Disclaimer: Not mine, nor am I making any money off of this. The only thing I own are the twisted, and cracky, ideas circulating around in my head.

Thanks: To yankeesailor for being a wonderful beta and a great sounding-board. You can all thank her for continually feeding my bunnies and for egging me on whenever I get these cracky ideas. XP

"The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply."

--Kahlil Gibran

"Red, aw com'on, Red, you tol' me ya'd be rehda tonight." Inferno propped himself against the doorway of Red Alert's security room and banged on the door once again.

"I'm busy right now, Inferno." The security camera swiveled back to stare unblinkingly at him. Inferno knew from personal experience that Red Alert had four other hidden cameras covering the doorway and the hallway around the outside of his security room.

"And Ah don't care!" Inferno grumbled. "Ah'm not leaving so ya should jus' open the door so Ah can talk to ya face ta face." He couldn't hear Red Alert's sigh of frustration but the fire truck knew his friend enough to know how he operated. The SD hated to be pulled away from his post, even when he wasn't on duty.

Inferno knew that Red sometimes recharged in the security room and did not return to his quarters for days on end. He kept that particular secret to himself since he knew Prime and Ratchet would blow a head gasket if they'd known about Red's obsessive little secret. But Inferno also knew that his friend couldn't recharge properly if something was weighing on his mind. And sometimes, the best way to get Red Alert to recharge was to place him in the stifling confines of his security room where the monitors bathed the darkened room in their flickering glow of colors.

From what little he knew about Red Alert's past and what he'd seen of where he'd grown up, Inferno knew the security director clung to his monitoring post much like a sparkling clung to a favorite toy or security blanket. It was hardly the most well-adjusted way for a grown mech to function, but who was Inferno to point fingers?

The door clicked and slid open as the variety of locks disengaged. A rather peeved looking Red Alert stood there glowering at Inferno with annoyed optics. "What part of 'I'm busy' don't you understand, Inferno?"

"What part of 'ya need ta get out ahnd get some proper energon' don't ya understahnd?" Inferno drawled right back. "Ya've been locked in thar fer two days. I've been countin', ya know."


"No. Yer getting outta there. Can'tcha smell yerself?"

"I do not smell!"

"No, but yer room is stahtin' to," Inferno wrinkled his nose to demonstrate. The security room did have a musty, stale-energon smell wafting from it.

"Oh! You are impossible, you know that?" Red Alert threw his hands up in defeat.

His friend just grinned that slow, charming grin of his. "Of course. Ya wouldn't have meh any otha way."

"Don't bet on that." Red Alert muttered direly.

Inferno just grinned and grabbed him by one arm and started to tug him away from his security room. "Ya need some energon, some fresh air and maybe even some real recharge."

"I've got too much to do, Inferno."

"Yeah, like get some energon an' some fresh air," Inferno just crossed his arms over his chest in that stubborn way of his. The set of his jaw told Red Alert that his best friend wasn't going to budge on this.

"Oh, for the love of Primus."

"Love of mah friend, is mohre like it! Now git yer aft in gear, Red, I'm hungrah too."

Venting noisily, Red Alert turned and made sure the door was locked and secured before he let himself be pulled away by his overbearing friend. "One of these days, I hope you'll mature enough to not have to resort to blackmail and manhandling to get your point across."

The fire truck just grinned beatifically. "Yeah, that'll be tha day' won't it?

Shaking his head with open disgust, Red Alert refused to justify that statement with a reply.

A cube of energon later, Red Alert and Inferno were perched on the look-out outside the Autobot base. The security officer had blinked a bit as the sunlight dazzled his optics when they'd stepped outside. Barring the occasional mission and patrol, it had been forever since Red Alert had just gone outside to sit and enjoy nature.

He was remembering why.

Dust was getting into his transformation cogs, and a line of ants seemed to think his foot was a wonderful place to explore. The tickle of their feet was driving the over-sensitive SD crazy and he finally had to jump up and move away from all the nature.

"Red! Dangit, ya need ta relax!" Inferno groaned and climbed up to follow his friend.

"How do you expect me to relax out here?! There's dirt and insects and who knows how many enemy spies just waiting to get the drop on us."

"Red, com'on, don't be so paranoid." Shaking his head, Inferno wrapped an arm around his buddy's shoulders and started to steer him back towards the Ark. "Ya wanna go inside, we'll go inside. But yer still goin' ta enjoy yer afternoon off. Prahm's orders."

