Yay for updates and new computers! I'm relieved to not be sharing a Compaq with anymore. I don't share well with others. Sorry about the wait.

Mirage felt like every system in his body suddenly stopped cold. From his creators to his instructors to his prior lovers "we need to talk" had always translated to "I'm disappointed with you," in Miragese.

Hound felt Mirage stiffened in his arms. Okay, maybe he could have phrased that better, but he liked to think he was the straight forward type. Hound released his hold and took a few steps back so he could look at Mirage's face. "Trailbreaker told me about your little disagreement in the break room."

"Did he now?" Mirage's tone was flat. "What did he say?" Ugly scenarios of Trailbreaker blaming the whole thing on him raced through his processor. Not that Mirage could honestly believe Trailbreaker was capable of doing such a thing, but it was hard for the noble to let go of the lessons he learned growing up.

Hound reached out and gently grasped Mirage's chin and forced his optics back up. Hearing that tone and knowing Mirage could be prone to taking things the wrong way he had to consider his words carefully. He didn't want this to become a big issue. Well, bigger than it already was.

"Why don't you tell me your side of the story first?" he asked offering what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

It took all of two seconds for Mirage to decide, that as tempting as it was, he couldn't lie. If Trailbreaker had "exaggerated" to Hound, something Mirage doubted if he was honest with himself, then the damage was already done. And if Trailbreaker's version had been more 'balanced" then lying now would do the damage.

Sighing he started talking. He admitted that he started the war of words and that he all but accused the strategist of scheduling the camping trip to conflict with his plans on purpose. When he was done he stepped back and awaited Hound's reaction. As the silence grew so did the temptation to start blurting out justifications and explanations, but his pride was stronger. Barely.

Hound was relieved that Mirage chose to own up to his part in the argument. "Mirage, listen to me. It's disappointing to hear that two grown mechs could behave like sparklings. Don't interrupt," Hound gently ordered when Mirage tried to. 'I'm gonna tell you the very same thing I told him. There is enough room in my life for the both of you. However, I will not stand by and watch you two act like this."

"Hound, I do regret my actions. I…" Mirage trailed off. He wasn't used to apologizing and didn't know what to say or do. He was afraid he would only make things worse.

Hound could sense Mirage's unease and it took all his self control not to just wrap the smaller mech in a hug and let the matter drop. But, he had to make it clear that this had to stop. "'Raj, I'm not asking you to be best friends. I just want you to give him the respect he deserves and for him to give you the respect you deserve. I just need you to promise that you will try harder to get along with 'Breaker. Can you do that?"

"For you, Hound, I will Endeavour to be more amiable to Trailbreaker," Mirage's tone was unsure. He wasn't sure if that would satisfy the tracker. He hoped it would. This whole conversation had made his insides churn in a painful manner.

Hound heard the unease in Mirage's voice and this time he gave in to the urge to embrace him. If he noticed it took Mirage a little longer to return the embrace he didn't comment on it. "Cut the fancy talk, 'Raj. I'll take that as a yes. Now, what did you have planned for tonight?"

Mirage cringed at "fancy talk". He hadn't notice that he fell back into his old habit of using formal speech when upset. "Well, I thought we could watch a movie I borrowed from Jazz."

"Which movie?"

"The Da Vinci Code." Mirage had also borrowed Casablanca, but suddenly it didn't seem like a good idea to watch a movie about a doomed love affair. Besides, Hound would probably appreciate the artwork featured in the movie.

"Jazz owns that?" Hound asked in disbelief. That didn't seem to be the type of movie the TIC would have. Jazz struck him as someone who would own movies in the "explosions and car chases" genre.

"Technically I think it's Prowl's. We don't have to watch it." The unsure tone was back. What if Hound didn't want to watch a movie? Or even stay the night?

"No, it sounds good," Hound was quick to reassure him. He pulled Mirage toward the berth hoping they could put this behind them.

Trailbreaker finally made it back to his quarters after dropping off the samples he collected for Perceptor. As he collapsed on his berth he wondered how things were going in Mirage's quarters. The best he could hope for was that Hound managed to convince Mirage that he wasn't a threat to their relationship.

At the very least he hoped Hound and Mirage didn't have a major falling out. An upset Mirage was never a good thing. It was one of the unwritten rules of the Ark that if you upset one Special Ops mech you drew the unwanted attention of the other Special Ops mechs. Not that Jazz and Bumblebee would hurt Hound. They would just prank the poor scout unmercifully.

Trailbreaker also hoped Hound would figure out the right words to say to Mirage. Hound had admitted once that in some ways it was easier for the tracker to talk to him than to Mirage. He tended to take things at face value while Mirage tended to look for hidden meaning even if there was none. Trailbreaker remembered thinking that he was actually glad he wasn't a Towers mech when he heard that. He couldn't imagine always being on guard with everyone and questioning everything.

As he settled down for recharge he prayed that things were not about to go from bad to worse.

The next morning Trailbreaker was just finishing his energon when Hound and Mirage walked in. As they walked over to him he noted that neither looked overly upset and took this as a good sign. "Morning," he said as soon as the couple reached his table.

"Morning," Hound responded. "Mirage, why don't you have a seat and I'll go get our rations?" Without waiting for a response Hound turned and headed toward the dispenser.

Mirage stared at his retreating back for a few moments. Did Hound really think it was a good idea to leave them alone? Wasn't that how this mess started? He slid into an empty chair across from Trailbreaker without making optic contact.

Trailbreaker realized that it would be up to him to make the first move. "Mirage, I just wanted to say I'm sorry about the other day."

Mirage's head shot up. "There's no need to apologize. I also have regrets about what happened. We both behaved less than admirably." To his surprise Mirage realized he actually meant those words. It wasn't like Mirage wanted to be Trailbreaker's new best buddy, but it was always nice to have a friendly acquaintance or two.

"Truce?" Trailbreaker wanted this tension to end. Not only for his sake but Hound's as well.

Mirage studied the proffered hand for a moment before reaching for it. "Truce."

"Well, that's a start," Hound was positively beaming as he dropped into the seat between them. This was a step in the right direction.

It was a shame the truce would only last for a week.

Oh no! A kinda sorta cliff hanger. Once again: Sorry for the wait. Please review. Off to work on the new chapter of my other story