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October 25, 2011, 11:23 PM

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Horizon Dually Robustus Flashover Elita One Groove First Aid Venture Smokescreen

(The Red Guardian Inn, Iacon)

---

"You been seeming real down lately, sir," comments a yellow waitress, standing at the table where a morose Horizon is seated. His charge is not about, having secluded himself to his lodgingss. Horizon does not mind the time alone, but... "Is it so obvious?" Horizon asks straightening up and tightening his drooping features, trying to correct this appearance. The waitress nods, and then sheepishly adds a smile. "Will that be all for you?" she asks, leaving concerned mode and entering into waitress mode. Horizon just nods his head and gives a vague wave of his hand in dismissal. The waitress is soon off, attending to bussing the tables in the current lull. Horizon remains staring soberly at his 'oil cake'.

Venture trudges into the restaurant, causing some vibration of the floor, before finding the largest seat to sit down upon. She stretches her legs beneath the table, trying to loosen up her joints.

Elita One walks into the Inn, momentarily wondering why she's here. Then she remembers: patrol today was particularly trying, as she had to chase off a trine of even dimmer than normal Seekers who actually thought they could approach Iacon uncontested. She showed them what-for, but it was touch and go for a moment. Fragging flyers. She claims a small table in the center of the room, asking the waitress for plain energon. For now.

Smokescreen sits at his table, cube in hand. He contemplates its clarity, enjoying the brief moment of peace in these chaotic times. He takes a sip of the mid-grade, then, scanning the room to see if he knew anyone. A nice game of Levels could be diverting...

Flashover slams his cube back on the bar, rotors shuddering momentarily. "Okay, that is NOT fragging pure high-grade. What the slag are you thinning it with, paint stripper?" He demands, huffing out his vents in annoyance. "Overcharging me for a bad overcharge... Bah. Aft." The bartender scowls at the large heliformer partially slumped on his bar, crossing his arms over his chest. "It ain't cut with /anything/, fragger. That's one hundred percent pure. You calling me a liar?" "You're slagging right I am." Flashover snaps back, leaning further onto the counter in front of him and ignoring the way it creaks under his weight. "You're an aft, you know that?"

Dually stomps through the doorway with a grumpy, sullen glare on his face afer a shift spent dealing with new (and increased) security protocols on gate guard duty- and the resulting cranky neutrals who had to be individually checked in as a result. He sits down at the bar and drums his fingers on the top, waiting for the bartender to take his order. "Look, I gotta take care of this," The bartender says to Flashover. "Hey, Dually, good to see ya. Can't get you your regular, you wanna cube of lowgrade instead?"

Venture turns her attention to the argument, as it distracts her from waiting for the waitress. Her optics dim, not liking where this might lead.

Elita One looks over at Flashover's loud argument with the bartender and stands to hopefully distract the Neutral while Dually is be helped. "Hey, Flashover?"

Horizon lowers his head, a hand coming up to rest his forehead into for a moment, hearing the argument taken place. He briefly glances up to see it is that heliformer from Crystal City. He stares for just a moment, shaking his head, and beginning to consume his snack, being one of the few present without a drink of energon. He is actively trying to banish the appearance of aggravation that he feels. HIs optics set on a sight easier on the optics, idly glancing at Elita One... when she stands up and calls to the rude patron. As if one rude patron wasn't enough, Dually's loud entrance does not improve Horizon's troubled mood. He raises to his feet, contemplating leaving, not in the mood for Dually's antics or sticking around for a possible scene to escalate.

Smokescreen eyes the rather loud Flashover- he'd ruined the moment, and Smokey's doorwings twitch in mild annoyance. He watches to see if things escalate, ready to play peacemaker if needed.

Flashover makes a noise in response that could translate to 'what?' before his processor catches up, and he straightens to face Elita with some difficulty. The motion makes one of his rotors bang into the wall of metal next to him, and he flinches slightly before composing himself. "'lo, ma'am. Can I help you with something?" He asks, resting one arm casually on the bartop as he looks at the pink femme.

"What do you mean, you can't get it?" Dually says. "You out or something?" "No, mech, orders from your CO-" THe bartender nods at Horizon, sitting at the table across the bar. "Sorry- can't frag off the folks that keep me in business, right?" "You gotta be slagging kidding me." Dually growls, turning to stalk across the room to stand over Horizon's table, crossing his arms over his chest. "You gotta reason to be messing with my off duty time, /sir/?" The expression on his face is downright ugly.

Elita One smiles placatingly at the inebriated opter. "Mind if I join you?" She claims the seat next to Flashover. "We haven't had a chance to talk since we brought Gr..." She frowns slightly as Dually moves past her to confront Horizon. Maybe it WAS a bad to stop in here ater all.

Smokescreen's optics widen fractionally. Overcharge and ire usually equalled a gigantic slagging mess, in Smokescreen's rather extensive experience. He places his half-full cube gently on the table and rises, moving unobtrusively closer to the disturbance.

