“Frag the both of you to the Pits,” Mirage all but spat at the two temperamental Minibots before turning on his heel and storming off.
By Primus, it was times like this that he really hated being stranded on some alien planet with a bunch of mechs he couldn’t really stand. None of them even remotely realized that if it wasn’t for the kind of job he did, they’d all be staring down the barrels of Decepticon weapons right now; that he put a lot on the line just so they could sleep at night.
Most of them never stopped to realize that he had feelings just like they did, and that they could be hurt, too. Ungrateful wretches, the lot of them.
Mirage slammed his fist into a slab of volcanic rock that made up part of the Ark’s exterior. Frag the lot of them, sometimes he didn’t know why he even tried. It didn’t get him anything, it didn’t win him any friends outside the few he already had.
“Ain’t fair, I know,” a voice said.
The spy looked up to see his commander sitting just a little way off, on a boulder, a long reed in his mouth.
“I’m sick of it, Jazz,” he replied. “I’m sick of all of this.”
“I know that, too.”
“Makes me want to just hit the road and not come back, because I’m tired of being looked at as the mech that’s going to sell us all out to the Decepticons one day.”
“Road’s right there, ‘Raj.”
“You’re not helping.”
“Was I supposed to?”
“How do you do it?” Mirage stepped over to where he was. “I know some of them talk about you sometimes, too. They’ll never say it to your face of course, you’re too popular with most of the guys, and all it would get them is a trip to the brig, but I know you’ve heard a few remarks, yourself.”
Jazz smirked. “Smokescreen calls me a snake, because he suspects me of hiding secrets from the others – and he’s right of course, I am – but I don’t have to tell you why I do it.”
Mirage shook his head. “But how do you deal with it all? Surely it gets to you, too.”
“Sometimes, yeah. Especially when it’s someone like Prime or Ironhide lookin’ at ya with that tiny bit o’ suspicion, as if they’re tryin’ t’determine whether this’ll be the time I turn on ‘em. They ought t’know better by now, but I still feel the stares on m’back now and then.”
“You can't win can you?” Mirage sat down below Jazz, his back to the boulder. “Becoming a better Ops agent only means isolating yourself further away from everyone else. No one really understands what we give up to keep them safe. Even Sunstreaker gets a little sympathy as a frontline warrior. The frag do we get?”
“Regret signin’ up with me then?” Jazz asked.
“No…. It’s not like I’m good at anything else anyway. My whole world has been Special Ops since the day the Towers fell. It’s all I know. I just wish… we could be a little more appreciated for what we do. At the very least, that they’d stop staring at us like we’re going to slit their energon lines in the next minute.”
Jazz gave a humorless chuckle. “Might have to one day.” Then he sighed, visor reflecting the warm blue of the overhead sky. “Wish I could get outta it, but it’s all I know, too. So we’re kinda stuck here together.”
“Could I what?”
“If Smokescreen ever did find out what you know and used it for other, less-than-noble purposes, could you put him down?”
“I asked first.”
“I’d order you to do it. So, could you?”
“That’s a cop-out answer.” Mirage smiled wryly, then frowned a little. “But… I probably could.”
“What does that make us?”
“I don’t know… I’d feel bad though.”
Mirage laughed. “Never a clear-cut answer out of you.”
“Since when has anythin’ ‘bout Special Ops been clear-cut?”
“And you never did tell me why you picked me.”
“Would it matter now?”
“No, but I’d still like to know.”
“Well, you were young,” Jazz smirked at the memory. “Horribly naïve, had no real idea of what was wrong or right. You had nothing to lose ‘cause you’d already lost everything. Same reasons I chose Bumblebee, same reasons I was chosen. Fresh slates are easier to write on than trying to erase something and write over.”
“Did you ever try to leave this life?”
“Y’know it ain’t an option. There’s no ‘out’. Y’re either in or y’re dead. We know too much for any leader to just let us go.” Jazz sat up a little straighter, looking down at the spy. “I hate myself for bringin’ the two of you into this world, but… I needed a team, and you two fit the perfect criteria.”
Mirage looked up at the mech. “It’s a prolonged death sentence then.”
“Yeah it is, I’m sorry.”
“Well it’s not totally your doing. I mean, we did say yes.”
“Yeah, you did.” Jazz smiled a bit. “Kinda glad you did. I was gettin’ lonely.”
