Waiting

Authors Note: This is set twenty-seven years after the 2007 movie. I'm writing this because I want to see what would happen if the Autobots realised that Arcee is probably the only femme they have left, and that the responsibility of keeping their species going now rests with her. Who will she choose to be the Sire of her sparkling? The big guy – Optimus? The cheeky but cute one – Bumblebee? The cranky but intelligent one – Ratchet? You get the drift. This all stems from my sick little fantasy of 'Look at all the pretty mechs! Which one do I want?'. And yes, the title sucks!

For this to work, I'm assuming that the mechs have no prior attachments (ie. no Elita, no Chromia) and Arcee has no attachment either.

Chapter 1

The lookout... late evening...

Optimus Prime stood with a stiff stance. Uneasy. Looking out at the view with his optics slanted towards the sky.

He rarely came here any more; the others still met here; just not him. It reminded him of the futility of his message –"We are here, we are waiting" – the message he had so joyfully and hopefully sent out to the stars from the very same location he was now standing. Well, they were still waiting. It had been nearly twenty-seven Earth years now, the only arrivals had been Wheeljack, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe and Arcee. No one else. Hardly enough to make a community, really, and worst of all, they had one solitary femme among a slew of mechs. How on Cybertron were they expected to keep their species alive with ONE femme?

His famous positive resolve slipped. It was useless. One lone female was not enough to keep them going. They needed the Allspark, but it was long since dead. Their situation was dire.

This wasn't a new situation for him. They'd faced femme problems before. Females were always rare and treasured. But this was the first time he had the leisure of facing the problem without the threat of war and death over his head. He wasn't just the Autobot Commander; he was the protector of his species. How could he protect something that was slipping through his fingers?

In Prime's most vivid and buoyant visions for the future, he'd seen himself as the guardian and protector of many sparklings produced by his peaceful army. Families, sparklings and femmes everywhere. The young were the future. With the Allspark taken away from them and having only one femme land on Earth... Optimus closed his optics momentarily in grief.

Turning stiffly, Optimus lifted his head and transformed, driving away from a place that had once given him so much hope.

The Autobot base...

He didn't fail to notice the raised voices and angry body language of his troops when he returned. Ironhide was sticking an angry finger into the faceplate of Sunstreaker, leaning over the almost-as-tall mech and delivering some sort of lecture.

"Leave her alone and keep your hands to yourself!" Ironhide was raging into Sunny's faceplate. Ratchet was backing up Ironhide by standing at his shoulder with a stern expression and crossed arms.

"I was doing fine until a certain aging tin-can started throwing his weight around," Sunstreaker spat back, glaring.

Sideswipe covered his face with his hands, mumbling, "You're making it worse, Sunshine."

"When you have the experience, CPU, and strength to back up your words, then you can insult me," Ironhide growled, "I won't stand for such insolence from a sparkling with a gun and an over-rated opinion of himself."

Sunstreaker went for said gun, wrenching it from his hip, "Right, that's it, stuff this-"

"STAND DOWN!"

Sideswipe shrank back as he watched a glaring Optimus Prime stand over both Ironhide and Sunstreaker. "Oh slag, here we go..."

"Ironhide, report." Prime's tone was harsh.

"Sunstreaker was shoving Arcee around and practically forcing her to go with him." Ironhide's optics burned with hatred. "She wasn't interested but he wouldn't let up. It's one thing to cajole, another to ignore the word ' no'."

The yellow Twin's face darkened with fury, "I was NOT forcing her, we were just playing around, Cee is in on that, she doesn't mind."

Prime's optics narrowed dangerously, "Did Arcee say the word 'no'?"

"Er... yes! But..!"

"Sunstreaker, you are hereby confined to your quarters. Ratchet, please escort him." Prime's tone was hard. He knew Sunstreaker's reputation with femmes. He used guile, charm, and his good looks to get them to do what he wanted. He wouldn't hurt them, but he could brush over their negative responses to get them to do what he wanted.

"Slag head," Ironhide hissed as Sunstreaker was marched away by a gleeful Ratchet.

"Where is Arcee?" Prime questioned, looking around.

