"What're you sayin', ya pyromaniac?"
"And that's another thing! Why must you insist that I am a pyromaniac? I am a certified Pyrotechnician!"
"Yer a pyromaniac n' you know it, kid! 'Member that time ya nearly burned down the whole city!"
"I was under the influence! You heard what the medic said; that JaAm stuff drives you insane!"
"Yeah, wonder who invented the stuff… oh that's right, YOU DID!"
"I did not! It was a complete accident and you know that!"
"Oh, sure it was! And that time you nearly crushed me 'n Ironhide under a platform that you were 'working on' as a 'certified Pyrotechnician', you were under the influence too, right?"
Brawn watched as the hot head simmered. This wasn't uncommon for Hot Shot to get so angry at Brawn that they started fighting and yelling at each other. Brawn felt as though he could smirk. There were too many 'accidents' around this guy to be a coincidence. Besides, Brawn didn't even like him anyway. Even from the first day he had come to greatly dislike Hot Shot. What with his annoying voice and his stupidity. He'd throw himself into the middle of a war scene just for the fun of it! He was such an idiot.
Then he said something that caught him off-guard.
"I HATE YOU!"
Now that downright shocked Brawn. Not that he didn't already know that; he had clashed with the pyrohead since day 1. He knew the pyromaniac hated the old fart, and vice versa. It was just that Hot Shot never actually said so. In fact, he couldn't remember a single day that Hot Shot had ever used the word 'hate'. Even when it was obvious that he was in a state of pure anger and was just about ready to set the whole asteroid on fire. Stupid pyromaniac.
"What did you say?" That was Ironhide. Now, the fact that it was Ironhide that spoke up also unnerved Brawn. Ironhide rarely… no, scratch that, Ironhide never intervened into his arguments with Hot Shot. Never. Not once. Something was definitely wrong today.
"Don't you DARE give me any of your slag, Ironhide! You have no right to intervene!"
"Whaddaya mean?" Brawn was shocked beyond belief by now. Ironhide shouldn't have retorted. This obviously wasn't the right time to question what the mentally challenged had to say. If Ironhide had any inkling of a brain then he'd have shut up before it was too late.
But it was already too late.
"WHADDAYA MEAN WHADDAYA MEAN!!?! You have no idea what's even going on most of the time!! Just because you see one thing going wrong you suddenly decide to intervene and do something about it when you've turned a blind eye to everything else!? YOU ARE SUCH A HYPOCRITE!!"
Brawn severely hoped that Ironhide wouldn't retaliate. Just let the guy yell a bit, let him simmer in his own anger. He'd be over it by tomorrow. Of course, the next day he'd just get angrier, but that wasn't uncommon. He could live with Hot Shot's anger. He could live with his new found pessimism and hatred. Brawn had come to content himself with this lie. He thought that it didn't matter if Hot Shot kept getting angrier each day… Well… it didn't matter to him, at least.
But Hot Shot didn't stop there.
"I HATE YOU TOO, YOU KNOW! I hate both of you! You are your invisibility and you and your OVERWHELING PESSIMISM! I HATE BOTH OF YOU! WHY DO YOU GUYS EVEN HAVE TO STOP ME!? IT'S LIKE YOU GUYS ARE ALL OUT TO KEEP ME FROM BEING HAPPY!"
"But we're not!"
"Shut up, Ironhide!!"
"BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP!! I'M TIRED OF LISTENING TO YOU AND YOUR PESSIMISM AND YOUR ABSOLUTE HATRED FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND YOUR FLAT-OUT INFURIATING DISLIKE OF EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE! IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY!!! YOU'RE MAKING ME ANGRIER AND ANGRIER EVERY SINGLE DAY! WHY WON'T YOU JUST STOP IT!? STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!!!"
"Stop what? Being himself!?"
"HOW MANY TIEMS DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO SHUT UP, IRONHIDE!?!?!"
Hot Shot screamed. He screamed out into the nothingness in pure anger and hatred and every other negative emotion that he could think of. Brawn was completely shocked. He had never seen someone get so angry that they screamed into nothing. Then he was hit by a sudden realization, something that he had never thought of before. Hot Shot's anger… it all came from the same source. Brawn. The anger he felt towards him was driving him insane.
Brawn was driving Hot Shot insane.
"What's going on?" Here came Rodimus Prime. What kind of a name was Rodimus anyway? Whoever invented that name must have been drunk or something. He wouldn't expect any less from the boot camp instructors to give someone a stupid name like Rodimus. But whoever gave him such a stupid name, his stupidity paled in comparison to Rodimus' current stupidity. What did it take to get people to notice that they should all just shut up!?
"SHUT UP! I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU!! I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO THE GUY WHO'S SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEADER, BUT INSTEAD SPENDS HIS WHOLE TIME READING A SLAGGING DATA-PAD NOVEL AND WASTING HIS TIME IN HIS OWN LITTLE WORLD INSTEAD OF HELING EVERYONE AND STOPPING A PROBLEM BEFORE IT HAPPENS LIKE A LEADER IS SUPPOSED TO!! YOU ARE A TERRIBLE LEADER, RODIMUS FAILURE!!!!"
