The Mech Code

17. Legacy


Starscream awoke groggily. As usual, his practice contractions had awoken him in the middle of the night. For a few moments he groped blindly around the area, but finally he located his glasses and looked at the glowing red clock on his nightstand. It was 3:45. Too early to be conscious, too early to be soaked with lubricant in which used to be a very intimate place, too early to be kicked by twins, so hard that it seemed like they were mad at him. For what? They should be thankful that he was their host body for 35 weeks!

“Please, stop…” Starscream whispered. “Mommy wants to sleep…just this once…”

To be honest, he didn’t know if he was saying this to the sparklings or just to his achy body in general; he’d been awakened by a sharp pain in his back that had soon gone away, but just as soon as he was about to go back to sleep, another pain came, also in his back. Why? Moonbeam had informed him that sometimes these pains came from malnutrition, or because he’d been straining himself, but he had certainly been getting enough nourishment, and how could he have been straining himself? For spark’s sake, he couldn’t even move!

But he had heard that moving positions could ease practice pains, at least a little, so he moved from his back to his left side. Several minutes later, he was rewarded with a pain in his side, like he’d just been out running (yeah right), and then another one in his back.

“Slag…” Starscream cursed quietly. Just ignore them, he reminded himself. If he ignored his pains, they would go away. Starscream turned on his side again, wishing he could go get a drink or something, maybe walk around, anything, but every time he tried to get out of bed he fell down again, exhausted with the effort. On his next try, he was suddenly struck with a sharp pain, stronger than those that preceded it, hitting him in his front and his back; he let out a scream, loud enough to wake his sleeping brother up.

“What the fuck, Screamer?” said Thundercracker, still half-asleep. “Be quiet! Why are you even awake?”

“I don’t want to be!” Starscream whined.

“Neither do I,” said Thundercracker, “so stop keeping me awake.”

“TC, these pains, what’s wrong with me?” Starscream cried. The pain had passed for now, but he was still lying curled up in his bed like a sparkling, clinging to the covers.

“Pains?” Thundercracker sat up.

“Yes.” Starscream nodded and clenched his teeth as a mild but stinging pain lingered, then faded away. “Pains. I hate being pregnant!”

“Maybe it’s the sparklings,” Thundercracker suggested. “Maybe they’re, y’know…ready to come out.”

“That can’t be!” Starscream told him. “It’s not time yet!”

“Moonbeam said twins can come early,” Thundercracker reminded him. “Makes sense to me. I imagine that eventually, the mother’s body just can’t take it any longer.”

“Yeah, well, you’re right.” Starscream scowled at Thundercracker; he didn’t know the half of it! “My body can’t take it any longer.”

Thundercracker raised one eyebrow. “And…?”

“No way,” said Starscream. “Besides, my energon hasn’t broken yet.”

“Does it need to?”

“Um…yes, of course,” Starscream replied, but he suddenly felt uncertain. Did his energon have to break before he could start having contractions? They might have elaborated on it more, but Starscream didn’t feel like it; he just shook his head, took off his glasses, and lay down again in bed. They were silent for a bit, when Starscream got hit by the worst pain of all. It felt like he’d been kneed in the back. Before he could stop it, another scream escaped his mouth, partly because of the shock and partly because of the pain. It was enough to make Thundercracker get out of bed and come running over.

“Starscream,” he said. “Starscream, are you okay?”

“No! I haven’t been okay for a long time!” Starscream yelled.

“Do you need to go to the med bay?”

“I told you, I don’t,” Starscream told him. Thirty seconds had passed; so had the pain.

“You shouldn’t just stay in bed waiting for your pains, though,” said Thundercracker. “Why don’t you go to the wash racks or something?”

“I can’t move, remember?” Starscream whined. “I can’t go anywhere!”

“I’ll help you,” Thundercracker said reluctantly. It wasn’t clear whether he actually wanted to help Starscream or if he just wanted him to shut up and get gone, but either way, he was somehow able to hoist Starscream up and out of bed; he threw Starscream’s arm around his shoulders and took him to the wash racks, which were right outside the Seekers’ room. They stumbled on the twins’ crib in the darkness, but eventually made it there in time.

Starscream was shaking and shivering a little by the time they got there, and Thundercracker was sort of worried, but oh well. Maybe he was just cold. The blue jet helped his brother off with his armor, and headed off to bed for some luxurious sleep of his own.

Meanwhile, Starscream stepped carefully into the shower and turned the water on full blast, at a very hot temperature. Heat was supposed to help pain; surely they would go away now, just as they always did. Starscream gave his lower body a once-over, hating how he had to hold onto the shower bar to keep from falling over, how unsteady, how ungraceful he felt…Even after 35 weeks, Starscream wasn’t used to the way his body looked now, and he knew that he wouldn’t snap right back into pre-sparkling mode when they came out. It would be weeks before his body readjusted to non-pregnancy mode, and even then he would never go back to his old frame completely.