Venture's lips part as if to say something, but she decides to wait, as others appear to already be moving to address the commotion. She remains silent and waits.

On his feet, losing the chance to make an unobstrusive exit, Horizon has no choice but to stand firm, lifting his jaw slightly and squaring his shoulders in the screwed up face of Dually's temper. His expression is hardened into one of no emotion as he speaks in a carefully modulated tone. "I do, in fact," he says with an edge in his tone. "Do not forget what trouble your off duty vice has gotten you into in the past. The other cycle you proved that even with a few drinks you become unruly and foret your place."

Flashover only vaguely notices the other mech storm off and start his own confrontation, more focused on his new companion. Cycling his optics a few times, he shrugs. "Uh... Go right ahead, ma'am. I don't have a problem with it." He answers, glancing a bit forlornly at his empty cube. "You'll have to fight this slagger for anything worth actually putting in your tanks, though."

"Forgot my place? /MY/ off duty vice? Sure, yeah, I got bashed over the head and shoved in a supply closet and blamed for slag I didn't do. Let's ignore your /on duty/ vice. Helping slagging neutrals who backstab us all the second we turn around, and selling out to fragging /space pirates/ so we have to hitchhike back here like some sorta spineless baggage." Dually snarls. "A couple drinks on my own time ain't gonna hurt anything."

Elita One looks at Flashover again. "Don't blame him, Flashover. There's been rationing going on for weeks now." Her optics keep flicking over toward Horizon and Dually, as she tries to keep at least half an ear on them as well.

Smokescreen approaches the yelling mech and flicks his right doorwing, frowning. "Sir, can I ask you to please tone it down? Others are trying to enjoy their off-duty time and you are being rather inconsiderate."

Horizon frowns deeply at Dually, his optical visor narrowing and going almost black for a moment as the light dims to the bare minimum. "Dually," he says in a low yet severe tone. "I advise you NOT to continue speaking of things you know little about. You are a soldier, and there's a reason that is all you are. Being an officer requires making sacrifices and choosing the lesser of evils on a cyclic basis! Do you really think you could handle that?" The earlier disturbance is forgotten. Indeed, the whole room seems to have disappeared, only Smokescreen lightly coming into his radar.

Flashover mutters some rather impolite things to himself before the fight finally grabs his attention. Turning in his seat, he squints a little at the scene, but aside from going on in the same room it's not really any of his buisness, and he loses interest quickly enough. "Everywhere's on fragging rationing now. Sucks exhaust." He mutters, barely resisting the urge to sulk like a youngling. A mech's gotta have /some/ dignity, after all. "Can't even get properly overcharged anymore without practically needing your tanks scraped out afterwards..."

Dually turns on Smokescreen. "I'm not yelling, slaggit. I'm trying to find out why Horizon over here thinks he's so high and perfect that he can cut me off just cuz he doesn't like getting overcharged himself." He jerks a thumb over his shoulder to indicate the smaller mech. "Like /he's/ never made mistakes." He turns back to Horizon. "I may not be an officer, but if that means acting like I've got a strut up my exhaust like you, I'm glad of it!"

Robustus came out of his room at the inn to find that his escort was not at his post. He left a note on the door to let the mech know he'd be coming down here to the bar. Stepping into the room he is a bit surprised to see so many here. He takes a few moments to scan the crowd, just in case Horizon is here. Silver optics alight upon the femme he recognizes from the rescue group before he sees the recognizable form of his escort. Thinking better of approaching the mech at the moment considering his current company, he moves toward the far end of the bar and takes a seat at a stool. The medic's lack of emblem would make him stand out among the bar patrons and anyone that has been listening to the rumors knows he used to be a Con. Not that this dissuades him from flagging the barkeep over to order himself a ener-wine.

Elita One nods slightly to Flashover, offering what she can before she stands to go deal with Dually and Horizon. "The mid-grade isn't so bad, really. And it's half the expense." Then she joins Smokescreen in trying to keep either of the two irate mechs from doing something they'll regret later.

Horizon remains with a grim face, not allowing it to twist into anger the ugly way that Dually has. He is silent for a moment, pressing his lips tight together as he carefully sorts through rational and emotional responses, dividing the two. "I have made /errors/. Only when someone doesn't try to correct it, does it become a mistake. Your drinking has only brought made you vulnerable, and that is an error you refuse to correct, so I am forced to make that correction for you. You may think it's spite, but it's not. I am only looking out for YOUR best interest, and if you can't understand that after all that time we spent defending each other's backs, then..." he breaks off as if suddenly realizing he got himself involved in a public scene. He goes tightlipped again, and rather than finish his sentence, he just shakes his head, with an indignant expression of disapproval upon his face. Horizon glances over to Elita One and Smokescreen, once again forcing all expression off of his face. However, he knows he is not ready to banish it from his tone, and so he just nods to them in acknowledgement, his processor whirring.

