Title: Secondary Concerns: Reason, Sense and Logic
Universe: loosely G1 cartoon. This follows the events of Primary Mover and, more immediately, Down to the Casing (aka The Faction That Sparked Him, chapter 3).
Rated: R for intimacy between mechanical beings, plug-n-play for communication and reassurance.
Author's Notes: You know I don't own any of them. My OC is unable to make an appearance, although his story is the backdrop for this. 4900 words. -:-If you know how to get this site to indent an entire paragraph, please PM me with that process because I can't figure it out and centering those few paragraphs is not the answer. I used the UL tag in my html and it was not accepted.-:-
Swoop could not keep him in the med bay. Prowl was the executive officer, second in command, and could override even Ratchet if he deemed it necessary.
That did not mean he had to let Prowl leave without protest. Swoop stood firmly beside the table on which Prowl lay and crossed his arms over his chest as he'd seen Ratchet do many times. He shook his head at his patient and said, "No. You Prowl need more time to heal. Him Ratchet say new doors nearly done, maybe one more day." Prowl was scowling, sitting up on the bed and trying to draw himself up as tall as he could despite the obvious pain it cost him. Swoop did not allow him time to get a word in, "You Prowl in pain, me Swoop see." He softened his posture, trying to play to Prowl's sense of duty, reaching out to steady his patient with one hand and reaching for a dose of pain killer with the other, "Let me Swoop do job, please? Give medi-"
"No, Swoop, no more pain medication," Prowl cut him off firmly. "It makes all my processes slow." Accepting the steadying hand on his shoulder, he swung his legs off the side of the table. He looked up into Swoop's concerned optics. "Let me go do my job, Swoop. Let me go to my office. I can rest my frame there and still do the work that has piled up." He processed a tick, trying to calculate how long he knew he had been in the repair bay. He had been alert off and on for what felt like two days. "Is this Thursday?" He had a telecon scheduled with an undersecretary of defense for Friday morning and hoped he had not missed it.
Swoop shifted to allow Prowl room to move his legs, still steadying him with a hand on his shoulder. "No. This Friday. Time twenty-two-oh-three." He tried another tactic: "You Prowl get me Swoop in trouble if you leave now. This one thing him Ratchet tell me Swoop specifically: you Prowl need more time to heal."
Prowl resolved to get out of the repair bay while it was still Friday. He hoped Swoop would not bring his mass to bear against him: he felt just energetic enough to make it to his quarters under his own power, no match physically for the Dinobot even when he was at his best. He was far from his best. He cycled his cooling system. "Swoop, please. I am leaving now." He slid off the table and onto his feet.
When Prowl's feet hit the floor, Swoop caught him, gentle hands on either shoulder. He tut-tutted. "You Prowl stubborn, him Ratchet say."
Prowl was unaffected. He recognized Ratchet's usual parting shot: tell the patient he is displaying a personality fault if he does not do what you want. Ratchet would have had something much worse to say about Prowl's behavior in this instance, he was certain. "Let me go to my office. Swoop, that is an order." His back hurt and his legs felt weak and he would pull rank if he had to, to be left alone in the privacy of his own quarters.
Swoop made a non-committal sound, lip components pressed in a narrow line. Prowl started to move, stiffly walking toward the exit into the Ark. Swoop could tell Prowl's equilibrium was off, between the laboring of his internal repair system and the missing compensation of the door-wings. Careful of the repairs made to his back, Swoop moved with Prowl toward the door, supporting him firmly with one arm around his shoulders and the other grasping his upper arm and pulling him against Swoop's side, actively taking as much of his weight as possible without making it harder to walk.
Prowl allowed it, silently conceding that he might not be able to make it to his office by himself after all.
They were a quarter of the way there when Prowl needed to stop. Maybe he did not need to get there so badly. Maybe Ratchet was right and he should stay in the repair bay until his door-wings were reattached. At least his quarters were on the main level with the repair bay. After a few cycles of air through his cooling system, he started moving again, grateful now that Swoop insisted on helping him. He wanted to rest on his own berth a while; he wanted to see Jazz for longer than a breem in private. If he remembered the watchbill correctly, Jazz would be on-call tonight, probably still making himself available in the common room. Prowl did not feel up to going that far. Disappointed at that, he kept moving anyway. Swoop was supporting most of his weight, he realized now. "Thank you," he said softly as they rounded the last corner before his office door.
