Title: Graceless – Ready to Hope

Author: pl2363

Series: Transformers AU/G1

Rating: M (Sparkbonding, kissing)

Warnings: M-preg, sparkling (OC), interfacing of the sticky variety

IDW based but definitely A/U. References to Drift back-story from IDW.

Title borrowed from "Shake it Out" by Florence + the Machine, which is the main inspirational song for this fic.

"It's a harder way
And it's come to claim her
And I always say
We should be together," … 'Breath of Life' by Florence + the Machine

They stood like a pair of younglings at the door; lips locked, glossa entwined. Drift's hands held Perceptor tightly around his waist, as Perceptor cupped his mate's beautiful face in his hands. Primus, Perceptor loved how Drift tasted, the warmth of his plating where their bodies touched. He especially loved the sensation of desire and love, mixing and melding, filling him from helm to pede. It was something he'd never felt before meeting Drift. And it was so amazing to feel it again, even for this brief moment.

They had been dating for some time. Progress made in small milestones. Emotional wounds were tended to and slowly healing. Much of the anger he'd felt had long since faded. The only things left standing in the way of complete reconciliation was his remaining lack of trust and an indefinable distance between them. He knew that Drift would never repeat what he'd done, but his spark he still felt unsure. Wrapped up in the fear of 'what if'.

Their kiss finally broke, and Drift gently bumped his forehelm against Perceptor's in a playful gesture. They gazed deeply into one another's optics. They had talked at length. Spoken of all their darkest fears, their brightest hopes. Yet, it wasn't enough. Had there simply been too much damage done? No way to reach through the thick glass wall between them?

"Percy," Drift said, his voice low and soft.


Drift's fingers flexed against Perceptor's waist. "Nothing... I should go."

Hesitation. Drift hesitated so much now. It was disconcerting to Perceptor and inevitably caused him to falter as well.

"All right," he replied, then withdrew his hands.

A flicker of sadness swept over Drift's face at the loss of touch.

Drift stole one last little kiss before letting go of Perceptor. "Night."

"Goodnight, Drift," Perceptor replied.

Drift smiled then turned, making his way down the corridor. His walk was so smooth and graceful, sword sheaths barely moving at his sides as he silently padded away. Perceptor watched his beautiful bondmate, wondering how many more times he'd have to bear witness to this repeating scene. Eventually, Drift turned at the end of the corridor and slipped out of sight.

With a small sigh, Perceptor palmed the door to his quarters open. Ratchet and Wheeljack were inside, waiting for his return. Well, Ratchet was waiting anyway. Wheeljack was leaned back against the couch with his optics offlined, recharging.

Ratchet glanced at Perceptor. "Out like a light," he said in a hushed voice. "Eh, both of them," he added, jerking his head at the hallway and Swift's room beyond.

Perceptor nodded and smiled.

"So, late night. Anything happen?" Ratchet asked, his optics glinting brighter for a moment.

"Drift is an honorable mech, and my honor is still quite intact," Perceptor replied.

"It's been orns, now. What are you waiting for?" Ratchet asked with a dubious look.

Perceptor shrugged a shoulder. "I don't really know."

Ratchet narrowed his optics. "You love him?"

"Yes," Perceptor replied. "But there are remaining issues left unresolved."

Ratchet frowned. "I certainly don't mind sparkling sitting for you, but this is getting ridiculous. It's been orns now. I think you guys are getting too comfortable with how things are. At some point you're going to have to make a final push to be a family again. You know, just jump in and do it."

"I know," Perceptor replied.

Ratchet turned and gently poked Wheeljack.

Wheeljack jerked at the prodding, his optics flaring on then dimming. "Oh, hey, Percy."

Ratchet pushed to stand. Glancing back at his mate, he offered his hand. "Need me to carry you home?"

Chuckling, Wheeljack shook his head and stood up without the offered assistance. He looked over at Perceptor. "Have a nice time?"

"Yes, I did," Perceptor replied.

"Well, we're heading back. See you tomorrow, Percy," Ratchet said.

"Good night," Perceptor replied.

"Night," they said almost in unison.

Perceptor watched them exit his quarters. Ratchet reached out and draped his arm across Wheeljack's back.

Stepping over the threshold, Ratchet gave Wheeljack a small squeeze. "You sure you don't need me to carry you?" Ratchet asked.

