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Decepticon Playground Division

Chapter Text

“Bye! Try not to fall into paint remover again!”

The little speedster sparkling she had to completely repaint waved at her as he was tugged out by his carrier. He used to be orange and red, but with the needing to be repainted had decided to paint himself blue and purple. Nickel was surprised the carrier was okay with it, wasn’t often she found a parent willing to give into their sparklings impulses on their appearance so easily.

It made Nickel happy to think about. Nickel had always wanted a sparkling, her current life situation made the thought a little unrealistic. It was a lot of factors combining into one big fat no on adopting right now. She kind of wanted to find a femme to make her conjunx before anything else, her job was demanding and took up a lot of her times, her apartment wasn’t very big, and so on and so forth.

She could dream, though, and for now she was fine being able to care for them through her patients. She was a general medic, but specialized in pediatrics, kind of one of the only medics in town that worked that heavily with sparklings. She was pretty good at it, if her reputation had anything to say about it.

Nickel’s commlink ringing snapped her out of her thoughts. She pulled up a datapad and tapped at her audial to answer it.

“Nickel speaking, what’s your ailment?” She chimed in an all-too cheery voice that was pretty uncharacteristic of her normal attitude.

“Hello, my name is Prowl with the police. We got a domestic violence case in and had to seize their sparkling, are you able to come in and look him over? He has some extensive injuries.” Came the monotone voice on the other end, clearly having had made this phone call to a few different clinics. Not a lot of places did house calls, apparently. 

And normally Nickel didn’t either, but the idea of an injured bitlet, likely traumatized, having to hang out at a police station made her spark ache. Honestly there was no harm done in doing a quick exam if he needed it. “Sure, might have to bring him back to the clinic but I can come pick him up.”

Prowl on the other end gave a sigh of relief, “Primus you don’t know how glad I am to hear that. See you in a bit?”

“On my way now.” Nickel replied, hanging up and rushing to gather up a small medkit before heading out the door.

When Nickel arrived at the police station she was expecting more of a standard checkup, and perhaps a little bit of patchwork and bandaging. Making sure injuries weren’t too bad, rubbing in numbing agent, painkillers if the bitlet was old enough, the standard routine.

What Nickel wasn’t expecting, was the smallest Empura she’d ever seen.

His orange plating was dull, obviously hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and he had some scratches along his forearms and audial rims. He kept sniffling and crying, large blue optic welled over with tears as he rubbed obsessively at his own wrists with claws that were just the slightest bit too big for him.

“Primus!” Nickel snapped, placing her hand on her chest and looking up to the mech that had introduced himself as Prowl.

Prowl folded his arms over his chest, face unreadably stern. “We can’t get him to talk about what happened to him. Of course parents won’t give up any information either.”

Typical bastard creators, Nickel thought to herself. She wheeled up to the sparkling in the chair, crouching down in front of him to make herself look smaller. Or...smaller than she already was, anyway.

The sparkling stared at her when she kneeled down to his height, vents hitching like he was hyperventilating, “Heyheyhey, I’m not gonna hurt ya. My name is Nickel, I’m here to give you a checkup. Is that okay?”

He didn’t say anything, tucking his claws against his chest like Nickel was going to yank them. He just stared at her, “H...hurts…” he finally squeaked out, but still didn’t move.

Nickel nodded, “I know, must hurt like a bitch, yea? I’m here to help with that. Do you have a name?”

He squinted his optic in thought (never a good sign) for a good long moment before responding, “I think it’s Glitch, uh...sire calls me Glitch.”

Nickel had a sneaking suspicion his sire didn’t call him Glitch because that was his name. But the fact he actually had to think about what his name was made her think it was the only kind of designation he had, she'd have to ask Prowl about that.

“Okay, Glitch. It’s nice to meet you. Can I see your hands?” Nickel smiled and put her own hand out, palm up.

Glitch, as he was called, hesitated, staring at her open palm like he didn’t trust it. Slowly and shakily, he put one of his claws out, putting it down in her servo and ducking his head down. Either out of fear or he didn’t want to look at whatever Nickel was doing. Nickel gently pulled apart the plating around his wrists to get a better look at where the surgery welds would be, they were horribly rushed and sloppily done; like a medic had gone crazy with a laser scalpel while trying to figure out how to attach the new claws. Honestly Nickel didn’t expect any less, the whole procedure was barbaric in her eyes, and definitely never meant to be operated on a sparkling. And yet here she was, trying to make a recovery plan for one.

Glitch looked like he was starting to panic, Nickel figured she should wrap this up as soon as she could. She took a small bottle of numbing agent out of her medkit, rubbing it gently into the surgery welds around his wrists, and for good measure around the larger welds she found around his neck. He wasn’t complaining about a headache but she could figure out that it must've hurt.

“This is going to make you feel better. It’ll feel kind of cold for a minute but then you’ll hurt less.” Nickel explained as she finished up her task, putting the medicine back in her case. “Other than that, I think you’re okay. I have to go talk to Prowl now, I’ll be back in a minute. Do you want something to do? I have a datapad with some games on it.”

Glitch looked at her blankly, tilting his head in question. Nickel was patient, and waited for him to respond to her offer.

“Yes.” He said, reaching his claws out and clicking them a few times until Nickel got out the datapad and set him up with it. Something simple that could be played with his lack of hands.

“Alright, have fun with that. Promise I’ll be back, okay?” Nickel said, getting up and packing her medkit to put back in her subspace.

Glitch didn’t look up, busied with struggling to figure out how to make his claws work with the datapad, but he silently nodded. Which was a good enough answer for Nickel before she wheeled to Prowl’s office to report her findings.


“Empurata victims usually experience chronic pain, he’s no different. Gonna be dealing with a lot of it since he’s too young for painkillers, also too young to get any sort of correction surgery. Primus above he’s too young to even have had the surgery in the first place! Makes me wanna choke out the quack that agreed to do it.” Nickel rambled, Prowl nodded and typed in everything she was telling him, or all of it that was relevant anyway. Maybe he could leave out the threats to the sparkling’s creators and a hypothetical crackpot surgeon. “I’ll probably have to take him back to the clinic for an overnight study to figure out a treatment plan. But Primus what happened to the kid?!”

Prowl shrugged, “Honestly? I can’t say what happened to him. Like I said, he won’t talk. There isn’t even any records on this kid; no birth certificate, nothing. You get a name out of him?”

Nickel sighed, tapping her digit against the table. “Glitch. Said it’s the only name he has.”

Prowl nodded, typing that into his police report. “Glitch, huh? Makes sense he doesn’t have a birth certificate.” He leaned back in his chair, venting a deep sigh, “I’ve seen this kinda thing before. Likely, kid was born in a gutter, or something that wasn’t a hospital, maybe not as morbid as a gutter. Either way, parents didn’t really want him, didn’t get any legal record of him because of it.”

“So what’s going to happen to him, then? Foster home?” Nickel asked, looking out at the sparkling in question. Glitch was getting more and more frustrated with the game Nickel had provided as he couldn’t get his claws to work the datapad properly.

“Soon as we find one, since it’s such short notice, we don’t have one yet. Probably for the best he has to stay overnight with you, it gives us a little more time to find him a new home.” Prowl finished up his police report on his datapad, powering it off and setting it on his desk on a stack of other datapads.

Nickel had the sinking thought of no foster homes taking him, he was pretty bad off...she hoped the little guy would be okay. Or, as okay as he could be. “So that’s it? Anything else before I head out?”

Prowl shook his head, “Should be good to go on your end, tell the kid I said hi.”

The overnight room at the clinic wasn’t the most ideal place to house a scared sparkling, but Nickel hoped it was better than where he had been, and it was definitely the best she could give him right now. Glitch had been allowed to keep the game datapad she had given him, even if he got frustrated when it wouldn’t respond to his clawtips.

Nickel refused to leave his side, there was legitimate medical purposes to it, she had brought him in for study. But there was also the fact she just didn’t want to leave him alone right now. There was also a thing Nickel really wanted an answer on, and tried to present it as gently as she could think of.

“Do you know why they took your hands away?” Then again, there wasn’t really a gentle way to put that.

Glitch paused on his game, staring at it in silence for a long time. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it, and Nickel didn’t want to push him, but she really did need to know to tell Prowl in the morning so he could add it to his report. She was a doctor, not a therapist, unfortunately, and she really didn’t want to risk scaring him more than he already was scared. She could fix Glitch’s wires so he wasn’t constantly in pain, but he’d still be flighty and traumatized. For that? All she could do was try her damn hardest.

“I broke their things.” Glitch mumbled finally, ducking his head down to avoid Nickel’s gaze.

The statement only served to make Nickle more confused. “What did you break? Who’s things?”

“Carrier...and sire.” Glitch continued to mumble. “I-I broke their things. I didn’t mean to!”

While she was glad he opened up about it, Nickel was more confused than ever. That was a very extreme punishment for breaking things, and she didn’t think giving him claws for hands would solve any problems involving that. Honestly, the opposite, he’d probably break more things because of his clumsy claws.

“What did you break?” Nickel said, scooting closer as she began petting his head to keep him as calm as she could.

“Everything I touched. They just...broke. Carrier said I’m cursed. It just...breaks when I-I touch them and I-I don’t mean to a-and-” Glitch’s vents started to hitch in sobs again, and the datapad he was holding started acting strange. The screen whited out, before the entire pad short circuited in a small fit of sparks.

Glitch squeaked in horror when the datapad broke, dropping it to the ground like it had burned him (which Nickel figured it might have. “L-like that! I’msorry!I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry-” He ducked his head down further, covering it with his arms and crying hard.

Definitely...a strange thing, Nickel was more confused than she’d ever been, and had NO idea what happened to cause the datapad to do that. She did think she may have had an idea on how to start helping him now, though. Nickel pushed the long term to the back of her mind; for now, Glitch was upset, and she really needed to calm him down.

“Hey, hey. I’m not going to hurt you. I swear to Primus I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay, it’s just a datapad, I can get a new one.” Nickel kept up her calming strokes to his head, letting them trail down his back instead once he was protecting his head to avoid scaring him.

Glitch peeked out from under his arm shield, optic wet and drippy with tears.

“I don’t care what you broke, I’m sorry they did this to you. You don’t deserve this for breaking material things, your life is worth more than any datapad in the world.” She kept reassuring, “And you aren’t cursed, whatever they said isn’t true. You’re wonderful, and I’m sorry they couldn’t see that.”

Glitch hiccuped, staring at her and nodding, slowly lowering his arms from his head, reaching them forward instead. Did he want her to hug him? Nickel didn’t object to it, gently scooping him up and cradling him against her torso. Nickel continued to pet him and rub circles on his back, moving only slightly to kick the broken datapad under the berth so she wouldn’t step on it later.

“Shh, shh, you’re okay, you’re fine.” Nickel kept mumbling, kissing the side of his head as he cried into her shoulder. “Do you need anything?” Glitch shook his head, “Just want me to keep holding you?” A nod, “Alright, that’s fine. Tell me if you get hungry or anything.”

Glitch just continued to sob, it was about an hour before he finally wore himself out to just hiccuping. Nickel was content to just sit and cuddle him the whole time, she didn’t have anything else that needed immediate attention at the moment. When Glitch started to shift out of her grip, Nickel moved him to perch in her lap. He was rubbing his wrists again, not crying as much as before, but he was clearly in pain.

“Hurts.” Glitch whimpered, rubbing his wrists raw with his little claws. “Nickel, it hurts.”

He shortly moved from rubbing his wrists to digging his claws into the sides of his head, whining high and loud. Well it was no longer a secret where the scratches on his audial rims had come from. Nickel took his claws gently, moving them away from his head so he wouldn’t do any further damage to himself. She pressed her fingers into his little palms to spread the claws and examine them to make sure he hadn’t irritated anything.

“ head…” Glitch whined, not making any sort of struggle, just crying and shivering.

Nickel shushed him, pushing the claws back into a fist and kissing them after finding no injuries, "I know, I know, it’s okay. Is it just your head, or do your hands hurt too?”

“Y..yes…” His vocalizer hiccuped, once his claws were freed he tucked them against his chest.

Nickel hummed in acknowledgement, “I can put more of that ointment on. But also, if you’d like, I could set you up an oil bath. It definitely helps with pain.”

Glitch tilted his head at her, “Oil...bath?”

Should’ve expected he’d never heard of such a thing, Nickel tried to think of how to explain it in a way a sparkling would understand. “It’ don’t you just let me show you? If you don’t like it, I’ll take you out. Just give the word.”

Glitch stared some more, before nodding a little. Nickel was glad he seemed willing to try. Oil baths were one of the things she usually suggested to mechs with chronic pain, she knew for fact it helped, it was just a matter of Glitch not being afraid of it.

Glitch clung to her arms and whined when he was lowered into the tub of oil, like he was afraid Nickel was going to drop him in, and likely was still delirious with pain. Nickel shushed him, rubbing along his neck to at least get him to stop crying. Glitch perched his little chin pathetically on the rim of the tub, the warm oil did calm him down some, and definitely helped so he ached less. He huffed a squeaky sigh, plating fluffed up to let the oil seep into the nooks and crannies of his frame. He still hurt, but less so, especially as Nickel kept petting him.

“That better?” Nickel asked, wanting to make sure he was comfortable before anything else.

Glitch made a noncommittal noise in return, Nickel figured it was as good as a yes she’d get. He did seem a lot more relaxed, and had stopped crying. She considered that a good sign to push forward.

Ever so gently she pulled plating apart at the seams, making sure the oil got deep down to the surgery scars in his wrists before rubbing healing solvent into it. She did the same with his neck, but splashed the oil onto it instead of dunking his head in. On top of taking care of his injuries, she tried to pull any rust or grime out of his joints and seams, as the stiffness in those could also cause him to ache.

Glitch gave a deep sigh, optic half lit as Nickel worked on cleaning his frame. It was a very different image than when she had met him earlier. There was a lot of gunk trapped in the sparkling’s seams. Primus when was the last time this kid had gotten a bath?

“Did your creators not bathe you?” Nickel asked, making a face at a particularly gross blob of grime she’d pulled out from under the tire kibble on one of his arms.

“I’unno…” Glitch was pretty zoned out, maybe too much to answer her question. Nickel didn’t doubt he knew exactly what he was saying though, and his carriers didn’t bathe him at all. At least she was doing it now, though.

Glitch was purring by time Nickel pulled him out of the tub, wrapping him up in a towel and cradling him against her shoulder. It was getting pretty late, and it had been a pretty stressful day for him, he deserved to get a good night’s sleep.

Wheeling slowly back to the overnight room, she carefully put Glitch down in the berth, making sure he was tucked in warmly before pushing up the guard rails so he didn’t roll out of bed in his sleep. He made a small grunt, curling up in a tight ball with his claws cuddled against his face.

Nickel dimmed the lights in the room, setting herself up in a chair close by. Tomorrow was going to be a long day for him, and she didn’t want him to wake up alone.

Nickel was woken up by her commlink going off, she was still half asleep, but managed to fumble to answer it. “Nickel speaking.”

“Hey, it's Prowl again, is Glitch okay?” Came the voice on the other end, monotone as ever.

Nickel straightened herself up a little, looking over to the sparkling still recharging peacefully where she had left him. “Doing great, didn't have any complications, and have figured out pain management for him without painkillers.”

“Great, cause he might have to stay in your clinic for a while. Having a lot of trouble finding a foster home that will take him.” Prowl said.

That wasn't what Nickel wanted to hear, she thought Glitch would've been sent on his way today. Surrounded by bitlets his age in a loving environment and the potential of eventually being adopted by a nice couple who would treat him right.

“Why won't they take him, what's wrong?” Nickel hoped she didn't sound as panicked as she was. She didn't think it was healthy, mentally, to keep Glitch cooped up in a hospital room for an intederminite period of time, she couldn't sit with him always, she had a clinic to run.

“A lot of them are full, and the ones that aren't say they aren't equipped to deal with extensive medical problems like Empurata. He might have to go to some bigger city to find a new home.”

When Prowl said that, Nickel was forced to look at the situation realistically instead of optimistically. Right...bitlets his age that would pick on him for being different, bitlets his age that would drown him out in his needs because they had been there longer and took priority. No couple would ever want to adopt him, he was an empura, a serious medical condition a lot of people either couldn't or wouldn't deal with, with a reputation to turn mechs violent. Why take the troubled empura when they could adopt a sweet sparkling with no debilitating issues?

It hurt her to think about, Glitch seemed to sweet. She wanted him to be happy, she wanted him to move past this and live a happy life. Nickel wanted him to be loved and cherished like he needed to be. He needed...he needed-

“What if I adopted him?” Nickel blurted out.

Prowl didn't respond for a good second, “I guess...I guess I don't see why not, but why? Don't you have your clinic to take care of?”

“Nobody's going to take him, he was going to stay here until someone could take him anyway. I'm a doctor, and I know how to treat him. Plus, I like the little guy, he's cute.” Nickel had moved closer to the berth while she talked, staring at the sleepy bundle.

There was some noises in the background of the comm Nickel could only interpret as typing before Prowl spoke again, “There's no rules saying you can't, but you'll have to a little paperwork. Nothing I can't email over and have you send back, I mean you're already there. What's the place to send it to?”

Nickel had the paperwork said and done by time Glitch had woken up. He onlined his optic at Nickel, mumbling a tiny good morning to her.

“Good morning, I…have some good news. Really great news.” Nickel was overwhelmed with emotion as she waited for Glitch to wake up enough to register what she was saying. “You're coming home with me.”


Glitch acted like a scared bunny when Nickel brought him back to her apartment, sitting in the middle of the living room, refusing to move. As if he was going to get in trouble if he dared move from the spot Nickel had set him down in.

Nickel wheeled out of the kitchen with a cube of energon for herself, and a pouch of medical grade with a straw for Glitch to drink. Glitch took it slowly, fumbling a minute to line it up with his probiscuis before slurping it up greedily.

“Alright, Glitch, ground rules.” Nickel started, the way Glitch froze she figured she probably could've worded that better. “First off, I'm not going to hurt you. Ever. I don't care what you break, you will never be hurt as long as you're in my care. Second off, you gotta trust me. I won't get mad at you if you ask for food, or if you need me to give you your medicine because you hurt. Please tell me when you hurt. Can you do that for me?”

Glitch just looked at her, and did for a good long minute, before his slurping resumed and he nodded a little.

“Good! Do you have anything you want me to do?” Nickel asked, knowing this wasn't going to work if he didn't take Glitch’s concerns into consideration.

