The buzzing of his internal alarm dragged Jazz out of a nice, deep recharge. The first thing he came to realize was that he was alone in the recharge berth and he sighed, with a slight shake of his head. Prowl had done it again – woken up before him and gone off to do his work without waking him up as well. Jazz knew it was because Prowl cared about him and wanted him to get his rest, but while he appreciated the sentiment, he also felt it would be nice to wake up together in the mornings.
Jazz stretched and flexed his limbs, working out the kinks in them before sitting up and swinging his legs off the berth. He pushed himself to a standing position and would have left the room immediately had not the mirror caught his optic. He eyed his reflection for a moment, noting the dull sheen to his paint.
"Dang Jazz, when was the last time ya saw a can o' wax huh?" he asked himself.
He figured a quick trip to the wash rack was in order, to make himself look somewhat presentable. He was about to turn away when something else distracted him. He stepped closer to the mirror for a closer look. There was a fair-sized scratch just under his left jaw-line, and though it wasn't a fresh wound, it was certainly recent. Jazz grinned to himself. He'd never known Prowl's chevrons could be that sharp.
Then again, he'd never known a lot of things about Prowl before they had bonded. Jazz touched the scratch and remembered the night before. Prowl had kissed him so intensely he'd felt fireworks going off in his head. Being passionate wasn't something Jazz would've associated with the normally stoic tactician before this.
He made his way out of the room and down to the wash racks. Sunstreaker was there, attending to his daily beauty regimen. He nodded to Jazz with a hint of a smile.
"Fancy seeing you down here," he said as the black and white stepped into the strong spray of the water.
"Yup. I'm just full of surprises arent I?" Jazz asked.
"In more ways than one," Sunstreaker replied. "How'd you get that scratch?"
Jazz touched the wound. "Eh, had a little accident last night."
Sunstreaker raised an optic ridge. "Accident? You and Prowl? Right, sure."
Jazz shrugged. "Hey man, heat of the moment. Stuff tends to happen."
"Mmmhmm…. So whats Prowl like? Y'know, when he's not being all uptight and stuffy?"
"C'mon now Sunny, you know I ain't one ta kiss and tell, an' I mean that literally."
The yellow mech rolled his optics. "Fine, keep your secrets." He moved off as the buffer began to dry and polish Jazz's armour. "But I am glad you two finally got together."
Jazz grinned. "Why thanks Sunny."
"Don't mention it. No, I mean that, do NOT mention it, to anyone."
"My lips are sealed."
"But not for long I'm sure." Sunstreaker headed out of the room. "Catch ya later Jazz."
Jazz finished soon after. While the state of his paint job didn't exactly match up to Sunstreaker's, at least the old shine had returned to it, and for Jazz that was good enough. That done, he headed up to Communications for his daily shift. The room was empty when he entered, as always. He dropped into his chair, slung his left leg over the arm-rest and used his right foot to swivel the chair back and forth while he checked the monitors and read-outs for any updated information.
With nothing calling for his immediate attention, he lounged back in his chair and let his thoughts wander, mainly to his beloved black and white counterpart. Knowing the tactician as well as he did, Prowl was probably busy going through various and sundry battle plans and strategies with Optimus Prime in the Command Center of the Ark. Thinking of his mate gave Jazz a sudden longing to see him again. He found he missed Prowl's calm, soothing presence, and part of him wondered if Prowl missed him as much.
"You shouldn't sit like that," a familiar voice said. "Its bad for your posture."
"And since when did you care about my posture?" Jazz asked without turning back. He knew who it was.
A pair of black and white arms, with white hands, wrapped around his neck and shoulders from behind.
"I've always cared about you Jazz, even before we bonded," Prowl said quietly.
Jazz swung his leg back down and leaned his head against Prowl's left arm. "Not that I ain't glad ta see ya, but shouldn't you be strategizing with Prime?"
"I missed you," was the simple reply.
The Porsche angled himself so he could look back at Prowl without the need for the Datsun to alter his hold, in time for Prowl to lean down and plant a light kiss on his cheek.
"I'm sorry for not waking you," he said. "It was just that… you looked tired."
"Stop apologizin'," Jazz replied, reaching up to hold Prowl's white hands in his black ones.
Prowl leaned closer, put his mouth to Jazz's and kissed him deeply. Jazz, for one, was glad he was sitting down since his knees had pretty much lost all feeling in them. Prowl let go for a moment, then kissed him again. Jazz leaned into it, feeling fireworks going off in his head again. He barely noticed the light blinking on one of the consoles till Prowl let go of him.
"You should get that," he said.
He moved his hands to rest on Jazz's shoulders so that the other mech could answer the incoming call. Jazz leaned forward a little reluctantly and pressed the button.
"You've reached Autobot Jazz, talk to me."
"Good morning Jazz," came the voice of Optimus Prime.
"Heya Prime, whats up?" Jazz asked.
"I need you to report to the Command Center asap. Oh, and bring Prowl with you."
The black and whites exchanged a look, mainly at the hint of amusement in their leader's voice.
"Sure thing Prime, we'll be right there. Jazz out."
He cut the connection and cast a questioning look back at his partner. Prowl shrugged and a small smile played on his lips.
"He asked me to come fetch you. He didn't specify that I had to return immediately," he said.
Jazz stood up and came round the chair. "Sneaky arent ya?"
Prowl draped his left arm around Jazz's shoulders, holding him close. Jazz put his right arm around Prowl's waist, and together they headed to the door. Just before they stepped through, Jazz leaned in closer and placed a soft kiss on Prowl's cheek.
"I love ya Prowl," he whispered into his mate's audio.
