Stella Transierunt Amatores (Star Crossed Lovers)

Story written for a Valentines challenge over on the LiveJournal Transficsation Community. The theme was star crossed lovers and there was an additional challenge to include a dream sequence.

August 2012: Opening dream sequence removed to comply with FF's maturity rules. The story always worked without it, it was just there as part of the challenge.

Content: mechxmech; death; self-sacrifice; suicide (kinda gives the story away a bit).
Pairings: ProwlxJazz; JazzxMirage; ProwlxSmokescreen
Disclaimer: Transformers belong to Hasbro. Opening scene of the part titled 'Aboard the Ark' owned by the writers/producers etc of episode 1 of the original G1 cartoon. Rest of the plot owned by me and shared with you for free.

:. .: comm. link
Joor - 1 hour
Solar-Cycle - 1 day
Stellar-Sycle - 1 year

ooooOOOOoooo

Before the war...

This was not how it was supposed to be. For the last half a millennia he had hoped that one solar-cycle they would spark bond but considering that he had never summoned up the courage to declare his feelings, it was hardly likely that they were ever going to bond. Now here they were, sat at their usual table in the bar that had become their regular haunt since moving from the academy and assuming the separate postings that they had been given as Enforcers, and he was listening to his best friend tell him about his plans to spark bond with another.

Door wings dropped low on Prowls back and he made no attempt to counteract their behaviour. He felt as though his spark had died in its chamber. The pain that sprang from there coursed through his sensors causing his intakes to hitch.

His friend paused from what he was saying and he studied the pained expression in Prowls face. "Prowler, are yer okay?" The Praxian mutely nodded in response. "It's just yer don't look so good!"

The concerned mech frowned behind the visor that he had fitted after becoming a member of the special ops task force. It provided an element of facelessness that was required when playing the role of saboteur and master spy.

The up and coming strategist checked himself, raised his door wings high and proud and rearranging his features, his look became blank whilst the usually vibrant pulses that beat tenfold whenever his friend was nearby, dampened in to a listless ache.

"I am fine Jazz, why would I not be?" Standing from his seat at the table, Prowl looked over Jazz's helm, avoiding optic contact. Raising his high-grade in a salute he flatly uttered, "Congratulations Jazz, I am sure you will both be very happy!" before knocking back his high-grade in one swift move. "Now I am sorry but I have the early shift-cycle so I must go and recharge."

Jazz failed to hide his disappointment at the abrupt end to their drink. Their varying schedules had reduced their time together, which was something they had promised each other that they would not allow to happen when they had been first been posted to different destinations. Then when Jazz started dating another mech this left them with less precious time together.

"Yer didn't say" Jazz intoned.

"You hardly gave me the chance to Jazz, as usual you launched into a one sided conversation at a hundred mega-miles a joor, never giving another mech a chance to get a word in!" Shock passed across Jazz's face as Prowl ejected the hurtful words at him, this was not Prowls manner and just when Jazz thought he had finished, his friend added "You would be better off bonding with our data courier, Blurr! You two would have a lot to say to each other!"

Hurt, Jazz was torn between responding to the verbal bashing he had just received and stopping Prowl from leaving, but something he heard in the tone of his friends vocaliser told him that things had changed in just a few clicks and the friendship that they thought would stand the test of time had come to an unexpected end.

Automatically rubbing his chest plates in the vicinity of his spark, the saboteur narrowed his hidden optics at the retreating mech. This had been worse than he had expected but then he was not sure what he had expected. Had he wanted Prowl to be happy for him? In a way, yes, they were the best of friends so surely they would want each other to be happy but it was not his blessing he wanted. Deep down he had hoped that his revelation would kick-start some sort of admission from Prowl, that he saw him as something other than his best friend.

It was not as though they had not been intimate with each other. For a long time, when between relationships during their academy stellar-cycles, they had been frag buddies, it was not incessant but they were always there for each other if they needed to let of some steam and some interfacing always did the trick. However, neither mech knew that that the other had always wanted more so they had been content with what they had, or so it had seemed. Of course, once Jazz started dating all that came to an end.

He knew he could not blame Prowl entirely, if he himself was holding back what he felt it was more than plausible that Prowl was too. His fellow Enforcer was more reserved than him and Jazz knew that he would be unlikely to admit his feelings, if there were any to admit to, without knowing that they would be reciprocated. When he could no longer see Prowls frame, thoughts of his soon to be spark mate settled in his processor and he sighed.

He had been coerced into the relationship by his creator who had felt that after a rapid rise through the ranks upon leaving the academy, Jazz needed a rise in caste too. Although after graduating Jazz had never returned to the home that he had shared with his creator, he never stopped feeling the need to please him, so only feebly contested the idea and easily gave in when his creator started repeating his old story of all that he had sacrificed so that Jazz may be where he is now.

How his creator had managed to catch this suitor for him was beyond Jazz. Towers mechs were not known for mingling outside of their social group, they literally lived in their ivory towers but somehow it had happened and Jazz and Mirage started courting. Although occasionally he was a little up his own aft, Mirage was a gentle mech and Jazz had concurred that he was pleasurable enough company but the fun loving mech could not honestly see a future for them, as not only were they worlds apart, Mirage was not Prowl.

If only Jazz had been honest with his feelings then none of this would be happening now, but he had let things go too far and now his best friend, and love of his life, had walked away from him. With the feeling that he would not see him again anytime soon weighing heavily on his spark, the young mech knocked back the high grade energon he was nursing and ordered another. This night-cycle he would drink to numb the pain and he would face up to reality the following solar-cycle.

After leaving the bar Prowl walked in the shadows of the tall Cybertronian buildings that lined the street. Usually he marvelled at the sheer beauty of their architecture but this night-cycle, the steel and glass that they were constructed of looked cold and hard, mirroring how his spark now felt. He did not notice the tears that gently slid down his face plates, eliciting a few stares from passing mechs.

He was never sure of when his feelings towards his friend had changed, maybe the stirrings of his attraction had always been there, which is probably why he was so drawn to the high spirited mech in the first instance, but as the attraction inside of him grew he battened down the hatches on those feelings, afraid that if he took advantage of their closeness Jazz would be horrified and reject him, thus ending their friendship. As much as he wanted to touch and hold Jazz he had been content to bask in his amity but he never gave up on his hope, his desire, even while Jazz courted Mirage.

He recalled when his friend first told him about the arrangement his creator had put in place and both of them had laughed at the absurdity of it. The old fashioned tradition was a rarity these solar-cycles and whilst mechs from differing castes had been known to form their own relationships, an arranged relationship between two different statuses was unheard of.

As the stellar-cycles passed, Jazz and Mirage continued their courtship and Prowl had to constantly quell his jealously. He wanted to be happy for his friend and somehow he managed to portray some sort of accepted semblance over the situation, but unexpectedly things had gone up a notch and that changed everything. He knew that he could only blame himself for not telling Jazz how he felt and his regret ate at him as now it was too late. He wanted to fight for his mech and to be fought for but he had no idea if his feelings were reciprocated, so in light of this the easiest, and hardest thing to do, was to walk away.

ooooOOOOoooo

Several millennia later...

:.Report to me Jazz.:

:.The mission was a success Optimus. Ah managed ta plant the electronic disrupter on board the transport ship before it left an' once it leaves our orbit, the device should activate and leave the ship floatin' in space, paralysed an' unable ta call fer help .:

The saboteur had completed his mission in his usual efficient manner and before his commander could respond he added :. An' Ah took the liberty of plantin' a little extra device that Ah had Blaster make, so now while waitin' for the disrupter ta kill the ships circuits, we can listen inta their plans an' get the heads up on the stinkin' 'Cons plans.:

The Autobot leader could almost feel the satisfied grin from his SIC bleeding through the comm. link :.Good Work Jazz, as always you have excelled yourself. Now return to base as we need to greet the new arrivals.:

:.Ah'm on mah way O P Sir, over and out.:

Jazz always enjoyed meeting the new soldiers, some were fresh recruits and others had always served the Autobot cause but had been stationed elsewhere. Although he was second in command to the Prime, there were many comrades he was yet to meet and each time he received a list of a new group due to arrive at the Iacon base, he would feel nervous at the anticipation of who could be on the list and his spark ached as he allowed a fleeting memory.