"Afternoon!? Inferno! You never told me I was supposed to take the entire afternoon off!"

"Oh, Ah fergot ta tell ya?" Inferno blinked with feigned innocence. "Ah'm sorrah." Unrepentantly, he grinned down at the Lamboghini. "Yer s'posed ta take a 'mental health' day accordin' to both Prahm and Ratchet's orders."

"You tricked me! Ugh."

"Ah did not. Ah jus' left out a few pertinent details."

"Hmph! I'm going to my quarters."

"Uh uh. Yer locked out. Same fer the security room. Prowl's orders."


"Yes, Red?" With the smile of an angel, the fire truck held onto his squirming friend when he tried to pull away in a huff. "Don' be mad at meh, Red. Ah was jus' followin' orders."

"And enjoying every second of my discomfort!"

"Nah, not every second."

The high strung Red Alert just glared angrily at his friend but settled down once they approached Inferno's quarters. At least here he could feel slightly safe.

Red wouldn't let anyone into his quarters and the fire truck knew better than to press the issue. There were just certain neuroses his friend had that were better left alone. . So whenever they needed to relax, it was always his own quarters they would retire to. "Ah got us a few more cubes of energon and Ah rented a few movies fer us to watch."

"Backdraft?" Red Alert visibly perked up at mention of movies. He loved the human movie Backdraft. It was filled with conspiracy, fire fighting and enough intrigue to keep his interest.

"O' course." Smiling broadly, Inferno keyed in the code to his door. "Ah know how much ya like watchin' that movie."

"Uh huh, and who's the one who always gets revved up when they rescue the woman from the factory?"

"Okay, so we both like ta watch it."

The two friends settled down onto the floor in front of Inferno's entertainment center. The VHS tape was placed into the tape player and the grainy human movie started to play. "We really do need to find some way of converting human entertainment programming to Cybertronian standards. These video tapes are so primitive," Red Alert complained.

"Nah, Ah like it. Kinda charming." Chuckling to himself, Inferno took a sip from his cube and dug out a box of energon goodies. "Here, in case we get the hungry."

Red Alert shot his best friend a sharp look. "Are you trying to get over-energized?"

"Nah, a few little cubes and some goodies ain't enough ta get me over-energized."

"Uh huh… I'm not holding the bucket if you make yourself sick."

"The sign of a true friend, heh?" Inferno grinned playfully and turned his attention to the movie as it began.

By the time they'd gotten to the racier parts of the movie, Red Alert found his interest waning like always. "I never understood why those humans decided on such a ridiculous place for carrying on." Despite Inferno's assurances, Red was a little bit over-charged after three cubes and half a box of energon goodies.

"What? It's the thrill of discovery. Ain't ya ever fooled around in a risky place before?" Inferno shot a calculating look his way.

"Of course not!" Vaguely shocked and not a little uncomfortable, Red Alert squirmed under Inferno's scrutiny. "I never understood taking such a pointless risk. If you're caught up in the moment, then you're vulnerable to discovery or even attack."

Cycling air raggedly, Inferno let his head fall back against the berth and looked at the ceiling in open exasperation. "Red, have ya ever done a single risky thing in yer whole dahmed life?"

"You mean aside from joining the Autobots and being your best friend?"

"Smart aft," the fire truck accused without any real rancor.

"Well, what did you expect me to say?"

"Ah dunno, maybe some juicy details about yer past romances? Prahmus knows ya prolly know all about mine."

"That's because you're an irrepressible gossip, Inferno," Red Alert pointed out deadpan. "That and you always get all blubbering and upset whenever your latest flame dies out."

"Ah do not!"

"You most certainly do. Should I make a list?" Cocking an eyebrow ridge, Red Alert raised one hand as if to start ticking off a list of names. Inferno laughed and grabbed his fingers in his own.

"Don't ya dare!" he mock-threatened. "Nothin' wrong with trying to find love."

"It's where you're searching for that love that concerns me," Red Alert muttered caustically. The warm grip of Inferno's fingers around his sent a strange little tingle up his arm.

"Aww shucks, Red, yer the one who worries me. When are ya going to let yer guard down and let someone close to you." Inferno was staring at him with an almost uncomfortable intensity in his optics now. "Even you must have needs sometimes. No mech can live his life completely untouched."