Prime waited patiently in his office for his Second- and Third-In-Command to arrive. Normally he would have been pacing, ready to rebuke the tardy mech for not immediately answering a summons, but he wasn't now. He'd learned over the years to be a little more patient with his Autobots, and Prowl and Jazz were two of his best. He'd seen them work together countless times, and somehow he'd known that somewhere down the line, the two would become more than just friends and good working colleagues. And he'd been right.
The two loved and cared for each other in ways Prime had not seen in other couples or partners. The way they looked at each other, the way Jazz made Prowl smile, the way Prowl watched over Jazz, every touch, every gesture. They spoke volumes of the deep bond they shared.
He had seen once with his own optics just how much they cared for each other when he passed by an almost empty lounge late one night. He and Prowl had been brainstorming for hours before finally calling it a night. Later, when he'd passed by, he'd glanced inside and seen the two seated on one of the couches, Prowl resting his head tiredly on Jazz's shoulder, while Jazz had his arm draped protectively around Prowl's shoulders.
Prime looked up from his musings as the door hissed open and the black and white pair came inside. Eventhough they entered individually, Prime somehow got the hint of intimacy from them, that he felt bad for interrupting, but there was work that had to be done.
"Have a seat you two," he said and turned to the screen.
Jazz picked the chair on the right, nudged it closer to Prowl's seat and sat down. Prowl sat on the left. He glanced over at Jazz and then noticed the scratch under his partner's jaw-line. He touched it gently with a questioning look.
"Your chevron," Jazz said softly and grinned.
Prowl looked down, almost sheepish, if that was possible. "I'm sorry."
Jazz patted his forearm. "Stop apologizin'."
Prime turned back to face them and was thankful to see that he had their full attention. "The Sky-Spy picked up a Decepticon land-base to the east, not too far from us. If we do nothing, its not only going to be dangerous for us, but for the humans as well. We need to get rid of it."
"Well, why not just storm the place and send them scurrying back to their waterhole?" Jazz asked.
"Its too risky," Prowl said, all business now. "There's a human town nearby, and any battle that will inevitably occur should we attack, might draw them in as well. The last thing we want is human collateral damage."
"So what do you guys plan to do?"
"Sabotage," Prime said, and Prowl shifted uneasily. "We need you, Jazz, to get inside and blow it up."
Jazz nodded. Somehow he had seen this coming. "I shoulda guessed."
"You were the logical choice," Prowl said. "We don't have anyone else skilled enough to pull this off."
"I know, I know. So ya want me ta march in there in broad daylight and plant a bomb?"
"Daytime, yes. Daylight, no," said Prime. "There's a solar eclipse scheduled to happen tomorrow afternoon. Once the sun is covered, it should provide you with enough darkness to slip in and then plant the bomb."
"Then why not just do it at night?"
"Too many Decepticons at those hours. An eclipse however, is not likely to alter their daytime scout patrols," Prowl replied.
Sensing his mate's nervousness, he reached over and held the other black and white's hand in his. Jazz entwined his fingers with Prowl's and gave the tactician's hand a light squeeze, then ran his thumb lightly along Prowl's forefinger. Prowl supressed a shiver, but his doorwings gave an imperceptible twitch.
"You can do this Jazz," he said. "I know you can."
"I can. I know ya wouldn't have volunteered me if I couldn't. I trust ya Prowl."
"Good," said Prime. "Now this is how we'll do it…".
Once the 'meeting' broke up, Jazz left the room to go and see Wheeljack about the specifics of the bomb he would be using, while Prowl stayed back with Prime to go through a few other details. Almost two hours after Wheeljack's 'briefing', Jazz finally got out of the lab, and started making his way up to the lounge for some energon. Once there, he filled up a can and sat down. Sideswipe joined him a moment later.
"Heard about your mission tomorrow," he said.
"Yeah? Man, news travels fast around here," Jazz replied.
"Sure you can handle it? I mean…."
"Not like I have a choice there Swipe. If it ain't me, ain't no one gonna do it." Jazz swirled the last bit of energon around in his can before tipping it back and draining it. "I wouldn't worry too much though. After all, I'll be followin' Prowl's plan, and unless he's got some underhanded plot to get rid o' me so he can take on a new partner, I doubt he'll put me in harm's way. I trust him."
"I hope you're right Jazz."
"Prowl was in here earlier, and he didn't look too great."
The glow under Jazz's visor increased in intensity for a moment. "How so?"
"Well he looked kinda… tense. Like he was gonna jump outta his plating at the slightest sound. I've never seen him like that before. I think he's worried about you, about what might happen to you tomorrow."
"Aw dang it, he knows I'll be fine, I told him so myself."
"I think maybe you should go talk to him Jazz," Sideswipe suggested.
"Thanks Swipe, I think I will." He stood up and tossed his empty can into the trash receptacle.
"By the way, how'd you get that scratch?" Sideswipe asked.
Jazz patted the red mech on the shoulder. "Ask your brother, I answered it for him this morning."
He quickly headed out of the lounge, and once out in the hallway, he activated his comm.link
"Jazz to Prowl, where are ya man?"
"Library," came Prowl's calm response, but Jazz picked up a slightly tense undertone. "Where are you?"
"On my way there."
Five minutes later, the door to the Ark's small library slid open and Jazz stepped inside. He looked around and saw Prowl seated at one of the tables, staring at a datapad. Somehow Jazz doubted he was really reading it. Sure enough, when Jazz reached him and looked over his shoulder, the time-stamp on the datapad said Prowl had been on the same page for the last ten minutes. The content, Jazz noticed, was all on solar eclipses. He took the datapad away from Prowl, who offered no resistance whatsoever, pulled up a chair and sat down to face him.
"Prowl? What's wrong love?" he asked, gently taking his bonded's hands in his. "Is this about the mission?"
Prowl sighed and looked at him, through the visor and into his optics. "I think I'm just having second thoughts."
