A/N: A very old story, uploaded by request.


Well, because, it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Most things Sideswipe thought up usually did, until he ended up in the brig or digging ditches or pulling double shifts of guard duty. Oh, and then the there was the time Prime made him shine the entire floor of the Autobot lounge with what the humans called a 'toothbrush', and what Sideswipe lovingly referred to as 'The Hideous Torture Stick'. What the slag did humans need with such a teeny little brush, anyway? No one saw their teeth, Primus-friggit! So why the slag did they brush 'em? Good lord of the cosmos, that floor-shining took a long time, which had naturally been made longer by Sideswipe's need to periodically stop and beat the ever-living mech-fluid out of Sunstreaker for pointing and laughing. But that was beside the point.

Because the whole point of it was that Sideswipe hated to be bored. Let us reiterate: Sideswipe hated, despised, loathed to be bored. And boredom came pretty easily to someone who spent the larger part of his life plunging through barrages of plasma and artillery fire like it was a walk through Cybertronic Candyland. It was scary, yeah, but hell, it could be fun. There was a certain glee to madness, and Sideswipe took to the horrific hoop and holler of war like a Dinobot to Saturday morning cartoons. It was exciting, battle. It was almost like a drug to him, coursing through his fuel lines like molten light and firing his circuits with a hot chemistry of mad joy and anger and power and lust. He lost himself in the fight sometimes, focusing so completely that he literally became his own motion, became the hot lick of his rocketpack across the backs of his legs, became the sweet rush of freefall as he tumbled and twisted away from the dance of laserfire, became the very point at the tip of his sight picture, just as he steadied and squeezed the trigger. Fighting was not in him; it was him, and he it, and in the pitch of battle, when all the combatants had long begun to tire, and everyone was covered in grit and mech-fluid and dripping coolant and beginning to despair, Sideswipe felt the magnificent rush of being alive. He didn't know how to explain it to anyone, but it was at that moment that he would most acutely feel the pound of his fuel pump, and he would glory in the feel of his own strength as he catapulted his body through the motions of war, roaring like some half-tamed, ancient barbarian and calling on heaven and hell to show itself and fight.

And then there were the days when there was nothing to do.

Oh, Primus, dogs and rolling thunder, Sideswipe hated to be bored.

Which was why the idea made so much sense at first, which, as previously stated, most things Sideswipe thought up did, at least until the inevitable, gruelingly boring punishment. But he never thought of that, at least not at the beginning, which begged the question of whether it was truly punishment, (as punishment would logically curb the original, undesirable behavior), or whether it was just Prime's way of making Sideswipe suffer when Prime himself was in need of entertainment.

That Prime, he could be a sicko at times. Or so Sideswipe suspected.

Anyway, so it had made sense at the time to shave the llama. The cartoons were all reruns, and Sideswipe had found the Naked, Dancing Llama web page, and it just logically followed that a naked, dancing llama would be more interesting than an episode of last season's Pokemon, so he began to set his mind to the task.

"How do you make a llama naked?" he asked thoughtfully.

Sunstreaker, who had been idly sitting beside him, attention half on the web page and half on the television, where the Dinobots had gathered to watch cartoons, turned him a bland look. "Huh? What's a llama?"

Optics narrowing, Sideswipe smacked the back of Sunstreaker's head. "Pay attention!"

"What the slag, Sideswipe?" Sunstreaker snapped a glare in his brother's direction, on hand on the back of his head, most likely feeling for scratches.

"What you want?" came the surly grumble of Slag's voice.

Both twins turned the Dinobot a blank stare for an instant, before Sideswipe strung together what had happened. "Oh. Nothing, Slag."

"Then why bother Slag when Slag watch cartoons?" was the increasingly irritated reply, but before the resident Autobot triceratops could get belligerent, he was silenced by a chorus of cartoon-aholic Dinobots who wanted to hear the television. Slag, who was rather interested in the bright parade of primary colors and stupid, groan-inducing jokes himself, decided to be quiet and go back to watching Pokemon, though not before shooting an ugly look in Sunstreaker's direction.

"What a skidplate," Sunstreaker muttered.

"And what possessed Wheeljack to name one of his creations after a Cybertronic swear word, anyway?" Sideswipe groused. "If he wanted to do that, he could have at least done us all a favor and gone for foul Earthen language, and saved us the hassle of trying to decide when the poor Dinobot's being called or cussed at."

"Yeah, well, 'Dinobot Shit' just doesn't have the same ring to it," Sunstreaker replied. "Now what the slag is all this about lemons or whatever?"

