Author's Note: This fic just sort of took on a life of it's own...it was intended to be a short little humourous piece, but then Elita One decided to stick up for herself and point out that she really can be an awesome character, if only she were written decently, and Optimus decided to poke his head in and expose us all to the evidence of his dock worker origins. Together they sort of expanded the fic a bit into this strange monstrosity that may or may not make any sort of sense. I blame the entire thing on the two Autobot commanders and the prowlxjazz LJ community.

- You Don't Have To Be Afraid -

Prowl glanced up with a frown when he heard his door chime sound. Bluestreak was normally the only Autobot who 'dared' to bother the tactician in his quarters, but the younger mech was out on patrol. So whoever it was, they were unexpected. As he headed for the door, he entertained the idle notion that it was Jazz - not only was the saboteur currently in Ratchet's care for minor injuries, however, but the last thing he would be doing would be visiting Prowl in his quarters. Jazz had made that quite clear. Still, as Prowl palmed open the door and saw who was on the other side, he figured that Jazz would have actually been less of a surprise than his real visitor.

"Elita One." he murmured in surprise. While the femmes were technically a separate division of the Autobot army, the bond between the two division's commanders led to frequent visits. Elita One was as common a sight in the mech's base as Optimus Prime was in the femme's, and both divisions respected both the leaders enough that they would follow either without question. So seeing Elita One at his door unannounced was a little like having Optimus Prime suddenly show up.

"Hello Prowl. Do you mind if I come in?" the pink femme asked with a smile, and Prowl recovered from his surprise enough to wordlessly step aside, allowing Elita enter his quarters, the door shutting behind her. She gave the neat room, containing only a simple recharge berth, basic couch, and a table stacked with data pads, a cursory glance before turning back to Prowl.

"This is...unexpected, Elita One. What can I do for you?" Prowl asked politely.

"Please, just Elita." the femme commander said, still smiling. "I've come about a...personal matter." Prowl frowned, letting his confusion show on his face. It was no secret that Prowl was not very adept at dealing with other mechs and femmes on a personal level - he found it difficult at best, bothersome and confusing at worst. So why Elita should come to him with a personal problem was beyond him.

"Ah - whatever you need." Prowl said cautiously.

"It's not I that needs anything." Elita said, her smile growing amused. "Tell me, Prowl, why haven't you and Jazz resolved this...thing between you?" Prowl just stared at the femme commander for a moment, then shook his head ruefully. He should have figured that, out of all the Autobots, it would be Elita who would notice.

"You would be better asking Jazz that question." Prowl admitted truthfully, motioning to the couch in an invitation to sit. Elita took it, seating herself delicately on one end as Prowl took the other.

"I have tried." Elita admitted. "However, Jazz is, shall we say, resourceful? I don't know how, but he seemed to sense the moment I decided to confront him, and has been avoiding me ever since."

"Hmm. Yes, Jazz is like that." Prowl said, allowing a hint of amusement to enter his voice. "He has been avoiding me outside of working situations for some time now."

"Yes, since the two of you returned from that battle outside of Kaon." Elita said, eyeing Prowl, and the tactician arched an optic ridge at her in return. He couldn't help but be somewhat impressed that she'd managed to accurately pin-point when things had changed between him and Jazz. The tactician and saboteur had been cut off from the rest of the Autobots in that battle, and both had received damage to their communications relays. Unable to communicate to the other Autobots that they were still alive, they'd been inadvertently left behind, and had had to help each other back to base without aid, exposing several previously-ignored facts and feelings to each other during the journey.

"Indeed." Prowl said, pushing aside the memories of that painful, if enlightening, trip.

"What happened, Prowl?" Elita asked seriously, and Prowl hesitated for a moment, debating as to how the femme commander would react. Elita seemed to sense that, and smiled again, ruefully. "I'm not about to berate you, of all mechs, for having feelings, Prowl. We cannot help who we fall in love with - only whine and complain and fight against it until someone gives us a swift kick in the CPU."

"And this is you, giving me that kick?" Prowl asked dryly. Elita gave him an amused look.

"No, now that I've talked to you, I'm fairly sure you don't need one. I'm still trying to determine if Jazz does, though." she said.

