Another little AU fic I did following optimus prime 007's brilliant Kaceystar trilogy. I don't own Kacey or any of her siblings, nor do I own Ironhide and Ratchet's spawn--I mean, children. They are the exclusive property of optimus prime 007. This is written with her permission and very kind impatience. :D

Note--In chapter 54 of My Beautiful Rising Star, Optimus and Elita were working on another sparkling. Uh, for the duration of this oneshot, let's pretend that never happened? XD Too much to deal with.

Note again--We'll just say that Kacey's transformation systems came online :D Oh, and I was trying to keep to op007's writing style, and she manages to make past and present tense flow together. So sorry if it gets weird. I'm trying to put thoughts into present and the actual story into past, like the POV is actually telling the story. Hm…

Italics are comm link "chatter" :D


Sparkdays are happy days. At least, that's what society--both human and Cybertronian--tries to tell us.

It's different for parents. To a father or mother, every sparkday that passes is another orn that your child has left behind. It cannot be undone, rewound, or replaced; whatever you did or didn't do no longer matters. It is simply a piece of history, nothing more than memories to be reflected upon when appropriate, and that is all there is to say about the matter.

Don't misunderstand me--I love history. It comes as a comfort to know that what I have done, no matter how I regret it or wish to do it over, can be changed. History progresses, ignorant of our mistakes and our successes. It documents them dutifully and then turns its attention to the future.

In one way I am grateful for Kacey's sparkday. Her twenty-first orn officially meant that I had spent over half of her life with her, and I was immensely relieved to have reached that landmark. I missed the first ten orns of my Kaceystar's life, and the guilt has never completely left my spark. It is a comfort to my spark to stand by her as she grows, as if each eclipsed orn somewhat atones for my absence.

And yet, it is also painful to see that we have lost another orn. Particularly painful, because this orn is her thirtieth. By human standards she would be a seasoned adult, but to we Cybertronians, she has just reached the age of adulthood. She is a fully mature femme, so changed from the mere child of twenty-four who sparred with Rox after getting her inscribes, there in the rec room for all to see (and enjoy).

My Kacey was growing up. I had initially thought that I would be overjoyed to see her blossom into maturity. I remember the experience. That feeling of power, of invincibility, that irrational belief that nothing can possibly touch you.

When Ironhide and Ratchet had warned me that it would be difficult, I kindly accepted their advice but didn't really believe it. Why should I regret Kacey's growth into a beautiful, adult femme? Was that not why Elita and I had brought her into the universe to begin with?

But now, as I stand by my sparkmate and youngest son, watching Kacey from across the rec room, something aches deep in my spark. Kacey is growing up. Grown. And that means that she is figuratively out of the sphere of my protection. Of course I will always be there for her, but now it is up to her to change her own life, her own destiny. I will watch over her as her father until the end of time, but I cannot hold her hand as I did when she was that sparkling of ten.

I glanced sideways and down at my son, Leo. Of all my children, he looks the most like me. A bit shorter and stockier, granted, but certainly not less strong. He's nearly halfway to maturity now, and so confident, so charming. Smiling, I reached down and rubbed his helm. He accepted the affection for a moment before shying away with a hissed "Dad."

Of course. It's not 'cool' to be seen 'with' your father. At least not if said father is actually going to act like one.

"My apologies, little one," I chuckled, and he growled softly in contempt.

"I'm not a little one anymore," he grumped, folding his arms over his chest.

"In comparison to this guy you are," Elita snorted, jabbed an elbow into my ribs. I turned an amused glance down at her.

"You're not so tall yourself, femme."

"Not in height, but in stature," she replied coyly, optics glowing stubbornly up at me. She contradicted me on the outside, but I felt the waves of love pass to me through our bond. I returned them in full and then some.

I love Elita. More with each and every passing day. Some days the love takes hold of me in a tide of passion. Sometimes in the gentle lapping waves of pure adoration. Some days it's the painful, spark-constricting lovesickness I felt for so long at the beginning of our relationship. Sometimes my spark absolutely yearns for Elita. Sometimes I catch her up in my arms and refuse to let her go. Orns ago, Kacey came into my life, but I believed I had lost my sparkmate. Back then I'd held on in spite of the pain, holding on to the knowledge that my daughter needed me.

But now--now all of our sparklings are nearly grown, able to look after themselves if need be. They no longer need Elita and myself at their side every step of the way.