Jazz was coming down the hall from the other direction. He addressed the medic, "Swoop! Man, Ratchet'll have your plating for lettin' Prowl outta medical!" He flowed to Prowl's other side and wrapped one arm around his waist beneath the door-wing attachments, grasping Prowl's free arm much the way Swoop did, offering support. "Glad to see ya out an' about," he said as the injured mech started moving again, destination clear.
"Swoop, you are not to raise Ratchet on my account," Prowl dictated. Jazz keyed open the door to his office without a second thought. "When he arrives at medical in the morning will be soon enough to tell him where to find me." The three easily fit into the public part of Prowl's quarters, the part he used as an office. Swoop was too big to fit behind the desk, so Jazz alone supported him the last few steps and helped him sit. Prowl looked up at Swoop from where he leaned heavily on his desk, unable to sit back in the chair because of the incomplete repairs to his back. "Do you understand, Swoop? Let Ratchet have his normal recharge cycle. Wait until he gets there in the morning to tell him I excused myself from the repair bay."
Optics narrowed and expression uncharacteristically stern, Swoop leaned on the desk himself, bending down to get his face close to Prowl's. "Aye. Me Swoop not rouse him Ratchet for this." He pulled a handful of items from subspace and held them out to Jazz, still optic-to-optic with his patient, "You Prowl too stubborn to take pain killers in repair bay but me Swoop know, necessary for solid rest." Jazz accepted the chemicals and datapad without comment. Swoop continued, "Me Swoop trust him Jazz call if you Prowl have difficulty. Him Jazz sharp." Swoop straightened and left, presumably to return to medical and continue whatever he was working on when Prowl sat up and inadvertently claimed his full attention.
As the door cycled shut behind Swoop, Prowl looked up at Jazz' smirking face. "Did he just call me dull?"
"Yeah, baby, I think he did," Jazz answered softly. He knelt beside Prowl's chair and carefully slid his arms around his lover's waist. He looked up at Prowl, visor dim, as Prowl set his arm across Jazz' shoulders. "And it's good policy to never argue with a Dinobot."
That sounded like a joke but Jazz was not smiling. His face and body language radiated concern, even fear. Prowl hugged him as hard as he was able. "He called me stubborn, too, but claimed he was only repeating Ratchet."
Jazz hugged him back. His vocalization was muffled, with his face pressed to Prowl's midsection and the emotion of the week threatening to overwhelm him, but he said, "Stubborn? Yeah, Ratch' nailed ya there. Anyone else gets mushed by Devastator like that and he'd -" his voice hitched, "- prob'ly not get back up again." To listen to Prowl's systems running at all, even taxed as they were with extensive self-repair, was a relief.
They sat like that for a breem. Being Friday night meant Prowl had been in medical for nearly four full days since the battle. A thought flashed through his CPU, unclouded by chemicals as it finally was: "Jazz, you were injured, I remember. Ratchet saw to you? Are you all right?"
Jazz laughed a little, hollowly, and squeezed Prowl harder a tick. "Yeah, baby, I'm fine. Except for worryin' about you. Thought about gettin' Sides to rough me up so Ratchet couldn't kick me out of medical." He disengaged and stood up, holding Prowl's near hand and tenderly touching his chevron and helmet. "But then who would've covered your duty the other night and kept your datapad pile down?"
"I missed the telecon with the undersecretary."
"Nah, ya didn't. He cancelled again." Jazz massaged Prowl's hand, grateful for the private time with him. "You really should've stayed in medical. I mean, I'm glad for the chance to talk ta ya like this, but... Baby, Swoop was mostly carryin' ya down the hallway. Ratchet's gonna be fit ta be tied."
Prowl was feeling better, in spirit, just to be able to enjoy Jazz' company. "When is Ratchet not 'fit to be tied,' as you say? He has Red Alert for an in-patient, so he can focus his attention there since I have left. I want to rest on my own berth for a while, with you, and I cannot have that in the repair bay." He tried to stand without taking his hand from Jazz; that contact turned into Jazz helping him get up. "Thank you," Prowl said weakly.
