As a rule, door wings are extremely sensitive areas on a mech. Much like human skin, they are filled with small capillaries that contain energon, coolant, and oil, as well as many sensors that act like nerve endings to transmit sensations. For that reason alone, not a lot of mechs had door wings. Prowl and Bluestreak were among the few with the group of Autobots that had followed Prime to Earth.
Also, it is usually not wise to go on any kind of mission without someone to watch your back. Jazz was used to doing so. Normally, dragging another person along just slowed him down and got him shot at. On a good mission, he could get in and out with no Decepticon ever knowing he was there until it was far too late. Any time another mech got involved – like when he was training Bluestreak – that run of good luck usually ended drastically.
Prowl was aware of all of this. As he, Ironhide, and Blaster moved in on the Decepticon base, waiting for Jazz's signal, Prowl knew there was safety in numbers. Logically, he knew that his small group was a lot safer than Jazz being in the base on his own. Ironhide and Blaster knew it too. It was probably why they were as calm as they were – Prowl was anxious, to be sure, but not about his own safety. That was so far from his processor that the thought never surfaced.
Mistake number one.
Ironhide glanced over at Prowl. "Anything?" he asked over their comm. link. Prowl shook his head.
"He's close, but not close enough." Prowl responded silently. "Give him time. He'll tell me." Blaster grumbled something under his breath, but Prowl and Ironhide ignored him.
There was no warning, or at least, not enough. Blaster caught movement out of the corner of his optic. He shouted in alarm, but no one had time to move before Ravage descended on them, the Cassettacon's focus entirely on Prowl. Prowl drew his weapon from subspace, but never had the chance to fire it. It was in his hand and he was just turning around when he felt sharp claws tear down his door wings.
He wasn't sure if he actually screamed, or if it was his partner across the spark link he heard. In the end, though, it didn't matter. Prowl could barely see Ironhide and Blaster draw their weapons before he lost consciousness.
Everything was going just fine, in Jazz's opinion. Things were moving a bit slower than normal for a mission like this, but he wasn't complaining. He could see the control room from his hideout in the ventilation shaft. A few more minutes, he estimated, and the control room would be clear and he could jump in and do his work. Satisfaction brimmed through him – he could practically taste the job well done.
Finally! The last of the Decepticons left, and Jazz quickly undid the grate and dropped to the ground. Now, all he had to do was find the right console, and they would be good to go. Prowl's team would provide the distraction he needed to get out and away with the information on Megatron's new plans. He quickly located the console and began typing.
Pain! Searing agony down his back, so much that he could not help a muffled cry as he dropped to his knees. Had someone shot him? It felt a thousand times worse, but at the same time, he couldn't feel the telltale trickle of energon and coolant that came with a gunshot wound. He was dizzy and sick with the pain. Jazz glanced behind him, almost certain of seeing Starscream standing behind him with his null ray guns.
There was nothing.
There couldn't be nothing! The pain was simply too strong – someone had to have hurt him!
No. The pain wasn't in his back. It was where his door wings would be, if he had them.
/Prowler?/ He sent the query over their spark link, searching for his partner and already dreading what he would find. /Prowler, answer me. I think something's gone wrong. Prowler!/ Still, there was nothing, and the longer Jazz searched for Prowl on the other end of their link, the more the pain grew. /Prowl, come on, this isn't funny!/ He was practically begging now.
He hesitated, staring blankly at the console. Prowl wasn't answering. Prowl always answered, especially on things like this. He made his decision.
The mission could wait. Prowl couldn't. He turned his back on the console and left the room, running at full speed.
Ironhide cursed violently. Blaster had grabbed Ravage and tore him away from Prowl, but the damage had already been done. Ironhide knelt by the unconscious SIC, checking the damage. With a grimace, he realized there was nothing he could do. There was simply too much damage, and door wings were delicate things as they were. Anything Ironhide did would inevitably screw things up even more for Prowl in the long run.
So he did the one thing he never thought he would ever do.
"Blaster!" he snapped. "Let Ravage go."
"But Ironhide – "
"No." He transformed back into his Topkick alt mode. "Put Prowl in the bed. He takes priority now. There is nothing more we can do here."
"What about Jazz?" Blaster asked, doing as he was told. Ironhide winced as he heard Prowl groan in pain. Blaster was trying to be gentle, but there was really no way around it. He was just too badly hurt.
"Jazz already knows."
Ratchet was shocked to see Ironhide and Blaster show up at the Ark with an escort consisting of no less than ten police cars. He crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at the two. Blaster was the first to transform, and Ratchet took that opportunity to speak. "Just what have you guys gotten yourselves into this time? And where are Jazz and Prowl? I would have figured Prowl would have – "
Blaster cradled Prowl gently and turned to the medic. "He's hurt bad."