Eventually, within a few orns, Elita and I will be back in that small, secluded universe in which we are all that exist. I will live once again solely for my sparkmate. I realize that once Leo is grown, once my children find their own paths and find their own eternal lovers, I won't be able to live without Elita. My only sustenance will be her love and support. My nutrients will be our love and passion and undying devotion for one another. There will be nothing else.

So thinking, I wrapped an arm around my beloved's waist, pulling her close to my body and resting my head against hers. She spoke only through our bond, caressing my spark and sending me her love. I brushed my mouthplates over the crest of her helm, enjoying having her so close.

"Aw, geez, guys, get a room!" Leo groaned, rolling his optics. "Can I go somewhere else if you guys are going to get it on?"

"Leo!" Elita snapped, lifting her head off of my chest to glare at our youngest. "Watch your mouth!"

He sighed, but his attitude diminished immediately. The children never talk back to their mother. Frag, even I don't talk back to Elita. "I'm nineteen, Mom! Can't I say what I want?"

"Not as long as you're my son," she growled. I chuckled softly, rubbing her back. Primus, I love my femme.

"Leo, is your dad being an aft again?" a mech's confident voice almost sang, and Leo turned, a grin stretching his childish features.

"Hey, Jetfire!"

"Wassup, little lion?" Jetfire bent to my son's level, mirth radiating from his optics even if his mask covered his smile. He held out a fist, and Leo happily greeted it with his own, smacking their knuckles together. It was an Earth gesture the humans called 'pounding it'; I personally didn't see any reason to punch one another's fists. It sort of defeated the purpose of a punch itself, didn't it?

"Look, Optimus, it's your third son," Elita piped up, and Jetfire threw her a scowl.

"Tee hee. That's hilarious, Elita. Optimus, have some ball bearings and chastise your femme, would you?"

"Are you drunk?" I demanded, and Elita giggled.

"Wouldn't matter--he always acts drunk."

Jetfire put on an affronted face, straightening and placing his hands on his hips, wings twitching with feigned irritation. "What the frag is this? I can't feel the love, Lita! And we're supposed to be family!"

"Somehow," I muttered, and Jetfire snickered.

"So where's the Princess?" he inquired, tossing a nonchalant glance around the rec room. "She hasn't come by to say hello to her flying buddy yet!"

"She's over there," Leo said informatively, pointing to the right corner.

"Where? I don't--Oh, I see her! And--" Jetfire leaned forward, squinting, and his cheery disposition melted away in a split astrosecond. "Rox, that little…you'd think he'd learn! Leo, go kick his aft for me, wouldya?"

Leo took off immediately. For some reason (it still eludes me) he absolutely idolizes Jetfire. Of course, Jet seemed to have that effect on most younglings. Something about his charisma, confidence, and carefree ways attract them to him like he's a giant magnet.

"So she's officially of age now, huh?" Jetfire sighed, settling against the wall on my side that wasn't occupied by Elita. "And she's fully armored now, too."

"Listen to you, talking like you've known her since younglinghood," Elita laughed, but fell silent when Jetfire shook his head.

"Primus, I wish I coulda. If I'd known you two had younglings, I'd've hightailed it over here a million times as fast. And crikey, I got to Earth as fast as I could." He sighed, scuffing the floor with a foot. "Not fast enough. S'okay, though, I can still play my part with Leo and the twins. They're still squirts."

I watched him curiously, surprised by the wave of affection I suddenly felt for my cousin. Jetfire has always been completely loyal, and even though we'd met on only a few occasions growing up, I know that he considers me to be his only family. It was…touching, that he'd be so very invested in my children.

However, our bond was too weak, too diluted by time and stretched by our distant relation, to communicate these feelings to his spark. So I showed him I cared the only way I could with Jetfire.

"OW! What the frag was that for?! You hit me!"

"So I did. Very perceptive."

"Oh, frag you!"

Elita giggled, nuzzling my chestplates gently. Jetfire doesn't know how I felt about him, but Elita does, being so intimately linked to my spark.

Jetfire's presence on Earth has been a comfort. Our relation is distant by Cybertronian standards, but he is still family. And I care for him almost as a brother now, now that he has spent enough time on Earth for me to grow to understand him.

"Seriously, though," he sighed, rubbing his helm where I'd hit him (perhaps a little harder than I originally thought). "I'm not gonna lie, Kacey's gorgeous. She's drop dead beautiful. If she weren't Kacey I could probably fall for the kid. Of course, she's not a beloved little cousin to every mech on this base," he added, turning his golden optics to me. "They kept their paws to themselves when she was a squirt, it seems, but now that she's mature..."

