Jazz and Prowl are a pair unlike any other. There is a quality about them that captures interest and draws on curiosity; they are opposing balance, as yin and yang, yet they are synchronous with each other as the wheels of fate are with the machinations of destiny. But you already know all this, do you not? You know the facets of Jazz and Prowl's relationship, the intricacies and puzzles, are not entirely normal, but they wholly natural. Like forces of nature that cannot be captured or controlled.
From the rousing success of Take Hold of My Spinning World, I decided to indulge further into the complicated world of a pair of very complicated mechs. Since I doubt I will be alone in this indulgence, I welcome you all to sit, read, and indulge with me.
Reviews are inspiration and love, my friends. :)
"We create our fate every day we live." –Henry Miller
"Do you have him?!"
"Yes! Yes! Just run for it! The ship's waiting!"
"Blue, lay down some cover fire!"
They ran for their lives, stumbling across the pockmarked outer perimeter of the Decepticon stronghold Straxis. In the darkness of the shattered night, turbines whined to life, a stealth ship unveiling. Engines suddenly roared, a hatch dropping to admit the small group of Autobots. Their target mech was tossed on board first, followed quickly by a dart of silver that had been at his side from the moment they both exited the Decepticon compound.
"Close the hatch! Get off the ground!" roared the leader, a mech known as Hardtop.
With the order ringing loud over the sound of gunfire, the pilot whooped an affirmative. In the span of a single sparkbeat, their ship was thrown into the sky. Metal screamed, bulkheads rattled; their sudden assent threatened to rip the ship apart, with only the skill of the pilot keeping them together. Stealth engines did nothing to drown out the barrage of Decepticon firepower detonating across the hull. The unnatural scream of metal being ripped apart erupted from the outside as a sharp wingspire ripped through the armour of the ship.
"Seekers!" someone screamed.
Immediately, anti-aircraft missiles were deployed. Alien whistling drowned out the night, followed by the explosive roar of several megatons of power detonating the sky. One by one, the Seekers fell from their flight paths, spiralling for Cybertron's surface. As their dying cries fell from the sky, the Autobots gathered in the cargo hold sighed collectively. A rescue mission well done; they had their mech and there were no casualties whatsoever. No Autobot casualties, anyways.
Hardtop glanced around with a hard optic, touching a hand to his audio as he remotely connected to the ship's communications.
"We have him," he transmitted, his gaze straying to the storm-grey mech freshly procured from Decepticon clutches. In the half-light, the red chevron crowning his dark head glinted in reassurance of his living presence.
'Good,' came the curt reply. 'Are the Decepticons in pursuit?'
"Negative. We shook 'em."
'In that case, return to base as soon as possible. Iacon out.'
The channel was cut without further word. It was nothing personal; with a ship in the heart of enemy territory and the risk of Soundwave being near, they had to keep transmissions as short as possible.
With the message of a successful mission relayed, the Autobots sagged, nodding to themselves. There were no more Decepticons on the radar to worry about. Except one.
Jazz made himself comfortable against the hull of the cargo hold, preparing to settle in for the flight that would undoubtedly take him to Iacon. The spark of Autobot power. Shifting one way, then the other, he cracked a kink in his shoulders and then relaxed. What might have looked like thoughtless movement to some was actually the trained articulation of a dangerous predator. Hidden behind his visor, his optics scoured the Autobots assembled and determined their worth and capabilities from their frames, decals, and postures. In a matter of astroseconds, he surmised the most vulnerable places on their armour and formulated the best plan of attack to exploit those weaknesses as quickly as possible. For his own amusement, he even decided how long it would take him to kill the entire assembly before the pilot even noticed something was amiss; 14.2 astroseconds. Sadly, by that time, the pilot would be dead, as well.
But even knowing how to escape didn't tell him why he was there in the first place. Why the pit did he follow that stupid Autobot out? What the pit had he been thinking when he jumped aboard? Without an answer to why, he was left stranded. Confused. He could not make sense of the unnamed force that had brought him to this point; a hot, swirling, wild feeling in his chassis that brought his energon to life, making it boil, sing. What the pit did he think he was doing, a Decepticon, on a ship full of cowering Autobots?
Had he finally gone insane?
A memory file opened at random, playing back the very words a particular Autobot prisoner had said to him:
"You truly are as deluded as they say."
Yes. Yes, he was obviously deluded now. No question about it; he had lost his mind. There was no other explanation for why the pit he was there.
There was no control here, no agendas, no vendettas; he was free-styling through his own suicidal insanity.