"He does." Prowl confirmed flatly.

"I see." Elita said consideringly. "I don't suppose he's given you any reasons for why he's denying what's so obviously meant to be?"

"Meant to be?" Prowl asked, arching an eyebrow.

"The first time I met you two, I, in all innocence, asked Optimus over our bond as to why he'd decided to have a bonded pair for his second and third in command." Elita said pointedly. Prowl blinked at the revelation.

"So that's why he laughed right after introducing us." the tactician mused.

"Yes." Elita said with a chuckle. "That would be why. I was rather surprised to find out you and Jazz weren't bonded. I've been waiting for some time now for one or the other of you to show signs of realizing how right for each other you are - I just hadn't anticipated you both realizing at the same time, and then Jazz going straight back into denial."

"Had I thought about it, neither would I." Prowl admitted. "Any Autobot, I'm sure, would have bet good energon on me being the one to go back into denial."

"Mm-hm. So why haven't you, and why has Jazz?" Elita inquired.

"I haven't because...it just feels too right. There are always things in my life that I can't make sense of straight away, that don't add up logically, and I'm always striving to remedy that, to make it all make sense. Before the battle outside Kaon, my...feelings towards Jazz were one of the biggest puzzles I had encountered. When I finally realized what they meant, and that Jazz felt the same...the puzzle suddenly made sense. It's logical that we should feel this way, because we fit together - we balance each other with our strengths and weaknesses, and we understand each other in a way no one else has ever understood either of us. There was really no point in trying to deny it anymore, after I realized that." Prowl explained with some difficulty. He was trying his best to explain things to the femme commander, who obviously only wanted to help, but, ironically, he had only ever felt at ease discussing things like this with Jazz.

"And Jazz?" Elita prompted quietly after a moment, seeming to understand Prowl's difficulty.

"He's afraid." Prowl replied easily, knowing the saboteurs true reasons, despite the half-hearted, obvious false reasons Jazz had given him once they'd returned from Kaon, right before he'd started treating Prowl like a stranger. "Afraid of losing me, of being lost himself and leaving me behind, afraid of messing it all up, afraid of all the many things that could go wrong in any relationship." Elita nodded in understanding.

"I suppose that makes sense, for a mech like him. He's made it his business not to get tied down in any one place, to any one mech or femme." she said. "Then suddenly, there you were, attached to him, and he to you, before either of you knew what was going on."

"Exactly." Prowl agreed.

"So. How shall we give him a kick in the CPU, then?" Elita asked with an easy smile.

"'We'?" Prowl asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Neither of us seem to be having much luck on our own, so we may as well combine our efforts." Elita said with a shrug. "I could try and do it on my own, but I think even Jazz might take offence to me calling him down to my office just to order him to stop denying what he feels and bond with you already." Prowl couldn't stop a rare snort of laughter from escaping at the thought of Elita doing just that, and the femme commander grinned at him. "So. Obviously the biggest problem is Jazz continuing to avoid you unless on duty. Perhaps some sort of patrol or mission requiring the two of you to work together, alone, for an extended period of time?"

"No." Prowl said with a shake of his head. "That's what started this whole mess. Plus, Jazz is always on the alert, always on guard, when on duty. He would never feel safe enough to work past his fears. The only reason he admitted what he felt on our way back from Kaon was that, at several points, we honestly thought one or both of us wouldn't make it."

"Alright. What would you suggest, then?" Elita inquired. Prowl didn't reply right away, his CPU whirling with half-formed ideas and plots as he tried to determine the best course of action. He'd been idly planning ways to get Jazz to stop denying what they both felt ever since it became clear what the saboteur was doing, but with Elita's co-operation, a whole new batch of options had just opened up. As one particular plan, accented by some aid from Elita, settled in Prowl's mind, his lips slowly curved into a smirk, and Elita gave him an amused look.

"Enforced vacation time." Prowl said, his smirk positively evil now. "With no missions to go on, no duties to perform, Jazz will have to relax at least a little, and perhaps think about things. I can...ambush him when he does."

"I assume that means you want vacation time for both you and him?" Elita inquired.