I frowned. I knew where he was getting with this. It is true that Kaceystar is beautiful. She's grown to be even more stunning than Elita, a feat I wouldn't have believed possible when my sparkling first came to Earth.

"What I'm saying is that we really do need to be careful, big guy," Jetfire sighed, turning his luminous gaze back to my daughter. "She trusts these mechs. I don't. Some of them wouldn't think twice about luring her into their berth and you know it."

I remained quiet. I did know it. I do know it. Kacey is beautiful in every way, from every angle, and any mech--or femme, for that matter--with half an optic can see that. And not all Autobot mechs are entirely as honorable as Kacey believes them to be. She's more innocent than naïve; she simply wants to see the good in everyone. It's a good character trait, but it could give a male the opening he would need to take Kacey however he pleased.

The thought fills me with fear, more so than when I think of her on the battlefield. She can deal with injuries, can spring back from a hit, but she'd be devastated if a mech on the base…hurt her that way. She trusts the Autobots implicitly, with all her spark. She lost her trust in the humans when they abused her; who was to say that she wouldn't push away all mechs if they did the same?

I can't stand to think of it. I do want Kacey to find a sparkmate, eventually. I want her to experience the healing, the warmth, of having another love you unconditionally and completely. It could be a femme for all I cared; I just wanted Kacey to find someone who would understand her, respect her, and love her the way she so deserves. The way I love Elita. The way Elita loves me.

"Mom, Dad! Jetfire!"

We all looked up, and my spark swelled at the sight of my daughter coming towards us. Though she has her armor now, she still wears the cloak Bumblebee gave her orns and orns ago.

"Sweetspark," Elita greeted her happily, gently slipping from my embrace to hold Kacey close. "You're growing up too fast for me, you know? I'm going to stuff you back into my spark chamber."

Kacey laughed, tightening her arms around her mother. "I'm not that old yet, Mom. And I'll always be your daughter."

Elita drew back slightly, holding Kacey's face in her hands. "Of course you are. Whether you like or not," she added, making Kacey grin.

Once Elita released her I wasted no time in pulling Kacey into my arms, hugging her tight. When I hold her she still feels like a youngling, like the child of ten who I rocked to sleep at night, who I carried in my arms when she wasn't strong enough to stand on her own.

Kacey and I said little as I held her. Words are not always needed between us. She was right; she is always going to be my daughter, now matter how old we grow. In my mind, she is always going to be that sparkling.

"Squirt!" Jetfire said happily when I finally let Kacey go. He hooked an arm around her neck and pulled her into a bear hug. She nearly disappeared under his thick white armor. "Happy sparkday, kiddo!"

"Thanks," she replied, voice slightly muffled by his chest.

"Do I need to beat up that Rox kid for you?" he demanded, placing his hands on her shoulders and holding her at arm's length.

"No, Leo already took care of that," she said warmly, smiling up at him. "Thanks, though."

He chuckled, rubbing her helm fondly. "Yeah, well, call me if he needs to be put in his place."

"I can take care of him," Kacey replied smartly, and Jetfire barked out another laugh before pulling her back into a hug.


Kacey's party ended on a good note, but she was officially a mature femme now. A mature and incredibly attractive femme now.

And everyone knew it.

It started the very fragging morning after her party. Mechs hung on her the same way femmes hung on Optimus; with lust and longing and carnal desire. The thought of any of them putting their hands on Kacey made me sick to my tanks, made unease creep into my spark. I'm not used to being so nervous, so I took it upon myself to make the feeling go away.

And so my duty as the guardian of my cousin's daughter began.

"Rox! Beat it, runt! Ironhide's looking for you in the shooting range!"

The young mech turned to look at me, a spark of fear in his optics. He backed away from where he'd been leaning over Kacey against the wall.

"He shouldn't be," Rox defended weakly, but something in my expression changed his mind about arguing. I glared at his skinny aft as it retreated hastily all the way back down the hall and around the corner.

"And you," I growled, rounding on Kacey. "What were you thinking, letting him lean over you like that?"

"It seemed harmless enough to me," she said, shrugging.

I arched an optic ridge and moved towards her, standing mere inches from her face and planting my hand on the wall directly above her head.

"This seem harmless to you?"

