Okay, seeing as Monster (my laptop) is out of commission for the foreseeable future, it's going to be as slow as ass getting updates posted for As We Come Together and Serendipity Kiss. I really, really hate the thought of that, but the quality of the laptop I'm working with now is but a fraction of the glory of my Monster. I really don't want to leave updating anything for too long (depriving my wonderful readers of material to read!), so I've sort of bent a little and decided to post this side fic here for something my readers can absorb for their own amusement. It can either serve as an expansion fic to the WE universe or as a stand alone. I've been working on it since the summer and have several chapters on reserve, so count on a fairly regular update schedule for the first couple of chapters. This can either be a huge success, or a gigantic flop. Only time will tell... *Cue ominous music!*
Blindside and Wildride- Both of them are OCs that belong to me, created for the purpose of being little Sunny and Sides' Creators. I know that Wildride's name shares a close resemblance to Wildrider's of the Stunticons, but I assure you that they are not the same mech.
Wrenchwire- mentioned in What Time We Have Left, he was the engineer Wheeljack apprenticed under before he was fully instated himself. Wrenchwire's specialty is framework construction, and despite the wide range of frames and other objects he's contracted to build and repair, he invariably calls everything a 'she.'
Surface of the Sun
"Can you believe it? We're finally here. We're actually standing in the Emporium of the Allspark…"
"What's the big deal? You've been here before."
Blindside huffed at his sparkmate's utter nonchalance towards the true importance of the building they were standing in. "We've all been here before, Wildride, when we're first sparked! That doesn't necessarily mean I remember it."
Wildride smirked, choosing to tease rather than drop the subject with maturity. "That doesn't say much when your memory banks hardly retain information from yesterday."
Blindside sniffed haughtily. "Smart aft."
Wildride laughed lightly. He let his gaze wander to the glittering crystal of the walls and ceiling that surrounded him, taking in the detail of the ancient, sculpted perfection. This was the place he and Blindside had dreamed of coming to for vorns; the Emporium of the Allspark at the top of the Crystal Spires at the center of the Council Pantheon, Iacon's central administration building where the Prime operated from. This was the place where the Allspark laid. This was the place where sparks were created.
"I can hardly believe our application was approved," Wildride finally said after a long, drifting silence.
Blindside instantly jumped on the broached topic. "Out of the hundreds of thousands of applications the Council must get, they chose ours… It's so hard to believe! I mean, we've been waiting for this for- what? Twenty-seven vorns- or was it thirty?"
"Thirty-four," Wildride said with a sigh.
"Ah, you're right, thirty-four," Blindside nodded, double-checking his chronometer. "Such a short wait; normally bots have to wait three times that for the Council to review the application, and wait even longer to hear if they were approved or denied."
"Slagging Council," Wildride grunted.
"You know how strict the rules are about requesting a spark; they review everything. But that doesn't matter any more, we're here now." Nervously, Blindside peeled back the delicate wrapping that encased the sparkling frame he held. It had been finished for vorns, every last detail of it, from the blazing red paint to the details of the little faceplate, designed by Blindside and Wildride. "We're going to have a sparkling."
"We must have done something incredible in a past life for Primus to have made this happen for us," Wildride said absently. "I mean, Blaze and Thrillride- they applied vorns ago, way before us, and they haven't heard slag about their application yet."
"Or else, maybe this won't be such a gift," Wildride continued thoughtfully, his optics gleaming with mischief. "Maybe we did something so terrible in a past life that the only way the universe can properly punish us is to grant us the most terrible, irritating, troublesome spark there ever was-."
"Don't say things like that! You'll jinx us!" Blindside reprimanded, swatting his mate. "I won't survive if I end up with a sparkling that's anything like you! Imagine the rouble it would get into- not an astrosecond of peace-!"
Wildride ducked away from his bonded's assailing hands, laughing good-naturedly. "Even if the little thing turns out to be the spawn of Unicron, be glad we're getting a sparkling at all."
It had been an extreme long shot for them to put in their application. The Cybertronian population was carefully monitored by the Council to ensure their long-lived species did not exceed what their planet and surrounding colonies could support. That meant the process of bringing new life into the world was also carefully monitored, balanced against current needs, available space, population numbers, the number of deaths that occurred. Applicants who wished for a spark, be it for a sparkling or for a pre-program, submitted their application to the Council, who reviewed every minute detail of the applications, their lives, and functions in order to see if they qualified for something as precious as a spark. The criterion used was strict and narrow, the safety of the sparkling being of the utmost importance. The fact that both Wildride and Blindside were performers in a stunt circuit made the fact that they were approved all the more amazing.
