Warnings: Gender bender. CRACK!
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Note: Angst, with fluff for an ending! Was intended to be smut, but I can't write the smut, so you get all the lead-up with no dessert. You can kinda tell from the abrupt ending that there was supposed to be more, too...sorry. :P
- 500 Miles -
Jazz stepped silently through the halls, mindful of the sleeping mechs and humans on the other sides of the doors he was passing, despite his unusual burden. They were all going to need all the sleep they could get in the morning - especially the humans. Ratchet would probably dismantle Jazz and Prowl both for making him conduct an emergency lecture on Cybertronian gender and life-phase reformats - well, maybe not Prowl. Ratchet wouldn't know quite how to put the tactician back together just yet. But Jazz, for not stopping Prowl - even though he'd gotten there too late to do so - definitely. And that was just Ratchet. The other bots...well, it was going to be an interesting morning, and as soon as Jazz returned Prowl to his - her - quarters, he was planning on returning to his own and getting as much recharge as he could before he had to deal with it.
Unfortunately, it seemed Jazz wasn't the only night-time wanderer in the Autobot base, and the saboteur froze as he rounded the corner to the hallway containing Prowl's quarters and came face-to-chest with Optimus. The silver bot stared at the red and blue door panels on his leader's chest, not sure if he wanted to look up and see Optimus' face - out of all the bots, Optimus' reaction was the one he had wanted to avoid. He'd figured he could make himself scarce and let Ratchet or Prowl break the news. Not to be, apparently, and steeling himself, Jazz looked up.
Optimus looked, if anything, amused.
"Prowl never did waste any time." the Autobot commander said quietly, just as mindful as Jazz of the sleeping beings around them.
"...sir?" Jazz asked warily.
"Best get Prowl to her quarters, Jazz. With the Allspark as weak as it is, the reformatting will have taken a lot out of her." Optimus said, stepping aside and nodding down the hall. Jazz stared at Optimus for a moment longer, then headed down the hall. When he stopped in front of Prowl's quarters and looked back, Optimus was gone. Jazz hesitated only a moment longer before palming open the door and slipping inside. The lights came on to a low level as the door shut behind Jazz, and the saboteur took a moment to look around - between various Autobot's arrivals, Jazz's return from the dead, and dealing with Decepticons and the humans, Jazz hadn't actually been inside Prowl's quarters here on Earth.
Humans, especially the military, seemed to have a love of conformity, however, and the layout was exactly the same as Jazz's. It was also as bare as if Prowl had just moved in, despite the fact that she'd been in them longer than Jazz had been in his. The saboteur wondered if it was simply because Prowl took awhile to accumulate things - her, then his, quarters on Cybertron had been sparsely furnished even after vorns of occupancy - or if she had been planning on tonight's encounter with the Allspark and had figured her tastes and needs for decoration might change. He'd have to ask Prowl later. For now, the me- the femme needed rest.
Jazz carried Prowl over to her berth and gently set her down, then turned to leave. Half-way to the door, however, Jazz heard a noise behind him, and he glanced back to find bright blue optics staring back at him. He glanced at the door again, and when he looked back, Prowl was sitting up, watching him. The normally impassive, emotionless face was an open book now, betraying uncertainty, some panic, and longing. Jazz turned around and returned to the berth, sitting next to Prowl. A comforting, neutral hand on the tactician's shoulder, no more than he would have done yesterday, somehow felt hollow now to Jazz, and instead he wrapped an arm around Prowl's shoulders, tugging her close so she was leaning against him. Prowl actually leaned into the one-armed hug, and Jazz smiled faintly.
"Y'know, it's weird, but this actually doesn't feel all that odd." the saboteur mused quietly after a moment.
"What doesn't?" Prowl asked without looking up, her voice higher than Jazz remembered, but otherwise unchanged.
"You bein' smaller'n me. I'm used t'bein' th'small one, an' when Bee was a sparklin' it was so weird to have t'look out for someone who was smaller'n me. Doesn't seem th'same with ya, somehow." Jazz replied. One of Prowl's hands smacked Jazz in the chest, and the saboteur looked down to find the new femme glaring lightly at him.