Getting an eyeful of his appearance was even worse without his armor. Who knew he would get so fat? That he would be in so much pain every day? That he would keep having all these disgusting side effects that made him feel like a freak? Just some more lovely gifts from the Pregnancy Fairy, he supposed. Starscream wanted her head. Bad. Did anyone ever ask him if he wanted to be a Mommy? Did he want to be a Mommy? No, and NO!

Oh, Primus…oh sweet Primus…More pain…Starscream sat down on the shower seat, trying not to black out. Just ignore it…just ignore it…It was getting harder to ignore it.

Starscream spent a good hour in the wash racks, but that was partly because around the forty-five minute mark, he had a pain that brought him to his hands and knees and soon into a fetal position on the shower floor (pure coincidence). It felt like a giant hand was tightly squeezing his insides, clenching, releasing, clenching, releasing…That feeling had never happened before. Starscream tried to sense his sparklings, feeling for their heads, arms, legs, something, but it seemed like his sparkling-bump had fallen between his legs now. Starscream was screaming bloody murder, not hearing anything, seeing anything, not knowing anything but this sudden agony.

Next thing you know the shower curtain had been swept aside and Moonbeam came rushing in, Thundercracker not far behind her. With his help, she lifted him up, and they carried him back over to the bed. Thundercracker was ready with a towel to wipe the hot water off, and when Starscream was dry, Moonbeam slipped a pink hospital gown over his head. Thundercracker tied it in the back.

“Well, Starscream,” said Moonbeam. “Looks like you’re going to go into labor squeaky clean.”

“I heard you making all that commotion in the wash racks while I was trying to sleep,” Thundercracker added. “I figured that even if you weren’t laboring, you probably needed some kind of medical attention.”

“Thank you,” Starscream mumbled.

“Here, don’t forget these,” said Thundercracker, placing Starscream’s glasses on his head. The world became clear again. Moonbeam was looking calm, the way she always did in medical situations. Thundercracker was looking concerned.

“Moonbeam,” said Starscream quietly, shakily. “It hurts.”

“I know.” Moonbeam gently stroked Starscream’s drooping wing. “Now, come on, let’s get you to the birthing area, all right?”

Starscream leaned on Thundercracker most of the way there; he was lucky to have him. Whenever Seekers were in pain, they almost always cried out for their Trine members, first and foremost, and as for Seeker births, it was considered treachery if the mother’s Trine members did not attend (assuming, of course, that they were alive and able). The theory went that if the Trine members were there, it would make the birth go faster, as well as help all the members of the Trine bond with the new sparkling…or sparklings.

As she walked ahead of Thundercracker down the hallway, Moonbeam called Skywarp on her com. link.

“Kissy-wissy?” Skywarp mumbled sleepily. “Where are you? Are you still in bed with me?”

“No, you idiot,” said Moonbeam. “I’m on my way to the birthing area, and you’re about to become an uncle. Get Megatron, and the both of you head on over to the med bay. Is that too much for you to handle?”

“At this hour? Probably.” Thundercracker rolled his eyes.

“Megatron?” said Starscream.

“Well, he is the sire,” Moonbeam pointed out matter-of-factly. “If he doesn’t want to stay, he can leave.”

Starscream nodded; he knew he shouldn’t care whether or not Megatron stayed in the med bay during the birth, but a part of him knew that he would feel disappointed if he didn’t. Nevertheless, he kept going, Thundercracker helping him along, Moonbeam walking ahead of them, leading the way.

“Moonbeam, get them out,” Starscream begged. Now it was his hips hurting as well as his back and abdomen, and even his legs and feet a little bit.

“I’m sorry, Starscream, but it’s going to be quite a long time until you get the go-to for pushing,” said Moonbeam. “I don’t even know how dilated you are yet.”

“This is going to be impossible…” Starscream wondered how he’d managed to not burst into tears so far, but when they got to the birthing area, they found Skywarp and Megatron standing there, as well as Gemstone (who slept in the med bay).

Starscream finally broke down when he saw Megatron slowly, almost timidly offer his hand. Obviously, the birth of the sparklings was making him tense, and he was probably trying to be supportive, in his own Megatron way. Oh, how Starscream wanted to rush into his arms and cling to him and cry. But he knew that was not acceptable, and it would never be acceptable. Starscream turned away and fell into Thundercracker’s unsuspecting arms instead.

“Starscream!” Skywarp cried, rushing over to them—well, he tried to, but he crashed into the repair table instead. Rubbing his aft and walking over, he asked, “Are you okay?”

“DO I LOOK OKAY?!” Starscream screeched. “The sparklings are KILLING me!”

