Sunshine and Roses

"Attention! Attention!"

Optimus Prime, Prowl and Jazz looked up from a review discussion of their latest thwart of yet another Decepticon world-domination attempt.

"What is it Teletran One?" Prime asked the Ark's super-computer.

"Disturbance on Residence Hallway 919R – breach in security", it said.

The three Autobots exchanged looks. Prowl summoned a datapad from subspace and quickly read through it.

"All occupants are on duty Prime", he said.

Ironhide came running into the Control Room. "What's going on?" he drawled. "I heard Teletran's announcement down in the lounge. The 'Cons back for another aft-kicking?"

"We don't know yet Ironhide", Prime replied. "Jazz?" The Autobot leader looked over at his special operations officer who seemed to be thinking.

"Hmm? Yea Prime?" he asked distractedly.

"Aren't your quarters down that hallway Jazz?"

"Yeah it is, which is why I've got a strange feeling about this".

"What are you saying?" Ironhide asked.

"Sideswipe was in repair bay a while ago and I think Ratchet ordered him to rest for the day".

Prowl let out a sigh and opened a comm. line. "All Autobots disregard the earlier announcement and continue to go about your daily tasks", he said.

"Don't those two little terrors also reside down 919R?" asked Ironhide.

"Exactly Ironhide", said Prime. "Jazz, go down there and see what they've done now. Prowl, go with him, and don't hesitate to lock them in the brig if they've done something incredibly stupid".

"Aw I don't think it'll come to that", Jazz said.

"Heh! Don't count on it", Ironhide replied as the two Autobots walked out.

Jazz and Prowl walked down the hallway of 919R, barely exchanging words with each other, bracing themselves for whatever madness they were about to witness. They were not disappointed.

As they neared the twins' quarters they found Sunstreaker standing outside surrounded by a pile of his things, laser rifle in his hand – barrel smoking. The victim: the doors to their quarters, lying in a smoking heap on the floor. Sideswipe stepped onto them and hurled something at his brother's head. Sunstreaker ducked and the object smashed into fragments against the wall behind him.

Prowl summoned his acid-pellet gun and strode forward, Jazz following behind a little reluctantly. He didn't like to get in between family disagreements, especially when they involved the Autobot brothers.

"What is going on here?" Prowl asked firmly.

Sunstreaker turned his head to glare at the two black and white mechs. "Stay out of this", he growled. "This does not concern you, its between me and Sideswipe".

"No, your arguments do not concern me, but the security and welfare of this base do", Prowl replied.

"Hey guys c'mon, lets just settle this like grown mechs okay; now what happened?" Jazz asked.

Sideswipe leveled Sunstreaker with the blackest glare Jazz had ever seen on the mech's face. "Oh I don't know", he said, voice dripping with sarcasm as he gestured to his brother. "Why don't we ask my jealous, egomaniacal brother over there?"

"Jealous?" Sunstreaker echoed. "What the slag are you talking about Sideswipe? Why the frag would I be jealous?"

"You've always been jealous of me", Sideswipe replied.

"Don't flatter yourself oh modest brother of mine".

Sideswipe responded by hurling another object at Sunstreaker's head. Prowl shot it out of mid-air before it could connect with the yellow mech.

"That's enough", the tactician said. "Sideswipe, get down to medical and tell Ratchet I sent you for a cautionary check up. Don't even think of crossing me or I will have you thrown in the brig, injury and all".

Sideswipe muttered a string of profanities, most of them at Prowl and Sunstreaker, before stalking down the hallway towards the repair bay. For Sideswipe's sake Jazz hoped he wouldn't try that stunt on Ratchet because the Medic would very likely rip him apart.

Prowl turned to Sunstreaker. "Go with Jazz down to maintenance and tell Grapple and Hoist that we need to get these doors fixed. Then come back and clean up this mess – alone".

"But I didn't do anything!" Sunstreaker protested.

Prowl frowned and Jazz tapped Sunstreaker's arm.

"Let's go man", he said.

"So how's the knee doing?" Ratchet asked.

Sideswipe, sitting on one of the repair tables, flexed his right knee once and winced. "Still hurts", he said. "Really hurts".

"Hmm". Ratchet looked closer at the red mech's leg. Energon had begun to leak out of the injury again. The Chief Medic frowned. "What did you do?"

"Nothing!" Sideswipe raised his hands in defense.

"Nothing?" Ratchet asked. "This doesn't look like nothing to me. I patched this up fine. Did you not go straight back to your quarters like I told you to?"

"I did! I swear!"

"But?"

"But I… I decided to throw out a few of Sunstreaker's things first. That slagger has too much junk".

"I knew it!" Ratchet slapped his hand down on the table and Sideswipe jumped in surprise. "I told you to go back to your quarters and REST. Rest Sideswipe, not do a bout of spring-cleaning. What part of the word 'rest' do you not understand?"

When Sideswipe did not retort with some snappy, smart-ass come-back Ratchet frowned.

"Why exactly did Prowl send you here for a 'cautionary check up' as he put it?" he asked.

To Ratchet's satisfaction, Sideswipe squirmed. "I don't know. There I am throwing out Sunny's junk and Prowl comes up asking what I'm doing. Like its not obvious".

The answer was shallow and both mechs knew it. Ratchet noticed the cheerful red mech's face cloud over as he mentioned his brother's name.

"You playing housewife had nothing to do with Sunstreaker's junk did it? It had something to do with your brother himself".

Sideswipe's frown deepened. "That's between me and him Ratchet. Its nothing".

The Medic cast his optics to the heavens, almost as if he was asking the higher deities to grant him just a little more patience. "Please don't insult my intelligence Sideswipe. I have known the two of you long enough to know when something is wrong".

"I just get fed up of Sunstreaker sometimes", Sideswipe confessed. "He's always sticking his nose in whatever I do, whether its just duty, or on the battlefield or anything! I'm just tired of it!"

"He's your brother Sideswipe. Its his job to look out for you".

"He's my TWIN brother, not my older brother. When is he ever going to learn that I can take care of myself?! I don't always need him babysitting me everywhere I go".

Ratchet only nodded and picked up an arc-welder. "I'm going to fix this knee of yours again. After which I don't want to see your face in this med bay till next week".

Ten minutes later Ratchet was done. He put down his tools and wiped his hands off. "How does it feel now?"

"Still hurts" Sideswipe admitted.

Ratchet injected a light lubricant into the injured limb. "That should help with the pain. Now I want you to shut down and rest in here for the remainder of the day. I owe Prime a report. If you're not here when I get back believe me, I will take Prowl up on his suggestion and have you put in the brig. Its your choice".

Sideswipe wisely lay back on the table and began to power down.

"Smart lad", Ratchet said, as he walked out.

"So what happened back there man?" Jazz asked as he and Sunstreaker walked down one of the Ark's passageways.

They had just been down at Maintenance and delivered the news about the doors to Grapple and Hoist. Grapple had launched into a beautiful tirade about his "beautiful work" always getting destroyed by "mindless barbarians", while Hoist giggled quietly behind his back. Sunstreaker had let loose with a few colorful metaphors of his own, before Jazz dragged him back outside again.

"Back where?" Sunstreaker snapped.