"I'll help ya get settled but I can't stay here with ya: I'm on call and right now Swoop's the only one who knows where I am." He opened the door to their room and gently helped Prowl over to the berth they shared. Their berth, for all of a week now.
Prowl scowled as he processed that comment. "Are you expecting trouble tonight? Has there been Decepticon activity while I was out of commission?" He sat heavily on the platform and lay down, gingerly pushing back from the edge. Jazz sat with him, hands folded on his lap.
"No, they haven't moved since that night, and still no sign o' Megatron at all."
Prowl reached for Jazz' hands. "Let the one on console know where to find you. I did not suffer Swoop carrying me down the last hallway just to watch you walk away." He paused, searching Jazz' face. Glad at what he found there, he smiled just slightly, "Not that watching you walk away is unpleasant. Having you remain is always preferable."
Jazz slowly smiled a real smile. Prowl thought it was like the larger of Cybertron's moons passing behind the crystal towers: beautiful before but spectacular after. "All right, if you're okay with Blaster knowin' I'm here. You know I'd just as soon the Ark know I spend my quality time with you."
Prowl pulled and Jazz understood he should lean down. They kissed softly. Resting their foreheads together briefly, Prowl said, "We have been over this: you own me and I no longer care who knows." He moved as if pushing Jazz away. "Go so you can come back and explain to me what I've missed."
Jazz sat at Prowl's terminal and briefly explained to Sideswipe that Prowl had excused himself from the repair bay without Ratchet's approval and that he could be reached at Prowl's connection the rest of the night. After spending miserable time together since the battle, waiting for Sunstreaker and Prowl to be repaired, Sideswipe knew that Jazz was devoted to Prowl. Having found an unexpected understanding - there were few 'Bots who seemed to appreciate what Sideswipe went through when Sunstreaker was down - Sideswipe was kind enough to keep it to himself. "No problem, Jazz. Somebody has to watch out for him. Ratchet might want to kill him himself when he finds out. I'll tell Blaster your whereabouts at turnover. You get what recharge you can." Assuming correctly that Prowl was unable to see the screen, Sideswipe offered Jazz a knowing flash of an optic. Jazz chuckled, relaxing, and thanked Sideswipe for the heads-up in the first place. "I keep an optic on medical when I have this duty, anyway. You know how Sunny is!" Sideswipe cut the connection.
Jazz pulled Swoop's datapad from subspace and saw that it contained a few notes on what to do for Prowl over the course of the young medic's watch. Mostly forced rest and enriched energon. The medication Prowl was adamantly protesting was designed to cool a bot's processor boards so his main cooling system did not have to deal with that additional load, which was always significant when a mech was injured. He sent a text message to the console in medical, immediately marked received by Swoop: I'm leaving the door receptive to medical override. If you leave the special energon for Prowl on the desk I'll make sure he takes every drop of it. -Jazz
He returned to the inner room. He decided he liked the look on Prowl's face and said so: "If you're gonna look at me like that when I come back, I need ta walk away more often." He resumed his perch on the edge of the recharge platform.
"I do not have the energy to do more than look. Will you rest here with me?"
"Outside o' duty, babe, all I am is yours," he said as he lay down. "How can you be comfortable? Lemme give ya some of the meds Swoop left."
Prowl continued to lie on his side, facing Jazz. He reached out and traced the symbols on Jazz' side lovingly, gratefully. "I can be comfortable because you are with me and my processors are working as they should. Those chemicals are worse than the pain: I can turn down the gain on a few sensors to deal with enough of it." He slid carefully closer to his partner. "I think if you will lie on your back, I can rest like this," he settled in with his head on Jazz' shoulder, fitting their bumpers together like a puzzle, still on his side so the unfinished repairs to his own back had no weight on them, "and be content to delay my debrief until tomorrow."