“Someone wake Gemstone up!” said Thundercracker. “Starscream needs the bed.”

“No time!” said Moonbeam. “Just put her on the floor!”

“Moonbeam—” said Thundercracker.

“Doctor’s orders,” Moonbeam replied, and pointed at Skywarp. “Do it, sugar daddy. I didn’t say you had to do it forcefully.”

“Whatever you wish, kissy-wissy.” Skywarp set Gemstone down on the ground, where she could sleep in peace. Unfortunately, there would be no more peace for everyone else for a long time.

Starscream was starting to get annoyed at Moonbeam’s calm, but she was the medic, so she was as professional as ever when she told him, “I can’t imagine this is a pleasant feeling, and I know it’s hard, but…you’re just going to have to wait.”

“Wait for wha—oh scrap, here come the sparklings!” Starscream cried. This was a serious, for-real contraction. It gave Starscream both that tightening, squeezing feeling and a certain amount of pressure around his lower hips. “Moonbeam, they’re gonna come out now!”

“No they aren’t,” Moonbeam soothed. “Relax.”

“YOU relax!” Starscream sobbed.

“What’s going to happen next?” Skywarp asked, looking frightened as he chewed his fingers.

“I haven’t had a sparkling myself,” Moonbeam told him, “but my patients have described it as simply the worst pain ever.”

“It’s like something’s trying to squish me!” Starscream was doubled over in pain, wailing, but by now he could only talk between contractions, not through them.

“Come on, Starscream,” said Moonbeam, taking his wrist. “Do you want to walk around a little?”

“Why do you want him to do that?” asked Skywarp. “I thought he was having sparklings.”

“When he’s walking around, gravity is on his side,” Moonbeam explained. “It’s easier for the sparklings to come out this way.”

“Yeah, only how is he going to get two sparklings out at the same time?” Skywarp still looked rather nerve-wracked, as if he was the one having the contractions. “I mean, one sparkling is one thing, but if there were two wouldn’t they get stuck?”

“The sparklings don’t come out at the exact same time, stupid,” said Moonbeam, rolling her eyes. “But don’t worry Screamer, you’ll only have to labor once.”

“I-I think I’ll…I’ll walk,” Starscream said breathlessly. “Would it really help?”

“Absolutely,” Moonbeam told him. “Just try to pace around a little. If you get tired you can always lean on something like a wall, or a person.”

Starscream began to pace around the room unsteadily, just like Moonbeam suggested, stopping every few minutes to get ahold of himself.

“What are you doing with that?” Starscream asked, leaning on a wall as he saw Moonbeam take out what looked like a stopwatch.

“Tell me when you feel your contractions,” she instructed him. “I’m going to time them.”

“B-But I…” Starscream accidentally smacked his head on the wall and fell down onto his knees as he felt a mixture of warm lubricant and raw energon running down his legs. If he was correct, his meant his energon had just broken, and his labor had officially started. Starscream gripped his forehead, which was still smarting from when he had knocked it into the wall, trying to ignore the unsavory feeling of being covered in sticky liquid as his eyes burned with tears. This was humiliating! Starscream tried to get up, but felt more back labor and stayed put.

“Get some towels, Skywarp!” Moonbeam commanded. Skywarp teleported out of the room and came back with a soft, fluffy pink towel in his hands. Moonbeam shouted at him that they were going to need more than one, and as her boyfriend disappeared again, she hurried back over to Starscream and tugged on his hand. Starscream was just thankful that someone had picked him up. They all heard a banging and the sound of running feet. Skywarp popped back into the room and handed Moonbeam all of their towels.

“Can I still walk around?” Starscream asked, chewing his fingers.

“Do whatever you want,” said Moonbeam, taking Starscream’s fingers out of his mouth.

Halfway across the room, Starscream collapsed and screamed, “SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

This one was bad. Starscream just stayed on his knees, shocked by the amount of pain this contraction brought him. Before long, Moonbeam had her hands on his shoulders, rocking him back and forth until his pain slowly subsided. Moonbeam quickly checked him for dilation.

“Four centimeters,” she said. “Almost five.”

“I don’t want to walk anymore,” said Starscream. It was extremely challenging to get up, but she helped him, and they went back to the bed.

“That’s fine,” Moonbeam replied. “The most important thing right now is to do what works best for you, whatever makes this a little bit more comfortable. You might have to try out a few positions before you find something.”

“But I don’t know any!” Starscream cried.

“Several patients of mine have found it a little more comforting to stand while someone else holds them up,” Moonbeam suggested. “That way you can be vertical without worrying about supporting your own weight. Wanna try it?”