Bright sunlight spilling through the clear, crystalline ceiling glinted off the towering golden doors at the far end of the room. A microbot stepped in, optics travelling over the small number of gathered bots in the atrium.
"Sparkmates Blindside and Wildride?"
A joyous thrill, similar to the wild feeling of launching into the air for an airborne stunt, shot through the pair.
"H-here!" Blindside squeaked. They jumped up instantly, making their way towards the tiny milk-and-cream microbot. Her optics ran from one mech to the other, probably curious of the flamboyant paintjobs they sported. Being showmechs, their paintjobs were unusually outlandish- one painted to appear as if shooting stars were racing across the night sky on his plating, the other looking as the night did when rainbows of fireworks were set off.
"Blindside, I presume?" she enquired to the shooting star-painted mech. Blindside nodded enthusiastically. Her gaze turned to fireworks motif mech. "Then you must be Wildride?"
"Yes, that's me."
She nodded and made note of it on her data pad. When she looked up at them again a small smile graced her faceplate as she reached up to pat Wildride on the foot, the highest part of his frame she could reach. "Congratulations on being approved for a sparkling," she said. "My designation is Copperfield and I will be guiding you through all the procedures today. There are a couple last interviews and checkups that must be done before you can receive your spark, so if you would please follow me."
She slipped back between the golden doors, Blindside and Wildride hurrying to catch up with the small creature. They were guided down a bright crystal hallway to a another set of golden doors, the crystal frosted delicately so that only the blurred outlines of the bots inside could be seen. Copperfield paused before the large doors, turning to smile reassuringly to the mechs following her.
"This is the interview and inspection room where I will be administering the last consultation with you and a team of medics will inspect your sparkling frame to make sure that everything is in order."
The grip Blindside had on Wildride's hand was nearly crushing the plating off. In his other hand, he held his little sparkling frame close. The poor mech looked as every other nervous Creator did when they got to this point; excited, scared, and about to purge his tanks all over the floor.
"I know, Blindside, I know…" Attempting to calm his mate, he sent a calming wave through their bond, only to have jitters race through his frame as excited waves of energy looped back.
Copperfield was patient in waiting for them, having escorted thousands of bots through this process during her vorns as an appointed guide in the Emporium of the Allspark. "There is no need to rush this," she assured them. "If you feel like you may need a little more time, you may go back to the main room and take a few breems to let this settle in. I understand that this is a very big occasion for the two of you."
"No, no, we're fine," Wildride assured. "I- we- both of us want this now. We don't want to wait."
The microbot smiled softly, nodding. "Very well." She input the access code into the door's control panel and the doors slide open, revealing an open room, welcoming and light. Several medics stood waiting with warm smiles painting their faceplates, their medical decals proud and polished across their bright chassis.
"Our proud Creators-to-be, I presume?" one mech asked, stepping forward with his arms open.
"Yes, indeed," Copperfield replied. "This is Blindside and Wildride." She turned to the two mechs behind her and gestured grandly to the gathered medics. "Blindside, Wildride, may I introduce you to the Honoured Medic Guard of the Emporium of the Allspark and the honoured Head Medic, Mend-Me."
Mend-Me bowed humbly, the other medics following suit. The simple act had such an old, formal air to it, as if they had been performing the exact same movements for vorns. They were as sincere performing for Wildride and Blindside as if this were their first time doing it.
"It is our sincerest pleasure to be the bots that are to inspect your sparkling's frame," Mend-Me said softly. With practiced steps, the honey-golden mech came forward and held out his hands, waiting for the sparkling frame to be handed over. Blindside was reluctant at first, looking from the precious package to the kindly smiling mech waiting on him.
"Go on, your sparkling will be safe in their hands," Copperfield urged. "And while they are looking it over, we will be able to complete the consultation."
"Alright…" Carefully, the small bundle was passed from one mech to the other. "Just- just be careful with it, okay?"
Mend-Me's smile was sincere as he nodded, tucking the little red sparkling close to his chassis. "Do not worry. I will treat this little frame as if it were the most precious treasure in the universe."
