Author's Notes: Adiutor, -oris - Latin, m. Helper, assistant, deputy. AKA: Breakdown's apparent lot in life.

'I feel like shit.'

That's what humans would say. Why a human phrase, of all things, was what popped into his mind, he didn't know. But it was accurate enough. Everything hurt. Everything. Even his missing optic hurt. How the hell did that work? He hadn't felt anything from that optic since it had been torn from his face, but now, somehow, it fragging hurt.

He opened his other optic, the one that was still with him (for now, at least), which hurt just as much as the missing one somehow did, and stared straight ahead for a few moments. A ceiling slowly came into focus. The medbay ceiling. Ah, okay then. The medbay was nothing out of the ordinary for him. Nowadays, he spent the majority of his time in the medbay, assisting the medics by either offering them an extra pair of hands to work with or a damaged body to work on. He was slightly better at the latter, but that was only to be expected from a warrior such as himself. Judging from his current level of pain, he had taken enough damage this time to have kept the medics busy for quite a while.

He thought about sitting up and returning to his quarters. The minute servos in his limbs twitched in anticipate of the moment, but even those tiny motions made him grunt in pain. He quickly abandoned the idea of rising from his spot. Whatever had happened to him had done a fine job of frying his insides, it felt like. If only he could remember what...

He glanced to his left, careful to move only his optic and not his head, for the pain that would surely cause in his neck. Nobody was in his range of sight, only a neatly-organized line of medical tools on a short table nearby. Ah, Glit must have been doing the repairs this time. Only the Deployer medic, small as he was, organized his equipment so low to the ground rather than hanging up along the wall like any normal medic. Easier to reach that way, he said.

Easier for him, sure. Not so much for anyone taller than him. Which was everyone. Especially Breakdown.

So, Glit's tools were here, but no Glit in sight.

'Just like the medics to leave someone in their care unattended.' Breakdown frowned slightly, but even moving his face hurt. 'What the slag happened to me?'

Trying to remember wasn't producing any results. He sighed softly and closed his optic. It seemed that he would have to wait for someone to show up and tell him how he had ended up here this time.

So he waited. Minutes ticked by. Silence. No medic in sight. He grew bored and started counting the seconds. Bad choice. Every second he counted, his body became more sensitive to the pain that radiated from every gear and wire and strut within him. 'At least MECH had the decency to offline my pain receptors.' Even if that did have the unfortunate result of forcing him to watch his own dismemberment with a most eerie clarity... He hissed softly at the memory, at the anger, the fear, the sheer embarrassment it brought back. Pain flared in his body in reply. 'Frag Glit. I can deal with this myself.'

Before he could change his mind, he sat up in one smooth motion. And shuddered as his pain receptors screamed in protest. He swung his legs over the left side of the med berth. And winced again. Carefully, so carefully, he edged himself off the berth, slowly testing his feet, his legs, how much weight he could put on them.

Satisfied that, while standing was indeed excruciating, his legs would not be giving out beneath him, he pushed himself away from the berth. Time to take medical matters into his own, admittedly not very medically knowledgeable, hands. First item on the agenda: find some way to make this slagging pain go away, or at least pipe down a bit.

To that end, he quickly decided on a goal. He knew where the chemical analgesics were kept, and he one medical thing he did know was how to administer them. Glit would blow a fuse later that his precious medicinal stores had been broken into without his permission, but they could hash out those details when he got back.

Slowly, Breakdown limped his way around the end of the berth, coming to the right side, of course only realizing then that he could have saved himself several painful steps and started out on that side to begin with. Oh well. Couldn't help that now, he could only-

He stopped in his tracks.

Knock Out was sitting at the readout console next to the berth, semi-sprawled across the desk, unmoving.

His first thought was, 'Don't tell me he passed out from the high-grade again.'

Which was quickly followed by, 'Slag, if Starscream finds out he's been racing and drinking again, he's going to do more than carve his name into Knock Out's armor.' And he, for one, was not fond of dealing with Knock Out when he was pissed off about a damaged paint job.

Thankfully, there were no empty cubes strewn about, though that didn't mean Knock Out hadn't been drinking somewhere else on the Nemesis. He had certainly walked into the medbay intoxicated on more than a few occasions, but he usually had the sense to not imbibe the stuff while actually in here. Usually.

