A/N: Because I agree with the ProwlxJazz LJ community that there just aren't enough romance stories out there where Prowl's the one calling the tune, after all he is a schemer and a plotter by profession! This should probably carry a warning about the level of sweetness you're going to encounter if you read further.
"Jazz, what's wrong man?" Beachcomber asked "We carry on sparing with you distracted like this an' I'm gonna be trying to explain to Ratchet how you ended up in pieces in his bay."
"It's," Jazz groaned and slumped to the floor, "it's complicated. Actually scratch that, it's simple. Prowl."
"Prowl?" Beachomber's voice rose in surprise "Why would Prowl be responsible for you being so worked up? He been on your case for something?"
"Nah, we're cool." Jazz buried his face in his hands. "An' that's the problem."
"Your trouble is being cool with Prowl?" Beachcomber repeated, just to make sure he'd heard and understood Jazz correctly.
"Just being cool," Jazz corrected. "Man, ya gotta promise ya not gonna leak a word of this. To anyone, ever, and especially not to Prowl."
"I promise," Beachcomber replied solemnly.
"Problem started back on Cybertron, when we first met." Jazz sighed focusing his optics across the vorn. "I thought he was just gonna be a tight aft desk jockey, you know how formal he can be, but then we got caught by a 'con ambush and there he was keeping my aft and still plotting to get us out in one bit. I appreciate that kind of support. Having someone you can trust to keep your back with out having to ask 'em is the ultimate expression of friendship and loyalty to an ops agent. And then I got ta know him."
Jazz let out air airy sigh and his lips twitched into a wistful smile. After a couple of breems of silence Beachcomber coughed gently.
"Sorry," Jazz apologised. "Yeah, then I got ta know him, and we spent whole shifts talking about stuff that was nothing to do with war or our jobs or even the work we were supposed be doing. And I found ma'self actively seeking his company when we were both on downtime, just to talk."
Beachcomber sniggered. "Yeah right man."
Jazz had the grace to look embarrassed. "Well that's what I told myself then, but ya right, even back then I had a crush on him. It helps that he's easy on the optics and the way he moves, man has he ever given me trouble recharging over the vorn."
"Sounds like you fell hard, man." Beachcomber smiled sympathetically. "Does he have any idea?"
"No!" Jazz leapt to his feet and began pacing agitatedly across the mats. "I, he, this is Prowl we're talkin' about here, he don't do emotional hints very well. I don't know how ta get through to him. Short of just comin out an' telling him that I'd give my spark for the chance to wake up beside him every day, and I'm not about to be that direct."
"You're afraid he might not feel the same way and it'd ruin a good friendship. Nothing ventured, nothing gained my man," Beachcomber said, getting to his feet. "You up for getting pounded into the mats?"
Jazz whirled round into a combat ready pose. "Anything to work out my stress. Bring it!"
As the sound of hand to hand combat drifted into the corridor the unseen listener to the conversation stalked back the way he had come.
Prowl lay on his back, contemplating the ceiling of his quarters and the conversation he had overheard. He had originally gone down to the rifle range to work out some of his own frustrations, mainly with the fact that after so many vorn of, well, lusting, after Jazz, their friendship was still platonic.
To be sure it wasn't all physical lust – Jazz was beautiful, graceful, and Primus' gift to Cybertron, no questions taken on that point, but the spark of admiration and friendship had been struck by Jazz's quick fire mental brilliance. Every conversation had the possibility to wander over a huge number of topics, some in depth, some just skimmed, some seriously considered from all angles, and others just for a laugh at the vagaries of the universe or their fellow mechs. The fire had been further fed by Jazz's genuine caring nature; no one was allowed to wallow in guilt or grief alone once Jazz found out about it. Such devotion to others intrigued him, and as he found out how much trouble Jazz was prepared to go to for someone, his respect for the other black and white had become astronomical.
He'd been flattered when Jazz had started actively seeking to sit and talk with him in their off duty periods, and over the vorn had begun to permit himself the hope that the rapidly deepening love he felt for Jazz might be returned. He'd been patient, he'd been subtle in his signals and prompting, and he'd spent far too many frustrated and lonely nights as a result. Well, since Jazz hadn't picked up on the subtle signals – and he now had proof that the feelings were mutual – it was time for more direct action.