After docking at Iacon a group of Autobots were led into the Citadel to meet their Prime. Prowl allowed himself to take a click and observe the magnificent structure, the beauty that he had seen in pictures was now marred by battle scars but it still stood proud. Prowl had long stopped being in awe of Cybertronian architecture, aside from the battle damage that most cities had taken, he long ago given up being governed by passion of any sort, opting to live by his processor and not his spark.

As the soldiers waited in a meeting room, Prowl scanned the portraits that adorned the walls of Optimus Prime and his officers, his optics settling on a picture of Jazz. As much as he tried to stop his spark from reacting, that familiar ache that he had long ago tuned himself out of made itself known. He felt a slight quiver in his door wings and he shifted them, annoyed at the visual betrayal to his emotions.

The doors into the meeting room cycled open and Prowl raised his door wings high and rigid, he refused to allow his frame to portray anything but the efficiency that the Prime had called upon when requesting his presence at Iacon. Watching Optimus enter the room he saw that he was flanked by two officers who were introduced to the group as his SIC, Jazz and CMO, Ratchet. Prowl only focused on what the Prime was telling them but he was fully aware that Jazz held him in his gaze. Finally the meeting concluded and the group of Autobots were instructed to hand in their personal data pad files to Jazz, who in turn would provide them with information of their duties and quarters and to receive an appointment time from Ratchet for their medicals.

As mech after mech approached Jazz, exchanged information and went on their way, the anticipation of being face to face with his old friend was reaching fever pitch for the saboteur. For stellar-cycles he had been continuously disappointed not to see Prowl on any of the lists but his patience had now been rewarded and the proud mech was now stood in front of him, looking every bit as handsome as he remembered. Steeling himself against his nerves, he reached out a servo to take the data pad from the contrasting white servo that offered it to him. Holding optic contact he did not immediately pull the pad away, the close proximity of their digits sending little sparks of energy through his servos and through his sensory net.

Prowl broke the trance "Autobot Prowl reporting for duty…Sir" and he released the data pad.

Jazz, shocked at the unemotional vocalisation that came from tactician, almost dropped the data pad as Prowl released it but pulling himself together, he responded "Welcome t' Iacon…Prowl, an' there's no need fer yer ta call meh Sir, yer're an officer too" and handing over his own data pad he informed the seemingly stoic mech "a list of duties an' first few deca-cycles rota includin' a schedule of meetin's. The pad also contains general information 'bout the base, where everythin' is, who runs what an' the location of yer quarters, which of course is housed in the officer's wing. All officers berth alone which ah know that yer'll be relieved of." he made a slight reference to his past knowledge of his former friend's aversion to sharing with strangers.

When they first met at the academy, Prowl had spent as little time as possible in his quarters in order to not be in such close proximity to the mech he was forced to share with. As his friendship with Jazz grew, Jazz persuaded the other mech to exchange quarters with himself and Prowl finally settled in, allowing the full extent of his personality to flourish. The personality that Jazz had fallen in love with nearly two millennia ago, which now seemed to be buried away deeply.

"Of course yer may have somebot that yer share yer berth with an' if they're here on base, then at yer request they can be moved inta yer quarters." Jazz was now probing, he should not assume that Prowl was not involved with another.

Before Prowl could answer, a mech appeared by his side, snaking an arm around his waist and grinning at Jazz "Nah, it is okay Sir, we prefer to keep our own quarters for now. We like to give each other space only berthing together when the need takes us, if you know what I mean!" and he winked at the saboteur.

Jazz managed to keep control of his facial expression, his visor masking the hurt in his optics but he caught the sight of something momentarily cross Prowl's face.

"An' yer are?" Jazz remained professional as he retrieved the second soldier's data pad, he studied the frame, similar in design to Prowls.

"Smokescreen Sir, and it's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard a few stories about you from back in your academy solar-cycles and your early solar-cycles as an Enforcer."

"Really!" The SIC intoned, raising a hidden optic back at Prowl. He knew Prowl would recognise the small expression upon his face plates but the tactician remained indifferent.

Smokescreen had not quite finished yet and tightening his grip around his mate's waist he grinned "Really! Though I had to prise the information out of him, for some reason he seemed reluctant to talk about it but what stories he did tell of your antics …well, I can already hear the roll of credits coming in when I open a wager or two on your future escapades."

The visored mech now looked back at Smokescreen; he could never resist a challenge. "A gamblin' mech eh! Well Ah'm sure there'll be a wager or two Ah can challenge yer ta." Then reverting to commander mode he handed Smokescreen his data pad "As with the others, information of duties, rota, base info etcetera are on the data pad, as well as the location of yer quarters an' the name of the mech yer will be sharin' with. Now please make an appointment time with Ratchet an' I suggest that yer settle yerself in before the next solar-cycle."

Smokescreen took this as his cue to leave and unwrapping his arm from Prowl, he bid the two mechs goodbye as wandered over to the CMO.

Prowl turned to follow but Jazz halted him with a servo on his arm. "Prowl!" he questioned. Prowl turned his helm towards him. "Is…is it serious?"

Although not wishing to divulge too much personal information to the second in command to the Prime, for a click Prowl allowed himself to see Jazz for Jazz and not his superior. "I have needs too Jazz. I know what mechs say about me but I am not a complete robot!" Then reverting back to the commander subordinate role, the tactician asked "May I see Ratchet now?"

Jazz vented and releasing his hold on Prowls arm, he nodded his helm. As he watched the black and white mech walk away from him, it stirred a memory from long ago, of the time that he last saw Prowl walk away from him.

With Prowls words "I know what mechs say about me" ringing his helm, Jazz dropped his optics to one of the data pads in his servo and scanned the information. Now he understood his old friend's indifference and he wondered what had instigated his undertaking of this change of programming. That was some alteration on his personality that he would have undergone, to have a logic computer introduced into his processor, could it really have been only to enhance an already great skill the tactician had or could there have been an underlying reason for it. Whatever it was, Jazz was determined to find out and by Primus he would try and bring his old friend back.

ooooOOOOoooo

The height of the war

"The chance of this mission failing is twenty percent and that is at optimal conditions."

"That's good enough fer meh Prowl!"

"Well it is not for me Jazz!"

Both officers looked at their Commander. Optimus ran the information that he had been given by his SIC and head tactician through his processor. "Jazz, you know Prowl will not advocate a mission with more than a fifteen percent chance of failing, even then he is still not comfortable with the possible outcome."

"What's five percent between friends!" the Second intoned.

"The difference between life and deactivation!" Prowl monotoned back at him.

Jazz stopped himself from venting in frustration. He trusted his comrade with his life but sometimes he was exasperated by him. "Prowler, yer really need ta learn ta think outside the box sometimes!"

Prowl bristled at the endearment that Jazz still occasionally used, even after several millennia, but he left him to continue as more interested in what the SIC was about to say.

"We're in the middle of a war, we expec' death. We don't like it an' we never knowingly send a mech ta his death but we need ta carry out this mission Prowl, an' an eighty percent chance of success is better than us doin' nothin' at all. Things are gettin' a little desperate!"

"I do not disagree Jazz but my job is not only to ensure that you have the best chance of succeeding, I have to give you all the best chance of survival too. If I ignored the results…"

Jazz placed a servo on Prowls arm, and nodded in acknowledgement in order to halt his words. He knew what Prowl was about to say and he knew that he could not live with his own guilt if the tacticians stats went unheeded.

Optimus listened to the verbal sparring between the two mechs, both had valid points but this was not getting them anywhere. If they were going to carry out this mission then they needed to move quickly. Taking command he asked "so what do you suggest Prowl?"

The tactician looked the Prime in his optics. "That I go along too!"

The Autobot leader looked at Jazz. "Is there room for another mech in the plans?"

"Well Ah guess we can never have t'much fire power."

"Although being armed and ready goes without saying, I was not thinking about my presence bringing additional armed support, I would be there for tactical assistance." Prowl raised a servo before Jazz could interrupt him. "I know that I can give you that support from here but as I said, the mission has a twenty percent chance of failing at optimal conditions which means the slightest change can upset our plans. If I remain here I will have to wait for that change in circumstances to be relayed to me before I can come up with the best course of action but if I am out there with you, I can respond to the change immediately and hopefully minimise our chances of casualties."

