Disclaimer: All recognisable characters, places, etc. belong to HasTak and other copyright holders. I make no profit from this.
Red Alert had to admit this was not precisely what he had had in mind when he heard that Prowl needed his assistance. He knew his own inherent paranoia was legendary: if anyone was going to be suspicious of anything, it would be him. But this was Jazz. He had verified it in a dozen different ways and all he had expected to be asked to do was give his expert opinion to Prowl to settle the matter. Not so, apparently.
Ratchet had tried arguing the point, stating that he could always test Prowl for interference after the fact if it were deemed necessary, but Prowl had been adamant and had gotten increasingly stubborn over it. Finally Jazz had intervened, his accent thicker than ever with stress.
"C'n we jus' stop wit'the arguin' already? He's scared, okay? The bond's s'posed t'be a 'once an' forever' kinda thing an' he felt me die an' far as he's concerned I'm dead. Only here I am wit'some whacked out tale 'bout transferrin' bonds. He needs ya here t'ground him, an' I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. An' if this's the way it's gotta be, then I jus' wanna get on with it an' get it over with."
So here they were, ringed around the small private consulting room off the main repair bay, watching as Jazz carefully positioned himself above Prowl and opened his spark chamber. Mirage and Ratchet looked away, the former with a soft oath of dismay, but Red Alert kept his gaze and aim fixed. He was determined to see this through as he had been asked.
"Come on Prowler." Jazz murmured, hands twitching as he clearly fought the urge to caress his lover. "Open up for me. It'll make sense again soon."
Prowl's optics were off, his face turned away from Jazz, lips tight with distaste and fear and possibly just a little pain too, given the pressure of Jazz's weight on the hinges of his damaged doorwing. He gave a soft, strangled moan, then his plating parted and Jazz leaned down.
There was a moment of stillness, and then they both cried out.
Blitzwing felt pain tear through him, agony like he had never felt before. Something was wrong. Something was gone. He tried to curl up against the pain but found he was restrained. Torture? Was he a captive?
The pain was incredible and he screamed. What were they doing to him? No Autobot was this cruel, had he done something to displease Megatron? What was going on?
And then there was pressure against his chest. And then data drowning him and a cap on the pain.
And then a non-physical touch accompanied by three chiming voices.
"We are one."
Prowl stared up at Jazz as the initial intensity of the connection faded.
Jazz, yes it truly was Jazz. In that first moment of contact he had looked and seen and known and it all matched up. The majority of the data was slipping away now, leaving only vague impressions, but he knew without a doubt: this was Jazz, this was his mate. Everything he had been told was the truth.
Horror began to seep in. It was all true. Blitzwing had torn their bond and taken Jazz for himself. And he... he had nearly taken his own life in grief, had nearly condemned Jazz to either death or a life with Blitzwing.
//I'd have chosen death willingly.// Jazz assured him. //I'd not want to go on without you.//
//He hurt you. I saw...//
//Then you saw I hurt him back at least as bad.//
//He thought you were someone else?//
//Some composer-mech. I've never composed a tune in my life - well, not any worth sharing. I sang, sure, but I had a day job.//
//He didn't acknowledge that he had killed him. And he could so easily have killed you too.//
//Nah, not me. I'm tougher'n that.//
//You were frightened.//
Jazz's bravado faltered in the face of his true bondmate's perception.
//I thought he'd taken me from you in a way I couldn't fix. I was afraid I couldn't duplicate it. That you wouldn't let me try.//
//I nearly didn't.//
//But you did. That's all that matters.//
Prowl felt a swelling of reassurance and contentment coming from Jazz and decided to let the matter drop, then remembered abruptly that they were not alone.
"It seems he was telling the truth." he spoke up.
"We told you that." Ratchet grumbled.
"Indeed, and I am now convinced."
"Yeah, so could you give us a bit o'privacy for a bit?" Jazz suggested, running his hands slowly down Prowl's sides. "We got some catchin' up t'do."
Mirage and Red Alert both headed quickly for the door without a protest, but Ratchet loomed over them.
"No. You're both falling apart. Neither of you are doing anything else until I'm done with you."
"I still don't get it." Skywarp complained, watching Blitzwing settle in a corner of the rec room with his three new bondmates.
"Look. His processor had split into three parts, right? Like a merged gestalt. That's why Reflector..."
"Not that." Skywarp shook his head. "I don't get how he ended up so beaten up and drugged. Doesn't anybody else think that's weird?"
"No." Starscream told him sharply. "No-one thinks it's weird, and you don't either."
"Because if it's weird, we'll need to find out why. And we don't want to do that."
