Disclaimer: Not mine.

- Stairway to Heaven : Chapter Five -

"I think yer abusin' th'fact that y'can't see." Jazz mumbled, though he made no move towards getting out of Prowl's lap, even with the many suggestions from mechs around them to 'get a room'. Though, after several weeks of these displays, there were far fewer of those suggestions than there had been at first.

"I can still hear." Prowl responded lightly, pulling away from the kiss he'd engaged Jazz in as soon as the saboteur's undignified squawk at being pulled down had let him locate Jazz's mouth.

"So what, yer sayin' you just don't care that they're there?" Jazz asked with amusement as he finally squirmed his way out of Prowl's lap, allowing the tactician to pick up Hound's guitar and resume the song he'd been practicing. Prowl had been prepared to give the instrument back to Hound now that things were finally settled, but the scout had insisted that he would still need something to do, and it would be a shame to waste everything he'd already learned. So Prowl still spent his days in the rec room practicing, only now that practice was interrupted when Jazz came in to visit. And occasionally, Prowl would get Sideswipe to sneak him past Ratchet and into Jazz's office, where he'd play for the saboteur while he worked.

"Not particularly." Prowl responded. "They've had enough time to get used to it, they should know to look away or leave if they don't want to see it."

"Y'know, I never woulda pegged ya as a mech that was fond'a PDAs." Jazz said with a laugh.

"By the time you met me, I hadn't been in a relationship for several vorns, and afterwards I didn't have time,so I can't blame you." Prowl replied. There was a short silence, during which Prowl suspected he was getting a highly suspicious look from Jazz.

"Why do I get th'feelin' that there's another reason that 'Hide tells us to get a room?" the saboteur asked, and sure enough, he sounded rather suspicious.

"Oh no, he has the same reasons." Prowl replied amiably. The unspoken 'but there's someone else who doesn't' hung there challengingly, and there was another long silence from Jazz.

"Ratchet?" the saboteur guessed.

"No, though he's heard tales." Prowl responded, now smiling faintly. There was a reason, after all, that Ratchet hadn't paused when presented with Prowl's 'defiling a storage closet with Jazz'comment.

"Uhm...Trailbreaker?" Jazz was clearly trying to dredge up Autobots that had already been in Prime's unit when he'd transferred in as the new head of Special Ops.

"No." Prowl's smile was wider now.

"I give, who?" Jazz asked.

"I'll give you a hint. Ever heard of regulation 47-delta?" Prowl asked.

"Can't say that I have." Jazz replied after a moment's thought. Prowl was about to explain it to him when a sound caught his audios, and with a smirk, he looked up towards where he knew the door was. He was aware that he was currently, and was going to continue to, completely ruin his stoic officer image, but he was in an extremely good mood for the first time in many vorns, and it had been far too long since he'd tormented the approaching mech about this particular subject. And said mech needed a little tormenting every once and awhile. So Prowl smirked and waited as the approaching mech's footsteps entered the rec room, holding off for just another few seconds to be sure his target was actually coming inside before speaking up, raising his voice to be heard across the rec room.

"Optimus, Jazz was wondering what regulation 47-delta was. Care to tell him?" the tactician called out. A strange stillness fell over the rec room, the only sound being Prowl plucking at the guitar, playing a cheery tune.

"I wascoming to tell you that Ratchet wants you in med bay, but I think I'll just leave now." Optimus sounded pained, and beside Prowl, Jazz made a choking sound.

"Optimus?"he hissed.

"Why, what's regulation 47-delta?" Sideswipe piped up, and Prowl actually smiled, ever grateful for the red twin's never-ending curiosity about things that made officers squirm.

"Regulation 47-delta states that Prowl is never, under any circumstance, to be allowed in my office while I am not there and he is in the company of someone with whom he is currently engaged in a personal relationship with." Optimus intoned. Prowl smirked, strumming a triumphant chord on the guitar, and around the rec room there was a deathly silence as everyone computed just what that meant.

It was broken a few moments later by Jazz collapsing into hysterical giggles. With the moment over, the other mech's reactions were released, ranging from cursing at the mental images, laughing like Jazz, or outright applauding Prowl. Prowl just nodded in acknowledgement of the praise, and ignored the others, as he reached over to set Hound's guitar on its stand. A light vibration in the floor alerted him to Optimus' approach, and he made a point of wrapping his arm around Jazz's shoulders and tugging the saboteur close, making Jazz - and a few other mechs - start snickering.

"You know I'm happy that the two of you have finally resolved this situation, Prowl, but I had sincerely hoped your...exhibitionisttendencies had been curbed over the vorns." the Autobot leader said pointedly.

