A/N: This is one of those 'Jazz never actually died, but was just really, really beat up' 'verses. In fact, he was so beat up he couldn't participate in Egypt! Poor thing. Takes place several years in to the future.
After vorns of dealing with the idiosyncrasies of Jazz, Prowl had long since resigned himself to the other's constant presence in his life whenever they were working within commutable distance.
It was not that he didn't appreciate the saboteur; far from it. He was a formidable comrade, with a keen intelligence and a knack of adapting to situations that Prowl, much to his chagrin, lacked. They had always worked well together as enforcers on Cybertron, and Prowl was glad that this organic world had given them the chance to do so again.
He could also make an excellent companion during off-time, when was of a mind to. Jazz tended to have a way about him that could brighten anyone's day with just a smile or a quick word. He was…comforting. Yes, that was the word.
He could also be exasperating. Jazz seemed to delight in finding new ways to surprise or embarrass 'bots, and Prowl seemed to be his favorite target. He seemed to have an infinite pool of pranks and tricks that could put either set of twins to shame, and yet could rarely ever be caught. (Prowl knew it was him, however he had yet to acquire any proof. And that, of course, was the sticking point. One could hardly just point and say 'he did it!' without any proof to back one up. It was hardly professional.)
Despite all this, Jazz tended to stick to Prowl's side, and Prowl really couldn't find it in himself to mind overly much. Even so, he still didn't really understand why Jazz seemed to have made it his mission in life to find new ways to make Prowl squirm. But then, Prowl had long since decided that that was just the way Jazz was.
He had never expected to find an explanation for his odd behavior amongst the natives of Earth, of all beings.
"Boys are so stupid!"
Eight-year-old Annabelle Lennox stomped in to the human portion of the modified Autobot hanger, dropping her backpack to the cement floor with a loud and exasperated sigh. Mikaela looked up from her perch on one of the two couches with a smile, setting her cards down on the coffee table. Sprawled on the leather couch across from her, Sam threw his own cards down on the table with an overly-relieved exhalation, welcoming the respite from getting his aft handed to him.
"Hey, sweetie." Mikaela greeted, hopping over the couch to give the little blonde scamp a hug. Annabelle returned it willingly, her pouting lips an amusing contrast to the enthusiasm in her grip.
Despite the government not precisely approving of having civilians in a military base (ugly words like 'security breach' and 'unnecessary risks' kept cropping up), Optimus Prime had stood firm on allowing certain human allies access to the base, with Sam (and quite a bit of fast-talking) backing him up.
When the government officials made noises about the cost of ferrying civilians back and forth, several Autobots enthusiastically offered their services, including all of their flyers. The officials backed down after that, but still grumbled about it from time to time.
"Who brought you over?" Sam asked after Mikaela extracted herself. Annabelle paused mid-pout to dimple at him.
"Blades." She chirped. "He even let me steer a little!"
The fact that Annabelle had had most (if not all) of the Autobots wrapped around her little finger since she was three didn't really hurt. It was hard to argue with a twenty-foot alien robot acting like a protective parent who just wanted to see his little girl. Lennox had put up with his daughter being adopted with good humor.
"At least I won't ever have to worry about godparents if something happens to me or Sarah." He'd said with morbid cheerfulness.
As a result, Annabelle tended to spend every other weekend at the base, and as many holidays as she could get away with. Her mother accompanied her more often than not, although she had admitted privately to Mikaela that it was nice to have the house to herself on occasion.
"You literally have an army of willing baby-sitters," Mikaela had teased, "so you might as well take advantage of it!"
"So," the Mikaela of the present asked, rocking back on her heels to regard Annabelle with a cocked eyebrow, "rough week at school?"
The pout returned full-force, and Annabelle heaved a great sigh. "Boys," she repeated, "are so stupid."
"Hey! I resent that remark!" Sam exclaimed in mock-affront. Both females ignored him.
"Stupid Tommy Lawrence has been bugging me all week." Annabelle explained seriously. Mikaela hid a smile, keeping a properly sympathetic expression. "He follows me everywhere, and he's always tugging on my hair, and he's always saying stupid things, and he won't leave me alone!" The last was almost a wail, and Annabelle kicked fiercely at her backpack. "I just…I just want to beat the slag out of him!"
Mikaela bit her lip, her eyes dancing. "Has Ironhide been teaching you bad words again?" Annabelle contrived to look innocent.
"I think he's been teaching her a lot more than that, from the sounds of it." Sam muttered.
"Let me tell you something about boys, Annie." Mikaela pulled the fuming girl in to her lap. Annabelle curled up in her embrace, looping her arms around the young woman's neck and snuggling in deep, still pouting. "Boys," Mikaela continued seriously, "have a couple of major defects that tend to mess with their thinking processes."
"Hey! I'm still here, you know!"