"It is," Wildride replied quietly, optics fixed to the tiny bundle. "To us, it is."
"Of course," Mend-Me said, smiling with his ever-soft, ever-knowing smile.
Copperfield twittered a few times, and then rapped Blindside on the foot. "If you would come with me, please" she urged, ushering the two mechs from the entrance towards a set of golden doors off to the side of the medical facilities. She input the access code for those doors and they shifted open, admitting the three of them into an office made entirely of frosted crystal, a normal sized desk and a set of golden chairs awaiting them within. While the two mechs took the empty seats, Copperfield scrambled up the specialized steps built into the side of the towering desk. Hopping onto the top, she trotted across until she could perch herself on the ledge, looking up at the pair of sparkmates serenely.
"Well now, we've made it this far, I think we can make it the rest of the way," she said cheerfully.
"Y-yeah," Blindside squeaked, practically bursting out of his plating.
Copperfield brought out her data pad once more, consulting it carefully before beginning. "So, according to this, both of you belong to a stunt circuit, Centaurie Tetrax Performance and Exhibition Circuit, is that correct?"
"How long have you functioned as stuntmechs?"
The sparkmates glanced to each other. "As long as we've been online," Wildride finally said.
"I assume that means both of you were raised outside of the Youth Sectors?"
"Yes, we were," Wildride confirmed. "In the same stunt circuit."
"I see." The microbot consulted her data pad again, checking for something. A soft laugh fluttered from her as she found what she was looking for. "Ah, yes, that's right. Stunt troops usually stick together tightly; they raise their own," she said. "I remember guiding your Creators, and their Creators before that." And their Creators before that, and their Creators before that; Copperfield had been performing her function for a long time. Blindside and Wildride looked a little awestruck, but their guide pressed on.
"I presume you will be raising the sparkling in the circuit?"
"It is tradition in our circuit to keep our younglings in our care instead of letting them be raised in a Youth Sector," Wildride informed.
"Is that not an inefficient use of resources?" Copperfield enquired, bright optics trained on them. "The time it takes to care for any sparkling or youngling would considerably cut down on the time you normally would devote to your function, not to mention the disadvantage the youngling would be at to not have the same resources younglings in Youth Sectors would be privy to, nor would they have other younglings to interact with as they would have in a Sector."
"We were raised outside of a Sector and I believe we turned out well," Wildride replied firmly. "And, like I said, it is the tradition of our circuit to raise our younglings with us. It allows them to become better adjusted to our lifestyle."
"Are you being pressured into raising your youngling outside a Youth Sector by your circuit?" Copperfield pressed, being as thorough as her function required.
"No. This is a personal choice."
"Of course as long as you have not been coerced into this." Copperfield made note of it in her data pad. "Have you attended the recommended classes in sparkling and youngling care?"
"Yes, of course," Wildride affirmed.
"You have also downloaded the appropriate literature in regards to proper care?"
"Good, good," she said absently. "Having decided to raise your sparkling outside a Youth Sector, you are aware that you will be subject to regular evaluations to make sure the sparkling is receiving all the proper care."
"We have no problem with that," Blindside said, finally finding his voice again.
The microbot smiled softly, continuing to take notes. "I must enquire, though, because of the environment that you are raising your sparkling in, do you plan to pressure it into taking on the same function as the circuit?"
"No, of course not," Blindside assured earnestly. "It would be wonderful if it did decide to join our circuit, but if it's not in its spark to do it, we won't force it on the sparkling. It'll be free to decide what it wants to do, and we'll support whatever it chooses."
"Good to hear," Copperfield said. She went back through all the information she had already gathered. "Will there be any other sparklings around for yours to interact with?"
"Not exclusively," Wildride replied. "We were the only mechs approved for a spark, and the youngest of our troop has already been reformatted into his first adult frame."
"But we do have the Centaurie Tetrax Youth Sector nearby," Blindside cut in quickly. "We would be willing to take the sparkling there as often as necessary."
Without saying a word, Copperfield made a few more notes in her data pad. Just as the silence was stretching on to a painful degree, she finally looked up again. "The Centaurie Tetrax Youth Sector, you said?"
"Yes," Blindside said, nodding vigorously. "When we're not on tour, our main show stadium is only a short commute from the Sector, a joor or two at most."