"It was just Rox being Rox," she said flippantly, darting out from under me. "It's not a big deal, Jetfire. You can relax."

I scowled. "You're my little cousin and every mech on the fragging base is drooling after you. I can't relax."

She cocked a smirk, planting her hands on her hips. "Jetfire, you know more about relaxation than the twins on lethal doses of sedatives."

I bit down the laugh so fast it hurt. Kacey was one witty femme. Most of the jokes I laugh at are my own!

"Just be careful," I sighed, managing to maintain my concerned façade. Not that it was all feigned, I really was worried about her, but it was hard to remain serious after a crack like that. She nearly had Cybertron's biggest jokester beat! "Not all mechs are as perfect as me, ya know."

She rolled her optics as she turned away. "See you around, Jetfire."

"Let's go flying tonight," I called after her, and she turned to toss me a thumbs-up before hurrying off for her shift.

I learned from a very drunken (and afterwards, guilty) Ironhide that Bumblebee had feelings for Kacey. I can't blame him. If she weren't my little cousin, I know I could very well have fallen for the femme. Bumblebee had held his feelings in for a long time, not wanting to take advantage of her at a young age, wanting to respect the distance between them.

I understand now, unfortunately, just how hard that is.

"Hey, Jetfire."

I turned at the sound of Ratchet's voice, ready to respond, but my spark chose that moment to jump into my throat.

Oh Primus.


I know, painfully well, just how Bumblebee must have felt. Desperately in love with a femme too young, too innocent to accept a mech's feelings. I understood the sparkache, how he must have felt as he laid awake in his recharge berth, dreaming of the day when she'd someday join him, if ever. It must have felt like an eternity waiting for Kacey to come of age.

Kayla. Sixteen orns old, and far too young. It would be almost criminal to approach her now. And chances were it would be Ratchet bringing justice rather than Prowl if I ever made a move on his daughter.

But she's so…beautiful. More beautiful than Kacey in my optics. Kayla is my exact opposite, the yin to my yang. She's sweet and soft spoken and compassionate. Me? A little unruly, completely irrational, far too confident and cocky to ever have been much good at making close friends.

But she's like a tranquilizer for me. Everything seems to slow down when I'm with her; the world just stops. It calms down. I normally hear things in a rush, a thousand things at once, always seeing and feeling, the same way I do when I'm flying. I have to be aware of everything.

Kayla relaxes me. Calms my spark and lets me find peace. She's the only one who's ever done it; not even Optimus can make me settle down. Kayla's presense is pure, soothing, and I cling to it. I need it. I need her.

But she's sixteen. Sixteen. Young, inexperienced. She's not ready. Besides, there are plenty of mechs on base now, plenty her age, that she'll grow up with and come to care about. I feel that Kayla completes me, but she may not share that feeling. Ever. The thought of it breaks my spark, but I refuse to make any kind of move on such a young femme. It would be…wrong. No matter how I love her, it's wrong.

"You've missed your servicing appointment twice!" Ratchet was growling, jabbing a finger into my chestplates. "Do you really want me to stick more needles into you than I have to?"

"Uh, no," I said immediately, optics widening. I hate needles. That's all there is to it. Hate needles. In me. They're fine otherwise, but shots have been my phobia since I was a kid. The only thing I've ever feared.

"Don't be mean, Dad," Kayla scolded half-sparkedly. I allowed my optics to wander over to her. My spark melted, a wave of contentment passing through me. Just that I'm allowed to see her is enough. I don't need anything else. Not yet.

Ratchet abruptly smacked my faceplates, bringing my attention back to him. Dread swept through me at the suspicious look in his optics; had he read me so easily? Did he know that I'd looked at Kayla through more than a passing glance?

"Get your aft in there by the end of the week and I won't hurt you," he growled, then turned around and sweetly told Kayla that they were moving on. She ducked her head as she passed me, her smile nervous and abashed. I smiled back, warm as I could, and she giggled quietly before hurrying to catch up to her father.

I stayed put for a few breems, forcing myself to calm down. I didn't even realize who was at the end of the hall until I managed to focus for a half second.

"Kacey's gone, Rox," I said tiredly, shaking my head in slight exasperation.

He grinned. "Oh, I know." To my shock, he suddenly leveled a gun at me and took a shot! Seeing something blue explode on my chest, I almost panicked for a moment, until I realized that I was neither in pain nor dying.


"Catch me if you can!" Rox laughed, and took off down the hall, with me in hot pursuit.


