The Ark was quiet on that particular day, but that was to be expected. Most of the Autobots were out on patrol, whereas the few ones that had remained behind were engaged otherwise. Wheeljack was locked in his lab, working on another project of his. The Dinobots were perfecting their so-called finesse by listening to some music and dancing. As for Jazz, he was on surveillance duty in the control room. Indeed, it was one of those days that one could describe as perfectly uneventful.
Sideswipe thought it was sheer hell.
Still lying on his berth, the red Lamborghini stared at the ceiling of his room for what seemed to be the umpteenth time for that day; then rolled on his side to stare at the wall.
Only to get back to staring at the ceiling at the next moment.
Finally, Sideswipe pushed himself in a sitting position. He scanned his surroundings, only to sigh in a defeated manner.
It was official. Sideswipe was bored, and he was bored on his day off, no less. The one day when he could do anything he liked and go anywhere he liked without having to answer to anyone.
Well, unless he was in trouble, in which case he had to stay in the brig and wait for the hours to crawl by.
Not that things were any different at present, really. Sideswipe was stuck in his room because there was precisely nowhere else to go. There was no way he was going out in the freezing winter air, and the common room was already occupied by the Dinobots. He had read all the books contained in his datapads, there was nothing to watch on TV, and he had played his ATARI games so many times that he could do it with his optics closed by now.
And the worst part of it all was that he couldn't even pull a decent prank either.
Jazz never qualified as a victim, because he always saw through any of Sideswipe's pranks. It went with being several million years Sideswipe's senior in that department, unfortunately.
Wheeljack, on the other hand, was off limits whenever he was working in the lab. Sideswipe had to learn that the hard way when he switched the cables in one of Wheeljack's inventions. In all fairness, Sideswipe couldn't have known that that would have made the metal watchamacallit explode; still, it wasn't a risk he was willing to take again.
And as for the Dinobots… he was bored, not insane.
Sideswipe sighed again. There were times like these that he felt a little jealous of his brother. All that Sunstreaker had to do when he was bored was to pick up a sheet of paper and some piece of carbon and then start sketching.
It was at that moment that the thought occurred to Sideswipe. Back before the war, Sunstreaker used to work on dozens of art projects. Sometimes they were commissions for clients - even artists had to make a living. But most of the times Sunstreaker drew for his own pleasure. Sideswipe could still remember some of those projects, because there were a lot of times that Sunstreaker was more than happy to show them to Sideswipe, talking about each of them for hours on end.
Nevertheless, Sideswipe was quite patient about it. He simply looked at the vibrant colours and playful strokes that somehow reflected Sunstreaker's own carefree, unburdened nature, even though he didn't understand half of what his twin told him.
It meant a lot to Sunstreaker, after all.
But from the moment the twins joined the Autobot ranks, things changed. Yes, Sunstreaker still drew at times. However, most of his drawings were either doodles because he was bored or unfinished projects that he would abandon a few days later. And there were also those times that Sideswipe saw his brother actually throw away some of his pictures, claiming that they were completely wrong. Sideswipe would have preferred to be the judge of that, but Sunstreaker had also stopped showing him his drawings. Sideswipe once asked Sunstreaker why he couldn't look at them the way he used to, but Sunstreaker was adamant. He didn't want Sideswipe to see, and that was that.
However, Sunstreaker wasn't here now. He was on patrol with Windcharger and he wouldn't be back for a couple of hours at least.
It was the perfect opportunity. After all, what Sunstreaker didn't know wouldn't hurt him. And Sideswipe was going to have just a little peek. One quick glance to check out the colours and that was it. There was hardly any harm in that.
With that thought in mind, Sideswipe walked up to Sunstreaker's desk and opened the first drawer.
No luck. Sideswipe could only see drawing materials in there.
But when he opened the second drawer, the red Lamborghini found what he had been looking for. He grinned in triumph when he saw the small stack of drawings, then picked them up and placed them on the desk. Moments later and after he had made sure the door was locked, Sideswipe sat down and looked at the first drawing.
Sideswipe was surprised to see that it was a picture of their home back on Cybertron. The red Lamborghini looked closely at the fine lines and bright background, and he couldn't help but feel a bit awed at how well his brother remembered their home. It was perfect, down to the last detail.
Perhaps a bit too perfect.
Could it be that Sunstreaker missed their home so much that he made it stand out so beautifully?
If Sideswipe had any doubts before, he certainly didn't have any when he saw the next picture.
It was a picture of Head On, their creator, and Sunstreaker definitely did him justice. The orange mech was sitting on a chair, cradling lovingly in his arms a pair of familiar-looking sparklings that were cuddled against him in deep recharge.