Jazz had never heard Prowl sound so weary. He cued the lights off remotely and wrapped his arms around his mate, delicately kissing the nearest surface of Prowl's chevron. "So glad ya got back up again," he breathed, "the way Ratchet talked at first, I was afraid... but ..." he trailed off, vocalization strained by old worry and new relief. "Whatever ya did ta get Devastator's attention, baby, please don' do it again."
Prowl was already off-line.
Jazz was content to remain completely alert and listen to Prowl's systems cycle. When Prowl shifted uncomfortably and made a distressed sound, Jazz moved carefully to retrieve two of the containers Swoop had given him, searching his memory for the correct way to access Prowl's processors. Data retrieved, he smoothly contorted himself, creatively using part of his transformation sequence to put the first small dispenser in use. Prowl's CPU was located in his head like nearly every other transformer and Ratchet had left the cover for it loose specifically to make it easier to apply the silicon heat-sink gel to it. Dose applied, Prowl seemed to relax completely against Jazz: he hadn't realized how much pain Prowl put himself through to be there.
And the last thing I said to him before the attack was that he had a 'Con's spark, Jazz thought, again feeling guilty for the argument they'd been having over the treatment of their informant. "I am sorry, Baby," he whispered sadly. Shaking it off, and vowing to apologize to Prowl when he was back on-line again, he found that Ratchet - or Swoop - had also loosened the small access panel for Prowl's other processors in his chest. Jazz applied the second dose of pain killer to that board and gently closed both protective covers. Prowl's cooling system changed cadence, cycling more slowly: the medicine was already working to relieve the strain. "And you are as stubborn as they come."
Jazz dozed sometime in the wee hours of the morning and came alert again when the sound of Prowl's pumps changed. Jazz thought the pain suppressor must have worn off and pulled the remaining two doses from his subspace pocket.
Prowl was aware: "No more," he said near Jazz' audio receptor.
"Sshh, I know ya don' like it but your systems cool easier with the meds." He waited a processor cycle, then two, before continuing, surprised Prowl didn't protest. "Your internal repairs work more efficiently when you're not strainin' just to keep your own processors functionin'. You'll be back to one hundred percent sooner if ya put up with the chemicals."
"Yes." Prowl sounded resigned.
"Is that a yes, you'll let me give ya the meds, or a yes, ya know that and don't care?"
Prowl's cooling system sped up and he suppressed a groan of discomfort. The sound of his internal fan shifting told all, though. "It is the former." He tried a weak smile, tilting his head to make optic contact with Jazz. He raised his fingers to Jazz' face and his smile grew, "You removed your visor."
Jazz leaned his cheek into the caress and off-lined his optics. "Yeah, I ... thought it would be easier ta tell ya ... I'm sorry, Prowl."
The white fingers stopped their movement against Jazz' cheek. Prowl's logic center tried to anticipate what must be coming. Running at less than optimal speed, the best he could come up with was a forty-five percent probability that Jazz wanted to move back out, a forty percent probability that there was more bad news from the fight that incapacitated him, and fifteen percent unknown. Jazz continued, and Prowl was relieved the cause of his apology was among the unknowns.
"I'm sorry about what I said. I know you were makin' the best strategy you could based on the data ya had at the time. I know you'd never have risked it if you'd had reason to believe Red Alert'd do what he did." Jazz paused. Prowl resumed tracing Jazz' brow and the orbital of his usually inaccessible optic. "The last thing I said ta ya was mean, Prowl, and I said it ta be mean and ... I'm sorry." Coolant welled up around Jazz' optics and a fine trail of it started down the side of his face. "I was afraid it might ... be the last thing I'd ever get ta say ta ya."
Prowl's processors raced: Jazz' distress made no sense to him. He said so, "Jazz, the most recent thing you said to me was unimportant." Prowl trailed his fingers through the coolant, spreading it out so it could dry. "Except for you mentioning it now, I might never have thought of it again." Jazz powered up his optics to look at Prowl. Prowl moved stiffly to dislodge their bumpers and move up Jazz' side; Jazz helped him as best he could, deciding it was simplest to pull his lover partially up onto his chassis, chestplates touching and Prowl's legs falling easily to either side of Jazz' thighs. "The most important thing you say to me is what you say regularly. It seemed I heard it while I was lying on that repair table." Prowl rested his cheek against Jazz', "Do you know what that is?"
