Love is Cruel
Rodimus reread the grim message. His frown deepened. Medic First Aid skipped a word three times in his report, indicating exhaustion. Rodimus liked that even less than the note regarding Sideswipe.
As Roddi approached Optimusí quarters, he dialed an order to First Aid to take three days (seventy-two hours) off. Heís not to take or receive reports, perform procedures of any kind or be harassed by any of his staff. Heís to refuel, recharge and relax.
As for Sideswipe, Rodimus needed to discuss that with Optimus, his partner-on-the-hot-seat.
"I am aware of Sideswipeís inability to cope."
Rodimus disliked Optís tone. "And you were going to do what about it?"
"I donít know."
"Ohh! You were going to wait until *I* brought it up. Is that it?"
"Iím open to suggestions, Rodimus."
"Of course you are, because youíve not bothered to deal with it."
"Have you? Why do I get the feeling this is less about the twins and more about something else?"
"Donít you dare change the subject"
"Right. The subject was of Sideswipeís coping abilities; that his brother is dying."
"Itís more than that."
"Itís two halves of a whole thatís falling apart and something needs to be done before weíll lose them both!"
"Youíre right, Rodimus. Iíll just go down town to the nearest Siblings Rí Us and get Sideswipe a new brother. Thatíll patch everything nicely."
"How can you be so slagging cold about this?"
"Do you really think thereís any therapy clever enough or strong enough to help him forget his brother? Itís called Ďcollateral damageí, Rodimus. When a bomb destroys a building, all the buildings around it suffer the affects. When two peopleís lives are connected, they live and die en tandem. Youíre right about Sideswipe. But other than distractions and support, I have no answers. The only person who can save Sideswipe, ultimately, is Sideswipe.
Rodimus fell silent. The anger melted to sorrow. I hate it when youíre right."
"Youíre right, too. I should have thought of assigning someone to Sideswipe-someone stubborn enough to be a pain in his aft."
"Magnus and I are too busy."
"Mm. Assign... Doublecross to him and assign both to the Sunset Kummya. Give him clearance to visit Sunstreaker twice a day. Give him a light workload and keep it on a five-day rotation. He needs to be busy."
Rodimus nodded as Optimus answered a text message and signed it.
Uncomfortable quiet made Rodimus want to leave. But he had to stay and summon the courage to speak his mind. "Op. Um," he could not meet Optimusí line of sight. "You know, in his place, Iíd be just as messed up as Sideswipe. I mean, I can bluff my way through everything. But... some things canít be fixed."
Optimus set his work down and paused. "Love is cruel, isnít it, Roddi? It can make you more than a whole person and give you reasons to laugh and live. But when itís gone and all you have are snapshots of memory, that vortex inside can swallow you whole, leave you vulnerable."
Rodimus nodded, aching over his own losses. "So how do you recover from that?"
Optimus shook his head. "You either move on, or you stop living, Roddi. There is no recovery."