The Prime looked around the table at the rest if his officers, they all nodded their helms in affirmation. "Then it is agreed, the mission will proceed and Prowl will be part of the field team. Now please let us make preparations for the team to leave in two joors."

Several joors after the mission began…

The mission itself had been a success but whilst the small band of Autobots made their way back to their shuttle, Jazz and Prowl had become separated from the others when the Decepticons launched an attack on them.

"Well Prowler, this wasn't on the agenda eh!" Jazz chuckled at the situation.

Prowl threw an irritated look at the SIC. "I find both your mirth and misuse of my designation inappropriate at this present time."

"Prowl when did yer become such a tight aft?" Prowl remained silent and Jazz held his vent in. Nothing seemed to penetrate the wall that Prowl had built and the only thing that ever grabbed the stoic mechs attention was strategy and stats. "So, what d'yer suggest then?"

The tactician watched as Decepticon drones scouted the area a couple of mega-miles from where they hid. "I am working on it but for now I say we sit tight and try not to attract any attention. Soundwave may still be present so I would advise against using the comm. link. Hopefully the others have made it safely to the shuttle and 'Con activity permitting, they will locate and rescue us."

"An' if they can't rescue us?" As if the SIC needed to ask.

"Then I guess we will have failed our mission after all!" was the deadpan reply.

Jazz smirked at the unintended pun from Prowl.

As they both sat in a melancholy silence, Jazz was sure that his spark beat was audible. It did not pulsate wildly from the surge of energon that resulted from their run for their lives, nor did it pulsate wildly from the anticipation of their discovery by the Decepticons. It pulsated wildly because of Prowls presence and because of his urge to wrap his arms around his old friend and protect him.

As a nearby fire burned, the flames cast a soft flickering glow inside where they sheltered and as the light lit up Prowls features, Jazz saw a line of energon down the side of his cheek plate. Pulling a medical kit from his subspace he moved closer to Prowl and raised a servo to a gash above his optic.

"Yer shoulda said yer were hurt."

Prowl shied away from the servo, he wasn't sure if it was the pain of the injury or Jazz's touch that had caused the reaction. "It is nothing!" He stated.

"That's hardly nothin'" Jazz replied. "It's deep an' it'll need silicone filler t' keep it clean until Ratchet can weld it otherwise it'll become infected an' scar."

Eventually Prowl moved his helm back towards Jazz's servo, shuttered his optics and quietly let him treat the wound.

When Jazz finished he slowly moved his servo down the side of Prowls face, his digits wiping away the energon that had dried there. Prowl automatically leaned his cheek plate into the touch, the servo warm and comforting. Now he could feel short sharp vents of warm air in front of his mouth and he felt a warmth rise inside him, causing his own venting to become laboured.

Taking this as a sign to continue Jazz gently pressed his lips on to Prowls and savouring the sensation he waited for the tactician to respond. Slowly Prowls lips parted and as Jazz pressed his glossa between his lips, asking for entrance, Prowl shuttered his optics back on and pulled his mouth away from Jazz.

"Stop!" He demanded.

Jazz looked at the mech in confusion. "Why Prowler?"

Slowly moving his frame away from Jazz, Prowl was mindful not to make any noise that could attract the attention of the scouting Decepticons and he spoke to the ground. "You made your choice millennia ago."

"Yes Ah did an' Ah chose yer!"

Prowls helm snapped up to meet Jazz's gaze, he was just about to berate him for mocking him but in the fire light, he caught the sincere look on his face. Although the visor did its job at masking the spies optical expressions, Prowl had learnt the tell-tale signs millennia ago and they had not changed. "I do not understand what you are saying."

"Ah chose yer, it was always yer!" Jazz told him.

"But you and Mirage, the spark bonding…"

"It never happened! That night-cycle Ah drank myself inta oblivion and when Ah finally made my way home, Mirage took care of me. The following solar-cycle Ah admitted everythin' ta him, how Ah felt about yer. He said he always suspe'ted it and was relieved that it was finally out in the open. We agreed that it would not be right fer us ta spark bond and ta the pit what anyone else thought. We continued ta share an apartment, as friends only, and then Ah was recruited by the Autobots so Mirage moved back ta the Towers while Ah moved to Iacon. Fer a while we kept in touch but then this Primus forsaken war went berserk on us and with Mirage being a neutral, it became difficult for us ta keep contact, not to mention dangerous for him. We haven't had contact for the last few millennia now and after the fall of the Towers, Ah don't even know if he's still alive."

"I…I had no idea." Prowl almost faltered. "I assumed that you did not speak of him to me because of my reaction to your news about bonding with him. Why did you never say anything?"

Jazz sighed sadly. "Ah tried to tell yer after that night-cycle but yer severed all contact. All messages came back undelivered and eventually Ah travelled to where yer were stationed but was informed that yer'd requested an immediate transfer and details of yer location were not to be passed on. Ah coulda taken advantage of my position in special ops, an' I did track yer down but Ah realised that yer didn't want ta be found, so decided ta leave yer in peace."

"But when I arrived at Iacon, why did you keep quiet then?" Prowl was feeling disappointed that although Jazz clearly had the opportunity to, he still never made his feelings known.

The saboteur shrugged. "Smokescreen!"

The look that Jazz had witnessed back when Prowl arrived at Iacon and Smokescreen had alluded to the nature of their relationship, appeared on the tacticians face again. "But we never have been nor will we ever be serious Jazz. I thought you realised that. We are just there for when either one of us needed to relieve some tension, as I informed you, I have needs too but there is absolutely no sentiment in our relationship. We are at war, there is no room for sentiment, surely you understand that!"

"Then yer sayin' there's no room fer us, not while we're at war!?"

Prowl held optic contact with Jazz, his processor was turning the conversation over in his helm, trying to make sense of it. He opened his mouth to speak but did not know what to say, so Jazz spoke again. If he could get Prowl to admit how he felt, then maybe that would be a starting point.

"Would ah be right in sayin' that yer felt the same way as me?"

There was a slight flicker in the optics looking back at him but for once Jazz was not met with a wall of silence when asking a personal question. "Yes!"

"Then why didn't yer fight fer me?"

"I…I didn't know that you wanted me to!" Prowls innocence at the situation tugged at Jazz's spark.

"It wasn't fer meh ta ask yer ta fight fer meh. It was fer yer to want ta."

Prowl failed to hide the regret that shone in his optics but he said nothing further. He had spent millennia punishing both Jazz and himself for his failure to act on his feelings, assuming that Jazz was happily bonded. Now he discovered that Jazz had wanted him and loved him all along. This revelation did not sit well in his logic centre and the SIC saw that glazed look that came over Prowls face, just before a processor crash.

Jazz, who was normally the most chilled of mechs when under pressure, felt a sense of panic rise in him. Prowl glitching in Decepticon territory was not good. Not only did it mean that they would not be able to make a quick getaway, they had no medical assistance and Jazz's basic medical knowledge for when in the field was just not going to cut it.

"Prowl don't yer dare glitch on me now! Ah need yer ta be able ta make a run fer it when the others come, d'yer hear me mech?"

The deep blue optics in front of him flickered violently, usually a sure sign that a crash was inevitable. "Fraggin' logic computer! Ah still don't understand why yer went an' had it programmed!"

Suddenly Jazz's comm. link pinged, it was a signal from the Autobot shuttle. The shuttle was close enough to pick up the two energy signatures of the missing Autobots but he needed to send a signal back for them to pinpoint their co-ordinates. Knowing his response would probably be discovered by the Decepticons nearby, he sent a comm back.

:.This is Jazz here.:

:.Jazz, it's good to hear yer dulcet tones, we were beginning to think yer'd fallen foul of the drones.:

:.Likewise Blaster! We don't have much time, it won't be long before the 'Cons detect this signal. Prowl's had a processor crash so yer need ta get him outta here and back ta Ratchet. Ah'll create a diversion which'll hopefully keep the 'Cons away from Prowls location and leave yer to make a quick getaway.:Jazz was now looking through an opening in the damaged wall of their hide away, he could see that the Decepticons had moved closer.

:.But Jazz, we can't leave a mech on the ground, that just aint sound.:Blaster had no intention of leaving the SIC and he knew that he would have the support of his fellow Autobots on this matter.