Wheeljack chuckled. "Nah, I think I'll make it. Though, it's always good to have a medic on hand."

They both laughed as they made their way down the hallway. Perceptor moved to stand in the doorway, watching them until they turned the corner. They'd been together for a very long time, and seemed to communicate so much without any words. It was more than just the touches and body language. Ratchet's normally gruff demeanor always softened around Wheeljack. It had to be their open bond that helped them so easily communicate.

Perceptor touched his chest. He and Drift had shared sparks only once, and due to time and lack of additional spark merges, their bond had gone dormant. He frowned as he wondered if that was part of the remaining fear and distance he felt.

Perceptor dimmed his optics as he ducked back inside his quarters. He turned out the lighting and wandered to his room, mulling over their evening.

Drift had decided to take Perceptor someplace different than where they'd been spending their evenings. Tonight he took him out the racetrack and offered to drive Perceptor around in his alt mode. Transforming into his microscope mode, Perceptor rode in the passenger seat, strapped in for safety. He didn't quite understand the allure of riding along until the first turn Drift took, fishtailing his back end. Perceptor felt all the pressures and sway pass through his own body. It was an accelerating sensation he enjoyed far more than he'd ever imagined. It had turned out to be a wonderfully fun evening.

Now he lay here alone in his berth. A place he'd once so long ago shared with Drift. He rolled to his side and reached out in the darkness pressing his fingers to the empty space beside him. In all this time, he'd never gotten used to recharging in the middle of the double sized berth, staying on the side he was familiar with.

His mind told him Drift belonged here again to make their family whole. His body ached for his mate's warm embrace. It was his spark that wavered. Still so afraid. But why? It fluttered when they were together. It pounded when they kissed. So why was the hesitation there?

"Maybe it needs to be reminded?" Perceptor asked himself in a whisper, coming back to his thoughts of their bond and spark merging. He rolled onto his back and tapped at the center of his chest.

Even if that were the reason, it seemed like they were light years away from sharing a berth again, let alone spark merging. The space between them remained, despite how hard they were working to reconcile. It then occurred to Perceptor that he'd been waiting for Drift to make the first move towards something more than dates and that maybe that was wrong approach. Maybe he should be the one to reach out, instead. Show him that he was ready for more between them, despite his remaining fears. After all, he shouldn't let fear rule his actions.

If they skipped ahead to spark merging they'd have a direct connection to one another, creating a way to share how they felt without anything there to filter or confuse. Emotions could be passed directly through their sparks in the process. It would unveil the remaining hidden issues and he could face his fears directly and see what it was that held Drift back.

Perceptor glanced at the empty space beside him in the berth, and with a surge of courage he opened his comm line to ping Drift.

Drift rolled over on his berth, flopping to his front. He found recharging the nights after their dates nearly impossible. A dull ache radiated out from his spark, making his entire being ache as a result. It had been orns of waiting, talking, working toward finding his place with Perceptor again. But after each outing he'd walk away, feeling defeated by his own mistakes. Fearing he'd never earn the forgiveness he so desperately wanted, and too scared of pushing Perceptor away by asking for any thing more than what was offered.

These were the times he found it hardest to stay put and not wander to the energon bar. He was just so tired of the pain and no way to make it stop. He wasn't sure he could endure it all much longer without somehow numbing himself.

Suddenly, his comm line pinged. To his complete surprise it was Perceptor.

:: Percy? Everything all right? :: Drift asked, concerned as he shifted to sit up.

:: Yes and no, :: Perceptor replied.

Perceptor was usually direct, making his grey reply worrisome. Drift vaguely frowned. :: I don't understand. ::

:: I would like you to come over. :: Perceptor sounded very serious.

Drift's frown deepened. :: Right now? ::

:: Yes. If you wouldn't mind. ::

It wasn't that he didn't mind, more that he didn't understand what was going on. :: I'll be right there.::

Drift plucked his great sword from the spot he stowed it beside the berth and slid it into place against his back. He exited his quarters, mind racing. What could be so urgent that Perceptor would call him over late at night?

The trek between the barracks didn't take long, and with long strides Drift made his way down the hallway towards what had once been his home with Perceptor. Arriving at the door, he found it had been left open, and his mate stood just inside, apparently waiting for him.

