Question: When is logic sexy? Answer: When Prowl is using it.
Sunstreaker remained where he was on the floor, halfway between rising and reclining. He didn't dare move when the barrel of a gun was focused a bare inch away from his faceplate. Not just any gun, but one that shot acid pellets instead of plasma. He knew Prowl preferred to use weaponized acid over plasma because it was more likely to incapacitate an enemy rather than kill them, giving the Autobots the chance to interrogate the subdued opponent at a later date. Acid could do a lot of damage to Sunstreaker's faceplate, but it wouldn't kill him.
He didn't think he could live with himself if his faceplate was burned off.
His optics darted up to see Prowl's expression, but it was impossible to discern any intention within the reflective lenses. Was the tactician so wrapped up in the curse that he was going to pull the ultimate cliche? If he couldn't have Sunstreaker, no one would? Because in the face of death, Sunstreaker was actually quite willing to rescind his earlier opinions of the tactician. Prowl was not looking so bad anymore. Nope, he looked tolerable. Almost decent. And quite frankly, Sunstreaker was willing to do what it took to not have his faceplate melted off.
Pale optics shuttered tight, as if the mere sound of the golden bot's voice was agony. Prowl's free hand clenched into a tight fist, the tips of his fingers digging so deeply into the palm that gouges appeared in the metal. A look of intense concentration passed over the mech's faceplate, and then slowly, fraction by fraction, the plainness that Sunstreaker had come to relate to Prowl returned. His fist relaxed. His faceplate eased from its furrowed expression.
"The effect is stronger this time," the bot murmured, more to himself than to Sunstreaker.
Taking a risk, Sunstreaker attempted to move into a more comfortable position. The moment he started shifting, the barrel of the gun was shoved closer to his faceplate.
"I ordered you to not move," Prowl growled darkly.
Sunstreaker hardly dared to nod, fearing that doing so would be enough to set off Prowl's itchy trigger finger, which was sitting directly over the too-sensitive trigger.
Keeping his gun trained directly on the golden bot, Prowl backed up one step, and then another. He was as far away as he could possibly get without leaving the cave completely. Over his shoulder, the sky was beginning to lighten as dawn approached. The effect of Prowl's stark black and white paint was intensified as the black parts of him faded into the gloom while his white armour seemed to float in the shade. His pale optics were eerie as the shone near-white, focused directly on Sunstreaker.
"If I speak... will you shoot me?" Sunstreaker asked cautiously.
"You just spoke and I didn't shoot you," Prowl pointed out flatly.
"Okay, that's a good start," Sunstreaker replied. Once again he tried to shift into a comfortable position, only to be waylaid by a gun. Shoring up a little indignation, he shot Prowl a pointed look. "Can I sit up or what?"
There was a long pause as the tactician seemed to weigh every possible outcome of allowing Sunstreaker the dignity of sitting up. In the end, he relented reluctantly. The muzzle of the gun dropped a fraction. "You may sit up, but do not move any farther from the spot. If you do, I will shoot."
"Don't worry, I got no intention of being shot," Sunstreaker grumbled, finally able to get up off his back. Finally able to sit, he could see the damages wrought by the Seekers' amorous attentions. Scratches and flaked off paint. Dirt smeared into his beautiful paint. His hands instantly started twitching as the urge hit him to clean himself again. He needed to look perfect. When he made a move for his subspace pocket, Prowl's finger twitched, effectively halting all activity on Sunstreaker's part.
"I have no idea what is going on, and until I do have a comprehensive understanding of the situation, you will not be doing anything I deem unreasonable," Prowl ordered.
"Cleaning is unreasonable?" Sunstreaker asked in irritation.
"At the moment? Yes," Prowl growled.
Not wanting to take any chances, Sunstreaker let his hand fall away from his subspace pocket. He drew his knees up and wrapped his arms around his shins. Without the constant fear of someone coming on to him, he suddenly discovered how tired he was. Running for his life certainly took it out of him. But then the oddness of his current situation struck him. Prowl was here, a fellow Cybertronian, but he didn't appear overcome with lust. Instead of coming closer, he was keeping his distance. His optics weren't glued to Sunstreaker's frame, but looking everywhere else instead. If it weren't for the death grip he had on his gun, the Datsun would have looked as indifferent as he had that morning.
"Please stop staring at me," Prowl requested tightly.
Sunstreaker startled in surprise, immediately directing his gaze elsewhere. "Sorry. I was just wondering why you're acting so... normally."
"It is not easy," Prowl admitted. "Your appearance or behaviour has not changed for as long as I have known you, so there is no reason for my regard of you to change. Inexplicably, it has changed within the last few hours. There is no logical reason for my uncontrollable attraction to you. Until I know exactly what is going on, I will resist." He closed his optics tight. "I do not know how long my self-control will last, though."
"Oh." Sunstreaker looked away, pressing his mouthplates together into a thin line. Great, so he was sharing a cave with a ticking time bomb. At any moment, Prowl could suddenly forget about his precious logic in order to go after Sunstreaker like a rabid animal. That was great. Really.
It was quiet between the Autobots for a short time, and then Prowl suddenly asked: "What did you do to yourself?"
"What makes you think I did anything?" Sunstreaker asked mulishly.
Prowl still would not look directly at him, but narrowed his gaze on the rock wall he was staring at. "I highly doubt this is a Decepticon plot, given how the Seekers reacted so violently toward you. If this was their fault, they would have found some way to be immune. I would not lay this condition at the feet of any Autobot on our team either. That leaves you as the responsible one for whatever you have done."
"Well, it wasn't my fault," Sunstreaker retorted.
"Then explain the situation so I do know whose fault this is," Prowl ordered acidly.