Breakdown walked as quietly as he could around the console desk, still aiming for Glit's medicine stash, stepping carefully to avoid jarring his pained body any more than was necessary. He turned his head slightly as he passed his partner, glancing down with his single optic. Knock Out was resting his head against his forearms, facing away from the med berth. The warrior-medic was not passed out from high-grade, it appeared. Just plain passed out. Recharging.

'Recharging in the medbay? Odd.'

Hidden though Knock Out's front side was by the way he was curled over the desk, Breakdown could just make out the edges of some sort of injury on his torso.

He stared dumbly. That was all he could do, really. Knock Out actually recharging while his body was in less than perfect condition? It was a sure sign the end was nigh.

Knock Out opened his optics then, to the merest of slits. They flickered faintly before becoming fully lit-as lit as they ever became, at any rate. He blinked once, and his optics focused. "Hngh?"

He wasn't sure was to say.

"The frag are you doing up?" Knock Out sat up slowly, still resting his arms on the desk. His wounds were clearly visible now, deep, jagged-edge gashes that crossed his entire front side, exposing the delicate machinery within and slag, you could actually seethe servos in there turning slightly back and forth as Knock Out moved.

Breakdown closed his mouth-he hadn't realized he had been doing the drop-jawed stare of shock-and tried to look away. But he couldn't. For whatever Primus-damned reason, he couldn't.

"The Pits is wrong with you?" Those dim crimson optics glared up at him, a look that could chill sparks. "Did you not hear me? Get yourself back in that berth before you undo all my hard work."

Those if some enormous creature, something far larger than what Earth boasted, had taken a swipe at his partner with the intent to disembowel. It was oddly, sickeningly familiar. And he suddenly realized why. Something had tried to tear Knock Out apart. Something big, very big, something with a complete disregard for species or faction, something that lived only to hate, to kill.

He had done it.

Himself. But not-himself.


His optic went wide and he stepped back, nearly losing his balance for the pain that wracked his body. "You...where...where are they?"


"Them!" He gestured at Knock Out's slashed-up torso. That old fear was worming its way back into his mind, that paralyzing terror that had for so long consumed his life. 'No, no, no...'

"Oh." Knock Out lightly touched the edges of his wounds with his long-clawed fingers, scowling. The slashes had obviously seen some repair, but the mere fact that they were still there was threatening to send the medic into one of his narcissistic rants. "You mean the newcomers."

Newcomers. Only new to this planet. Not so new to Breakdown. And Motormaster had been most fragged off when he had discovered where his long-lost gestalt-mate had been hiding all this time. One forceful, hostile takeover of said gestalt-mate had of course been in order...

"They're planet-side," Knock Out said flatly.

He and Knock Out had been ordered planet-side to assist the newcomers in securing an energon deposit against the Autobots. He could feel himself trembling, paranoia creeping into his processor. He closed his optic, but still, the image of Knock Out sitting there, with gaping holes in his body, was burned into his mind. Motormaster-Menasor had tried to kill him, incorrectly assuming he had been the one to take Breakdown from the group.

"You could have told me," Knock Out hissed as he stood, still bracing himself against the desk.

'And here comes the narcissistic rant.'

"I would have appreciated the heads-up that you might try to slagging rip me in half. This-" Again he motioned to his injuries. "Is going to take months to fix! Do you have any idea how hard it is to repair something like this without sacrificing armor strength along the welds, or the fix having a different texture than the original, or the paint not matching, or-"

"I didn't mean for it."

Knock Out was a bit taken aback that his rant had been interrupted. "Come again?"

He could hear them in his mind, whispers from his gestalt-mates, angry that Breakdown, of all mechs, had managed to dominate Menasor for the briefest of moments, a loud NO! to the rest of the team that had stopped the mighty combiner in his tracks for an instant. One quick instant of hesitation that had allowed Knock Out to jam his active energon prod into the gestalt's side, the pain jerking Motormaster out of his surprise and allowing him to regain control. Motormaster-Menasor had taken a swipe at the much-smaller mech, easily batting Knock Out aside, heavy claws sending a shimmering blue spray of energon arcing through the air. But the medic had been too close to the gestalt, and the strike did not gain the proper momentum to become a true death blow.

If only he could have held on to Menasor's mind a moment longer... "I'm sorry. I...I tried to stop them."