Jazz gave his hands a light squeeze. "I told ya I can do this, ya don't have ta worry about me so much. I'm a big boy, I can take care o' myself." He cracked a small smile. "An' I have faith in ya. So c'mon, why don't ya have a little faith in me, and in yerself huh?"
He brought Prowl's hands up, gently kissed them, then released them. But Prowl's hands remained where they were, cupping Jazz's head so he could trail his fingers across his bonded's face. Then he leaned and kissed Jazz – soft, slow and lingering – as if attempting to draw some of his mate's courage and confidence to himself. Jazz let him.
It seemed to work. Prowl seemed to snap back to his usual self, even managing to reprimand Sideswipe and Bluestreak for yet another prank they had pulled on an unsuspecting Tracks, sentencing the guilty pair to weapons maintenance down in the armoury, which was where Jazz found them when he went down to service his own weapon for the upcoming mission.
"Slaggit Jazz," Sideswipe said, looking up from the polishing of yet another gun barrel. "Next time Prowl gets into a funk, remind me not to tell you."
Jazz chuckled. "What did y'all do to Tracks this time?"
"It was pretty mild really," Bluestreak said. "We rigged a bunch of silly-string cans to go off the moment he stepped in his quarters, and you know how messy that can be, so imagine about ten cans going off all at once and you get the picture. Tracks got entangled in all of it and wound up looking like a fly caught in a spider's web. It was pretty funny."
"Heh, I'll bet it was, though probably not for Tracks."
"So is Prowl okay?" Sideswipe asked. "You talked to him right?"
"Yeah, I talked to him, he'll be fine. He just got a little nervous."
"I know the feeling. I get really nervous too, just before rushing into battle. Not for myself, for Sunny. I wonder sometimes, what if I don't see him after? I know he feels the same way. You get like that when you really really love someone."
Jazz nodded. "Guess I'd be shortin' out my fuses too, if I know Prowl was gonna do somethin' dangerous."
"Guess? Heh, you do Jazz," Bluestreak said. "Remember the time Prowl delayed coming back from a battle? You were running around like a robot-chicken with its head cut off, thinking something horrible had happened to him, when he'd only blown out a tyre."
The black and white smiled fondly at the memory. It was true, he had fretted in ways that were completely unlike him, so that when Prowl finally got back, and they'd gone some place private, he'd blown up in uncharacteristic anger. For his part, Prowl remained calm and quiet while Jazz yelled at him for not contacting him and making him all worried, after which, Prowl calmly explained the circumstances, most of which went unheard, especially when Jazz cut off the remainder of the explanation by kissing his Datsun mate in relief.
"Earth to Jazz," Bluestreak called. "You still with us?"
"Sure am, why?"
"You looked like you spaced out, and you had this really goofy grin on your face."
"Aw lay off the mech Blue," Sideswipe said, grinning wickedly. "Cant ya see he's in lurve?"
Jazz shook his head at the two younger mechs, but took the teasing in good humor. Besides, Sideswipe was right. He did love Prowl – very much.
"So how'd you get the scratch?" Bluestreak asked him.
"C'mon Blue, put it together," Sideswipe said before Jazz could answer. "Jazz, Prowl, at night, in the same recharge berth."
"You need to lay off the the late-night TV Swipe," Jazz said.
"I don't get it," Bluestreak said.
Jazz finished servicing his photon rifle and subspaced it. "Chevrons," he said and made his way out.
"What about my chevrons?" Bluestreak asked, confused.
Sideswipe responded by tossing a rag at him.
Jazz stirred and turned onto his back, woken from recharge by a shift in the air beside him. His optics came back online and he noticed that Prowl was no longer lying beside him. The tactician was instead sitting up on the recharge berth, holding his knees to his chest. Jazz frowned and looked concerned at the same time. He sat up.
"What's the matter love?" he asked quietly.
"Couldn't sleep," Prowl replied. "I'm sorry I woke you. Go back to sleep Jazz, I wont disturb you."
"Stop apologizin'," Jazz said. "And I ain't rechargin' unless you do too. If this is about the mission…."
"I'm just worried." Prowl looked at Jazz.
The Porsche saw the unspoken fear in the Datsun's optics. He edged closer and wrapped his arms around Prowl's shoulders, holding him close. He gently stroked Prowl's left cheek with his right hand before softly kissing the tactician's right cheek. He went lower and kissed Prowl's jaw-line, then his neck. Prowl sighed. Jazz's right hand found the fold of armour at the junction of his mate's neck and shoulder, and slipped his fingers in between. Tension radiated from the circuits in waves. He found a particularly sensitive circuit and touched it gently, while gently kissing the Datsun on the neck again. Prowl shivered and rested his head against his partner's.
"Jazz…," he whispered softly.
"Sshhh," Jazz whispered back and touched the circuit again.
Prowl shivered again and this time kissed Jazz's forehead. Jazz kissed his left shoulder in return, nuzzled his neck, then kissed his throat. Prowl's right hand clutched Jazz's left shoulder.
"Jazz, what…," Prowl tried again, and was cut short when the Porsche caressed the circuit a third time. He squirmed a bit, trying to pull away from Jazz's right hand, but not wanting to at the same time.
"Relax Prowl," Jazz purred, pulling back a bit, so he could look his mate in the optics. "I ain't gonna hurt ya."
Prowl leaned forward and kissed Jazz's neck. "I know."
The Datsun wrapped his arms around the Porsche and held him close, running his fingers along Jazz's back. Jazz withdrew his right hand and draped it around Prowl's waist. Their foreheads touched. Jazz moved first, pressing his mouth to Prowl's and kissing him – softly, gently at first, then with increasing intensity, Prowl matching each of his kisses with his own, until finally, the two were kissing passionately…. Prowl finally let go and tried to pull away, but Jazz kept a firm hold on him.
With a light tug, Jazz fluidly stretched back into a lying position, pulling Prowl down with him.