“Try ANYTHING,” Starscream moaned as he felt another one coming. Moonbeam slipped her forearms under his armpits and let him relax a little, but her frame, tiny even for a lightweight, collapsed under the combined weight of Starscream and his two sparklings. They were on the ground now, Moonbeam looking a little embarrassed, Starscream on the verge of tears, waiting for it to pass.

“Here,” someone said shortly, and Starscream recognized the voice as Megatron’s. It was very easy for him to hold Starscream up, even though each sparkling weighed at least 400 pounds each. They stayed like that for a time, with Starscream gasping and choking in his semi-standing position as his contractions worsened, Megatron holding him up without straining himself.

“Th-thanks,” Starscream whispered during a five-minute break.

“They’re my sparklings too,” Megatron whispered back, his hot breath making Starscream feel soft and secure for a moment. As yet another contraction tore through his body, Starscream leaned his head against Megatron’s chassis and groaned. Megatron didn’t seem wore out, but Starscream felt exhausted. Slowly he sunk a little farther down into the squatting position and started squirming. Not knowing what else to do, Megatron set him down and went to stand by the bed. Moonbeam rushed over and led him back as well, then placed some soft pillows underneath his back and wings.

“Don’t lay flat on your back,” she said and, after checking again for dilation (6 cm), she turned him onto his left side. “That’s one of the worst positions in which to give birth.”

“I can’t DO this!” was Starscream’s only reply. Moonbeam had to grab his hand to keep him from biting his fingers again. It took another hour or two until Starscream unknowingly turned onto his back again and screeched something incomprehensible.

“Eight centimeters,” Moonbeam announced. Starscream of course did not hear her; he couldn’t stand it anymore. The only thought going through his head was that this was impossible, and he was convinced that labor would never end. The contractions were practically on top of each other now, hardly allowing poor Starscream a word in edgewise. Every time a pain faded away, the beginnings of a new one would arrive. And they weren’t just pains. They were sadistic monster pains. Starscream missed that feeling of being squeezed he had earlier. It had been placed by a feeling of being clawed apart by wild dogs. It was in every single one of his sensor nodes.

Moonbeam was holding tightly onto Starscream’s right arm, while Skywarp held his left; Starscream was howling in pure agony. Tears were still running down his cheeks; his glasses had been removed for the sake of safety; the contractions, about a million times worse than they were when he first started laboring, could last for up to ninety seconds, with as small as a minute’s space in between. Starscream knew, because Moonbeam was still timing them. To be honest, he still didn’t understand why, but he couldn’t ask, because if he tried to talk during a contraction, all he could get out was a little choking noise.

“Think of something else, Starscream,” Skywarp whispered. “Something happy!”

“Like—what?” Starscream grunted.

“Flying, maybe.” Skywarp shrugged. “It always makes me feel happy.”

“I HAVEN’T BEEN FLYING IN THREE MONTHS!” Starscream hollered. Skywarp nimbly dodged his fist.

“Imagine yourself ruling the Decepticons!” Skywarp said happily. “You’ve got your cape…your crown…lots of admirers…”

“If it distracts you, I’d have to say I’m all for it,” Moonbeam added. “Just imagine that you’re in a setting that makes you feel safe and relaxed.”

Skywarp’s purple hand held Starscream’s sky-blue one and squeezed it while Starscream tried to picture himself as ruler of all Decepticons. Yes, there he was, cape flying addressing the millions of Decepticons below him worshipping him below…yes, because he was on a platform, in fact they were building a statue for him…

Or maybe he was in the world’s scratchiest, ugliest hospital gown, with no control over his painful, disgusting body or whatever the fuck it was doing, on a horrible cold metal repair bed, foolish for actually thinking that he could distract himself from this.

“It’s no use,” Starscream moaned. “I’m here no matter what.”

“Here, try this,” said Thundercracker, and grabbed one of Moonbeam’s medical tools off the counter. “Just focus on this, okay?”

“Why should I?” Starscream snapped.

“I think if you focus really hard on just one inane thing, you can mentally block out your sensor nodes, maybe,” said Thundercracker. “Stare at it…stare at it.”

“That doesn’t work!” said Starscream. “I don’t have my GLASSES, remember?!”

“You can’t wear your glasses, because they could break,” said Moonbeam.

Starscream gripped Skywarp’s hand tighter and clenched his teeth together, making soft whimpering sounds as he did so. Before, Starscream had worried that he would look stupid, moaning and moving around constantly like he was in some sort of trance. But now that trance had struck him and he didn’t know the meaning of stupid.

“It hurts so bad,” he repeated, moments before going into another contraction. It was a miracle that his vocals didn’t break the windows and light fixtures. One or two more minutes passed quicker than Starscream wanted, and Moonbeam clicked her stopwatch, releasing Starscream’s arm and letting him scream his way through another contraction, this one no less than ninety torturous seconds long.