---- Two days later----
Hound was sure he'd blow something from laughing so hard. He and Jazz had been quietly sitting in the rec room having a leisurely breakfast when Prowl had strolled in and walked over to them, Jazz hadn't noticed the tactician until Prowl had stopped behind him and run a finger up the middle of his roof. Jazz had twitched in the most peculiar way, dropped his energon cube, and twisted to his feet in a move that Hound wasn't even going to think about trying. The saboteur was staring at Prowl like he'd painted the Decepticon symbol on his chest. Prowl, on the other hand, was giving Jazz a faint smile.
"Ticklish aren't you?" Prowl remarked, the faintest hint of something in his tone "Prime wants to see us."
---- Three weeks later ----
The music was loud and fast and just what Jazz needed to work off his anger and frustration at a certain crew of irresponsible, immature, unthinking, and ungrateful mechs. They'd really done it with those comments about how badly Prowl had done his job in the last battle. He hadn't, he'd performed perfectly as always, but a nameless set of criminally irresponsible mini-bots had taken it into their CPUs to disobey Prowl's orders and had ended up on the wrong side of the lines with Devastator looming over them. Prime and Ironhide had rescued them, but they'd both been battered so badly that Ratchet had refused to move them from the field before he started work stabilising them. It had been touch and go all the way back to the Ark, and all through that long nightmare journey Prowl had silently endured a blistering litany of taunts, curses, criticism and blame for something that hadn't been his fault. The tactician had locked himself in his office on their return and no one had seen him for three shifts. Jazz had fled the ark for this illegal rave to escape the continuing round of harping and criticising that was being directed at the 2IC.
A hand landed heavily on his shoulder and dragged him off the floor into a space by the wall of the derelict warehouse. Jazz turned to deliver some blistering words of his own only to stop at the sight of Prowl offering him an energon cube, a worried frown on his face.
//You need it,// Prowl transmitted over the radio, not bothering to try and make himself heard over the music.
//Thanks,// Jazz replied. //Ya mad at me fer splitting?//
//No.// Prowl's voice was full of understanding. //It was obvious that you were unhappy at the others' behaviour, and music has always been your way of dealing with emotional stress.//
//But I left ya to deal with that lot of crows alone,// Jazz's tone was puzzled//an' I didn't tell anyone I was going or where I'd be. Those last two have got ta be enough to land me in trouble.//
An optic ridge rose and a flash fire grin crossed Prowl's face as he regarded Jazz.
//Well if you want to make amends,// Prowl's voice was rich with amusement//teach me to dance.//
Jazz spluttered on the mouthful of energon he'd just taken and stared at Prowl.
//Dance?// Jazz repeated //You want me to teach you to dance?//
//Yes.// Prowl's tone was smug //You always said I should try and 'dig' earths culture more, so consider this a starting point.//
Downing the rest of the cube Jazz held out a hand to Prowl, determined to make the most of a rare opportunity to be physically close to the mech he loved without anyone considering it odd. He'd make sure Prowl relaxed for a while and enjoyed himself before he had to deal with an ark load of insensitive hostile mechs who really should know better. A stray thought struck him.
//If Prime and 'Hide are medically unfit, I'm AWOL and you're here looking for me,// Jazz asked as they swayed out onto a corner of the dance floor//who's in charge back at the Ark?//
Prowl's smile was outright wicked. //Huffer//
---- Two months later ----
Jazz came back online slowly. Everything ached and his visor wouldn't focus properly. He tried to sit up and found that he was held down by a weight on his right arm and across his waist. Fighting down the panic that threatened to engulf him, he allowed his visor some more time to reboot properly and then turned his head. Head and shoulders resting limply over his arm and one arm stretched over his waist was Prowl, deep in recharge and sporting fresh weld patches of his own.
"He's been there ever since you came out of surgery," Ratchet's voice came from the other side of his bunk. "He refused to let you wake up alone."
"What happened?" Jazz asked. "My last memory is of pulling a victim out of the rubble."
"Starscream," was Ratchet's succinct answer. "He wasn't done with the fight, it seems – he let everything he had loose on you, or he would have done if Prowl hadn't pulled you out of the way. If he'd been a bit slower you'd be dead right now. He took some damage but nothing serious."