"Sleep now love," he whispered softly, holding his mate close to him. "It'll be alright."
Jazz continued to gently caress Prowl's face and neck till the tactician finally fell into recharge. The saboteur stayed awake a little longer, to make sure his partner was truly asleep. When he finally heard the familiar purr of his systems in recharge, Jazz smiled and gently kissed Prowl's forehead, before resting his head against Prowl's and shutting his optics.
"We'll be alright."
Prowl awoke the next day to find himself alone in the recharge berth. He sat up in alarm, wondering if Jazz had already left for the mission without telling him.
"Chill out Prowl," Jazz said from near the desk, where he was doing a last-minute check on his rifle. "You didn't think I'd leave without telling my beloved partner of all people did ya?"
Prowl had the grace to look embarrassed. Jazz smirked as he subspaced his weapon, picked up two cans of energon and came over to the recharge berth, he sat down and handed one can to Prowl.
"You sleep okay?" Jazz asked him.
The tactician didn't answer for a moment, just smiled. Then he placed a hand on Jazz's shoulder. "Yes. Thanks to you."
"No problem, love. S'what partners are for."
"And I'm glad you're mine."
Jazz grinned at that. "Glad I got ya too." He put an arm around Prowl's shoulders and gave them a quick squeeze. "Don't take too long now. I gotta go see Wheeljack about the bomb, so I'll see ya out front." He finished his energon and stood up.
Prowl caught his hand. "Be careful."
"Hey now, we've been through this. I'll be fine."
"No, I mean with Wheeljack's bomb."
Jazz broke into a brilliant grin. "Hehe, so ya do have a sense o' humor in there."
"It appears I do," Prowl said. "Now go on, I will meet you at the entrance."
Jazz continued on his merry way out of the room and down the hall. Prowl got to his feet, tossed away the empty can and stretched himself. He glanced at the clock that hung on the wall out of habit. Half an hour to showtime. He only hoped he was not sending his mate to his death. Prowl'd always been fond of Jazz, and now that they were 'together' he found that his love for the saboteur had increased immensely. He couldn't deny it. He loved Jazz – very much. Heaving a sigh, he left the room as well….
… As planned, he found Jazz standing outside the Ark, receiving some last minute instructions from Prime and Wheeljack. Prowl joined them, stepping up on Jazz's left.
"The eclipse is scheduled to take place around 11am local time," Prime said. "So if you arrive early, stay under cover till the sun is at lease half-covered, then make your move. Do NOT go into the base itself till the sun is fully covered. When that happens, you'll have about 20 minutes to do what you have to do."
"The main fuel supply is somewhere to the south. You'll be approaching from the west, so you might have to cross a bit of the base," Prowl added.
His voice was calm and level, but Jazz could see the tension building in his optics. He reached and took the white hand in his and gave it an assuring squeeze. Prowl responded by holding the black hand tightly.
"As for the bomb," Wheeljack said cheerily. "Just stick it on the fuel supply and press the red button. You'll have about five to ten minutes to get outta there before it blows."
"Five to ten minutes! Wheeljack can you please be a little more specific!" Prowl asked sharply. "How much time does he have to get out!"
"Relax Prowl, I was just getting to that. You got exactly seven minutes to get your aft out Jazz."
"Shouldn't be a problem," Jazz said. "Just as long as the thing don't explode on me on the way."
"Unlikely. I programed it to arm only once the button's pressed. So you'll be intact."
"Well, if that's everything, I suppose you'd best be on your way Jazz," Prime said. "Good luck."
"Thanks Prime, Wheeljack," Jazz replied.
The two of them headed back into the Ark. Prowl lingered for a while, and the two looked at each other, the white hand still clasping the black.
"I should go," Jazz said. "Clock's tickin' and I wanna get this over with."
Prowl didn't reply. Instead he pulled Jazz into a fierce hug and held him tight for a moment. Then he pushed back and kissed Jazz on the mouth – soft and swift.
"Stay safe," he said. "And come back to me…. I love you, Jazz."
Jazz kissed him lightly. "I love you too, Prowl."
Then he stepped back and transformed; and with a rev of his engine, sped off down the gravel road. Prowl watched him till he was out of sight, then turned and went back into the Ark.
Jazz drove ahead of the cloud of dust kicked up by his tyres, constantly checking on his chronometer to see if he was making good time. His latest check said 10.40am, which meant he had less than 20 minutes to cover several more miles of desert. He increased speed. It was a dangerous thing to do, and he knew Prowl would have frowned on it, but to Jazz it was either be there or be square. He covered the rest of the distance in less than 10 minutes.
Several meters from the crater that housed the latest Decepticon land-base, Jazz came to a stop and transformed. He scanned the skies for any Seekers and listened for the hum of jet engines. Receiving nothing, he headed over to a rocky outcrop he'd spotted earlier and squeezed himself under it. It wasn't exactly comfortable, but at least it hid him from any Seeker patrols. Now came the hard part – waiting….
He watched the minutes tick by, each one feeling longer than the one before it. It wouldn't have been so bad if he'd been able to talk to Prowl over the comm.link, or listen to the radio, but there was a high possibility that Soundwave would be guarding the base, and any radio signal that Jazz sent out or received would be immediately picked up by him. So he was forced to remain in silence.
Finally, at the scheduled time, the moon's shadow began to creep over the golden disc of the sun. Jazz managed a suitable seated position and worked out the kinks in his joints. Showtime. Shadows crept across the desert, as inch by inch the sun's face was covered, casting shades of grey over all the landscape. Jazz carefully crept out of his hiding place and glanced at the sun, waiting for the half-way point to arrive so he could move. He wanted this over and done with so he could get back home to Prowl.
