A.N.: Okay, I lied. I couldn't leave it at just one chapter—I'm continuing it! Beware the fluff.

Pairings: None. I know the last chapter looked like BumblebeexProwl (Primus you people are stubborn), and this chapter's going to look like _xProwl... But there's nothing going on. I swear.

Warnings: None. Stop looking for slash here, you perverts.


.

.

"Come on, Bulk-man! O-pen it! O-pen it!"

Bulkhead complied with the demand—and promptly let out an undignified gasp that sounded like something that would come out of Sari's teenage mouth. He gawked at the present, pointing at it. "OOOOO..." He fiddled with the black box uncertainly. "What is it?"

Ratchet almost face-palmed, but Optimus responded with a smile. "Come on, Ratchet, explain it to him. To tell you the truth, it looks like what Sari calls an X-Box 720."

"It's not some kid's game console," Ratchet huffed, pointing at the odd black box. "It's a translator. After I took apart Sari's deceased PC I downloaded the informatics and languages that it was made up of—and built this thing to translate between Cybertonix TF19-84-2008." [1]

"Oohhhhh," Bulkhead intoned. His optics glowed wondrously. "…What's it for?"

Prowl decided now was the time to give Bulkhead a gentle elbow in the hip. "It'll translate your meta net coding to a language a human computer can understand."

"Really?" Bulkhead gasped. "I can use computers with my thoughts?"

"And not just human computers, you can operate the Arc's console and our warehouse's power center remotely," Ratchet said. "I've been able to do it for ages because I'm a medic, but I guess you're a-okay for that now—MMFFF!"

Bulkhead dealt his medic a crushing hug that left the old bot gasping out of his vents. "Thank you, Docbot! Thank you thank you! What does Sari say—ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU!" he gushed.

Bumblebee chuckled and poked Prime. "Looks like Ratchet's the new love-buddy around here, huh?"

Prime stood up to pat Bulkhead's shoulder. "Okay, easy, big guy. We still need Ratchet around!"

"Oh, whoops."

Bulkhead released the medic, who spent a few seconds hacking and wheezing to clear the shaken-up lint from his interior vent systems. He glared at Bulkhead. "A nice 'thank you' would've been great."

"Hell-o, there's one more present left!" Bumblebee interrupted, dancing around the pile of what was now wrapping paper and thrift store bed sheets (which Optimus and Bumblebee had been forced to resort to use to wrap their presents). Bee sidestepped the servo-made metal easel from Optimus, as well as the huge rolls of canvas he himself had given Bulkhead. "Look!"

Prowl looked positively mortified as Bulkhead inched forward carefully to retrieve the present from where it had been hiding, behind one of the tire chairs that they had used to prop the presents. He covered his visor with a servo. "Oh no."

All four of them immediately looked at Prowl (Ratchet's expression was more interesting, a mix of surprise and extreme dread). Oh. It was Prowl's. Bulkhead felt a little guilty because he was actually nervous about this present. It wasn't that Prowl was a bad bot; not at all, he even managed to teach Bulkhead how to walk in a straight line without tripping over his stabilizers. However, when it came to giving presents, Bulkhead knew that Prowl was the kind of bot to give someone a potted plant or the like—something Prowl would like from Prowl, because let's face it, Prowl was not knowledgeable about other bots to the point where he knew what they'd like. "Well?" Bee demanded, nervous and excited. "This, I GOTTA SEE. Open it up, man!"

"Settle down, Bee," Optimus tried to laugh, but it came out as an awkward chuckle. He cleared his vocalizer pumps and started fidgeting a bit. "He'll open it when he's, uh, ready."

"You didn't get him a plant or a garden hose, did you, Prowl?" Ratchet asked outright with a slight jab in his voice that shouldn't have hurt Prowl as much as it did.

Taking a breath, Bulkhead gently unwrapped the white bed sheet that had hidden his last present. The ninjabot huffed loudly to cover his discomfort. "No, I didn't give Bulkhead something like that." He watched Bulkhead stick out his glossa as he clumsily attempted to undo the black cord securing the wrapping . Finally, the white sheet fell away, fluttering to the floor and leaving a rather silent pause in the room.