"Considering I haven't traumatized anyone yet, you in particular, I'd say they havebeen curbed." Prowl responded innocently. "But then, I can't exactly see anyone's reactions at the moment, so it's not quite as entertaining."

"I'm going to need to amend 47-delta, aren't I?" Optimus asked with a sigh.

"Probably." Jazz spoke up, still snickering, from where he was tucked against Prowl's side. "I mean, I don't have much shame in th'first place, an' if these stories I'm suddenly hearin' 'bout Prowler are true..."

"Oh believe me, they are." Optimus said. "And I suspect you'll see the truth of them soon. Wheeljack and Ratchet have completed your new visual center, Prowl." The tactician straightened in surprise.

"Several weeks early." he commented.

"Mmm, the mission to Cybertron for supplies was more of a success than anticipated - Wheeljack was able to find several components already constructed, from what I understand." Optimus responded. "They're getting set up in the med bay now."

"Then I'd better get going." Prowl said, letting go of Jazz and pushing himself up from the chair.

"I'll walk you." Optimus offered, then added pointedly. "Jazz's break is over shortly, anyways, as I recall."

"Soon, but I'm sure I can make th'time t'walk Prowl to med bay." Jazz said, sounding surprised.

"Just so long as you remember that Ratchet has very large wrenches, very good aim, and very littletolerance." Optimus responded lightly as he began to walk, Prowl following automatically, and Jazz taking only a few moments to catch up as he realized what Optimus was implying.

"The med bay?" Jazz squeaked, the incredulous question clearly aimed at Prowl.

"I was seeing a medic at the time." Prowl replied casually, remembering some of the interestinguses he and his partner had come up with for berth restraints before Optimus had caught them and ordered them - well, just Prowl - out of the med bay. It wasn't like there had been anyone in there, anyways - there'd been no patients, and his partner was the on-call medic that night.

"Yes, and unfortunately I learned more than I wanted to about her,too." Optimus said with a shake of his head. "I never thought I'd say this, but Jazz, if you could keep Prowl in check, I would be forever in your debt."

"Uhm...we'll see." Jazz said after a moment, and Prowl suspected the saboteur was trying to figure out if having Optimus owe him one was worth more than finding unique interfacing spots with Prowl. A few moments later, Jazz pinged Prowl's comm system, and the tactician obligingly opened a line.

"So would this be why y'were more amused than shocked that I wanted t'jump ya when we met?" Jazz asked.

"Well it certainly would have been a new experience for him to be there from the beginning."Prowl replied blandly, and Jazz snickered again. Walking slightly ahead of then, Optimus sighed.

"Why can't my subordinates just be plotting to overthrow me, and not cause permanent psychological trauma?" he asked rhetorically. The two officers behind him remained silent, save for the occasional snicker that escaped Jazz, as they walked the rest of the way to the med bay.

"Alright, load it up slowly,Prowl." Ratchet instructed, and Prowl obligingly activated his newly-installed visual center, taking his time in loading the subroutines for the new hardware into his CPU and allowing them to adapt and slip into old pathways. Ratchet apparently approved, as he didn't comment, just letting Prowl go through the process carefully. Finally, the entirely system was reading as loaded, giving him a 'ready for activation' signal. Prowl put that off for a moment as he reactivated the sensors he'd turned off, and then there was another short period of adjustment as he allowed his visual center to adjust to the new systems.

"I know you haven't locked up on me there, Prowl." Ratchet said crankily as Prowl stopped there, hesitating. At the imperative knock on his helm from the medic, Prowl grimaced and activated his battle computer. As expected, it sent him onto his back on the berth as it began to sync with his memory banks, playing catch-up in order to present viable plans. And, in what Prowl was convinced was evidence of the vindictive streak he was sure his battle-computer came preprogrammed with, it also helpfully formulated plans for the memories it had been offline for. It was hard-coded into the battle-computer to do so, in order for it, and Prowl, to learn from past mistakes, but it was...irritating. Especially now, when it presented him with no less than six different courses of action that would have had the situation between him and Jazz resolved inside of a day. Then suddenly Prowl wasn't cursing out his battle computer, but was recognizing 'it's' plans as his own, and acknowledging his sloppy, if effective, handling of the situation.

And so, finally, finally,with one last diagnostic to make sure that his visual center was correctly synced with all the necessary systems, Prowl activated it, and shortly after, turned his new optics on.

"Why hallo thar!" Jazz purred from right in front of his face, completely blocking his vision, and Prowl sighed.

