Author: Mirage Shinkiro
Warnings: mech/mech, a.k.a. intimacy between androgynous and nonsexually reproducing but male-"pronoun'd" 'bots. Also, brief mentions of past sexual violence/wounds.
Disclaimer: Transformers is the property of Hasbro, and although I wish I could make money off the TF franchise so I could be independently wealthy, I am not. Alas, I remain poor and am just borrowing the lovely robots.
Summary: G1. When Optimus Prime fell in love with Prowl, he never imagined that he'd curse his chances from the beginning, that Prowl's past would stand in the way, or that his own past would rise to complicate his love. Will he destroy the one mech he can trust himself with? Will he destroy Prowl's trust in him?
A/N, explanation: References "Megatron's Master Plan: Parts 1 and 2." Some inspiration for this story comes from Ante Luce. Also, I know there is a manga named Loveless, which I know little about. I think it's a wonderful title, though, and the issue of love vs. loveless and the understanding thereof is at the core of my story.
A/N, units of time: nanoklik=1 second; klik=1.2minutes; breem=8.3 minutes; joor=roughly an hour; orn=a day; decoarn=ten days; stellar cycle=one year, and vorn=83 years.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Chapter 1: Hidden Love
Optimus Prime had a Very Bad Problem.
He was in love with his second-in-command.
From the doorway of the command center, he discretely watched Prowl flit from terminal to terminal, a picture of efficiency and grace. The doorwings especially drew his attention with their flicks and flutters, saying so much more than the rest of Prowl's body language. A sharp flick, and Prowl was angry with the twins. A soft flutter, and he was amused by Bluestreak's exuberance or Jazz's antics. Right now, they were at what Prime had mentally dubbed 'parade rest,' which meant he was relaxed but focused. Once one added in the optic-catching contrast of the black and white paint and the elegant red chevron, Prowl was quite beautiful.
But that wasn't why Optimus was in love with him.
Prowl glanced up, as though sensing Prime's gaze, and immediately whisked to his side. "Good morning, sir." He held out a datapad. "Here is the report on Central City. Given that the Decepticons had enslaved the humans, it's surprising that the number of casualties isn't higher. The mayor requests our help in rebuilding or fixing some the factories and other buildings, but past that we can't assist much. It's mostly in the hands of the human medics."
Prime wondered briefly just what he'd do without Prowl's calm, quiet, competent help. Drown, probably. "Thank you." He accepted the datapad, glancing it over. "I suppose you already dispatched Hoist, Grapple, Huffer, and Hauler to assist them."
"Yes, sir." Prowl held out a second datapad. "Ratchet has submitted his report as well. He says all of us are fully functional again except Trailbreaker and Cosmos, both of whom overtaxed their systems saving us from our destruction."
No accusation there. No disappointment. "Thank you." Prime accepted the second datapad, holding Prowl's gaze as he did. Prowl could have had his judgment called into question for so easily acquiescing to the humans' demands. The people of Central City hadn't truly had the authority to command the Autobots to leave the planet, after all. Only Prime's sense of honor and duty had compelled him to obey the angry and terrified humans' wishes. But, no. Prowl had stood by him, as he always had, loyal and respectful.
But none of this was the reason Prime had begun falling in love.
"You're welcome, sir." Prowl stepped closer, lowering his voice. "Are you all right, sir?" A flash of concern brightened his optics temporarily.
That was why. That undercurrent of care — not hero-worship, not blind faith, not political posturing — earnest care, reserved just for him, quietly at his side as he secretly grieved Elita One's death. Patient. Understanding. Never imposing. "Yes, Prowl. The situation had an element of horror we rarely face, and my energy levels are still low from my self-repair systems. But I'm fine."
Prowl watched him closely, then nodded. "Perhaps we should implement quad shifts until we're all recovered."
And there was another reason he was falling in love with Prowl: he could be honest with Prowl without worrying him, stressing him, or making him doubt him. "That's an excellent idea. Make it so."
"Yes, sir." Prowl paused, canting his head slightly. "Are you going to the party tonight, sir?"