Jazz waited so long to answer, that Prowl began the statement first, Jazz' voice echoing his, "All I am is yours."
Prowl kissed Jazz' cheek as more tears found their way out around the oval optics. "Why do you cry?" he asked, "Can you forgive me for being wrong about Red Alert?"
Jazz laughed shakily. "I'm just so relieved that you're okay and have the energy to defy Ratch'. I didn't lose you. Are you sure you're not angry 'bout what I said?" He dimmed his optics almost completely. Coolant flowed freely down the seams where his helm met his facial plating. "I love you. All I am, is yours."
Prowl kissed him again, light touches of lip components against Jazz' cheek and optic and nose and lips. "I was never angry about what you said. I saw no reason to be." He processed a tick, searching Jazz' face. "That is not all you need to know. I am not well-equipped to tell you..." Even without his logic center in full control, expressions of emotion were not Prowl's strength. He opened his interface port and moved to guide Jazz' hand from where it rested on one of his hip struts to the port.
Jazz tensed slightly and his optics brightened. "You want to plug inta me?" He rested his fingertips lightly against the rim of Prowl's port: it was something they rarely did, usually only when he'd managed to get Prowl so wound up both his logic processor and battle computer shut completely down.
Prowl rested his forehead against Jazz' and dimmed his optics once in affirmation. "You own me. In this circumstance a demonstration seems required. A statement is insufficient."
Finding it strange to do so other than in the midst of a very heated moment, Jazz tentatively slid his fingers into the orifice and tenderly drew the connector from Prowl's body. Prowl held very still as the cable extended. When Jazz hesitated, Prowl encouraged him, saying, "No words can be enough." Jazz slid his own coverplate aside and clicked the plug into the jack beneath it, making Prowl's processors peripheral to his own.
"Mmmmh," he breathed, and heard it in his own audios as well as in Prowl's, and participated in the tremor it caused in Prowl's already taxed systems. "I still haven't given you the pain medicine! Let me-" but Prowl distracted him completely, not processing his words but thinking on things that he could not find a way to describe, enjoying the sensation of Jazz' presence sharing his processors.
"I have missed you." Prowl reviewed every byte of his recent memory of Jazz, savoring the devotion and affection and connection he felt but knew his nature did not express as fully as Jazz might need. Even their arguments, from his point of view, were affectionate if academic exercises: he appreciated Jazz because he was not only willing to point out possible flaws in his reason but because Jazz challenged him to think less linearly. Jazz sent him an apology for continuing the argument during private time; Prowl saw no need to make a distinction. Professional disagreements, he thought, are healthful. You questioned my advocacy of a course of action that had a probability of success much lower than you have ever known me to offer. You were not being unreasonable; my statistical explanations are not satisfying to your sensibility. It is my failure to explain in terms that matter to you. They drifted, fields merging and systems falling pleasantly into the rhythm set by Jazz' regulators. He took as much strain as he could from Prowl, trying to optimize his internal repair.
As Prowl passed farther back into his memory, Jazz had to laugh at what Ironhide said to him in the corridor outside the galley. "Optimus heard, you know," he said aloud, just to feel Prowl's response to the sound of his vocalizer. He sent a data stream of his own memory of that moment to Prowl so they both had the two related views:
Ironhide said, "Well, good afternoon, Prowl. High grade during workin' hours? Next you'll be open 'bout beddin' Jazz!" Jazz had pictured Prowl's response to the teasing and tried to suppress a laugh, nearly losing his mouthful of energon. He swallowed it down and then did laugh, turning quickly back to the table in an attempt to keep his informant from noticing. Optimus flashed an optic at Jazz across the table amusedly: of the assembled mechs only his audios gave him even a chance of hearing what Jazz did.
Jazz was not able to hear Prowl's response at the time because it was uttered at too low volume and directed down the hall away from the galley entrance. Prowl shared it with him, completing the scene:
"The administrative habits of the undersecretary with whom I must speak today dictate that I slow my processor speed a few percent. He can only be contacted during our working hours." He paused to sip from the cube in preparation for the difficult conversation he had been expecting since Mirage found himself without a roommate. Perversely, he wanted to make Ironhide be specific. "I do not recognize that turn of phrase. What is it you think I am doing with Jazz?"