“Hmm...more food?” Glitch asked, showing Nickel his now empty energon pouch.

Nickel smirked, it was a start if nothing else. “That I can do.”

Chapter Text

Glitch was quiet, that fact didn't surprise Nickel. He stayed to himself, only spoke when spoken to, and spent the majority of his time hiding in his room. When he did leave his room, he tried to avoid Nickel’s line of sight. It was a month since Nickel had adopted Glitch; she was hoping he would've calmed down even slightly by now. But no such luck, he still flinched whenever Nickel moved too fast, and still panicked and cried whenever his weird power managed to break some electronic (Nickel still wasn’t sure what caused that).

Nickel tried not to push him, hoping he would come around eventually. He just needed time, space, and a constant reminder Nickel wouldn’t dream of hurting him. It was definitely an uphill battle getting Glitch to stop panicking so much, but Nickel certainly couldn’t blame the poor thing. It was sparkbreaking seeing his big blue optic well up with tears at the slightest inconvienence.

Nickel kept trying to reassure him that he was safe, she showed it through small gestures when other things overwhelmed him. She always asked if he was hungry when she saw him hovering, asked if he was hurting any, offering to watch cartoons with him, and so on and so forth. Glitch jumped every time he was spoken to, staring blankly at Nickel when she asked him these questions. The most common answers, if he gave any, were some variation of “mmhm” or shaking his head no.

Nickel feared sometimes that Glitch was lying about his pain, maybe he didn’t want to be a bother or maybe he thought he could deal with it on his own, Nickel couldn’t really say. His movements were stiff, he obsessively rubbed his wrists raw, and cried silently. This was an event that happened way too often for Nickel’s liking.

There were rare moments of trust that showed Nickel that it was possible to get him to stop acting like this. In the rarest of occasions he would climb up on the couch next to her, staring for a moment to make sure he was allowed to do this, and when he got a response in the form of a small nod would cuddle himself up under her arm. He flinched when Nickel touched him, and relaxed visibly when all she did was pet his head.

“Hey, I was thinking, you sure do stay cooped up a lot.” Nickel started, waiting until she got his attention enough for him to stare at her. “There’s some stray cats I feed sometimes, do you like cats?”

Glitch took a minute before nodding some. Nickel had figured out maybe some sort of activity to get him out of the house would be good for him, and feeding cats seemed like the least stressful option.

“Good, you can come with me then.” Nickel gave his head a final pat before standing up to get ready to leave.

While Glitch was probablly too young for a pet, on top of the fact he would probably accidentally scare a cat, which would make him cry, and scare the cat more, into an endless cycle of upset; there was a stray colony that was cared for by a few different bots. They were friendly enough because of the constant socialization, some mechs even took ones home, and they might let Glitch pet them, and even if they didn’t it was good to get him out of the house.

Glitch did seem to be enjoying himself, after Nickel had set out the tin of food a couple of the small mechanimals came crawling out of the woodworks. A fat black and white one had taken a liking to Glitch, rubbing up against his claws and engine rumbling contentedly. Nickel was fine to hang back and just make sure he didn’t get in any trouble, animals were therapeutic is what she’d been told in the past.

Trouble seemed to always find her, as she heard Glitch suddenly yelp. It hadn’t even been that long since Nickel turned her back to him. She swung around, thinking the cat had turned and scratched him, fully prepared to start shouting-

Only to be greeted by the absolute tiniest creature she’d ever met. The can of food he was stealing from almost dwarfed him, Nickel figured he couldn’t have been bigger than her hand. Had she not known any better, she would’ve thought she had just discovered the first mech-mechanimal hybrid. But no, the minuscule sparkling that had somehow scared Glitch into submission, and was currently shoving tiny handfuls of cat food into the back of his neck fast enough to choke himself was just that, a sparkling. He was, however, very conveniently shaped, and would’ve probably blended in with the cats very well if they hadn’t scattered from Glitch making a loud noise.

“Hey! Hey!” Nickel shouted, wheeling up to save her bitlet from the terror that was this bitty sparkling. The newcomer puffed up his plating as she got closer, letting out a hiss that sounded more like a squeal.

Glitch had been saved from the very ferocious beast by the power of Nickel’s leg, hiding behind it and digging his claws into the metal hard enough that if he was any stronger it would’ve dented.

“The hell are you doing stealing cat food, don’t you know better?” Nickel started to scold the tiny terror, only to get yet another hiss-squeal, and a faster shoveling of food into what she assumed must be his intake. A very oddly placed intake, but an intake nonetheless.

This had to be someone’s kid, right? Sparklings got lost and ate weird things all the time, cat food definitely wasn’t out of the question. But it was less the fact he was hanging out with stray cats and eating their food that made Nickel second guess her thoughts, but more his behaviour and appearance.

He was definitely very young, judging by his size, and...very skinny. Too skinny. Thin as a twig. He picked fleas and other parasites out of his plating with retractable claws, and scratched behind his head with his leg.

Yea, something was definitely up.

“Are you lost?” Nickel said, more gently this time, crouching down to his level. Much to Glitch’s dismay, as he had to find a new hiding spot on her frame. The sparkling froze in his itching, growling and fluffing up his plating. “You can quit the act, you’re not a cat. Do you have a name?”

The sparkling didn’t seem to register a word she was saying, just continuing to growl, fluff up, and hiss. He did make a new sound...meowing. This kid was meowing at her.

Nickel frowned, “Name, can you understand me? Name.”

The fact the sparkling stood up on all fours, fingers curled into paws, fluffing his plating up as far as it would go to let out probably his most ferocious squeak indicated no, he couldn’t understand a word Nickel was saying. Unfortunately for the sparkling, Nickel wasn’t as easily scared into submission as Glitch.

“Alright, I’ve seen enough, you’re coming with me.” Nickel reached forward to scoop the bitlet up, he ducked and dodged away from her hand, staring at her with wide optics. “Quit it, you’re just wearing yourself out.”

He ducked again when Nickel tried to grab for him, this time bolting and hiding in a pile of trash. Beady red optic lights stared at Nickel from the pile.

They would be here a while.


Hours of chasing and fighting later, one of the other bots that had shown up to feed the strays offered to let Nickel have the cat trap he had brought with him. And boy was Nickel lucky this kid didn’t seem to be any smarter than a cat, or else this plan never would’ve worked. All she had to do was put a few pieces of candy in the trap and the bitty sparkling was interested. First pointy finials poked up from behind the barrier he had made, then little red optics. Finally an entire bitlet, cautiously approaching on all fours, enticed by the smell of gummy candy.

The sparkling wailed and hissed all the way home in his little cage. Nickel admitted, this was a little mean, but it wasn’t like he’d be in there forever. Besides, it was for the best, it was better for him to be trapped in a cage, but otherwise safe in Nickel’s apartment, than to be wandering the streets where any number of things could’ve happened to him. Somewhere out there a carrier was missing his weird cat sparkling, and Nickel knew she’d be distraught if anything were to ever happen to Glitch.

By time Nickel got home and set the cage on the table, the bitlet had screamed and kicked himself out. He was flopped against one side of the cage, panting fast to cool his systems down, too tired to even glare much, but still squeaked in protest when Nickel looked at him.

Also, now that Nickel wasn’t struggling to contain him, she could actually look him over. He was definitely one of the smallest, if not THE smallest sparkling she’d ever seen. Not even minibot sparklings were this small; but it could’ve been due to frame type or age. Maybe he was just an extra mini minibot, either way he was definitely alarmingly thin and sharp looking. A very jarring contrast to Glitch, who was soft and chubby, as most sparklings were and should be. The eye that she thought tiny sparkling was constantly squinting was actually physically smaller than his other eye, and besides those lopsided eyes he didn’t have a face, must’ve been why his intake was on the back of his neck.

...Nickel thought she was starting to form an image of why this sparkling was on his own.

She hoped she was wrong in her assumption, and maybe he was just lost and took refuge with the kitties because they were cute and friendly. Something relatively innocent and not that he was abandoned.

Glitch was starting to take interest in the caged sparkling too, pulling himself up over the edge of the table so he could see better. The skinny one would fluff up and try to swipe at Glitch through the bars, and while Nickel would’ve thought Glitch would know he couldn’t be scratched as long as the other was locked up, he still ducked and cried like he’d been hit. Nickel let out a deep sigh, dragging her hand down her face.

“Glitch, I think he needs some space, why don’t you go watch cartoons or something m’kay?” Nickel looked through her fingers, seeing Glitch nod and skitter off into the living room. Leaving Nickel alone with...whatever his name was. Did he even have one? In the morning she’d take him to the police station, Prowl seemed to know what he was doing in relation to troubled sparklings. She really didn’t want to think the little guy was left alone because he was deformed.

Nickel snapped open one end of the cage to get a better look at him. The noise made the sparkling perk up, crunching his body up in a crouch and wiggling his rear.

“Oh no you don’t!” Nickel said, knowing what the movement meant and grabbing him by an attachment near his neck before he could pounce. The sparkling squeaked protest, but otherwise remained limp from the scruffing. Nickel didn’t think that actually would’ve worked. Maybe he was some weird experimental cat hybrid.

His paint was dirty and chipped, he had some scratches that could be buffed out in the plating itself but nothing too serious. The skinny sparkling was absolutely filthy though, but nothing a bath wouldn’t fix. Nickel had had a long night though, and found herself dreading such a task. Maybe when she wasn’t so exhausted.

Instead, she tucked the sparkling under her arm, wheeling around the apartment to gather up a few things; a pillow from the couch, some blankets, a packet of candies, and one of Glitch’s stuffed animals, arranging all of them in the cage before putting the bitlet back in and locking the door.

More angry squeaking emitted from the cage until Nickel draped a blanket over it to block out the light, and hopefully give the sparkling a better night’s rest. The noises immediately stopped. Curious, Nickel raised the blanket back up just a little bit. Red eyes glared at her and more angry squeaking followed. She dropped it, and it ceased. She lifted it once more, and this time the red eyes was followed by puffed up plating and yowling. Which stopped again with the blanket being dropped. Nickel snorted a little to herself, grinning, that was pretty cute, but she was probably pissing the little thing off too much if she kept it up.

Shaking her head and still grinning, she shut off the lights to the kitchen and wheeled to scoop up Glitch for bed. The orange sparkling nudged his chin against Nickel’s shoulder sleepily before he was put down.

“I thought you said we weren’t gonna bring home a cat.” He mumbled, half asleep already.

“He’s not a cat, he’s a bot like you and I.” Nickel replied, tucking blankets around him to make sure he was comfortable.

“He’s funny looking.” Glitch said, shifting so he laid on his belly.

“You should know better than to make fun of how people look.” Nickel chided, finally finished in her task with the blankets.

“M’sorry Nickel.” Glitch said guiltily, outstretching his claws in front of himand clicking them until Nickel pushed a stuffed animal against his chest. Glitch curled up against it and immediately fell asleep. Nickel smiled softly, flicking the lights off and leaving the room.

Tomorrow, she hoped the little sparkling was back with his creators, even if the signs so far was pointing to the worst. Nickel wanted to think positive when it came to the wellbeing of bitlets, it was all she could hope for. Nickel found herself looking through missing child reports on her own before finally falling into recharge.

Glitch clung to Nickel’s leg the whole way to the police station, she had offered to let him stay home to avoid the stress, she knew the place held bad memories for him, but he insisted he wanted to come. Hey, at least he was getting more used to being out in public.

Prowl was happy to see Glitch again, and that he was doing a lot better, but he did have to sit outside the office while Nickel spoke with Prowl. Being seperated from Nickel made Glitch nervous, until another officer who Prowl introduced as Jazz offered him candy. Glitch perked up at that and went with him, at least it would distract him long enough for Nickel to get her business done and leave.

Or, so she thought, as Prowl searched far and wide through his missing sparkling records and came up with nothing that matched the description of the one currently in Nickel’s possession.

“Nothing? Nothing at all? What if he’s been gone for a while and he’s grown? Maybe he looks different?” Nickel insisted, watching as the sparkling made circles around the cage, plating puffing up and squeaking whenever someone looked in his direction.

“Even if that were the case, it’d still be similar, he’s fairly distinct.” Prowl said, leaning back in his seat. “It could be possible he was abandoned due to-”

Nickel sighed, placing her head in her hands. “Due to birth defect, I know, I know. I’m a doctor, remember? I know it when I see it.” She feared the worst and had been correct, the poor thing’s whole life had probably been those cats.

The sparkling had worn himself out finally, stretching his neck in what could’ve been a mouthless yawn and curling up on a soft spot in the corner to rest. Prowl watched him and smirked.

“I wasn’t gonna say anything but, a cage? Really?” He didn’t expect child abuse, he knew Nickel well enough to know she would never, but it was still funny.

“He’s so small! And slippery! I spent fucking hours trying to take him home last night! He was hanging around these cats and-”

“Cats?” Prowl interrupted, quirking an optic ridge in question.

“Yea, me and Glitch were feeding a group of strays and I found him.” Nickel said, realizing she probably should’ve said that earlier.

Prowl nodded, “You’ve heard of feral children, I’m sure?”

The possibility hadn’t slipped by her, she just wanted to hope that wasn’t the case. She already had one used and abused sparkling.

“Here’s what I think, you and I both know know this kid wasn’t born right, creators saw he was messed up, didn’t want to deal with him and dropped him off in an alley. Some mama cat with pregnancy hormones picked him up, thing’s no bigger than a kitten, looks like a kitten, and here he is now. How long he’s been out there? Who knows, but feral sparklings can be rehabilitated with some TLC. He might never learn to talk but there are alternatives.”

Nickel listened to the speech and nodded along, all the while staring at the caged sparkling, he looked so peaceful curled up in a little ball. Every so often he’d stretch his arms out in front of him, pushing his claws out with the movement, puff out a sigh and settle back down, cat ear finials twitching. It was very endearing.

“So what should I do with him?” Nickel said, tearing her gaze away from the kitten sparkling for a moment, “You said none of the foster homes would take Glitch cause he’s an empura, why would they take a kid that thinks he’s a cat?”

“Locally,” Prowl corrected, “Locally none of the foster homes would take him, considering we couldn’t find anything for Glitch. Doesn’t mean a home in a different city would take him. Vos, for example, might be more skilled in this case. Seekers being socialized by wild birds is a surprisingly common occurrence.” Prowl smirked, knowing exactly where this was going. “Or, you could adopt him, since you did with Glitch when he had nowhere to go. I could get him into therapy, free of charge, and I know he’d be with a good home.”

Vos was so far away, and Nickel was warming up to the weird little bitlet. Seekers and birds had more things in common than any specific frame type did with cats, so those feral kids probably got adopted by other seekers. This kid? Not so much. He’d be miserable, especially being so far away from home.

On the other hand, she already had one traumatized sparkling that needed a lot of TLC to get better. She wasn’t entirely sure if she could take on two at the same time. But...also, Glitch was very well behaved, and he did seem to get lonely sometimes, what with not having any friends and all.

Nickel puffed out her cheeks, “I...I need to think on it, can he come home with me tonight?”

Prowl shrugged, “Sure, shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure you call me with what you decide to do, you know my number.”

Nickel gathered up her caged sparkling, thanked Prowl, and left with Glitch in tow. She was now set even farther back than when she had started.

On the bright side, Glitch was in a good mood, chatting Nickel’s audial off about something he’d learned from Jazz while sipping sweet energon up his proboscis. Normally Nickel would be listening to his babbling as best as she could and trying to respond, but she was lost in her thoughts of what she was going to do with the new sparkling. So instead she just kept responding periodically with “mmhm”, “that’s nice dear”, “oh really?”, and so on and so forth. Glitch was happy regardless.

As soon as they got home Glitch ran off to be left to his own devices, and Nickel replaced the cage on the table. The bitlet inside looked up at her, angry as ever.

“You act like you’ve never been happy in your life.” Nickel said, attempting to joke. The joke was, of course, lost on him, since he couldn’t understand her. There was also the fact that sentence could’ve been a bit too real.

He snorted at her and circled around his cage, plopping down on his aft and scratching his neck with his pede. Right, he was still filthy.

This time when Nickel opened the cage, the sparkling made no attempts to escape. He just watched while Nickel picked him up under the arms and snuggled him against her chest. Primus he was a tiny little thing, Nickel wasn’t sure how she was going to keep track of him. She would live in constant fear of tripping over him.

One thing at a time; bath.

He’d have to be washed in the sink, the tub would probably drown him. The sparkling made his feelings about the water extremely clear, the minute Nickel plugged the sink and started to run the water he screeched. Tiny claws dug into Nickel’s plating as he tried to scale it, meows of protest growing increasingly louder every time she tried to pull him off. Nickel ended up grabbing the long attachment on his back she had scruffed him with before. He ceases struggling, but continued to growl. This isn’t over his body language said.

The sparkling went limp, and made sad little squeaks when he was finally placed down in the water and Nickel began scrubbing him off. She giggled a little at how sad he looked, face half submerged in fluid, bubbling meows escaping his vocalizer that was muffled by water.

“You know you can lift your head up?” Nickel said, nudging the side of his head as she continued to scrub. She got another underwater meow in response.

With the filth cleaned off, Nickel could now tell the back attachment was a the tiniest gun barrel in the world.

“So you’re a gunformer!” She said, in awe at how small the kibble piece was, “I bet you have a gun name, huh?”

The sparkling shifted into her touch and purred as she continued the pets to his barrel.

“So what is your name then?” Nickel went on, knowing of course he didn’t have one, but it was a nice one-sided convo. “Barrel? Ammo? Target?” She continued to list off gun words to see if the sparkling reacted to any of them more than the other. So far no luck, but the gentle timbre of her voice stopped him from struggling so much, so she continued. “Sniper? Scope? Forestock?”

Unexpectedly the sparkling lifted his head up and chirped. So she was onto something here.

“Forestock?” The sparkling kept his attention locked onto her and chirped again. “Your name is Forestock?”

Whether or not it was his name at some point, for whatever reason he liked the word a lot. Making a happy noise whenever Nickel said it, at one point even splashing his arms around because she kept repeating it.

Nickel laughed, nudging a finger between his finials to get him to cool it, “Alright, alright, so your name is Forestock!”

As if agreeing, Forestock nudged his head further into Nickel’s hand. She gave him a quick rub in return.

With the sink drained and Forestock as shiny and new as he could be, Nickel scooped him up and cradled him in her palm. She was ready to leave the sparkling to explore the apartment, but not before devising a way to keep track of him. One of Glitch’s toys had a ribbon with a bell on it tied to it’s neck. She untied it from the toy and instead tied it to Forestock’s gun barrel, that way the bell would jingle when he walked.