Red Alert was now fully uncomfortable and he pulled his hand away from Inferno's and sat up straight. Embarrassment kept him from looking at his friend and he missed the hurt on the fire truck's face at yet another quiet rejection. "Sure you can. Not everything in this world revolves around your next overload, you know."

"It's not jus' about overloading, Red." A troubled frown now touching his face, Inferno stared at the pale planes of Red Alert's profile. "It's about the intimacy and the sharin' of that part of yerself that you don't share with anyone else."

Red Alert wanted to protest and tell Inferno that he already shared all those parts of himself with the fire truck as it was. And wasn't that enough? He wanted to ask that but didn't dare. Slaggit, why did Inferno insist on staring at him like that!? How was he supposed to think when Inferno kept staring at him like that?! "Inferno—I…"

"Don't ya evah get lonely, Red?" Inferno prompted softly. His optics had dimmed and an intense expression overtook the firetruck's faceplates.

"No, of course not." Red Alert tried to protest. "Why should I be lonely?"

"How can ya not be lonely? Ya stay holed up in yer security room unless a mission or Ah drag ya out. Ya never stop to experience life outside of yer monitors and ya rarely socialize with anyone else—"

"I have you," the Lamborghini interrupted quietly.

Visibly taken aback, Inferno's mouth open and closed like a fish out of water. It was a comical expression on a mechanical being.

"Isn't that enough?" Now it was Red Alert's turn to look intense. Fervent blue optics turned on Inferno and pinned him with an assessing look. "Why do I need anyone else? I trust you, Inferno. Trusting anyone else would only double the chances of betrayal or hurt. I know what the others think of me. They all think I'm a paranoid nutcase so it's not like I'm ever going to find someone I can get close to here among the Autobots."

"Red, it ain't like that… "

"Yes it is, Inferno. I don't mind though. So long as I can do my job, I don't care if they think I'm crazy. But I'm not going to risk compromising my work or emotional detachment by getting involved with someone. Because when you're in a relationship with someone, you blind yourself to their faults and I can't afford to be blinded or go all misty-opticed over someone."

This was an old argument of theirs and a frustrating one. Inferno was tired of watching his best friend turn himself inside out emotionally in the name of performing his job. Red Alert was so dedicated to the Autobot cause that he literally gave it his whole spark. The problem with that kind of fanaticism and obsession was that it left no room for the spark to nurture any other emotion.

"How can ya know what yer fightin' for if ya never dare ta live the life yer trying to protect, Red?"

"I still see what's going on, Inferno. I don't have to experience it in order to know how something feels."

"But that ain't livin'! That's just a sham of a half life where ya hide behind yer monitors and never know real joy or happiness!" It came out before Inferno had a chance to think about the impact of his words. He was always saying the wrong thing. The red mech realized his mistake when he watched Red Alert's expression turn guarded and cold.

The Lamborghini visibly withdrew from him both physically and emotionally as he hid behind all the walls and protective boundaries he'd put up to keep everyone at arms length. "Well, I'm sorry my choice of lifestyle is so repulsive to you. Not all of us can rashly run into every situation without a care for the outcome of the consequences of our actions." The red and white mech stood a trifle unsteadily. Ignoring the confusing swirl of hurt and outrage constricting his spark, Red Alert just glared angrily down at the abashed looking Inferno for an instant before he swept out of the room.

He didn't slam the door or provide any other kind of emotional outburst, but the frigid air radiating from the Lamborghini seemed to freeze Inferno in his tracks. For an instant, he'd started to chase after him but had stopped when he saw the sharp gleam in Red Alert's optics. It was rare for them to fight but when they did, it could take days or weeks for the Lamborghini to get over it. For such a serious and dedicated mech, the SD could be shockingly immature and even petty when his emotions had been hurt.

Sagging in defeat, Inferno banged a fist against the ground and bit back a frustrated growl. "Stupid. Slagging idiot aft-headed fool."

Red Alert stalked through the hallways of the Ark with barely restrained anger twisting around inside him. He liked to think he was slow to anger but this entire day had turned into one giant test of his patience after another. Inferno's words still rang in his memory banks and caused a fresh wave of pained outrage to run through the security director. How dare Inferno say those things! He wouldn't know responsibility if it came up and bit him on the aft!

