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Was it even that fair of them to be laughing so much at him?  The story was freaky.  And Smokescreen had lived through enough 'freaky' in real life, so that had to mean something (Right?). 

Well, not to the other speedster.  That purring voice was laughing at him right now and Smokescreen found he preferred the normal tone from the medic.  He wasn't a newspark, no matter how they were laughing-

Oh right.  They.  'Cause there were two of them laughing, weren't there.

So much for Autobot loyalty.  Nope, none here. The wrecker in the other room was too enamored with the human film.  Another heightened loud tearing noise and scream came from the theater and Smokescreen left for the deeper recesses of Knock Out's house to escape the noises of messy deaths.  How had it ever come to this, he mourned, how?


There were days he really missed Breakdown.  From the obvious to less obvious, Knock Out had a lot to mourn missing.

And then there were days he could break past that missing to go do something fun.  Something obviously without the big lug, but something Knock Out would enjoy.  

Well, human entertainment was a blessing in disguise.  Trash to be sure, but an artfully entertaining kind of trash.  Far more entertaining than watching clips of old theatre actors spout political propaganda for a long dead council that barely tried to pass itself off as a story at all.  

His favorite were the horror films.  They were brutal and at times truly unnerving.  From the B-list with special effects so bad even the humans cringed from it to the award winners with all sorts of soppy drama he could do without, Knock Out was entertained.  

There wasn't alot of time he could spend entertaining his hobby with all the building and injuries and interning with Ratchet to get a 'real license' and be a 'real doctor' (pah).  But he found all that he could to indulge in polish and waxing and buffing and detailing (he'd been branching out to others, but he always made himself look fabulous before worrying about spending free time on them) and, of course, racing-

It was racing that had made him reach out.  No matter the little awkward incidents with the, ahem, wall, he could get along with Smokescreen just fine.  For one, the bot was young and dumb; Knock Out gravitated towards those dumber than himself. He liked to be the smartest one in the room, not just the best looking; they both just came so naturally.  Just as naturally as his charm and innate talent.  

Friendship didn't.  Or at least he didn't remember a time when it came naturally.  If it had, it had been buried underneath centuries of fragile bloated ego.

In the army he'd been in, you had to be noticeable.  You had to be unique. You had to be better. The best.  Because the best weren't expendable. Resources went into keeping the best alive and scratch free.

That didn't mean he was as completely as cowardly as Starscream; when they had been living through their own horror film, Knock Out had spilt his virtual soul and offered the other a place amongst his wall of fame- and then his commander had sold him out the moment the big M showed his face.

Coward, they both were.  Loyal, however, applied only to himself.

And loyal he could be.  Not to a cause or a leader or whatnot.  But to a companion-

Breakdown should never have died.  He didn't deserve that. Erm, Knock Out didn't deserve that.  Losing his buffing partner and all.  

The racers didn't make him scared to be around.  He didn't have to fear for his own plating with them.  Bumblebee was really something. So long as he didn't go about selling him out, Knock Out knew he'd end up loyal to the yellow bot.  But Bumblebee was definitely the smartest of the three- and currently he was the one with his life most put together.  Painful as it was to admit, Knock Out was not the 'best' around him.

Smokescreen was ignorant of so much that had happened while he'd been in stasis.  He had ambition but lacked the efficacy Bumblebee had. He wasn't dumb, per say, but he was far from the brightest.

In other words, he seemed like a good enough option.  Knock Out wouldn't feel threatened one bit having him around.  So he asked the younger bot over for a night of human entertainment.  

And then had to put up with how Smokescreen jumped at the mere musical cue of a jumpscare before the scare itself even happened, hated the horror element, and would yell "Oh, gross!!" at the slightest fleshy gore.

Psht, it wasn't as if the humans were actually being hurt.  Most of these creatures didn't exist in the first place-

(although a variation of zombie/vampire had once hunted him aboard the warship and Knock Out still hadn't found his taste in either plot device monster return since the whole Terrorcon thing)

-and the humans were just actors.  

Fun as it was to watch Smokey jump, it wasn't the same kind of fun as watching someone else jump while laughing instead of cringing in disgust.  

"You are, frankly, horrible at this," Knock Out jabbed at the speedster during an ending scene.  Smokescreen, unsurprisingly, denied such (although he seemed relieved when the medic failed to start another [despite Knock Out's hope to watch more, it just wasn't fun with him])

And Knock Out, also unsurprisingly, ribbed him about it afterwards.  Which was how he'd found himself joined by an unexpected partner in crime- a bot that wasn't one bit shocked with Smokescreen's reactions.  He'd laughed about the young wrecker finding alarm in the old monster mash type movies the little fleshy Miko had introduced him to- certainly not in one bit scary, although admittingly disgusting (as it was to see any biological thing ripped apart), but just Breakdown's type of B-list human movie.  His old partner loved the b-list stuff as much as he had; although, his nurse had also been a sucker for the romances in more 'classy' movies that Knock Out truly couldn't enjoy when fleshy interfacing was so utterly nasty and romance such a sappy niche.

Well, Autobots were sappy.  And even if he'd offered to defect to save his own polish at the start, there was something infectious about them.  Or there had been after Knock Out found out he would melt under the eyes of their Prime and his praise.

Now that was a role model.  As much as he hated to not be first place, the medic knew that he could only be the second best role model in comparison to that high a bar for all the less intelligent bots he now hung around with.

Sometimes he wasn't even sure why he had to be.

And that sometimes part of himself was the part that had pitched his offer to Breakdown's big rival after listening to him bash Smokescreen affably over his misery at the lamest of the human horror genre.  

And that, he supposed, was how he ended up joined by both wreckers for another night of human film entertainment.


Which, in turn, was how Smokescreen was now trapped here.  At first he'd felt pressured to stay and watch and suck up how unpleasant it was so that the other two could enjoy it.  

But then he'd eventually decided to slip away.  He had planned to go back. That plan changed when he stood in the theater doorway and listened to the other two.  They were laughing all right, but not at him. They were laughing at the movie. At the idiot characters. At the cheesy monster.  At the way Knock Out would scream so high and then right back at Bulkhead for his own startlingly high yelp.  

Smokescreen smirked unseen at the two and turned back around.  It sounded fun all right, but it wasn't his sort of fun. And as long as he'd been in there, it hadn't been their sort of fun either.