Of course, this new outburst shocked Rodimus quite a great deal. The idiot thought he was doing fine and dandy with his job; that he was doing a good job of keeping the team in check and letting things move smoothly. Brawn almost felt as though he could agree with Hot Shot. Rodimus was a terrible leader, true, but he was also a new leader. And straight from the academy. If Brawn blamed anything, he blamed the academy for their terrible teaching skills.
"Calm down!! What's gotten into you, Hot Shot!?"
"THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! YOU DON'T FRAGGING KNOW! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT GOES ON WITH BRAWN OR ME OR IRONHIDE OR RED ALERT OR ANYONE IN THIS SLAGGING TEAM! YOU JUST LET US 'WORK OURSELVES OUT' OR SOMETHING! DON'T YOU SEE WHAT'S GOING ON!?! YOU LETTING ME AND BRAWN FIGHT IS DRIVING ME INSANE!! YOU'RE A HORRIBLE LEADER!! I HATE YOU!!!"
Of course, the noise level had grown considerably after this. Rodimus, obviously, didn't know what to do about this. Brawn hated to admit it, but Hot Shot was right. If Rodimus had actually intervened with any of their previous fights, then this probably never would have happened. He shifted all the blame to Rodimus.
Then he caught himself. In the course of a few minutes, he had blamed Hot Shot, then Ironhide, and now Rodimus for Hot Shot's behavior. But throughout his whole ramblings, he had made quite sure who he hated the most. Brawn.
He hated to admit it, but this wasn't Hot Shot or Ironhide or Rodimus' fault. This was completely and wholly Brawn's fault. He felt sick in his stomach. Throughout all of his stellar-cycles of being online, he had never driven someone insane. He had never thought that he was even capable of something like that. That was Decepticon-like behavior. And he knew a thing or two about Decepticons. They purposely drove 'bots insane just to amuse themselves. They could very easily just lock an Autobot into a room and just leave him there until he went crazy. All his life, Brawn had thought that he would never be capable of driving a 'bot insane. He didn't even think he was capable of doing so on a subconscious level.
But there was proof, right in front of him, that he was more than capable of driving a 'bot insane. And not just drive him slightly insane, or a little crazy, or maybe even just a little bit off-kilter; but completely and wholly insane. This couldn't be his fault. I mean, how could he have possibly done all of that in a few seconds? How could he have driven a 'bot insane with just an argument or two?
But it wasn't an argument or two. For 50 stellar-cycles he had fought with Hot Shot every single day, endlessly on and on, getting him mad, getting him unhappy, ruining his day. Ruining his life. Every time they had a fight, the next day Hot Shot would be worse. And worse and worse. One day he stopped smiling altogether. One day he stopped poking Ironhide. One day he stopped asking to use Rodimus' arrows. Then there was the biggest milestone that he should have caught.
He stopped bugging Red Alert.
Now, Red Alert definitely got the short end of the stick when it came to having to put up with Hot Shot. For stellar-cycles she had to endure nothing but annoying questions and smiles and inappropriate comments from the 'bot. For a long time, there was a rumor going around that Hot Shot even liked Red Alert. If he did, then she was the only member of the team Hot Shot liked. No matter what, you could always count on Hot Shot to bug the living daylights out of Red Alert. Whether it was because he liked her or not, he never gave a straight answer.
But then he just stopped. Red Alert had gone a whole day without being annoyed by Hot Shot. And yet, no matter what, Brawn always managed to get in a fight with Hot Shot. Even after he had stopped setting fires on small pieces of shrubbery, even after he had stopped annoying the team, even after he stopped activating his flamethrowers altogether, he still fought with Brawn. He still got angrier and angrier and angrier with each passing day. Today just happened to be the day when he had finally snapped.
And it was Brawn who pulled the cord. He wanted to kick himself. He wanted to do something to get rid of the guilt, get rid of this slagging conscience that told him that he had made a life-threatening mistake. He wanted to stop Hot Shot from running away.
He had taken after the guy as quick as he could, blocking out all of the yelling he had made after he exploded on Rodimus. Red Alert was there too, and they were all chasing after the newly-made mad scientist before he did something stupid. Brawn followed at the back, trying not to think about what he had to do to get help for Hot Shot. To calm him down. To get him to stop driving away from them at a faster pace than he'd ever gone before in his life.
He had to apologize.
But the moment never came. Soon enough, they had all managed to get to the edge of the asteroid, the end of the ground beneath them only two hics away. Of course, they were all driving too fast. They had to stop, or they'd fall off the edge of the asteroid and be lost to the mercy of the vacuum of space. Rodimus stopped, Red Alert stopped, Ironhide stopped, and Brawn stopped long before they reached the edge. Hot Shot kept driving.
They ran the rest of the way, all calling after the shrinking shape of Hot Shot's robot mode, all trying whatever they could to get him to come back. Brawn cleared his throat. He had to say it. He had no choice but to say it. He had to keep this kid from committing suicide. And, after a few drawn-out nano-kliks, he finally said it.
Everyone went quite. None of them dared to look Brawn's way, nor did they gasp or do anything other than stay quiet. Why would they be surprised? This was the first time Brawn had ever apologized for anything he did. This was the first time Brawn had actually felt remorse for something he did. This was the first time he did something so terrible he had to apologize to get his conscience to shut up. The shrinking dot that was Hot Shot sent a message in Morse code, through blasts of fire that blew him farther away.