Authorís Note: The stories regarding the Sentinel Arc were done with permission by Birgit ĎGryphí Stabler back in 2000. While there are other stories in the works, these are what is currently completed and entire. If you have not read any of Gryphís work, you may find it on Fanfiction.net under the Transformers genre or you can go to her website: http://home.arcor.de/helgastaebler/tf/table.html

However, if you are new to these stories, you will not be lost for long, I have taken great lengths to explain the whole Interface process so as to be easily understood. If you still have questions, feel free to email me. :)

yours,

T.L. Arens


BODY AND SOUL

"Now say Ďahí."

"Ahhhh."

"Oh, my! Will you just look at that!" Dr. Kyle Scott clicked his tongue in a little jest. "Off hand Iíd say you were taking singing lessons, there, young lady!"

The little ten year-old gave him a broad smile and she lifted her chin proudly.

"You know," Kyle continued as he scribbled notes on his chart, "Iím willing to bet we can underhandedly sneak a balloon from Nurse Tetherís smock pocket. Donít you think so?"

The little girl gazed at the nurse who only raised a brow, long since tired of Kyleís ever-patient work with the people who visited the clinic for immunization shots. The child read weariness and loss of endurance in Tetherís face and shook her head. "Sheíd catched you and youíd have to go someplace where they lock bad people up."

Kyle gave the girl a look the nurse had never seen him give anyone before. She smirked and laughed.

Kyle ignored her. "Youíre not considering becoming an ambassador for the Autobots, are you, Charline?" He asked as he wrote up a prescription for high-potent vitamin-A and C tablets. He remembered once treating the girlís mother when she was just Charlineís age. Time goes by and it still did not recognize Dr. Scottís appearance. He looked the very same now, as he did the day he interfaced with Sentinel warrior Voodoo. Although the two talked on many occasions, they were never very close. Kyle had his work as a general practitioner/xenobiolgist when the need arose and Voodoo did . . . whatever Voodoo did.

"I donít know." The baby shrugged.

"Well, Iíll tell you-" Kyle reached for a slip of paper and wrote the prescription down again for Charlineís mother. "-you study hard and Iím willing to bet youíll either be a diplomat, or a really good singer."

Tether reached into her smock pocket and handed Charline a balloon.

"Well!" Kyle said in mock surprise. "How about that? Our nurse friend here decided to grow tired of a pesky doctor trying to make friends by snitching balloons from her! Thank you, Tether." He smiled warmly.

"Thank you, Miss Tether." Charline helped herself off the table and her mother came in a moment later.

"Well, no more strep throat on that side of the family." Kyle confirmed. He was sorry for the exodus that took place when so many people defected from Earth after the Autobots left. As with so many other inter-planetary explorers, the Humans had brought some of their own diseases to Cybertron with them. "Sheís in good health." He reported, pocketing his ink pen. "Let her outside more than once in a while. Iíve written a prescription for some vitamins."

The woman smiled right at Kyle himself, amused that he hadnít looked any different now than he did when she was Charlineís age. "Thank you, Kyle." She batted her long eyelashes and gave the tired nurse a glance. She sorta hoped Tether didnít see the long line that still waited for them.

She left the room as Kyleís beeper paged him. He glanced at it and memorized the number and welcomed the next child into the room with same calmness he had for Charline.

Kyle welcomed seventeen more patients before another doctor came to replace him. A couple of people who knew him and came to see him personally were disappointed, but Kyle had been working since five-thirty that morning and needed a good rest. He tousled one boyís straight blonde hair and said hello to a couple of the mothers he also knew from their childhood and made way toward the break room. His pager beeped again and Kyle silenced it and made the call from the visiphone.

The face of a half-human, half-alien woman came on screen. She smiled broadly and held up a manuscript. "Hey," she called. "I got it rewritten. Wanna look at it?"

Kyle stared at someoneís attempt to romanticize the life of an Interface and the weariness helped him to keep a straight face. "Not tonight, Lelel." He replied quietly. "Itís been too long a day."

She pouted. Not that it bothered Kyle. She had been chasing him down for the last week, pestering him to tell her everything about his life, insisting she see him every day. He yawned and covered his mouth. "Excuse me."

"Awe. Long day? I could come over and give you a really nice massage. Itíll cure your weariness in a jiffy."

He gave her a Ďprofessionalí smile. "I have to go, Lelel. We can talk later."

"Okay." She pouted again. He really didnít want to hurt her feelings. But after all, he needed space.

"Bye-bye." He sounded a little more cheerful.

"Bye."

He hung up and answered the second message, a recording came on over his A/V mail. Optimus Primeís face appeared on the screen, forcing Kyle to take a sudden step back, surprised the Autobot leader would be calling him. "Hello, Dr. Scott," the recording greeted. "I have an off-world assignment for you if youíre willing to take it. Thereís an unknown medical case on Chenobis and they had asked specifically for you. Contact me if youíre interested. Prime out."

Always straight to the point, Kyle mused inwardly. He replied to the call, via typed memo, his fingers flying over the small keypad and sent it off.

"Going home, Dr. Scott?" Tether asked as she passed him and gathered her coat.

"As fast as I can fly." Kyle turned and smiled at her.

She stared at him, her face blank. She shook her head. "Wish I had half the patience you do."

Kyle took that as a double-connotation and chuckled.

The nursed wondered what he was laughing at, at first then realized what she had said and smiled. "Good night, Dr. Scott."

The visaphone called just as Scott entered his quarters. He clicked it on as he dumped his coat over a chair and undid his tie.

"Hello, Kyle." Came Primeís soft voice.

"Good evening, Optimus Prime. Did you get my message?"

"Yes. Thank you. Whatís this about?" He turned away and loosened his shirt and slipped out of his shoes.

"Thereís a patient on Chenobis whoís suffering from a strange mental condition. The hospital in the capital city had asked if we could help out."

Kyle thought it briefly over. "Vacation time?"

The Autobot leader smiled with his optics. "I can arrange that, yes."

"Okay." Kyle finally smiled, feeling lighter. "When do I leave?"

"Tomorrow. Iíll have all other business amended."

It meant Prime would contact the hospital where Kyle worked, rearranging all the necessary rigamarole.

Voodoo was assigned to accompany Kyle to Chenobis. But the Sentinel wasnít too happy about it. He remained mostly quiet during their voyage until the transport dropped them from orbit.

"Well, I suppose it was inevitable." The sleek dark blue Sentinel jet muttered.

Kyle didnít answer right away. He scanned over notes on Chenobian physiology, placing some of it into memory and making other amended notes in his book. "Iím sorry, Voodoo." He finally returned. "What was that?"

"Oh, sure!" The Sentinel snarled. "Ignore me when Iím in a crisis! There you sit all comfy and purdy and I, your humble slave, have to drive you to your destination but you donít have the courtesy to listen to a thing I say!"

Kyle pretended to yawn. "I didnít know I was such a burden to you. Maybe we should have asked for other partners."

"That does it!" Voodoo snipped. "Just slice open my processors and smear acid all over them! Was it fun for you?"

"You should only be so lucky." Kyle grunted. "You could have ended up with someone worse than me."

"I could only hope." Voodoo grunted.

Kyle sniggered to himself, knowing Voodoo was only giving him a hard time. "Iíll remember that come our next conversation."

But Voodoo fell very silent and Kyle realized Voodooís mood suddenly swung to his proverbial sleeve and the jet pouted. The doctor inwardly rolled his eyes.

Dr. Zenthemp greeted Kyle cordially and Doctor Scott found he liked the deep grey skin that diversified this species of people from his own. Most of them had dark hair, a few had brown, grey or white.

Zenthemp led Kyle to the patientís room. Kyle liked the hospital. Large windows on the north allowed plenty of light into the halls. Outside stood a grand garden, tended with great care. Some of the upper windows were marked with stained or frosted glass, forming a mosaic of religious or comforting portraits. The floors were well-kept and the staff proved very friendly.

Zenthemp opened the room and the patient greeted them with a measure of respect, and unfamiliarity.

"Hello, Beth." Zenthemp greeted cordially. "Iíd like you to meet Dr. Kyle Scott. Heís come all the way from Cybertron to meet with you."

The womanís dark eyes flitted from Zenthemp to Kyle, her face a blank page. "Do I know you?" She asked slowly.

"No, Maíam." Kyle answered politely. He liked her soft grey skin and the broadness of her shoulders. She was a strong woman, probably either worked out on a regular basis or worked in some kind of construction.

"Thatís good." Beth answered. "I donít seem to know anyone anymore."

Kyle took up her chart and gave it a professional glance, able to take in pretty much of her history in a couple of scans. "Beth, it says here youíre an archeologist, married and have two children."

She sadly shrugged.

Kyle said nothing further about it. "Well, what all can you tell me about yourself?"

Again she shrugged. "I have fleeting dreams. Cold. I walk over a land met with a bleeding sky. Something comes to me when I least expect it. It tells me it wants to make love to me. But all it does is steal more from me." Tears covered her eyes and she blinked, not bothering to wipe them off her cheeks. "Itís eating me alive."

Chills ran down Kyleís spine. "Can you tell me what it is?"

Before she could answer, Zenthemp pulled Kyle aside, politely excusing them from her presence for a moment. Kyle thought him rude and looked a bit cross until Zenthemp handed him a small collection of papers.

"Whatís this?" Kyle examined them and found odd names attacked to the upper portion.

"Bills." Zenthemp answered. "Her family turned them over to us for some examination. Theyíre bills from two psychic healers and a witch doctor, Kyle."

He stared at Zenthemp as though the other doctor had lost his mind. "Does she think sheís losing her mind?"

"If she does, sheís not far off track. We did an MRI and found about three percent of her hippocampus missing."

Kyle flinched, his brows knitted. He returned to Beth and gave her a kind smile. "Beth, what are some of the things that you know and remember?"

"I know how to do my job." She answered. "Itís not concerned with knowledge, Dr. Scott. It devours memories based on emotions, on pleasures and it creates fear and sorrow and feeds on that, too. And pain, Doctor." She reached up and smoothed Kyleís blonde-white hair, her hand trailing down over his forty-something face. "You are so beautiful." She added wistfully."

Kyle actually flushed and looked away. Zenthemp chuckled. "Well, Iím glad to see thereís a good relationship already starting here. He checked his watch. "Uh, Beth, how about we come back in an hour and go over all the tests weíve done and see where we can go from there?"

She smiled pleasantly. "Alright, Doctor."

Kyle was invited out for lunch with Zenthemp, which he could not turn down. Zenthemp went over his hospitalís history and gave some insight to their practices, which Kyle didnít think all that much different from Earthís twenty-second century medicine.

Zenthempís beeper called for his attention, demanding the two return to the hospital at once.

"So much for lunch!" He declared, grabbing a last fried potato. Kyle chuckled and followed him out the door.

 

The police had taped off the hospitalís front entrance and fought a nosy crowd. Zenthemp and Scott were given leeway and upon entering the lobby, they raced in the direction of several terrible screams. They pressed through a crowd of nurses and patients while authorities and hospital security struggled with a half-crazed woman. She slashed at several people with a glass shard, screeching at the top of her lungs. She uttered words Kyleís translator could not make out and finally, she gazed at him and started to cry.

"Beth!" Zenthemp called. "You canít do this! Youíre hurting people!"

But all she did was scream and slice the air this way, that way and down. She slashed her legs and security tried once again to suppress her. But she could not be bound. She shoved one man against the wall, the other flew through the air and crashed into three onlookers. Then she seemed to wrestle with an invisible foe and she tried to catch her breath and poised, as though frozen.

Kyle caught his breath and flinched hard when Voodoo demanded, not too kindly, what was going on. By flinching, Kyle did not see how it happened. But the very next second, Beth was dead, her body ripped to pieces by some unnatural force right there in front of them.

Then one of the male nurses uttered a horrible gurgling sound and wrested a scalpel from a nearby doctor. He sliced the medicís face with one stroke, and sliced the back of Kyleís hand in the next. Kyle jumped back, holding his hand. Fire raced under his skin and his hissed inward as it shot up his arm and coursed through his body in seconds. His shields shot up as he sank to his knees, heedless that security just shot the male nurse and herded everyone out of the hallway.

<<Kyle!>> Voodoo cried in his head. <<Kyle, whatís wrong?>>

But Doctor Scott could not answer. Someone slid his hands under Kyleís arms and dragged him out of what he realized was a blood-drenched room. He could not find Bethís body lying anywhere. But there the male nurse lay, blood seeping from the wound in his head.

They dragged Kyle into the hallway and propped him against the wall while they waited for emergency personnel. Zenthempís face came into view and he asked questions, but Kyle could not make them out.

"I think Iíve been poisoned." He said. The fire under his skin made it difficult to stay conscious.

<<Iím coming to get you right now!>> Voodoo thundered in his head.

<<You wonít fit here.>> Kyle brushed. It was the last thing he remembered.

Kyle couldnít figure out why people around him were fussing so. He had no pain. They ushered him into the nearest room and set compresses on his wound. Kyle still felt Voodooís demands running through his head. But he simply could not answer right away. Voodoo snarled, almost indignant that Scott did not answer any of his questions. Kyle merely moaned inwardly, wishing Voodoo would calm down. <<Youíre going to give me a headache.>> he tried reasonably.

<<You ARE a headache!>> Voodoo boomed through the link. <<It doesnít matter what I do, you just go right on acting as if everythingís okay.>>

But Kyle didnít feel like arguing. He drifted again when the attending nurse gave him another shot for the poison.

When he woke, Kyle found himself resting comfortably. His wound was clean and presumably mended with a laser. Dr. Di Renaowski smiled at him as she applied a light wrapping to protect his skin. "Well, youíre either in shock, Dr. Scott, or youíre the calmest individual Iíve ever met!"

Kyle examined her handiwork and met her warm smile. "Probably a little of both." He admitted quietly.

"Is there someone who can drive you home? I think it best you try not to drive."

Kyleís head cleared a little more and he sent her a reassuring smile. "Iíll be taking a taxi to my hotel. I should be alright. Thank you, Dr. Renaowski."

She shook her head. "Call me Di." She laid a grey hand on the gentle doctorís shoulder and wished he would consider residency at the hospital. But she knew the off-worlder would not think of it, not when he worked with the Cybertronians.

Voodooís urgency echoed in Kyleís head and Kyle tried again to reassure Voodoo he was going to be okay. He smiled politely at his attendant and sat up, finding his trench coat. "I really have to go. Thank you, Di."

She smiled a welcome and he departed.

The down town traffic milled about like an ant colony after a rainstorm. Kyle managed to move about two feet before having to wait another ten minutes before moving again. He could feel Voodoo wordlessly admonish him for being less than careful. The Sentinel jet was about ready to abandon his current diplomatic duties right on the spot and pluck Kyle right out of traffic. Kyle laughed quietly to himself, not meaning to hurt Voodooís feelings. But after all, what happened was unforseen.

Voodoo seethed and shut himself out for a while. Kyle frowned, suddenly feeling abandoned. The taxi moved ahead another six feet and waited. The sun set behind the cityscape, casting eerie shadows across the street. Kyle gazed up at a cheerful blue sky. It had been a very long time since heíd seen a light blue sky with a sun in it.

Someone rudely honked behind and the taxi moved another thirteen feet before pausing again. Kyle couldnít figure out why Voodoo was so worried at times, and almost antagonistic at others. They had gotten into a fight the other day, but the arguments are usually short and soon forgotten by both sides. Both really just wanted to live their own lives. Kyle loved his profession, although more often than not, he had to act like an emergency paramedic rather than a real doctor. But he supposed thatís the way things worked out.

A watery red image slipped in and out of sight.

"Did you just see that?" The cabby asked Kyle.

Kyle took a second glance across the line of cars, not sure what he almost didnít see. But he saw nothing now. "I donít know." He answered carefully. He kept staring from the back seat, waiting. The line of cars moved again and as they did so, the red watery image came back in the form of an English bull dog. Kyle blinked and gasped, swallowing air as the dogís foot crushed a car and its occupants beneath it.