Smokescreen merely says in a a conciliatory tone, "Getting overcharged solves no problems. Additionally, accusing who I assume to be your CO of having bits of metal jammed in his aft, while humorous, similarly does not help. Would you for me to listen? If so, I've a table over there."

Flashover makes a face at the suggestion of mid-grade, rotors clattering together for a moment. "I lost my fragging partner less than a decaorn ago and one of my younglings got tortured. /You/ try the slagging mid-grade..." He mumbles, trying to catch the bartender's attention again, though the fragger is yet again paying attention to someone else. A kind of familiar someone else. The large rotary mech narrows his optics slightly, trying to remember where he's seen the neutral from. Pretty sure he didn't drag him out of a burning building or anything...

"Defending each others' backs never seemed to be the problem." Dually grates out. "Least, not when it came to a fight. Outside of combat? 'Nother story." He turns to fix Smokescreen with a glare. "You got a problem with mechs getting overcharged off duty, you can shove it up your own aft." He turns back to Horizon. "You got slag to say? 'm sick of you tryin to run my life for me, Horizon, and I've had enough of it. So say whatever else you're gonna say, /sir/, and I'll get the frag out of your way."

Robustus takes his glass of ener-wine from the barkeep and nods his thanks, taking a sip of it and trying to relax. Attempting to focus more on the music than the discussions going on, which he is mostly succeeding at consider he is on the end of the bar that is closest to the music. His foot bobs in time with the beat and idly hums to the tune. He doesn't notice Flashover's scrutiny, rather off in his own world right now than paying much attention to his surroundings... or at least it appears that way.

Smokescreen clears his intake with an audible click. "No, but I do have a problem with those who drown themselves in substances hoping to chase the pain away. I treat mechs like you every day." The ...ahem...suggestion fazes him not at all.

Dually rolls his optics again. "Look, mech, my pain-" he snorts "Is solely caused by the processoraches that mech-" he points at Horizon- "gives me."

Elita One puts on her boss-lady voice, speaking just loudly enough to cut through the others. "GENTLEMEN." She looks at Smokescreen then Horizon, then Dually, her gaze staying on the latter the longest. "I must request that you take this discussion elsewhere, or I will contact Prowl and request that he come to moderate." Yes, that's a threat.

Smokescreen glances at Horizon, matching face to file. Prowl's assistant. No wonder. Smokescreen chuckles to himself at the irony. n

There is a destinct twitch just around Horizon's optical visor as he listens to more of Dually throwing every bit of dirt he can muster, but does not dignify Dually with a response. Partially because he is too angry to speak rationally, and partly because he just got yelled at by Elita One, and the embarrassment of he, Horizon, being chastised in such a way is a bit overbearing. He inclines his head to Elita Ona. "You are absolutely right. We have been behaving /very/ inappropriately," he gives a meaningful glance over at Dually. "Would you like to take this to my office, Dually?"

"I'm off duty, fraggit. Take yourself there if you want, I ain't showing up unless it's an order. Is it? /Sir/." Dually sneers.

Horizon shakes his head. "No. I see that I've interfered enough with your personal time. But when you go back oin duty, report to my office. Hopefully we will both be calmer and more rational and can work out our differences in a civil and /private/ manner."

Smokescreen nods. "Very wise, Horizon. Prowl would be proud." He has enough of a sense of humor and the ridiculous to needle the too-rigid mech.

Flashover glances over his shoulder at the argument momentarily, mostly to check that it was actually over, but with the bartender finally returning with more high-grade and nothing much to hold his attention, he returns to scrutinizing the other mech drinking at the bar. No symbols, so it's doubtful he knows him from Crystal City at all, and most of the mechs he knew before the war joined up with either one side or the other... His inability to place the mech honestly bothers him, and his rotors rattle in annoyance.

"When I'm on duty then, sir." Dually forces out, and turns to stride angrily for the door.

Robustus signals the barkeep over, "If Horizon stays, make sure he gets a refill. Will be my treat for putting up with me and.. his associate." the mech intones lowly, putting creds down to pay for his drink plus another should his escort stick around at all. He then turns on his stool, the medical emblem upon his upper shoulder visible as he looks toward the grouping of Bots.

Elita One gives Horizon an apologetic look, then nods to Smokescreen and returns where Flashover is still seated, where her container of mid-grade energon is waiting.

Silence. At last. Horizon just watches Dually storm off and shakes his head. All Smokescreen gets from him is a glance with no readable expression, but one still somehow gets the feeling he is unimpressed with the patronizing remarks. He then turns around to his table where a half finished refreshment still sits, but doesn't seem to have the appetite for it. He seems to hover between sitting down and just leaving. It is now, only now that he sees Robustus, and there is an inward sigh as he suddenly remembers his duties. Thus, Horison sits down and resumes watching the ex-con.