Forestock seemed offended at the bell’s presence at first, growling and chasing himself in circles until he got dizzy and stumbled around. He shook his head out, snorting and wandering off, having lost interest in the fact he jingled now. He did act a little calmer after the bath, either because he was sleepy or it had been enough of a bonding experience for him to trust Nickel. She was willing to bet on the sleepy theory

It was funny to watch him wander around exploring the place. He walked on all fours, even if the lankiness of his body made it awkward to do so. Even though he didn’t have a nose, he made the motion to sniff at various objects he found interesting. Likely a behaviour he picked up from his caretakers without thinking about it.

Knowing Forestock would wear himself down eventually, she went ahead and got Glitch tucked into bed as Forestock continued to explore. Forestock hissed seeing Glitch, and he cried at that. Ah well.

After getting Glitch asleep, Nickel retired to her own room. She was surprised to find Forestock curled up on her berth. He raised his head upon her entry, making a ‘mrrp’ sound of acknowledgement. She had expected him to find some cozy corner to hole up in.

“Hey bud,” She said, gently sitting down next to him. “You sleepy?”

Forestock nuzzled his head back into the crook of his arm, optics half lidded. He gave a deep sigh that made his plating puff up.

Nickel stretched her arms, flopping backwards onto her pillow, “Me too. Long day huh?”

Nickel knew she wasn’t going to get the most intelligent conversation out of him, but she continued to talk anyway. Prowl had suggested constantly talking to him might help him learn to talk.

“Well if you’re done for the night, so am I. I’ll try not to roll over on you, short stuff.” Nickel sent a command to switch her lights off, pulling the blankets up to tuck herself in. “Goodnight.”

The room remained shrouded in silence for a long while, Nickel half asleep but not quite in recharge yet. When her blankets shifted some, for a minute Nickel assumed Glitch had had another nightmare and wanted comfort. But the servo that tapped her arm was too small for that, and the weight that settled itself on her shoulder was much too light. A steady purring from the small weight confirmed her suspicion.

Nickel supposed Forestock could stay

Chapter Text

As much as Nickel kept insisting Forestock wasn’t a cat, mostly to Glitch, who didn’t quite grasp the concept of “being raised by animals makes you act like an animal”, Nickel sometimes felt like she had brought home a cat.

Forestock did most typical cat behaviours, if not all of them, from playing with wires to running around at top speed at ungodly hours of the morning. It was cute when he did less disruptive behaviours, but exhausting all other times. Especially when Nickel had an early shift the next day, unable to sleep due to the constant rapid jingles and chirps up and down the hallway; finally ending hours later in a tiny thud that signaled Forestock had worn himself out and decided to sleep on the floor.

Forestock was still hostile towards Glitch, puffing up and hissing if Glitch made a wrong move or even so much as got too close to him. Needless to say Glitch was scared of Forestock. Forestock had been given his own room to avoid conflict, though he never used it, Nickel hadn't seen him in his own berth once. He preferred nesting in whatever corner was most cozy to him at that moment in time. This was troublesome when Nickel couldn’t find him and ended up tripping over him; her bell idea only really worked if he was moving, didn’t help much when he was curled up asleep.

Despite everything, Glitch still tried to be friends with Forestock. But it just...didn’t seem to be working at all. Glitch would offer up any of his things, showed him his toys and tried to share his snacks, hoping to somehow win him over. Forestock would just assume it was his now and run off with it, not even acknowledging who it came from. Glitch would cry because his toy got stolen, Nickel would have to wrestle it out of angry kitty claws to return it, Forestock would throw a fit and scream, running around and attacking everything in sight until Nickel had to replace the toy that wasn’t even his in the first place, and get him some sweets if that was the case.

Nickel didn’t even know where Forestock was keeping all these toys, she hadn’t seen him with the ones she bought more than twice before they disappeared. Likely he was making some stash that she would find later while cleaning, at which point she’d have to stop and asses how much money she was spending on plushies for a very easily pissed off bitlet.

Forestock also wasn’t a fan of being kept indoors, and he couldn’t be trusted to not run away outdoors if left unsupervised. While Nickel was normally against them, she did have to invest in a child leash just so she could go out in public with him; a very...very small one. Because he wasn’t allowed to run free, Forestock would take any chance to try and break out of the house. He would crouch by the front door, waiting for Nickel to need to open it, and try to make a run for it. Nickel had caught onto the behaviour pretty early on, wedging her pede in the way whenever she saw him, on top of making sure she was as fast as possible to close it again. Forestock still persisted, to the point of trying to figure out how to open the door by himself.

But besides all that, there was a new habit Forestock had picked up. For the life of her, Nickel couldn’t figure out what started it, but she really wished it would stop.

Forestock trying to break outside so he could go “home” was normal for him. Screaming and scratching at every window in the house periodically? Normal, for him at least.

But not when it was every day, on the dot right before the sun started to set, he would sit at one window, scratching and yowling so loud it made Glitch cover his audials and cry. Forestock would stay at said window for about half an hour before jumping down and running to the next closest window, start screaming again for another half hour, and restart on the next window. He would cycle through every window in the apartment before yet again, on the dot, passing out at midnight.

Nickel tolerated it, Glitch however hated it. Glitch was scared by any loud noises, curling up on the floor with his arms over his audials trying to block it out. Nickel had to be a mediator when he started crying, usually having to put Glitch in his room to calm down. Huddling under a blanket behind a closed door was good enough to block out most the noise. Nickel wished Forestock would wind himself down for bed in a normal way and not rely on this screaming ritual.

The worst part was Nickel couldn't figure out why he was doing this. He didn't do it for the first few weeks he was with her, and it was nothing like his random bursts of energy, which blew over after he got tired from running. This was something else entirely. Nickel knew he wanted out, he rather continue living with the cats instead of having to be a normal mech (sometimes Nickel didn't blame him) but it would've been an all day event if that was the only thing he wanted.

Until Nickel ended up slacking on door protocol one day, Forestock managing to wiggle out and make a break for it. He glanced at Nickel once he was out, like he couldn't believe he had done it, before running as fast as his little body would take him.

“HEY!” Nickel yelped, dropping what she was carrying and chasing after him, hoping Glitch would have the common sense to shut the door for her as she chased down Forestock.

Out the apartment building and down the street he went, Forestock was surprisingly fast for such a little thing. Galloping away from Nickel faster than she could keep up with him. The only thing keeping her from losing track of him was she knew exactly where he was going. She managed to catch up with him once he turned into the alley, relieved when he didn't immediately dive to hide and never be seen again.

Forestock didn't disappear into the night, instead running up to a large sparkling and chirping at him excitedly. He was large enough Nickel thought he was a full grown minibot until he squatted down to pet Forestock, seeing his chubby face and knowing from it he was a bitlet, just an abnormally large one.

Forestock bumped his head into the larger one’s touch, meowing happily and making a variety of chirps. Was this his friend?

“Hi, Forestock, I missed you.” The large sparkling said in a very dull tone. The statement surprised Nickel.

“How’d you know his name?” Nickel asked, Forestock couldn't even talk, there was no way he could communicate his name to anyone.

The chubby brown sparkling turned to stare at her, his face was unreadable; well mostly because a large part of his face was taken up by an expressionless pink X visor. “Oh...I named him. He's my cat…” he mumbled, “Is he yours…? I'm sorry,”

He talked slow and monotone, not once giving away a hint of emotion in his voice. His movements were rather slow too, straightening up at a snail’s pace with Forestock cupped in his hands. Forestock wiggled out of his grip to crawl into the cavity in the other one’s chest, maneuvering the sharp blades lining the inside and nesting down carefully.

“He's not a cat, you know.” Nickel sighed, though it explained why Forestock responded to that word so well in the first place.”He’s a sparkling like you, he just thinks he's a cat. What about you, then, do you have a name? Do your creators know you're out here?”

The big sparkling carefully sat down cross legged, or as cross legged as he could get with his blocky legs. He reached into his shredder belly to rub Forestock’s head; Nickel could hear his purring from here. The sparkling took a minute to register what Nickel had said before responding.

“Scissorsaw…Don’t got none...I live at a...orfange.” He struggled to pronounce the word he was trying to say, frowning when he didn't get it on the first try.

“Orphanage?” Nickel corrected for him.

Scissorsaw nodded, “Yeah...that one.”

He lost interest in Nickel when his little friend started getting antsy again, crawling out from Scissorsaw’s grinder and yowling in his face. Scissorsaw picked at treat out of the bag he was holding and offered it up to Forestock, who took it and shoved it whole into his intake. It was interesting how used to one another they were considering the drastic size difference. Clearly they were close, it made Nickel a little sad she’d separated them, but then again, how could she have known? Forestock couldn't talk.

“Is he your cat…?” Scissorsaw asked again, like he had forgotten he’d asked before. His monotone had changed to a different tone, instead of being void of emotion he just sounded kind of sad.

“He's not a cat,” Nickel repeated, “But yes he's my sparkling.”

“If he's not a cat what is he?” Scissorsaw asked, not even processing what Nickel was telling him right now.

Nickel could see where this was going and figured it was better to cut it off now instead of letting it circle endlessly. “Shouldn't you be home? It's getting dark, it's not safe for you to be out like this on your own.”

Scissorsaw gently scooped Forestock up in his palms again, holding him up as if Nickel had never seen him before. “Not on my own.” Scissorsaw clarified. Forestock chirped in what would've been confirmation if he knew what was being said.

“Yes, I know. But Forestock has to come home with me, he can't stay out either.” Nickel clarified gently, “Do you want me to walk home with you?”

Scissorsaw stared up at Nickel, putting Forestock in one hand and sticking his thumb in his mouth. “Can I come home with you?”

“No, not tonight,” Nickel said, “You have to go to your own home. Maybe we could talk and see if you can sleepover sometime, but tonight you have to go home. Won't they miss you?”

“No,” Scissorsaw said, distracted again by his “cat” friend. Forestock had fallen asleep in his palm, and he was very carefully slid back into the comfy space of his grinder.

The answer made Nickel sad. The foster system could be cruel, and a lot of sparklings got left behind or ignored; evidenced by the fact she was parent of two specifically because he foster system had failed them. But she had two troubled sparklings already; surely she couldn't take on a third. Scissorsaw didn't even seem that bad off, a little slow and kind of sad acting, but nowhere near as bad as her bitlets.

Scissorsaw pushed himself up, holding his arms out to Nickel expectantly. She understood the gesture plain and clear, was a little lost on why Scissorsaw wanted to be carried by someone he just met, but...

He was lucky Nickel was abnormally strong for her size.

Scissorsaw was pretty quiet all the way back to his home. Nickel had to keep asking him for directions, to which he looked at her confused before answering. He kept forgetting what he was doing and giving her the wrong directions, she ended up in front of...a candy store. He had led her to a candy store.

Scissorsaw looked up at it, thumb still in his mouth, “Oh…” he said sadly, looking back toward Nickel. “Where are we going?”

Nickel didn't want to get mad, he was a kid, but really she couldn't be running around all night. “Your home, remember?”

“I dun'wanna go home…” he mumbled, “Can we get candy instead?”

“No, you have to go home.” Nickel repeated, Scissorsaw continued to stare blankly and suck his thumb.

“It's close.” He mumbled.

“How close?” Nickel said, trying to coax it out of him. Finally he pointed down the street, and finally, finally, Nickel had found his house.

“There you are!” Came the shocked exclamation from the mech that Nickel saw when she first walked in. “Do you know how worried sick I've been? Who is this?”

Scissorsaw looked away to avoid eye contact, chewing his thumb rather than sucking on it to make an excuse on having to talk.

“He's fine,” Nickel reassured, hoping to soothe the fears of the other mech, “He was playing with some cats, apparently he knows one of my sparklings. It's how I found him. I'm Nickel by the way, and you are…?”

“Krok.” He said, holding his arms out to take Scissorsaw from Nickel, “Should've known, he always hangs out with those cats.”

Forestock was still sitting in Scissorsaw’s grinder when he was handed off, hissing anger when he was taken away from Nickel. He bounced out, puffing up and growling at Krok before jumping into the crook between Nickel’s neck and shoulder piece to settle down.

“He brought one of the cats home?” Krok questioned, raising a brow.

“No, no, that's just Forestock. The sparking of mine I mentioned earlier. He…thinks he's a cat.” Nickel said, reaching up to rub between Forestock’s finials. “We think he was raised by the ones in the alley. I'm trying to rehabilitate him.”

“He's my cat…” Scissorsaw mumbled, “Krok won’ lemme have one.”

“We talked about this,” Krok said gently, “Fulcrum’s scared of them.”

“Fulcrum just says that to make me sad.” Scissorsaw grumbled, thunking his head against Krok’s chest,

“Plus, he’s not a cat, sweetie.” Nickel had to repeat for probably the fourth time now.

“He's not?” Came the reply, once again,

Nickel sighed, knowing exactly where this was headed. Krok shook his head too, “Sorry, he’s a little slow.”

“No biggie,” Nickel said, shrugging (Forestock showed his wrath at being jostled through digging claws in), “He’s pretty sweet. He wanted to come home with me, made me carry him all the way here.”

Krok’s expression was a little unreadable before he set Scissorsaw on the ground. “Hey, Spin made dinner, why don't you go join them?”

Scissorsaw stared up for a full minute before nodding and toddling off toward a door that must’ve led to the kitchen. When it opened a tiny voice squeaked out “Hey, pinhead!” Before it closed and drowned out any other noise coming from the room.

“That's just Misfire, he's like that.” Krok reassured before Nickel could start worrying about how they treated Scissorsaw. “I...don't think he likes being here. Scissorsaw, I mean. He doesn't fit in with my other ones, I have five right now besides him, none of them really like him. It's a lot but me and my conjunx handle it. I worry about him...not surprised the only friend he's managed to make is basically a cat. That's probably why he wanted to come home with you. Is Forestock your only sparkling?”

“No, I have one other. His name is Glitch, empurata victim none of the foster homes around here would take.” Nickel said, feeling sad for the chunky sparkling she’d returned. Well at least it wasn't as bad as she thought, she was slightly expecting his guardians to be abusive. “If you want him to have friends he's more than welcome to come over to my place. He already likes Forestock, I'm sure Glitch would love to have a friend his age who can actually talk to him.”

The door Scissorsaw had disappeared into suddenly opened, a group of sparklings and a dinobot bitlet running out, trailing behind the hoard was a large adult mech, Nickel guessed Krok’s conjunx, holding Scissorsaw’s hand, who seemed less enthusiastic about well...everything, he looked like he was about to cry.

Krok watched him for a minute, folding his arms across his chest, his eyes giving away the smirk hidden behind his faceplate, "I think he’d like that.”

Every week or so Scissorsaw would stay overnight at Nickel’s apartment, on top of that would usually spend his downtime visiting them as much as he could instead of hanging out with the stray cats. He seemed much happier with the ability to leave the house, and complained whenever Krok or Spinister came by to pick him up.

Forestock got excited no matter how many times Scissorsaw came over, he had gotten into knowing what time of day Scissorsaw usually came by. When that time came, he would perch neatly on the window with his servos on the ground between his legs, watching until Krok or Spinister would walk up the sidewalk to their apartment building. When he saw them arrive, he would screech and run around the apartment excitedly until Scissorsaw finally came in, barreling into him and meowing in a loud greeting.

While not quite as enthusiastic about Scissorsaw’s visits as Forestock was, Glitch enjoyed him too. He was initially afraid of him because of how big he was, before warming up when realizing he was harmless. Scissorsaw found out about his electronic breaking power accidentally, having brought over one of his battery operated toys.

Nickel didn't think anything of it, she had been reading a datapad while watching them play. Scissorsaw slid over his toy to show Glitch, who picked it up promptly fizzled out in a small show of sparks. Glitch panicked, optic watering up in tears and dropping the toy immediately.

“I’m sorry! I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry-” Glitch kept repeating, working himself up into a panic attack. Nickel knew she had to intervene, hurriedly getting up to do so, but Scissorsaw continued to stare.

“Cool…” he said, too quietly for anyone to really hear him.

Nickel hurriedly scooped up Glitch, holding him against her shoulder and shushing him. He kept hiccuping and venting too fast, Nickel just had to keep rubbing his back and bouncing him a little, eventually he would calm down. “Scissorsaw, can you go play with Forestock or something? Glitch needs a break.”

Scissorsaw didn't move, watching Nickel closely as she paced back and forth across the floor. “Dun’ wanna, wanna play with Glitch.”

“He doesn't really feel like playing right now.” Nickel said, finally feeling her bitlet’s vents start to steady, and claws hooking tightly into her seams as he came back to it. Scissorsaw stared at Nickel until Glitch had calmed down enough to be set back down. He really wasn't going to give up on this.

Glitch looked at Scissorsaw with his claws folded timidly together, shivering like he was afraid the larger sparkling was mad.

“What else can you break?” Scissorsaw asked.

Glitch hiccuped, “E-everything electric…”

Scissorsaw nodded, sliding another battery powered toy over to him. “Can you do it again?”

Glitch looked puzzled, tilting his head at the gesture. Scissorsaw waited expectantly as Glitch shakily picked it up, squinting his optic trying to concentrate to break it. He had never actually done it on command before, but it was a good chance to learn.

Figuring Glitch could handle himself, and now knowing Scissorsaw wasn't mad at him, Nickel left them to play by themselves. It was going well until Scissorsaw lumbered into the kitchen, staring in Nickel’s direction until she said something.

“Is everything okay?” Nickel asked, setting away the thing she had been working on to pay attention to him fully.

“Glitch is cryin’ a lot.” He mumbled, “Is loud…”

Nickel quickly ushered Scissorsaw back into the living room where he had been. Glitch did cry a lot, so Nickel wasn't too concerned to hear that he was crying. However her vague concern skyrocketed when she found Glitch curled up on the floor, claws pulled over his head and bawling.

Nickel crouched down next to him, knowing it was his pain acting up, reaching to pick him up so he could get medicated. She startled when Glitch screamed at the touch, crying harder.

“Hurtshurtshurtshurts” he whined, barely coherent. He was in an extreme amount of pain, so much more so than his normal empurata aches. Nickel didn't have to think long to figure out the root of the problem.

Scissorsaw wasn't allowed to bring over things for him to break anymore.

Scissorsaw felt bad he had hurt his new friend, and decided to not come over for a few weeks after the fact. He just stayed at home, usually holed up in his room with his face shoved in his pillow. Both Spinister and Krok knew this wasn't healthy, but they couldn't convince him to go visit. He didn't want to hurt his friends again.