The cab driver panicked and abandoned the taxi. Kyle did the same as the shadowy figure stomped on a couple more cars and explosions from a pickup truck tossed metal in every direction. People disembarked from their vehicles, screaming and the Ďghostí howled and two people disappeared into its mouth. It batted at a woman, tossing her like a rag doll across two cars and into the window of a nearby dress shop. Another paw raked out in front of the beast, slamming Kyle through the air and hard against another car.

Kyle lost his wind and fell flat on the ground, unable to move. He didnít see the manifestation spread across the area like so much smoke, then divide into three smaller versions of itself.

A terrible explosion boomed through the streets and roused Kyle back to consciousness. He lifted his head and blood poured into his eyes. He tried to blink it away and struggled toward a woman who lay nearby.

Breathing hurt. Every breath he took caused him greater pain than the last and he couldnít move his body. He stretched his arm out to the lady, but that hurt too. One of the three manifestations leapt in front of the lady and sniffed at her. She didnít respond.

Then it licked Kyleís face and in so doing, painfully extracted something from the doctor. Kyle gasped for breath. Pain shot straight up his spine and constricted him. He thought his head was going to implode at any second.

Try to breathe, he told himself. But the skin on his hands and arms merely sunk in. He was suffocating. He felt his chest cave in.

And then the dog took Kyleís right arm and side into its mouth and bit down.

Someone dragged the remains of the doctorís body out of his own blood pool. Voices shouted and drowned in his ears and in the background, someone kept whispering his name. He was vaguely aware of the city streets, the towering buildings. Kyle was told, he was told not to take the requested job, wasnít he? Distantly he heard someone mentioned blood leaking from his ears. Someone jumped to her feet and ran.

And she kept running, leaving colors in the air. The air turned breezy and Kyle found he could breathe again. Suddenly he felt better, too, not so heavy.

But the land under him bled red and the sky above him bled blue and suddenly he didnít feel so good.

He was completely alone. Half of someone he should have been. Cold. Abandoned like doll nobody wanted anymore. And he thought the buildings surrounding him tried to swallow him whole. He fell to his knees and wept. For now he had not lost one life, but two.

The wind picked up again and whispered his name, but Kyle did not know the voice. He was utterly alone. And now he realized it wasnít the land that was bleeding, but himself. He looked down at his body and found it shredded and the shock of it made him black out.

Voodoo panicked. His right side was stricken, bitten off and sewn clumsily back together. He fell from the sky and plunged hard into the salt-and-sulfur ocean. The deep currents threatened to suck him down and Voodoo wrestled with them as though fearing he would drown. But he managed to push his way past them and broke through the oceanís surface, greeting the sun-lit sky with a fear he had never felt before. Something had ripped into him.

And something had ripped Kyle out.

Voodoo felt a sense of urgency unlike anything before. He allowed his body to fold just slightly in the water then pressed with all his might out of the ocean, transformed and shot into the air.

 

Madness possessed the whole area and backed traffic up for miles, no one could get in or out. The police were forced to use land animals to move between cars and people to assist the wounded and those eight who died.

Voodooís heart broke when emergency crews lifted Kyleís lifeless form from the ground onto a stretcher. They were going to carry him back to the hospital and it was all Voodoo could do to keep himself from snatching his friend from their grasp and fleeing directly to Cybertron. After all, he told himself, there were forms and certain protocols to adhere to. And Voodoo knew he was bound by good faith to follow those rules.

But there were times when desperate measures got the best of the Sentinel. Emotion often clouded his own judgments and all Voodoo could really think about were his instincts.

Protect and care for Kyle. That always comes first. Always. Even if the two werenít half as close as the other Sentinels and their Interfaces. Kyleís life was far more precious than his own.

Far more precious.

And thatís why Voodooís irrationality finally took over and he swooped low along the panicked crowd and swept Kyle off the stretcher before the paramedics could tie him down.

Voodoo heard Kyle softly moan in pain. The Sentinel transformed around his friend, trying to be as careful as possible to prevent further injury. Then Voodoo reached hyper speed and phased off-planet.

"Hey, looks like the Ďol ticker still works in there, eh, Voodoo?"

The Sentinel activated his optics, finding himself in Skywolfís lab. The old Sentinel chuckled softly and put away a scanner.

One second.

Two.

Three.

Voodoo shot up and would have transformed and smashed through the walls had an assistant not activated a reinforcement field. "KYLE!!" He cried. "Oh, Primus! Kyle! Kyle!"

"Theyíre caring for him even as we speak." Skywolf answered as soothingly as patience allowed. "We brought the two of you in as soon as you were found. Now, what happened to you two?"

Voodooís mind rushed with urgency and fear. A coldness filled him and he tried ever so desperately to Reach his friend via their mental link and he received nothing. But Skywolfís voice found its way through the Sentinelís fearfulness and after repeating his question twice, Skywolf finally got the answers he was after:

"I-I donít know, Sky. I was flying over the ocean one moment, then I felt terrible pain and I fell. And all I could think of was Kyle; something had attacked him at the hospital, and then something else attacked him in the streets. I tried to get him to talk-aaagghh!" Voodooís form bucked against the force field holding him to the medical flat. The field snapped and buzzed in protest. Skywolf and his assistants rushed to get Voodoo calmed.

"Heís acting like heís going through link-separation!" Chaos cried.

"But Kyleís still alive!" Skywolf denied. "Get me four quams of phaseem!"

Voodooís life signs flattened, his body suddenly collapsed into motionlessness.

"Heís in shock!" The nurse called.

And Skywolf ejected a nanite capsule straight into Voodooís system.

All Kyle heard were muffled sounds and distant lights. Pain danced madly up and down his body, lancing his right side several times. He was sure his arm wasnít there anymore and he would now bleed to death. He didnít know where he was; the hospital, perhaps.

"Iím losing him!" Jill announced. They raced around the table, trying desperately to save Kyle as his life drained with blood that flowed out his ears. Jill was hard put to keep her concentration as fear kept trying to get in the way. The tried three different stimulants until Jill finally decided to administer shock treatment to bring Kyle out of flat line. "Clear!" Jill rang

No result.

"Again!" She ordered. The machine recharged and an eternity stretched between each level until it hit ninety percent and Jill warned her staff before trying again to shock Doctor Scott back to life.

Her own breath came laboriously. Jill could sense Skywolf struggle to get Voodoo to fight but he was getting nowhere either. "Come on!" She shouted. "Kyle, dammit! Fight!"

"Pulse!" A nurse announced.

Jill set the panels down and scanned Kyleís body again. In addition to the bruises she just gave him, a strange bite-mark pattern of welts had formed over the right side of his chest, curving down around his back. She said nothing to her assistants but frowned inwardly and scanned him once more, only a little satisfied that they had brought him out of deathís grip and into the land of unconsciousness.

Voodoo managed to pull himself out of despair long enough to regain consciousness. All he could think of was Kyle. His entire soul had shut reality and the universe out. A sea of emptiness filled him. Something was ripping his guts out. Something was tearing at their Interface.

A few moments later, the Sentinelís visual sensors activated and he came face to face with Skywolf and a very worried Midnight.

Both of them asked him questions, but Voodoo couldnít answer either of them. Kyle! Kyle! He was dying! He was going to lose that perfect part of himself and . . . and Voodoo simply could not live on without Kyle. He could not live on knowing that a precious part of his own soul had faded out. Voodoo would rather be transfixed, lose his identity as a Transformer, than to lose Kyle. Why couldnít they just slice off one of his arms or legs and cripple him for all eternity if but to allow Kyle to live?

Why? Why in Primus did this happen?

Kyle, Kyle, Kyle!

Please! Please! He thought, just let me see Kyle! Let me near him just so I know heís okay!

"Voodoo." Midnightís soft voice finally drew his friendís attention.

"I canít feel him anymore, Mid. Heís dying, isnít he? Kyleís dying."

"I donít know. But I talked with Jill and she said it was okay for you to stay in the room as long as you promise to behave yourself and stay out of their way."

It was hope. There was hope and it grew with a great deal of gratitude toward his thoughtful leader. Voodooís countenance brightened and he vigorously nodded.

The dark blue, opticless Sentinel jet found a seat against the wall in Kyleís room. Nurses came and left every fifteen minutes, ignoring him as if he were just another piece of furniture. All he could do was sit and stare. He wanted so desperately to take Kyle in his arms and mend Kyleís broken body and soul with his own life force. But he could do nothing but sit on the unforgiving floor, hour after endless, unpromising hour. Nurses came and went. The scanning equipment softly lit and dimmed as they closely monitored Kyleís physical and brain activity.

Someoneís hand kindly rested on his shoulder but Voodoo could not look Midnight in the optics.

"Come and get some rest." Midnight begged softly. "Iím sure theyíll let you know-"

"No!" Voodoo snapped urgently. "I canít. I canít leave him."

Midnight sympathetically patted his friend on the shoulder and was about to leave when Voodoo started to rock slightly back and forth. "I-I canít phase him in. Thereís nothing there! I--"

"Shhh." The Sentinel leader hushed. "Alright, Voodoo. Calm down. Iíll bring you some energon. Try to stay calm."

Voodoo kept shaking his head even after Mid left the room. The Sentinelís form kept rocking automatically, his systems threatened to overload from anxiety. He bowed over and covered his face. A part of him was dying and he had no control over it.

Kyle was dying. Pain twisted his face, blood slowly seeped from his cold form. Voodoo held him close, feeling so terribly helpless. He watched as minute by minute the person who shared his own existence drifted from him. Pain pricked Kyleís fragile Human form and his breath fell shorter and shorter. Voodoo tried to keep his friend, his love as comfortable as possible.

<<Donít leave me.>> he begged. <<Stay with me, Kyle. Stay.>>

Kyle slowly closed his eyes to sleep for just a few moments and Voodoo crossed his legs and bent over so as to hide his aching heart from the world. He didnít want anyone to notice Kyleís blood leaking between his metal fingers. He didnít want anyone to see how vulnerable he felt. He was dying inside and with each wave of pain that assailed Kyleís broken body, Voodoo felt his own soul weaken. This gentle doctor was his life, his soul, the center of his existence and soon Kyle would leave him and Voodoo would either follow him in death, or live on under the torment of madness.

A shadowy red dog bit his arm and Voodoo jumped out of his stooper and found Midnight crouched before him, a cup of energon between his hands. "Here, friend. Sorry to startle you."

"What?" Voodoo gasped. "Kyle! Oh Primus! Kyle!í

"Shh!" Mid admonished quietly. "Youíll wake him up." He pressed Voodooís hand round the cup of energon and patted the dark Sentinelís shoulder.

Voodoo greedily downed the energon. He was exhausted, needing a good recharge, but he was unwilling to leave the room. Someone would have to come and drag him out (kicking and screaming, maybe) before he would leave Kyleís side. Something burned the right side of his chest and Voodoo subconsciously rubbed it.

"Whatís that?" Mid asked, pointing at his chest.

"What?"

"Those marks? Whereíd you get them?"

Voodoo gazed down and found a series of dents and burn marks lining around the front right side of his chest. "I dunno." And he struggled to recall what he might have done to receive the marks. But nothing came to mind and he shrugged. He drank the last wonderful drop of energon and handed the cup back to his commander.

Midnight took to his feet and gazed at the Human whose life hung so precariously to life support. He knew what Voodooís problem was; he longed to phase Kyle in. He wanted to make his friend better. But there was nothing poor Voodoo could do for Kyle. He turned back and grimly smiled at Voodoo, wanting to pat the Sentinel on the shoulder, but daring not to as Voodoo would see it as patronizing. Mid silently left as another nurse came in and checked on the patient, not once acknowledging Voodooís presence.

Voodoo waited another hour and forty-seven minutes before he heard Kyle stirring under the covers. He sat right up and the very second he saw Kyleís eyes barely open, he flew to the bedside and set his hands as carefully and tentatively on the bed rails as he dared. <<Kyle?>> he Called. <<Kyle? Oh Primus! Itís me!>>

Dr. Scottís eyes fell again and after several more seconds, they opened. But nothing registered. Voodoo had a hard time trying to keep himself from simply sweeping his friend into his arms, and phasing him into his body and soul. He so desperately longed for that connection! But all he could do, all he could get away with was to place a finger under Kyleís injured right hand.

"Excuse me!í A nurse announced. "Coming through. Youíre going to have to move your caboose, there buddy-boy." She growled. Voodoo hurt, but he obeyed her nonetheless and withdrew to his spot against he opposite wall.

"Well!í The nurse nearly sang. ""Whatís this? Our doctor-patient is trying to gain consciousness? She leaned over and spoke into the intercom. "Josie, better call Jill in. We have a waking Interface!"

He had walked in darkened lands he no longer recalled. But Kyle found the hill and found a stream and there he drank deeply of its life-enriching substance. He heard someone whisper his name and he remembered that it was his name. He just couldnít remember anything else.

And that was when he opened his eyes. A dark shape loomed over him and his first reaction was to scream, but he could not move his body. His eyes closed by themselves. He came back and faced the chubbiness of a female dressed in pink and white. Her brown hair lay wrapped about her head in a thick long braid and a name tag sat atop her shoulder. But Kyle could not make it out.

They strapped a mask over his face and cold air rushed into his lungs, clearing his mind of foggy sleep. Now he counted three women, one of which held a scanner in her hand and ran it up and down his body. She smiled kindly, her eyes sparkling with approval.

"Youíre doing just fine, Dr. Scott. Welcome back to the living."

But Kyle felt nothing except sadness. Someone had robbed him of something, he was sure of it. He closed his eyes, not making so much as a whisper and fell back to sleep.

He woke sometime later, his head a great deal clearer than before. He had no idea where he was and something inside him said not to be afraid, that he was among friends.

<<Kyle?>> another voice called in his head.

Kyle glanced around the room and found a robot sitting against the wall.

No, that couldnít be right. What would a robot be doing sitting in the room? Where was he? Movement distracted him and he gazed right and watched as a girl stepped in, checked his vitals and marked them on the chart. She gave him a cursory glance at first. Then she paused and her whole face brightened. "Dr. Scott!" She cried in pleasant tones. "Hello! Stay right there! Iíll be right back."

He thought he saw the robot move. <<Kyle?>> the voice came into his head again, but the man didnít know why or how it was entering his head. He wouldnít just call his own name, now would he? He ignored it and waited for the woman to come back.

"Lookit this!" Another woman nearly sang. "Hello, Dr. Scott. Welcome back again. Are you hungry?"

He gazed from one woman to the other. "Where am I?" He asked with a quiet, suspicious voice.

Both their faces fell blank. The older of the two blinked. "Uhm . . . donít you know where youíre at?"

The man stared at the woman as if she were insane. "Who did you say you were again? And why is there a robot sitting across from me?"

The older womenís face fell into disbelief. "Ohmigod. Uhm, do you know what year this is? Do you know who you are?"

He threw her a puzzled look. He was looking for an answer, not another question. He began to panic "My name is Kyle. And itís . . . um." He tried to think. What year was it? Nineteen eighty . . . two thousand . . . his panic worsened.

"Do you know how old you are, Dr. Scott?" She pressed on.

<<Kyle!>> came the voice again. Kyle tried to think and he could not for his life, remember his own age! He didnít know who he was, what he did for a living. Kyle searched everywhere in his head, struggling to come up with at least one answer, even his own middle name.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

He gave her a hopeless look, his soul now exasperated. "What did you do to me?" He demanded. "Did you steal my memories and implant a mini communicator in my head?"

"No."

"Someone keeps calling my name."

Suddenly the robot, the giant robot came to life and it sprang up on hands and knees and its huge hand reached for him. "Kyle, itís me! Itís Voodoo!"

Startled by the sudden movement, Kyle screamed and tried to scamper up the bed. The women tried to hold him down and succeeded only in frightening him further. Kyle fought them hard. Obviously they were doing experiments on him.

