I really like my DEoaHS AU. And it's been eating away at my brain so much that Spin-Off One-Shots to expand the Universe were inevitable.

I'm also obsessed with Daddy!Optimus.

Springer and Hot Rod's Night In

"I'm going to get you!" Optimus boomed, laughing as he chased his boy around the back yard. Even ten years old, his son raced over the grass like a pro. He was built for speed, and he ran every chance he got. But, his old man had a few tricks up his sleeve to counteract his little speed demon. Optimus ducked left, predicting the boy's next turn and scooped the boy up into his arms mid sprint. "Gotcha!"

"Dad!" Hot Rod squirmed trying to get out of his father's big arms. Optimus laughed, but held tight. Hot Rod kicked his legs, and pulled at Optimus' grip. "Put me down!"

"I don't think so," Optimus said. He squeezed his son, and caught time of the watch on his wrist. "It's time to go inside."

He hefted the boy up over his shoulder like a potato sack, Hot Rod's feet hanging over Optimus' large back, and headed back toward the front porch. Hot Rod knocked the bandana covering his mouth down, so Optimus took a moment to pull the dark grey cloth back up over his nose where it belonged. Elita said it made him look like a bandit, and teased him about it non stop both when they were dating and after they were married. He agreed, but Optimus had gotten so used to wearing it since he was a little kid, that taking it off felt wrong.

"Aw, but I wanted to play more tag!" Hot Rod huffed, crossing his arms. He had his mother's disappointed pout down. Hot Rod flicked the badge on his dad's chest. "Does this mean you have to go now?"

"Yes, Hot Rod," Optimus said, plopping the boy on the wood porch. He straightened his dress uniform, and leaned down to wipe some grass off his pants leg. "The Chief of Police can't miss the Mayor's ball, and your Uncle Magnus expects me to be there, too. You know Mayor Shockwave gets when people refuse his invites."

"Yeah, I guess." Hot Rod said, twisting his foot into the wood.

"But, I'm not leaving until your sitter gets here, so maybe we can play a game of cards or something in the meantime." Optimus ruffled his son's hair.

"Sitter? Dad!" Hot Rod said, stomping his foot. And there was his mother's temper. "I'm ten years old! I don't need a sitter!"

"Rodimus," Optimus said, pulling out the full first name. He put both of his hands on his hips, and asked: "What happened last time you made that declaration, and we left you alone without a sitter?"

Hot Rod's face dropped and he looked down at the ground. He hunched his little shoulders in, and Optimus' heart nearly broke seeing the embarrassed blush on his normally confident son. Hot Rod said, "I got bored and tried to see how high I could make a fort out of the dining room table and chairs."

"And?" Optimus prompted.

"It fell over and I broke my arm on the kitchen island."


"I was too scared to call anybody, so I left it alone. When you came home it was all ugly, puffed, and as purple as Mr. Megatron's suits."

Optimus spun his finger in a circle for the boy to continue.

Hot Rod sucked in a deep breath and spit out the rest in a quick sentence that would have given that boy down the street Blurr a run for his money: "And you freaked out and I had to go to the hospital and then Mom found out and got mad and used up all her phone time yelling at me so she was even more mad when she couldn't check in for the rest of the month so I'm not allowed to stay home alone any more."

"Which is why you've got a sitter," Optimus said. He rubbed Hot Rod's shoulder, and smiled. "But, I don't think you'll be too upset when he gets here."

"He?" Hot Rod asked, face scrunching together. "It's not Ms. Chromia?"

The doorbell rang, and they both heard the front door open. There was another click with the door closing, and Optimus chuckled, "Looks like he's here."

"Anybody home?" A deep voice called out from inside the house, and Hot Rod perked up like Optimus knew he would.

"Springer!" Hot Rod shouted, and raced forward, slamming into the screen door and into the kitchen.

"Hey, Rod!" Springer said, laughing as the younger boy tackled him into a hug. He ruffled Hot Rod's hair, and threw his backpack down on the couch. "How've you been, kid?"

"Glad to see you on time, Springer," Optimus said, closing the screen door behind him. Springer had never baby sat before, but Optimus trusted him. If anyone could keep Hot Rod under control, it was Springer. "I trust you two will behave yourselves tonight?"

"Yes, sir," Springer said, quickly smoothing down his green hair and straightening his shirt. Hot Rod released him from the hug and stood next to him grinning. Springer puffed out his chest, standing at attention, and tried to look older than his seventeen years would indicate. "We'll have a regular boy's night in."

"Good to hear." Optimus picked up his cap from the table and put it on his head. "Then I'll see you both tomorrow, because..."

"Everyone's in bed by ten, and you'll be back later than that," Springer finished, repeating back the instructions Optimus had given over the phone when he asked if Springer was available. "Sir."