Prime smiled behind his battle mask. Jazz and the twins had set up a party to celebrate the 'Cons' defeat and their own escape from being melted by the sun, or to put it more bluntly, they'd set up an outlet for everyone to vent their stress over being accused of evil and nearly killed. "I think we could all benefit from some relaxation. Including you."
"Indeed, sir." Prowl nodded, turned about-face and swept over to Teletraan I, no doubt immediately rearranging everyone's schedules.
Optimus watched the beautiful arc of those doorwings, so very proud, and imagined himself stroking those panels or pressing a kiss to those grey lips. When Elita had died, he had thought he'd never love again, and for the longest time, his recharge had been interrupted by nightmares of her vanishing from his sight, their calling out to each other as shots rained around them. He'd wondered if he could have done something more to save her. Even now her death was a quiet ache that never ceased in his spark. But supplanting it was a deep affection growing ever stronger toward his longtime friend and right-hand mech.
Rumors had suggested Prowl had been lovers with Sentinel Prime, and if so, he truly did understand Optimus' suffering. They shared the pain of the loss of a lover. But Prowl might also be, after all this time, ready for a new relationship, or so Optimus hoped. Would Prowl consider him a potential lover? Prime hadn't the slightest clue. He only knew his simple feelings of lust over countless lonely orns had become something far greater, and he was looking forward to spending time with Prowl at the party, talking outside of duty about something other than war.
Prowl rarely drank high-grade. It was too bitter, clouded his processor, and made him do very stupid things, like, for example, trying to assist an over-energized Prime to his quarters.
"Sssorry, sir," Prowl mumbled as they careened into a corner. He paused, hoping his vocal processor would stop malfunctioning. How many high-grades had he drunk? Two, he thought. Why was the hallway swirling before his optics, then? "Uh, you're just a bit too heavy for me."
Optimus put his hand on the corner, pushing himself upright, and tightened his other arm around Prowl's shoulders. "Nah, that's fine I-I know how unwieldy I can be. Ratchet says so all the time when I get hurt and I really appreciate you taking me to my quarters before I embarrassed myself not that I'm not doing that already, hm?"
Prowl braced himself then started down the hallway toward his leader's quarters. Too many high-grades for Optimus always meant a free flow of brutally honest remarks or observations, which often came out in endless run-on sentences. This was one of the many reasons Prowl had extracted him from the party. Optimus would either humiliate himself or hurt someone else, and the troops really didn't need to see a drunken Prime. Prowl worried that it might lessen their respect for him as their leader. "No need to be embarrassed, sssir." He growled faintly, irritated by the malfunction of his vocal processor. His other drinks must have been spiked if he were having this much difficulty. "I'm in as bad a shape as I am. Um, I mean, you am. I mean, you are. Primus!" He really did hate high-grade.
A peal of drunken laughter drew his attention to his ward. "Oh, Prowl, you're so cute when you're flustered." Optimus leaned practically into his face.
Prowl nearly dropped Prime. "'Cute!'" In his state, the shock was almost too much to bear. He had been secretly captivated with Optimus for three million stellar cycles despite knowing Prime was already spoken for and swearing he'd never enter another relationship, anyway. Even with Elita One dead, he never expected Prime to notice him in any fashion, even to say he was good-looking. "I'm not cute!" His own internal monologue had been steadily vanishing all night, just as surely as Prime's had, and his sudden embarrassment didn't help. "D-don't say things like that." He managed to stumble up to Prime's door.
"You're cute." Prime reached out a shaking hand and tried three times before he got his access code punched in correctly.
At those repeated words, Prowl found the world looking slanted for more reasons than inebriation. When the doors opened, he stared into Prime's quarters for a moment, inappropriate thoughts entering his mind. What would it be like to share those quarters as a couple, to share that berth? "R-right. Let's go." He'd completely lost control of his processor, he decided. With a sigh, he tugged Prime into the room, only to jerk slightly when the door slid shut. Alone, in Prime's quarters.
"Desk chair," Prime said, and they stumbled over to their target, Prime laughing at their lack of coordination and Prowl chucking nervously over his unruly thoughts. Prime fell into the chair as soon as he was close enough.
Prowl sagged against the desk. "Maybe attending that party wasn't one of our better ideas," he managed to say. He sank his face into his hands, willing the room to stop tilting.