Of course, that didn't mean he was scared of what was becoming of his world. Whirling off its axis, spinning free into space, uncontrollable as it spiralled out of his hands- terrifying, but he didn't dare fear it. No, he refused to fear it. He could escape at any time. He was free to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted, and however way he wanted to do it. He was Jazz, after all. He was always several steps ahead of everyone. Crazy or not, he was still better than an Autobot.
But still, the question bothered him: Why? Why? Why? And yet the answer was staring him in the faceplate. In fact, it had not stopped staring at him from the moment the hatch had sealed.
'Damn you, ya fraggin' Autobot.'
Despite injuries festering old or bleeding fresh, the mech stared with the same cold calculation in his optics that had first caught Jazz's attention. Even as he complied with the young medic tending to him, he never allowed himself to be distracted from the Decepticon in his presence. Not that the others were exactly lounging like cybercats, but this particular Autobot's attention was single-minded, disturbingly intense. For a single moment, Jazz mused that he could probably cut the mech's head off and he would still stare at him. He was the one mech in the bay Jazz couldn't read, couldn't gauge. He was the one and only mech to ever cause Jazz to fail at something. Damn if the taste wasn't still bitter.
Such an innocuous mech. One look at him basically summed him up. An average mech frame, Simfur design. Plain storm-grey paint lay in patches across battered armour, his old Security Response decals faded next to his Autobot insignia. He was stripped to the wires from his incarceration, currently being patched back together by the field medic of the rescue team. There was nothing specially designed about him, not even his faceplate. Pretty much the generic assembly-line frame that Security Response and other organizations used. Though this mech's carved features stood out strikingly against his stoic expression; handsome in a classic sort of way. It was enough to make anyone look twice. One would never imagine that a mind so potently dangerous lay locked away behind such unassuming ice-blue optics. It was Jazz's own folly that he had underestimated the mech. Always being quicker, faster, and more clever than everyone else around him had taken its ultimate toll on his psyche. He had allowed himself to become ensnared in the unintentional trap that was the Autobot's mind.
With his world now bent on the axis and flung into the wilds of the unpredictable and uncontrollable, Jazz found himself disturbingly intrigued by the unreadable, unbreakable Autobot.
Prowl, he reminded himself. Prowl was his designation.
Leaning forward, he made sure to have optic contact with the tactician before he spoke. Despite having his visor lowered, Prowl did not appear to have an issue with piercing the crystalline cover and sending him a stark glare that struck Jazz to the core.
"Am Ah yer prisoner?"
As expected, the other Autobots shifted nervously, each one of them disgustingly aware of the amount of danger they were in. They knew exactly who he was Jazz: one of the most lethal Decepticons Megatron had at his disposal. Clever, quick, and unpredictable, he was easily on par with the Seekers or Shockwave when it came to the damage he was capable of. One wrong move and they'd all be dead.
Prowl did not hesitate to answer. "Until we can determine what to do with you, yes, you are our prisoner."
"Alrigh', just wonderin'." Satisfied with the answer, the silver mech leaned back once more.
Once again, the Autobots shifted uneasily. There was no way for them to gauge the mech. He was an enigma. He had been the one to contact them in order to formulate the escape plan; he had been the one to risk the most to get Prowl out of the compound. For all they knew, the saboteur's seemingly benign gestures could all be part of an elaborate trap, or else this fiasco was for his own damned amusement. It was hard to decide which was more dangerous.
One young bot looked like he was having trouble keeping quiet for so long. His too-readable optics kept glancing between Jazz and Prowl, picking up on the tension arcing between them as they continued to glare. He fiddled with a pair of stasis cuffs, looking to Prowl instead of his team leader.
"Shouldn't we...?" he held up the cuffs.
The gesture was ridiculously quaint, so much so that Jazz couldn't help but laugh. "Cute, but can we skip the formalities? We all know Ah'll be out o' those cuffs before ya even lock 'em in place."
"You're outnumbered, Decepticon," Hardtop growled, clearly hoping to sound threatening with the numbers to back him up.
"An' yer outclassed," Jazz countered, smirking.
Blue cringed away, desperately searching Prowl's faceplate for an answer. "Sir...?"
A weak hand waved dismissively. "Stand down, Bluestreak. He's not going to do anything," Prowl assured tonelessly, still refusing to blink or break his stare with Jazz.
Something akin to surprise hit the 'Con, not expecting such a cut-and-dry statement. It was not every orn that a mech, let alone an Autobot, attempted to predict his agendas, especially with such conviction. His faceplate did well to reveal nothing.
"Yer rather confident with that assumption, aren't ya, Prowl?" he purred lowly, smirking. His visor flashed a smouldering red, clearly making the rest of the team far more uncomfortable than they already were.