By the time Red Alert had reached Prowl's office, he'd worked himself up into a wonderful tizzy. The Lamborghini took a moment to compose himself before stabbing the button to open the door--but it stayed sealed. Puzzlement mingled with irritation now because Prowl never locked his door unless he was off-shift or in his quarters. And since Red Alert knew he was working on reports today, the second in command should have been in. Puzzlement turned to alarm when the Lamborghini's hyper-sensitive hearing picked up the faint sounds of what could have been a struggle coming from behind Prowl's door. Metal clanged faintly against metal and there was a low groan.

Alarm now shot through him and Red Alert hurriedly typed in his security override while pulling out his weapon. When the door opened, he ducked behind the doorway in case he got shot at. When no one fired at him, the paranoid sports car peeked around to look into Prowl's office. What he saw was not the struggling mortal combat between Decepticon and Autobot that he'd been expecting. Prowl was the Autobots' second-in-command and it was possible that the 'cons had decided to try and assassinate him. But this was no assassination attempt. Instead, if the horrified security mech had to venture a guess, it looked like the second and third in command were right in the middle of interfacing. Jazz had the Datsun laying on his back across the desk so all the Lamborghini could see was his superior's wanton expression and the tops of what he assumed were Jazz's stubby horns. At least, he assumed it was Jazz; Red didn't really want to dwell on just who it was that had their face pressed up on the underside of Prowl's bumper.

Just about the time Red Alert processed what was going on, Prowl powered up his optics and stared upside down at Red for one horrified moment. Then, the police car yelped and shoved Jazz off of him, sending the saboteur crashing into the wall behind Prowl's desk. For one comical moment, the tactician floundered around gracelessly as he tried to roll around and fight with his door-wings at the same time. "Red Alert!" he snapped. "Have you never heard of privacy!?"

"Don't you take that tone with me! I heard a struggle and thought you were being attacked!" Red snapped right back at him. Any other day he would have been too shocked and startled to argue, but he was feeling angry and rash enough to take on Prime himself if needs be. "As director of security, I have a right to enter any premises if I think a security breach is occurring. And you being under attack would count as such a breach. So back down, Prowl."

The tactician was taken aback and he glanced back at a rather miffed-looking Jazz apologetically. Out of sight, his hand reached down to grab the saboteur's in a brief squeeze. Jazz just shrugged and settled down on the floor behind Prowl's desk. No sense in advertising his presence even though Red Alert had probably seen more than he ever wanted to.

"What can I do for you, Red Alert?" Prowl righted the chair that had been knocked over in the throes of passion. Jazz tried to fight back a frustrated whimper. He just loved it when Prowl tried to put on that serious professional attitude. Especially when Jazz knew his lover was turned on and straining to retain that professional composure. The imp of mischief inside Jazz demanded he take advantage of this priceless situation and he reached out a hand to stroke the warm metal plating and cables of Prowl's thigh.

Jazz was gratified to feel Prowl jerk minutely and a sly grin crossed his face when the tactician shot him a warning glare.

"I want you to unlock my blasted door. This is ridiculous and childish. Locking me out like I'm a slagging Sparkling!?" Red Alert demanded hotly.

"I can't--Prime's orders," Prowl reminded him stiffly.

"This is ridiculous, Prowl! Not to mention insulting."

"I cannot contradict Prime's orders, Red Alert." Prowl was fighting hard to keep his composure, but it was so hard when Jazz was petting and stroking the sensitive wiring of his inner thigh armor.

"Right--because you're too busy screwing Jazz on your desk," Red Alert snarled. He deliberately used the human term since it was far more vulgar and spiteful sounding. Inferno would no doubt be disappointed in him, but Red Alert had a habit of being petty at times.

"That will be enough of that, Red Alert," Prowl's voice dropped to frigid levels. Even Jazz stopped and started to rise when Prowl laid a hand on his shoulder in an unspoken command to stay quiet.

Red Alert had the grace to look momentarily ashamed. "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for," he muttered sullenly. "But so is this ridiculous treatment! Just let me in my quarters so I can go and relax like ordered. Weren't those the orders? For me to stop working and take an afternoon off? How do you expect me to relax when I'm locked out of my own fragging quarters?"

Prowl cycled air in a ragged sigh and it took less than half an astroclick for his battle computer to tell him that there was no way the excitable security officer was going to relax or stop stressing if he continued to remain locked out of his quarters. "Fine. But if I find out you've started working, I'm going to be extremely irked," he warned the SD as he tapped in a few keys on the keyboard to unlock the doors to Red Alert's quarters. "You're to remain off-duty until 0700 tomorrow."