Ratchet had to reset his optics. Bad was an understatement. "Follow me." he said curtly, going from a mildly annoyed officer to the Autobot's chief medical officer in about two seconds. Blaster did. Ratchet could barely hear the police talking to Ironhide in the background, but he paid them no mind. Later he would have to get the story of just how Ironhide got an escort out of the surly weapons specialist, but not now. Now he had a tactical officer to save.
He finally got control of himself enough to speak. "What happened?"
Blaster tensed. "Ravage snuck up on us from behind. Ratchet – Soundwave wasn't supposed to be there. Jazz didn't say anything about him, and all of our intelligence said he would be with Megatron the whole time. We weren't expecting the Cassettacons, much less Ravage!" There was a slight note of hysteria in Blaster's voice, and Ratchet didn't blame him.
"It's all right." Ratchet said quietly. It would have to be all right. Ratchet was not going to let Primus have his little brother!
Jazz was creating a stir as he stormed through the Ark. He had gotten into a scuffle on his way out of the base. Some distant part of him knew that he had been injured, and he probably looked frightening to the other mechs on the Ark, but he couldn't bring himself to care. The pain in his side was nothing compared to what he was feeling across the spark link from his partner.
Once Ironhide told him that a true spark bond, like what he shared with Chromia, was a thousand times stronger than what Jazz and Prowl had done in an effort to protect each other and strengthen themselves in battle. Jazz couldn't see how.
Someone stepped in front of him, stopping his trek. Sunstreaker. "Follow me." the yellow mech said gruffly. "You're scaring Bluestreak." Jazz nodded, not in the least bit surprised by the offer. After all, the Twins had a better understanding of what Jazz and Prowl had formed than any of the others.
They stopped at the med bay doors, and Sunstreaker reached out to stop Jazz. "Whatever you're thinking, it's worse."
Jazz shivered. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it." With that Sunstreaker turned and left, but not before sending a knowing look Jazz's way. The Twins had been in this situation more times than anyone cared to count. Bracing himself, Jazz opened the door and braved the med bay.
Sunstreaker had been right. Prowl was laying on his stomach, one door wing reduced to nothing more than tatters and barely hanging on. The other was just gone. Jazz could hardly see Prowl's paint job under the massive amount of energon and coolant he had lost.
"Jazz." Ratchet abandoned his position hovering over Prowl and came to stand in front of the saboteur. "Jazz, I need you to leave." Wheeljack and First Aid were still working, doing their best to clean Prowl up and seal off any leaks they could. Jazz couldn't take his optics off of the sight. "Jazz, listen to me! You can't do anything here! Prowl's in good hands."
"I'm not leaving." Jazz said darkly.
Ratchet sighed. "I'll tell you what I tell the Twins – I'll let you know when you can come up here. Right now, all you'll be is a distraction." Suddenly, he looked down. "Slag it, Jazz, when did that happen?!"
"What?" Jazz still felt slightly dazed.
Ratchet pushed him over to a free berth, muttering under his breath as he patched Jazz back up. Without thinking, Jazz reached out for Prowl. /You're gonna be okay Prowler. You have to be. Who's gonna harass the Twins with me if you're not?/
It wasn't much, but maybe if he could just keep talking to Prowl, he could keep his partner from slipping away.
Prowl came to in a haze of pain and fear. He wasn't quite sure where he was, but he was keenly aware of the dull ache in his doorwings. Holding still, trying to stifle the panic, he took stock of what he could sense without onlining his optics. On his stomach, something stuck in his arm. He could vaguely hear someone yelling in the background, but it was the clanking of metal followed by audible cursing that finally got him to relax.
He was back at the Ark, in Ratchet's med bay. He was safe.
"Prowl? Can you hear me?"
Prowl tried to respond, but the drugs were making him too sluggish. He instead opened a comm. link with the medic. "I hear you, Ratch. What happened?"
"You got slagged up, that's what happened. Primus, Prowl, when are you going to learn to watch your back?" There was the sound of something being moved, and Prowl winced as Ratchet gently brushed a hand over his door wings.
"Jazz watches my back."
"Not this time he wasn't." Ratchet grumbled. Another jolt of pain shot through Prowl, and this time he couldn't bite back a moan. Ratchet didn't apologize as he kept working, but he did make an effort to gentle his repairs. "You were supposed to be watching his back. After all, this was his mission. But no, you two had to go and be glitch-heads. You both had to wind up in my med bay. Didn't I tell you not to do that? I don't like having to patch up my little brother."
Prowl only caught part of that. "Jazz was here?"
"It was nothing."
"Not nothing. If he was visiting me, you would've thrown him out on his skid plates. What happened?"