"No, that would be suspicious." Prowl said dismissively. "Besides, I don't need a vacation."

"Neither does Jazz." Elita pointed out.

"If this 'thing', as you so eloquently called it, is going to be solved, yes, he does." Prowl stated, arching an optic ridge at the femme. Elita chuckled.

"I'm beginning to think encouraging you in this might have been unfair to Jazz." she said.

"You were the one that wanted to give him a kick in the CPU." Prowl replied innocently.

"I'm suddenly glad you're on our side, Prowl." Elita said, laughing.

---

As a saboteur, let alone the head of Optimus Prime's special operations division, Jazz had developed a sort of sixth sense for when someone was plotting something that concerned him. It had served him well on his missions, saving his life, and was also surprisingly effective back at the base, helping him avoid being a victim of pranks, and more recently, determining when he was about to be called on for a mission. Right now, that sixth sense was screaming at him that he was currently smack dab in the center of a plot, and only getting himself deeper. The fact that he'd been ordered to take a vacation just put him more on edge, and two cycles after the start of his 'vacation', he found himself stalking the corridors of the base, looking around warily for hidden assassins, pranking twins, or whatever the case may be.

"Jazz?" the saboteur jumped at the voice behind him, and he spun around in surprise to find Prowl standing behind him, holding a data pad in one hand and looking at him curiously. Jazz instantly tensed, wary at being around the tactician. He'd thought he'd made it clear to Prowl that just because he had feelings for him didn't mean Jazz was going to act on them, but the tactician had never quite seemed to accept that. "What are you doing?" Prowl's curious question brought Jazz's thoughts back to the present.

"Walking." the saboteur gave what was perhaps his most brilliant reply ever. Not.

"Walking involves peeking around corners?" Prowl asked, tilting his head to one side, and Jazz shifted uncomfortably.

"Yes." he said after a moment.

"...I see." Prowl said, and was it Jazz's imagination, or were the tactician's lips twitching as if he was holding back a smile?

"Good night, Prowl." Jazz growled, then headed for his quarters. Unfortunately, the path to his quarters was back the way he'd come, past Prowl, so he had to brush by the tactician, who seemed to have a sudden problem with moving out of the way. Jazz desperately tried to ignore the shudders that went through his systems as the simple contact caused by brushing by the other mech, only to freeze short when he felt what could only be Prowl's hand glide lightly up his thigh as he went past.

"Good night, Jazz." Prowl murmured, and then was gone before Jazz could recover.

When the saboteur finally did recover, it was with no little horror that he realized just whose plot he was at the center of.

---

"I don't think this is working, Prowl." Elita murmured as she and the tactician stood a few feet away from Optimus, who was conversing with Blaster about a recent intercepted communication from the Decepticons. The femme commander and Prowl weren't paying attention, preferring to surreptitiously watch Jazz as he chatted and laughed with a few other mechs just getting off duty. It was obvious that his four cycles of vacation had actually made the saboteur more tense than normal - he was very carefully making sure that no one ever stood behind him, and every breem or so, his gaze turned to seek out Prowl's position.

"Actually, it's working perfectly." Prowl murmured back, smirking as Jazz looked in his direction again. The saboteur almost jumped at the sight of Prowl's smirk, and as the two watched, Jazz quickly convinced the other mechs to leave, practically herding them out of the control room.

"I thought the point was to get him to relax?" Elita asked, turning and arching an optic ridge at Prowl.

"He was relaxed. Then he thought about things. Now he's paranoid about what I'm plotting." Prowl said with a smirk. Elita gave Prowl an incredulous look.

"This is a good thing?" she asked.

"He's spending most of his time outside of recharge thinking about me. Of course it's a good thing." Prowl said with a faint smile, which he quickly smoothed back into a neutral expression as Optimus and Blaster turned their attention back to the tactician and femme commander. Elita gave Prowl an amused look before she, too, returned her attention to the intercepted transmission.

---

"Prowl. What can I do for you?" Optimus didn't look all that surprised to see his second-in-command enter his office, just weary. It had been a long cycle - no, cycles, he realized - for the Autobot commander. There had been several battles with the Decepticons resulting in heavy losses for the Autobots, along with several minor crises involving energon supplies and accidental explosions (surprisingly not Wheeljack's fault). Optimus had been about to go recharge when Prowl had shown up.

