Texture 6/6 - Silk
by K. Stonham
first released 12th June 2008

Three days of solid pestering failed to get the Autobot to crack and tell him what this "bonding" thing was and why it was so forbidden. Which, Jason figured, meant it was time to drag in the big guns. A quick nod at Captain Fanzone and the accompanying gesture of his right hand as a faux telephone one morning was all he needed to get his idea across. When he reported back to the office that afternoon, Fanzone gave him a single nod in response.

Two days later, two vehicles that were very definitely not cop cars waited in the police yard as Jason and Prowl returned from their patrol.

The Crown Victoria slammed on its brakes and went into a hasty reverse, only to be blocked from the rear by a search and rescue vehicle.

"Ow," Jason muttered, gingerly kneading the back of his neck from when he'd first been thrown forward, then forward again, against the Autobot's seat belt. "A little compassion for the squashable human here?"

They'd called the Autobots. Scratch that--Jason had called the Autobots. Captain Fanzone wouldn't have done so unpushed. And now, trapped between Optimus Prime, Ratchet, and little Bumblebee, Prowl had no place to run. Gracelessly, with a grumble of static in his CPU expressing exactly what he thought of the human inside him, Prowl submitted to the capture and sank low on his wheels.

A part of him wondered maliciously if Jason would feel guilty when he was deactivated. Because Ratchet would insist on a full medical checkup, and there was no way Prowl's spark looked like it had once, long ago.

Slag them all, it had been worth it, every minute of it. Even if it had been Jazz's wild-sparked idea so long ago. Slagging heretic and cultist that he'd been. Missing Jazz was like cycling air.

"First Lieutenant Prowl," Optimus' voice rumbled softly in English. "You're late reporting for duty."

"My apologies, sir," Prowl replied, not letting himself show the anger, or the fear, or the pain. They were part of living, and nothing to be ashamed of, Jazz had once told him. He hadn't understood then. He understood now. But he'd lived a good life, outlived his bondmate, his spark-brother; by rights, he should have died when Jazz had. The extra time had been a bonus, a grace. He felt cool calm ease through him at the thought, and identified it as the part of himself that was himself, separate and distinct from, but always entwined with, that part of their spark which had been Jazz's.

Jazz had given him emotion and he'd given Jazz control, and together they'd been balanced and unstoppable.

A human Prowl recognized from the Internet stepped out of Bumblebee's interior. Just past forty years old, Ambassador Witwicky was trim and casually dressed, his brown eyes sharp and his mouth edged deeply with smile and laugh lines. Recognizing the cue for what it was, Prowl opened his own driver's side door and consciously didn't eject his passenger as roughly as he thought Jason deserved. Jason raised an eyebrow over the rim of his sunglasses, then took the hint and got out, walking over to where Captain Fanzone was just exiting the building. Witwicky ambled in the same direction.

"Well, this is going to go just peachy," the police captain grumbled, watching the four vehicles congregated in (and blocking access to) the precinct parking lot.

"You worry too much, Captain," Jason replied. Then the interspecies ambassador came up the shallow steps and joined them in the shade.

"Ambassador Sam Witwicky," he introduced himself, shaking hands first with Fanzone, then with Jason. "Captain Fanzone, I assume, and...?"

"Jason Marsh," Jason replied with a grin, shaking the hand of a very famous and infinitely cool man. "What's crackin'?"

Sam blinked and his handshake became just a fraction firmer for a second before it ended. "Thanks for giving us a call, even if it was against his wishes."

"Not a problem," Fanzone replied. He looked beyond the ambassador to the Autobots, who seemed to be conversing in what Jason guessed was their native language. It certainly didn't sound Earthly, anyway; synthesized tones that would ache the bones if they were any louder, static, hops and skips and jumps of rhythm. It was almost like techno music, except that no one was dancing. "Gonna be a little sad to see him leave. He's been here for... seems like forever sometimes." The search and rescue vehicle transformed, looming over Prowl imperiously for a moment before shooing him to an emptier and somewhat screened area of the parking lot, behind some trees and a few box-clipped hedges.

"Physically fit," Ratchet pronounced after a few scans. "Transform and let me check the rest."

Reluctantly, Prowl obeyed the medic, standing on his own two feet. Beyond the trees he saw Jason and Fanzone practically staring. It was fair enough, he decided; they'd never actually seen him as other than the police car before. "Traces of rust on your vocalizer," Ratchet told him. "Easily fixable. From disuse, I assume?"

"Correct," Prowl said quietly.