"My size?" Prowl said with some irritation, and Jazz snorted.
"Hey, I was tired t'start with, an' this is kinda startlin' for me, y'know." he said. "No idea y'had ambitions of bein' a femme, let alone that you were due fer another phase 'formatting."
"Technically I've been overdue." Prowl said with a grimace. "I started putting it off a vorn before we launched the Allspark into space. And I didn't have ambitions of being a femme."
"Hmm, really? Cuz th'way I was taught, phase 'formatting only changes ya in ways y'want." Jazz said. Prowl hunched her shoulders, looking down at one of Jazz's knees. Jazz dropped the topic. He didn't really want to discuss it, either. "C'mon, the 'formatting took a lot out of ya. Y'should get some recharge." he said, loosening his hold on Prowl and moving away so the tactician could lie down. Unexpectedly, Prowl grabbed his wrist, and Jazz looked at the her in surprise. Desperation was written across that too-open face now.
"Could you...stay? Everything is...different. It's unnerving." Prowl said.
"An' I'm not addin' to the differences?" Jazz said, motioning with one hand as to how Prowl only came up to his chin now. Prowl gave him a withering look, and Jazz grinned. "Sorry." Prowl snorted.
"No you're not." she said.
"No, not really. I finally get to pass on all the short jokes." Jazz said almost gleefully. He was getting over the weirdness of it not being weird that Prowl was shorter than him and beginning to enjoy the prospects. Prowl shook her head.
"At least lie down so that I can get some recharge while you plan out how to subject me to all of them." she said, motioning to the berth. Jazz hesitated.
"On the berth?" Jazz asked.
"Where else?" Prowl asked with irritation.
"Well, I was gonna go for the floor..." Jazz mused.
"Lie down." Prowl said in her somehow completely unchanged I-am-your-superior-officer tone. Jazz chuckled and slid around behind Prowl to lay down, squishing himself back against the wall to give Prowl room. The tactician made an amused noise upon seeing that, and then lay down herself. With Jazz squished up against the wall, and Prowl being smaller than before, there was plenty of room on the berth for her to lay down without having to do more than brush up against Jazz, but she didn't seem inclined to do so, shifting over and curling up against Jazz, leaving enough room on the berth for another femme Prowl's size. Jazz froze in surprise.
"Uh...Prowl?" he asked uncertainly. The tactician didn't answer, though it was doubtful she was in recharge already. Jazz shifted slightly, feeling uncomfortable now. He'd been trying not to deal with this particular matter until he'd had a good night of recharge and some distance to think about it. He didn't want to think about how he'd been contemplating trying for a reformatting himself, despite the fact that the Allspark would have had ample time to make changes when he'd been brought back. He didn't want to go into the reasons why he'd been contemplating that, didn't want to examine those feelings now.
He didn't want to have to wonder who it was that Prowl had reformatted into a femme for. Which of his fellow Autobots he'd have to hide his jealousy from as he watched them with Prowl.
Jazz switched off his optics, hoping that he could stop this train of thought if he wasn't looking at Prowl. Her presence against his side was warm and inescapable, however, and Jazz's optics came back on as he looked down at the femme curled against his side. It occurred to Jazz that this would probably be the only time he'd get to be this close to the new Prowl, be able to hold her, and he might as well get what he could. So he wrapped his arms around Prowl and gently shifted so that they were more in the center of the berth, trying not to disturb her. More comfortable now that he wasn't squished into the corner, Jazz relaxed as much as he could, letting his optics wander over Prowl's new form, but very carefully keeping his hands still.
He noted how Prowl's form had changed, how the doorwings that had been similar to Bee's were now gone, her limbs were more slender and stream-lined, the mounts for shoulder cannons gone. Then there were the things that hadn't changed. The silver and black colouring, the chevron on her forehead...the attraction she held for Jazz, even now that he knew she had to be spoken for. The way he could barely focus with her nearby, how the thought of not spending the rest of his life with her made his spark ache. Jazz's optics shuttered, his grip on Prowl tightening, as that thought brought up the painful truth again.
