16. The Kiss
LATER THAT DAY...
"She basically told me that I'd be getting contractions...and that my energon would break...stuff like that." Starscream sighed. "She told me I'd be able to have the sparklings, but how could I do it? How could anyone do it?"
"With practice." Skywarp smiled.
"Well, after you told me what you and Moonbeam talked about in your sparkling appointment earlier today, I thought maybe you should be prepared," said Skywarp. "So I figure we could...y'know...practice pushing."
"Moonbeam didn't say what that was going to be like," Starscream admitted. "But I don't know what it's like. So how are we going to practice?"
"I've seen it on TV a couple times," Skywarp offered.
Starscream looked toward his bed. "I really don't know."
"Come on, at least give it a try!" Skywarp begged. "I don't want you going in cold."
"Do you even know what you're doing?" Starscream demanded, but Skywarp didn't listen as he dragged his brother over to the bed.
"Okay, now what was it?" Skywarp asked.
"My energon breaks." Starscream crossed his arms and gave Skywarp an annoyed look.
"So first pretend that happened."
Starscream blushed a little, but gasped dramatically and looked downwards. "Oh my gosh! Look at all that, um..." Starscream realized he had no idea what it would look like when it actually happened.
"Birth fluids!" yelped Skywarp. "Oh noes! We have to get you to the med bay!"
"Sweet Primus!" Starscream cried in fake pain. "It hurts so much!"
Skywarp arranged the pillows on Starscream's bed and then forced him to lay down. "Okay, time for the sparklings to come out!"
"No!" cried Starscream, but that was when their practice kind of hit a wall. Now that Starscream was "in the med bay", what would they do?
"I think, um..." Skywarp tapped on his chin. "I think you're supposed to do this..."
"Hey!" Starscream was startled when Skywarp grabbed his knees and forced them apart.
"Just spread your legs so the sparklings have enough room to come out," said Skywarp. "Okay, now this..."
Skywarp grabbed a pillow from his bed and shoved it in between Starscream's legs.
"What are you doing?!" Starscream demanded. "Get away from me!"
"Those are the sparklings," Skywarp explained.
"Why are they there if I haven't pushed them out yet?"
"Maybe they're only halfway out and I have to pull while you keep pushing."
"You're insane!" said Starscream. "What if you pulled their heads off? I'm not doing it!"
"Just what kind of talk is that?" Skywarp demanded. "Push!"
Starscream tried valiantly to do a fake push, grunting and straining, but of course nothing happened except a little snap of pain slightly above his waist. "Ow..."
"Take a deep breath first," said Skywarp, not taking his hands off of Starscream's knees. "In...out...push!"
"OW!" Starscream howled as he felt another pain, this one sharper.
"Ooh, good one!" Skywarp said happily, clapping.
"NO! I didn't do it on purpose!" Starscream took a deep breath or two and leaned back onto the pillows. "Okay, let's try this again."
"Right." Skywarp nodded. "One...two...three..."
"Push," they said at the same time. Skywarp was reminding Starscream about controlled breathing ("blow! blow!") and Starscream was trying to imagine what it would be like to actually push, even though to be honest he didn't even know what he was supposed to do; he figured this would come naturally on the Big Day, and for now he was just kind of flexing his stomach and butt muscles at the same time.
"Hnnngghhh...!" Right now one of Starscream's hands was on his very pregnant stomach while the other maintained a death-grip on his bedsheets.
"Do it like you're expelling gas!" Skywarp cried in a moment of apparent epiphany. "Jet fuel!"
"WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT?!" Starscream screeched. "SWEET PRIMUS!"
"What?!" Skywarp sounded startled.
"It hurts!" Starscream whined, feeling the minor pain manifesting itself near the lower end of his cockpit.
"It's not supposed to REALLY hurt yet!" Skywarp looked worried. "I'm sorry if I hurt you!"
"Maybe we're doing it wrong." Starscream took a few deep breaths again and looked down, although he couldn't see anything over his swollen midsection. "I think real pushing is based more on the...on the...on the CONTRACTIONS! OHHHH!"
"Speak to me, brother!" Skywarp cried. "Speak!"
Starscream was brought to his hands and knees as he landed on the bed, teeth clenched in pain. "GET THE MEDIC, YOU FOOL!"
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Starscream kept repeating this in his mind as he collapsed helplessly onto the bed. Skywarp's stupid practice pushing brought him into early labor. Now he was going to have to push for real and he didn't know what it would be like or if he could even do it. There were no pains for the five minutes that Skywarp was fetching Moonbeam, but just before they walked into the room the worst contraction of all so far hit Starscream hard. Oh Primus. He was in labor. He was actually in labor. Starscream's breath sped up in panic as the contraction hit its peak.