"Llamas, stupid. Look." Sideswipe pointed at the web page he'd found, and watched while his brother read the page. "That's a llama."

Sunstreaker leaned in, face awash in aquamarine light from the monitor. He snorted, reading, "'Just because llamas don't clean up after themselves, doesn't make it right.' What the slagging hell does that mean?"

"Who gives a slag?" Sideswipe answered. "Look. Watch it dance. That's funny."

"That's stupid."

"Well, that's why it's funny," Sideswipe came back. "And that's why I want to go see one."

"One what?"

Sideswipe emitted a sharp sigh, and resigned himself again to smacking his brother. "A llama, stupid."

"Would you stop frigging doing that?" Sunstreaker snarled, rubbing his head again like a big baby. He really could be such a whiner sometimes.

Again, Sideswipe sighed, and explained himself as clearly as possible, "I want to see a naked, dancing llama, because it will be more interesting than anything we've got around this place. So are you going to come with me or not?"

Sunstreaker eyed him for a long moment, brow furrowed and mouth treading perilously close to turning downward into a pout, before asking, "Where are you going?"

"Good!" Sideswipe exclaimed, and clapped his brother on the arm, which brought on more protests about a marred paint job. "I knew you'd come with me. Now we just gotta find a llama. Where would you look?"

"A zoo?" Sunstreaker offered dubiously, obviously already annoyed with his twin, and not entirely sure he wanted in on what Sideswipe was doing. But Sideswipe knew he'd come along; he always did. He'd bitch and moan about being forced, but in the end, Sunstreaker tagged after him wherever he went.

A smug smile on his face, and muttering about slow-as-cold-slag internet speeds, Sideswipe searched for the nearest zoo, and came up with a sizeable one in Portland. "Oh, Prowl will never let you drive that far," Sunstreaker pointed out.

"Us, you mean," Sideswipe corrected.

"Side," Sunstreaker leveled him with a look, "I am not spending my entire day off chasing after some lemming just so I can see it dance."

"It's a llama," Sideswipe reiterated, "and yes, you are coming." He held up a hand, forestalling protests from his brother. "I need you to help me figure out how to make it naked, so we can get it to dance."

"Well," Sunstreaker shrugged, face screwing itself up with frustration, "how do you know it's not naked already?"

"Because!" Sideswipe threw up his hands. "Organic beings wear clothes! Look at Spike. And besides, why would the web page say 'naked' dancing llama, if it didn't normally wear clothes?" He sighed and rolled his optics. "Birds have feathers, Sunstreaker. Pull the feathers out, and you get a naked bird. Same thing with a llama."

"Llamas have feathers?" Sunstreaker looked lost.

Not that Sideswipe had the patience to lead him back to the path of understanding. Kindly, he patted his brother's shoulder and smiled. "Let's just go find Prowl."


"No." The tactician didn't even look up from his datapad.

"Please?" Sideswipe had worked up his most charmingly innocent-young-mech face, and it was beginning to irritate him that Prowl wouldn't so much as look in his direction.

"It is simply too far," Prowl explained.

"We're off duty," Sideswipe countered.

"Yes," Prowl agreed, "but you're on standby. Now go away."

"How far away?"

Prowl looked up. "Sideswipe, I am very busy, and I cannot be bothered to debate this with you right now. You may not go to Portland."

"But Prowl," Sideswipe countered, offering his best Ferris Beuler expression, "I promise not to get in trouble in Portland."

Prowl opened his mouth, but halted mid-retort as he obviously processed the slight stress of the word 'Portland'. The tactician narrowed his optics, and Sideswipe worked very hard to keep himself from grinning as he watched Prowl realize that he was being painted into a corner. "And just exactly how much trouble," the tactician asked, "would you not be getting into in Portland?"

"Oh, a whole lot of time-consuming trouble," Sideswipe assured him. "I would definitely not be getting into that kind of trouble in Portland." Again he accented the last word of his sentence, and watched with suppressed glee as Prowl's face darkened a bit.

For a good, long moment, the tactician watched the red warrior, optics calculating as he most likely tallied up just how much of his time Sideswipe would consume if kept Ark-side. At length, Prowl opened his mouth and fixed Sideswipe with a flat look. "You…irritate me."

Sideswipe smiled sweetly.

Prowl pointed a finger at him. "I swear by Primus and all that's holy, Sideswipe, if I hear your name again today, I'll string you up by your heels in the brig and let the Dinobots beat you like a piñata."