"Good," Optimus said. He smiled at the two of them and nodded his head once. He looked at his son, and the neighbor boy that he looked up to, and hoped that this wasn't a mistake. "Have fun, you two."

Hot Rod kicked his legs back and forth under the table as he waited for dinner. He had recoiled the second dad said 'baby sitter' expecting mean old Ms. Chromia, or ditzy Moon Racer, but not this! Springer was the best. He wasn't a babysitter, he was Hot Rod's best friend! Not to mention he was way cool. Springer even had a license and a car! A big green SUV that his dad had sprung for. Plus, he was in High School and he still liked to hang out with Hot Rod.

It didn't get much cooler than that.

"So, you ready for some fun, Rod?" Springer asked, dropping a plate of macaroni and cheese with broccoli on the kitchen table. He sat down on the other side, and picked up a fork. "Your dad said we could watch movies, or break out the board games if you wanted. We might even go crazy and make smores in the microwave."

Hot Rod leaned over the table and pointed his fork at Springer. "Movies? Board games? Who are you, and what have you done with Springer?"

"I am Baby Sitter Springer, who is getting fifty bucks out of this to make sure we don't tear down the house, or get you sent to the hospital again," Springer said. He shoved a mouthful of macaroni in his mouth, and swallowed. He wiped the cheese off the side of his lip, scraping his finger on a slight brushing of green stubble. "So while skateboarding, and bike riding, and cruising around in my car is fun, tonight we're not going to risk it."

"Wimp," Hot Rod said, spearing a head of broccoli.

"If it means I get a fifty, so be it," Springer laughed. He popped open a can of soda, and leaned back in his chair. "It is a quiet boys night for you and me."

"Aww, that's no fun," Hot Rod said.

The boy rubbed at his own bare cheek, and sighed. Half the fun of hanging out with someone older was getting to do the fun stuff. Like sneaking into Rated R movies and driving around town looking for Arcee and her girlfriends. But, Springer did say he always wanted to be on the police force, and Hot Rod's dad was the Chief. He probably didn't want to look bad on his first 'real assignment' from the force. Hot Rod could respect that.

It didn't mean he wanted to spend the entire night bored out of his mind, though.

Hot Rod pushed his empty plate away. He pulled his legs up on the chair, and sat on them so he could lean up on the table. Hot Rod pointed at Springer. "So, I get to pick what we do, right? As long as the house doesn't burn down?"

"More or less," Springer said, grabbing the plates and dropping them in the sink. "You have something in mind?"

"I think I do," Hot Rod smirked.

"Oh, I know that look," Springer said. He put his hands on his hips and Hot Rod jumped down from the table. "You think you're going to make this a challenge. Well, you just bring it, kid."

"Tag!" Hot Rod said, smacking Springer in the arm. He dashed off running for the back door and out into the yard.

Springer cursed, and chased after the speedy little demon. "Hey!"

Impactor liked to tease Springer at school for hanging out with Hot Rod in his free time. He was in high school. Teenagers shouldn't hang around with ten year olds. It was weird. People'll think things. Seriously, dude, it looks bad and you're creeping me out. Impactor had something new to say each time he found out that Springer had taken Hot Rod fishing, or that he'd let the kid sleep over after helping him with his homework.

What Impactor didn't understand, was that Hot Rod was practically his kid brother. Springer was seven at the time, but he could distinctly remember the day his neighbor and hero Optimus Prime and his wife Elita One had brought home that crying baby wrapped in a maroon blanket. The littlest Prime had a set of lungs on him that could wake the dead, and Springer could hear him crying all the way through his window in the house next door.

Springer had hated that brat. He cried constantly, Optimus and Elita were always stressed, and their bad mood leaked into the police force. Everyone was irritated from the lack of sleep, and just how unbelievably fussy the baby turned out.

One day, Springer had had enough. His dad couldn't sleep at night, either, and his mom was always complaining about work at the station. The baby was causing more trouble than it was worth. So, Springer made up a plan involving a pillow and will, and he took matters into his own hands. After figuring out the exact details, Springer invited himself over to the Prime household under the guise to "see the new baby."

Optimus had let him in, unknowing of Springer's intentions, and led him to the screaming thing wrapped in yellow and orange blankets. Springer leaned over the edge of the crib and frowned at it. Rodimus Prime was chubby, and had groping hands that flailed in the air. The mop of red hair looked out of place with Optimus' regal blue, and Elita's powder pink.

However, when Springer reached down to poke the squirming thing in the cheek, something happened: Rodimus Prime stopped crying.

The baby latched onto Springer's hand and cooed, shocking the seven year old. Even Optimus was stunned, and pushed gently on Springer's back to encourage him to pick the boy up. Springer lifted Rod out of the crib and the baby laughed.

It was hard to hate him after that.

