Title: Late Evening

'Verse: Bay-verse

Characters: Ironhide/Ratchet, mentioned Trailbreaker and First Aid

Summary: It takes a village to raise a Cybertronian. Ironhide takes his shift with some of the bitlets that live on base, much to Ratchet's amusement.

Rating: PG

Stuff you'll read: Established mech/mech pairing. Sparklings (not their own) who are slightly more than props. Implication that reproduction does not always run smooth.

AN: My commute has a lot of that between-sleep of 'hofrag, tired' and awake 'I can't miss my stop' on the train. When random mental images come, strange ficbits end up happening. So... uh... Chicago Transit Authority, I blame you.

But hey, is fluff. This is rare for me. :)

Late evening, Ratchet slipped through the halls, following his mate's sparksig like that trail of breadcrumbs in the human youngling's tale. He found the hulk of ebony scaryness in one of the smaller recreation rooms, set aside for the younger generation of the base.

Ironhide and two little bitlets. 'Breaker and 'Aid's pair.

The two creators often had staggered schedules, most often allowing one of them to be with their darling little mischief makers. Still, occasionally shifts aligned, or they simply wanted some time alone, as now. The two little sparksiblings could be one pain in the aft of a handful, escape artists and notorious for getting tiny metallic fingers into everything. They could be Pit-spawned little terrors, but somehow, for Ironhide; maybe by tides, phases of the moon, some ethereal connection, the similar build of father and weapons specialist, or something else no one dared attempt to fathom; they often choose to behave.

Like now, while they were not being little cherubim of Primus, they were maintaining a semblance of order and Ratchet smirked at the sight of his bonded with the two bitlings.

One, was nearly in recharge but for sparkling stubbornness, draped over his shoulder and secured by a gray hand. The other, was standing by the old soldier's bent knee, chittering up at a kneeling 'Hide. Completely unfazed by the orange hints of the huge cannon-bearing forearm curling behind their own tiny back.

Ironhide purr-growled back at the little one. Sparkling chirps and twitters somehow managed to meet in the middle with the old mech's habit of slipping into pure Cybertronian. Baby talk and native tongue. There was rarely pure understanding, but usually enough that both sides got the sentiments across.

Ratch chuckled, stepping fully into the room.

'Hide glanced up, giving the Hummer a wry look that said 'One snide remark, and you're at my mercy tonight.' He settled his hand on the sparkling's back. Whether to stop the lil bit from zipping to the medic and gecko-clinging to leg armor, or to prevent whining and cowering behind him, was, as always, open to debate.

When Ironhide made to stand, the sparklet at his side squealed, a high tremulous trill accompanied by grabby hands. One Ironhide-height, at the moment, was too much to be separated from the sibling. A quirked optic glance to Ratchet and the frontliner scooped up the discontent twin, cradling the small frame to his chassis and crooning a low warble which quickly soothed both sparklets nearly into recharge.

"Can I at least voice my amusement at your skill in this arena?" the CMO asked, all innocence on faceplates but prodding humor in tone.

Ironhide leaned into the medic, managing to shift one little bundle of parts and hold both a pair of sparklings and a Hummer to either side of a massive black chest. "Fair amount of practice over the vorns, medic," the TopKick said, with a playful squeeze of his waist. "With sparklings small and large."

Ratchet bristled, quiet only for the company present and tried to pull away. But his mate held him fast, a soft butt from the crested helm drifted into nuzzling against the medic's audio and a nip to his jaw. Slowly the Hummer's engine shifted from a growl to a gentle purr.

The brief chuckle from Ironhide roused the sparklings, and they shifted against black armor with small displeased churrs. Both mechs paused, quieting until the sparklings settled and cycled back down. With a pleased little vent from his intakes, and 'Hide brushed lip components over Ratchet's, then slid up to murmur against an audio. "Have to admit, endearing in recharge, Ratch. You want one?"

Ratchet felt a shiver race down his back, "N- 'Hide… I said that…"

"Shhhh… easy, medic. Easy." Ironhide rumbled, sliding a hand over his mate's lower back and around a hip. "One of these. Now." He pressed a kiss to the chartreuse temple.

Light blue optics blinked owlishly, and Ratchet felt his faceplates flush warm. "Oh. ...fraggit 'Hide!… glitching moron," he grumbled.

"I'm the glitching moron…" the weapons specialist chuckled softly, shifting a shoulder when Ratchet reached for one of the bundles and disentangled it from 'Hide's armor. The Hummer easily settled the bitling against his own chassis. Profession and natural skill; Ratch had little hope of really escaping a 'pot, kettle; black' type comment when it came to his own handling of sparklings.

Both mechs just had reputations to uphold, and tried with tireless tenacity to keep their talent hidden from the masses.

The TopKick tugged his Hummer over to a chair and settled in, while Ratchet decided to make himself comfortable sitting crosswise on his lap. 'Hide wrapped his free arm around the CMO's waist, tucking his head amid shoulder guards and against Ratch's neck.

The twin sparklings in their arms made those soft little noises that seemed universal of resting infants. Both mechs smiled, if a little wistful, and purred to each other.

"Still the best thing 'bout sparklings is handing them off," the old soldier rumbled. "And that's two cycles from now."

"I can be convinced to keep you company," Ratch replied, and snuggled closer against his mate.