“Are you really going to Iacon?” Bluestreak’s giddy voice broke through the quiet atmosphere of Prowl’s miniscule apartment, decorated in the epitome of Praxus’s austere style. Prowl heard the rapid clip of his pedes against the hard floors as he swept up to stand beside Prowl’s desk.
Prowl slowly put down his light-pen, turning to face his younger brother. Bluestreak seemed to be almost vibrating with excitement. Before he got a chance to speak, Bluestreak beat him to it:
“I talked to Vigil while I was on patrol today and I already knew you were in the running for getting that tactical position in Iacon with the Prime, but he said that Prime has already sent bots out to talk to Captain Roundabout about sending you to Iacon as soon as possible and I couldn’t believe it! I’m so excited for you, Prowl! Are you excited? You’re going to get to work alongside the Prime and he’s working with the Autobots so you’ll probably get to fight against Decepticons and do cool special operations stuff and—”
Prowl realized, belatedly, that he wasn’t actually expected to say anything in this conversation. Relaxing back into his chair, he allowed Bluestreak to continue, while he mentally filled out the remainder of his transfer form in his processor.
Prowl had dodged Bluestreak’s comms for far too long. He had only been in Iacon for one lunar cycle, but Bluestreak was used to being able to talk his audial off every other cycle. It wasn’t for a lack of trying on Bluestreak’s part – the mech sent him comms constantly. It was just that responding to them fell low on Prowl’s to-do list, given that—
“—I’m constantly having to pull in the director of special operations.” Prowl wasn’t sure when his comm to Bluestreak turned into an impromptu rant. “He can’t plan ahead worth a shanix. He’s managed to galivant through functioning this long because he’s always had charmed officers to do his dirty work. He thinks charisma is comparable to actual talent.” Prowl snorted. “His only real talent is managing to shirk off all his work on his fellow commanders.”
Bluestreak had a deep frown on his faceplates. “The spec ops head?” he repeated. “Are you sure it’s him?”
“No mistake,” Prowl said. “I’ve had a truly unfortunate number of encounters with him.”
“Huh.” Bluestreak tilted his helm. “Vigil used to be in Iacon, you know, and he told me that he worked with Jazz when he was still a junior officer and he was great. I never thought you would get along, but I always heard he was a good mech.”
“A good con-mech, certainly,” Prowl said.
“Maybe you’ll come around,” Bluestreak replied.
“And maybe Megatron will willingly hand over leadership to Starscream, since we’re considering the impossible now.”
Prowl’s comms to Bluestreak remained sporadic as he adjusted to life in Iacon. As the newest arrival, he couldn’t risk denying extra shifts or turning down overtime when it might cause his work to slip. He intended for Prime to notice his capabilities, and he was willing to put in the cycles for it. Luckily, Bluestreak had long ago learned to accept this.
“Has Jazz gotten you to take any of his shifts?” Bluestreak asked.
Prowl paused in his decrying of Prime’s security director. “No,” he said, after a long moment. “I don’t think he has.”
Bluestreak hummed noncommittally. “I figured he’d be the first one to pull it, after what you said that first time.”
Prowl considered it. “That would make the most sense.” He concluded that Jazz was merely biding his time, garnering points to cash in for a larger favor than just a shift change.
“Maybe he’s not that bad, after all,” Bluestreak said.
“And maybe Megatron’s next move will be to fire Soundwave. Honestly, Bluestreak…”
Eventually, Prowl and Bluestreak managed to settle into something close to a schedule for their comms. It was never exact, given the unplanned cycles Prowl had to put in sometimes, but it was enough to settle Bluestreak down and keep him from sending a comm to check on Prowl every couple of cycles.
“Prime is ignoring my plan to defend Petrex,” Prowl said, after not speaking to Bluestreak for four solar cycles. “Every time I deliver one to him, he claims the success rate is too low. I’ve tried to explain to him that there’s no reasonable way to get it above 73%, but he refuses to listen to reason. His security director insists on feeding this… this paranoia of his.”
“There has to be someone else who gets it,” Bluestreak said. “You can’t win everything, right?”
Prowl hesitated, then said, “Jazz has spoken on behalf of all the plans I’ve submitted, even when the success rate was a steady 57%. He swears there’s no way to actually calculate the probability of success, despite my offers to demonstrate to both him and Prime how the variables interact.”
“Well,” Bluestreak said, “not everyone can trace 800 moving objects at a time, Prowl.”
“I have only identified 314 variables of significance.”
“Okay, let me rephrase: Not everyone wants to trace 314 variables at a time.”
Prowl made a dismissive noise. “There is no time to consider our wants. This is war. If Prime is unwilling to make certain sacrifices, then he will eventually have to sacrifice his entire cause.”
Bluestreak almost winced. “And how did he take it when you told him that?”
“I didn’t,” Prowl said. After a long moment, he elaborated, “Jazz did. After Optimus rejected my latest plan.”
Bluestreak’s optics widened. “He stood up to Prime for you?”
“For my plan, yes.”
Despite only being able to see Bluestreak’s helm and part of his shoulder armor, Prowl could tell he had begun spinning his chair about. “I heard Jazz and Prime used to be really good friends, before he became a Prime,” Bluestreak said. “He must really like you.”
“Or he likes having a job,” Prowl replied. “If the Autobots fail, we will all be moving elsewhere.”