Sideswipe smiled longingly. It was amazing to realise how those days had flown by as if in a flash, and how he and Sunstreaker were now full-grown Cybertronians, leading their own lives without Head On's guidance.
Would Head On be happy with the choices they made, though? Or could he have possibly advised them otherwise?
Maybe not. If he were still alive, Head On would have probably been the first one of the three to join the fight.
"You had quite the bolts, old mech," Sideswipe murmured before he could help it. "You and Ironhide would have made quite the team."
And with that, Sideswipe moved on to the next picture.
Why would Sunstreaker draw Bluestreak?
It was indeed a painting of their friend, sitting in the middle of a green field. The gunner was looking ahead, and there was a small smile on his features.
A beautiful painting for sure, but still…
Wait a minute… Sunstreaker had once told Sideswipe that colours had a lot of meanings when it came down to art. And, if Sideswipe remembered correctly, green was the colour of growth… and healing.
Sideswipe understood. Sunstreaker wanted to depict Bluestreak's progress in putting behind the bad memories that haunted him and looking forward to a better future. And, come to think of it, the red Lamborghini recalled Sunstreaker mentioning Bluestreak's recovery more than a few times whenever the topic came up.
Do you think we could ever have that kind of strength, Bro?
I don't know, Sunstreaker. I mean, we've never been through what he has.
But Sideswipe never thought Sunstreaker would be so fascinated by Bluestreak's character. In fact, if Sideswipe didn't know any better, he'd say Sunstreaker longed for Bluestreak's optimism.
It was then that he caught sight of the other drawing. At first glance it didn't look like much; just colours mingling here and there to make some kind of dazzling effect.
However, as Sideswipe looked at it more carefully, he realised that there was more to that painting than met the optic. For one thing, Sunstreaker's choice of colours made things quite intriguing. Red and blue, black and white, green-yellow and blue-violet, all sorts of colours were meshed perfectly in absolute symmetry, as though battling for prevalence on the piece of paper.
And yet no colour really stood out. They were all in balance, just as the grey background implied.
All colours that were either a symbol of purity and wisdom… or darkness and evil.
It didn't take a great mind to see what Sunstreaker was depicting.
Do you really think this war is so hopeless, Bro?
Did Sunstreaker really believe that there could never be victory against the Decepticons?
Is that why you wish you could look at everything the way Bluestreak does?
Is that why you want things to be the way they used to be?
Suddenly, the sound of the call button chiming cut Sideswipe off his musings so violently that the red Lamborghini almost jumped. And he actually jumped when he heard Sunstreaker's voice from the other side of the door.
"Sideswipe? Why is the door locked?"
The red Lamborghini had never been so quick in his life. In less than a second, he had put the art projects back inside the drawer, exactly as he had found them, placed the chair back in its previous position, half-closed his optics to look as though he had just been rudely woken up; and finally opened the door.
Sunstreaker cocked his head, looking at his twin in mild surprise.
"You were recharging on your day off?"
"I didn't have anything better to do," Sideswipe lied smoothly, beckoning his brother to enter. "How was your patrol?"
"The usual," Sunstreaker replied with a shrug. "We patrolled, we found Decepticons; they fired at us, we fired back. Windcharger got a couple of dents, but he's fine otherwise." He didn't say much else. He simply lay down on his berth with his back to Sideswipe, letting out a weary sigh.
"Oh," the red Lamborghini said. He sounded nonchalant about matters. In truth though, he didn't like the tone in Sunstreaker's voice at all, because his brother sounded... almost defeated.
"Maybe it will be better tomorrow?" he ventured.
Sunstreaker sighed again. "Yeah. Maybe."
That was too much for Sideswipe. He made a motion as though to reach for Sunstreaker and somehow comfort him, for he wanted to tell his brother that everything would be okay. That he was there for him and that should be enough.
But Sideswipe also knew that he couldn't do that. The last thing his brother could possibly want was pity.
And so, he decided to let Sunstreaker be.
"Well… I'm gonna go out for a while. I need to stretch my legs," he said lamely.
The only answer Sideswipe got was a brief wave and a sleepy: "Okay."
The red Lamborghini shook his head and left the room with quite the heavy spark. As he walked down the corridor, absentmindedly greeting any of the returning Autobots he came across, there was only one thought in his mind.
He now realised why Sunstreaker didn't really want him to see those pictures. They were a mirror of his twin's fears and feelings that he didn't dare utter for Sideswipe's sake. Because Sunstreaker was supposed to be the stronger of the two and he needed to keep that image intact.
The red Lamborghini sighed. Spike had told him of a popular human saying some time ago: "A picture is a thousand words." However, Sideswipe never realised just how true that saying was until now, and it was paining him.
But it didn't mean he was willing to accept it either.
I promise you, Bro. I promise… your next picture will be a thousand words of joy.