A gentle hand grasped his wrist and lowered his arm. "Maybe not but I like seeing you without your mask or professional façade." Blue optics met his gaze, and Optimus retracted his battle mask, showing the grin that had been hidden.
Prowl stared dumbly. He knew his processor was fuzzy, so he couldn't be sure, but was Prime watching him with affection? His systems whined faintly in response to his shock. "You have a mask, sir."
"Don't call me 'sir.'" Prime's grin grew wider, softer.
"Sorry, sir." Oops, Prowl thought, then had to swallow a sudden, bizarre giggle fit.
"I'd like to think that around me," Optimus whispered, suddenly leaning into his face again, "you'd be comfortable just being you." For a moment, his grin was nearly goofy, and he snorted with laughter. "'Trust your Prime'!" His voice seemed to boom through the room.
It was ancient Autobot propaganda, and Prowl laughed, falling against Prime as he nearly slipped off the desk. "I already do," he admitted, not caring that he might regret his blunt honesty in the morning. He found he didn't care about much of anything, actually, save the mech leaning so close to him. Wild, wild hopes raced through his spark, and he couldn't garner enough control to stop them. "I trust you more than anyone else." He felt the grin tugging on his lips and didn't resist.
Optimus grew exceedingly still, staring at Prowl with an intense, unreadable expression, and reached up to grab his waist. "Do you?" His voice was a low rumble.
Prowl shivered, his doorwings perking with the arousal building in his systems. That low purr of a voice, those intense optics, the hands on his frame . . . "Yeeeah."
"Glad't hear it," he whispered, leaning forward and brushing his lips over Prowl's.
Prowl decided he was having a high grade-induced dream and was therefore probably, in reality, already offline on Prime's floor. Still, it felt so slagging good he decided he didn't care about that, either. He wrapped his arms around Prime, clumsily smashing their lips together, and kissed him with three million stellar cycles' worth of pent up passion. Optimus moaned, adjusting the pressure of their lips, and immediately slipped his glossa into his mouth. Prowl met it with his own, parting his legs as Prime pressed close and hugging his knees to Prime's sides. Optimus moaned again, this time louder, and ran his hands up Prowl's back, massaging the door hinges.
Breaking their kiss with a gasp, Prowl arched into Prime's chest, pressing their bumpers together. "Ah! Primus . . ." He shuddered. Oh, definitely a dream – all his senses seemed blurred and foggy – but it felt so wonderful he just couldn't care. No, he wanted more. "Yes, touch them! I want to feel you touch them."
"Prowl." Prime's engine revved, hard, and he stood abruptly, clumsily dropping Prowl to his feet. "Do you know how long I've wanted you?" he whispered, turning him in his arms and bending him over the desk. "You with your graceful doorwings and quiet care?" Once Prowl was trapped between him and the desk, Prime caressed the length of the doorwings and bent down, running his glossa over the seam where the window met the upper edge of the door.
"Y-you have?" Prowl could barely comprehend the words, and he writhed under the touch, moaning with abandon as heat throbbed through his nodes and lines. It was one of his guilty little fantasies to have Prime trap him and ravish his doorwings. And that was just what Prime was doing: caressing the panels, tracing their edges, and fondling their undersides until Prowl trembled, his knees weak. He felt suddenly grateful for the desk holding him up.
"Don't you think we both deserve to relax and enjoy ourselves and to release stress and have pleasure?" As if to accentuate his words, Optimus leaned down and sucked on the tip of one doorwing, drawing a sharp intake of air from him.
"P-Prime . . ." He was doomed, Prowl decided. Beyond doomed. He had stopped interfacing thanks to wounds from a past relationship, but since he trusted Optimus, he found that his need was wildly out of control. Or maybe it was the high-grade . . .
One of Prime's warm hands stroked down Prowl's back again, then over his upturned aft and down one thigh. "Spread your legs for me," he whispered.
Prowl assumed he meant to connect to him from behind, but he couldn't understand why he needed to spread his legs for that. The interface array was in the upper abdomen of most 'bots. However, with his inhibitions gone, the thought of their being plugged into each other made him shiver with passion and drove all other considerations from his processor. So without further ado, he spread his thighs wide.
