by Scott Kampa
It's raining, Gears thought sarcastically as walked to the entrance to Autobot Headquarters. What a surprise.
Gears hung back from the other Autobots gathered to make the trek to the hospital wondering why he even cared about going. The answer he came up with, to his dismay, was that he had nothing better to do. But it has to be raining, he thought again bitterly as a cold wind brushed across his face, just to make the experience ever-so-much more enjoyable.
"This is a joke, right?" Sunstreaker exclaimed, pointing out to the steady rain. "You guys don't actually expect me to go out in that, do you?"
"Here's a hint," Sideswipe answered with a smirk and tackled a surprised Sunstreaker into the open air outside the base. The two brothers tussled for several seconds until Sunstreaker finally got to his feet. He glared at his chuckling brother for a couple of long seconds until his facial expression changed slightly, showing a lighter mood towards his brother.
"You think this is funny," Sunstreaker groused in faux anger. "This is going to be hell on finish."
Trailbreaker placed a hand on Sunstreaker's shoulder and smiled. "Nah, that wasn't too funny. What was funny was when I put those hologram inducers in your optics. The look on your face when you thought you were painted blue was priceless."
As Trailbreaker turned toward Sideswipe and winked, Sunstreaker's gaze followed the black Autobot as he walked away. Gears rolled his optics in wonder. Everyday it's the same thing, he thought and tried his best to ignore the rest of the conversation. It didn't work to well, but it was mercifully short.
Sunstreaker mouth dropped open in disgust. "That was you?"
Trailbreaker laughed and said, "Well, who'd you think it was? Prime? Prowl? We should get going though. We've only got a set amount of time that we're allowed to hang around Carly's room."
"Lead the way," Sunstreaker said glumly, then added, "Jerk."
Trailbreaker turned towards Gears as the others transformed and began to make their way towards the city. "You coming?"
Gears shrugged and transformed. "Yeah, why not," he said as he drove past Trailbreaker.
* * *
"Real nice place," Gears said after transforming outside the hospital. He looked up at the tall brick structure and shook his head. It was amazing such a poorly built structure was still standing, let alone a place where people came when they were sick. Not that Carly was sick. She was here for a completely different reason, one that baffled Gears with its inefficiency. But apparently a lot of humans did this sort of thing some time in their life. Humans, Gears thought. Well, at least it stopped raining.
"Why the heck are we even here?" he asked aloud, but too himself.
"Fascination," Skids answered, his voice sounding a bit distant.
"Yeah," Gears returned, "morbid fascination maybe."
"Uh, Gears," a voice from above him called, "we can hear you."
Gears lifted his head up and looked at Spike leaning against a third story window with a smile on his face. No, Gears decided, smile was even enough to describe it. It was more like an idiot grin. If looked like his skin was about to crack and fall off. Humans really get off on this stuff, he thought. Gears himself couldn't even imagine it. Not did he want to.
He stared up the side of the hospital again. The window to Carly's room was easily out of Gears' line of site. Goody, he thought, now I get the pleasure of asking somebody to give me a boost. I suppose I could just jump, but is getting a glimpse into the room really worth the effort? Absolutely not. Gears began to turn around to tell Trailbreaker to lift him up to the window, but was interrupted by the other four Autobots as they quickly walked toward the window, pinning him against the wall.
Gears sighed. He looked into the wall directly in front of him and grimaced. Yeah, this is just great. What a wonderful view. So glad I came. Gears leaned his head against the wall and listened to excited chatter above him. He knew, deep down, the others wouldn't even notice until it was time to go. Maybe that was for the best. It wasn't like anything interesting would come of this trip anyway.
Just when Gears was starting to get comfortable, he felt a light tap on his back. He turned and looked in the general direction of Sideswipe's foot.
"What are you doing?" the red warrior asked Gears as the others, except Skids, backed away allowing Gears to move.
"Looks like he's enjoying the wall's hospitality," Trailbreaker offered with a crooked smile.
Sunstreaker's face screwed up in a grimace. "That was bad."
"Worse than usual," Sideswipe added with a smile.
Gears shook his head and pointed up at Trailbreaker. "You expected something funny outta him?"
Gears looked up at the tall Autobot for a moment. Trailbreaker smiled at him for a second. Gears couldn't help but like Trailbreaker. No matter how cranky Gears acted, it never seemed to bring down Trailbreaker. Or, for that matter, Carly. Both of them were always able to laugh off Gears' little jabs without a second thought. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out why. Did they think that Gears' attitude was mostly an act? Gears knew that, in a way, it was. But after so many years of this insanity between Autobots and Decepticons, it really had started to get to him. Or maybe they really were such happy-go-lucky people? Gears seriously hoped not. He couldn't think of anything more nauseating.
Trailbreaker motioned to the window and said, "Need a lift?"
Gears rolled his optics. "Yeah," he answered half-heartedly, silently grateful he didn't have to ask.
