Disclaimer: Well, see, I did own them at one point, but them I made this wager with Sideswipe, and now he (and by 'he', I mean Hasbro or whoever) owns everybody. Including me.
Author's Note: I apologize for Prowl's characterization in this chapter. He just demanded things be done this way, and to hell with 'proper' characterization of him. My only excuse is that he spent the last two months with only a bunch of femmes and Sideswipe. The need to get Sideswipe back for what he must've had to endure, combined with the extremely weird recent events, must have caused him to crack slightly. And by 'slightly' I mean 'completely'. Because Prowl was already 'slightly' cracked when he gave Optimus that 'explanation'...
- Sideswipe's Excellent Wagers -
Prowl and Sideswipe entered the rec room that evening to loud cat-calls and whistles. Sideswipe posed for them, showing off his now-normal form, while Prowl just shook his head and headed for the energon dispenser. He was followed not long after by the twins, who refused to let the tactician sit at his usual table in the corner, instead dragging him over to the collection of mechs sitting on the couches at the far end of the rec room, around the TV. The couches were mostly full, but room was made for the three new arrivals, and Prowl was forced to sit between the twins, though his glare showed how unhappy he was about it.
"Aw, lighten up, Prowl." Sideswipe said with a grin.
"I already did that. It got me chased by Menasor." Prowl stated flatly, and there was a moment's silence before the Autobots realized that the stoic tactician had just made a joke. The mechs around him burst out laughing, and Prowl leaned back with a faint smile, evidently having resigned himself to his location now that he'd made his displeasure with it clear. He stayed there, sitting quietly between the twins and sipping his energon, as the others eventually calmed and began bombarding Sideswipe with questions about the mission to Cybertron.
Sideswipe told them what he could (the real reason for the mission was top secret, after all), and finally got around to passing on the various messages from femmes that he'd been given. More mechs arrived or were called in while this was going on, leaving Sideswipe literally at the center of attention for every off-duty mech in the Ark. The red twin, needless to say, loved every moment of it, and did his best to drag Prowl into it. He didn't succeed, however, until the others finally ran out of questions about the mission and thought to ask about more recent happenings.
"There's one thing you haven't mentioned, though." Cliffjumper commented thoughtfully when there was a lull in the conversation. "When we ran into the Decepticons, Skywarp was acting like he already knew you. And you mentioned something about him flirting with you 'again'. So where did you meet him before?" Sideswipe suddenly shifted uncomfortably.
"Ah - well, that part of the mission is a little...classified." he said hesitantly.
"The part where you started flirting with Skywarp isn't." Prowl commented, earning himself a glare from Sideswipe.
"Sideswipe, I take back my disowning of you. Because I can't be related to someone I don't even fragging know." Sunstreaker said with a wince from Prowl's other side, causing a few chuckles.
"Has anyone ever told you you're a pain in the aft?" Sideswipe asked Prowl, still glaring.
"You have, more than once. You've also implied that I have something in my aft." Prowl stated. "Which is rather disrespectful to say to a superior officer, and someday I'll get around to writing you up for it. Actually, if you're finished your story-telling, I might just go do it now -" Prowl made as if to get up, only to be shoved back down by Sideswipe, who gave him an even darker glare.
"This is payback for losing that bet, isn't it?" the red twin asked.
"Why would I need payback for that?" Prowl asked blandly.
"Why would - oh slaggit. Fine! I'll tell where I ran into Skywarp before, though really there's not much of a story behind it." Sideswipe grumped.
"And after do we get to hear about this bet?" Hound asked with amusement. Between the joke earlier and his recent comments, it was clear to everyone that Prowl was in an odd mood tonight, and more than a few of them were eager to keep the tactician there as long as possible to see just what would happen.
"Sure, why not!" Sideswipe said, sounding exasperated. "We might as well let all the secrets out. I mean, it's not as if it was a secret mission or anything."
"The mission itself may be secret, but most of the things you did were not, Sideswipe." Prowl stated. "Now are you going to tell them, or shall I started writing those reports?"
"I can't believe you're threatening me with insubordination reports to get me to tell them." Sideswipe half-whined with a shake of his head.
"One must find their entertainment where they can." Prowl replied.
"I...am not going to even touch that." Sideswipe said with a grimace, then when a few mechs began to complain about how long he was taking to tell them, he turned back to them with a sigh. "Alright, alright. I warned you, though - it's not much of a story."
"Just get on with it!" Trailbreaker demanded, and Sideswipe chuckled slightly.
"I am, I am!" he said, then settled himself more comfortably on the couch before continuing, "So there was this Decepticon lab that we had to get into and steal something from," he began, "We were able to get in quite easily, thanks to the femmes, and stole what we were supposed to. Thing is, on our way out, we discovered that Megatron had sent Thundercracker and Skywarp to check up on the very thing we'd just stolen. We almost literally ran into them in the hallway. Unsurprisingly, we were all a little startled. Skywarp was, of course, oblivious to anything beyond the fact that there were apparently femmes in front of him, while Thundercracker was immediately suspicious." Sideswipe paused here, and Prowl took the opportunity to butt in.
"And so Sideswipe came up with the brilliant idea to convince them that we had been there keeping some of the scientists...company." the tactician said dryly. "Then he began flirting with Skywarp."
