Title: No Quiet to Find
Author: Mirage Shinkiro

Rating: M
Warnings: mech/mech plug n' play and spark bonding, a.k.a. intimacy between androgynous but male-"pronoun'd" 'bots. Granted, Transformers are canonically sexless despite having a social gender, but if mech/mech bothers you, don't read.

Disclaimer: Transformers is the property of Hasbro, and although I wish I could make money off the TF franchise so I could be independently wealthy, I am not. Alas, I remain poor and am just borrowing the lovely robots.

Summary: G1, post-movie AU. After the disaster with Unicron, Jazz can't stop having nightmares about Prowl's near death. Can Prowl find a way to ease his pain, and can they push forward into the future? PxJ plus later RxW.

A/N, explanation: I hate the animated movie. Hate, hate, hate. But thanks to the endless but helpful continuity errors, resurrections, remakes, deaths vs. deactivations, ghosts, and spinoff series, I feel extra incentive to ignore the movie, or in this case, severely alter it for the sake of poor Jazz. So this one is for the Jazz and Prowl fans.

A/N, story notes: Because of the tears that pool in Omega Supreme's eyes in the episode "The Secret of Omega Supreme," I am assuming that TFs are capable of some version of crying. Also, :: :: will indicate comm. link or inter-bond talking.

A/N, units of time (source, TFwiki): nanoklik=1 second; klik=1.2minutes; breem=8.3 minutes; joor=roughly an hour; orn=a day; decaron=tendays; and vorn=83 years. The idea of Swoop as a medic is one I borrowed from several other fanfic writers, but I think LStarrunner is the original author of the idea.


oOoOo

"Lo, thus by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find."
"Sonnet 27," Shakespeare

Chapter 1: Restless

With great effort, Prowl forced himself out of recharge. The quarters assigned to Jazz and him at Autobot City swam into focus, revealing the faint blue glow of recessed night-lighting that graced each cabin. Even in the relative darkness, Prowl could pick out the desk, couch, and door. What he wasn't sure of, however, was what had caused him to awaken, especially when he was still so weak. Most of his compatriots were still in the medbay, and First Aid had only released him two orns earlier. Much to his horror, he was on bed rest until further notice, too. So why had he awakened?

A quiet gasp — the sound of intakes hitching — pierced the room's silence. Prowl gingerly turned his sore head and gazed at the mech beside him. Jazz was curled on his side, facing away from Prowl, but even without seeing his face, Prowl knew what was happening. Jazz was having that nightmare again. The same nightmare he'd had every night since he'd learned Prowl was in critical condition.

'Critical condition.' Prowl snorted softly. That was one way to put it. He had escaped death by such a fine line that First Aid thought only the bond between Jazz and him had kept Prowl's spark from rejoining the Matrix. Prowl shivered faintly. He'd never feared returning to Primus or becoming one with the Matrix, but he did fear leaving Jazz alone to grieve his death.

A second gasp, a shudder, a moan. The nightmare was getting worse. Summoning all his energy, Prowl nudged Jazz's back with his elbow. "Jazz? Jazz! Wake up. It's a dream."

Jazz jumped at the contact, then stilled abruptly. "Prowler?"

"It's a dream," Prowl repeated, keeping his tone soft, reassuring.

Jazz hesitated a moment, then rolled over to face his bondmate. Pools of coolant stood in his optics, and he buried his face in Prowl's shoulder and wrapped one arm around his waist. "Slaggit! It's the same nightmare every time." His voice was strained, gravelly. Tortured. "I keep seein' the footage from the security monitors. Megatron transformin', everyone shootin,' smoke pourin' from yer mouth . . ."

Prowl could hear the unshed tears in Jazz's voice. He titled his head further and kissed the tip of one of Jazz's sensory horns. "I know. I wish you hadn't retrieved the footage. Those images will haunt you for a long time to come."

"Ya almost died." Jazz's voice wavered. "It was worse than deactivation, it was — "

"Shhh." Only here, in the privacy of their quarters, could Prowl drop his persona, set aside his commanding demeanor, and allow himself something other than rules, regulations, and logic. "I know. First Aid said over eighty percent of my parts and systems had to be repaired or replaced."