As soon as the half-way point was reached, he broke from cover and sprinted the distance to the edge of the crater, slowing as he neared. He ducked behind a pile of rocks, inhaling air to cool his systems before moving on to the next phase. The shadows grew darker, and Jazz looked up to see the sun's face almost completely covered. He crawled over to a small crevice between the wall of rock, that was just big enough to accommodate him, and slowly, carefully, began to climb down, the shadows hiding him for the moment.
He reached the bottom and remained in a crouched position, optics scanning the base. It wasnt all that big, which was both a good and bad thing. Good, because he had less ground to cover. Bad, because the chances of being discovered were so much greater. As for the situation at the moment, Jazz spotted only Soundwave, Rumble, Frenzy and Ravage in the vicinity. Prowl was right: a little eclipse wasn't going to change the Decepticon duty schedule. The trick now was getting from where he was to where the fuel supply was without being spotted.
At that point, by some stroke of luck, he saw Soundwave move towards the north side and go into a little tunnel that had been carved into the rock, and Ravage went with him. Rumble and Frenzy seemed to be busy arguing over something by the east side, which have Jazz a possible opening. He went for it. Now or never.
Jazz moved fast, rifle in hand, walking on the organic ground rather than on the metal plating as much as he could so as to muffle his footsteps and avoid tripping any alarms. The shadows that formed as a result of the sun's light now being completely cut off, provided the perfect camoflauge for his black and white form. Now and then a breeze whipped up, blowing some of the rock dust from the walls straight into his face, and he forced himself to keep from coughing out loud as the dust clogged some of his air passages. And every once in a while he'd trip and stumble over a loose rock or boulder after which he'd curse himself for being careless. He checked his chronometer. Less than 15 minutes of darkness left.
He reached the fuel cells on the south side and froze, again checking to see if anyone had spotted him. When no one immediately thrust a gun into his face, he turned back to the task at hand. Running his hands over the fuel cells he managed to find a gap between two of them that would help hide the bomb nicely. Quickly he unsubspaced the explosive device and wedged it in, making sure it was secure and concealed. Taking a deep breath, he then pressed the button. He summoned his rifle again and took a step back.
"Drop the weapon, Autobot."
Prowl couldn't concentrate. He stared at the pile of reports in front of him, knowing he had to scan through and file each one of them, and normally it wouldn't take him very long, but today he was driven to distraction with thoughts of Jazz out there alone in Decepticon territory.
"Leave it," Prime said, coming up behind him.
"Pardon?" Prowl asked.
"Take a break Prowl. Better yet, take the day off, at least until Jazz comes back. I know you're worried about him."
Prowl pushed back from the desk and stood up. "Thank you Prime."
"I'll see you later Prowl."
The tactician left the Command Center, and once out in the hallway, stood for a moment and contemplated his next course of action. Spontaneous leave was nothing something he was used to. When he was not working, he spent his time off either with Jazz or on some other activity he had planned in advance. Now stuck with a sudden few hours of unplanned free time, he didn't quite know what to do with himself. Most of the Ark was quiet, with most of the Autobots out on patrol or on duty.
So he wandered down the hallways until he reached the quarters he shared with Jazz. He went inside and dropped into the chair in front of the desk, gazing idly around the room. It was a unique mismatch of styles inside. CDs lay scattered on the floor next to a pile of neatly stacked datapads. A brightly colored psychedelic poster hung next to an Earth calendar-planner that contained both their schedules. A fancy entertainment system occupied the desk next to a simple desktop computer.
Prowl noticed the CD played was still on, a track still on hold mid-way. Jazz had probably been listening to it softly while waiting for him to wake up. He knew the saboteur couldn't go for long periods of time without music of some sort playing in his audios. Curious to know what his partner had been listening to, Prowl pushed the 'play' button. The chorus of a soft ballad wafted out.
Tonight I need your sweet caress / Hold me in the darkness / Tonight you calm my restlessness / You relieve my sadness…
The chorus repeated and Prowl sat bolt upright, recalling the night before, how tense he'd been, and how Jazz had calmed him down enough for him to fall asleep. And now here he was idling, while Jazz was risking his neck in an enemy stronghold. He stopped the song. Enough was enough.
Jumping up from the chair, he ran out of the room and down the hallways till he reached the exit, where he transformed smoothly and sped off across the desert terrain as fast as he could. He had to check on Jazz. He had to know if his beloved mate was safe.
The business end of Rumble's weapon prodded into Jazz's back. The black and white uttered a small curse under his breath.
"I said drop the gun Autobot, 'fore I blast a new air vent through you," Rumble snapped.
Jazz let the rifle drop from his hand. He checked his chronometer again. A little over five minutes left.
"Tryin' to steal our fuel cells huh?" Rumble went on. "Frenzy, go get Soundwave."
"Woah, hold on a second man," Jazz said, angling his head ever so slightly back, but keeping his optics on the timer of the bomb, watching the seconds tick away. "Why give him the credit? Wouldn't you rather like to be the ones to present me to Megatron yourselves?"
"Y'know, he has a point," Frenzy said. "Besides, what can he do to us? There's two of us and one of him, and he ain't got no weapon."
"Are you crazy!" Rumble turned to face his partner, and Jazz felt the muzzle of the gun move away from vital areas. "Soundwave would dismantle us for spare parts if we tried that!"
"We could hide him, say he tried to jump us or something."
Jazz sensed the shadows starting to fade around him. He was down to four minutes. He supposed he could have been all heroic and sacrificed himself for the good of the Autobot cause and all, but the truth was, he wasn't. He had no intentions of doing it. 'Stay safe… and come back to me.'. And he had Prowl. He wasn't going to abandon the one person he loved more than life itself…. So as the two Cassetticons continued to argue over what to do with him, Jazz decided to play his last ace.
"Maybe I can save you boys the trouble," he said.