"Hey, take it easy man, I'm just trying to help ya. I meant back at your quarters with Sideswipe".

The yellow mech sighed sharply. "I don't know! I went to see how he was doing after Ratchet released him and he just snapped and started throwing my stuff at me. Eventually he shoved me out of the room and wouldn't let me back in. that's why I shot the doors down. I wanted to know what the slag was wrong with him. Then just before you and Prowl arrived he told me to get my own room".

"Does this have anything to do with the battle earlier today?"

Sunstreaker shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that Sideswipe's a fragging little ingrate. I should have probably let that idiot-Con Starscream fry him".

"Sunny, he's your brother. Surely you don't mean that?"

Again the yellow mech just shrugged, only this time he didn't offer an answer.

Jazz sighed. "I'm gonna help ya clean up your stuff, just don't tell Prowl or he'll have us both brigged. After that you're welcome to share my quarters till Sideswipe wants to let you back in again".

Sunstreaker looked at him, somewhat taken by surprise by the offer. Jazz's face broke into a small grin. He could never turn his back on a fellow Autobot in need, especially when he knew that there wouldn't be anyone else willing to share a room with the yellow warrior.

Sunstreaker did have a rather unfavorable reputation with most of the others, but Jazz didn't mind him so much. The two got along, mainly because he let Sunstreaker say and do what he wanted as long as he didn't cross any lines. And Sunstreaker appreciated that and took care not to cross said lines.

"Thanks Jazz", the yellow mech said.

"No problem man".

"Just one little thing though: lay off the heavy metal".

Jazz smiled broadly. They reached the twins' room and collected Sunstreaker's stuff, discarding the items that were too broken to be fixed. Once in Jazz's quarters, he helped the yellow mech get settled in.

"You can go ahead and have the bed Sunny, I can sleep on the floor", he said.

"No Jazz, this is your room, I'll take the floor".

"Sunny, c'mon man - ."

"Jazz! I'm a grown mech, please don't baby me. I'm only going to be here till Sideswipe gets his head screwed on straight. No arguments, I'm sleeping on the floor".

Jazz knew better than to start a verbal sparring match with Sunstreaker and wisely let the yellow mech have his way.

"Alright then, I've gotta go finish the debriefing with Prime and see to a few other things, you just make yourself at home okay?"

Sunstreaker nodded as he sat down and started flipping through Jazz's very impressive CD collection. "By the way, you got any Sinatra in here?"

Jazz reached over, pulled out the requested disc and tossed it to him. "Have fun Sunny".

After the debriefing was over, Jazz remained in the room with Prowl.

"Is there something I can do for you Jazz?" the tactician asked.

"Umm, yeah… the battle this morning, is there a full report out on it yet?"

Prowl hit a few keys on Teletran's console and pulled up a report. He scrutinized it for a minute. "Ironhide submitted one in".

Jazz sighed. "I guess it'll have to do. Can I get a copy of it?" Prowl gave him a questioning look. "I'm trying to help out our favorite Lamborghini brothers".

The tactician downloaded the report onto a datapad and handed it over to Jazz. "Good luck".

Jazz took the datapad and headed to the lounge. It was late evening and many of the other Autobots were coming in from their shifts. He managed to snag himself a mug of energon and settled down in corner of the lounge to read the report. Ironhide was not the best writer of the Autobots, but somehow Jazz was able to decipher and put together the story of what had happened earlier that day.

Prime, Ironhide, the twins and a few other Bots had gone out to stop another Decepticon assault in a valley somewhere to the north of the Ark. During the course of the battle, Sideswipe had fired up his jet-pack and gone after Starscream. He almost had the red and white jet when Sunstreaker had shot off the edge of a cliff, transformed to robot mode in mid-air, and tackled his brother to the ground just as Starscream executed a tight turn and fired.

Sideswipe had badly injured his knee when he slammed to the ground. Once the 'Cons had been driven off, the two had had a heated argument and had nearly come to blows when Prime stepped in and told them to knock it off. Unable to transform, Ironhide had to give Sideswipe a ride back to the base, which only aggravated the red mech's mood further.

Jazz shoved the datapad into a subspace pocket, leaned back and put his feet up on the table in front of him. He sipped on his energon, a helpless smile on his face. There was nothing he could do to help. the brothers were on their own this time.

Two days, Sunstreaker couldn't believe that his brother had dragged this stupid grudge on for two whole days. It was downright ridiculous. None of the other Autobots intended on stepping in either. In a way, Sunstreaker didn't blame them. He knew Sideswipe better than anyone and the red mech could be downright violent if pushed too far. Even Prime tried not to cross that boundary if he could help it. There wasn't even anything Jazz could do at this point, much as he wanted to. He'd offered to try and talk to Sideswipe, but Sunstreaker liked Jazz and wanted the mech in one piece so he'd declined the offer. Nope, Sunstreaker was on his own for this one.

Jazz had done him one favor though and slipped him a copy of Sideswipe's duty schedule. It was a risk and both of them knew it. Schedules were only given to the senior Autobots and Sunstreaker had no reason to possess one; and should he be caught with it, both he and Jazz would be spending the good part of a week in the brig, with Jazz facing some additional punishment as he should have known better.

So the yellow mech had spent the good part of a night memorizing the schedule and then erased the datapad. By knowing Sideswipe's schedule, he planned his own so that he was able to sneak back into their quarters for a proper recharge while his brother was out on duty.

But it just so happened that on the third day after their quarrel, Ratchet called Sideswipe into the med bay for another check upon his knee, after which he had dismissed the red mech back to his quarters for additional rest.

When Sideswipe reached the room, he found Sunstreaker inside, asleep on the lower of the two bunks. He woke his brother up with a rude shove off the bunk. Sunstreaker hit the floor with a clang and a colorful metaphor. He picked himself up with another curse and saw Sideswipe glaring darkly at him.

"Get out of my room", the red mech growled.

"Now you wait just a slagging minute", Sunstreaker replied with an equally dark look. "This is my room too".

"Not anymore. The last I remembered, I shared a room with a brother, not a jealous, back-stabbing, ego-maniac".

"Oh for the love of Primus! Will you grow up Sideswipe? I cant believe you're still going on about that".

"Well maybe if you hadn't been so selfish about it, I would have got over it".

"What the slag are you talking about you stupid red psycho-maniac?"

"Face it Sunny, you've always been jealous of me cos I'm better than you at everything".

"You are so slagging not!"

"That's why you stopped me from taking out Starscream. You were afraid that I would steal all the attention".

Sunstreaker blinked. "Are you out of your scrapping mind you idiotic tunnel-drone? That stupid 'Con was about to fry you and your little jet-pack. I did it to save your fragging life you ingrate".

Sideswipe pointed to his injured knee, now wrapped around with a thin metal bandage. "Do you see this? This is all your slagging fault! Because of this I cant transform, I cant go driving around the desert; because of this I cant even go out into battle. Do you know how low it makes me feel?

"To see those guys like Hound and Tracks, heck even the little runts like Bumblebee and Beachcomber, roll out to a battle while I sit here like this and do a ton of sweet nothing? I hate it! I would have preferred to have been fried by Starscream. It'd be better than walking around like this".