The twins were behind it as usual. And, as usual, the paintball guns got way out of hand.

Jetfire was one thing. It was amusing, to say the least, to see the paint-splattered shuttle chasing Rox down the hall, snarling and threatening his aft.

But some of the other young bots got involved. And then some of the older bots got involved. Until we 'civilians' were crouching beneath anything that could provide cover while couches, chairs, and walls were promptly redecorated in the rec room.

And it was almost fun until someone had the gall to shoot Kacey in the aft.

Then it wasn't so funny.

I myself was furious. Sunny and Sides pinned the mech down, snarling and enraged, while I hurried Kacey out of there. She complained the whole way down to the wash racks.

"It's only a bit of paint--Bee, it's not a big deal--he didn't mean any harm--"

"Wash," I said flatly, handing her a towel from the rack and pointing at the stall. She sighed but did as she was told. I waited dutifully outside, breathing deeply to cool my systems.

It seemed innocent enough to those who didn't know the mech. I knew better. I'd heard him in the rec room at night, when he had a cube of high grade in front of him. The way he talked about Kacey made me…sick. He hadn't been there when she first came to Earth. He didn't know the child whose arm had been torn from her body, didn't know the sparkling who'd scarcely left her father's arms afterwards. He didn't know the Kacey who lunged at Megatron when he held her mother captive, who nearly took her own life, lost in her own feelings of worthlessness. He didn't know the femme who had boldly staged a coup with the sole intent of saving her father. Didn't know the femme who had nearly given her life for Optimus's.

The mech knew the adult we all now saw. He knew the beautiful face and the dramatic curves and the body that just seemed to beg a mech's hands. He knew the beguiling smiles and the enticing mystery of her cloak. He knew the soft, alluring voice, so like Elita's, and the wide, innocent optics, so like Optimus's.

But he didn't know Kacey.

I know I have to get used to it. I know that Kacey is astoundingly beautiful--Primus, I know that better than anyone! But it was going to be hard to not offline every mech who harassed her sexually.

"Are you alright?" I asked seriously as she stepped from the wash racks, handing her her cloak.

"Yes, I'm fine, Bumblebee," she replied, slightly exasperated. "Really. He shot my aft with a paintball gun, it's not like it hurt or anything…"

I shrugged one shoulder. "Yeah, well. Mechs can be creeps, Kacey. That's all there is to it."

"Not all mechs," she pointed out. "Not you or Father or Jetfire…"

"No, Jetfire's a creep," I said flatly, and she laughed.

It got better, in a sense, after the paint incident. The harassment was as overtly dangerous, just…annoying.

Annoying by every definition of the word.

Kaceystar (this is my first time writing from her POV! I feel like I've suddenly become a goddess or something! O.O)

"Primus, again?" I gasped, staring at the desk Prowl had assigned me in the command center. Sitting on its top was a bright bouquet of roses, scattered all over the desk, my chair, and the floor.

"Blimey, Kacey," Jetfire said weakly, shaking his head as he came to stand at my side. "They're worse that Optimus's fans!"

"Wonder who did it," I sighed, beginning to clear the flowers from my desk. I couldn't find my data pads, there were so many petals and roseheads all over the place! "Doesn't Prowl keep the command center locked at night?"

"Seems kinda stupid to leave flowers and then not leave your name," Jetfire snorted, bringing a waste receptacle over. "Musta cost a fortune, too…bloody idiots…"

"Good Primus, Kacey, your desk is even messier than mine!" Ironhide said loudly as he shouldered past several mechs to reach me. "Who the frag left this mess?"

"One of Kacey's loyal fan boys," Jetfire replied dismissively. "Hold this, would ya?" he added, handing the waste receptacle to the hapless Ironhide.

"I do hope you're not going to make a habit of decorating your desk, Kacey," Dad noted disapprovingly as he strode over (probably to enquire as to why there were so many mechs around my desk).

"It wasn't me, Dad!" I laughed. "Someone else left them."

"Who?" he asked, arching an optic ridge.

"One of your fans converted, Opt," Jetfire seriously, and Ironhide kicked him. "Ow! Fragger!"

"Language!" Prowl shouted across the command center. The four of us blinked at one another; the mech had better hearing than any of us had thought!

"If this keeps up, we're going to have to make longer access codes," Dad sighed, stooping to help me clean the flowers from the floor.

"Primus, no!" Jetfire groaned miserably. "I can barely remember mine as it is! They're like twenty digits long, Optimus!"

