him? He might have thought you were making it up to protect Hot Shot."

"He thought I'd make up being beat up by a femme to protect Hot Shot? Sheesh, I would have at least come up with something a little less embarras…slag." If mechs could blush, Blurr was pretty sure Sideswipe's face would be as red as Optimus's alt-mode.

"A femme?" Blurr asked in surprise. A moment later he realized it probably wasn't the best thing to say when Sideswipe hunched further in on himself. "Uh, how?"

"She's one of my students. I didn't expect her to try anything and then she just started hitting me over the head and..."Sideswipe trailed off.

He hadn't wanted to hit a femme, Blurr thought. Even if it meant saving himself.

"I, uh, haven't really told Hot Shot yet, so if you could keep that to yourself…" Sideswipe grimaced.

"I won't tell him," Blurr promised.

"Thanks," Sideswipe gave that smile again, the one that did strange things to his spark.

A knock at the door signaled the end of the visit. In the corridor he passed Red Alert and another medic, who seemed to be having some sort of disagreement.

"Red Alert's trying to get Sideswipe moved to the General Care Ward so Hot Shot can stay with him," Smokescreen told him when he asked what the argument was about. "The other medic is in charge of Sideswipe's care and thinks it's too soon."

"What does Red Alert think about Sideswipe's condition?" Blurr asked.

"Red thinks Sideswipe's stable enough for the move, or else he wouldn't be suggesting it. Sideswipe's medic thinks different."

"Sideswipe seems well enough."

"How Sideswipe seems, and how Sideswipe is, are usually two different things."

True, Blurr thought remembering an incident involving a Minicon in Europe and Tidelwave going too heavy on the long range missiles. The end result being Sideswipe with a nicked energon line that went unnoticed for a few too many days and Hot Shot going out of his mind with worry while they waited to see is the kid would survive.

"Hot Shot's going to stay in the medic's lounge down the hall until Sideswipe's transferred. Red Alert wants him to rest. I've got to go, my shift started an hour ago and they really can't spare me today," Smokescreen explained. "Can you stay with Hot Shot 'til I get back?"

"Sure," Blurr agreed.

A few more hours passed. Eventually Red Alert got his way and Sideswipe was downgraded and transferred not only to the General Care Ward, but to a private room. Apparently there were advantages to being one of the most respected medics on the planet, and Red Alert had no qualms about taking full advantage when it suited him.

Blurr found that he wasn't as surprised when Hot Shot asked him to stay as he would have been the day before. So he spent a few hours in Sideswipe's room talking with the brothers about everything and nothing at all. So it came somewhat as a surprise to look up hours later and find Scavenger standing in the doorway.

Their conversation ceased immediately.

"Blurr, I need to talk to you," Scavenger said gruffly. With a look to Hot Shot and Sideswipe, Blurr followed his old mentor out to the corridor a good distance from Sideswipe's room. "They made an arrest."

"And why did you got a call about it?" Blurr asked. Scavenger may seem an all knowing superpower to most, but Blurr knew better. The older mech's information network had mostly collapsed after the war ended.

"Because the security officer who oversaw the arrest is an old friend of mine, and he thought I might be interested in some evidence recovered at the femme-in-question's living quarters."

"And?" Blurr prodded.

"She's your stalker."

Blurr stiffened, fighting down the automatic denial that he even had a stalker. "You're sure?"

Scavenger nodded. "She took some things from your quarters and had a few rough drafts of those love letters you've been getting lying around."

"And why would she attack Sideswipe?"

Scavenger did not look amused, at least not openly. But Blurr still had a feeling that if the circumstances were any less serious, Scavenger would be snickering. "She thought he was competition."

Competition? How…oh. She thought Sideswipe was her competition for him. "Why did she think that?"

"She isn't very stable," Scavenger shrugged. "It wouldn't have taken much to convince her."

"Before yesterday, I hadn't even spoken to Sideswipe for weeks. Where could she have gotten that idea?"

"She probably saw you with him yesterday. She lives in the same complex as you three," Scavenger answered.

It clicked. "MourningStar."

"Yeah," Scavenger confirmed.

"She saw me in his quarters last night. Hot Shot was there but…"

"It was enough to set her off," Scavenger nodded.

"Slagging hell. Sideswipe didn't like her but she was his student. He probably figured that she was trying to kill him over her grade." Blurr didn't relish telling the younger mech that he was the reason he'd been attacked.

"Has he told Hot Shot yet?" Scavenger asked.

"That he got a good look at his attacker? I don't think so."

"Tell him he might want to hurry up. This isn't going to stay quiet for long," Scavenger said. "Last I heard, Optimus was thinking of coming down in person to check on the kid." That that happening would draw an immense amount of attention to the situation went unsaid, as it was blatantly obvious.

"Only thinking?" Blurr asked. Hot Shot was like a son to Optimus, and the Autobot leader was fond enough of Sideswipe as well.

"He thought it might embarrass the kid."

It probably would, Blurr acknowledged. "Is there anything else I should know?"

"Nah, but there is something I need ask the kid," Scavenger answered. The older mech's amused grin was enough to worry Blurr. Without waiting for Blurr's response, Scavenger strode past him, back toward Sideswipe's room.

Scavenger stuck his head through the door and Blurr heard him ask, "Hey teach, does this mean we get an extension on that project that's due tomorrow?"

He heard Sideswipe's muffled snort. "If it's not in my inbox by the end of the day tomorrow, it'll be counted as late."