"So what you're saying is that you would have liked Starscream to have killed you?"

Sideswipe looked him in the optics. "Yes. Because then my pride and honor would still be intact".

"I see, and who did you say was the selfish one again?"

"Frag you Sunstreaker".

"No, frag YOU Sideswipe! I never knew you could be such an ungrateful rat".

"So what?! You want a 'thank you'? would that help your little fragile ego? Well then, thank you! Now get out!"

Sunstreaker stalked to the door. Just before he stepped out, he turned back to level his brother with a final black stare. "Y'know, one of these days you're going to wish you didn't have such a big mouth".

"No, what I really wish is for you to go away, far away", Sideswipe replied, not in the least bit intimidated. "And sometimes I wish you weren't my brother".

Sunstreaker flinched as if someone had slapped him in the face and he looked somewhat hurt. Sideswipe immediately regretted his words, but it was too late now to take them back.

"Keep wishing Sideswipe, it might come true one day", Sunstreaker growled before he walked away.

The yellow mech spent the rest of his free time out in the desert near the Ark. Jazz found him there that evening blowing the slag out of some helpless rocks with his laser rifle.

"Target practice? Is this a private party or can anyone join?" the black and white mech asked.

"If it makes you happy Jazz", Sunstreaker replied without looking at him as he blasted another boulder into rubble.

"Well it doesn't seem to be making you into a barrel o' laughs", Jazz said as he unsubspaced his own photon rifle. He fired at a pile of rocks without so much as even aiming and reduced them to dust.

"I wasn't happy when I got here".

"And I'm guessing that the reason for this is that wild, red rose of a brother of yours?"

Sunstreaker lowered his gun and gave Jazz a queer look. "Wild, red rose?"

"Alright! So I was reading some poetry a while ago".

"Wild and red I agree with, but rose? Sideswipe's more of the proverbial thorn in the side at the moment".

It was Jazz's turn to look at Sunstreaker.

"Contrary to popular belief", the yellow mech said. "I don't spend every waking hour waxing my finish or bitching about my appearance. I also read and listen to music – when Sideswipe's not dragging me into trouble with him".

He snapped around and blew up another pile of rocks. Jazz watched him, optics scrutinizing every expression from behind his visor. There was definitely something bothering Sunstreaker that, Jazz knew, went by the name of Sideswipe.

"Speaking of your bro man, tried talking to him?"

Sunstreaker tossed his rifle back into subspace. "I think someone kidnapped my twin and replaced him with an evil clone. I'm gonna… go and try and get some sleep Jazz. I'm pretty tired".

"Alright man". Jazz knew Sunstreaker didn't want to talk yet. "You take care now".

Sunstreaker turned and began walking back to the Ark. Jazz frowned. The straight, proud swagger of the yellow mech was replaced by a dejected stoop. To Jazz, this spoke louder than any words Sunstreaker could have said.

When the special operations officer finally entered his room later that night, he found Sunstreaker lying on the floor, optics shut, right foot crossed over the left and tapping in time with the beat of the song coming from the sound system. Jazz paused for a minute to listen to it and couldn't help but smile when he heard the lyrics. Sinatra.

I've got you under my skin

I've got you deep in the heart of me

So deep in my heart

That you're really a part of me

I've got you under my skin

"Didn't know you were a fan of ol' Blue Eyes", Jazz said with a grin.

Sunstreaker opened his eyes and sat up. "He sings what's on his mind, I like that".

"So this song", Jazz gestured to the sound system. "Is that what's on your mind?"

"I think you know the answer to that Jazz, you're not as naïve as you make yourself out to be".

"Dang, my charm not as good as it used to be?"

"Nah, don't worry about it, still works on most of the others when you want them to talk".

"But not on you eh?"

"No it works, I'm talking to you aren't I?"

"I guess… So what happened to sleeping early?"

"Couldn't, that's why I put on the music to try and relax. Learnt that from you and Blaster. Sideswipe said a few things to me earlier, which I'm not going to repeat, that I cant stop thinking about".

"He was angry man; we all say stuff we don't mean when we're angry. He's your brother, he still loves ya".

"Then why is he acting like this?"

"Probably just a phase. He cant go out and do the things he likes so he's letting out his frustration. If he was a human female, I'd say it was PMS".

"PMS?" Sunstreaker looked confused.

"Me and my big woofers! Its something Anna told me about. There's this time of the month where uh… human women get very irritable. Something to do with changes in hormone levels or so she said".

"Could Sideswipe have caught it?"

Jazz laughed. "I don't think its contagious. Its more a biological thing. You can ask Perceptor and Wheeljack more if you like. They found the entire thing fascinating when I told them and did some research".

He went over and laid down on his bed. Sunstreaker switched off the sound system, turned the lights off and lay back on the floor. Both mechs were silent for a while.

"Sunny", Jazz spoke up. "Whatever Sideswipe does or says, don't forget that he's still your brother okay? And I know you still love him".

Sunstreaker sighed. "I'll always love that little piece of molten red slag. No matter what. Goodnight Jazz".

"Goodnight Sunny".

The relative peace and quiet the Autobots had enjoyed for the past few days came to a shattering halt the next day when Teletran reported Decepticon activity in a valley a few miles east of the Ark. When Optimus Prime arrived there with Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Powerglide, Brawn and the Aerialbots, they found Megatron, Soundwave, the Cassettes and the Combaticons in the primary stages of laying the foundations for what looked to be another Decepticon land-base.

As usual, a battle broke out before anyone could get more than three words said. Megatron swatted Prime away and cast an angry, red glare around the valley.

"Combaticons! Merge into Bruticus!" he yelled just before Prime bowled into him.

Sunstreaker kicked Frenzy away in time to hear Megatron's command and looked around himself. Apart from the Megatron/Prime tussle, Ironhide was grappling with Soundwave, Brawn had his hands full with Rumble and Ravage. Up in the air, Buzzsaw and Laserbeak kept Powerglide busy while the Aerialbots were regrouping for another pass at the Combaticons, who were scrambling to form the giant robot gestalt.

Four of the Combaticons had already merged. The yellow mech realized that once Bruticus was fully formed, the rest of the land Autobots would be sitting duck-bots by the time the Aerialbots banked around and merged into Superion. Sunstreaker spotted Blast Off picking himself up and running to join his team mates, afterburner smoking thanks to a hit from Air Raid.

Transforming to his Lamborghini mode, Sunstreaker sped after the shuttle. But he was too late. The Combaticon leapt into the air and formed the other arm just as he transformed back into robot mode right in front of the gestalt.

"Die Autobot". Bruticus kicked out with his Brawl leg, catching Sunstreaker square in the chest – nearly breaking him in half – and sending him sailing through the air. He landed about 10 feet away with the sickening crunch of metal slamming onto solid rock. Bruticus crossed the distance in a few steps and loomed over the wrecked, motionless Autobot, about to stomp him into oblivion when Superion slammed into the Combaticon, knocking him away.

"Ironhide! Brawn! Get Sunstreaker out of there!" Prime roared. "NOW!"

