Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers or any of its characters.
This is part of the "More Than A Leader" series, which will be about Optimus Prime and his relationships with the Autobots. It will mostly on the view of the said Autobot and how they perceive Optimus, whether he is a hero, friend, fatherly figure, brother, leader or something else to them.
This one-shot can stand alone, without support or continuance from the other soon-to-come stories. You can read the stories in whatever order you wish.
Mirage has always struck me as a pompous sort of guy, him being from a higher social status than most Autobots. He'd probably take pride in being able to turn invisible, him being the only Autobot that can. Which makes me wonder, what would happen if a certain someone was able to see through that?
Seeing The Unseeable
Invisibility was his pride.
If he wanted to, Mirage could appear and disappear at will. It was his secret and joy. No other Autobot had the ability and the ability alone made him unique, special, different. Set him apart from other Autobots. Set him apart from others from the same status and ranking as him.
On this particular day, he was hiding from the twins, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe, with a healthy good reason. They were up to their pranks again and anyone unfortunate enough would ruefully get caught up in it.
He was about to reach the lounge, where there would be other mechs in the room, also where he would be much safer there than being out in the hallways alone. There, he would "reappear" to the world. Only for him to see Optimus Prime heading his way, thoroughly skimming over a datapad. Mirage stopped, hesitating, wondering if he should switch his invisibility mode off and greet his commander.
But no sooner did he come to a decision, did Optimus looked directly towards him, his blue optics looking right at him, and nonchalantly said, " Good morning, Mirage" before walking past him.
Mirage stood still, rooted on the spot for some time, struck dumb and speechless. How could Optimus possibly see him when he was evidently invisible? Perhaps he was making too much noise when he was walking today. He did that sometimes when he was in the foulest of moods. And trying to outrun the twins on their prank spree certainly did count. Yes, that had to be the reason. There was no other plausible explanation as to why Prime was able to see him when he shouldn't. All other possible reasons were simply impossible.
A few days later, on another morning, Mirage woke up a little earlier than he usually does, unable to recharge again. Wondering why he couldn't have a few more hours of decent recharge, he irritably headed to the lounge, remaining unseen so that he could avoid the nauseatingly jolly mechs in the morning. Like Bumblebee or Bluestreak. Those types of mechs should be kept offline to spare him and other cranky mechs of their merry cheer.
He decided to take a different route to the lounge, in hopes he wouldn't meet with the Autobot leader, thus making the same mistake twice. He refused to be caught again while invisible and he vowed to keep his pride from wavering like that again. He knew he was acting irrationally, but Mirage did have a reputation as a spy to keep.
Just as he reached the lounge, he was surprised to find Optimus conversing deeply with Ironhide and Ratchet, already in the lounge. Just about to curse his so-called plan to avoid the charismatic leader, Mirage realized Optimus' back was facing him. Not to mention being engaged in conversation, leaving little room to do other things. Such as noticing the invisible him. He grinned to himself. There was no way Prime could see him now, unless he had optics planted at the back of his head. Which he was pretty sure Ratchet didn't do.
Tip-toeing towards to counter, he quickly grabbed an energon drink and was only a few seconds away from leaving, when Optimus suddenly looked over his shoulder and asked him, " Up earlier than usual, Mirage?"
He nearly dropped the energon. He hastily spun around, only to see Optimus casually returning to his conversation, acting as if there had been no interruption. The two mechs whom Prime was talking to, were confused until they saw a floating energon drink departing viciously, its contents spilling messily on the ground.
Over the course of the next few days, Mirage opted to maintain being invisible. He purposely walked by many other Autobots, unseen to their optics, just to see if any reaction was made towards him. They didn't notice him, even when a strange breeze brushed past them or a slight sweep of something skimmed against their arm. Not even Red Alert or Prowl suspected something when he deviously made faces at the back of their heads.
So how did Optimus do it?
The thought burned in his head, twisting, turning and utterly driving him insane. How was it that the Autobot leader was able to see him? No one else could, so how was Prime able to?
Matters came to an end, late in the evening, when Mirage crept past the usual unsuspecting Autobots on the way to Prime's office. He stood in front of the door, glaring at it, like it was the one thing that stopped him from finding out Prime's secret. Finally, he crossly punched in the numbers to the door.
The door was barely half-way opened when Optimus, without looking up from his immense amount of paperwork, spoke, addressing him clearly.
" How may I help you, Mirage?"
Huffing indignantly, he turned off his invisibility device and glared at his commander. " How did you do it?" he demanded, all manners of conduct forgotten.
Optimus looked up calmly at the exasperated mech and said the most possibly infuriatingly words known to machine. " How do I do what?"
Nearly blowing a circuit, Mirage forced himself to remain calm, fists clenching at his fists, optics narrowing at his leader. " How are you able to see me when I'm invisible?" he asked in a very restrained voice.
" Hmm. I'm not too sure myself," Prime idly pondered out loud. His optics crinkled in amusement. " Perhaps, instinct?"
" What do you mean you don't know?!" Mirage burst out, feeling both silly and inferior. Two things he didn't like to experience. It was as if Prime was mocking him, teasing and tantalizing the remains of his pride. The fact that the Autobot commander merely seemed entertained by his misery made it all the more frustrating. " Instinct? It makes no sense whatsoever!" he spluttered out indignantly.
" If anything, I should know," Optimus affirmed mildly, acting as if he was facing a child with a nasty temper. " Mirage, you have been on my team, serving the Autobots and myself, for several years now. More than I could count. What kind of leader would I be if I didn't know my officers?"
The strange part was that it actually made sense. " But - but, that still doesn't explain everything," he retorted. " I have known Ratchet and Prowl and many others just as long." Why are you different? he meant to say.
" Well, I am Prime," Optimus cheekily reminded him, a hint of mirth skipping over in his voice.
At that, Mirage was promptly taken back, staring and blinking dumbly. Did Optimus just cracked a joke? If he looked closely enough, he could have sworn that Optimus was grinning and fighting hard not to lose his composure behind his mask. A bubble of giddiness nearly wrecked through his frame and a chuckle slipped out. " Is that your excuse for everything?" he managed to choke out, trying to look severe.
Optimus dipped his head, flashing him a look that caused him to recall the one time Hound had brought in a puppy and the puppy had every mech wrapped around its little finger with just a mere glance. In some ways more than one, Optimus was almost like that puppy. " I'm afraid so, Mirage," he answered with such gravity that he couldn't help snorting gracelessly.
He shook his head, suddenly feeling much lighter and better than he did in days. " You haven't answered my question, sir," Mirage pointed out.
" As I said before. Instinct is the best alternative disclosure." The mischievous gleam in Optimus' optics were undeniably unmistakable.
Mirage sighed. " I'll never find the answer, will I?"
" Perhaps none of us will," Optimus remarked solemnly.
But as he left the room, Mirage no longer felt the driving need to find out what it was anymore. Optimus, for a lack of better words, was Prime. He was their leader and can be frightfully omnipotent at times, knowing his officers well enough to the point of frustration or annoyance for his team. However, none of them, not even Mirage, would want that to change.
The very next morning, none of the Autobots seemed to understand why Optimus had said, " Good morning, Mirage" when Mirage wasn't clearly there.
Even more surprising, was hearing Mirage's soft reply of " Good morning, Optimus."