WARNING: EXTREMELY MATURE AND DISTURBING THEME. NON-GRAPHIC SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR. Since this is also a snapshot of Fireflight's backstory, DO NOT READ if you can't handle it.

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Whisper has many secrets.

Stealth recon is his job. He flies in, dark and silent, then flies out with information he wasn't meant to have. He has a good record, and his employers trust him. They don't know or don't care that he sometimes keeps secrets to himself, and sells them later to others who pay more. After all, the less they know about his business, the easier it is to deny association with him if he ever gets caught. And they're exploiting him, so it's only fair that he exploit them in return.

He has a few secrets of his own, too.

The little red jet is one of them. Whisper took him out of the foundry not too long ago. Said he wanted a companion, someone to train in the arts. Not that he intends to teach the kid what he really does. There's competition enough in that line of work, anyway. Besides, he doesn't really have the knack for stealth.

Sure has a knack for noticing things, though. Whisper makes a living from details and even he doesn't have optics like this kid does.

Sometimes he shows him photographs or documents from his missions, and more often than not his young companion is able to offer fresh insight. Of course, he doesn't realize what he's doing. The kid is spacey. Not just a little spacey -- he's way out there in furthest orbit, watching something completely different than everybody else. It's a wonder he can function, really. Whisper has to take care of him a lot. He forgets to refuel himself even if you place a cube right in front of him. He'll stare for hours at a spot on the wall if you don't catch his attention somehow. He doesn't talk much either, for a gamma his age. Some kind of developmental problems. Whisper doesn't know if the foundry screwed something up or what.

Still, he's easy to manage and the arrangement suits Whisper fine. It's kind of nice having him around. A lone existence gets boring after a while. And the spaceyness has its advantages, as long as you don't let him out of the apartment alone. He's gotten lost twice, and after that, Whisper keeps the door locked. The red jet doesn't go out unless Whisper is with him to keep him from flying into the side of a building (which has also happened). He sits on the balcony and contemplates the towers and seems generally rather contented, much as anyone can tell.

When Whisper finishes working, he comes out to join him. The sky-blue optics don't look in his direction at first; they're fixed on some point of interest that could be anywhere from here to the horizon. The stealth jet reaches up and strokes his wing lightly, tracing the seam, the flap twitching involuntarily. After a moment the red jet speaks.

"Can we go out flying today?"

The caressing hand glides up his back. "Not right now, pet. It's getting dark, and all the little lights will hypnotize your pretty optics. I'll take you out tomorrow."

There may be a slight pout, but it's hard to tell. The red jet huddles against him with a sigh, wanting to be hugged if he can't go out. Whisper puts both arms around him and draws him gently away from the balcony, away from the sky, back into the apartment where he's safe. The longing optics gradually grow dull when there's nothing left to look at, and the red jet leans into his caretaker, a docile puppet.

"Wonderful pet," Whisper croons. He settles down with the young mech in his lap, holding him securely in place, even though he isn't struggling. The red jet doesn't flinch or shy away as the hands run over him, claiming him. He knows it won't hurt. He knows Whisper will take care of him. He doesn't know what molestation is, or why he often feels sick afterwards, like the world is spinning out of control. He doesn't know that his immature processor is eroding, already damaged by too many intimate encounters; he thinks this is love.

It suits Whisper just fine. Spaceyness has its advantages. And with all the secrets he carries around for others, it's nice to have a few of his own. Besides, he takes care of the kid. He really does.

"I love you," he says, the young mech turned now, almost facing him. He takes the red jet's chin in his hand and tries to make optic contact. "Can you tell me you love me?"

The lips move, parroting the words. The optics remain vacant. They stare, somewhere between contented and catatonic, at a patch of fading daylight thrown onto the wall by the open window, as darkness claims the rest of him once again. . .

. . . And in the darkness of the present, lying wide awake on his berth with his teammates' engines humming softly all around, Fireflight stares at the ceiling with ever-open optics, a thousand secrets and whispers hidden behind the distant, empty gaze.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: I didn't mean to offend anyone, but horrible as this subject is, it's one that should be portrayed honestly in my belief. Also, it is important to Fireflight's character. This is a one-shot, but there will be related stories soon which will deal with the other Aerialbots' reaction to learning of this. THERE WILL BE SNUGGLES, so for those of you who sat through the Fireflight trauma, you will be rewarded with fluff. Thanks to all of my readers.