"Jazz, as wonderful as it is to see your faceplate first thing, please move." he said. Jazz, grinning, obligingly drew back, revealing the med bay and a watching Ratchet and Wheeljack. Optimus had left some time ago with Jazz, when Ratchet and Wheeljack had started installing Prowl's visual center, and when they'd finished, only Jazz had returned, Optimus being engaged in a teleconference with the humans.

"How's everything look?" Ratchet asked as Prowl looked around.

"Have the walls always been so...orange?" the tactician asked after a moment, and Wheeljack laughed.

"You should know, you picked the colour." Ratchet said dryly.

"You're kidding me! Prowl is the slagger we have to thank for that?" Jazz yelped.

"It's the natural colour of the alloy the ship is made of - the alloy which, I might remind you all, is what has allowed the Ark to survive so long with so little damage." Prowl responded. "I just don't recall it being so...orange."

"Hmm. Could be something's off with your colour perception. Try focusing on other colours, tell me if they seem off." Ratchet said, and Prowl obligingly sought out different colours - mostly using the paint jobs of the three mechs present - but the colouring seemed normal to him. Only the Ark seemed unusually vibrant to his optics.

"It doesn't seem like anything's wrong. I suspect you're just noticing it now because you haven't seen it in so long. I'm sure if you give yourself a few days to get used to it you won't notice it as much." Ratchet finally concluded.

"If you say so." Prowl said dubiously as he swung his legs off the side of the berth.

"I do." Ratchet said. "I take it there are no other anomalies? No errors in your CPU?"

"None so far." Prowl agreed.

"Good. I want you back here tomorrow, and then a week after that, just to make sure everything's still going alright, but until then - get out of my med bay." Ratchet said brightly.

"Eh, Ratch, aren't you forgetting something?" Wheeljack asked with amusement, and Ratchet straightened suddenly.

"Oh, right!" the medic said, then turned and reached behind a machine on the nearby berth that he and Wheeljack had used while installing Prowl's visual center. What he produced from behind said machine was a charred lump of slag. "Here, souvenir." Ratchet declared, dumping it into Prowl's lap.

"What is it?" Prowl asked after a moment of staring.

"Your old visual center. I told you you'd slagged it good and proper." Ratchet replied with a snort.

"Evidently." Prowl said, picking up the charred lump and turning it from side-to-side. "Why is my CPU not melted down?"

"Because I'm just that good." Ratchet responded smugly, but the expression only lasted a few moments before shifting into an irritated one. "Of course, I wouldn't have to be that good if certain mechs didn't keep making my job harder..."

"Aw, c'mon Ratch, without th' Academy 'round t'keep ya on yer toes, how else are ya gonna learn an' expand yer skills?" Jazz asked cheerfully.

"By research. Safe, painless research that does not risk the lives of anything but simulatedmechs." Ratchet said bitingly, then swept the both of them with a glare. "Now, didn't I tell you two to get out already?"

"Of course." Prowl said, standing from the berth, still holding his old, melted visual center as he nodded to Ratchet. "Thank you again for your excellent services."

"Yeah yeah, get out of here." Ratchet grumbled, turning his back to them and starting to clean up. Wheeljack gave them an amused look and started helping the medic, while Prowl and Jazz took the hint and left.

"We should get a stand for it." Jazz commented as they walked down the corridor, heading naturally in the direction of the rec room, where they'd spent so much time recently.

"Why?" Prowl asked in amusement.

"Well, in a way, it isresponsible for us gettin' together. Kinda deserves t'be commemorated for that, don'tcha think?" Jazz responded.

"Hmm." Prowl replied thoughtfully, and was immensely please as his battle computer presented him with several alternate uses, several of which he quite liked. "I think such a significant piece of slag deserves better than being a paperweight or to be put on display, actually."

"Oh, what did you have in mind?" Jazz asked.

"I'm debating between using it as ammunition against the Decepticons - though I doubt they'd appreciate it properly - or leaving it in...specificspots around the Ark for other mechs to find and bring back to me while I wait to see how long it takes them to figure out why I left it there." Prowl replied.

"And why wouldya be leaving it there?" Jazz asked curiously. Prowl looked over at Jazz and arched an optic ridge at him.

"Why do youthink?" he asked, and Jazz frowned for a moment before he realized, suddenly grinning and looping an arm through Prowl's.

"Prowler, love, I like th'way ya think." the saboteur purred. "Where were ya thinkin'a leavin' it first?"

"I'm not quite sure. The possibilities are endless." Prowl said thoughtfully. "However, considering that Optimus has been fore-warned, it is probably best to move quickly."

