Characters: Optimus Prime, Jazz, mentions of others; Jazz/Prowl friendship
Warnings: Angst. Lots of angst. I also twist some concepts around a bit to suit the plot better >.>
Summary: Jazz had always felt that Prowl was a little...different then the rest of them.
Notes: I believe anavidbookworm asked about Optimus' reaction to Prowl's little secret and it coincided with what the muses wanted to happen next. It was originally going to be the beginning for Chapter 3 but it felt too wonky to do so, so it got its own chapter.
Optimus is troubled.
Things haven’t been going well for the Prime. It seems that every time he turns around, a new problem crops up that requires his attention. He tries his best to deal with them but he knows that he can’t handle every problem as speedily as they appear. It frustrates Optimus to no end and forces him to work already long nights longer to no avail.
He is in a tiring video conference with the commander from Altihex’s Autobot congregate when Jazz barges in without so much as a courtesy ping. Jazz terminates the connection with Altihex and runs a high level bug sweep before Optimus is able to process what is happening.
“Jazz, what is the meaning of --”
“Sorry but we don’t have time,” Jazz cuts in. The TIC looms over Optimus’ desk and only his frightfully serious demeanor saves him from instantly earning a few more insubordination charges. “Ah need your say-so to do an immediate solo extraction of a higher ranked officer who’s been captured.”
There isn’t many who have higher authority than Jazz and only one of those few has been missing for some time.
“Prowl.” Optimus’s engine rumbles with his unease as he leans back and folds his hands before his face. “What proof do you have he’s been captured by the Decepticons? Megatron has yet to call demanding ransom.”
“Not Megatron. Worse -- it’s Shockwave,” Jazz spits out. “I didn’t hear anythin’ about the mech but I have hardcopy records of ‘im requesting more materials and more than his usual share of energon allocations. It’s not much, Ah know, but we don’t got time ta go over it all. Ah need to leave now, before Shockwave can learn anything vital.”
At any other time, Optimus would have given his consent without a second thought. Prowl is too valuable a resource for the enemy to have, alive or dead. Something nags at him, though, warning caution. It makes him pursue a line of thought farther than he would normally do, and Optimus voices it before Jazz impatiently throws everything into the wind and runs off on his own.
“How will I know you won’t kill Prowl yourself in the course of your ‘rescue’?”
Jazz sputters for a moment -- in disbelief or automatic denial, Optimus can’t tell -- before he’s able to respond.
“What’s the point of mounting a rescue if I’m only goin’ ta kill the captured bot?” Jazz asks in return. “Why would yah even ask me that, and now of all times!”
“I am not blind, Jazz. I know of the relationship breakdown you two have suffered since you both were captured.” Optimus pauses, debating with himself if he’s willing to gamble the future on half-guessed knowledge. If Jazz doesn’t know, if his and Prowl’s falling out really is the result of something else after all, than he is giving Jazz fodder to start an unofficial investigation that could permanently cripple the Autobot army. But he has no choice in this now. Optimus cannot justify what he has asked with any other reply. “You know, don’t you? That Prowl is different from you and I.”
Jazz freezes in place. “You knew?“ he hisses out and Optimus has to resist looking away as his suspicions are revealed to be correct. There is so much barely concealed hurt in Jazz’s glare.
“Since the beginning.” Ever since he first obtained the Matrix and the title Prime along with it. It had been an unwanted surprise at first, this ability to sense the sparks of his fellow Cybertronians. It made him feel even more responsible for the lives he was suddenly in charge of. But he had learned to embrace it after a time, cherish it as something that helped him view his soldiers as Cybertronians and not just cannon fodder to win the civil war like the Council wanted him to.
And then he’d meet Prowl.
Optimus wants to tell Jazz exactly how shocked he was when Prowl first crossed his path. He wants to try and explain the feeling of wrongness that ebbed over him as he looked at the mech that had no spark and yet was standing before him. He wants to tell Jazz all about his search for a clue, any clue, that would give him insight into this phenomenon and about how that clue mysteriously appeared on his desk in the form of a datapad explaining everything -- the proposed plan, its rejection, how it continued anyway -- with a plea at the end that Optimus leave Prowl be before a dormant virus wiped the datapad clean.
It had given him so much to think about. Optimus had agonized over what to do with this new information and how he should go about it. In the end, he decided to let the knowledge remain in his processor safely tucked away. Optimus couldn’t allow anything to happen to Prowl because the true, dark reality of it was that the Autobot’s continued existence rested on the drone’s tactical strategies. No matter what his personal feelings on the matter was, Optimus had to let the drone continue playing the part of SIC or risk killing the cause.
But he can’t explain. Like Jazz has said, they have no time.
Optimus commands his voice to rise above Jazz’s livid silence. “Have an emergency extraction team waiting on standby. This mission will be for naught if you’re unable to transport Prowl to safety after you locate and rescue him. He will most likely be in no condition to move far without medical aid.”
To his credit, Jazz’s voice is professionally neutral when he responds. “Understood, Prime. Ah’ll pick a team that won’t ask questions before or after. Is that all?”
“Yes. Proceed with all haste. And Jazz?“
Jazz stops before the exit but he doesn’t turn around or acknowledge Prime in any other way. Optimus knows that he deserves the cold treatment but that doesn’t stop him from wishing that everything was different.
“For what it’s worth...I’m sorry.”
The following moment stretches on until it begins to break under the strain of the silence. Finally, Jazz nods before hurrying out. It’s not an acceptance of the woefully inadequate apology, but an acknowledgement that it, at least, exists. Optimus forces himself to be content with that and reinitializes his communication line with Altihex’s commander to continue his interrupted meeting. As he assures the commander that the disconnection was due to nothing more than an unexpected power flux, a part of Optimus focuses on the future and what new troubles it will bring now.