Sideswipe innocently raised his brows. "Does that mean we get to go to Portland?"

Prowl blinked, paused while his processor rattled through the easiest and most efficient ways of being rid of Sideswipe, then pointed at the door. "Get out of my office this instant."

"But—"

"Immediately leave."


The ride to Portland was lovely. Autumn was just tingeing the trees with scarlet and gold, and the sun beat down on the roof of Sideswipe's Lamborghini mode, warming him as the brisk wind sang along his sides. Even Sunstreaker seemed glad he'd come along, as he rode out front, gently slaloming from time to time as he chattered with his brother.

It took them less time to reach Portland than Sideswipe had thought, though that was probably due to the burst of speed they'd put on when the police had started to give chase. Let yourself go just a smidge over the Sacred Speed Limit, and those guys were all over you like blue on Tracks, and Primus, that irritated Sideswipe to no end. Sunstreaker didn't care much for them either, and since neither twin could be bothered to sit around for an hour while a ticket was being written up, they'd both decided to simply dash off and leave pokey Smokey behind. Sideswipe knew he'd hear about this later – hell, it wasn't like there were too many red and yellow Lamborghini Autobots running around the Ark – but to be honest, he just didn't feel like playing nice today. And besides, it wasn't his fault the dumb humans couldn't build a decent enough automobile to keep up with him. Way he figured it, it should be a game of cat and mouse, and if the cat could catch him, then by Primus, the cat could have him.

Tough luck explaining that logic to Prime, though. Or to Prowl. Sheesh, Prowl was worse in so many ways.

But anyway, back to the llama. It wasn't hard to find the thing, though it was a little difficult to get through the zoo, what with herds of young humans clustering about and pawing at the both of them. "You…smudged me!" Sunstreaker exclaimed, when a particularly short human smeared something brown on the side of Sunstreaker's leg.

The yellow-headed thing looked up, a grin spread across its chubby face. "Bot-a-wot!"

"What?" Sunstreaker demanded, face screwed up with annoyance. "What's a bottlewot? And watch where you're putting that thing! Ugh!"

Again the little human patted at his leg, leaving brown, smeary handprints all over Sunstreaker's shiny finish, and Sideswipe couldn't help but snicker. "I think she's trying to say 'Autobot,'" he explained, then bent down to look at the little human. "Is that what you meant?"

She nodded vigorously, curls bobbing, then held up a dripping, conical mess of something Sideswipe recognized as most likely being food. "Ice cream?" the little girl asked, obviously offering him some.

Sideswipe grinned. "No thanks. Bot-a-wots don't eat ice cream. But do you know where the llama is?"

The little girl, however, was absolutely useless, as all she did was throw her head back and giggle inanely, and Sideswipe was just reminding himself that the short ones were stupid until they got taller, when a bigger human pointed off to the left. "Llamas are over there," it said. "With the farm animals."

"Thanks," Sideswipe nodded, then stepped over the crowed and made his way toward the farm animals, Sunstreaker in tow.

"That was disgusting," Sunstreaker grumped, as he summoned a cloth from subspace and tried to wipe the ice cream from his leg as they walked.

"The girl or the ice cream?"

"Both."

One would think that it would be easy to find the llama. Hell, there were signs and everything. But then there were the crowds, and the short, scampering humans that they had to try and not step on, and eventually more ice cream, as Sunstreaker stepped in a puddle of the sticky stuff, and finally, there was the problem of the llama not being cooperative. Twice, they passed by its pen, and it wasn't until their third, human-swamped pass that they realized the thing was asleep inside its shed.

"Well," Sunstreaker burst, "what's it doing in there? We came all this way to see it! Bring it out!"

"It doesn't wanna come out," Sideswipe suggested.

"Well, then I'll go get it," Sunstreaker declared, and stepped over the fence.

"Stop!" A commotion rippled through the crowd, and the growing mass of people who had been following the two oblivious Autobots jostled back and forth as someone rather official-looking ploughed his way through the throng. Short and paunchy, and not at all pleasant to the optics, or so Sideswipe assumed Sunstreaker would say, the human trotted up to them, frantically waving both hands. "You can't go in there! Get out!"

One leg on each side of the fence, Sunstreaker stared at the human, metal brows knitted in confusion. "Why? Does it bite?"