"Maybe it was someone in the command center," Ironhide suggested lightly, and Jetfire barked out a laugh.

"Give it a rest, Ironhide. All of the mechs in the command center are either bonded or old," he said, shaking his head. "Besides, most of them have known Kacey since she was below my knee joint, there's no way they'd be after her now."

"Maybe they've been hiding their feelings out of courtesy or something."

"Yeah, right. And tonight they're gonna propose…"

"I can't help it, Kacey," Rox said seriously. "I can't deny these feelings anymore! I want you to be my bonded!"

I groaned and rolled my optics skyward, trying to tug my hand from Rox's grasp. Jetfire and Ironhide were howling in the corner, clutching one another to stay upright; nearly every other mech and femme in the rec room was either laughing openly or trying to smother their giggles. Mother had her face buried in Dad's shoulder on the couch, shoulders shaking as she tried to hold in her mirth; Dad himself looked like he couldn't decide whether to bust out laughing or bust Rox.

"I don't suppose you left those roses, Rox?" I sighed patiently, staring down at him.

He brightened. "Yeah, that was me! It was part one of my declaration of love!"

"And how did you get in?"

"Jetfire gave me his code," Rox replied brightly.

I heard a scuffle in the corner and turned around. Jetfire had taken about two steps towards the door when Hotshot and Red Alert tackled him to the floor, pinning him down. Dad saluted them gratefully, and they waved.

"Jetfire, I'm surprised at you," I mock scolded, placing my hands on my hips.

He snorted. "Sorry, Kase. Seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. Don't touch my aft, Hotshot! What's wrong with you?!"

"You've got seventy-two hours in the brig for violating security codes, Jetfire," Prowl said, standing before the floor-bound mech. "And an extra twenty-four for authorizing Kacey's harrassment."

"So do those flowers I left on Elita's desk count as harrassment too?" he piped up.

"Another twelve hours for being a smart-aft."

"Oh, damn."

"Six for swearing."

"Opti-muuus, stop this guy!"

"Three for whining."

I laughed as Red Alert and Hotshot half dragged Jetfire after Prowl, who was clearly enjoying being able to abuse his authority a bit. Nitro and Firestar came over and picked Rox up from where he'd been kneeling on one knee, saying something about force-flushing the high grade out of his systems.

Meanwhile, I strode over to the couch, sitting down beside my father.

"You'll bail Jetfire out of the brig, won't you?" I asked, a note of tease in my voice as I nudged his thigh with my knee.

"I don't know," he responded airily. "Listen to how quiet it is already. I kind of like it."

"If you don't bail him out, I will," Mom responded promptly, grinning over at me. "In return for the flowers."

Dad's optics widened and he looked down at her. "You don't really think he left them, do you? I should be the only one allowed to give my femme flowers!"

"When did they make that a rule?" she laughed, patting his chestplates.

"It just is!"

I watched my parents with a smile, enjoying their friendly bickering. I've always watched spark bonded couples, always been fascinated by them. It just seems such an intimate thing, a spark bond--I don't know if I'll ever have the courage to bind myself to another for all of eternity. Yet bonds were becoming more and more frequent on base; frag, even Nitro and Firestar planned on bonding soon!

And yet I've never seen a bonded couple that didn't seem perfectly suited for one another. Mother and Father were meant to be, everyone said so, and Ironhide and Chromia fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.

Watching them, a note of anxiety creeps into my spark. I wonder if I'll ever find a mech who suits me so perfectly? Is there a spark out in the universe that can complete mine? Is said spark already on Earth?

These thoughts plundered my processor all the way back to my quarters. So lost in thought was I that I didn't even notice the mech on my heels.

"Kaceystar," he purred smoothly, and I was shocked to find his hands on my upper arms, abruptly pinning me to the wall.

"Uh, um…hi?" I blurted, processor blank with surprise. The mech leaned in closer, licking his lips.

"You've gotten real pretty, you know that?" he murmured, lifting a hand to trace my jaw line. I felt a tingle run up my back. I've often seen Father caress my mother's face, and I've always imagined that it must have felt wonderful to be touched so tenderly. This mech's touch didn't feel at all like I'd imagined.

"Let me go," I growled softly. Frag! I'd have kneed him between the legs long ago had his knees not been resting right above mine, pinning my legs down. And he'd lifted my arms above my head, holding both of my hands in one of his. I was trapped.