"In her quarters, I think..." Ironhide answered uncertainly. "Sunstreaker was being too rough."

"I'll talk to her. Thank you for protecting her, Ironhide."

"Heh, she doesn't need protecting, she could have defended herself fine, it just looked like she'd had enough of being chased and was too tired to really go against that slagger."

"Hmm."

Optimus made his way to Arcee's quarters, hesitating and thinking what to say when he knocked on her door. "Arcee, it's Optimus."

The door slid back, revealing the pink and purple form of the warrior Arcee staring up at him. She looked at his imposing frame filling her doorway. "This is about Sunstreaker, isn't it."

"Yes," Prime nodded, gesturing inside, "may I come in?"

Arcee shrugged, "Sure."

Optimus had to duck to enter the room. While Arcee's quarters were larger than the other Autobots, the ceiling was lower. He could just barely stand upright.

"Optimus, I mean no dis-respect, but I don't need you or Ironhide controlling how the other mech's react to me. I'm used to it." Arcee's small angular face was tilted up at him. "I can fight back but I do try not to. I can't deck every mech who looks at me the wrong way, or else you'd be putting me in the brig – if we had one..."

"Sunstreaker was out of line, he knew it, and Ironhide knew it." Optimus said firmly. He was holding his head at an angle to avoid colliding his antennae with the ceiling. "If Sunstreaker or anyone else fails to show you the respect you deserve, they will also be punished."

Arcee winced, "I don't want to cause problems! Sunstreaker will be even worse to live with after this!"

"We will protect you, Arcee." Optimus was stubborn with his protective streak.

The femme clenched her jaw. This was worse then what Sunstreaker did. "This all comes down to me being female; to being maybe the last female. Doesn't it?!"

Prime struggled to keep his expression neutral and calm, "I won't deny you are precious to us; to me -"

"Drop the act, Optimus. I know what you want and why." Arcee refused to look at his face, staring at his long legs and thick feet instead. "You need me to produce sparklings. My worth as a warrior is negligible next to that. That's why you're all so protective and nice around me."

Optimus didn't know what to say. Arcee was right, she was priceless to them because of her ability to produce sparklings. It wouldn't be good to come out and say it but she was right.

"Well, how many do you want me to have? Give me a number," Arcee clenched her hands into fists.

Optimus winced, his frame tensing, "How many you want is up to you. That's personal. We're not going to force you to have one."

With a shake of her head Arcee dropped her aft down onto her recharge berth, her posture sagging. "I know you won't force, you're too nice. You expect that I'll have at least one sparkling, don't you?"

A small 'yes' passed Optimus Prime's mouthplates before he could stop it.

Arcee sighed, folding her hands in her lap. "And if no one else is coming, that means I'll have to choose one of the mech's here to be the sire."

"It's up to you... but, yes, perhaps you'd need to be careful about who you chose." Images filled Prime's CPU of what the sparklings of the various warriors would look like. He could see a Ratchet sparkling throwing sparkling-sized wrenches, or a Wheeljack sparkling blowing himself up, or an Ironhide sparkling using the other bots as target practise with the tiny cannons on his forearms. That last one made Prime shudder.

This was the longest conversation he'd had with Arcee. It always made Optimus nervous to be around femmes. He loved it when they were around, but making conversation with the opposite gender wasn't one of his talents.

Her head lifted and her optics made a not-too-subtle sweep over Prime's strong and attractive body. "Do you want to do it, Optimus?"

His mouthplates swung open. "Uh... me?"

The femme nodded, "Sure, why not. You'd have a lot of positive attributes to pass on, and if I need to chose someone, it's only fair that you be selectable too."

There was a crunch as the pointy bits of Prime's head finally went through the ceiling. "Whoops..."

Arcee laughed, "Oh, don't worry, I'll choose someone in my own time. I'll let you know."

"Oh, uh, okay," Optimus removed his head from the ceiling, "Thank you Arcee." Crouching over, he left her quarters.

So now the search was on. Who would Arcee chose to sire her sparkling? She had the choice of Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Bumblebee or himself. He didn't know what he'd do if she chose him. He'd be a mess. He guessed they'd find out soon enough.