Author's note. Sorry for the wait, hope everyone enjoys this chapter. With thanks to IAmStarscream for their suggestions.

Suggestions are welcome.

Enjoy and please review.

At the Ark

Starscream happily sucked a bottle of Energon as his father talked to some humans over a live feed. He still couldn't believe how well fed he was, instead of surviving on barely a cube a cycle, he'd was now giving at least three bottles of Sparkling grade Energon a cycle. He was so lucky to have a kind and generous daddy; he could still barely believe it. So far, he'd had a great day, he'd woken up in his new cot and then been taken out for a flight with the Aerialbots which had been brilliant.

He'd really missed flying and it was so nice to be in the air again, even if he wasn't properly flying. And even though he was just a little Sparkling, Sliverbolt, the Aerialbot leader had listened to his advice about how they could improve themselves as fliers. Although Starscream was a lot like his real Sparkling self, he still retained enough ego to be very proud of himself. He did enjoy giving orders as an adult, especially when they were obeyed.

Actually, life was going pretty well for him at the moment despite his small size. He had a daddy who loved him and he didn't have to put up with Megatron, everything was great. Although it would have been a bit nicer to have some Sparklings about but at least this did mean all the attention was given to him. And it was good attention, not the bad attention Sharpshooter had always given him.

"I'm finished daddy," he said brightly as Optimus paused and turned to look at him.

"Very good Starscream," his daddy said fondly, leaning down to pat his head.

Starscream grinned up at him but he was wondering what he could do now. His daddy looked like he'd be quite a while with those humans and he didn't really have anything to entertain himself with. He fidgeted with his now empty bottle, trying not to annoy his daddy but starting to become bored.

"Bumblebee is going to come and take you to the Rec Room," Optimus suddenly said down to Starscream. "I think this meeting is a bit too boring for Sparklings, isn't it?"

"A little," Starscream couldn't help but admit, he really wanted to go and do something.

Optimus chuckled, he was impressed that Starscream had lasted this long. These meetings were important but they could drag on a bit. He gave Starscream another pat before focusing again on the humans on the other side of the screen.

Starscream patiently waited and finally, he was rewarded by the sight of Bumblebee entering. He was a lot more relaxed about being with Autobots but he'd never really been afraid of the yellow bug so he was a lot friendlier to him. He giggled as Bumblebee bent down and smiled warmly at him.

"Hey there Starscream, ready to go?"

"Yeah," Starscream smiled, holding out his arms.

Bumblebee laughed and scooped Starscream up into his arms, saying to Optimus.

"I'll call you if anything happens, sir."

"Thank you Bumblebee," Optimus said warmly as the yellow Autobot exited the room.

Starscream laid his head against Bumblebee's warm armour and sighed. This was much better; they were doing something and not just sitting around. Of course, he understood his daddy had important work to do but as he couldn't really contribute to a human conference, there was no point in him hanging around.

"What are we going to do?" Starscream eagerly asked his caretaker.

"Well, we could watch something," Bumblebee suggested. "The Rec Room's got a TV; there might be some good shows. Or we could play a game, which would you prefer?"

Starscream considered the choice, what did he fancy doing?

"I wanna play a game," he said at last and Bumblebee smiled.

"Okay, we can do that."

Starscream made a slight purring noise of pleasure which made Bumblebee start and then smile. It was strange to see Starscream act like this, like he really was an innocent Sparkling. He was certainly different from his adult self who actually acted more like a spoiled brat than his Sparkling self. Bumblebee hoped that even when the Sparklings returned to their adult selves, Starscream could retain his rather sweet Sparkling demeanour.

"So," Bumblebee began. "What's it like being a Sparkling?"

"It's good," Starscream admitted. "I thought it wouldn't be but with daddy, it's been great."

"Optimus is a very caring leader," Bumblebe acknowledged with a wide smile. "He'll look after you like you're his own."

Starscream's wings fluttered with happiness that was so much more than Sharpshooter had ever done for him. While a part of him really wanted to return to his full grown body with his status intact, another part of him secretly wanted to continue like this. He never had to worry about making mistakes which would cause him to be beaten. He probably didn't even need to worry about being spanked.

