The Mech Code

18. Newborns


The little twins lived in the Seekers’ room, so they didn’t give Thundercracker and Starscream much rest at night. They apparently preferred to eat at random intervals throughout the night, and if they weren’t, they were always screaming about something. It was like living with a pair of tiny howler monkeys.

“Attention, Starscream,” Thundercracker grouched, as they heard one—no, both—of the little twins wake up, screaming. “The Terrible Two wants you again.”

With all the energy and life of a zombie, Starscream dragged himself out of the bed for the tenth time that night and trudged over to the sparklings’ crib. “You take Megs, I’ll take Stars.”

“Sorry, but I don’t have a nursing cable spewing energon, Starscream.”

“You know perfectly well that I keep bottles in the freezer, TC,” Starscream snapped. “Do you need a map to the kitchen?”

“Yeah, um, that’s kind of gross,” said Thundercracker.

“My lactation is gross?” Starscream glared at him and flicked open the top part of his cockpit, just like he had been doing every day and every night since the twins were born.

“When a sparkling throws it back up all over you, yes it is,” Thundercracker replied.

“Oh, you poor thing,” said Starscream sarcastically, looking around for something to hit him with. “Listen, I can only feed one at a time and if you don’t help, Megs will have to wait and be hungry. That’s not fair and you know it.”

“Since when did you ever care if things are fair or not?” Thundercracker lifted up his head.

“Go get a bottle and give your own slagging nephew his nourishment!” Starscream bent down and scooped his Seekerling out of the crib. “I command you to.”

“Fine, fine,” Thundercracker groaned, and headed to the kitchen.

After he left, Starscream sat down with Stars on the bed and held him, one hand behind his back, the other underneath his head. The newborn was still fussing, and apparently was refusing to eat, so Starscream stood up again, pacing around the room, gently bouncing him up and down.

“Please…” he whispered, stroking the sparkling’s wings. “It’s time to eat, okay?”

Starscream sighed. How stupid was he? Newborns couldn’t understand words. Making sure to be gentle, he nudged Stars’ head upwards and snuggled him a little closer. Finally, with a little more prodding, the sparkling latched on and Starscream was able to take him back to the bed again.

Now that he was eating, Stars looked a lot more peaceful, but it was kind of a weird thing to get used to. The sparklings seemed to want to eat all the time, and with two, that could be a nightmare. Starscream spent a lot of his time filling bottles, too, whenever the supply in the freezer was low (which happened quite often, considering the fact that they ate all day long). This was the most healthful option the twins had, but it was hard to comprehend how Starscream himself managed to survive.

It seemed like every hour of the day he was tied to the kitchen table or the couch or his bed, literally attached to a sparkling, barking orders at everyone else to do things he used to be able to take care of himself. Not to mention, it felt a little awkward to do it while everybody else was watching. Wasn’t it supposed to be private, between him and the sparkling? Eventually, using the lactation cable made him feel tired, and he might have been about to nod off, but the sound of his room door slamming woke him right up.

“Sparklings are so much work!” Thundercracker complained, banging into the room with wailing Megs in his left arm, the bottle in his right hand. “Late-night feedings, diaper duty, their screaming, spit-up—I am NEVER going to have a sparkling!”

“Oh, and we mustn’t forget Megatron’s contribution,” said Starscream sarcastically. “NOTHING.”

“What do you mean?” said Thundercracker.

“Megatron isn’t helping me out at all with these little monsters, that’s what I mean.” Starscream adjusted the sparkling in his arms. “I have to feed them at the table every morning, trying to keep my eyes open, while he just sits there sipping on a cube of high-grade—which I wasn’t allowed to have for 35 WEEKS and still can’t have because apparently it’s bad if you’re nursing—just reading his newspaper app on his data pad like the whole world revolves around him! My wings STILL are sore, and I can’t even go out flying because the sparklings need my attention every single minute. You’d think I’d catch a break with these creatures every so often, but NO! Their own SIRE won’t even help with them! Can you believe it?”

“Yes,” said Thundercracker.

“Well, I’m sick of it,” Starscream told him. “I wish he would just—”

“Hey!” Thundercracker yelled as Megs did a loud squeal and knocked the bottle out of his hand and onto the floor, and then started screaming. Hearing his brother’s wails, Stars chimed in, and soon both of the sparklings were crying.

“No!” said Starscream desperately. Not after all the time it took him to latch on…

“What do you want from us?!” Thundercracker demanded, trying to get Megs to shut up, but he wouldn’t. Then, they both heard the door opening, and the sound of a familiar voice.

“Do you two need some help?” Skywarp was smiling as he walked inside. This whole past week, Skywarp routinely checked in on the sparklings and their caretakers in the Seekers’ room. Most people knew Skywarp to be kind of childish and dumb, but as it turns out, he was extremely good with sparklings. There was just something about their Uncle Skywarp that made the twins feel so much more at peace with the world.

“Skywarp!” Starscream and Thundercracker cried at the same time.