"Hey, you flirted a bit with Thundercracker, too!" Sideswipe said with a scowl.
"He's bonded, though." Prowl pointed out. "Also, I didn't subsequently disappear into an office with him."
"Whaaaat?!" Sunstreaker's yelp caused much laughter as the yellow twin gave his brother a look that was a mixture of horror and betrayal. "You - you - Primus! You are not allowed to do Jet Judo on Skywarp ever again."
"It wasn't like that!" Sideswipe protested, glaring at Prowl. "We got about two steps into the office before I shot him, then slipped out. Prowl got away from Thundercracker on his own, and we met up out front later."
"So what about the serenading?" Bumblebee asked, obviously having remembered the comment during the battle.
"Well, it took us a few tries to get back from Cybertron, because we kept running into problems on our way to the space bridge." Sideswipe said with a sigh. "One time it was Skywarp spotting us. He swooped down to have a 'chat', in which he expressed his opinion that I was just playing hard to get, and he could deal with that, as he didn't mind putting a little effort into 'relationships'.
"And then...he started singing." Sideswipe said with a grimace. "And let me tell you, he has absolutely no talent. I could only watch and listen, paralyzed with horror, until Prowl finally shot him."
"My audios were giving me warnings about an imminent short-out." Prowl said with a shrug, and when there was laughter at that, he gave the other mechs a surprised look. "I'm not joking." the tactician said. "We actually had to replace Sideswipe's when we got back to the femme base." Laughter stopped as the mechs looked horrified.
"Yeah, he really is that bad." Sideswipe said with a shudder. "Be glad all some of you got to hear was poetry." There was a smattering of laughter and teasing comments from the other mechs before someone asked about the bet.
"Right, the bet that Prowl foolishly made and lost." Sideswipe said with a smirk in Prowl's direction.
"I only lost due to a lack of correct information." Prowl said in his own defence. "I was...unaware...that Moonracer, hm, I believe the term is 'swung that way'." There was a pause as the other Autobots tried to comprehend what Prowl had just implied. The silence was finally broken by Sunstreaker swearing as he glared at his brother.
"You glitch! Tell me you didn't interface with Moonracer as a femme!" the yellow twin demanded.
"I can never lie to you, Sunny." Sideswipe said with a smirk. "I don't mind saying how great it was, either. Even better was that as a result, once we got back to Earth, I got to watch Prowl voluntarily get completely cratered. Which reminds me, whoever has the pictures, Moonracer wants copies. Well, actually, all the femmes do, but Moonracer in particular."
"You'll have to ask Jazz, he confiscated them all." Mirage commented.
"Drat." Sideswipe said. "Oh well, at least I can collect on the other bet that Prowl lost." Prowl arched an optic ridge at Sideswipe.
"I was under the impression that I had already won that one." he said.
"Nope. Doesn't count. You weren't a mech, you thought he didn't know who you were, and you were completely cratered." Sideswipe said, bouncing slightly in his seat as he grinned like a maniac.
"Hmm, I suppose that's fair." Prowl mused. "However, the time limit isn't up yet. It hasn't been a full day since we returned."
"Well, no, technically you've got five minutes, but - hey!" Sideswipe yelped as Prowl suddenly tossed his cube to Sunstreaker, hopped over the back of the couch, and took off running out of the rec room. "No fair! I have to be there to see it!" Sideswipe yelled, taking off after the tactician, his twin just behind after handing off Prowl's empty cube to Bumblebee. There was a momentary pause in the rec room, and then there was a stampede as the off-duty Autobots followed after Prowl and the twins.
Most of them had some inkling of what was going on, judging from what Prowl and Sideswipe had said, so they weren't surprised when they ended up outside the control room, where Jazz was on duty currently. Peering inside, they found an odd mixture of expressions on the various mechs inside - Sideswipe looked amused, Sunstreaker was gaping, Prowl was smirking, and Jazz...Jazz looked dazed, and as if it was only Prowl's arm around his waist that was keeping him upright. It wasn't hard to figure out what the other Autobots had just missed.
"I believe you owe me a week of good behaviour, Sideswipe." Prowl said smugly. That seemed to bring Jazz out of his daze, and the saboteur whacked Prowl on the arm.
"Oh so now I'm just getting used to win bets?!" he demanded hotly, struggling slightly as he tried to pull away from the tactician.
"No, that's just a pleasant side affect." Prowl said, then there was a round of laughter and cat-calls as Prowl swept the saboteur up into a searing kiss.
"Primus, get a room you two!" Trailbreaker called when the two didn't show any sign of stopping even once the laughter and cat-calls calmed down. At that, Prowl drew away and looked mildly over at the black mech.
"Thank you, Trailbreaker, for volunteering to take Jazz's shift." the tactician said amiably.
"Wait, what?" Trailbreaker squawked, but Prowl didn't give him time to object any further, dragging a now goofily grinning Jazz after him as he left the command center. There was more laughter as the various mechs shoved Trailbreaker to his new post, ignoring his vows of vengeance, before everyone dispersed, either heading back to the rec room or back to their quarters for the night.
- AND THUS IT ENDS FOR GOOD -