Nine Months

Colors and Nursing

Ratchet knew that, deep inside his spark, there was a small part of him that was a sadistic little glitch of a teaser.
And by Primus, he loved that part.
“Guess what I know,” he told Spike and Carly who had come to med bay for one of Carly’s regular check-ups.
“A couple dozen galaxies we’re probably never gonna see?” Spike suggested. Ratchet grinned. “True. But I was thinking more about your sparkling.”
“Is there a problem?” Carly asked cautiously.

Ratchet made a big show of rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I’m not sure yet. It might be a problem... for Spike.”

The couple exchanged a bewildered glance. “What’d I do?” Spike asked.

“Nothing, really, But Carly told me you’ve been hoping for a daughter with her eyes.”

“Yes..?” the young man confirmed uncertainly.

Ratchet fought hard not to smirk and took a seat in front of them, putting on his most regretful expression. “I’m very sorry, Spike,” he said mournfully, “but I’m afraid that this is a futile wish.”

Carly was an astrosecond quicker than her husband to catch the meaning of his words. She grabbed Spike’s hand tightly in excitement, but her eyes remained fixed on the Autobot.

“It’s a boy?” she asked breathlessly.

“It’s a boy!” Ratchet confirmed cheerfully and showed them the screen of his scanner. The fetus was about fifteen Earth weeks old, and the necessary organs had by now developed enough to determine its sex. Ratchet hadn’t been specifically trying to do so, but the discovery was one that under no circumstances could be kept a secret.

The couple stared at the scanner like hypnotized. “A boy,” Carly repeated softly. “Spike, we’re gonna have a son.”

“I’m really sorry, buddy,” Ratchet said smugly. He simply couldn’t resist.

Spike blinked a few times as if he was just waking up from a dream. He glanced first at his wife, then at Ratchet, looking by all means like someone who had been clubbed on the head with something very heavy. He took a deep breath.

“Well,” he said finally, giving the medic a challenging glare. “He can still have Carly’s eyes, can’t he?”

Ratchet lifted both hands with a smile, wordlessly admitting defeat, and Carly laughed happily and threw her arms around her husband, and he enveloped her in a fierce hug.

Ratchet had been a medic long enough to know when it was time to leave his patients alone. The moment when Spike started kissing his wife and murmured something that sounded suspiciously like ‘I love you’ was definitely such a time. He politely averted his optics as Carly returned the kiss and got up to join Wheeljack in the back of the med bay. The inventor had borrowed some of his tools and was now busy putting them back into their proper places, his audio receptors undoubtedly set to the highest possible level. But they were colleagues, and Spike and Carly considered all of the Autobots trustworthy friends, so Ratchet had felt no need to send him out for the examination.

Wheeljack’s vocal indicators flashed cheekily as Ratchet approached him. “You’re a bad person, Ratch,” he told him.

“Why that?” He pretended to be hurt. “I told them, didn’t I?”

“And you’re arguing semantics,” Wheeljack teased.

“Oh, shut your vocalizer,” Ratchet grumbled good-naturedly.

They spent a few kliks in silence, putting away the last of the tools. Ratchet glanced at the young couple fondly as they bent over the scanner he’d left on the berth, arms still around each other, pointing and talking and laughing happily.

“I’d say a celebration is in order,” Wheeljack commented joyfully.

Ratchet grinned. “Fine with me.”

“I’ll talk to Prime,” Wheeljack offered. “And to Sideswipe. Surely he can provide us with something... fitting the occasion.”

There was no doubt about that, Ratchet thought wryly as he nodded his agreement. “Alright, but ‘Jack - let’s not go over the top with this, okay? Carly should not be put under too much stress.”

“Says the mech who just teased the hell out of her,” Wheeljack said, his optics twinkling with mirth.

Ratchet lifted his free hand in an attempt to smack him on the head, but Wheeljack dodged him with a laugh and made his way over to the door. “See you at the party!” was the last Ratchet heard from him, and he simply couldn’t hide his grin as the doors slid shut behind his friend.

“What happened to the energon?” Optimus asked, suspiciously eyeing the blue liquid in his cube.

Ratchet snorted. “It seems that the two banes of my existence,” he indicated the twins with a nod, “have come up with a way to change its color - to ‘fit the occasion’, as Wheeljack called it.”

The energon wasn’t the only thing blue in the rec room. The walls and ceiling sported blue garlands and banners, and the tables were decorated with small bouquets of blue Earth flowers, courtesy of Hound and Beachcomber.

Optimus smiled. “I have yet to understand the sudden significance of this color,” he said.

“Well, as far as I know,” Ratchet answered, “Spike told Bumblebee that blue was the traditional color to represent a human male sparkling. And it appears ‘Bee insisted that we stick to the tradition.”

“That confuses me,” Optimus admitted. “I was under the impression that blue was one of the traditional colors of the bonding ceremony.”

He was right, Ratchet thought. Carly had worn a blue ribbon in her hair on the day of her bonding, and had said that it was a lucky charm. “I’m not sure,” he said thoughtfully. “It seems to be a multifunctional color.”

Prime nodded. “An interesting notion, though,” he said, “that gender should be represented by a special hue. What is the color for a female sparkling?”

“Pink, I believe,” Ratchet said.

Prime’s optics flashed fondly at this, and Ratchet was pretty sure that he knew what - or, more precisely, of whom - his commander was thinking. He lifted his cube with a smile.

