A/N: This comes after Sanctuary, but it can be read on its own.
Special thanks to DeathMustang and Chimeradark for planting the seedfor Sanctaury. Thanks to everyone who requested a sequel that turned into reality. Plus extra kudos to my betas Exactlywhat and LadyAnatar for making this story legible.
Warnings: Embarassing situations and excessive doses of cuteness
He was dreaming …
The femmes were strange, definitely not from Iacon. They talked loudly, uncaring of the open-mouthed gapes others stared at them with and deaf to the dark mutters that followed them. "We have an appointment with the Grand Master Healer."
It was the optic searing chartreuse femme, her clothes marking her as a bawd, her strange helm adornments and jangling wrist and ankle bands marking her as a Mistress, a brothel keeper. Ratchet looked her over first from his work station, dreading doing the check up this femme had paid so exorbitantly for just to receive it from him.
"Spark Traipse means we have an appointment with Grand Master Ratchet," the slender, demure, soft spoken femme holding on to Spark Traipse's elbow interjected when the head nurse began to splutter. "I am Weld Swift."
"Fine, Mistress Spark Traipse, Miss Weld Swift, please follow me, Grand Master Ratchet is this way." Sprocket turned her back on the patients, her optics flaring brightly as she approached Ratchet. He could only nod his disgruntled uncertainty that the pair imbued in him.
"You two want a physical?" Ratchet asked in a deadpan voice, he looked the femmes over, where at first they had seemed younger, maybe a little older than his mortal age they were instead very old. Spark Traipse had fine rust tracings along her arms and hands where her plating was beginning to fail. Sturdily built hands trembled from worn out connections. Colorless age marks shone silver in sharp contrast to her bright, garish finish.
Weld Swift looked little better. Her hands were gnarled with minute imperfections that buckled the plating along her knuckles. Her optics dim from lost optic relays could no longer see the world. Ratchet's spark clenched for the pair. Weld Swift was age blind, Spark Traipse was developing the shaking palsy. Both were incurable by mortal means.
"Yes," Spark Traipse replied brightly, "Our daughter has finally forgiven us for a fight we had – oh, ages ago." She smiled with too-bright optics, on the verge of keening her joy and grief. "We missed her entire life all for that stupid argument."
"Love, enough" Weld Swift placed her free hand on Spark Traipse's shoulder, "The poor youngling does not need to hear our woes."
Ratchet muted a long suffering sigh, he did not need to hear about this slag! "Weld Swift, please sit over here …"
Ratchet shifted in his slumber, even his subconscious mind attempting to remove all memories of the humiliating and disturbing exam. Fragments of the memory drifted in and out of his vision, Spark Traipse's loudly professed modification drawing the attention of all in the bay.
"I was for many decavorns the best bawd in Polyhex. Mechs and femmes came from miles in every direction to share some borrowed time." The aged femme waggled her optic ridges seductively as she deftly flipped up the hem of her dress and proudly displayed her open interface panel bearing both a valve and a spike that could only have been a modificiation – no femme had a spike that looked like that.
Ratchet nearly flung himself away, wanting nothing more than to let someone else handle this – this harlot. Instead he professionally examined her, helped her shaking hands to cover her false modesty …
He turned, felt his frame shift in the berth and fell back into darkness.
Swift Weld sat on the examination table waiting patiently as Ratchet replaced the worst of the damaged plating on her worn hands. "Don't let Traipse get to you. She's a wonderful bondmate, we loved each other at first sight, so long ago." She sighed contentedly, "I worked in the largest smithy in Polyhex, I could make anything. Despite my size I've always been very strong. One orn my boss gave me a night at Madame Valvelove's Parlor. I thought it was a beauty salon at the time. Instead I was given the best night of my life.
"I saved every credit to buy more nights with Spark Traipse after that. Then one day she was standing outside the smithy, surrounded by adoring mechs and femmes all so much taller and prettier than me. I had just slipped around the crowd, figured someone better than me had finally won her. Then –"
"Then I called out to the dejected looking idiot that I had come there for her and she'd better not leave me hanging like some love-struck youngling." Spark Traipse giggled like a youngling as she admired the repairs to her hands. The palsy was not gone, not even Ratchet's fey gifts could not heal that, but the worst affected relays had been replaced.
