Title: Aotearoa Christmas
Challenge: Summertime Christmas, incorporating kangaroo, cactus and hot springs.
Summary: Christmas can be a stressful time, particularly when something ruins your plans, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers
"This," Jazz declared disgustedly as he entered the aircraft hangar, "is ridiculous."
Prowl glanced across at him, then decided he would comment and turned back to humans he had been speaking to.
"Are there no other options?"
"I'm sorry, but it's Christmas." the official in charge shrugged. "All the airports are chocka and there just aren't that many cargo flights today except the ones that got booked ages ago."
~Chocka?~ Prowl checked with Jazz, unable to find that particular word in his internal dictionary.
~Who cares? I want outta here.~ Jazz sent back, scowling. ~There's a party goin' on that I've been plannin' for the last three months an' I wanna be there!~
"Could you let us know if there are any changes?" Prowl asked.
"Yeah, sure, but I doubt there'll be anything. Unless you want to go by ship?"
"Thank you, no. I believe we will wait for our allies to retrieve us."
~So what now?~
Prowl looked around the busy hangar.
~I believe we are in the way. Perhaps we could go for a drive while we wait. We will draw less crowds that way. I don't believe any of us have travelled here before, and the locals are clearly curious.~
~Leaving the airport will mean further to travel if somethin' does come up.~ Jazz pointed out belligerently.
~I fear that's highly unlikely. And Skyfire can collect us from wherever we are.~
~By which time we will've missed everything.~
Verbal persuasion clearly was not working, so Prowl simply transformed into his alt mode.
~Are you coming?~
~You're being immature.~ Prowl commented as they idled amongst the heavy traffic waiting for the lights to change to green. ~Since we are currently stuck here, it makes sense to make the best of it.~
~Meanwhile Sunny an' Sides are celebrating. I bet they're behind all this.~
~Skyfire's inability to retrieve us immediately has more to do with the timing of his regular maintenance than their meddling - something that Ratchet schedules a long while in advance.~ Prowl pointed out the obvious. ~In any case, I doubt they're enjoying your absence: with both of us gone and Optimus in Washington until tomorrow, the party has probably been cancelled entirely.~
Jazz considered that, pulling alongside Prowl as the traffic moved and they headed along a wide causeway of three lanes in each direction.
~Red'd have a riot on his hands if he did.~
~I imagine he believes doing so will avert one.~ Prowl responded, then read off a sign that they were passing. ~'Haere mai'. Odd. Are you sure the language spoken here is English? Perhaps we need a local refresh of the vocabulary?~
~It just isn't right.~ Jazz ignored the question. ~How can it be Christmas in summer? The carols don't make any sense, here.~
~I can't say they ever made much sense to me to begin with.~ Prowl mused. ~In any case, you know as well as any of us how planetary environmental conditions alter dependent on hemisphere and position in the elliptical orbit.~
~What I'm sayin' is that they should celebrate it in the winter time, not the summer.~
~I thought it was based around a particular date, rather than weather condition?~
Jazz huffed. Normally he enjoyed the banter, turning Prowl's logical responses on their head with correspondingly illogical arguments, but right now all he wanted was to be back at the Ark.
~Who's crazy idea was it to have Omega Supreme drop us off here in the middle of nowhere without sticking around, anyway?~
~Mine, actually. As you would know, if you had attended the briefing as you were supposed to. The reports are inconclusive but I felt there was value in checking that there was no actual Decepticon activity here...~
Jazz stopped listening. He knew why they were here. What he couldn't understand was why it had to be now. Would it have been such a problem to leave it for just a few more days? True, he should have been at the briefing and then he might have been able to delay the plans, but it had been called at short notice and he had had other things to do. Important things. Just not things he was in a position to divulge, right now.
~...always said you wanted to see a kangaroo, so this may be a perfect opportunity.~
Hi s attention snapped back in time to hear a completely incongruent statement. What was he talking about now?
~Prowl, kangaroos live in Australia, not New Zealand.~
~This tourist site has pictures of some on a nearby island called 'Kawau'.~
Jazz looked at the internet link Prowl sent across to him.
~Those are wallabies, not kangaroos. They're smaller. Anyway, we're heading away from that: we'd need to go north and we're headed south.~
~So what wildlife is there to see here?~
~No idea. Look it up, why doncha? And while you're at it, find us a charter flight outta here!~
The drive thus far had not been unpleasant. Once they got out of the city the traffic flowed well and the scenery was peaceful. Jazz, though, remained in a thoroughly miserable mood.
~We have a choice coming up. We can either take the scenic route through Waitomo and then back via Mystery Creek where I believe...~
~Are there any airfields out that way?~ Jazz interrupted him.
~That's the only thing you're thinking of, isn't it?~
~Prowler, I wanna go home. That's all. It's been crazy busy lately, an' I'm tired, an' I don't wanna do anythin' 'cept get back to the Ark an' have a good long soak an' maybe a nap, then spend some time wit' friends.~
They drove in silence for awhile, then Jazz moved up into a passing lane to drive alongside him.
~You think I'm bein' unreasonable.~
~I think you're being honest.~ Prowl allowed. ~More honest than you would be around the others.~
Jazz snorted, then revved his engine and quickly moved ahead as the short passing lane came to an end. A large white sign declared that the Desert Road was open.