"Let go of me!" He shouted. "I donít know who you people are! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!" He strong-armed the chubby woman, bending her hand back. But the older woman laid something freezing cold and sharp over his neck and with a hissing sound, his body betrayed him and fell limp. He was now their prisoner, unable to decide what they could and could not do to him. The robot had a hand in it all, he was sure. Tears choked him but he found he could not cry. His body became one with the bed under him and the next moment turned dark.

"He doesnít remember me!" Voodoo cried when Kyle passed out. "Oh Primus! Whatís wrong with him?"

"Temporary amnesia, most likely." Jill answered. She strapped Dr. Scottís hands to the bed rails and made sure the blanket lay snugly over his body. She apologetically smoothed his hair from his brow and gave Voodoo a grim expression. "I canít do anything until we calm him down. That means youíll have to leave the room."

"No way.í Voodoo stubbornly argued. "Iím not going anywhere. Iím staying right here with Kyle. And you donít have to use those restraints. Iíll watch over him."

Jill scratched something on the chart and pocketed her pen. "Heís not Kyle anymore." She answered firmly. "At least not right now. The restraints stay per hospital policy. The very sight of you scared the pants off him. I suggest you just leave and let him adjust a little at a time. Got it?" And she departed to take care of someone else for the moment. The nurse left afterward, giving Voodoo a sorry smile.

Voodooís heart ached and he crawled to the bedside. He swept Kyleís hair from his brow and mournfully made sure the coverlet warmly covered his friend. "Kyle." He whispered. "Come back to me." He found Kyleís injured arm under the blanket and examined it around the restraint to make sure the bandaging was done correctly. It was then that he noted a few spots of blood seeping through Kyleís gown. He carefully lifted the blanket further away, peeled the gown back and examined the bite marks all circling the whole right side of Kyleís chest and shoulder. The shape matched mark for mark the same pattern of dents and gouges now defacing Voodooís own chassis.

He carefully covered his friend again, but kept his finger under the injured hand, just to derive some meager form of comfort at the doctorís unconscious touch.

The sedative worked for a while. Voodooís optics shot on, not realizing he had fallen into recharge mode by the bedside. He glanced about, checking his internal chronometer and realized one of the nurses neglected to step in for a fifteen-minute check.

Then he understood why he woke: Kyleís eyes were wide open, but being bound to the bed, he had been unable to move. He stared at Voodoo with eyes that recognized nothing. And now that they made optical contact, Kyle struggled against his bonds, becoming increasingly more frightened.

<<Kyle.>> Voodoo sent. <<Itís okay. Itís just me.>>

Kyle didnít know who he was-a tormentor or some other figure of death. He struggled harder and mouthed the words Ďhelp me.í But nothing came from his voice. His breath shortened and he began to rub his hands raw against the velcro bonds.

"Shhh. Shhh." Voodoo tried to calm him down. "No oneís going to hurt you, Kyle Scott."

"I donít know who you are." Kyle whispered in a panic. "Help." But his words failed to leave the room. No one outside could hear him.

Voodoo felt hurt. The person closest to him could not remember who he was. He withdrew his finger from under Kyleís injured hand and stroked his left arm in slow, careful movements.

Kyle fought against that too, certain the machine was probing him for something. But with each stroke came a warmth that entered his body and caused him to wear down. He fought and fought but the warmth, a gentle trilling sensation, forced his fears to slowly subside, his eyes drooped. His body finally succumbed to it, betraying his will, and wilted. He feared the machine was readying to do something terrible to him. The finger that rubbed his left arm, now moved to touch his face and Kyle began to weep, unable to call for help, unable to leave the room, or flee from his restraints. All he could do was weep.

And it worked. Voodoo finally realized he was doing more harm than good and slowly withdrew, saddened that an emotional bond between them had been severed. He wanted so desperately to hold Kyle, to heal him, to be one with him again.

But now it seemed it would not be that way.

It opened its cavernous mouth, acidic saliva fell over its scarred lips and it whispered Kyleís name with foul breath and a dark voice. Kyleís breath was stolen from him. The creature-thing drank his blood and touched his soul in places he would not speak. Kyle trembled in terror and agony. He tried to call for help, but he was imprisoned by glass walls. He tried to reach Voodoo, but the monster separated them while it slowly fed on the doctor.

He opened his eyes to force his delirious and darkened mind to think of other things when a tall woman in silky white hair prepared to stab him with a needle. He startled and struggled against the restraints. He trembled, the suddenness of her motion reminded him of the robot. "Who are you?" His usual soft-spoken voice came raspy and fear-ridden.

The woman stared at him in disbelief. She glanced at the needle and set it down. She gave Kyle as kind a look as she could and wiped a tear from his flushed cheek.

"Kyle, itís Jill. Iím a friend of yours."

"I never saw you before in my life." He twisted his hands against the restraints. It hurt to move against them, but Kyle couldnít help it. He diverted his eyes away from Jillís grief-stricken expression. He heard her draw the nearby chair and sat at the bedside. "Kyle-"

"Donít call me that. Itís not my name."

She paused for a moment and he glanced at her as she chewed on her lower lip. She had pretty soft brown eyes, complimenting her soft white hair. The woman had high cheek bones, granting her a delicate look. She drew a deep breath. "Then what is your name?"

"I donít know." He answered miserably. Now he was sorry for snapping. He had no idea, no clue about anything.

Jill crossed her arms on the bedside. "Your name is Doctor Kyle Scott. Youíre a medic who specializes with Human Interface partners and xenobiology. Youíre . . . not have a resident doctor per se, you just have a preference to work wherever youíre needed. I donít know why; a short attention span or other."

It was a joke, but it flew over Kyleís head. He glared at her, expecting a better explanation.

She bit her lower lip again. "Look, Iím sorry. Kyle, you were in an accident several days ago. It seems to have left you with temporary amnesia. Now weíd like to bring an empath to examine you and determine what damage has been done. But we canít do anything until you can settle down and trust us."

Kyleís dark brown eyes pierced into her. "I donít know you. I donít know anybody here." And he glanced at Voodoo to make his point.

Jill caught that and sat back in the chair. "Youíre right." She admitted. "Perhaps we should put it off and reacquaint you with everyone, first." Jill crossed one leg over the other, folding her arms. "But then, would you let us examine your head without you panicking? Weíre just trying to help."

Kyle frowned, sorry for his behavior. He idly rubbed his wrists against the restraints and nodded apologenticly.

Steve and Jill entered the room several hours later. Kyle had fallen back to sleep some time before that. Voodoo remained silent and motionless against the wall. He watched over Kyle intently.

"My god, Jill." Steve swore softly. "Whatís with the restraints?"

"Hospital policy, Steve. Kyle about jumped out of his skin, ready to run out. Doctor Gatchel said-"

But she fell quiet when Steve threw her an annoyed look. He approached the bedside and examined Kyle for a moment. His friendís face was ashen and worry lines creased his forehead.

Kyleís eyes shot open with a start and they darted at Parker. Steve gave him a casual smile. "Hi." He greeted cordially.

Kyle said nothing.

"Jill tells me your brain took a vacation. So I thought Iíd start out slowly, using single-syllable words."

But Kyle brightened for the first time since the accident and a smile spread over his face. "Steve!" He greeted, his excitement at recognizing someone finally forced him to calm and the monitors around him took a big dip; everyone elseís face did too.

Steve stared wordlessly for a moment. "You-you remember me?"

"Yes." Kyle answered as though it were a ridiculous question. "You and your friend Midnight, right?"

Steve slowly sat in the chair, his eyes not falling from Kyle. "Yes, thatís right! What, what else do you remember?"

"We-weíve been in battle sometimes." Kyle replied cautiously.

Steve nodded, a big smile on his face. "Yeah."

Kyle traced one thought to another. "Youíre a sports fan of sorts." He added.

"Yeah." Steve answered.

"And youíre a pilot. And . . ." Here his voice softened, "weíve been friends for a very long time."

Their eyes locked and Parker carefully embraced Kyleís injured hand and nodded, very much pleased. "Yeah." The moment fell silent, then Steve turned to Jill. "Well, this turn of events has left me hungry. Whenís lunch?"

Now it was Jillís turn to give him an annoyed expression.

Several hours later, Jill reluctantly gave Steve the O.K. to take Kyle for a very short walk around the hospital garden. Lush foliage complimented with trees and plenty of places to sit made the garden a tiny paradise in a world full of buildings and machines. Kyle couldnít help but grin and touch everything around him; as though he had never seen the garden at West Centralís main hospital. Steve watched him sadly, saying almost nothing at first. He answered Kyleís questions regarding the garden, explaining it was Kyleís idea. He answered questions regarding the hospital in general and Jill in particular. But after a few moments, Doctor Scott had to sit down. He drew a deep breath and his shoulders sank. Steve sat quietly beside him, just watching.

Finally Kyleís eyes met his friend. "So Jill is older than the two of us?"

"Yes. Or so Iíve been told. You and she have been Interfaced a lot longer than me and Midnight."

"And whatís that?"

"What?"

"Interfaced."

Steveís face went blank. Where would he start?

Kyle waited several beats, but when he received no answer, he assumed it was a complicated answer. "Sounds personal." He muttered.

"Kyle," Steve called quietly, "do you . . . remember anything at all?"

Kyle knew what he meant; memory of the cause for his amnesia. He thought hard. Flashes came and left his mind like flares in a meteor shower. "I remember screams." He said slowly. "I remember someone pulling me out of something; water or other." One memory kept coming to his mind; something fit his whole arm into its mouth and bit down. But Kyle couldnít believe it happened. It couldnít have happened. There was nothing alive that could be that big, that would leave him in one piece-not an animal, certainly.

"Kyle." Steve called softly. He sensed his friendís troubled thoughts and laid a hand on Kyleís right arm. The warm touch shot through the doctor. For the first time in several days, Kyle felt connected to someone.

"That machine in the room with me, Steve, it keeps watching me."

"Voodoo is your Interface partner, Kyle. Itís natural for him to want to be with you, to need to be with you. Itís natural for him to need to protect you."

"It makes me nervous, like it wants to pounce on me or something."

Steve gave him a wry smile. "Kyle, Voodoo would never do anything to intentionally hurt you. He loves you and heís worried sick."

Talking about Voodoo wasnít really what was on Kyleís mind. He didnít care about the robot. He knew something nagged him in the back of his head. He knew his body responded to the creature-machine for some odd reason. But something else kept screaming at him not to trust it, no matter what anyone else said. Kyle took to his feet, gazing out the garden through the thick glass wall. "Steve, somethingís trying to eat me."

Kyle thought for sure Steve was going to laugh at him. But Parker did nothing of the sort. Instead, Steve stood and lined his finger over Kyleís right breast and shoulder, indicating his knowledge of the bruises and welts under Kyleís shirt. Kyle couldnít look him in the eye. Gratitude choked him into silence. Kyle swallowed hard. "Iím glad you believe me." He whispered. "I canít believe it myself."

"Why?" Steve asked innocently.

"Because . . . itís not real. It canít be real. By no medical definition can it exist. It has a shape, but no substance. Itís force, power with no physical manifestation. It has no body-"

"Kyle." Steve laid his hands on Kyleís arms. "Just because you canít see it, doesnít mean itís not there.

Kyle took to his feet. "Then why, Steve, canít anyone else see it? Iím in that room day after day and there it comes and goes and neither Jill nor Voodoo see a damn thing-"

"When, Kyle?" Steve took to his feet, too, sensing Kyleís agitation. "When did you see it?"

Kyle shook his head and turned toward the glass wall standing between the garden and the great Cybertronian cityscape. "Last night. Two days ago . . . it comes and goes even when Iím not awake."

"You can sense it when youíre asleep?" But Kyle had his back turned to his friend and Steve waited, giving the doctor time to settle down. A small smile played over Parkerís lips. The Ďoldí Kyle was just like this, too. Heíd get agitated and frustrated and words just wouldnít come out and heíd clam up so that his brain could sort them out again.

Kyle calmed and turned back to his friend. His dark brown eyes reflected emotional distress. "I never thought what it would be like to be a fly caught in a spiderís web. I never thought Iíd find out first hand what itís like to remain conscious while your life is being drained away. Will I remember you tomorrow? Will I remember who I am today two weeks from now? Will I wake up tomorrow morning at all?"

Steve couldnít answer him. His eyes caught movement over Kyleís arm thinking a bug had landed there, but it was blood that seeped from the wound. Kyle gripped his arm and terrible cold settled over him.

Steve swiftly caught Kyle as he fainted. He slowly sank to the ground, calling Kyleís name with no response. Then he just chanced to glance up and spotted a huge dog lined in red standing outside the glass wall. It was huge, at least thirty feet, invisible except for watery-red lines defining its physical shape. The beast stared longingly at Kyle then it turned its gaze to Steve. It pawed three times at the glass, unable to penetrate it.

Steve swallowed hard and held Kyle close, almost daring the creature to separate them. But the very next minute the dog-beast melted into a translucent red stream and shot out of sight.

Steve smoothed Kyleís soft hair. His skin was icy to the touch. Steve mind-linked Midnight for help and just waited.

Kyle woke later, groggy and sick, his mind unsettled. He couldnít recall where he was, at least until Steve came in with a cup of coffee in his hands. An alien woman followed after. Her striking appearance fascinated Kyle and he wondered if there were others of her kind on Cybertron.

Steve gave his friend a heartfelt smile. "Jill said you were coming around. I thought Iíd stop by a moment to see if you were okay."

Kyle adjusted his position, but his body was sluggish and moving came with effort. He really needed to go back to sleep. He forced himself to smile, but he knew he looked exhausted.

Steve -and Jill from behind him- exchanged a glance and Steve laid a hand on the new stranger. "Kyle, This is Kayla . . . sheíd like to examine your hand."

The alien woman moved smoothly and slowly, her dark brown hair hung tied behind her and she considered Doctor Scott with eyes that missed nothing. She smiled sweetly and followed Steve to the bedside.

At first Kyle thought he would feel nervous meeting yet another person he assumed he was supposed to know, but something in him said to simply calm down and trust her. Maybe it was the fact that she moved slowly, saying nothing. Kayla examined the wrapping before reaching for a pair of sheers.

"Iím supposed to know you, arenít I?" Kyle finally asked. She met his gaze with another gentle smile and carefully peeled the wrapping off his hand.

"Weíve always worked together, Doctor Scott." She answered.

"Youíre a nurse? A specialist?"

"To some degree." She was very careful and Kyle found he liked her bedside manners. Kayla turned his hand one way, then another, first checking for other wounds, then examining the nasty slice mark. "Kyle, can you remember how you got this?"

"Not clearly." Scott answered. "Someone cut me with a scalpel."

Her eyes shot at him, but immediately returned to his hand and she started to trace her fingers around the wound. A warm tingling sensation flowed from Kyleís hand to his shoulder and the pain in his arm lifted. He smiled, relieved but turned and wondered if it was just the fact that the pretty girl was touching him or if she had some power; Kyle vaguely recalled knowing someone who had an unusual ability . . .

"Itís not healing." Kayla shook her head and turned to Parker. "Itís there but, I canít register it."

"What do you mean?" Voodoo finally spoke. He stirred from his position and tilted his head slightly.

Watching Voodoo move, Kyle thought at first he was going to freak again, but he didnít. Somehow being around the others made him feel a little more at home than he had in several days. He turned back to Kayla and watched as she kept tracing the area around the opened wound. Kyle settled comfortably and watched. Some of the pain in his head and stomach lessened to a more tolerant level but sleep still called to him.

Kayla shook her head. "Itís not going away. I donít know whatís wrong. Iíve examined the underside and thereís no damage there. The wound isnít deep, it just wonít heal."

Voodoo leaned forward. "Do you think it might be caused by some kind of poison or anti-clogging agent or something?"

Everyone else in the room stared at him, surprised Voodoo would ask such questions.

But the Sentinel looked indignant. "Hey!" he snapped, "I havenít been Interfaced with Kyle for such a long time and not picked up on things, you know! Give me some credit!"

