Summary: Mirage and Air Raid are forced to face something neither of them are familiar with.

Pairings: Mirage/Air Raid (main) Mentioned: Blaster/Soundwave, Prowl/Jazz, Perceptor/Wheeljack, Optimus/Megatron, Ratchet/Ironhide (let me know if I missed any.)

Warnings: Bonding, violence

Rating: T

Notes: This is rated T because I do not consider bonding slash. Read and review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers. I own only Jazz and Prowl's daughters and sons.

Gunshots rang across the scenery. A stray blast hit a power line, causing it to spark and fall onto an unsuspecting mech. Smoke billowed from the telephone pole. Another mech raced over, ducking fire as he moved to free him. The others were too occupied to offer their help. Humans raced away from the scene of destruction, yelling and screaming for no apparent reason other than complete, total fear. A small, young mech herded them away with his free hand while the other gripped a pistol tight, firing at the enemy when they came too close or presented an extreme threat. His yellow armor flashed as he shielded the organics, but there was no fear in his defiant optics. Shouts and commands came from both leaders. They mingled with the smell of gunpowder, burnt circuits and hot metal. The taste of blood was in everyone's mouth, no one having been lucky enough to avoid being hit. No side seemed ready to retreat. In fact, they were pushing closer to the city. Cries of the wounded bit into the sound of the battle, causing some to turn and wonder who it was this time, if it was serious. However, they continued to press their attack. Nothing was turning the tide of this battle.

A shot ripped into the shoulder of a blue and white mech. He was thrown to the right by the power of the blast, battle pistol falling to the ground as his hand released it to clamp over the hole in his arm. He gritted his dentals as energon began to seep onto his palm. He dropped his left hand from the wound and scooped up his pistol, firing at random into the Decepticon troops. Mirage was not a fighter, but he did not like being shot. Two out of six found their mark. Satisfied when they fell to nurse their wounds, Mirage smiled, ignoring the pain in his own shoulder.

The mech's cobalt blue armor was hard to miss against the burning grass behind him. Flames leapt up. Mirage never had to deal with this back on Cybertron. He had been forced to choose between being arrested for avoiding the draft or joining the war. The grounder had been very likely one of the richest mechs on Cybertron before the fall of the Golden Age. He was above all of this. However, prison was not an option. So now here he was, wasting his life trying to end a war he had not started that continued to drag on without purpose.

A piece of burning wood crashed down over his back, but he managed to wriggle from beneath it and continue firing. This battle was pointless.

"To the city!" screamed a glossy gunmetal-gray mech, flinging his arm out to wave them forward. His Decepticons began to melt into the grays and blacks of civilization. Others were easier to track, but they were soon hidden away in some alley or parking garage. Megatron waited until he was certain they were evenly dispersed before allowing himself to remotely relax. He turned to his second-in-command. "Starscream," he growled softly. "You know what to do."

The white and red jet's wings twitched eagerly, "It will be done on time, my Lord." His voice, too, was soft as to prevent the Autobots from hearing. He transformed and disappeared into the sky while Megatron became apart of the city.

"Optimus," groaned the mech that had been trapped beneath the telephone pole. "The best strategy would be…" He paused, doorwings moving slowly and loud coughs leaving his burned frame as Ratchet knelt by him to begin repairs. Mirage watched Jazz trot over and kneel by his companion. Even with the visor, Mirage knew that his optics were probably glazed with tears. "To move in and split up. Take them down in small groups."

"Thank you, Prowl," rumbled Optimus. "All those seriously wounded, stay here with Ratchet and First Aid."

Mirage watched his closest friend, Hound, limp over alongside Bluestreak and Perceptor. Red Alert had to be carried by Inferno. He sighed softly. This war needed to come to an end as soon as possible.

"Silverbolt, take the Aerialbots and stay above the city. Come down only if you're certain it's necessary."