"I felt ya slippin' away, leavin'," Jazz whispered.

Prowl listened without interrupting. For the entire time he'd been in the medbay, Jazz had put on a brave front, smiling at him, teasing him, and telling him jokes. His cheerful words had raised the spirits of the medics, Prowl knew, and had kept him calm as well. However, through their bond, Prowl had sensed a burning tension that now poured out.

"Yer spark was on its way to the Matrix," Jazz shuddered violently. "I didn't know I could hurt so much." The words were so low Prowl's audios strained to pick them up. "I wanted nothin' more than to go with ya."

Prowl managed to lift one arm and lay his hand over the arm that clutched his waist. "But I didn't go. I stayed. I will not leave without you, any more than you would leave without me."

Jazz still shook with pain, and Prowl wished he could do something more for his bondmate. Emotions had never been his forte, and his training in psychology had been limited to battle behavior and interrogation. He wasn't sure how to deal with lingering panic and grief, but he resolved to find out. Hoping to calm Jazz, Prowl kissed his helm gently and squeezed his arm. "Rest for now. I promise I will still be here when you awaken."

Jazz nodded, his head shifting against Prowl's shoulder, and hugged him tighter. After a few kliks, his systems powered down, and Prowl knew he was back in recharge.

oOoOo

Jazz knew he was in the Pit. Even after awaking and finding Prowl still alive, he felt a sense of agony so intense that he'd developed the sensation that he was outside of his body, watching another mech enter the mess hall and drink his energon. Unreal. He didn't feel real. Sometimes he didn't feel anything at all.

Numb.

Having choked down his morning ration, Jazz stopped by the medbay before his shift started. Several mechs had picked up this habit, visiting briefly before or after their shifts. Jazz and Rodimus Prime, though, were the only ones to bother the medical teams with questions, and Jazz kept his brief.

The automatic doors parted with a gentle swoosh, and Jazz stepped in to survey what was now a normal sight: hell. Every 'bot with at least triage or mechanical training had been drafted to watch, feed, clean, tweak, or operate on the gruesome casualties. Staring at the scene, Jazz shuddered, remembering the countless nights he'd recharged in a chair by Prowl's repair berth. And every joor he hadn't been on duty, he'd remained at his bondmate's side, terrified to leave him, not just because he might die while he was gone but also because he might die alone. Jazz clenched his fists, the horror burning through his circuits, and offlined his optics when coolant threatened to pool in them. Dragging air sharply through his intakes, he forced himself to relax and pursue his reasons for being there: to check on his remaining friends and to ask for help to stop his nightmares.

Resolved, Jazz walked further into the room, looking for First Aid, who was the acting CMO. Spotting him in one corner, Jazz started toward him, noting that the medic was repairing Bluestreak's arm. Apparently sensing his approach, First Aid glanced up, and the dull sheen of his optics told Jazz that the medic had taken no rest in orns. Jazz paused, feeling guilty for bothering First Aid when he was already overtaxed, and simply nodded to him in greeting. The tired CMO returned the nod before continuing his work, and Jazz changed directions, weaving his way through the exhausted helpers. Perceptor, Swoop, Grapple, Hoist, and all the Protectobots were busy with patients. Even Blurr had been stationed at the medical computer to speed-read files and flag important ones for reference.

Jazz headed to the intensive care unit, where Swoop was connecting fresh energon feeds to Ratchet and Wheeljack. Gathering his courage, he asked his daily question, the same question he'd asked a hundred times over Prowl. "Are they showin' any signs of improvement?"

Swoop's wings slumped, and he glanced at his current patient, Wheeljack. "Me no think so. Me Swoop know him Ratchet and him Wheeljack hurt as bad as Prowl." The Dinobot exhaled through his vents with an audible sigh. "But me Swoop like him First Aid's idea for surgery. Me Swoop believe it will work."

Jazz nodded slowly, letting his gaze rest on the battered faces of his longtime friends. Wheeljack had been found offlined and critically wounded inside the city, and Ratchet, like Prowl, had been dug out of the wrecked ship. Ratchet had been declared so damaged that First Aid's initial response was to leave him deactivated so his spark could depart in peace. However, everyone knew they needed the medic and the mechanic desperately, so strenuous efforts were being made to keep their sparks alive. Blurr had been researching surgical data for possible solutions to their injuries.