Sometime later

Starscream stood with wide horrified optics as he stared at the remains of what had been a series of vials containing important looking powders and liquids. He'd had a great time with Bumblebee in the Rec Room but after they'd played a few games, quite a lot of loud Autobots had entered having finished their shifts. Bumblebee had decided that Starscream wouldn't want to remain in such a loud, intimidating environment so he'd taken him on a tour of the base.

It had gone well until Bumblebee stopped to chat to some friends of his, with Starscream steadily growing bored. He'd wandered away and into one of the science labs which had immediately captured his interest. The little Sparkling had eagerly started to examine everything in sight including a cabinet containing some very interesting items. He was drawn like a moth to a flame over to that cabinet where he gazed in awe.

"Cool," he murmured, unconsciously using a human term. As an adult, he'd been sneeringly disdainful of any bots picking up human slang but this had all changed as a Sparkling. Now, he wasn't bothered in the slightest and readily used it.

He wanted to grab everything, touching and examining it. So with this thought in mind, he reached up for a particularly interesting looking object with lots of wires and buttons just waiting to be fiddled with. Unfortunately, it was out of reach so he tried climbing up towards the objects and this meant stepping onto the lower shelves. And he discovered that this set of selves wasn't as stable as he'd first imagined.

"Eee!" he squealed as the shelf shuddered ominously. He jumped back, right off but that action was enough to shake the cabinet enough so that several things crashed to the ground.

"Oh no," he gasped as he surveyed the mess he'd unintentionally created.

What was he going to do, there was no way he could possibly clean this up. He was going to be in so much trouble when the Autobots found out about this. If he'd still been with his stepfather, he'd have been looking at a beating, no Energon and a stint in the box!

He started trembling, he couldn't bare it if his daddy had to punish him, he couldn't take the disappointment. He had no idea how Optimus would actually punish him but his mind couldn't help but think it would be a spanking. No, he'd come to the Ark to avoid such a fate because he'd known that at some point or other, Megatron would spank him. And probably in front of Mechs who'd spread it all around the Nemesis and he'd never regain their respect.

He couldn't allow something like that to happen here, not when things were going so well. He'd hide the mess and by the time it was discovered, they wouldn't be able to tell who'd done it. No one knew he was in there and he'd ensure no one did discover he was in here. He could easily bluff if anyone asked him about the incident, just as long as they didn't have any solid proof. But they wouldn't, he'd make sure of that.

Quickly, he looked around and spotted a brush, labs always had cleaning equipment. He rushed over and grabbed it, as well as something to sweep the broken pieces into. Knowing time was of the essence, he started feverishly sweeping as much as he could into the shovel. He then clumsily dumped it into a nearby bin which thankfully was small. Because of his small size, he wasn't doing a great job but at least it wouldn't be as obvious if he'd left it.

"Come on," he hissed to himself, he couldn't spend too much time on this.

Finally, he decided that he'd done enough and that no one would instantly notice the mess. With a feeling of great satisfaction, he rushed out of the lab and away to find Bumblebee. To his relief, Bumblebee didn't seem to have noticed he'd gone. Maybe he hadn't been as long as he'd thought but that would be all the better. Carefully, he hid behind the yellow Autobot and waited to be acknowledged.

"...So anyway, Prime asked me to look after Starscream...uh...where is he...oh there you are," Bumblebee greeted, turning and seeing the little Sparkling standing innocently behind him. "Where you'd get to?"

"Nowhere," Starscream said with a cute grin before saying. "You talk a lot."

"Ah...yeah, I do sometimes," Bumblebee admitted, rubbing the back of his head. "Come on, you're probably bored stiff with me jabbering on."

"I'm okay," Starscream chirped with a winning smile. "Um, could we maybe go?"

"Of course, sorry for taking so long," Bumblebee apologised before saying goodbye to his friends and heading off with Starscream.

The little Seeker smiled to himself, he was pretty sure he'd gotten away with it.

Optimus's POV

Optimus paused as he examined a document from a new human supplier. Since they'd woken up on this planet, they'd formed many alliances and also contracted several human businesses. It was difficult to get supplies from Cybertron, particularly as Cybertron itself had trouble receiving supplies. So the Autobots had several agreements with governments, one being that they would help protect any country that was attacked by the Decepticons.

