The small femme was curled up under a small, ragged blanket, the edges of it worn, the purple having long since faded from the vibrant color it once was. She yawned, sitting up and rubbing at her optics as the pearly white youngling forced herself awake. It was always best to wake up before her parents, or better yet her brother, just in case one of them had to come in and wake her up. She could deal with daddy coming in, he didn't just push her out of bed and walk out. He at least stayed to make sure she picked herself up off the floor before helping her downstairs. Her protoform had been painted to replicate normal youngling armor. Her parents couldn't afford armor for her, not even just basic armor, not when her brother had the best armor available. He was first priority. Leilani was the accident daughter. Or so she'd been told by her brother, Nitro.
Leilani carefully made her bed, stretching up on her toes to adjust it, the pillow having to be set just right as she grabbed the small teddy she had, setting it propped against the pillow in the middle before moving to slip downstairs, quiet as she could.
Her protoform was simple. No dramatic color, just basic, factory white, and nothing even hinting she'd been anything more than some simple, mass produced drone. She moved quietly down the stairs, stepping down and letting her other foot joining the one before going to the next one, doing that to reduce the noise she caused. And the fact her legs were still far too short to walk comfortably down the stairs without risking falling. Not only was she afraid of having to explain the bumps on her frame, since the white showed every little detail and imperfection, nor did she want Nitro to come find her.
She moved to the foot of the stairs, carefully stabilizing herself before moving to poke her head around the corner. She saw the lime green youngling perched on her father's knee, hardly being decent at all as he acted more like a swine in eating his breakfast. Lei eyed the chair, trying to hoist herself up into it with a soft squeak. Her father glanced up, orange optics watching her closely, the mech sneering at seeing his bonded pick her up to sit her in the chair, "Thank you mommy," She whispered softly, knowing better than to look up as her breakfast was set in front of her.
"You know as well as I could, she would've damn well gotten up in that chair on her own time," He snapped, eying Mirna now as she turned to face him, hands on her hips.
"And what? I'm supposed to just watch like you do when she slips and falls?" She said tersely. She didn't like the small child any more than he did, but she was at least tolerant of her daughter. The child didn't scream, didn't cry, didn't demand anything.
Mason sneered, picking Nitro up to put him on the floor, "Go clean up and get ready for school, son," He said, almost kindly to the only child he had ever actually wanted. He turned to face his bonded, acting as if Lei wasn't even there as she took small, dainty bites out of her breakfast, trying her best to stay neat and clean.
"You know as well as I do if your spark hadn't taken so readily we wouldn't even have her! She's nothing but a hassle and an extra mouth to feed!" He snapped, jabbing a finger into his bonded's chassis as Mirna sneered.
"Oh please, you were the one who was overeager to part your plates when you got the new job offer, so sorry for thinking you were finally in a good mood for once. You think I wanted the heathen any more than you did? She's part of your spark, you asshole. Least you could do is help look after her," She hissed, optics narrowing dangerously now.
Mason's lips curled back in a silent snarl, just barely holding back from decking her, ignoring where Lei had slipped off, tears gathered in her optics now.
She knew to get ready for school, not having the privilege to ride the transport vehicle like Nitro did, so she had to walk. She didn't mind it though, and the teacher understood why she was late. That was the best part out of all of it. She didn't have to explain that daddy got mad at mommy and again.
So she tried to go as quick as she could back up the stairs to get the small bag she had what little bit she needed for school in it. Not to mention it still held a few small goodies the teacher had given her here or there as a small treat. Mainly, unbeknownst to Lei, it was to make sure she was still getting energon. The teacher didn't know she was hoarding them for a rainy day.
But when she reached her room she squeaked, seeing Nitro holding the bear she'd worked so hard to get situated just right in the bed when she'd made it. Her spark sank straight to her feet as she watched Nitro hold it away from him, as if diseased, "Aren't you a bit old for this raggedy piece of scrap?" He asked, voice sounding bored as he unsubspaced the lighter. Primus only knew where a youngling had gotten one, probably the kids he hung out with at school. She knew better than to move, to even talk. Whatever he had planned would become so much worse. She's learned that the hard way.
