Tirya's A/N: You guys are good! Most of you had it right, I did Prowl first then Jazz. Are our styles really that different? This chapter is a bit longer than the others, but we needed to put a lot more info in it to set up later chapters. For those who are curious, even though we put their 'births' parallel to each other, Prowl is older by a few years.
DesertCat87's Author's notes: You gotta admit, Jazz and Prowl were cute as kids. As adults too, but darn cute kids too. X) But then, I'm a fangirl so I might be bias. Thanks all who reviewed and I'm so glad you all like it. Please R&R! Oh yeah, we don't own the Transformers, yada yada, only the fanchars. Thanks again!
Chapter Three: First Meetings
He heard the repair tech's hollers before he even got close to the shop. Patchjob must be in one of his moods again by the sound of it. The sound of someone quite clearly yelling back soon followed. Well at least it wasn't a customer. Patchjob's tempers could get downright frightening when he lost business.
Prowl clutched his injured arm even tighter to his chest as he drew closer. He'd been too slow today. Assumed too much and knew too little. His creators would not be happy with him when they found out.
"…Absolute slag!" the mechanic swore, chucking a rusty warped piece of what used to be a power coupling out the door to lay in the yard. "I tell y', when I get my hands on that slaggin' sorry excuse fo' a trader, I'm gunna to make 'im wish he'd never been sparked!"
"Well what the frag are you yelling at me for?" demanded a young femme. She followed the repair tech as he brought his rant to the thrown item in his yard, gripping a hammer threateningly.
Ah yes, the young mech sighed. What would life be without those two going at it at least once per day? The way they bickered, one might mistake them for a couple too long bonded to each other. But Patch was easily five million years older than his young employee.
"Because you're th' one who…" Prowl finally limped into view, stopping the mech short with his appearance. "Back so soon, kid?" he asked with irony, noting the young one's wounds. "Don' tell me, y' blew another one? Young'un, how many times do I have t' tell y'…"
"Actually," Prowl cut in gently, pain making his voice strained. "They were the ones who backed out on the deal this time."
"You're hopeless!" the mechanic cried, throwing his hands in the air. "Do y' honestly think you're th' first trader who got slagged on a deal?"
The young mech frowned and limped closer. "No, but the other traders…"
"Th' othe' traders figure a way out o' their problems! Y' listen t' me, an' y' listen good. If y' want t' work on th' back markets, y' gotta be smart about it. Y' can' keep comin' back t' me fo' repairs an' that Gunlock o' yours'll have both our heads."
Prowl said nothing to this piece of advice he'd been hearing for a long long time. It wasn't like he especially loved the back markets anyway. The usual liaison for his creators' trade business, Prowl all too often found himself on the wrong end of the blaster from an unhappy buyer or supplier.
Backfire continued to send him out there time and time despite some of the near disasters that had occurred. People underestimated Prowl because of his youth, the leader reasoned. They would be easier to rip off that way thinking they had outwitted one so inexperienced. Of course, that also meant that the young mech had to constantly be at the top of his game, especially when rumors began to circulate about the brand new trader on the markets. From day one he'd been trained to think like, and then promptly out-think, mechs millions of years older than he with that much more experience.
Patchjob sighed as he took in Prowl's quiet but hurting frame darkening his doorstep. Due to a very real fear of their having an illegal sparkling being discovered, the three traders would only let Patchjob and his crew heal Prowl's wounds. A medic would be worlds better, of course, but a medic, even one from their side of town, would want an I.D. number. An I.D. number the child didn't have and couldn't fake. The reward of turning in an illegal child would far outweigh anything Backfire could offer to keep it quiet.
So here Prowl was, once again. Through the years, Patchjob had gotten to know the child as his visits became more frequent due to harder assignments. While he certainly couldn't care less how the traders raised their collective fledgling, he couldn't help but notice how swiftly the child's smiles had stopped appearing so readily. He'd been so happy with what meager life Patch had brought him into, so joyful at just being. And while he still loved each of his creators, Prowl's childhood innocence was no more. He'd grown up so fast while sparklings his age were still unable to leave their homes without supervision.
Yes it was a harsh cruel thing what had been done to Prowl. But by Primus, everyone's lives in this slumhole was cruel and harsh. And that child had better learn how to live like that if he ever wanted to reach his first millennium in one piece.
"Well get inside," Patchjob waved his hand impatiently, nearly pushing the boy in. "Jynx, think y' can manage t' fix 'im up? I ain't got time fo' his nonsense today."