Flustered, the human straightened its shirt, which was stained under its arms and just below its neck. Sideswipe frowned, wondering if there was something wrong with its coolant system, when the thing put its hands on its hips and did its best to look imposing, which, since it barely came up to Sideswipe's knee, it was not. "Mr. Autobot," it said, "you may not understand our rules here, but there are to be no patrons allowed in the enclosures. Now kindly remove your foot from the llama's pen."

Sunstreaker glanced at Sideswipe, shrugged, then complied. Feet both firmly planted on legal ground, the yellow warrior stared blankly down at the human, who still stood with its hands on its hips, while it puffed with exertion or anger, or both. "I want you gentlemen to realize," it informed them, "that at this zoo, we take pride in our animals' health, and we do not tolerate any kind of tomfoolery that would end up causing the animals harm, and I hope you know—"

"Is this your llama?" Sideswipe interrupted the lecture, before it really began to annoy him. Sheesh, at least Prowl's lectures didn't involve so much leaking coolant.

The human sputtered and blinked, then worked its mouth into a thin, suspicious line. It obviously didn't trust them any further than it could throw them, as the human phrase went, and Sideswipe seriously doubted the little flesh creature could throw him very far, much less Sunstreaker to boot. At length, the human lifted its chin, eyeing Sideswipe as though expecting more 'tomfoolery'. "You could say that. I'm Mr. O'Roarke, caretaker of the farm animal section."

Sunstreaker leaned close to Sideswipe. "Mister?" he whispered. "That means it's male, right?"

"I think so," Sideswipe muttered back, then returned his attention to the human. "Well, uh, Mr. O'Roarke, we just wanted to see your llama."

"That's fine," O'Roarke replied, "so long as you see him from this side of the fence, and you're welcome to that."

"But," Sunstreaker pointed out, "he's in that dark shed, and we need a good look at him."

"Why? What do you need to know?" the caretaker queried.

"Well, first of all," Sideswipe asked, "is he naked?"

Immediately all noise from the crowd ceased, and Sideswipe found himself surrounded by a hundred-odd gaping, slightly horrified-looking humans. Some of the taller ones covered the audio receptors of the shorter ones and glared at him as though he'd said something extremely off-color. "What?" he asked. "What'd I say?"

And if the caretaker had looked suspicious before, now he looked downright defensive. "Excuse me?" he snorted, somehow offended, though Sideswipe couldn't figure how.

Glancing at his brother, Sideswipe tried again, this time speaking more slowly, so the human would be sure to understand. "Does the llama have clothes on?"

"Clothes?" Still, the caretaker looked befuddled, and definitely seemed to expect some foul play from the two Autobots.

But fortunately for the brothers, one of the humans in the crowd seemed to understand. "He's talking about the llama's fur," a voice called out, and several heads bobbed in agreement, mostly among the shorter humans.

"That's it!" Sunstreaker pointed out. "Sideswipe, if bird have feathers, then llamas have fur. If it takes its fur off, then it's naked."

"Ah," Sideswipe nodded, and looked down to see that the caretaker seemed relieved for some odd reason. "So," he asked, "how does a llama take its fur off?"

"It doesn't," O'Roarke replied, much to Sideswipe's consternation. Frag that web page anyway. He better not have driven all the way out here to Portland, just to find out that llamas can't get naked. "Although," the caretaker continued, clasping his hands behind his back and assuming a lecturing tone, "the wool from a llama is often shorn, and can be used to make yarn for clothing."

Sideswipe frowned as he tried to puzzle out what the human was saying. If wool had to be taken off of a llama to make clothing, then was it still considered to be clothing while it was still on the llama? And if the wool was taken off of the llama, was it then considered to be naked? He would have to assume so, since there didn't seem to be room underneath that wool for anything but the llama's skin, and he knew for a fact that organic creatures were not supposed to have their skin removed. Not if they wanted to remain healthy, anyway. He shook his head, brows knitted, and attempted the most direct and useful question he could come up with, "So…how do you shear a llama? With a laser scalpel?"

At this, the caretaker's furry brows shot up, and he smirked as if Sideswipe had said something funny. The warrior narrowed his optics, annoyed with being mocked by such a ridiculous creature, not that the human seemed to notice. He permitted himself a small chuckle, his fat belly jigging up and down. "You robots, you think too hard," he admonished. "A set of electric clippers would be sufficient."

"Yeah," Sunstreaker leaned close to confer in Sideswipe's audios, "like Spike has, to trim his face fur. Which, by the way, I'm glad we don't have to deal with." The yellow warrior shuddered, grimacing at the distasteful thought.