"Give me a break." Prowl replied unexpectedly, and Optimus looked up in surprise to find Prowl just as weary-looking as he was. Searching back in his memory banks, he recalled that Prowl had already been on duty when Optimus had gotten up three mornings ago, and like his commander, hadn't gone for recharge since.

"Of course, Prowl." he said with a nod. "Who's available to take over in the command center?" Prowl sighed.

"Ironhide and Blaster are still recovering from their injuries. Ratchet's not about to leave with patients in his med bay. Wheeljack is currently passed out on one of said med bay's berths, recharging. Bumblebee and Tracks are still out on missions." Prowl listed off, grimacing.

"So who does that leave?" Optimus asked with a frown, and Prowl thought for a moment.

"Jazz." he finally determined. Optimus considered that himself, trying to think why Jazz going on duty was a problem.

"Isn't he on vacation?" the Autobot leader finally came up with the answer.

"Yes." Prowl intoned flatly. Optimus considered again.

"Lucky slagger." he declared unexpectedly, and Prowl stared at his commander in no little amount of shock and surprise - it was the first time he'd ever heard Optimus curse. "I want a vacation." Optimus added wistfully.

"Me too." Prowl decided, surprised to find he actually meant it. His logic circuits presented an explanation for both that fact, and Optimus' cursing Jazz, in the observation that both mechs in the office were over tired and running on half-processed energon.

"How about we tell Jazz his vacation is cancelled for the next four cycles and take our own mini-vacations?" Optimus suggested.

"I really like that idea." Prowl determined after a few moments. "Can we do that?"

"I think so." Optimus said, tilting his head to one side as he thought sluggishly. "Primes can take vacations, can't they?"

"I don't know. I don't remember ever hearing of one before." Prowl said thoughtfully.

"Fraggit, I'm taking one anyways." Optimus declared emphatically, pushing himself to his feet. He pointed imperiously at Prowl, only weaving slightly from side to side. "And you're taking one, too. Prime's Primus-fragging orders!"

"Yes sir!" Prowl said with a snicker. "You want to inform Jazz, or shall I?"

"You can. I'm going to see Elita." Optimus stated, then without further ado, tromped out of his office, leaving Prowl to turn off the lights and lock the door. Optimus was already out of sight by the time Prowl got out into the hallway, and the tactician allowed himself a smirk at how quickly the large Autobot could move when he wanted to before heading to Jazz's quarters. He practically smashed the door chime when he went to press it, having unexpectedly leaned towards it when he went to hit it. There was a few moment's pause before Jazz opened the door, looking half in recharge himself, and Prowl suspected that, even though he was technically on vacation, the saboteur had been helping out around the base the past three days. Regardless, he still looked more rested than Prowl, and - in Prowl's expert opinion - incredibly sexy as he stood drowsily in the doorway to his quarters, looking completely bewildered.

"You..." Prowl trailed off, his thought ending before he could more than start it as he got distracted by how sexy Jazz looked, and he shook his head to clear his CPU, trying to remember why he was there. Right, vacation! Jazz was on one. No, that wasn't it...oh! Now he remembered. "Optimus and I are taking a vacation." Prowl declared. Then, with his message delivered, Prowl's body decided it had had enough, and he slipped into recharge, not even noticing when Jazz caught him before he hit the floor.

---

Prowl woke from recharge feeling pleasantly refreshed and, as was his habit, checked his chronometer before turning on any of his major systems. He realized something was off when he realized it was half-way through the cycle, and did a quick, alarmed boot of all his other systems when he cross-referenced the date with the last entry in his memory banks and found a lapse of two days. Turning his optics on, he found himself staring at a very familiar ceiling, and he turned he head to the side to confirm that he was, in fact, in med bay. An object smacking into the side of his helm alerted him to the fact that Ratchet was on the other side of his berth, and he turned his head back to look up at the medic. Ratchet's eyes narrowed, and he opened his mouth, obviously ready to launch into a tirade, but Prowl held up a hand, and out of surprise more than any desire to obey, Ratchet stopped.