"You're lucky to be so close to such a good Youth Sector," Copperfield said lightly. "Such a wonderfully managed Sector. I've been there several times for inspections and have had the pleasure of meeting their Head Medic and Head Engineer, both wonderfully skilled mechs, if I do say so myself. They've been there for vorns." She pushed herself up and trotted over to a normal-sized data pad laid out on the desktop; compared to Copperfield herself, the data pad was monstrous. Remotely connecting to it through her palm-sized pad, she input some information. Once done, she patted the data pad and smiled.
"This is for you," she said kindly. "In addition to the normal information we distribute to new Creators, I've input contact information for the medic and engineer at Centaurie Tetrax. If any problem should arise, contact them immediately. I'm sure Ratchet and Wheeljack will be more than happy to help you in any way they can."
Glancing to each other, Wildride leaned forward and plucked the data pad up. "Thank you."
"My pleasure," the little cream-coloured femme hummed. She headed to the miniature stairs on the side of the desk and trotted down them, making her way brusquely across the room to the doors. Once more, Blindside and Wildride were up and following closely behind. Back in the inspection room, Mend-Me and his team stood waiting for the sparkmates to re-enter. In the Head Medic's hands laid the precious little frame of a sparkling about to come online, newly polished, gleaming brightly in the cheery light.
"Passed the inspection with flying colours," Mend-Me said warmly as he deposited the little frame back into Blindside's awaiting hands.
"That's good," the mech cooed.
Copperfield slipped away from the group to the towering doors set deep into the thick crystal at the far end of the room. She stared up at the carved wonders, as old as the Emporium itself, polished and glittering as they did on the day they were created; never would the wonder be gone when she came to stand before them. And beyond the doors lay the Allspark. Glancing behind her, the Creators-to-be were already in awe of the last obstacle in their way to receiving their spark.
"Let the magic begin," Copperfield laughed quietly, laying a hand against the gold, the doors swinging open on their own.
With a gentle prod to the back from Mend-Me, Blindside and Wildride took the first steps in, followed by a serene Copperfield and a softly smiling Mend-Me. Behind them, the golden doors closed once more, shutting out the world beyond.
"It's… amazing." Blindside whispered as he stared up at the towering pedestal that took precedence at the center of the large, domed room.
"It is, isn't it?" Mend-Me sighed, staring up at the familiar spire of carved silver. He waved a hand to the wide spiral staircase that wound its way up the spire in a lazy loop. "Take the lead, if you please."
Wildride reached out and took his mate's hand, squeezing it gently before starting the short trek to the stairs. Only a few paces behind, Mend-Me followed at an unrushed pace, Copperfield comfortably positioned on his shoulder. The higher they climbed, the heavier the air seemed to become, thick with the thrumming power of the nearby Allspark. It was as if the walls themselves were whispering old hymns of the past, of powers and great wonders locked away within them. They were standing in the midst of great and ancient history.
Upon reaching the crown of the pedestal, a circular summit inlayed with ancient runes, three mechs already stood awaiting them. A trembling thrill ran through the nervous couple and they had to be nudged on by Mend-Me and Copperfield to keep moving forward. Their sparks fluttered. Their optics wide and stunned. Before them stood the breath-taking presence of Optimus Prime, regarding them with an expression that exuded warmth and kindness. He was a handsome mech, with fathomless blue optics and an aura about him that was both comforting and commanding of respect. His beautiful, intricate faceplate was open and smiling in welcome. To his right was Lord High Protector Megatron, brother to the Prime. He was a firm presence, silent and strong. A mech built for strength and power; the volatility of his frame was ominous, but kept in check with proximity to Prime. To the Prime's left was a burly mech, Prime Directorate Advisor Ironhide, more fondly known as the Prime Protector. He was another silent presence, with optics like deep oceans, comforting in a way that differed from the Prime and the Lord High Protector; he was not the deep well of wisdom that Optimus Prime exuded, or the powerful, commanding presence of Megatron. He was a rock, a steady wall, an anchor. Under Ironhide's steady gaze, he left one with a nearly palpable sense of protection.
Together, all three of them were a sight to be seen.
Nervous as pit, wide optics fixated on the Prime and his flanking mechs, Blindside and Wildride came to a halt where Copperfield and Mend-Me indicated, allowing their two guides to take the lead.
