The younglings’ first bath was a daunting task, considering the oddest things induced fear.
Ratchet corralled Wheeljack into helping him, first by brainstorming the best way to go about it. Wheeljack suggested that a bath would be too overwhelming whereas Ratchet thought an overhead shower might remind the twins of acid rain. So they compromised with a large tub in the washracks that was only filled to the level of the twins’ ankle joints.
To get them used to the washracks attached to Ratchet’s quarters, Ratchet took to bringing them into the small room and giving them their evening snack while he read from a sparklings’ book. Then he started washing up in front of the twins, using the same tub, but filled nearly to the brim, to his ankle joints. It made for an unsatisfactory washing experience, but it got Sideswipe and Sunstreaker used to witnessing the tub in use for its intended purpose.
Then one night instead of a snack, Ratchet and Wheeljack each carried a twin into the washrack and gently lowered them into the partly filled tub.
They both froze, looking first at the water and then at each other. Sunstreaker seemed more confused than upset. Sideswipe, on the other hand…
“Oh no… Ratchet…” Wheeljack warned, gesturing towards Sideswipe. The tiny red youngling’s optics were slowly filling with tears and his lower lip wobbled. “He’s going to…”
Sideswipe cut him off with an audial piercing wail, one which Sunstreaker echoed two seconds later. Ratchet had quickly learned that what one felt, the other quickly echoed.
“No, No, NO!!” Sideswipe screamed, turning around and flinging himself at the side of the tub, trying to crawl out. “Bad, wet, bad!!!!”
“No, actually, it’s good,” Ratchet said, raising his voice over the volume of the younglings. The space behind his left optic started to ache, something he was starting to associate with dealing with the twins. “Come on, Sideswipe, you’ve seen me wash up in this very same tub and I did just fine.”
“Wet, bad!” Sideswipe screeched, started to move in a circle at the edge, searching for a handhold. “Need it!”
“Need what, Sideswipe?” Wheeljack asked, trying to rub a hiccupping Sunstreaker’s back. He was crying loudly within the circle of Wheeljack’s hands.
“Need it! Hide! Hide!” Sideswipe reached his brother and promptly shoved him back against the tub wall.
Ratchet and Wheeljack both scrambled to reach for them in case one of them slipped, but they soon realized that Sideswipe was trying to boost Sunstreaker up over the side. Sunstreaker was shaking so badly that they weren’t really getting anywhere, but it still broke Ratchet’s spark.
“All right now, none of that,” Ratchet said, gently separating the two of them.
Which of course caused them to scream louder. They reached for one another and finally Ratchet gestured for Wheeljack to let Sunstreaker go at the same time he released Sideswipe. They slammed into one another and then Sideswipe did something odd. He patted at Sunstreaker’s cheeks, the top of his head, and then his shoulders, making odd distressed sounds. His crying tapered off into hiccups and sniffles and he stepped back away from his twin.
What he did next was utterly perplexing. He reached under his left arm and dug between a transformation seam, grunting with effort. When he removed his hand, there were smears of oil and grease on his fingers which he promptly smeared across Sunstreaker’s shoulder where Wheeljack’s wet hand had accidentally left a cleaner spot than most.
“… hide… Ratch, hide! Cleaning them will get rid of whatever they used to dull their colors! They’re so bright, their own paintjobs probably constantly gave away their hiding spots!” Wheeljack said excitedly.
Ratchet groaned, nearly facepalming before he realized his hands were still wet. “Of course! That’s why they’re always so filthy!”
Now Sunstreaker was doing it too, each one of them finding the cleaner spots on each other’s frame and doing their best to camouflage it.
Well… this definitely changed the plans for future bathing.