The silvery mech nodded to the Autobot leader. "Aerialbots-"

"Yeah, we know the drill, Silverbolt." Air Raid transformed, the white jet tearing through the skies but not before rolling and looping to show off. Mirage rolled his optics at the mech's antics.

"Autobots, roll out." Optimus stood stoic while his troops parted around him to slip into the city. Mirage gripped his pistol tightly as he patrolled the city streets, knowing he could rely solely on his skills as a hand-to-hand fighter if necessary. He slunk through the alleys, body tense as he encountered no resistance. Strange. His head turned, audios trying to catch any sound they could. Nothing? This was never a good sign.

Something moved on his left. He turned sharply, firing into oblivion. A tomcat hissed at him indignantly, picking up a dead rat before glaring at him. The furry, albeit battle-scarred beast stomped away, tail twitching in annoyance. Mirage lowered his pistol. He could tell the cat had once been pampered by the way it walked, the way it avoided stepping near garbage or oil slicks. The sports car felt like someone had punched him in his stomach and upset his fueling tanks. Catching his intakes, he wondered fearfully, would he end up like that? Impossibly miserable? Scarred and ugly? Unwanted? Mirage braced himself on a wall, clutching his gun so tightly that his knuckles began to ache. Easy, he thought. Slowing down, the mech quickly regained his usual calm composure. He cocked his battle pistol, finger hovering over the trigger as he slipped between alleys. His thoughts wandered, finding the quiet soothing here. Everyone Mirage had been close to had been slaughtered before his optics. Why did he even bother staying online? He could snuff his own Spark right here, right now. He, as well as his memory, would fade as quickly as he could alive. The mech stopped moving, channeling his energy into disappearing. A soft whir sounded. Mirage looked down and smiled. Yes. Invisible. That was the way he liked it.

Someone fired a pistol, the blast tearing into his middle. Mirage fell to the ground. Decepticons had been watching him this entire time. The grounder forced himself to revert back, becoming visible yet again. Between his shoulder wound and now the hole in his side, the Autobot mech was certain his last hope was his pistol. He shot in the direction the bullet had come from.

"Show yourself, Decepticon!" he shouted, panting as energon spilled from his body. Baring his dentals as his auto-repairs came on, he looked down and watched the flow of blood stop. Good. Better than leaking fluids, anyway. His breathing was labored, but he would not let his barrel drop.

Soundwave came from the shadows, causing Mirage to snarl out of hate. "Shouldn't you be after Blaster?" spat the mech.

The communications officer's ruby visor glinted as he tilted his head down to look at him better. He strode forward, inches from the gasping, wounded, angry Autobot. "Ravage," muttered that monotone voice that sent chills through even Ironhide. "Eject."

The cassette jumped from his chassis and transformed, hissing at him much like the alley cat had.

"Operation: Disarm."

Before Mirage could fully process the electric blue Decepticon's command, Ravage growled and fixed his jaws on the barrel of the pistol, wrenching it away from Mirage and slinking back to Soundwave all in a matter of a second. The grounder swore under his breath. The other mech was probably smirking beneath that facemask he wore constantly. Rumble and Frenzy materialized beside their commander. They grinned mischievously, smug looks eerily identical.

"C'mon, Soun'wave!" chirped Rumble. "Let the boys 'ave some fun!"

"I wanna see this!" piped his counterpart, Frenzy.

All Soundwave did was nod, and Mirage knew he was dead. Ramjet and Scrapper stepped into sight, as did Motormaster. Dear Primus, prayed Mirage. Make this quick. Amen.

Ramjet yanked Mirage up first, jamming the barrel of his gun beneath his armor and firing into the mech's back, grazing the strut. The warrior yelped, writhing in pain as he was thrown down. Scrapper stomped on his hand, laughing when he screamed in agony. Motormaster lifted him to face the dulling blue optics. At this point, Mirage did not care what they did to him. He was hurting; the Autobots were spread too far apart to help. Death would save him all trouble.