:.Blaster this is not a request, this is an order! The priority is ta get Prowl outta here, d'yer understand?.: The saboteur heard Soundwaves vocoded speech nearby.

"Last command: Find enemy signals, completed. New command: Capture enemy."

:.Blaster, time is runnin' out. Soundwave has detected mah signal, yer need ta get here now!.:

:.Yessir.:

:.Oh, an' Blaster, if yer attempt ta rescue meh, Ah'll have yer thrown in the brig after Ratchet has reformatted yer! That goes fer all of yer.:

The shuttle came into view and picking up Prowls frame, Jazz moved him closer to the entrance of the dilapidated building that had hidden them from their foe. Kneeling back on the ground he clutched the unconscious mech to his chest and shuttering his optics, he treasured the feel of the warm frame in his arms. Placing a cheek plate on the white helm, Jazz could smell the faint tang that exuded from the protoform hidden under the black and white armour, the sweet smell that always lingered long after Prowl had left their quarters was still familiar to him after all this time and he deeply vented, capturing the scent in his olfactory sensors.

He tightened his embrace, he could not bring himself to release the mech he clung to, he had waited so long to hold him again and he wondered what he had done for Primus to taunt him in this way. Hearing the Decepticons closing in on his position the Autobot SIC knew that he was out of time and if he wanted to save Prowl, then he had to let go.

Taking another deep vent he un-shuttered his optics and whispered into an audial. "Ah love yer Prowler, Ah always have, an' Ah hope in the future yer can be happy!" Then laying Prowl on the ground so that the other Autobots could see him, he planted a lingering kiss on the motionless lips. For the first time since the war started he had someone, rather than something to fight for.

Having said his goodbye, the Autobot second in command, and now Prowls protector, launched himself out into the open, running through the debris that littered the wasteland. Roaring at the top of his vocaliser he achieved his objective and his enemy made towards him. Holding his helm high, he headed straight into the crowd of advancing mechs, guns blazing. If he was going down he was as sure as pit he was going down fighting. "This is fer yer Prowler!" he yelled, as the Decepticons closed ranks around him.

Before the Enemy of the Autobots realised that this was a diversion, Blaster had manoeuvred the shuttle into place and two mechs on line wires had been lowered to the ground, retrieving Prowls prone frame. Pulling away from the enemy territory the atmosphere on board was subdued. Not only had they left a fellow Autobots life in the fate of the enemy, they had left their second in command, their friend Jazz, and not one mech on board that shuttle would forget this solar-cycle.

ooooOOOOoooo

Several stellar-cycles later...

While Optimus Prime waited for his CEO and Scout to return back to HQ, he silently sent a prayer to Primus that their energon scavenge had been fruitful. There was barely enough energon to keep his soldiers in fighting form let alone run the base. The odds had turned against the Autobots, with the Decepticons taking quite a stronghold on the planet but the Autobots were not defeated yet.

As Wheeljack and Bumblebee returned it was evident that they had been attacked and their mission had produced meagre results. "Sorry Prime!" Wheeljack intoned. "We were ambushed on our way back but we salvaged what we could! Bumblebee was injured in the process and cannot transform out of alt mode, I should have a replacement part for him in my lab. "

"It is okay Wheeljack, you did your best. Now take Bumblebee to the med bay and I will decide on our next course of action." Turning to the mech stood alongside him, the Autobot leader informed him "Prowl, I think that there is only one option left open to us, Ultra Magnus will stay on Cybertron to lead our forces and you and I will take a select group of soldiers and leave the planet in search of energon. How quickly do you think you can ready the ship?"

"Pending a few system tests the Ark can be ready to leave before the solar-cycle is out, we just wait your command." Prowl had begrudgingly stepped into the role of SIC after Jazz's demise. As far as he was concerned there was only one mech for the job but even without the aid of his logic computer, he knew it was absurd to leave the position vacant.

"Then ready the Ark and we will depart a solar-cycle from now." The Prime had issued his instructions and he left to fulfil his own arrangements.

A couple of joors later the tests were complete and soldiers stood in formation, waiting to hear if they were being called to serve this great expedition with their Prime, and Optimus addressed his fellow Autobots.

"Comrades, friends. Our fight has been arduous and times have become desperate. The planet we call home is barely alive and energon levels are so low, the entire population is at risk of going into stasis lock, yet you all still fight with vigour and conviction and this makes me proud to be your leader. We have lost more soldiers than we can account for and although we aspire to never leave any mech behind, alive or deactivated, there have been times when retrieving the frame of a fallen comrade has been impossible. So it is in their memory, the memory of all those who have lost their lives, that we launch the Ark on its maiden voyage"

A sadness draped over the mechs as each remembered someone, a friend, a lover. Not one mech had gone untouched by loss and they all bowed their helms in honour of the fallen.

Prowl had also bent his helm and letting down his defences, he accessed his memory banks. It was a memory of a happy time he retrieved, back when he and Jazz bunked together at the academy. Neither had a care in the world, their only worry had been passing tests and both had excelled at that. Jazz never failed to make Prowl laugh and his antics were legendary.

Now he had opened the flood gates other memories surfaced, ones he had kept firmly locked away. Memories of how he stood back and watched as Jazz and Mirage dated, pretending to be happy for them but inside he was dying. Now there was the memory of that night-cycle, the last time he saw his friend. Although he could barely recollect the words at the time, as Jazz told him of his plans, now he could recall every syllable. He remembered how he walked away and now he wondered why he had not fought for the mech he loved.

More recently there was Jazz's revelation. He told Prowl how he had chosen him over Mirage, except Prowl refused to take his messages and essentially deleted him from his life. His selfish action had left him cold and alone and when he finally heard what he wanted to hear, he had lost Jazz all over again.

Optimus resumed his speech breaking the hold that the memories had on the replacement SIC.

"Although the Ark was constructed to hold up to three hundred mech, we need as many soldiers on the planet as possible so we will only take a very small task force of soldiers whose skills will benefit us in our quest for energon. Any officers on the roster will have their positions temporarily filled here. If you hear your designation you are to go to Prowl to receive your instructions. We will then depart sixteen joors from now."

The commander looked over the expectant faces below him, some recently new to the base others had been stationed there since the start of the war, and he started the roll call. "Blaster, Bluestreak, Brawn, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Mirage, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack and Windcharger."

As each mech made their way to the Primes second, a vocaliser echoed through the hanger that housed the ark. "Ah hope yer weren't plannin' on goin' without me!'

You could have heard a coil drop in the shocked silence and all optics turned to where the words emanated from. Stood in the doorway was a battle ravaged Jazz, his armour was marred and torn and he had lost his visor. The green optics that had been hidden for millennia, were exposed and one was cracked, its light barely visible.

The saboteur had his arm draped across the shoulders of mech that not many Autobots recognised and they both made their way to the front and stood before Optimus. The Commander was just as shocked as the others to see his former SIC stood there. "Jazz, you were witnessed going into a melee with a number of Decepticons. How did you survive?"

"It was thanks ta a factor that not even Prowl coulda taken inta account…Punch, or should Ah say Counterpunch! Lucky for me his cover was so deep the 'Cons trusted him ta transfer me from the torture chambers ta the labs. Ah don't even wanna think about what they had planned for me in the labs. We hid out at a neutral camp that Punch used when he needed to get away from the 'Cons. They took care of mah injuries and helped us get back ta Iacon"

Prowl, who had been watching on in a stupor, finally came to his senses. "Why did they not deactivate you as soon as they captured you? That would have been the logical thing for them to do."

Jazz shrugged his shoulders at the mech that stood beside his Prime. "Ah guess there would've been no fun in tha' fer them!"

Prowl did not like the insinuation of that comment one little bit. "What did they do to you Jazz?"

Waving his servo in the air in indifference to the question, Jazz answered "Tha's not important, what is important is this mission Ah hear you are about ta embark on."

Ratchet had been scanning the saboteur's injuries while filled Optimus in on the basics. "Not a bad job considering they probably had out dated technology. There are a few circuits I'll have to replace with up to date versions and I've replacements for your armour. The optic damage does look superficial and luckily we have a spare visor or two in stock."

"Will it take yer long?" Jazz asked

"Just a few joors, less if Wheeljack assists."

"Then Ah'll be ready ta come on yer mission with yer Prime!" There was no way Jazz was going to miss this, especially if Prowl was going to be on board.