Well, now that made sense, then. Sideswipe sighed to himself, and wondered why he hadn't thought to ask Spike something about this before hauling his happy butt all the way to Portland and having to be bothered by this smug little human. But at least now he knew what to do about it. "We'll have wait till this guy goes away to get the wool off the llama," he whispered to Sunstreaker.

"Well, he ain't goin' away till the zoo closes," Sunstreaker pointed out, after which they held a short discussion about their options, and ultimately decided on hiding out in the parking lot for a few hours. Sunstreaker wasn't happy about it, but Sideswipe wasn't about to let an entire day off go to waste, and he figured if he'd gotten this far, then by Primus, he was going to see that damn llama dance.

So they thanked the caretaker for his help, not that the human had been anything more than marginally useful, and waded through the crowds and out to the parking lot. Even after they transformed, and even though they refused to speak, a crowd of humans still hung around them for an hour or so afterward, hoping to get a reaction. They didn't get much, at least until one of them came up with the brilliant idea of throwing a rock at Sunstreaker, much as one might throw a rock at one of the zoo animals, just to see it move. Of course, that was the absolute last Autobot any human should think of throwing a rock at, and after Sunstreaker executed a few nice tailspins and came within a fiber's breadth of running some of the scrambling humans over, the two Autobots were pretty much left alone.

Good old Sunny.


The sky had faded to deep blue when the last of the cars pulled out of the lot, and the Autobots made their way once more toward the zoo. "Think they're all gone?" Sunstreaker asked as they strolled through the main gate.

"Well, if they aren't," Sideswipe pointed out in a hushed tone, "they're sure to hear your booming vocalizer and run right over."

Sunstreaker glared and grumbled something about brotherhood being a prison sentence, but was otherwise quiet. Not that it mattered overly much, as Sideswipe would admit that neither he nor his brother were the Autobot masters of infiltration, and probably stood almost as much chance of being caught as one of the Dinobots in the same situation. Big, primary-colored warriors were not exactly stealth-ninjas. Not that Sunstreaker's silence lasted very long, either. "What do we do about the fur clippers?" he asked in a quasi-low voice.

"No problem," Sideswipe assured him. "You realize how much fur there is in a zoo? There's gotta be clippers here somewhere."

"What?" Sunstreaker exclaimed, stopping in his tracks and making Sideswipe shush him again. "And don't you shush me, you idiot. You mean we drove all the way over here, and waited all that time in the parking lot, and you don't have the damn clippers?"

"Hey," Sideswipe spread his hands, "have I ever led you astray before?"

"Yes!" Sunstreaker responded, exasperated. "Bali? 'Member that? You had to tunnel under all that rock, just so we could get around that village celebration? 'Oh, let's take a short cut,' you said…"

"Oh, shut it," Sideswipe grumbled, and started walking again. "That one time, and you'll never let me forget it."

"One time?" Sunstreaker snorted. "One time? Try like a couple hundred, buddy boy."

"Don't you 'buddy boy' me," Sideswipe retorted. "I haven't exactly failed us yet. Now help me find the tool shed. There's always a tool shed with these humans."

That much was true. Humans always did have some kind of closet or shed hanging about with a bunch of tools, since they couldn't be bothered to be evolved enough to have compartments and subspace pockets. So it followed, (after quite a bit of rifling through unhelpful buildings, and scaring of extremely and unnecessarily noisy animals) that Sideswipe eventually found his apparent jackpot. Grinning, he motioned Sunstreaker over to an unobtrusive little building in the corner of the farm animal section, and they both knelt down and began rummaging by light of their headlights.

"Got it!" Sunstreaker proclaimed triumphantly after a very short amount of time, and Sideswipe lifted his chin and smiled his most smug I-told-you-so smile, not that Sunstreaker gave him the chance to gloat. "Shove it," the yellow warrior snapped, and used Sideswipe's head for leverage to get up off the ground.

"Chevette," Sideswipe growled as he got up to follow.

"It doesn't work," Sunstreaker frowned as they neared the llama's pen. "Look." He clicked the tiny on-off button several times with the tip of his thumb, as if the hundredth click just might coax it to function.

"Give me that," Sideswipe snatched the thing away from his brother, and held up the dangling cord. "Needs fuel, stupid."

Sunstreaker glowered, and shifted his optics around him. "Oh, great. Where do we find its fuel port then?

Sideswipe sighed. "You're such a pessimist. Humans have those things all over. Just look."