Starscream was laying sideways on the bed, clutching his stomach and moaning, when Skywarp and Moonbeam burst in. Skywarp was holding some buckets of water; Moonbeam had fresh towels, a hospital gown, and sterilized gloves.
"Oh Primus, oh Primus..." Starscream was repeating to himself in between hyperventilation as he lay on the bed, shaking and shivering. "Help me..."
Skywarp looked frightened but Moonbeam calmly sat down on the bed next to Starscream and started rubbing his back. "Calm down, Starscream. Don't panic. Everything's going to be okay. Just breathe."
"Moonbeam, I'm gonna die," Starscream moaned. "We're all gonna die!"
"You're fine," Moonbeam whispered, stroking one of his wings. "Has your energon broken yet?"
"I don't think so." Skywarp answered for Starscream.
"Doesn't look like it," said Moonbeam. "What were you two idiots doing, anyway?"
"We were practicing," said Skywarp sheepishly.
"Practicing what, dare I ask?"
"Pushing," said Skywarp. "We pretended he was having the sparklings, and I was the labor coach."
"Are you nuts?!" said Moonbeam. "You need to ask your medic before you do something like that! I'm serious. You could have really hurt him, especially in his fragile state."
"I am hurt," Starscream groaned, his breathing not slowing down.
"Listen, you have to relax," said Moonbeam, turning her attention to Starscream. "This will be a lot more painful if you're tense. When was the last pain? How long did it last?"
"Just before you came in," Starscream told her. "Maybe...ten seconds? I guess?"
"That's a five-minute interval, just about," said Moonbeam. "You've still got a lot of time to kill, but if your contractions are only five minutes apart they should be more like thirty seconds long. Just tell me when you have another. You can still talk through them, right?"
"Yes," Starscream told her. Together, she and Skywarp were able to lay him back down on the bed. Moonbeam had him turn slightly to his left side on the bed and helped him slow down his breathing. It was eight or maybe nine minutes until Starscream felt another pain, this time about twenty seconds long; then, three minutes later, a contraction lasting forty seconds but almost painless. After that, with Starscream still turned on his side and focusing on his breathing, they didn't get anything again for another twenty minutes.
Moonbeam looked puzzled. "Do you mind if I check something real quick?"
"What?" said Starscream, hugging his pillow.
"Your dilation," Moonbeam replied. "I need to check your progress."
"Well...okay." Starscream had to remove the bottom part of his armor for this, but (as she reminded him) he would've had to do that anyway eventually. Moonbeam, with her gloves on, tested dilation with her fingers while Skywarp held Starscream's hand. This had to mean something was wrong...
"Just as I thought," said Moonbeam, standing up. "I'm sorry, but you're not in labor."
"What?" said Skywarp as Starscream put his armor back on.
"Well, I couldn't even get one finger in," said Moonbeam, "and your contractions have been very irregular. You mistook your practice contractions for the real thing. And as for your breathing, you were just having a panic attack."
"Oh." Starscream's cheeks turned red and he looked downwards. "That was...but it felt so...I'm sorry for bothering you, Moonbeam."
"Don't worry," said Moonbeam, sitting down next to him. "I can't even tell you how many times I've seen it before. I mean, you're ready to have your sparkling, you're a little scared but excited too, you might get a little paranoid. Some carriers never recognize their labor until they're pretty deep in, and others see every little thing as a sign that their sparkling is coming. You did the right thing."
"I'm sorry," Starscream repeated, wiping his eyes.
"Don't be," Skywarp soothed as he gave Starscream a big hug.
"And my advice hasn't changed," said Moonbeam. "Even after this, if you think the sparklings are here, just let me know. I'd rather you have false labor again than go into real labor without letting me know."
"Okay, thanks, Moonbeam," said Starscream quietly, staring down at his lap. Skywarp watched Moonbeam gather up the medical supplies and prepare to walk out.
"I've got to talk to her," he whispered. "This has gone on for too long. I want her back."
"So go talk to her," said Starscream absently, still not looking at Skywarp, still awash in disappointment.
"Moonbeam, wait!" Skywarp called as he chased her out into the hallway.
"Skywarp?" Moonbeam sounded surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"I love you!" Skywarp cried out. "I need you in my life. Special femmes like you just don't come around every day!"
“Skywarp…” Moonbeam closed her eyes and turned her head away. “I just don’t—”
To be sure, he had been planning on exerting some dignity, but when Skywarp heard the sound of his lover’s voice about to tell him no for good, he dropped to his knees and stared up at her, tears flowing from his eyes.
