Transformers is (c) to Hasbro.
Day Lily, Crosswise, Nightshade, and Light Streak are (c) to me.
No taking without asking.

Dancers belong to Okami-Chan from "Rhythm and Hues".
I borrowed the idea of femme-in-hiding from P.A.W.07's "Promise Not to Tell".
Carrying belongs to Litahatchee from "Night Fire".
Subadults belong to LittleMewLugia from various fics. ^o^

Constructive criticism is always welcome. Especially if it involves grammar.

This is just a one-shot so that everyone who has put this story on Alert gets something new to read (yay for awesome readers, by the way) and so that y'all aren't confused if/when you do read the sequel. This has been written for a while, but I never posted it here because I forgot to.

This version has been edited and altered from the DeviantArt version. If you're already read this, feel free to disregard this update. ^^ There isn't anything that has been changed super drastically except for the implied time frame. In the original version, it implied that this occurred way after the trial, when in reality it was supposed to happen only a few months afterward.

Thank you all for being such awesome readers. Enjoy the tidbits. :D

"Ratchet? I think we need to talk," Day Lily said, placing her hand on Ratchet's shoulder. The mech was taut, almost at his wit's end.

"Please leave, Day Lily. I have no desire to be harped on by you, Moon Racer, and just about everyone else," Ratchet said. Day Lily ignored the tightly reigned anger.

"No, I will not leave. You and I need to discuss a few things. Either you can come with me quietly, or I will let everyone in this room know how you have been treating my daughter," Day Lily said lowly. Ratchet glared at her, but rose when she began to move away. He followed her out of the officer's lounge area as he tried to ignore the curious stares. Once within the privacy of one of the empty offices, Day Lily sat down. Ratchet followed suit.

"Now," Day Lily began pleasantly, "why did my daughter come to me at four in the morning, sobbing?" Ratchet narrowed his optics. Day Lily returned the gesture, her acid green optics glinting dangerously in the halogen lights.

"It's none of your Primus-damned business, Day Lily," Ratchet snapped back, "I would appreciate it if you minded your own business for once."

"It becomes my business when my only daughter is involved," Day Lily shot at him, "even though she may belong to you through your bond, my maternal rights will always supersede yours. Compute?" Ratchet did not respond, for he knew that he could not argue with Day Lily. Nightshade may have belonged to him, and he may have belonged to her, and each half of their spark may have been equal in magnitude, but their bond could never replace the link between mother and daughter.

"Now please explain your side of the story to me," Day Lily said. She was pleasant and serene once more.

"I said things I shouldn't have said," Ratchet grumbled quietly, "and everything I said was in – well, at least I thought - was in full privacy with Ironhide." Ratchet was still upset that Nightshade had listened in on his conversation with Ironhide.

"Very well. What exactly did you say?" Day Lily asked. Ratchet heaved a sigh from his exhaust and crossed his arms over his chest.

"I only spoke the truth. Ever since Streak's birth, she has been unnecessarily clingy. She's been pestering me to adopt the girls and one of the younglings," Ratchet said. His frown grew deeper, "I asked her to wait until Streak was well settled in before we even discussed adding to our family, but she refused to listen. She's acting like a rotten sparkling, and it's really starting to irritate me."

"Have you tried asking her why she's being clingy, Ratchet? I acted the same exact way after I had Nightshade," Day Lily said, shrugging her shoulders delicately, "she's only seeking your presence for you to help nurture Streak."

"Be that as it may, Day Lily, but I cannot tolerate her presence twenty four hours a day! I love her dearly, don't get me wrong, but it's damn near impossible to work and live with your bonded. You know I need my space, but when I ask her for space, she immediately assumes that I am upset with her."

"I'll ask you again. Have you tried talking to her?"

"She won't listen, Day Lily!"

"She's used to getting her way, Ratchet," Day Lily said, "and you – "

"I will not cater to her every whim, Day Lily," Ratchet said, interrupting the femme, "she needs to learn that things aren't always going to go her way."