“Thank Primus you’re here,” Starscream said. “They’ve been going on like this forever. I don’t know what to do.”

“Did you try singing to them?” Skywarp asked.

“Oh, it just makes me feel so silly,” Starscream told him. “I’m not really the type of person who likes to sing.”

“Well, it’s worth a try,” said Skywarp. “TC, bring Megs over here, will you?”

Looking exhausted, Thundercracker brought the older twin over and handed him to Starscream.

“Hold them close, so they can feel your spark beating,” Skywarp told him. Starscream nodded, shut his cockpit, and held the little twins to his spark chamber, while Skywarp started singing again:

When I was just a little boy

I asked my mother, what will I be?

Will I be handsome, will I be rich?

Here’s what she said to me:

Que sera, sera

Whatever will be, will be

The future’s not ours to see

Que sera, sera

Skywarp kept singing. When baby Stars finally started to calm down, Starscream opened up his cockpit again and the sparkling latched soon enough; Thundercracker picked up Megs’ bottle from the floor and fed him the rest of it. Once they’d finished all their nourishment and drifted into stasis again, Starscream got up and set them gently in their crib, one after the other, and kissed them goodnight.

“You know, for creatures that are basically just 400 pounds of drooling, barfing, screaming metal, they’re not so bad,” Starscream whispered, walking back to the rest of his Trine.

“How do you do that, Skywarp?” Thundercracker asked.

Skywarp shrugged. “I guess I’m just a natural.”

Thundercracker, Gemstone, Moonbeam and Skywarp were at the kitchen table, having some breakfast energon. Moonbeam was flirtatiously feeding some energon pudding to Skywarp. Gemstone looked like she was about to throw up.

“Moonbeam, Skywarp can eat his own pudding just fine,” she said angrily.

“Shut the slag up,” said Moonbeam, sticking another spoonful of the treat into Skywarp’s mouth.

“Well, y’know, Moonbeam’s right,” said Thundercracker thoughtfully. “Gemstone? Do you need some help eating your pudding?”

“I’ll share,” Skywarp told her, pushing the container over. “It’s fresh and yummy.”

“Oh, okay,” said Gemstone, and Thundercracker could’ve sworn she was blushing. She tried not to have a giggle fit while Thundercracker fed her the pudding.

Not long after, an exhausted-looking Starscream staggered into the room, trying to balance the screaming sparklings in one arm while holding their diaper bag in the other. His chassis and shoulders were covered in what looked like spit-up, and his wings were drooping. Both of the sparklings were fussing and squirming. Megs kicked Starscream in the chin. When Starscream got to the kitchen table, he collapsed into one of the chairs, letting his head land on the table with a clunk.

“Here, let me take those little darlings,” said Skywarp, quickly lifting both twins out of Starscream’s lap and proceeding to change their dirty diapers. “Did you feed them, Starscream?”

“I fed them about forty-five minutes ago,” Starscream mumbled. “So they should be getting hungry again. I don’t know why something so small needs so much energon.”

“We’ll feed them so you can rest,” Skywarp said comfortingly as he finished the diapers.

“I’ll feed one,” Gemstone offered, taking Megs out of Skywarp’s arms. “Oh, they’re so incredibly cute.”

Gemstone took two bottles out of the freezer and handed one to Skywarp. Gemstone gently rocked Megs back and forth in her arms until he stopped crying; Skywarp did the same with Stars. Finally they were calm again, reaching their tiny arms out and cooing for attention. Sparklings at that age could be adorable when they wanted to, what with their tiny arms and legs, heads that seemed far too big for their little bodies, and those gigantic, innocent eyes.

Not to mention, of course, the chirping and squealing and laughter and the joy they brought their parents in general. When you thought of what a miracle they really were—especially when it was naptime and they were quiet—it was easier to forget the dirty diapers, screaming, tantrums, biting, fights and messes that came along with parenthood.

“You really are good with sparklings, Skywarp,” Gemstone observed. “The twins just love you.”

“It seems like Megatron doesn’t love them,” Starscream groaned, lifting his head up off the table for a moment, but then letting it land back down.

“What do you mean?” Gemstone asked.

“Megatron is a horrible Daddy,” said Starscream, his voice getting louder and angrier with every word. “When I was pregnant, he didn’t seem to care about what I was going through. Now that they’re born, he NEVER feeds them their bottles, NEVER changes their diapers, never even HOLDS them! That son-of-a-glitch never does ANYTHING!”

“You know…maybe you two weren’t ready for twins,” Thundercracker said carefully.

“Well, they were an accident,” Starscream reminded him.

“I think they were a happy accident,” said Skywarp. “Look how adorable they are.”

“Look how tiny they are,” Gemstone added, kissing Megs’ shiny silver head.

“Look how innocent they are,” said Thundercracker.

“Look how…miraculous they are.” This came from Starscream, who was exhaustedly reaching his hands out for them. “Give me back my babies."

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