Krok sighed when once again, Scissorsaw said no to his offer of taking him over to Nickel’s place. “Well, it's nice out today. Maybe you want to go play with the others outside? They made a cool fort you might like.”

Scissorsaw puffed, pushing himself off the bed and letting himself be carried outside and placed in the yard. Grimlock was sitting guard outside a box fort with the letters “WAP” written on the side. He snarled when Scissorsaw came up, making him stop in his tracks.

“You're not allowed in here!” Misfire squeaked out from the window that had been cut in the box.

Scissorsaw slumped, “Oh...why?”

“You'll just break it!” This time Crankcase said it, glaring at him and folding his arms, “We spent too long building it for you to break it. You break all our stuff, pinhead!”

“I didn’ mean to…” Scissorsaw sulked, chewing his thumb nervously. “Can I come in if I'm sorry…?”

Grimlock growled when Scissorsaw tried to step closer again. “I guess that's a no, go away.” Crankcase said, still staring daggers in Scissorsaw’s direction.

Scissorsaw rubbed his arm over his visor to hide his upset, speedwalking back into the house before Krok could say anything about him coming back inside so soon. He slammed the door shut to his room, cuddling back up with his face in his pillow and just...cried. He didn't have anything else to do, of course they wouldn't let him in their fort. He did mess up everything, he hurt Glitch when he hadn't even known him for more than a month. He didn't want to hurt anyone anymore, so he just stayed there in his room, he couldn't hurt anyone in his room, Or at least long enough until Spinister had to retrieve him for dinner, not saying anything about the tear stains on his pillow.

With Scissorsaw's absence, Forestock was stressed out again, and was back to screaming and scrabbling at the windows. Which resulted in a stressed out Glitch, who had figured out it was better to hide in his room when Forestock was having a fit. It was a mess all around.

“I'm not mad.” Glitch kept saying to Nickel, putting his little claws on her leg and staring up at her. She knew he was referring to Scissorsaw without him having to say it.

“I know you aren't, kiddo.” Nickel reassured, “I'm sure Scissorsaw will come back soon. I think you just kind of scared him.”

Glitch visibly drooped, shoulders slumping and finials flattening against his head. “Oh...I'm sorry.” He said, a lot quieter than before. Nickel rubbed between his finials until they flared back out a little bit.

“Nothin’ to be sorry about, you didn't know. But you really do need to tell me when you're hurting before it gets that bad.” Glitch was spared from the rest of Nickel’s lecture by her commlink going off.

Nickel removed her hand from Glitch’s head to tap it on, “Hello?”

“Nickel? It's, uh, Krok.” Krok on the other end sounded shaken, “Uh, Scissorsaw needs to come over, now.”

That wasn't great timing, she was glad Glitch couldn't overhear it, as he stared up at her expectantly with his head tilted.

“Glitch? Can you go find Forestock for me?” She asked, purposely sending him on a wild goose chase. Glitch nodded and ran off, that would keep him distracted for a decent amount of time, Forestock was usually impossible to find.

“What happened? Is he okay? Krok I'm not mad at the thing with Glitch-”

“Nononono, I know. It's not about Glitch it's- he- Flywheels. One of my kids, Scissorsaw beat him up and tried to put him through his grinder.”

Nickel was mortified, Scissorsaw never seemed violent, in fact he seemed afraid of hurting other people. He looked big and intimidating, and sure he had a belly quite literally made of knives, but from all that she'd seen of him he was mostly a big softie. What could have possibly provoked him to go off like that?

“Primus is he gonna be okay? I have a clinic if you need t-”

“No no, Spin’s a medic he's got it covered, Flywheels will be fine it's just...I gotta send Scissorsaw away, the kids are terrified of him now. I don't know if he's gonna do it again. I already found a place that said they could take him but they gotta come down here to pick him up and take him back to Nyon.” Krok continued to ramble, rarely taking a breath in his speech.

Nickel's spark sank more and more as Krok continued talking, Nyon definitely wasn't a place to raise a sparkling. If Scissorsaw did get adopted out there Nickel would honestly fear for his life. “Nyon?! Seriously, Krok?” Her voice kept raising octaves, in the corner of her eye she saw Glitch peek around the corner with Forestock clung to his chest.

“I know, I know! I tried calling around Iacon and Kaon but nobody wants him now that he has a history of violence. Nyon’s the only place that’ll take him. Nickel I'm sorry but I don't got a choice.” Krok finally steadied his nerves, venting a deep sigh. “B-basically...I'm calling to ask if he can stay at your place until the bots from Nyon can come pick him up. He...he can't stay, and it's cruel to keep him locked up in one room.”

Nickel looked over at Glitch and Forestock again; Glitch always looked worried, but it was the first time she'd seen the expression on Forestock. He couldn't even understand her and he knew something was wrong.

“I...yeah, I can do that. It'll be good to have him say bye to Forestock too, I think.”

When Spinister brought Scissorsaw over, his expression was grim. He kept his responses short, and the most answers Nickel could get out of him on Flywheel’s condition was “he’s okay.”

On the other hand, Scissorsaw was sobbing waterworks, his cheeks drenched in tears and starting to turn pink from how upset he was. Spinister was worried, not angry, and actually wished Scissorsaw a nice goodbye before heading back. He hugged Scissorsaw and bumped his faceplate against his head, mumbling to him to be good, double checked to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything, and finally left.

Scissorsaw turned to look at Nickel once he was left alone, lip wobbling and clinging to a large stuffed animal he had brought with him, of course it was a cat. It was bigger than Scissorsaw was and dragged the floor. The suitcase of his things sat by the door, and other than that he didn't have anything with him.

“I'm sorry…” he whined through hiccups and tears. He could barely get it out, Nickel didn't really know what to say. She wasn't mad but damn.

Nickel lowered herself to sit on the ground, motioning for Scissorsaw to do the same. “Alright, what happened?”

“The-they kept making fun of me an-an t-tol’ me I couldn’ do a-anythin’ right an-an-” Scissorsaw choked on sobs every few words, hugging his cat plushie tighter and snuggling his cheek against it.

“And you punched him.” Nickel finished, not bringing up the more severe act of trying to grind him to a pulp. Scissorsaw whimpered and nodded. “Kid, you can't do that. You should know better.”

Scissorsaw wasn't in the mood to get lectured, burying his face in his plushie and crying harder. Forestock had heard the commotion, and had hid out under the couch originally, but seeing his friend upset finally wiggled himself out. A small jingle signified his arrival, jumping up to put his tiny hands on Scissorsaw’s arm, looking up at him with a “mrrp?”, which Scissorsaw barely noticed. Glitch trailed in after, carrying one of his own plushies and sitting it next to Scissorsaw, before snuggling his head against his other arm. Forestock lit up at the idea of bringing him plushies, running out and returning shortly later with one in his arms, dropping it next to Scissorsaw before running back out to grab more. All of them were the ones that Nickel had had to buy to avoid conflict between her sparklings. She was now finally starting to realize how much she bought as Forestock kept piling them up.

Nickel vented, “Alright, hey I'm not mad at you, I know this is tough but'll be okay.”

Nickel didn't believe herself. Nyon was...not good. She couldn't stop thinking about it, he'd be so alone there, and with his habit of wandering off to avoid being home...she didn't want to think about it.

Nickel might regret this later, it was definitely going to be a handful, but she just couldn't stand to see Scissorsaw in Nyon of all places, or really anywhere besides here.

“Scissorsaw, listen. You feel bad about what you did, right?” Nickel prompted, folding her arms to look more stern.

Scissorsaw peeked up from the plushie pile, making a small nod.

“You won't do it again? Promise me?”

Another nod before Forestock dropped a doll on his face and plopped himself on top of it, squinting and purring in Nickel’s direction. (Nickel didn't even remember buying that one.)

“Okay,” she opened a commlink to Krok, “Krok? Yes, yes, everything is fine. You can go ahead and call off the home in Nyon, I'm keeping him.”

Chapter Text

‘Food, food, need food.’ Came the thoughts of the turbofox formerly known of Dominus Ambus. Now he didn't so much have a name, usually he was called “dog” and nothing else by those frustrated with him. He grunted as he dug up a pile of trash, hoping to find a scrap to eat in the junk. ‘Where food, where.’

After finding nothing he pulled his head out of the trash and shook himself out with a chuff. He snarled at the trash pile, it’s fault for not having anything tasty in it! He turned and trotted down the street into another alley, one he hadn't checked yet. Lucky for him, the dumpster had been left open! Scrabbling up the side he began to dig his paws into the innards of it. There! A faint pink light that meant “food” to even a mech with half a processor excited him, he wiggled in deeper to try and grab it in his mouth so he could get out of there.

Dominus startled when one of the doors lining the walls of the alley slammed open, he yelped and frantically tried to worm his way out of the garbage before whoever had opened the door came to chase him out. He hid under the dumpster, ears folded back and trying to make himself as small as possible to avoid being detected. Nothing came for him, but he did hear a lot of yelling. Figuring he was safe, he poked his nose out, ears pointed in the direction of a couple who was shouting at each other from the open door.

“I'm not fucking keeping him!” The larger one shouted, he had something tucked under his arm; from here Dominus couldn't tell what it was. Some type of box? “He's a fucking FREAK, I'm tired of having to pay to take care of something that can't pull its own weight!”

‘Loud...loud…’ Dominus ducked his ears back again. He didn't want to face the wrath of an angry mech, but he was curious about the box he had. Maybe food! He crouched low and started to inch his way forward.

A smaller mech was on his knees before the larger one, hands clasped together and optics filled with tears. “No! No! God please no I-I’ll give him away, please! I’ll sell him to make it up what he cost, please, please-” When he tried to take the box from the larger’s hands, it was snatched away from him as the larger held it over his head.

“No, I'm fucking sick of this! You make promises you won't keep, I’m fucking done!” He was furious, gripping the box so hard it dented slightly. Dominus froze when the angry mech locked eyes on him, the wicked grin he made gave Dominus a bad gut feeling.

“Hey, dog, you wanna snack?” He sneered, shaking the box to catch his attention. Whatever was in there was heavy based on the sound it made, there was also a small squeak that emitted from it, though Dominus was too dumb of a creature to register what that could have meant.

Dominus panted to show a grin, tail wagging cheerily. ‘Food! Food!’

The smaller mech that was still on the ground began screaming, clawing up the larger’s leg and begging, pleading, for him to not do what he was thinking of doing. Apparently that was enough to convince the mech to throw the box at Dominus, clattering to the ground with a small thud. The screams grew more frantic as Dominus approached the box and sniffed it, the small mech having been forced to watch the display.

Dominus continued to sniff at it, trying to decipher what was inside. Didn't smell like food, why would the mech call it food? He then nudged the box open with his nose, struggling for a minute but eventually popping the top off. He would’ve heard the mech scream more, but he had pinned his ears back to block out the sound, he didn’t like the loud. With the box finally opened, Dominus was suprised to find...

Big black eyes staring back at him, with a tiny little tongue poking out of a mouth with minuscule fangs, the features set in a chubby face. Which led Dominus to the obvious conclusion;


Oh he was thrilled! They’d given him a puppy to take care of! He barked happily, squatting into a play bow with his tail wagging, hoping the puppy would respond and try to play back. Unfortunately, the puppy did no such thing, black eyes staring vacantly in Dominus’s general direction before slumping back down in the box. Oh...maybe he was tired? Dominus flopped over too, rolling over onto his back while waiting for the puppy to wake up.

The large mech that had given him his puppy seemed angry that Dominus was playing with him instead of mauling him, “Dumbass dog, gotta do things myself.”

Dominus wasn’t paying attention to know what the crunch he heard came from, but the screaming mech had gone silent. Dominus looked up out of curiosity, seeing the larger mech stalking toward him. He really didn’t like the way the mech was staring at him...wait, no, staring at his puppy! He wanted to hurt his puppy!

Dominus jumped into position to protect his puppy, standing defensively over the box and snapping his jaws threateningly, snarling and barking to deter the attacker. The mech kept coming, Dominus’s threat display doing nothing to slow him down. Knowing when to back down, Dominus went for plan B. He picked the puppy up in his mouth, turned tail and ran. He ran and ran until the mech’s shouts were distant, and then till he couldn’t hear him at all. His pup remained limp in his mouth the whole way, eventually Dominus found his den, a crawl space of a decrepit building. He had set up some stolen soft things to make it a little more cozy, setting his puppy down on ratty old blankets and flopping next to him.

Dominus hadn’t realized it before, but his puppy didn’t close his eyes when he slept. It was funny, but then again he was a funny looking puppy in general. His face was flat and he didn’t have a tail, as well as having weird swirly spikes coming out of his shoulders. But it was his puppy, and he loved his puppy! Dominus snuggled close to him, licking his head to clean him of any grime he had gathered in the escape.

The puppy gave a tired whine, he had about as much strength as a ragdoll as Dominus cleaned off his plating. He tried to lick more gently, seeing as his puppy had less strength then he originally thought. The continued tiny whining made him stop. Okay...maybe his puppy just wanted to sleep right now. That’s fine, puppy needed his sleep. Dominus moved his head to flop on the ground, huffing out a breath of hot air, making puppy pull a face and squeak. His puppy sure was fragile...not to worry! Dominus would make sure his puppy grew up to be big and strong!

With that thought in mind, Dominus pulled his puppy under his chin and fell asleep. He couldn’t wait to wake up and play with his puppy in the morning!


As usual, Dominus got up bright and early. Though today he had more reason to be excited for the start of a new day! He stood up to make sure his puppy had slept well and, well to be honest he couldn't tell. The blank black eyes of his pup never closed, and never gave away any hint of emotion. Dominus nudged him with his nose, making a soft boof to wake him. Puppy’s maw opened wide in a yawn, papping Dominus’s noise with his weird little paws to push him away. Dominus wagged his tail, oh, so he was awake!

Dominus barked quietly again, a normal bark would hurt the little pup’s ears. He waited for his pup to yip back...he didn't. Maybe his pup was just quiet, that's not a problem! He would have a fierce bark in time! First things first, he needed to find food for his puppy. Dominus licked his head to get him to wake up more so they could go outside.

Dominus was sad when puppy just limply fell back over. Oh, he was still tired. That was okay! He'd just bring food back for puppy! Dominus picked the end of the blanket up, tucking puppy in before wiggling out of the crawl space. He planned to find food close by so his puppy wasn't alone for too long.

When he returned, he nudged puppy awake again, sitting and waiting for puppy to see the half empty candy wrapper hanging out of his mouth. His tail thumped lightly against the ground. He got nothing, puppy didn't even look at his food. Dominus whimpered and shoved the candy against his mouth, hoping puppy would give in and eat what he’d brought.

After a minute of snuffling, he finally did notice! The tongue that was constantly peeping out of his mouth licked against it, weakly trying to nibble. He was eating!

Dominus was so happy his puppy was eating, he was starting to worry some! But of course his puppy ate well, he was a strong puppy! Dominus wasn't sure why he doubted him. As the puppy continued to eat, Dominus flopped down next to him. His tail wagged as he watched, a little bit of color returning to his puppy’s face now that he had some fuel in him. He patted around with his weird paw before pushing the remainder of food away.

Now that puppy had gotten his share, Dominus gnawed at the leftovers. He did this in peace for a little bit until his puppy started whining, tucking his limbs up under himself and shivering. Dominus stopped, staring at puppy and tilting his head. It wasn't that cold, but maybe the puppy didn't warm himself too well. His plating was rather smooth, not layered to trap in heat like Dominus’s was.

Such an odd puppy, he thought as he moved closer to him so he wouldn’t freeze. Puppy snuggled into the layers of his plating, weird paws balling into fists around the sections of fur and nuzzling his face into it. His whining stopped, replaced by haggard puffs of air coming from the pup’s vents.

Dominus didn’t think that was a good sound, but he wasn’t about to move to investigate when puppy was so sound asleep. He sure was tired a lot, but it could’ve been because he was just a baby. Either way, Dominus stayed with him until he woke up, deciding to not eat his portion of the food he had brought back. Dominus didn’t need food as much as puppy did, puppy couldn’t go out and hunt small mechanimals and dig for scraps. He had to rely on Dominus to bring food back.

In time Dominus would teach him to hunt, or...well, actually, now that he thought about it. Puppy didn’t have claws to hunt with. Strange, and definitely a problem.

Oh well, he’d sort it out one way or another.

As Dominus continued to care for his puppy he got a little more responsive. He still spent most of his time curled up in his little nest asleep, but whenever Dominus came back from a food hunt he’d made a happy squeak at him. In return, Dominus would boof softly, wagging his tail as he dropped down what he had found for his pup to nibble.

To Dominus’s glee, puppy had started to eat on his own! No more shoving it up against his little tongue to convince him! His limbs were wobbly when he pushed himself over, and he did this weird thing with his paws where he’d pat the ground in front of him before landing on the food, but he was eating! Dominus licked his little face clean once he was done, and snuggled up with him so he could get warm. This began to be their daily routine, and Dominus loved it! He just sometimes wished his puppy would leave the nest.

Dominus did continue to try and get his puppy to wake up and explore, or convince him to do anything really. All puppy did was sleep, he wouldn’t even make any noise unless Dominus nudged him.

The progress they had made started to reverse as puppy became less responsive than ever. He was completely listless, not even making moves to snuggle closer to Dominus for warmth. And he was always cold, so cold...Dominus tried to lick and snuggle as much as he could, but nothing would warm him up.

Puppy wouldn’t even eat anymore, moving his face away from any food and throwing up what he did manage to swallow. Dominus was extremely worried, especially when the pup’s red-orange plating started to slowly dull into a grey. Soon the day came where his puppy didn’t respond at all, just laid there. No matter how much nudging and chuffing Dominus did, he didn’t even get a squeak. He wasn’t dead, he couldn’t be dead! Dominus did such a good job caring for him. Well..that and the fact his vents were still chugging along, even if they were weak and faint, they were there.

‘Sick...sick…’ Dominus concluded, though he wasn't sure what could be done for it. Who would help a sick puppy?

He snorted and began to pace the floor in thought. He sure wished one of those weird thoughts would come to him now, the ones where he felt like he had a completely different life before this one. They usually helped him, made things clearer to him. Maybe it would help him learn how to fix his puppy.

Aha! There! He didn’t know what compelled him to do it, but he picked up his puppy in his mouth, wiggled out of the crawl space, and started trotting toward the more populated section of town. He must’ve known where he was going, though he wasn’t sure why. All he knew was that a red plus sign was going to help his puppy get better.

