Thirteen Days

Summary: [movieverse [SLASH, Jazz/Prowl They'd already said goodbye, but he'd never accepted it, and when his last moments came, he couldn't let go - so he stayed. And unfortunately, they knew it.

Rating: M

Warning: Contains torture, insanity, deaths, and lots of angst.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Transformers. I'm just borrowing them for a bit to mess with their heads.

Author's Note: This fic started with the Moonlighting episode called 'The Murder's In The Mail'. In that episode, Bruce Willis' character and another do this little Doctor Seuss-style exchange, all rapid fire, and that sort of stuck in my mind until I read Xerios' fic 'Getting Away With Murder' and downloaded the Papa Roach song by the same name (and subsequently bought the CD). Somehow, the two combined and spawned a little Doctor Seuss-type exchange (or at least my lame attempt at a Doctor Seuss-style exchange), and then, from there, grew into this fanfic. So this fic is totally not my fault - it's my dad's, for watching Moonlighting in the first place, and showing me that episode. Really.

So now we go on with my first, and hopefully only, attempt at 'dark' fic.

- Part 1 : Ariel -

Ariel grimaced to herself as she squared off against her partner. She didn't know why their teacher kept setting her and Kyle against each other - surely the man had noticed the tension between them. They hadn't gotten along from the moment they'd met in this Tae Kwon Do class two years ago, and it had only gotten worse with time. It was at the point where Ariel was actually looking for a new place to take classes from, that would respect her belt ranking from this one. Until then, though, she just had to deal with it. Deal with Kyle's leers, quiet taunts when he knew nobody was listening, and mocking looks. The best way to do that, of course, was just to focus on the lesson, and that was just what Ariel did, blocking Kyle out, focusing on the movements - until suddenly, a foot was where it wasn't supposed to be, and she went down hard. Glaring up at Kyle, Ariel found him smirking, though the expression quickly disappeared from his face as their teacher approached.

"You may want to practice the forms before you try them, Ariel." he said with a frown.

"I do!" Ariel insisted, then pointed to Kyle. "He tripped me!" The teacher looked curiously at Kyle, who adopted a hurt look.

"I would never do that! I want to learn as much as you, Ariel!" he protested, and the teacher frowned down at Ariel.

"I would suggest you not try blaming your mistakes on your sparring partners." the older man said sternly. "Now get up, try it again." Flushing angrily, Ariel did as told, climbing to her feet and setting into a ready position, while Kyle did the same. Once again, Ariel focused on the moves. It was harder to push aside her dislike for Kyle, but the knowledge of who her audience was helped her do it - and then, suddenly, time seemed to pause, and Ariel noticed Kyle's leg coming out to trip her. Shock that he would try this in front of the teacher crossed her mind, and then she realized that thanks to the angles, their teacher wouldn't even see it. She'd be embarrassed and lectured again, and unable to tell the truth of the matter without being labelled a liar.

Well fuck that.

Time sped up, and Ariel's limbs suddenly seemed to be moving by themselves, at a speed she hadn't known she was capable of. She twisted out of the way of Kyle's trip, then sent a solid punch to his jaw, brought a knee to his stomach, then followed with a kick to the chest, sending him careening backwards. He tried to recover, but before he could, she was on him again, fist smashing across his face again, and the satisfying crunch sound signified that this time, she'd broken something. She was aware of someone yelling in the background, but she didn't stop, landing another kick on Kyle's chest, pushing the air out of him. A hand landed on her shoulder, and she turned, executing a face-paced series of punches that even the black belt now in front of her couldn't block entirely. He tried to counterattack, but she brushed it aside, attacking him with as little mercy as she had Kyle.

When it was over, Ariel stood in the center of the gym, Kyle unconscious on one side of her, blood trickling from his mouth and his jaw obviously broken, and her teacher groaning on the floor, only barely conscious himself, on the other side. Ariel looked between the two, and briefly, the thought that she should be horrified crossed her mind. She'd taken this class to learn self-defence, not to beat her fellow students and teacher to a pulp. Oddly, however, the damage she'd just caused didn't faze her. It should have - she'd always hated the sight of blood, and the fact that she was the cause of the red liquid leaking out of Kyle's mouth should have sent her into hysterics.

