Waiting in Thirds

Character(s)/Pairing(s): Hound/Trailbreaker/Mirage, Smokescreen

Summary: Trailbreaker is severely injured in battle and the surgery is touch and go. Hound blames himself, and Mirage offers support and comfort when he returns from a mission.

Warnings: Slash, Angsting Jeep

Disclaimer: Transformers belong to Hasbro and Takara, and are licensed to IDW and Dreamworks. My original characters are my own and any similarity between them and any existing characters from canon or fandom is purely coincidental. I claim no ownership by writing this work.

Author's Notes: Big thanks to eloquencelost for taking a look and helping out with it.

Hound stood in the door of the med bay, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. He couldn't handle getting kicked out, but it was taking all his willpower to stay where he was. Half of him wanted to run away and drink himself into a stupor, the other half desperately wanted to go in and be at Trailbreaker's side. But that wouldn't accomplish anything save to get in the way and get himself banned from the medbay. So he waited and watched.

He never heard Smokescreen slip up beside him, so when the strategist placed a hand on his back he nearly jumped out of his plating. A startled cry escaped his vocalizer followed by a loud curse from Ratchet.

"Get him out of here! We do not need an audience!" the CMO snapped, never looking up from Trailbreaker's chest

Smokescreen nodded and placed a hand on Hound's arm.

"Come on. Ratchet's got it in hand. 'Breaker'll be fine, and there's nothing you can do standing here."

The Jeep just looked at Smokescreen, optics haunted. "I can't leave him here. This is all my fault, and if he-" Hound choked off and looked back into the medbay, at Trailbreaker's still form and the medics working so feverishly on him.

Smokescreen squeezed Hound's arm again to get his attention.

"Come on, mech. Ratch'll let you know the moment they're done. Let's go get some fuel, and if you want maybe we can talk." Smokescreen's voice was low and soothing, sounding sympathetic without being pittying.

Hound nodded dumbly and didn't fight as Smokescreen led him away.

"I've got some really nice mid-grade. I think you'll like it," the Datsun said as he lead Hound to his office.

The space was comforting and relaxed, more like Smokescreen's personal den than his office. Without asking for permission, Hound dropped into a chair, seeming to collapse in on himself; whatever that had been keeping him upright in the medbay draining from him in an instant. Smokescreen silently pressed a cube into Hound's hands and sat back in his chair. He sipped at his own cube and waited. Hound needed to talk, but he'd do so in his own time.

He didn't have to wait long.

"It's all my fault," the Jeep whispered. "He's in there because of me."

"How do you figure that?"

Hound looked up, obviously flabargasted. "You were there! You saw it!"

"I saw a lot of things. But I didn't see you get him hurt," Smokescreen replied calmly.

Hound just snorted and leaned back in the chair. "Then you weren't watching."

Smokescreen ignored the bitterness and continued to do what he did best. "Okay, so tell me, what is it that I should have seen, Hound?"

Hound looked up sharply and glared at the psychologist. "I don't need to be analyzed! I don't need a shrink!"

"Sorry. It's force of habit." Smokescreen shrugged and smiled a little sheepishly. "But in all seriousness, you need to talk to someone and you can't beat yourself up for what happened in the battle today."

Hound sagged, all the fight going out of him. "Who am I supposed to talk to? No offense, Smokey, but I really don't need to be analyzed right now, and I always feel like you are when we're in here."

Smokescreen nodded. "I can understand that. And I'm not going to make you do anything that you don't want to do. But what about talking with Mirage?"

Hound looked away quickly, but not quite fast enough to mask the bitterness written on his face.

"You don't like that he's been away so long, do you?" the Datsun asked gently.

"It's his job." Hound sounded like he was trying to convince himself. "Look I need to get back to the med bay."

"There's nothing you can do there save get in the way," Smokescreen replied. "You have to have faith that Ratchet knows what he's doing."

"I know that," Hound replied sullenly. "I know that ..." He looked down at his cube and fiddled with it before looking up at Smokescreen sharply. "How do you figure that that wasn't my fault? I distracted him. I messed up and now he's-" Hound broke off with a choked sound.