Nickel had gotten in the habit of bringing a different one of her sparklings to work with her each day. Today it happened to be Glitch.

Megatron never minded babysitting, in fact her lot seemed pretty attached to him. Glitch in particular always acted starstruck around him. It was cute, but also hilarious when he, someone who usually tried to not be noticed, would crawl up in Megatron’s lap just to get attention from him.

“You’re a celebrity,” Nickel would joke, seeing Glitch never take his optic off Megatron even when he wasn’t doing anything worth watching.

“Can’t imagine why…” Megatron said, shrugging. He gently nudged Glitch in the head, watching him flail and almost fall backwards from how frozen stiff in his spot he was.

Glitch was usually torn between coming with Nickel to work and being able to hang out with his “idol”, Nickel usually had to bribe him some way or another. She didn’t like keeping them cooped up in the apartment all the time, plus she thought they could maybe make friends with some of her younger patients. It was a pipe dream, none of her lot was very social, but she tried.

As usual, a slow day. Not having much else to do, Nickel stayed by the front desk in case anything came up. Ever since Glitch, Prowl had been using her as his go-to for any medical assistance he needed. So far he hadn’t brought any more sparklings to add to her hoard, well not yet anyway.

Nickel tilted her head up when the sliding glass doors opened, prepared to greet whoever walked through. Odd...nobody there. Maybe someone had walked by and set it off. Eh, whatever. Nickel went back to sorting patient files. Glitch, however, took more interest in the mysteriously opening door. He picked himself up off the ground to peek around the corner, gasping at what he found.


Oh shit.

Nickel dropped what she was doing, snatching Glitch away from the stray turbofox that had wandered in. “Glitch, don’t pet that it could”

The dog actually acted rather tame, sitting and staring at Nickel patiently. That wasn’t actually too strange, what had shocked Nickel was what he was carrying. It was a sparkling, being held by his scruff in the turbofox’s mouth. He was in terrible condition, his plating mostly grey and oh Primus those eyes, or lack thereof really. The turbofox nudged the injured sparkling closer to Nickel, whimpering insistently. He...he wanted her to help the sparkling. But more importantly where did he get it?

“I...okay?” Nickel said, putting her hands under the sparkling’s arms, testing the waters to see if the turbofox would let go. He did, and once Nickel had the sparkling cradled securely he sat back patiently. “Thank you, I’ll take good care of him.” Primus, she was talking to a dog.

Strange behaviour and odd compassion for bitlets aside, he was still a stray dog, and didn’t really want Glitch playing with it. She stood in front of Glitch, blocking the dog’s line of sight as she waited for it to leave the building. He didn’t attack, didn’t even move from his spot, just waited. Opening his mouth to pant and wagging his tail slightly. He was probably expecting the sparkling back, which wasn’t happening.

She could worry about that later, the sparkling in her arms was dying. The little thing felt so cold, and now that she had him this close she could hear how shallow his ventilations were. In her rush to the exam room, she forgot to instruct Glitch to stay put. Thus she ended up with a follower who was probably just as curious as she was.

Nickel was quick to get an IV in his little servo, with how skinny he was he was probably starving. The sparkling was quite obviously asleep, or comatose, but his eyes didn't close at all. Did the turbofox do that?

Unfortunately his lack of optics was a minor injury when taking in everything else wrong with him. With that in mind she got to work fixing him as best she could.

The main cause of his problems ended up being a processor injury, a very specific injury caused from violently shaking a sparkling. The turbofox seemed too gentle with him to have caused it, Nickel was led to believe he was found like this. The concussion had slowly weakened his systems until he was too shaky to stay awake or even eat, eventually knocking him into a coma, hence his greyed plating. If he hadn't been brought to Nickel ASAP he would've died very quickly.

Luckily Nickel knew what she was doing, and the condition was somewhat treatable. There were some long lasting effects, such as blindness- er, perhaps she didn't have to worry about that one. Either way, he would live. If a mech had brought this one in she'd be making a call to Prowl right now. Shaken bitlet syndrome was always a sign of domestic violence, the turbofox had probably saved him from a horrible fate.

The lack of optics had actually worked in Nickel’s favor on this one, being able to go through the eye sockets and reach his processor to fix it without any invasive surgery. This condition usually wasn't that fixable, but being able to actually physically defrag his processor helped immensely. It was all she could do to hope he would wake up responsive.

Speaking of optics, in her exam she had found out something a little strange. His eye injury wasn't the result of a violent mech, or a careless turbofox, they had blown out. Like the optics had just exploded due to an internal frame malfunction, she actually found a couple of shards of yellow glass buried inside the sockets. The connectors and nerve endings were melted to uselessness, the optic shutters melted as well. She didn't even think this was possible, at she'd definitely never seen it before. Unfortunately because of the horrible damage, she couldn't replace them without extensive work that would be difficult and maybe downright dangerous on a sparkling. Plus, there wasn't a guarantee they wouldn't blow out again, and she didn't want him to go through any more trauma than he already had. The most she could do was scrape out the melted and charred metal so it didn't cause complications.

Nickel had also been curious of the fact he didn't stop peeking his tongue out of his mouth, she had suspected he had a problem with his teeth, but didn't find anything out of the ordinary. His mouth and teeth were in a healthy condition, he just kind of did that. Actually it was cute.

A touch to her leg startled her, if it wasn't for Glitch speaking up she probably would've ended up kicking him away, thinking he was that turbofox.

“Is he okay?” Glitch asked, wrapping his claws around her leg and hugging it.

“He’ fine.” Nickel said reassuringly, it was better to tell him something positive than to rail off all the things that could go wrong. Which was a long, long list, one that Nickel didn't really want to think about.

The red-orange sparkling’s breathing was less ragged now, calmed down to the point it just sounded like he was sleeping. That was a nicer way to explain a coma to a bitlet. “He's just very tired, he's going to sleep for a while.”

She left out the fact he might not wake up.

It had been three days since the sparkling’s arrival. Nickel had considered calling Prowl in, to see if they could find out who the mystery sparkling belonged to. But when she thought back on it, if the kid was found in this state by a turbofox of all things, she knew they wouldn't want him back, even if she wanted to give him back. Which she didn't, she knew child abuse when it was glaring her in the face and would not let him continue to be subjected to that. Eventually she would need to figure out what to do with him, but she knew it could wait. Or...she guessed it could.

In a strange turn of events, Glitch actually started insisting on coming with Nickel to work instead of crying because he wanted to stay home with Megatron. He would follow Nickel closely when she went to take care of the comatose sparkling. He acted worried, trying to pull himself up on the berth to see the patient better. Nickel would end up lifting him up and letting him sit on an unoccupied part of the berth.

“When does he wake up?” Glitch asked, clinging to the blanket and looking up at Nickel.

“When he wants to.” Nickel replied, gently taking the blanket from him so she could wrap the other sparkling up.

She turned her head quickly when she heard scratching at the closed door, followed by soft whines. That damn turbofox wouldn't leave. Nickel kicked him out the first time he had come around, but he kept coming back. He knew how to get the clinic door open, and he knew where the sparkling was being kept. Nickel couldn't mess with the weight limit activation on the sliding doors without locking herself out.

She yanked open the door, staring the turbofox down. He ignored her, trying to wiggle past, barking frantically to reach the bitlet on the berth.

“GO! SHOO!” She snapped, slamming her hip against him to trap the turbofox against the doorframe. He didn't bite her, just whined pathetically and continued trying to get into the room.

Nickel didn't want a disease-ridden mangy dog running around in her clinic, and she especially didn't want him jumping on the berth and ripping out any of the life support systems hooked up to the delicate sparkling. She grabbed the turbofox by his scruff, attempting to haul him out of the room and by extension out of the clinic. In the brief moment of freedom when Nickel moved her hip out of the way, the turbofox escaped her grasp. He barreled straight for the sparkling on the berth, and Nickel was fully prepared for all hell to break loose. But to Nickel’s surprise, he stopped when he reached it.

The turbofox gently padded up to the berth, sniffing around before delicately pulling himself up onto it with his forepaws. He was mindful of Glitch, nudging him to the side so he could curl up around the comatose sparkling, laying his head on his chest. The turbofox offlined his optics, huffed a long sigh before going to sleep.

That was it? No destroying the wires hooked up to him or ripping out his IV? No throwing Glitch off the berth for being near “his” baby? Huh, maybe the turbofox was smarter than she thought, or at least gentler.

Glitch looked up at Nickel, obviously afraid, he clumped the blanket up to hide himself from the turbofox. Nickel honestly couldn't do much, there wasn't a way to pull the turbofox off the berth without a fight, which would injure the sparkling and panic Glitch. But she also didn't really want him to stay there...

Oh, she didn't have to make a choice, when the turbofox breathed on his face, the sparkling on the bed suddenly yawned wide, pushing his hands on the turbofox’s snout. He made a small squeak when he realized what he was clutching, weakly wrapping his arms around his snout and cuddling him. The turbofox’s tail wagged so hard he smacked Glitch off the berth with it. Nickel had to scoop him up before he could start bawling, cradling him against her chest while she waited to see if the sparkling was actually awake or if it was just a fluke.

The turbofox licked the sparkling, to which he cringed away, grunting and pushing at the turbofox’s nose. Nickel figured that was enough to convince her that he was awake. Alright, probably a good time to call Prowl...soon enough.

“Can you understand me?” Nickel asked, first and foremost. It was possible he had a similar situation to Forestock.

The red-orange sparkling whined at having to be kept awake, he was still tired, just not comatose tired. He rubbed at his eye sockets and tried to snuggle back down into his turbofox. Nickel nudged him to keep him awake, he squeaked, but Nickel persisted until she got some kind of response.

“Mhmm…” mumbled the sparkling, seemingly not interested in what she had to say.

“Good, good. Can you talk? Do you have a name?” Nickel kept asking, trying to think of things to keep the sparkling awake.

The sparkling lolled his head to the side, woken up again by the turbofox sniffing him and whimpering. “Mmm...Ampppir- Apurrh- Apuh-” he couldn't get the full word out, having trouble remembering how to pronounce what Nickel guessed was a long word. Finally giving up on it, “Amp.”

“Amp, okay. Do you know where you are?” She knew he didn't, but she could begin to ease him into it.

Amp made a soft clicking sound, pushing his hands against the turbofox. “With Chewy…”

Chewy, so he had named it. “Okay, but do you know where Chewy is?”

Amp made a hum of disapproval, just wanting to be left alone. He whimpered and tried to tug his IV out, as to him it was just a thing making his arm hurt. “Chewy” nudged him so he wouldn't rip it out, somehow knowing it was helping him.

Alright, maybe it was time to call Prowl.

Amp wasn't very cooperative with Prowl, or in general. He screamed when Prowl tried to take the dog off the berth, the little tesla coils on his shoulders lit up, zapping Prowl’s hand so he would let go of Chewy’s neck. Once he did, Amp settled again, snuggling him.

Prowl kept asking questions, which Amp mostly ignored. He wanted to sleep, or just do his own thing. The only real answer they got out of him was that his eyes were caused by the electric power he had just used. Nickel guessed the voltage was too much for his tiny frame, overloading his optics and causing them to explode. After that, he refused to answer anymore questions Prowl had for him.

“I'm hungry…” he whined. Nickel had already prepared a cube of medical grade with some supplements, which Prowl was supposed to give to him ASAP, but against Nickel’s wishes had waited until the questioning was over.

Prowl sighed, pushing the cube into Amp’s hands and leaving the room. Amp stumbled a minute to find the straw then sat happily drinking it. Chewy’s tail wagged seeing that he was eating, chuffing appreciatively at Prowl.

Prowl shut the door behind him, sighing and rubbing the bridge of his nose. Nickel waited patiently for...anything, really.

“He won't talk, and even when we do find his parents we’re going to arrest them and take him into custody. You're keeping him, right?” Prowl asked, already having the paperwork ready.

Nickel’s eyes widened. She hadn't said anything about that, “Prowl, I-”

“Are you going to tell me you’re not?” Prowl raised a brow, looking up over the hand he had on his face. He barely knew Nickel and he already knew where this was headed.

“I...Primus I guess I have to.” She mumbled. Forestock was going to have a fit over the new turbofox.

Prowl gave a dry laugh, “Might as well register you as an orphanage at this point.” He ushered her down the hall to fill out the paperwork; leaving Glitch on his own outside the door Amp was staying in.

Prowl had left the door slightly ajar, the soft light filtering from the crack and the noises of the turbofox encouraging his sparkling to eat tempting Glitch to investigate. Amp was trying to offer some of his medical grade to Chewy, who kept nudging it back to him to drink. Glitch struggled to pull himself onto the bed, grunting with effort that alerted Amp to the newcomer.

Amp made that weird clicking noise again, turning his head to stare in Glitch’s direction. The clicks maybe helped him see? Glitch stared back, waiting for him to do or say something.

“Uhm...hello…” Glitch squeaked. Now that he was being stared at by them, he found out he was more freaked out by Amp’s empty eyes than he thought he’d be.

Amp chewed up the end of his straw, not seeming to care about Glitch’s presence. He didn't seem to care about much besides his dog.

“M-my name is Glitch! I-I think your electric power is cool!” Glitch squeaked, trying to turn the conversation around. “I-I have a power to-too. S-Scissorsaw likes it but I don't very much. It's-it's why I look like this.”

That caught Amp’s attention, “I can't see you.” He said, putting his drink down and reaching toward Glitch with grabby hands. Glitch complied and leaned himself forward.

Amp grabbed the sides of his head, rubbing his fingers along the finials. Glitch yelped when Amp poked his optic. “Your face is weird.” He concluded, then grabbed at the rest of him. “You're missing your fingers…”

Glitch slowly pulled his claws out of Amp’s grasp, folding them over each other close to his chest.

“I think it's cool.” Amp said, yawning. He was falling asleep again, but Chewy made sure he stayed sitting up.

Glitch scooted closer to Chewy, “I-I like your dog. Can I lay with him?”

“Sure.” Amp said, himself finally snuggling down once he finished his medical grade. He yawned, showing off tiny fangs to Glitch, he thought they were so cool. Amp hugged Chewy and was instantly in recharge.

Glitch took more time to fall asleep, taking a minute to figure out how to wrap his claws into Chewy’s fur and settle down. He offlined his optic and snuggled in deep; letting out a huff as he let himself relax.

Nickel decided to let him sleep when she came back to deliver the good news. And maybe snapped a picture. Maybe.

Chapter Text

The coughing and wheezing had gone on for two hours straight, it was starting to grind Piston’s gears. Some people were trying to get work done, here! The background noise of the factory was something he could tune out, as it was just a constant hum of activity without much change. The coughing? Sudden, random, right behind him, loud, there was no way to prepare for when it would come next.

“Primus, kid, can you shut up?” Piston snapped, wheeling around to glare at the living smelter the factory was equipped with.

Crucible, his name was, which was a pretty basic name, if you asked Piston. Wasn’t so much a name so much as just a description of his function. The sparkling wasn’t big enough to help with more than small scale projects, and thus usually stuck by Piston’s work table.

Crucible looked up at him, optics teary and irritated. The soot and chemicals in the air made his eyes water so much his tears had burned limes into his cheeks, “I-I can’-can’t breathe-“ he choked out, through more hacking and wheezing.

Piston groaned, turning away to return to his work. “You done melting that batch of copper down yet? Gonna need it in a minute.”

He didn’t get any response, just more strained coughing, Piston turned slightly to glare- which turned quickly into a look of worry seeing the sorry state the kid was in. Crucible couldn’t stop coughing, his vents sputtering and his face slowly turning a pale shade of pink. Piston shakily kneeled down, putting his hand on Crucible’s shoulder.

“Hey...hey kid, c’mon you’re okay.” He said frantically, rubbing Crucible’s back to see if it’d help him catch his breath.

Crucible didn’t stop coughing, his face starting to turn more pink than grey, until finally his vents just ceased as his optics started to short out.

“Hey! Hey is there a medic around here?!”


The medic that Crucible was brought to turned him over to the police. From what they could gather. Crucible’s sire had worked for the factory, dragging Crucible into it to earn some extra cash. The sire died in an accident, leaving Crucible behind with nowhere else to go. How this had stayed under wraps for so long was a simple byproduct of greed and cruelty, nothing more. You didn’t have to pay a sparkling that shouldn’t even be there in the first place.

Crucible was horribly sick when he was taken into custody, running on fumes and his vents so clogged with factory grime he had asthma. All of this was included in Nickel’s report, reading off the list of her findings to Prowl.

Crucible had been staring at Prowl the whole time, transfixed at the fact he had white paint. Prowl smiled at him, reaching out to pet his head affectionately.

Crucible responded by biting down on Prowl’s hand.

“-and Pica.” Nickel finished, noticing Prowl’s accident and offering a cube of sweet energon for Crucible to munch on instead of Prowl’s fingers.

Crucible snatched it out of Nickel’s grasp, using his larger arms to chug it quickly, it wasn’t long before he had gone too fast and started coughing. Nickel reached over to tilt the cube down to a smaller angle, rubbing his back with her other hand. 

“Heyheyhey, slow down, hun. You’ll choke.” Crucible barely listened, going back to his same pace, only slightly slower, as soon as Nickel let go. Well, at least it was enough of a distraction to continue scrubbing out his vents with a wire brush, if she cleaned it up any he’d be able to ventilate better. 

Prowl had gotten over his hand being bit, shaking it out and wincing seeing the bitemarks. “Primus, kid’s got sharp teeth.”

As if to prove his point, Crucible started gnawing on his empty cube, cracks appearing in the glass where he was chewing. Nickel had to convince him to give it up before he swallowed glass.

“So, you said you found his carrier?” Nickel asked, offering Crucible a piece of gum to chew on instead. “He coming soon?” 

Prowl nodded, “His name’s Firestorm, he sounded appalled when I talked with him over comm link. Can’t say I blame him.”

When Nickel had finally pulled out her wire brush, the once fluffy white tool was now a hardened black lump from how much soot had been picked up. Nickel sighed, dropping it in a trash receptacle, it’d be easier to buy a new one than to clean that, she had others. “Why didn’t he take him before? If he’s the carrier he would’ve known something, right? It’s not like he’s a clueless sire just now finding out he’s a daddy.”

Prowl just shrugged, “It is a bit strange, but he did claim Crucible so, there’s nothing we can do.” 

Nickel shook her head, brushing her hands together to knock the soot off. She scooped the hefty sparkling up in one arm (Primus he was almost as big as Scissorsaw), moving him from the examination table to a medical berth. She took a minute to tuck him in enough to make sure he was comfortable, fluffing up the scratchy hospital blankets as much as she could.

