Jetfire-angst. Because I was bored. Takes place before Armada, before Jetfire was made Second-In-Command, during his earlier days back on Cybertron. Sorta-ties in to my other fics, though not strictly necessary to read 'em. Surge is an energy enhancing drug that often becomes addictive to new recruits. That's pretty much all you need to know.

Disclaimer: HASBRO owns Jetfire. Jetfire's past and screwy little mind are all mine, baby! cackle

Thanks to Skins Thunderbomb for beta-ing. ((bows))

Looking At The Stars

The back alleyways of Iacon were not a sparkling tourist trap at any time of the day. However, at night, when Cybertron's pink-grey sky lost what light it had and turned to deep black, it was often difficult to distinguish between some paint-and-Primus-forsaken dump outside a bar and the glittering, majestic towers that littered the city's skyline.

In Jetfire's opinion. Jetfire's drunken, semi-conscious opinion.

The white mech lay on his front, arms splayed apart and stared dully at the wall facing him. It was a depressing affair, even by the war-torn Iacon's low standards. Riddled with cracks, singed with laser-fire from those who couldn't keep their fury inside the bar. A reddish stain of spilt high-grade streaked over the ground.

What a waste, thought the flyer unfeelingly.

This was not the lowest moment of his life. Not even close. But what made it particular sour in his mouth was the drug-induced realization that he could not, in fact, quite remember what the lowest point in his life had been. Several moments had suggested themselves, but not one was he able to pinpoint as the absolute worst. They gelled together in the electric haze, parading across his memory like some ghastly thing from a swamp. All he could be absolutely sure of was that this was not the worst one.

Pretty close, though. Probably.

The come-down was never the worst part, mused a small part of his mind. This he was also sure of. What was worse was the initial rush, the racing of artificial power through his circuits as artificial energy took him and his mind dissolved into sugar. What was worse was feeling his mental processes breaking apart, consciously witnessing the loss of control for the sake of-what? Fleeting pleasure?

Not pleasure. 'Surge', that was its name, never caused any sensation he could identify with pleasure. As the effect took hold there was…excitement, yes. Confusion. Exhilaration, but it was sobbing exhilaration, sure in the knowledge of what the twenty second escape, twenty second high would cost him.

This. This alley, this moment, this ache all through his systems, this pounding head.

He turned his attention elsewhere.

Cybertron's pollution-darkened sky was a deep, enchanting pink during the day. Here and there would be traces of grey smoke, signifying more noxious fumes that flyers did best to avoid. But at night, now, the clouds were replaced with eerie, purple monstrosities, looming like dragons again the backdrop of a pure night sky. It was this he tried to focus on now, instead of the clouds.

Focus itself was a difficult task. His mind lay in groaning fragments, and trying to pull it back together only succeeded in turning the fragments into a screaming whole. Nonetheless, he tried anyway, regardless of the immense, sweeping agony, suddenly desperate to get a grip on something real, something stable.

Pain stabbing regularly through his head, he looked up and saw stars. A smile crossed his concealed lips, hidden behind the ugly mask contraption he had fixed onto himself. His optics lightened slightly, losing some of their dull, untargeted fog. Ah, that was better. Good. Good, that was good, yes, that was fine. Mighty fine that was. He could see the sky, black and black and simple, he could see the tiny points of light that dotted it. Stars, gazing down at him, stars, safe in the pure black heavens, stars, lost in the dark. The idea appealed to him, with a head full of Surge and bright neon glass.

Wish I was flying.

Oh, to be up there. To be soaring through it, surrounded by unquestioning heaven and heaven's own lights. That would be nice. Really nice. His wings felt like lumps of clay and his systems were nowhere near up to the task of flying, but suddenly he felt rather inclined to try.

A face appeared to block the view, much to his disappointment.

Jetfire blinked, wincing at the pain this caused in his sensors, and almost cried out at being denied his stars. Instead, he adjusted his gaze slowly to the face itself. The silver mask was the first thing apparent, and then the optics-golden, like his own- then the blue…

This time he did groan, causing his damaged vocals to protest weakly.

"Oh, Primus. Not you…"

The figure above him sighed audibly and shook its head. Then Optimus reached down and placed his hand over Jetfire's brow, feeling the overheated circuitry beneath it. The shuttle winced at the contact, and Optimus sighed again.

"Ow, quit it, dammit, that hurts…"

Optimus withdrew his hand, giving another of those irritating, mother-always-told-me-there'd-be-days-like-this sighs.

"You're a mess, Jetfire."

Jetfire knew this, knew it very well. Dimly he wandered why his friend felt the need to point it out. Feeling irrationally annoyed, the shuttle tried to manoeuvre himself upward, against his better judgement. He was becoming accustomed to raking pain, and so ignored the shrieking of his back sensors. It took trial and error, but eventually he succeeded in sitting upright. This done, he slowly tilted his head upwards and found Optimus, standing above him with his arms folded. The silver faceplate concealed most expression, yet somehow the blue Autobot managed to convey both aggravation and relief at the same time.

Jetfire transferred his gaze from his partner's glowing optics to the sky. The clouds had shifted, but it was still possible to make out a patch of utter, star-spattered black amongst the purple. Against all reason- certainly against the torturous cries of his head- the shuttle smiled. A genuine smile, if not a particularly pleasant one to look at.

"Hey, Op. How're ya?"

A third sigh was his only response, as the larger Autobot bent down and helped the sullied flyer to his feet.