He'd waited, and he'd done his best to attract Prowl's attention. If the Allspark hadn't been lost until just recently, he'd have tried for a reformatting in an effort to change so that Prowl would notice him. When Jazz had died, his last thought had been of Prowl, and when he'd come back, the memories of his painful death had fled when Prowl's face had been one of the first he'd seen. Now he wished he'd never come back at all. Better to be prematurely dead than to see that all his efforts, all his waiting, had been for nothing, that Prowl wasn't meant for him after all.
Jazz shuddered slightly, and unshuttered his optics to look down at Prowl again, bringing one hand up to brush against her faceplates. Prowl stirred slightly, and Jazz dropped his hand, not wanting to get caught longing after what he couldn't have - Prowl didn't need to be burdened with Jazz's unrequited desire when she was taking a final step in an obviously very serious relationship. Mechs could and did have relationships with each other, and femmes as well, but most Cybertronians found that when they had a serious relationship with another of the same gender for a long time, at some point, something just felt off to one of them. A trip to the Allspark for a reformatting would result in a gender change, anything from simply having their interface appliances altered to a completely new frame and look, and suddenly it would be better, for both. Bonding usually followed.
Jazz would probably have to be present for Prowl's bonding ceremony. Prowl might even asked Jazz to stand as witness. Jazz grimaced at the thought, and wondered if he could possibly get away with being on the other side of the world with the team trying to hunt down Scorpinok when the time came without hurting Prowl's feelings. Could he manipulate Optimus into assigning him there without the Autobot leader realizing what was going on and subjecting Jazz to his pity and a long talk? Probably not. Even if he did, Ironhide or Ratchet would see through - the curse of having spent so much time alone on a ship with them these past vorns.
Prowl shifted again in her sleep, and Jazz looked down at her again, seeing the calm, relaxed look on her face. He suddenly wanted to be elsewhere, but Prowl's light frame held him to the berth as if she weighed as much as Ironhide. He couldn't move, and it was unlikely he was going to get any recharge with her so close. He was in for a very uncomfortable, very painful night. Jazz let his head fall back onto the berth with a small thunk, glaring up at the ceiling, wishing Primus was there to glare at instead. Wasn't it enough that Prowl had to be taken from him? Did he have to find out just before spending a night with Prowl in his arms?
"What did the ceiling do to you?" the soft question startled Jazz, and he looked down to find Prowl watching him through half-charged optics, obviously still half in recharge.
"Recharge, Prowl. Y'll need yer energy tomorrow." Jazz replied, letting his head fall back again, but not glaring upwards again.
"So will you." Prowl murmured.
"I figure I can just dig up the security tapes early an' wave them around as proof that I arrived too late t'stop ya. Then everybody'll leave me alone an' you can deal with 'em." Jazz said with forced brightness.
"Didn't mean you'll need it for explanations." Prowl mumbled, a finger poking Jazz in the chest, and the saboteur looked down, curious, but Prowl's optics were off, her limbs relaxed with recharge. Jazz shook his head and let his optics wander again. Torture it may be, spending a night this close to Prowl when he'd just lost her forever, but if he didn't touch, for tonight Jazz could let himself pretend that she was his, and that this was his forever.
Jazz woke without realizing he'd gone into recharge, feeling unusually warm. It didn't take him long to realize that this was because Prowl had worked her way on top of him, laying across his body, her head neatly tucked under his chin. And since femmes, like seekers, ran at higher energy levels, and thus at higher temperatures, Jazz was feeling a little warm. His interface protocols weren't helping, either, supplying Jazz with the suggestion that a warm femme on top of him should thusly lead to interfacing, and that required him to have higher energy levels, too. Jazz groaned as he felt his systems try to heat up, and attempted to carefully shift Prowl off him without waking her. He didn't succeed, Prowl stirring before Jazz could move her very far, then lifting her head to look up at Jazz. Jazz stared back, then forced a grin.
"Mornin'." he said, not knowing if it actually was morning. "Nice an' recharged?"
"Much as I can be without some energon." Prowl said after a moment's pause. "You?"
"Same." Jazz replied. "Wanna go hunt down some energon to finish toppin' up our energy levels?"