"He's a good friend, Ratchet," Jazz said softly. "The best friend I ever had."
Ratchet smiled. "Go back into recharge, and if he's online when you come back up, tell him I said he was off duty for a while and that he was to recharge in his own room from now on."
---- Five months later----
Prowl cursed doorwings and tight spaces for what felt like the thousandth time that morning. It was just no good, he wasn't going to get at his objective – it was buried to far out of range.
"What's up man?" Beachcomber asked from the relative safety of the doorway. "Not often you go scrabbling around in the old storage compartments, much less curse about it."
Prowl sat back on his knees. "I'm trying to recover the box containing my game of Houses, but it's too deep for me to reach."
Beachcomber tilted his head to one side and asked, "Why do you want that old game? Isn't chess more your thing?"
Prowl gave him a half smile and replied, "Yes, but Jazz won't play chess against me. We used to play Houses together on Cybertron, and I was going to resume the tradition."
Beachcomber studied Prowl for a moment, then walked over to where the tactician was kneeling and looked down into the hole in the jumble of boxes and bags. He pointed at a polished engraved metal box, and at Prowl's nod wriggled down between the other goods to retrieve it.
"Thank you," Prowl said gravely
Beachcomber replied, "Just don't harm him or slag up your friendship."
Prowl bowed his head in acknowledgment of the command and the unspoken threat, and left the bay for his quarters. He had more plotting and preparing to do.
---- A few hours later ----
Prowl surveyed his work with satisfaction. This whole dance between him and Jazz was going to end one way or another in the next hour or so. His plans were in motion. Prowl laughed to himself. "Plans within plans" was a very good description of the current state of affairs. Jazz's schedule had been rearranged so that this was his last shift for two days, and Prowl and traded shifts with Ironhide so as to have the same two days free. The twins were out of state on a scouting mission, Blaster had gone with Perceptor to Washington to discuss plans for a new satellite communication system, and Bluestreak was on long range patrol with Bumblebee. So Jazz's usual off duty companions were all unavailable. Into this state of "no one around for Jazz to hang out with" he had left Jazz the invitation to come to his quarters for a game of Houses. Being a game of luck and strategy the two were more evenly matched than if they had played a game that was purely luck or strategy.
The almost desperate speed with which Jazz had responded had given Prowl a few moments' thought. Maybe Jazz had picked up on all the less subtle hints he'd been dropping and was about to throw caution to the wind and be blunt. He grinned at that thought as he twitched the last piece of his stage into perfection. It would save time and strain on his nerves, but it would also be a shame if all this work proved to be unnecessary. Right on time the door chime announced that he had a visitor. Taking firm hold of his wits, nerves, and wildly beating pump, he crossed the room and opened the door.
Jazz stood in front of the door to Prowl's quarters trying to quash a major case of flitters in his tank. Prowl was up to something. Jazz had just discovered that somehow he and the tactician had the same two days off and that everyone he usually spent his free time with was busy. The whole business reeked of a Prowl masterplan. He considered just coming out and telling the tactician how he felt about him and then spending the rest of the next two days hiding under the Ark. The door opened and Prowl stood before him in all his perfection. Jazz just caught hold of a sigh of appreciation before it made its escape, and he stepped into Prowl's quarters and stopped in shock.
The room looked so different from how he'd imagined it. The lighting was softer than the harsh lighting in the corridor, and soft flowing music filled the air which was warm and heavy with the smell of growing things and a subtle and exotic fragrance that made Jazz begin to almost unconsciously relax. As he stepped further into the room he saw the source of that perfume – a large array of plants busily growing in an alcove.
"Never took you for a gardener." Jazz said. "Figured Hound would have been the one to bring plants in ta his quarters."
Prowl smiled and replied. "It's the fault of the precinct – they sent me to look at a case of criminal damage to an exotic plant dealer's glasshouses and growing rooms. I ended up bringing the surviving stock here to keep it going for the owner while we investigated. Turns out he was going for the insurance money and went down for it and I got to keep the plants."