“To colors!” he announced dramatically. “Whatever their meaning may be.”

It turned out to be a relatively peaceful gathering. The amounts of energon consumed - blue or otherwise - were kept to a reasonable level by the watchful optics of Prowl, and Ratchet had to give Jazz and Blaster some credit, too. They had chosen a collection of background music which, though lively, didn’t heat up the vibe too much. Spike and Carly, he noticed, were the constant focus of attention, and they clearly enjoyed it. In fact, Carly looked so relaxed and content that Ratchet deemed it save to let his charge out of his optics for a while and engage into some friendly shoptalk with Wheeljack over a fresh cube of energon.

In hindsight, this was probably where the dilemma had had its seeds in.

Spike and Carly were just having a lively conversation with Hound. The music had stopped for a moment, Blaster and Jazz arguing over which song to play next, and so it happened that Hound’s question was clearly audible to the majority of those present:

“Are you going to nurse the baby, Carly?” he asked.

The young woman nodded. “I want to try, at least. Would be nice if it worked.”

It was then that they noticed how quiet the room had become. Ratchet glanced around warily. Twenty pairs of curious optics were fixed on the scout and the future mother.

“What does nursing mean?” Bumblebee asked.

Carly blushed faintly. Spike murmured a quiet “Oi” with an only half-suppressed grin, and Hound looked at Ratchet, clearly seeking help.

It was one of Ratchet’s maxims that, if ‘Bots were capable of getting into a mess without assistance, they should be able to get out of it on their own, too. “Well, Hound,” he said with malicious joy, shamelessly engaging his sadistic streak. “What does nursing mean?”

One had to admit that Hound managed to retain a certain degree of composure. “Well...” he said hesitantly, addressing the waiting crowd. “Well, humans are mammals, you see, and... and when a female mammal is having young, then her body will produce a special liquid, called milk, which serves as nourishment for her offspring. The young can suck it from special... places on her body...”

The staring continued.

“Nursing,” Hound said in a last desperate attempt, “really just means that Carly’s gonna feed the sparkling milk from her breasts...”

Silence. Not bad, Ratchet thought.

“From her what?” Gears inquired.

Ratchet felt the sudden and quite strong urge to bang his head against the nearest wall. Gears belonged to the small group of Autobots who came in contact with humans only if there was absolutely no chance to avoid it, and it just tended to show from time to time.

Poor Hound’s optics were by now practically pleading with the medic to come to his aid. Snickers became loud across the room; some ‘Bots were clearly better informed than they let show, but obviously enjoyed the green scout’s dilemma too much to intervene. Even Mirage kept a low profile.

It was Carly herself who finally redeemed Hound. “Uhm... these guys here,” she explained, pointing to her chest while her blush deepened a little.

“That’s disgusting”, Gears stated.

Obviously Hound felt obliged to defend his saver. “Ah, actually that’s the purpose of human breasts, Gears,” he said. “It’s meant to be that way.”

“That doesn’t make it any less disgusting,“ the minibot groused.

“Hey, wait a minute.” Bumblebee regarded his chest plates thoughtfully, than lifted his gaze to stare at Carly with a kind of rapt fascination. “You mean your baby can actually get his... milk... out of your chest?”

“Yeah,” she said with a faint smile. “That’s the way it works.”

Bumblebee’s optics shone with a genuine thirst for knowledge. “Can I see this?”

“Whoa, knock it off, ‘Bee!” Spike jumped in indignantly, wrapping a protective arm around Carly’s shoulders. “Nobody but me’s gonna see my wife’s... you know what.”

“But you just said that this is the way it’s supposed to be,” Sunstreaker countered in his condescending manner. “If it’s so normal, then why can’t he see it?”

Ratchet was beginning to seriously long for an impromptu Decepticon attack. Why the Pit hadn’t he just answered ‘Bee’s initial question himself and kept Hound, Spike and Carly out of it? He really needed to do something about his sadism, he decided.

He was about to activate his vocalizer to resolutely put an end to this folly, but he didn’t get a chance to utter the words.

“That’s enough now, all of you.” Optimus’ quiet yet strong voice easily drowned out the rising hubbub. He stepped into the middle of the room to stand next to the two humans. “Anyone who wishes for further information on this topic has my authorization to consult Teletraan-1’s databanks. There’s no need to further harass our guests.”

The subject was dropped only reluctantly, it seemed, but eventually Jazz and Blaster put on some new music (they had agreed on something, it seemed), and just a few kliks later, the party was back on track, so to speak.

Optimus turned to the young parents-to-be.

“I apologize for this incident,” he said. “I’m convinced neither Hound nor Bumblebee,” he threw the two shamefaced-looking mechs a glance, “intended to embarrass you.”

Carly shook her head, already laughing again. “It’s okay,” she said with a smile. “Come to think of it, it is kind of a weird concept.”

“And Hound’s explanation was pretty good, actually,” Spike added, grinning. He winked at the green scout, who suddenly looked very pleased with himself.

Ratchet cycled his vents in a deep sigh as he turned his attention back to Wheeljack. “You may call me a teaser, ‘Jack,” he said darkly. “But I tell you here and now that I am harmless compared to two over-curious scouts.”

The inventor flashed his vocal indicators at him in his version of a grin. “Wanna bet?”

All of a sudden Ratchet had a feeling that it probably would be alright to keep his sadistic streak.

Just a little longer.
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