"Optimus Prime, it is always an honour," Copperfield said. Despite the fact that she had been uttering the same words everyday to every Prime from the very first orn she became a guide, it never got any less awe-inspiring. "Lord Megatron, Protectorate Ironhide, my greetings." They bowed to her in return of her courteous gestures. Mend-Me exchanged similar practiced lines and gestures.
Copperfield's delicate hand swept back, indicating to the pair of mechs huddled close behind her and the medic. "May we present Wildride and Blindside."
Prime's unfathomable optics surveyed the two mechs pensively, causing them to shift nervously, before a grand smile broke out across his majestic faceplate. "Welcome to the Emporium of the Allspark, Wildride and Blindside. Today is a very special day for the both of you."
"Yes sir, it is," Wildride replied quietly. His hand went out to lie atop the small sparkling frame his sparkmate cradled close.
Megatron broke ranks from beside his brother and slowly made his way towards the pair. "May I?" he asked, his hard optics softening as he peered down at the small frame, his clawed hands outstretched, ready to cradle the tiny bundle.
"Of-of course," Blindside stuttered, sliding the frame from his own smaller hands to Megatron's large, deadly ones. He couldn't dream of refusing such a mech.
"Such handsome construction," Megatron complimented.
"We were referred to one of Wrenchwire's graduated apprentices for the framework," Wildride informed proudly.
"My compliments to the engineer," Megatron replied, smiling kindly. The two proud Creators beamed.
Ironhide glanced to Optimus, his own optics softened by the sight of the tiny red frame. "Almost makes me wish Chromia and I could be approved for one," he sighed wistfully.
"The Council would never be foolish enough to place a sparkling in your care, not even if it were to be raised mainly in the Youth Sectors," Optimus jibed.
The black mech huffed stubbornly. "You're right. Doesn't hurt to wish, though…"
"Optimus Prime, sir, I believe we should carry on," Copperfield urged. A Prime was a very busy mech and sometimes it was necessary to remind him of that.
"Yes, of course. Megatron?"
The High Lord Protector nodded and handed the frame back over to the rightful mechs.
Optimus smiled, waving Wildride and Blindside closer, indicating that they should take up positions at his sides. With a grand sweep of his hand, the center of the great pedestal began to shift, revealing a large, hollow cavern below, and the glorious object that occupied the space.
"The Allspark," Blindside whispered reverently.
It was towering, immense, so powerfully commanding that it swept the air from their intakes. There was a draw to the large, mysterious cube. An unexplainable, ephemeral tug at the their sparks that tickled in their sparkcases, like the ghost of a touch, like the gravity of a great and powerful star drawing everything closer. The essence of their life stood displayed before them, beautiful, indescribable, alien, and yet warm and welcoming, real and yet mythical.
Optimus's chassis shifted, a seam opening and slowly splitting further apart. A hush fell upon the gathered bots as the most intimate side of their Prime was revealed. His strong, pulsing spark added a new light to the already bright domed room. His hands did not reach for his spark though, but below it, to the sacred object that separated Prime from the rest; the Matrix, held guarded within his own frame. With a muted click, the glittering Matrix was released, its crystalline centre catching in the light and throwing perfect rainbows across metal plating. Prime's chassis closed and he stepped closer to the Allspark.
Megatron and Ironhide took up their positions guarding Prime, one to the left side of the platform, the other to the right. They knew their duty. Even with the very slim chance any bot would be foolish enough to attack Optimus here in this sacred place they did not allow themselves to be lax on their duties to their Prime, brother, and friend.
Copperfield and Mend-Me also knew their sacred duties, standing rigid and at attention behind Prime and the Creators-to-be. They were there in case something went wrong.
A charge sizzled through the air, the atmosphere suddenly growing doubly thick, energized. A few stray ribbons of electric blue current ignited in the air, flickering briefly before fading. Optimus held out the Matrix as if he were offering it to the Allspark, reaching out with his spark for that sacred connection that tugged at his senses whenever he was near that great, mysterious life-giving cube. His hands tingled, the metal of the Matrix growing warm, coming alive. A living power throbbed through it, something real, powerful, almost conscious… Prime impressed himself upon the pulse of life and mystery, urging it outwards, forcing it to reach out to the Allspark, drawing out the nameless, ancient energies.