Jazz walked over to examine the garden in more detail. Something about the layout looked familiar to him. He turned to ask Prowl about it when his optics fixed on the large hanging that covered the back wall. Caught in all their glory at sunrise were the Helix Gardens, the skyline of Praxis in the background. Jazz looked at the pattern on the hanging and then at the layout of the plants and then stared at Prowl.
"They were my favourite place to go and think," Prowl told him with a shrug. "Shall we play?" He gestured to the table were he had set up the game board.
"Huh? Oh yeah, sure." Jazz dragged his processor away from contemplating images of Prowl the gardener and sat down at the table.
Prowl squashed the grin that threatened to split his face. Phase two complete – he'd successfully confused Jazz to the point where he wasn't employing his usual light, joking, happy face. Phase three: make him relax; get Jazz talking about a subject that he felt passionate about.
"I found some old recordings of golden age symphonies when I was in the cargo bay," Prowl said, casually setting a cube of high grade down by Jazz's elbow. "Do you have an opinion on the Iacon Cadenza suite?"
As Jazz began to expound on the merits of the music, Prowl found his attention wandering from the game. Jazz was so intoxicating when he got caught up in a wave of enthusiasm about something. Concentrate,Prowl told himself. He was going to need all his skill at planning and timing for this. They played and talked for an hour or so before Jazz began to wind down his music appreciation lecture and Prowl judged it time. Getting up from the table he refilled both cubes and walked back to the table where Jazz was contemplating his next move.
"Did I ever tell you, you're even more beautiful when you let your enthusiasm run away with you?" he asked, setting both cubes on the desk and lightly resting his hands on Jazz's shoulders.
Jazz felt his CPU stutter to a stop. Prowl thought he was more beautiful? Did that mean Prowl thought he was beautiful anyway? As he flailed around for an answer, he became aware of Prowl's hands slowly and lightly trailing back and forth across his shoulders, causing uncontrollable shivers to run through his frame.
"N-no," Jazz managed to stutter
"An oversight on my part," Prowl purred into an audio. "One which I would like to opportunity to correct on a regular basis."
Jazz felt like he was drowning in sensations. Prowl's hands had migrated from the top of his shoulders to his back and the sound of his voice whispering into an audio was feeding the desire that simmered close to the surface. He couldn't suppress a moan nor stop himself flexing back into Prowl's talented hands as they slowly wandered their way across him, and then the chair he was quickly melting into was dragged away form the table and Prowl was knelt in front of him holding his hands and gazing earnestly and directly into his optics.
"I love you; I have done for a long time," Prowl said, his voice vibrating with the intensity of his emotions. "I'm tired of us dancing around each other; we've wasted too much time because neither of us believed that our feelings were reciprocated. I think I know the answer but I want to hear you say it – do you love me?"
Jazz lost himself in Prowl's blue optics. The desire, the friendship, the affection, the deep regard and the bright burning flame of love he saw there consumed him and he tossed aside his doubts and fears that the tactician couldn't possible want him. Gathering what was left of his mental ability he rose unsteadily to his feet, pulling Prowl with him.
"Yes, Prowl," Jazz said once they were both standing. "I do love you."
Tension flowed out of Prowl's frame at those words, and he pulled Jazz into an embrace which Jazz returned. He felt slightly worried when Jazz pulled away and walked to the middle of the room.
"Dance with me?" Jazz asked, holding out a hand.
Prowl crossed the floor and gathered Jazz into his arms, and as they began to sway gently to the music he heard a click coming from Jazz as the Porsche leant trustingly against him, giving him total control over their movements. Looking down at his lover's face he found that Jazz had retracted his visor and saw that hidden under it were a pair of emerald green optics, which while stunning were shattered and dark, obviously useless.
"You're blind?" Prowl asked, concern rippling through his voice, his spark trembling at the thought that he was in some way responsible for this.
"An accident, long before we met," Jazz responded absently, while his fingers traced a random pattern on Prowls back. "Visor provides me with better sight than I had before, but I trust you not to run me into anything, and I don't want anymore barriers between us."
Prowl shuddered at Jazz's faith in him and at the movements of his lover's fingers over his door wings. Gently he manoeuvred them round the room to the recharge berth before gently lowering Jazz onto it.
"No," Prowl whispered. "No more barriers between us, now or ever."