It's hard to listen to a hard, hard heart

Beating close to mine

Poundin' up against the stone and steel

Walls that I won't climb

Sometimes a hurt is so deep, deep, deep

You think that you're gonna drown

Sometimes all I can do is weep, weep, weep

With all this rain fallin' down

Strange how hard it rains now

Rows and rows of big, dark clouds

When I'm holdin' on underneath this shroud


~"Rain", Patty Griffin

I'll never forget the day I met Jazz.

From the very minute we did our first fist-bump - sort of - we'd been close. As Jazz would have said, "tight homies". And yeah, we were. We loved the same music, used the same expressions despite not actually being black, and we respected each other's races and viewpoints.

There was no criticism. There was nothing but this immensely strong friendship, and it was something I'd never felt before. I just wanted to be near him. I felt safe when I first laid eyes on him, and every other time after.

Optimus knew what it was, and could he ever sense it. But how could he not? It was like it was radiating off both of us. I guess Jazz must have known it to, but I had to have it explained to me.

Jazz was meant to be my guardian.

It was the same thing as it had been with Sam and Bumblebee. It didn't have to be a human that they were meant to be a guardian to, but apparently it turned out that way oftentimes. It was a Cybertronian thing, and not everybot was always destined to be a guardian. It had been rare that there'd been even one in a team, let alone two.

Once Jazz found me, he immediately became very protective of me. In the short time that we were together, he never left me alone. Not once. He let me ride inside his beautiful alt mode, and when he was in bipedal mode I made a happy home on his shoulder. Sometimes he even picked me up and let me sit in his hand.

It was a definite bond, and both of us could feel it. For once in my life, something finally clicked. Something in my life was just, like... right. It was like an epiphany. It was happening perfectly, smoothly, at the exact time it was supposed to happen.

Almost every other minute, I was thanking God for giving me Jazz. Someone who loved me just for being me, which I never thought would happen. Someone who would protect me at all costs. It was almost like I'd been waiting for this to happen, and now that it had happened every positive emotion was bursting out of me. When we were together, I was confident. I wasn't just Casey Burton, the insane part-time coffee girl. I was someone... different. Someone special.

I'll never forget the day I met Jazz.

Because the day I met him was also the day I lost him.

I remember everything.

Jazz was quick to transform back into his bipedal mode, but I was in his interior. I was falling - and screaming - but he caught me. The landing was a lot less jarring than I thought it would be, but the side of my chest hurt.

He put me down on the ground, and I couldn't even stand up. The pain from where I'd impacted on my chest was making it hard to breathe, let alone do unnecessary things like moving. I was leaning against a building, and trying to concentrate on getting air in my system and making the sensation in my chest a little less sharp. "J-Jazz..." I managed to choke out, and almost against my will, my hand shot out as if to grab him. Clearly my brain was too oxygen-starved to process the fact that his arm was over ten feet above mine.

He looked over at the battle that was ripping my hometown apart, then looked back down at me. I didn't know what that look in his optics was, but it made me feel sad. Nothing else, just... sadness. He knelt down to me, and held down one finger. He even smiled when I gripped it, but it didn't reach his optics. "You stay here, Casey."

I lost it then, and I held his finger as tightly as I could. I couldn't stop the tears from pouring down my face, nor could I put out this awful, burning feeling in my chest. This time it wasn't from the fall; it came from deeper, from my heart. I couldn't make it go away, and I couldn't hold onto him as he pulled away from me and stood to his full height. "Don't leave me, Jazz," I cried.

That was the last thing I remember either of us saying to the other.

I think he knew he wasn't going to be coming back for me.

When I couldn't feel him near me, I drew my knees close and just wept. There was a war going on around me, and it was loud. The atmosphere was impossibly thick with gunfire and heat, and I thought I was going to die. That was when I heard Jazz again, but he wasn't talking to me. He was yelling.

"You wanna piece'a me? Huh? YOU WANNA PIECE?"

I remember thinking he was going to get himself killed.

The last thing I heard before I passed out was someone else growling, "No, I want TWO!" and this sickening noise that sounded like metallic bones being snapped.

The person who killed Jazz was Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. I should be mad at my cousin Tristyn, since that's her leader. But I'm not; she didn't join him till after that battle, and it wasn't her fault that Jazz had rushed into battle... being all cocky...

I think it was Ironhide who carried me back to the base, and from what I heard I wasn't in very good condition the whole way back. The instant they got me back, Ratchet had to rush me into a makeshift medical bay. I guess a few minutes after he'd gotten monitors attached to me, he had to give me a tracheotomy because I'd crashed and stopped breathing. After I could breathe again, he wasn't taking any chances and kept a respirator by my bed.

They told me I was unconscious for a week, and the entire time Ratchet was doing tests and trying to figure out if I would ever wake up. He barely ever recharged, so the others would take shifts forcing him out of Med Bay and looking after me.

When I woke up, I think it was a huge relief to everybody. I woke up with various tabs stuck to me, and an IV drip in my hand. It was Sam's turn to stay with me, and when I opened my eyes and tried to talk (I couldn't at first because my throat still hurt from the trach' tube), he called everyone else in.

Mikaela was the first one by my bed. We'd met like a year ago, and she was my best human friend. I could barely feel her holding my hand because of the numbness from the IV, but it was comforting just to have her there. I could tell she'd been worried to death.

Ratchet let her stay, but he came to my other side and looked at all my monitors. They must have been acceptable, because then he looked down at me. He asked me if I knew what had happened.

I said I did, and I couldn't make any crying sounds, but tears came down my cheeks all the same.

Mikaela hugged me and told me it would be okay, but she was crying with me.

Ratchet told me I'd been out for a week, and that not even he was sure I would come out of the coma.

Optimus said it was a miracle. On Cybertron, if someone lost their guardian - or, inversely, if the guardian lost their charge - the survivor usually didn't live long.

A bond so strong isn't easy to let go of. Wherever one of them goes, the other one has the want and need to follow, even if that means dying too, just to be with them. They said it happened with sparkmates too.

Bumblebee said through the radio that it was amazing.

Ironhide said he'd never seen anything like it in all his stellar cycles.

Ratchet looked at me again, and asked me if I'd felt anything while I was asleep. Had I heard or seen anything? Did I feel like I had to... leave?

When he said leave, I knew he meant die. But it didn't bother me, because right then I remembered something I'd experienced while I was unconscious. I told him I'd seen Jazz in my dream, and that he said I didn't have to go. He told me I had to pull through for everyone who loved me, that his time may be up but mine wasn't. I even thought I felt his servo around me, but clearly that was impossible because it was just a dream.

Ratchet said I was a medical mystery.

Bumblebee started playing "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan.

Mikaela hugged me again.

Optimus stroked my hair with one finger, then left the room.

Sam put both his hands around mine and Mikaela's.

Ironhide said I must be a fighter.

I just smiled, because my destined guardian may have been killed, but I knew I had more. They were all unofficial, but I knew they'd be like my surrogate guardians. And I kind of liked that idea.

And about my dream. I never say it out loud, but I knew it was real. It was too vivid not to be. I could feel everything that was happening, and Jazz's voice was clear. Like he was right there with me, holding me in his servo. He was the same old Jazz, always would be to me, and he'd always protect me.

I even remember him whispering to me that even though his body was offline, his spark would always be right there with me.

I've never doubted it.