"Idiot. Think for a minute. Why would the Autobots leave Blitzwing alive if they found him fragging their comrade's shell into dust? Why go to the trouble of drugging him with something esoteric and abandoning him there?"
Skywarp glanced at Thundercracker and found him looking equally nonplussed.
"Because they're too soft to murder someone?" he ventured, knowing it could not be right.
"Ha. Hasn't stopped them before."
"You're saying Blitzwing drugged himself?" Thundercracker frowned.
"Maybe. But the Bots still left him alive, didn't they. And didn't you notice something about his injuries? All the paint streaks left behind were black."
"Are you saying Ja... ow!"
Starscream grabbed his wing hard and yanked him closer.
"But if he's alive..."
"I said shut up. This is why we're not asking any questions."
"But if he is, Megatron will find out." Thundercracker hissed.
"Not from us, he won't." Starscream sniffed, letting go of Skywarp's aching wing and reaching for his energon again. "If it happens, we'll be as surprised as anyone. And it'll all be down to Blitzwing to explain."
Jazz came online to a series of reports from his inbuilt diagnostics. He was slightly underfuelled and there were still a few outstanding errors listed in his datalog, but his armour was mended and he was functional. His chronometer reported that 2.73 joors had elapsed - plenty of time for Ratchet to do the work that should have been needed to get him to this stage.
Onlining his optics, he found he was in the repair bay which was no surprise though it was unusual not to find one of the medics immediately in his field of vision. First Aid considered it a comfort; Ratchet saw it more as an opportunity to get in his first rant before the patient had recovered enough to argue back.
Turning his head, he saw Prowl sitting on the side of a berth to his left, still missing one doorwing but he now had the skeletal base of a new arm to replace the one he had lost. He was frowning down at a datapad gripped in the simple pincers of the damaged hand, periodically entering short streams of new data. Jazz watched him for awhile, marvelling over the fact that they had both survived this incredible attack, that the bond between them was restored, but as time passed he began to get irritated by his partner's continuing distraction.
Prowl knew he was online: there was a faint but unmistakeable acknowledgement through the bond. And whatever he was engrossed in could not be work since Ratchet was utterly intolerant of his patients doing anything other than recovering in his bay. The medic always insisted that if they were well enough to work, he would have released them already.
"Whatcha doin'?" he asked finally, sitting up.
"Working out how much of an advantage we can gain while Megatron believes you are dead."
"Very little." Prowl sighed, subspacing the pad with his good hand. "Cosmos reported in that Skywarp and Thundercracker retrieved Blitzwing not long after Skyfire left the area with you and the others. There has been no outraged response from the Nemesis as yet, so it is likely that Blitzwing found some way to survive and is being punished for letting you escape. Most likely, they know full well that you are still functional."
"Huh. So much for that, then. So what're we doin' still here?"
"You're here until Ratchet releases you - he's concerned about viruses Blitzwing might have planted."
"He wanted to 'face with me, not frag with my processor."
"There's no reason why he may not have attempted both."
"Hn. And you?"
Prowl shook his head.
"I'm functional, if still physically unbalanced, so I've been released on light duties. I am still waiting for Hoist to finish fabricating the parts I need which could take several more days."
"Then why're ya here?"
Prowl regarded him thoughtfully, not answering, and after a moment Jazz started to worry that there was something being withheld from him. He leaned forward intently.
His partner stirred, shaken from whatever thoughts had absorbed him.
"I just wanted to be with you for a bit." he admitted. "Reassure myself that you're still here."
"That's... downright romantic, Sparkles."
"I'm afraid so." Prowl sighed. "Primus only knows what Ratchet is thinking - he hasn't said a word yet, but it's only a matter of time."
Jazz cocked his head to the side, one form of tension fading and another welling up.
"So you've just been sittin' here waitin' for me t'come back online?"
"Even though Ratchet coulda toldja pretty accurately when it was gonna happen so you could keep workin' in the meantime?"
"I couldn't concentrate." Prowl admitted.
Jazz grinned at his discomfort at that admission and considered teasing a little longer, but chose to let it drop in favour of other pleasures. He leaned back a bit, balancing on the edge of the berth.
"Been awhile since I've had your full attention. It's nice."
"There's always so much to do."
"Yeah. I should take advantage of it while it lasts, I think."
Prowl finally picked up on what he was thinking and looked up in alarm.
"I mean, we've never done it in the medbay before, right?"
"Ratchet'll kill us!"
"Aw he'll get over it. I wonder if Red's watching?"
Prowl began to splutter another protest but Jazz decided he had heard enough. He pounced.