“You can turn on the holovid if you get bored- do you want company? I’m sure Scissorsaw would love to say hi.” Scissorsaw had laid down in the on-call room to nap less than an hour ago, and probably would be cranky to be woken up but, Nickel just wanted Crucible to be happy. He hadn’t talked much since he had first been brought in, a common trait in traumatized sparklings, but it being common didn’t make it any less sad.

Crucible fidgeted with the blankets for a minute before shaking his head, pulling the blanket up with his larger pair of arms while hugging the smaller set to his belly. He closed his optics and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Once he was out, Nickel ushered Prowl out the door, shutting off the lights behind her. Even with the door closed and Crucible asleep, Nickel spoke in a hushed tone.

“I didn’t want to freak him out.” She muttered, looking down to find her hands were once again covered in soot from holding the sparkling. Nickel snorted and brushed her hands against each other again. “He’s gonna be here for a bit, I gotta do surgery on him. I took some scans and found a lot of shrapnel in his innards, he’s not gonna he able to go home with his carrier for a week at least, a month at most. Assuming there’s no complications.”

Prowl made a note on his HUD, “I’ll deliver the message to Firestorm, how do you plan to break this to Crucible?”

“Hey, I make surgery sound less scary to sparklings for a living. Firestorm is still coming today to at least visit, right? Kid should at least be able to see his carrier again.”

Prowl checked his chronometer, and suddenly looked sullen. “He was supposed to be here an hour ago.”

“He could’ve been delayed by traffic or something, anything really.” Nickel wasn’t that concerned, parents were late all the time. If Firestorm bothered enough to claim Crucible, he would show up eventually.

Which she kept believing until night came with no sign of Crucible’s carrier. Scissorsaw has woken up sometime during the night, got curious and decided to visit with Crucible. They were getting along pretty well, which at least that made Nickel happy.

Alright, Nickel couldn’t stay awake forever. She finally left the front desk, dialing Megatron’s comm to come pick up Scissorsaw. She was going to have to stay overnight at the clinic, she didn’t want to leave Crucible right now.

She wheeled herself into Crucible’s room, finding the two large sparkling s very transfixed on a cartoon on the holovid. Crucible was able to tear his optics away to look at Nickel, wide eyed and sparkly, before quickly deflating when he saw she was alone. Scissorsaw didn’t catch onto the significance, padding up to Nickel and showing her his empty juice box so she could replace it. Nickel took it, but it was too late at night for him to get another one.

“Alright, it’s lights out kiddo.” Nickel turned off the holovid, surprisingly neither sparkling protested. Scissorsaw yawned wide, rubbing his hand over his X-visor. Meanwhile, Crucible bunched up the covers on the berth, avoiding Nickel’s gaze. She guessed they were both just ready to go to bed. She couldn’t blame them, it was pretty late. 

Nickel shuffled Crucible’s covers a little bit, making sure he was comfortable. But he just continued to look sad, nuzzling his face into his pillow and sniffling.

“G’night, sweetspark. If you need anything at all, or just want company, you can press this little button. Okay?” Nickel held up pager so Crucible could see it. Crucible didn’t respond beyond a small grunt of acknowledgement.

Nickel’s comm buzzed to signal someone was paging her from the front, probably Megatron. Nickel dimmed the lights in the room, leading Scissorsaw out by the hand. Sure enough, Megatron stood patiently, smiling warmly when he saw Scissorsaw look up at him.

“Kids all asleep?” Nickel asked, picking up Scissorsaw and handing him off to Megatron.

“Unless Forestock wound himself back up.” Megatron responded, cradling Scissorsaw against his chest. Scissorsaw squished his cheek against him and let out a long sigh, Primus he was tired.

“Should probably be off then before he destroys anything.” Nickel chuffed, shaking her head. The statement has meant to come out playfully, but ended up just sounding stressed and exhausted...probably because she was stressed and exhausted. “I’ll call in the morning, alright? I’m gonna be gone all day again. Have to get Crucible’s surgery out of the way.”

Megatron, not wanting to stress Nickel more by questioning what all has happened, nodded and took his leave. Plus, Scissorsaw was exhausted and needed to get home. Nickel probably would be more than willing to gossip when she was more awake.

With a brief goodbye, Nickel was left by herself. She gave one last check on Crucible before heading to her berth.

It hadn’t been hard at all to explain to Crucible what surgery needed to be done. He didn’t act phased at all when Nickel gave him her (extremely defanged, to be fair) spiel about what was going to happen and why. Crucible just nodded along, picking some at his morning rations.

“Will carrier be coming?” He asked, not looking up from his food.

The question stopped Nickel in her tracks, she didn’t know why she wasn’t expecting him to ask that. Firestorm still had never come, he didn’t even call Prowl or the clinic to explain his absence. He just wasn’t there. Prowl said he’d call again today, but it was too early in the morning for him to be at work yet.

“I don’t know, kiddo, he said he’d try.” Which wasn’t entirely a lie, Firestorm had cared enough to claim custody. Plus, a sick and nervous sparkling could use all the motivation he could get.

Crucible nodded, finishing his ration and snuggling back down into bed. Nickel let him rest while she prepped the OR. Hey, maybe Firestorm would show up eventually.

Besides a few internal cooling systems needing to be completely replaced, the surgery wasn’t that difficult. Honestly it was more like a deep clean polish job, and soon enough Crucible was put back in his room and left to sleep it off. Nickel hoped he would be fine to go back to his carrier within a couple weeks.

Speaking of which, Firestorm didn’t show up again. Nickel called Prowl to tell him Crucible was going into surgery, the message meant to be passed on to his carrier. But still no show. Nickel was personally losing hope he’d ever come. What would happen to Crucible then? Probably police custody. For now he was under Nickel’s care though, and Nickel was trying as hard as she could to make him happy. 

Also Scissorsaw had come back with her to work, Megatron said Scissorsaw practically begged to visit his new friend. At least that was sweet, Crucible wasn’t completely alone. Despite knowing each other for less than a day, Scissorsaw had taken a huge liking to Crucible. He seemed so interested in Crucible’s anatomy, he kept excitedly showing him that he had a hole in his belly too. Also his arms were cool, Scissorsaw kept picking up a big one to look at the small ones, put it back down, and lifted it back up again as if to check and make sure they hadn’t disappeared as soon as they were out of sight. Object permanence wasn’t Scissorsaw’s strong point.

Nickel was prepping lunch while Scissorsaw played with his arms. Crucible hadn’t been allowed fuel since the night before, she could tell he was hunger cranky. This assumption was made off the fact Crucible was trying to eat the glass his medical grade had come in.

Scissorsaw just watched him, ignoring his own w region to watch Nickel fight the cup out of Crucible’s mouth before he swallowed it..

“Is that how you put stuff in your belly?” Scissorsaw asked, having been curious about the smelter piece since he first saw it.

Crucible shook his head, pushing the blankets down to show off his chubby-looking smelter belly. He pushed a button on the top of the glass piece to fold it down. Nickel kept a close eye on the event, but let it happen.

“It goes in here.” Crucible said, letting his heater come on so it lit up orange.

Scissorsaw stared in silence, before reaching out to the hot metal like a mech possessed. Thankfully, Nickel was fast to react, snatching his hand away before it got melted to Crucible’s belly.

“Nononono! Don’t you remember what happened when Chewy got his tail trapped in your grinder?” It was a gruesome bloody mess, caused a lot of panic and tears. But thankfully it was just a tail, and Nickel made him a new one in no time.

Even so, Amp kept nervously patting his turbofox’s butt to make sure his tail was still there. 

Scissorsaw stared at her in silence, after about five minutes of staring he popped the thumb of his free hand into his mouth. 

Nothing new, really. “Maybe you two can roast marshmallows over your smelter later?”

“I like marshmallows.” Scissorsaw offered dully.

Crucible tilted his head, “W’assa marshmallow?”

Oh right, Crucible had spent his life in a factory, of course he wouldn’t know what a marshmallow was. Nickel made a mental note to pick some up. “I think you’d like them.” She said, smiling to ease any fear Crucible would’ve had.

By time Nickel left for the store, there was still no sign of Firestorm.

When Glitch was the one visiting, he was less interested in Crucible’s smelter and more interested in his arms. Glitch kept glancing at them, fidgeting with his claws and the stuffed animal he’d brought with him. 

Glitch had a lot of plushies, but it was easy to tell which ones were his favorites, and which ones he dragged around most often. He had a tendency to pick at things obsessively, at one point it had been his claws and audials. Nickel didn’t like restraining her bitlets but she did stop Glitch whenever he started scratching himself up. She would sit down and take his claws away from his head, just holding them. Glitch usually stared at her startled and teary eyed, but honestly crying was a better alternative to ripping himself up 

Once he figured out picking himself apart was bad, he started to pick apart his plushies. Tearing out fur strand by strand, fidgeting seams till they popped, pulling off eyes. Even though he did every visible damage to his toys, it would still put him in tears, bringing them to Nickel to get fixed. 

“You fix bots,” Glitch would hiccup out, holding up the plushie so she could see the rip. “He needs fixing.”

Sewing them back up wasn’t so hard, but it happened so often Nickel worried that the fabric would weaken and be ripped for good. She didn’t know how she’d handle that level or upset. It wasn’t like she could secretly buy an identical replacement before it happened, all of Glitch’s favorite plushies were worn from being a little too well-loved. A brand new one would be instantly recognized as a fake. 

Glitch brought a purple lion with him to the clinic, that one was his most favorite. It was a good armful on Glitch’s tiny frame, good to squeeze when he got stressed. He’d squeeze the lion and purr at it to reassure it that everything was okay, even though the presence of the lion was reassuring Glitch.

Glitch was very protective of it around Crucible, hugging it as tightly as he could to his chest and glancing every so often to the hot smelter built into Crucible’s frame. But his arms.

“You look like you would be good at hugging.” Glitch finally said, staring at Crucible’s face and blinking once.

Crucible had been gnawing on what was honestly a chew toy for an animal, but Primus it stopped him from trying to eat glass. He didn’t remove the rubber toy from his mouth to stare at Glitch confused.

“You- you have a lot of arms, you’d probably be good at hugging.” Glitch repeated, hiding behind his toy, voice squeaky from nerves.

Crucible pulled his chew toy out of his mouth, putting it on the blanket and stretching out his larger arms to examine them.

“Yea.” He said, after looking them over thoroughly, he then turned to Glitch, and the little stuffed lion he was clutching so desperately. “You’re good too, and you only got two arms.”

Glitch squeaked, squeezing his toy-if possible- even tighter, like he was afraid Crucible was going to take it. “Po-Pouncer doesn’t like fi-fire.”

Crucible looked hurt, turning away and stuffing his chew toy back into his mouth. If one could chew mournfully, Crucible was doing it. “Oh…”

The bitlets sat in an awkward silence until Glitch had to go home with Megatron.

“Did you have fun?” Nickel asked while fixing a cube of medical grade for Crucible.

“Pouncer doesn’t like me.” Crucible grumbled, he had shuffled deeper into the blankets so only his eyes were visible.

Nickel looked at him, confusion clear on her face as she tried to figure out who Pouncer was before it hit her in a moment of clarity.

“Oh! Oh sweetie what makes you say that? Glitch tells me Pouncer is pretty friendly.” That was the name of his little lion, right. Nickel could barely keep the names of her bitlet’s toys straight.

Crucible didn’t budge, and still had the same melancholy tone. “Pouncer doesn’t like fire, I’m made of fire.”

Of course Glitch got paranoid around Crucible, Glitch got paranoid around everyone. But Crucible, if he wanted to, could suddenly turn on Glitch and burn his toy. Now, obviously Crucible would never do that, but you couldn’t convince Glitch so easily.

“You’re made of more than fire, hun. And hey, Pouncer is missing out if he doesn’t want to play with you. You look like you’d be great at hugging.” Nickel set the cube down on a flip over table for Crucible to eat from.

Crucible slowly emerged from his blanket cocoon, picking up the cube to drink it slowly- it had taken forever to get him to do that over horfing it down.

“That’s what Glitch said, but Pouncer still doesn’t like me because my fire.” Crucible sniffled, avoiding Nickel’s gaze. 

Nickel thought for a moment, trying to figure out how to right this. Glitch probably wasn’t trying to be mean when he said that, he was just a very paranoid little bit. And honestly Crucible was pretty alone in here, he probably got bored easily. Maybe he could use something to make him happy?

Aha! Nickel knew exactly what would cheer him up. “I think I know someone who would like your hugs, fire and all.”

In a cabinet in the on-call room, Nickel has a cabinet with some of her stuff. Nothing big, mostly just hygiene products, but among them was a large stuffed bear that had seen better days. It used to belong to Forestock, and was as loved as Forestock could love a stuffed animal (which wasn’t much), but now it was in tatters. Claw marks, stuffing peeking out of holes, missing a limb and both its eyes.

Forstock used to love this thing, it was big enough he could use it as a bed. He would always curl up on his belly to nap. Until one day while Nickel was cleaning she sat it upright, instead of its usual position on its back. To which Forestock responded by standing in front of the- to him- gigantic bear, plating fluffed up like a spiny stick and hissing frantically at the monster.

Ever since, Forestock was constantly attacking the beast. Ripping it a new one whenever he passed by it to show it who’s boss. Nickel got sick of picking up spilled stuffing and took it to work to hide it. But now...

Nickel plopped the bear in Crucible’s arms. “There, I’m sure this one will like you! Forestock hates his guts, he’s pretty lonely.”

Crucible stared at the gift for a minute, confused at the offering before finally getting it. He wrapped all of his arms around the plush as he sank back into his bed. He didn’t say thanks, but Nickel wasn’t expecting it. He was asleep pretty fast, cuddling his new toy like a lifeline.

According to Prowl, Firestorm had stopped even answering calls.

Crucible was healed enough that he could get out of bed, Nickel had found this out by finding him trying to eat a fake crystal plant in the corner of his room.

He was healthy enough to be discharged soon, which meant Nickel had to have a serious discussion with Prowl.

“It’s been a month.” She said, “A month and Firestorm never came.”

Prowl reviewed some documents relating to Crucible’s case, sighing and putting the datapad down and lacing his fingers. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to report this as neglect, Crucible isn’t going to be in his custody anymore.”

Nickel leaned back in her chair, sighing. “Honestly I knew something was up. Firestorm probably knew what happened to Crucible all along. So he’s going to foster care, then?”

Prowl gave her a knowing look, “I don’t know, is he?”

Nickel was guilty as charged.

Chapter Text

“You’re gonna love this.” Was what Prowl had said when he woke Nickel up way to early in the morning with a comm.

Nickel knew she wasn’t going to fall back asleep as soon as Prowl started talking, resigning to her fate and sitting at the kitchen table, mixing in energy boosters into her morning rations to make up for lost sleep. “Love it so much I have to hear about it right now?”

“You do, cause he’s coming over later.” Prowl said, purposely cryptic.

Nickel stopped her stirring, “Who’s coming over?”

“His name is Overlord, a new case I got in. I think you’d like him.” Another one, Nickel had five sparklings to care for, and Prowl thought she needed another one.

“He’s been in foster care all his life, and his foster parents only registered to care for him because they got benefits for it.” Prowl started, Nickel heard the sounds of him shuffling around his files. “Because of the neglect, he got picked up by a street gang to use as bait. Basically they’d set him out to cry and look helpless, luring in unsuspecting mechs to the higher ups to get mugged or worse. Nobody thinks twice about helping a cute sparkling.”

“And how does this concern me?” Nickel interrupted.

“Let me finish.” Prowl warned. “So the gang got busted recently, all of them got arrested, found Overlord hanging out at their base. They traced him back to his foster parents, they were caught in the act with neglect. Overlord had been gone from his house for days and they didn’t care. So he just got put back in the system. Problem is, the gang raising him more than his folks did turned him super violent. Nobody wants him, which means-“

Nickel sighed, “Which means I’m the only one who will take him.”

It was the same exact reason she had Scissorsaw, but at least Scissorsaw had come from a happy place.

“Uh-huh.” Prowl sounded cheerfully smug, a difference from his usual monotone. “I’ll be by around noon.”


The blue sparkling Nickel was left with wanted nothing to do with any of his new housemates. He’d rather huddle up in the corner, arms folded over his chest and growling at everything.

When Glitch tried to introduce himself, nervous and scared as ever, Overlord straight up barked at him, like a dog. Glitch stumbled over himself in his panic to flee. Overlord laughed at him when he fell on his not-face. This was about his reaction to every of Nickel’s bitlets.

After arriving, Nickel and Prowl has chatted over coffee for a short time. Nickel left Overlord in the living room by himself, hoping he’d make friends. But he didn’t, just continued to huddle and make aggressive gestures. Legs pulled up to his chest and glaring once everyone had gotten the hint to leave him alone. Everytime Nickel looked up she just saw him sulk.

Prowl didn’t stay long, and once Nickel had seen him on his way, she went offer to talk to Overlord. “Hi, name’s Nickel. You hungry, kiddo?”

Overlord fluffed up and growled, Nickel didn’t budge. “Not goin’ anywhere. What do you want to eat? Anything at all. My treat.”

Overlord only visibly relaxed when she said the word treat, eyes going wide and titling his head. “Candy?”

While Nickel didn’t want him to feed off nothing but candy, knowing he’d end up sick and miserable and never wanting to touch sweets again, if it would get him out of his corner it couldn’t do much harm to let him have a little.

“Sure, candy.” Nickel shrugged.

Overlord’s big wide eyes turned sparkly, his demeanor giving a complete 180 now knowing he’d get candy out of this. He scrambled to his pedes and bolted into the kitchen, no doubt that’s where his reward lied.

From a cabinet, Nickel produced a bowl full of candy, grabbing a handful of it and giving it to Overlord. Overlord held onto them like they were precious jewels, scurrying back to his little corner with his prize. Nickel watched him wolf down his treats as she leaned against the countertop. It wasn’t long until Overlord had finished his meal, licking stickiness off his fingers before crawling back on all fours to ask for more.

With the exception of Scissorsaw, everyone came to Nickel underfed, she suspected Overlord was the same knowing his backstory. Because of this she allowed him another handful, watching him complete his routine of huddle, horf, and return.

“Sorry, hun, no more, you’ll get sick.” Nickel pushed the bowl of candy back into the cabinet. “That’s enough for now.”

Overlord’s expression changed from giddiness to wide-eyed shock, little hands clenching into fists and pulling back against his chest. Nickel sighed, patting his head.