And sure enough, under a port cover on a post near the back of the llama's enclosure, they found the proper sort of outlet, and within seconds, Sideswipe had the thing humming with energy. "It's alive," he grinned. "I told you I'd make this work. Now," he gleefully narrowed his optics, "fetch me that llama."

That llama, however, did not wish to be fetched, and not only that, it had absolutely no desire to be shorn by two giant robots whose color schemes and choice of activity arguably qualified them as the world's largest and silliest happy meal toys. But fetched it was, regardless of its opinion in the matter, and no matter how much of a fuss the llama was putting up, the point of the matter was that Sideswipe was finally having fun. He'd never been to a llama rodeo before, but he was pretty darn sure that what he was engaged in now was pretty close to rodeo activity, as the llama whirled and bucked and squirmed throughout the twins' clumsy attempts to remove its wool. "Hold it still!" Sideswipe barked, grinning, as the animal aimed yet another delightfully well-placed kick at Sunstreaker's shinguards. Not that it hurt his brother in the least, but the number it was doing on his paint job was making the yellow warrior wail almost as loudly as the llama.

And boy, did that llama wail. It was more of a bawling hornk, really, chopped up into mini-hornks by its frantic attempts to kick its way to freedom, but it was loud, it was zesty, and Sideswipe was just beginning to have the extremely satisfied feeling that this hornking, dancing, almost naked llama was actually worth the trip after all, when he found himself quite suddenly plunged into the land of the surreal.

As if llama shaving wasn't surreal enough.

"What…the…slag…" came the voice of one vastly bewildered Decepticon, and both Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, who had just succeded in shearing another long stripe of wool from the creatures side, looked up and into the optics of Rumble and Frenzy.

The two Decepticon tapes stood a bare ten feet away, staring slack-faced at the Autobot brothers. Sunstreaker froze, llama in hand, while Sideswipe held up a forgotten, still-humming set of clippers and stared in extreme puzzlement at what really had no reason to be standing before him. Even the llama went still, and for a long, long minute, nobody so much as blinked, as everyone tried to understand what exactly was going on.

Perhaps it was the full moon. Perhaps the Decepticon cassettes' processors were simply not able to translate the information coming from their optical receptors. In any case, it was with a look of extreme calm that Rumble activated his com link. "Rumble to Soundwave," he hailed, almost if to report the weather.

Neither Autobot moved, but simply watched the exchange, as though it were the most natural thing in the world. "Soundwave here. Report," came the monotone voice.

"Two Autobots sighted," Rumble replied.

"State names and activity."

Rumble paused, head cocked as though still not quite sure that he was seeing what he was seeing. "It's Sideswipe and Sunstreaker," he said, much too calmly. "And they seem to be shaving a llama."

Dead silence.

The silence dragged, and at length Frenzy tilted his head as well, and asked quite casually, "Why…are you shaving a llama?"

Both brothers looked at one another, and Sideswipe shut off the clippers, silencing its hum. Sunstreaker tilted a look back toward Frenzy. "Why are you here?" he retorted.

"I asked you first, slagball," Frenzy shot back, and in a blink, the spell was over, the eerily inane twilight zone moment resolved itself back into the more easily-understood scenario of Autobot versus Decepticon. Both Autobots stood up to tower over the cassettes, who shrank back a bit at the relatively hulking warriors. The half-shorn llama bucked and scrambled away, bleating and hornking.

"Sunstreaker to headquarters," Sunstreaker sent, and Sideswipe hoped they weren't already being jammed.

By some incredible luck, they weren't. Either Soundwave thought his troops were playing some kind of joke, or he hadn't quite assessed the situation enough to warrant blocking the air waves. He would now, though, if he were anywhere in the vicinity. Jazz's voice sounded over the link. "What's shakin' bacon?"

"Decepticons sighted at Portland Zoo," Sunstreaker reported. "Rumble, Frenzy, and possibly Soundwave."

"Dang," Jazz came back, "An' I was hopin' to watch Saturday Night Live. What are those clowns up to?"

"Well," Sunstreaker frowned, "they're sorta just standing here."

Jazz paused, then spoke up. "Uh, roger, dodger. We're on—"

The com link squawked, cut to static, and Sunstreaker offered Sideswipe a smirk and a shrug. "Guess Soundwave's here after all."

"Well, then I guess we better start smacking these two around," Sideswipe suggested, and hooked a thumb in the cassettes' direction.

"W-wait!" Frenzy held up his hands. "You're Autobots! An' we ain't done nothin' yet! Can't a guy go to the zoo?"