"What!?" Outrage brightened Red Alert's optics as he scowled rebelliously. "That wasn't what I was told."

"All the same, it's obvious this forced vacation hasn't worked so far, so we'll try a longer stretch of time to see if that does you any good."

The Lamborghini glared at Prowl. "You're doing this deliberately!"

"I am not, I am merely trying to see to your health. Ratchet and Prime both ordered me to find a way of forcing you to take this mini-break, and you're going to take it, Red Alert. Is that clear?"

"… crystal." If looks could kill, Prowl would have been dead at Jazz's feet. Red Alert was far too independent and self-righteous a mech to take this kind of bullying lightly. Even though Prowl and the others just had his best interests at spark.

"Fine then, I'll see you tomorrow morning." Prowl said calmly. The unspoken dismissal hung between the two clashing mechs, silently adding to the tension.

Red Alert nodded sharply and turned on his heel to walk out the door. It was a move as precise as any taught in a military academy but Prowl wasn't fooled by the neurotic security officer's soldier-like attitude. He knew Red Alert better than that and once the Lamborghini had left his office, he punched in a few more keys to lock down Red Alert's computer and the monitoring systems inside his quarters.

Prowl got the feeling the security director was going to regret ever creating security measures like this that would allow the first and second in command to access anyone's computer on the Ark and shut them down if need be. It was designed to keep delicate data from falling into the wrong hands but Prowl was using it for far more… creative purpose. "Oh, he's going to be livid when he gets back to his quarters."

"Oh?" Amused and a bit unnerved at the same time, Jazz climbed to his knees so he could lean up and turn his attention to the grill in Prowl's hood. Jazz knew from personal experience to never trust that gleam in Prowl's optics. It never boded well. "What did you do now?" It didn't stop the nosy spy from wanting to know what Prowl was up to of course.

"I locked down his computer systems and monitors. Now he'll have no chance to cheat and try and sneak in work when he should be relaxing."

The Porsche snickered and pulled back from his administrations long enough to shoot Prowl a sultry look. "That's just evil."

"Call it what you will," Prowl dead-panned.

"And you're sexy when you're being evil." Unabashed, Jazz pulled his lover down so he could kiss him firmly.

"And you're completely without shame. We should stop before this gets out of hand." The stodgy tactician started to pull away.

"Oh no you don't!" Jazz laughed, half in protest, half in outrage and grabbed onto one of Prowl's chevrons to keep him from pulling back. "I didn't trade my shift with Ironhide just to watch you play with your computer. You're going to pay attention to me and I'm going to show you a taste of your own medicine."

The Datsun just cocked an optic ridge.

"Red Alert isn't the only one who needs to learn how to relax." With a sly, calculating grin, Jazz pulled Prowl down for another kiss. "And make sure the door really is locked this time."

"Already did." Prowl's voice was huskier now.

"Good mech, I love that you're always so prepared." With one last low chuckle, Jazz tugged Prowl down out of his chair and those were the last words spoken for a while.

Red Alert found his temper little improved by the time the next day rolled around. Contrary to what Prime and the sneaky command staff had been hoping for, the security director's forced downtime had done little to calm his frazzled nerves or improve his attitude. At exactly 0701, he was at the door of his security room and keying in his code to get in. After an astro-click too long, the door opened and the SD shut and locked it behind him.

No amount of pestering could pry him from his monitors and rumors again started to circulate the Ark that Red Alert was sulking once more. Around mid-day Prowl demanded entry to the security room but he was the only one to see the security director and even that visit didn't last very long.

Inferno gave him his space and didn't try and pry his friend from his security room. He expected Red Alert to give him the cold shoulder for at least another few days.

So when he returned to his quarters to find Red Alert lurking outside the door, the fire truck couldn't have been more surprised. "Red!" There was no disguising the honest relief and happiness on Inferno's face as he approached the Lamborghini. Beneath the happiness, however, apprehension simmered nervously.

"Inferno," Red Alert murmured tersely as he looked around. His paranoid surveillance of his surroundings was not unusual however so Inferno paid the neurotic security director no mind.