Moonbeam was annoying Starscream with her stupid stopwatch. Even the short breaks between the contractions were painful; Starscream’s stomach turned and he found himself vomiting. Skywarp started to cry, and Moonbeam told him to wipe it up with the towels.

“What?” she yelled. “You’ve never seen upchuck before?”

Skywarp messily did his best. Starscream let out a hybrid howl-moan as he felt another hard, particularly devastating wave of sparkling pain coming on. It must have been pretty loud, because that was when Gemstone finally woke up.

“Where am I?” she mumbled, rubbing her head. “Why am I on the floor?”

“Gemstone, you’re awake,” said Thundercracker, walking over to her and hoisting her up.

“M-Morning already?” Gemstone yawned and rubbed her eyes.

“Well, no, it’s more like the afternoon,” said Thundercracker.

“Why?” Gemstone asked. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t think I can put this lightly,” said Thundercracker, “but Starscream’s twins are being born, and you just happened to be sleeping in the med bay this morning when we brought him in—around four in the morning.”

“Wow! Really?” Gemstone dashed to the bed. “This is so great!”

“No! It’s h-horrible!” Starscream chocked, offering a second opinion.

“You don’t mean that, do you?” sobbed poor Skywarp.

Starscream tried to say something—he didn’t know what—but it ended in just another involuntary wail. Oh sweet Primus, things were only getting worse. Thundercracker grabbed Starscream’s hand (not so much for comfort, but mainly to keep him from gnawing his fingers off). How in the Pit was this physically possible? Starscream had EIGHT HUNDRED pounds of solid metal inside his body, working on coming out, and there was nothing he could do to get it to stop paining him. The contractions kept coming, pain after blinding pain, and Starscream just tried not to black out.

“Just hang in there, Starscream,” said Moonbeam.

Sitting up straight in bed and howling, Starscream reached his arms up to Megatron, who reluctantly picked him up. Of course, he didn’t want to, but maybe this would be over with sooner if he did. Instantly he regretted it when he felt himself being clawed by Starscream. Not only that, but now his hands were soaked in birth fluids. Oh well. It felt a little gross, to be honest, but it was natural. Megatron winced as he suddenly felt raw energon leaking out of his left shoulder blade. Maybe he hadn’t noticed it before, but Starscream sure had some sharp teeth.

“Megatron, I-I…” Starscream’s voice was blocked by another contraction. Megatron sighed. It was just as he’d predicted. Starscream was too feeble for a difficult labor. There were so many Transformers, as well as other living beings in general, who had been born this exact same way. So how could it possibly be so hard? (Of course, Megatron knew better than to say this out loud, because Starscream wouldn’t find it difficult at all to throw a fist at him.)

“Come on, let’s get you down,” said Megatron softly, setting Starscream down back onto the bed, partly because he could tell that holding him like this wasn’t working, and partly because he was tired of being scratched, pinched or squeezed whenever Starscream felt pain coming on. Starscream barely reacted to the new positioning; he just wailed even louder. Megatron looked annoyed and a little impatient, but Moonbeam sensed that he was trying to hide the worry of a new sire.

“This is a beautiful moment, Starscream,” said Skywarp, wiping his eyes (not out of happiness, but out of fear), but Starscream just swatted blindly at his clueless brother because the twins’ creation day sure didn’t feel beautiful. Every stretch, pull and tear was apparent and the only thought in Starscream’s mind was that he was going to die, and…well, actually, dying didn’t sound so bad right now.

“Moonbeam—I have to—I…” Starscream felt like his hips were going to fall off as he struggled with his body. Not only was there pain, but it felt like something was pressing down on him. In his mind he had been sort of keeping track of his contractions and had been able to predict when they were coming. But when his break was longer than usual, he got thrown off course, and nearly broke under the sparklings’ weight.

“Don’t do that now, Starscream,” Moonbeam warned him all of a sudden. “I know it’s hard, but you’re not quite there yet.”

“What?” Starscream wasn’t sure what she was talking about.

“Feel like you need to push?” Moonbeam clarified.

Starscream hadn’t recognized the feeling before. But now that she mentioned it…

“Maybe.” Starscream winced and felt a little tug of an urge. Before he could stop it, an image came into his mind of a sparkling, trying to force its way out of his body, yelling at him to push it out already!

“I said don’t push,” said Moonbeam, a little more strictly this time. “You aren’t dilated enough. If you’re going to push, you have to be at ten, and you’re only at eight.”

“So you’re—you’re basically telling me to hold them in?!” Starscream said, shocked.

“For now, yes,” said Moonbeam. “You’re most likely going to feel it on your contractions. But don’t let yourself do it.”