Optimus stepped down off his podium to greet his soldier less formally and wrapping an arm around his shoulder he in intoned "It will be a pleasure to have you aboard Jazz!"

Several Joors later, with his circuits renewed and damaged parts replaced, Jazz received a visitor. Just after this visitor entered the med bay another opened the door and froze at what he saw. Unable to turn and flee the scene, he stood rooted to the spot and listened to the conversation.

"Raj, well aren't yer a sight fer sore optics! Yer the last mech Ah expected ta see here!" Jazz smiled in happiness at his unexpected visitor.

Mirage bent down and kissed Jazz on the helm. "It is good to see you too Jazz. It has been far too long and I have missed you." Taking a seat he held Jazz's servo. "I was devastated when I heard what happened to you and I can barely believe my optics that you are here."

"It's def'ly me Raj, the one an' only! Ah'm so sorry about yer home and the mechs that were lost. We got there as soon as we could. Ah looked fer yer, I needed to know yer were okay but none of mah contacts could find yer."

"A few of us fled before it was too late, we needed to get the younglings away while we could. Then some of us tried to go back to help but the Decepticons beat us back."

Jazz failed to hide the sorrow in his optics and he silently cursed Ratchet for not having yet fitted his visor. "Where did yer go?"

"We joined a neutral colony, west of the Towers but the Decepticons must have known that we would hide out there, they attacked us there too. Only a few of us survived and I resolved then I would have my part in ending this war! I tried via means that did not involve signing up to a faction, some of us tried to persuade both Autobots and the more approachable Decepticons that there was another way, but after a while mechs were too busy fighting to listen to what we had to say. Eventually I was recruited by a small group of Autobots stationed not far from where the Towers once stood but the outpost was eventually overwhelmed with Decepticon forces and our unit was pulled out by order of the Prime and brought to Iacon."

Jazz knew how much this was hurting this mech who had been raised at the Towers. Although most looked down their noses at the castes below them, they were a peaceful kind and Mirage abhorred violence. When the war started it broke his spark to hear of the countless deaths across the planet and having to take up arms went against his very being.

"Then for you Ah hope the end comes soon!"

Mirage dropped his gaze to their two servos clasped together. "Jazz, I truly do not know if I joined the Autobots because I believe in their cause or just because joining the other side was not an option, I do not know what type of soldier that makes me."

Jazz squeezed the servo he held. "We all fight for diff'rent reasons Raj"

"When I heard we were coming to Iacon, all I could think of was seeing you again but then I heard what had happened and it gave me a reason to go against my beliefs but what if it is not a good enough reason, what makes me any better than those we fight."

Sitting up, Jazz embraced his former lover. "Mirage, Ah can't say whose ideals are right and whose are wrong. Both Autobots and Decepticons fight for diff'rent reasons of freedom and we have diff'rent ways of goin' about it." Leaning back, Jazz placed a servo on a sleek chest plate. "So long as the reasons why yer here with us feel right in here, then ye're on the right side."

Mirage drew Jazz back into his hold. "I am so glad to have you back!"

As they broke away from each other Ratchet entered the med bay with Jazz's replacement visor. "Anyone care to tell me why Prowl just bolted out of here?" He looked at the two with an accusatory glare, wondering if they had said anything to upset him.

Both mechs looked blankly at him.

"Well just as I walked in he was running out, if either of you…"

"Calm yer diodes Ratch, we ain't seen Prowl. If he was here he didn't make his presence known…" Suddenly something dawned on Jazz and hitting his helm with his palm he exclaimed "Oh Primus!"

Mirage knew exactly what Jazz was thinking. "I think you need to speak with him Jazz. He clearly misunderstood what he saw."

"First Ah have ta get him ta listen ta meh and that'll be no mean feat. He only found out how Ah felt the day Ah was captured by the 'Cons and that made him glitch." Before he knew it, the world renowned wrench made contact with his helm. Rubbing a small dent there he looked at the medic in confusion.

"Do you know how long it took for us to rouse him from that processor crash!" Ratchet groused.

"Sorry, but Ah was busy being tortured by Decepticreeps!"

"Well that's no excuse. Don't you go making him glitch just before we embark on this mission otherwise it will be more than a dent to the helm you will need to worry about. Now turn to face me so I can fit your visor."

Jazz saw a look of shock on Mirages face and he chuckled. "Don't worry Raj, it's his way of tellin' us he loves us!" While Ratchet deftly worked away, Jazz continued to talk. "It's really good ta see yer Raj, I've missed our correspondence."

"Me too but I cannot believe that after all these millennia, you and Prowl still dance this merry dance. What has taken you so long?"

Ratchet pretended to be engrossed in his work but he listened to their conversation.

"Ah tried ta tell him so many times but the time was never right or he never seemed ta want ta know. Ah think it's because of us, the news that we were going ta be bonded that he went and had his processor reprogrammed. Now he's ruled by stats and information, not his spark."

Ratchet couldn't hold his glossa at this point but his manner was unusually gentle. "That doesn't mean he can't love Jazz. Maybe he just needs to be reminded how to."

"Ratchet is right Jazz and the sooner you talk with him, the better. Now I need to prepare for our mission so I will see you aboard the Ark and I will expect you to have spoken with him." Clasping Jazz's servo and squeezing it in reassurance, he bid the two mechs his leave.

After Mirage left, Jazz turned to Ratchet. "Ah'm surprised ye're encouragin' meh after yer threat."

The medic gave him a grin, "Maybe I'm just a sucker for a happy ending! Now get your aft out of my med bay and speak to Prowl!"

Leaving the med bay, Jazz found Prowl in his office and he watched him silently from the open door for a few clicks before he spoke. "Ah don't think they could've picked a better second!"

Prowl was momentarily startled by the voice. He usually prided himself on not being taken by surprise but this was the Autobots master spy. Ensuring that no emotion showed in his face, he swung around to greet the former SIC.

"It is good to see you back Jazz."

Jazz was deeply disappointed, and a little shocked, at the formality of the greeting.

"I heard what you did for me that solar-cycle and I am eternally grateful but you should not have risked your life like that! I was expendable, you were the second in command to the Prime and it was our duty to ensure your safe return."

"That's slag and yer know it! Title aside, Ah'm just as much a soldier as yer are Prowl and yer'e not expendable! Ah don't ever want yer ta think that!"

Prowl dropped his optics to his desk, he was fighting his urge to throw himself at this mech who seemed to have returned from the Well of Sparks. They all assumed Jazz was deactivated and he had done his grieving privately before preparing himself to live the rest of his life without Jazz in it. Then he had returned and Prowl could not deny the joy he felt in his spark, it was a natural reaction and at the time he refused stop it, as was his usual custom to filter his emotions until only logic remained, but after witnessing Jazz and Mirage in the med bay, he now saw that he was wrong in allowing his emotions to run amuck.

Looking back up at the saboteur the tactician asked "Has Ratchet cleared you to join us aboard the Ark?"

"Ah know yer were in the med bay!" Jazz stated, ignoring the question. He decided being to the point was the best course of action. Prowl looked a little caught off guard.

"When Mirage came ta see meh, Ah know yer were there and please don't deny it."

Prowl remained silent, he could not trust his vocaliser not to betray him.

"He only came ta see if Ah was okay and Ah was happy ta see him, ta know he was alive. He talked about what happ'ned after the fall of the Towers and we only embraced outta friendly comfort to each other, nothin' more."

Finally Prowl felt he could control his vocals. "What you and Mirage do is your business. Now is there anything I can do for you Jazz? We have a lot to prepare before this mission. Again I ask, has Ratchet cleared you to come aboard the Ark?"

Jazz could feel an anger rising inside him, of all the tight afted mechs he had to be in love with, why could Prowl not accept how he felt, how they both felt!?

"Yes, Ratchet has cleared meh but why Ah want ta spend mah time cooped up on a ship with yer is beyond mah processor! Yer need ta loosen up and learn that not everythin' is governed by yer processor, bring a bit of the old Prowler back. Some things must be ruled by the spark otherwise what's the point in yer bein' alive Prowl?" Jazz almost spat the words as his superior.

There was not a hint of emotion on Prowls face. "I will overlook your disrespect as now you have returned, you will automatically resume your position as second in command once cleared medically however, I suggest that if you have an issue with serving alongside me then you take this up with Optimus. Now I ask that you leave me to get on with my work."