He spun round before either could react, his full-spectrum beacons flaring to life with a blinding light made all the more brighter by the shadows of the eclipse. It pretty much gave away his position, but since he'd been discovered anyway, it didn't really matter. Rumble and Frenzy fell back, their hands over their optics, while Jazz broke into a run. Soundwave came out of the tunnel on the north side, spotted Jazz and spoke a word of command to Ravage. The cat started to run in the hopes of cutting Jazz off.
Lasers singed Jazz from behind and he knew Rumble and Frenzy were back up. He put on an extra burst of speed and reached the west side wall. Soundwave fired off a few shots of his own, catching Jazz on the limbs, but failing to slow him down. The sun was starting to come back out and he had less than a minute left before the bomb went off.
Jazz's right hand retracted, and his grappling hook and winch locked into place. Ignoring the pain that coursed through his arm from another hit by Soundwave, he swung his right arm, releasing the hook. It sailed through the air and lodged between a couple of rocks. 30 seconds left. Jazz started to pull himself up, scrabbling for a grip on the craggy rock-face with his legs and free hand, for extra momentum. Three-quarters of the way up, the sun came back out. He checked his chronometer. Time was up.
The bomb went off, and the resulting blast, coupled with the force of the exploding fuel cells, was enough to pick Jazz up and hurl him the rest of the way out of the crater. He hit the hard, rocky ground face-first, a few metres away and let out a cry of pain as something lanced through his right side. Replacing the hook with his right hand again, he reached down and pulled out a piece of shrapnel. He turned onto his back, sat up and placed his left hand over the wound in an attempt to staunch the flow of energon. It hurt like slag.
Knowing there was a possibility that the blast could attract the rest of the Decepticons back, Jazz struggled to his feet and staggered forward, left hand clamped to his right side as mech-fluid bled through his fingers. He tried his radio. Static. With a sigh he realized that the only way he was going to get home was on his own two legs. It just hurt too slagging much to transform. One painful step after another, he began to walk.
He'd covered a few metres and was nearing the area where he'd hidden under the outcrop when he saw a cloud of dust on the horizon. It was definitely a land-based vehicle, and Jazz could only hope it was friendly. He dropped to his left knee to ease the pain in his right side, and so he could be on the same level as whoever it was that was approaching.
Prowl's tyres scrabbled and skidded for purchase on the uneven ground as he followed Jazz's signature energy signal across the desert. His alt mode was not built for this type of terrain, but that was not going to stop him from reaching his fellow black and white. And then the signal stopped. At the same time, a small mushroom cloud of smoke and flame rose into the sky. Prowl's laser core nearly failed him, and he almost screeched to a halt. One word raced through his processor: Jazz.
Urgency fueled Prowl's systems as he floored his accelerator and shot forward, kicking up dirt and dust, fear burning its mark into his spark. Fear that he had sent the love of his life to his death, fear that he would be too late to save him from it. Fear that he may have just lost Jazz for good. Optimus Prime hailed him over the comm.link, and Prowl almost gave off an uncharacteristic snarl, since he'd been keeping the channel clear incase Jazz was trying to reach him.
"Yes Prime," he responded.
"Whats your location Prowl?" Prime asked. "We're assuming Wheeljack's bomb has gone off. Any visual confirmation?"
"It went off."
"Any word from Jazz?"
Prowl paused for a moment. "No word. I lost his signal as soon as the bomb went off. I'm looking for him now."
"Transmit co-ordinates, I'm coming out there."
"Co-ordinates sent. Prowl out."
The tactician cut the connection. He continued searching, hoping desperately that Jazz was still alive somewhere. Several meters in front of him, something bulky came into view and he slowed. The sun glinted off of armour. Black and white armour. Jazz. He was alive, but he was hurt. This time Prowl did screech to a halt, transforming so fast he nearly tripped. Catching himself, he ran the rest of the way, dropped to his knees, flung his arms around his mate and covered Jazz's face in kisses.
"Jazz! Thank Primus!" he said.
"Glad to see you too Prowl," Jazz replied as he leaned against Prowl's form.
"You're hurt." He looked at Jazz's stained hand. "You're leaking fluid as well."
"Very observant," Jazz said, trying to smile through another surge of pain that washed over his circuits.
Concern filled Prowl's optics. "Prime's on his way. Hold on Jazz, we'll get you to help soon."
"Hey." Jazz reached up to touch Prowl's face with his right hand. "I'm not gonna die. I didn't survive that blast just to bleed out in the middle of the desert. Although," he glanced at the sky. "We should get under some cover incase a few Seekers decide to visit."
He began to rise to his feet. Prowl's arms immediately went around him and gently helped him stand. Jazz guided them over to the outcrop, and once there, Prowl gently lowered him to the ground. The Datsun sat beside him, cradled him in his arms and rested his upper body in his lap. Prowl's left arm wrapped around Jazz's shoulders, nestling the Porsche's head against his shoulder. His right hand covered his mate's black one, and soon became stained with the energon trickling from Jazz's side.
"Must've nicked a fuel line," Jazz muttered.
"Sshh," Prowl whispered. "Don't speak, save your energy."
"But I'm sick o' stayin' quiet."
"Don't make me shut you up."
"I dare ya."
Prowl leaned down and kissed Jazz deeply. Jazz moaned, both in happiness and pain, and Prowl let go.
"Aww man, why'd you stop?" Jazz asked.
"I was hurting you," Prowl replied.
Jazz ran the fingers of his left hand across his mate's mouth, and along the contours of his face. "I've had worse. Trust me, this is pain I can take." His hand guided Prowl's mouth back to his own and he kissed his beloved gently.
Prowl indulged him, and kissed him a few more times, since it seemed to take his mind off the pain in his side. It seemed to relax Jazz somewhat too. It pained Prowl as well, to see his beloved in this type of situation – so used was he to Jazz's boundless energy. And while his kisses eased Jazz's pain, they didn't take it away completely. And Prowl wished he could.