"Thank you for coming over," Perceptor said, a small, warm smile pulling at his lips.

That smile immediately helped diffuse some of Drift's anxiety. "Sure."

"I wanted to ask you about something." Perceptor moved to close the door, then turned to face Drift.

Drift canted his head, then nodded.

"I want to bridge this space between us," Perceptor said in a very solemn tone.

"Space?" Drift asked.

Perceptor nodded, uncertainty washing over his face. "Yes." Sighing air from his intakes, Perceptor sadly smiled. "Tell me. Why do we continue to part ways each night? The ultimate goal is to be a whole family again. Is it not?"

"It is," Drift replied, dimming his optics.

"It's been several orns, and I fear we are settling into this middle space of not quite back together." Perceptor frowned. "It's as if we can't get past this plateaued progress we're at."

Drift wasn't settling into anything. He hated this nether world they were in, but he didn't know how push beyond it without possibly damaging things between them all over again.

"After some thought, it occurred to me that there is a somewhat extreme measure we might employ," Perceptor said as he stepped close to Drift and took his hand.

Distracted by the touch, Drift glanced down at their linked hands.

"How would you feel about spark merging?" Perceptor asked.

Drift's attention quickly darted back up. "Spark merging?"

Hope mixed with fear crossed Perceptor's face. "Yes."

"That's sort of skipping some steps… isn't it?" Drift asked, letting his uncertainty lace his voice.

Perceptor pressed closer and squeezed Drift's hand. "Words are only getting us so far. With a direct link, sharing would be far more productive since we'd be able to avoid the traps and confusion language often poses. Besides, I don't believe it would be harmful since we are already bonded."

Drift felt unsure. What if they linked and it went badly? What if Drift hadn't fully redeemed himself yet? "Are you really sure you want to try something like that?"

"I do. I wouldn't suggest this if I didn't think it would be beneficial. That said, I also do not wish to push you into something you are not ready for," Perceptor replied.

Drift gazed into Perceptor's optimistic face, trying to convince himself that his fears were unfounded. Perceptor would never offer if he didn't truly feel it was the right thing to do. With a heave of air through his intakes, he decided to place his trust in his mate. "Okay."

Perceptor smiled, clearly relieved by Drift's approval. "Are you willing to try it now?"

Drift nodded. "Yeah, sure."

"Excellent." Perceptor pulled him by their linked hands down the hallway.

Drift's spark was fluttering and shuddering in his chest. Both terrified and hopeful that maybe he'd finally earned that elusive forgiveness he'd been seeking.

Once in the room, Perceptor let go of Drift's hand to slide the door shut. Drift stood in the middle glancing around. Not much had changed since he'd been here last. Holoframes lined the same shelf he remembered. Filled with images of them together, the Wrecker crew and one with Swift during his first few days online.

"You haven't been in here since you left," Perceptor said quietly.

"I know." Drift glanced over at him, sadly smiling. He then reached behind him, detaching the great sword and carefully propping it up against the berthside table. Perceptor remained standing near the door, nervously fiddling with his fingers as he stared at the berth.

"You okay?" Drift asked after a moment.

"Oh, I'm fine. I'm just a little anxious." Perceptor finally moved and walked over to stand next to Drift. "The theory is sound, but in practice it's a bit more daunting a task to initiate than I was imagining."

Drift was nervous, too. They stood together, staring at the berth for a very long and very uncomfortable moment.

Drift half-frowned. If his mate was willing to offer this, he decided he could certainly do his part to help. Gathering his courage, he turned toward Perceptor and took hold of his hands. He then sat down on the berth and scooted back, gently pulling Perceptor over top of him as he angled himself to lie down. After rearranging themselves, they settled against each other. Drift smiled up at his beautiful mate now draped over him. "Hope you don't mind me 'initiating'."

A shy smile curved Perceptor's lips. "Not at all."

They hadn't been in a berth together in stellar cycles. Drift lightly ran his fingers down Perceptor's sides, remembering every plating seam, every ridge, and every little shape.