"Wait," Jazz said, his surreal haze pierced by Swoop's words. He attempted to clear his processor so he could focus. "If Blurr found the information First Aid needed to attempt surgery, what's he researchin' now?"

Swoop glanced over his shoulder, then leaned in to whisper in a conspiratorial fashion, squawking faintly to show his excitement. "Me Swoop let secret slip."

"Secret?" Jazz found himself curious for the first time since this nightmare had begun. With some luck, maybe he could return to Prowl that evening with some good news.

"Him Kup tell Dinobots great stories during off-hours!" Swoop flapped his wings with obvious joy.

Jazz nodded, well aware of the Dinobots' love for the old warrior's tales. "Yeah?"

"Him Kup tell story of spark returning from Matrix!" Swoop patted Wheeljack's battered chest for emphasis.

"What?" Jazz did his best to keep his voice down.

Apparently unaffected by Jazz's disbelief, Swoop continued. "Him Kup say Primus returned a spark through Matrix. Great dead warrior returned! Me Swoop let story slip to Rodimus Prime. Now him Blurr ordered to search for record of event."

Jazz turned his shocked gaze upon the pile of coffins against the medbay's far wall. Two of them already had carvings on the lids that portrayed those contained within — Optimus Prime and Ironhide. "A resurrection?"

Swoop tilted his head. "Res-er-rect-sion?" he asked, clearly confused.

With a faint smile, Jazz squeezed the pteranodon's shoulder. "A returned spark," he replied, then shook his head. "I guess. Primus could do anythin' he wants through the Matrix, I suppose." He paused, wondering if it were indeed possible for Optimus Prime or even Ironhide to walk the Earth again. "They say the Matrix of Leadership will light our darkest hours. Maybe there could be some way to retrieve . . ." He trailed off, finding it all too implausible.

"Him Blurr researching," Swoop repeated, clearly ecstatic with the possibilities.

Jazz glanced down at Ratchet and Wheeljack again, noting their blank expressions as they lay in stasis lock, hovering just shy of death. "If Primus did do somethin' like that, it must've been for a dire situation, and I'm not sure I wanna know what it'd take to trigger that kinda choice," he said, his tone uncharacteristically grave. "I'm havin' enough nightmares already."

Swoop squawked once more in a clear sound of sympathy, but Jazz knew the Dinobot couldn't help him with the nightmares. With a final look at his friends, Jazz nodded farewell to Swoop and left for his shift.

oOoOo

From his berth, Prowl stared at the desk chronometer and calculated that Jazz would return from duty in 12.72 breems. The time couldn't pass quickly enough despite the fact First Aid had cleared Prowl for ultra-light duty. Perceptor and Rodimus had visited with the delightful news. The two mechs had helped Prowl into a sitting position before giving him his energon; then, while Perceptor made a few more minor repairs to Prowl's frame, Rodimus had handed over a small stack of reports for Prowl to process and told him their current tactical status. Relieved to feel marginally useful again, Prowl had swept through the reports, reading the dry material with relish and making notes or signing off as needed.

Now he sat alone, work finished, pondering Jazz's condition and how to help him. Based on his observations, Prowl decided Jazz was functioning in a near-trance of pain. Prowl, too, was horrified by the fatalities, especially Optimus' and Ironhide's deaths, as well as the slew of casualties in the medbay. He had tried to comprehend their deaths, to initiate the grieving process, but his cerebral circuits had glitched at the mere attempt, causing First Aid to order him to deactivate that section of his emotional programming until he'd physically recovered. Seeing how depressed and anxious Jazz was, Prowl had accepted the acting CMO's order without question. For now, Jazz would have to grieve for both of them, and Prowl would have to be strong.

Still, that did not help Prowl know what to do. Jazz needed comfort, reassurance, or maybe something more. The tactician, however, couldn't form a plan of action. He had already done all he knew to do: love Jazz and show him affection in the small ways his energy levels currently allowed.