"You're no fun, teach," Scavenger chuckled.

"Teach?" Blurr asked when Scavenger returned.

"Times are changing, Blurr. If we don't change with them, we'll be left behind."

Scavenger left shortly thereafter, needing to get back to work. Blurr lingered awhile, wondering if he should stay. He'd promised Smokescreen he'd stay, but Hot Shot and Sideswipe would probably want some time to themselves now. Then again, they had been the ones to ask him to stay in the first place. Besides, he needed to let Sideswipe know that MourningStar was in custody. Like Scavenger said, this wouldn't stay quiet for long.

Decision made, he headed back in.

The brothers were sitting silently, waiting for him. Sideswipe was fiddling with his hands nervously, while Hot Shot sat stoically on the edge of the Sideswipe recharge berth.

"They made an arrest." Sideswipe wasn't asking.

"Yes," Blurr answered.

"Who?" Hot Shot demanded.

Blurr shot a glance at Sideswipe. He wasn't going to speak up unless the kid told him to. Sideswipe shook his head. "It was MourningStar," said Sideswipe.

"MourningStar?" Hot Shot asked in disbelief. "That—why the—MourningStar?!"

"They don't think she was very stable. She might have thought Sideswipe was some sort of threat to her," Blurr explained.

Other than a tightening of his jaw, Sideswipe showed no reaction. This wasn't news to him. How much had MourningStar told him?

"Threat?" Hot Shot repeated, incredulous.

It was a testament to how uncomfortable Sideswipe was with the matter at hand that he didn't rise at the perceivable insult. Admittedly, a mech of his size wouldn't appear very threatening... well, Sideswipe wasn't very threatening and he knew it, but in the past the blue mech would always dispute such an observation, no matter if it was true of not.

"Why in slagging hell would she think Sideswipe was a threat to her?" Hot Shot demanded.

"I think he meant figuratively, not literally," Sideswipe answered. Blurr and Hot Shot both flinched at his tone.

"I meant… Slag, what kind of figurative threat did MourningStar think Sideswipe was?" Hot Shot asked.

"She thought I was her competition for something she's been after for awhile," Sideswipe answered. "She figured that with me out of the way, she'd have a clear shot."

Aw, slag. The kid knew.

"But what?" Host Shot asked. "The only thing she ever seems interested in is…"

Blurr could tell the instant Hot Shot made the connection. Rookie warrior or battle tested leader, Hot Shot still had one of the most open faces Blurr had ever come across. Now all he could do was wait for his reaction. After all, Hot Shot would chase him down if he ran.

"She thought she could get Blurr by killing you?!" Hot Shot demanded incredulously. "Tell me she's not going to get off easy on this?"

"Doubt it. Assault isn't exactly considered a misdemeanor. Add that to possible attempted murder—" Hot Shot flinched "and then the breaking an entering, I don't think she'll be getting off easy."

"Good," said Hot Shot. "Now I need to go make a comm. call."

"Optimus already knows," Blurr said.

It was Sideswipe's turn to flinch. "Please tell me he's not getting involved."

"So far as I know, he's just taken an interest in the case, not a direct involvement."

"He shouldn't do either," Sideswipe protested. "Stuff like this happens everyday. If Optimus gets involved this could turn into a full blown scandal."

"Yeah, people get attacked everyday, but not one of Optimus's Elites," Blur said, feeling a little guilty at the believing snort Sideswipe gave. "It's expected that he'll get involved in this case."

"MourningStar's nuts. She'll go through a psych evaluation, be declared mentally unfit to stand trial, and be sent to a facility. There's nothing to get involved with," Sideswipe argued.

"Well, Optimus can make the process go a little smoother," Hot Shot pointed out.

"You're both bad," Sideswipe sighed. "It'll happen legally, with no outside help."

"Sideswipe," Hot Shot began.

"No."

In the end it happened mostly like Sideswipe said it would. MourningStar was committed to a facility after being diagnosed with a form of psychosis and declared a danger to herself and others. What Sideswipe didn't know was that pressure from above did speed the process up, and that they would have plenty of advanced warning if one of her monthly reevaluations cleared her to re-enter society. Never let it be said that Optimus Prime didn't look after his men.

Sideswipe was released from the Med-Center a few days after being admitted. Blurr went with Hot Shot to help take him home. Before too long, Blurr found himself drawn into some of the brothers' activities. The point of many of their debates would always remain a mystery to him, but he learned to find the humor in them. Much of his free time was spent with the brothers and, later, sometimes just with Sideswipe. He even took Sideswipe's computer class for awhile.

It took awhile, but he was beginning to understand what Smokescreen meant about being Sideswipe's friend rather than his hero. As the kid's hero, he'd never get to hear those stories of misadventures past that Sideswipe shared with him now. As the kid's hero, Sideswipe never fought back against Blurr's criticisms. As Sideswipe's friend, he learned the joys and pains of Sideswipe's sharp tongue and ruthless debating style. As Sideswipe's hero, he could count the number of times he saw Sideswipe smile that smile on one hand. As Sideswipe's friend he saw it almost every other day, and it still hadn't lost it's affect on him.

Sideswipe would still get on his nerves from time to time. And his own actions seemed to set off Sideswipe's own temper occasionally, which was a sight to behold.

All in all, Blurr found it…nice.

AN: ConCrit happily accepted. Feel free to point out any grammar errors.