Most Autobots had a problem reading Prowl, but not Jazz. Ya just have to speak door-wing, Jazz thought with a twinge of amusement. Prowl may not be as expressive as say, Bluestreak, but contrary to popular belief, he does have emotions.
Then again, doubt any of them have ever seen him like this. Jazz sobered, watching Prowl from the doorway. The tactician was sitting on the ledge, his head down and his door-wings limp. A sigh from Jazz made Prowl jump, stiffening and half-turning to look over his shoulder.
"Relax, it's just me." Jazz pushed off the wall and came to stand next to Prowl. "Pretty view," He commented, settling next to the tactician. Prowl just looked at him, his door-wings dropping a bit.
"He didn't mean it, you know." Jazz continued after a moment of pained silence. "Ratchet hates it when anyone gets hurt. He was lashin' out, and you were just handy. He didn't mean it, and he already regrets it-"
"Doesn't make it any less true," Prowl said quietly, door wings drooping.
"Prowl. It is not your fault. They knew what they were getting into when they came here. We all did. It's war, casualties happen." Jazz's voice was uncharacteristically serious.
"No - they came here because Prime asked them to. They get hurt because I made a mistake. Again."
"It's sheer luck no one died today, Jazz. I could have got us all killed – all because I was too distracted to even consider…" Prowl's door-wings were shivering.
"It's not your fault," Jazz repeated.
"It was right there, everything – Primus! You told me, and I still missed it! It shouldn't have happened!" Prowl stopped, covering his face. After a moment he continued, his voice flat. "I almost got you killed today. I – I couldn't live with that."
"But I didn't die." Jazz held up his hands. "Look, not a scratch."
"I can't do this, Jazz. I can't."
Jazz reached out, taking one of Prowl's hands in both of his. "You have to," he said quietly, hating himself for it. "There's no one else."
"Slag there isn't." But Prowl didn't pull his hand back.
"There isn't, Prowl. You are the best tactician we have. You can't be blamed for the ones you couldn't save, but if you walk away now, you will be to blame for every person who dies that you could have spared." Jazz felt the words burn even as Prowl raised his head, looking sick. "Prime wouldn't have given you this assignment if you couldn't do it." And right now, seeing the pain in Prowl's eyes, Jazz hated Optimus Prime, too.
Prowl let out a short, humorless laugh. "Prime makes mistakes."
"And so do you. We don't hold it against either of you."
"Maybe you don't," Prowl said dryly, but his door panels lifted a bit.
Jazz sat on the ledge long after Prowl went back inside, staring blindly out at the landscape.
Someday his sense of duty wasn't going to be enough to make him do that to Prowl again. Each time it hurt a little worse to see the guilt and pain and misery in Prowl's eyes and force the words out, to make Prowl get up despite it all and go on.
He was watching the most important person in his life break down piece by piece, and he was the one doing it.
He just hoped he broke before Prowl did.