Title: Cold Words and a Warm Kiss.
Rating: PG-13 - Pre-Earth.
Pairings: Implied Ironhide x Ratchet x Wheeljack.
Characters: Barricade, Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Optimus Prime, The Allspark? Jazz, OC Beta, and a 'Surprise'?
Summary: Barricade wants to have control over something in his life, the Allspark grants him his wish but the war changes everything.
Notes: This is my take on a plot bunny spawned by cheysulinight. The Ironhide-Ratchet-Wheeljack 'pairing' is a nod to wilderness.

Thanks to nkfloofiepoof & okamimyrrhibis in LJ for beta reading this for me.

Sharp claws brushed along the cold metal plates of the protoform on the table, bright red optics studying the basic, bare shape waiting for life to be infused within, a life that would be his - his creation, his offspring, his child.

Barricade tore his gaze away of the head of the lifeless shell that awaited the grandiose moment when the Allspark would tear a fragment from Barricade's own spark and infuse the protoform with a life and personality of its own and would grant the frail protoform the capacity of generate a protective shell and, thus, transform.

He had worked with diligence and secrecy, orns and orns collecting the appropriate pieces and materials, putting together the basic schematics and assembling the diminutive body. It had taken so long to reach this point when all he needed were just a few more pieces to finish the basic body and take the shell to the Allspark and receive its blessing.

He had carefully planned each stage of the work he was engaged in, hacking security cameras to appear deep in recharge while he worked on his personal project and scrapping and smuggling materials carefully into the stronghold of the Lord High Protector, Megatron.

All of Barricade's life was devoted to his lord - his unwavering loyalty, his body if his lord pleased, and his life if it was needed. But, just once, he wanted something his and his alone, something Megatron couldn't have, something his Lord would have no reign over. And, soon enough, his wish would become reality.

It took a couple of cycles to finish the diminutive shell, but Barricade couldn't shake away the pride he felt when he watched the finished protoform. He was no expert engineer, but the little protoform was solid and as perfect as it could be considering the secrecy of its construction. One more orn - just one more orn, and he could take the shell to the Allspark.

It wasn't often Barricade had any semblance of a day off-duty, but he had arranged for his day off to be scheduled the same orn the current guardian squad of the Allspark would switch from Megatron's forces to Optimus Prime's to ensure no one would recognize him.

It was a common occurrence - every orn, at least one or two Cybertronians would approach the Allspark with the intent of creating life. His own approach would go with little notice or care from the Autobots who guarded the sacred cube. Sneaking back into his quarters with the new life was going to be harder, but he had devised a plan for that already.

As he stood in awe before the towering form of the Allspark, Barricade couldn't help but wonder what had created it, what or who provided it with the ability to create worlds and grant life.

With a last glance to the lifeless shell held easily in his clawed hands, the black and white Decepticon stood closer to the Allspark and waited patiently for the cube to act. Like a dormant giant, the Allspark emitted a gentle glow while blue lightning ran through its surface, reaching for the lifeless body. Barricade watched the little protoform being taken from his hands by the streams of light and energy, manipulating the basic body and reshaping it.

Engrossed as he was in the observation of the Allspark at work, he barely registered the moment a bolt of energy struck him. It was painless and actually rather pleasant and soothing, and before he knew it, he felt his body arching back, tossing his head back before his jaws opened on their own to allow a tiny ball of light to escape through it and dive forward into the awaiting body.

Whatever happened for the next few moments was a blur in his processors. One moment, he had been struck by the Allspark, and the next, he was holding the newly reshaped body he had carefully put together through the orns, alive and staring at him with the understanding they were connected from that point onwards.

Keeping the sparkling a secret had been a difficult task but one Barricade had managed to carry through without further complication. The sparkling was quiet, recharging most of the time. It had developed a pattern in its activity cycles, recharging during Barricade's active duty and onlining when the soldier approached the hidden chamber in his quarters where its construction had taken place through the orns.

Barricade was meticulous about the care of his offspring, interacting as much as was necessary to allow the sparkling to imprint on him, to recognize him as the source of its well being. These were moments the Decepticon soldier had for himself and his creation, something entirely his where his Lord had no saying and no reign -- anything good or bad that was to happen to the sparkling would happen by his own volition, his own whim. Megatron could have his life, but he would never, ever, have his sparkling.

The sparkling was still frail and fairly helpless, dependant entirely on the care of the black and white mech, and Barricade preferred it this way because it made him feel in control. He could starve the little thing if he wanted, or he could nourish him with the best Cybertron could offer -- the decision was his.

But just as he had gathered the best materials he could get his claws on for its construction, he would spare nothing for the proper nourishment of his sparkling. He would shape him up to be the best of the best in whatever talents the Allspark had granted him. The war, however, had other plans.

There was no warning, and all of sudden, he and his fellow Cybertronians were thrown in a conflict for dominance over the Allspark. Barricade couldn't say he didn't expect it to happen sooner or later, but he hadn't expected it to happen this soon. There was no doubt for him regarding his own involvement in the conflict, but the same couldn't be said about his sparkling. He could hand him over to his Lord and give up any power he had over the developing Cybertronian, or he could give him away to anyone but Megatron.

His creation had been an act of selfishness, of Barricade's own desire to have power and control over something. Megatron had found a way to deny him even that.