"Oh, Prowl, you really are beautiful," came the soft, low voice. A warm hand caressed up his inner thigh slowly. "I wish you could see yourself from my perspective: the arch of your doorwings, the shine of your armor, the curve of your frame bent over my desk . . ."
Barely able to focus on the words, Prowl squirmed under the touch, his processor just as fuzzy from the pleasure as the high-grade. But then Prime's fingers traced the panel seams of the critical energy port right between Prowl's legs. He was so stunned he yelped faintly. "P-Prime!" He felt his entire frame go rigid. Normally only medics accessed that port, and even then only in extreme situations, usually when a mech had lost all his limbs. Oh, some mechs used the port when interfacing, but when — "You want to jack into me?"
"Yes." Prime placed one hand on his lower back, stroking the plates there. "I'd love for us to share with each other that way."
Share? "But it hurts," Prowl insisted, his fear blooming in his inebriated state. He started to push up from the desk. A small part of his memory banks reminded him it wasn't supposed hurt, but even with his mind clouded, Prowl remembered all too well just how many sensors were there and the sharp sting and agony when it was done wrong. Or worse.
"Only if your lover is an insensitive aft and total fool." Optimus continued running his hand in comforting strokes over Prowl's back. "I'd never hurt you," he said, his voice tender and low. "Never."
Prowl paused, halfway between standing and bending over the desk. He glanced over his shoulder, instinctively looking down to see the source of the 'problem.' Sure enough, Prime had already retracted his panel cover and extended his interlink jack, which was a silver prong that glistened in the light. He frowned, caught up in his tumbling memories. "Yeah, my ex was an aft," he said without thinking. Somehow, in his current state of mind, it didn't seem a big deal to admit that.
"Well, I want to pleasure you, not hurt you," Prime whispered, pressing a kiss to the middle of Prowl's right doorwing. "I'll go slowly and online the port first. Please, I want to do this for you."
"But—" Prowl paused, vaguely remembering someone telling him that having the port online first was the key. He transferred his gaze to Prime's face, and seeing his affectionate smile, he relaxed fractionally. Still, thanks to the past, he couldn't be comfortable with that kind of connection. "Please choose another way," Prowl whispered, wondering if his desires and needs would be listened to. In the past, they had never been. "I just . . . can't. Sorry."
Prime's gentle hands moved to his door hinges, caressing them and making them tingle. "That's okay," he said softly. "I just want to bring you pleasure. It doesn't matter how." He pressed another kiss to one of Prowl's door panels, then reached around his side to his upper abdomen, removing the interface array's cover instead. Setting the panel aside, he began tracing the port's bare metal rim with his fingertip, gently stroking it and bringing the array online. Prowl sighed as pleasure seeped through his circuits, and very slowly he let himself relax against the desk again. When the warm finger caressed the array's sensor nodes, Prowl moaned, amazed at how good it felt.
A soft moan sounded behind him. "Oh, Prowl . . ." The hand intermittently caressing his door hinges stroked lovingly over his aft once before transferring to one door panel. A quiet gasp escaped Prowl at the dual stimulation, and the air seemed to hum with the sound of his now fully online system. Then he felt Prime lean over him, felt the warm connecting cable wrap around his side.
"Ready?" Prime whispered.
Although he nodded, Prowl expected him to simply jam the cable in, and he felt glad he wasn't getting rammed into this time, as though aggression, roughness, and force were somehow inherently pleasurable. However, Optimus gently pushed the cable in, clicking it in place, and Prowl felt a flash of heat that made his body tingle.
Warnings popped up on Prowl's internal display, and he lowered his fire walls, allowing their systems to synch and the energy transfer process to begin. In his experience, all the energy would be simply thrown at him at once, but Optimus sent a single pulse, shooting heat through his entire body, then paused. The warm energy fanned through his systems, made his engine turn over, pulled a moan from his lips. Again, Optimus sent a single burst, then another, then another, the surge of pleasure sharper each time, and Prowl realized he was going to be driven wild.