Irritated with his lack of progress, Prowl decided to call upon the help of a mech he secretly admired for his courage and concern, one who seemed to instinctively know how to help others. He activated his comm. link.

::Prowl to Bumblebee.::

A pause at the other end, then ::Prowl! You're awake and talking.::

Prowl smiled in spite of himself. ::Yes, Bumblebee. Are you currently on duty?::

::No, sir!:: Bumblebee's jovial tone carried well through the comm. link. ::I have third shift. Why? Can I help you with something?::

::I hope so. Please report to my private quarters.:: Prowl internally cringed. He'd never attempted this with anyone other than Jazz and a few close friends.

::I'll be right there! Bumblebee out.::

A few kliks later, someone buzzed at his door, and knowing it had been left unlocked in case of emergency, Prowl simply told his visitor to enter. The doors parted, and Bumblebee trotted into the room, smiling at the sight of Prowl sitting up.

"A few more orns, and you'll be walking again," Bumblebee noted.

Prowl nodded and gestured at the desk chair. "Indeed. Please pull up the chair. I . . . need your advice."

Bumblebee's optics widened, but he retrieved the chair and dragged it over beside Prowl's berth. "I'll do my best," he said, sitting.

"It's Jazz." Prowl rubbed his temples as his cerebral circuits ached. Sometimes he wished he'd been created with more grace in understanding or responding to emotional behavior. "He seems depressed. Detached, even."

The smile dropped from Bumblebee's face, his optics dimming to a pale blue. Slumping his shoulders, he crossed his arms over his abdomen. "I noticed. I've been trying not to think about it. Any of it. For Spike, Carly, Daniel, and my fellow Autobots, I've been trying to cheer up everyone and stay in good spirits. But the pain is crushing."

Prowl nearly cursed. He hadn't meant to upset Bumblebee by bringing up the topic. "I'm sorry. I didn't intend to make it worse for you. In fact, I want to do what you're doing, in a sense, by cheering up Jazz. The only problem is what I've done thus far hasn't worked."

Bumblebee's optics brightened slightly, and he sat straight again, although he kept his arms crossed, almost as though he were hugging himself. "Help, huh?" He paused, a frown marring his features. "The first step in answering that question might be to ask yourself how you feel about all the death and carnage and what it would take to comfort you."

Prowl knew what he was implying: Don't you care? Aren't you sad? Or are you as emotionless as the rumors always said? He shook his head. "Bumblebee, First Aid ordered me to deactivate those particular emotional subroutines for the time being so my cerebral circuits don't short-circuit while I'm still recovering."

Looking abashed, Bumblebee stared at his feet. "Oh. Right. I should have realized that."

Prowl started to reassure him that it was fine, but before he could react, Bumblebee jerked his head up to stare at him.

"That's it!" he said. "You need to ask yourself a question: what would benefit Jazz more? Seeing you express your grief so he could grieve with you, or seeing you be strong and unmoved like a rock he can lean on?"

Prowl rubbed one finger across his chin absently, pondering the question and playing out scenarios. He'd end up back in the medbay if he reactivated his subroutines, but if it would ultimately help Jazz, he was willing to do it. But what if his breaking down caused Jazz more stress instead? "I'm not sure. I can see advantages and disadvantages in both scenarios. However, I think if I did allow myself to engage in grief and caused myself to go back into stasis lock, it would hurt Jazz more."

"Why?" Bumblebee looked more thoughtful than curious. "What makes you say that?"

Uncomfortable with the question and unwilling to answer it, Prowl stared around the bare quarters that had been assigned to his bondmate and him. Grey. Cold. Sterile. As far as he knew, no one had occupied the room in stellar cycles. Unlike their cabin on the Ark or their moon base quarters, there was none of the decorations or touches that showed Jazz's personality.

"Prowl?"

"I really shouldn't tell you," he finally answered, still uneasy. "It would technically be a breach of privacy."

Bumblebee leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "I understand. But you know perfectly well I won't tell anyone. So do you want to help him or not?"

Unable to defy that logic, Prowl relented. "I believe that because Jazz has nightmares about my dying. He apparently has ever since he learned I was injured and offline."

