13. Family Matters
It was getting increasingly harder, but Starscream was managing to lug the huge, heavy crib into base. This couldn't possibly be good for the sparklings, but so far, nobody else had volunteered to help.
That was when Skywarp walked in, a dreamy look on his face...obviously thinking about Moonbeam. When he noticed Starscream with the heavy furniture, though, he ran right over, looking concerned all of a sudden.
"Starscream, what are you doing carrying that?" Skywarp demanded.
"Well, considering I have hardly three months to go now, I figured we should put this crib in the Seekers' room, don't you think?" Starscream grunted, trying to keep a good grip on the crib.
"Here, let me help." Skywarp took the crib from Starscream and grabbed Starscream's elbow, teleporting them into the Seeker's room. Skywarp waved Starscream away and got to work pushing the brand-new crib into the corner.
"Thank you, friend," Starscream said gratefully, collapsing back onto his bed.
"No problem." Skywarp smiled. "Moonbeam says you're entering your third trimester, which means your sparklings are almost ready to be born."
"It's probably going to get real annoying later on, but for now I kind of like all these jabs and jolts I've been feeling," Starscream added, running one hand over his cockpit and snuggling into the pillows, which felt good on his inflamed wings. By now, it wasn't just the cockpit that was swollen; it was basically his entire midsection, and it was going to get even bigger in the next three months. Walking was getting harder and about a week ago he had been forced to give up flying until the sparklings' birth. Because he had twins, Starscream looked farther along than his 26 weeks.
"I'm a little jealous of you," Skywarp admitted. "I'd like to have a little energon cube in the oven, too."
"Well, when you think about it, I have life inside of me, like we saw on the sonogram," said Starscream. "But that doesn't mean it's easy."
"This is the real exciting part, y'know?" said Skywarp, plopping himself down on the bed next to Starscream. "You get to set up their living space, like with the crib, maybe buy a mobile and some toys, wonder what they'll look like, what they'll act like, if any of them will look like you..."
"We know one of them has wings already." Starscream smiled.
"It's so nice how you've decided to set up the crib in here," said Skywarp. "Now if they ever need you, you'll always be there for them. If you don't mind me asking, how are you going to feed them?"
"I decided to use the nursing cable." Starscream shrugged. "Moonbeam said it was their most healthful option, so I went with it. Unfortunately, though, my spark chamber can only fit one cable."
"So fill some bottles with your energon," said Skywarp. "We can help you feed them."
"It's still really uncomfortable, though," Starscream told him, opening the top of his cockpit, his spark chamber, to reveal a thick, medium-length gray nursing cable, solid metal on the sides but softer, liquid-like metal, at the top. It felt good to release it out of its cramped housing.
"I'm sure you'll get used to it being there," said Skywarp. "But how are you supposed to feed a sparkling with that thing, anyway?"
"The nursing cable is connected to my own energon tanks," said Starscream. "But before it comes out it will be purified, making it safe and nutritious. In fact, I'll be fully lactating soon, even though they won't be born yet. I'm sure it will be great to wake up to a spark chamber full of energon every morning with nobody to feed it to. Or not."
"This way, you'll never forget their meals at home, at least." Skywarp laughed. "Besides, until you start feeding them it will probably only be like a few drips or so. Not a full astroliter, and certainly not enough to fill up your spark chamber."
"I'm pretty sure my spark chamber is supposed to get a little bigger in order to accommodate it, and it just hasn't happened yet." Starscream struggled to push the nursing cable back in, still trying to get used to having a foreign metal object inside of him, and then he sat very still, trying to listen for the twins' sparks. In return he got kicked again, but he just smiled and rubbed his cockpit, getting used to the special spark-bond he had with them.
Even though he felt silly doing this in front of others, including Megatron, somehow bonding with his sparklings felt okay in front of Skywarp. After all, Skywarp wanted to bond with them too, certainly, and he thought it was cute when Starscream showed genuine affection. When he didn't have to worry about what everyone was thinking, Starscream felt a connection, almost like the sparklings knew he was there as much as he knew they were there. Massaging the areas where he felt kicks, imagining what the sparklings looked like right now, feeling his prenatal bond...Starscream and his little ones were in their own world until Starscream looked up to see Skywarp smiling warmly, tears in the corners of his eyes.
"You have no idea how adorable you look." Skywarp sniffed and wiped his eyes. "Would you mind if I...y'know...?"
"Go ahead," said Starscream sarcastically, taking his hands off of the sparklings and placing them behind his head. "Now that I'm 26 weeks along, everyone I encounter is trying to grope me, including strangers. It's like they've never seen a sparkling-bump before. Apparently my body's a tourist destination now."
"Sorry." Skywarp's faceplates were a little pink with embarrassment. "It's just...I really like sparklings...and I'm their uncle, after all...so I just thought that maybe..."
"I'm just giving you a hard time, 'Warp." Starscream laughed. "It's okay. Knock yourself out."
Skywarp closed his eyes, his hands on top of the sparklings; Starscream set one hand there too. Skywarp kept his eyes closed, but he smiled peacefully and whispered, "Wow...I really can feel them in there."