Overcome, Prowl gripped the edge of the desk and moaned wantonly, the high-grade loosening his vocalizer and letting him yell out what he normally couldn't. "Yes, yes! Don't stop!" Optimus was just so gentle. The pulses of heat throbbed through his sensors and nodes, bringing them to their highest energy allowance without hurting him, then cascaded his entire frame with tingling. It was a tease, giving him almost enough pleasure to overload but stopping shy, making his ecstasy spike ever higher. No one had ever taken such care with him, and all he could do was press his hot cheek against the cool desk surface and moan with need.
"I think you should be 'faced gently and thoroughly," Prime whispered, dropping a kiss to the back of his neck, his rumbling voice almost a purr. "You need to be cherished." He pushed more energy over their connection, the heat washing through Prowl's circuits in a wave.
Prowl absolutely keened, overwhelmed by the sensation and unsure which affected him more: what Prime said or how he said it. "O-Optimus!" He was going to overload with or without the full, sustained energy flow at this rate.
"Dearest Prowl," Prime murmured, running one hand down his side lovingly. He pulled Prowl closer, pressing his front against Prowl's back, his heat of his body setting off the sensors in both of Prowl's doorwings.
Crying out, Prowl writhed beneath him as Optimus sent electrical pulses shooting throughout his entire frame. The pleasure seemed to pound through his lines, causing him to whimper.
"It's okay, love." Prime's voice was a sheer caress to his audios. "Let go."
Gasping, Prowl arched back into Prime, forcing all his own energy back over the connection. Their systems surged instantly, flooding Prowl with Prime's passion, need, and affection. The energy unleashed between them made sparks dance along their seams, and Prowl cried out as he overloaded, the circuits in his body absolutely singing with the heat and pleasure. Behind him he heard a gasp and felt Prime stiffen with the excess energy of his own overload.
Prime carefully removed the cable, but Prowl found he felt too sated to move. Warning after warning scrolled along his inner display, alerting him as systems shut down from overheating. He felt dazed, satisfied, peaceful . . .
"Mm," he said, the only syllable he got out before he offlined.
Optimus awakened, but his optics didn't want to online right away. He felt warm, happy, and relaxed, although there was an odd weight against his chassis. He smelled another mech near: a sweet tinge of oil from joints and ozone from overheated circuits. He felt an arm around his waist, embracing him close, heard the low purr of a recharging engine. As his optics focused, he found himself in his quarters, his arms wrapped around a smaller mech.
"Prowl!" he gasped, shocked as his memory banks surged and gave him a memory dump. The files were low-quality, almost grainy at points, and missing a few astroseconds of footage here and there. Still, Optimus was presented with his and Prowl's inebriated but passionate love-making, and Prowl crying out, moaning, and writhing under him. Prime's engine hitched, his core temperature rising at such a beautiful, sexy sight, and he smiled at the gorgeous form curled in his arms. A wave of elation washed over him, and he rubbed Prowl's back, overjoyed with the thought of loving him openly . . .
Until he realized just exactly how Prowl was likely to react once sober.
Prowl's unrestrained passion and desire the night before had been pleasantly surprising, but then again, they'd been over-energized. Optimus frowned, imagining Prowl, who was always so in control, proper, and formal, waking up to 'the morning after.' As someone who prided himself on his professionalism and who always demonstrated perfectionism, Prowl would be unlikely to forgive himself and perhaps equally unwilling to forgive Prime. Optimus knew instinctively that he would cherish the memory of their love-making as long as he lived, even if Prowl never spoke to him outside of duty again. But Prowl . . . Prowl might count their night together as a gaffe.
Optimus suddenly felt terrified.
Please, he thought, gazing at the handsome face, features relaxed in recharge and framed with that elegant, red chevron. He hugged him tighter. Please don't hate yourself. Please don't hate me. I love you, and although 'facing you while we're both over-energized is not the way I wanted this to happen, I can't regret making love to you. The fear inched through his lines like liquid nitrogen, freezing the air in his intakes. How was he going to handle this?
Prowl's optics slowly activated, points of blue light in the darkness. For a moment, he simply lay there, apparently struggling to clear his processor. Then his optics flared bright, and he suddenly bolted upright. "Primus!" He calmed instantly, his joints seeming to freeze as his body language shut down, and he stood, extracting himself from Prime's embrace.