“Hey, c’mon, if you’re still hungry I can get you some normal fuel? I can even put sweetener in it if you want want.” Primus if saturating everything in sugar was gonna be the only way this kid would eat, he was gonna be diabetic in the next year.

Overlord didn’t budge, at least not until she pet his head. And when that happened, it was like Nickel had broke a dam. His optics watered up, staring at Nickel like he had been betrayed, before stomping his pede and wailing. “BUT I WANT MORE CANDY!”

So he was a tantrum-thrower, Nickel wasn’t surprised. It was also something she knew how to deal with considering her line of work. Nickel retracted her hand, folding her arms and staring at the bawling sparkling.

“That so, huh?” Nickel said, voice purposely emotionless.

Overlord threw himself on the floor, screaming his vocalized raw and slamming tiny fists onto the floor to get Nickel to listen to his reasons why he needed more sweets. His reasons being he would cry and scream otherwise. Chewy had even gotten concerned hearing yelling, peeking around the corner to investigate. His ears were pulled back and whimpering at the yelling bitlet.

Nickel turned away from Overlord, ignoring him till he stopped. That was really the only way to deal with this. “The answer’s still no.”

Overlord made a frustrated noise, kicking to try and upright himself, and finally once he was sitting rubbing his fist into his eye and hiccuping. “I HATE YOU!” He screeched, fumbling to his pedes and running out of the room, shoving Chewy out of the way as he passed.

Chewy just watched with his tail tucked between his legs, whimpering up at Nickel. She sighed and rubbed his head between his ears. “Don’t worry about it.”


Nickel soon learned Overlord had this thing, he wanted company, but he refused to ask for it. If he wanted to be left alone he could’ve stayed holed up in his room, not sulk against the wall while watching everyone else play and enjoy themselves.

Overlord’s attention was caught by Forestock, the miniscule bitlet was curled up around a toy, kicking it and digging his little claws into its chest. If he had a mouth he’d be digging tiny fangs into its fabric throat. Overlord snorted, thinking it was funny that the kitten-sized sparkling thought he was so vicious.

Overlord would show him who was vicious, he thought as he reached over to pinch Forestock’s gun barrel. The little thing squeaked and turned over to sink claws into Overlord’s finger. Of course his claws were too small for Overlord to feel any of it, but it was still annoying. So, in payback for the mild annoyance, Overlord grabbed Forestock’s leg and held him upseide down.

Forestock yelped panic, frantically squeaking and wiggling to escape the vice grip. The squirming only prompted Overlord to grip tighter, giggling at Forestock’s desperate escape attempts.


Overlord looked toward the shout, finding Scissorsaw glaring at him. “He doesn’t like that! Let him go!”

Just to make him mad, Overlord gathered up both of Forestock’s arms in one hand, stretching him out straight. Forstock started to squeal in pain. “”

Scissorsaw’s stern glare faltered when Forestock started to scream, but he regained it quickly. “That’s not nice.”

Overlord shrugged, “So?” Forestock started squeaking faster when Overlord started pulling, like he was trying to tear Forestock in half.

And he probably could have, which is why Scissorsaw panicked and tried to reach to snatch his friend from the bully. “Let him go! You’re gonna hurt ‘im!”

Overlord held Forestock above his head, sticking his tongue out at Scissorsaw and spitting. The look was wiped off his face when he was punched square in the eye, causing Overlord to drop Forestock in surprise. His eyes widened when Scissorsaw reeled back to hit him again, blacking his eye. He would’ve been punched a third time if Forestock didn’t start trying to wiggle into his grinder, making terrified mews up at his savior. ‘Hey, dummy, protect me!’

Scissorsaw moved to cover his tummy with his hands, glaring at Overlord as if daring him to try again.

Overlord was stunned, looking up at Scissorsaw and cupping a hand over his black eye. There was a silent tension in the air for a long moment, before slowly Overlord’s eyes started to well with tears. The tears quickly escalated into him full on wailing.

Nickel was quick to respond, wheeling out to the living room in full panic. “What happened?! Who did what?!”

Overlord was quick to tattle, bawling and pointing an accusatory finger at Scissorsaw. “He hit me! He hit me!”

“He was hurting Forestock!” Scissorsaw squeaked out to defend himself. The kitten bitlet in question poked his head out, hopping out of Scissorsaw’s grinder to climb up into Nickel’s shoulder. There was some energon leaking from his joints, which was enough to convince Nickel of who was telling the full truth.

Still, Nickel folded her arms and looked at Scissorsaw. “Why’d you hit ‘im?”

“He picked up Forestock and was pullin’ his arms apart.” Scissorsaw had lost his edge at Nickel’s glare, going back to the dopey demeanor she knew.

“And did you ask him to stop?” Nickel kept pressing, looking toward Overlord who was still bawling like he’d had his legs torn off.

“He kept sayin’ no.” Scissorsaw continued, “Forestock kept crying, and he was gonna get hurt.”

Nickel then turned to Overlord, “And what do you have to say for yourself?”

Overlord went from upset to feeling cornered, sniffing and hiccuping while trying to bark out his word of defense. “I-I was playing wit-with him.”

“By hurting him.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

“He should’ve said I was hurting him!” Overlord squeaked, “He could’ve said something!”

“Forestock doesn’t know how to talk, and Scissorsaw told you he was being hurt.” Nickel sighed. “If you want something to roughhouse, play with a toy. Forestock is a lot littler than you, you could’ve seriously hurt him.”

Forestock had gotten into a hunch near Nickel’s neck, staring at Overlord cautiously. Nickel would have to patch up his wounds after this, there were tiny energon stains on her shoulder.

“Alright, I’ve heard enough. You-“ she pointed at Overlord. “Go sit in the corner. You fucked up, and now I gotta make sure Forestock is okay. You can come out when you’re ready to say sorry.”

Overlord’s face twisted up in anger, still rubbing at his optics as he stomped into the corner, hugging his knees to his chest and thunking his forehead against the wall.

“And you-“ Nickel now pointed at Scissorsaw, who had been silently sucking his thumb the whole time. “Go to your room, you know better than to hit. If someone won’t listen to you, you come get me. You don’t hit.”

Scissorsaw waved to Forestock before waddling off to his room. Once that was taken care of, Nickel gave Forestock a quick once-over. The leak was coming from a torn energon like in his shoulder, nothing that wouldn’t heal on his own. She put a bandaid over it- the kitty ones, not the puppy ones, he threw a fit when he got bandaged with the puppy ones- and was sent on his merry way. Forestock got over the trauma pretty quickly, crouching down and wiggling his rear to pounce at the toy he had been oh-so viciously mauling before.

With that out of the wa, Nickel returned her attention to Overlord, who was quivering with rage in his little shame corner. She wheeled up behind him, crouching down to see him from the side. He was glaring at the wall and leaning against it so far his nose was squished.

“What’s up, bud?” Nickel asked, hesitating on petting his back. For the rest of her sparklings, petting always helped to calm down. For Overlord, Nickel wasn’t sure, but probably the opposite.

“I was playing with him.” Overlord grumbled.

“Some bots don’t wanna play rough. Like I said, you should get a toy if you wanna do that.” Nickel suggested with a shrug.

“That’s not as fun!” Overlord whined, shoving his face further up against the wall. “They don’t do anything when you hit ‘em!”

Nickel sucked in an invent, wanting to give a speech about how hitting isn’t how you played with someone, but she doubted Overlord would take it to spark. Instead, she got an idea. Chewy didn’t take a liking to all the squeaky toys he got, for whatever reason there was some that as soon as it squeaked at him, he backed up and whimpered at it, like he was upset he hurt it. She picked one up that was shaped like a puppy, nudging it in Overlord’s direction. He growled at the intruder to his personal space, flashing fangs and biting down on what was touching him, possibly thinking it was Nickel.

He seemed surprised when his teeth met soft mesh, and a sharp squeak sounded. He reeled back in surprise, playing slicked down in fear from the sudden loud noise. He tucked his fists against his chest, looking owlishly at the squeaky toy, then up to Nickel. Silently asking ‘what?’ .

“This one does something when you hit it. And kick it, and bite it. You want it?” Nickel kept it held out toward him, if she got bit she didn’t mind.

Overlord took the squeaky toy hesitantly, squeezing its chest to test it. Sure enough, another loud squeak came out. He was transfixed by the dog toy, squeezing it at different frequencies and strengths just to hear the different kinds of squeaks it made. He calmed down immensely just fussing with it, in his own little world with just him and the squeaky toy. He eventually hugged it to his chest, just chewing and slobbering on its head.

Well, if it kept him calm, Nickel was happy, and the bitlets weren’t being harassed. And maybe he could redirect whatever anger he felt toward it instead of another living thing.


“Why do you look like that?” Overlord snarled, arms folded across his chest and glaring at Glitch. He’d been staring at him for the past twenty minutes, actually, just now speaking up.

Glitch had been doodling on a datapad, looking up at Overlord wide-optic’d, but clearly confused as he just continued to stare. The deer-in-headlights act served to make Overlord even more grumpy.

“Are you deaf, dummy? I said why do you look like that!” He snapped, making Glitch unfreeze just to shrink back.

“U-uh! My-my creators did-did it!” Which was the truth, but to a sparkling who (rightfully) didn’t know what empurata was, it sounded like a sassy comeback.

Overlord wasn’t happy with that, looming over the smaller sparkling with fist raised and teeth bared. “Don’t be rude to me! Answer the question!”

Glitch yelped, ducking his head and covering it with his claws in fear. “I-I did! I did! My-my creators did it!”

Overlord growled, grabbing Glitch’s wrist and hoisting him up to dangle in the air. “You sure got a nerve to talk to me like that…”

Glitch’s vents hitched, professor going into overtime as his systems flooded with a panic attack. The only thing he could think of to do was squeal, squealing loud for Nickel to come save him. Overlord was much bigger and stronger than him, and had shown he was fond of hurting people. It wouldn’t be a good idea to try and escape.

Overlord smirked cruelly at Glitch’s distress, giggling as Glitch cried and cried- why did his chest feel funny? Overlord’s laughing stopped, gripping Glitch’s wrist harder and shaking him some.

“Hey! Cut it out!” Glitch’s crying only got louder, making the ache in Overlord’s chest, centralized at his spark, feel worse. “Stop it! Stop doing that!” As Glitch continued to cry, the spark pain getting worse and worse. Extreme enough Overlord started to cry too.

Before it could reach a peak, and Overlord thought his chest  was going to burst, Nickel was there. Snatching Glitch away from Overlord, holding him against his shoulder while shushing him. The pain went away as soon as he had stopped crying.

“Overlord! What did I tell you about playing nice?” She snapped, poor Glitch couldn’t catch his vents from how fast he was breathing. Hiccuping and trying to pick paint off his arms again. She had just got him to quit that habit!

“He was hurting me!” Overlord said, still holding his chest where the pain had been.

Nickel wasn’t buying it, she frowned at him. “You were holding him in the air. What did his crying hurt you?”

“Yes!” Overlord insisted, Nickel had to believe him! “He kept screaming and it made my chest feel bad!”

Nickel sighed, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. “Honey, that’s called feeling guilty.”

“No! That’s not it! He was hurting me!” Overlord’s hands balled into fists at his sides, lip quivering and starting to cry in frustration.

“Do we gotta have a talk about lying?” Nickel scolded, hoping her stern stare would be enough to get him to tell the truth.

“I’M NOT LYING!” Overlord screeched , stamping his pede angrily. Nickel ignored him, as Glitch’s crying had calmed down into upset hiccuping, nuzzling his little helm against Nickel’s neck.

“Well, liars don’t get candy. So you can come apologize to Glitch when you’re ready to tell the truth.” Nickel then left to put Glitch in his room to calm down. Leaving Overlord to throw himself on the floor in a tantrum. Because, really? Crying that made his chest hurt? At least his lie could’ve been believable.

Nickel was right in assuming Chewy wouldn’t miss his toy. It wasn’t even one he had taken a liking to in the first place, he was kind of weird about his toys. Ones shaped like dogs were less likely to get used, maybe because he knew that they were a representation of his own kind and felt uncomfortable with it, maybe he thought it was a puppy. Hard to tell.

Chewy was also pretty well attuned to the emotions of all of Nickel’s sparklings, even the ones who weren’t Amp. Chewy was so attuned to Amp he may as well have been his carrier. He knew not to touch Glitch’s stuffed animals, and to play gently with anything the bitlets gave to him.

So, needless to say Chewy could care less about the squeaky dog’s new owner. But, the constant squeaking coming from Overlord’s direction did interest him. The blue sparkling would occupy himself for hours just finding out different ways to make the toy squeal. Biting it, punching it, throwing it on the ground and even stomping on it. To Overlord it was great fun! Even though Glitch would watch him mutilate the poor plush and cling tightly to his lion.

Chewy wandered over to Overlord, sniffing around by his feet to try and find the source of the pained noises. Overlord made a disgusted noise at the Turbofox, holding his toy away so Chewy couldn’t have it.

“No! You’ll get it all gross!” He shouted, pushing Chewy’s sniffing snout away with his foot.

Chewy nudged his foot away, more interested than ever in the toy now that he wasn’t allowed to have it. He knocked Overlord to the ground, putting his paw on his chest and sniffling his frame. As soon as Overlord hit the ground, he was screaming bloody murder, grasping his toy as tight as his fist would ball around it, pummeling kicks at Chewy’s belly.

“GET OFF! GET OFF! GET OFF YOU DUMMY!” He screeched at the top of his lungs, when kicking didn’t work he turned to hitting, smacking Chewy across the nose.

Chewy retreated with a whine, ears perked and staring at Overlord. “GO AWAY, DON’T TOUCH ME!”

He moved to smack Chewy again, and Chewy knew he was just a sparkling, but he didn’t like being slapped around. He especially didn’t like it when Overlord was screaming in his face. Instincts took over when he saw Overlord’s tiny hand coming toward his face, and ended up biting down on his arm.

Overlord’s mood turned on a dime, tears threatening to spill as he tried to pull his arm out of the turbofox’s jaws. “LET GO! LETGOLETGOLETGO!”

Chewy had had enough of his yelling, using his grip on Overlord’s arm to throw him to the ground. Padding up to stand over him snarling. Overlord was thoroughly terrified, with teeth hovering inches away from his face. He was too scared to even wail for help, frozen and clinging to his squeaky toy as if it would protect him.

Chewy snapped down on the toy, biting hard enough the squeaker inside it broke with an audible pop. It was only then he started to wail, crying with sparkling clicks for Nickel to come save him from being mauled now that his only defense had been defeated.

Before, Nickel had ignored the sounds of scuffle, thinking Overlord was just having another senseless tantrum. It was best to not feed into those, it was the only way to teach him hissy fits weren’t the way to get Nickel’s attention. When she actually heard him yell a sound of distress she’s never heard her sparklings use before, she bolted. Terrified seeing the turbofox hovering over Overlord with saliva dripping from his jaws.

Nickel was quick to grab Chewy’s collar, yanking him away from Overlord. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?! YOU KNOW BETTER, ASSHOLE!”

Chewy snapped out of his unbridled rage immediately, ears pulling back and tail tucked between his legs. He looked back at Overlord, who was still cowering and shivering. What had gotten into him? He tried to kill a baby!

No amount of whining was good enough, Nickel picked Chewy up and slung him over her shoulder. Kicking the door to the patio open and hooking him to a leash. “You can come back in when you decide not to attack sparklings.”

Chewy looked at her with giant sad eyes before the door was slammed in his face. When Nickel turned back around, everyone was staring at her. Forestock’s eyes could even be seen from under the couch. They’d never seen Nickel that angry before, and they were scared.

“Dinner is ready!” She called, hoping to clear the air with the promise of food. It worked, with most of them running to the kitchen. Amp stumbled a little without the help of his dog, bumping into Nickel’s leg with a soft “oof”. Crucible ended up taking his hand, leading him the rest of the way to the table.

Which left Overlord, curled up on the floor crying silently. He huddled up as small as he could, wide red eyes glassy with tears as he stared at Nickel in horror.

“Hey, hey...are you hurt?” Nickel whispered, sitting down next to him slowly. A quick glance showed Chewy hadn’t bit down enough to break playing, which was good. But it still left a traumatized sparklet, who was hiccuping and trying to hide his face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t come running sooner, that was my fault. I’m not gonna let a dog eat you for acting up.” Nickel said, trying to tug Overlord out of his little ball to check him over better. There wasn’t any visible bleeding, but he could still be bruised or dented.

Overlord refuses to budge, in fact curling up tighter when she nudged him. Nickel frowned, backing off. “Alright, If that makes you feel better. Do you want your do- oh.”

The squeaky dog had been thrown to the side, stuffing bleeding out from its chest wound, as well as a ruined squeaker. Well, at least it had protected Overlord from getting bit. Nickel disregarded it, petting Overlord to call him instead.

“Well that’s okay. We’ll get you a new one.” Nickel didn’t think that Overlord was too attached to the thing, he just liked it cause it squeaked.

“” Overlord finally shuffled a little looser, making grabby motions to the corner his toy had been thrown into. Nickel raised a brow in confusion, but retrieved the broken toy and put it within Overlord’s reach. It was covered in dog slobber too, Nickel didn’t think he was going to take it.

Despite being ripped, wet, and broken, Overlord hugged the messy thing tightly. It was sweet for a few moments before he started gnawing in its head. Maybe it was a calming thing, similar to Scissorsaw’s thumb sucking. Overlord looked upset that his toy didn’t respond when he squeezed it at varying pressures.

“I can fix and wash it for you.” Nickel offered, it would be a pretty simple fix.

However Overlord growled when Nickel tried to take it, okay that was fair. She could do it when he wasn’t recovering from...all that. “Do you want to come eat?”

No response, just continued chewing on his toy. At least by now he’d stopped shivering. Nickel would leave a portion for him once he decided to come around. Her thought process was interrupted by a crash in the kitchen, and an upset noise that belonged to Amp. Nickel could put two and two together.

“Don’t be afraid to come get me if you need anything.” Nickel told Overlord, picking herself up and wheeling back to the kitchen to clean up whatever mess had been made.

Amp had energon spilled all over his chest, with Forestock crouched on the table shoving spilled energon into his intake. Forestock had climbed to the table to steal from Amp’s plate, since without Chewy, Amp had no way to know he was being snuck up on. Forestock overstepped and spilled it, all over himself and Amp.

Nickel sighed, picking up Forestock by his scruff, “Looks like someone needs a bath!”