Jazz wanted to rant and rave. He wanted to lose complete control of his vocaliser until the delicate circuitry there fritzed out but he pulled himself together and without a word, he left for his own office.

A couple of joors before the Ark was due to depart, Mirage found Jazz in the rec room taking some much needed energon. He had taken barely any decent fuel since that fateful solar-cycle and he was sure what little he received from the 'Cons was purely as a means from stopping him off-lining while they had their fun, now his system were screaming out for a full dose. Mirage grabbed a cube for himself and joined the black and white mech.

"By the look of your face something has not gone well and no guesses for what it is." Jazz just grunted in response. Mirage had never seen his former lover look so dejected. "What happened?"

"Prowl, that's what happened!" Jazz was in no mood to elaborate.

Mirage vented. "I am sorry. I know how much you love him, maybe if I have a word, convince him that he has nothing to worry about where I am concerned."

"Ah wouldn't waste yer vents Raj." And reaching out a servo, he placed it over Mirages in thanks. "Thanks anyway but Ah'll survive. Now let's get this mission underway!"

After their final meeting before boarding the Ark, Mirage discreetly pulled Prowl into an empty room. The tactician looked at the Autobots latest special ops mech blankly and waited for him to speak.

"Prowl, you need to speak with Jazz, your rejection of him is killing him. I know how you feel about him, why do you deny it?"

"What makes you think you know anything about me?" The stoic mech asked.

"You forget how much time the three of us spent together when Jazz and I courted. I knew back then how Jazz felt about you and I could see it in your optics. I denied it of course but the solar-cycle Jazz finally confessed all, I was relieved that he had admitted to it and I knew that I could not come between you two. If there were ever two mechs destined to be together, it is you two. Jazz and I will always be friends but that does not mean we are about to rekindle our relationship. Now do you not think that you have wasted enough time? This war has been long and could go on for Primus knows how many more millennia, do not get to the end of it and wonder what is left to live for!" Not waiting for a reply, the special ops mech left the tactician with his own thoughts.

ooooOOOOoooo

Aboard the Ark...

As they blasted a clear path through the debris caused by the asteroid collision, the Autobots held steady. If they could get out of the asteroid field undamaged they could continue on their way in search of much needed energon. Ironhide continued to fire the lasers at the rocks until eventually the space around them cleared.

As the ship steadied, Prowl picked up a signal on the radar. "Utrex report, we are being followed!"

"Decepticons" Optimus growled at the monitors and taking over the controls, as Jazz was dislodged from his seat when the Ark banked suddenly, he tried to manoeuvre the ship out of the enemy's flight path

Suddenly there was a jolt as a magnetic force emanated from the Nemesis and locked onto them. Jazz, now back at the controls, reported the current status. "They've made an electronic junction. Ah can't shake 'em!"

Optimus turned to his weapon specialist. "Fire the laser!"

Ironhide fired but there was no response. "Nothin', th' powers all used up!"

Suddenly there was the screaming grind of metal tearing away from the side of the hull.

"They are coming aboard" the tactician reported.

As the Autobots turned to where the breach was, Decepticons started boarding the Ark, their weapons at the ready.

"Prepare for battle!" the Prime ordered.

As Megatron and his forces boarded the ship, the Decepticon leader gave the order for attack. Jazz, Prowl and Ironhide were the first into the fight but the 'Cons were ready for them. Megatron, ignoring the melee around him, headed straight for the Prime and as the battle heated up, the Ark started to lose control.

"What's happening?" Optimus shouted above the commotion, pinning Megatron down against a console.

Jazz had left the fight and was now trying to gain control of the ship "G forces…are…draggin'…us…down!"

"We are losing control" the Autobot leader shouted, his attention diverted away from Megatron as he too attempted to stop the ship form hurtling into the unknown.

As the magnetic pull became stronger, the Ark spiralled out of control until eventually, it crash landed on an unknown planet, taking both the Autobots and the Decepticons with it and the impact knocking all mechs on board off line.

Over four million years later…

A new planet had not quelled Megatron's thirst for world domination, it would seem that it did not matter which world it was, as long as he ruled it. He saw his intended conquest of this organic planet as a stepping stone in his plight to finally rule the universe and had spent numerous Earth years failing in his mission but causing havoc wherever he and his Decepticons went.

It was after a particularly fierce battle over some rocket fuel at a military base that Jazz was rushed into the med bay from the battlefield. The Decepticons had not particularly had the upper hand but Jazz had become the centre of a brutal air attack from the Seeker trine.

Prowl had miscalculated the speed at which the group could make a change in direction during jet flight and as he made a run from his position of cover to the side of his Prime, who fought a short distance away from him, Thundercracker caught sight of him leaving his bolthole. Within nano-seconds the trio of jets were bearing down on tactician and Jazz saw exactly what was coming.

For the SIC, the clicks played out in slow motion. He abandoned his own fight with Ravage and transformed into his alt mode in order to quickly cover the ground between him and Prowl. Approaching his fellow officers' position, he transformed back to biped mode and used the force behind his transformation to wrestle Prowl to the ground.

As both frames hit dirt, Jazz was acutely aware that the jets were directly above his position, their transformation sequences echoing in his audials. Before Prowl had time to assess what had just happened, Jazz was back on his pedes and he placed one on Prowl's arm to keep him from rising. Aiming his gun directly at Starscream, slowly he started to move in a circle and never turning away from the hovering seekers, he drew their attention away from the mech on the ground.

Starscream shrilled into the air "Well, well, the Primes second in command! You escaped us once before but you will not a second time Autobot!" The Decepticon SIC stirred unwanted memories for Jazz, memories of a time that happened so very long ago but had seemed more recent after spending four million years in stasis.

"Now Megatron will have no choice but to acknowledge my supremacy when I bring him the helm of the Autobot master spy. Prepare to deactivate you fool!"

Before Jazz had a chance to fire his gun, Starscream silently commanded the rest of his trine to fire their null rays at full power.

Jazz heard the buzz of the power charge before an audial splitting crack penetrated the air when the three weapons discharged at the same time, each focused on his frame. Heat seared through him as the charge from the null rays disabled his circuits bit by bit. The last to shut down were his processor and pain receptors so the tactician was painfully aware of every piercing shot of ammunition, that now followed the null ray attack, rip through his armour until eventually, his processor gave up the fight and he went off-line.

The battle had raged on while Ratchet left to make his way back to the Ark with his injured cargo. The Autobot CMO had done what he could at the scene but field treatment was not enough, he needed to get Jazz hooked up to monitors and lines if he was to have a chance of saving him. Before leaving the carnage behind, Prowl, barely able to hide the panic in his vocaliser at Jazz's condition, informed the medic that he would clear a way for him on the roads. Transforming into his alt mode, the black and white led the way, sirens blaring, warning others of their race against time.

It was unusual for Ratchet to allow any uninjured mech into the med bay whilst he tended another, unless they were working, but he knew Prowl would not hinder him and he looked so desolate when Ratchet went to leave him outside the treatment room, that he didn't have it in his spark to leave him there. He did consider suggesting that he go back to the battlefield but the medic knew the tacticians processor would not be on the fight and with the majority of the Arks occupants out in the field, he would need an extra set of servos.

As the CMO placed Jazz on the berth and attached a spark monitor to his frame, Prowl stood in the middle of the room unable to move. Jazz looked completely broken and battered. To have taken the onslaught of three Seekers was a brave thing to do and guilt ate at Prowls spark as he acknowledged that this was the second time that the saboteur had put himself in harm's way, in order to protect him.

Ratchet roused him from his thoughts by shouting at him "Prowl, I need you to help me now! Fluids are still leaking faster than I can close lines, you need to help me close these before I can do anything further."

Prowl remained rooted to the spot. He heard the clang to his helm before he felt the sharp pain and glaring at the medic, he picked up the wrench and clenched it tightly in his servo, as if to expel all of his emotion out on it before he made his way to Ratchets side.

Several joors had passed, the Autobots had returned triumphant but the feeling around the Ark was subdued as they waited news on Jazz's condition. For some mechs, this was a repeat of an event several millennia ago, when they had been aboard the shuttle the last time that Jazz was taken out by the 'Cons. First Aid had now joined Ratchet, relegating Prowl to the side lines and the two worked non-stop on Jazz.