Starscream was dreading his contractions even more now, but he was also filled with fear—he’d heard plenty of horror stories about pushing, and they were probably well-deserved. Each sparkling was so big compared to his birth canal and valve. How would they get out? What if they couldn’t get out? Another contraction cut into his worries, and he found that the pushy feeling was a little stronger this time. Starscream leaned forward and clenched his teeth, eyes closed; Moonbeam held out her hand and shook her head. Don’t.

Starscream managed to make it through that one without doing any pushing, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to hold them in for much longer. On his next contraction the urge hit him again, this time quite significantly. That squeezing feeling was back, only it was adding more pressure than pain this time.

“Focus on your breathing,” Moonbeam told him. “In and out. Like you’re blowing out a candle.”

“Or sneezing,” Skywarp suggested.

“No, ‘Warp, it’s nothing like that,” said Moonbeam.

“She’s right, Screamer.” Thundercracker placed his arm behind Starscream’s back. “Pretend they’re your sparklings’ birthday candles.”

This made Starscream smile, at least for a little bit, and it worked. Thundercracker held his hand while he focused on countering his urges. It got worse. Moonbeam was waiting, Skywarp next to her. Thundercracker was still holding Starscream's hand. Starscream couldn't shake the image of the first sparkling inside of him, trying to get out of his body.

Starscream was having trouble with his blowing/breathing as his mind focused more and more on how much he wanted to push. Even though he felt silly, Thundercracker ended up doing the breathing exercises too, just so Starscream would be able to follow along.

"Moonbeam, I think they're ready now," Starscream moaned desperately, but Moonbeam shook her head.

"Just follow me, remember?" Thundercracker said, continuing his breathing. In, out, in, out. It was like torture, but finally, Moonbeam announced that Starscream no longer needed to fight it.

“Okay, listen up, Starscream,” said Moonbeam. “You’re going to work on pushing the first sparkling out now. After he’s born, you’ll stay dilated enough for the second one to come out. You’ll still have to push, but the second one takes a lot less time than the first. You’re going to make it out alive.”

“Starscream! Did you hear?” Skywarp asked, but to Starscream his voice sounded far away; he was squeezing Thundercracker’s hand so hard that the blue jet was wincing in pain; his other hand was clenching onto the side of the repair table, almost hard enough to leave dents; he was trying so hard to deal with the impossible amount of stabbing pain and pressure he felt on his abdomen, back and hips. It didn’t feel like he was giving birth to a sparkling; it felt like he was giving birth to a planet.

“Focus on your sparklings, Starscream,” Moonbeam was saying. “Birthing takes concentration.”

“That is a lot messier than I thought it would be,” Skywarp said nervously.

“Well, you do know part of the pregnancy weight is raw energon and lube,” said Moonbeam.

“No, I didn’t know that,” said Megatron. “And I don’t think I needed to.”

“That’s what medics do,” Gemstone was heard saying. “They work with gross things.”

What the fuck?! How many people were staring at his private regions now, anyway? Did they have no sense of modesty? The medic was one thing, but he didn’t need a slagging audience.

“Shut up, you idiots!” Starscream told them, sounding perfectly logical to himself but to the rest of the room he sounded like a lunatic.

“Listen, you really shouldn’t be flat on your back like this,” Moonbeam replied. “Why don’t we try something that might feel a little better?”

“Like what?” asked Thundercracker, letting go of Starscream’s hand.

“Hmm…” Moonbeam shrugged and pulled her rolling spinny chair over. “Sit here.”

Thundercracker helped Starscream out of bed and he sat backwards on the chair. It felt a little better on his back. Gemstone massaged his wings while he pushed through the contractions.

“Remember, your body’s not your enemy, Screamer,” Thundercracker reminded him, patting his wing. Starscream wondered what he meant by this until he realized his body was still giving him that pushy feeling. Why not just let his body help him?

Starscream leaned his head on the backrest of the chair, hugging it tight, and breathed deeply into his pushes. It sounded like he was panting, the way you do after a long, long run, but the better he was breathing, the better the sparklings were breathing, too. Skywarp had the decency to rub his back a little, which felt amazing.

“Keep at it, Starscream,” said Moonbeam. “Remember, with each and every push your sparklings are closer to being out.”

“That much closer to meeting you,” Skywarp added, and the encouragement this provided was monumental.

After some time the urges got stronger, enveloping Starscream’s entire body. Soon enough he felt a need to change positions; he found himself crouching by the side of the bed in a squatting sort of position, plenty of towels underneath him, using Earth’s strong gravity to his advantage. When he concentrated, he felt the sparkling move with each push—after that he started to push harder, eventually letting his body take complete control. There was some tension, and even more pressure, but the contractions had been so much worse. Now he knew the first sparkling was on his way out and the end was in sight.