Smokescreen walks back to his table, retrieves his cube, and then approaches Horizon. "I wasn't trying to be rude, you know." he says easily to the other mech. "Humor can often diffuse tense situations."

Wait. Grey, medic, apparently neutral, in Iacon... Flashover's optics narrow further as the pieces slowly start to click together in his somewhat overcharged processor. Suddenly, he slams both his hands on the counter, hard enough to dent the metal, as he heaves himself to his feet. "/You./" He snarls, rotors rattling harder in his sudden fury. "You're that fragging Decepticon piece of scrap!"

Horizon looks up at Smokescreen with that same forced neutral expression with an underlying sense of resentment... but then it just all falls from him, and beneath all of that is just exhaustion of a mech meeting his wits ends. "I appreciate the gesture," he says despondantly. Alas, just when Horizon thought things were simmering down for the rest of the cycle, a new problem arises. Horizon is quickly on his feet when Flashover begins to show some verbal hostility towards his charge. "Pardon me, duty calls," Horizon says, quickly resuming his officer coolness.

Robustus's silver optics look toward Horizon and offer the mech a nod. The sudden declaration from the inebriated Flashover has the medic looking over at the mech with a slight frown. A slow exvent then a shake of his head at yet another angry mech looking for trouble. However he raises his hand toward Horizon. "No." he intones, then levels a look at Flashover, "I /was/ a /civilian medic/ for the Decepticons. I /never/ swore fealty to them. I find it disgusting and deplorable that not ONE of you in this city has offered thanks for my part in returning First Aid to your fold." he stands up from his stool and downs the rest of his drink, "And frankly I cannot wait until I can leave, I have just about enough of the hate mongering to last the rest of my vorns."

Elita One startles, leaning back in her seat as she's the closest to Flashover currently. She glances over at Robustus then back at the irate opter. "Flashover?"

"Thank you?" Flashover's voice drops to a low hiss for a moment, vents heaving hard as he meets Robustus' look with a stare of absolute hatred. Then, without warning, he slams a fist onto the bar counter again, the metal crumpling under the force and leaving shards embedded in his hands. "You want me to /THANK YOU?/" He roars, taking a threatening step toward Robustus. "For /what?/ Should I /thank you/ for sitting aside, complacent, while a youngling, one of /my/ younglings, was tortured?" He takes another step, engine revving as he works himself up even further. "Or maybe, I should /thank you/ for repairing the people who did. Did you repair their handiwork, too? Did you fix him up so they could do it all over again?" His entire frame is trembling at this point, only amplifying the shaking of his rotors. "I don't /care/ if you never believed a Primus-slagged thing Megatron ever said. You. Let. It. Happen. I shouldn't thank you- I should fragging /end you./"

Horizon pauses as Robustus signals for him to stop, listening to his charge's speech. Horizon is unaffected by the medic's claims of being treated only with hatred and ingratitude. He just remains standing, watching Flashover very closely. The moment the banging begins, Horizon moves swiftly, surprisingly so, to place himself between Flashover and Robustus. "If you want to end him, you'll have to get through me first! I think it would be best if you calmed down and walked away."

Oh holy frag. Elita One stands and reaches to put a hand on Flashover's arm in an attempt to keep him from starting a brawl. "Hey." She gives his arm a shake. "HEY."

Smokescreen flashes his optics and rises quite involuntarily at these revelations. He was /quite/ familiar with this story, though he'd heard it from the youngling in question. Gauging the situation, he figures that Flashover needed him most. He approaches the overwrought mech and softly calls to him. "Flashover."

Robustus meets the other mech's gaze, his silver optics darkening into a tarnished pewter in shade. He steps around Horizon, apparently having found his set of steel bearings, "Complacent? No, I was not that at all. I had no idea they had him until they ordered me to fix him. Yes I admit I fixed him to keep him alive. Only for him to be tortured again. You have no idea how that made me feel." his voice is calm, but his body is trembling with all the emotions he's been keeping in check. "If I could have been in his place I would have done so gladly. You want to end me, fine. Take out an unarmed medic and you are no better than a Decepticon."

Smokescreen has an idea, then. //Comm to First Aid and Groove. This is Smokescreen of the Iacon Medical division. I require assistance at the Red Guardian inn...your caretaker, Flashover, is...distraught.//

Elita One is still holding onto Flashover's arm, perhaps to try and keep him from charging toward the former Decepticon. She tosses an apologetic glance toward Robustus but then lets Smokescreen do his headshrinking thing.