The description the femmes had given him of their early love lives had been revolting; nothing, his mind reminded him again and again, compared to what he and his mates got up to behind closed doors, but that was nobody's business but their own.
Ratchet shifted in his slumber, his frame encased in a cool embrace he knew as home, and slipped deeper into recharge.
"Pit take it all!" Chromia snarled as she stormed into the medical ward, "Ratchet! Come on, your shift ended breems ago and you promised."
Ratchet looked to the femme he had grown up calling Carrier, only to learn he had been adopted six vorns ago on his winter route while facing near deactivation at the fangs of long slumbering nightwalkers. "I'm coming, femme." He mock snarled back, enjoying the sniping banter they shared, enjoyed it all the more after his patients earlier. He followed Chromia back to the palace quarters she shared with her mate Ironhide. Together the pair was the head of the palace guard and weapons masters for the Primes. Only this time their quarters were already full. A painfully recognizable cackle greeted Ratchet as he walked in, and suddenly, he remembered the conversation he had had with Chromia when he announced his affections for his lovers. She had mentioned her creators were a set of femmes, one with a modification to give her a spike, just like Spark Traipse had …
Ratchet's mind pulled him from the memory, even sleeping he refused to revisit the expressions on his grand-carrier's faces when they realized they had bared all, in Spark Traipse's case quite literally when she had proudly lifted her skirts on his examination table showing off her still quite functional spike and valve, to their own grand-spark.
"You did great." Sideswipe smiled hugely down on Ratchet from where he sat holding the tiny bundle of their new sparkling. Ratchet smiled back, weary from the extraction of the new spark from his implanted gestation chamber. The glass fronted chamber surgically implanted within his chest felt heavy and hollow without the energetic pulsations of the tiny spark thriving within.
Now, freshly implanted within its first protoform the spark rested, held safely in Sideswipe's adoring embrace. Ratchet closed his optics and leaned back wearily; enjoying the comforting hug Sunstreaker gave him as he was used as Ratchet's back rest. Soft kisses were gently peppered along Ratchet's cheek and neck as Sunstreaker wordlessly thanked every Avatar of Primus for Ratchet bearing the spark unscathed.
"You know," Ironhide drawled from a cluster of chairs nearby as he, Chromia, Wheeljack, Bluestreak, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, First Aid, Spark Traipse and Weld Swift all waited for the sparkling to power on its optics and they got to discover if the youngling was mech or femme. "Tha' younglin's gonna get confused with three Daddies."
Sunstreaker glowered over Ratchet's shoulder, "It'll call me Da."
"Humph, so Da and two Daddies, it's still too confusin' fer a newspark." Ironhide prompted.
"Then I'll be Pops." Sideswipe grinned impishly taking on the hated nickname Wheeljack had bestowed upon his creator. Ironhide scowled.
"Guess that makes you Grand-Pops, Pops." Wheeljack cackled as he taunted his own creator. He turned to his brother in all seriousness, "But, Ratch, isn't it kind of cruel for the newspark to not have a Mamma?"
"Not necessarily," Ironhide butted in, his optics glowing with a sinister glee that made Ratchet's spark freeze with self preserving terror. "Ratch is both Mamma and Daddy to the little un."
Wheeljack and Ironhide shared matched grins of purest evil, as one looking to Ratchet with the intensity of hungry predators, neither noticing the tiny lights building in the new spark's optics. "Ma'ddy!"
Ratchet stared in appalled horror at the word about to tell his brother and creator – adopted or not – just where they could shove their suggested title for him when a tiny, gurgling, feminine voice split the weighted silence.
"Ma'da!" Ratchet froze, optics off lining as he inhaled deeply before looking down into the newly lit, adorably massive, impossibly bright ultramarine optics staring up at him. "Ma'da." He scrubbed his face with a hand before looking to the tiny bundle held tightly to Sideswipe's chest.