"Do you… err… want to come in?" A bit unnerved, Inferno entered the code to his quarters and motioned for the smaller mech to precede him into the room. There was a nervous tension in Red Alert's gait that Inferno easily interpreted to be anxiety and apprehension. He wanted to ask his friend what was going on but past experience had taught the fire truck that Red Alert would talk when he was good and ready. Any attempts to pry information out of him before he was comfortable would just make the security officer clam up more.

So instead, an uncomfortable silence reigned between the two friends once they entered Inferno's quarters. Unlike the day before, the easy camaraderie and affection was lacking and a strange sort of tension stretched between them.

"Look, Red, Ah wanna apologize fer yesterday," Inferno was the first one to break. He couldn't handle the tense silence anymore and restlessly paced the suddenly cramped space of his quarters until he realized he didn't know whether he wanted to stand or sit. The fire truck was torn down to his spark. He wanted to stride up to his friend and just make him understand how awful he felt for his unthinking words the day before, while the other part of him was afraid of what Red wanted to say and wanted to run as far away as he could.

Red Alert visibly tensed when Inferno mentioned their altercation but the Lamborghini knew this would come up and had to steel himself not to lose focus on his reason for coming here. He'd spent the entirety of the night before analyzing and replaying Inferno's comments until all hopes of recharge became a lost cause. "I should apologize as well," the Lamborghini finally said a trifle stiffly.

For another uncomfortable moment, both mechs stared at one another from the corner of their optics. "I over-reacted," Red Alert was the one who broke the silence this time. "I shouldn't have taken what you said so personally, especially since I know you're just trying to help."

"Ah didn't mean ta hurt yer feelings, Red," Inferno tried to put in.

"I know that!" the security mech said a bit too sharply. "I know you never mean to hurt me, Inferno. But it's not easy to remember when my emotional programming gets involved."

"Aw, Red, Ah'm sorrah." Inferno couldn't stand to see that troubled expression on his friend's faceplates and he laid his hands on top of the red and white mech's shoulders with an easy sort of affection. It never ceased to amaze Inferno that Red Alert, a mech who didn't let anyone close to him, would let him touch him so readily. To his knowledge, Red Alert wasn't affectionate or touchy-feely with anyone yet he still let Inferno touch him.

Of course, the fire truck had no idea how deeply even the most casual of touches could affect the over-sensitive security director. That was Red Alert's guilty little secret and one that he'd been trying to hide for vorns now. There were rumors that circulated occasionally about the SD and his best friend. The Autobots liked to gossip and Red Alert made for a prime target because he had never shown any sign of taking a lover or even letting anyone close enough to consider; nobody but Inferno that is. Anyone with optics in their head couldn't miss the way the two mechs were devoted to one another and there was an intimacy between them that seemed to go deeper than friendship.

Unfortunately for Red Alert, Inferno seemed to be woefully oblivious to those rumors and the subtle hints the Lamborghini had been trying to send to his friend for a while now. Fighting against a wave of despair, Red Alert tried not to shiver when Inferno's hands settled against the sensitive cables of his shoulders. "I'm okay," he whispered hoarsely and shuttered his optics. A slightly pained grimace stole across Red Alert's faceplates, however, contradicting his words.

"Red? What's wrong?" Concerned, Inferno frowned down at his friend.

"You do know that I meant it, right?" Red Alert stated quietly as his slowly powered-up his optics.

"Meant what?"

"I don't need anyone else," he said so softly that even Inferno's sharp audio receptors had trouble making out the words. "You seemed to think I'm lacking because I don't have anyone to share my recharge plate with."

Inferno had to grace to look chagrined. "Ah didn't mean for it ta come out like that, Red."

"Perhaps, and I shouldn't have reacted the way I did--but it stung. But you were only trying to help and I appreciate your concern, I really do, Inferno. Besides, I've already got someone."

"You do?" Inferno was visibly taken aback and for a moment, he looked confused and a little hurt that Red hadn't told him before. "Why didn't you tell meh! Do I know 'em?"

An unreadable expression was granted to Inferno then. Red Alert's optics narrowed slightly and the sudden intensity radiating from his friend made the fire and rescue vehicle distinctly uncomfortable.


"Primus, you're so thick sometimes, Inferno," Red Alert growled softly before he yanked the fire truck down to his level. Inferno barely had a chance to yelp in surprise before Red Alert covered his lips with his own.

