Author's Note – Written for "tf_speedwriting" on LJ. Prompt – "Scenario: a practical joke gone wrong." Yes, I know the twins are so much a given that they should probably have been banned from being allowed, but there you go.

Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Small Price to Pay"
by DragonDancer5150

Sideswipe followed his twin down the hall, stopping at the door of the med-bay. He watched Sunstreaker hesitate, felt his brother's emotions resonating across their bond, emotions that echoed his own – worry, grief, remorse, denial. The yellow Lambo glanced over his shoulder uncertainly, pale blue optics finding Sideswipe's. All Sideswipe could do was hum support across their bond as he nodded. Sunstreaker palmed the door controls.

Ratchet looked up from his work and scowled deeply. Only the matching expressions of honest contrition and fear kept him from snarling a tirade at them that would guarantee they didn't come back for a good three months. "What?" he snapped instead.

To his credit, Sunstreaker actually flinched, and Sideswipe looked ready to sink into the floor under the furious glare. "We . . . wanted to see how he's doing," Sunstreaker muttered, not quite meeting his optics.

"Well then, just step right up and see. Take a good slagging look at your handiwork!" The medic gestured at the berth between them.

He might not have been quite so furious at the two under other circumstances – it was obvious they not only hadn't meant what had happened but were also both genuinely upset – but it was hard not to be when his best friend was laying there in such a twisted mess. Wheeljack had yet even to regain consciousness, though at this point it was due to the mercy of the signal suppressants coursing through his systems. The blast had destroyed most of the engineer's workshop and, unprepared as he'd been, he'd had none of his usual shields and other precautions in place. It had taken Ironhide, Ratchet, Trailbreaker, and Brawn half a joor to dig through the rubble and find him, and another three breems or so to manage to get him out safely, without the rest of the room collapsing on them all.

Sunstreaker bristled visibly for an instant at Ratchet's tone, but his brother's hand on his arm kept him from saying anything. By the looks on their faces, Ratchet guessed at a silent, rapid exchange over their spark-bond. Then Sideswipe was pulling Sunstreaker over to get a closer look, though they were both reluctant to do so.

"Is . . . he going to be okay, Ratchet?" Sunstreaker's voice was low, optics locked on the crumpled body between them.

"This . . . this wasn't supposed to happen." Sideswipe had one hand locked on his brother's arm, the other reaching to clamp the edge of the berth in a death grip. "It was just a flash-bomb, with a lot of smoke. We didn't mean for him to get hurt!"

"Well, that's the funny thing about practical jokes, Sides. Sometimes they backfire. You two know better than to mess with anything in his lab! You don't know what experimental substances he might be working with."

"I'm sorry." Sideswipe's apology came out something close to a squeak. He reset his vocal modulator and tried again. "I-I'm really sorry, Ratchet. We're sorry! But . . . he's going to be okay, right? Please tell me he's going to be okay!"

Ratchet reined back on his ire, dragging his gaze off the twins and his mind back to the task ahead of him. "He needs a lot of work. It'll take some time . . . but 'Jack's pretty resilient."

"I wanna help."

Both Ratchet and Sideswipe shot startled looks at Sunstreaker. "Help . . . what, with the repairs on Wheeljack?" Ratchet asked. The yellow Lambo warrior nodded, gaze locked on the unconscious engineer. Ratchet stared at him, his voice deadpan. "Hardly."

That brought Sunstreaker's attention back up to the medic, frowning. "Why? You don't think I'm capable?"

Ratchet crossed his arms, staring back. "In a word, no. Incapable of not complaining the whole time, if nothing else. Repairs of this complexity are messy business, Sunny. This isn't a routine maintenance. You'll be lucky if you only walk away with hands slick with cydraulic fluid." The young mech's vanity was legendary, after all.

Sunstreaker grimaced but nodded resolutely after only the briefest of hesitations. "I . . . can always clean up again later. After 'Jack's back on his feet." After a beat, he murmured low enough Ratchet almost didn't hear, "Small price to pay for this."

That was not the reply Ratchet had been expecting, and he stared back hard at the warrior, finally satisfied that Sunstreaker was serious and would therefore see this through. He looked to the red twin. "And you?"

Sideswipe shrank back a bit, both hands coming up in placating surrender. "Whatever you need, Ratchet. Whatever he needs." He nodded at Wheeljack.

Ratchet hesitated only an astro-second longer, then finally grunted softly and nodded. "All right, then. Here's what we need to do . . . "