"Which was what I was going to say," Day Lily said darkly, "Nightshade has been given anything her spark desires by Crosswise since the day she was old enough to start making demands. Even now that she's your mate and responsibility, Crosswise still buys her dance materials. He still treats her like she was a little sparkling. You're going to have to be patient with her, Ratchet, at least until she realizes that the world does not revolve around her."

Ratchet rubbed his face plates wearily, letting the soft polymer coating his fingers soothe away the aches of his tense cables.

"What else did you say?" Day Lily asked softly.

"I said that she was irritating the slag out of me," Ratchet said bluntly, "and that I needed my space. Ironhide asked about Streak, and I said that I needed to get away from him, too, if only for a few hours. There's only so much screaming from a sparkling that I can handle at once, and six hours of Streak doing whatever the slag he pleases because Nightshade won't tell him no grates on my last neural."

"No wonder she was upset."

"So you're going to leap to her defense immediately? I should have known better than to confide in you," Ratchet spat out, his irritation returning full-force.

"I wasn't trying to defend her, nor was I trying to defend you," Day Lily said, scolding him like a naughty youngling. He gave her an intense glare, but he didn't continue.

"Ratchet, she may know that mechs and femmes are programmed differently, but she doesn't understand how. You need to reassure her that you do love Streak."

"Did she say that I didn't?" Ratchet asked immediately.

"No, she didn't accuse you of that," Day Lily said mildly, "I know how much you love Streak. It's rare that a sparkling goes to its mech creator for love and comfort at such an early age. Haven't you noticed how much he wants to be with you? Not many mechs are able to connect with their sparkling so soon in life, Ratchet. You're doing a wonderful, wonderful job with him. I wish that the other mechs here on base were as sensitive to their sparkling's needs as you are."

Ratchet nodded, still a little uncomfortable.

"She only wants you to be able to experience the bond that she and Streak share. I'll explain to her that it won't happen overnight. It will take several vorns before your bond with Streak is strong enough to be like hers. But you must be patient, Ratchet."

"I'm trying," he said, sounding defeated, "I'm trying as hard as I possibly can. There are things about her that make me want to lock her into a closet and leave her there." Day Lily frowned at him, opening her mouth to chastise him.

"I would never do that, Day Lily, but I have contemplated it. You can't sit there and honestly tell me that Crosswise doesn't have any 'quirks' that wouldn't make you consider the same," Ratchet interrupted. Day Lily nodded.

"I will admit that I have contemplated dismembering him," Day Lily said politely, "but why would you even consider that, Ratchet? Nightshade is a good femme –"

"She is a wonderful femme, Day Lily. I can count a dozen things about her that irritate me. She takes up the entire berth. She is obsessive compulsive about her dancing materials. She pouts. She whines. She's always with Streak. She never pays me any attention – we haven't spark bonded in six orns, Day Lily. I'm about to go mad. She always insists on full-grade energon. She won't touch mid-grade or low-grade energon, even she knows the only difference is mineral content. She wants a dozen more sparklings. She – "

"I think I get it," Day Lily said dryly, "and all short-comings aside, she's still your femme."

"I know, Day Lily. I know."

"And what else did you say?" Day Lily asked.

"She pesters me all the time. Asking me what something is for. What something does. Where something goes," Ratchet groused, sliding down slightly in his seat. Day Lily laughed quietly. He gave her an insulted look.

"Ratchet, she's the most curious femme I have ever met. Would you prefer that she go to someone else to satisfy her curiosity?"

"No. I suppose not," Ratchet grumbled quietly, "but I do get a little irritated when she asks me to look something up on the Internet for her. She has wi-fi, satellite hacking capabilities, and an entire fragging library, but she still wants me to do it for her."

"Because she wants you to know that you'll always be the one she goes to when she needs something," Day Lily said softly, "she expresses herself differently, Ratchet. I've known her for her entire life, and I barely know how she functions. It may be because of her seclusion at the dance academy. I don't know. I know I've already told you this, Ratchet, but you must be patient with her."

Ratchet nodded wearily.

"I know," he said softly, "it's just that she acts so immaturely at times."