Forestock didn’t know a lot of words, bath he did know. Bath he hated. He squeaked protest, trying to wiggle out of Nickel’s grasp to no avail. Amp just blepped softly when he got scooped up, ragdollinf against Nickel’s chest as she dragged both bits off to the washracks.

Later that night, after all the sparklings had been put to bed, Nickel had busied herself cleaning up the spill from before. Hovering around the sink as she dropped dishes in there. She was willing to take her time, as she had been planning to sleep in tomorrow anyway.

She paused when she heard shuffling in the background, looking over her shoulder to stare at the doorway of the kitchen. Chewy was still outside, so it must’ve been one of the bitlets getting up in the middle of the night for some reason. Strangely, nothing was there. Nickel shrugged it off, not thinking much of it.

She turned back to the sink, and stayed that way for a while before she heard unmistakeable footsteps, ending in someone hugging her legs. Nobody had ever done that before, that was strange.

The mystery bitlet climbed up her legs, and once he reached her back she could rule out s few possibilities. It was a heavy weight, so either Crucible or Scissorsaw. She waited for the bit to settle near her shoulders, legs braced against her sides, arms around her neck, and snuggling into her neck cables. The sparkling let out a soft sigh, warm air brushing her neck, his engine rumbled in a steady purr.

With the sparkling situated, Nickel dared to look over her shoulder to see who had decided to koala cling to her back. Wide red eyes stared back at her, and a sharp little nose nuzzled into her neck cables.

Nickel had initially ruled out Overlord automatically, seeing as he wasn’t exactly the cuddling type. She was wrong, apparently. His clinging was admittedly absolutely adorable, however unexpected it was.

“Hey bud, what’s up?” Nickel asked, turning off the sink to pay full attention to him. He was quiet for a long while, mumbling something into Nickel’s neck she didn’t hear. “What was that? You gotta speak up.

“M...sorry…” Overlord said, hiding his eyes from view. Aww.

Nickel cooed, “Aww, it’s okay, sweetspark. You just gotta learn to be nicer.”

Overlord still refused to look at her. “None of ‘em like me.” He admitted, snuffling hard once. “Nobody ever likes me.”

“I hate to break it to you, hun, but yelling at people and grabbing them isn’t how you make yourself likeable.” Nickel attempted to shift him to a move convenient position, but little claws digging into her stopped her from getting too far.

“Sixshot n’ Black Shadow didn’t like me neither.” He kept moping, nuzzling harder into Nickel to stop himself from crying. He sounded absolutely miserable.

“Was that your foster parents?” Nickel guessed, Overlord nodded some. Poor little thing. “Well, I like you. Does that count for anything?”

Overlord looked up, eyes glassed over with held back tears, “But you get mad at me.”

“Well, yes, because you hurt others. But I always check to make sure you’re okay, right?” Overlord thought about that for a minute, and then nodded.

He went quiet for a long stretch of time, squeezing Nickel’s neck with what was honestly a force that slightly choked her. It didn’t really hurt, just a bit uncomfy, and it made Overlord happy.

“Will you fix my squeaker?” He muttered finally. He called it his squeaker? Cute.

“Sure I can! Do you want me to do it now?” Nickel guessed the answer was yes, confirmed by Overlord nodding.

Nickel wheeled back to the living room, retrieving Overlord’s “squeaker”, one of Chewy’s toys that was getting ready for the trash anyway, shifted Overlord to cling to her front, sat down and got to work.

She clicked one claw out of her finger, using it to make a cut into Chewy’s toy, removing the intact squeaker from it and stuffing it into the bite wound of Overlord’s toy. Once the “transplant” was complete, she sewed the hole up and tucked it in the gap between her and Overlord’s chest.

Overload bit down on it, releasing Nickel to huddle up in the corner with his fixed toy. Hugging it and making a happy squint when it squeaked in response. He was a lot more gentle in squeaking it than before. A quiet steady rhythm of squeezing instead of stomping on it to be as loud as possible.

To be honest, Nickel had been seriously considering sending Overlord back to Prowl with all the trouble he had caused. But seeing him happy and content like this, having him cling to Nickel is when he was upset. Maybe he wasn’t that bad. Honestly he was adorable when he wasn’t screaming and kicking. With big shiny eyes, lips that gave him a kitty three mouth, and a chubby little frame. He was so cute if he just acted better. He was a weird kid, but Nickel was sure she could handle him.

Chapter Text

Things hadn’t cooled down from the Chewy incident just yet. Nickel still didn’t trust the turbofox enough to let him back in the house. It did make Amp upset, crying softly when he couldn’t find the comfort of his dog, and being pretty much stuck in one place unless someone came and held his hand. While Crucible had taken up the role as seeing eye not-dog, it wasn’t the same.

A few times Nickel lost track of Amp, only to finally find him outside, sleepily curled up against Chewy. He wailed and cried when Nickel had to drag him back inside, which did make her feel bad, but what was she supposed to do? She couldn’t put Overlord or anyone else in danger just because Amp was sad.

And all of this on top of the fact Overlord being sweet was a one time event, and had gone back to terrorizing anything smaller than him. Everything was just- bad. Stressful and bad. It was enough to the point Nickel was too busy worrying about it to remember what she had come into the living room for.

And when the yelling came, whatever she had remembered immediately was whisked away. A chorus of little voices yelling “NICKEL! NICKEL! NICKEL!” at varying paces, and everyone stumbling into the living room at once. Except Overlord, she noticed, leading Nickel to make a suspicion on why they were so frantic.

“Ey, ey. I’m right here. Inside voices. What’s wrong?” If it was anything less than Overlord stuffing a dead rat into Amp’s eye socket- well actually that wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for him.

They said something all at once again, Nickel didn’t catch a word of it considering how out of sync it was. “I can’t hear you when you all shout at me. Just one of you tell me what happened.”

Before they could agree on who should be the one to say it, Crucible ignored democracy and barked out. “FORESTOCK TALKED!”

Nickel switched immediately from being annoyed to staring at the group with wide eyes. Forstock did what? Her constantly rambling at him was actually working?

“He did?! What was it, what did he say?” She looked through the group excitedly, trying to pick out which bitlet Forestock was hiding in the shoulder seams of.

Of course it was Scissorsaw to step up, lifting his hands up, palms flat, with the tiny gunformer perched in them, sat down on his haunches like a cat.

Scissorsaw nudged him a bit with his thumb, “C’mon do it again.”

Even though Forestock likely didn’t understand a word of that, he puffed up his little chest, head held high, and in the shrillest, squeakiest little voice that would better fit coming out the mouth of a cartoon mouse-


Nickel’s jaw dropped, eyes wide in bafflement at the proud little kitten bot. He was immensely proud of himself for learning a word, expecting rampant praise and maybe a treat for bothering to learn something he didn’t want to. So smart and good for wanting to communicate with the rest of society instead of being a guttermech who stole cat food.

“Uh- where’d you learn that one, sweetspark?” Nickel said, desperately trying to keep the hint of frustration out of her voice. She didn’t want to  make Forestock think he had done something wrong, even if his first word was “fuck”, it was still...something?

The rest of the crew looked confused, as if the answer was extremely obvious.

“You say it all the time.” Scissorsaw offered.

“Like when you’re doin’ stuff.” Glitch backed up.

“And to Chewy.” Amp felt important to add on.

Did she really swear that much around her kids? Before Glitch came along she had just- done it on instinct. She always swore, so much she didn’t even notice when she did. For a minute she just stared at the group, trying to work out what to say. Forestock was starting to sense he had done something wrong, deflating some from his proud little pose.

Nickel quickly recovered before Forestock got upset. “Uhh, you’re right I guess I do.” She said, smiling some. Smiles Forestock understood, even if he couldn’t understand words. He straightened back up, eyes wide and sparkly.

“What’s wrong, what’s it mean?” Scissorsaw asked, tucking Forestock into his grinder now that he’d done his one trick.

Oh, Primus above.

“It means- means someone who’s not a very good person.” Nickel lied, well it was believable enough. She said it to people she didn’t like.

Glitch raised his little claw, waving it to get Nickel’s attention. “So Overlord is a fuck?”

“No! No don’t call him that-“ On every member of the guiding hand please don’t arm that child with swear words.

“But he bullies me! So he’s a fuck!” Glitch argued.

“Don’t- well- it’s. Not a nice thing to call him-“

“But he’s mean to me! So I can be mean to him!” It was the first time Nickel had seen Glitch get actually defensive. He was very firm on his stance that Overlord was a fuck.

“Well it’s-“

Glitch ran out and down the hall before Nickel could try and stop him, “OVERLOORDD!!”

Great. Now that was going to be her night. She sighed and looked at Forestock, peeping at her from behind the dull blades of Tesarus’s belly.

“Uh, good job buddy. I’m proud of you.”

Vos squinted his eyes happily, little engine rumbling in a purr. “Fuck.”

Chapter Text

As much as he tried to be friendly and social, Glitch didn’t have any friends. Even the sparklings he lived with weren’t really his friends, they just happened to all have been picked up by Nickel.

Forestock and Scissorsaw, for the most part, seemed to only be interested in each other. Amp liked dogs more than people. Crucible was intimidating, and pretty anti-social. Overlord was...Overlord.

Despite being the first one to come along, Glitch didn’t have a place in the weird little social hierchy of Nickel’s apartment. 

He didn’t seem to have a place anywhere. 

He had even tried to make friends with Megatron’s bit, Hot Rod. Hot Rod ended up being slightly too wild for him to get along with, and Glitch had some singes in his paint to tell the tale. 

When he tried to make friends at the park, a lot of them got freaked out because he looked creepy, avoiding him or just running away crying. 

So when they did visit the park, Glitch would quietly keep to himself. Curled up in a sad little ball around his plush until Nickel would call him over to go home. Glitch hated going to the park. 

He was currently within viewing distance of Overloed playing with his…well, friend was actually kind of a strong word here. He had gotten weirdly attached to a spindly-framed bitlet named Trepan. Probably because he was small enough to carry around like a doll, but not as skinny as Forestock was that he could easily break if treated too roughly. And also, Trepan seemed to take his situation rather nonchalantly, maybe he figured out the smartest thing to do was just let Overlord do whatever until he got bored or left. Overlord treated him only slightly less violently than he did his squeaky toy.

It wasn’t fun looking, if you asked Glitch. When Overlord looked in his direction, it was like he was wordlessly daring him to tell Nickel. Not wanting to be a witness to whatever was about to happen, Glitch got up and hurried off to the opposite side of the playground. 

Glitch found a new place to nest, in a sandbox that became noticeably less populated when he sat in it. Everyone that had previously been playing in there hurried off into a different direction. It was fine, he kind of wanted to be left alone anyway.

Then he noticed, how one bot didn’t leave. In fact, the white jet that was remaining didn’t seem to care at all that Glitch had plopped down at a fairly close distance next to him. Glitch tilted his head, making a confused noise.

Finally the jet payed him attention, and Glitch was fully expecting for him to leave too- but he just looked annoyed more than anything. 

“What?” He snapped, causing Glitch to flinch

“I-it’s just uh..hum...aren’t...aren’t you scared of me?”

The little white jet looked offended, huffing and fluttering his wings some. “Scared of you? You look like a wimp!”

Glitch ignored the insult, instead mulling over the fact the jet wasn’t scared of him. At all? Really? “ face looks weird.” 

“You don’t look any different than some of the bots that visits Ratchet. Do you think you’re scary?”

Glitch thought about that for a minute. Well, he didn’t try to be scary. “”

“Then why are you asking?”

“I...I dunno.” Now that he thought about it, it was kind of silly to think he was scary. He wasn’t big and intimidating like Scissorsaw or Crucible, and he was definitely no Overlord. 

“HEY!” Speak of the devil. Glitch froze up, curling himself up in a ball as if being smaller would make him less noticeable.

Overlord had gotten bored pushing his friend/living doll’s face into the ground, having come to see where his audience had left to. It wasn’t hard to find a bright orange sparkling with claws carrying around a purple lion.

Overloed jogged toward him once Glitch was spotted, Trepan in tow, dragged along by the neck. 

“Who’s this?” Overlord sneered, grinning once he got close enough to loom over Glitch. Glitch didn’t give him the pleasure of looking up. 

“I du...dunno he was just talking to me pleasegoaway-“ Glitch was shivering now. He couldn’t have anything nice, could he?” 

“Pharma.” The jet answered semi-helpfully, having gone back to playing quietly now that Glitch and his self-hating dillema was over. He even ignored the scene playing out in front of him.

Overlord snorted, “That’s a dumb name! Figures you can’t get anyone to like you but other losers!”

Glitch shoved his not-face into his plushie more, wanting to be anywhere but here. “He’s not my friend, he was just here. Go away.” 

If Glitch was just going to curl into a tighter and tighter ball until he collapsed into a black hole, Overlord was going to be very bored with tormenting him. Instead, he turned his attention on the new guy, Pharma. 

“You shouldn’t hang out with him anyway, he’s weird and ugly. He’s got freaky magic claws that break everything!” Overlord started. “He breaks the motors in people’s servos so they gotta get weird claw hands like him!”

It’s not like Pharma was going to stick around after this, Glitch just let Overlord feed him whatever lies he wanted to. 

Pharma shrugged, “Am I supposed to play with you instead? Not happening.” He looked at Trepan, who Overlord was still firmly holding around the neck. Squeezing just enough to make his faceplate tinge blue. 

Overlord’s smirk turned into a snarl, he fluffed his plating up to try and make himself look bigger. 

“You little-“ he kicked Pharma in the back, sending him face-first into the sand, where he landed with a tiny “oof”. Overlord finally dropped Trepan, freeing his hands to take one of Pharma’s wings in each fist and- 

Glitch heard the sounds of a fight, and fearing for the safety of someone who wasn’t even involved in the first place, Glitch scrambled over in a hurry.

“Wait! Wait! Stop! Stop! STOP!” Glitch yelled, and on the final “stop”, Overlord froze. 

That funny chest feeling was back again. Overlord let go of Pharma’s wings. 

Glitch took the chance to stand in front of Pharma, who hadn’t recovered from being pushed over just yet.

“Leave him alone! He didn’t do anything!” Glitch’s voice hit a fever pitch, coming out more as a panicked squeal than was maybe appropriate for Glitch’s sudden act of bravery. Even if it was short lived and Glitch was starting to regret his decision. 

But there was something about Glitch’s tone, and Overlord or anyone couldn’t tell what, that made Overlord’s spark burn. 

“GO AWAY! JUST GO AWAY! GO PLAY WITH TREPAN!” Glitch continued to screech, voice starting to waver some as his frame started to shake with nerves. 

Glitch’s little optic widened when he saw Overlord spit up energon, burnt black. Glitch immediately shut up, shrinking into a ball again with his claws against his chest. 

Overlord seemed to immediately recover as soon as Glitch stopped shouting, wiping energon off his face and staring at Glitch, just a little bit afraid. 

“I-I’m sorry- I’m sorry I’m sorry are you okay? Please don’t tell Nickel I’m sorry-“ but Overlord wouldn’t listen, scooping up Trepan and squishing him against his chest like Glitch smothered his plushies. Trepan let out a small, muffled, squeak. 

“STAY AWAY FROM ME! YOU'RE WEIRD!” Overlord barked, backing away a safe distance before turning heel and booking it. 

Glitch just stood there, motionless except for the nervous trembling throughout his frame. It finally clicked after a few beats to check Pharma to see if he was okay, peeking over his shoulder to look at the jet.

Pharma was staring at him, his bored expression having changed to something wide-eyed and sparkly. “How did you do that? Did you make him sick?” 

Glitch was silent for a long one, then realized it was probably weirder to just keep quiet, forcing words. “I..I think so? I’ve...I’ve never broken a person before.” He didn’t think he wanted the ability to do that.

Pharma pushed his hands against the sides of Glitch’s head like one might smush his cheeks if he had any. “That was so cool.”

Glitch blinked once, confused at such a positive reaction to his weird abilities. He was too confused over that to even figure out a proper response besides more wordless stuttering.

“Do you want to play together again tomorrow?” Pharma asked, optics wide as they could go. Optics Glitch now found himself very...very entranced with. 

“U...uh huh.” Glitch mumbled, not really thinking about it. 

“Great!” Pharma let go of Glitch’s head before he had time to react, almost face-planting at the sudden change of balance. “See you tomorrow!”

It was clear Glitch was distracted, you could practically see the little heart-shaped bubbles popping up around his head as he slumped his chin against the arm of the couch, ambiently purring.

At first Nickel was worried something had happened, Glitch only stress-purred. Nickel couldn’t think of a time where he just purred because he was happy, but when she realized nothing was immediately wrong, well there was a first for everything.

Tattle-tale as ever, Overlord had reported the entire day’s event back to Nickel.

“GLITCH YELLED AT ME!” Out of character, but not unbelievable. “AND THEN HIS CRYING MADE ME THROW UP!” Again with the wild accusations of magic crying.

Nickel just accepted Overlord’s tall tale, giving him a sweet tasting medicine disguised as candy for upset tanks. As that’s more than likely what actually happened, not this same old story of Glitch’s magic bawling that seemed to hurt only Overlord specifically. Still, for once, Overlord avoided Glitch. He just glared at him from his little corner of self-isolation, gnawing his squeaky toy threateningly.

Glitch either didn’t notice him or didn’t care. He didn’t do any of his usual cowering, or moving to another part of the room to be out of Overlord’s line of sight. Just purring, purring and purring and purring. 

He didn’t even react when Nickel plopped down on the couch next to him. “Something happen at the park?” 

Glitch rolled over lazily, hugging his lion tight as he could to his chest. “I have a friend!” 

“Is he a purple kitty?” Nickel asked, hoping to prompt more out of him.

“His name is Pharma!” Glitch corrected, “He’s a jet, and he thinks I’m cool! I’m going to the park to play with him tomorrow!” 

Nickel’s face turned to a frown, she didn’t want to rain on his parade but...”Sweetie, I have to work tomorrow. I can’t take you to the park.” 

Glitch’s purring stopped dead in its tracks, as did his happy go lucky demeanor. Returning to the nervous, squeaky sparkling that was more familiar.

“Oh…” Glitch mumbled, avoiding Nickel’s gaze like he was trying not to cry.

Overlord, overhearing what had happened, barked out a nasty sounding laugh at Glitch.

“Maybe Megatron can take you?” Nickel offered. Glitch did need friends.

Glitch perked back up, optic wide and hopeful. “So I can see Pharma?” 

“Yes, so you can see Pharma.” Nickel reaffirmed. Maybe she could talk to Megatron about taking Glitch regularly.