Prowl's glacial expression did not waver, becoming a fixation as the rest of the cargo hold blurred into the background. He was a fascination incapable of being denied.
"I assume nothing, Jazz," he said, a mere statement of fact. A lot more was being said between their optics, unreadable icy-blue to enigmatic ember-red; they were speaking volumes in silence. "I know you will do nothing."
Something more than a smirk pulled at Jazz's mouthplates, a touch of poison crossing his handsome features. "Is that so?"
Silence reigned in the hold as their war of wills raged. Neither was about to give in. Without warning, the airship hit turbulence. Jazz blinked, activating his magnetic fields to secure himself to the wall. Prowl grunted, flinching when the medic's hands jarred him. Their battle ended without word or victor.
With a Decepticon on board, no one felt at ease enough to speak. They didn't even dare open private channels between one another for fear of what the silver bot was capable of hacking into. It was a long flight back to Iacon, one in which not a sound was made aside from the drone of the engines and the occasional word from the pilot. It was a new record of silence for Bluestreak, though no one was in the mood to point it out. By the time their ship was docking in the safe harbour of Iacon's hangar, the Autobots sent as Prowl's retrieval group had gravitated into the protection of the tactician's general vicinity. A wide berth was given to Jazz at the back of the hold.
A sharp jerk rattled the bulkheads as docking arms locked onto the hull. Engines whined down, draining the subtle hum of life from the ship. Through the reinforced metal, familiar sounds of home drifted through, bringing an ease to the Autobots they had not felt since leaving on their mission. Jazz, on the other hand, could only listen to the sounds of the enemy as the ship was further secured into the spark of Iacon. There was no comfort for him to garner. Interestingly enough, he had the urge to see the reaction home would bring to Prowl, only to find there was no change at all. No surprise there; pre-programs built for Security Response, especially tactical advisors, were created without emotion. It was obvious that Prowl had never sought to expand his emotional repertoire, either.
As if sensing Jazz's gaze, the storm-grey mech turned a fraction and regarded him coldly. There was the distinct feeling of being measured, as if trying to gauge the worth of his reactions. A shot of annoyance lanced through the saboteur when Prowl looked away, seemingly coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Registering himself as annoyed, Jazz was quick to tamp down on the emotion, disturbed to feel out of place at all. Who the pit did this Prowl think he was, anyways? Some freak of nature?
"Bluestreak, lower the hatch," Prowl ordered hoarsely, which the little grey mech was quick to follow. There was a pneumatic hiss, and then the stark lights of the hangar flooded the cargo hold.
On an unspoken order, the rescue team disembarked quickly. The pilot jumped from the cockpit instead of making his way out the hatch, having no desire to risk his life walking passed Jazz. Only the medic lingered, looking to Prowl enquiringly.
"Sir, do you need help down?" he asked, optics darting unsurely from Jazz and back again. It was obvious he was hoping Prowl did not require assistance.
Noting the mech's discomfort, Prowl waved him off. "Go, First Aid. I can handle myself."
"Alright..." With one last nervous glance in the Decepticon's direction, First Aid was down the ramp and scampering to inform his CMO of Prowl's condition.
It took a great effort for Prowl to rise from his seat, his frame having seized from the long flight. The most logical course of action to deal with the physical discomfort was to turn off his neural relays, which he had done the orn he had been captured by the Decepticons. Even with only his pressure sensor grid active, forcing his frame to move despite itself was troublesome. With an unpredictable Decepticon looming in the back of the hold, he couldn't afford to appear weak. When he came to stand at the hatch entrance, he turned a cool gaze on Jazz, who had not moved since they docked.
"Are you coming?"
Jazz returned Prowl's stare with a flash of his visor, mouthplates set in a crooked half-smile. "Ah don't suppose Ah have a choice, now do Ah?"
Prowl's right optic ridge rose. "There is always a choice. You made the choice to come with me, did you not?"
Oh yeah, he did make that choice, didn't he? One of the first truly spontaneous things he had ever done in his entire life! Being here was of his spark's choice, not his processor's.
"It wasn't much o' a choice."
"But it was yours to make, and now you are here. For sparing my life and orchestrating my release, you are essentially an Autobot now." So matter-of-fact, so coldly, if not naively, logical; even as a free mech, Prowl did not cease to entertain and elude him. It was enough to make Jazz chuckle as he forced himself to rise.
"Ah wouldn't go that far," he intoned.
Seeing that Jazz was now on his feet, Prowl began to limp his way down the ramp. "You are no longer welcomed by the Decepticons as a consequence of your aid to me, and you accepted my invitation to assist the Autobots. What am I to consider you, if not an ally?"