“Please take me back, Moonbeam!” he begged. “Please! I’ll do everything in my power to make it up to you, I really will. Just give me another chance! I would give away my spark to hold you once again. Just don’t let our love end.”
“Now that’s the way to grovel,” said Moonbeam, and a grin spread across her face. “All right, sugar daddy, I’ll have you back…but we must do something really special. By that I do NOT mean interfacing—we have to go somewhere fancy and nice.”
“Anything your beautiful spark desires, my beautiful goddess,” Skywarp told her, lifting her up in the air. “I love you.”
Megatron was walking down the hall to the Seekers’ room. When he reached the door, he found that it was locked. This was strange, but it wasn’t a problem; he simply overrode the code and let himself in. It paid to be the boss sometimes.
Starscream was alone, laying on his bed, both hands over his sparklings. The very pregnant Seeker was looking confused, like he was about to behold a miracle but had no idea how to deal with it. It was hard to tell from this distance, but Megatron thought he saw tears shimmering in Starscream’s eyes.
“What are you doing, Starscream?” Megatron asked.
Jumping in surprise at the sound of Megatron’s voice, Starscream looked up to glare at the gray mech but then continued his sulking.
“What do you want?” he mumbled.
“I hear you had quite an event yesterday,” said Megatron, coming over and sitting next to Starscream on the bed.
“You shut your mouth!” Starscream shouted.
“What’s your malfunction?” Megatron snapped.
“Leave me alone, Megatron,” said Starscream, his voice cracking slightly. “I don’t want to be talking to ANYONE, much less you.”
“You didn’t lose them, Starscream,” said Megatron matter-of-factly. “You’re just going to have to wait a little longer.”
“I don’t want to wait a little longer!” Starscream turned to his side and scrunched his eyes shut. “I don’t get it. I feel like I want them to come out right now, but then when I thought it was actually happening I went into a panic and the sparklings could have stayed inside me forever if it meant I didn’t have to deliver. But then when I realized that I wasn’t laboring, I was so disappointed. What’s wrong with me?”
Megatron shrugged. “I think you’re a first-time carrier.”
“What?” Starscream glared at him.
“It’s possible to feel terrified and excited at the same time,” Megatron told him. “You just don’t know what it’s going to be like to give birth and what it’s going to be like to take care of two newborns. I’m new to this too. I just don’t have to shove two sparklings out of my body.”
“And you didn’t have to be pregnant,” said Starscream. “Having two sparklings inside me just wipes me out. I haven’t felt like my old self in quite some time now.”
“You will soon, when the twins are born,” Megatron reminded him, gently placing his hand on Starscream’s cockpit and stroking the swollen area, smiling slightly when he felt movement. “Restless, aren’t they.”
“Actually…I’ve noticed that they’re always more active when you’re around,” said Starscream truthfully, the familiar feeling of being sad with no reason overwhelming him again. “Remember? You were there when they first kicked.”
Megatron’s eyes were sharp and he noticed a little bit of wet in the corner of Starscream’s eyes. Starscream just felt like crying even more when Megatron wiped it away with his thumb.
“Maybe they know their sire,” Megatron said quietly, trailing one finger up, around Starscream’s spark chamber, and then back down to the sparkling-bump again. The look in his eyes was obscure, but it seemed almost like he was seeing his actual children, not just the part of anatomy that housed them.
Starscream looked into Megatron’s eyes and when their eyes met, Megatron wordlessly brushed Starscream’s cheek with the side of his hand. Was Megatron actually trying to comfort Starscream? Like he had never done ONCE before? Well, if he was, it wasn’t working. It just made Starscream feel weak.
“Why—why are you even doing this?” Starscream mumbled, helplessly wiping at his eyes. Stop! Stop crying! Why did he always have to cry when Megatron was around? It was humiliating!
“What?” said Megatron, looking up.
“I’m not going to lie to you…not today.” Starscream’s tears might not have been flowing out yet, but he couldn’t stop his words from doing so. “I feel awful. I feel disgusting! I want to fly like everybody else! Or at least be able to walk! I KNOW I’m not attractive to you anymore, so why don’t you just go away and leave me to rust?!”
“Don’t put words into my mouth,” said Megatron sharply. “I never said once that you’re any less attractive to me.”
“Maybe you didn’t SAY it!” cried Starscream. “But I lost my perfect frame, many months ago!”
“Listen to yourself!” said Megatron. “You can have it again, once the sparklings get here. I don’t think you look fat. I think you look like someone who’s thirty-something weeks pregnant with twins. And for spark’s sake, that’s what you ARE.”
“Let me finish,” said Megatron. Being strong, he was able to pull Starscream to a sitting position, and as he spoke he put one hand on the sparkling-bump, the other on Starscream’s aft. “I’m always going to think your body is perfect. I can’t help it.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“Megatron does not lie,” said Megatron. “Well…he does to humans and Autobots. But never to someone he cares about.”
