A/N: This could be considered a companion fic to 'Undercover,' but it also stands on its own just fine. It makes reference to some things talked about in the other fic, and it answers a question that I know bugged some people when I wouldn't answer.


"Well, it's a good thing you guys don't scar, huh?"

Just one little sentence made without any real meaning behind it. He'd just said it to make a fun jibe at Sunny's expense. After all, we all know that the yellow warrior would rather be slagged than live with an imperfect body.

Sunstreaker had just had his chestplate and a shinguard replaced entirely, and now they looked just as shiny and new as if he'd just been created. You'd never know from looking at him that he'd just spent the last week in intensive surgery. That's definitely what Spike was referring to when he said it.

Now Spike is a good kid. Primus, he's gonna be a mechanic to outshine his dad at the rate he's going. Loyal and brave to boot. But honestly, didn't he know better?

I almost felt sorry for him. Kid didn't even know why the room suddenly went real quiet or why Sideswpe stared at him quite the way he did. I spared a quick glance to Sparkplug who looked right back at me. Sparkplug knew at least. He'd gone through Hell and back, same as us. He used to be a soldier. He knew.

Spike was just a kid, how could he know better? But that still didn't stop a little part of me from being furious at what he said so carelessly.

Of course we scar. We're some of the most scarred creatures in the universe.

Just because you can make us look shiny and new, doesn't mean we don't feel every injury we've ever gotten even centuries after they'd been inflicted. And it doesn't mean the scars aren't just as visible to those who know where to look.

Look into a mech's optics and it'll tell you just how scarred he is.

Every time.

Why do you think I wear my visor?

There are rumors, of course, on why. I never told anyone and I dodge the questions, so naturally that makes people curious. My favorite one is that I'm blind without it either by faulty optics or a past battle. Prowl, I think, knows. Bumblebee too. Man, it doesn't matter that he's young enough for half of us to be his creator, but you just can't get anything past him. Sometimes it's just plain scary to look into his optics and see just how much of a sparkling he isn't. Maybe later he'll explain it all to Spike so he doesn't say anything like that again. Maybe not. I figured out a long long time ago that half of what he says and does is an act, and I doubt he'll want to give that act up.

Truth is we're all scarred, physically and mentally. The twins have been reconstructed by scratch so many times that I doubt they really have anything left from their original bodies. Maybe a human can't tell, but I can. I was trained to tell. Others can tell too, but I don't know how much. The brothers' optics have twice the pain in them that they should. As far as they're concerned, they've had twice the amount of injuries. Their own pain and their brother's.

Ratchet and Prowl's optics are almost the same. A sort of… detached pain. It's their optics that I really don't like to look into, because I don't see the 'scars' that I expect to. They're trying to keep all that away, but they can't. They feel every one of our injuries and they have to shut down parts of themselves or they wouldn't be able to handle it, I think. Force it somewhere else. They can't care about us like we do. I've seen medics go insane before and I've seen higher officers snap under the pressure and guilt. It'll eat you alive if you don't watch out.

Optimus wears his battlemask to hide some of it, I'm sure. He forgot that it's easier to hide a frown.

Blue's optics just hurt to look into. Mirage, Cliffjumper, Tracks, Brawn… how can I stay annoyed with them after what I've seen in their optics? Maybe others can, but I just can't stay mad at anyone on base, I think. I've even seen the same things in the Decepticons' optics too whenever I got close enough to look. And as much as I want to ignore it and hate them anyway… I can't.

During my training as a young Special Ops agent, I was taught all sorts of things. How to scale a building with nothing but your body. How to hack into the most secure systems. How to sweet talk your way outta Hell when you need to. How to kill someone without someone in the next room hearing a thing. How to make someone talk when they'd rather die than give in to you.

How to figure out how to break someone just by looking at them, and then how to do it.

I'm not proud of everything I was in the past. I did some things that I'd sooner forget ever happened. But I know I was a good student. I learned it all, and I was slagging good too. The only downside to this is that my skills aren't just something you can turn off. I can't look at someone and not think of what makes them tick. Not that I'd ever hurt them, but if I ever had to…

It was right after Prowl and I met I think. We were young then, just kids really. I was in training same as he, but in different programs. I can't remember now exactly how we met, but I remember thinking that maybe I could make an exercise of it. Like how I know Bumblebee exercises his skills now. I had learned how to read someone, and I wondered if I could actually do it outside of a classroom. He was a friend after all, no harm done. It was just for fun and curiosity.

I remember getting that visor soon after. He never said anything about it, but I know he noticed. Does Prowl even know now why I got it? Fact is, it was so easy to read him. So slagging easy. And we were just kids too, he didn't have a fraction of what I see in his optics now. Not a fraction of the scars. But I remember that I never wanted someone doing that to me too. I didn't want anyone knowing how to break me. I didn't want them to see my own scars which have only grown since I left school.

There's an added benefit of my visor too. If I wear it, no one has to know that I don't always make optic-contact with them. With the ones who are hurt the most, with little Blue and the twins and some others, I just can't look at it anymore. I want the pain to go away. I want the scars to fade like they do on organics. But they never fade. Never.

Not to say that my cheerfulness is an act. Far from it; I love life and I love music and laughter and jokes and everything else that makes you alive. During my training I even learned some respect and affection for the darker sides of life. But it's the joy I love the most. I love to make others laugh, to make those scars go away for just an hour, a minute, a second.

Maybe that's why we have so many pranksters on base. You learn to love the feeling of not hurting, and it becomes addicting. You want to laugh so badly that you actively seek it if it doesn't come to you first. We'd have lost it a long time ago if we couldn't laugh.

Yeah, kid, we scar. We scar in the worst ways possible.


A/N: This was written mainly as a result of me being frustrated with how little I've been getting accomplished in my other stories. I was in a rut, and just wanted to 'write' something regardless. This being said, it was written very quickly by my standards and wasn't planned one bit, so I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet. I'm generally pleased with it though. Stella's gettin' her groove back!