"I'm on vacation for the next two days, Ratchet." Prowl said solemnly, having anticipated the topic of Ratchet's rant, and the medic actually gaped at him. "So is Optimus." Prowl offered.

"Yes, Elita said he muttered something about that before he collapsed, as well." Ratchet said with a scowl, glaring balefully at the tactician. "Do you have any idea how lucky we all are that Optimus didn't collapse between here and the femme base?"

"Very." Prowl declared, sitting up on the berth and taking a survey of the mechs still in the med bay. Most of the ones from the battles a few days ago were gone, with only Ironhide, Sunstreaker, and Hound remaining, along with Prowl. The tactician noticed with satisfaction that Optimus wasn't there, which meant that he was likely still at the femme base - probably recharging next to his bondmate, Prowl realized with a touch of envy.

"Yes, well, the next time you two are so slagging tired that you can barely stand, do yourselves a favour and don't try to go anywhere." Ratchet grouched.

"I was planning on heading straight to recharge. After I informed Jazz that his vacation was being cancelled for a few days. Optimus was the one who decided to head off to see Elita." Prowl pointed out reasonably.

"Apparently." Ratchet said with a scowl, and Prowl nodded, hopping off the berth.

"Am I free to go?" he asked politely, and Ratchet hesitated before nodding gruffly.

"Yes. But don't let me catch you on duty for the next two days." the medic said threateningly.

"Oh, I don't intend to go on duty for the next two days." Prowl said with a small smile as his previous plans slowly re-arranged themselves to fit his new situation. He'd had to put his 'seduce Jazz' plans on hold for the past five cycles out of necessity, but now that he had a little spare time on his hands, and Jazz had worked himself up into a decent panic about what the tactician was planning, Prowl decided it was time to act.

"Prowl." Ratchet said, sounding suspicious, and the tactician turned a curious look on the medic.

"Yes, Ratchet?" he asked.

"Stop looking like you're plotting something worse than anything Sideswipe could come up with." Ratchet ordered.

"...I'm a tactician. I'm supposed to plot." Prowl pointed out.

"I know, and feel free to plot. Just don't look like you're plotting. Or get out of my med bay, so I don't have to be unnerved by your evil smirking." Ratchet said patiently. Prowl stared at the medic for a moment, and Ratchet scowled, then made a shooing motion with his hands. "Shoo." he said. Prowl 'shoo'ed, leaving the med bay and heading to the command center, not to do any work, but to see who was on duty. Prowl smirked inwardly as he stepped into the command center and spotted Jazz sitting at the main console, his back to the door. Beachcomber and Bluestreak were the other two on duty, and they both looked up at Prowl's entrance, smiling when they saw him.

"Prowl! You're awake!" Bluestreak exclaimed happily, and Jazz visibly started, spinning around in his chair to stare at Prowl.

"That I am." Prowl said with a small smile and a nod to Bluestreak, then headed for the main console. Jazz eyed him suspiciously as he approached, then yelped as Prowl leaned over him to begin typing on the console.

"What are you doing?!" Jazz demanded.

"I'm fairly sure Ratchet's already locked the door to my office, so I'm using this console to officially put Optimus Prime and myself on vacation for the next two days. You don't mind putting your own vacation on hold for the duration, do you, Jazz?" Prowl asked, glancing back at the saboteur, who seemed extremely uncomfortable at Prowl's close proximity.

"No, of course not." he said.

"Thank you." Prowl said, modulating his voice into a purr, and quickly finished the changes to his and Optimus' duty status. Ignoring the way Jazz shuddered, Prowl then used the saboteur's shoulder to push himself upright again, away from the console. "Bluestreak, Beachcomber," Prowl said with a nod, then left the command center. Behind him, Jazz remained frozen in place, gaping after Prowl, as the saboteur tried to recover from the tactician's fingers caressing several sensitive nodes in the side of his neck before he'd left. Only Bluestreak's curious look brought Jazz back to the present, and he quickly returned his attention to the main console, studiously ignoring the other two mechs in the room.