"I'm not surprised." Bumblebee's gaze fell to his clasped hands. "I watched the blackbox footage with him. Or what was left of it, anyway. He screamed when he saw you get shot even though you were already undergoing repairs in intensive care." He nodded. "You're probably right, then. I suspect the fact you're alive is the only thing keeping him going, and it would scare him if you got worse again."

"Very well. Then I need to be the solid rock." Prowl sighed through his intakes, feeling like he'd gotten nowhere.

Bumblebee met his gaze. "More than that. Jazz thrives on life, on living. But more than ever, he's surrounded by death. You need to help him feel alive. Because you were nearly permanently deactivated, he needs to feel you being alive. It's not my place to ask you for details of your relationship, but you're bondmates. Think about what would make Jazz feel alive and what would make him . . . I dunno. Sense your spirit, I guess."

Prowl nodded, understanding the veiled hint of the latter and brainstorming an idea for the former. He knew he'd need to drink extra energon and recharge again to build up strength, and he also realized he'd need more help. "In that case, I have one final request for you."

oOoOo

Feeling tired and listless, Jazz approached his shared quarters carrying two energon cubes. His shift had been spent making repairs to Autobot City, except for a short conversation Rodimus had him join when he contacted Ultra Magnus on Cybertron. However, Jazz couldn't yet rejoice in the fact that the Autobots had seized control of their home world once more. All he could do was look forward to spending an evening with Prowl, and even that had been delayed by Bluestreak's catching him in the rec room and asking him various questions.

"Hey, Prowler," Jazz called as he entered their quarters, only to stop and stare. "Wha . . .?" He glanced around the room, shocked at what he saw. A used sound system and viewscreen decorated the far wall with the couch positioned in front of them. A worn, crimson- and navy-checkered blanket was thrown over the couch's back, and a stack of musical and video media littered the once-clean desk. In addition, a faded but lovely painting of El Capitan hung over the desk, adding a splash of green to the otherwise grey room, and a jar of amethyst- and aqua-colored crystals glittered on the desk's corner. The lights had been dimmed to their night setting, casting a relaxing blue glow over the walls.

"Do you like it?" Prowl asked from the berth, his tone soft.

In his shock, Jazz had halted mid-step. He stepped through the door, letting it slide shut behind him. "Yeah! How did ya — I mean, where did ya . . . I mean, so much got destroyed and all . . ." He found himself at a loss for words.

"I had Bumblebee help me. He recruited Cliffjumper, Blaster, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker. We were afraid we couldn't get it finished before you returned from your shift, so Sunstreaker sent Bluestreak to detain you in the mess hall."

"So that's what that little slagger was up to!" Jazz smiled suddenly, his entire spark warmed by his friends' efforts, not to mention his bondmate's idea. He sat by Prowl and handed him his supper. "It's beautiful, Prowler. Slaggin' fine job."

Prowl gave him the grin he reserved only for Jazz's optics and sipped his energon. "Good. I'm glad you like it."

Relaxing against the berth's back, Jazz also sipped his energon, reflecting that the decorations gave the room personality and reminded him somewhat of their previous quarters. However, at that thought, he suddenly choked on his drink and inhaled sharply through his intakes, trying to get his emotions under control.

He failed miserably.

Suddenly, the room seemed too familiar, like a token of a past Jazz could never recover. Memory upon memory flashed through his processor: Optimus congratulating his troops after a successful mission, Ironhide's gung-ho battle cries as he opened fire on Decepticons, and Wheeljack and Ratchet, both unscathed and well, razzing each other in the medbay.

Jazz dropped his cube to the berth as dry sobs wracked his body. Prowl set down his own cube with a wordless exclamation, then pulled Jazz into his arms, hugging his smaller frame close.

"Oh, Jazz, I'm so sorry," Prowl whispered against his audios. "I thought it would make you feel better."

Jazz wrapped his arms around Prowl's waist, embarrassed but unable to control the outburst. He felt coolant escape from his optics to streak down his face. "N-no. It's great. I just —" He choked again, this time on his own words, and let his entire façade crash. He couldn't pretend it didn't hurt, that he hadn't been terrified, that he wasn't in hell. "We lost so many! Ya nearly died! They told me you were dead !"