Smokescreen moved next to Hound and brushed the side of his helm gently. "Hound, it's not your fault. We were outnumbered, our plan was flawed. One of us was bound to get hurt and it's a miracle that more of us weren't."

"Not a miracle. That was all Trailbreaker," Hound replied with a slightly besotted smile

"Yeah, it was." A small, satisfied smile pulled at Smokescreen's lips. He brushed Hound's helm again lightly before moving back to his chair. "Look, Special Ops should be back from their mission soon, and someone will need to talk Mirage about all this."

Hound's optics paled at that. "Primus! What am I going to tell Raj?"

"That Breaker's in the best care possible and he'll be back on his feet in no time. And you need to believe that too." Smokescreen emphasized that with a pointed look. "Now why don't you go back to your quarters and rest. I'll go check on the med bay and I promise you that I'll let you know the moment he's out of surgery."

Hound nodded and finished his cube. "Okay. Fine. But you need to tell me the second he's out of surgery. I want to be right there when he wakes up."

"You will be," Smokescreen replied. "I promise."

Hound came online to the feeling of gentle fingers tracing over his chest. Before he opened his optics he knew who was there. The touch, the smell, the sound ... everything about the feeling was Mirage.

"You're back," he whispered as he onlined his optics. As always, he was blown away by the spy. The fact that someone so gorgeous, so completely perfect, could love him was mind boggling.

"Now don't you get all soppy with me, Hound. I know that look and I know what it means," Mirage chided.

He leaned in to kiss Hound. "I love you. Don't ask why and don't ask how. It doesn't matter," he whispered against Hound's lips.

Hound pulled Mirage close and nuzzled into him. The two of them were practically drowned in the massive berth without TB there, and even though they were together, it felt empty.

"What happened?" Mirage asked into Hound's neck.

Hound was silent for a long time, just holding Mirage in his arms. When he spoke his voice was small and hesitant.

"We were called in to San Diego. The Decepticons were attacking a science lab that was working on a new fuel compound. It was me, 'Breaker, Smokey, Tracks, and Cliffjumper. The report said it was the Coneheads and Reflector. Everything looked like we should have been able to handle it. When we got there ... the reports were wrong. We were outnumbered and outgunned. But by the time we realized that, it was too late. The Cons had managed to set off a chair reaction in the lab."

Mirage hugged Hound and rubbed his back gently. "And then what?" he prompted quietly.

"It's all a blurr then. You know how things get," Hound replied. "We were trying to stop the lab from blowing up, and I got separated from the others. Next thing I knew Dirge and Thrust were there and Trailbreaker had a forcefield around me. He saved my life and-" He choked off and burried his face his Mirage's shoulder.

Mirage sat up and looked down at Hound. "You're blaming yourself, aren't you?"

Hound sighed and brushed Mirage's cheek. "I know I shouldn't. But at the same time I can't help thinking that if I hadn't been so stupid to get separated, this never would have happened."

Mirage leaned into the touch and dimmed his optics slightly. "Smokescreen gave me a rundown when I got in, and it sounds to me that none of this was your fault. And I think that you know that too." There was no recrimination in his tone. Just love and comfort.

Hound offlined his optics and pain was etched on his face. "When I saw him fall ... Raj I thought we'd lost him. I never thought anything could touch him."

Mirage traced the lines of Hound's helm. "But we didn't. Ratchet said he pulled through the surgery just fine and he should be online in a few hours."

Hound onlined his optics and looked up at Mirage in surprise. "He's okay? Smokescreen said he would tell me when Breaker was out of surgery!"

"He told me and I told you. Now are you going to lie here feeling sorry for yourself or are you going to come with me to medbay? I know that Trailbreaker will be happy to see both of us there." Mirage leaned in and kissed Hound gently before getting off the berth.

Hound sat up and took Mirage's hand in his own. "Thank you, Raj." He pulled the spy into a hug.

"Nothing to thank. You'd do the same for me. You'd just be more soppy about it," Mirage teased as he kissed the tip of Hound's nose. "Now come on. I want to be there when our better third wakes up."

Hound chuckled and followed Mirage out the door and to the medbay.