Kyle laughed inwardly when the robot slumped against the wall, arms crossed in a tantrum. It seemed familiar and Kyle was willing to bet Voodoo behaved like this frequently. What was even more amusing was how the others in the room ignored him entirely, as though it were nothing new or insulting.

Jill approached the foot of the bed and cleared her throat. "Doctor Gatchal and I were discussing asking Soundwave to examine Kyle to see how much memory damage has been done."

"I donít think so." Voodoo snarled. "I wouldnít let anyone loose in Kyleís head anymore than in mine."

Jill turned to him, her eyes dark with annoyance. "I think itís Kyleís head Kyle should be concerned about, not you."

"Okay." Voodooís voice softened with a snarl. "But over my dead body."

Kyle smirked and received the same look Jill gave to Voodoo. "Iím sure Jill would be more than willing to oblige you, Voodoo."

"Donít start with me, Kyle!" Voodoo snapped. "You just keep out of this; let me finish my own arguments."

Jill stared hard at him, her mouth drawn in a line. "The telepathic scan wouldnít interfere with your link, if thatís what youíre afraid of. All we would do is scan for memory loss and determine how much is gone."

"Heís brainless and stressed." Voodoo came back, "What else do you need to know?"

"How Kyle puts up with you!" Jill answered too smoothly.

Voodoo opened his mouth to say something more, but her answer caught him off guard and the Sentinel shut his mouth and guiltily settled against the wall. He gazed toward Doctor Scott and found his partner had fallen asleep.

Kyle woke later, finding himself examined by Doctor Gatchel. The senior Doctor (physically speaking) hmmed and hawed over Kyle, making notes and muttering to himself while he examined Kyleís ears.

Gatchel stared at Kyle as one would or might consider a weird insect. "Well, I guess youíre conscious now, arenít you, Doctor Scott?"

Kyle didnít answer.

"Well, I will have to report the possibility that this is self-induced. There are no signs of outer affliction. There are no apparent bruises usually found in association with assault and injury. Are you sure you didnít do this yourself for personal attention, Doctor Scott?"

"Yes. Iím quite sure." Kyle didnít allow himself to get upset by this weirdo. But some other part of him, that didnít seem to belong inside him, seethed. And it came from Voodooís direction.

"Hmmhmm." Gatchel remarked. "Well, weíll know for sure when we do a few more tests." Doctor Gatchel pocketed a pen, glanced at his watch, produced a scanner and ran it once over Kyleís body. Kyle immediately disliked this guy. First off, you never measure a patient by the time spent, and you never question the validity of the clientís claim, thirdly, the idiot wasnít using the scanner right!

"Doctor Scott, it would seem the hospital had to replace you with a young cadet fresh from Northgate. Bright young thing, Iím thinking of personally taking her under my wing and training her myself."

"Iíll bet." Kyle answered cooly.

"You donít seem to approve." Gatchel challenged.

"Approve?" Scott echoed. "I didnít know you needed my divine permission." And the doctor thought he could feel someone laughing.

But Gatchel frowned and took to his feet. "I do apologize for the restraints, Doctor Scott. I know you and your . . . mechanical companion here donít approve of my methods. But perhaps if this were your hospital, things might be different. But seeing how you practically got out of bed and tried to sleep walk. . . . Well, we canít have that here at the facility. I wouldnít want to be the recipient of bad news coverage."

"No," Kyle agreed quietly. "Of course not."

"Iím going to go ahead and order a mind scan for you. We need to know exactly how much damage-"

"Over my own dead body!" Voodoo snapped. "No one has any need or right to go poking in places theyíre not supposed to. Why donít you go into his bones and see how much marrow theyíre producing? You have-"

"Look," Gatchel snarled, "Whoís the doctor here, you or me? Hmm? If I say something needs to be cut, it gets cut, if it needs to be sewn, it will be sewn. And if I determine Doctor Scott needs a mental examination, then heíll get a mental examination."

"No he wonít!" Voodoo bit back. "Itís not your place to go poking into someoneís personal locker room."

"I am the doctor here, you metal-headed moron!"

Voodoo leered, "I donít care if you were Optimus Prime himself! I say no, and thatís final! And if you think youíre going to somehow get around me, youíd better pick up another idea real fast, Doctor. So take your little scanner there and leave!"

Gatchelís face froze with anger. "You know, itís jerks like you that make me glad Iím not some Interfaced freak! Iíll come back when you learn to behave more civilized-or when youíre not here at all!"

And Gatchel stomped out, infuriated.

Kyle and Voodoo watched in unison as Gatchel stormed out the room, not so much as checking off the clipboard for his next assignment.

They remained quiet for several long moments then Kyle turned to Voodoo. You were kinda mean to him." He admonished quietly.

Voodoo folded his arms, satisfaction spreading over his body language. "Actually, that was the nicest thing I could say to him in front of you. Heís what youíd call a di-uhm . .. No, I wontí say that in front of you, either. Heís a jerk, clear and simple. What I just gave him was the very least he deserved."

Kyle stared at Voodoo as the Sentinel warrior settled back against the wall, muttering unmentionable names to himself.

Kyle really didnít know what to think of this robot; but he found it comforting and amusing that Voodoo was so willing to protect him from jerks of Kyleís own species. Doctor Scott faintly smiled.

Jill came back a while later. Voodoo had turned the TV on, but Kyle paid it no attention, falling in and out of sleep. She took his blood pressure, temperature, checked his lymph nodes, checked his eyes and his ears and cleaned them with cotton and solution. Then she reapplied a fresh dressing on Kyleís wound.

"Does it still hurt, Kyle?" She asked finally.

Kyle thought it over. "No, not really. Not like it did in the garden."

Jill nodded. "Steve said he saw something there."

"What?"

"Steve said he saw something outside the glass wall. He wasnít sure-"

"Something like a dog?"

She paused in her work long enough to examine Kyle with her soft brown eyes. Jillís beauty was defined in simplicity. Kyle found he liked it. She seemed to hesitate before applying tape over the dressing. "I think so, Kyle." She answered softly.

Voodoo leaned forward a little. "Donít tape it too tightly. They taped it too tightly last time." Voodoo received two different expressions: Kyle gazed at him, wondering how he knew, and Jill gave him another annoyed expression, then turned to Kyle and looked puzzled. "Well, itís true." Voodoo added.

Jill shot him a dirty look. "Would you like to do this?"

"Well . . . no."

"Huh? No? Then let me do my job."

"I wouldnít mind letting you do your work, but I just want to make sure-"

"Voodoo," Kyle called, "Itís alright."

"Itís NOT alright!" Voodoo snarled, ignoring the fact that Kyle finally said his name. "Here they drag you in here, pretending to be all sweetness and light, althewhile they strap you down like you some runaway horse and stick things in places where they donít belong, using equipment they obviously donít know how to use and youíre telling me itís alright?"

Jill threw a paper towel in the basket. "You know, you are a real headache. Why donít you go out for a walk and give the rest of us a break?"

"Iím not leaving Kyle here by himself." Voodoo replied with finality.

"So youíre going to make everyone else suffer?" She looked disgusted at him. "No wonder the two of you lived in separate towns! I would have found a way to kill you a long time ago!"

Kyle softly chuckled, earning an opticless glare from Voodoo.

"Thatís not funny." Voodoo snarled.

"Yes it is." Kyle replied. "You sound like someone whoís married."

Voodooís entire expression changed instantly. He shut his mouth, too.

Jillís expression died also, surprised at Kyleís ability to get his Interface companion to shut up. Few people knew how to shut Voodoo up-Midnight seemed to have a knack at it. Kyle struggled against the restraints and Jill felt guilty. The medical practitioner shook her head and wished she could release him.

Then Voodoo lightened up. The robot pulled himself forward and fear tried to touch Kyleís heart. He didnít know why he would be so afraid of something that so obviously wasnít going to hurt him. "Uhm, you know," Voodoo said as softly as he dared, "Iíd like to take Brainless and Stressed out on a walk-can I? I could keep a leash on him and bring him back by dinner."

Jill gave Kyle an inviting glance. "I donít see why not. Iíll inform Doctor Gatchel. The walk might do you some good. How about it, Doctor?"

Kyle gave a grim smile. He couldnít keep from fighting the restraints, even though his wrists hurt. The walk sounded like a good idea. Some measure of freedom from the four walls might help him feel better. And Kyle knew Voodoo would be watching him like a cassette vulture. "A short one, I guess." He accepted.

The robot set his hands at the foot of the bed, peering worriedly at the patient. "Kyle," he said softly, "donít you know who I am? Itís Voodoo!" Pain lined his voice, knowing Kyle would give him the same empty look he had given in several days. <<Kyle?>> he tried with the same negative results. But Voodoo withdrew, frowning. Kyle had looked away, unable to answer him.

Jill applied an anesthetic spray to the self-inflicted injuries around Kyleís wrists. Voodoo was appalled at the treatment his friend was receiving, but kept quiet for right now. He decided heíd let Gatchel have it later.

Kyle had to take a few moments to get his legs to obey him. Lying several days in bed had weakened his body. Jill offered to get him a walker or a cane, but Doctor Scott insisted he could walk, he just needed a few moments to get the blood flowing again.

Sure enough, Kyle managed out the room on his own and he and Voodoo took their time traversing the hallway.

Kyle aimed for the main doors as he tucked his hands in coat pockets. "You didnít have to be so mean to Jill. Sheís a nice girl." He quietly admonished Voodoo.

"Yeah, well, that Ďnice girlí is the one who strapped you to your bed, or are you still wondering why your wrists hurt?"

"You were also pretty rude to Doctor Gatchel." Kyle reminded. They left the building and Kyle caught his breath. Several terribly tall dark buildings met his eyes. A cityscape greater than any he had seen towered above and about him like gods. The world made its own light; generated by the lower levels and highway divisions. Streetlights and neons paved the roadways while windows from nearby skyscrapers provided other light to a sunless world.

Everywhere he looked there were people of all races and types, great and small, organic and metallic. In one place he espied a small park complete with green grass and tall trees decked with green and deep red leaves. A fountain stood at the entrance of the park and a humanoid female and two children entered. A great dome stretched over the park and simulated sunlight showered over visitors and foliage. But aside the park, not a blade of green grass nor root of tall tree blemished the cityscape of what was called Cybertron. Then Kyle reprimanded himself; this was his home.

"Let me tell you something about Gatchel:" Voodoo snarled. "Heís a jerk. Heís gotten you into trouble more than once. Heís also got an attitude problem and Iíve been dying to give him a piece of my mind for a long time!"

Kyle gazed at him, his eyes filled with puzzlement and disgust. "Are you always this hostile? Canít you be nice to anybody?"

"Nice?" Voodoo shot back indignantly, "Thatís YOUR department, Doctor. Iím just a warrior."

"And a crotchety old tin can." Kyle muttered. He rounded Voodoo and made his way down the sidewalk.

Voodoo paused and smiled. <<I miss you, Kyle. You have no idea how much I miss you.>>

Voodoo watched Kyle as they paced across the hospital parking lot toward the park. He couldnít help but notice how his companion would wince in pain now and again, his walk not as fast-paced as it used to be. And Kyle kept rubbing the right side of his chest.

He finally had to stop half way, out of breath and shaking. Kyle leaned against a vehicle and drew a shuddering breath. He forced a smile to cross his weary, troubled face. He tried to sound cheerful, "Guess Iím more out of shape than I thought."

But it didnít fool Voodoo. The Sentinel wept in his soul. He carefully knelt before his beloved friend and painfully watched as Kyle turned away, ashamed. "Let me carry you." He asked as quietly as he could. "Iíd really hate to see you return to that miserable hospital so soon."

Kyleís gaze turned to the immaculate white building that rose a good forty stories high and stretched at least six city blocks. He would rather not have to be restrained again. At least for now. But walking was too tiring. He reluctantly agreed, though something inside him insisted he was in terrible danger with this robotic creature; that he was putting his life at risk by trusting Voodoo. But, he rationalized, it was by far better than the restraints.

Voodoo kept his strides smooth and easy as he carried Kyle down several streets through town.

"So tell me about our relationship." Kyle asked. "Everyone around me seems to expect me to know and remember you."

Voodoo said nothing for a very long moment. Kyle glanced at the robot, but could see nothing resembling expression. The area where there should have been optics remained void and flat. "Weíre Interfaced." He finally replied.

"Interfaced?" It sounded weird. "Am I a computer like you?"

"No. Youíre Human, Kyle. Weíre Interfaced, weíve been joined by some supernatural process."

"Oh gods. I married you?!"

"Yes." Voodoo answered before realizing what Kyle just said. "No! Yes . . . no, not married. Itís kinda like being married. We-"

"Oh no!" Kyle threw his hands up, "I donít want to know any more about it!"

Voodoo smiled. "Itís kinda hard to explain. I donít have all the details, but Sentinels and Seekers have the capacity to merge with humanoids. The process occurs instantly once the right person and the robot meet-and it doesnít have to be more than a few seconds. Two people merge to create one person through whatís called Ďphasingí. Itís deeply personal; they share consciousness."

"Is there a way to reverse the process?"

Kyleís question forced Voodoo into silence for a moment. The doctor felt a twinge of guilt and pain, but it wasnít coming from him. He felt weird all over.

"When the robot dies, the human just starts aging again and dies later." Voodooís voice came soft, sad. Kyle wondered if his question upset the robot. Knowing what a smart-ass Voodoo was, Kyle wondered if anything really could upset the Sentinel. Voodoo passed several buildings another block down. The area changed and around here, overpasses and underpasses entwined in a ballet of highways. He joined a few other pedestrians and waited to cross the streets.

"So, Voodoo, what happens to the robot if the Human dies?"

"Insanity." Voodoo answered. "There was one case, Archer, who lost his sanity when his partner died. It was sad." And here, Voodooís softened voice trailed off. His finger inadvertently lifted Kyleís injured hand. Kyle didnít know what to think of it. A gentle trilling sensation touched his skin and it was comfortable. But he didnít know why he still felt uneasy.

"Interface partners share . . . an intimacy unlike anything ever experienced by most other races." Voodoo added a moment later. "Phasing . . . I guess itís like being home. Youíre completely comfortable with the other person, like discovering a part of yourself thatís been hidden from you all your life."

Voodoo seemed to want to say something more. But he held it back and Kyle wondered what it was that the Sentinel was dying to say. Kyleís mind reeled with the very idea that he was Interfaced with this seeming unnatural creature. Interfaced . . . still sounded like he was married! "Whatís the purpose of Interface? I mean, if thereís so much at risk, why bother?"

Voodoo shrugged. "Only the Tjineran could say. They built us-the Sentinels and Seekers-with the ability to Interface with them. Then there was a war and the Tjineran broke up into two factions. They werenít satisfied with the results, how the robots developed, and gave their experiments and their consciousness, stored in Vector Sigma, to the Quints. Later, the Tji decided they wanted the robots after all and tried to interface with us by force. But you canít force interface. It either occurs, or it doesnít.

Kyle fell quiet, completely astounded. Then he berated himself an idiot. This was all stuff he should know about already! But he thought it odd that the robots would Interface with humanoids rather than those originally designed to merge with them. "If the Tjineran had merged with the robot, then they would have become the dominate personality, wouldnít they?" He asked.

"Yes." Voodoo answered as he quickened his pace down the sidewalk.

"So in a human-robot relationship, the robot is the dominate personality, right?"

"Only when phased, Kyle. That doesnít mean the robot enslaves or controls the human partner. In fact, just the opposite is often true. There has never been a case of one partner killing another. Itís . . . itís a symbiotic relationship." Voodoo smiled to himself, right pleased that he was smart enough to recall some of Doctor Scottís own observations. And he sensed sudden understanding from his partner. Voodoo wanted to hold Kyle closer and he so desperately wanted to phase! But he didnít know if Kyle could handle the suddenness of a process he so obviously had forgotten. How? How could he forget?