They often did charity events, helped with construction and other thins of that nature. That meant they could earn Earth money which they could use to buy necessary goods. And it meant Optimus could pay his soldiers a proper wage which they could use for their own, personal purchases. But this new supplier was strictly business related and was to do with mining certain minerals.

It could be tedious at times but it was essential work and Optimus willing did his share. Just as he was about to sign the new document, agreeing to the terms, Prowl entered his office. He looked up, Prowl carried several datapads with him, which undoubtedly he wanted his Prime to look over. Hopefully, he could those done quickly, he was missing Starscream.

It was odd but he never thought he'd miss the Seeker but he did. He was really becoming attached to the little Sparkling who called him daddy even if it wasn't forever. It did however make a part of his Spark long for his own Sparkling with Elita, one they could bring up together. This thought made him smile, he was definitely going to suggest it once she was back with him.

"Thank you Prowl," he said as his SIC handed him the data pads.

"There's something else, Prime," Prowl said gently and Optimus looked up curiously.

"Red Alert was going over the security cameras and he came across some footage of Starscream."

"Doing what?" Optimus questioned, suddenly worried.

"Nothing terrible," Prowl quickly assured his leader. "But according to Red Alert, Starscream caused a mess in a lab and then attempted to hide it. And I have heard nothing from Bumblebee about Starscream confessing to such a thing. Something tells me he isn't going to come clean about this."

"Hmm, you're probably right," Optimus sighed, knowing Red Alert was not normally wrong. "However, I am going to give him a chance to come clean, he may have just panicked."

"That seems fair, sir," Prowl said with a nod. "I do hope he does, it would be nice if we could teach him some Autobot values before he is returned to Megatron."

"That is my hope as well," Optimus said as he glanced back down at his work. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention, the matter will be dealt with."

Prowl bowed his head slightly, he knew his leader would take care of matters. He left the office, leaving the Prime sitting pensively at his desk. So far, Starscream had behaved impeccably and he knew it wasn't natural for anyone to be perfect. Starscream needed to learn from his mistakes and it was Optimus's duty to help him realise what he did wrong and how he could avoid future mistakes.

He continued with his desk work, although his mind did wonder slightly. Why had Starscream covered up the mess, was he really worried about getting into trouble? The adult Starscream had certainly hated getting caught but he wondered if this had anything to do with Sarscream's past. The little Seeker had suffered several nightmares and flashbacks and from what little Megatron and Thundercracker had told him, had likely been abused by his stepfather.

What he needed to do was show Starscream appropriate punishment, because never punishing Starscream for being bad was not a good idea. Starscream needed to learn to distinguish between a fair, justified punishment next to a harsh, unjustified one. He was not going to dole out spankings for every bit of naughtiness Starscream displayed, only for serious incidents.

With this thought in mind, he quickly finished his work; he didn't like putting this off for too long. Once done, he got up and stretched, he'd been in that chair for a while now. Not just completing data work but also holding several conferences with human allies. Thankfully, it had all gone well so he had nothing to brood over.

"Bumblebee, how are you doing?" he asked over the comm.

"Great, thanks," Bumblebee replied cheerfully. "We're just in my room, watching a little telly. The Rec Room was too busy for the little guy."

"That sounds excellent," Optimus said warmly, pleased that Starscream had otherwise had a good cycle. "I will leave it you both for now but I will collect Starscream when it's time for his Energon."

"Okay Prime, take your time," Bumblebee chirped back before the connection was ended.

Optimus smiled slightly; at least Starscream was mostly a happy, well behaved Sparkling. He just needed to be taught that if he made a mistake, he didn't need to hide it. He didn't need to fear dreadful punishment for simply making a mistake. Optimus only hoped he could teach him that lesson.

Even later that day

"So, you had a good time with Bumblebee?" Optimus asked as Starscream finished telling him what he'd done to do, with an obvious omission.

"I did, Bee's nice," Starscream chirped as he snuggled against his daddy's chest.

"He is," Optimus agreed before asking. "Did anything else of note happen?"