Seconds later, Gears was hanging outside the window to Carly's room, braced by Trailbreaker. He looked over at Skids, who seemed utterly absorbed with the scene. Gears curiously looked into the room. Spike was sitting in a chair facing towards the window in order to chat with the Autobots. Next to him, sitting upright on a bed, was Carly. She was holding a bundle of..something. Gears strained to see what was wrapped in the blanket and paused. She was holding on to a miniature human. It was completely bald and a weird rosy color. Gears heard some odd gurgling noise coming from the human too.
"That's it," he exclaimed, pointing at the child and almost losing his grip on the windowsill. "We drove all the way out here, through the rain, just to see that!"
"We can still hear you, Gears," Carly said with a smile.
Skids looked down at Gears and said, "I think we should consider ourselves lucky to witness a human so early in its development. It was quite literally brought into this world yesterday. It is utterly and completely fascinating." He looked back to Spike and Carly. "Have you given him a name yet?"
Spike and Carly exchanged a glance. "Not quite yet," Spike answered. "It's a little bit more difficult of a process than we had anticipated."
"But it doesn't have to be," Carly retorted, eyes locked on Spike. Neither one of them seemed to be able to agree on a name both of them liked. She would tell herself that Spike was simply being stubborn about the whole thing, but the thought was always soon followed by the fact that she was being just as stubborn. Never ending cycle, she thought, he'll be called "kid" before too long.
Skids, oblivious of the tension between the humans, continued. "I only ask because, in my experience, the naming of a newborn into a species is of the utmost importance. You would be surprised with the number of times I've seen empires rise or fall based solely on the name of an offspring."
"Well, that certainly makes things easier," Carly noted sarcastically.
Skids paused for a second then said, "Well, I do have some suggestions"
Gears noticed Trailbreaker smile in anticipation of the suggestions. Carly, on the other hand, seemed to be purposefully trying to keep a more neutral expression.
"Sure, what have you got?" Spike asked, not exactly sounding sure of himself.
"One possible name means 'small wonder' on a planet pretty far flung from here. The name is 'Kankeister'."
"Kankeister?" Carly echoed, ignoring Trailbreaker and the brothers' attempt to not giggle out loud. "The sentiment is nice, but..." She looked at Spike in hopes he could think of a diplomatic way of putting her thoughts to words. Gears almost spouted "…it's a dumb name," but Spike spoke first.
"But we were hoping for a name that wouldn't lead to him getting beat up in school."
Gears rolled his optics again. Oh, yes, he thought, that was diplomatic. Gears decided to add his own addendum to that last sentence.
"Like that wouldn't happen anyway with a last name like 'Witwicky'."
Spike and Carly's jaws both dropped in a look of humored disbelief. It wasn't really the reaction he expected, but he knew that perhaps he should have, especially with Spike's wife. Gears felt a hint of a smile begin to form but quickly replaced it with a scowl of displeasure, a feeling he knew he wasn't experiencing whole-heartedly.
"Oh my god," Carly said with a playful tone, "I can't believe you just said that!"
"You can't?" Sideswipe asked with mock surprise.
"I mean really," Trailbreaker added, "Carly only stopped Spike's tail from getting kicked in high school, what, three or four times, right? And that might not have had anything to do with his name."
Spike answered Trailbreaker's comment with couple of fake chuckles.
"Well," Skids offered, "how about the name 'Irste'?"
"Irste?" the Witwicky's asked simultaneously.
"Yes, it means 'noble one who will lead to the ultimate rise of freedom and riches to the valley of the universe and the return of the time of wonderful and fruitful harvests that will feed the masses from now until the dawn of the Era of Time and…'" Skids, receiving a wary look from Sunstreaker, trailed off. "Or something like that. You get the idea at any rate. The people of Irsteon are so enamored with that name, in fact, that nearly everybody has the name Irste."
"So how do they know who's talking to who?" Sideswipe asked.
"Um, they all have different nicknames," Skids offered, prompting Sunstreaker to shake his head in disbelief.
Beat you to that a long time ago, Gears thought towards Sunstreaker. He looked into the room again and found himself staring at Spike and Carly's son. It…he was a little weird looking. He could tell that it was human. Gears could even see some of both of his parents' features in the kid. Still, Gears had always imagined human babies to look for like older human kids. This baby was completely bald. He made those weird noises; sometimes the noises were so shrill his sensitive audios would buzz for a second. His skin was wrinkled and colored strangely. His eyes were tightly closed shut. Gears didn't even know if the baby had optics. The baby kept making a fist and randomly moving it around in the air for a couple of seconds. Was this normal? Did this baby have a glitch in its programming or something? The baby seemed so chaotic.
Gears shifted his gaze to Carly and nearly jumped in surprised. She was regarding him with a look. Gears hated that look. Trailbreaker gave him the same one sometimes. Primus, Trailbreaker probably was giving him the look right now. That look said, "Oh I know you're a big softie, but you can keep hiding it if that's what trips your trigger." After a minute, Carly's smile grew a bit more and she turned to look at Spike.
"I guess we were sort of leaning towards more traditional names," Spike said as a way to placate Skids.
"Well," Sunstreaker said, taking a step forward, "then look no further. Sunstreaker would be the perfect name. It's loaded with positive connotations."
"Oh, for crying out load," Gears moaned.