Rounds from a jet caused windows to shatter and the pavement to explode. Scrapper and Ramjet both fell, gripping their wounds to try to stop their blood from emptying onto the ground. Soundwave gathered his cassettes and disappeared into the deeper parts of the city. Motormaster's head whipped from side to side as he panicked. What was he supposed to do?

A mech landed on the Stunticon. Mirage was released, and he crawled forward, picking up his pistol, thanking Ravage for being so scared of firefights. He pushed himself up and saw Air Raid standing proudly over an unconscious Motormaster. He stowed his weapon and looked at the Aerialbot. "What are you doing here?"

"You looked like you needed help," offered the flier. "Plus I was tired of flying around and not doing anything." He smiled at Mirage, optics bright. The white and blue soldier sighed, turning and heading down the alley into more broken parts of the city. Confused, Air Raid followed him. "Hey! What's the matter?"

The mech stayed silent, holding the wound in his side and becoming more transparent.

"Stop!" Air Raid reached forward and took Mirage's wrist in his unforgiving hold. Those optics burned into him, wings flicking slightly. "Stop," he repeated, softer this time. Mirage met that intense stare. He found it comforting to have such a strong mech by his side for the moment. He needed something solid to hang on to. Air Raid seemed to understand that and stood still.

Suddenly, Air Raid jerked his head up. Mirage tried to catch what he heard, then he understood, hearing explosions bloom from the opposite end of the town. His optics went wide. "Seekers are dropping bombs over the city!" yelled the young jet. He looked back down. "We need to get somewhere safe."

Mirage scanned the area quickly. There. The mech raced over, pulling the Autobot jet with him. "Here. Get in." He lifted up a manhole cover and kicked pavement away, opening it up to accompany their large frames. Air Raid hesitated. "C'mon! We don't have time for this!" He threw aside the metal disc, and he took the mech's hand, pulling him down after him. They started running in the opposite direction of the bombs. The quiet settled over the area. The pair stopped moving, staring only at one another's glowing blue optics. "Air Raid?" he asked softly, reaching out and probing the darkness with his servo.

"Yeah, I'm here." Their hands crashed together, but they held on anyway, waiting for something to happen. The Decepticons wouldn't just stop.

The sound of an explosive going off shattered their audios. The pair was tossed to the side, hands losing one another in the madness that ensued. Neither of them made a sound, knowing that if the 'Cons heard a voice it would mean the end of them both. Bricks and pavement started to drop on them. Mirage panicked and began to run. His feet caught on debris, tripping him and nearly throwing him face-first into sewage. The bombs kept falling; the ground kept shaking and lurching above and below him. The mech heard Air Raid calling for him, but he continued to race away from the site of that first explosion. The jet was not as graceful on land as he was in the air, and he fell behind quickly. Optics huge and practically useless, Mirage was just following the layout of the sewer tunnel. Nothing in the world could stop him until he had put as much distance between himself and the blast site as he could.

It took time. It felt like hours when in truth it had only been about five minutes before the bombs stopped and Mirage slowed. The white and blue soldier fell to sit on a dry part of the tunnel, drawing his knees up and tucking them beneath his chin. He rocked himself for a few seconds before Air Raid's optics broke through the emptiness. The grounder stood up, breathing heavy as he tried to cycle air through his burning circuits. The mech turned to the equally winded Air Raid, seeking solace from that strong mech.

"What the frag?" he shouted, wings flaring. "I was begging you to stop! The sewage…" He picked his foot up indignantly. "Is clogging my turbines! And I just had my armor waxed!" The Aerialbot threw up his hands to show his impatience.

Mirage was, at first, startled by Air Raid's reaction, but after a moment, it just annoyed him. "Fine. You don't like it? Go back up there! Let them kill you if the fumes from the bombs don't first!" the mech countered, yelling over the sound of battle above them.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You know fragging well what it means!"

