DISCLAIMER: I do not own Transformers.
Note: Prowl as a Dodge Charger is the original idea of Vejiraziel.
Prowl was puzzled. He'd been on Earth for two orns –just over an Earth month. He'd largely acclimated to his new position as second-in-command (though his spark still clenched in grief for the loss of his friend), as well as interacting with the humans, but he was still puzzled.
Humans reacted…oddly to him. It was most noticeable on first meetings, but never truly ceased. It wasn't his appearance that bothered them; indeed most of them quite enjoyed his police car alt-mode, barring one incident upon being introduced to Bumblebee's charge Samuel James Witwicky (and Prowl could hardly blame the boy for his initial panic after his run-in with Barricade, though he surely should've seen the difference between them; a Dodge Charger looked very different from a Mustang, after all).
No, the humans he encountered seemed bothered by some aspect of his manner of speaking, of all things. It was always the same: Prime or Ironhide would introduce him and one of their allies to each other. All would proceed normally, until Prowl spoke. Then the human would do what they called a "double take". With some it ended there. With others, reactions varied from looking at him oddly to paling, stammering out a reply, and quickly finding somewhere else to be. Later encounters were fairly normal, but always carried a hint of awkwardness on the human's part.
Normally Prowl wouldn't care seeing as the humans conducted themselves professionally and it didn't interfere with base operations, but this bothered him. He couldn't think of any logical reason for such a near-universal reaction, and inquiring with his fellow Autobots had proven equally fruitless.
Prowl realized there was only one reasonable course of action left: he would have to ask one of the humans directly. But who to approach? He set one small part of his processor on that problem and focused the rest on finishing the large pile of data pads in front of him.
Two days later a possible solution presented itself.
Major Lennox had stopped by Prowl's office for an impromptu meeting concerning recent Decepticon activity. Or more precisely, the lack of it They'd been far too quiet for the Major's liking, and Prowl had to agree. Experience had taught him that the longer the 'Cons laid low, the worse things would be when they resurfaced.
The two of them spent nearly an hour comparing notes and making plans before bringing things to a close.
"Anything else you want to go over before I take off?" Lennox asked.
Prowl thought for a moment. This was a perfect opportunity to ask about the humans' odd behavior toward him. Especially since Lennox had had one of the mildest reactions…
"Actually, Major, there is. It's something of a more personal nature, but I'd like your input just the same."
"…Okay," Lennox said, clearly surprised.
Folding his hands together on his desk, Prowl summarized the behavior he'd experienced since his arrival on Earth, describing the actions of various humans. He also admitted his frustration at being unable to discover a reason for it.
"So if you can, Major, I would greatly appreciate it if you would explain the problem to me. I don't want to cause unnecessary stress for my allies if it's at all avoidable."
Lennox simply stared at him for a moment. Then he pressed his lips together, closed his eyes, and started to shake in a way that Prowl realized with a start was an attempt at suppressing laughter. He lost the fight, bending to brace his hands on his knees and laughing for nearly a full minute before bringing himself under control.
"Sorry, Prowl," Lennox said, noticing the tactician's bemused expression, "I don't mean to laugh about it; it's just the whole thing's actually pretty stupid. I can't believe nobody's said anything yet."
"Well, be that as it may, I would appreciate an explanation." Prowl said, his doorwings drawing back in annoyance.
"You're right, I'm sorry." Lennox said, sobering. He rubbed the back of his neck.
"You see, it's not really you people are reacting to at all; it's your voice."
"My voice." Doorwings twitched once.
"Yeah, your voice. See, there's this movie, called '2001: A Space Odyssey '. You can check it out when you've got time. Anyway, the movie takes place on a space station run by a supercomputer named HAL 9000. For reasons we don't find out until later movies, HAL basically has a psychotic break and starts killing off all the astronauts.
There's one scene in particular that even people who haven't seen the movie recognize because it's become so iconic: one of the final surviving astronauts is outside the station, holding another injured crew member in his arms. He says 'HAL, open the pod bay door.' And HAL, in his artificially calm and pleasant voice says 'I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that'. He goes on to explain that he knows they were planning to disconnect him, yadda, yadda.
Now, what does that have to do with you, you ask? It's simple: your voice sounds exactly like the voice of HAL 9000."
Prowl's doorwingsfell limp. That was why people looked at him strangely, and sometimes avoided talking to him outside what their jobs required?
He flared his doorwings out and sat back against his chair.
"Let me see if I understand correctly." He began. "The reason some humans look at me strangely, startle when I speak to them, and in some cases go so far as to avoid contact with me except when their duty requires it, is because my voice resembles that of a fictional character in an equally fictional movie?"
Lennox nodded. "Yeah, basically," At Prowl's nonplussed look he shrugged. "Look, I didn't say it made sense; I just said I'd explain."
Prowl sighed. Jazz would have laughed until he purged his fuel tank. And then put all his energy into trying to talk Prowl into playing at least one prank with it. He smiled a little at the thought.
"So, what are you going to do?"
Prowl looked down at the Major in surprise. "What do mean?" Surely he didn't think Prowl was to blame for this! He had no control over the reactions of others, and it wasn't as if Prowl had selected a troublesome voice intentionally…
"Well, it obviously isn't affecting base operations, or you would've said something before now," Lennox started, "But it must bother you a little, otherwise why'd you ask?"
Prowl had to concede the point. It was getting…tiresome, and he realized that if people hadn't stopped reacting after a month, they probably never would. It would seem his options were either to resign himself to odd looks, or have Ratchet adjust his vocalizer to alter his voice. Well, if it would smooth out his interaction with his allies, he supposed he could endure the necessary adjustments.
"I believe my best option is to have my voice adjusted." Prowl told the Major. "However, it's a low-priority issue, so it will have to wait until I have time to spare for the procedure."
Lennox nodded. "Yeah, that's probably your best bet."
They wrapped up the meeting after that, and seeing as his shift was over, Prowl returned to his quarters to rest.
Nine days later, Prowl headed to the Medbay to have his vocalizer adjusted. On the way he encountered a young soldier. Davidson, his HUD informed him.
"Oh, Prowl, I'm glad I caught you," the man said. "I was wondering if you could do me a favor?"
"That depends on the favor," Prowl replied, curious what he would ask for.
"Well, I was wondering if you could cut back Sideswipe's latest stay in the brig. See, he lost a pretty big bet with some of us, but now he's using the brig stay as an excuse not to hold up his end of the deal. So do you think you could reduce his punishment by a couple days, just this once?"
Prowl's doorwings twitched. Of all the ridiculous things the human could have asked for! He was risking a wrench to helm for being late to his appointment for this! That sentiment may have been what triggered Prowl's uncharacteristic response. He himself would claim it was temporary possession by Jazz's Spark that caused his next actions. He leaned down slowly toward the soldier.
"I'm sorry, Davidson. I'm afraid I can't do that." He said calmly.
That he'd spent nearly five minutes laughing over the human's reaction, thus making himself late and suffering from Ratchet's temper anyway was beside the point.
A/N: This is my first Transformer fic, as well as the longest fic I've written. How'd I do?