To which Sideswipe gave the response of kicking Frenzy squarely in the arse. Or was it Rumble? Slaggit, who cared? Snatching the red one over his head, Sideswipe took a few steps back, hollered a lusty, "Sunny, go long!" and hurled the little cassette with all his might.

It was a pretty good toss, alright, smack into the cow pen, which Sideswipe was pretty sure didn't smell all that wonderful. 'Course, all it did was bang Frenzy around a bit, which made him mad, and when Frenzy was mad, all kinds of psychedelic audio-hell broke loose, which was exactly what happened next.

Frame-wrenching, strut-jarring shrieks tore all through Sideswipe's body, making drop and convulse. He clawed at his audios as a fraction of his mind realized he was defenseless against Rumble, who could only be an arm's length away, and armed with what Sideswipe knew were very effective piledrivers. Fortunately for him, however, Frenzy hadn't bothered to warn his partner of his impending assault, and out of the corners of his optics, Sideswipe caught sight of Rumble rolling around in agony right next to him. Which of course triggered Sideswipe's sense of funny, making him snicker even through the awful pain, so much so that when Sunstreaker, (who had kept his head a bit better), put an electron pulse through Frenzy's midsection and ended his attack, Sideswipe just kept right on laughing.

Matter of fact, he rolled right over on his back and guffawed, earning a cold look from his brother, and a stupefied stare from Rumble. Another eerie silence settled over the yard, save of course for the raucous noise of Sideswipe's laughter, which got even louder when it occurred to Sideswipe that through some odd twist of cosmic fate, they were all taking a commercial break from the war.

"Dude," Rumble got up and dusted himself off, "what's wrong with yer stupid brother?"

Sunstreaker narrowed his optics. "He's stupid. That's what. What's wrong with your stupid partner?"

"Frenzy?" Rumble looked up at the yellow warrior. "Oh, he's stupid, too."

The two blinked at one another. "Soundwave's on his way, you know, along with all the other of us tapes," Rumble informed the much bigger Autobot, most likely to forestall his own demise.

On the ground, Sideswipe hooted.

Sunstreaker raised a brow. "Yeah? So's Superion."

"Oh." Rumble toed the ground. "Well, that kinda sucks."

"Kinda." Sunstreaker aimed a kick at Sideswipe. "Get up, retard."

Sideswipe looked up at his brother's annoyed face, and seeing it paired with Rumble's look of concern that Sideswipe might just be rabid or something, the red warrior couldn't help another fit of explosive laughter.

Sunstreaker sighed. "So, if I try to drag my imbecile brother out of here, you're going to shoot me in the back, aren't you?"

Rumble nodded. "Probably."

"Or," Sunstreaker pointed out, "I could just beat the slag out of you, and then drag him outta here." He took aim at Rumble's head.

"Wait!" Rumble summoned his own weapon, business end first, and tossed it carefully away. "I'm unarmed! Yer an Autobot!"

"I'm a mean Autobot," Sunstreaker pointed out.

"True," Rumble shot back. "But yer a mean Autobot who shaves llamas by light of the full moon, so whassat about?"

Mouth open, Sunstreaker halted mid-response. He furrowed his brow and pressed his mouth into an angry line as he searched for some appropriate thing to say in regards to the entirely ridiculous situation. "It was his idea," was all he could come up with.

"Naked…dancing llama," Sideswipe wheezed, and fell back to giggling.

"You guys are dumb," Rumble opined as he stared down at the Autobot rolling absurdly about on the ground.

"Yeah, well, at least we're not short." Sunstreaker snapped off a shot, effectively destroying Rumble's weapon, before subspacing his own gun. He then stooped to grab hold of Sideswipe, and lifted him into a fireman's carry. Sideswipe, throughout the ordeal, simply could not stop himself from laughing. "Well," Sunstreaker offered the Decepticon in parting, "I hope you trip and break your face or something."

"Yeah?" Rumble puffed himself up. "Well, I hope you do the same! Twice!"

Sunstreaker turned his back and hurried away, Sideswipe jouncing painfully across his shoulders. "Break a leg, short stuff!" he called over his shoulder.

To which Rumble replied, "Same to you, ya llama shaver!"


As it turned out, the Aerialbots did show up pretty quickly, as did Soundwave, who rapidly put it together that he and his tapes were fairly outmatched. Sunstreaker was finally able to coax Sideswipe back to the land of the sober, and together they raced back to the Ark, the Aerialbots shadowing them in case of emergency.