The femme put her hands on her hips. "With what?" she snapped. "Too busy to do your own slagging job?"
The elder mech sent her a dangerous glare that both Prowl and Jynx had long grown immune to. "Y' wanna go back t' th' streets then, girl? I don' need t' let y' keep this job if y' insist on actin' like some high class brat. I can drop y' jus' as quick as I hired y'."
She snorted at that, but backed down anyway. She wasn't crucial to his business and if she pushed him far enough, the mechanic just might make good his threat. "Come on, then," she said to Prowl before leading the way to an unused repair room. He obeyed the slightly older femme if only because he knew it would result in full use of his limbs again. The young mech wasn't quite sure why Jynx didn't like him, only that she didn't. Well that was fine with him; he hardly had any love for her either. So long as he got repaired, she could glare at him all she wanted.
"So who was it this time?" she asked as she retrieved the required tools.
Prowl sat up on a berth gingerly, favoring his wounds so as not to cause any more damage. "Someone who calls himself Blacklight. Backfire really wanted this deal to go through too. But once he figured out what I was trying to do, he… overreacted." He looked down at his slagged arm wryly.
"Well it looks like someone's going to be in trouble when they get home," she remarked lightly, approaching him to begin work. It would be a tough mend this time, and she really wasn't qualified to be doing this. What Prowl needed was a medic or one day he'd just fall apart at the seams. There was only so much a patch and weld job could do. He was lucky that all his wounds up to this point were not too serious.
"I tried!" he protested. "I really tried this time." Sighing, he looked away from the young repair tech as she worked.
"Trying's not enough, kid," she snapped in irritation, resentment of her own life coming through.
"Well what else can I do?" the black and gray stared down at his unharmed hand laying in his lap. "I'm just in the wrong business, that's all."
Jynx stopped for a moment to look up at him, an incredulous look on her face. "And you think I'm not? You think I like working for that slag-sucking moron who calls himself a mechanic?"
"But you're good at it," he tried to calm her down, knowing that if she got mad enough he would have to go home with a busted arm and leg. That would serve only to get his creators even angrier with him as he would be out of commission until Patchjob fixed him himself.
"I'm good at because I have to be." The femme refused to be placated, but went back to work anyway if only to give her something to do. "If you're not good at something, you got nothing. So you better learn how to be a trader or those three'll dump your aft. That's the only reason they're keeping you, you know. Cause you're their trump card when it comes to deals."
Prowl said nothing in reply. It was a lie and he knew it. There was no reason to get her angry for it by correcting her. Backfire and the others were wonderful parents, teaching him everything and keeping him even if they barely had enough money to buy energon for three. Backfire taught him everything about his job, how to bargain and mold the deal to his favor. His confidence in the sparkling constantly motivated him to get better at his job. Prowl wasn't afraid of disappointing himself, but he always hated to see that emotion in his creator, especially after all the hard work he'd put into teaching him.
Gunlock was a hard one to know, and for a while Prowl was sure he hated him. But Lock was like that with everyone, he found, and when one knew what to say and what not to say, he wasn't half bad. He taught Prowl to fight, to move so that even those twice as big were left defenseless. Words of praise or even acceptance were rare and usually hidden with disdain, yet when they were spoken they were meant. Prowl lived for his approval.
Hex he loved for the simple reason that she was so strong. Something had happened to her in the past, something that only Gunlock really knew the full of. Yet it had scarred her physically and mentally, leaving her with an intense distrust of anyone other than her bondmate. Prowl couldn't care less what strange scars had been inflicted upon her body; she was beautiful and he would kill anyone who dared hurt her. Moments of maternal love from her were just as rare and subtle as Gunlock's praise, but he cherished them when they came.
No, he loved his parents and they him. They would never dump him the way Jynx had been dumped.
The two were silent for the rest of the repair work and when Jynx gave him the go-ahead, Prowl merely thanked her mildly and left. He had a running tab with Patchjob and as long as the technician got some credits off the top of each weekly earning, he wouldn't money-grub too badly.
Prowl's leg still ached something fierce as he made his way home and he knew it would be a while before his internal repair systems could numb the pain in his arm. But at least he was feeling better than before. Now all he had to worry about was explaining this to his creators.
"Hello?" he called out when he entered his home. "Anyone home?"
"Back so soon, Prowl?" Hex asked, from her seat on the couch. She put down her datapad with the supplies list on it, an impressed look on her face. "That was fast."