Lei could only watch in horror, tears welling up in her optics as she saw him light fire to the bear before dropping it, "There. Problem solved," He smirked and strolled out the room. As soon as he was gone, Lei whined and darted forward, patting the fire out, ignoring the pain that shot up her arms from where her sensors were so exposed. She felt the tears fall down her cheeks, plopping onto the charred remnants of her teddy as she cradled it close, carefully. The fur was burnt now, and her sensors, her hands were numb as she grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder, moving to carefully slip back down the stairs, the bear still clutched close.
She could hear her parents still arguing in the kitchen as she slipped past them to head out the door, tears still cutting fresh paths down her cheeks as she walked. Most left her alone when she walked to school, either not noticing the small femme or not wanting to make something worse for her.
Needless to say she was surprised when she saw the blue and gold seekerling fall into step with her. Gold optics brightened as he gave a warm smile, one hand holding his bag over his shoulder as he walked with her. Leilani didn't notice the grey seeker behind them, blue optics watching her in concern now.
The young mech smiled, "Hi!" He chirped, "Couldn't help but notice it looked like you needed a friend to walk with you to school," He grinned. He was friendly, happy. Something Lei herself couldn't quite possess. She gave a small, shy nod, clutching the teddy closer to her frame now, still afraid someone was going to try and take it, try and finish what Nitro had started.
The other smiled, "I'm Bluehornet," He grinned, a soft giggle there as he nodded, wings twitching before he noticed her hands, black as they were, before seeing the bear in her hands. He stopped her, looking back up at the seekeress following them, "Miss Updraft?" He whined, wings wilting as Lei froze, afraid she'd done something wrong.
"Yes Blues?" She murmured. Updraft moved forward to kneel down, looking at Lei now. She frowned though at seeing the burnt sensors in her hand now. She gently moved to look at her hands, taking hold of one of them gently, letting Lei keep tight hold of the bear.
"Who did this child?" She asked, her concern obvious.
Leilani reacted before she even could think to tell them the truth, "I...was careless. This is what I get for playing with fire," She whispered, optics downcast as the tears began anew, Updraft sighing quietly as she scooped Lei, burnt teddy and all, up into her arms, scooping Bluehornet up into her other arm as he squawked and chirped indignantly. She cooed softly to Lei, who was tense as a board against her, so used to being dropped when she was picked up.
Updraft gave a small smile, "I'm Bluehornet's caretaker, Leilani. You can call me Updraft, and yes I know you, I've seen you walking home when I pick up Blues," She murmured softly, rubbing Lei's back gently.
"So...you're his mommy?" She asked quietly, a frown there. She'd met her classmate's mothers before, so she knew not all of them were like hers. They were just planned children, wanted in their homes. That was the only difference.
Updraft smiled, "Kind of. I'm a...substitute mommy," She murmured, "His parents are with Primus, sleeping, so until they wake up I get to watch over him," She explained, Lei nodding quietly as Bluehornet smiled, reaching out to try and hug Lei.
"She's a good mommy! I promise! Cross my spark an' everything!" He grinned, Lei slowly relaxing against the Seekeress now. Updraft smiled, gently taking the teddy to look at it, "Mommy? We should take her teddy to the teddy hospital," He said softly, gold optics dimming now in thought.
Updraft smiled, "That's a wonderful thought, Bluehornet," She murmured, comming ahead to the school to report what had gone on, knowing the school wouldn't call Mason and Mirna. They didn't care what their daughter did. And the school knew Updraft wouldn't do anything bad.
Updraft was quiet, humming softly to the two younglings in her arms. Lei, lulled by Draft's spark beat and the fact she felt safe for once, actually curled up in her arms and fell asleep, snuggled into Bluehornet as well. The young mech had easily fallen into recharge, used to Draft's humming by now.
