Title: With a Little Help from My Friend
Prompt: Save me, I'm lost (week 4)
Universe: G1 AU
Characters: Prowl, Jazz, Optimus, Ratchet, Ironhide, Blaster, Ultra Magnus
Summary: After rescuing as many Praxians as they could after the destruction of Praxus, Optimus and Jazz realize there is so much more they need to do for the survivors, especially for one mech in particular.
The Prime stood in the shadows on the balcony overlooking the courtyard. His spark weighed heavy within its chamber as he watched a lone Praxian sitting on a bench. The characteristically regal doorwings drooped in sadness. The distinctive chevron helm bowed down in remorse.
This single mech symbolized the current mood of the handful of Praxian refugees that now resided at the Autobot's base Decagon in Iacon City. While the visible wounds had been mended he realized it was going to take much longer for the mental and emotional wounds to heal.
Prime had initially thought he'd provided some kind of hope for these precious few they'd rescued from the devastation of the Praxus ruins. They were his small victory. They were his vindication that the Decepticons hadn't obliterated an entire culture and people into total extinction.
How wrong he was.
Optimus would freely admit that to anyone.
He was a humble mech even during his time as just Orion before the Matrix chose him to be Prime. He was humbled even further after he'd experienced the powers of the Matrix within his own spark as it changed his physical appearance forever. He knew he wasn't he most perfect of mechs and because he was still a young Prime he knew he was going to make mistakes.
Hence his reason for having some of his closest friends as his council.
Ironhide had quickly became a dear friend when the Council had assigned him as Prime's personal body guard. Optimus learned the mech was far more than just a shield. He had been around a long time and had much to teach Optimus in the art of weaponry and the nature of mechs and femmes during a fight. Ratchet had been a family friend and his medic since he was a tiny youngling. After Optimus' parents were killed it was Ratchet who looked after him and helped to guide him into a fully mature mech. Then of course there was Optimus' younglinghood friend who had gotten him into trouble with his teachers on several occasions. But also helped him learn some of life's lessons in a way no mentor or caretaker could ever teach.
"Ya can stop beatin' yarself up, 'rion."
"How can I not? You were right, Jazz. We didn't save them at all. They're cursed with the memories of a life they've lost. I can't even give them their home back."
Jazz cleared his vocal processor, his head bowed down slightly, "Ah was exaggeratin' a bit. An' Ah was angry, but not at ya. Ya know how passionate Ah get when Ah feel so strongly 'bout somethin'."
"I know. But you were right to yell at me. You opened my optics. Seeing this young mech, made me realize that we still have so much more work to do. The question is where do we begin?"
"Wit' 'im," Jazz answered simply. "Ya'll find that Prowler's a good mech. He feels a bit lost right now, unsure what is goin' to happen to 'im. He was a Commander o' the Praxian Elite Enforcers. One o' the most honored an' hard earned ranks of the Praxus Enforcers."
Optimus raised an optic ridge at his friend.
"Ah got to know 'im a bit," Jazz shrugged nonchalantly. "He was the one mech Ah found, cryin' in what used to be the Crystal Gardens. Ah couldn't get that pained expression o' is when he told me he 'couldn't save them'. He surprised me because the Praxus Enforcers had a reputation for bein' cold sparked mechs with no more emotion than a drone. Prowler told me Ah couldn't be any further from the truth. They were simply taught to show no weakness or fear, to treat every criminal or infraction equally without prejudice. Still, he was hurtin' so Ah took 'im to the shootin' range to help 'im wit' some stress. Do ya know he broke all o' Hide's an' yar records? Most accurate. Fastest draw. Most targets destroyed. O' course Prowler had much more finesse than ya or Hide."
"You seem rather taken by him," Optimus commented.
"Ah couldn't help but reach out to 'im. Ah remember how lost Ah felt after Ah lost my creators. Their deaths hit me hard. But Ah remembered how ya came lookin' for me once ya located the city Ah'd disappeared off to. Ah can't really imagine what he's goin' through but Ah didn't want Prowler to go as far as Ah did, nearly killin' myself. He'd be lost to Primus if we let 'im."
"You always knew when to lend more than just a servo to help someone in need."