This was not good. Optimus sat up, fighting to remain calm in the face of his own surging worry. "Prowl, it's okay."
Prowl stared at him, his face expressionless but his doorwings quivering from badly-hidden stress and tension. "I'm sorry, sir. I was over-energized, and I—"
"I was over-energized, too." Optimus sighed, forlorn. If Prowl went fully into Good Soldier mode, all would be lost. "And you don't have to call me 'sir.' We're off duty, and we're friends." He stood as well and reached out, taking Prowl's hands into his own. "And there is nothing to forgive. We were both over energized, and we both made a mistake last night. But it'll be all right. Nothing needs to become awkward. Your duties will not change or suffer." Prime scrambled to stay ahead of Prowl's processor and to keep him from freaking out. He knew he could build off of a calm Prowl, but he couldn't work off of a worried, closed-off Prowl. "And besides, had we not both been inebriated, we wouldn't have made that kind of mistake."
For a long moment, Prowl seemed more of a statue. He wouldn't meet his gaze and pulled his hands free. "And yet my behavior is still an imposition upon you." He bowed faintly. "I suppose we equally erred. I hope that you will not think less of me and that it will indeed not impede our ability to work together."
Prime reached out for him once again, fearing Prowl would clam up, avoid him when possible, and become distant. "Prowl . . . of course not. But please wait."
"I do not think that would be wise. We do not wish for any of the crew to spy me leaving your quarters." Prowl turned toward the door. "Excuse me, sir." He exited quickly.
Optimus stared after him. He had not wanted to issue a direct order, to bring military protocol into play, but he wondered if he should have in order to stop Prowl's flight of panic and to explain his feelings.
Then again, if Prowl didn't return those feelings, the situation would become even more awkward. Optimus let his shoulders slump in dejection, unsure how to proceed and fearing that he'd accidentally blown his chance to ever woo Prowl.
Prowl glared at his desktop, overcome with such horror that he couldn't move. Although it was another joor before first shift began, he felt compelled to be in the location he deemed safest: his office. Before him sat his work for the orn: the decaorn's energon usage report and duty roster, disciplinary measures for Sideswipe's latest prank, and notable comms traffic for the previous orn. Jerking to life, Prowl grabbed the mass of datapads, organizing them swiftly so he could begin his work, only to stop just as abruptly and stare at them as though they were toxic.
He had interfaced. With Prime.
A pained whine escaped his vocalizer. He didn't even know where to begin sorting his colliding thoughts and feelings. A sharp pain shot through his back, and he grimaced, forcing his doorwings to relax. A dull ache also throbbed in his processor, probably from overheating, which was a sure sign of a hangover.
What if everything gets awkward? he thought, mortified. Prime said it wouldn't, and it just can't! Things must run smoothly. I can't get in the way of that. He picked up the first datapad, reading over Ironhide's report of Sideswipe's misbehavior. He stopped when he realized he wasn't actually seeing the glyphs. I can't believe I allowed myself to become so inebriated. That I allowed myself such an indiscretion! A deep burn of humiliation scorched his lines and tank. I wonder what Prime must think of my giving myself up so easily. He shuddered. "At least he's not the type to laugh at me or talk about me behind my back," he whispered to himself, dropping his datapad and sinking his face into his hands.
What had he been thinking? Oh, right. He hadn't been. "Idiot," Prowl hissed. He knew better than to drink any high-grade. I also know better than to get into a relationship with someone, much less 'face around. Prowl lifted his head, staring in misery at the wall. After being pre-bonded to Sentinel Prime, he had sworn to never enter another relationship again and definitely had foresworn intimate contact. Spending the rest of his life alone and self-servicing was a small price to pay for emotional safety and freedom. But his body could still remember some of his past pain, which is why Optimus had scared him when he'd gone for his critical energy port instead of his interface port. Plugging into another mech could be dangerous enough, but —
Prowl halted mid-thought, struck dumb by the simplest of realizations: Optimus hadn't hurt him. He'd listened to his concerns, gotten his permission, been gentle, treated him affectionately, called him 'Dearest Prowl' . . .