Everyone knew when the connection was made. The surface of the Allspark lit up in a shower of blue lightning, streaking over the sides and through the runes, concentrating most brightly before the outstretched offering of the Matrix. Carefully, slowly, Optimus drew the Matrix away, and the energy followed, growing smaller, concentrating, shaping into a small, pulsing ball of energy. Tendrils of light faded between the Allspark and the energy. As the last ephemeral tendrils fell away, a new spark floated ready in the Prime's palm.
Blindside stepped forward with the awaiting sparkling frame, his intakes frozen from the shear awe of what he was witnessing.
Optimus dipped his hand to allow the spark to slide home into its sparkcase. Before the spark could fall, though, a sudden thrill seized his arm, pausing him. A hard, wild, excited beat throbbed from the Matrix.
Something was about to happen.
The spark in his palm pulsed calmly once, twice, before exploding in a bright shower of wild, eccentric energy and light. A piercing shriek wrought the air as energy tore in two, cascading, flowing, boiling, raging. One half went one way, the other half zipping wildly the other. Utter chaos broke around them.
"Catch the sparks before they extinguish!" Copperfield shrieked, leaping from Mend-Me's shoulder in order to catch the first half of the split spark. Between her tiny fingers, she clasped the wild, frenetic energy, feeling the devilish delight this unformed creature was taking in causing such a panic. She ran for the red frame as Blindside fell to his knees, coaxing the spark she'd captured into its cage.
"Get the spare frame!" Mend-Me roared to the medics who'd come running in at the sound of the panicked frenzy.
As the mechs scrambled to meet their boss's demand, Wildride crouched low, watching with sharp optics as the second half of his sparkling's spark streaked this was and that, shining as bright as a wild sun.
A minibot came galloping up the pedestal stairs with a tiny frame clutched in his arms. It was an old model, kept in storage in the event that something unforeseen would happen. The paint was an old mottled-brown and the design was less than stellar. It didn't matter though, not for the direness of the situation. It was in good condition and it was desperately needed.
"Catch it quick! It won't last long! We must get it in a sparkcase immediately!" Mend-Me ordered, taking up the spare frame and rapidly preparing it for habitation.
Bright as the sun… Streaking this way… that way… Wildride tracked it carefully, coiling, prepairing... And then he took to the air, jetpack igniting to give him an extra push. Hands outstretched, reaching desperately, he felt his fingers close around untamed fire, vibrating life in pure energy form. He fell back to the ground with a practiced flip, but nothing as fancy as what he would have done in a show, rushing for the frame Mend-Me held out. The spark fluttered wildly, pulsing, beating, as if it didn't want to be held tame and caged. Wildride keened, whining quietly, desperately, as he urged the tiny spark into the chassis of the sparkling frame. The chest closed with a soft hiss.
Time felt suspended as the little frame continued to lay still, dark, limp.
"Come on, little one... we've been waiting for you," Wildride murmured to the frame. And then a gentle hum eased into the air. Optics slowly lightened to reveal blue light.
Of the older bots gathered, they knew… they could tell by their sensors… when they scanned each new spark's resonance signature, they were the same.
"Primus," Copperfield whispered reverently. For as long as she'd been online, she'd only seen the like of it once…
Blindside felt his spark constrict as the tiny being he held cradled in his hands reached out, staring at him in fascination. The mech smiled, bowing his head to allow tiny fingers to touch the plates of his face. He glanced to the side where Wildride sat with the other sparkling, holding him up like a prize.
Optimus cautiously laid a hand against Blindside's shoulder. "Your sparklings… what shall their designations be?"
Blinking back to the present, Blindside only thought for a moment before smiling brilliantly. "This one shall be Sideswipe," he announced. A befitting name for a little creature that had taken them all by surprise.
Optimus turned his gaze to Wildride. "And that one?"
The mech turned the sparkling one way, then the other, examining him carefully. The little being cocked its head to the side and squirmed, clicking and chirping. If he didn't know any better, he'd wager the little thing was glaring at him for some unknown reason. The sight of the sparkling's spark streaking as bright as a sun through the air still flashed brilliantly through his mind.
"Sunstreaker," he said eventually. "That's what we'll call him: Sunstreaker."
Nodding happily, Prime kneeled to the new pair of Creators, gazing at them with the warmest, kindest expression they'd ever seen.
"The congratulations are in order. You have twins."