"Readin' mechs an' femmes is my gift," Jazz smiled, while pulling out a datapad from subspace. "Plus, well…Ah wanted to see things to the end wit' Prowler. He deserves it. An' knowin' ya'd come around to seein' things my way, Ah took the liberty of makin' a list of possible vocations for our Praxian residents both military an' civilian. Best to give 'em the option of remaining neutral if they want. No pressure."
Optimus chuckled, taking the datapad, "I should have known. You can be rather thorough when you choose to be, Jazz."
"Elita already volunteered to talk wit' the refugees as well," Jazz cheekily grinned, earning a glare from Optimus. "She likes ya if ya hadn't noticed."
"I know that already, Jazz."
"Ya should bond wit' 'er."
"Alright, Ah'll back off. However, Ah do want to ask a favor from ya," Jazz said, his faceplates serious as he gazed over at the Praxian. "Ah know it would mean a lot to 'im if it was ya that asked 'im."
Optimus regarded his closest friend for a long moment, noting how the small black and white frame was tense despite his relaxed looking pose. He wasn't quite sure why Jazz was so keen on saving this one particular mech but Optimus decided to not question his friend's determination. Although he was looking forward to seeing how this particular friendship between Jazz and this Praxian was going to turn out.
"Consider it done."
Prowl had been surprised when an Autobot guard told him the Prime requested his presence for evening energon. He of course accepted the invitation because one was never to say no to a Prime. It was an honor to be called in by your Prime.
Despite how emotionally tired he felt, Prowl cleaned and shined himself up. He was a mech without a city or a people. Not even a vocation now. But he was still proud of the mech he'd become and would carry himself accordingly for his Prime.
Of course, he was curious as to why the Prime had requested his presence. He knew he was no special mech. His rank was of no use anywhere other than Praxus as it had been one of the last cities on Cybertron to use mechs and femmes as their Enforcers instead of Guardian robots.
Quite simply, Prowl was just another Praxian refugee here at Decagon.
He was reminded of it each time he thought of the family he'd lost. He couldn't put it out of his process whenever he woke up screaming from a dream where he witness his friends and others die before his very optics. Even worse was the spark ache he felt each time he saw the pity in the optics of the mechs and femmes that looked upon him.
A Praxian had never been pitied by outsiders. They were often admired either for their grace and beauty or knowledge and wisdom.
A whimpered sounded softly from his vocal processor as thoughts of his carrier and creator dancing together filled his processor. His carrier was a mech of style and grace who performed in the theatre of dance. His creator was a highly intelligent mech who served Praxus as a judge within its court systems. Yet though duty bound as he was, he always made time for family and carrier's performances. Prowl learned early on the difference between right and wrong. He also learned to enjoy what life had to offer him.
"It will get better. Ah promise."
"Jazz," Prowl sniffled, wiping a tear away, straightening up his form, although he couldn't stop the slight tremble of his doorwings. "I was thinking of my parents and how my creator would often start dancing with my carrier out of the blue simply because they loved each other. When I was little carrier often held me between them while they dance. At least until I could dance on my own. Carrier often teased me saying that I could dance before I could walk."
"Remember 'em. Cherish such memories an' ya'll always know their love within yar spark. No mech or femme can ever take that away from ya," Jazz said, placing a comforting servo on Prowl's shoulder.
"I know. Sometimes it just hits me. They're all gone. And even though it's illogical, I feel as if I failed my city. After all, I'm an Enforcer. I'm supposed to protect and serve. Yet, I could do neither no matter how hard I tried."
"Prowl, ya're too hard on yarself. It's a miracle that ya even survived."
"But why me? Why did I survive?"
"It jus' wasn't yar time mech," Jazz simply said.
"I was angry at you for saving me."
"What? Why?" Jazz asked, surprised.
Prowl dropped his head in shame.
"Prowl, Ah know ya feel ya didn't deserve to live. But ya have to look at the positive side. Ya are alive. Ya can make a difference again. An' Ah know in my spark that yar creator an' carrier would love the fact that ya survived. Would they want ya to give up now?"
"No," Prowl mumbled. "But I don't know what to do. I'm Enforcer. It's all I know! I don't know how to live a civilian's life!"
Jazz smiled, "Come wit' me. Ah think Prime may have the answer for ya."