And they had. Jazz suspected it before he got to Earth because his spark inexplicably jolted and left him with an empty feeling, but he refused to ask any questions or make any assumptions. However, when the ship had landed at Autobot City and he and Rodimus had debarked, a grim Perceptor and Blaster were awaiting them with casualty and fatality reports. At that point, Prowl had been listed as MIA, but he was presumed dead on the wrecked ship. Upon hearing the news, Jazz's processor had crashed and sent him into stasis lock.

Prowl kissed the side of his helm. "I'm sorry, Jazz. I never meant to scare you, and I don't intend to ever leave you."

Even with his bondmate's comforting presence, the words just kept pouring out. "When they brought me out of stasis lock," he continued between sharp intakes, "the only reason I could get up was because they had listed ya as MIA. I had to — I had to be sure."

"And you found me," Prowl said, rubbing his back gently. "Thanks to you, I've made a recovery, and Ratchet has a fighting chance."

"Thank Primus!" Jazz shuddered, but the sobs wouldn't stop. "But it wasn't enough to save Brawn, Huffer, Windcharger, and Ironhide." Or Optimus, for that matter, he thought to himself, then remembered Blurr's research. If only there were a way!

"I know," Prowl replied, his words simple, but his own pain and empathy filtered through their bond. Even with his grieving subroutines offline, Prowl was obviously still affected. He hugged Jazz tighter, still rubbing his back and occasionally kissing his helm until he calmed.

With the emotions spent and confessions made, Jazz looked around their quarters again and was able to accept the familiarity. The room now seemed peaceful and soothing. "Ya did real good," he finally said, shifting to pick up his energon cube. "Sorry I flipped out on ya, man."

"It's fine," Prowl said quietly. "You needed to say all of that."

Jazz was too embarrassed to respond, and he tried to cover it by sipping on his energon. Prowl pulled him back to rest against his side, and Jazz settled in comfortably as they drank their supper, loving the feel of Prowl's warm arm encircling his shoulders. With his audios so close to Prowl's chest, he could hear the various whirls and hums of his bondmate's systems, which to him now sounded more beautiful than any music he'd ever discovered. He reached out with his senses, using their bond to brush against Prowl's mind, which was as orderly and poised as ever. That solidity, a calm center in the storm, made Jazz relax.

Apparently sensing his touch, Prowl opened their bond further. ::I love you.::

::I love ya, too,:: Jazz replied, smiling. He tossed aside his empty energon cube and shifted so he could face Prowl. In response, Prowl set his cube on their night table and then drew his bondmate closer, brushing his lips lightly against Jazz's and then kissing him.

Jazz wrapped one arm around Prowl's neck as they broke the kiss. "I'm glad yer still here," he whispered. "I just wish that nightmare'd stop now. I don't wanna see ya any way except the way ya are now. I — "

Prowl interrupted him with another kiss, nibbling lightly on his lower lip. "Don't worry," he replied, shifting his weight and pushing Jazz onto his back. "You won't be having that nightmare again. I'll see to it myself."

Enthralled by the husky quality of Prowl's voice, Jazz shivered at the promise. "Ya will?"

Prowl responded by kissing down his throat and running one hand over his chassis. Encircling his bondmate's shoulders with his arms, Jazz gave himself to the touch with a faint moan. For countless, hellish orns, he'd thought he'd never feel this again.

Obviously encouraged, Prowl caressed his way down Jazz's chest, stroking him with light fingers as he licked the rim of one headlight. Jazz gasped and arched his back, his circuits tingling violently with a need long unfulfilled. Fingers found their way into Jazz's hip joints and massaged the wiring there even as Prowl moved to the opposite headlight and licked its rim. Jazz cried out, needing the touch so badly he had to fight an instant overload. Unable and unwilling to remain passive, Jazz responded, running his hands over Prowl's doorwings, caressing their edges until they trembled.

"Jazz!" Prowl moaned against his chest, his hands temporarily stilled. Then he renewed his touches, teasing responsive wires mercilessly.