"Quiet, Sam." Mikaela ordered, and Annabelle snickered. Sam slouched deep in to the couch, frowning deeply. "One of those defects is how they act around girls. "Especially," and here she tilted up Annabelle's face, examining her with mock-seriousness, "Mmhmm. Just as I thought." She said ponderously.
"What?" Annabelle asked, squirming in her arms.
"Especially," Mikaela said seriously, "very pretty girls like you." Annabelle blushed and giggled, ducking her head against Mikaela's chest.
"Boys must've been really stupid around you, then." Annabelle said in to her shirt.
"You have no idea." Mikaela said ruefully. Annabelle giggled again. "They did stop for a while when I was a little older than you, though." She added thoughtfully.
"Probably because you punched the biggest of them in the stomach in fourth grade and then told him to stop whining like a baby afterwards."
Annabelle looked over at Sam with wide eyes, and then back to Mikaela. "Really?" She asked.
Sam chuckled. "All the boys in class wouldn't go near her for a month. And even after that, they were always careful not to upset her too much for the rest of the year."
"You too?" Annabelle asked innocently.
"Of course me too. I'm not that suicidal." This, coming from the man who, at sixteen, had gone on a suicide run to keep an all-powerful artifact out of the hands of a world-conquering megalomaniac, and had done it again two years later.
"They seemed to forget come next year, though." Mikaela said wryly. She looked down at Annabelle. "No punching Tommy, Annie."
Annabelle pouted up at her. "Why not? You did it!"
"Because if you did it, your mom would ground you for life, and then she'd come after me."
"You're not afraid of my mom, are you?"
"Honey," Mikaela said, smiling, "everyone's afraid of your mom."
"Even the Autobots?"
"A good portion of the Autobots have, in fact, stated that they would rather face the entire Decepticon army on their own than an overly upset Sarah Lennox." The three humans turned in surprise at the smooth voice. He was standing inconspicuously in the doorway, as much as a twenty foot black and white alien could be inconspicuous.
"Prowl!" Annabelle exclaimed happily. She wiggled out of Mikaela's arms and rushed headlong at him, throwing her arms around his leg. The tactician stiffened slightly, before bending down to gently touch her back in greeting with a finger, careful not to dislodge her. Annabelle made a pleased sound, twisting around to grab the offered hand.
"Pick me up?" She asked, flashing wide eyes and a bright smile at him. Prowl regarded her solemnly for a moment, before nodding briefly. She squealed as he carefully wrapped his fingers around her waist and lifted her up. He gently set her in the crook of his elbow, and she curled up against him with a content sigh.
Sam let out a low whistle. "Man," he said appreciatively, "Annie's got you 'bots whipped."
Prowl frowned at him. "I'm afraid I don't understand your use of the word." He said slowly. "I have not witnessed Annabelle performing any violent tendencies towards any Autobot." He paused. "At least, not within the last several years, and Ratchet assured us that it was normal at that point in her development to constantly hit and sample any material she could come in contact with, even if it was not to be encouraged."
Sam waved his hand, snickering. Mikaela snorted, shooting him an unimpressed look. "Never mind him, he's just being Sam." That just made Sam snicker harder.
Prowl regarded them both thoughtfully for a moment. "An example of one of the human male's 'defects'?"
Sam choked. "Prowl!" He whined, shooting him with his best accusing eyes. "That's not cool, man. Not cool at all."
"True, though." Mikaela said sweetly.
Sam attempted to regain some of his lost dignity. "So, uh, what brings you to our neck of the woods, Prowl?"
There was a pause as Prowl processed that question. "I was curious," He finally admitted, "about your earlier conversation with young Annabelle."
"Boys are stupid?" Annabelle asked brightly.
"…yes, regarding that." Prowl said dryly. Annabelle giggled, leaning her cheek against Prowl's armor. He looked down at Mikaela. "Do young males of your species truly indicate their desire to mate via such juvenile behavior?"
"Why does it feel like everyone is against me today?" Sam wondered aloud.
"Yes," Mikaela said, shooting Sam a wry grin, "they do. It's pretty normal."
"I fail to understand the logic of such an action."
"It's like this," Sam said, finally pulling himself out of his self-pity, "Boy sees pretty girl. Boy tries to get pretty girl's attention."
"Boy makes an…" Mikaela paused as she shot the interested Annabelle a quick look. "…an idiot out of himself because he doesn't quite know how to get her attention."
"That seems rather counter-productive."
"Doesn't it, though?" Mikaela shook her head. "There was this one kid who once built a leaning tower of JELL-O on my desk while I was out of the classroom at lunch. I came back to find it all over my homework and supplies." She laughed. "I was furious, but apparently he was trying to impress me. I don't even remember his name, now."
"Chris O'Neil in sixth grade." Sam said absently. Mikaela blinked at him.