The soft whimpers and clicks coming from the small tank that served as crib and recharge berth for the sparkling claimed his attention. "Quiet." His command wasn't affectionate but still held enough gentleness to quiet down the sparkling. Barricade humored the sparkling by offering his clawed fingers for the diminutive, equally claw-tipped hands to play with while the soldier pondered his options. One way or another, the sparkling would be taken from him. His last bout of control over the infant would determine who he was going to hand him to.

Barricade allowed a soft growl to rumble in his throat and finally reached a decision about the fate of his child. The adult mech stood and moved around the hidden chamber, gathering supplies and charging up the sparkling's recharging tank to sustain him through the following cycles.

Barricade was a fairly small mech compared to some of the more imposing Cybertronians who composed the ranks of the Decepticons. That allowed him to master the art of infiltration and espionage, abilities he was now making full use of to carry his sparkling to one of the cities that had been declared neutral where an old acquaintance lived.

Beta, a first generation female who was among the first to be created by the Allspark, and his former trainer, was the only one he could entrust his sparkling to. She lived in one of the busiest parts of the city where his presence would go unnoticed -- everyone was too busy with their own business to pay mind to a lone mech carrying a recharging tank.

"Barricade?" Beta looked down to the shorter mech and raised an optic ridge when she recognized what he carried with him. "What is going on?"

"Beta, ma'am," Barricade nodded to his trainer, one of the few mechs he held any degree of respect for. "I have to ask a favor from you."

"Does Lord Megatron know you're here?" She moved aside and allowed her former trainee into her quarters.

"He doesn't," Barricade looked around for a moment before he set the tank down in a nearby table. "I need to entrust him to you." He nodded towards the tank containing his sparkling.

"Is he yours?" The larger female took the tank in her larger arms, studying the infant recharging within.

Barricade nodded. "You, too, must leave. Lord Megatron's forces will target this city in less than five orns."

The older female nodded and heaved a sigh, tearing her gaze from the recharging sparkling back to her former trainee. "You're sure you don't want Lord Megatron to..."

Barricade shook his head and made his way towards the doors. "Leave soon."

"Does he have a designation?"

Barricade looked over his shoulder to the large female who had groomed him into the warrior he was. "Yes."

"Ironhide, report your status." Optimus Prime paced slowly around the room of the command center of the Autobot base.

"Sorry, Prime. I couldn't make it in time. She's gone." Ironhide's voice was solemn while he relayed the bad news to his commander.

"Understood," Optimus Prime dropped himself into his seat, rubbing the bridge of his nose. A few cycles ago he had received a call from Beta who had been one of his caretakers as a sparkling. She had asked for his help to escort herself and a sparkling under her care out of the Neutral territories, but they had been too late. "And the sparkling?"

"The sparkling's as fine as he can be. I'm in Autobot territory now and heading to the base. I'll be there in a few breems."

"Thanks, Ironhide." The Autobot leader shuttered his optics and cleared his intakes. The war had just begun, and the losses were already alarming. Optimus opened a com-link with the base's medical bay. "Ratchet, this is Prime."

"Ratchet here, what is it?"

"Think you and Wheeljack have enough room for another incoming sparkling?" This was the second sparkling in just a few orns since the hostilities began.

"I believe we can fit another just fine, but we'll need to fit some spare rooms into a nursery if you intend to host any more sparklings at the rate we're going." Ratchet looked over to his partner who was currently setting down an orphaned sparkling into a playpen of sorts.

"We'll talk about that once the new sparkling is here." Prime closed the com-link with Ratchet to open one with Hoist and his rescue team, instructing them to search for more survivors of the attack.

When Ironhide arrived with the new sparkling, the older warrior took him to Ratchet for a quick check-up. "Other than a few scratches, he's in top condition. "

"He's a Decepticon," Ironhide pointed with a rather grim expression.

"By creation. He's far too young to have developed any traits or to even be fully imprinted on his creator. He doesn't even have the Decepticon insignia on his plating." Ratchet couldn't help but smile at the little sparkling that stared at them curiously with bright red optics, brushing a large fingertip along the back of the diminutive clawed hand. "If we raise him, he'll grow picking up our ways, and he would grow into an Autobot."

"Just wanna make sure he won't be a danger to any other sparklings." Ironhide wasn't too convinced until Ratchet picked up the sparkling and handed him to the larger mech. Despite his best efforts, the older mech couldn't bring himself to mantain a disapproving look towards the sparkling that looked at him with the same innocence displayed by any Autobot of his age. "Guess we'll just gotta get used to the red optics."

"It's not unheard of Autobots with red optics, Ironhide. Or Decepticons with blue optics for that matter." Ratchet chuckled and called Wheeljack to take the infant to the playpen they had installed in the medbay.

"Hey, little one. Let's get you some company." The CMO and Weapons Specialist laughed softly at the fatherly displays from their friend, partner, and lover engineer. In Ratchet's own words, he was going to be a spoiling creator.

Wheeljack carried the sparkling to the pen and smiled when its current occupant looked up at him, producing soft gurgling sounds that meant his presence was welcomed. "Hey there, Jazz. Got ya some company."

The silvery sparkling looked up at Wheeljack and tilted his head curiously when his bright blue optics fixed on the bright crimson of the black and white sparkling Wheeljack deposited in front of him in the pen who was staring back. "Meet Prowl."