Jazz laughed as the memory became one of his own.
Ironhide laughed at his XO, beyond caring for the younger mech's position or rank. "Yer a smart fella, you can work it out. I haven't told a soul since ya got yerself assigned to this crew, but if yer gonna share a berth, I know there're two mechs ya have to explain things to 'fore they get their sparks damped."
It mystified Prowl how Ironhide could smoothly flow from teasing to admonishing in the same sentence. Hoping no one in the galley could hear their conversation outside of Jazz - whom he now knew heard nothing after Ironhide's first remarks - Prowl had prodded him, "Two?"
Ironhide was almost to the entry but turned his head to answer definitively, "Blaster, obviously, and Blue, less so. He's been crushin' on ya somethin' fierce."
"Bluestreak's always had good taste," Jazz teased.
Prowl continued the memory scan for Jazz' benefit, something farther back he wanted to make clear to his partner. The morning they went to Jazz' quarters while Mirage was on patrol, Prowl was not certain Jazz understood him clearly when he said, "I cannot promise you many public displays of affection, but in private, I will deny you nothing."
Vocalizer nearly purring, Jazz commented, "You couldn't be more clear," and his engine turned over at the reinforcement Prowl was offering of the completeness of his meaning.
A thermal sensor reached its alarm level near Prowl's auxiliary processors. "Let me give ya the rest of the pain meds."
The realization that he could not stop Jazz if he wanted to ghosted through Prowl's CPU unbidden.
"I won't force ya ta take it, baby."
An automatic accusation, banished as quickly as it was conceived, followed Jazz' words through Prowl's consciousness: I was off-line when you gave me the others. Prowl spoke, and Jazz got it in stereo as a data stream through Prowl's mind and as words from his vocalizer: "If I want to remain here after Ratchet notices I am gone, I must accept the chemicals." Red Alert's refusal to comply with Ratchet's regimen was now connected to the most recent image Prowl had of the security director: sedated with what seemed like every conceivable diagnostic device attached to his sensors, relays and processors, kept off-line to allow Ratchet to fully evaluate his condition and develop a treatment.
Jazz injected the cooling gel into the space around Prowl's battle and logic computers.
"If he gets released today, I will be Ratchet's only patient and receive his full attention. He will drag me back to medical by my chevron."
Jazz gently held Prowl's head by said appendage to apply the medication to his CPU. "Even if Ratchet releases Red Alert, he's got Starrunner to keep him busy. Doesn't mean he won't come and haul your aft back, though." Jazz put both covers back in place, petting each area soothingly.
Prowl relaxed against him, trying not to fight the effect of the silicon. "Starrunner?" he said slowly.
Jazz settled them more comfortably, knowing Prowl's full weight would be against him as soon as he slipped into recharge. "Mmm-hmm."
"I didn' - not - see him in the shop."
"Yeah, there's nothin' ta see but a spark chamber and processors." Jazz thought Prowl's processor activity had gone to null. "'Hide and Sunstreaker are tryin' to get Prime to approve Ratch' movin' his rebuild to the head of the queue," he said, just to check. He wouldn't go into full recharge himself unless he was sure Prowl was resting.
He'd almost decided he was sure when Prowl sent a weak data stream, too exhausted to vocalize. Must be who Sun-streaker's - was - talking about. Send me the data file- Prowl went off-line. The least costly scan through Prowl's processors indicated all systems recharging normally, if on the weak end of their nominal range.
"Tomorrow. Aye, babe, I'll give ya what I know tomorrow." Jazz settled Prowl as comfortably as he could and disconnected him, coiling his cable in its housing with a loving hand. I have to give him credit for being reasonable, especially when I don't follow his logic, he thought. He credits me with being reasonable, even sensible, in ways he doesn't understand. I can do that for him. Prowl would be intact within days and did not hold his behavior during their argument against him. Those two facts granted Jazz the recharge he desperately needed after nearly four days' misery.
Potential problems due to any other 'Bot were secondary concerns at best.