~Desert?~ Jazz commented as it flashed past. ~Can't see cactus growin' well here. Not dry enough.~
~I understood 'desert' indicated sand, not necessarily cacti.~ Prowl considered, then saw the sign he had been watching for.
If this last idea did not relieve Jazz's mood, he would have to take action.
~Turn left up at the next intersection.~
~And miss out on the desert? What a shame.~
~Jazz, we live in a desert: I doubt this one is very much different.~
Prowl was losing patience with him, Jazz suspected. Understandable, really, but this was all so frustrating and around his partner he did not have to keep up the happy facade that the others all expected from him.
He had been planning today's events for a long time - both the group activities, and his own more private ones. Right now he and Prowl should have been cuddling on their berth enjoying the oilcake and goodies he had managed to procure. But he had taken the oilcake out of its protective wrapping just before Prowl called him, and those things very quickly went stale and destabilised. The fact was, it was probably just a messy puddle now. So much for his plans.
"Here we are." Prowl spoke up, stopping finally and transforming.
Jazz followed and stared.
"A sulphur pool?"
"A geothermic one. It's close to the pick up point, and I for one would like to get the dust off my chassis."
"Pick up point?"
Primus, he was starting to sound like had a glitch, but he was more than a little startled. He had not seen anything like this on Earth in the time they had been here.
"Yes." Prowl agreed shortly, stepping into the yellowed water and steam and wading through it. "Skyfire is now available and is on his way. I have sent him our coordinates."
"You've stayed in contact with the Ark all this time?"
"There was no way to get you back more quickly."
"Oh. Well... thanks."
"You're welcome." Prowl responded distantly, his back still to Jazz.
Relaxing a little now that everything was organised, even if it was all too late, Jazz realised abruptly that he had been more than a little unreasonable. Prowl had been trying particularly hard today to placate him, and he had rebuffed every attempt. Slipping into the water himself, making sure to close all his vents so he did not suck in too much of the sulphur gas, he moved to hug Prowl from behind, settling his chin on Prowl's shoulder.
"Thanks." he repeated more firmly.
Prowl nodded, stilling and raising one wet hand to pat his cheek.
"So are you going to tell me why you're upset?" Prowl asked, interrupting the peace as they sat on a natural ledge by one side of the pool. "You've been out of sorts ever since we got here."
"I had somethin' special planned." Jazz admitted. "But your gift's back at the Ark, an' by the time we get back it'll be spoiled an' the holiday'll be over an' you'll have t'start up on all your diplomatic stuff again. I hardly see you anymore."
"It's only for a few years." Prowl pointed out, moving one hand to swirl the water idly. "A tenth of a vorn, at most, and likely only half that."
"I know. It shouldn't matter. But time's so different here. The humans make the most of every little bit of it, an' it makes me think about how much we're wastin'."
"You consider this a waste?"
Jazz smiled, leaning back against the rocky side.
"Well, not this, precisely. This, I could do with a whole lot more of."
They sat in silence for a while, soaking in the thermal currents and enjoying the simple pleasure of each other's company. Then Prowl sighed.
"I have a confession to make."
"I organised this."
Jazz looked down at him.
"Yeah, I know. The mission."
But Prowl was shaking his head.
"There never was any Decepticon activity out here."
Jazz stood up in shock to stare down at his partner, scattering droplets of sulphurous water everywhere.
"I thought you'd appreciate being around a different culture during these festivities. Different traditions, language, music. I thought it would be a nice thing to do together. I'm sorry."
Jazz gaped at him.
"But it's alright." Prowl continued quietly. "Skyfire will be here shortly to collect us, and we'll be back by midday on Christmas Day - in plenty of time for the festivities there."
"Wait - today was Christmas Day." Jazz frowned.
"We're on the other side of the dateline. Back at the Ark it's still Christmas Eve, approaching midnight. We'll be back in time for your party."
"But that's not what you planned?"
Prowl shook his head.
"Never mind that. We'll get back and spend the time there. That will work just as well."
"You did all this so we could be alone." Jazz said slowly.
"You said it yourself: we have so little time to ourselves right now. But there's no reason why we can't spend time together around the others, too. You're more naturally social than me, I should have included that in my planning."
Jazz sank back down, regarding Prowl thoughtfully.
"So this place..." he considered. "No-one's gonna disturb us out here? This is where you were heading?"
"We will be undisturbed here." Prowl agreed. "The gases are too concentrated to be safe for humans - there is only a track there because their scientists come here occasionally to test the toxicity levels."
"Huh." Jazz interrupted him, gliding closer. "Fancy that."
Prowl frowned at him.
"Is something wrong?"
"Nope. But I'm startin' to wonder."
Jazz grinned, sliding his arms around Prowl's sides.
"What people here do to celebrate New Years. I think maybe I'll stick around to find out."
~Blaster calling Skyfire, you hearing me, sky buddy?~
~Yes. Does Prowl want another ETA? I'm making good time - I should be there in less than half a groon.~
~Actually, Jazz called through. Says something's come up and they're gonna need to stay for a few more days after all.~
~But Prowl was adamant that I must make best speed so that Jazz does not miss the party. He's been checking in regularly.~
~I guess something changed.~
~Do you think they need backup?~ Skyfire worried. ~Are they in trouble?~
Blaster chuckled, glancing once again at the suggestive text of the message Jazz had sent to him.
~Nah, I wouldn't say that. If you ask me, I think they've got it all under control.~