The befuddled fire truck was frozen in place as he processed just what was going on. Logic and common sense clashed with an impetuous impulse to pull the flighty Lamborghini closer. In the end, impulse won out like always and Inferno slipped his arms around the security officer as he pulled him closer. Inferno was a little surprised at his reaction and his sudden enthusiasm for this strange, new development.

Finally, the smaller mech pulled away and looked up at Inferno with narrowed optics. "Does that answer your question?" Red Alert all but purred. Triumph and elation had Red Alert's spark jumping and pulsing erratically in its chamber. He delighted in the slightly dazed expression on Inferno's face, especially when his optics brightened and a wide, goofy grin stole over his lips.

"Uh huh," The fire-truck nodded and continued to grin foolishly. "But who's this other mech so Ah can go take care of mah competition?"

Red Alert stared up at him in dumbfounded shock. For one moment, he couldn't help but wonder if Inferno really was that stupid. But then, he noticed the gleam of mischief in the larger mech's optics and shock melted into indignation. "Inferno!" he smacked the other mech with a resounding clang.

Inferno's grin just widened as he laughed heartily at the indignant glare he received from the SD. "Aw, c'mm'on, Red! The look on yer face was just priceless!"

"Hmph!" Unamused, Red Alert crossed his arms across his chest and glowered at his friend.

"Don't be that way, Red," the larger mech wheedled and pulled him close enough to kiss again. Much to Inferno's delight, he felt Red Alert relax almost instantly. A devious and playful part of his processor wondered if he could now use kisses and snuggles as a way to buy his way back into Red's good graces. The fire truck decided there was no time like the present to find out and promptly set about discovering what exactly was needed to calm Red Alert's ruffled feathers.

"Hey, Prowler. Ya seen Red Alert anywhere?" Jazz peeked into his bondmate's office and froze as a calculating smirk slowly lifted the corners of Prowl's lips. The Datsun sat in front of his computer and didn't even bother to look at his lover as he read over the latest reports from Wheeljack.

"He's currently indisposed."

"…what did you do?" Both amused and alarmed, Jazz slunk in and sealed the door behind him.

"Hmmn?" Feigning innocence, Prowl glanced over at him with guileless optics.

"Don' give me that look, Prowler, I know you too well," Jazz's visor flashed with amusement and irritation. "What did ya do to poor Red this time?"

"I did nothing at all." Prowl sniffed and leaned back in his chair. "If nothing else, he should be thanking me."

"Oh, Primus," Jazz groaned and flopped down in the chair opposite Prowl's in a lazy sprawl. "What did you do?" he repeated with a bubble of laughter starting to break free from his vocalizer. "And is Ratchet going to have to defrag Red's processor again because of it?"

"Please, give me some credit," the Datsun arched an optic ridge but allowed that smug smile to slowly resurface. "I merely gave him some advice which I believe he took."

"Advice?" Suitably curious now, Jazz rested his elbows on Prowl's desk and leaned over to peer at the second-in-command's computer screen. It showed a schematic of the Ark with various colored dots indicating the current locations of all personnel. Prowl indicated a spot on the screen and Jazz grinned when he realized Red Alert's locator beacon was transmitting from within Inferno's quarters. "Oh ho… that kind 'o indisposed, eh?" the saboteur chortled.

Prowl merely smiled.

"Can ya bring up the cameras in Inferno's quarters?" Jazz asked with a mischievous grin.

"I can," his lover murmured. The Porsche's grin widened fractionally. "But I'm not going to."

"Aww! Come on, Prowler!" Jazz protested instantly.

"Absolutely not."

"But I'm curious!"

"I know you are. But I'm not going to break five different regulations just to satisfy your curiosity."

"It'd serve him right! You know he's prolly spied on us."

"Probably, but I'm not going to return the favor. Why do you want to know what they're up to anyway?" Prowl asked suspiciously.

"I got a bet goin' with Smokey."

Prowl twitched. "You what?" The subtle warning in Prowl's tone was not lost on Jazz.

"Eh heh, oh my, is that the time? I'm late!" Jazz jumped to his feet and grinned unrepentantly at his bondmate. "I'll talk to ya later, Prowler!" Before he could get pinned down by his irritated lover's stare, the Porsche beat a hasty retreat.

"Oh yes, we'll talk later, Jazz," Prowl promised grimly as the door slid shut behind the saboteur. Irritation faded as quickly as it flared up. When the Datsun glanced at the screen again, amusement slipped through him and he allowed himself another brief smirk before he buckled down and went back to work.