"Yes, I'm your –
"Ma'ddy!" Ratchet bolted upright, dislodging the tiny, giggling weight that had thumped onto his chest pulling him roughly from recharge. He looked down at the melon-hued femme-ling cackling up at him from where she had tumbled into his lap.
"Good morning, Dawn Runner." Ratchet smirked. "And where are your clothes?" His daughter was nude, not that it mattered at this age. Barely six vorns and still hardly bigger than a new spark, she had no need to cover her modesty.
"Da won't let me wear my nighty!" She turned from giggling to pouting in an instant, turning her still massively huge optics on Ratchet.
"Did he say why you could not wear your nighty?" Ratchet asked, thinking of the ratty, smelly lavender night dress Dawn Runner refused to part with. It was nearly as old as she was, with her nearly living constantly in the thing if they didn't keep after her for clean clothes and baths. Chromia assured him that this was just a phase. Primus, he hoped so.
"He burned it." She pouted, arms crossed across her chest. Ratchet sighed, wanting nothing more than to close his optics and flop back in bed and leave his bonded mates with the little two-horned imp-ling.
"Well," Ratchet sighed theatrically instead forcing his optics to brighten in earnestness he in no way felt, "If you won't wear that nice dress Pops-" Ratchet still couldn't believe Sideswipe had been serious, "bought you, then you just won't go to Crimson's sparking day sleepover."
"No!" She was gone in a flash, bolting from Ratchet's lap to the sitting room beyond the bedroom door where Sunstreaker waited patiently. "Dress me! Dress me!" she squeaked, giggling and running around Sunstreaker's feet.
"We should have named her Dawnstreaker," Ratchet sighed as he pulled himself out of the far too comfortable berth.
"And have her become as vain as Sunny?" Sideswipe asked with a grin, startling Ratchet and getting a muttered oath from his lover.
"Fragger! Fragger!" Dawn Runner chanted from the other room, blithely ignorant of what she was saying.
"Ratchet! No swearing around the baby! And, don't call me Sunny!" Sunstreaker hollered, "Dawn, Ma'ddy is the only one who gets to say that word. He has to use bad words to keep the Unmaker away. You don't say that, ever."
"Yes Da." Dawn Runner mumbled softly, head down as Sunstreaker deftly slipped her tiny dress over her helm, clearing her miniature helm adornments.
Sideswipe chuckled, "Guess we know who she inherited her hearing from."
"Yeah, my idiotic nightwalker mates, lucky me." Ratchet grumbled, before melting into the gentle kiss Sideswipe gave him.
"I think we need to have another one." Sideswipe grinned as he watched Sunstreaker dress Dawn Runner with infinite patience. Sunstreaker had taken to fatherhood as he took to anything else - he perfected it. For the vain, golden idiot, parenting was an art, and he was a master.
"You just want more time to get lucky." Ratchet rumbled amused as Sideswipe sighed happily, hugging Ratchet close, the pair watching Sunstreaker and Dawn Runner contentedly. "Who knew Sunny had a soft side?"
"I don't have a soft side, and don't call me that!" Sunstreaker hollered at his twin while he tied the last ribbon at the back of Dawn Runner's new dress.
Ratchet looked their little femme over with fond optics. She was already a spark-breaker. Her plating bordered between peach and melon, which Sunstreaker had demonstrated with his first painting of her, was a perfect blend of Sideswipe's red, Ratchet's white and his own yellow. Her optics were three sizes too big for her face, which made saying no to her nigh impossible, and her delicate helm already had miniature melon-hued audio fins paired with storm cloud black little horns. Her natural adorableness, impish horns that had come straight from Sideswipe, paired with the new vibrant sky-blue dress that just made her optics that much brighter and she was impossibly cute.
Ratchet turned to take his shower and scrub his plating raw, feeling like he was corroding from all the caustic, gooey cuteness his daughter had brought into their lives. Not that he was complaining. Not at all.