Flashover snarls lowly at the three Autobots around him, but doesn't make a move to even shake off Elita's hand, much less try to get past them. "/What?/" He demands of both the femme and Smokescreen at their attempts to get his attention; if he noticed Horizon's remark, he doesn't say anything about it. But then Robustus speaks and his focus snaps back onto the medic, vents still heaving angrily. "I said I /should/, not that I would. I may not be a good enough mech to resist it myself, but I've got six mechs counting on me to do the right thing, and much as I want it to, that don't include ripping you apart piece by piece." He fires back at Robustus, forcing his rotors to still. "You want to call /me/ no better than a Decepticon, you have to do something for me. Next time you've got a breem, sit down and think about every Autobot and neutral that's died since you got involved in this war. Think about everyone that cared about them, all their friends, their allies, their associates. Directly or not, /you/ made their deaths possible. /You/ did that. If you can be okay with that, if you can make /peace/ with that, then it doesn't slagging matter if you swore anything to them or whether that symbol's on your chassis- you got it carved right in your fragging /spark./"

Horizon has not patience for martyrs and sternly throws an arm out, barring Robustus from moving in front of him, and still giving him some cover. However, with tensions flaring, he does no reproach Robustus just then, and may not even when things have settled. His optics stay focused intently upon Flashover, but he makes no further comments. He said his piece and made his intentions clear. Nothing more was necessary.

First Aid steps through the door into the Red Guardian quietly, Groove following a few steps behind him and almost bumping into him when he stops short, looking for Smokescreen or Flashover, and spotting them, makes his way across the inn. "Hi Smokescreen- Flashover, Elita One, Robustus. Horizon." He greets everyone with a slightly awkward smile, looking back and forth between the obviously agitated heliformer, the former Decepticon, and Smokescreen, who had sent the comm in the first place.

Robustus narrows his optics at the mech at his words. They stung. A lot. His words are soft now, "I have thought about it and there is not a moment that I regret the moment I stepped into Polyhex for just the point you have made. I made it possible for their warriors to fight. I was not the only one, but I had my part in it. Can I make peace with it, that is not for you to know. The state of my spark is for Primus to judge, not you. So I say to you good cycle." then he looks to Horizon, "I'll be in my room." then a look at First Aid, "If you see Lifeline, tell her to hurry it up. I will not wait much longer."

Horizon nods to Robustus, agreeing that it would be best for him to retire to his room. He takes a few steps back, wary of turning his back to Flashover just yet, but with First Aid present, he was reassured that the large mech would not attempt anything rash, just as he said he would not for their sakes. With that, Horizon decides to escort Robustus all the way back to his room.

Groove looks between everyone assembled with a frown, not sure what to do. "Is everything alright?" He asks slowly, giving Smokescreen a curious glance. Part of him is relieved that Robustus is leaving, but he's not sure what brought the whole fight on, and he looks back at Flashover in confusion.

Flashover's attention snaps to the two mechs as they enter, and his expression softens slightly. But then Robustus makes his request, and his optics narrow again. "Don't you dare speak to him. You haven't got the /right./" He growls lowly at the medic, rotors clinking together for a moment before stilling. Deciding to ignore the grey mech now that he isn't an issue any longer, he puts on a smile and turns to both the young mechs. "Hey. Sorry 'bout that." He says warmly, optics brightening as he looks the two of them over.

First Aid frowns at Flashover, but looks at Robustus. "I will, when I see her next, Robustus- I'm sorry you're so unhappy here." He watches the other medic leave before turning back to Flashover. "What did you say to him, anyway?"

Smokescreen nods to First Aid and Groove. "I think it would be best if we went over here for a moment. Do you agree?" His tone is pleasant and calm.

Elita One watches Robustus depart, then -- and only then -- she lets go of Flashover's arm and steps out of the way. You know, not even that mid-grade is very appetizing anymore. She starts toward the exit, pausing by the two younger mechs who just arrived. "Stay safe, okay?"

First Aid nods to Smokescreen. "Um, sure?" He smiles at Elita One. "We will, you take care too, okay?"

Groove nods slowly at Smokescreen's suggestion, still looking rather confused. "Sure." He agrees quietly, smiling at the other mechs. He turns to Elita, offering her a small bow and wave as she leaves. "Goodbye, Elita. You as well." He says politely, smiling to her too.

Elita One nods to First Aid and Groove, giving the latter a brief pat on one shoulder as she departs quietly.

Flashover looks down at Smokescreen and nods, though something occurs to him at the last astrosecond, and he turns sheepishly to the visibly annoyed bartender. "Er, I'll pay for the repairs." He offers, scratching his helm as he shifts his attention away from the muttering mech to his new companions. "I, uh... I called him a slagging Decepticon and it kinda went from there." He admits quietly, not too proud of himself at the moment even with his foggy processor.

Smokescreen nods. He knows only a little of Robustus's history, but Flashover's anger response, in Smokey's opinion, is not only expected but /healthy/. "It's fine, Flashover. Have a seat, I'll talk that barkeep out of a soothing Vosnian midgrade. You make yourselves comfortable." He moves off briefly to do just that, negotiating with the barkeep.