Kyle watched as Voodoo crossed another street, the buildings here were slightly smaller than those surrounding the hospital. They hadnít moved more than five blocks before Voodoo arrived at

a lush four-story building. It stood fronted with darkened windows and punctuated with upstairs patios and greenery cleverly planted round the walls and ceiling. Voodoo waited to cross the street and pointed to one corner of the building containing one such lovely patio. "Thatís where you live." He stated.

Kyle smiled, a little relieved that he was going to see his own home. His wrists were hurting and he hoped he might have something to ease the pain.

Voodoo carried him into the building and three flights up, entering the room with an optical recognition sequence. The door slid open and Kyle was almost appalled that he would be idiotic enough to give someone else access to his own home. Married!?-Interfaced!? he told and corrected himself.

He slid off Voodooís hand and had to steady himself against a chair. Voodoo called for lights and the house lit up like a sunny day.

The place reflected someone with a knack for cleanliness, but not necessarily immaculate. There were five book shelves standing nearly as tall as Voodoo, crammed with books and digipads and memory crystals. A lonely computer sat in the corner near the shelves and photographs sat all around that. Plaques containing awards and certificates and diplomas and degrees of all kinds dotted all around the living room. The decorum was simple enough; the furniture was black leather, the kitchen and end tables were of black metal and tinted glass. A nice stereo system crouched next to the black leather couch. Kyle approached the stereo and read crystal diskettes containing music; most of it he didnít even remember. He sighed heavily and ran his left hand through his blonde-white hair. "Looks like Iím going to have to listen to this music all over again."

Voodoo smiled at him, his eyeless face reflecting a sense of excitement. "Come here. I want you to look at some of these pictures. I think they might help you remember."

Kyle left the stereo and took one framed picture from Voodooís grasp. There were other robots and Humanoids in this picture. But he didnít know any of the people there.

"Look familiar?" Voodoo asked. He sat on his knees, his head tilting just slightly in question.

"No." Kyle answered solemnly. He set the photo back down.

"Well," Voodoo wasnít going to let it go that easily. "Look, this is Midnight-"

"Steveís Midnight?" Kyleís jaw dropped. "I-I thought Midnight was a man!"

"No." Voodoo answered with a smile. He pointed to a red robot standing next to Midnight, "This is Rodimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots. This one is ahh . . . hmm. I donít remember her name. Well, anyway. Theyíre all friends of ours."

Faces and names. They meant nothing to him. Just pictures of a history that was no longer his. There was, however, one picture of himself and a girl. Kyle swept it off the monitor. "Whoís this?"

"You. You moron."

"I know that, you idiot. I mean the girl."

At last! An insult! The word nearly caused Voodoo to jump and dance with joy. Maybe Kyle was starting to return to his old self after all! "Oh, uhhh, thatís Mirna. . . .was."

Kyleís eyes shot at the robot. "Was? Who was she?"

"Ah . . . a love affair." Voodoo shrugged, but seemed to refuse to say anything more.

"I loved somebody and . . ." rage and sorrow rose in him and Kyle set the frame down and turned away. "Letís get out of here."

"Well, okay. But, how about we bring some real clothes for you? I know how much you must hate wearing those things everywhere."

Dr. Scott didnít pay him any attention. He found the restroom and subconsciously searched the medicine cabinet for pain reliever for his wrists. He found just the thing and vaguely heard Voodoo yammer on and on about something as the robot rummaged about the bedroom. Kyle frowned, wondering how long this kind of relationship was going to last. The robot was a virtual mother hen! He shook his head and examined the bandage on his right hand, making a mental note to ask Jill to change the dressing. He frowned and stretched with his left hand to grasp his toothbrush when he spotted himself in the mirror.

And a red-outlined dog hung from his shoulder by its teeth. He caught and swallowed his breath and drew back so fast, that the toothbrush container fell and shattered on the floor, he backed against the far wall of the bathroom, his eyes wider than his mouth.

He gasped and tried to get himself to move.

"Kyle!" Voodoo called. "Kyle, whatís wrong? Kyle?"

It was enough to pull the doctor out of shock and he fled the bathroom, trying to brush an invisible dog from his shoulder. "Nothing!í He answered hurriedly. ĎNothing. Iím fine. I-I just canít stay here, thatís all. I canít live here; itís not my home!"

Voodoo came out of the bedroom, a suitcase in hand. "Itís your home." He confirmed. "You had the whole building built as a side project so that you could be closer to the hospital. I know. I was there."

"I canít. I canít stay here. I have to leave." And Kyle turned to flee. But Voodoo merely stepped over and knelt before him. "Look," he stated gently. "Iíd really hate to see you go back to the hospital." He gazed at Kyleís wrists and took the doctorís left hand with his finger. "I know Jill means well, sheís good at what she does. But restraints?" He shook his head. "Look, why donít you come to my place?"

Kyle looked dubious. "You have a place?"

"Sure I do!" He answered, almost insulted. "What do you think I am? A toaster-oven you just stick under the cupboard at night?"

Dr. Scott withdrew, wrapping his arms about himself. "I donít know what to think anymore." he mourned. He turned away, not really wanting to let the robot see the heartache in his expression.

"Kyle." Voodoo tried to keep his voice level, but he was sort of starting to loose his patience. "You can stay the night at my place. I donít need sleep. If you start to sleep-walk again, I can just put a harness around you. It beats bed restraints.

Kyle gazed at a painting on the wall. A pretty girl sat at the bank of a stream, her dark hair trailed over her scantily-clothed body. She rested against the trunk of an ancient tree while petals fell from the flower she held between her hands. It was a calming picture and he liked it. He sighed heavily. "Alright." He agreed. "But we should inform Jill. Itís only fair to her."

Voodoo gave him a mischievous smile.

Kyle really didnít like the idea of flying with someone he hardly knew. Let alone flying with a robot that stood five times his size. The scenery below was awesome and Voodoo proved a careful flier, though Kyle suspected any robot with a design like Voodooís could not possibly be this careful all the time. He said nothing, his chest tight, his stomach knotted with anxiety. He should have never agreed to leave the hospital.

But the view round the next mountainous building made him take back the regret. The city round the bend was huge, gorgeous. The buildings were works of architectural art. Vehicles and transports of all shapes and sizes came and left the city, many of them not carrying passengers at all. He dared touch the window, his eyes wide with amazement. "You live here?" He asked quietly.

"Sometimes." Voodoo answered. "When weíre not out rescuing the universe from the next threat." He waited a couple of beats then: "That was supposed to be a joke."

"Iím sorry, Voodoo."

Was that the first time Kyle said his name? For real? The Sentinel settled on a rooftop and carried Kyle down one flight of stairs and boarded an elevator. Everything around them seemed ten times larger than Kyleís home town.

Kyle looked a bit perplexed. "Iíve been here before, havenít I?"

Voodoo grinned. "You remembered something?"

"A statue, I think. But thatís all that comes to mind."

"Itís a start!"

They arrived at Voodooís humble abode. Huge windows facing south displayed the terraced city and an ocean just beyond that. A terminal sat in one corner, a televisor in another. There was a fuel dispenser and upon walls that werenít windows hung several war weapons; some of them considered illegal.

Voodoo set Kyle on one of the few articles of furniture; his recharging bed or flat. It was hard, whatever people called it. Kyle frowned. Now he was certain he should not have left the hospital. He couldnít go home, but at least the hospital had some kind of cushion on their Ďflatsí.

"Here it is." Voodoo opened a portion of the wall and produced a blanket. Kyle stared at it suspiciously.

"Whatís that?"

"Your bed, dummy. You come here every now and again. I had to furnish something." He folded it until it was short but thick enough and he set it on the flat.

Kyle was too tired to argue and he sat on it, finding it more inviting than he thought. He inadvertently closed his eyes and almost dozed off right there. But something slipped under his left hand and he opened his eyes, knowing he really should just lie down and sleep.

Voodoo held his hand with a finger, staring at him from across the recharger. "I miss you." He whispered. "I know weíve never really been that close, choosing to live our lives across the pathway, as it were. But I miss you now more than ever. I guess itís true; you donít appreciate what you have until you lose it."

Kyle wearily smiled. "Like my mind."

"Oh, heh, itíll come back, Scott. These things take time."

Kyle dared a glance at Voodooís hand. Something there told him Voodoo was very sincere. Something told him they had a deeper relationship than what the robot was willing to admit. Exhaustion finally caught up with Doctor Scott and he finally lay down with a deep sigh. Voodoo thoughtfully covered him and gently rubbed his back left shoulder. It was just the right kind of pressure, too and before he knew it, Kyle had fallen asleep.

Kyle awoke later, finding an afternoon sun slowly making its way down. Voodoo still sat there, watching him. He smiled wryly and Kyle would have sat up, if not for the fact that he was just too comfortable where he lay. Voodooís finger slipped back under Kyleís hand and just stayed there for a few moments. Then Voodoo picked up where he left off on the shoulder rub. Kyle closed his eyes as the tension slowly ebbed away. Something bothered him. Something nagged him in the back of his mind. Snatches of fleeting memories came and dashed away from him.

He recalled a car accident. He recalled something about a scalpel. And he remembered something about someone being devoured by something else.

Voodooís hand moved to the center of Kyleís back and gently caressed it and sent vibrations of warmth into it. Dr. Scott drew a deep relaxing breath, now assured that this giant was not out to harm him. Not when Voodoo took a moment and ran a finger over Kyleís face. Kyle instinctively lifted his chin and Voodoo massaged his chest, moving carefully back around.

Voodoo always knew just how to please him. And privately, they shared moments of intimacy not spoken to anyone else. Who could understand besides another Interface? How could the universe at large understand and accept the most private moments between the partners of an Interface? A Transformer and a Humanoid, sharing thoughts and emotions, making love in the soul. The thought forced Dr. Scottís eyes to open and he might have protested over the frightening thought, were it not that Voodooís massages made its way over the back of his thigh and Kyle reveled in the warmth of Voodooís touch.

<<I miss you.>> came the soft unspoken words.

Kyle felt at ease and began to drift into another world of dreamless sleep when Voodoo gathered him in his hands. It was a bit rude, really. Perhaps the hyper robot wanted to take him elsewhere. But instead, Voodoo held him close to his chest and to his horror, Kyle watched as his body began to sink into the robot. He struggled, pulling his hands out, trying to push away, unable to find his voice as his legs sunk into dark metal. He thought he was going to drown!

"Stop!" He weakly protested. "Stop! Donít! Donít!" He managed to hit a solid part of the robot and he panicked while the rest of him sank in. He tried to breathe and his breath failed.

Darkness surrounded him and Kyle completely panicked. He lost all sense of his own body and now ideas, images and memories not his own flooded his mind with lightning speed. He tried to raise one barrier after another, each of them absorbed by the robotís will. Voodooís mind forced itself upon Kyle, leaving only a little tiny part of the doctorís soul to himself. Kyle helplessly wept. There was nothing left of him! The darkness had devoured him and the only other way to save himself was to cease to exist.

And he began to mentally slice parts of himself off. He sliced off his right arm first. Then he threw away his life as a doctor. He loved no more. He cut off his legs. He gouged out his eyes. He destroyed everything in his home. He cut off his breathing.

Voodoo cried out in agony and fell flat on his face. Pain shot right through every inch of his body and he struggled to call for help. He managed to pull himself up on his hands and knees but vomited mech fluids. The pain in his limbs was excruciating and something ripped up his muscle cables. He vomited again, losing vital lubricants. He managed to make it to the wall and he hit whatever button he could see.

"Yeah." Midnightís voice, his wonderful voice came over the comline.

"Mid!" Voodoo gasped. "Iím killing him!"

"Voodoo?"

But Voodoo collapsed before he could answer.

"Voodoo?" Midnight called again and again.

Black.

White.

White and red.

Red, red like Human blood.

White, like the glaring noonday sun.

Black, like the darkness that filled his own soul, drowning in sorrow.

" . . . go. . . .oodoo . . . . go." The voice that entered Voodooís sensors was so badly drowned he could not make out what was being said. He thought someone was ripping up his innards. He could not feel his arms or legs. He had gone blind.

And he bled.

Someone half lifted him and he managed to activate his optic sensors. His quarters . . . he was still in his own quarters. Someone cupped his face, bringing it back. They all spoke, sometimes shouted.

He was so tired. He just lay there, unable to decide what to do. There was so much shouting! Why were they shouting? Why wonít they speak in clear words? Idiots! Morons!

Someone released his head and he gazed forward again, just staring off into nothing. Then something appeared from nowhere right in front of him. It looked like an animal of sorts, a really ugly animal with a huge head, baggy skin and a flat nose module. It wavered in the light, its form flowed like water, outlined and highlighted in red. It seemed to be aware of him because it growled now and attacked him.

But Voodoo was too weak, too exhausted to resist. And the creature-thing bit him deeply in the chest. Voodoo weakly arched his back, unable to cry out in pain. The animal pulled something out of him and licked it like a cat bathing its young.

And Voodoo felt himself fade slowly out of existence.

But now he could hear and sense others around him. They shouted and ordered and rushed about. They lifted his body onto a flat surface and it was then that he realized something was terribly wrong. Something had gone completely wrong. But he could not for the life of Primus figure out what it was. And he slipped into the darkness of unconsciousness.

They brought Dr. Scott back to the hospital and Jill oversaw his every comfort. She regretted ever giving Voodoo permission-but after all, they were interfaced. Nothing should have happened. No words could describe how the woman felt: Infuriated, puzzled, horrified, baffled. How could have something like this have happened? Didnít Voodoo realize what he was doing? But, Jill reminded herself, Voodooís rashness had nearly cost Kyle his life a few times before. But now she wondered how Voodoo was ever going to forgive himself; let alone how Kyle thought about it. What was wrong, anyway? What happened to their soul rapport? Memories or not, Kyle should have still felt some attraction to Voodoo. What puzzled her most was something Midnight had said, that Kyle managed to separate from Voodoo on his own. But he emerged unconscious. And actively subconscious or not, Kyle would not have been able to separate from Voodoo while unconscious. There had to be more to the story.

But the only clue to her guess were the marks scarring Kyleís right side and the wound on his right hand that simply refused to mend. He said he was cut with a simple scalpel. But the cut wasnít deep and while it did not bleed profusely, it would not close.

Jill watched Kyle for a long moment. The kind, calm expression that usually defined the masculine features was replaced with pain and nightmares. She leaned forward and checked his ears. Bits of dried blood told of a story she could not guess. It was maddening. Something was affecting him, but Kyle either knew and decided to keep it private, as usual, or he did not know, was not aware of his uncharacteristic condition.

His dark brown eyes slowly opened in response to her touch. But they were empty of self-awareness or expression. They closed again, his breath slowing as the tranquilizers beckoned him to sleep off the shock.

Jill thought back to the accident, the very first few moments when they dragged him in via chopper. He was shaking like a leaf and shied from everything, every movement. His ears bled-but it could not be from his brain; there were no tell-tale signs of brain damage. An ugly bruise lay at the back of his neck where he must have impacted either a car or the street itself. Jill recalled someone mentioning Dr. Scott was not in the taxi, that something, an explosion, perhaps, had thrown him several feet in the air. It was a bad, bad day. Twenty-four people died. Fifty-seven were injured, claiming everything from bad weather and sudden gusts to more imaginative explanations.

Kyleís breath shortened in a sleeping panic. He wrestled with an invisible figure, his hand weakly warding off an attacker. Jill carefully took his bandaged hand between hers.

"Kyle." She called softly. "Kyle, itís Jill. Itís just me." But her words died in vain. His brows furred and his eyes opened just slightly. His sleeping form trembled. She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. "Shhhh." She whispered softly.

It worked. Kyle relaxed and took a deep breath. But Jill watched him suspiciously, wondering what would have dragged him out of a drug-induced sleep.

"Hey."

Dr. NíDoun peeked in the room. "We just got something in I thought you might like to look at."