Since he was starting to have trouble holding himself up, Starscream reached out one hand and Megatron grabbed it, interlacing his fingers through Starscream’s, while Starscream threw his other arm up on top of the bed. Even though he’d been trying to remain calm throughout this whole thing (which was taking much longer than he was expecting, by the way), Megatron couldn’t help but feel a little bit of pity for the Seeker who was delivering his sparklings. Look at that amount of effort, he thought; he had never seen Starscream so fixated on one thing, his eyes shut tight in exertion, his jaw clenched, breathing hard.

“Keep pushing,” he said quietly, kneeling down so that they were eye-level. “Almost there, Starscream.”

Starscream was still as vocal as ever, alternating between screams and moans. Right now, he looked like he was in the pain of his life, and he had been. But the truth was, this was starting to feel sort of…good. Pushing was almost a relief compared to what he’d been feeling before.

“That’s perfect, Starscream!” someone said. It sounded like Gemstone’s voice, but Starscream was focusing on his sparklings right now. Besides, he knew he was doing it right—this feeling was telling him so.

As time passed, Starscream instinctively spread his legs a little wider, still squatting on the ground, and felt some real pain again. It was similar to the feeling he got when his valve had first been stretched—when he was first spiked (by Megatron). Not to mention that was the first time he’d bled during interfacing. By now his valve was stinging and burning a lot, and he squeezed Megatron’s hand tighter.

“Lean your head back, Starscream,” said Moonbeam, placing one small black hand on Starscream’s forehead, the other on the inside of his thigh. “Your sparkling is crowning.”

“It’s crowning?” Thundercracker asked. “As in, you can see its head?”

“Yes,” said Moonbeam seriously. “Breathe, Starscream, breathe.”

Starscream tried to instill the technique he’d been using earlier—BREATHE, push, BREATHE, push, BREATHE, push…Moonbeam waited patiently, kneeling on the floor next to Starscream. One hand was on his upper back, between his shoulder blades, and the other on his hip. Even though the burning was getting worse, Starscream continued on and after about fifteen more minutes of pushing, the first sparkling finally emerged.

Moonbeam cut and clamped the sparkling’s cord and then wrapped him in a towel. Maybe it was because he was the sparkling’s sire, or maybe it was simply because he was the closest nearby, but Moonbeam thrust the little bundle in Megatron’s arms. As the new sire tried to recover from shock and at the same time focus on not dropping the screaming sparkling on its head, Moonbeam went back to helping Starscream, this time with Twin Number Two.

“Did that one have wings?” Skywarp asked. “I didn’t see.”

“No,” said Megatron. “So the next one will.”

“How do you know?” said Moonbeam.

“I saw the sonogram, that’s how I know,” Megatron replied, tentatively adjusting the sparkling in his arms.

“Wouldn’t wings hurt coming out?” Gemstone asked. “I mean…those things look sharp.”

“Only very slightly,” Moonbeam told her. “Seekerlings come out with their wings downwards, and they don’t perk up until they’re a few days old. So basically, this sparkling will have a little obstruction, but nothing abnormal or particularly more painful. Besides, we Seekers have been giving birth for billions of years. If all of them can tolerate it, so can Starscream.”

“It—it doesn’t matter,” Starscream said; he was just so happy to be getting a Seekerling. As soon as the first sparkling was out, the second one started making its way into the world. Starscream didn’t think the pushy feeling could get more overwhelming, but it did, so he continued to wail as Twin Number Two steadily moved down and out. It took only two pushes for the sparkling to crown; it burned like fire, but Starscream wanted to meet the sparkling ASAP.

The Seekerling didn’t come out as fast as the first; as with most Seekerlings, the wings had to be adjusted once or twice, and when it got to that point where the wings were wider than the head’s circumference, it took a bit of extra force, but Starscream’s body was built for that. It was a lot easier with everyone cheering him on. Moonbeam seemed to be taking care of everything simultaneously, keeping things successfully under control as she helped guide the second sparkling out. Even though she and Starscream didn’t generally get along, even he felt like she should win an award for her performance today.

But Starscream was about to get an award of his own—well, two, to be exact.

The pain from the Seekerling’s wings was sharp and stinging, but with a few more pushes they were out. Another two, and the sparkling’s body was out. Moonbeam did the same as she had with the first sparkling—cut the cord, wrapped it up to keep it warm and comfy—but this time she carefully set it in Starscream’s arms. Starscream fell out of his squatting position and sighed with relief; his first instinct was to put one hand underneath the little bundle and hold it against his shoulder, hugging it close like it was a part of him—after all, it was a part of him. Starscream could still feel its spark beating in time with his.

“You’ve got yourself two little mechs,” said Moonbeam. “Give them a warm welcome.”

“Starscream,” said Skywarp tearfully, coming over to sit next to his brother and two nephews. “The Seekerling—he looks just like you.”