The two rushed over to where the fallen mech lay and stood in shocked silence. For a moment they thought he was already dead – his chestplate was crushed, wires cracked and fizzled as grey smoke poured from them; and energon was starting to pool under him. But then his darkened optics flickered back to life with a tinge of blue. Brawn and Ironhide knelt on either side of him, afraid to move him incase they did even more damage.

Prime rushed over in a few minutes once Megatron had taken to the air. "Powerglide! Soundwave's still jamming out radio communications. Fly back to the Ark and tell Ratchet and Wheeljack to get out here ON THE DOUBLE! Tell them it's a Code One emergency. HURRY!"

"I'm already gone Prime!" Powerglide replied and sped off as fast as his afterburners would let him.

Sideswipe was down at the repair bay with Ratchet and Wheeljack, having just had another check-up on his knee. The good news was that it was healing nicely, as long as he rested it for another couple of days. The Ark was relatively quiet with Prowl in charge while Prime led some of the others, Sunstreaker included, on another attack against the 'Cons.

Then suddenly the three heard footsteps echo in the hallway outside – footsteps of a mech just about running for his life. Ratchet and Wheeljack exchanged a knowing glance.

"Bet you two mugs of energon Ironhide jumped in between Prime and Megatron's fusion cannon again", Ratchet said as he and the engineer began to hastily pack tools into a box.

"Three mugs of energon says Brawn bit off more than he could chew", Wheeljack replied.

"Four mugs says Slingshot – " Sideswipe began.

He was cut off as a very out of breath Powerglide skidded into the repair bay.

"Come… come quickly… emergency on… the battlefield", he panted as he hurried to take in air to cool his systems.

"Easy 'Glide. Take a few deep breaths", said Wheeljack.

"No time… Code One emergency… Prime said to get you there on the double!"

"Who is it this time?" Ratchet asked as the three of them followed the little Minibot out of the bay. "Ironhide, Brawn or Slingshot?"

"You'll find out when we get there, lets go!"

"Hold it!" Ratchet turned to Sideswipe. "Where do you think you're going? Back to your quarters mister".

"But I can help", he replied.

"Yes, very likely help me lose my sanity", Ratchet said. "No, you are going to help me by staying back here like a good little 'Bot".

"Will you guys quit bitching and hurry up!" Powerglide said urgently. "Sunstreaker's dying out there!"

The other three stopped dead in their tracks. Then before anyone could stop him, Sideswipe transformed and sped out of the Ark.

"Dammit!" Ratchet snapped. "Dammit lets go!"

The three of them transformed as well and took off after the red Lamborghini.

Once out in the desert, Ratchet and Wheeljack increased speed and managed to catch up with Sideswipe.

"Sideswipe respond", Ratchet called through the comm. line.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"You shouldn't be out here. Go back to the base and wait for us".

Sideswipe muttered something foul that would have made the Chief Medic frown had he been in robot form.

"I'm serious Sideswipe", he said. "You're only going to be in the way. Turn back now, or I'm having Prowl put you in the brig when we get back. That's an order!"

"Whatever", Sideswipe responded and increased speed.

This time it was Ratchet who muttered the profanity and Wheeljack heard him open another line.

"You're not serious are you?" the engineer asked. "About putting him in the brig? I mean its his brother out there, he does have a right to be concerned".

"But it does not give him the right to disobey a direct order. I'm not calling Prowl right away, but one mess up by him out there – ."

"We're here", Powerglide cut him off.

As the four of them transformed back to robot mode, they saw Prime, Ironhide and Brawn kneeling around the prone form of Sunstreaker, the five Aerialbots standing around them. There were no signs of the Decepticons. Sideswipe dashed forward, shoving Skydive and Fireflight out of his way as he crouched by his brother and began to shake him.

"Get that maniac away from there before he kills him!" Ratchet roared as he strode forward, Wheeljack following.

Brawn and Ironhide latched onto the red mech and managed to pull him away.

"No! Let me go! I have to see if he's alright!" he yelled.

"Easy buddy, now calm down", Ironhide said.

Sideswipe reared up and knocked Brawn away as Ironhide struggled to hold onto him. "I need to check on him", he said in a strangled voice.

"You are not a fragging medic so keep your distance", Ratchet snapped as he knelt beside the fallen mech.

Sideswipe slipped out of Ironhide's hold, shoved him away and then knocked Ratchet away too. Then he began to slap his brother's face.

"Wake up you idiot! You are NOT going to fragging die on me! Get UP!!" he screamed.

"Get that pile of slag out of here", Ratchet yelled as he picked himself up. "Get him out of here before I hurt him myself!"

Optimus Prime himself stepped in and helped Ironhide pull Sideswipe away again.

"Settle down Sideswipe. Ratchet's the only one who can help your brother. Let him do his job", Prime said.

"You got two choices", Ironhide said. "You can calm the slag down, or we'll just get ol' Superion here to calm you down. Your choice".

Sideswipe stopped struggling, but he still had a panicked look on his face. Prime and Ironhide didn't let him go lest he break out again. Ratchet however was not finished with him.

"I cant work with him here", he said. "Send him back to the Ark and lock him in the brig for the rest of the day till he gets a hold of himself. Because until then he's a threat, not only to us, but to his brother and himself too".

"Ratch, you're not serious", Wheeljack said from beside him.

"I'm dead serious 'Jack", the Medic replied. "I cant work on his brother while at the same time be wondering when this lunatic is going to rush into the med bay and trash the place. In addition, he is also injured and needs to be resting. And the brig may b the safest place for him. We've already wasted time on his distractions, time that may cost Sunstreaker his life".

Ratchet turned back the unconscious mech and began basic repair work. "We've got to get him back to the Ark immediately or we're gonna lose him", he muttered.

"If I can offer a suggestion", Silverbolt said softly and stepped forward. "Slingshot and I are the fastest of the Aerialbots. My jet mode is relatively flat. So if we could strap Sunstreaker to my back, and Slingshot gives Ratchet a ride, we could get them back to the Ark in no time".

"Excellent idea Silverbolt", Prime said. "Lets do it".

The Aerialbot leader transformed into his sleek supersonic jet mode. Wheeljack and Ratchet gently lifted, carried and strapped Sunstreaker securely to his wingspan. Slingshot transformed and Ratchet climbed onto his back.

"Lets get going", he said.

"Hold on tight man, this is gonna be fast!" said Slingshot.

"Shut up and take off", Silverbolt snapped.

Both jets took to the air and in a matter of minutes disappeared from sight.

Prime finally let Sideswipe go and transformed. "Get inside the trailer Sideswipe", he said firmly but gently. The red mech obeyed without a fuss. It was as if all his energy had suddenly drained out of him now that his brother was gone. "Autobots", he called once Sideswipe was safely inside. "Transform and roll for home".

When Jazz got back to the Ark later that evening, he was immediately ordered to report to Prime to be briefed about what had happened.

"And where's Sideswipe now?" Jazz asked.

"We had no choice but to put him in the brig – to ensure the safety of everyone concerned", Prime said.

"The brig?! Prime!"

"We didn't have a choice Jazz', Ironhide said. "He was going crazy. If he had crossed Ratchet one more time, the doc would have deactivated him".

"Who's down there with him?" Jazz looked worried. "You didn't leave him alone did you?"