"What, do you remember all of elementary school?"
"Just the parts with you in it." Sam replied. Then he reddened, tugging at his collar. "Uh…"
"…you know I'm not sure if that's creepy or sweet."
"Sweet." Sam said hurriedly. "'Cause you know me. Mr. Sweet. I'm totally sweet and not creepy at all. Nope."
"Right. I'll let you get by with that one." Mikaela said. Sam beamed at her.
Annabelle cocked her head to the side, frowning. "So Tommy likes me?" She screwed up her face. "Yuck."
"In this case, it appears that the desired outcome of wooing young Annabelle has not been achieved." Prowl observed.
Mikaela waved her hand. "Give it a few years." She advised. "These kinds of things take time."
Prowl briefly rebooted his optics in surprise. "Do they? Curious…"
"Why?" Mikaela asked impishly. "Do Autobots act like that too?"
"I hope not." Sam piped up. "That'd mean Sunny and 'Sides are mooning after half the base." He shuddered. "Especially Ironhide. Scary thought."
"Prude." Mikaela slid down beside Sam, nudging him in the ribs. Sam gave her an affronted look.
"Am not! Ironhide's just old."
"Compared to you, Samuel, we are all old." Prowl said reasonably.
"That's different! It's relative. Like, you can't tell me 'Bee's old for you guys."
"So!" Mikaela said with a bright smile. "Why are you so curious, Prowl? Does Annie's new suitor remind you of someone?"
Prowl regarded Mikaela soberly for a long moment. She did her best to appear at her most innocent. "Perhaps." He finally said.
"What, really?" Sam said. "Who?" He thought for a moment. "Oh, man, I hope it's not Sideswipe. 'Cause that'd just be wrong."
Mikaela exchanged a look with Prowl, and then sighed sadly. "Hopeless." She announced to the room at large. Annabelle giggled.
"What? C'mon, who is it? It's not really Sideswipe, right? 'Kaela…"
"I'm returning to the communications deck." Prowl said. He moved to set Annabelle down, but she shook her head fiercely, clinging to his arm.
"I want to come too!"
Prowl tilted his head at her, and then nodded briefly. "Very well, then."
"Have fun!" Mikaela called after them. "No, Sam, I'm not telling you anything. Stop whining."
The world was decidedly wet. Or at least, the doorway to the communications deck was.
Annabelle yelped as the torrent of water nearly washed her out of Prowl's arm. She grabbed at his armor, clinging like a limpet, and it was only due to a quick save on Prowl's part that she remained mostly stationary.
"Sideswipe." Prowl said quietly, water streaming off his armor.
"I didn't see you had a growth attached!" The silver front liner held up his hands as if to ward off Prowl, and then looked down at Annabelle. "I'm sorry, scraplet. Forgive me?" Sideswipe gave her his best puppy-optics.
Annabelle pushed aside her soaked hair with a deep frown. She pointed at Sideswipe with one dripping finger. "Prowl, sic 'im!"
"…I am not a canine, Annabelle."
"Yeah, I know." Annabelle said, craning her neck to look up at him. "But I can't sic 'im 'cause I'm too small, and you're bigger!"
There was a loud crash, and both Prowl and Annabelle turned their attention back to the room. Sideswipe was cursing under his breath fervently. "Language, Sides." A cheerful voice chided. "Don't worry 'bout it, Prowler, Annie. I'll get 'im for ya."
"Thanks, Jazz!" Annabelle said, all smiles again.
"Anythin' for my best lady." Jazz said gallantly, tightening the headlock he had on Sideswipe.
"Lemme go! Jazz…!"
"No rough-housing on the communication deck." Prowl told them both firmly. "Sideswipe, clean up this mess and then report to Red Alert for an additional duty shift. If you have time to plan pranks, you might as well be productive." Ignoring Sideswipe's protests, he nodded at Jazz and then Hound, who had been scheduled for comm. duty and was watching the proceedings with barely concealed amusement. He turned to leave the room, and Jazz hurriedly let go of Sideswipe to follow after.
"Hey, hold up. Where ya off to?"
"The human dormitories." Prowl replied. "Annabelle will need a change of clothes before she catches a respiratory infection." As if to prove that, Annabelle sneezed.
"I'll come with." Jazz offered cheerfully.
"If you would like." Prowl allowed.
A/N: Comments and criticism are very, very welcome. (I won't melt if you're harsh, promise!)
No offense to any Prowl/Sideswipe fans, Sam just has issues. (Kind of along the lines of 'omg, my teacher/authority figure and one of my friends. DO NOT WANT.')
Does Annabelle have an actual nickname in canon? I never really figured it out. I'm kind of partial to Annie, myself.
EDIT: The Pit really doesn't like my formatting. *kicks it* Nothing new here, just spacing things out so it's a bit more readable.