casusfere: (Burny)
[personal profile] casusfere
Title: Fracture Critical
Chapter: 1: Stress Point
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Aftermath of character death, grieving, Slingshot making bad choices
Universe: G1
Summary: Slingshot can't stop reliving the night they died. Following Shattered.



"Don't you dare give up on me," growled a voice, familiar and...the rest of the thought slipped out his grasp.

Everything was white light and pain, shadowed figures and strangely muffled sound. Even the scream of the armor saw was a distorted distant buzz. The voice was the only thing he could hear clearly.

"No! Hang on, just a little bit longer-"

He tried to reach for the sound, tried to find something solid in this strange place to hold on to, but his body didn't respond.

"Please," the voice dropped to a hoarse whisper, close by his audio, a blurred shadow falling over him, so close he could almost feel the EM field. "Please, Silverbolt-"


Slingshot jerked out of recharge, pushing himself up, fuel pump racing. Uncontrollable shudders ran down the lengths of his wings.

An arm tightened around his midsection. "You okay there, Slingshot?" Blades asked sleepily.

No, he wanted to say. He wanted to bury his face in Blades' shoulder and sob. He wanted... he wanted his brothers.

Enough, he told himself harshly. "I'm fine," he forced out.

Blue optics glowed softly int he darkness, coming online to look him over. There was something gentle and sad in the gaze, like Blades could see the cracks Slingshot could feel in his spark.

Slingshot hated that look. He hated the gentleness, hated being treated like he was some broken thing hat would shatter with rough handling. Like he was something to be fixed.

He vented air raggedly, finally managing to still the tremors in his wings, and dropped heavily back to the berth, his face turned away from Blades. After a moment, Blades settled back against him, hold him tightly like he could keep all the pieces together by physical strength alone.

Slingshot offlined his optics and forced his systems back into recharge before he could give in to the need to bury himself in Blades' arms.

x-x-x


When Ratchet returned to the medbay, Slingshot was waiting for him, perched on the edge of a berth and staring blankly at the wall.

The jet was remarkably unscuffed - it looked like for once he hadn't been brawling, the most common reason he landed in medbay lately. "Alignment problem?" he guessed. Chronic problems with fan blade alignment plagued the jet, a side effect of a flying style his frame couldn't keep up with. Ratchet had long ago stopped admonishing Slingshot to be careful in the air. Even before the loss of the gestalt, something dark drove the jet past his physical limits, and no amount of reasoning made an impact.

Slingshot shook his head. "Aileron jamming." He tilted a wing to demonstrate.

"Looks like buildup in the hinge," Ratchet grunted, carefully examining the offending joint. "An easy fix," he added, watching the jet out of the corner of his optic. It was a common enough problem, and one Slingshot was perfectly capable of handling himself. The jet was adept at diagnosing his own mechanical failures -- he had enough practice at it -- so if he was here, there was something else.

Slingshot nodded absently, confirming Ratchet's suspicions. Ratchet was debating whether or not to push the issue when Slingshot spoke again.

"I keep dreaming."

Ratchet glanced up from his careful manipulation of the aileron, intending to say something soothing, but something in the jet's posture stopped him. Slingshot looked... exhausted. His head was down, shoulders slumped, optics fixed on the floor.

"About the others?" Ratchet asked quietly. Primus, he didn't want to talk about them. Even thinking about them made his spark ache, but he wouldn't, couldn't turn Slingshot away, not now.

Slingshot jerked his head, an aborted shake. "No. I don't know." His cooling system kicked in, and Ratchet absently noted a pitch shift in one of the intakes. He'd have to schedule it to be checked next time Slingshot was in for engine maintenance. Focusing on the physical problems in front of him was soothing, routine, and helped him not show the grief he was feeling.

He stepped back and picked up rag to clean off his hands, giving the jet some space. "If you don't want to tell me," he said, "You can talk to Smokescreen."

Slingshot shook his head, hands tightening on the berth edge. "I... I was dreaming about here," he said finally, jerking his chin to indicate the medbay. "When-" he faltered.

Ratchet laid a comforting hand on Slingshot's wing, then pretended to have been checking the movement of his wingflaps when the jet flinched. The familiarity of the action seemed to soothe the jet, too, and after a moment, Slingshot relaxed into the touch.

"I couldn't see," Slingshot said finally. "But I heard..." he reset his vocalizer. "I heard you."

"I imagine you did," Ratchet said calmly, shifting the wing back so he could check the baffles. "When our conscious minds can't make sense of a trauma, our defrag protocols have difficulty categorizing the memory for allocation-"

"It's not a memory," Slingshot interrupted harshly. "I've been dealing with those since I woke up. This was... different."

"How so?" Ratchet asked.

"I..." Slingshot visibly struggled to find words. "I remember what happened in the medbay. I know what I saw, what I heard, and this is different." He looked directly at Ratchet for the first time since he came in. "You were begging Silverbolt not to die."

Ratchet flinched, and for a moment,he could almost hear the saw, smell burnt energon and hydraulic fluid, feel the hairline fracture in the spark casing under his fingertips-

He smoothed his fingers along the edge of the baffle under his hand, letting the familiar metal ground him. How many times had he repaired these wings? He'd lost track. Enough to know the shape and movement of every joint. He could remember the cold frame they'd pulled the metal and circuitry from, stripping electronics and re-forging armor to build something the Autobots had never created before.

"There's a lot we still don't know about the gestalt technology," he admitted, releasing the baffle. "Shared memories is something you experienced before-"

"No," Slingshot said flatly. "We didn't. Superion did. Superion had access to all of our memory banks, and if he accessed it, we all remembered it. But Superion wasn't there."

"Superion was a conglomeration of all five of you," Ratchet said reasonably. "He's a part of you. It's not unthinkable that the gestalt protocols allowed some sort of memory transfer-"

"You don't get it," Slingshot snapped in frustration. "Superion wasn't us. We were bits of him. You could retool me and 'Flight, and we'll never be able to combine, because we're missing three-fifths of Superion. He died when Skydive died.There is no mystical connection between any us," Slingshot ground out. "So why am I remembering what happened to 'Bolt?"

No mystical connection? Maybe not 'mystical', Ratchet thought. He remembered that night,too - Skydive, spark guttering, answered almost immediately by the squeal of monitors on Air Raid, then Silverbolt, then Slingshot, like a cascading failure that they couldn't get ahead of... "I don't know, Slingshot," he said instead.

"Yeah." Slingshot blew air out his exhaust. "I just wish..." He shook his head and straightened, pushing himself off the berth. "Thanks anyway, doc."

x-x-x

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