Perceptor's optic dimmed, responding to the touches. He then leaned down, pressing his lips to Drift's. Heat flashed over his internal systems, instantly charging. Drift parted his lips and their glossae met between, tangling and teasing. Drift's arousal instantly spiked. Making out in the hallway was one thing. The public nature of it kept his desire in check. Here, they were alone, and it had been so long since he'd interfaced with Perceptor. He writhed against his mate, and he let his hands roam over Perceptor's heated plating. Shifting, Drift parted his legs and Perceptor's hips pushed flat against his own, aligning their interface array covers together.

Perceptor suddenly pushed back, breaking the kiss. He stared down at Drift, readjusting his optic's focus. "As lovely as this is, it wasn't really my intention…"

Sighing air from his intakes, Drift sheepishly smiled. "I know. I'm sorry."

Perceptor smiled a little. "Don't be." He pressed a reverent kiss to the tip of Drift's nose guard. "Shall we try merging?"

"Sure," Drift replied as he gave Perceptor a small squeeze.

A ripple of anxiety renewed itself inside Drift as he watched Perceptor's chest plate part to reveal his spark. He stared at it's beautiful, pulsing light, mesmerized for a moment before he sent the command signals to open his own chest plate.

He hoped with all his spark that he was finally forgiven. That Perceptor wanted him here with him, always. Merging would reveal all the things they truly felt for one another, so he'd know one way or the other. That thought sent a shiver of fear though his chassis.

Perceptor eased himself down, pressing their chests flush and tucking his face against Drift's neck. Drift's grip on his mate tightened in response to the sudden surge of energy that expanded between them. His spark reached outward, meeting with the slower pulse of Perceptor's. It felt familiar, calming, warm.

Reality slid away as their sparks began to pulse in rhythm. Soon, they'd established a strong connection, opening a floodgate of emotion between them. Drift quickly found himself overwhelmed with a singular powerful emotion that rushed through him with unrelenting force: love. He responded with his own love, and their twinned emotions melded into one another. Drift happily let himself sink into that incredible feeling, reveling in it.

A twinge of something else edged in that he couldn't identify. Then, without warning images went zipping through his mind. Images from Perceptor's point of view that showed Swift's growth and development. His first words, his happy laughter, his focused interest in new things. It hurt so much to see, though, and Drift's spark ached at the loss of something that would never be regained.

'Why are you sad? I simply wanted to share this with you…' Perceptor's thoughts came through as words directly into his processor.

'I missed so much,' Drift replied.

'You are here now,' Perceptor replied.

Here but not here. Together but not. Drift winced, guilt slicing through him, and pushing him away from Perceptor. He didn't deserve this devotion being offered to him. He didn't deserve someone as amazing as Perceptor. He didn't deserve the forgiveness he wanted so badly. He was a gutter mech, no matter how much he wished otherwise, echoing his own parentage by abandoning his family. He had wanted to protect them, but in the end hurt them.

Perceptor's energy rippled hard against Drift's spark. 'There it is…'

'What is?' Drift asked, now feeling so lost. He realized he no longer felt Perceptor's love. Where had it gone? Had Perceptor taken it away?

'The space.' Perceptor suddenly felt distant, despite their connection. 'A wall you constructed of guilt. Drift, I've forgiven you. Swift has forgiven you. Perhaps you need to work on forgiving yourself.'

Forgive himself? Perceptor seemed to be light years away from him now, his words left rolling around in Drift's mind. A life of nothing but the painful feeling of being unwanted or abandoned, and here he was recreating it all over again with the one mech that was offering him everything he'd ever wanted by pushing him away. What the frag was wrong with him?

A memory file came roaring to the surface. Drift was helpless to stop it.


Landing on his back, a grunt was forced from Drift's vocalizer. Wing had pinned him. This daily fight for his freedom was so fragging annoying. In reality he knew he could slip away in the night and they'd never know, but something about that seemed wrong. Drift wanted to earn his way out of here. Prove he was more than just another deceitful Decepticon.

"Brute force really doesn't suit you, Decepticon," Wing said with a wry smile.

"Stop calling me that," Drift replied, kicking himself free, and flipping Wing over.

They both scrambled to regain control, but once again, Drift lost his footing, landing on the ground with a thud. Wing's hands held Drift's arms at the wrists over his head, and he seated himself square over his middle, making kicking free impossible this time.

Wing leaned forward, his golden optics shining with amusement. "I'm starting to think you don't want to be free. That you'd rather lose."