He had hoped to break the news to Backfire first, but it could be worse. Gunlock was not a pleasant guy even when a job went well. It was just his way, but Prowl still hated it. He'd much rather tell Hex than her bondmate. "It… didn't go very well," he replied, not willing to lie to her. He shifted his weight nervously, waiting for the explosion.
"Again?" she demanded, rising to her feet. All signs of approval swiftly fled and now she just looked furious and disappointed. "Kid, this is the…"
"Third time this month, I know," he sighed. "Hex, I'm really sorry. I tried this time, I did."
"Just…" her lips turned up in a sneer. "Just get inside. We'll deal with it later."
"Is Backfire here?" he asked quietly, doing as he was told.
She sat back down, still glaring at him fiercely. "He's around back. I wouldn't ask him to take it well this time. You screwed up again, kid. We were counting on you to make this deal."
Prowl lowered his head slightly, feeling the shame of failure. He'd let down his family again. They already didn't have enough money to support four of them, why did he have to make it harder on them?
Despondently he went to where his femme creator indicated. Backfire was there, sorting through their inventory of goods, typing things into an old datapad. When the young mech entered, the orange and blue looked up and grinned.
"Jus' th' mech I wanted t' see! Come in, lad!" he beckoned him closer with the datapad.
Prowl obeyed, feeling even worse. Backfire was in such a good mood too.
"Ye won' believe our luck, Prowl," his creator was explaining. "I found us a buye' fo' th' cloakin' device. An' 'e's a real pushove' too; some fancy mech from th' west quarte'."
"Fire…" Prowl tried to interrupt gently.
"If we keep this guy as a client, things'll really start changin' fo' us, lad. Maybe ye'll even get tha' upgrade ye wan'."
"We don't have the credits for that," Prowl shook his head. "I don't need an upgrade."
"O' course we have th' creds, Prowl. I jus' sold us a 10,000 cred cloakin' device!" Backfire paused, taking in his child's miserable face. "Ye… did get th' device, aye?"
Prowl shook his charcoal head. "I'm sorry, 'Fire. But they pulled a blaster when I put down the first number, and…"
Backfire stared at him, face a stone mask. The young mech, who'd been trained to read the most unreadable bots, could never hope to read his creator when he was like this.
"Ye said ye could do it, kid," Backfire finally hissed in a low voice. "Ye said we could count on ye. I already sold it, Prowl, wot d'ye 'xpect me t' do 'bout it now? I trusted ye t' do yer job an' ye let me down."
Prowl said nothing, staring at the ground in self-disgust. He preferred outright anger over this quiet disappointment. Backfire had been counting on him. Backfire trusted very few, but he trusted his sparkling enough to get a simple device, and he couldn't even do that right. If the trio's leader was this angry with him, what would Gunlock's reaction be to his failure today?
"I can get it, Backfire," Prowl said quickly. "I'll try again."
"Ye had yer chance, Prowl," his parent growled, turning his back on him. "Ye only get one in this business, ye know tha'."
The sparkling would not give up however. There had to be a way to reverse this mistake, some way to make Blacklight listen to him long enough to strike a deal. He had promised his three creators a cloaking device and now it was his duty to deliver on that promise.
He walked closer carefully, reaching out to put a hand on his creator's arm like he used to when he was younger. "I want to fix my mistake, 'Fire," he said quietly. "Please. I can do it, I know I can."
There was silence for a moment. Then Backfire sighed. "When?"
Blinking, as he had expected a bigger argument over this, Prowl thought. "Tomorrow I promised Hazard and Patchjob I'd help around the shop to pay off my debt. I can go the day after. Maybe Blacklight will have cooled down by then."
"Ye keep it within th' price range we agreed on," the older mech said sternly, turning around at last. He was still angry, but at least he was listening. "Make this deal an' ye get yer up-grade."
Prowl nodded happily, glad for this second chance. He never thought to ask what would happen if he failed.
Okay, so he disobeyed. What Viv didn't know wouldn't hurt him, right? Besides, it's not like he was doing anything wrong- as long as he pretended he was just lost. She had to have known he was going to do it anyway, after all, who says not to do something and then not do it? It was forbidden fruit for Primus sake! He had to do it.
The city was nothing like his home though. The streets were paved in litter and broken scrap piles. A few people were scattered here and there, most begging for credits in some fashion or another; whether it be sitting with a sign or mugging. The latter seemed more popular. The market was nothing like the one back home either. There were only about five shops, none of which looked very friendly. The windows were blocked out with plating with nasty looking owners outside, their arms crossed angrily over their chests and scowls marking their faces.