"Prowl, you know I can't tell you that. You need to rest. You start freaking out on me and I'll have to sedate you." There was a wealth of warning in the medic's voice, but Prowl ignored it. There were three reasons why Ratchet wouldn't tell him about his partner: Jazz had asked him not to, Jazz was even worse off than Prowl (not likely this time), or Jazz –
His thoughts came to a stuttering halt. That wasn't possible. Jazz couldn't be . . . could he? In a better state of mind, Prowl would have dismissed the thought with a laugh. After all, between being Prime's SIC and linked with the TIC for most of his career, Prowl knew the mechs under his command. Jazz would never get himself killed over something as simple as a recon mission. But with the pain still fogging his mind and the drugs Ratchet had given him, the possibility grabbed hold of his processor and refused to let go. He could feel himself slide into panic.
/Jazz?/ he called out, for once not caring that he sounded weak and scared. He needed to know. /Jazz!/
/I'm here./ Jazz's presence brushed across his spark, and Prowl relaxed instantly. Distantly, he could hear Ratchet grumbling under his breath as he continued to work, but he ignored that.
Spark links were rare, almost as rare as twins. While Sunstreaker and Sideswipe naturally shared a link between their sparks, Jazz and Prowl had been forced into a position where it was either link sparks or watch each other die. Out of everyone on the base, only the Twins had understood what had changed between the SIC and TIC when that link had been established. They weren't bonded. They were chosen brothers.
Prowl allowed himself to drift off into recharge, simply enjoying the presence of his partner in his spark. He didn't regret his choice when he 'adopted' Jazz. He never would.
Finally, six days later, Jazz was given the okay to visit Prowl in the med bay. Ratchet wasn't there at the moment, but Jazz knew he was only a holler away if he was needed. Slowly, he made his way to Prowl's berth and sat down next to his friend. Prowl's door wings had been completely rebuilt and reattached, but Jazz knew better than to touch them like he usually would (just to annoy the slag out of Prowl). They would be hypersensitive for days.
Prowl onlined his optics. "You do realize I'm not going to bite, right?"
Jazz laughed. "Like I'd care if you did." he teased before abruptly turning serious. "Now, tell me you ain't gonna disappear on me and then I'll feel better."
"Jazz." The name came out as a sigh, and Prowl pushed himself onto his elbows. He hated laying on his stomach like this. "It wasn't your fault. Besides, I doubt it was that bad to begin with. You overreact."
Under normal circumstances, Jazz would have laughed at his friend for trying to downplay his injuries. This time, however, he couldn't let it go that easily. "You really think it wasn't that bad?"
"Door wings are sensitive." Prowl would have shrugged if he had been in a better position to do it. "I figured Ravage just scratched me good. Hurt like the pit, and I probably lost enough energon to send Ratchet into a fit." He flashed Jazz a grin. "Am I right?"
Well, at least he was giving the injury something that resembled respect. "Prowl – Ratchet rebuilt your door wings." he said quietly. "Ravage tore one completely off and shredded the other beyond repair. You lost so much energon you barely had enough to keep you going. Ironhide broke every speed law known to humankind to get you back here. Ratchet said he had a police escort to keep any of the other cops from trying to stop him." He stopped when he realized Prowl's optics had turned dangerously pale. "Prowl, don't shut down on me."
"I won't." he said faintly. "How did Ravage do that much damage in that short of time?"
"He's fast." Jazz said grimly. "And I think he was aimin' for you, Prowler."
"Take out me, he'll take out you as well." Prowl said neutrally. "Just like Sunny and Sides. They knew you were there."
"We have a leak." Jazz concluded.
"Oh, Red Alert will love that one." Prowl groaned. He turned his focus back to Jazz. "You got out okay though, right? I can't really tell anything with the drugs Ratch has me on."
Jazz couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm fine. Got shot at, but Ratchet patched me up good before drop-kicking my aft out of the med bay. I would have stayed in here the whole time if I could have."
Companionable silence descended between them. For a while, they just sat there, enjoying each other's company. Neither mentioned the mistakes that had been made in the mission – namely, that no one had been playing lookout on Prowl's team. Logically, that duty should have fallen to Ironhide or Blaster since Prowl had been completely focused on Jazz to help him if the need arose. Neither thought about the implications of having a leak in their forces. That could wait until the next day, when Prowl was officially released from the med bay and placed back on light duty. For now, they just enjoyed each other.
"If you do that to me again, I swear I'll kick your aft." Jazz said suddenly.
Prowl laughed. "I love you to, Jazz."
An: Wow, that didn't turn out quite the way I thought it would. If you're a bit confused about the spark link, just consider it a version of the Twins' connection, but definitely not a spark bond. Can be read as pre-slash, if you really want to, but it was written as VERY close friendship. I might do some more one-shots in this universe as the school year goes, but don't expect too many of them. Let me know what you think!