Drift deeply frowned. "Think what you want. I could care less."

"I don't believe that. You have a fiery spark, and you are more than capable of pinning me, yet day after day we end things like this. As if you are looking to fail. Expecting it." Wing dimmed his optics. "If you would like to stay here with us, all you need to do is ask."

Anger roared to the surface at the implication that Drift wanted to hide away from the war their race was raging. "Sit in a pretty little home, drinking fancy energon and pretending a war isn't happening out there? No thanks."

Wing studied his face for a long moment. "Someday, you're going to have to let go of the past pain you've endured. If you continue to carry it around it will eventually become too heavy a burden and crush you."

"Always with the metaphors." Drift hated when Wing would analyze him. It made him uneasy. He wanted to change the subject before Wing would inevitably touch on things Drift didn't want to talk about. He bucked his hips up against Wing's aft. "If you're going to insist on putting me in compromising positions, you could at least put out once in a while."

"One day all that denial and self hatred will catch up to you." Wing half-smiled. "And keep dreaming about getting me to 'put out'."

Drift grinned. At least Wing kept his days here interesting.


The memory file ended as quickly as it started. Let go of his pain… He was being more than crushed under it. He was losing everything that mattered because of it.

No. He refused to let his past dictate his future. He wanted his family back. He wanted his place with them back. Drawing on every ounce of his spark's energy, Drift reached out over the spark connection for Perceptor. He was on the threshold of having everything that meant the world to him. No way in Pit was he going to give this chance up because of some sick need for self-inflicted misery.

Energy surged within in his spark, and abruptly the darkness of his doubt lifted away and he was pulled into the overpowering light and love of his bondmate. It felt as Perceptor was all around him.

No words were needed, as the intense love he felt within the light of their sparks wrapped around them and wove them together.

'I love you.' Thoughts turned to words and shared between them.

After all this time, Drift finally started to see that moving forward sometimes meant letting go. It was such a simple idea, and yet much harder to do than he'd imagined. Even now, he knew this was only a step in a longer journey. He was more than willing to follow it through. He loved Perceptor. He'd do whatever it took to not just heal their relationship but apparently heal himself, too. That really was the only way to truly grow and be the mech he wanted to be for his family.

Without warning, an overload hit hard, cresting over both of them.

His optics flared, the physical world of their bodies and the internal connection of their sparks crashed into one another. He arched under Perceptor, his vision blanking to white as the intense release of energy exploded within him.

After that, he offlined.

A nagging feeling Drift couldn't quite place drew him toward consciousness. He didn't immediately online his optics, taking a moment to enjoy the weight of Perceptor over him. It had been so long since he'd held his mate close. He wanted to bask in the moment as long as possible.

The memories from the previous evening's spark merge flitted over his processor. He was filled with much more self doubt and hate than he'd been willing to accept until now. Being able to finally see it helped him let go of things he'd been clinging to, like his days living hand to mouth. He thought he'd hidden large pieces of himself to protect Perceptor, but now realized he'd done it to hide from himself. Remaking who he was required more than changing his ways. It required facing the darkness in himself and purging it. With Perceptor's unrelenting love reminding him that he wasn't that dark, desperate mech anymore, he knew that healing might finally be possible.

His thoughts paused as that nagging feeling that woke him returned. It almost felt like he was being watched. He dimly lit his optics. His gaze was met with two small brightly shining optics, peering just over the edge of the berth.

He smiled at Swift. "Morning," Drift whispered.

"You had a stay over?" Swift whispered back.

Drift nodded.

Swift's gaze shifted to Perceptor for a long moment, then he glanced back over at Drift. "My fuel tank is empty… Can you get me some energon?" Swift asked.

Perceptor stirred, his fingers curling against Drift's chest as he dimly lit his optics. "We've discussed entering without knocking, Swift."

Guilt swept over Swift's little face. "But! I need my energon and you didn't answer when I knocked!"

"I can get it for him," Drift said.

Perceptor slid partway off Drift and propped himself up on one elbow, while draping his other arm over Drift's chest. "Go wait in the living area, and I'll be right there."

"Okay." Swift ran toward the door, then stopped and looked back at Drift. "You going to stay and play with me today?"

"That might be a possibility," Drift replied.

Swift grinned, then ran out of the room.