It was very hard not to flinch under a tone like that. Sunstreaker tried valiantly, but in the end he was forced to turn his faceplate away. "I don't even think you'd believe me if I told you."
There was disbelieving silence, and then, "I beg your pardon?"
"Cursed. You know- the supernatural kind. Like those old movies Sideswipe sometimes watches- Curse of the Mummy, Curse of the Zombie King, Curse of the Swamp Thing, Curse of the Werewolf..."
"I get the point."
Sunstreaker huffed quietly. "Yeah, well, mine is Curse of the Good Looking."
"What a horrible sounding curse."
"Your sarcasm isn't helping," Sunstreaker grouched. "I'm being punished for being better looking than a god. He couldn't take a little critique and BANG he cursed me."
"I doubt it was that simple," Prowl said dryly.
Sunstreaker narrowed his optics. "You're not even going to question my sanity over the 'god' part?"
"Your sanity has always been in question," Prowl intoned. "However, we are on a different planet than our own and are bound to encounter different species with different abilities. What is considered a 'god' in one place may simply be an advanced alien species. You may have simply encountered an alien with a unique telepathic manipulation ability able to affect our inorganic physiology."
"Yeah..." Sunstreaker doubted what he had encountered were aliens in the strictest sense, but he wasn't willing to get into a spat with Prowl about the fine line between what was extraterrestrial and what was supernatural. Truthfully, Sunstreaker was still adjusting his own world to accept that annoying supernatural beings ran around cursing good bots for no good reason. As of this moment, Prowl was his only sort-of ally and he knew he couldn't afford to lose that.
"Now, explain what this so-called 'curse' is supposed to be about," Prowl prompted.
"Bots takes one look at me and... I don't know. They're supposed to see me as I see myself, I guess," Sunstreaker said, then shuddered. "I just wanted a little more appreciation for my looks, you know? All this effort and it never seems like anyone realizes that I am this good looking. I didn't think it would be a bad thing to have a little more recognition..."
"I imagine the Seekers were a rude awakening for you," Prowl said... and was that a little bit of cruel humour in his tone?
The glare was ignored. "What you say does make sense, in a fashion. It could be some sort of hypnotic suggestion implanted into our minds by this 'god' you insulted. What did you say his name was?"
A brief huff of dry laughter escaped Prowl. "Greek myth depicts Narcissus the most beautiful mortal in the world; one day, he saw his reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with himself. He died that way, wanting only his reflection. He was made into a god for some reason- perhaps because the ancient Greeks valued physical perfect so highly."
Sunstreaker arched both optic ridges. "You know Greek myth?"
"Our mission required us to come to Greece. It seemed only logical to familiarize myself with the different aspects of the country- history, geography, political standings. Whatever I deemed possibly important," Prowl said with a light shrug. "It was a whim to download ancient myths, but it turns out to be fortuitous for the both of us."
"Looks that way, yeah..." Sunstreaker sighed.
"Of all the so-called gods for you to bother, it just happened to be Narcissus. It seems like a fitting fate for you," Prowl observed. "I understand now how you could insult someone so easily by acting as yourself."
Sunstreaker scowled. "I'm so glad you could gain a deeper understanding of my torment."
"It's better than being ignorant of it," Prowl countered curtly. "This 'curse', as you call it, makes a lot more sense as well. Your physical appearance has not changed in the least, and yet the regard of those who see you has obviously changed. An outside force was obviously involved." He shook his head. "If this is how you see yourself, then I have greatly miscalculated your love for yourself."
"Not all of us can be comfortable looking as plain as dirt," Sunstreaker snapped.
Prowl made the mistake of swinging around send the golden mech a withering glare. The moment they made optic contact, he jerked forward, his whole frame tensing. Sunstreaker sensed the sudden danger and started to reel backwards. It took several moments of fighting with himself before Prowl could force himself to look away.
An extremely uncomfortable silence filled the cave for nearly longer than what Sunstreaker could handle. "Prowl..."
Prowl revved deeply, his voice strained when he finally spoke. "It is not that I don't care for my looks, Sunstreaker. There are simply more important things in the world than my appearance."
Sunstreaker didn't feel comfortable enough to give a good retort. He ducked his head and kept his optics on the ground.
Prowl suddenly pushed to his feet, brushing away debris from his backside. "Morning has nearly fully risen. The nearest human establishment is approximately an hour from here. I am going to drive there."
Sunstreaker scrambled to his feet, banging his head against the rock. Clutching his new dent, he squinted at the tactician's silhouette through the bright light streaming in through the mouth of the cave, "You're leaving me?"
"Only for a short time. I will be back," Prowl assured, still not looking directly at him. "We will have to work together in order to figure out a way to negate this curse."
"You're helping me, then?" Sunstreaker wondered hopefully.
"It is the only logical course of action," Prowl replied evenly. "You are too valuable a warrior to the Autobots to dismiss completely. If you were to stay the way you are when we return to the Ark, the distraction you will cause will be detrimental. The only option we have is to end the curse before we rejoin with the rest of the Autobots."
"Sounds reasonable," Sunstreaker murmured. He internally withered as he thought about showing up at the Ark with the curse still on him. The day he just had would be nothing in comparison to an ship full of hungry Autobots lusting after him. They'd rip him apart.
"Good. Stay where you are until I return. Try not to leave the cave in case the others spot you," Prowl warned. "I encountered Sideswipe, Jazz, and Ratchet earlier and they were quite intent on finding you."
Sunstreaker pressed deeper into the cave. "I won't go anywhere."
"We'll figure this out, Sunstreaker. I promise." Prowl turned his back on the cave, turning his face up to the sun as he made his way down the incline. In that moment, he did not look so plain as he normally did. He looked... stunning.