Disclaimer: I don't own them
So... I realize I'm not the first one to have the idea, but hopefully I'll be able to add a new angle.
Barricade suppressed a groan and let his optics flicker to life. The lights on the ceiling of the Ark's medbay seemed to grin back at him. He ignored them and had a look at his systems.
Everything was working to capacity and was free of any error messages – something he hadn't experienced in a vorn or so – which proved the Autobots had indeed followed through with the promise to patch him up. Of course, he'd paid for that by the loss of all weapons and a considerable part of his sensors and scanners, but being free of pain and having gotten most of the reactor insulation replaced, he was quite happy to have made the deal.
A small noise made him turn his head, and there was Prowl, sitting at his bedside like the faithful family that he wasn't. First things first, Barricade sat, because he wouldn't argue with his dear brother while lying down.
"Here to gloat?" Barricade rasped at him.
"Don't be silly," Prowl said.
Silly little Barricade – some things never changed. "If I'd realized you'd be here, I'd have stayed away and let my reactor fall apart," he concluded.
Prowl gave him a shocked look. Nice to see that it still worked. "This is not a joking matter."
"No? Either you're here to gloat or to pity me." And he'd rather die than be treated to either.
"Barricade…" Prowl began, seeming rather helpless, then shook his head. "If you want to believe that, go ahead."
"Or maybe I'll believe that you talked Prime into letting me live just so you wouldn't feel guilty anymore."
That garnered an all too familiar sigh. "If you'd just-"
"And now it's my fault. That's too convenient."
"Barricade", Prowl repeated with a little more force. "Either act like the grown-up you are or shut up."
"You don't even realize you're being patronizing."
And another sigh. Prowl leaned back in his chair and looked up at Barricade. "This is idiotic," he declared. "I don't know what it is about you that makes me act like a sparkling."
That was new. Barricade felt his face twitch. "It's always been like this."
"That doesn't mean it's right," Prowl said. "I have no wish to revert to the bad old orns."
"Bad old orns?" Good way of putting it.
"You never realized how much I hated you at times, didn't you?"
"Ditto," Barricade said. In truth, he'd been shouted at enough to have gotten an idea, and he'd shouted back even more.
Prowl was quiet for a few moments. "This is the sanest conversation we've ever had," he stated eventually.
Probably. Barricade waited him out, because he had no idea if he'd manage to keep it that way. It was nice being treated like an equal, this once.
"I kept watch because you're the only one left," Prowl added after another stretch of silence.
It wasn't really a reason. Barricade knew that they were the only ones of their extended family to survive this war; he had studied the archives, at least as long as they'd still been working.
"What about that boyfriend of yours?"
There'd been a few? Huh. "The blue guy… Cater-something."
"Cataract? I don't know. We broke up even before you enrolled in the academy." Prowl got a faraway look. "And currently there's only nineteen known survivors of the war."
Nineteen. Of one billion. True, there were a few seeker types out there that Starscream hadn't wanted to wait for, but it was a desperate little number nevertheless. There wasn't anything of Cybertron left that was worth ruling. And yet Prime was still doing so in the face of extinction. It was downright depressing.
To change the subject, he asked, "Care to tell me about the other boyfriends?"
Prowl's optic ridges moved slightly. "I'll have you know that I'm bonded to Jazz."
Bonded. Right. Sure. To that little silver troublemaker with the big mouth.
"I do know how to have fun, you see," Prowl said, and there was an amused glint in his optics.
"Who would've thought," Barricade grumbled.
Prowl grinned at him, suddenly. "I'm well aware that I must have been the primary example of dull to you."
Yeah. Prowl had been the kind of youngling who did his homework and duties without having to be prodded. Sometimes Barricade had wondered if someone had exchanged his actual brother for that well-behaved drone. "You were a conformist."
Prowl grinned at him. "And you were a spoiled brat."
Barricade felt the beginnings of another insult in his voice modulator and stopped himself. He was supposed to get on with these people for the foreseeable future, and here he was about to antagonize the only mech on base who would be willing to take his side. It was stupid, but old habits died hard. "Yes," he said eventually. "I suppose I was."
"Well, I suppose we both were being brats," Prowl said and stood. "I'll show you where you'll be staying."
Barricade ran a last systems check and then carefully got to his feet.
"It's just the free hangar, because we don't want you around the ships just yet," Prowl continued. "We can have a look at it and then fetch whatever you need from storage."
Barricade followed without protest. Until now he'd never realized that having an older brother might be a good thing.