Starscream pictured himself in the med bay, screaming until his voice gave out, trying to have his sparklings. How could anyone ever do that? Whoever invented the Transformers, how could they put a carrier through this nightmare?
“There’s no way I could have a sparkling,” Starscream whined, leaning into Megatron’s chassis.
“Nonsense,” said Megatron, still moving one ebony hand around on top of the sparklings, pausing whenever he felt them move. Just watching, and feeling their reaction to the attention, Starscream felt hot tears running down his cheeks.
“What if something goes wrong?” he insisted. “What if one dies or something?”
“Moonbeam is a good medic with a lot of practice,” Megatron told him. “I think that can be prevented.”
“But she hates me!”
“Do you honestly think,” said Megatron scornfully, “that any hatred she has towards you will deliberately keep her from delivering the sparklings safely?”
“Well, I suppose not.” Starscream sniffed and stared down at the floor. “It’s just…I hate the feeling of not being able to control this.”
“Some of this is out of your control, yes, but you can control how you’re going to deal with it,” said Megatron. “Think about that.”
“How I’m going to deal with pushing something alive out of my body?” said Starscream, feeling his eyes well up with fresh tears. “You didn’t see me yesterday, Megatron. I went into a full-blown panic attack.”
“Well, that seems about the worst thing you can do,” said Megatron.
“I don’t think you could ever understand,” said Starscream. By now he was staring up at the ceiling, trying to keep his tears in his eyes, but he was losing that battle; they slid down his cheeks anyway. “The only contribution you made was coercing me into ‘facing, which I’m sure you loved.”
“Starscream, you can never tell when a parent’s contribution stops,” said Megatron. But by now Starscream had pretty much dissolved into tears, tasting the unpleasant mixture of saltwater and spit in his mouth and on his lips, not being able to control how he acted or how he felt, remembering how Megatron told him that tears never solve anything.
“I’m sorry…” was all he could get out.
“Starscream, look at me,” said Megatron, his hand on Starscream’s shoulder. Starscream’s hands were over his face and his head was turned away, but at Megatron’s voice he removed his hands and looked upwards.
“What?” said Starscream shakily.
“I’ll be there, as will the medic, and we’ll make sure our sparklings arrive safely,” Megatron said gently.
“Well, I still don’t—wait a minute.” Starscream paused. “Did you just say ‘our sparklings’?”
Megatron’s crimson gaze drifted down to Starscream’s sparkling-bump. “I guess I did.”
“But you said you didn’t want them,” Starscream said sadly.
“I know what I said.” Megatron sighed. “I don’t think I ever meant it in my spark.”
“What do you mean?” Starscream asked, confused.
“How could I say I didn’t want them after I watched the sonogram?” said Megatron. “How could I say I didn’t want them after I felt them kick for the first time? After I watched everything you went through, everything we did to get ready, and then you tell me that they’re more active when I’m around…” Megatron shook his head. “They’re yours and mine alone, Starscream. We created two sentient beings, two sentient Decepticons. Who knows who they will grow up to be? What they’ll be able to achieve? I want to be a part of that.”
“Megatron…” Starscream sniffed. “You have no idea how much that means to me.”
“I can guess, my beautiful one,” Megatron said, his voice deep and low.
Starscream thought he was going to cry again for a minute, but then he put both his hands on top of the sparklings again, right where Megatron’s hand already was. The little twins kicked again—almost forcefully—and when Megatron felt it, he gently squeezed Starscream’s hand.
“It’s crazy,” Starscream whispered, his spark racing with so many emotions. “I can’t believe I’m so close to giving birth.”
Megatron still kept his hand on the sparkling-bump for a moment, rubbing it thoughtfully, almost lovingly; then he bent down and gave his future offspring a kiss.
“But every time a sparkling is born, so is a family.” Megatron took Starscream’s chin in his hands and drew his lover even closer, planting a soft, quick kiss on the lips.
Starscream was shocked. No finger-fucking? No handcuffs? No indecent exposure? Instead…a gentle kiss? Starscream wasn’t really in the mood for ‘facing, anyway, but Megatron typically preferred to be sexual, not romantic. Starscream felt tears running down his face again as he let those strong, battle-hardened arms hold him tight, and he didn’t know if they were sad tears or happy tears. Maybe both. Megatron’s kiss had been respectful, almost sweet, inviting Starscream to try again. Could it be that they were finally falling in love?
Starscream wrapped his arms around Megatron’s neck and resumed the kiss, a long and loving kiss that they both wished could last forever.