“Yeah, but…” Bluestreak glanced at the screen, then shook his helm. “Never mind. Tell me more about Petrex. I heard it was a great city to vacation in. I think Vigil’s spark-brother went there once, with his conjunx. They have these crystal gardens a little like the ones we have here in Praxus, but theirs have different—”
“He’s a bigger fool than Prime is.” Prowl was livid, pacing his office while Bluestreak watched from a screen with wary optics. The normally talkative sniper didn’t dare risk interrupting, lest his rage refocus on him.
“I know damned well that he’s covering for the Twins. If Red Alert would simply allow me to analyze how the security footage was destroyed, I would be able to identify Jazz’s method of destruction. I’ve signed off on it enough times. Of course, Red is unwilling to admit he can’t identify it, as if he has any training in forensics.”
Prowl paused in his pacing. “Perhaps Red is able to identify it, but is merely unwilling to do so. It wouldn’t be beyond Jazz’s prowess to convince someone to lie for him.”
“But why?” Bluestreak said.
Prowl finally – finally – glanced at the screen. “Pardon?”
“Why?” Bluestreak repeated. “I thought you said Jazz would do anything to get out trouble. Why would he be offering to take one for the Twins?”
Rather than answer that, Prowl said, “And that’s another thing! The Twins are far from the only perpetrators who deserve a closer optic on them. But Red won’t—”
Bluestreak sighed and put his chin in his servo.
Despite the schedule they had put in place, Prowl still made attempts to comm Bluestreak whenever he had some free time. Bluestreak almost always picked up.
On this particular cycle, Prowl sent a comm to Bluestreak from his hab-suite. Bluestreak answered and almost immediately launched into a story about the latest chase he had partaken in. Prowl sipped idly at a cube of energon while he spoke.
Finally, Bluestreak paused to take a vent, and rather than continue, asked, “Is that a cube of Vosnian energon?”
Prowl glanced at the cube, realizing it was, in fact, Vosnian. “I suppose it is.”
“You drink Vosnian energon now?”
Prowl shook his helm. “Jazz insists I fuel regularly. He’s under the impression that I don’t ever so much as leave my office. He took to delivering cubes personally and, according to him, I would drink whatever he placed down with little inspection. So now he’s taken to mixing it up every cycle, probably seeing whether I’ll still drink it.”
Bluestreak stared through the screen for a long time. At last, he said, “Aren’t you in your hab-suite right now? Not your office?”
“Jazz is aware where my hab-suite is.” In fact, Prowl had a suspicion Jazz had memorized the entire layout of the Autobot headquarters, but the spymaster didn’t take kindly to those who pointed out his obsessive preparedness.
“So he drops fuel off at your hab-suite?”
“I told you,” Prowl said, “he’s made a game of seeing what energon I’ll actually drink.”
“Yeah, but…” Bluestreak hesitated. “He comes by your hab-suite to drop it off to? Like, alone?”
“Why would dropping off fuel require more than one mech?”
“Are you really— no, okay, it’s fine, I get it.” Bluestreak held up a placating servo. “I’m gonna return some sense of normalcy to this conversation now and tell you all about the chase so you can send Vigil a report about how disappointed you are in his leading skills.”
“Thank you,” Prowl said. “This lunar cycle’s complaint letter is a tad short.”
When Jazz asked Prowl on a date for the first time, Prowl – in a stuttering mess, no less – forewent giving him an answer, and instead quickly retreated back to his hab-suite after his shift ended. This was all told to Bluestreak in a ramble more reminiscent of his own way of talking than Prowl’s.
“So you’re gonna go, right?” Bluestreak said, once Prowl had quieted down.
Prowl’s optics cycled once, then twice. “I’m not sure,” he murmured.
“Why wouldn’t you?” asked Bluestreak.
Prowl brought a servo to his temple, where the prickling sensation of a coming crash had lingered since Jazz broached his question. “I could ruin our relationship,” he said. “Cause a rift in the command structure. He could sabotage my plans and I could wreck his possibility of success if our partnership turned toxic.”
Bluestreak had one pede on the ground and one in his chair, and he idly twisted it from side to side. “Since when did you let business and personal life mix? You’re the poster mech for professionalism.”
Prowl’s processor was already running scenarios, all demonstrative for how wrong this could go. In the end, even if he said no, there would be no returning to their relationship as it had been before. Neither option was perfect, so he might as well take the one he wanted.
Cybertronian courtships generally lasted far longer than six vorns, and Prowl didn’t know if it was the uncertainty of the warfront or the way they just instantly clicked that brought theirs to its final stage so soon. After all they had done for each other, all the time they had worked together, they had long since completed the Four Acts. All that was left was the actual bonding, and making others aware of their depth of their intentions.
Bluestreak was uncharacteristically silent when Prowl told him. He was still in his chair, partially slumped down, his optics cast down to the metal of his desk rather than the screen.
“Bluestreak?” Prowl finally prompted.
“I know you like him,” Bluestreak said, his voice slow. “I know. But why do you like him?”
For once, Prowl didn’t have an answer, and he didn’t attempt to scrounge one together. “I don’t know,” he admitted. A dozen memories flashed through his processor – Jazz covering for the twins, Jazz switching shifts with whoever needed it, Jazz being unhesitant to stand up to Prime – but no words. “He’s just… I don’t know.”
Prowl worried that he had managed to offend his younger brother, before a bright, triumphant smile stretched wide across his faceplates.
“Finally!” Bluestreak said. “Finally! Something you don’t have an answer for! And all it took was you getting conjunxed for it to happen! I told Smokescreen there was no way you would be able to—”
Prowl shut off the comm link.