Prowl stared at the beaming smile from the other black and white mech for a long moment before finally asking, "Why do I get the impression that you arranged this meeting?"
"Ah only make suggestions," Jazz smirked, winking. "It's up to the Prime to make the decisions."
"Hmm…I'm sure your powers of persuasion can be most effective that not even a Prime can resist them," Prowl wittingly responded. "Or perhaps it was the fact that you are a close friend of the Prime and he listens to his friends."
"Dang, an' Ah was hopin' for my powers of persuasion bein' irresistible."
Prowl chuckled, "I do read the news and keep up on current events, Jazz. I read all about the surprise party you threw for the Prime and how it caused a black for a quarter of Iacon."
"Ya read 'bout that?" Jazz nervously replied.
"Yes, but I also read about how you went around to help out at several youth centers as a punishment which you gave yourself for causing it."
"Ah still visit them to this jour as well. Ah love the kids. An' Ah'm not the only one. Ah read ya volunteered often to help educate younglings on bein' safe."
Prowl blinked in surprise.
"In the past, it was required that all Enforcer records had to be filed wit' the main database in Iacon so their records could be accessed from any port o' authority from any city. Coz apparently, ya Enforcer types never really go off duty even when on holiday. Anyways, Ah felt compelled to help ya an' read yar record. Ah hope ya don't mind."
"No, I don't mind. I'm still curious why you want to help me, of all mechs."
"Once ya get to know me, ya'll understand. Now come on. Mustn't keep the Prime waitin'!"
Jazz glanced, watching as Prowl checked over his armor once more. In such a short time, Jazz had come to admire the inner strength this Praxian possessed. It only seemed a rare moment when Prowl let his full emotions show. Jazz knew that if he'd lost the city he'd loved with so many family and friends he would never be able to pull himself together the way his new friend has.
"Never been before a Prime before, have ya?"
"No," Prowl replied, shaking his head.
"Ya can relax. Optimus is kind an' carin' mech. He doesn't expect ya to be at the top of ya game."
"That may be true. However, from experience, first impressions are often what a bot remembers you by. Besides, isn't there some kind of protocol in place for a meeting with the Prime?"
"Probably. Ah ain't one much for protocol."
"So I've noticed," Prowl muttered dryly.
"Hey!" Jazz exclaimed, elbowing Prowl gently. The Praxian smiled for a moment before that sadness returned that Jazz hated seeing because he knew no matter how much he tried to help he could never entirely take away his friend's hurt. "What's wrong?"
"I was just thinking, how I will miss the friendship we seemed to have developed during my time here. After all, I'm probably going to be sent somewhere soon. Presumably if that's why Prime has summoned me."
"Don't worry 'bout a thing, Prowler. We'll still be friends no matter what. Ah promise ya," Jazz said in earnest as the pair of them reached Prime's private quarters.
Jazz opened the door to allow them to enter, ignoring Prowl's look of bewilderment for the moment.
"Late as usual, Jazz," Ratchet grumbled.
"The party never starts until Jazz arrives anyways, you know that Ratch," Blaster laughed.
"Ah arrive precisely when the time is right," Jazz smirked. "In this instance, we were on time. Ask Optimus."
"Jazz informed me he was behind schedule."
"I do hope I wasn't the cause of you being late," Prowl whispered to Jazz.
"Nah, mech. Had nothin' to do wit' ya," Jazz replied without hesitation. "Relax. Yar amongst friends."
"This is simply an informal gather," Optimus smiled warmly. "There are no rules of protocol in place. You are here as my guest with my closest friends."
"My apologies, Sir," Prowl said, bowing his head. "After so many vorns of following a strict protocol as an Enforcer, I cannot simply flip a switch and turn it off."
"If you ask me a little discipline around here wouldn't be such a bad idea," Ultra Magnus remarked over his high grade.
"Nah, yar just sore ya haven't caught me in the act," Jazz joked. "Ah'm a master!"
"Alright, enough," Optimus gently chided as the mechs laughed wildly. "I believe introductions are in order. Prowler, as you know I am Optimus Prime. This is my second in command, Ultra Magnus. My weapons specialist, Ironhide of whom I believe you met already. Ratchet as you know as well. Blaster head of communications. And I'm sure you know Jazz, my head of operations. It is an honor to meet you in person, Prowler."