"No, Trailbreaker's with him at the moment. But I don't think Sideswipe wants to talk to anyone", Prowl said.

"Well I guess its time for me to try my luck then".

Ironhide watched as Jazz walked out of the room.

The brig was located on the lowest level of the Ark, and wasn't the most pleasant place to be for obvious reasons. There were only a couple of lights on when Jazz made it down and he found Trailbreaker standing near the entrance to where the cells were.

"Hey man, how's he doing?" Jazz asked the black mech.

"Not so good. I tried talking to him, but he… ah well, see for yourself. I can understand Ratchet wanting him safely out of the way. He's a bit unpredictable like this".

"Alright 'Breaker, thanks. You go on up now, I'll take over here for a while".

Trailbreaker saluted. "Aye aye Cap'n".

Jazz went inside. All the cells were empty except for one. Sideswipe sat on a bench at the back of his cell, elbows on knees, holding his head in his hands.

"Sides man, you okay?" Jazz asked as he went up to the bars. "Sides? Can you hear me?"

Sideswipe raised his head and looked at Jazz, almost looking through Jazz as if he was searching for someone else. Finally he made optic contact with him. "How's Sunny?"

"Well", Jazz sat down on the floor. "He's in pretty bad shape. Ratchet and Wheeljack are doing all they can. They've been at it ever since they got back here, but at the moment its not looking good".

"What happened to him?"

"I thought you knew Sides. Didn't anyone tell you?"

"Prowl was talking about something. I tried to listen but I couldn't. There were a lot of words but I couldn't make out any of them".

"Sunny tried to stop the Combaticons merging to give the Aerialbots enough time to form Superion. He couldn't stop them, but he did distract Bruticus long enough to buy the Aerialbots the time they needed".

"He did good. He doesn't deserve to be where he is".

"No man, he doesn't".

"But I do".

"What?! Sides c'mon man. This was not your fault. You weren't even there. Don't talk like that".

"Sunny never told you the last thing I said to him yesterday did he?"

"Nope. And if you don't - ."

"I said I wished he would go away. I wished he wasn't my brother. Oh Primus!"

Sideswipe buried his head in his hands again and Jazz's audios picked up what he thought was a muffled sob.

"Sides don't do this man. You're already in enough pain, don't bring more on yourself".

"I don't deserve to be his brother. I don't deserve to be his TWIN! Brothers don't say that slag to each other, no matter what. I screwed up… and now I'm going to lose Sunstreaker".

"You're not. Ratchet's not gonna let him go without a huge fight first".

"You were the last person he spoke to. What did he say?"

"He said that he would always love you. No matter what".

The blissful darkness that had enshrouded Sunstreaker, for Primus knew how long, began to fade into a lighter grey much to his displeasure. In that darkness he hadn't been able to feel anything at all. He only knew that he had been in a state of existence, that was it. But now…

Sunstreaker looked around him. The grey, he now recognized with his optics, was mist. He could hear the wind as it whistled past his audios. His olfactory senses picked up a faint floral scent. And oh, he could feel. Primus could he feel! There was a dull sensation of pain that began in his chest and stretched all the way down to his hips.

"Of course there had to be pain", he said aloud to himself.

At least now his voice box was working. But he couldn't understand why there was pain. There were no injuries on him that he could see, which gave him absolutely no reason to be here – wherever the slag 'here' was.

"Where the slag am I?" he wondered. "And what the slag am I doing here?"

He took a few steps forward, or at least he thought it was forward. He had absolutely no sense of direction. In fact, he hated all of this. He wanted to be back in the real world and he wanted back there now. He hated being here alone, where there was absolutely no sign of life visible. It freaked him out and then it occurred to him that he had no idea of how to get out of here. He looked up into the swirling mist above him.

"Y'know, if there's anyone up there… Primus or whoever, I could use a sign right about now. How the frag do I get out of this place?" he yelled.

There was no answer, but the wind began to pick up and the mist started to disperse. As it cleared, a warm, golden light began to glow to his right. Sunstreaker was almost tempted to walk right into it, but the suspicious side of his personality held him back. He reached into subspace for his rifle, but couldn't seem to find it.

"Well this is just great!" he snapped. "I'm supposed to face whatever it is out there with my bare hands? Fine! But I am not responsible for whatever damage they do".

He began to step cautiously towards the light.

"Dammit!" Ratchet swore. "Dammit! Wheeljack! Get the slag in here!! We're losing him again!"

The engineer rushed into the main by area as the Chief Medic began to frantically turn on monitors and scanners to try and stabilize the yellow mech. Much of Ratchet's actions were punctuated by colorful expletives that Wheeljack would have found highly amusing had Sunstreaker's life not been on the line.

"His laser core's starting to fade", Wheeljack said.

"His subconscious mind has a high level of activity", Ratchet replied. "That's impossible".

"Check the monitors and see for yourself".

More brightly colored abuse spewed forth from Ratchet's mouth as he looked at the screens. "We need to energize his core. Shock it!"

"Ratchet!"

"Just do it! Unless you can come up with a better idea in the next 20 seconds".

Wheeljack muttered a curse of his own as he began to pull on a wire. So much for things getting better in the morning.

When Ironhide came down to the brig, he found Sideswipe wide awake and curled up on the bench inside his cell, and Jazz asleep on the floor outside. He went over and shook the black and white mech. Jazz slowly opened his optics and saw Ironhide looming over him.

"Now you know why we never put you on sentry duty", the red mech drawled.

He reached out a hand and pulled Jazz to his feet. Sideswipe stood up and came to the bars.

"How's Sunny doing?" he asked.

"Its hard to say son", said Ironhide. "We nearly lost him again earlier this morning. His laser core almost failed, but Ratchet and Wheeljack were able to re-energize it again and he's stable for now".

He keyed a number into the lock mechanism and opened the cell. Sideswipe looked at them.

"C'mon out man", Jazz said.

"You need to go recharge and get your knee seen to. We're not gonna put you back here as long as you don't freak out and start trying to shoot up the place", Ironhide said.

"Can I see my brother?" Sideswipe asked as he stepped out of the cell.

"Sorry kid, but I think its best if you stayed out of Ratchet's way for the next day or so. He's not too pleased with you. And Sunstreaker's condition is certainly not helping his mood. Even ol' Megatron'll do well not to cross him".

"Lets get you seen to first", said Jazz. "C'mon, lets go and find Wheeljack or Perceptor and get your knee checked up".

The two of them exited the brig together, Ironhide bringing up the rear. He noted Sideswipe's posture as he walked. The young mech's cocky, lively gait was gone; now his shoulders slumped and he was almost dragging his feet. Ironhide couldn't help but feel sorry for him.

Over the millennia that he'd been fighting this war Ironhide had lost many, many close friends, so as time went on, he stopped getting too close to his fellow Autobots, mainly because he was fed up of grieving and mourning. He wasn't like Jazz, who liked to get to know the others on a personal level, he kept his distance.

This was why he sometimes felt sorry for the twins. They didn't have the choice of not being close. They were brothers – literally – whether they liked it or not. And when one was in pain, the other suffered just as much if not more, because the thought of losing the other was unbearable.