Drift glanced at Perceptor who was already gazing at him with a small smile.

"Morning," Drift said.

"Good morning," Perceptor replied. "Last night was quite productive."

Drift snaked an arm around Perceptor's waist. "If you mean that I'm a fragged up disaster who still can't believe someone as amazing as you could still love me that much, then…uh… sure."

Perceptor scooted up, and dipped down to press a gentle kiss to Drift's nose. "I never expected you to be perfect. I love you for the amazing mech you are. Since we first met, you've constantly challenged my notions of the world. Shown me that anything is possible."

Drift reached up and ran the back of his fingers over Perceptor's cheek. "Primus, I love you so much."

Perceptor pressed his face into the light touch. "This is your home, Drift. We are your family."

"Sooo… does that mean I'm staying here now?" Drift asked.

With a broad smile, Perceptor nodded. "You belong here."

Drift cupped Perceptor's face and pulled him down so their lips met in a lovely kiss. Warmth spread between their linked mouths, and Drift felt his spark swell in his chest with all his affection for Perceptor.

"Um, excuse me! Can you do that after I have some energon?" Swift said, interrupting them.

Drift stifled a laugh as the kiss broke, and Perceptor shot a stern look in Swift's direction.

"We'll be right there, Swift," Perceptor replied.

"Hurry up!" Swift then disappeared, his footsteps echoing in the hallway.

Perceptor glanced at Drift. "You can't laugh when he behaves like that, or he won't learn."

"I'm sorry," Drift replied, grinning. "He's just so fragging cute."

Perceptor canted his head, a small smile returning to his lips. "A trait he acquired from you."

"Blaming me? I see how it is," Drift replied with a laugh.

They both grew quiet, staring into one another's optics.

"This feels right," Perceptor said in a softened voice.

"Yeah, it does," Drift replied.

Pushing himself up, Perceptor crawled over Drift and slid off the berth to stand up. He turned around and extended his hand. "Shall we?"

Drift took the hand and got to his feet. He gave Perceptor's hand in his grasp a small squeeze, eliciting a smile from his mate. He knew not everything would fall into place and be perfect, but for the first time he felt like his world was stabilizing. Perceptor's energy signature within his spark felt stronger than before, comforting and unrelenting in its affection. Nothing in Drift's life had lasted long, upheaval being the main driving force behind everything that shaped who he was. This was his chance to find his center and be still. Let life happen around him and stop long enough to actually enjoy it.


"When we get to the medical wing, you need to keep your voice down, okay?" Drift said to Swift.

They walked side by side down the base hallway; with Drift firmly holding his sparkling's hand.

"Okay," Swift replied.

It had been a stellar cycle since he'd moved back into his home with Perceptor and Swift. In that time, a lot of things had changed.

Cybertron was brought back from the brink and rebuilding efforts were beginning on the surface, though nothing was ready for habitation yet. The mutant insecticons had been eradicated, and the toxicity brought down to safe levels. After tense negotiations with the Decepticons, an agreement was reached as to how to divide up the planet along with extending the cease-fire agreements.

In that same amount of time, Swift had grown quite a bit. When Drift first returned, Swift stood about mid-thigh height. Now he was just a little taller than Drift's hip. Drift glanced down at his sparkling, smiling. Over the course of the last stellar cycle, he had worked hard on rebuilding his relationships with Perceptor and Swift. It was worth every ounce of effort he put in. He'd become stronger and surer of himself and his place in their little family unit with each passing day.

They entered medbay and were directed by the medical staff toward the corridor where the private rooms were.

Swift squeezed Drift's hand. "Dad's in here?"

"The room second from the end," Drift replied.

Reaching the open doorway, Swift peered around the corner. "Dad!" he yelled, seeing Perceptor on the medical berth.

His outburst stirred the tiny sparkling sprawled over Perceptor's chest. His two little optics lit and their brand new family member began to cry.

Drift dropped into a squatted position, turning Swift to face him. "I said not to yell."

Swift covered his mouth with both hands. "I forgot," he said through his fingers.

Drift put his hand on Swift's helm and shook his head. "I know you're excited to see Dad and your brother, but you have remember to keep your volume in check."

Nodding, Swift looked appropriately sorry for what he'd done. Drift hardly felt the need to discipline, so when he did say something it usually had a strong impact on Swift.

