"Well that's unusual."

"What? What is?" Jazz asked, sitting up on the medical berth.

Ratchet flapped a hand at him, optics locked intently on the data pad in his hand.

Considering that was not something you wanted your medic to say during a routine exam, Jazz was more than a little worried. He inched toward the edge of the berth stealthily, hoping to get a look at that data pad.

Ratchet's hand flew up, halting his progress with an open palm. His optics never left the data pad.

"What's unusual?" Jazz pressed again, switching tactics. He hung half off of the berth, one leg dangling as he contemplated swiping the data pad from the medic's hand. If something was with his scan, he certainly wanted to know.

"Your body is in a strange condition," Ratchet finally said, looking up at his patient. His optics burned with an all too familiar emotion.

"What kind of condition?" Jazz asked slowly. That look was confusing him. It was… Lust. There was something wrong with him and the medic was peering at him with the same spark-searing heat that Ratchet usually reserved for those private moments in their quarters. It was a look that made clear that the CMO wanted nothing more than to mount the medical berth and frag him senseless.

Ratchet ignored his question, abruptly subspacing the data pad. "You stay here. Don't move from this berth," he demanded, optics smoldering. "If you do move, it could be very dangerous for you in ways that may not be all that pleasant."

Optics flaring bright in surprise behind his visor, Jazz's mouth popped open to protest. Once more, he was halted by an open palm in his face.

"I'll be back," Ratchet told him, quickly turning from his patient. With long, purposeful strides, he shot toward the door.

"Don't just leave me here!" Jazz protested after him. "Come back!"

Ratchet didn't even grant him a backward glance before he slide out of the med bay doors.

Jazz stared after him, clearly flabbergasted as the door slammed shut. This was followed by a series of muted clicks. Why was he dead bolting the doors?

"Primus, Ratch…" the abandoned mech groaned, dropping his head into his hands.

Data pads. Stacks of them. They seemed to be multiplying around him like petro-rabbits.

Optimus Prime awkwardly shuffled a pile of them across his desk, silently begging Primus to prevent the tower from toppling. It seemed the god wasn't listening at that moment though.

The door to his office flew open, cracking against its frame. The resounding shockwave toppled the mound of data pads.

Optimus groaned, dropping his head into his hands as the stacks clattered over the edge and onto the floor, performing their unintended role as dominos perfectly.

"Prime!"

"Ratchet, couldn't you have entered a bit more quietly?" Optimus sighed, peering reluctantly at the CMO from between his fingers.

Ratchet closed the door behind him and marched toward the Prime's desk. His footfalls sent another pad to the floor. "Maybe next time, Prime, but I need to speak to you now!" the medic responded, his expression one of fierce determination. "Can you give me your permission to knock up your third in command?"

Despite the mask, Prime managed to look completely taken aback. Part of it may have had to do with the crude human phrase though. "I… You… What?" he choked out.

Ratchet planted his hands firmly on the desk, causing several data pads to jump. "Due to that fragging age old rule that commanding officers cannot engage their mating protocols during war, I am not allowed to spark new life in Jazz," he explained quickly. "I need you to make an exception for me."

Bewilderment shown clearly on Optimus's face, but he had enough of an idea of the situation to provide a response. "Why would you want to?"

The medic's face pulled into a scowl, clearly not happy that he hadn't received an adequate answer yet. "Because if I don't, someone else will!"

Suddenly, Optimus shook his head, waving a hand in front of him. "Wait a moment," he said firmly, managing to regain his composure. "That rule is in place for a reason. A commanding officer, especially Jazz, cannot be put out of commission long enough to carry a sparkling! We just can't afford to do that and unless you give me a good reason, I cannot grant you your request. I'm sorry, Ratchet."

"Jazz's emergency mating protocols are active."

Optimus straightened abruptly, his optics widening. "You're sure?"

"Would I be here if I wasn't?"

A pause as Optimus regarded him seriously. "…Permission granted."

By the time Ratchet returned, Jazz had stooped so low on the boredom level that he had begun twiddling his thumbs. It was a very human gesture that many of the more nervous mechs had picked up. For the Special Ops mech to do it, it was obvious just how bored and uneasy he was.