But the owners weren't the only unfriendly occupants of the city. Most of mechs gave him dirty looks as he passed by, some even throwing garbage at him. Maybe Viv was right about not visiting it.
It was about then that he heard a few bots shouting and staggering out of a building. "Hey kid," one of the mechs shouted drunkenly, tripping more than one time on his way out of a pub, putting an arm around Jazz's shoulder. "Ya got a coupla creds fer yer ol' man? Need t' catch th' transport an' ya look like yer good fer a few creds, rich mech."
The younger mech stumbled under the overcharged mech's weight. Primus, he was heavy. "Er… 'M sorry, but I uh… I don't have anythin' on me." Jazz stuttered, unsure of what really to say. Who was this mech? This city was getting stranger by the minute…
"Whatchya mean ya aint got anythin' on ya, boy. You're a rich boy. You think y' too good for ol' Clank? Aint no one better than Clank!"
Jazz pushed the mech off his shoulder, taking a few steps back. What did he say to get him so riled up? It was true, he didn't have anything on him. Why was he so angry with him? "Look buddy, I don't think 'm better than y' I don't have anythin' on me." Jazz put his hands up defensively, as the mech still advanced on him. More mechs were coming out of the pub, cracking their knuckles as they saw the young mech. Jazz didn't like where this was going.
"Y' better start runnin' boy," one shouted.
"We don' like yer kind here!"
"Bet his pretty little head'll make a great trophy."
Jazz hardly heard the last shouter before his feet started moving on their own. He didn't know who these mechs where, but he knew they obviously didn't want him around. Each block he ran, the group behind him seemed to grow and grow. People off the streets were joining the mob following him! What was this? Chase the rich kid day? How did they even know he was rich to begin with? It's not like he was wearing a giant sign on his chest.
He needed somewhere to hide. If he didn't lose them soon… he liked where his head was and there was no way he was going to be a trophy. A scrap pile. It wasn't perfect, but it would work. Turning the corner, skidding as he did so, he dove head long into the scrap, covering his lithe silver and blue form best he could as the predicted mob passed right on by, shouting and cursing all the while.
Jazz breathed a sigh of relief and sank deeper into the pile. This was definitely the last time he pulled a stunt like that and it was the last time he'd visit this city. All Jazz wanted at this point was to go home and see Viv. He should have known better than to have disobeyed in the first place, Viv always knew better. Jazz rubbed his helm and struggled to get out of the scrap pile before his mob came back.
"Take out that slag, boy! What you doin' takin' a break?" An older mech shouted, causing Jazz to freeze. Guess now wasn't the time to make a run for it
There was some moving around, feet shuffling and a door opening off to his left. He couldn't see what was going on, but he could hear everything.
"I'm going, Patch." A younger mech this time, carrying something from the sounds of it. The mech stumbled over to his pile with a heavy sounding crate, dumping the contents all over Jazz.
Unfortunately, it wasn't scrap metal. It was melted slag.
Jazz yelped and jumped , trying to get the melted metal off his exterior before it made too many holes in his armor while the slightly older mech just stood stock still, watching the slag covered mech dance around shouting curses not even Prowl had heard out of Gunlock.
Prowl waited until the silver mech brushed off the last of it before he, "Who are you? And what are you doing in there?" It wasn't every day he scalded mechs with slag.
"Huh? Oh, uh… the name's Jazz." He greeted with a friendly hand. "Sorry 'bout that. I was uh… well hidin'." The mech grinned sheepishly, rubbing the back of his helm self consciously. What a way to make an impression… "What's yer name?"
"Prowl," he gazed back skeptically. "Who were you hiding from? Because I don't know if Patchjob is going to like a criminal hiding behind his shop."
"Naw, I aint a criminal. I's gettin' chased by some guys from the pub." Jazz mentally slapped himself. That story didn't sound any better than being a criminal. Prowl on the other hand didn't seem to care all that much for his story, happy enough with the information that he wasn't a criminal.
"I take it you met Clank. Over charged mech asking for creds, right?"
"Yeah… how'd you-" Jazz pointed with his finger as Prowl busied himself with picking up scrap pieces Jazz had scattered all over the floor when he jumped out.
Prowl looked back up to the young bot. Obviously this Jazz character was new to this side of town. Either that, or he truly was that stupid. "Clank does that to all upper class bots. You should have stayed away from the North side." The gray bot placed the scraps back on their pile in a neat and titty order, blue with blue and red with red despite the fact that all the scraps were going to the same place so it really made no difference in their order.
