Two big warriors sat side by side on the couch in the center of the room. Both of them were sulking, though Sunstreaker was the only one actually focused on doing that. Sideswipe was torn between sulking and sneaking looks at the room around him.
They were in the central recreation room of Prowl's home, and that in itself was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Prowl never invited anyone to his living quarters. The twins had known him most of their adult lives, which wasn't very long because they were still young adults, but it was long enough to note that Prowl always kept his work and his personal life completely separate. Even acting on their best behavior had never been enough to earn an invitation to visit him.
But ironically, being their usual bad selves had earned that invitation.
Prowl was standing in front of where they sat, his arms folded. He looked more stern than they had ever seen him, and that was saying something.
"What am I going to do with you two?" he growled.
"You're asking us?" Sideswipe returned, playing innocent. He couldn't help leaning a little to stare at the huge vidscreen unit behind the Enforcer. Who knew that the no-nonsense Prowl, who had nothing but neat stacks of datapads and some carefully straightened knick-knacks in his office, would live in such luxury at home?
That had been the most shocking thing, to walk in the door and see first the colorful prints decorating the walls, then a haphazard pile of rifle parts, then the oversized couch right in front of the even more oversized entertainment center. Their concept of What Prowl Is Like had been shaken to its very roots.
"Of all the times to play your sparkling games – do you know how many lives you two endangered, speeding through a residential district?"
It figured that Prowl just happened to live in the neighborhood they had chosen to race through.
"There was no one on the roads," Sunstreaker grumbled. "We made sure no one else would get hurt. Give us some credit."
"You can hardly claim to have been cautious when you were driving twice the legal speed limit! As much as you may think so, your reflexes are not that good."
Sideswipe's roving optics had discovered something on the floor under the vidscreen. Credit chips! The kind used for gambling. He tried not to let his optics widen in shock at the revelation that Prowl was apparently a high-stakes gambler in his off-hours.
"Our reflexes are good enough not to hit anyone! That's what sensors are for. Have you ever known us to hurt anyone other than ourselves?"
"No, but I will not allow you to risk doing so again."
"Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?" Sideswipe pointed out.
"Fortunately, yes. And that is what allowed me to be here and catch you in the act of breaking the law."
"But if you're on vacation, then you really can't do anything to us," Sunstreaker challenged. He was coming very close to crossing a line, but Sideswipe had to agree with him on that. "We even heard Ultra Magnus tell you not to so much as think about law enforcement until you got back."
Prowl put a hand over his optics and sighed. "And that's why you chose to flaunt your behavior right in front of me, knowing I couldn't do anything about it?"
"No!" Sideswipe quickly denied. "We wouldn't do something like that, it was totally a coincidence."
They really did like Prowl, after all. Sure, most of the interactions they had with him were discipline sessions after one or both of them had done something wrong, but he had always been fair to them, and they appreciated that. He had been assigned to keep an optic on them because they were "Problem Younglings" or some official term like that, but the Enforcer was still the closest thing to family they had.
So when he had appeared in the street ahead of them and forced the two racers to stop, they obeyed him immediately even though they probably would have led any other Enforcer on a long chase. And then, when Prowl had ordered them into his house for privacy while he chewed them out for being reckless ... well, for some reason they had been quite willing to go inside.
Even though they now had to sit through a lecture on safety and common sense, it was worth it to find out a little more about the aloof officer.
Apparently the vacation from law enforcement didn't include such lectures, because sure enough, Prowl launched into one. The twins had learned to tune him out by now, and sat nodding silently at the right places while they kept looking around at their very un-Prowl-like surroundings.
Finally Sideswipe felt the need to comment, and opened a private comm channel to his brother. They had had more than enough practice at pretending to pay attention that Prowl would never notice they were secretly talking.
::Can you believe it? This is so weird!::
::Which part of it?:: Sunstreaker asked dryly.
::The part where Prowl has all this stuff, bit-brain.::
::Oh, right. I was too busy listening to the lecture and didn't really notice.::
Sideswipe ignored the sarcasm. ::It's actually sort of a mess in here. Prowl must be way different than we thought he was!::
::Well, he can still give lectures. I'm bored out of my processor.::
::Yeah, me too.::
They were silent for a moment, while Prowl droned on about some racing regulation or other. Neither of them were paying attention.
Not to his words, anyway. Sunstreaker, in his boredom, started following the sleek form with his optics as the Enforcer paced back and forth through the room.
::You know, Prowl is actually kind of hot.::
Luckily Prowl wasn't looking at them right then, because Sideswipe jumped and stared at his brother.
::Just look at him. His frame, the way he moves, everything. He's a very attractive mech.::
::But he's PROWL!::
::It's only his personality that's unpleasant. If he were friendlier and had a sense of humor, I would totally go for him.::
::That's just wrong!::
::Oh come on, Sides, play along. It's better than being bored.::
::I don't know...:: Sideswipe shot a look at their captor, and tried to think about him from an outsider's point of view. ::Well, yeah, I guess I can see what you mean. The doorwings are nice, and that chevron is pretty cool.::
::Now you're getting it.::
::I'm not sure I could ever stop thinking of him as Prowl, though, so it doesn't really—::
The twins' conversation and Prowl's lecture were all interrupted by the sound of the door suddenly opening. Three pairs of optics turned to see who it was, and through the door came—
No, the new mech only looked a little bit like Prowl, the twins realized. He had the exact same model, with the doorwings and the chevron and everything, except that he was colored differently. His chevron was yellow, and his paint was blue and red instead of black and white, and there were gun mounts on his shoulders that looked like they were there mainly to distinguish him from Prowl.