"I think they're old enough to hear now, actually," said Starscream. "You can try and talk to them, if you want."
"Listen, sparklings, it's your Uncle Skywarp. I can't wait to meet you," Skywarp said tenderly, pressing his head to the lower part of Starscream's cockpit. Although the sparklings were connected to Starscream by his spark, they were definitely filling him out everywhere else, starting to make his back hurt...and it especially hurt after he made the mistake of trying to lift a heavy crib all by himself. They were both perhaps around 100 pounds by now, and they were going to get much heavier later on. "I love you both so much and I wish you were here right now so I could pinch your little cheeks and hold you tight. I guess I could sing to you now if you..."
"Skywarp, I said you could talk to them," Starscream reprimanded the purple jet, cutting him off. "Not sing to them."
When Skywarp sat up again, there were tears shimmering in his eyes as he said, "You don't know how lucky you are, Starscream. I want a sparkling too. That would be the best thing in the world."
"I didn't know you were looking so far into the future," said Starscream. "You're looking to start a family with Moonbeam?"
"Part of it was because of you," said Skywarp. "Especially when we saw the sonogram. That, and everything else, reminded me of how much I love sparklings. Now I have someone in my life who I love...We haven't talked about it yet, but I'm sure she feels the same way."
"I'm sure she does," said Starscream, but he was really thinking, I HOPE she does.
"Imagine that." Skywarp was looking dreamy again, lost in another world. "We would be the perfect family. I would be the perfect father, and she would be the perfect mother. I could teach the little sparklings everything I know...help them learn how to fly..."
"Skywarp, if you had sparklings with Moonbeam, they would be purebred Seekers," Starscream reminded him. "They'd have a 100% chance of being able to fly instinctively from about two weeks to a month after birth. You wouldn't have to teach them about flying."
"What about your twins?" asked Skywarp. "They've only got Seeker CNA on your side, right?"
"Yes, well, our race consists mainly of the dominant traits," Starscream explained. "Chances are at least one of them will be a Seekerling, and both will most likely have Seeker-esque qualities, even if they aren't Seekerlings. Some cyberbiologists theorize that ground-bound Decepticon lineage, as well as flying Autobot lineage, can be traced back to cross-breeding between Autobots and Decepticons. Of course, when it comes to CNA nothing's guaranteed, but if you look at it logically..."
"I failed that CNA class back in Seeker School, remember?" Skywarp laughed and shook his head. "Thundercracker didn't even bother taking it."
"It was called 'Decoding the Cybertronian Genome', genius," said Starscream sarcastically, "and I'll have you know I did very well in it."
"I know you did," said Skywarp. "You were always our big science nerd."
"Meaning, I was an actual scientist, not to mention a double major," said Starscream.
"I never said you weren't." Skywarp smiled and gave Starscream a hug. "And no matter what happens, I'll always be happy for you."
Skywarp knew Moonbeam was on call today, so he went to the med bay and knocked a little nervously on the door. In his hands were some flowers, just for Moonbeam.
"Who is it?" called Moonbeam.
"It's me, your loving boyfriend," Skywarp called through the door. "Nothing's wrong, but do you have a little time to talk?"
Moonbeam opened the door, laughed, and led Skywarp to the repair table. "I have plenty of time for you, sugar daddy."
"Listen, kissy-wissy, I just wanted to discuss something with you," Skywarp said, handing the flowers to Moonbeam. "Something really important."
Moonbeam looked interested now. "How important?"
Skywarp sat up on the repair table and looked away from her. Suddenly, he had a bad feeling about this, but he couldn't avoid asking this question forever. "Well...you know how Starscream's been in the family way for almost seven months, right?"
"No, I didn't know that," she said sarcastically. "Look, hon, can we wrap it up, please?"
"It's just that I'm really excited about it all, and..." Skywarp smiled slightly. "I just wanted to know if you see sparklings in our future, too."
Moonbeam's red eyes were wide, her mouth open; Skywarp hadn't seen her this shocked in a long time. For a few moments, she fiddled with the flowers, then laughed artificially.
"What?" said Skywarp.
"Look, sugar daddy, we haven't even been with each other for a year!" Moonbeam hopped up onto the repair table next to her boyfriend. "I thought you were okay with it being just the two of us. I didn't know you had our whole future planned out already!"
Skywarp could feel his faceplates heating up. "You don't want a family?"
"I might," Moonbeam told him, holding onto his forearms and making her voice soft. "Just not now. Okay?"
"Okay," Skywarp said quietly. "I can deal with that."
"Come on, sugar daddy, I've been on call all day long and nothing has happened," said Moonbeam, grinning. "Do you want to get frisky?"
Skywarp wasn't thinking about being frisky; he was thinking about Starscream's little sparklings, almost ready to be born. Surely Starscream would allow him to hold them...right? But it wouldn't be the same. Those adorable sparklings might be his nephews or nieces, but they would never be his sons or daughters.
"I-I'm sorry, Moonbeam," said Skywarp, hoisting himself up off of the repair table. "I have to go."