So, I was asking for Dark!Fic prompts-not because I wanted to write any, but because I like reading them. Sometimes prompts are almost more fun to think about (flesh out the prompt, wipe it and start over with a different details, repeat). But then Cally dropped the Hound x Mirage one on me and it was like "Damn, that's perfect."

It's so simple, and yet so obvious, and I had to write it. o_o


Pairing: Hound x Mirage, Slow Build (G1 Cartoon w/IDW G1 Influences)

Summary: There's a traitor among the ranks, and instead of information, he's taken a life. Mirage has the finger pointed at him yet again, even though the real killer is someone close at hand. Will he be able to prove his innocence, and what will happen when he's cornered the real killer?

Chapter 1

"I swear, you mention one time that maybe the Decepticons aren't all bad and that we could end this war by acknowledging that and working together, and you're branded a traitor forever! I can not believe Sideswipe and the others are still teasing me. They say they're joking but I can tell! They're not." Mirage said, nose in the air. He gave off an air of nobility, even when plastered out of his processor on high grade. Hound rubbed Mirage's back, sipping slowly out of his own cube of regular energon. Mirage didn't get this way often, but everyone needed to get it out of their system once in a while. Mirage whined, "Being sympathetic doesn't mean I'm handing over the keys to the front door!"

"Of course not," Hound said. He leaned back around one of the storage bins hiding them from view to check the cargo bay door. No one was around. He supposed he could hide them with a hologram, but Mirage didn't like how the waves clashed with his own cloaking device. He said it buzzed in his head. But, Mirage would kill himself if anyone other than his dear friend Hound saw him with three empty cubes. "But you are a spy. They can't help but be mistrusting of that sort of work. Comes with the territory."

"Spy," Mirage said, spitting out the word like it was low grade debasing his taste sensors. He frowned, scrunching his face-plates. "Oh, please. At the basest definition, maybe. I turn invisible and watch people from rafters. If I were really good at my job, I'd actually be in their ranks and gathering more useful intel than 'Megatron has thrown a fit again.'"

Hound chuckled as he sipped his drink. He put a hand on Mirage's shoulder and pushed it gently. "You're a little too proud for that sort of undercover work."

"Maybe," Mirage said. He pulled his legs up, and rested his helm on the back wall. "I don't mean to be, I suppose, but it's...I don't want-"

"To give up who you are," Hound finished for him. He put his hand on Mirage's helm, and pushed it down gently. Mirage waved an arm at him, but he was too inebriated to make contact. Hound pulled his hand back. "I know. Believe me, I know. You pretend to be something you're not enough as it is."

"Oh?" Mirage asked, his optics dimming from the high grade slowing his systems. He'd be in recharge soon enough to burn off the excess. Hound would carry Mirage to his hab-suite, and in the morning he'd find a delicately written note apologizing for Mirage's crass behavior. Hound had two so far. He was oddly proud to receive them. "And what makes you say that?"

"To be nice, you hold your tongue," Hound said. "You don't want to alienate us, because you do like your fellow Autobots, so you curb the Tower Etiquette to a minimum."

Mirage hummed, his head dropping.

"I don't think anyone who accuses you of being a 'Spoiled Towers' Brat' has any idea how much you tone it down for us," Hound said, thoughtfully.

Mirage's mouth quirked up, and he leaned over. Hound grabbed Mirage's half-full high grade cube before it could drop. Mirage looked at his empty hand, and clicked off his optics with a softly cycled sigh. Hound set the unfinished cube gently on the floor, as Mirage asked, "And you do?"
Hound's face darkened. His soft smile morphed into a frown, glad Mirage's optics had already clicked off.

"I remember my share of Tower's mechs, Mirage. You don't act a thing like any of them, even though I can tell you sometimes want to."

"I suppose I'll," Mirage paused, voice slow and fading, "take that as a compliment. You're too good to me, friend."

Mirage thumped against his side, no longer able to hold himself up. Hound listened to the steady hum of systems in recharge. A gentle buzz of sluggish gears and flowing power that was shared between Nobles and Peasants alike. He stroked the back of his finger down the mech's cheek. "Night, Mirage."

Hound was in the field, hidden safely behind a hologram map of the rock formation he had settled down on as he waited for his contact. If anyone could see past the red and brown disguise, they'd think Hound has just gotten a new upgrade with the smile that was on his face.

He had found the note under his door, hand written no less, on cue that morning. Mirage's calligraphic handwriting was one of the few things Hound had no qualms with concerning the Towers. The elegant script was an art form, and there weren't many who could remember the strokes. The words themselves were equally aged and properly chosen. The apology was sincere, and the grateful thanks in every word fell off the page and into his lap.

Hound often wondered if he regretted just how smitten he'd become with the Special Ops agent over the years.

But, that thought was for another time. Hound flipped the letter closed between his fingers and stuck it back into the small tied package that held his other two. Hound subspaced the package, and dropped the hologram for the approaching contact had arrived.

"You're late, Ratbat," Hound said, sneering at one of the other few mechs to survive the Towers. "Since me risking my neck out here would affect both me and the cause, the least you could do is be on time."

"Oh please," Ratbat said, in the same accented tone as Mirage. Hound clenched his teeth, and squeezed his fists together-To think they used to live at the same place. Ratbat landed on the rock nearest Hound's seat. The tracker reactivated the hologram, shrouding them both from view. Ratbat huffed, "You're on a routine patrol, and aren't due back at that awful Autobot base for hours yet. There is no 'late' here."