Sunstreaker staggered back as a searing pain ripped from his chest and spread to the rest of his body, forcing him to his knees. He had been stepping ever so cautiously towards that golden light when it hit him. It felt like a million volts of electrical current being stuck deep into his laser core. Primus did it hurt like the slag!

Muttering a few choice curses in between gasps of breath, he pushed himself to his feet again, pressing a hand to his yellow chestplate as if to try and dam the waves of pain that flowed from within it. Why couldn't he ever wind up in some place that didn't involve hefty slices of pain?

"Primus! Wait till I get my hands on the little slag-headed idiot who dumped me here in the first place. He's gonna get to taste every flavor of pain I can dish out", Sunstreaker said out loud.

There was nothing save silence, but then Sunstreaker hadn't really been expecting an answer. He growled out a few more colorful expletives and then heaved in a deep breath as the pain in his chest began to subside.

As his optics began to focus more clearly once again, he suddenly realized the mist had completely disappeared and the wind had died down to a very light breeze. But that floral scent had gotten stronger. It was a familiar smell, some sort of Earth flower. He remembered that scent while driving past many florist shops in the cities.

He also noticed that the golden light was no longer the sole provider of illumination. On his left a slender beam of what looked to be sunlight shone down from the greyness above. He followed its direction to what looked like a narrow path, lined and over-grown with brown thorn bushes. As he took a step towards them, the glow to his right grew brighter, as if summoning him to come closer to it.

"Whoever's sick little joke this is, I'm just letting you know that I don't slagging like it", he said. "I mean, what the frag are you trying to achieve here? If you want to know how tough I am, why don't you just throw whatever it is you've got at me and let me kill them and get it over with? Come on! I'm standing right here! What are you waiting for?"

Receiving no response made Sunstreaker even more irritable. What was worse was that there was nothing around in this place that he could let his anger out on. No rocks to punch or break, nothing. Just a big glowing light on one side and a thorny path on the other.

He was able to figure out however that each led somewhere and each was very much a one-way street. One would lead him to Primus knew where, but the other was definitely a way back into the real world, back home, back to Earth and the other Autobots, and his brother.

Sideswipe. Where was he? Was he in this crazy place too? Trying to find him, or find a way out? Did he even know that Sunstreaker was missing?

Sideswipe missed Sunstreaker. It had been a day since he was let out of the brig and now he sat alone in his quarters, on the upper bunk, and looked around the room. For the first time since their fight he realized how empty the room was without his brother; how empty his life was.

Primus! What had he been thinking when he said all that slag to Sunstreaker? The worst part was that he actually meant some of it. Sure Sunny loved being the center of attention, but that had never bothered him before, why now? Because he was the one who was really jealous. Primus! Jealous of his own brother – over power and attention; he was almost as bad as those scrapping 'Cons.

He regretted it now though. He really did miss his twin. He missed Sunstreaker's presence, which had always been a comfort to him. No matter what happened, just knowing that he was around reassured Sideswipe that everything was going to be alright. He missed that reassurance. Frag! He even missed his brother's bitching about his appearance and the way the light always shone brightly off of his golden-yellow finish.

Sideswipe looked down at the cloth in his hand. It was Sunny's favorite wax cloth – completely soft material that didn't scratch his paint or leave swirl marks. He frowned and began to buff his forearm, then looked into a crystal clear reflection of himself. It did work.

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder?" a voice asked from the door.

Sideswipe raised his head and saw Ironhide leaning against the door-frame. "How can you tell?"

"Well you must be missing him enough to be polishing yourself in the exact same way he does".

Sideswipe immediately subspaced the cloth. "What do you want?" he asked a little testily. "You can tell Prime and Prowl that Wheeljack ordered me to rest, so leave me alone to mourn in peace".

"Actually I came here on my own, to talk to you on a personal level".

"Why?" Sideswipe was more than a bit surprised. This was new coming from Ironhide. Normally it was Jazz who handled the personal stuff. "Did Jazz put you up to this?"

"Naw, Prime sent Jazz and Blaster off on a little scouting mission. I'm here to share a li'l something with ya that might make you feel better".

Sideswipe dropped off the bunk and landed lithely on the floor, shifting his position as he did, so that most of his weight fell on his left leg. He went over to a nearby couch and sat down, motioning for Ironhide to join him. Once the two were comfortably seated, Sideswipe leveled the older red mech with a look.

"This isn't one of your 'I remember the time 9 million years ago' stories is it?" he asked.

"No, actually its something I found on an Earth database last night. I think you need to hear it".

"Lay it on me".

"Once upon a time", he began to drawl. "A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully. Before it blossomed, he examined it. He saw a bud that would soon blossom. He also saw the thorns, and he thought, "How can any beautiful flower come from a plant, burdened with so many sharp thorns?" Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose, and before it was ready to bloom, it died".

Ironhide paused for a moment.

"It's a cute story", Sideswipe said. "But I don't see what this has to do with me".

"Well let me get to the point first. Think of our individual spark as a rose, each with its own unique qualities, the qualities that make us who we are despite the thorns of our faults.

"Once the war began, and the Autobots started to fight back, some of them got so drawn into the fighting that they began to think that nothing good came of them, only violence. Many of them were young warriors like you two. They didn't make it past 50 to 60 years. It was a damned shame cos all of them had so much potential that went undiscovered. They couldn't see the rose within them, so to speak.

"I thought it'd be the same with the two of you. Especially Sunstreaker, but one thing separated you both from the others".

"What was it?"

"Love. You love your brother so much that you can reach past those thorns and find the rose in him. You bring out the best in him. He becomes a different mech with you around. You don't judge him for who he is, you just love him, an accept him, and understand him. It helps those of us who don't get him to know that he can be loved and accepted. And in doing this you're helping Sunny fit in with the rest of us". Ironhide stood up. "You have your own special rose Sideswipe".

He left the room and left the young red mech sitting alone on the couch, thinking over the words that had just been spoken. His face creased into a frown. It was certainly unusual for Ironhide to talk like that. The old 'Bot was so hardened by a millennia of war and fighting that Sideswipe sometimes forgot that he had an incredibly soft center under all that gruff.

"Guess I'll have to thank him someday". He sighed. "A rose in bloom, yeah. But even roses need sunshine".

Sunstreaker stared hard at that little ray of sunshine that beamed down on something within the cluster of thorn bushes. The beam was so thin it actually managed to penetrate through the branches. Sunstreaker's curiosity was aroused. What the slag was it shining on?

He began to walk towards the thorn bushes, not very happy about it. The thorns looked organic, and though they could do him no harm, they could definitely do a number on his paint job. As he drew closer he began to notice something deep red within that cloud of dull brown. He stopped directly in the path of the sunlight and his optics glowed in surprise when he saw what it was.

A beautiful deep red rose in full bloom. It was the only one and it was just growing wild, but the thorns looked to be choking it, piercing its beautiful velvety-soft petals with their sharp points. And as he looked on he saw the flower slowly begin to fade. A small part of his mind suddenly heard Jazz's voice.

And I'm guessing that the reason for this is that wild, red rose of a brother of yours?