Prowl had refused to leave the med bay and took a seat in the corner, watching every move the two carers made and more than once the saboteurs spark pulse faded as the two medics patched and repaired. The tactician did not like how quietly Ratchet worked, an abusive Ratchet meant all was well but for the CMO to barely vocalise a word other than to issue instructions, was not a good sign.

A quiet panic began to build in the emotionally inhibited mech, Jazz had been off-line for far too long. Earth day light had turned into darkness joors ago and Prowl knew that if Jazz was off-line for too long, his internal circuits would start deteriorating. Sure they had been in stasis for four millennia but in stasis, their circuits and processors ran on a minute charge, burning infinitesimal amounts of energon. But when off-line, their natural processes were off-line too, which meant their frames were starved of energon. A transfusion machine had pumped replacement energon into the injured mechs frame but without any internal function, the life giving source was useless.

Finally Ratchet downed his instruments and he pinched his nasal ridge in an attempt to relieve the tension that built up behind his optics. Jazz had come back on-line but was still not conscious and as Ratchet scanned his systems, he conversed with First Aid in hushed tones. Prowl fine-tuned his audials to try and catch what was said but the CMO had already ended the conversation and turned to face the watching mech.

Prowl saw something in the medics optics and he waited for an explanation.

Saying nothing to the officer, Ratchet gently led Prowl into his office and told him to sit. Taking his own seat across the desk, Ratchet searched for the words to say. "Prowl, Jazz is gravely ill. There are circuits and relays to his processor that are still not responding and if they do not start responding soon…well, all I can say is that the next several joors are critical and if he does make it through, his recovery will be long"

Prowl tried to focus on the last few words "his recovery will be long" but he could not ignore the fact that the medic had said "if" and a single uncontrolled sob escaped him before the normally apathetic mech could stop it. Hitching his intakes to gain control, Prowl gave his comrade an embarrassed look.

Ratchet rubbed a servo over his face, he was so very tired. He had been out in the field fighting before Jazz fell and then he had worked for several joors on his return to the med bay. It was now the early joors of a new solar-cycle and although all he could think of was falling into his berth so that he could recharge, he still had to report Jazz's status to his Prime. Now it looked as though he needed to take care of Prowl too.

Moving to a seat next to the black and white he quietly vocalised. "You really should not be embarrassed Prowl, everyone needs to release a little emotion now and then, why should you be any different? It is wholly unnatural to keep it locked away."

Prowl sat rigid with his servos in his lap saying nothing, so Ratchet continued to fill the silence. "Why do you still fight it? Why do you deny yourself this one pleasure?"

The tactician's optics flickered slightly at the question and he dropped his gaze to his servos. Just when the medic was going to give up hope of receiving an answer, Prowl spoke. "Because he has been taken away from me several times before, what is to say it will not happen again?"

Ratchet took a moment to think about the question. "None of us can predict the future, not even you Prowl but we cannot live with what ifs otherwise what is the point in all of this?" The medic raised and dropped his servos in exasperation. "We fight so that we may have a peaceful future, yet none of us actually knows if that will ever happen but we still fight in hope. Why should a relationship be any different?"

The tactician could not argue with Ratchets reasoning but there was something else. "Look at him Ratchet. Without you telling me anything I know his condition is not at all good, he was off-line for far too long and I have already calculated the probabilities of his recovery." A silent tear slid down a cheek plate and Prowl internally berated himself for his weakness.

Ratchet shuttered his optics for a moment. He knew that there was no point in hiding the truth from Prowl, Jazz was dangerously hovering between life and deactivation, most mechs would not have left the field alive after an attack that vicious but maybe Jazz had something to fight for. Switching his optics back on, he placed a servo on Prowls arm. "Right now he is still here, so you have to ask yourself, can you live with never having actually told him how you feel? I could reformat you just for not seeing his return to Iacon after his ordeal with the 'Cons as the gift that it was. A chance to be honest with him, start a relationship but instead you had to go and shun him, forcing him to close off his feelings from you and shun you in return!"

"But he and Mirage, back in the med bay before we left…"

"But nothing!" The medics tone became gruff, the time was gone for the softly softly approach, Prowl needed to hear a few home truths and Ratchet was the mech to tell him.

"There is no Jazz and Mirage! Although, could you have blamed Jazz if he had rekindled their relationship? We have been on Earth for many stellar-cycles now and can you say you have seen any evidence that they are intimate with each other? Why can you not see what is in front of your own optics Prowl? Jazz loves you and only you! How many other mechs can you honestly say would risk sacrificing themselves, twice, in order to save your life? He allowed himself to be captured by Decepticons so that you could be rescued and Primus knows what he went through at their servos, he still refuses to speak about it, but whatever it was, he thinks it was worth it to know that you were okay!"

Words bounced around Prowls processor. He knew the medic was right, he had been a fool not to see what was so glaringly obvious, even back before the war when he and Jazz had been friends. Leaving his seat Prowl made for the door that led back into the med bay. Ratchet stood behind him but he didn't say a word, the rest was now up to Prowl.

It was now the following Earth evening and Prowl had remained constantly at the saboteur's side. Before taking a seat he had gone to Jazz's quarters and collected a series of music discs and data pads from there, things Jazz loved. He had started with playing some rock and roll music, he could never understand the enjoyment the mech got out of listening to this, he himself was a classical music mech but if it helped, then he would listen to it too. After a while he had switched off the music and picked up a data pad to read. The log on the one he chose implied that this was the saboteur's favourite, with the most recorded readings.

He had barely finished the end of the story when a sound that came from beside him, caught his attention. Looking from the data pad to Jazz he saw the mech looking at him and his spark beat wildly in his chest. He could see that Jazz was trying to speak but judging by the sounds on the monitor, various processors were still coming on-line.

Prowl placed a servo on Jazz's arm "Do not force your vocaliser, it will come on-line in its own time. I will comm. Ratchet and tell him that you are awake. Do you hurt anywhere?" Prowls own vocaliser was a mixture of relief and concern.

The injured mech shook his helm in response to the question then he weakly raised his arm and held onto Prowls, sending a comm. link request as he did and surprising Prowl with the connection. The tactician responded and as soon as the connection was made, Jazz spoke to him.

:.That's mah favourite story.:

Prowl smiled warmly at the mech laying there. "You don't say. The log has recorded that you have read it once every Earth month since you downloaded it!"

:.Ah can't help mahself. Yer read it so beautifully, yer've no idea how much it means that yer read it ta meh.:

"Y…you heard me?" Prowls face places heated in embarrassment at this news. His vocaliser had cracked several times whilst reading the story and although he had read in the hope that Jazz could hear him, he felt embarrassed that he did.

:.Ah heard it all, Ah just couldn't respond.:

Prowl's spark felt as though it had shattered into a thousand tiny pieces on hearing this and with his other servo, he grabbed the black one holding his arm and squeezed it tightly.

Jazz saw the pain that was in Prowls optics and all he wanted to do was comfort him. Finally his vocaliser came on-line. "Please don't worry about meh Prowler, Ah'm still here."

"Throwing yourself in harm's way for me seems to be becoming a bit of a habit for you!" The tactician tried to smile again, but with so many emotions swirling around inside him he was finding it difficult to single any one of them out.

The SIC chucked at the comment before a serious look crossed his face. Taking his servo out of Prowls he raised it to the face looking over him, and gently caressed his cheek plate. "Have yer not realised yet, without yer mah life means nothin'. I lover yer with every part of mah bein' Prowl. "

Just as he did the time that he and Jazz hid from the Decepticons, Prowl leant his face into the welcoming servo and shuttering his optics he savoured the contact. He raised his own servo and covered Jazz's "Oh Jazz, I am truly sorry. I hurt you time and time again, yet even when it seemed that you had turned your back on me you never faltered in your love and protection for me. I have been such a fool, how can you ever forgive me?"

"There's nothin' ta forgive, Ah'm just as much ta blame. Ah should've hunted yer down ta the end of the galaxy but it was easier ta believe that yer didn't want meh ta. What's done is done and yer know as much as Ah do, we can't turn back time but why dwell on that when we have the here and now!"