"She was only eleven vorns out of her sub-adult stages when you proposed bonding," Day Lily said quietly, "she was still an innocent, and you knew that."

"Should I have waited?" Ratchet asked.

"Yes, and no. I say yes because she is my daughter. Nightshade never had a steady relationship with a mech before you. All of her previous suitors lasted a vorn or two at a time. You and Nightshade knew one another for only a few stellar cycles before you bonded, Ratchet. Ten years is an infinitesimal amount of time compared to something that will last for an eternity."

She paused for a moment.

"I say no because of what I know now. If you had waited to bond with her, perhaps Starscream would have taken her from you. Perhaps Streak wouldn't have been created. Perhaps she would have been killed. I do not know, Ratchet, but I would not have it any other way."

Ratchet nodded, shuttering his optics. He had leapt into his relationship with Nightshade without a moment of hesitation or thought. They had decided to bond only because of a spur-of-the-moment decision, and now he was starting to see why Ironhide had warned him to not think with his spark.

"She was still very new to her role as your mate when she conceived, Ratchet. She's still learning how to be a proper mother. She needs your guidance."

"I've tried to help her with Streak, Day Lily, but she snaps at me and tells me to get out of her way," Ratchet said, "don't you think it hurts me when she takes Streak away from me? When she says I'm not interacting with him correctly?"

Day Lily placed her hand over his.

"Rearing a sparkling is very difficult, Ratchet. Tell her that she needs to explain these things to you because you can't read her computing center. I did it to Crosswise, too, and I didn't know how badly it hurt him. Perhaps I should talk to her. I never had the chance to teach her what was expected of her as a mate and mother."

"Please do."

Day Lily nodded.

"Is there anything else you would like to discuss, Ratchet?"

"She keeps asking for another sparkling, Day Lily – "

"And that would only deteriorate your relationship further, Ratchet. A second child would not be the wisest decision. How does she not understand?"

"I know, Day Lily, but she doesn't seem to want to understand why," Ratchet said quietly, sounding defeated.

"A femme will always bear the curse of needing to pass on her spark," Day Lily said quietly, "and she'll feel it even more so because her conception rate is at the highest it will ever be in her lifetime. The probability of her conceiving is probably one or even two percent."

He nodded.

"Do you think you will ever be ready for another one?" Day Lily asked softly.

"I might be, but not for a long while."

He stared down at his hands for a few moments.

"She wants for the both of you to have what Crosswise and I share. It's going to be difficult work, but at least the two of you knew one another before being bonded," Day Lily said, giving Ratchet a small smile.

"You mean you didn't know him?"

"Primus, no. My family found out we were sparkmates and they set our bonding ceremony for the very next vorn. I didn't even know his name. At least then I knew I would never need anyone else in my life. Crosswise and I have been bonded longer than you have been alive, Ratchet. It's going to be a very long time before you and Nightshade share something of the same magnitude."

Ratchet nodded.

"No one ever said that being bonded was easy," Day Lily sighed quietly, "there were days where I was prepared to shoot him to put us both out of our misery. I'm certain he had his days where he would have willingly strangled me." A ghost of a smile crept across her face.

"But I eventually came to love him, Ratchet. Our bond only amplified it, and after that, things fell into place. You and Nightshade will be fine if you talk about your relationship. You must always remember to cherish what you have. Not everyone has a mate and sparkling to come home to at the end of every shift," Day Lily reminded quietly. Ratchet gave a slight smile. He nodded.

"Please, Ratchet, please have the patience to guide her through this," Day Lily said, gripping his hand tightly, "I know she's difficult at times." At Ratchet's snort, she elaborated. "Very well, I know she's a difficult femme, but she loves you more than you will ever know." Ratchet smiled again.

"I love her, too," he said.

"Don't tell me that, Ratchet. She's the one you need to be saying that to."

"Thank you, Day Lily."

"You're very welcome, Ratchet. You know you will always have a free audio receptor should you ask."

He smiled one last time, and after a few minutes of companionable silence, they parted ways.

Short, but enticing, no?