Notes: So this is it guys. It's been a great run and I've got to say thanks to everyone's who's reviews, faved and put this story on alert. It means a lot to me! Hope you guys like this chapter (I've been told it was cute by my beta!).
Italics – comms
Bold – spark speak
Prowl glanced up at his bonded who hung in the doorway, a hopeful look on his face plates. The SIC hid a smile. "Ask."
"Can we go for a drive? I'm sick of bein' inside," Jazz pouted.
Prowl buried the surge of apprehension. Jazz had been outside the Ark before, just not for very long or very far, before his nerves got the better of him.
"If you're sure."
Jazz nodded. "If ya'll come with meh."
Prowl did smile then and tossed down a datapad. "I should be off-shift anyway."
"I know." Jazz grinned and Prowl accompanied him down the corridors to the base entrance, where Jazz stretched and glanced around before transforming down into his Porsche mode and revving his engine at Prowl playfully.
Prowl shook his head, transformed and floored it, leaving Jazz in his wake momentarily, before the faster sports car caught him up and nudged him gently. It was a thank you, of sorts, but neither of them said anything as they continued to drive away from the Ark. They headed up into the wooded mountains by silent consensus and Prowl stayed by Jazz's side on the road, even though that meant him driving on the wrong side of the road. He would willingly break the rules if it meant keeping Jazz happy.
A little bit of amusement filtered through the bond and Jazz opened up comms in curiosity.
'Care t' share?'
'I was thinking how, since we bonded, I seem to be more willing to break the rules than before.'
'Course y'are. Ya know I break the rules all the time so it was bound t' rub off onto ya.'
'You just don't get caught.'
''Cause I'm the best.'
'It just seems to be causing some consternation amongst the crew.'
'Ya fair gave Sides a spark attack when ya asked him for some o' his contraband high-grade.'
'I think the fact that I drank it in front of him made the situation worse.'
Laughter echoed over the comm. and through the bond as Jazz remembered the look of the red twins face. Prowl felt a sense of satisfaction settle into his CPU. He had made Jazz relax enough, outside and away from the Ark, to laugh properly and he let Jazz pull away from him a little. The tactician could feel the way Jazz was relishing the speed; the flow of the wind over his frame, the rubble of the road beneath his tyres and the truly satisfying feeling of pushing his engine like it hadn't been tested in nearly a meta-cycle.
Jazz could sense the way Prowl kept his sensors on him, could feel him watching his emotions through the bond, but he didn't mind. He knew it was just the way Prowl was still caring for him. Also Jazz felt too slagging good to be bothered about it at the moment. Frag, he had missed the thrill of a fast drive, and to have his bonded along for the ride just made it perfect.
Wanting to test himself a little more, Jazz turned off the main road and onto a dirt track that wound up the side of the mountain, cutting through the trees. The loose surface made the tight corners trickier but Jazz barely slowed, really wanting to see if he had lost his edge. Prowl had fallen back a little, driving far more sensibly over the rougher terrain, but he never let Jazz get out of sight either. Pebbles squirted out from under Jazz's tyres, falling away down the mountain side. The white sides of the cars were turning brown as the dry dust rose and Prowl was forced to increase the rate at which his air filtration system was working, caught behind Jazz as he was.
Jazz eventually stopped when they reached a secluded little plateau. He swerved dramatically to a halt, transforming as he did so; he did a complete 360 on his pedes, coming to a stop with a satisfied smile on his face. Prowl stopped much more sedately and transformed without any extra palaver.
"Primus, have I missed this." Jazz tipped his head back, spreading his arms out. "The sun here makes a drive twice as good."
"That was more like a race," Prowl commented dryly.
"Ah Prowler, it's only a race if there's two o' ya in it." Jazz flashed him a grin.
"In which I would not stand a chance."
"I'd even the odds," Jazz promised.
"How exactly would you do that?" Prowl asked, one optic ridge quirking upwards.
"I could drive backwards. That'd help ya…"
The roar of jet engines silenced Jazz's words and a look of horror slowly transformed his face. Prowl clenched his hands into fists and glared up at the sky as a trine of jets appeared overhead, circling their position. The jets showed themselves to be seekers by transforming mid air and thudding down around them in a loose circle. Prowl deliberately put himself between them and Jazz as best he could.
"Look what we have here!" Starscream jeered. "Our little saboteur has come out to play at last."
"Touch him and it'll be the last thing you ever do," Prowl warned, voice low.
"We outnumber you, three to one," Starscream scoffed. "You're at our mercy Autoboob."
"I don't think so," Prowl replied an instant before launching himself at the Air Commander, tackling the surprised Decepticon to the ground. Starscream honestly hadn't expected Prowl to make the first move and the Autobot landed a few good blows in before Starscream gathered his wits together to fight back. Skywarp and Thundercracker watched for a moment, taken aback, until Skywarp remembered the other occupant of the clearing and his red optics landed on the frozen saboteur opposite him.