A heated silence overcame the tunnel. Mirage relaxed first, his shoulders falling. That usually well-hidden miserable look flicked across his optics briefly. Air Raid allowed himself to lower his defensive stance. The flier murmured, "Let's keep walking. We'll find out where this dumps out. We can't risk breaking out of the ground and harming another Autobot."

Nodding slowly, Mirage was a bit surprised at how mature the mech sounded. He followed the jet, footsteps heavy and without care. The warrior loathed confined spaces; he stayed close to Air Raid, their armor so close that sparks jumped from one white plate to the next.

"Mirage?" ventured Air Raid tentatively.

"Yeah?" The older mech turned his head toward the sound of the mech's silky voice, finding he rather liked hearing him talk.

"Will you tell me a story about Cybertron?" It was hard to miss the wistfulness in his words. The mech smiled in the darkness, knowing he would have asked the same question had the situation been reversed.

"Sure." Mirage knew what he would tell him about. It was the only memory worth sharing. "Back on Cybertron, my favorite place to go from the time I could walk was the Iaconian Botanical Gardens."

Air Raid sighed, the light from his optics disappearing as his shutters fell to allow him to picture the sight. His servo found Mirage's, their hands gripping one another's to keep each other steady.

"There were plants taller than the redwoods on this planet. They made me feel small even when I was completely grown. Some of them sought heat and would wrap around me and start glowing. They wouldn't let go unless you told them good-night. Most of them had bright, almost unnatural colors. When I got older, I used to become invisible and hide out until after closing and just spend the night memorizing every little thing about them. It was my escape from reality, though reality wasn't hard for me. I had a huge estate. Turbofox hunts with friends… I had all the finer things on Cybertron. But the gardens were where I could go when I needed to breathe." Mirage stopped to sigh, the images from the gardens and Iacon's skyline flooding his processor. "Once they were gone I stopped living. My sanctuary had been ripped from me when I needed it most." Air Raid's optics opened again; he stopped moving and studied him carefully. Mirage forced himself to look back, however disheartened his optics were. A hand cupped around his chin, fingers stroking underneath it.

"You're a lot like me, Mirage," he whispered. "My team thinks I'm irresponsible, arrogant, immature. But I don't have anything else to turn to, so I shove it aside and turn it into something better. You take it and amplify it. Don't."

The mech felt those white fingers run over every wire, every sensor and set him on fire with happiness. Their optics never flicked away for a second. "How do you do it?" he asked softly.

"Habit. Maybe it's time you make it yours." Air Raid seemed to understand. Mirage didn't think it was just because his team belittled him.

"What made you like me?"

The jet let out a soft, quick rush of air. Not quite a sigh, but not a breath either. He shook his head. "Everyone has someone to hold on to. Jazz has Prowl. Ironhide has Ratchet. Perceptor has Wheeljack. Even Bumblebee has Spike! I don't have anyone."

Mirage's optics were calm and empathetic. "Yes, you do." The mech started down the tunnel again, but Air Raid stopped him.

"Maybe you're right."

The mech leaned forward, lips touching softly to Mirage's as he tilted his chin up. The jet held him in place. This would be drawn out until Air Raid wanted to let go. Mirage did not protest. Mirage did not want to let go. His arms wound around the Aerialbot, tugging him closer. His body acted alone as his chest plates slid back, revealing his impossibly blue Spark.

"Mirage!" breathed Air Raid in shock, breaking away.

"Please. I can't handle being alone any more," he whimpered, tears coursing down his grimy face. Air Raid held him out a bit, optics wide with disbelief.

"We've never spoken outside of today. We've never interfaced. How do we know this is right?" he hissed, fear of commitment freezing his joints.

Mirage grinned; it was the first time Air Raid had seen him smile. "Because you keep saying 'we'."