"I don't think I will," he drawled lazily, running his fingers down my throat. I flinched away from the touch, but he pulled my face back toward his. "And I don't like it when my femmes get too defiant. Be careful or I'll be forced to punish you."

"I'm not your femme!" I snarled, struggling to break free of his grip. "Release me now!"

"Or what?" he demanded, pinning me harder, but I bit down the cry of pain.

"That's for us to know," a voice growled behind him, "and for you to unhappily find out."

I craned my head to see over my captor's shoulder, and a wave of relief rushed through me. "Bumblebee!"

The mech holding me turned and froze, Bumblebee's rifle level with his noseplates. The look in my best friend's optics was unlike anything I'd ever seen before--cold fury raged in the place of bubbly happiness. It was…frightening.

"Let go of her and back away," Bumblebee rumbled softly. "Or else." He drew back the hammer with one thumb, and the mech released me immediately, backing up slowly with his hands in the air.

Only then did the panic finally hit me, and my inhibitions vanished as I threw my arms around Bee's shoulders, struggling not to cry. He dropped his rifle, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me close, hushing my strangled sobs softly.

"It's okay," he murmured, rubbing my back soothingly. "It's okay…I've got you, Kacey…"

"He--he would've--I--" My voice broke, and I buried my face in his armor, crying like a sparkling. I pride myself on my strength, my ability to cope in nearly situation--but my innocence has never been jeopardized before. I've never, ever been threatened by a mech on base. Never by an Autobot.

I heard the sounds of a scuffle and squawk of surprise, and Bumblebee and I, still embracing, awkwardly shuffled around to see Jetfire triumphantly holding the mech down while my father cuffed him smoothly. Mother was standing nearby, rifle aimed smartly at my offender, smirking at the stunned look on his face.

"Kacey!" Father said loudly, drawing my attention to him. Bee released me and Father caught me up in his arms, cradling me close. "Thank Primus…did he hurt you? In any way?"

"Bee came just in time," I replied with a sigh, pressing my face into his chest. "I'm fine."

"Can't say the same for him," Jetfire quipped gruffly, jerking his head toward the mech, who groaned as Prowl appeared around the corner. "You sure you're okay, kiddo?"

"I'm alright," I assured him gently, smiling. My frame was still trembling, but I did my best to hide my fear. Father's arms tightened around me, and he kissed the top of my head gently.

"Kacey, you've got to understand," Bee said earnestly, reaching out to take my hand. "Not all mechs are like this scumbag, I heard him talking the other day, he's been rotten from the start--"

"I know, Bumblebee, I know," I replied, lifting my hand to gently touch his faceplates. "I've been warned since I was a sparkling that mechs could be dangerous. I do understand. I just--I didn't expect it to be…" I trailed off. I couldn't voice how I felt at that moment. Yes, I'd known that mechs were potentially dangerous, but I'd never expected it from one of my father's officers!

"We're Autobots, Kacey," Father whispered, pulling me close again and tilting my chin back so he could look into my optics. "That doesn't make us holy. We're all mortal, with mortal flaws and inhibitions--or lack thereof," he added spitefully, glaring over at the mech.

"Alright, I'm here," Prowl puffed out, having finally reached us. "Optimus, I'll deal with him accordingly. And Kacey, I extend all due apologies, I should have been suspicious when he left the rec room right after you did--"

"Clearly you were suspicious, or you wouldn't have noticed that!" Jetfire snorted. "Come on, I'll help ya take out the trash…and you, on your feet, time to pay Pit a visit…"

Mother came over as Prowl and Jetfire 'escorted' my assualter down the hall. Father delivered me into her arms, and she held me as tightly as she had when I was a sparkling.

"Primus, I cannot believe this," she murmured, caressing the back of my helm and rocking me gently. "The nerve of him, assaulting our daughter…"

"Mechs will be mechs," Father sighed. "Not that I'm defending him, Lita, don't look at me that way!"

"Anyway," Mother huffed, still glaring at Father, "Kacey, sweetspark, are you going to be alright? You can recharge with us if you like…"

"Mother!" I laughed shakily, gently disengaging myself from her frame. "I'm not a child anymore! Not that I don't appreciate the offer, but I will be just fine. There's no need to worry."

My parents watched me with concerned optics, but at long last Father nodded.

"She's right, Elita," he told Mother gently, taking her hand. "She's a fully grown femme now. If she feels safe, there's no reason for her to recharge in our quarters."