The mech stopped in mid-stride as he noticed Sideswipe and Sunstreaker.
"What are you doing back?" Prowl questioned, annoyed by the interruption.
A grin broke over the newcomer's face. "What, can't a bot come into his own house whenever he wants to?"
So that was why the place was decorated in such an anti-Prowl style. It all made sense now.
Prowl muttered something, and looked like he was trying to gather his scattered thoughts.
"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" The grin was a smirk now. The twins liked this mech already. "I'd say it's rare for you to have company over, Prowl, except that you've never had company over."
"They are wards of the youth sector, and this is official Enforcer business. It is none of your concern."
"If it's official business, then why do you have them here? Or do I even want to know?" The blue and red mech turned toward the twins. "So, Prowl's your truant officer, huh?"
"Yup," Sideswipe agreed, with a matching smirk. "I'm Sideswipe. He's Sunstreaker."
"Smokescreen." He directed a thumb back over his shoulder toward Prowl, who was growing more annoyed by the astrosecond. "Mr. Enforcer there is my older brother, so I think I know pretty well what you're goin' through. And believe me, I definitely sympathize."
"It's not so bad," Sunstreaker argued. "Prowl is the 'positive influence we need to shape us into productive members of society.'"
It was an exact quote from the instructions they had heard Ultra Magnus giving Prowl when he was first assigned to their case.
Prowl was scowling now, apparently not amused. The other three ignored him, and Smokescreen joined right in with the twins' laughter.
Sideswipe opened the private comm channel again as Prowl said something that distracted Smokescreen's attention.
::I guess not all Datsuns are alike, huh?::
::You're right. This Smokescreen seems like the exact opposite of Prowl.::
::He's got a good personality. Real easy-going, probably fun to be around.:: Sideswipe shot a glance at his twin. ::How does he rate on the Sunny Meter of Attractiveness, O Bored One?::
::Pretty high. There's no sparks, though.::
::What are you talking about? Prowl may not have a spark, but I think Smokescreen does,:: Sideswipe couldn't resist joking.
Sunstreaker punched him in the arm, which earned a frown from Prowl.
::You know what I mean, idiot.::
::Yeah, yeah. Does this mean you're interested in him anyway?::
::Maybe. If I'm still bored later...::
This time, all four of them were interrupted when the door opened a second time. Four pairs of optics looked up, and saw—
... Prowl again?
Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had to cycle their optics, and glanced back and forth between their Prowl and the newest mech a few times. This one was almost exactly identical, right up to the red chevron on his helmet.
It took a very close look to spot the differences. The model was still the same as Prowl's and Smokescreen's, but this mech had silver and dark blue paint instead. He wasn't an Enforcer, and there were rocket launchers mounted on his shoulders; but his paintjob still made him look an awful lot like Prowl ...
His wide blue optics stared down at the twins in surprise, and theirs stared back up at him curiously.
"You're back early, too?" Prowl nearly whined, from the stress of the situation getting out of his control.
"Um, yeah. Is that ok?" He glanced quickly up at Prowl. "I told you I didn't know how long I was going to be gone. Usually it's really crowded at the shooting range, so I gave myself a lot more time than I would need and that's why I told you I would be home late, but for some reason it was really empty today and I got right in. So I did a round and then came straight back here, because I figured since you were on vacation we could do something fun tonight, like maybe watching a holovid or something. But I didn't know we were going to have visitors."
He turned back to Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. "Hi, I'm Bluestreak! I'm Prowl and Smokescreen's brother, but you probably already knew that. It's not too hard to guess, anyway, since we all look alike. I don't know why that is. Are you Smokescreen's friends, or Prowl's friends? I've never met any of Prowl's friends, even though I know he has them because sometimes he talks about bots that he knows at the station. Smokescreen's friends don't usually come over to visit, so that's why I was pretty surprised."
Throughout the monologue, the twins watched in silent wonder. Only one thought went through both of their heads: He's related to PROWL?!
::He's perfect,:: Sunstreaker finally whispered over the comm.
::What do you mean, "perfect"?::
::He has just the right combination of Prowl's looks and Smokescreen's personality. More than that, actually – Smokescreen seems more laid back, he'd never be as outgoing as Bluestreak apparently is.::
::He doesn't talk too much for you?::
::Surprisingly, no. He's not rambling on that much more than you do, and I've somehow managed to put up with you for this long.::
::Ha ha, very funny. So this means you're bored enough to consider romancing Bluestreak?::
::Oh, I'm not even remotely bored anymore.::
::Prowl is going to kill us if we try anything with his little brother.::
::Yeah, but it will be so worth it.::
Identical grins crossed the twins' faces. "I'm Sunstreaker," the yellow warrior said smoothly, "and this is my brother Sideswipe. Nice to meet ya, Bluestreak."