“That’s impossible,” Mirage smirked. “You’re far too popular to ever be left alone for long. Everyone likes to be in your company.”
“An’ yet, here I am sittin’ out here, all alone until you came by.” Jazz rested an arm on a bent knee and took the reed out of his mouth.
It occurred to Mirage then that he never stopped to think of why Jazz was indeed out here in the first place. Clearly, if the spy was reading the signs right, he’d been sitting there for quite a long while, and Jazz never sought out solitude unless he was really upset about something.
“Why are you here?”
Jazz smiled a sad smile. “Closed-door meeting with the rest of the Command. Ironhide called me a traitorous, conniving, son of a glitch because I wouldn’t tell Prime what was on those weapons specs I destroyed at that ‘Con land-base.” He fingered a crack on the boulder. “He wanted to toss my aft in the brig for insubordination and treason.”
Mirage winced. “What did you tell Prime?”
“That there was nothin’ I found there that he needed to know… And he didn’t need to know about those weapons. Sure, they’d be effective against the ‘Cons, but I don’t think we’re meant t’use that kinda fire power. We’d do more harm than good with it, and this ain’t our planet t’wreck.”
“Selective truths then, eh? Can't really charge you with anything since you’re not officially lying to them.” He sighed. “Unofficially though… they can make your life a misery.” It also occurred to him the amount of grief Jazz must get from the rest of Command not just for his own actions, but also for covering up for himself and Bumblebee. “I’m sorry, Jazz.”
“Ah, ‘Hide’ll get over it. Knowin’ him, he’ll probably feel bad for sayin’ that and apologize t’me later.” He met Mirage’s optics. “Just… doesn’t make it hurt any less though. I’m sure y’know.”
“I know.” Mirage pulled himself up onto the boulder to sit beside him. “I know all too well what it’s like.” He leaned against Jazz a little bit. “Though, if it’ll make you feel better, you’re a good commander.”
Jazz, in turn, leaned against Mirage’s shoulder with a small smile of thanks. They sat that way in companionable silence for a while, just taking in the quiet scenery around them and finding comfort in each other’s presence and the fact that each could understand what the other was going through without having to say anything.
Then they heard quiet footsteps approach, and knew without even looking up that it was the third member of their team coming towards them.
“Well, here you are,” Bumblebee said. “Been looking for you two.” He had quite the grim, but satisfied expression on his face.
Jazz tilted his head. “Something happen?”
“Ironhide’s looking for you. Said he’d like to talk to you about what happened earlier today, only without the accusations. He seemed guilty about something.” Bumblebee smiled innocently.
Mirage raised an optic ridge, but didn’t say anything.
“And uh… Brawn and Cliffjumper say they’re sorry, too, ‘Raj.”
The spy grimaced. “Do they now? What brought about this change?”
Bumblebee crossed his arms. “Told them – and Ironhide – that just because we do secretive work, it doesn’t mean we’re unfeeling machines. That you go out there and do what you do because you do care about what happens to everyone else, eventhough no one seems to care much in return.” Jazz smiled and Bumblebee went on. “I just reminded them that even Special Ops agents have sparks.”
Mirage slid off the boulder and went over and hugged the Minibot. “What would we do without you?” And he meant it.
Both he and Jazz learned a long time ago to never underestimate their smallest member’s abilities. Others might forget that he was also a Special Ops agent, but the two of them never could. He’d proved to them time and again how invaluable he was in the team, so they were never condescending with him.
Jazz joined Mirage, placing a hand on the yellow mech’s shoulder. “Thanks, man. Though I hope you don’t get any grief for it in return. I know Ironhide wont do anything, but Brawn and Cliffjumper…”
“Oh, they wont try anything,” Bumblebee replied with a smirk. “I know where they sleep.”
Mirage laughed. “Sting like a bee, indeed.”
“C’mon, enough of sitting out here and moping,” the Minibot said. “Let’s go see if there’s another Decepticon base we can blow up.” Linking his arms with their, he led them inside. “I heard Wheeljack has a new toy he wants us to test out.”
Maybe Special Ops was not the ideal life that Mirage had once had back on Cybertron, and sure, it was a lonely, thankless job most of the time, but somehow having teammates who could understand him even if the rest of the galaxy couldn’t made it seem just the little bit easier to bear.