A single pulse radiated through Prowl's spark, sweeping over his body in a surge of energy. 'Bots had often spoken of lovemaking, but in Prowl's experience, interfacing had been more like a chore, with roughness, impatience, and insensitivity thrown his way. His circuits tingled at the memory of Optimus' caresses and –
Prowl laughed aloud, almost hysterically. His best interface had been while drunk? It seemed a sick irony. Prowl's processor skipped slightly on the concept, then abruptly spit out another piece of the memory:
'Had we not both been inebriated, we wouldn't have made that kind of mistake.'
Curling slightly in on himself, Prowl reached out and picked up Ironhide's report again. Mistake.
"He thinks it was a mistake," Prowl told himself aloud, as though speaking the words made the concept more real. No matter how horrified Prowl was professionally, no matter how touched by the affection personally, it didn't ultimately matter. Prime had called it a mistake. A second pulse shook Prowl's spark, this time a cold, clenching one. Optimus was no doubt regretting it this morning as well, and Prowl didn't even want to guess what else he felt about it.
Prowl's office door chime buzzed, and he glanced at it in terror. Was it Optimus? Who else would come to see him so early? What would he say? What could he do? "Act like nothing happened," he ordered himself in a whisper, hitting the access button.
The door slid open, revealing a grinning Jazz. Prowl experienced a moment's relief followed by a wave of panic. If Jazz found out about happened, Prowl would never hear the end of it. Jazz seemed to have a personal mission to hook him up with someone, as though his own beautifully, sickeningly perfect relationship with Mirage meant everyone else had to be paired up and happy.
"Heya, Prowler!" Jazz bounced into the room, a bit of a swing in his hips. Given that he was also snapping his fingers, it likely meant he was listening to music on his internal systems. "Ya left the party early, and Ratchet thinks someone spiked the low-grade. Just wanted to make sure yer all right. I myself already hit Ratchet up for some hangover relief."
Prowl gazed up at him, careful to keep his face stoic. Sometimes he thought his mask was all that kept him sane. Still, he decided then and there that whoever had spiked the energon would wish they'd never been sparked. "Is that so?"
Jazz grew so still, he looked like he'd been hit with Starscream's null ray. "Prowler?" A concerned edge colored his tone, and he leaned forward, planting his hands on his desk. "Are ya okay?"
"I'm fine," Prowl lied, realizing his voice had been dark with his anger and sense of doom. Although Jazz himself wouldn't be so cruel has to spread the news if he found out Prowl and Prime had interfaced, Prowl still wanted to keep it a secret. He didn't want to consider the gossipy glee that would result if it somehow got out.
Jazz frowned, canting his head to the side and looking distinctly worried.
Prowl relented a bit, knowing Jazz was genuinely his best friend and cared for him. "I did end up inebriated, and my processor hurts."
"I'm sorry, man." Jazz's voice was quieter, softer. "Why don't ya hand off a few reports to me and go to medbay? Slag, Prowl, ya don't even need to be in yer office this early anyway. We're not on duty yet!" He paused and smirked. "Still, I know Sideswipe is up for some disciplinary measures. I promise to be creative with it, and ya don't need to sit around in pain."
Although he was notoriously bad at delegating, even when he had work he could delegate, Prowl decided today was the orn to accept Jazz's offer. The thought of dealing with Sideswipe seemed overwhelming at the moment, and knowing Jazz, he would come up with an armor-squeakingly bad punishment detail. "Very well." He handed over the datapad and stood.
"Good," Jazz put a hand on his shoulder, patting it lightly as they left the office. "I wouldn't wanna have to call Prime to make ya take care of yourself."
Prowl shuddered, his horror resurging. No, he didn't want that. A surge of cold, needling pain rushed through Prowl's lines, Prime's words echoing over and over in his memory banks: had we not both been inebriated, we wouldn't have made that kind of mistake.
Postscript: Thank you to my beta readers, pl2363 and Asher119!
I'm afraid Sentinel is going to be a bad guy here. I actually don't dislike him in G1/IDW – he just seems kinda clueless – but given he's a jerk in TFA, he seems like a good candidate.