When Lei woke back up she was still cradled close in Updraft's arms, the seekeress sitting in a park. It was, by the looks of it, the park she always wanted to stop in on the way home, but knew she couldn't. She wouldn't have time and then her parents would come get her. She didn't want that. She frowned, squirming slightly. She panicked, not seeing Bluehornet or her teddy anymore as she whimpered and froze instantly, optics flicking off instantly, expecting the worst.
Updraft blinked, "Well good morning sleepy head," She murmured, moving to set Lei on the blanket she'd spread out. Lei sat up, frowning before seeing Bluehornet climbing about on a jungle gym, giggling and squealing excitedly to himself.
"...Ma'am," She whispered quietly, "Where's my teddy?" She asked softly, peering up at the much larger femme now. Updraft just smiled, giving a soft whistle. Leilani heard a bark and frowned, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. Teddies didn't bark...Did they?
She squealed, calling out when a blur pounced on her, said blur squirming as....something wet attacked her face and she tried to reset her optics to see. She squealed in surprise at seeing the puppy, erupting into giggles as she tried to hug it around the neck to get it to stop long enough for her to see it. The pup just squirmed, barking happily before moving to sit, panting and it's tongue lolling out of its mouth as it watched her.
Lei sat up, giggling as she wiped the slobber from her face, finally looking at the pup. His pelt was a deep, dusky grey, but he was still young, so who knew how he'd turn out to look. She giggled, noticing a dark purple ring of coloring around his left eye as Lei hugged his neck.
Updraft smiled, "He's yours. Do you have a name for him?" She asked, rubbing Lei's back, glad the medic she'd taken Lei to had been able to fix her hands before Lei had woken back up.
Lei paused, optics going wide now as the pup whined and cocked his head to the side, one ear flopping over comically. She'd never been given anything like this. Sure, hand-me-down toys, but that was nothing like this. She seemed to think for the longest time before smiling, "I wanna name him Strobe, ma'am," She grinned before pausing, uncertainty settling in, "Is...that alright?" She asked, a soft whine there, squeaking when Strobe leaned over to lick her cheek.
Updraft smiled, "Of course it is," She nodded, Bluehornet giggling as he came over. He pet the pup on the head and looked up at Draft, who just smiled, "Lei decided to name him Strobe," She explained, watching as the tiny seeker hugged Strobe around the neck with a grin.
"It's a great name Lei-Lei!" He giggled, Strobe barking his approval as Lei giggled before she paused.
Her smile fell, whining now as she fidgeted, "I can't keep him though...Mommy and daddy wouldn't let me," She whined, tears welling up once more as she shook her head. Strobe tilted his head again, padding forward to lay next to her, head resting on her leg as he whimpered up at her.
"Nonsense. I'll talk to them and, trust me, they'll let you keep it," She smiled, scooping Lei up once more as Strobe barked in complaint getting up and running a few circles as Draft stood. She tucked the blanket around, scooping Bluehornet up as Strobe followed at her heels.
"Let me drop Bluehornet off at the school and then we'll go talk to your parents while he gets his homework," She murmured. Lei nodded quietly, Strobe barking happily, tail wagging as he trotted alongside Draft now, keeping an eye on Lei in her arms.
Updraft knocked on the door to Lei's home, Mirna the one to answer since her bonded was still at work. She paused at seeing Leilani in the seekeress' arms, not even looking concerned if Lei had gotten in trouble. Draft moved to edge into the home, ignoring Mirna's indignant stammers and stutters, "Lei how about you take Strobe up to your room?" She murmured, the pup perking up at hearing his name, narrowly dodging a kick from Mirna when he grabbed Lei's bag and darted up the stairs, Lei giggling and carefully following him, using Strobe to get up the stairs quicker.
"The fuck you think you're doing barging into my home with that flea bag? Who died and made you Prim-" She was cut off, a hand around her throat as Mirna choked and gagged, airways cut off as Updraft's optics narrowed dangerously. She reached into her subspace, pulling out the small book like object as she flipped it open.