He got back to his feet, and heaved Swift up into his grasp. Being larger, it made hanging onto Swift quite a task as he walked over to the berth.

Patting their new sparkling's back, Perceptor easily calmed their new sparkling and then glanced up at his visitors. "Hello, you two."

"He's so small," Swift said in awe.

Drift struggled to hold Swift on his hip.

"You were that small once. Though I'd say you're really too big for your father to hold you like that," Perceptor said, smiling at the comical sight. "Why don't you both sit on the berth?"

"If you insist," Drift replied as he laughed a little and sat down. He held Swift in his lap, wrapping an arm around his sparkling's waist. They both focused their attention on the new addition curled up on Perceptor's chest. The little sparkling stared back at them curiously. He looked just like Drift, all white with the same helm and body shape. The only difference was his turquoise forearms that matched Swift and Perceptor's.

"He looks just like you, Daddy Drift," Swift said as he glanced back at Drift.

"You two have matching forearms and hands, though," Drift replied.

Swift turned back to look at his brother and then grinned as he saw the matching coloring. "What's his name gonna be?"

"We named him Chase," Perceptor replied.

Drift hugged Swift close, resting his chin on his little red helm. He shifted his gaze to Perceptor. "You feeling okay?"

"Tired, still. Ratchet said my slower spark will take longer to recover than yours did," Perceptor replied.

"Can I hold him?" Swift asked.

"I think you're a little young to hold him," Drift said as he patted Swift's arm with his free hand.

Perceptor carefully sat himself up, cradling Chase in the crook of his elbow. "You may touch his helm, Swift. Just be gentle."

Swift leaned forward in Drift's grip and lightly ran his small black fingers over Chase's helm, tracing its shapes. Chase stared at his brother then made a happy chirped sound as he smiled.

Swift giggled. "He likes it!"

Drift gave Swift a small squeeze as he gazed at Chase. He'd missed out on so much with Swift. With Chase, Drift had a second chance to be there for the small milestones of development he'd make as he grew. Unlike Swift's impromptu creation, they'd chosen to create this little sparkling. A choice made after a lot of discussion about how both he and Perceptor had always wished they'd had siblings. Having two to care for would be more work, but Drift was more than willing to do it. Their sparklings deserved all the things he and Perceptor had been denied growing up.

Chase squeaked again, shifting his gaze to Perceptor and frowning.

"He wants something?" Swift asked.

"His energon, I imagine," Perceptor replied. He reached for a conical container filled with a bright pink energon on the berthside table. The moment the end of the container was near Chase's mouth, he grabbed hold of it and clamped his little mouth over the end, happily sucking down the fuel.

"My energon isn't that pink," Swift said with a small frown.

"It has extra nutrients and additives you don't need now that you're bigger," Perceptor replied.

Swift leaned back against Drift, quietly watching. Perceptor glanced up at Drift and warmly smiled. "That is a sight I will never tire of seeing."

"What?" Swift asked.

"The two of you together," Perceptor replied.

Drift's spark swelled in response.

Chase abruptly shoved the half empty container away. Perceptor placed it on the berthside table, and sat him on his leg, holding him up around his small middle. Chase flailed his arms outward reaching for Swift's foot, which was resting on the berth. He grabbed hold and squeezed Swift's toe, staring at it intently.

Swift started to giggle, but he remained still, letting his brother examine it. "That's my foot, Chase. You have two feet, you know."

Chase looked up and then smiled.

In the gutters, starving and driven to desperation, Drift never imagined he'd be sitting in a place like this with two sparklings and a loving bondmate. It felt good to know that despite everything stacked against him, he'd arrived here anyway. That he'd survived and now thrived.

Drift squeezed Swift again, pressing a kiss to his helm.

"You're squishing me!" Swift said with a half-sparked attempt to free himself.

Perceptor chuckled and lifted Chase up, holding him to his chest. "See these two here?" he said to Chase. "They are the most amazing mechs you will ever meet." Perceptor's gaze softened as he glanced at Drift.

Drift could feel their love for one another swelling in his spark. This love had most certainly brought him to his knees. Humbled him. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

A/N- Goodness, that took forever to write… Done now, though! I hope you all enjoyed it… Despite the overly sweet ending.