Jazz tilted his head to the side, following Prowl around like a shadow that had lost its owner. This guy seemed like fun to pester. Orderly kinda mech huh? This could definitely prove to be fun. "Whatchya mean upper class bots? How'd ya know?"
Was he serious? That settles it, the bot must have been that stupid. Prowl stared at him incredulously, "because you couldn't look more obvious if you had a sign around your neck."
"Really?" Jazz looked down at his armor and then to Prowl's. Well… maybe his armor was better taken care of, and brighter in color. And maybe Prowl's armor didn't fit quite right and had holes in some places… Prowl was right, he did stick out. Funny, he never noticed a real difference before that.
The fledgling shrugged it off and walked around the broken down building, running his hand along the rusted surfaces. "Right, so…. Ya live here 'r somethin'?"
Prowl resisted the urge to bristle. "No. I work here."
Jazz poked at a particular rust spot with his finger, scratching away some of the splotch. "Oh. Huh. M'creator doesn't make me work. Yer creator makes you work?"
Prowl gave him a look. "I'm here, aren't I?"
"Jus' asking. Don' get so uptight, buddy." Jazz turned around to face him, his hands up defensively.
Prowl shook his head, keeping his back to the other mech while he finished his chores around the shop. Prowl wasn't liking this new mech. Some upper crust bot from the city coming here to get a kick on his side of town like it was some cheap thrill. Either Jazz went away really soon or Patch might just accidentally find out about him.
Prowl went to pick up the last of the scraps and return it to the bin, only to run into the bot following him. Did he not know what personal space was? Prowl brushed past him again, but Jazz followed. One step behind. If Prowl stopped suddenly, the other bot would rear-end him. Literally. "Don't you have somewhere to be? Do you have to follow me around?"
Jazz shrugged innocently, his face alight with mischief. "No. I can stay here all day."
"I have work to do. You can hang around the shop, if you truly are that bored, but would suggest you make a run for it before Clank gets back. If you thought he was mad before, wait till he finds out you ducked him."
"You're bluffin'. That guy aint gunna fin' me." Jazz sat against the wall, lacing his fingers together behind his head. Jazz was just eating this up. He was gunna give this guy so much grief over the next few cycles, Prowl might just blow a gasket. All that much better. This was so much more fun than harassing his neighbors. He didn't get nearly the rise. Only a few prods, and Jazz had already managed to make the other mech start to twitch. It took a vorn to get Skyhigh to do that! Oh this was defiantly going to be fun…
"Down here! I can see him, slagging little good for nothing. How could you let him go?" Jazz gulped a little too loudly. It was the mob again, slag if Prowl wasn't right.
"Er… I better get going, later Prowl!" The silver and blue mech fled before Prowl even got a chance to tell him it wasn't the mob. Unfortunately, it was Gunlock and Hex… who had just heard about his botched mission…
End Chapter Three
Tirya's A/N: It's my turn to do reviews now!
Sanjuno Shori Niko: Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! It is so much fun to do, especially with two brains working on it together.
Tiamat1972: You would be correct, ma'am! Yeah, poor lil guy. We have plenty in store for both him and Jazz that will turn them into the mechs we know and love. Yay baby TF's!
MariaShadow: It actually took a little while for us to come to the decision to put Prowl there. But I think we make a convincing case for it, what do you think? I doubt you thought they would meet the way they did, but it's definitely a story to be handed down! Viv will find out, and you'll see what we have planned for that.
Angelus Prime: Lol thank you, they are adorable, aren't they? Wonder no longer! I'm sure Prowl likes to tell the tale more than Jazz does though : )
Trueborn Chaos: What? No three page review? You're slackin' off on me ; ) Just teasing, thanks all the same! Yeah, Gunlock doesn't exactly come across as a 'daddy' type guy. Good guess, you are right.
HunterBlues: Sorry, no slash fic this time around : ) You are right, they did have a rough start as I'm sure you've seen. Just wait and see how rough we'll eventually make it. I think Jazz would definitely love a cat! Pat your kitties on the head for us. You're right on both accounts with who's who and who wrote what. You psychic or something? ; ) Yeah, Prowl's creators aren't exactly cuddly by any stretch of the imagination. Vivi will find out, but you'll have to wait and see what we do with it though… Nope! Life will never be dull again!
PuraJazzBot: -hugs baby TF's- Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!