Prowl was waiting when they got back. It was well into the small hours of the morning, and the tactician did not look at all pleased to be plunked behind his desk, and in the company of either Sideswipe or Sunstreaker. On the other hand, however, he didn't look entirely displeased, either.

"You know the CDC was broken into," the tactician informed them. "It seems the Decepticons were after some of the humans' more deadly toxins, apparently in an effort to bring themselves up to speed in the area of biological warfare. Monkeys for their testing were to be stolen from the Portland Zoo. It's a good thing you were there."

From his wry tone, it didn't sound like Prowl thought it was a good thing. Not that Sideswipe cared a whit. He puffed up his chest, beaming proudly. "Happy to be of service, sir!" Sideswipe crowed, and if it was obvious that he was mocking Prowl, the tactician didn't bother to show that he noticed.

"Stop being happy," Prowl deadpanned. "It is too late, and I am too tired, for your brand of happiness."

"Right away, sir!" Sideswipe replied merrily.

Prowl glowered. "Now, before I go handing out medals of achievement to all parties, does either of you mind telling me what exactly you two were doing at the Portland Zoo?"

"Just looking at the animals," Sunstreaker answered with his brother's level of innocence.

"Really. Then what is this report I have about a half-shaven llama?" Prowl regarded them both in turn, optics weary and completely void of patience.

But Sideswipe was too quick to allow any sort of guilty silence to hang in the air. "That poor llama," he lamented. "We have no idea what Rumble and Frenzy were doing to the thing, but we tried to set it free. Figured that if it was important to the humans, you'd want us to help the little guy out."

Not that Prowl was buying it. Then again, Prowl was dead tired, not to mention all Sideswiped-out even though he'd only seen the red warrior for a grand total of two and a half minutes so far that day, and it seemed he might just be willing to buy their story, if only to get rid of the brothers that much quicker. "I should put you in the brig," he stated.

"But you said," Sideswipe hurried to inform him, "that if you heard my name again 'today', you'd send me to the brig. But that was yesterday when you said it, and so now you really have no reason –"

"Get out of my office."


Sideswipe and Sunstreaker both departed before Prowl could change his mind, and they stumbled to their quarters to catch what was left of a night's sleep. Sunstreaker was good and mad, having wasted his entire day off, not to mention half the night, when he was going to have to get up for duty in a few hours and just knew he was going to feel like warmed-over slag.

"You suck," he informed his brother as he dropped onto his recharge berth.

Sideswipe climbed up to the bunk above, and hung his head down over the side, grinning upside-down. "But admit it – you had fun."

Sunstreaker lifted his head, and glared blearily in his brother's direction. "Let me make myself even more clear. You," he pointed at Sideswipe's inverted head, "meaning the stupid, red jerk who sleeps on the bunk above mine, suck. You suck. You, red psycho freak, suck the skidplate off of Superion's aft end, so great is the quality of your suckage. I am never wasting my day off on you again, so don't even ask. Now shut your energon-guzzling hole and let me get some sleep." With that, he turned over in a huff, and curled himself into an angry ball.

"Sheesh," Sideswipe said, and pulled himself back up to his own berth, where he lay smiling at the ceiling. "G'night, Sunny."

"Burn in the Inferno."

Sideswipe grinned, shifted himself, and laced his fingers behind his head as he began to cycle down. Well, now that had been worth it. Oh, he was pretty sure he'd be scrubbing something by morning, once Prowl found out about the two of them doing over a hundred and fifty miles per hour down the freeway. Yup, Prowl had more to come, the poor bastard, and Sideswipe almost felt a twinge of pity for him. Almost. Ah well. 'Least Sunny would be polishing the floors right there with him, since Sideswipe hadn't been the only one doing ninety-five miles an hour over the speed limit, and he was pretty sure he could count on Sunny to blow a gasket sometime around mid-afternoon the next day, and then they'd get into a fight, and…well, in the end, they'd all be having fun, especially Prowl, who'd have to deal with them all over again for infighting.

Sideswipe smiled. Some days were just worth it, no matter how much effort and penalty you ended up putting into them. Because for all the long days of drudgery and rule-following, there was always that one, shining, perfect autumn day when you got to tear off down the road, ditch the cops, and terrorize your local, neighborhood llama. And that was living. And it was worth it, every moment of floor scrubbing, even if you had to use a toothbrush, because some days you just got sick of being an Autobot.

Besides, any time you get to see a dancing llama is worth your trouble. Cuz buddy, that llama sure could dance.