---

It was with some trepidation that Jazz stepped into the rec room of the base. Since Prowl had never taken a vacation before, no one knew quite what he would be doing, which made it entirely possible that he would be in the rec room, even if he didn't normally frequent it. And after that little caress in the command center earlier in the cycle, Jazz was determined not to even share the same room with Prowl. Fortunately for Jazz, the rec room was Prowl-free, and with relief, the saboteur went and got some energon, settling himself at a table in the corner of the room, not feeling up to company at the moment.

His relief was short lived, as no sooner had he sat down, then Prowl entered the rec room. There was an almost imperceptible pause from the other mechs in the room as they took in the unusual sight of the Autobot's second-in-command in the rec room, but they quickly recovered. Prowl, meanwhile, went and got his own cube of energon before making a bee-line for Jazz. The saboteur scowled as Prowl sat down across from him, greeting him lightly.

"What do you want, Prowl?" Jazz asked by way of a greeting.

"You really want an answer to that, Jazz?" Prowl drawled in reply, and Jazz stared at him for a moment before scowling more deeply.

"I told you, Prowl -" the saboteur started, only to be interrupted by Prowl.

"You told me a selection of half-hearted lies designed to hide the fact that you're afraid of your own feelings." the tactician stated. Jazz gaped at him.

"I did - you -" Jazz spluttered, unable to come up with a decent reply, and Prowl gave him a surprisingly serious look.

"You don't have to be afraid, Jazz." he said, then downed his energon in one gulp before standing and heading out of the rec room. Jazz gaped after him, then growled to himself and went back to his energon. When Bluestreak joined him a few breems later to ask if he and Prowl were arguing - because it certainly looked like they were and that would be bad because having commanding officers fighting with each other was never a good thing or at least that's what Kup said - Jazz decided to just hide in his quarters, except for when on duty, for the duration of Prowl's vacation.

Not that that was much help, since apparently Prowl had somehow gotten the override controls for his door, Jazz realized as he stepped inside his quarters. The saboteur could only frown in confusion as he realized that the light was already on, and soft music was playing, when he entered his quarters. He half expected to find Prowl in there, waiting, but at the same time, he knew that even if the tactician apparently had no problem sneaking into his quarters and messing around with them when he wasn't there, he wouldn't invade Jazz's privacy so much as to be waiting for him when he returned. Still, the question was, why had Prowl snuck in in the first place? Leaving lights and music playing when there was no one in a room was a waste of energy they couldn't afford, so what was the purpose of it? The saboteur's optics caught on the bookfile and cube of energon resting on his recharge berth, and with a frown, he went over and investigated.

The energon, he discovered, was a mild high grade - not strong enough to do more than give him a slight tingle in his circuits from the extra energy, but still a rare commodity these days. As for the bookfile...it appeared to be a philosophical text. Glancing around, Jazz sighed, then took the hint and sat down on the berth with the energon and bookfile, beginning to scan through it. It wasn't hard to see why Prowl had chosen it - it was about life and love, and even though it had been written before the war began, it still made some very good points. Which really only irritated Jazz more. By the time he was done, he was angry and scowling, hand clenched around the bookfile. Given the events of the past orn, and now this bookfile, it was obvious to Jazz that Prowl had decided to ignore everything the saboteur had said after they returned from Kaon.

Now, Jazz could just let Prowl try and...and...seduce him, for lack of a better term, but Jazz was bound and determined not to give in, and a small part of him knew that Prowl would eventually win if he let the tactician have his way. The only solution, then, was to stop Prowl now - to convince him that this would never work between them, that it wasn't meant to be, and could the tactician just drop it already?

Decided, Jazz, tossed the bookfile and empty energon cube onto his berth, then strode purposefully out the door, heading down the hall to Prowl's quarters. He smacked the door chime viciously and repeatedly, not caring if he was waking the tactician - he was on vacation, after all. Finally, Prowl opened the door, frowning, and Jazz immediately planted a hand on the tactician's chassis and pushed him back into the room, pushing his own way inside as he shut the door behind him. The last thing he wanted was an audience for this conversation.