"Maybe later." Jill dismissed, not willing to leave Kyleís side.

"I think it might give a little insight to your friendís behavior. But I hope you havenít eaten anything."

"Why?"

Jill left Kyle in the hands of one of her more trustworthy nurses and followed NíDoun into the conference room. Three other senior doctors from Upper North of Cybertron attended. Jill glanced at each of them, puzzled.

"Whatís this about?" She asked directly.

One professional dressed in street clothes and a heavy jacket swept up a remote control and turned on the video screen. He paused the recording on the form of a woman. She looked awful. Her hair had been ripped out. Her shock-affected face was drawn, her eyes surrounded by dark circles. Her hands were bandaged.

"This was Nasha Vyrm. Second grade language teacher. She spoke six different languages, all of them fluently. She had a husband and three children of her own. She was one of those who barely survived the seventeen-car pile-on, on planet Chenobis several days ago-the very same accident that brought Doctor Scott back from his assignment. They carried her to the hospital and she was treated for this:"

He replaced the worn, woeful figure with a nude picture of someone who had been lashed. Every inch of her body had been bruised, cut and wilts striped those areas not touched by contusions.

Jillís mouth dropped. She stared at NíDoun then at the other three doctors. "What happened? No accident fire causes that."

"Thatís why weíre here." The doctor with the remote control answered. "Oh, Iím Doctor Eone from Platoun III and this is Doctor Yom and Doctor Velador. Now, this is what she had to say at a recorded testimony:"

He released the paused picture and the poor woman came to life. She cried and struggled to control herself. A voice off camera said something and she started to answer.

"Uhm, no, I know people call me ĎNashaí, but I donít remember if thatís my name or not."

"NASHA, YOUíRE DOING JUST FINE. JUST TELL US WHAT YOU TOLD THE DOCTORS. NO PRESSURE, HON, JUST TELL US, THATíS ALL."

"Uhm," she trembled. "I feel like Iím being eaten alive. It attacks me when I least expect it."

"AND DOES IT ATTACK YOU IN YOUR DREAMS OR WHEN YOUíRE AWAKE?"

"Either. It attacks me when Iím not thinking about it. It tried to tell me that . . . that I belonged to it, that my husband was evil . . . that my husband had tried to kill me on several occasions." She cried again and the inquisitor off camera paused, allowing her a moment to let it out then compose her sad little self.

"NASHA, COULD-COULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS THING? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?"

"I know youíd think me crazy."

"WELL, IT SEEMS PRETTY APPARENT TO US THAT YOUíRE NOT CRAZY. LOOKING AT WHAT ITíS DONE TO YOU, I REALLY DONíT THINK WE CAN JUDGE YOU CRAZY, HON."

"Uhm . .. Itís an animal of some kind. I dunno, it looks like a dog of some kind. Itís wavy, you know, like water and it has highlights in red. Itís -" she stopped and wept more then controlled herself. "Itís eating me."

The recording stopped and the video screen went black. Jill had no idea what to think of the case. "Did you say she committed suicide?"

Velador laced his hands on the table. "Well, theyíre calling it suicide. Autopsy showed drained brain fluids, part of the hippocampus was missing. When she first came to the hospital, Nasha knew who she was. She knew who her family was. The day before her death, she didnít know her name, her age or what color her eyes were."

"So, you think this might be why Dr. Scottís condition has failed to improve?"

No one in the room would answer. Velador pursed his lips. "Weíd like permission to speak to Dr. Scott, if itís alright with you."

"I wouldnít mind." Jill replied diplomatically. "But heís suffered another trauma and I had to put him under for a while. Dr. Scott, as you know, is Interfaced with Voodoo. Perhaps Voodoo can tell you something. Kyle doesnít remember who Voodoo is. He doesnít remember much of anything, except his name. I was hoping it was just temporary amnesia induced by trauma. But if what you say is true, what can we do to save him?"

Kyle awoke in emotional agony. A cloud of despair settled over his soul and all he wanted to do was fade from existence. He had no reason to continue like this; not when his mind and body were useless. Not one ounce of joy touched his saddened heart. And the sadness drained his strength so that it took great effort just to get up and use the restroom. And the exhaustion led to even greater sadness. Pain danced over his body, laughing at his feeble Human attempts to ignore it. It was his right hand that hurt the most. He glanced at it, now realizing Jill had not tried to restrain him again. The wound was clean, no signs of infection. But it remained open like a stigma, refusing to close and heal.

And something else nagged him. Something very crucial to his existence was missing and Kyle could not for his own life describe what he needed. It was too frustrating! It was like being thirsty, but it wasnít for water. It was as though something other than his memories had been stolen.

Dejected, Kyle heavily sighed and rested his head against the pillow. What was the use of living? His whole life was gone, empty like a glass emptied of wine and nothing replaced it.

Two and a half days slowly drifted along. Kyle found no interest in television when it was offered to him. He had no energy to read. But he did listen to a little radio. It took no thought to listen to instrumental music.

And perhaps it was the one thing that did give the doctor a boost to the soul. Jill encouraged him to go through his private music library and listen to all the music he collected over the years.

To his delight, Kyle found himself remembering some selections of music. He started making a list of all the pieces he knew and recalled, making notes on others he could not. His enthusiasm in the music spread to his appetite and where he was not eating more than a bowl of cereal a day, he now ate two full meals, begging to try other things.

Jill took these signs to heart, hoping it was recovery, not just the problem going into temporary remission. She timidly introduced Kyle to his old lap top, hoping he remembered how to use it.

At first he wasnít sure, either. He shook his head, unsure whether he remembered how to type or not. But his fingers moved across the keypad just as if nothing was wrong and in a few moments, he was on-line, downloading his mail and scanning other programs containing his business notes. All that lifted Kyleís spirits and he indulged himself hour after hour listening to his music and tapping at the keypad, reacquainting himself with his life.

Doctor Scott called up all the latest news and many other events he couldnít recall. He delved into the history of the Tji War, the alliance with the Decepticons and later the Seekers. At one point, however, he began to get frustrated, knowing that he should know and recall all these affairs, and many, many things never mentioned in the public news casts.

Still, Kyle tried to keep his spirits up, teasing the nurses attending him. In spite of his yet-unhealed arm, Kyle seemed about ready to leave hospital care and retire to his own home for a while.

But Jill still noticed how Doctor Scott not once mentioned Voodoo.

And it wasnít that Kyle didnít think of Voodoo. He thought of the annoying, self-important, egotistical, brash robot all the time. Kyle thought about how the entire time he slept, there Voodoo sat, motionless, tireless, faithful. The doctor thought about how nice it was to have someone else in the same room, just sitting and watching.

Kyle privately wondered how Voodoo was doing and . . . if the Sentinel was thinking of him.

Most likely not, Doctor Scott told himself. After all, what would a loud-mouthed overbearing robot-jet be doing wasting its time with a helpless, brainless human? It wasnít Voodoo who needed Kyle. But Kyle kind of missed having someone look after him. Voodoo was so very careful around him and so enthusiastic about sharing memories.

Kyle leaned over and hid his face. Heíd give anything to remember his life!

 

All this time we lived in two separate cities, Voodoo thought sadly. On Alean, we were so close and we knew we could count on each other. I used to talk him to sleep when he couldnít rest. He used to tease me for being too serious. Then we came here and things changed. Each of us lived his own life, knowing the other was just a town away. But . . . now I see the folly in such a life. The Sentinel stood on the rooftop of his home-city library, staring far across the Great Sea. Kyle was a part of him, a part he had neglected far too long. But he didnít know what to do!

Voodooís misery fell to depression several days ago. He didnít want to talk, see or be with anybody-that especially included Kyle.

On the other hand, Voodoo had never felt so desperately lonely before. In a world full of people, Voodoo felt terribly isolated. A part of him had died, or so it seemed. And he believed no one would understand what he was going through. Kyle was alive, but no longer a part of him.

The thought forced the Sentinel to his knees. As far as his connection to Kyle was concerned, Doctor Scott was dead. Dead and gone. Voodoo bowed over, stricken with grief. How would he ever find peace again? All the experiences and feelings, thoughts and things Kyle appreciated were no longer a part of his life. Never again would Kyle suddenly ĎTuneí into him and tell him about a piece of music he heard and loved. Never again would Kyle sit and listen in while Voodoo vented His soul. Kyle was always so patient, so quiet. He listened to everything Voodoo would say and always, always Kyle spoke kindly.

Kyle was the most gentle person Voodoo had known. Oh, sure, the doctor had his Ďmomentsí. But often it was because Voodoo would simply push the right buttons. Voodoo admitted he himself had a temper.

And it was all gone. Their relationship was destroyed.

And Voodoo blamed it on his own stupidity. If he hadnít pushed Kyle into phasing so soon, maybe things would have been different.

Maybe.

Maybe.

No more conversations. No more insults. Only a terrible vacant sadness hovering over his heart like Death poised for the kill.

It ate into Voodoo and the Sentinel half wished he could stop living. Fleeting thoughts of suicide shot through his mind. And something inside agreed that if he were to commit suicide, it would have to be cleaver enough to make sure Skywolf could not bring him back.

After all, Voodoo was just half a person now.

Midnight crouched before Voodooís sleeping huddled form. The long hours of nightfall cast eerie shadows across Cybertronís cityscape, if thatís what Humans considered night. Even when it was daylight, Cybertron still resided in darkness. The Sentinel leader knelt quietly and scanned his friend for life signs. Voodoo was in terrible condition. His life energies were deteriorating, his ability to function at his job had fallen drastically short.

And as in poor a condition Voodoo was in, the stubborn robot refused to seek help. Not that Mid could really say heíd act differently. What was occurring between Voodoo and Kyle was a very private matter and no amount of counseling or therapy would solve the dire situation.

Voodooís soul was falling apart.

"I canít, Mid." Voodooís tiny voice murmured no stronger than a whisper.

"Whatís that?" Midnight asked equally quietly.

"Confront Kyle. He hates me. And I donít know what to do." Voodoo unfolded from his position to finally looked his leader through his optic shield.

Midnight thought his answer out carefully. "You canít stay away from him much longer, either. I know youíre lost and exceedingly depressed without Kyle." Mid waited two beats, then added: "And Voodoo, you can be assured Kyle feels the same way. But heís clueless. You at least know whatís wrong."

"I canít feel Kyle any more. We havenít mind-spoken in what feels like years. Itís like . . . itís like heís . . . dead."

"Voodoo," Mid answered quietly, but sternly, "Go after him! Talk to him! Itís the only way to solve the problem."

"But look at what I did! How would he ever forgive me?"

Midnight considered Voodooís words for a moment then frowned, "Isnít this Kyle weíre talking about?"

Voodoo stared at him, realizing what Midnight was saying. Kyle had better character than that.

It was worth a chance.

"Iím sorry, Voodoo. Doctor Scott checked out of here two days ago. Doctor Gatchel gave him the go-ahead."

Voodoo was speechless for a moment. "You-you people let him just walk on out of here, heedless that heís still weak?"

"Well, we canít make anybody stay here, Voodoo. Hospital policy."

"Not make anyone stay, but you have no qualms about restraining your patients!" Voodoo snapped. But all the receptionist gave him was a shrug. She didnít make the rules, just reported them.

Voodoo stomped out, infuriated at their lack of interest in his partner. Then he became infuriated that he himself wasnít there to take care of Kyle. Kyle was hardly fit to walk across the parking lot, for crying out loud!

Jill was going to hear about this!

Kyle answered the door and there stood Voodoo. At first, the doctor did not know how to react. He shuddered with bad memory. He rolled his eyes in annoyance. He frowned in displeasure.

But he let Voodoo in because really, it was nice to see a face other than a nurse coming to take blood. He silently stepped back and invited Voodoo inside. The Sentinel strolled in, really glad they had made it this far. He loved Kyleís place as much as his own. Redwood-stained oak walls matched the smoked glass and black metal furniture in a nicely-kept apartment. Kyle had the money to buy a gorgeous house but he liked the small, simple quarters and the outdoor patio rather than something terribly lavish.

Kyle went to the kitchen and poured himself a vegetable drink. "Iím working out in the patio. You can come, if youíd like." He invited. He made his way past Voodoo down the hall and outside. The cool air filled his lungs, but did nothing to alleviate the ever-present darkness in his heart.

Voodoo peered out the door and carefully stepped outside. One of Kyleís hobbies was gardening; trimming and shaping bushes to resemble creatures or animals, sometimes buildings. It was a lot of work, but Doctor Scott was, like so many other things, a pro. He had a small herb garden located at the front of the patio and outdoor furniture nearby that. Voodoo loved this place. The Sentinel never considered himself very talented. Well, Kyle more than made up for that.

The doctor remained silent, sipping his vegetable juice and carefully tending one bush he was shaping into a dolphin.

"Well," Voodoo started first. "I see you didnít need my help recovering and doing damage to the world at large. Youíve seem to do well enough yourself."

Kyle eyed him, seeing the feeble attempt at humor. He wasnít laughing. He reached for the clippers with his right hand and Voodoo took note how it was still bandaged. A good three weeks had passed since the first accident and Kyle still had problems with his arm. The robot assumptively took a position beside Kyle and the bush, sitting down so that they could make better visual contact.

"Kyle," he started softly. "Can you recall anything, anything at all about the accident?"

Kyle threw him an icy stare and took another sip of his drink. "No. Not really. Iíd rather not talk about it, to be honest with you."

"I know." Voodoo answered carefully. "But, it might help us piece together something of your condition."

Kyle clipped a tiny twig off and gave Voodoo a more meaningful glance. "You know, I donít even remember how I met you. It drives me crazy! I didnít even know I remembered how to do this until night before last when I got out of bed, unable to sleep. I just automatically grabbed the clippers and came out here and started working. As if-as if I had done it all my life."

Voodoo marveled. "You have only partial amnesia?"

"Seems that way. I guess thatís why I remember so much of my profession. For a while I thought I lost everything but I tested myself over the net last night and my memory offered me a healthy ninety percent accuracy on the test. Thereís some things Iíll have to go back and refresh. But it seems to be okay."

Voodoo caught a light of hope in Kyleís eye and it warmed his own heart. "Well, we werenít exactly on good terms when we met. I, uh, I kidnaped you."

Kyle wordlessly stared at him. "You kidnaped me?!" He nearly shouted. "What? What the hell were you thinking?! You kidnaped me?!"

"It was an emergency and you were the only person available at the time." Voodoo shrugged. "At least I kidnaped the right person." He grinned, inclined to laugh. Thinking about it now it seemed pretty funny. He kidnaped his own Interface partner!

Kyle stared at him in blatant disbelief. He finally shook his head and snipped a few more twigs. "I donít think I want to know any more." He grunted. If that was true, the rest of his past might be just as insane. Kyle paused. "Kidnaped!" he spat. "Married!"

Voodoo leaned forward a little, intrigued by Kyleís careful work with the bush. His work was slowly revealing itself, becoming finer, smooth. "Kyle," he said after a moment, "I can take you to Central Command and Alean and other places, meet everyone. It might refresh your memory. We have wonderful friends. And I could introduce you to-" Kyle shook his head. "I canít see anybody right now, Voodoo. Itís just too soon still."

"It would do you some good." Voodoo insisted. "I mean, think of it all as a vacation. We could go and really take our time-"

"Voodoo." Kyle interrupted again. "Iíve already set up a part time job at the hospital. Itís not much, but itís something to help get me back to some sense of normality."

"A job?!" Voodoo snapped. "Come on! Thereís so much more out there! You can afford the time off, believe me!"

"Is that so?" Kyle snapped in return. "What else do you know about me? I donít even know who you are and you come parading in and telling me how to live my life."

"Kyle!" Voodoo retorted. "Weíre supposed to be a part of each otherís lives! Weíre Interfaced."

Kyle bit his tongue. How very presumptive! Almost rude, really.