"Well, well, well," Skywarp smiled. "Come on Thundercracker, let's have some fun."
"Not my idea of fun," Thundercracker replied and Skywarp turned to him. The blue seeker waved a hand at his friend before sitting down to watch the scuffle between Starscream and Prowl, pulling a small cube of energon out of a subspace pocket. He, apparently, wasn't going to help anyone. Skywarp shrugged and returned his attention to Jazz.
Jazz struggled to think past the fear swamping his CPU as he realised he was face to face with a tormentor and alone to deal with it. He wanted to run, but he was frozen in place, legs locked, ability to transform lost in the panic. Everything he'd work so hard to achieve was falling apart at the mere sight of a Decepticon. Flashes of jumbled memory shot through his mind and phantom pain crackled through his body. The greens and browns of the world faded into purple and Jazz was moments from crumpling to the floor in terror.
As Skywarp stepped towards him Jazz suddenly felt something else, a feeling of utter belief and trust welling up from his spark. It pushed away the memories, replacing them with love and control. Prowl. Prowl was sending him those feelings through their bond, even in the midst of his fight with Starscream, and Jazz felt his strength returning. Skywarp didn't notice the change in his intended victim and continued to stalk towards him, a smile promising pain on his face. Jazz's hands curled into fists at his sides as everything the Decepticons had done to him flashed through his CPU, everything Skywarp had done, and the first real tendrils of anger flared up.
"C'mon little scaredy 'bot," Skywarp taunted. "You going to run away?"
"No," Jazz replied, surprised his voice sounded so steady. Surprised enough he said it again just to hear himself. "No."
Skywarp laughed. "So scared he can't even run away."
"No," Jazz repeated, voice quieter as his confidence grew. "Special Ops mechs don't run from a fight."
"Eh?" Skywarp frowned, not having heard him properly.
"'N I'm head of Special Ops," Jazz continued, head rising to meet Skywarp's stare.
"Enough of this slag already!" Skywarp launched himself at Jazz, fist sailing out towards his face.
Jazz neatly sidestepped, hand grabbing Skywarp's wrist as it went past, the other hand going under his arm. Using the seeker's own momentum against him he flipped Skywarp right over and smashed his head down into the floor. As the seeker lay dazed, Jazz quickly stripped him of his weapons, jabbing one in the back of his head and one pointing towards Thundercracker. The blue seeker snorted into his energon but did nothing else.
"Hey, Screamer," Jazz called.
There was a grunt and then Prowl kicked the Air Commander away from him, letting Jazz line him up in his sights. Prowl climbed to his feet, his own gun being pulled from subspace as he did so and placed the muzzle up against the side of Starscream's shoulder vent.
"I think I'm willing to overlook this pathetic excuse for an attack, if Jazz is." Prowl tapped the rifle against the red metal.
"I dunno Prowler, it seems a mighty shame t' let 'em go when we've got 'em," Jazz drawled.
Thundercracker sighed suddenly. "And I'll get all the heat if I go back without them."
"And why should we care about that?" Prowl asked, optics flicking his way momentarily.
The blue seeker nodded at Jazz. "Because I never joined in with the others. We're at war. Enjoyment is not meant to be part of it."
Prowl met Jazz's optics and the saboteur nodded slightly as Starscream screeched, "Thundercracker! You traitor! We'd never been in this position if you'd got off your aft and helped!"
"I shouldn't need to. Isn't that what Megatron would say if I told him how his second in command got his aft whooped by his opposite number, a flightless groundie?"
"Shut up! You can't talk to me like that! I'm your superior officer!"
"Some officer," Jazz smirked.
A groan announced Skywarp coming to his senses. Jazz pressed his own gun harder into his helm. "Nice 'n easy sunshine, or I'll give ya more aches t' go with that processor of yours."
Skywarp froze before he turned his head just a little to glance back at Jazz, who offered him a grin. The purple seeker mumbled something and his head thudded back down into the dirt. Thundercracker watched all this silently, ignoring the still protesting Starscream, before he clambered to his feet, aware of the way Skywarp's appropriated weapon followed him in Jazz's hand.
"You know what?" he abruptly interrupted his Air Commander. "Megatron might thank me if I let the Autobots capture you. He's been trying to get rid of your back stabbing aft for vorns."
Starscream stared at him, mouth hanging open. Skywarp cackled, whole body trembling as he laughed, and that was enough to kick Starscream's CPU into action.
"Shut up! Shut up!"
That just made Skywarp laugh harder. As the trine argued Prowl opened up the bond between him and Jazz a little more.
'Jazz, we can't take them back.'
'I know they outnumber us, Prowler.'
'No, I meant, even if it was just one, the others would take advantage. It's too soon yet.'