"I'm Chief Officer Updraft with Kaon Protective Services. That 'flea bag' is a Cyberwolf. Fresh out of his classes with us in being not only an attack hound but a service hound. He is to stay with Leilani at all times, regardless. He goes to school with her, he sleeps in the same room as her, he sits next to her when she takes her meals. Do I make myself clear?" She hissed venomously, optics darkening towards red in her anger.
She loosened her hold just enough so Mirna could talk, watching her expectantly now. Mirna just sneered, "You and your 'Protective Services' can cram it up your tailpipe!" She snarled, Draft smirking darkly as she pressed against Mirna firmly.
"How about if you don't follow my jurisdiction I'm going to take you down to the Slums and introduce you to some real nice mechs. Mechs that haven't had a femme as soft and spineless as you in some time," She gave a dark chuckle, her free hand stroking down Mirna's frame. It was sick, how pristine she kept herself and how badly her daughter was treated. There was no reason for it, "And while you're busy with them I'll put your son in foster care and take Leilani under my own wing. Literally," She hissed into Mirna's audio, shoving her back against the wall and moving to the door, "You're to tell your bonded you got the wolf for Lei so she doesn't bother you anymore. You are to say nothing of my visit," She hissed venomously, "Do I make myself clear?" She repeated once more to the glitch, the threat clear in her voice.
Mirna rubbed her throat, glaring daggers at the Officer now before sneering, "Crystal," She croaked out before vanishing into the kitchen to get dinner ready, knowing her bonded would be home soon and demand his meal before planting his ass in a chair and watching the television. Updraft was gone by the time Mirna thought to turn around and try and get a last insult in, sneering instead as she saw the door close.
She couldn't wait until Leilani was old enough to be kicked out.
"Well then, your parents sound like they should win a 'Best Parenting Award'," Karma sighed, shaking his head. They'd moved to the other room, Karma reclining back in a chair as Lei curled up in the corner of the couch closest to him, her tail flared across the couch.
She chuckled, "They deserved something, but I'm not sure what," She mused, a small, faint smile seen on her face, "Granted when I was that little I didn't know what Updraft was talking about when she cornered my mother. I thought it was just adults being silly. Strobe and I hid up in my room and stayed there....until the next morning," She chuckled softly.
"Sounds like you miss him," Karma frowned thoughtfully, eying her now.
"Oh that pup got me through so much. I remember laying on my bed for hours and just crying against him when Nitro was being particularly glitch-tastic," She shook her head, "I don't think I could cry now even if I had to. So much has changed," She muttered bitterly, shaking her head.
Karma reached over, patting her knee, "Hey. That's what this is for. It's supposed to help you sort through all that mess and...well I guess most would say find yourself again," He pointed out. He knew it took a lot out of her to remember it like she was, but she was doing fine so far.
She looked where his hand had patted her knee before she frowned, "And if you're afraid of what you find?" She whispered, voice just barely audible as she looked up at him, the corners of her lips tugged down into a frown.
Karma just smiled, "That's what I'm here for," He nodded, meaning nothing but friendly support as he leaned back once more, fighting a yawn at seeing it had gotten so dark outside. Where had the time gone?
He moved to stand, stretching, "Well I'm gonna go catch up on my beauty sleep, primus knows I need it," He snickered, trying to pull a chuckle from her, getting nothing more than a faint smile as he moved to grab a thermal blanket for her, setting it on the table for her, "I know the apartment gets cold, so if you need it just grab it," He chuckled, "Night Lei, see you in the morning," He nodded, patting her shoulder before moving off to the room.
Lei gave a faint smile, a hand brushing the purple blanket, wondering if he even realized the similarity as she chuckled softly, "Good night, Karmashock," She murmured, moving to curl up into the blanket, praying, if anything, that she could snag a few hours of decent recharge before her insomnia forced her back awake.