Prowl stared, stone-faced, at the bars of the brig. Across from him, Prime sat in his own cell with a similar look on his face.
Outside in the aisle, Grimlock dangled a datapad in front of Prime's cell. "Optimus Prime," he was saying, "Grimlock read morning memo – this morning memo," he repeated, dangling the datapad again for emphasis, "that you, Optimus Prime, send to Autobots and to us Dinobots, too. Though not sure why you send to Dinobots, since us no have wheels to do 'speeding' thing. But you send, and now me, Grimlock, have."
Prime tried but did not quite manage not to sigh. "Yes, Grimlock, I know the memo."
"That you, Optimus Prime, send," Grimlock reiterated, one finger firmly tapping the datapad.
"Yes, I know, Grimlock," Prime muttered.
Grimlock drew himself up, one hand on his help, and held the memo up for Prime to see. "And this memo say," he said, elevating his voice and very clearly enjoying himself, "that very next Autobot to do speeding thing go directly to brig."
"No pass go."
"No collect two hundred dollars."
Prime sighed heavily.
"Prime own words."
Prime said nothing.
"In fact," Grimlock went on, hand still on his hip, "not only you not get two hundred dollars, you Optimus Prime, and you, Autobot Prowl, cost Autobots four hundred and fifty-one dollars. And that before court cost." The Dinobot jabbed the datapad in Prime's direction. "That a lot of money, you know."
"Yes, Grimlock, I know." Prime rubbed a thumb and forefinger between his optics.
Looking purely sanctimonious, Grimlock returned his gaze to the datapad. "It say in police report that you, Optimus Prime, lose temper and say 'profanity' at escort that me, Grimlock send to pick you up."
"Well, you sent the twins!" Prime burst, hands splayed.
But Grimlock only chortled and cached the datapad, apparently finished with using it as a prop in his Torment-the-Autobot-Commander campaign. "Well," he straightened, and Prowl could swear that there was a detectable smirk underneath the Dinobot's mask, "you, Optimus, enjoy time in brig."
"Listen, Grimlock," Prime said, rubbing his temples now, "will you just have my current workload downloaded onto a datapad so I can get some things done while I'm in here?"
"What?" Grimlock's optics brightened. "This not room service. There no minty for pillow, and no datapad for you neither. Hnn." The Dinobot snorted, and tossed both Prowl and Prime an incredulous look, though not without every indication that he was utterly enjoying this moment. "No, you Optimus, and you, Prowl, just sit and think about what you done. Yes," the Dinobot nodded to himself, "me think that best idea of all."
And with a sweep and a hmph, his Majesty Horrificus Rex quit the room.
"Well," Prowl stated when the Dinobot was gone.
"Well," Prime replied, staring through blank optics.
"It could be worse," Prowl attempted to supply some positive thinking.
On cue, a remarkably familiar red arm snaked silently around the corner, and before Prowl could register what was happening, the tactician found himself blinded by a flash. Quick as a whip, the arm retreated, digital camera in tow, and Sideswipe trotted off down the hallway with a malevolent snort of glee.
"I could have him put out of our misery, you know," Prime said after many minutes of silence.
"Ah," Prowl nodded sagely, "but you would need to come down from your moral high horse to do so. Or so the humans would put it."
"What about contracting the Decepticons to do it?"
"Still not moral," Prowl shook his head.
"Ordering ourselves set loose so I can go do it myself?"
Prowl paused, leaned back, and laced his fingers over his middle. "Questionably moral," he allowed, "provided that you left him alive, and then came back to finish the rest of your self-imposed brig sentence. Though you would be in breach of your own incarceration orders."
Prime thought a moment, leaning back himself and stretching his legs out in front of him. "What if," he proposed, "I ordered him to be brought to me here, so I could get my hands on him without leaving my cell? Could I put him out of my misery then?"
"Well," Prowl replied, closing his optics and settling himself in, "it would not be moral to kill him."
"Not even if I promised to do penance?"
"And sent a gift basket to his brother?"
"No. Not remotely moral."
Prime sighed, and from the scrape of metal on metal, Prowl surmised that the other Autobot was settling himself in as well. "Well, it's no good if I can't kill him. He'll just wake up again after a pounding."
"So we're in here for a week then," Prime caved.
"Looks like," Prowl replied.
"With our morals intact."
A moment passed, during which Prime was presumably turning the matter over in his head. "So," he said after a pause, "if I were to spend my week in here imagining ways to kill him, but not actually follow through…is that moral?"
Without opening his optics, Prowl offered a ghost of a smile. "Yes," he replied, "that would be quite moral."
"Well then," Prime uttered a short, satisfied sigh as he shifted and settled again.
"Well, indeed," Prowl replied, and, still smiling, settled in for a very long week.