Air Raid saw truth in his words, carefully returning his smile. "Mirage…this can't be reversed." He ran his thumb over his cheek, wiping his tears away. "What if we decide we hate each other? What if…" He swallowed hard. "What if one of us is killed? I couldn't live with myself if…"

Seeing how worried the younger Autobot was, Mirage touched his forehead to Air Raid's running his hands over the Aerialbot's chest plates before they slithered around to stroke his back. "This is a war. We'll have to risk it." The mech shook inwardly, fearing death for the first time. "You and me, Air Raid." Optics filling with hope, Air Raid nodded.

Another, lighter blue light clashed with Mirage's nearly indigo Spark. Air Raid looked down at his sky-colored essence spilling over the disgusting floor. He smiled weakly. Mirage reached down and clutched his hand. "It's okay," he promised in a whisper. "It's okay." The pull of their Sparks was almost too much to bear. The sound of the war above was little more than buzzing in their audios. The rank smell of the sewer tunnel was virtually nonexistent. They didn't care about the conditions, about not knowing each other. They would know each other now. Forever.

Noses rubbing slightly, the mechs captured each other's lips in a kiss that would start everything. Shutters fell as their Sparks merged. A cry created through mixing every emotion possible left Air Raid's throat, escaping into Mirage. The grounder sobbed as Air Raid's short life crashed over his mind. He felt the wind caress him and propel him through the sky. Mirage had never felt that freedom, and it was better than any vintage energon, any turbofox hunt, any cyberfilly he had had on Cybertron. The mech ground his dentals as he shared his story with the mech he clung to. What would he think of him? Would he call him spoiled? Call him a Decepticon sympathizer like so many others had? Mirage was terrified of the thought.

"Your family…your friends…" he hissed through the blinding ecstasy of the bond.

"Yeah." Mirage molded their lips together again, knowing he'd seen their brutal execution. The flier pulled away.

"Mirage…" The strong mech from before had become a fearful young jet, reaching out to his bondmate. "Please, don't let go."

"You and me, Air Raid."

Cybertron was won again. Golden spires held the sky up once again. With the last release of the Matrix of Leadership came resurrections across Earth and Cybertron alike. Air Raid looked out the window, seeing Prowl and Jazz cradling their newest sparklings close. Twins, he'd heard Backtrack and Terrene. Their oldest daughter, Silverwing, flicked about her doorwings as she watched her younger brother, Fast Forward, play with Ravage. Blaster and Soundwave must be locked in their room, trying for another, mused Air Raid. The pair had had a miscarriage earlier in the year. Optimus and Megatron's complex was visible from here, but nothing stirred inside. Ironhide and Ratchet had moved back to Praxus, their birth city-state. Air Raid stood there, mentally running through the list of his friends and their mates, where they lived, what they did. Ultra Magnus and Cyclonus lived on Earth nowadays, keeping an optics on things along with others. Air Raid's white armor glowed, freshly waxed. His armor was sharper and had more angles, having obtained a Cybertronian alternate mode. He smiled at his reflection, brushing off his chest.

Warmth suddenly glided over his sides, probing niches only those hands knew. He remained still as nothingness encircled his waist. Gazing at his lone reflection, Air Raid felt happy tears start to fall from his elegant blue optics. He knew. He had always had an invisible touch. He used to hear whispers of, 'You can't always see me, but you know that I'm always here.' Now, he didn't bother with words. They both knew it.

Air Raid saw the blue and white mech materialize. It took him back to that day on Earth and all the days since. The months of grieving that had followed when the hole in his Spark had ripped open. Then that miraculous day it had been filled again by the Sparkbeat he knew like his own. Not a day went by that Air Raid did not feel grateful for what he had been given.

"I love you, Mirage," he whispered, hand reaching behind him to draw him into a soft kiss. Their optics closed even when they pulled away, Air Raid knew his lover was smiling.

"I love you, too. You and me, Air Raid."

"You and me."

Just then, the lights came on in the Iaconian Botanical Gardens.

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