Realization hit him like a punch to the face. Suddenly he knew, he just knew, what each path symbolized, where each path led to. That golden light, the warmth of it, it led to a place where there was no more pain, no more suffering, no more war and fighting. He could live there in peace and happiness. Primus forgive him but it tempted him to a point where he was forced to hold himself back lest he leap into it.

He looked back at the rose and the thorny path. It represented his brother and the life he was currently living – full of pain and uncertainty. No one knew when this war was going to end. No one knew who would survive and who would die.

Sunstreaker noticed the rose again. It had faded a little more since he'd last looked at it. There were now a few drops of dew on the petals, as if it was weeping. He looked back at the golden light. He remembered the look on Sideswipe's face after he spoke those harsh words.

Sideswipe. If Sunstreaker chose the light he would have to leave the rose to die. If he didn't come back Sideswipe would die. Again he heard Jazz's voice.

We all say stuff we don't mean when we're angry. He's still your brother, he still loves ya… And I know you love him

And then to his surprise, Sunstreaker heard his own voice.

I'll always love that little piece of molten red slag. No matter what.

In a flash, Sunstreaker plunged his hand in amongst the thorns, not caring that they not only scratched his paint, but also ripped into his metal skin. His fingers curled around the stem and he pulled, then gently drew the rose out into the open.

Whether it was the fresh air or the touch of his hand, Sunstreaker didn't know, but the rose began to bloom once again. And as its color returned and its petals began to reheal, Sunstreaker knew which path was his. Just like the rose, Sideswipe needed him; and he needed Sideswipe. His brother was the only one who added some color and life to his own dreary world of war and fighting. They belonged together.

Oh sure, this wouldn't be the last of their fights, there would be many more to come, many more hurtful things would be said; and just like walking along the path of thorns – there would be pain. But the main thing was, whatever came at them, they were going to face it together. And when the day finally came, they were going to walk into that golden light side by side.

As if it could read his thoughts, the glow grew warmer, as if in a final enticement, filling his mind with the nicest of thoughts and the promise of beautiful things beyond its initial light. Sunstreaker looked at the rose in his hand.

"Not without Sideswipe", he said aloud. "I'm not going to die and abandon my brother when he needs me. Some other time perhaps".

Then he stepped onto the path and began on his journey home, not noticing as the thorn bushes closed off the way behind him, blocking all the light.

Three days. Sunstreaker had been in stasis for three days now and Jazz worried that Sideswipe was well on his way to following him if the yellow mech didn't come back online soon. There was just nothing more Ratchet or Wheeljack or anyone else could do for him.

Sideswipe walked around the hallways of the Ark like a zombie, a haunted look on his face – as if he'd been battling demons. In a metaphorical way Jazz supposed it was true; part of that look consisted of a fair amount of guilt. Earlier in the day, Jazz had helped him move all of Sunstreaker's stuff back into their quarters. The special operations officer had even thrown in a few of his Frank Sinatra CDs as a sort of 'get-well' present for the yellow mech.

Finally Sideswipe decided to risk the wrath of Ratchet and made his way down to the repair bay. He didn't care if it got him locked in the brig for a week – he had to see his brother. A week in the brig was nothing new for him. Not knowing his twin's condition was just about driving him mad.

When he got to medical, he cautiously peered round the door into the bay. To his surprise it was empty. No Ratchet, not even Wheeljack. This was good. Maybe he could pop in, have a look at Sunny and get out again without the Chief Medic ever knowing he was in there.

Throwing caution to the wind Sideswipe boldly stepped inside and walked up to the table where Sunstreaker lay. There, all his bravado left him as he looked at his brother. The mech's bright yellow chestplate was off and lying on a counter nearby. What Sideswipe was looking at was just a jumbled mess of wires, tubes and circuits – stuff that lay under the plating.

As he was about to turn away, a little flash of light from under that tangle caught his optic. Curious, he bent over his brother's unconscious body to get a closer look. It was a beautiful silvery-gold light emanating from something that looked like a crystal. He couldn't see the whole of it, just the part that stuck out from under the wires. But that little bit shone so brightly, asking to be noticed, that Sideswipe couldn't help but give it the attention it wanted.

"That's Sunstreaker's laser core", Ratchet said from behind him, having come into the repair bay from one of the inner rooms where he had been taking a small recharge.

Sideswipe turned to look at the Chief Medic, a 'deer in the headlights' expression on his face. He half expected to be met with a furious look, and fully expected to be thrown out of the med bay any moment now and locked up in the brig for the rest of the night.

To his surprise, Ratchet had a kindly, sympathetic expression, his optics showing a tinge of sorrow. For once Sideswipe was left struggling for words.

"Its… its just so beautiful. I've never seen anything like it before", he finally said.

"Beautiful yes", the Medic replied. "But that piece of scrap has been giving me merry hell for the past two days. And I'll certainly be glad to never have to see it again". He looked sidelong at the red mech standing beside him. "You have the exact same core too you know".

Sideswipe blinked in surprise. "How is that possible? How do you know?"

"You're twins, you share a very similar internal structure including laser core. I know this because, apart from Ironhide, I have been forced to look at your insides more times than you can possibly imagine".

"Oh… I'm uh… sorry about that".

Ratchet leveled him with a withering glare. "Do not apologize to me again for doing what you have to do, because if you do, I will beat you unmercifully. Saying you're sorry for getting hurt in the line of duty is just like me saying I'm sorry for repairing you. Don't put me down like that".

Sideswipe nodded. "What about Sunny?" he asked. "Will he make it?"

"That's up to him. I have done everything I can for him, now its his turn".

"Is… is there any… anything I could do for him?" Sideswipe's voice nearly choked in his throat.

"Well, I need to go down to the lab and supervise Wheeljack's latest project and make sure he doesn't blow the rest of the Ark up along with himself. So you could stay and keep an eye on him until I get back".

"Y-you're trusting me to be with him?"

"If I cant trust him to the care of his own brother who can I trust him to?" Ratchet smiled. "I'm leaving him in the safest hands possible. I know you'll take good care of him".

To the surprise of them both, Sideswipe leaned over and hugged the Medic.

"Thanks", he said. "For everything. Even keeping me locked up so I couldn't hurt him".

"No problem", Ratchet replied and patted him on the shoulder before heading out the door.

Sunstreaker had been walking for Primus knew how long, the rose clutched in his hand like it was some sort of protective talisman, as he followed that thin beam of light. The path had not been easy. The further he went, the rougher the path got, and darker.

Now and then he tripped and stumbled over roots or an out-stretched branch. The thorns had wreaked havoc not only on his paint job but on his body as well. His knees were scraped after countless falls, half the paint was scratched off his forearms and there were gashes across his yellow chestplate.

Still he kept going, ignoring the discomfort because there was simply no way of going back; because he wanted out of this madness and back into the world where things were real and solid. The only thing real enough in this place was the rose. It served as a constant reminder that he had to keep going – Sideswipe was waiting for him.

"Ratchet's going to kill me for all this damage", he muttered as he took in a brief glance of himself. "Of course he's never going to believe I was in this crazy place; he's just gonna think I went and goofed off somewhere. And then he's probably going to throw me in the brig. Well, my dear brother can jolly well join in the misery if I am".