They heard a roar overhead and Jazz started, letting out an agonized yelp as needles of pain jabbed at his side. Prowl felt his own spark ache. Above them, Soundwave and Ravage flew from the wrecked base, Soundwave holding Rumble and Frenzy – one under each arm. Another look of pain crossed Jazz's face, but this one was emotional, not physical.
"What is it, love?" Prowl asked.
"Rumble and Frenzy. They were closest to the fuel cells when the place blew," Jazz said. "I didn't wanna kill anyone today."
"They'll be alright," Prowl tried to assure them. "Soundwave will make sure they're fixed, and they'll be back taking cheap shots at us before you know it."
Jazz tried to laugh, then grimaced. "Do me a favor and don't make me laugh like that. Hurts too slagging much."
Prowl kissed his forehead. "I…."
Jazz kissed him lightly on the mouth. "Say you're sorry and I'll hit ya, pain or no."
Prowl smiled. "Then maybe this would suffice better," he said, nuzzling Jazz's face, before kissing him again.
They heard the rumble of a familiar semi, and Prowl looked up to see Prime transforming and heading towards them.
"The cavalry's here," Jazz murmured.
They rode home inside Prime's trailer, Jazz lying on the floor of it, his head resting in Prowl's lap. Prowl stroked his face and head gently, trying to get him to relax. The energon flow from his side had reduced considerably, but once in a while, a little would trickle out, till there was a little pool of it under Jazz's midsection. For his part, Jazz never complained about his condition, but every now and then, when Prime hit a bump or rut in the road, a small moan of pain would escape Jazz's lips.
"Try and shut down," Prowl suggested. "You wont feel the pain as much then."
"Cant shut down," Jazz replied.
"No music. An' I don' think Prime's trailer comes equipped with stereo system an' surround sound."
"I wish there was something I could do for you."
"Hey man, don' worry about it. I'll be alright."
"It pains me to see you like this."
"Prowl, don't do that to yourself. I mean it. You start with the self-reproach and I'm havin' Prime stop, an' I'm gonna get off and walk home."
"You came for me. That's all that matters."
"I just want to do something for you."
Jazz made no reply, and a long moment of silence lingered over them. Prowl wondered for one panicked minute if his mate had slipped into unconsciousness.
"Sing for me," Jazz said softly.
Prowl blinked. He had not been expecting a response like that. "What? Jazz, no. I don't… I cant sing."
"Sure ya can. I've heard ya hum."
"They're two different things."
"If ya can hum, you can sing."
"Its not… I… I don't sing."
"I said 'sing for me' Prowl, ME, not the whole Autobot army. What are you afraid of? I'm not gonna laugh at you, love."
Still Prowl hesitated. Then just when Jazz thought that maybe he'd pushed the tactician a bit too far, a quiet, clear voice drifted out…
had time to write a book
About the way you act and look
But I haven't got a paragraph
Words are always getting in my way
Anyway, I love you
That's all I have to tell you
That's all I've got to say
A smile blossomed across Jazz's face. "There, that wasn't so hard now, was it?"
Prowl smiled and continued to sing softly. No, it wasn't hard at all…
now, I'd like to make a speech
About the love that touches each
But stumbling, I would make you laugh
I feel as though my tongue were made of clay
Anyway, I love you
That's all I have to tell you
not a man of poetry
Music isn't one with me
It runs from me
It runs from me
And I tried to write a symphony
But I lost the melody
Alas, I only finished half
And finish I suppose I never may
Anyway, I love you
That's all I have to tell you
That's all I've got to say
That's all I've got to say…
Jazz sighed in Prowl's arms, and the tactician looked down to see his mate peacefully asleep, head resting in the crook of Prowl's right elbow. He smiled softly, bent, and kissed the saboteur's forehead lightly.
"Sleep now, Jazz," he whispered. "I wont let anything happen to you. I love you so much." Then he smiled and added as an afterthought. "That's all I have to tell you. That's all I've got to say."
Prowl roused Jazz when they reached the Ark and helped him out of Prime's trailer. The sleep had done Jazz a little good in that his internal repair systems had kicked in and managed to fix his lighter wounds, but there was still the matter of his side injury, and the saboteur still leaned wearily against the tactician. The Autobot leader transformed.
"Get him to Ratchet, Prowl," he said. "We'll discuss the report later."
Prowl nodded once, then helped Jazz slowly down to the Medbay.
"I don't get it man," Jazz said after a moment. "Why did ya come after me?"
"I was afraid," Prowl replied.
"Afraid of what?"
"I don't know. I was just afraid."
Before Jazz could press the issue, Prowl steered him in through the Medbay doors. Ratchet looked up and a frown crossed his face.
"Oh slagging Primus, not YOU!" were the first words out of his mouth.
"Sorry Doc," Jazz said, as Prowl helped him onto a table. "Couldn't bear to be parted from ya for so long."
Ratchet narrowed his optics at him. "Don't even THINK of trying one of Sideswipe's many 'Ways To Annoy Ratchet' tricks on me, it wont work, I know them all."
"Cant blame a bot fer tryin'."
"Prowl, shut him up before I'm forced to do it myself."
Prowl just gave Jazz a patient look and pushed the other black and white mech into a lying position. Jazz winked at him, one half of his visor giving off a quick flash, and Prowl smiled. Ratchet eyed them.
"NOT in here," he growled. "Whatever you two are thinking of doing, save it till you get to your quarters. And you," he pointed a finger at the tactician. "Don't you have work to do? If I have to work on him for the rest of the evening, I'm going to do it alone. The last thing I need is you hovering over my shoulder looking like a lost puppy, so get out!"
Prowl raised an optic ridge at the term Ratchet had used to describe him, but said nothing. Instead, he gave Jazz's hand a squeeze and turned to go.
"But you're a cute puppy," Jazz said to him.