Prowl could not stop the tears that suddenly cascaded down his face. What if time was not on their side? Ratchet had already told him of the damaged circuits and relays and Jazz had taken longer to come out of stasis than the medic had hoped. He seemed fine but what if he wasn't? Prowl started running the statistics through his logic centre again, okay, so now Jazz was wake the results had improved, but only marginally.

"Please don't cry Prowler, Ah don't like ta see yer hurtin'."

The tactician tried to gain control of his emotions but after leaving Ratchets office, he had over ridden his logic programming only allowing it to compute information and not control his feelings. This was something he had not experienced for eons and he struggled between breaking down and holding himself together.

Unshuttering his optics he studied the features in the face below him. He took in the angles of Jazz's face plates and the gentle slope of his nasal ridge. His optics followed the curve of his lips, so sensuous, so perfect. With reactions now being dictated by feelings, Prowl lent over the black and white mech and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. He was afraid of hurting him but as the sensation of the contact between the two zapped through their systems, both became urgent in their actions.

Finally breaking away to catch his vents, Prowl looked deep into Jazz's optics. Without his visor Prowl could see the love that shone out of them. "I love you Jazz and I never want to let you go."

It had taken millions of stellar-cycles but Jazz had finally heard the words he had longed to hear and now he fought his own tears. "Ah love yer too Prowler and Ah never want yer ta let me go."

Climbing onto the med berth, Prowl lay down and pulled the injured mech into his arms, hanging on to him as tightly as he could. In that moment only the two of them existed, there was no beep from the monitor, no med bay and they were not aboard the Ark. It was just the two of them, cocooned from the rest of the world. Burying his face into Jazz's neck he could smell his unique odour from under his battered armour and taking a deep vent, it filled every one of his sensors. The heat from the frame that felt light in his arms penetrated his own armour, giving them the sensation of being in protoform, without any barriers between them.

As each of these sensations activated memories from his archives, Prowl brushed his lips against the neck cables he had nestled his face into, and Jazz quietly groaned at the sensation. "Don't ever let meh go!" he repeated.

"I am not going anywhere." And the two clung to each other as though their lives depended on it, servos tightly gripping where they rested.

"Love you" they both whispered in unison before they fell into a content silence.

As the time slipped by neither mech was aware of anything else, until Prowl felt a servo on his arm, bringing him back to the real world.

It was Ratchet's vocaliser that filled his audials "Prowl, it is time to let him go."

The words did not make sense to the tactician, and he pulled Jazz in tighter to his own frame, ignoring the medic.

Ratchet spoke again, his gentleness unnerving the normally unshakable mech. "Prowl, Jazz has gone. It has been several joors, you really need to let go of him now."

Prowl tried to shut the words out but now they clattered around in his helm, quietly echoing at him. Still he clung to Jazz but now he was vaguely conscious that the med bay was silent, that there was no longer any intermittent beeping from the monitor confirming that it was connected to life. Then he slowly became aware that the only warmth between them came from him and the frame that he held onto was now cold and heavy where it touched.

His venting became laboured and he refused to switch on his optics out of fear of what he would see.

Ratchet continued, his words enveloping him in their attempt to comfort him. "Prowl, Jazz passed away finally knowing how much you loved him and he will carry that to the Well of Sparks for eternity."

Prowls face was still hidden in Jazz's neck but a muffled whimper made its way out. 'It is not true' kept going around his processor. 'He cannot have left me, not when I have only just told him how I feel, what sort of Primus would do that?' Eventually he forced his optics back into life and loosening his hold, he allowed himself to look at Jazz in order to prove to himself that the medic was wrong. As his optics took in the cold grey frame of the mech he had never stopped loving, even if he never vocalised it out load, a spark wrenching cry sliced through the silence of the med bay.

Several solar-cycles later...

Over riding the key code to Prowls office, Optimus Prime and his CMO braced themselves for whatever state their tactician was in. After they placed Jazz in the ships airlock, ready for the solar-cycle that they could return to Cybertron and give him a proper interment within a mausoleum, Prowl had locked himself in his office.

At first, the commander had wanted to give Prowl the space he needed to grieve but over the last few solar-cycles, the tactician had barely made an appearance and when he did, he had not uttered a word. As they opened the door they were shocked to discover his office was empty. It was in its usual organised manner, nothing out of place with the exception of a sole data pad, left in the middle of the desk. It had been placed at an angle. Knowing Prowls habit of keeping everything straight it was obvious to both Optimus and Ratchet it had been left that way for a reason, to attract their attention.

Ratchet reached out to the data pad, barely able to contain the shaking in his servo, and switched it on. It was the type of pad one servo-wrote on with a stylus rather than typed on and as the screen flickered into life, the two saw Prowls familiar servo-writing. It was like everything else he did, neat and eloquent.

After taking a moment to catch his vents, Ratchet read the transcription.

For almost ten million stellar-cycles I thought I knew who I was, what my purpose in life was to be. I believed that logic was the only right way forward and by living by this code, I was impervious to anything that could side track me from my destiny. In my future I only saw the facts and figures that one day would hopefully contribute to the end of the Great War.

But it was all a lie, a ruse to hide the real me. I was not as emotionally devoid as you believed, I just learnt to control the demons rather than let them control me. Now I see that with every passing solar-cycle a piece of me died, I became more like a computer, a robot, than a being.

Now because of my actions, my refusal to accept who I was and what I truly wanted, others have been hurt, a sacrifice has been made and I cannot live with that. You may call me a coward and I accept your analysis of me, for this is your right and maybe you are right, as after all, am I not still running away after ten million stellar-cycles?

But I beg for you to believe that, although I may hurt others in my actions, that has never been my intention and now my desire is to be with the one I love. If that cannot be here, amongst the living, then it must out there, where ever out there is. Maybe the Well of Sparks is a fable, a story that has been passed down through the ages of Cybertron to give us something to believe in but I have to believe that that is where Jazz is. If this ethereal place does not exist, then I will cease to exist and so will my pain.

I am truly sorry that I am not the mech that you thought me to be but I hope that in time you can forgive me, for both my past behaviour and for what I am about to do.

If I have calculated this correctly, as you read this I would have succeeded in my intentions and I too will have travelled to the Well of Sparks.

I wish you all well in your future and I pray to Primus that peace arrives soon. Now I bid you my leave so that Jazz and I may be reunited for eternity.

Yours truly

Prowl.

Ratchet's vocaliser gave out as he read the end and his spark had grown cold. Optimus was not faring much better and had already taken a seat before he collapsed. This should never have happened, they should never have let Prowl out of their sight and now it was too late.

The medic suddenly bolted for the door without saying a word and the Prime made to follow him. Ratchet did not stop until he reached the airlock where they had temporarily interned Jazz's frame. As Optimus joined him, he opened the heavy door and they both vented in shock at what they saw. On the floor lay two grey frames, Prowl and Jazz, the one wrapped around the other.

Prowl had removed Jazz's frame from the coffin that they had made for him and holding him in his arms, he had deactivated himself. Ratchet slowly moved towards them to check over Prowl, there was no denying that he was gone but there was no physical damage to his frame. The medic's attention was caught by something glinting nearby and moving towards the object, he found a bottle that was usually locked away in his medical store.

The additives that the bottle usually contained were harmless in minute doses but what had been a full bottle, was now empty. Ratchet winced, to have digested this much would not have been a comfortable experience and the CMO wiped that thought from his processor.

As he and Optimus closed the door on the would be lovers, his spark ached. They had lost too many mechs in this Primus forsaken war and now they had lost two in the name of love. Was love really so powerful that it could destroy lives, just as the war was doing? The medic was not sure which was worse.

Returning to his med bay, Ratchet thought of his own secret desire, his story was nowhere near as intertwined as Jazz and Prowl's was, their hidden love had spanned the millennia whereas his had only lasted stellar-cycles, but he resolved that he would not end up like them, that he would heed his own words, the ones he spoke to Prowl only solar-cycles ago and he would tell the objects of his affections how he felt.

Fin

ooooOOOOoooo

A/N: Phew, the end! I know that it may seem a little Romeo & Juliet-ish at the end but I wrote this without any story in mind and originally I started writing a happy ever after, but as usual, my love of angst won the battle, so maybe we can think of this of Jazz and Prowls very own tragic love story.

Oh, and the story that Prowl read to Jazz, I thought that I would leave that one up to your imagination, maybe you thought of your favourite!