Instead, she just frowned between the two of them, grunted, then went and grabbed her things before walking out of the building and heading for her car. It wasn't until she got home that she realized she was still wearing her uniform, and that it was splattered with Kyle's blood. And it was two hours later, when the police showed up, that she finally freaked out.

---

To say Ariel was still freaking out was an understatement. Her parents were flying into town tomorrow, but in the mean time, she had her preliminary court appearance today. It seemed extraordinarily fast to her, but then, the media seemed to have latched onto her story. Something about a martial arts student, not even a green belt, beating up both her teacher and another student, had caught their eye. She couldn't go outside without there being at least one reporter lying in wait. Today was going to be worse, she knew.

Ariel moaned slightly and sunk down in the passenger seat of the car as she was driven to the courthouse - she'd asked Chelsea, one of her few friends that wasn't now terrified of her, to drive her because she didn't think she'd be able to, considering the state she was in. She was shaking like a leaf, still unable to understand how or why she'd done what she had. She'd tried numerous times, in the privacy of her own living room, to try and repeat the moves she used, but time and again, she ended up tripping over her own feet. Even if she could repeat the moves, though, she knew she would have normally never used them - she'd never been violent. The Tae Kwon Do classes were something her two older brothers had begged her to take when she moved to LA, and since it was either that, or they swore they'd get her a gun for her next birthday, she took the classes.

Now it was looking like the gun might have been the better option.

Then again, she might have just gone ballistic with the gun instead, Ariel thought bitterly as she felt the car slowing down. Looking out the window, Ariel found that they had arrived at the courthouse, and she shared a grimace with Chelsea at the reporters that were already waiting for her. It wasn't exactly a crowd, but they were several from different major media stations. Fortunately, Ariel's lawyer, a Mister Frank Wolf, was waiting just outside for her - thank god for one of her parent's cousins being a senior partner in a law firm out here and kindly assigning a junior, but still more than skilled enough to handle Ariel's case, lawyer to her at no charge. Taking a deep breath, Ariel thanked Chelsea and slipped out of the car.

"Don't say a thing, don't even acknowledge them." Wolf said in a low tone as soon as Ariel stood, and she nodded as the man began to lead her towards the courthouse, ignoring the reporters as much as he'd told her to. By the time they got to the doors of the courthouse, they were literally surrounded by reporters. The courthouse guards came out to clear the way to the door, but with one foot inside, Ariel suddenly felt this inexplicable calm come over her. Suddenly, she wasn't worried - one way or another, this would all be over relatively soon, and the worst she could get was a couple of fines, maybe some jail time, and she knew her parents would pay the former and do everything they could to prevent the latter, and so would their cousin. With that on her mind, she suddenly turned to the reporters and flashed them a brilliant grin and the victory sign, before heading back inside, almost sauntering. She never saw the odd look her lawyer gave her before following her in, and once again, it wasn't until after Ariel was home that her confidence came crashing down again.

"What is wrong with me?" Ariel weakly asked her reflection in the bathroom mirror, the nerves have just caused her to throw up the rather hearty supper she'd eaten while still on her confident high. Ariel's reflection, unsurprisingly, didn't answer. Sighing, the young woman dragged herself to her bed and curled up on it, staring at the wall without really seeing it. She'd been acting strange for awhile now, feeling odd bursts of courage or self-assurance, when she was normally quite a shy girl - her brothers had teased her often about it as children, but when they all grew up, they'd started protecting her. She guessed that was part of the reason why she never really grew out of that shyness - there'd never been a need.

Then, after the destruction in LA following that strange terrorist attack, housing prices in the city had dropped, and Ariel had decided to move there. Her brothers and parents had argued against it, of course, but that was when that first burst of strange confidence had come. She'd looked at her family and told them flat-out that she could do this, that it was time for her to head out and live her own life. Surprised, but pleased, by her new confidence, they'd let her. Ariel had always assumed, because of that moment, that it was moving out on her own that had suddenly made her so confident and self-assured. That she was growing out of her shy ways now that she didn't have two brothers watching over her.