"It's just Prowl, Sir," the Praxian gently interjected.
"Despite various attempts to correct Jazz, he still deems it necessary to call me 'Prowler'," Prowl said, giving a quick look over at Jazz who in turn cringed slightly. "From what I've gathered, he doesn't mean anything by it. However, it doesn't change the fact that my proper designation, the one given to me by my carrier, is Prowl."
"My deepest apologies," the Prime humbly said.
"Get used to it Prowl. You'll find it's futile at times to even shut Jazz up!" Ratchet huffed, making everyone laugh.
"He's always gotta be the center of attention too," Blaster added.
"But in the thick o' it, no bot betta at coverin' yur back then Jazz," Ironhide commented.
"True enough," the Prime smiled, patting the small visored black and white bot on the shoulder. "Still, only a privileged few ever receive a nickname from Jazz. And when he uses it, he has the utmost respect for the mechanism he is talking about."
The young Praxian was at a loss for words. And Jazz could see his friend was once again feeling overwhelmed by his situation and acted accordingly.
"Ah OP, ya makin' me blush!" Jazz joked, making everyone laugh and focus on him to allow Prowl to gather himself.
"The day you actually blush I will reformat myself into a femme!" Ratchet snorted.
"You have no shame whatsoever, Jazz!" Ultra Magnus exclaimed.
"It's true," Jazz commented to Prowl who smiled, finally relaxing a bit. Seeing that as a good sign and with a quick subtle nod, Jazz indicated to his Prime that now would be the best time.
"All right, settle down, mechs," Optimus requested and turned to address the Praxian. Jazz kept a hand on Prowl's shoulder to support his friend. "Informal as this gathering is, the offer I have to make is of an official capacity. Prowl, I know words can never express how apologetic I am for the magnitude of the loss you and your fellow Praxians have experienced. I promise you I will do my utmost to see that each survivor is taken care off, given a home, a vocation of their choosing…a chance to live again. Few though you are, you are our teachers, the continued legacy of a people we must never forget. Because if we do, then we have lost more than just a city and its people but ourselves."
"Therefore, Prowl, I wish to offer you a chance to continue to serve and protect. Only the stakes are much higher. The potential for loss of life far greater. However, the camaraderie is as equally strong as amongst those with whom you once served. In short, I extend the offer of you becoming one of us…an Autobot."
"From what I've read of your service record you are a dedicated mech who has earned each one of your commendations. Thus, we can bypass the normal application process and except you into the Autobot ranks. Plus, as the Prime, it is my right to give this to you. But before you decide, please understand, you are under no obligation. Do not feel compelled to accept such a request because I am your Prime. I fully believe that freedom is the right of all sentient beings and that you, Prowl, are free to either accept or reject the offer."
Throughout Prime's small speech Jazz could feel the Praxian trembling and see the range of emotions coursing through the mech by how his doorwings were jerkily moving. Then he smiled to himself when he felt the trembling stop and saw how those doorwings once again were held in their proper, regal position. Jazz knew what Prowl's decision was before he even voiced it.
To fully save a single life was a small victory in what was to be a long war.
"I never did say thank you, did I?" Prowl humbly asked Jazz as they walked through the quiet halls after the small party was over.
"Ah told ya, it was Prime's idea."
"No, I never thanked you for saving me."
"Ah was just doin' my job, mech," Jazz smiled.
"Jazz, I know for a fact that mechs like us never just do our job. We go that extra mega mile when we need to. For that, I thank you."
"Yar welcome, Prowler."
"I'm never going to get you to stop calling me that, am I?"
"Well as long as we're off duty I don't mind," Prowl admitted with a sigh, then stopped and looked around. "Tomorrow is going to be different, isn't it?"
"Don't worry, Prowl. Ah'll be there wit' ya every step o' the way 'til the day ya finally outrank me. Even then Ah'll still be yar friend an' will be by yar side."
Prowl laughed, "Me outrank you? I can't imagine that."
"Ah can't imagine what Ratch would look like as a femme but knowin' his skills an' knowin' the kind of mech ya are, Ah know for a fact that anythin' is possible."
"We'll just have to wait and see then, won't we?" Prowl smirked.
"That we will, my friend. That we will."