"True, true." Jazz said, then suddenly tugged Prowl off to the side, through an open doorway, and Prowl looked around in surprise before smiling.

"Perfect!" he said.

"Man, 'Hide has about half the datapads I do, th'slacker!" Jazz complained as he surveyed the desk in the room. Then, cheerfully, he hauled Prowl over to said desk and carefully moved the datapads off to the side before hopping up on the surface and waggling his eyebrows at Prowl. The tactician smiled, and casually tossed his slagged visual center so it landed on Ironhide's chair before stepping in close to his new lover for a kiss...and a fair bit more.

Much later, they finally made their way to the rec room, and Prowl suspected that it was only thanks to their relaxed, happy looks and the suspicious gap of time between them leaving med bay and their arrival in the rec room that they weren't immediately pounced on by the mechs in the room. Hound in particular had looked ready to call out to Prowl, but apparently thought better of it as the tactician followed Jazz to the energon dispenser. Getting their energon, Jazz started heading towards the corner where Hound's guitar was still sitting, but Prowl made in a different direction.

He was amused how the same suspicious quiet from weeks earlier fell over the rec room again as mechs noticed where he was going. Jazz seemed to be watching warily as Prowl approached his target, the saboteur following, but carefully stopping out of arms reach. Prowl shook his head at the reactions of the other mechs as he turned his optics to the chess board. No one was using it at the moment, so Prowl was able to inspect it carefully.

The original chessboard had been a simple thing - steel, with squares etched into the surface, and simple over-sized plastic pieces that a small human company had made at Prowl's request. The new chessboard, however, was a bit more...elaborate. It was still metal, but from the looks of things, Jazz had somehow gotten the base made out of titanium, and had gotten matching chairs - from their design and details, Prowl suspected Mirage might have done some salvaging in the Towers ruins on his last trip back to Cybertron. The board itself, however, was obviously from earth. Black and white stones were used to make the squares, and Prowl wasn't quite sure how they managed it, but faintly seen in each of the white squares, seemingly embedded in the stone itself, was an Autobot symbol. Reaching out and touching the squares lightly, Prowl gave Jazz a questioning look.

"Obsidian an' opal." the saboteur supplied, and Prowl nodded before turning his attention to the pieces. Picking up a black pawn, he saw it wasn't made of the same stone as the squares, but a dark-coloured metal. Glancing over at the white pieces, he saw they were the same - metallic, but white in color. Then his optics caught on the king and queen of the white side, and he couldn't help but grin faintly - Optimus and Elita stood in place of the traditional pieces, striking heroic poses. Putting down the black pawn, he glanced over at the black king and queen, and couldn't help a snort of laughter at the silly-looking Megatron and Starscream.

"I was debatin' over redoing all th'pieces, but I figured this was better. There's a regular king an' queen for each side, too." Jazz put in.

"It's wonderful. Thank you." Prowl said finally, turning to the saboteur and smiling faintly. A collective 'awww' from behind Prowl reminded him that he and Jazz weren't alone, and he turned and gave them all an appraising look, many of them quickly pretending that they hadn't been watching.

"There will be a regulation against messing with thischessboard." he said pointedly to them all, and there were a few chuckles before normal chatter began to resume. Prowl left them to it as he seated himself at the chessboard, on the white side. There was a healthy edging of titanium tabletop around the board itself, leaving room for captured pieces and energon cubes, and Prowl set his cube down and looked up at Jazz.

"Care for a game?" he asked, and Jazz grinned as he took the opposite chair.

"I'm glad ya like it." Jazz said as Prowl began studying the board, deciding what move he wanted to open with.

"I can't see why you thought I wouldn't." Prowl remarked.

"Well, th'old one was plain, but I dunno, it might've had some sentimental value to ya." Jazz said with a shrug.

"Besides being my first chessboard? Not really." Prowl replied as he moved his first piece. "Where did you put it, anyways?"

"Didn't put it anywhere. 'Jack made off with it, sayin' somethin' 'bout gettin' Ratch ta relax even if he couldn't get him ta leave." Jazz said with a chuckle as he began scanning the board, recalculating his first move in light of Prowl's. "Didn't figure out what he meant for a few days 'til I visited Ratch's office, though - 'Jack took the base off so it's more mobile now, an' made a box for the pieces."

"It's good that it's still being used." Prowl commented. "I take it switching them was your project while I was in the med bay?" Jazz didn't respond for several long moments, seemingly studying the board, and Prowl frowned faintly.

