“Hey, Sunshine!” Sideswipe announced, striding into the main room of the gallery. His brther was standing in front of a low pedestal, fussing over some sculpture that looked like it was made up entirely of a dozen precariously balanced gears. The odd looking thing was painted black and red and stretched upwards towards the ceiling, towering at least a foot above Sunstreaker’s head.
“Mmm,” Sunstreaker replied absently. “Back already?”
Sideswipe came to a halt, starring at his twin incredulously. “’Already’? I’ve been gone for almost four hours!”
Sunstreaker looked up at that, optics dimming as he likely checked his chronometer for confirmation. “What took you so long? … what did you do?”
“What in the Pit is that supposed to mean?” Sideswipe retorted, momentarily taken back.
“Well, it shouldn’t have taken four hours to walk over there and drop off the application. Ergo, you messed something up,” Sunstreaker said snidely.
Hands curling into fists, Sideswipe had to fight the urge to punch the haughty expression off his brother’s face. “I stood in line for two hours,” he reported through gritted denta. “We’re not the only ones trying to apply for the Festival, you know.”
Sunstreaker’s head tilted to the side as his optics narrowed. He took a step forward, hand trailing along the edge of the sculpture. “What do you mean ‘trying’? We applied. End of story. Right?”
Sideswipe’s lips pressed together tightly. Primus, he really wasn’t looking forward to Sunstreaker’s reactions to his next words. He was just going to blow everything out of proportion and blame Sideswipe. As usual.
“You fragged something up!” Sunstreaker accused, pointing a finger at him.
“It wasn’t my fault!” Sideswipe shouted defensively. He knew it! He knew Sunstreaker was going to act like this! “The application was denied. There wasn’t anything I could do about it!”
“You filled it out wrong! I told you not to list both of our names,” Sunstreaker exclaimed, throwing up his hands in the air.
“We’re a split spark, Sunstreaker. You think we could hide that during the medical exam? That alone is enough to disqualify us, even if we had entered singly. I spoke to Ultra Magnus; he’s part of the head committee. I filled out a petition, and he’ll take it before the others to see if it gets approved or denied,” Sideswipe explained wearily.
“I know what I said!” Sideswipe snapped. “It made sense to me, but even though we’re the same spark, we’re two different frames. We still have an advantage over other mecha, even if only one of us were allowed to enter,” he continued, referring to their innate ability to leech pain from one another and share strength. “Magnus doesn’t think it looks good.”
Sunstreaker’s shoulders sagged. “But this was going to make things better.”
Sideswipe knew he was referring to the ever widening chasm between them. They were not like other twins; even though they shared a spark, their personalities were very, very different. They walked differently, talked differently, and often had opposing viewpoints on everything. Many mecha who met them for the first time didn’t even believe they were related, much less twins.
It had been better in the army. They had still bickered on occasion, but they had been bound together by common goals and experiences. Ever since they had been discharged though, they had been growing farther and farther apart. They fought on a daily basis; exchanging harsh, ugly words meant to wound deep. They had long ago stopped recharging together, and the last time they had spark merged was over a year ago.
Physically, they couldn’t continue as they had been. It was weakening both halves of their spark. Their doctor was puzzled, and their therapist had thrown up her hands at them long ago. It hadn’t stopped her from encouraging their visits to her on a weekly basis, though. Every time, she would walk them through trust exercises and be baffled when they performed them flawlessly while sniping at one another the entire time.
Trust wasn’t an issue. Sideswipe trusted his brother with his life and vice versa. He just kinda hated the glitch.
And vice versa.
But they still kept going. Because one of the few things they agreed on was that they wanted to get better. They wanted that closeness they had shared when they were younger. Needed it, even.
Their therapist had encouraged both of them to see other mechs separately and that had actually helped somewhat. Not to bring them closer as such, but to distract them from each other. Invariably though, those relationships didn’t last long. As much as they couldn’t stand one another, they were also incredibly possessive of each other and managed to sabotage each other’s relationships time and time again.