Suddenly he realized it was pitch black all around him. The tiny beam of sunlight had vanished. He stopped running.

"Now what?!" he snapped.

He tried turning on his infra-red sensors – nothing. He tried his headlights – nothing. He even tried transforming. Nothing seemed to be working. Muttering a whole new string of curses he clutched the rose tighter in his hand and took a few uneasy steps forward… Then a few more… And a few more. His other senses were just as useless because there wasn't anything he could hear, smell or feel. But at least he could still walk.

Confidence slowly returning, he began to walk faster… and faster… He broke into a jog… Then he began to run – faster and faster. Sunstreaker was one of the fastest Autobots on foot. The only one who could out-run him was Bluestreak. And the only one who could match him in speed was Sideswipe. Thank Primus the ground at least was firm in this crazy place.

The ground beneath Sunstreaker crumbled and he dropped through with a yell. The next minute he felt himself falling… falling… falling… floating?

"What in the slagging PIT is going on here?!" he growled. "Haven't you had enough of messing with me? I just wanna go home! Let me go home!"

Memories hit him smack in the face. He suddenly remembered everything that happened the day after the fight he had with Sideswipe. The battle out in the valley, coming face to foot with Bruticus, the kick – that was the last thing he could recall. That kick had hit him in the chest, directly over his laser core.

The pain was excruciating. Sunstreaker almost felt that he had been broken in half. His laser core had all but given out and he had been on the verge of hitting permanent shut down when he suddenly felt himself being shaken. The pain that ripped through him was enough to jolt his laser core back to an energy level that was strong enough to stop his vital systems from shutting down. A few smacks to the face had slapped sufficient sense into him to make him shut down the rest of his systems and conserve energy.

It was Sideswipe that saved him, a part of his mind suddenly realized. It was Sideswipe that had shaken and slapped him just before he slipped into unconsciousness. Sideswipe had kept him alive.

He was no longer floating either. He could feel the cold, hard table under his back and he just KNEW he was lying in the med bay. Most of him was still in shut down, but his audios were functioning and he could hear someone there in the bay. At first he thought it was Ratchet; instinct however told him that it was Sideswipe in the room.

"Primus fraggit! I've got to – ."

" – wake up Sunny", Sideswipe said. "There's so much I've got to tell you: the most important being that I am so so sorry for all those nasty things I said to you that day. I was angry and I wasn't listening to what was coming out of my mouth. But I didn't mean them".

The red mech began pacing around the med bay. Once again he had got his wish – he was alone with his brother like he wanted, so he should have been able to say all that he wanted to say, especially with Sunstreaker unconscious and unable to interrupt.

But looking at the state his twin was in, Sideswipe felt that words would never be enough. So he paced. There had to be something that could get the message across. He almost wished he was Jazz. That mech could say anything to anyone. Thinking of Jazz, Sideswipe remembered the gift he had entrusted to him for Sunny.

He summoned the CD from subspace and slipped it into one of the computers, skipping to one song that caught his optic. The rich, soothing melodies of Frank Sinatra filled the med bay in a song that Sideswipe wished he could sing himself.

You are the sunshine of my life

That's why I'll always be around

You are the apple of my eye

Forever you'll be in my heart

I know that this is the beginning

Though I loved you for one million years

But if I thought our love was ending

I'd find myself drowning in my own tears

You are the sunshine of my life

That's why I'll always be around

You are the apple of my eye

Forever you'll be in my heart

You must have known that I was lonely

Because you came to my rescue

And though I know that this is heaven

How could so much love be inside of you

You are the sunshine of my life

That's why I'll always be around

You are the apple of my eye

Forever you'll be in my heart

Sunstreaker was almost going insane trying to get his optics to open and his synthesizer to work. He had heard the song and then he had heard Sideswipe break down, blaming everything that had happened on himself and begging for forgiveness and for him to wake up.

"I'm trying dammit!" Sunstreaker's mind shouted. "I'm trying! Slaggit! Its not your fault, and I know you didn't mean all that stuff. I know". Part of his mind told him he still had the rose in his hand. "You're my brother Sideswipe". He moved his fingers and tightened them around what he thought was the flower. "I love you".

Sunstreaker's voice echoed in the med bay. "I love you". His fingers were clasped around Sideswipe's hand.

"Sunny?" Sideswipe called. "Sunny! Sunny you're alive. You're okay, open your optics. Look at me bro!"

the protective lids came up and underneath them Sunstreaker's optics glowed bright blue.

"Sides", he said.

Sideswipe nearly collapsed in relief. He gripped his twin's hand tightly in his own, as if to prevent him from ever slipping away again.

"Oh Primus! Sunny I am so sorry. I'm sorry for all that stuff I said that day. I wasn't thinking. You're not only my brother Sunshine, you're my twin, you're a part of me. And I don't want you to go away, ever! I always want you as my brother. And…".

"Sides. Don't", Sunstreaker said. "I know. And I forgive you".

He slowly sat up, then glanced down and saw that his whole chestplate was missing. He shrugged and hugged Sideswipe anyway. "I missed you Sides".

"I missed you too Sunny. And I love you".

Sunstreaker pulled back and then looked around the repair bay. "Where's Ratchet? And how long have I been out?"

"Went down to the lab. You've been out for three days".

"Sure didn't feel like it. And I had the strangest dream". Sunstreaker told Sideswipe what he had seen.

"Sunny, I think you may have had a glimpse of what the humans call Heaven. What made you come back?"

"Do you even have to ask?"

"Just curious. Gee, I didn't think you'd miss me that much, after what I said and all".

"The way I see it, I've got plenty of chances to get myself scrapped, but I've only got one brother. And besides, if I went alone, I'd have no one to bug the scrap outta me along the way".

Sideswipe cracked a lop-sided grin. "I'm glad you stayed. Wouldn't have been the same without you around".

"I'm still going to beat the living slag out of you for all this damage though".

"Only in your dreams dear, sweet brother of mine".

"What the slag is going on here?" Ratchet roared as he stormed into the bay. "I cant leave you here for half an hour without you doing something massively stupid".

"But… but Sunny woke up", Sideswipe said. "That's a good thing".

"The good thing", Ratchet interjected. "Was me walking in here when I did. You". He poked Sunstreaker on the side of his head. "Have just come out of stasis. You shouldn't even be talking let alone sitting up. And you!" He turned to Sideswipe with a patented Ratchet frown. "Out. I have work to do on your brother now that he's finally decided to wake up and join us in the land of the living. And I cant do it with you standing here and being annoying. You are not to come back here till I tell you".

"But that's not fair!"

"Oh, its not? Pray, tell me why?"

"Because, Earth law says that when a person is in intensive care, at least one family member is allowed to visit on a regular basis. And since Prime's always encouraging us to adapt to Earth law, I think we should include healthcare too".

If looks could kill, Ratchet would have had him non-functioning in less than an astro-second. As the case was however.

"Get out".

"But – ."

"OUT!"

There was a giggle from the door and the three mechs turned to see Jazz standing there; a broad grin on his face, optics nearly glowing with mirth under his visor and arms crossed over his chest.

"Don't you just love happy endings?" he asked.