"Either way," Hound said. He crossed his hands over his chest, and snorted. "You have the word back from my last report or not?"

"Yes, and the conclusion was so petty and simple that I'm almost ashamed to replay the information," Ratbat said. He flapped his wings once, and tried to puff up to a higher standing. "Morale for the Decepticons is low, and too high for the Autobots. Megatron wants that reversed, and he thinks a death in the Autobot ranks'll do the trick. Say congratulations to your newest assignment."

"What? He wants me to set someone up to get shot in the field?" Hound asked. His holograms could do the trick if he was careful. Maybe lure someone over, but he'd have to be careful no one noticed.

"No, no." Ratbat, corrected. The bat jumped up to a higher position on a new rock. "They want you to do it. Something inside their base."

"Wouldn't that give away there's a mech on the inside?" Hound frowned.

"Yes!" Ratbat hissed, though there was a bit of perverse joy in it. "You're not as dumb as you look, jeep."

"I can rip your wings off," Hound growled.

"Calm yourself," Ratbat shrugged. "Consider it a two-fer. You kill someone who annoys you, then set up someone else who annoys you as the fall guy. Simple. Autbot Morale takes a dive for grief and rage at a traitor they didn't know about."

"I suppose that could work," Hound said. He rubbed the bottom of his chin, lists of names passing through his processor. "Just need to figure out who."

"That," Ratbat said flying up. "Is all on your shoulders."

Hound watched Ratbat fly away and hummed. The orders were petty, but it was a step up in the game. Hound reached down and grabbed a handful of fresh earth. He rubbed his fingers together, smearing the red dirt. Hound loved the smell of it. He hadn't had a chance to his hands really dirty in a while.

And Hound loved getting dirty.

It was impossible for a deep cover spy to not get attached on some level to his targets. Not after this long, and not if you were this good. It was a fact of life, and any spy who told you different was as cold sparked as Soundwave-and even he had his little cassettes. Like humans, Cybertronians craved company and contact. Besides, folks were bound to be suspicious if you weren't sincere on some level with your affections and relationships. To maintain your sanity of betraying those you loved on a daily basis, you learned to see it as selling out the whole, not the individuals.

However, it did make picking assassination targets a little difficult.

Hound sighed as he sipped his cube in the rec room. Trailbreaker sat next to him, talking about some new hiking trail that Spike and Sparkplug had found the other day. They'd gone off the beaten path and discovered something amazing or another the Tracker would have wished he'd seen. Hound was half listening, but he was mostly observing out of the corner of his eye.

Trailbreaker, Mirage, and Bumblebee were all off the list of potentials. Two were close to him, and the third was out of the question. Hound needed to crush morale, not enrage the Autobot army into a revenge-crazed fury. Hound chuckled appropriately at Trailbreaker when he mentioned a bird's nest. Who did you kill, that didn't start something worse? That was the real game.

Take out Ironhide, Bumblebee or Ratchet, and Prime's rage would be unstoppable. Hurt the Twins? Ratchet the Hatchet, Prowl, and maybe Skyfire considering how close he'd gotten to the red 'Bot, would be storming the Nemesis. Prowl and Jazz were interchangeable. No one in command. Touch Wheeljack and the Dinobots and Ratchet would be on you, and vice-versa. The list just went on, and on.

Hound needed someone less popular. Hoist or Grapple, maybe? Cosmos might be an option. The spy snorted. Speaking of stupid flyers, maybe Powerglide would be a good choice-at least that'd be an annoyance out of his system.

"I'm telling you, a bigger gun makes everything better," Cliffjumper said across the room, drawing Hound's attention against his will.

The small red minibot was walking side by side with Mirage. They both held newly filled cubes, and were heading for a table near Gears and Pipes' table. Hound put down his own cube and his mission thoughts alike, as they sat together.

"Bigger is always better," Cliffjumper said, with authority he didn't have. He drank a gulp from his cube and stuck out his hand. "That tiny pistol of yours needs an upgrade."

"Hardly. It functions as necessary, and it's done well by me so far." Mirage said. He gave Cliffjumper a Noble's smile, and sipped at the edge of his cube. "And you'll forgive me if I fail to take 'bigger is better' advice from a Minibot."

Cliffjumper punched Mirage in the arm, laughing. "Good one."

"Yes," Mirage said, rubbing the metal. He was checking for a dent, and Hound had already decided the noble better not find one. Mirage shook his head. "But you did mention you upgraded your own, yes?"
"Yeah!" Cliffjumper said, jumping up in his seat. "This thing's a beauty. It's perfect for blasting through a wall of 'Cons. The firepower Wheeljack hooked up is crazy..."

Hound's eyes narrowed as Mirage listened closely to Cliffjumper go on about his firearms. Mirage was listening-genuinely listening. There was no Tower's Mechs haughty humoring. Honest to Primus, consideration for Cliffjumper's interests were on Mirage's face. Hound tensed, and eyes narrowed. How dare that little-

"They've gotten close, lately, huh?" Trailbreaker said, patting Hound's arm. The jeep sighed-Caught staring. Trailbreaker crossed his arms on the table. He looked at Hound like he knew. "I can't decide if it's for the better or the worse, even if I am glad Cliffjumper isn't constantly screaming at Mirage any more."

"Yeah," Hound said, tapping his drink up and down on the table. "Something like that."

Mirage laughed, the sound crystal and clear. Genuinely joyful laughter at something that trigger happy, little fragger had said. Hound nearly had to throw up a hologram to hide the unexpected scowl that desperately wanted to crawl on his face.