Confusion darkened Knock Out's face for a second. "I thought...a gestalt mind worked together. You all agreed-"

"No." No, there was no such thing as 'working together' when Motormaster was involved. You did his bidding. The only other option was... Breakdown shuddered violently. "It's...complicated." He turned away from his partner, facing him with his blind side, his way of saying that he was no longer interested in discussing a topic. "You shouldn't have interfered. Motormaster's got you marked."

"He's planet-side, and not coming up here any time soon." He sounded quite confident about this.

Breakdown shook his head, turning just enough that he could look at Knock Out. "You don't know him."

"Perhaps not. But I do know that if you don't get yourself back on that berth right this instant, you're going to tear open all the patches and you'll be right back where you were when you were first dragged in here. And I will be so busy taking care of you again that I will never find the time to fix my own mess."

He still couldn't remember actually arriving in the medbay. But now, he could remember what must have happened only shortly before that, after Knock Out's failed attack on the combiner. The humans had shown up. And they had greatly improved their weaponry as of late. A single shot from the rail gun was all it had taken to send instant, excruciating pain through the entire gestalt body. Reseparation was horrifying enough under normal circumstance. This? Had been nothing short of Hell.

And his position within the gestalt mean he had been the one to bear the brunt of the shot.

'Well. No slag I feel like shit.' With a new appreciation of exactly how bad off he must have been initially, Breakdown carefully sat down on the berth, then slowly lay down again.

"There's a good boy. Now, you were going after Glit's stash, weren't you?"

He didn't need to answer. Knock Out was already on his way over there. "Motormaster, is he...?"

"Stop worrying," came Knock Out's voice from the corner of the medbay. "I told you, they're all grounded planet-side until Motormaster is forgiven for threatening Megatron to his face. Which should be in approximately...never."

Stop worrying. Yeah, that was about as likely to happen as Megatron suddenly being okay with insubordination.

Knock Out's light steps came near again. Breakdown felt a sting in his arm, a needle hitting an energon vein. Then...blessed relief from the pain. He felt himself relax, and he half-closed his optic in pleasure. When he was paying attention to his surroundings again, he saw Knock Out running a handheld scanner up and down his prone body. "Lucky you. The patches are holding," the warrior-medic announced. "You'll live for the next few hours. Maybe I can finally make some headway on my own little problem." Knock Out disappeared into his blind side; he heard the mech return to his chair and fish around on the desk for a required piece of equipment.

Breakdown was content to lay on the med berth in silence. Sure, Knock Out was not the most...enthusiastic medic in the universe, but he trusted his partner's judgment. If he said Breakdown was stable, he was stable. Whatever injuries still needed repair could wait until Knock Out's sense of vanity had been appeased, or until Glit showed up again. "Where's Glit?"

"Not his shift right now," was the half-mumbled answer.

Breakdown grunted softly in reply. "Why'd you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Attack Menasor."

Knock Out was quiet for a long time. Only the whirring from the tool he was working with echoed through the medbay. "You were pretty scared," he said finally, trying to sound unconcerned, and not being very convincing about it. "Like, 'scared sparkless' scared. Never seen you that way before."

He was still scared. Motormaster tended to have that effect on people. He turned his head to look at Knock Out; the medic was curled forward in his chair as he worked on his wounds. "And you weren't?"

His partner snorted, not pausing in his repairs. "Any mech who isn't scared of a gestalt has a seriously impaired sense of self-preservation."

And any mech who knew Knock Out knew his sense of self-preservation was remarkably intact. "So why'd you do it?"

"Because I had to." The whirring tool fell silent as Knock Out looked up at him, a small smile on his face. Not his usual slick, seductive smirk, but something a bit more reserved, more...honest. "Couldn't just let that slaghead take my frie-assistant, could I?" He hesitated, appearing almost unsure as he waited to see if Breakdown had caught that unintentional slip of his words.

He most definitely had. Once again, he could only stare dumbly, almost not understanding what he had just heard. He and Knock Out had worked together for a long time now, sure, but never had they been anything besides partners, a medic and his assistant, a perfectly balanced death-dealing duo in battle.

Knock Out snorted then, returning to the task at hand. "Now shut up and let me concentrate here. This is very delicate work, you know."

Breakdown watched him for a few moments more before looking back up at the ceiling. 'Friend' was a dangerous word to utter among the Decepticon ranks. It was one of those things seen as a weakness to be exploited. But he kinda liked the sound of it, coming from Knock Out. Yeah, he was okay with 'friend.'

Certainly preferable to 'Motormaster's bitch,' at any rate.