A/N: I've kept you all waiting for over a year...and here it is. The final chapter. Not the strongest, but the work is done.


IX.

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be"Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

The bag was packed. The babysitters (Mikaela and Sam) were on call. The higher-ups were prepared for Will's sudden departure and paternity leave.

The only thing left to do was wait.

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Ironhide watched as Sarah directed Annabelle in the garden. Her current girth prevented her from kneeling down and standing up, but fortunately the little girl was enthusiastic about digging in the earth and planting the little bulbs and seeds. His sensors were on high alert and he'd been suppressing shifting to a higher gear the whole day.

As the emergence of their offspring approached, Will had become increasingly agitated. Consequently, Ironhide had become increasingly agitated.

Sarah was serene.

Sarah shifted on her feet, putting a hand to her back. Ironhide felt his cables tensing as she held in a breath and winced. Then she heaved out a sigh, shifting her weight again. Annabelle chirruped,

"All done!"

"All right sweety, why don't we go in and wash hands. Do you want a snack?"

False alarm.

##################################

"Will?"

"Yes, honey?"

"Can you send Ironhide home to pick me up?"

"Oh my– is it time?" Sarah sighed on the other end.

"Can you just do it?"

Ironhide ground his denta together, waiting outside the human hospital on base. Will and Sarah walked out together, Will carrying the bag and Sarah rolling her eyes.

False alarm.

##################################

Sarah slowly rolled over, kicking at the pillow between her legs. She'd been plagued by Brackston Hicks contractions periodically for weeks, and last week's false labor had been very frustrating. But, she'd had numerous mistaken trips to the hospital before Annie, so she knew she might be in for a few more before baby finally decided to meet the world.

Giving up on sleeping for the moment (and desperately needing to pee), Sarah pulled herself out of bed and waddled to the bathroom. Deciding to get some fresh air, she went to the kitchen for a glass of water before waddling out onto the porch.

The weather had been comfortable that spring, and a robe was enough for her to feel comfortable sitting outside. She sipped her water and absently rubbed her side, as if that could relieve the tension there.

"Are you in labour?" Sarah almost dropped her glass as Ironhide's voice broke the early morning quiet. Then her sleep deprived brain registered his question, and fortunately it had become so routine she could respond without a really being awake.

"I don't think the baby is coming just yet," She said. A beat, and then Sarah heard the hiss of depressurization that characterized a bot relaxing (well, taking it down a notch, in Ironhide's case). She couldn't make out his expression in the dim light, but she imagined the consternation that had been near constant since her trip to the base hospital and suppressed a small chuckle.

"Ya just have to be patient. Geez, how long does it take for a Cybertronian to be, uh," she fumbled a bit, "born?"

Ironhide didn't respond for several moments, and Sarah could have kicked herself when the part of her brain that stored "bot stuff" reminded her of the Allspark's destruction and what it meant.

"It is very different," he said finally.

"I'm sure," she replied, this time more diplomatically.

"But...There is a long build process, like in humans, and then the Allspark kindles a spark into the frame. That is when they are alive. I never saw it, o' course. But Optimus has."

Sarah digested that speech, sipping at her water to keep from having to respond right away.

"Why Optimus? What about, say, Ratchet?"

"Optimus is the Prime," Ironhide said with the tone that it should explain everything. "Ratchet...I think he's probably overseen a few."

Sarah thought back to when Annanelle had been born. "It's so wonderful, the first time they open their little eyes and look up at you...I was so frightened for her, and for Will, when Annie was born. But at the same time I knew I would love her and he would love her and protect her as best we could, as long as we lived."

Ironhide let out a long, low hum.

"If it hasn't been clear," he started slowly, "I will watch over your children as long as Ilive to do so - I swear it."

Sarah fought back her tears at that plain declaration. "That means a lot to us, Ironhide. More than I can say."

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In the end he hadn't had to wait that much longer, as Sarah's water broke just before lunch. Arrangements were made for Annabelle's pick up from school, the overnight bag was loaded, and (after placing a ratty towel down on his seat) Sarah climbed in behind the wheel to be driven to the base hospital.

Ironhide and Ratchet, to both their frustrations, could not actually enter the hospital. Fortunately for them, Will or a nurse was willing to hold a camera for most of the labor.

When a little after eleven PM Will finally brought the new Lennox out to be introduced, Ironhide silently renewed his promise. Till all are one.


A/N: That's all folks! I'm glad to be able to draw this story to a close. I don't have the same time or energy for fic as I had in the past, but now I have one less piece of unfinished business. I hope the final chapter, if not amazing, was satisfactory.