Groaning in pleasure, Jazz slipped his fingers into Prowl's door hinges, rubbing sensitive seams. Prowl gasped, and in response, he ghosted his fingers over the closed door of Jazz's interface port. The saboteur knew he was doomed when the door triggered open of its own accord. "Love, I can't wait!"

Prowl scrambled to open his own port, and then Jazz felt the satisfying click of his bondmate's cable sliding into his port. Instantly, streams of data passed between them, intertwining their thoughts and sensations. Jazz could feel Prowl's love and strength, his determination to soothe his mate, and his raw desire. Jazz responded with his own love and passion, caressing doorwings that now felt like they were part of his body as well, and at the touch, Prowl sent a surge of electricity pulsing through his body. Already too sensitive, Jazz bucked against him, screaming out his name as he overloaded instantly, and with their systems now synched, Prowl was pulled over with him.

For a long time, they lay on the berth, Prowl collapsed atop Jazz and unable to move. Jazz smiled through the afterglow, basking in the feel of Prowl's systems running in synch with his, their emotions pouring directly into each other. For the first time since Unicron had appeared, Jazz felt at peace, and yet he needed more.

"Prowler?" he whispered, gently stroking his exhausted bondmate's back.

"I know," he replied, their thoughts still flowing together. He relayed through their connection both his lack of strength and his willingness to proceed.

Jazz smiled and gently shifted until he'd rolled Prowl onto his back, carefully situating the doorwings in the process. Once he sensed his love was comfortable, he connected his own interfacing cable to Prowl, enjoying the resulting gasp as he did, then settled atop him, kissing his chevron, his lips, his neck, every bit of him he could reach.

Relaxed against the berth, Prowl moaned as Jazz nibbled his neck. The saboteur extended one hand, caressing a doorwing and loving the way Prowl arched his back in pleasure. However, with their connections now a complete circuit, the sensations created a feedback loop, causing their bodies to burn and rocketing them both toward a second overload.

"Do it," Prowl whispered, his doorwing quivering under Jazz's fingers.

"Prowler . . ." He paused as his relief washed through them both; he needed to spark-bond with his love more than ever before. He ran his hand over Prowl's chest, coaxing open his spark chamber even as he opened his own. Then he lowered himself chest-to-chest with Prowl, letting their sparks merge.

Warmth flooded him. Them. Jazz's sense of self slipped away as Prowl's essence raced through his, and they became one spark, one mind. The universe seemed to bloom within their merged forms: stars and galaxies spiraled through space, showering them with stardust and leaving their souls glittering and glowing. And weaving through it all like streaks of light was their love — shared, merged, multiplied, and expanded. The universe suspended itself within them, and then their bond exploded with their passion, overtaking them with an overload so powerful they cried out before offlining into instant recharge.

oOoOo

Joors later, Prowl onlined, realizing both Jazz and he had completed recharge without incident. In fact, Jazz was only semi-conscious, a smile hovering on his features. Through their renewed bond, Prowl could sense his peace and contentment. Satisfied that he'd stopped the nightmares, Prowl smiled as well and wrapped both arms tightly around his bondmate's waist.

Jazz shifted faintly and kissed the part of Prowl closest to him, which was his neck. ::Love ya,:: he murmured through their bond.

::Always,:: Prowl replied, sending his love in a gentle wave.

Jazz grinned and slipped back into recharge. Considering his mission complete for the moment, Prowl also allowed himself to recharge for a few breems longer. After all, the most important thing in the universe existed between Jazz and himself, and it lived safely within them. Prowl could ask for nothing more, so he relaxed into the quiet peace of their bond.


Postscript: Months have passed since I first wrote this chapter, which I intended to be a one-shot, and I suppose some people wonder 'Why bother? Death is a part of life, so deal with it. It's just part of liking ProwlxJazz.' As someone whose family is a story of death, loss, and multiple suicides, let me answer that question, even if only one reader ever does wonder: to live is to tacitly have hope. To write is to impact your audience. When I write, I can weave for myself and others a place of comfort and a place to escape to, even if just for a moment. I can't do that by focusing only on the darkness and pain. For better or worse, I write to heal myself, and hopefully I give something to readers as well. So here's to hoping this story comforts someone, somewhere.