The medic rapped a knuckle on Prowl's chest. "Open up," he instructed. "I need to make sure your spark chamber's intact."

Behind him, Bumblebee snickered, surprising Prowl. The young one had finally had his vocalizer repaired? "As if it could be anything else with him functional," he teased, laughter spilling through his voice.

Fearless, Prowl counseled himself. Even if you weren't, Jazz's echo whispered to him, act like it.

Blue-white light spilled out as he revealed his spark.

Ratchet regarded the shining threads of blue and white that embraced one another like Celtic knotwork. "Looks fine," he decided. "Close up. You're cleared for duty."

Prowl stared at him as though he couldn't believe his audials. "Ratchet...?" he asked cautiously.

Ratchet raised an optical ridge at him. "Do you have a reason to object to being declared in working order?" he asked archly.

"But..." Prowl protested, his overdeveloped logic circuits no doubt working overtime to try to figure out why Ratchet wasn't decrying him as a heretic and an abomination.

Optimus' hand on Prowl's shoulder derailed the befuddled, shocked gaze to their Prime instead. Who canted a significant gaze to the tangled silk threads of light within his second's chest. "I remember a pair of young bots," Optimus said quietly. "One couldn't control himself and the other was constantly breaking down because he couldn't handle things he didn't expect. They both had so much potential, but no way to access it. Then they seemed to get a handle on themselves... both, oddly, on the same day." His smile was gentle. "I vowed not to ask questions. And if one of them happened to hint at heresy to me, long later... well, he was freshly recovered from repairs at the time and his processors were most likely still off-kilter."

Ratchet watched in amusement as Prowl's expression went from blank shock to incandescent fury. He snapped shut the plates over his chest. "If he wasn't dead," Prowl seethed quietly, "I would beat him within an inch of his spark myself."

The Autobots didn't stay too long, maybe half an hour at the outside, before leaving. Ambassador Witwicky went with them, climbing again into the driver's seat of the yellow one. He left his private contact details with both Jason and Fanzone "just in case" with a secretive smile.

"They're gonna be back," Fanzone said, tucking the card in a pocket.

"Gotta agree with you there, boss," Jason agreed. He canted a look at Prowl, who still stood in the lot, watching his compatriots drive away. "Think he's gonna stay?"

Fanzone considered the Autobot. "Maybe. Why don't you go ask him?" he suggested, and turned to go back in the building, chasing away the crowd of cops and secretaries who stood pressed against the interior of the glass doors.

The human approached him slowly, stopping when he was only a few feet away from Prowl's foot. His gaze raked up and down the humanoid form. "Looks good on you," he finally said. "Nice wings."

Prowl crossed his arms and looked down at Jason, unimpressed with the flattery.

"So are you staying?" the rookie asked.

With a roll of his optics, Prowl folded down into the Crown Victoria form so they were at a better level to hold a civilized conversation. He flicked open his door in invitation. "If I had been going to leave, I would have gone with them."

Jason gingerly sat in the offered seat and ran his hands along the steering wheel. The touch of his fingertips was like silk. "Mad at me?" he asked.

"Furious," Prowl replied.

"So, about this bonding thing that you won't tell me about...."

With a sigh of frustration, Prowl started his engine and pulled out of the lot, Jason fastening his seat belt with a hasty yelp. "We are not having this conversation in front of your coworkers."

"You mean we are gonna have it? Excellent!"

"You," Prowl said, something in his processors reminding him of an echo, a ghost of words he'd said to someone else long ago, "are the single most annoying human I've met."

"Out of two. Great odds there, Prowler."

Resolutely not shaking himself on his suspension to rattle the human about, Prowl headed for a secluded park area, where he could tell Jason about balance and sin and the forbidden combination of two souls into one. A story of a bot he'd met long, long ago... and how he and his brother, two imperfect mechs, had found a way to redeem one another and live whole.

You, the echo whispered across the cosmos, are the single most annoying bot I've ever met.

Somewhere, someone smiled.

A/N: This story was originally written for a fabric-themed writing challenge on the livejournal prowlxjazz community. As is my wont, I kind of went sideways and used the fabrics as words. You can find them buried in each chapter they're titled for. "Lace" was the hardest and turned into "interlaced".... The other impetus for this story was to examine the fanon phenomenon of bonding in more familiar religious terms. It's frequently presented as two sparks (souls) melding into one. While very romantic and all, I can't help but think the Catholic church, if no one else, would go into screaming fits over that. So what if bonding still had all the advantages and disadvantages it usually does, but instead of being the Cybertronian equivalent of marriage, was an anthema to them...?