But if this was what she was like when she was confident and independent, she wanted to go back to being the shy, protected little girl she was a year ago.

---

When her parents made the offer once the court cases were over with, Ariel was more than ready to take them up on it. She probably would have asked them if they hadn't offered, in fact, no matter how much it would hurt her little amount of pride. But they'd asked, and now Ariel stood outside her parent's home just outside of Boston and smiled up at it. The house itself was only just too small to be considered a manor, but somehow, the house had never seemed large, even once Ariel's two older brothers had moved out, one to Boston proper, the other to New York.

It was probably the dogs, Ariel mused as one of her mother's many collies came trotting up to her. It sniffed her hand, and Ariel took the opportunity to check it's collar - her mother may have been able to tell her dogs apart by sight, but the rest of her family had given up long ago, especially considering how often there were 'visiting' male dogs. This one's collar had a gold nameplate, showing it was female, with the name 'Petunia' engraved on it.

"Petunia?" Ariel asked herself, scrunching her brows together as she frowned. Then the collie lightly butted her hand and she knelt, scratching the dog behind the ears. "My mother gives you such weird names, doesn't she?" Ariel asked the dog, who just smiled happily and panted a bit at the scratching. Ariel grinned, then patted Petunia on the head and headed towards the house, making her way to her old room - well, rooms. Since they'd had the space, each kid had a bedroom and a study in the house. Ariel's brothers, Sebastian and Gabrielle - otherwise known as Gabe - were just finishing carrying the last of her things in, and Ariel sighed as she saw the boxes littered throughout the two rooms. It was hard to believe everything fit in there, considering there was barely a path through either room right now.

"Might've been easier if you'd just left this all here." Sebastian said musingly as he set down a box and came to stand by his sister.

"After the rants I heard from mom when you did that?" Ariel said with a snort. "I think not." Sebastian laughed.

"Oi, lazy bum, there's more boxes, stop standing around!" Gabe growled to his brother as he entered the room with a box of his own, purposefully nicking Sebastian with the corner of said box.

"Hey! Carefully with Ariel's stuff, man! She's dangerous now!" Sebastian said jokingly before leaving, but the words caused the smile to fade from Ariel's face. Gabe, putting down his box and turning to head out and get another, spotted the look on his sister's face and came over, wrapping her in a hug. Ariel latched onto him, feeling tears welling up, and she sniffled into her brother's shirt.

"Hey, it's OK." Gabe said softly. "Sebastian was only joking."

"I know. Doesn't make it less true, though." Ariel said, her voice hitching as she held back tears.

"Hey. Hey, look at me." Gabe said, pulling back and catching Ariel's eyes. He gave her an earnest look as he continued, "You are not dangerous. You may have gone a little ballistic, but you were under stress. Moving out on your own is never easy. You can never repeat this to anyone under pain of death and humiliation, but for the first two months I was out on my own, I phoned either mom or dad every night, sometimes in tears, because I missed home so much and New York was so different and strange. And you saw how Sebastian was back for supper almost every night for the first three weeks after he moved out.

"You, being you, just held that all in, and when that Kyle guy decided to be a jerk to you on top of everything else, it just all came pouring out. It doesn't mean you're dangerous. It might mean that you should take some sort of course on releasing stress or see a psychologist, but hey, doesn't everyone need that?" the last was added with a smile, which Ariel echoed.

"Thanks." she said quietly, and Gabe's smile widened.

"No problem, sis. I'd better get going, though, before Sebastian decides I'm slacking off and throws a box at me." Gabe said teasingly, and the two siblings stepped away from each other.

"If he does, I'll go Tae Kwon Do on his aft for you." Ariel replied with a laugh, and Gabe snickered.

"Alright, revenge of the little sister! Bet if we filmed it, it would make more at the box office than Revenge of the Sith!" he said.

"As if! Lightsabers and the force are better than Tae Kwon Do any day!" Ariel snorted, giving her brother a shove towards the doorway, and with a laugh, he left. Still smiling, Ariel turned her attention back to her room and picked a box at random to start unpacking. Her mother joined her a little while later, and her brothers after they'd finished getting boxes out of the truck. Ariel's father was working until later that evening, but he joined them when he got home, bringing several large pizzas, and together, the family put Ariel's room back together.