"It was my project while Ratch' was still tryin' ta figure out if he could save ya or not." the saboteur said quietly. Knowing that both chessboards had been bolted down, and how long it would have taken to switch them out, Prowl frowned. He tried to come up with something to say, but Jazz unexpectedly kept speaking. "You were in critical condition for almost 24 hours, didja know? Ratch didn't recharge - Jack only left to come down here fer energon fer th'two'a them. One'a those times happened ta be when I'd just uprooted th'old board. I think he was feelin' a little sentimental 'bout it, considerin' your chances were still 50/50." Jazz fell silent for a moment, and Prowl struggled to find something appropriate to say - an apology, or something, anything. He found himself as a loss, however, so instead he reached over and slipped his hand around Jazz's, gripping tightly. Jazz returned the grip with more force, and finally looked up from the chessboard.

"Took me 15 hours t'install this thing t'my satisfaction." the saboteur said, looking at Prowl intently. "Spent th'rest of th'time pretendin t'do paperwork in m'office, pretendin' I wasn't terrified that you were never gonna see the new board. When Ratch finally got ya stabilized...well, those were prob'ly the best words I've ever heard him say. Certainly made my day. Then I got t'read th'report. I don't think even Prime realized until then just how close it'd been. Every mech knows cranial damage is bad, an' you had that and damage around yer spark. It wasn't...wasn't an easy read. Only reason I made it through it was cuz I knew ya were gonna be ok.

"Then...Ratch letcha go, deemed ya well enough t'leave med bay...but there were still things wrong with ya that he hadn't managed t'fix. It threw me." Jazz said, his voice dropping to a near whisper as he looked back at the chessboard. "I mean, I know Ratch has let mechs out of med bay before - includin' you an' I - when he couldn't fix somethin' right away an' they were able t'move around. But...it was different this time for some reason. Dunno why. Maybe it was just one time too many - the last straw, t'use human terms." Jazz smiled faintly for a moment before it disappeared again, and he looked up at Prowl. "Decided I'd finally make m'move. We both know how that turned out." Jazz's smile was self-depreciating. "Felt a little bit guilty after that, which was why I was avoidin' ya. Figured I didn't have a right t'bring it up again after I sent ya back inta critical care th'first time."

"Your thought pathways are very, very strange sometimes." Prowl said with a slight shake of his head, and Jazz grinned slightly.

"Well, we can't all be neat, logical mechs like you." the saboteur said.

"No, some of you have to be lovable idiots." Prowl said. "While you had a part in my second crash, you were not at fault for it, Jazz. You were just the...last straw." Prowl smiled as he used Jazz's human phrase. "It was a precarious situation that Ratchet and I had gotten myself into, something we never should have done...and you had incredibly bad timing."

"Tell me 'bout it." Jazz said with a snort.

"I don't exactly remember much of it, sorry." Prowl said with a faint grin.

"Liar." Jazz accused, using his free hand to poke Prowl in the forehead.

"I'm not lying." Prowl said with a chuckle. "The only thing I remember clearly from the crash is you kissing me." Jazz stared at him in surprise.

"Seriously?" the saboteur asked in disbelief.

"Entirely." Prowl said with a nod. "Actually, the crash was mostly my fault for ignoring everything else and trying to just enjoy the moment. I probably could have avoided the crash entirely if my thought processes hadn't turned to organic mush the instant I realized what was going on."

"Wait...so...you're saying you caused your own crash...because I distracted you too well by kissing you?" Jazz asked, frowning.

"Essentially." Prowl replied, nodding, and the saboteur just stared at him for a few moments before starting to chuckle.

"Prowl, love, I don't think ya know what y'just admitted." the saboteur said, a mischievous gleam in his optics. Apparently the saboteur had decided having Optimus owe him one wasn't quite worth it.

"Or I do know and am entirely fine with it." Prowl replied, a smirk forming. "You do recall where we 'accidentally' left my old visual center just a short while ago, don't you?" Jazz sniggered some more, and Prowl tolerated it for a few moments before tugging on the hand of Jazz's that he still held. "It's still your turn, you know. Are you going to move, or forfeit?" Jazz, still snickering, eyed the board for a few moments before making his move. Prowl, having anticipated that move, countered right away, and then the game was off.

They managed to finish that game, and were half-way into another before Ironhide showed up, looking perplexed as he returned Prowl's old visual center to him. The older mech seemed rightly wary of the matching grins on the two black-and-white's faceplates, and fled without asking how the lump of slag had managed to get into his office.

Shortly after that, Prowl and Jazz left to find a new place to 'accidentally' leave it.