With frighteningly fluid grace, Jazz was at his shoulder. The moment he made his appearance on the ramp, all activity in the hangar halted. He was instantly recognized, and security teams were immediately alerted and mobilized. The activity of the hangar was ignored as Jazz leaned up to be nearly on par with Prowl.
"Consider me nothin' ta ya," he growled.
Just the thought of being considered an ally to anyone, it left the saboteur cold inside. He didn't know what to do with trust, other than destroy it. There was no trust in his world; he was supposed to be better, smarter, quicker than everyone else. All other bots were beneath him. He could only conclude that Prowl was trying to manipulate him, control him, keep him off balance, and doing a good job at it. That only piqued him more.
"Ah'm still as dangerous as the first orn Ah walked inta yer interrogation room."
As they neared the end of the ramp, Prowl's last remaining dregs of strength left him, his limping gait giving out into a full-out stumble. A clawed hand shot out without thought, grasping the mech's arm to steady him. As soon as he realized what he was doing, Jazz jerked away. Prowl's gaze lingered on the spot where the Decepticon's hand had touched him, and then slid to the 'Con himself.
"You say you are dangerous, Jazz, but your actions speak otherwise."
Suddenly a very large cannon was thrust between them as a burly black mech interceded, placing himself firmly between Prowl and Jazz.
"Ironhide," Prowl greeted tonelessly. Another mech came up behind the first, a dusky-yellow medic cursing a wild streak as he went about assessing damages and field repairs. "Ratchet."
"Prowl," Ironhide spat, practically snarling the designation. His glare was saved only for Jazz, as was the super-heated plasma churning in the barrel of his cannon. "What the frag were you thinking allowing this piece of slag in here? Have you completely lost your Primus-damned mind?"
"I have not lost my faculties yet," Prowl responded, a scowl suddenly taking his faceplate.
"Then what is the meaning of this? He's not even in stasis cuffs, for frag's sake!"
Jazz tipped his head back, regarding the Autobot weapons specialist with a taunting smirk. "Mah, mah, if it isn't the infamous Ironhide and his cannons. Yer a tad less impressive than Ah thought ya'd be."
Deep-set optics flashed, a deep rumbling growl rattling through the mech. "Give me a reason, you slimy little pit-spawn, and I'll smear you into the ground."
"Now, now, is that any way ta treat a guest? Ah'm here on invitation, after all." A fresh bout of satisfaction touched him as he watched a flash of lurid rage cross the black mech's faceplate. Apparently, he didn't get the memo. It only got better as the news was confirmed.
"He is right, Ironhide. He is here on my invitation," Prowl intoned, and then cried out involuntarily as Ratchet wrenched something inside his back.
"You did no such thing!" howled the CMO, bristling at the mere idea.
"I did, and he is here. He is a willing prisoner until we know what to do with him." The tactician's optics rested on Ironhide's back. "You may lower your weapons."
"The pit will rust over first," was the snarled reply.
Ratchet barely even acknowledged Jazz's presence as he raged over Prowl. "This is one of the most ridiculous, half-bit, insane things you have ever done! I won't be surprised if Prime decides to throw you in the brig for this!"
"Doubtful. Optimus Prime has been known to show reason and mercy on more than one occasion. I am unlikely to be punished for my actions," the tactician countered, cringing when something painful was once again twisted mercilessly in his back.
Ironhide's cannons loomed ever closer to Jazz's head as he spoke. Several other security officers were closing in. "You take too many liberties with your new position as tactical commander," he growled. "You think you know everything, but you don't know slag."
With no feelings to hurt, Prowl was hardly offended. "I know enough to make my own calls."
"Says the mech we just busted out of captivity," Ironhide sneered.
Jazz's visor flashed. "Correction, Ah busted him out. Y'all just collected on him." He slid out from under Ironhide's cannon, brushing imaginary dust from his armour. "Ah gotta say, it's been a slice, but any more of the warm fuzzies an' Ah'm gonna purge." He began to make his way to the exit of the hangar, swaggering with the nonchalance of a mech who owned the place.
"Where the pit do you think you're going?" Ironhide demanded.
"Ta the brig," came the reply, tossed evenly over the mech's shoulder. "While y'all were busy with yer little reunion, Ah hacked Iacon's mainframe and downloaded its schematics. Since no one else looks ta be in a hurry, Ah might as well take mahself there." He made it to the exit without a single shot being fired. Autobots in his way quickly scattered without even reaching for their weapons. It was pathetic, really. At least the Decepticons would have tried to shoot him if he attempted to pull the same slag.
With an entire hangar worth of enemies glaring down his back, Jazz tossed a smirk over his shoulder, locking optics with only Prowl. "Don't bother sendin' an escort, either. Ah'll find mah own way down."