First Aid sighs and turns to follow Flashover. "Flashover, Robustus helped me. He did everything he could, when I was there. I know he was a Decepticon, but he's not, anymore. He gave up his entire life- and his bonded- to help get me out." He squeezes Flashover's arm, trying to signal that he's not mad, just a little baffled by the vehemence of Flashover's antipathy.

Groove hesitates for a moment before heading for the table, pulling a chair over from one of the other tables and taking a seat himself. He leans forward to rest his elbows on the table, listening quietly to First Aid's conversation with the heliformer and quashing down the guilt that the words try to bring up.

Flashover gives Smokescreen an utterly confused look- he'd expected to be yelled at, not offered energon and told to make himself comfortable. Chalking it up to the general oddness doorwinged mechs display at times, he turns his attention to First Aid, expression softening as he struggles to figure out how to explain himself. He drops into one of the few chairs capable of holding a mech of his size and weight, huffing air out his vents quietly. "First Aid... That doesn't make it okay. No matter what excuses he makes, what happened will never be okay." Even the mention of Robustus losing his bonded doesn't earn any sympathy; if anything, it only brings a stab of vindication.

Smokescreen returns with a tray full of small pale azure cubes. He sets one before each mech before seating and serving himself. "I am pleased that you have joined me this night. Flashover, Groove, I am First Aid's therapist. You are his family. His experience has affected you, as well, so.I wished to ascertain your status as well."

First Aid offers Smokescreen a distracted smile, but keeps most of his attention on Flashover. "What happened /will/ be okay, because it has to be. I can't imagine how you feel, but please, don't take it out on Robustus because you're upset at what happened to me. It wasn't his fault. I don't blame him, you shouldn't either."

Groove tilts his head curiously at the color of the energon, as he's never seen that kind or anything like it. He looks up at Smokescreen in surprise, though when he thinks about it, the Autobots having a therapist made sense. "Pleasure to meet you, Smokescreen." He says mildly, offering the mech a smile.

"I..." Flashover's shoulders droop as First Aid speaks, making his rotors clang against one another with the movement. "Slaggit, youngling. I'm supposed to be the one comforting /you/, not the other way around." He very nearly whines, only the knowledge that he raised these mechs keeping him from pouting like a newspark.

First Aid reaches over and squeezes Flashover's arm again with a small smile.

Smokescreen smiles gently. "Drink up, mechs, and celebrate the fact that you function for another day! Besides," and with this he gives a mischevious grin, "It would be a crime against Primus himself to waste this stuff!"

First Aid picks up the cube carefully, eyeign the lightly glowing blue energon. "What /is/ this stuff, anyway?" He sips it, tentatively.

Smokescreen sips his with satisfaction. "Midgrade from Vos. It's old, it's good, and it's relaxing without laying you out on your aft."

Groove is less hesitant, taking the cube and downing a good third of it without question. He chokes a little for a moment before laughing. "Wasn't expecting that." He admits, intakes still sputtering a little in response. "It's good, though."

Flashover doesn't look too thrilled at the fact it's mid-grade but picks up his own cube anyway, sipping it slightly. He silently admits to himself it /is/ good, but he won't say that. "So is there any reason I'm not currently getting my aft verbally handed to me right now?" He asks Smokescreen, tone dry.

Smokescreen nods. "Fairly hard to come by, as well, but everyone deserves something special. To business, though- I witnessed Flashover's response to the former Decepticon medic, and I got...concerned." He turns to the medic in training, then, Smokescreen's optics seeking out First.Aid's visor. "They are your family. That means that they are a source of comfort to you. However...insularity leads to problems such as antisocial tendencies, possible agoraphobia, and a desire to shut oneself away from the unfamiliar entirely. Flashover, I will not judge your reaction. While I disagree with unneeded violence, I understand why you hate Robustus. To you, he is just as guilty as.. the rest." He turns back to Aid. "How much have you told them?"

First Aid looks down and is quiet for a moment. "Not very much. I didn't- I was worried that it would hurt them, to know." He says with a slightly anxious huff of air from his vents. "I talked to Hot Spot, a little bit, and Groove... Groove felt some of it." He looks up again, apologetic.

Groove shifts to wrap an arm around First Aid, leaning slightly into his brother. "And I told you not to worry about that, Aid. We just want to help. Sometimes you have to hurt someone to help them." He says softly, resting his helm against First Aid's.

Flashover's optic ridges draw down at that, looking between all three of them in confusion. "Wait, what? What do you mean- Groove felt some of it? He was here, how in the name of Primus could he have felt anything?"

First Aid puts his arm over Groove's in a hug. "I know you did. But I just... didn't want to. I don't want to hurt anyone." He breaks off to blink curiously at Flashover. "You didn't know? I thought- well, you said our creators didn't tell you very much, I forgot. We're gestalt- part of a combiner team. That's why they wanted to keep us secret." He looks down. "That's why the Decepticons wanted me."