The next thing Springer knew, he'd become Hot Rod's surrogate big brother. He played with the toddler's toy cars, and showed off his "big boy" homework to a preschooler learning his A, B, C's. Springer got into a routine of helping Hot Rod with his homework, and was always complimented by Optimus Prime and Elita for being such a 'Good Boy."

After a while, it was just routine, and he found himself horribly attached to the brat he had once planned to smother with a pillow.

Impactor and the others would never get it. But Hot Rod was his little brother, and heaven help anyone who wanted to hurt him.

Even if that meant protecting the kid from himself when his parents were out. The "Kitchen Table Fort" incident hadn't just scared Hot Rod's parents. Springer distinctly remembered being the one to find Hot Rod curled up in his room, crying and clutching his arm to his chest. It had swelled to the point that Hot Rod couldn't bend it, and they were all lucky that Doc Ratchet knew how to re-break the wound and set it properly so that it would heal.

Springer was never letting something like that happen again.

"Got ya!" Springer shouted, tackling the kid in the grass after a lengthy chase. The sun was long gone, and they'd been running around playing "tag" of all things under the house's security lighting for a good two hours. Springer hauled Hot Rod up by the underarms, laughing despite himself. "Okay, that's enough. Seriously, it's dark and I want to go in."

"Fine," Hot Rod said, breathing heavily. He wiped the back of his arm across his face and grinned. He spoke through his heavy breaths. "Let's go in and watch a movie."

"No, we're going in and going to bed." Springer said, pulling Hot Rod into a headlock and dragging him toward the house. "It's already past ten, and your dad is going to be home any minute."

"Okay," Hot Rod said. He pulled away from Springer's arms and yawned into his hand. Springer ruffled his hair, unable to help himself. "But I want to show you my new race cars models before you leave. I found one of the car I want when I get my license!"

"That maroon two door you keep saying you'll paint flames on the hood?" Springer asked, following the boy as he jogged back into the house.

"Yeah!" Hot Rod said, turning around and walking backwards. "Dad said I might be able to get it if mom says it's okay!"

"Knowing your mom, she'll probably want to help you paint it when she gets back in the country."

"Yup!" Hot Rod grabbed Springer's hand and pulled him into the house. "Come on!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming."

Springer locked the screen door as he followed the energetic boy into the house and sighed. He had a feeling they weren't getting any sleep any time soon.

Optimus opened the front door of his home quietly, a complete contrast to how absolutely furious he felt and his desire to slam it open or kick it in. He knew that Mayor Shockwave was going to invite Megatron to the event. He knew that. The Mayor and Megatron were bosom buddies, but somehow he had failed to prepare for it, anyway. That man was responsible for every bit of crime and corruption in their city from Iacon's most successful districts down to the Kaon slums. Drugs, theft, trafficking-Megatron was behind it all.

And without Elita by his side, Optimus had no polite way to turn down his company in a room full of voters and contributors.

Megatron had spent the entire night taunting Optimus with vague references and clues about his illicit dealings that Optimus could do nothing with. The man was guilty as sin, but without concrete proof and evidence Optimus was useless to arrest. It was maddening. Worse yet, Megatron had insisted that Optimus join him and the Mayor for drinks afterwards, so he couldn't even leave the party until well after midnight.

He spent the entire evening wanting desperately to get home to his son and his small house far away from Shockwaves' lavish party and Megatron's smug grin.

The house was still in one piece, to his surprise. He trusted Springer, he was a good responsible lad, but Hot Rod had a way of getting what he wanted. He could even talk Ultra Magnus into extra dessert if he put his mind to it. Optimus threw his cap on the kitchen island that divided the small kitchen from the living room. It was nearing 1:00 AM, so Optimus was happy to see neither boy up still like he had feared.

Undoing his tie, Optimus headed toward the back hallway where the bedrooms were. He peaked into his own, and was happy to see nothing had been moved or touched. Passing the family's shared bathroom, he stopped at a familiar door that had paper cut-outs of flames taped on the wood.

Optimus cracked open the door, and smiled deeply under his bandana. Springer and Hot Rod were both passed out on the small twin bed, still in their clothes. Hot Rod had crawled across the space, it looked like, to cuddle into the older boy's chest with a tiny toy maroon car clutched in his hand. Like a good surrogate older brother, Springer didn't seem to mind.

Optimus entered the room as quietly as possible, and closed the door gently behind him. He pulled over Hot Rod's desk chair and took a seat. He brushed a bit of bright red hair out of his son's face, and wondered if he should take a picture for Elita. Deciding to spare his son the embarrassment, Optimus enjoyed the moment all to himself. Instead of taking a photo, he crossed his legs at his ankles, placed his hands over his stomach, and leaned back. Closing his eyes, he decided his boys had the right idea.