Ch. 5 – First Date

Mirage shifted. He was on a dirt road, waiting for Hound to finish his patrol and meet him here. Hound had been very enthusiastic about whatever he was planning to show Mirage, and Mirage hated to disappoint Hound. However, it was cold and although Mirage's plating had been repaired, he was still prone to feeling the cold more.

"Mirage!" Hound called, coming from behind Mirage. "Sorry, I was on the high patrol route and we had an avalanche I had to work around. I hope you weren't waiting too long."

Mirage smiled at Hound, "Not long at all, Hound, but I am a bit cold."

Hound wrapped his arms around Mirage and shared his heat for a few minutes. Once Mirage was warmed up, Hound daringly took his hand and led him to the forest, stepping off the road and into the trees. They ducked through the trees for a short distance and entered a clearing with a large boulder in the center.

The boulder shimmered in the sunlight, and Mirage went over to it, entranced. "What is this?"

Hound explained. "It's a boulder of mostly obsidian, which is silica rapidly cooled with minimal crystal formation. It's really reflective and beautiful, and I thought you'd like to see it."

Mirage laughed at Hound and asked, "It was very thoughtful of you to bring me here to see this, but it wasn't the reason you were out here, was it?"

Hound laughed, "Busted. No, I was out here because there was a litter of rabbits born this year and I've been observing them. I wanted to see how they grew and what the family did throughout the year. They were born in a den right there," he pointed to a large shrub with a hole near the roots, "and stayed in this clearing for the first month of their lives. Now most of them had moved away, especially the males, but a couple of females stayed here and are wintering there and there." and he pointed to another couple of holes. "I'm trying to figure out if they've connected their dens and just use different holes, so I come here often to try and figure it out."

Mirage looked around and asked, "You couldn't ask a human?"

Hound said, "I could, but I'm having more fun figuring it out myself."

Mirage looked around carefully. The two holes were on the edge of a hill. The hill faced north and was covered with snow except around the holes. Mirage cocked his head and asked, "How did the holes get uncovered?"

Hound looked abashed. "I, uh, judiciously used some of the snow."

"For what?" Mirage wanted to know.

"Snowballs." Hound pronounced solemnly.

"Snowballs? What are snowballs?" Mirage asked.

Hound stepped forward and picked up some of the snow. "Frozen dihydrogen monoxide, formed into spherical volumes and launched at speed to strike a target. I use them for trajectory practise."

Mirage gaped at him as Hound packed his snowball and threw it into the air. He watched it arc up and drop...

"Hound!" yelled Mirage, dodging the snowball at the last moment.

Hound just grinned and started packing another snowball.

"It's on," Mirage announced, "No cheating."

"Define cheating." Hound said, a broad smile creeping across his face.

"No holograms, no electro-disrupter, just talent." Mirage stated, packing his own snowballs.

"You're on."

The snowball fight was fast, furious, and fun. Mirage couldn't recall the last time he'd laughed so hard. The look on Hound's face when Mirage let loose his first snowball and it hit Hound right over the optic on the brow of his helm was something Mirage saved to his databanks for later enjoyment.

Hound was one that stood in one spot and threw snowballs as fast as he could make them, while Mirage was more likely to use the trees as cover and throw snowballs when an opportunity presented itself. They continued the fight until the sun set and Mirage started to suffer from the cold.

"Pax!" Hound yelled.

A final snowball, already in motion when he yelled, came out of the trees. Hound dropped into a twisted stance, dodging the snowball by a whisker. It exploded against the tree behind him, showering him with fine particles of snow.

"Sorry, Hound!" Mirage called. His armour was clamped against his body tightly, trying to conserve his body heat as much as possible.

"It's OK, Mirage, but let's get back." Hound grinned at him, and Mirage couldn't help but return the smile.

They walked back to the road, Hound daringly taking Mirage's hand and holding it as they walked together. It was easier to stay in their own forms as they walked along the dirt road. Once they reached the asphalt, they transformed and Mirage felt warmer. The drive back to the Ark was swift, but it was fully dark by the time they got back, and Mirage was glad to see the dim glow that indicated the Ark's presence.

As they entered the Ark, Hound turned to go to the common room. Mirage hesitated, and Hound stopped and looked at him.

"Would you…would you like to come back to my room?" Mirage offered. "I'm enjoying our time together so much, I really don't want to share you right now."

Hound's smile was warm and welcoming. "I'd like that very much, Mirage."

Together they went down the other hallway toward the recharge chambers. Mirage stopped in front of his door and sent the glyphs necessary to open the door. It slid open, and Mirage led Hound into the small room.

Recharge chambers were generally quite small, with a berth or two and perhaps a chair. The mechs of the Ark had taken to reconfiguring the rooms now that the Ark was grounded. They knocked out walls and merged two or more berth rooms, making larger rooms that multiple mechs shared with room for entertainment centers, couches and chairs.

Mirage's roommate was Jazz, since Bumblebee shared the minibots room. However, Jazz was rarely here, so usually Mirage had the room to himself. Their shared room was still small, though, since they both were often on missions. There were two berths, head to head along the far wall. The arrangement gave them a large cleared space in the center of the room, and they'd created a round table with chairs around it. Mirage offered a chair to Hound, then went to fetch energon from beneath his bunk, offering a cube to Hound before seating himself.

Hound nodded his thanks and opened the cube. Mirage had provided a decent mid-grade, better than regular energon but not as potent as high-grade. Hound took a sip, enjoying the jolt of energy it gave him.

They talked for hours, simply enjoying each other's company, and at the end of their time, when Hound had to go on communications duty, he held Mirage's hands with his own.

"Thank you, Mirage, for spending time with me. I've really enjoyed it."

"You're welcome, Hound." Mirage answered.

Hound bent slowly, giving Mirage plenty of time to dodge if he wished, and brushed a kiss over Mirage's mouth, a mere whisper of contact. Mirage gazed up at him as Hound straightened.

"You taste good," Mirage said softly.

Hound couldn't resist. He scooped Mirage up and kissed him again, more pressure bringing more friction and wringing moans from both mechs.

An alarm pinged Hound's HUD, and reluctantly, he let Mirage slide down his body until he was back on his own pedes. They shuddered at the contact.

"I have to go," Hound said quietly.

"I know." Mirage answered him.

Hound tore himself away and out the door. As he headed to the communication monitoring systems, he received a message from Mirage.

::You're wonderful. Now it's my turn to take you on a date. Are you free two evenings from now?::

::Yes:: Hound answered.

::Excellent. I have something I want to share with you.::

Hound sent his agreement and put the appointment in his schedule. This was looking like the start of something wonderful, and he was really looking forward to finding out more about Mirage.

After all, with a start like theirs, it was meant to be.