Smokescreen nods, sipping from his cube and thinking for a moment. "How much , if anything, may I speak of, to these two only, First Aid?" He'll keep confidentiality if his patient insists, but it was Smokescreen's opinion that now was a good time to broach delicate subjects.

".../What?!/" Flashover's exclamation earns a few odd looks, but nobody seems too keen on getting near the apparently homicidal helicopter and quickly turn back to their previous activities. "What- but- that's not /possible./ There haven't been any gestalts for, Primus, /decavorns./ That's..." He shakes his head, glancing down at the cube in his hand. "Did I drink myself to system glitches again?"

Groove makes a quiet noise of surprise at Flashover's response, but doesn't draw himself away from First Aid. "You didn't know?" He sounds as confused as the larger mech looks, leaning more heavily on his brother as he glances at him. "Think of it like surgery, Aid. You might have to hurt us, but you'll be fixing us too. Please?"

First Aid takes another cautious sip from the cube in front of him before answering Smokescreen. "If you think it's important, it's okay. I just-" He shrugs helplessly. Flashover, thankfully, interjects then, and First Aid looks up at him before replying. "It's hard to believe, I know, but that's what they were doing- why we're brothers." He sighs at Groove. "Surgery involves sensor blocks and being put into stasis." He offers a very small smile. "But I take your point. If- as long as you're sure you really want to hear it." First Aid looks down at the cube of midgrade in his hand. "I just.. I don't want to hurt you guys." He looks back up at Smokescreen. "Whatever you want to tell them is fine, I just- I can't do it myself."

Smokescreen looks at First Aid first, then at Groove and Flashover. His expression is equally sad, sympathetic, and comforting. "First Aid was led into a trap by a Decepticon trickster who wore.the face of one he trusted. Once he arrived in Polyhex, he was given over to Vortex, who..." He stops, anger in his optics, but it was painfully evident that this anger was directed at the 'Cons. "Vortex attempted to torture information from First Aid, to discover more about his gestaltmates. First Aid resisted much of this, losing a hand and an optic to Vortex's insanity." He stops for a moment to allow this to sink in.

Groove heaves air quietly out his vents and rests his head against First Aid's. That much, he'd known, though he hadn't had a name to put with the damages. Setting down his cube of energon, he lets his hand rest on the table, palm up, making a silent offer to his brother if he wanted to take it.

Flashover's engine rumbles angrily as he listens to Smokescreen describe what happened to First Aid, and it's only the presence of the two younger mechs that stops him from reacting more violently. He's still struggling to process the earlier bit of information- Primus, they were a /gestalt?/ Why would anyone let him near such an important group of mechs, much less trust him to raise them?- but his processor latches onto that name with a vehemence. Narrowing his optics slightly, he sits back, the chair pressing uncomfortably against his rotors and keeping them from moving.

First Aid stares down at the table and the cube in his hand silently, his vent cycles measured and even, although his fans have kicked in and there's tension visible in the careful way he holds onto the cube.

Smokescreen notes the reactions of Groove and Flashover- one there to protect and comfort, the other wishing vengeance. Healthy enough. He sips from his cube and continues. "During his ordeals he was treated by the Decepticon medical staff...Vortex was not kind. They decided to free him...but not before Starscream came to berate him. We also think they may have gotten his gestalt coding at some point. The important thing to remember is that First Aid was strong enough in will not to break. He did not give the names of his brothers- they know of Groove only from a datapad containing personal correspondence. He lives...and is beating himself up partially thinking that since he defied orders, he somehow invited the torment." Smokescreen eyes First Aid at that, to check his emotional response. Smokescreen continues, "I am sorry to report that one of those who assisted in your escape was murdered by Megatron for her part in it."

"Shred. Robustus's bonded." First Aid says, near inaudibly. "Even though she tried to deactivate me before." His optics remain focusd on the table in front of him, unable to look up at Groove and Flashover, not certain what he'll see.

"Aid..." Groove pulls away from First Aid slightly, frowning at his brother. "None of this is your fault. Why would you think that?" He asks, sounding genuinely confused by the very idea. "You didn't do anything wrong, they did. And I told you already, I don't care if they know about me. All that matters is that you're safe." He huffs air out his vents quietly when he notices the intent way Aid is staring at the table. "Please look at me?"

Flashover crosses his arms over his chest, forcing down his instinctive response to that. The mention of losing a bonded strikes far too personally, and he forces down the reaction before it can even begin, focusing on the rest of Smokescreen's little report. "You didn't do slag to deserve this, yo- First Aid." Frag. He thought he'd had that under control. "Just because they're messed-up glitches doesn't make you need to beat yourself up over it. And if they want to come after any of you..." His optics darken in anger, rotors clanking together quietly despite being pinned. "Let 'em. I'm not going anywhere, and Cybertron will fail before they'll get past me."