Twin Number Two did look exactly like his Mommy. Same black helmet, red-and-white wings, bright blue forearms. The sparkling was crying, a lot, his little blue hands balled into fists. Starscream estimated his wingspan was only about a foot or two long.

“Oh, he’s so beautiful, Starscream,” Gemstone whispered.

“Can’t I hold the first one too?” Starscream asked.

Megatron nodded and handed over the other sparkling, who turned out to be just as perfect; he looked more like his sire, with his shiny silver body and black hands. Megatron was no longer the only Decepticon to have that infamous bucket head. Both of them were crying so much. Starscream rocked them, telling them not to cry, they would be okay.

“Someone hand me my glasses,” Starscream said shakily. “I want to see them for real.”

“No problem,” said Thundercracker, and handed them over.

Once Starscream could see properly, the look of wonder and amazement on Starscream’s face became only more pronounced.

“Oh, Megatron, they’re so perfect,” Starscream whispered, kissing each little helmet over and over again. “I would do it all over again in a spark-beat.”

Starscream still had a little bit of vomit on his chest (luckily, the majority of it had just landed on the hospital gown), and there were dirty towels everywhere. The bed and the floor both were soaked with lubricant and raw energon, and so were Starscream and the sparklings. In fact, the whole area was a mess. But the cleaning could wait. Right now, nothing was more important than bonding with two healthy new sparklings.

“I hate to be a killjoy, but we forgot something important,” said Moonbeam. “They need designations.”

Megatron took both twins from Starscream and held them up. “They shall be named Megatronus I and II—in order to carry on my legacy.”

“Get over yourself!” Starscream reached out his arms, grabbing for them back. “They should both be named after me!”

“Over my dead body!” Megatron yelled.

“That can be arranged,” Starscream said nastily.

“Don’t you two ever stop fighting?” Moonbeam sounded exasperated. “That doesn’t even make sense. Just name one of them Megatron Jr., and the other Starscream Jr.”

“Yeah, only that’s too long,” said Gemstone, as Megatron set the sparklings back into Starscream’s arms. “The first one should be named Megs, and the second should be Stars.”

“Actually, that’s kind of cute,” said Thundercracker, slipping his arm around her waist. “Good job, hon.”

“Stars and Megs it is, then.” Starscream smiled. “I like it.”

“Um, Starscream?” Skywarp stammered. “Is it okay if I…y’know…?”

“Of course,” Starscream laughed. Skywarp reached out and Starscream let him hold Stars.

“Welcome to our world, Stars,” he said, holding the Seekerling close, tears running down his cheeks. “I-I’m your Uncle Skywarp. You and your brother are even better than I thought you would be. I will always be here to sparkling-sit.”

Meanwhile, Gemstone and Thundercracker got to hold Megs. Thundercracker held Megs in his palm. Gemstone tickled him, and he let out a tiny happy baby giggle. Then both sparklings were handed back to Starscream. Before long, they had both drifted off into peaceful stasis, their large sparkling eyes shut tight, their breathing soft and steady.

Starscream cradled both sparklings in his arms and held them close to his chassis, so that they could feel his spark beating again and know that he was still there and always would be. For the past 35 weeks or so, they had felt and been comforted by the sound of his spark-beat every day, and it was where they felt safest. The bond hadn’t broken at all. Stars reached out both sky-blue arms and snuggled Starscream’s thumb, his wings twitching a little in his sleep.

“I’m so tired,” Starscream mumbled, yawning as he pulled the sparklings closer. “Why am I so tired?”

“Well, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Gemstone. “That was near eleven hours of childbirth.”

Starscream’s wings had perked up immediately when Moonbeam had handed him the sparklings, and they were drifting into their normal appearance as he continued to fuss over them, with Skywarp, Thundercracker and Gemstone hovering around, doing the same.

Megatron, meanwhile, was still kneeling by the side of the bed, one hand on his knee, the other behind Starscream’s back. The look on his face was serious as he watched his sparklings sleep, but he looked up when he heard Moonbeam’s voice.

“They’re your sons, too, y’know.” Moonbeam smirked. “I think you can show some sentiment for once.”

“Sentiment is for Autobots,” Megatron reminded her as he stood up. “But I am pleased to see that my offspring arrived safely.”

“Although not without some difficulty on the mommy’s part.”

“Well, as they say, no pain, no gain,” said Megatron.

“As you know, I’m a general practitioner,” Moonbeam told him. “But delivering sparklings has always been my favorite job.”

“Why is that?” Megatron asked.

“It’s the only time I’m helping a patient with something good and natural,” Moonbeam replied. “And then, when I let the carrier hold the sparkling for the first time? I can see love, amazement, disbelief, all in one glance. It’s priceless.”

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