---

"Come on, sis, we're going out shopping!" Sebastian said, poking his head into his sister's room. Ariel looked up from where she was sitting cross-legged on the floor, organizing her books on the lower shelf of her bookcase, and arched an eyebrow at him.

"Shopping?" she asked. "Isn't that what I normally drag you out to do?"

"Not when it's car shopping!" Sebastian said with a grin, and Ariel groaned.

"Oh come on Sebastian, I told you, I don't need a car. Mom and dad have three already!" she said.

"You really expect me to believe you're going to drive the Crown Vic? Or mom's Escalade? Oh no wait, maybe you'll drive dad's truck." Sebastian said musingly, then snorted. "They're all way too big for you to drive, and you know it. You just want to sit in the house all day and be the reclusive little sister who never goes out."

"I do not!" Ariel protested. She didn't even bother protesting that she'd never drive one of their parents cars - she didn't know how her mom managed it, but at five foot eight, and slender to boot, she always felt scared climbing into the driver's seat of one of those three monsters. "Even if I did, there was no way you could make me go out if I didn't want to, anyways!"

"No, but I can make sure there's a gleaming metric ton or so of temptation sitting in the driveway begging you to go out and be seen." Sebastian said with a grin, stepping into the room fully now. "Come on, even Gabe has agreed to go after seeing that piece of shit you were driving in LA."

"That 'piece of shit' was a new model!" Ariel said, offended. After the battle she'd gone through with her parents between getting new or used - she'd wanted used, so there was less chance of it getting stolen, her parents wanted nothing but the best for her, and only the fact that her parents were paying for it had resulted in them winning - she wasn't about to let anyone insult the car.

"A new piece of shit!" Sebastian agreed dismissively. "You obviously have no idea how to pick cars. So on his last day before heading back to NYC, your eldest brother Gabriel, the boy who didn't get his full driver's licence until last year, has agreed to go car shopping with you and me so that he can make sure you don't sit around the house all day, or even worse, buy another car like that thing you had in LA." Sebastian mock-shuddered, and Ariel glared at him.

"Fine, but we're looking at used cars first!" she said, and Sebastian froze, considering.

"Alright, but don't tell mom or dad." he said finally, then looked nervously out into the hall before turning back to Ariel and whispered, "They think it's blasphemy to get a used car, but Gabe and I both bought used and didn't tell them!"

"Hah, I knew there was something fishy about your story as to how you ended up with a completely new year-old model!" Ariel said triumphantly as she stood, leaving her books for now.

"Hey, keep it quiet!" Sebastian said with pretend nervousness, peering out into the hallway again, and Ariel chuckled as she headed out, Sebastian just behind her. They said goodbye to their parents, Sebastian proudly proclaiming that they were going out car shopping, then headed outside, where Gabe was waiting for them in his mustang convertible. The two younger siblings hopped in as Gabe started the engine, and then they set off into Boston to look for a car for Ariel.

Within an hour, Ariel was bored and regretting she'd come. Gabe and Sebastian were talking with a salesmen about things she didn't understand, and they had yet to even look at a car. They didn't seem to need any input from her, either, so she felt completely justified in wandering off, looking through the cars. She started out looking seriously, but realized that with her brothers around, the only opinion of hers that would count would be what colour and make she preferred from whatever ones they came up with as options for her, so she stopped looking at specifics, and started looking at colours and body shape.

Ariel had half decided she wanted a deep purple car with a slightly boxy feel to it - there was something unsettling and alien about all the round corners on the new cars - when something silver caught her eye, and she turned to find a sporty little silver Pontiac convertible, all rounded corners, sitting unassumingly in a back corner of the lot. She stared at it for a moment, then turned on her heel and returned to her brothers and the salesman. Their conversation stopped as she suddenly, physically, made herself a part of it, stepping up right beside Sebastian.

"I found the car I want." Ariel said with a bright smile.

- To be continued, with actual transformers! -