"No." Prowl replied promptly, and tucked her head up under Jazz's chin again. The saboteur stared at blank air in surprise for a moment, and then Prowl spoke again. "I'm far too comfortable to move." Jazz ignored the twist in his spark at that statement, forcing himself to remain cheerful.
"I'm glad I meet your standards as a mattress. Yer gonna have to face Ratchet an' Skyfire sooner or later, tho." Jazz said with dry humour.
"Skyfire was the one who said I could, so it will only be Ratchet." Prowl said. Jazz's spark twisted again, wondering if Prowl had just let slip the identity of his intended mate. "It's Ironhide I really don't want to face, to be honest." Jazz couldn't bring himself to ask why, trying to force the sudden, unreasoning hatred of Skyfire away. Prowl looked up after a moment, when Jazz didn't respond. "Jazz?" she asked softly, one hand reaching up, but stopping just short of Jazz's faceplates. "What's wrong?"
"Nothin'." Jazz said, but even he could hear how forced that sounded.
"Jazz. Tell me." Prowl said, both firm and concerned. Jazz shuttered his optics, and tried to figure out how to phrase the question he didn't want to ask.
"I was just wonderin' which one'a the bots you'll be glad t'face this mornin'." he finally settled on, and there was a long silence. When Prowl's grip on Jazz's shoulder's tightened convulsively, Jazz unshuttered his optics and looked down at the femme sprawled across his chest in alarm. "Hey, Prowler -" Jazz didn't get any farther, suddenly finding lip components pressed against his own, sparks flashing between them in a sizzling kiss. It was like Jazz was dying and coming back to life all over again all at once - unimaginable pain and unbelievable joy rolled into a kiss he'd never thought he'd have. And then Prowl was pulling away, looking determined as she stared straight into Jazz's optics.
"Frankly I don't want to face any Bot but you for the rest of the morning - the rest of the day if I can help it." Prowl stated firmly. Jazz looked up at the tactician, uncomprehending. "Primus, Jazz. Are you going to make me spell it out?" There was a waver in Prowl's voice, which Jazz didn't understand anymore than he understood anything else that Prowl had said in the last minute. "Jazz, I asked Skyfire if the Allspark was strong enough for reformatting because of you. It almost shattered my spark when I landed and Optimus told me you'd died. I made them all promise not to tell you, but I was a wreck after I found that out. Half the reason Ratchet decided to try using the Allspark the bring you back was because he thought they were going to lose me, too - he'd actually taken to locking my door at night so that he wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I'd decide I'd had enough and sneak off to get myself killed.
"Then you were back, and it was just like before, but that wasn't enough for me anymore. After almost losing you, I didn't want to go back to just friends, co-workers, pretending I wasn't attracted to you. So I asked Skyfire how long it would take for the Allspark to recover enough to reformat. He told me he'd have to do some tests, but that he'd let me know when. Last night he let me know." Prowl finished unsteadily, her face was a mask of pain and pleading. Jazz found himself unable to say anything, his processor still stuck on Prowl's first statement - that she'd reformatted because of him. There wasn't another bot. Prowl wanted Jazz, and Jazz alone, if she'd been willing to reformat for him. His delusion of holding Prowl in his arms forever could be real. Jazz's processor finally snapped out of its loop as Prowl moved, sliding off to the side, a spark-breaking look on her face as she evidently took Jazz's silence to mean he didn't return her sentiments.
Jazz didn't let Prowl suffer under that belief for long, rolling so that she was pinned beneath him, cradling her head in his hands as he kissed her thoroughly, fully, sparks crackling between their lip components. He poured every bit of his longing, of all the vorns of waiting, into that kiss. All his joy, all his love. And Prowl returned it, arms reached up to wrap around Jazz, pulling him closer to her, pressing up against him where he didn't get close enough. When Jazz finally had to break the kiss or be lost, he grinned down at Prowl, finding the femme staring dazedly up at him.
"Why didn't you say something. Earlier!" Prowl stared back in surprise before slowly smiling. Jazz smiled back, and then kissed the femme again, hoping that if this were some weird dream he was having while in recharge, that he'd never wake up.
- THE END -