"Jazz, what -"

"Oh don't even try to play innocent with me, Prowl!" Jazz growled, pointing accusingly at the tactician. "I was not lying. I am not afraid of anything, least of all my own feelings. This thing, between you and me? Would never work. We're far too different, and besides that, we're second and third in command of the Autobots and have responsibilities to go with those positions. Neither of us can afford to be distracted by worrying about each other specifically!" Jazz continued his rant, pointing out all the myriad of reasons a relationship between the two of them would never work, and why it shouldn't work. Prowl just stood there and listened to it all, patiently, waiting until Jazz wound down to a spluttering stop before speaking.

"Jazz, you don't have to be afraid." Prowl said, quietly, and the saboteur wondered how the normally sombre and emotionless tactician could put so much meaning, so much emotion, into such a simple statement. He wasn't just saying Jazz didn't have to be afraid, he was making a promise that he'd be there when Jazz was afraid, that he'd help him fight his fear, and that he would never stop loving Jazz.

Jazz could only stare at the tactician, unable to move or say anything in response, not even when Prowl stepped closer, until they where chassis to chassis. Prowl's gaze burned into Jazz, destroying any excuses the saboteur might have tried to create. It left Jazz with only the pure and simple truth, exactly as he had seen it during that pain-filled journey back to the base. Jazz's spark called out to Prowl's - no matter how many excuses he made, how many times he tried to deny it, that was the plain and simple truth. Jazz loved Prowl, and Prowl loved Jazz. There was nothing either of them could do about it, and Jazz appeared to be the only one out of the two of them that even wanted to try.

"Prowl, I -" Jazz found himself unable to continue, shuddering and turning off his optics, trying to collect his thoughts. Any ground he gained by shutting off his optics, however, was lost when he felt Prowl's hands come to rest on his hips, the thumb of his left hand gently stroking the edge of some of Jazz's armour. The saboteur shuddered again, turning his optics back on, and found Prowl's face only millimetres from his own.

"I love you, Jazz." Prowl said softly, then leaned in and kissed him. Jazz's optics shut off of their own accord as he melted into the tactician's kiss, his last coherent thought being along the lines of 'to the pits with it!'

---

"Yes, what is it?" Optimus inquired drowsily, having just hauled himself out of recharge to answer the incessant beeping of Elita's communicator. The femme herself was still recharging on the berth, so Optimus kept his voice low, and didn't turn on the screen for visual communications (he hadn't found where Elita had tossed his facemask yet, anyways).

"Prime, have ya spoken t'Jazz lately?" Ironhide asked, sounding confused.

"No, I haven't. Why?" Optimus asked curiously.

"Well Jazz was s'posed t'come on duty a joor ago, but nobody's seen 'im since yesterday, and when we checked his quarters, they were empty." Ironhide replied. Optimus frowned, and out of absent habit, his gaze slipped over to his still-recharging mate. He recalled, suddenly, the smug feelings he'd been getting from her lately, as well as he unexpected order that Jazz take a vacation. A thought occurred to the Autobot commander, and he gave the femme a calculating look.

"Have you checked Prowl's quarters?" Optimus asked Ironhide.

"Why would..." Ironhide trailed off, obviously checking just in case. "Now that's odd."

"What is it, Ironhide?" Optimus asked, suspecting he already knew what Ironhide had found.

"Prowl's quarters are readin' as bein' under a lock-down. The command code is...Elita One's?" Ironhide sounded completely baffled.

"Hmm, that is odd." Optimus said in reply, giving his mate an amused look as Ironhide confirmed his suspicions. "Is there anyone that can take Jazz's shift?"

"Well, I s'pose Blaster could..." Ironhide said.

"He'll have to do it, then." Optimus said.

"What about Jazz, Prime?" Ironhide asked.

"Don't worry about Jazz, Ironhide." Optimus said. "I'm sure he's fine."

"If you say so, Prime..." Ironhide replied dubiously, and Optimus reassured him again before saying goodbye and returning to the recharge berth. Looking over at his mate one last time, Optimus allowed himself a rueful grin, and kissed her lightly on the crest of her helm.

"You are a force to be reckoned with, my dear." he murmured before going back into recharge himself.

- Oh thank god, it's finally over... -