"Look," Voodoo snarled. "Like it or not, weíre linked. And up until the accident, weíve been able to tolerate each other pretty well. Now suddenly you donít remember and you wonít even give me half a chance to prove myself! I mean, itís frustrating knowing someone all your life and suddenly youíre having to start the relationship all over again!"

Kyle turned back sharply. "Yes!" he said, his temper barely kept in check. "I donít know you, I donít know any of your friends. I donít even know me." Suddenly disgusted, Kyle set the clippers down with a weary sigh. He wished Voodoo hadnít come at all. He was still trying to sort things out in his head and this robot just comes around and messes everything up again. Was his life really that complex? He wished the robot would just stay away!

Unfortunately, Voodoo picked up on that and it hurt deeply.

"Fine." He growled. "Iíll leave. If you decide you suddenly know me, Iím sure someone at your precious hospital will know how to find me."

That put Kyle off. "Is this how weíve always been?" He snapped. "Have we always fought like this?"

Voodoo turned back around. "No. Sometimes youíve been worse."

"Oh, so youíre telling me that youíve not always been this pushy."

"Pushy? Me? Pushy? How would you like it if suddenly you were bonded to a creature less than half your size and you constantly felt responsible for it?"

Pain sliced through Kyleís temples and a memory not his own shot into him. Voodoo resented being Interfaced with him. Anybody, anything else in the universe but Kyle would have been a better thing!

Kyle inwardly shuddered with two overwhelming emotions: Voodooís initial rejection of the Interface and his own terrible sense of worthlessness. In mere seconds, Kyle was condemned to live and work with someone who basically hated him.

It was all Doctor Scott could do to keep himself together for that very moment in time. He blinked, still shocked by Voodooís projections. Then he reacted himself: Kyle shot him an acid look. "I donít recall asking." He answered brusquely, biting his tongue. He wanted to point out how he felt when Voodoo tried for force him to phase. It was like being raped. But the doctor would not stoop to say such a terrible thing. He silently stomped past Voodoo into his home, unable to say anything.

Voodoo couldnít stand it any more. He transformed into jet mode. "Iíll see you around . . . Doctor." He snarled and shot off.

Kyle didnít get past the hallway. He collapsed against the wall, his arms wrapping himself tightly. He didnít need that. It would have been nice to just have some quiet, aimless conversation. It would have been nice to just lean against someone for a while, not fuss over what had happened, not trying to grasp something as fleeting and inconsistent as a memory. Kyle staggered to his desk and swept up the one photo of Voodooís friends. He wiped the oncoming tears and tried to bring his anger under control.

Kyle concentrated on the photo, drawing a deep breath. Robots and Humans. It seemed a very normal thing here on Cybertron. But what were those other memories he had? A sun and blue sky, mountains of trees and grass . . . he had no names or dates.

A strange rustling noise filtered behind him and Kyle turned, wondering if it was Voodoo who came back for another session of insults.

Instead, the wall wavered and a figure, outlined in red watered through. Kyle caught his breath, his heart jumped to his throat. It was back again, meaning to kill him completely. He activated the visiphone, right out of sheer habit, and called the hospital.

A receptionist answered.

"Itís Dr. Scott. Can I talk to Jill? Itís an emergency."

"Iím sorry, Dr. Scott. Sheís with another patient."

"This is an emergency!"

"Iíll see if I can patch her through."

The dog stepped nearer, growling. Something inside Kyle desired to open himself to receive the beast. Something told him this creature was all he needed in life.

Something else screamed at him to listen to nothing.

"Hello?" Jillís voice impatiently came over the line.

"Jill," Kyle answered. "Jill."

"Kyle? Whatís wrong?"

But he never answered her. The dog opened its mouth and let loose a roar that hurt Kyleís ears. It attacked, its weight bearing down on the doctor like a lead wrecking ball. Kyle shattered the glass coffee table beneath him.

The monster licked the back of Kyleís head and pain shot up his spine. The dog bit down on Kyleís right shoulder and Doctor Scott gasped for breath, the pain nearly knocking him unconscious. He fought to stay awake and weakly reached for a glass shard, though he didnít think it would do any good. He sliced the watery image with it and the dog snarled and jerked back, allowing Kyle enough room and time to escape. He scampered to his feet, grabbed his coat and fled out the door. The monster pounded hot on his trail.

Kyle tapped down the stairs and exited the building. The dark metal streets outside offered him three directions from which to choose. Kyle had no idea where any of them led. He veered right just as a public transport slowed to pick up passengers. He boarded the hover craft and it shot away as the doctor found himself a seat next to a woman wearing well-fitted armor.

Kyle couldnít look at anyone, fearful the person might turn into his attacker. But he dared a glance toward the back window and caught the sight of the watery red dog, pounding its way after the transport. He turned back around and hoped with every inch of his life the creature-thing might lose energy long enough for him to escape.

Five, six, seven city blocks down the line and the transport hung a right. Two, three blocks and the transport took a left. And Kyle safely remained on the transport for a good half hour before he took another glance out the back window.

No sign of the dog.

Perhaps Kyle had lost him for a while. Doctor Scott knew he couldnít run forever. He would have to try to call Jill.

The transport stopped at a huge mall and Kyle disembarked with a group of kids. They chattered and giggled ceaselessly and Kyle followed them through the entrance and quietly caught his breath.

The mall stood three and four stories tall, the ceilings always high enough to accommodate a few of the larger Transformers. Shops ranging from casual clothes to alien kitchen accessories lined the center court.

The doctor felt this was a good decision. He strolled around the court, now looking for a phone to call the hospital.

People came and left, filing around him in an exchange of conversations and varying dress-wear. The mall paraded in front wafting smells of wonderful foods and a live band playing to Kyleís right. Several young girls pushed strollers while they chattered on with their girlfriends. A small group of young men compared hand-held games and cards they had recently purchased and just behind them stood a tall figure in a long dark coat. He eyed Kyle suspiciously and Kyle shied from his piercing dark eyes.

Then Doctor Scott dared a last glance, wondering why the figure stared at him so. But Kyleís action caused the wound in his hand to agonize. It was as though someone had shot a lance right through him. He stifled a cry and bent over in pain, clutching his right arm. His body trembled as pain shot up his arm and aimed for his heart. He couldnít breathe and he glanced for the figure again and in place of a humanís face, sat the face of a dog. It snarled at him, licking its chops.

Kyle bolted left, running around an indoor playground, passing through a small indoor garden and aimed for a beautiful water fountain, graced with mirrors and a spun-glass statue in the center. The figure dashed after him, heedless of the two little kids it knocked over and stepped on.

Kyleís eyes caught a pair of lights that granted the falling water color. Quickly he grasped and unscrewed one of them from the floor, exposing wiring. He ignored the throbbing pain in his right hand and waited until the figure caught up with him. The dog itself leapt through the clothes and plunged into the fountain, heedless that Kyle held a light fixture. Kyle leapt out of the water then immersed the fixture into the fountain, jerking his hand back just as the electricity sparked and sizzled, wrenching the dog left and right, up and down so that it made a gurgling, growling sound.

Kyle abandoned the scene, not daring to wait for security to arrive and arrest him. He knew it was only a matter of time before the creature-beast would recover and come right for him. He remembered (!?) Beth at the hospital and how she died and knew, he knew that was about to happen to him.

Kyle shot through a department store exit and tried to run across the parking lot, only to find his strength, granted by the mercies of his adrenaline, now fell short.

What could he do, now?

His time was up and the dog crashed through the wall, snarling and agony in his arm shot through Kyleís heart and he crumpled, whimpering weakly. The dog, now grown in terrible size, clamped its jaws around Doctor Scott and bolted out of sight.

Voodoo ran the conversation over and over in his head. Kyle was just being a jerk! What was with him, anyway? He didnít want to listen to anything Voodoo said or explained. Stubborn flesh creature!

But then, Voodoo digressed, he wasnít very patient, either. And then the Sentinel had to laugh inwardly. They were starting out all over again much the same way when they first met. He considered Kyle a jerk then, when he was the jerk. It really wasnít that much different now. Except that he knew the quiet man. He knew Kyle would not intentionally hurt anyone, never to do so spitefully. And, Voodoo supposed, it was his fault for forcing Kyle to do things before Dr. Scott was really ready.

Voodoo landed on a rooftop to think. He really should go back and apologize. At least he should try-urgency alerted his senses and Voodoo shot back to the apartment as fast as he could. But when he arrived, all he found were the remains of a brief battle. A message on the visiphone called his attention.

"Voodoo." He answered.

"Jill." She answered. "V, whereís Kyle? Is he alright?"

"Heís not here. Why?"

"He called a while ago, but didnít say what the problem was. We were cut off."

As she spoke, Voodoo found the slice from the glass table. The shard was smeared with a watery substance-outlined in red. "Oh, Primus." He whispered.

"What? Voodoo, whatís wrong?"

"Jill, the monster, the dog. Itís real."

"What?"

"No. I donít have time to explain. I have to go."

And he took off, her voice still calling his name.

The Sentinel looped the immediate area twice, trying to pick up on Kyleís individual life signs. But that failed. Where could Scott go in his weakened condition? Voodoo landed outside a tall office building and pondered a moment. If something were chasing him, and he had no resources, what would he do? Where would he go?

Voodoo supposed heíd head for someplace public, where everyone could witness any vile attacks.

Three helicopters shot overhead, all of them city security. Voodooís opticless visor sparked silver and he leapt after them, transforming and made sure not to be too obvious.

The choppers lead him to the mall where several security officers and investigators jotted notes and asked questions. Many people flocked to the scene while an ambulance and paramedics tended two injured children.

Voodoo landed and scanned everything around him. Was this because of Kyle? Did something else happen?

"I saw it, too!" One little kid pipped. "It was wearing a long dark coat and it was chased after him and he raned inta the fountain and got all wet and electricuted the water and the thing lost its coat and sizzled."

"And no one saw what happened to him after that?" One investigator asked.

"He ran into Techmanís Department Store." A lady answered. "I didnít see anything other than that.

Kyle was here, but now gone without a trace. The investigators would be looking for days for Kyle and Voodoo knew he didnít have that kind of time. Kyleís amnesia had prevented the doctor from remembering and knowing how to mentally communicate with his partner. Voodoo abandoned the mall, taking his position in the sky. Where on Cybertron would that monster take Kyle, if the monster did indeed survive the electrocution?

Voodoo zoomed around the area again, not so much as looking as just to think. But his flight path led him to a distinguishable footprint in the form of a crushed automobile. The Sentinel landed to examine the wreckage a little more closely and sure enough, it was a footprint. The monster didnít simply fade from the scene, it walked. And Voodoo considered the direction the print pointed; toward the older part of town and a transport graveyard once used under the streets. He transformed and sped several miles in a due westerly direction.

There were no signs for miles. Voodoo kept going. After all, on a metal planet, a footprint would be hard to trace. Fifteen minutes later, Voodoo came to the Ďgraveí. The tunnel entrance was broken down, but it had been like that for quite some time. Strips of the old system lay rusting. Huge sheets of Ďgarbageí metal littered the area as no one over too long a time bothered to clean it up after it was declared unsafe. This ancient rail system proved a perfect ground for killing and disposing bodies quietly.

And somehow, by some force of mercy and grace, Voodoo found the one single clue he needed to confirm his suspicions; a single drop of blood. Whether it was from Kyleís unhealed wounded hand, or a fresher cut, Voodoo could not tell. But joy and anxiety leapt into his chest and Voodoo had to sternly remind himself Kyle was still in danger and if he werenít careful enough, the monsters would most likely kill Kyle right on the spot.

The problem was that Voodoo forgot his mouth didnít always obey his own head.

"Kyle?" He called out loud.

Then realized what an idiot he was for calling out. <Kyle?>> he called instead.

<< . . .>> faint like the dead calling from their grave, but there it was! And it was all Voodoo needed. He called his gun from subspace (as if that would do any good) and pressed forward into the darkness.

<<Kyle!?>>

The dog laid Kyle face down on a cold slab of steel and licked the back of the doctorís neck once. A wave of terrible pain immobilized Scott and his right arm weakly slipped off the edge of the slab. He didnít know where he was, or what had happened. He didnít remember how he got here. His mind fell to nothing but dancing colors and a few snatches of sound. He could feel something devour him from the inside and soon he would fall unconscious altogether and never wake up.

"Kyle?" Some voice echoed from a distance.

Wasnít that his name? Was someone calling for him? Kyle opened his eyes, but met darkness. Dripping water plicked nearby and the dog left him for a while, perhaps to follow the sound of the voice.

Kyle simply lay there, unable to move, too tired and sad to care.

Voodoo searched deep into the tunnel. He walked some ways, finding nothing but refuse and a few nasty off-world animals. The dark tunnel oppressed him, stretching off into an eternity all its own and Voodoo wondered if the damned thing was ever going to come to an end. But it kept going, slightly bending now and again until it finally did end into a large sunken cavern. Some of the older transports lay round in the sinkhole like dead things. Voodoo stepped down into it, glancing round the mini graveyard. Water seeped from above, making the only noise other than Voodooís own feet.

He instantly sensed a part of himself here. He turned a three-sixty and felt the strongest point from behind two large transports.

Voodoo used his sensors in the darkness and climbed over the two transports, slipping once on the second one and softly cursing the fact that no one bothered to clean up this part of town. Downright sloppy, he told himself.

He jumped down, landing loudly in a pile of junk metal and slimy refuse. He found Kyle laying face down on a pile of sheet metal. His right hand had fallen off the edge, touching the dirty ground just below him. His blood was everywhere. Fresh bite marks told the tale of a slight struggle.

Voodoo put his weapon aside and made his way to his friend, hoping against hope. He touched Kyleís left shoulder and picked up his right hand at the same time.

Kyle wearily raised his heavy head and didnít need any light to see who found him. He laid his head down again, unable to keep it up. <<Voodoo.>> he sent weakly. <<You came for me? Even after the awful things I said?>>

<<Youíre a part of me, Kyle Scott. No matter what happens. Nothing can change that.>> Voodoo nearly leapt for joy over the fact that Kyle had remembered how to communicate with him.

But guilt drove Kyle back into silence. He thought it nice to see someone, anyone other than the little prison in which he now lay. He would most likely never see the outside again. Pain shot through him and all Kyle could do was wince, catch his breath.

"Kyle!" Voodoo called. He could feel just snatches of Kyleís pain, but he kept the shields up in order to keep moving. He brushed his finger over Kyleís white-blonde hair, now dirty with blood. He was about to gather his friend up and hold him when Kyle stirred.

"Itís coming back." Dr. Scott whispered weakly. "Voodoo, you ... leave. If you go now, I can distract it."

Voodoo wasnít about to leave. He laid his hands about his injured friend and would have picked Kyle up had another sound not distracted him.

The creature-thing came bleeding through the wall, licking its chops. It approached them and Kyleís right arm twitched under Voodooís hand.

Something suddenly made sense to Voodoo: The wound in Kyleís arm was a mark of sorts, a way to let the monster know who its victims were. Voodoo called his weapon from subspace and placed one hand on Kyleís back, the other sat on the trigger of his laser gun. He knew that something like this would most likely not be affected by laser fire. But it was all the Sentinel had. The monster was going to rip Kyle up right in front of him.

The idea of a forced-phase instantly entered Voodooís mind. The creature couldnít reach Kyle if they were phased. But then he recalled almost a week ago how he tried that and the shock of it sent Kyle into a near-suicide. Then Voodoo remembered coming to consciousness, in agony and watching in horror as something, some ghost of a dog, ripped Kyle out of him. The Sentinel unconsciously touched his chest.

What could he do?

Then another monster came through the wall, and it too peered hungrily at Kyle. But the instant the two dogs spotted each other, they growled in unison, each threatening the other. Voodoo took that moment and gently gathered Kyle in his arms and stole several steps backward. The first dog started to follow, but it was attacked by the second and a terrible fight ensued, one dog yelped and snarled, the other snarled back and their fight lit the cave with an eerie red glow, allowing Voodoo to see the ceiling was far higher than he thought.

