Touch Of Laughter

Sunstreaker looked up from his sketch at the sound of a tired sigh from across the room, in time to see Sideswipe toss one of his gaming devices on to the desk and lean back in his chair, his shoulders sagging slightly. Not really worrying too much – Sideswipe sometimes sulked when he failed to complete a level in a game – Sunstreaker looked back down again and added a few more touches to his sketch. When he raised his head after that, Sideswipe still hadnt moved. He frowned.

"Must be a pretty tough game," he commented casually.

"I've beaten it three times before," Sideswipe said without turning back.

"Something bothering you?"

Sideswipe shook his head. "Nope."

"Okay then." Sunstreaker turned his focus back to his drawing.

"They call it collateral damage don't they?" the red mech asked after a while. "When stuff gets caught in the cross-fire. I've heard Prowl use the term sometimes."

"Yeah they do, what about it?" asked Sunstreaker.

"Nothing. Just wondering."

"Right." The yellow mech scrawled his signature on the picture, then placed it carefully beside him and contemplated whether to start a new one.

"We had collateral damage today didn't we? Those humans?"

Sunstreaker ticked his glance over to Sideswipe. "Yeah, we did. Not the first time its happened though."

"First time its happened to me, up-close and personal. Before, we've always watched from a distance." He shuddered. "Humans sure do bleed a lot."

"So do we," Sunstreaker reminded him.

"Well yeah… but we're kinda used to it, that kid isn't," Sideswipe replied, looking at his fingers.

Kid huh, Sunstreaker thought. This was starting to make a lot of sense now. He turned his full attention to his brother, but didn't push. Sideswipe hated being badgered with questions – though oddly he didn't mind badgering someone else – so the yellow mech waited. The red one would talk on his own, he just needed a few careful prompts.

"There was a kid?" Sunstreaker asked.

"You didn't know? Oh wait, that's right, you were fighting on the other side of the town, you wouldn't know." Sideswipe sighed and half-turned to look at his twin. "I pulled a kid out of a car that got overturned during the fight. A little female, probably about 6 human years old. Ratchet and I took her to the hospital, but the human medics wouldn't tell us anything about her condition.

"Some humans are stronger than they look. She's not dead."

"I don't know. Ratchet said he'd help me check later."

"Does anyone else know about this? Talked to anyone?"

Sideswipe shook his head. "Ratchet told the others he was taking me along for protection incase a 'Con decided to follow."

"Why is this bothering you so much?"

"I just feel bad. I want that kid to live. I don't want what we do – all this fighting and protecting – to be for nothing. I cant talk to anyone else. They wont understand, or they'll think I'm crazy. You know how it is – most of them have this preconceived stereotype of us. Slag, even you probably think I'm sounding crazy."

Sunstreaker pushed himself off the top bunk and dropped gracefully to the floor. He went over, crouched in front of his brother and placed a hand on his knee.

"I don't think you're crazy bro," he said. "I think you did what you had to do, and the rest of it is out of your hands, so you're sure as hell not going to wallow in self-pity."

Sideswipe looked at him indignantly. "I'm not wallowing!"

"I think you are."

"I am not."

"Smile for me then." Sunstreaker poked him in a particularly sensitive spot."

"Stop it Sunny," Sideswipe warned.

"Or what?" Sunstreaker poked him again.

"I mean it bro."

"Yeah, so?" The yellow mech poked him a third time.

Sideswipe bolted out of the chair. Sunstreaker lept back.

"Too slow," he said.

"I'll show you slow," Sideswipe growled.

He darted for Sunstreaker, but the yellow mech had already run out the door and into the hallway. The red mech gave chase, narrowly stampeding over a few unsuspecting Minibots. Sunstreaker finally made it out of the Ark and fled to the back of the volcano where he slowed for a moment to put a hand to his audio, which was when Sideswipe ploughed into him.

Sunstreaker staggered backwards but didn't fall, and Sideswipe braced himself for a blow… which never came. The red mech released his hold and looked up, only to be tackled in return and… tickled?

Astonishing as it was, Sunstreaker was indeed tickling him – something he hadnt done in a couple of millennia – and that fact, along with the light, uneven pressure of the tickles themselves, was enough to make Sideswipe throw his head back and laugh.

"Much better," he heard Sunstreaker murmur. "Now say you surrender."

"Ha! Never!"

Sideswipe reached for his brother, and eventhough he knew Sunstreaker wasn't as ticklish as he was, he knew a few areas on Sunstreaker's armor that could have him chuckling in minutes. Guessing his intentions, the yellow mech released him and quickly moved back.

"Don't even think about it," he said.

The red mech smiled wolfishly. "About what?"

"You know slagging well what."

Sideswipe took a step towards him, and Sunstreaker turned to run again which was when Sideswipe jumped him from behind and wrestled him face-first into the grass. His fingers found the seams in his brother's armor that were most sensitive and began to teasingly stroke them. Sunstreaker did indeed laugh at that.

"Surrender?" Sideswipe whispered into his audio.

"Alright," Sunstreaker chuckled. "I'll let you win this time."

The red mech eased off and rolled onto his side as the yellow turned onto his back. Sideswipe looked at his brother for a second, then touched an up-turned corner of Sunstreaker's mouth with his finger.

"That smile looks good on you," he said. "You should wear it more often."

"Then no one would be afraid of big, bad Sunstreaker anymore and they'd have to get a replacement frontline warrior."

Sideswipe frowned. "Don't say slag like that Sunny."

"I'm kidding you aft-head, I'm not going anywhere." He sat up and dusted off some loose blades of grass, grimacing at a few stains left on his glossy yellow chestplate.

The red twin sat up as well and wrapped both arms around his brother's shoulders, pulling the other mech closer so he could rest his head on his shoulder. Sunstreaker put an arm around him as well and gently patted his head.

"Feel better?" he asked.

Sideswipe nodded. "A little bit."

"That's good, because while you were trying to catch up with me, Ratchet commed to say that the little girl you rescued is going to be just fine." Sunstreaker placed his other hand on Sideswipe's forearm. "So? Feel more than a little better?"

"Yup." Sideswipe snuggled closer to him. "But I always feel better when you're around."

"Eventhough I'm not one of the guys with all those words of wisdom to give you?"

Sideswipe snorted. "Since when has wisdom ever applied to us?"

Sunstreaker chuckled. "True."

"Anyway, let them keep their wisdom, I don't need it. I have the best brother in the galaxy." Sideswipe nuzzled him.

Sunstreaker nuzzled him back. "So do I, bro. So do I."