Somewhere, oil crept over the edge of the mess hall table and dripped loudly onto the floor. A car door slammed shut two blocks away. Birds chirped from the stockroom that served as Prowl's personal quarters. Bumblebee registered his teammates' faces with a look of extreme satisfaction; Ratchet's mouth had never fallen like that, come to think of it, so he took a quick screenshot of his visual field and labeled it "Ratchet_DerpFace_01" before stashing it in his crammed "Blackmail" folder. "Wow," Optimus breathed. "Prowl?"

"Yes, my handwriting is atrocious," Prowl sighed, "but… It's just a plaque. I don't—"

"It's beautiful!" Bulkhead crowed, holding it in both servos at arm's length. He turned it over to show off the face to his teammates, positively brimming with happiness. "LOOK! He painted me in that ancient Japanese style they used on silk! On the right of the writing!" Prowl felt a huge gush of energon suddenly spurt into his faceplates from the central circulation unit; he hadn't expected his teammate to be so thrilled.

"I saw it when he was painting that part!" Bee bragged, jumping into the action and pointing at Bulkhead's painted face.

"Sit down!" Ratchet barked. "I wanna see the slagging picture, not your sunshine aft in my visual field -"

Optimus lowered himself to his left knee guard to get a closer look at the plaque. He looked around for the ninja. "This is great, Prowl… There you are! I didn't know you could write like this, how long did it take? It's inspirational!"

"He had trouble with the optics but I gave him some references, so he got help from yours truly—"

Ratchet swatted Bumblebee away before activating his magnet-clamps to hold the speedster in a tire chair. "SIT DOWN."

Prowl suddenly became very uncomfortable from all the fuss going on over his gift. The mess hall table suddenly looked extremely interesting so he decided to stare at it instead, but Ratchet put a kind servo on Prowl's shoulder."You painted that, Prowl? It's impressive—but I'm worried if it's okay. Did the colors wash out?"

"They're supposed to be muted," Prowl said, finally able to talk without tying his glossa in a slagging knot. "I-I looked up some screen paintings and went on from there. I admit I… I started it last-minute because I didn't know what to give you, Bulkhead. Bumblebee helped me figure it out. A little."

"Is that a shortness joke?"

"Oh, no!" Prowl exclaimed. "I didn't mean it like that, Bumblebee."

"Bumblebee, settle down, no one's insulting you," Optimus sighed. He stroked his chin thoughtfully and pointed at the plaque. "I hope you're planning on setting that thing up, Bulkhead, it would be a shame to hide it in some gallery.

Ratchet laughed gruffly and said with a low volume setting, "No one goes to those things anyways."

"Hey!" Bulkhead said with a pout, but Bumblebee continued cracking up laughing, even against his magnetic restraints.

"Just kidding, Kid," the medic laughed roughly. "Really now, do you know where you're gonna install it?"

"What about your studio?" Optimus offered thoughtfully. "It could be a source of motivation when you feel a little down."

"PUT IT IN THE EXHAUST REMOV—"

"Please don't," Prowl said sternly, glaring at Bumblebee.

"I think you should put it up where Sentinel can see it," Ratchet said matter-of-factly, "I'd like to see the look on his faceplate when he sees how advanced we've gotten. Muck-scraping maintenance bots, my aft."

"Uh-uh!" Bumblebee said. "We all got promoted, remember? We're ambassadors, while he's stuck paper-pushing as Magnus. He has to go on trips and shake hands, and we get to fight bad bots and talk to the human government people—"

Optimus actually grinned at Bumblebee. "And play video games?"

While the others bickered over where the plaque should be put up, Bulkhead full-out grinned at Prowl. Prowl's energon converter did a weird sinking thing, the same way it had acted when he got Lockdown's follow-up call after the Ninja-Went-Mod-Happy incident. He had a bad feeling that Bulkhead was going to—

"Right there," Bulkhead said in a strong, confident voice. His servo was pointing at a particular spot on the warehouse wall. His teammates' gazes followed the length of Bulkhead's monstrous servo to where he was pointing: high up on the wall above the couch, adjacent to the TV. It just so happened that the spot was visible from the entrance, hallway, living room, and mess hall. Where else could such a treasure be displayed, than a place visible everywhere?

Prowl really did facepalm this time. "Oh no," he said in a small voice.

.

On nights like those that made up the later days of February, Prowl took the liberty to stay indoors lest the weather decide to take a turn for the worst and bury him in snow again; snowfall played havoc on mechanical joints, and Prowl wasn't very keen on becoming like… Well, like Ratchet. So, he decided to spend his free time seeing to some rather nasty mold that had been plaguing the wall for a few years since he moved in. Of course he saw it when he chose the room, but he just didn't have the time to do it… To tell you the truth, he was stressed.