"No," Starscream said blandly with not a trace of guilt in his tone. "Did anything happen with you?"

"Nothing exciting," Optimus said softly. "Just boring paperwork although Prowl did report an incident in one of the labs."

"Oh?" Starscream said innocently, barely flinching. It seemed he was a very good actor when he was confident of not being discovered.

"Indeed, someone had knocked over several vials in Perceptor's lab," Optimus explained. "And while they did make a good effort to clean up, they have not yet come forward to report it."

"Is...is that bad?" Starscream asked, his little wings shivering slightly.

"Well yes," Optimus said with a nod. "Things like this should always be reported, especially as others could be wrongly blamed. It also smacks of deceit and it can cause bots to mistrust each other."

"Makes sense," Starscream said quietly but though Optimus gave him a moment, Starscream didn't say anything more.

"I would hope that all those under my command would trust me enough to come to me," Optimus added.

"I'm sure they do," Starscream said, looking away and indicating he that he hoped the conversation was over.

Optimus sighed, it seemed Starscream wasn't going to tell him. So in a very gentle tone.

"Do you know most of the rooms in the Ark have cameras?"

Starscream froze as Optimus continued.

"And it so happens, they caught who made the mess and cleaned it up."

Starscream started to tremble and shake as Optimus said.

"I'm saddened you didn't feel able to tell me about this, Starscream. And a little disappointed that you felt the need to conceal this from all of us."

"I'm sorry!" Starscream burst out frantically. "I'm sorry, I won't do it again, I'm so sorry."

"I know," Optimus said gently but firmly. "But I'm afraid I have to punish you."

"NO!" howled Starscream, his little face screwed up with anguish. "No...Please daddy, don't whack me! Please!"

"I'm not going to whack you," Optimus said calmly even as Starscream started to dissolve into tears. "I will never whack you and I will certainly never spank you for no good reason."

But Starscream barely seemed to be listening, he was sobbing loudly as Optimus lifted him against his shoulder. Rubbing the Sparkling's back, he said.

"If you had admitted to what you'd done, I would have simply put you in the corner for ten minutes but for lying, I'm afraid it's a spanking. But it won't be a big one and afterwards, you'll be forgiven and you can have your Energon."

Starscream shook his head, he didn't seem to believe his guardian. So with a heavy sigh, Optimus gently laid him across his lap, making sure his adoptive son was fairly comfortable and raising a hand. As he'd promised, it wasn't a big spanking, only ten smacks but Starscream still cried his Spark out as though he was being whipped.

Once he was done, Optimus lifted Starscream up again and laid him against his chest, making soothing noises.

"There, you're all forgiven now," Optimus said kindly. "You made a mistake but it's all in the past now."

As he rubbed Starscream's back, the little Sparkling slowly calmed down enough to say.

"T-that's it?"

"That's it," Optimus confirmed. "You're not going to get anymore punishment, Starscream."

"Y-you mean it?" the Sparkling hiccupped in question.

"I do," Optimus said firmly. "You'll only be punished with a spanking if you lie, put yourself in danger or deliberately cause harm to someone who means you no harm. Those are my rules Starscream, do they sound reasonable?"

The Sparkling thought about it for a moment before slowly nodding, although looking rather astonished. After a few moments, he said.

"You won't whack me?"

"No."

"Lock me up in a box?"

"No."

"Starve me?"

"No," Optimus said for the third tone, putting a very firm tone into his voice. "I will never do any of those things Starscream. If you make a mistake or be naughty, I might put you in the corner for a little while. And you might not receive any Energon goodies if you've been naughty but you will never be denied actual Energon. Do you understand, Starscream?"

Starscream nodded, his lips trembling. And then suddenly, he burst into tears again, clinging tightly to Optimus's neck.

"I'm sorry daddy; I'm sorry I was bad and didn't trust you. You're the best daddy in the whole universe and I love you!"

"I love you too, Starcream," Optimus said reassuringly as he hugged his little son back. "And I will always look after and protect you, no matter what."

Author's note. In the next chapter, Thundercracker is looking after the Sparklings on the Nemesis but how does that go? Find out next time, until next time.