Mother's shoulders slumped slightly, but she nodded. "Yes. You're right." She stepped forward and embraced me once more, bidding me a soft good night before turning and making her way briskly down the hall.

"She seems upset," I said worriedly, and Father chuckled as he hugged me.

"You let me worry about your mother. I'll calm her down. I want you to get some recharge," he said, caressing my cheek. "It's been a long day, has it not?"


I couldn't settle the discomfort in my spark even as I made my way to my quarters. I had Bumblebee stand guard outside Kacey's quarters, with orders to rotate with the twins for the rest of the night. I knew I was being paranoid, but my daughter came so close to disaster that I couldn't help it.

"Elita," I said softly, opening the door to our quarters. No response came, so with a sigh I began to search.

I found her in Leo's room, sitting on the side of his berth, stroking our youngest son's head as he recharged away. Quietly, so as not to disturb him, I settled down on her other side, gently running a hand down her back. She leaned into my touch but said nothing, optics locked on our beloved youngling. After a moment I wrapped both arms around her waist, pulling her close and nuzzling her head with my own.

"Sweetspark, she's fine," I whispered, resting my chin on her shoulder and gazing down at Leo. "She's safe."

"It could happen again," she breathed, and I noticed a subtle trembling of her fingers. "Just like that. It could happen again. Maybe no one will be there next time."

"…You're not afraid, are you?"

There was a pause, and then she turned, her bright optics gazing into my own.

"I don't want her to grow up," Elita whispered, and abruptly her optics filled with tears. "She's our sparkling, Optimus! She's our little femme, she's our first! Once she's grown, she won't…she won't need…"

"She'll always need us, Elita," I assured my sparkmate softly, taking her hands and placing them gently on my chest. "We're her parents, aren't we? She'll never be older or wiser than we are; she'll never have more experience. We'll be with her till we both rust over, understand? And she will always come back to us. You know that."

Elita sniffled, easing her hands from mine to wipe away her tears. "You…you're right, Optimus. Of course you're right." She smiled up at me. "I just wanted a second opinion."

"And are you satisfied yet?"

She lowered her optics, small fingers tracing the seam of my chestplates. "Not yet," she breathed, and I grinned.


"Excellent. Optimus, we've established a full perimeter around the target, and we're running full security detail until you arrive."

"…That's…great, Jetfire, but what the frag are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the Princess, sir. The future of Cybertron? Don't tell me that vicious session with your femme last night actually crashed your CPU."

"Shut up, Jetfire! I don't see you with any femmes!"

"I'm wearing a purity ring! Metaphorically, that is. I'm not interfacing until I'm spark bonded!"

"That's bull frag and you and I both know it!"

"Jetfire, kindly take your comm link off of speaker," Prowl's voice requested over the intercom. Bumblebee, Jetfire and I all turned to see our sub-commander standing in Blaster's sound dome, scowling down at us. Jetfire saluted him briskly before turning away.

"You want me to get rid of him?" Bumblebee asked me quietly, jerking a thumb in Jetfire's direction, and I grinned.

"Nah. He means well. Besides, kicking him out would mean that we'd have to kick out the twins, too."

"On what grounds?"

"No point getting rid of one idiot if you're not going to get rid of them all."

"Oh. Heh." Bumblebee grinned down at me, optics glowing warmly. It had been almost three weeks since I was assaulted in the hall, and Bumblebee had been there for me every step of the way. It hadn't taken me long to reestablish my confidence in the Autobots, and in mechs in general. I wasn't the child I'd been when I was kidnapped by the humans; I understood now that not all beings were innocent.

The world could be a dark place. I suppose I learned that a long time ago, but now I see it with an almost terrifying clarity. There are mechs in this world that would hurt me.

I glanced up at Jetfire, waving over at Kayla. At the twins, circling the perimeter of the command center. At Prowl, at Ironhide and Ratchet, who was pointing a threatening finger in Jetfire's direction, making the shuttle wince and Kayla laugh. I looked at my father as he enters the command center with Mother at his side, both looking as regal and powerful as I've always known them to be.

Turning to the side, I looked up at Bumblebee. Bumblebee. And I smiled.

There is darkness in this world.

But somehow, I'm not worried.

Wait, wait, how did the ending come out so cheesy? O.O Oh well. Plot-less, yes, but all I could actually come up with. My muse kind of abandoned me about half way through, so I had to throw in some extra fluff.

Enjoy :D