Finally, someone had suggested they create a trine, like the flight models often did. A third mecha to balance them out. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker had looked at one another in perfect, irritating unison and scoffed. They couldn’t agree on anything. How could they agree on a mate, someone other than a one night fling?!
But they persisted. They had looked at each other’s previous partners, arguing over and over about personalities and quirks and looks. No former acquaintance had been deemed suitable, so for the past year, they had been searching for someone new.
And they had finally found someone, just when they had been close to giving up completely. Someone they both liked, admired, and respected. His personality perfectly complemented theirs, and as a bonus, he was easy on the optics.
The only problem? They had all known one another for centuries, although it was only recently that they had become reacquainted. Neither Sunstreaker nor Sideswipe had any idea how to approach him; there was history there, and they didn’t want to give the mech the wrong impression. This wasn’t a one night stand. This was something that would hopefully be lifelong.
That was when they had come up with the idea of entering the Festival. It was doubtful that the mech they wanted would immediately accept them then and there if they won, especially without any prior warning on their part. But they would at least earn the right to woo him for the next year without interference. Ensure that he was the one for them.
Sideswipe sagged too. “Yeah. I know. I don’t… I don’t know what else to do, though.”
Sighing, Sunstreaker rubbed a hand over his face, incidentally smearing a dark substance, probably charcoal, over his cheek. Sideswipe had to smother a grin, less his brother think he was making light of the situation.
“So they’re going to review the petition? Did Magnus say how long it would take?” Sunstreaker questioned.
Sideswipe shook his head. “Just that they would hopefully convene tonight or tomorrow and let us know as soon as possible. I told him to hurry. The race of Primus is in three days. I know we weren’t participating, but what if he’s chosen? I mean, he knows practically all the racers.”
“Wouldn’t that just be slag. It would be our fraggin’ luck,” Sunstreaker spat.
Sideswipe propped his hands on his hips, raising an orbital ridge at his brother’s language. Ever since Sunstreaker and his art had become popular among the higher social classes, he had been very cognizant of his speech and bearing. It wouldn’t do to remind others of their very humble beginnings, after all.
That was another point of contention between them; Sideswipe hated the snooty façade Sunstreaker always wore around others. “Careful, Sunny. Your gutter snipe is showing.”
“Frag you with a rusted wrench,” Sunstreaker snarled. And just like that, the tentative peace they had shared for a moment was gone.
“You wish,” Sideswipe retorted, ignoring the hopeful leap in his spark at even the prospect of interfacing his twin. How long had it been now? A year at least. “What are you even doing? The opening’s in another hour,” he said, checking his chronometer. “Is everything ready?”
Sunstreaker’s optics turned comically wide. “No! I’m not done here, I have another three pieces to arrange. Primus, the refreshments haven’t even been set up yet! If you hadn’t taken so long, you could have helped,” he said reproachfully.
“Then finish your pieces; it won’t take me long to do the drinks,” Sideswipe said, sighing. One more thing to add onto his already long list. One of these days, he was going to hire a party planner. Except they probably wouldn’t last more than twenty minutes with his finicky brother.
“Ugh!” Sunstreaker suddenly exclaimed. “I need to wash up too!”
Sideswipe looked over to see Sunstreaker brushing at his thighs. Which were spotless, just like the rest of him. Except for that smudge on his cheek, of course. Sideswipe quickly hid a smirk.
“You look fine. Not a mark on you,” Sideswipe called over his shoulder as he turned and headed for the back of the building, where the extra supplies were.
With any luck, Sunstreaker would get so caught up in arranging the last few pieces of artwork, he’d forget to check himself in a mirror and the mark would go unnoticed. Sunstreaker would be horrified once he found out he’d been hobnobbing with the elite of society while sporting a less than perfect appearance. Sideswipe couldn’t wait to see his brother’s reaction.
~ End Chapter