Prowl, the stoic ninjabot with the patience of a million Dalai Lamas, felt the tremors of apprehension and impending doom creep into his processor even further as he struggled to comprehend what was happening to him. He never got stressed, before he, to put it bluntly, died. Now, he was stressed for no reason, and just knowing he was stressed made him even more stressed, and he just had to clean something already, Prowl!

Hence, he now stood on his garden equipment locker (unceremoniously wrenched from its comfortable spot) and scrubbed brutally at the offensive mold in the corner.

BING!

The ping notification in his processor's meta grid was not enough to make Prowl lose his balance, but it definitely did give him a bit of a shock. "Prowl? You in there?" the Birthday Boy asked from the other side of the door. "Can I come in? That's if you're not busy and stuff."

"Yes, Bulkhead," Prowl answered readily.

His green friend edged in sideways through the doorway as soon as the door retracted into its housing. It took a little bit of work, but he managed to get in without hurting anything. "What's up?"

Prowl gestured at the wall with the grimy brush. "I'm just doing some cleaning. Is everything alright out there?"

"Oh yeah," Bulkhead said, looking at the brush with an expression that said all too clearly that he definitely did not want to know what that icky brown/green stuff was, thank you very much. He shook his head to remove all thoughts of the icky stuff. "I just wanted to say… Thanks for the present."

Prowl bit his lower lip plate with full realization that he was now walking on shaky ground, figuratively. He was never good with emotional things like this… Revealing too much about his feelings would make him sound fooling, but giving a short, clipped response would probably hurt Bulkhead's feelings. "You're welcome," Prowl said finally in what he hoped sounded like a friendly tone. "I'm just pleased to know you appreciated it…"

" 'Appreciated's not enough!" Bulkhead gushed. "I totally love it! No one's ever made something like that just for me! And I thought you didn't know how to write or draw like—uhh, I didn't mean I thought you were illi-ill—whatever that word was. Illiterate. Sorry. I just didn't think you'd like writing or art like… I mean…"

Prowl found it incredibly natural to place a servo on Bulkhead's star-embossed shoulder in reassurance. Even the smile was natural! "Do not worry about that, Bulkhead. I'm just sorry I hadn't given it a try before… Before I offlined."

Bulkhead looked around the room anxiously before speaking in a solemn voice. "I'm glad you tried it out this time. I hope you don't offline again for eons, but in case you do—"

"Hnnngh!"

Prowl found himself pressed into the massive SWAT robot's chassis, his dark body enveloped in the warmest hug he had ever received in his lifecycle (not that he had received many hugs anyway). The discomfort of it rapidly dissipated into mist as soon as a gentle thrum pulsed from Bulkhead's energon convertor and washed over Prowl's spark, and for the first time in more than a hundred thousand stellar cycles, Prowl felt he had accomplished something great. The goofy way Bulkhead's optics shrank in pure happiness, coupled with the way Bulkhead rotated his waist and swung Prowl's legs to and fro, oozed into Prowl's processor like the melting rainbow sherbet that Sari was so fond of.

"OHMYGOSH, DO I GET A HUG TOO!"

Oh no.

Prowl couldn't stop Sari from hitching a ride on Bulkhead's extended hand, or from leaping into the hug and flattening herself on Prowl's face… Or even from cooing happily as she pressed her cheek on his like a content purring kitten. Somehow, in a matter of seconds, Bumblebee had managed to retrieve the other two teammates and pull them into the group hug, which resulted in the six of them falling to the floor in a tangled mass of limbs as Sari took photos; Prowl was pressed spread-eagle into the floor, frowning up at a very uncomfortable-looking Optimus, who was crushed under an irate Ratchet, who could not get his stabilizing servos out from under Bulkhead's massive body. Bumblebee and Bulkhead happily refused to move.

"Heheh," Optimus laughed anxiously. His moment of friendliness ended as soon as he realized that maybe, Prowl would be furious at being crushed in such an undignified manner. "Erm, sorry."

Prowl couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Mmmfff-AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

.


Cybertonix TF19-84-200.8—Pretend it's a programming platform language that's used in most Cybertronians at the time. The code changes every so often (e.g. TF19-84-3298), but this one happens to have a reference… LOL… My fellow TransGeeks got the reference. I'm lame, I know!

No, there was no slash.