"I was sort of leaning towards something that didn't have the word 'streaker' in it," Spike added.
Trailbreaker shrugged. "At least, not until he gets to college."
Carly leaned up in the bed and nudged Spike with her foot. "Hey, you remember that time, at Homecoming, that you went into the pep rally—"
"Uh," Spike said, obviously embarrassed, "they don't to hear about that."
"But using Chip's wheelchair was ingenious!" She looked back at the Autobots. "It's a Center City University legend."
Trailbreaker leaned closer. "One you'll have to tell me about later."
Carly gave Trailbreaker a conspiratory wink and said, "I know I'm being picky with names. This might be the only kid we have and I want the name to be a good one. And I really want to get away from the Witwicky tradition of have names that start with 'sp'."
Trailbreaker snapped his fingers in disappointment. "Dang, I guess Sparticus is out of the question. And Spunstreaker."
Sunstreaker stared off into the distance for a moment as Sideswipe let out a small chuckle. "You know," the yellow warrior said, "it's funny how one little letter can change something so drastically. It just doesn't have the same fear factor as 'Sunstreaker' does."
"Like it ever did," Gears groused.
"Oh yeah," Sunstreaker countered, "and Gears is such a frightening name."
"O-kay," Trailbreaker interrupted, sensing the little spar might go a bit too far. "Maybe we should be heading back so Mommy can rest."
"Heh," Carly responded, "I'm sure it'll take a little getting used to being called Mommy all the time." She paused for a beat then sarcastically added, "Thanks for the head start."
"I have to get back to my research anyway," Skids said. "This experience has added much to my knowledge of your race."
"More importantly," Sunstreaker inserted, "I need to get my chrome polished. That rain on the way here completely spoiled it."
Gears frowned. "You know what's important? Trailbreaker getting is arm out of my back. My servos are killing me."
Trailbreaker smiled and said, "That's the thanks I get for helping you out?"
"If that would have been it, I might have thanked you. You know how many times I nailed my chin on the windowsill with all of your laughing. And you guys know that my joints ache when I drive in the rain. But having the sun bake them since then has just been torture. Not to mention—"
Trailbreaker let his grip on Gears go, leaving the small Autobot hanging from the windowsill. "We'll see you guys later. Do you mind if Gears hangs around for a while?"
"Not funny, Trailbreaker," Gears responded. "Now get back here and.." With the sound of the other Autobots transforming, he tried to twist around to see where they were. His jaw dropped when he saw them starting to drive away. "Hey, where are you going? My ankle joints are in terrible shape; I can't just jump."
Carly continued to watch out the window at Gears' blue fingertips grasping the windowsill, when Spike planted a kiss on her forehead.
"I have to run into the embassy for a quick hour, but I promise I'll be back soon."
"It's alright, Spike. I've got company."
Gears let out a harsh laugh. "Yeah, I'm just hanging around here. Don't mind me as my arm rip out of my sockets."
Spike looked at Carly as if to ask if she wanted him to talk to the Autobot, but she shook her head. "It's okay." She looked towards the window, and said with more volume, "He's only putting on a show." She smiled back at Spike who, after placing a kiss on his son's forehead, walked out of the room.
For several more seconds, Carly could hear Gears grumbling outside the window. She honestly believed that a lot of Gears' griping was an act. She couldn't believe that a being could have so many things to complain about and do nothing else but complain. It was possible, she supposed, but not with Gears. Too often there were moments like the one that just passed not too long ago, when she caught Gears looking at her son. It wasn't his usual look of consternation; there may have even been some interested curiosity.
After a moment she realized Gears wasn't grumbling any longer. She looked back at the window in time to watch him raise his head above the level of the windowsill. He looked at the baby in her arms for a short second and brought his gaze up to Carly again.
"I've always been partial to the name Daniel," he said. He smiled for a second and began lowering himself down again.
Carly smiled in wonder. She had, in the more than ten years that she had known the Autobots, never once seen Gears smile. The expression looked a little foreign on his face, but Carly liked it.
After another second, Gears' fingers slipped off the sill. As he hit the ground, Carly frowned as she heard a sharp snap and Gears shout in surprise. She slid off the bed, the baby still in her arms, and peered out the window. Gears was picking himself up of the ground. On his foot was a wide patch of black residue. Carly started laughing, knowing Trailbreaker was undoubtedly the source of the practical joke. He knows exactly what to do to get Gears' goat, she thought with a smile. And she and Trailbreaker both knew that Gears secretly loved it. Even now it looked like he was hiding his face for fear of showing his laughter.
At the sound of Carly's laughter, Gears composed himself and craned his head up. "You go ahead and laugh. You wouldn't be if it had happened to you." He turned and started stalking off, mumbling under his breath.
Halfway across the driveway, he turned around. Carly raised her son's fist and waved good-bye to the Autobot. Gears shook his head, but a trace of a smile still rested on his faceplate.
After Gears had driven off, Carly looked at her son. My son, she thought. Daniel. I like it. She hadn't been able to digest all of the feelings she had rushing through her since he was born, but she wasn't worried about that. She knew that she would not have any trouble being called "Mommy."