"Out!" Ratchet fumed, and poked Jazz. "And you, I thought I told you to be quiet!"
"Actually, ya told Prowl ta shut me up," Jazz said.
The Datsun quickly left the Medbay before he heard Ratchet's reply to that remark, because he was sure that it was far from anything pleasant. He returned to the Command Center to give Prime his report, finding himself able to think much clearer now that Jazz was relatively safe.
"How did he sustain those injuries?" Prime asked him.
"Shrapnel from the bomb. He was still a bit too close when it went off."
"Will he be alright?"
"I think so. Unless of course he continues with his new-found hobby of antagonizing Ratchet, in which case he may not be so lucky."
Prime chuckled. "Let us hope he has more sense than that."
Prowl smiled fondly. "I should personally hope so."
Nonetheless, later that night, Prowl stopped by the Medbay to check on his mate, and upon entering, he found his partner deep in recharge. The Datsun stood by the Porsche's side and gazed down at him, noting how fragile and delicate he looked at that moment, but he also knew looks were deceiving. Jazz was a lot tougher, and though not stronger, had more endurance than others gave him credit for.
"I had to knock him out to give his systems a chance to complete his healing process," Ratchet said from behind him.
"How is he?" Prowl asked. "Will he be alright?"
"Oh he'll be fine. The most severe damage he had was a punctured fuel line. Everything else is all surface wounds that have already begun to heal on their own. He should be up and about by tomorrow. Though I'm afraid I do have to keep him here overnight for observation. You can have him back in the morning, I promise."
Prowl trailed his fingers lightly down Jazz's arm. "Take care of him Ratchet."
The medic placed a hand on the tactician's shoulder. "I always do."
Yet, try as he might, Prowl could just not bring himself to recharge that night. He tossed and turned in his bunk, but everytime he tried to cycle into shut down, five minutes later he would just snap awake and the whole process would begin all over again. He knew why of course. He missed Jazz's presence there with him. He'd gotten so used to sharing the berth with his mate that now, in Jazz's absence, it felt like there was a void next to him. Unable to stand it any longer, he got off the bunk and stepped out of the room into the hallway.
Most of the Ark's occupants, except for those on night-watch, were asleep at this hour, so Prowl had to tread quietly along the corridors till he reached the Medbay. He stepped inside, mindful of the fact that Ratchet's private quarters were right next door, and the slightest noise was enough to have him come charging in. But the tactician was not called Prowl for nothing.
Soundlessly he moved to Jazz's left side and pulled up a chair beside the table his mate lay on. Then he sat down, rested his head on Jazz's arm, and took the black hand in his white one. Finally at peace, sleep claimed him almost immediately. He never even knew when Ratchet came in at the pre-dawn hour to check on his patient. The medic shook his head fondly at the two, a little smile playing at his lip components, before going back to his own rest.
Jazz came back online the next day and instinctively tried to bring his hands up to rub his optics. His right hand moved freely, but there was a weight holding his left arm down, and for one panicked instant he wondered if Ratchet had gone crazy during the night and strapped him to the table. He raised his head as far as he could and then smiled widely, for there was Prowl, his head resting comfortably on Jazz's arm, deep in recharge. The Porsche lay back and switched on his internal radio – now repaired and working again – and a quiet song filled the Medbay. He sang alons softly and lightly swung his ankle to the rhythm. Ratchet walked in at this point.
"Music off," he said curtly.
"Yes sir, Doc Ratchet, sir." Jazz complied.
"How are you feeling?"
"Perfectly fine, except for my left arm which has currently lost all feeling." Jazz grinned at Prowl's sleeping form.
"Well, why didn't you wake him up?"
"C'mon Ratch, look at him. He looks so peaceful lyin' there, I didn't have it in ma spark."
"I'm sorry I asked," Ratchet said. "But he's going to have to wake up at some point and now is as good a time as any."
The medic went over and gave Prowl a light shake. The tactician groggily raised his head to find Jazz and Ratchet looking back at him – Jazz with a grin, Ratchet with an amused frown. The Porsche could have sworn that the normally calm Datsun had quite the embarrassed look on his face.
"Wake up Sleeping Beauty," Jazz said, reaching out to touch Prowl's helm. "Your knight in shinin' black an' white is here."
"In that case, you can gather him up in your arms and whisk him off into the sunset because I have work to do and the last thing I need is the two of you getting reunited in here. So scram!" Ratchet snapped.
Jazz actually considered this.
"Don't even think about it," Prowl warned. "I am perfectly capable of walking out of here on my own two feet." He stood up to prove it, then nearly stumbled.
Ratchet snorted and Jazz chuckled.
"You sure about that, love?" the saboteur asked, swinging his legs off the table and standing up perfectly straight.
"Yes, I am perfectly sure. My equilibrium was a bit off, that is all."
The medic rolled his optics. "Jazz, stay with him and make sure he doesn't fall flat on his face somewhere, and both of you go get some energon."
"You got it, Doc." Jazz linked his arm with Prowl's and guided him out of the Medbay.
Once out in the hallway, Jazz let go of Prowl's arm and put his arm around the Datsun's shoulders. He switched on his radio again and once more began to softly sing along. Prowl's curiosity got the better of him after a while.
"Pardon?" he asked.
Jazz grinned and sang a little louder so Prowl could hear.
Then say you'll share with me
One love, one lifetime
Let me lead you from your solitude
Say you want me with you
Here beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go too
That's all I ask of you.
He stopped, pulled Prowl into his arms and kissed him deeply. Prowl was caught too off-guard to put up any kind of protest, but thankfully Jazz let go just before Cliffjumper came around the corner. The Minibot eyed the two curiously before continuing on his way down the corridor. Prowl shook his head. Jazz smiled and shrugged, then took his mate's hand as they resumed their walk to the lounge.