While the two dogs kept fighting, Voodoo transformed his body around Kyleís injured, bleeding form and shot away. The tunnel, however, proved a bit too small and the sides painfully skinned Voodooís wings. But he kept going, knowing the pain he suffered was nothing compared to his partnerís pain. And the two dogs were not going to fight each other forever.

Voodoo brought Kyle right back to the hospital. One more time! He thought to himself. But this time he was met with Skywolf and a rather perturbed Midnight. The two followed him back to Kyleís old room, asking him why he hadnít said anything, reported any incidents or asked for help. But Voodoo was beyond words at this moment. He ignored them while he carefully laid Kyle on the bed and stepped back as two nurses rushed to his partnerís aid.

"Voodoo!" Midnight admonished.

But the Sentinel leader got nowhere before Voodoo collapsed into his arms.

I thought you said he was going to be just fine.

I did until two days ago.

Symptoms?

None. Or none that he would speak about. Memory loss, for the most part.

Jill, surely you can be a little more specific than that. There has to be something youíve noticed differently about his behavior.

Pause.

Well, we gave him something to sleep off trauma. But he woke just half an hour later. And this wound here on his right hand . . . it wonít close. Weíve changed the bandaging on it, used laser mending on it, weíve checked for parasites and signs of infection-I was thinking about sewing it together. But nothing weíve done will work.

Kyle realized they were talking about him and his dark brown eyes lifted, greeting a cheerfully lit room, complete with a group of unknown doctors and Jill standing around staring at him.

"Well!" A bearded alien doctor piped. "Good to see you finally conscious, Doctor Scott! How do you feel?"

But Kyleís eyes diverted from him to another doctor. He knew that person, but the name escaped him completely. And Kyle gazed back at Jill who simply smiled sweetly. She produced a small scanner from her smock pocket and quickly ran it over him then stared at the readings.

"Well, your temperature is finally up. Your blood count has raised some and . . . " she placed the scanner back in her pocket. "Voodoo has been pestering us about you twice every hour."

Kyle forced his mouth open. "He came for me." He softly, sadly answered. Kyle remembered the fight between the dogs and the agony when one of them licked him.

All the occupants in the room stared at Kyle as if his words were of a profound nature. Jill glanced at two other doctors before turning back to Kyle. "Youíre Interfaced with him, Kyle. Itís natural for a Sentinel to rescue his partner."

"No." Kyle denied. "We had an argument . . ." From the look on their faces, Kyle could tell he didnít need to say anything more. His eyes fell to the soft coverlets laying over his body. He felt very empty right now. Emotionally he felt exhausted, but not so that it allowed him to sleep more.

"Doctor Scott," the one alien doctor directed, "We have some questions we wondered youíd be willing to answer."

Kyle again glanced from one person to the next and meekly nodded. Though he didnít think he could recall enough to satisfy their curiosity.

"Doctor Scott, weíve had reports of an invisible entity crashing through your apartment, something of a similar nature attacked you again at the mall. Four other people have been attacked and left for dead-"

"Itís been eating other people?" Kyleís eyes grew in surprise.

The doctors eyed one another. "Well," the one alien acknowledged. "Weíve found bodies torn to pieces. A few of them, not all, have records regarding a measure of psychic tendencies. We were hoping you might be able to shed some light on this little dilemma. Now, we were informed that you went to Chenobis to investigate what they thought to be a rare disease. But it turns out, the victim died much the same way these other people have. But your case is different. Why?

Kyle shrugged. Suddenly they want him to remember Chenobis? He hardly remembered the very name! But Kyle forced his head to work, trying desperately to remember the trip. He knew Jill had mentioned somewhere along the line his assignment to the planet. But that was fleeting and in between moments of consciousness. "I donít know." He finally murmured. "The creature attacks me when I least expect it to. I remember being at my place with Voodoo and . . . " he couldnít say anything more. He was living a nightmare and Kyle wondered when he would wake up and everything would be back to normal. The emptiness filled him and choked off any other thoughts. Whether by attack or suicidal depression, the monster was going to eat him alive.

Then a memory hit him, clear as a sunny day. "Glass." He stared at his audience. "I remember . . . I cut it with a piece of glass. Not deeply. It was right on top of me. But it reacted to glass."

"Fascinating." Another doctor piped.

"Quite." A third agreed. "Might have something do to with the steadfast properties of silicon. Or light refraction. Maybe sound."

They chattered on for several moments, practically forgetting Kyle for the time. He closed his eyes and rested his head comfortably against the pillow. In another moment, their sounds died off and Kyle drifted aimlessly.

When he woke, the clock read several hours past their interview and evening crept over the ward.

Kyle felt very much alone.

Kyle woke some time later. He had no idea the day or the hour. But Steven sat there next to him, leafing through a book. He glanced over and upon a second look, sent a wide grin. "Hey!" he greeted his friend. "Glad to see you awake."

Kyle greeted him with a silent smile. But it was a forced smile and it left him as quickly. Steve leaned over, locking eyes with Scott. "I have something illegal for you."

"Youíre a goof." Kyle weakly admonished.

Steve smiled broadly. "Funny, Mid says the same thing." He reached under the bed and produced a magazine wrapped in plastic.

Kyle spotted a mostly-naked female on the cover and "PET HOUSE" on the title. He about cracked up. "Put that thing away!"

Steve laughed and opened the plastic bag. "Not on your life Kyle. This is precious."

"Yeah, Iíll bet." The smile, this time genuine, would not leave Kyleís face. What a goof!

Steve slid the bag off and Kyle realized the magazine had no leafy interior. Steve held it with one hand and peeled the cover with the other, revealing three magazine-shaped bars of pure chocolate.

Kyle laughed even more. "I do not believe you!"

"Dark or milk? Whatís your favor flavor?"

"Nuts?"

"Yup. See? I knew youíd ask that." And Steve set the first chocolate Ďplateí down and handed the second one to Kyle. Kyle broke off a piece and waited until Steve took his pick. "Chocolate bunnies." Steve pointed to the picture of the girl on the cover. "My favorite."

Kyle laughed, feeling a little lighter than he had in days.

He watched as Steve took a first bite then he copied. The chocolate tasted wonderful, far more so than the stuff heís had to eat of late. He thought of Steve and the picture of the robot Voodoo showed him a while back.

"Steve."

"Hmm?" Steve chewed with a broad smile.

"How long have you and your-uhm, Midnight been Interfaced?"

Steve fell silent for a long moment. "A long time." He answered quietly. "Longer than I care to consider." He forced a smile, but it was a weary one, "Itís sorta funny how we measure time-thinking only a few short years and-"

"Steve," Kyle interrupted. "How long?"

Now Parker swallowed hard. "Two . . . " his voice was small, as though something awful . . .

"Two years?"

"Two thousand years."

Kyle fell silent, his face reflected the shock Steve expected. Doctor Scott knew he was treading on delicate ground. Perhaps he should not ask the next question, fearing the truth would indeed be overwhelmingly horrible. "And me and Voodoo?"

Steve couldnít look at him. He forced a smile. "Well, you remembered me, Iím sure other memories will surface as time goes along, they canít take-"

"Steve."

Parker swallowed again.

"What?" Kyle insisted. "Two thousand? Three?"

Steve wanted to lie, to tell Kyle it wasnít for a long time, but he couldnít deny anything. "Six." His voice mouthed so quietly, so sadly.

Kyle lost all color in his face. "Six?" he whispered. "Six . . . thousand years?" His whole body froze. "How many life spans . . . Iíve never died?"

Steve embraced his friend.

"Oh gods." Kyle whispered.

Several days later the hospital allowed Doctor Scott to move on his own again. He saw Voodoo less frequently. But Jill explained Voodoo was being treated for surface damage to his wings and Skywolf was not about to let the rash Sentinel out of his sight again. Kyle couldnít help but to miss his partner. They seemed to have an awkward relationship; both of them rather stubborn in their individual ways.

Kyle strolled through the little park he found close to the hospital a few days ago. It turned out to be quite larger than the entrance permitted the eye to see. Trees standing taller than Voodoo stretched to kiss a great glass dome designed to create prosthetic sunlight. A beautiful stream flowed along one side, ending in a pond built so that it resembled as natural a setting as one would see on another world. Kyle decided he loved this place. But his heart hung heavy. Something was missing in his life.

Laughter rang from his right and Kyle gazed as a man and wife took turns swinging a baby back and forth. He smiled, seeing their moment of happiness and hoping that moment would be one of many.

He still remembered nothing. At least nothing of moments like those. Even with his freedom from the creature, there was no guarantee he would ever regain his memory. Kyle mourned for a past he could not recall. Memories make a person who they were, what they experienced in life, reminding them of mistakes and pressing forward to new challenges and self-improvement.

Even with the truce between himself and Voodoo, Kyle still felt very much ashamed of his behavior. Kindness was a virtue his own parents struggled day after day to instill in him.

That little slice of memory at least made the doctor smile. Kyle had some snatches of memory of his parents. But he still didnít remember Mirna, or any of Voodooís friends.

Voodoo was a topic to himself. Kyle found himself thinking of the over-sized tin can often, sometimes in jest, sometimes in antagonism. Interfaced? What exactly did that mean? Kyle allowed himself to remember the day Voodoo took him out of the hospital and forced him to . . . meld? Phase? It was a horrible, terrifying memory. He quickly extinguished it.

A darker shadow of sadness descended over Doctor Scott and his strength ebbed away with the oncoming depression. He wearily sat down on a nearby bench overlooking the stream A couple of other children ran after one another, a large dog happily trailed after them. Their laughter did nothing to heal Kyleís drowning heart.

Something was missing. Aside the fact that six thousand years had faded from him, something very essential was missing in his life. The depression made way for a coldness that settled over him like a cruel winter frost. He bowed over, burdened by its load. He really had no reason to continue living like this. There was no light or laughter in his soul. The alien creature had stolen all that from him. Kyle could not even remember the last day he worked. Just snatches of thoughts, words that made no sense.

He was only half a person.

Voodooís presence alerted him and Kyle wanted to slink away. He was ashamed of his depression and he tried to squelch it, tried to put on a mask so that Voodoo would not feel the same guilt. The robot sat down next to him, overlooking the stream a moment before opening his mouth:

"I play a mean game of Chess." He offered, his tone barely audible.

Kyle smiled lightly. "No doubt." He answered with a like tone. But he had to hide his face, tuck away the darkness that crowded all the merriment in his soul.

Voodoo felt that and turned to his friend. "You donít have to hide anything from me, Kyle." He said softly. "I am here for you."

Kyle merely looked away, staring at a beautiful wooden bridge crossing the stream. No amount of beauty, no sound of laughter would fill the void in his heart. Kyle did not care if he lived or died.

Voodoo crawled around to face him, but did not force Kyle to look at him directly. He sat on his knees, concentrating on the gentle doctor who shared his soul. "Kyle." He whispered. <<Kyle.>> he sent as gently as he could. "Youíre not alone in this. I know how you feel. I know what you feel, every moment of it. But we can work through it. We can work together. We can start piecing things together, a little at a time, building memories to replace those that youíve lost." He braved it; Voodoo took Kyleís bandaged hand, holding it carefully between his fingers.

Kyle did not look at him, did not flinch. <<I have nothing to give you.>> he sent mournfully. <<I feel nothing. I have nothing. Even if I decided to phase with you, to make you happy, I donít even remember how.>>

Voodoo wanted to shout, wanted to tell Kyle that his thoughts were all wrong. But he reprimanded himself for even thinking of moving too fast. He swallowed the shout and took up Kyleís other hand. <<This isnít about Phasing!>> he thought gently. <<It isnít about me and what I want! Itís about you and me, working together. Being there for each other.>>

Kyle gazed at him finally, a tear escaped his eye and he fought for self control. Voodoo wiped it away, but his action served only to force Kyle to bend over and completely hide his face. Voodoo sighed patiently and gently rubbed his friendís arms, then his back. He sent warming trills into Kyleís body, hoping to alleviate some of the stress. They could sit there just like that for hours, if need be. Voodoo no longer cared about anything, or anyone. Kyle was all that existed in the universe.

Kyle said nothing in acceptance or rejection to Voodooís touch. It was nice to feel someone there. He slightly moved in accordance with Voodooís massage, his muscles reluctantly surrendering their tightness to kind warm vibrations emanating from the robotís fingers. Before he realized it, the doctor sat up and allowed Voodoo to trace his shoulder line and chest. Voodoo also caressed his neck and the sides of his face and forehead. He watched as the robotís fingers trailed down the right side of his body and over his leg. Then Voodoo traced his chest again and Kyle lifted his chin, concentrating on the sensation of warmth and nerve-stimulation. It felt wonderful, better than a professional massage, because Voodoo knew all the sensitive areas of his body.

And that fragment of memory hit Kyle like a ton of rocks. No one really knew him better than Voodoo. No one in his circle knew him quite so well . . .

<<The painting of the girl in my apartment . . . >> he sent.

Voodoo stopped long enough to look Kyle in the face. But he said nothing.

<<It was a gift, wasnít it? You gave it to me.>>

Voodoo grimly smiled and caressed Kyleís face with the tenderest of strokes. Kyle drank the sensation in like a plant in need of water.

<<It reminded me of you.>> Voodoo sent.

Kyle was about to joke of the gender difference, but this was not the time. Voodoo came closer, setting his forehead against Kyleís forehead and the robot held Kyleís tiny hands between his fingers. They remained that way for a few minutes. Kyle felt comfortable in Voodooís presence. He was no longer afraid or ashamed.

<<I have been an ass.>> he finally admitted to his Sentinel friend.

<<You have been deeply hurt.>> Voodoo returned. <<I"ve been the ass. I havenít been there for you. Iíve only been acting, when I should have been thinking.>>

Kyle didnít know what to say to that. Shame touched him and he could not resist its embrace. <<Iíve been so . . . sad.>> the words didnít come out right. They didnít reflect the incredible intellect of his profession. And that embarrassed him all the more. Kyle covered his face, unable to stop the tears.

Voodoo Reached for his friend, gently surrounding Kyle with both his hands while his grieving friend wept. Voodoo sought Kyleís heart with his mind, finding it scared by pain and fear. The doctorís emptiness reflected his own and although Kyle might not understand, Voodoo knew his friend missed him as much as he missed Kyle.

Well, he was here to comfort his distressing partner and he would do whatever it took, however long it took. Voodoo induced Kyle to nestling against one hand while he gently tried to caress Kyle with the other, hoping to coax Doctor Scott into a comfortable sleep.

As emotionally exhausted as he was, Kyle didnít need much convincing. He curled up half into Voodooís hand, the other half still on the bench. He breathed deeply, gratefully knowing Voodoo would do nothing to harm or frighten him again.

Voodoo was pleased, albeit a little surprised that Kyle was so easily coaxed into a more relaxed position. It was most likely because Kyle was still so very tired. Voodoo carefully collected his friend, his love from the flat bench and held him close in his arms.

They were beyond words at this point. Voodoo merely sent a mental sensation of comfort to Kyle, assuring him he would not leave Kyle even for a second, if he so desired. Kyle would be safe for as long as Voodoo lived.

Safe.

Kyle rested his cheek against Voodooís chestplate, feeling the warm smoothness of his exterior skin.

Safe.

That was an extraordinary thought. No matter what would happen in Kyleís life, whether by creature or political power, Voodoo would be there for him.

He sighed.

Voodoo would be there for him. Doctor Scott drew his soul close to his partnerís.

He sighed again.

Closer.

They touched chest to chest and Voodoo mentally kissed his neck. A comfortable warmth surrounded Kyle and for the first time in a very long time, he found he could breathe so much more easily in this state. His mind cleared and a sense of perfect calm fell about him. Perfectly safe. And now, whole, entire. One person.

Voodoo drew a breath, though it wasnít a breath at all, really. He embraced himself, raising his head to meet a sky now indwelt by simulated nightfall. Kyle finally phased in.

Voodoo was one person, perfectly complete. Perfectly whole.

End