Once more, the door crashed open, startling the mech within. Ratchet entered the room with a grin, looking like he'd won a grand battle.

Jazz jerked up on the berth, a relieved smile spreading across his face. "Finally!" he called across the room. "So what's wrong with me?"

Suddenly, Ratchet's smile dropped. His optics darting off to an area behind his patient, he scowled. "Get the frag out of here!" he snapped.

Jazz craned his neck around to lock optics with an additional mech.

Wheeljack jerked, startled when he was spotting lurking in the doorway to the CMO's office. "But Ratchet, I just-"

"Out!" Ratchet ordered, jabbing a finger through the open door.

"But that smell…" Wheeljack whined, optics darting to Jazz. "It's driving me crazy… I just want to-"

"I know exactly what you're smelling and how you feel, but you will not take it out on my mate!" Ratchet snarled. His finger jerked in the direction of the door again. "Go find Perceptor or someone else willing to take care of your needs!"

Wheeljack had the good sense to look bashful as he gradually stepped toward the door. "Well actually… I've kinda started up this thing with Sunstreaker, so…"

Ratchet met him halfway and forced him out of the room. "Good! So go 'face him into a wall or something!" he snapped. With little grace, he then forced the door closed in the engineer's face, dead bolting it after him.

"Well that was weird," Jazz noted. "Was he there the whole time?"

"Apparently." Ratchet grunted, turning back to the white mech. "You're lucky he didn't try to jump you sooner."

Jazz frowned. "Why would he do that?"

"The same reason I'm about to."

"Because I'm sexy?"

"Well that's normal," Ratchet snorted, climbing up onto the medical berth in front of his patient. "But there's a more pressing reason."

"Is that what's 'unusual'?" Jazz asked, lying back on the berth for his mate's convenience.

"Yes," Ratchet replied, optics trailing downward toward the white mech's codpiece. He moved closer to him. "You seem to have initiated your emergency protocols."

Jazz's visor flickered in surprise. "Which means?"

"It's an ancient program that's activated when you receive a reading that there are low numbers of our species," Ratchet explained, spreading Jazz's legs so that he could settle between them. "It creates a series of changes in your system that guarantees you will carry."

Jazz was taking the news with grace. Perhaps it was simply the protocols that caused him to be completely okay with the idea of a sparkling. Or perhaps it was that needy lust in the medic's optics. "What kind of changes?"

Ratchet stroked a finger across his lover's panel. "Internally, your gestation chamber readies itself to carry. Your reproductive systems become more sensitive," he said absently. "And you smell."

The touch tickled his systems, sending a pleasant charge through Jazz's systems. "Smell?" he questioned, smirking slightly.

Ratchet bent his head, taking a purposeful intake of air just over Jazz's lower half. "You are giving off the most wonderful scent…" he said, his smile full of sensuous promises. "It's like the purest energon, refined and aged to perfection, with just a hint of lubricant to rev my systems…"

Jazz tilted his head back, practically purring at the feel of the medic's talented red digits stroking along the seams surrounding the codpiece. "Sound wonderful…"

"It's driving me insane," Ratchet rumbled, dropping his head to lave his glossa across the heated metal of his lover's panel.

"You're driving me crazy," Jazz countered, biting back a moan.

The medic chuckled, blowing warm air against the sensitive metal.

With a gasp, Jazz reached down, grasping Ratchet's shoulders while his legs squeezed his sides. "Stop teasing and take me!"

In the following weeks, an unusual situation had settled over the Ark.

That smell that had nearly driven Wheeljack crazy with lust, had disappeared from Jazz. Whatever it was that had caused it seemed to have vanished when Ratchet had sparked a set of twins within him. Although the engineer strangely suspected that Ratchet was still under its influence since whenever Jazz walked into a room, the medic would violently expel all others to spend 'alone' time with the other mech.

Unfortunately, the smell had begun to appear elsewhere, everywhere. One could not pass through a hallway without catching the scent of a future carrier. It seemed that the need to repopulate their species had hit nearly everyone.

It was lucky for Wheeljack that it no longer affected him though. Apparently sparkling and claiming a mate excluded him from that all too tempting scent.

Not that Sunstreaker was at all happy at being a carrier, but that is an entirely different story.