The bitlet had finally quieted down enough to fall into recharge. He'd curled up on Starscream's chest, one thumb in his mouth.

His name was Flare. Soundwave had found him in a haven for street urchins on the outskirts of Kaon, just an orn ago. According to the communications specialist, no one there had been sure how to care for a traumatized sparkling less than a vorn old, but they had managed not to kill him, and he probably wasn't off worse for it.

Even if he were, Starscream wouldn't mind. The sparkling – his sparkling! – was back where he belonged, the creation bond was online again, and the dull ache, Starscream's constant companion for nearly a vorn now, had faded.

Carefully, Starscream stroked one tiny wing. His name was Flare. A good name, fitting for a flyer. It was odd, too, how Megatron had picked the smallest available frame for Seeker offspring. Had picked cuteness over strength. Had someone paint the kid red and gray, too. They would have made a pretty little family.

Starscream got a hold of his vocaliser before a keen could escape.

Shush. Optimus was hovering in the doorway. I won't begrudge you dreams of an easier life. I wish I could have done something to spare you from all that hurt.

The air in Starscream's vents shuddered, but he managed to avoid an all out fit of sobs. Don't wake the bitlet.

Slowly, Optimus left his place and padded over to the berth, sank to his knees. As if realizing his proximity, Flare stirred, sucked on this thumb twice and went still again.

You and Wingstun made one cute sparkling.

Starscream managed a smile. Wingstun, yes. He wasn't alive to appreciate it, just like so many others.

Just promise me you won't let the regrets eat you up.

Starscream shuttered his optics. Megatron might be dead anyway. Changing things even further back defied his imagination. He could not conceive of a live in which he would not have been a Seeker.

"I asked you," he finally reminded himself and his bonded.

"You did," Optimus whispered back and leaned in to kiss Starscream's helm. "And I shall be eternally amazed you picked me of all people."

Starscream couldn't help the chuckle. Optimus grinned back.

Flare shifted and onlined his optics. "'sup?" he mumbled, with a mistrustful undertone.

"I was just doing my job," Optimus said. "Which is making your carrier laugh."

"You're a sap." Starscream smiled.

"I'll gladly be a sap, dork, and fool if it makes you happy."

Flare giggled.

Seeing his chance, Optimus reached in to tickle the bitlet.

Starscream just watched, and enjoyed the feeling of his sparkling squirming on his chest, squealing happily. They did make a pretty little family of their own, after all.

- Finis -

Well. Most of you will have a toothache by now, but I couldn't resist.