A surge of regret and understanding echoed down the bond, emanating from Jazz as he realised the truth of it. Whilst the others would not touch the Cons if they were ordered to, it was too great a risk that one of the seekers would say something stupid and be pounded into scrap by Autobots out for revenge.
"Thundercracker," Prowl interrupted Starscream's stream of insults. "Take your weapons off and thrown onto the ground between us." Thundercracker grimaced but did as he was instructed. "Now step back."
After the blue seeker had moved out of immediate range, Prowl shifted so that he was still covering Starscream but didn't get in the way of Jazz's line of sight on Thundercracker, to pick up the discarded weapons. They were slipped into subspace before he stepped back so that his back was to the road.
Jazz waited until he was done before he jabbed the end of Skywarp's weapons down into the back of his head hard enough to knock him out yet again. He then repeated the process on the mouthy Air Commander who followed Skywarp to lie face down in the dirt, before he stripped him of his weapons. Both seekers' weapons disappeared into subspace as Jazz joined Prowl.
Thundercracker sighed loudly before making a show of turning around and walking away in the opposite direction, hands visible at his sides. Prowl glanced at Jazz before they both transformed and peeled away from the plateau in a cloud of dust. They drove relatively quickly down the mountainside, though not at the speed Jazz had torn up it, and remained silent until they reached the main road.
'Prowl.' Jazz voice was soft over the comm.. 'Thank ya.'
'You're welcome, Jazz, but you don't need to thank me. I didn't do anything.'
'Ya made meh believe in maself again 'n I couldn't have stood up t' Warp without you. The story would be a whole lot different if ya hadn't.'
'I made you a promise, Jazz,' Prowl admitted. 'I promised they would never hurt you again. And I'm not going to see it broken.'
'Ya didn't tell me that.'
'You were in recharge at the time.'
Jazz pulled up a little closer to his bondmate, nearly within touching distance of their wing mirrors, but said nothing else, just content enough to drive back to the Ark in silence. He even felt good enough not to be constantly scanning the skies behind them for signs of the seekers. In his spark he had this feeling he could take on the world with Prowl at his side, Decepticons included, though he suspected Prowl would tell him not to be quite so rash.
The tactician for his part was keeping his scanners on the sky. He hadn't spoken a word to Jazz about just how frightened he had been for Jazz's safety when the Seekers had appeared in the sky overhead. He'd kept the feeling under wraps when he'd felt Jazz's own all consuming terror, but even now, even with Jazz seeming so relaxed, Prowl felt he couldn't let his guard down. That promise would hold him to itself like restraints, but Prowl would gladly carry them, especially if it meant seeing Jazz back to his old self.
They transformed just inside the Ark and were heading inside when Jazz pulled an appropriated weapon from subspace to twirl around his hand. Prowl glanced at it and then at Jazz, who was wearing a cheeky grin.
"Wanna make a display?"
"I thought we were supposed to be discouraging 'trophies'?" Prowl raised one optic ridge.
Jazz's smile never faltered. "Ah c'mon Prowler, it'll be good for morale."
Prowl couldn't disagree and let Jazz direct their footsteps to the rec room. Jazz located an empty patch of wall, pulled out the rest of the weapons from subspace and then a tube of adhesive. The other black and white didn't ask why he had superglue on him, he only dug out Thundercracker's weapons and handed them over when Jazz asked for them.
By the time they were done, they had attracted quite a crowd of interested Autobots and when Jazz stepped back from the wall Wheeljack commented, "I count six Seeker weapons."
"Yeah." Jazz grinned. "Our favourite trine donated 'em t' a good cause."
"You ran into Starscream and co?" Bumblebee piped up, optics wide.
Jazz propped an arm up on Prowl's shoulder, leaning into him slightly as he answered. "We whupped their afts good. They'll be nursin' their bruises for awhile."
There was a small pause as the rest took in the news and the calm expressions on both black and whites face before a miniature eruption of cheers started. Jazz let himself be dragged away from Prowl as the questions started and Prowl folded his arms across his chest as he watched Jazz settle down into a seat with a wry smile.
"Is it true?" a deep voice asked from his side.
Prowl nodded. "Though I suspect Jazz might be embellishing the details a little. You'll have the report in by the end of the day."
"How did he really do?" Optimus never stopped watching his third in command.
"He froze, but then regained his footing. The rest was easy," Prowl replied calmly.
"No doubt thanks to your bond." Prowl glanced across and up at his leader with the question in his optics and Optimus smiled. "The difference between you is noticeable, if you're looking for it. Congratulations Prowl, you did what many thought might be beyond you."
"Bond?" Prowl sounded surprised.
"Bringing Jazz back to us." Optimus laid a hand on his shoulder briefly before he left the rec room.
Prowl watched him go before directing his attention back to Jazz, who was now mimicking Starscream for his audience, and let a smile grow over his face. The build up of contented happiness swelled through the bond, making Jazz glance at him and then smile blissfully.
'Love you, Prowler.'
'I love you too, Jazz.'