First Aid looks up, first at Groove, then at Flashover. "I'm sorry- I know it's not my fault. Really, I do!" He pauses, fans cycling a little bit higher with anxiety. "It's just- I don't know. It's hard. I keep thinking that if I'd done things differently-" He shakes his head as if shaking off the what ifs. "Mostly, I just wish it hadn't happened." He carefully puts his hand down over Groove's and squeezes it gently, venting a little bit harder as he does so.

Smokescreen nods at the interplay between the three, encouraged. "Is there anything you wanted to add, First Aid, that I left out?" Smokescreen knew the medic didn't want to discuss this, but he had to ask.

First Aid shakes his head. What else is there to say, really?

Groove curls his fingers around First Aid's hand, returning the squeeze with absolute care so as not to hurt his brother. The increased sound of his fans doesn't go unnoticed, and the cycleformer's frown deepens. "Aid, if you don't want to talk about this yet, you don't have to. I /do/ want to know- but only when you're ready for me to. Okay? Please don't feel like you have to do this because of us."

First Aid shakes his head. "It's not- not because of you. Or not mostly. I just .. I want it all back to normal. I want to go back to work and have everything back the way it was before." He grips Groove's hand tightly, obviously focusing on it as a source of support. "I want to stop being afraid of things, and just... have it all the way it was."

Smokescreen nods to Groove. "Your care will help him." He clears his intake, then. "So will getting about and doing things...outside your quarters, First Aid. You are safe within Iacon. However, you expressed an interest in continuing your training, to 'earn your crosses', I believe you said." He continues gently. "This may be hard, because mechs will be brought to you with trauma, both physical and mental, similar to what you've experienced. You cannot go back to how it was before, as easy as that sounds. You must face now, First Aid. Fortunately, you have those who love you nearby."

Flashover watches all of this silently, his very spark aching as he struggles with himself. On one hand, every line of code and programming he has is screaming for him to /do something/ and comfort First Aid the only way he knows how. But he's also painfully aware that, no matter how little time has passed and how much he wants otherwise, these mechs aren't the wide-opticked younglings he raised. Slag, he wished Coruscate was here. He'd have some idea of what to do. "First Aid..." He says slowly, rebooting his vocalizer to clear the static from his voice. "I... I know you're not a youngling anymore, and you don't even really remember me, and that you don't need protecting or coddling, but... But I'll be here for you, alright? Anything you need, you can come to me for. Don't care what it is. Okay?"

"Thank you, Flashover." First AId says quietly. He looks up at the bigger mech. "I appreciate it, I really do." He squeezed Groove's hand again before turning his gaze to Smokescreen. "I'm lucky- I know I'm lucky, Robustus doesn't have anyone. Lifeline basically lost her clinic. And- I don't blame myself for those things!" He hastens to add. "I just don't know what to /do/ now, even with everyone trying to help me." First Aid shrugs uncomfortably.

Smokescreen cocks an eyeridge at his statement about blame. "Robustus and Lifeline made their own decisions and must live with them. You, especially now, need to focus on yourself. Feeling lost is normal, to be expected...but if you do nothing at all you will not be able to move past this as easily as you could with a fulfilling function."

First Aid shakes his head, agreeing with Smokescreen. "Ratchet said I can go back on shift soon. Well, he said two orns, but it's been almost that." He smiles- a real smile. "I'm looking forward to that."

Flashover nods jerkily in response to First Aid, settling back in his chair and falling silent. He isn't sure what else to say- he has no idea how to help his youngling and it's killing him. His lips twitch into a slight smile when First Aid smiles, and he can't help a quiet chuckle. "You've always loved fixing mechs."

Smokescreen smiles back. "If anybot can help your self-confidence, it's Ratchet."

First Aid turns the smile on Flashover. "That's what you said before. I wish I remembered." He lets go of Groove's hand long enough to reach out and pat Flashover's arm gently.

Groove smiles at First Aid, glad that his brother is apparently feeling better. "Of course, then we'll all be busy, and who knows when we'll get to see each other." He teases, bumping his shoulder into First Aid's gently. "I'm glad you're going back. You seem so excited for it."

Smokescreen grins. "One more thing. You are apparently a team of combiners. Learning your altmodes and how to combine will help First Aid tremendously. I suggest meeting with the science team about this."

Flashover responds to the smile with a grin of his own, letting his arms drop from their crossed position. "Not your fault you don't, First Aid. Even if that doesn't get fixed, I suppose I can be bothered to make new memories with you." He ignores the pang of guilt at the thought that they'd never remember Coruscate, focusing on the moment instead.

First Aid squeezes Flashover's arm again before glancing back at Smokescreen. "I- Hot Spot had the same idea- well, a similar one- earlier this orn. I'm hoping to talk to Perceptor or Wheeljack as soon as Ratchet lets me back in the medbay- I never see them except when they come through on their way to their lab." He shakes his head. "I honestly think they might actually recharge in there." He smiles.

Smokescreen chuckles. "They might." He drains his cube, then, and surveys the family...yes, family before him. They would get through this, one way or another.

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