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Light Praxus

 

 

Chapter 1 – Take me to Praxus

 

"Are you sure you want to come with me to Praxus?"

Prowl hated asking. He wanted his mate with him, by his side and to show him off. He was proud of Jazz, but he knew his mate and Praxus well, and that was a combination that had a chance of exploding into all their faceplates violently.

It owned him a supremely annoyed look. "Prowler, I love you and we're going to bond soon and I want to be there for you, in the good times and the bad ones," Jazz answered. "Plus, I don’t know for how long you'll be gone and I've always wanted to see where you grew up and meet your creators."

Prowl searched in Jazz's optics for the truth, but all he found was love and conviction. "I know you do. And I assure you, my creator trine has wanted to meet you as well. It is just that Praxus will be very different culturally," he cautioned. "There will be restrictions on behaviour that you might not like and punishments if one fails to obey them."

"But I'll behave." Jazz said with confidence. "I can be good. I can follow a couple of rules, sheesh."

"I am aware of that. But I also know that you often choose to not follow them, if you think them wrong..." He looked at the ceiling for a moment, searching for the right words. "But the consequences differ dramatically."

"It's okay," Jazz said. "I don't mind. I want to be with you and I can learn the rules if they are so important" Jazz looked at Prowl imploringly. "Come on, love, when else will I see Praxus before we bond?"

True. And it would be a good thing they do this before they bonded for various reasons. "I suppose this is as good a vorn as any vorn else." Prowl let his optics fall on Jazz. "In Praxus's society hierarchy and family is paramount. Nothing is more important. Because I am the commissioner of the enforcer, I have a high social rank. As a successful performer, your own social rank is also not bad." He paused. "Yet, if we enter Praxus as a pre-bonded couple, your rank will be attached to mine. Furthermore, within the society you will be seen as the submissive and I will be the dominant mate. Each category has its own set of social expectations for behaviour."

"I don't mind." Jazz shrugged. "It's your culture. Plus, it's only temporary until your brother’s bonding ceremony. It will be interesting to finally see what Praxus really is on the inside, there's so little known about it."

Prowl winced. "It might be temporary, but your behaviour will reflect on me, and that in return means on my whole family. They will consider that you are an outsider, but crass misbehaviour will still affect the social standing of all of us." He caressed Jazz's sensor horns. "Praxus is not Iacon. Here, only you would bear the consequences. There..." He let the words trail off, for a moment incapable to explain the complex social system that underlined every interaction. Jazz couldn't understand, not yet, but he would. "There punishment is often a matter of the family, because the family is most affected."

"But I'll be careful," Jazz assured as he pressed close to Prowl, hugging him. "C'mon, I wanna be with you, love. I won’t mess up... much." He chuckled. "I'm kidding. I'll be good."

It was in that moment Prowl knew that Jazz would mess up. Despite that, he couldn't stop his spark warming as he hugged the smaller mech against his frame. He kissed the sensor horn, and muttered: "We could train? The shuttle goes in four orns. It is not much... but it would give you enough time to know what to expect and to decide if you really want to come."

"Sure!" Jazz grinned. It always tickled when Prowl kissed his horns. "Should be fun! Plus I'll get my work sorted out."

"Very well." Prowl smiled. "The first rule is that as the dominant mech, you call me sir whenever other mechs are around. Family can be excluded, but my creator trine has to offer it to us and not the other way around."

"Ohh, kinky." Jazz laughed. "But alright, I can manage that." Then he smirked and added playfully, "Sir."

"Very kinky," agreed Prowl with a chuckle. "I have always wondered if certain kinks in other cities weren't started by immigrated Praxians."

"Are you saying the porn industry started with ideas from Praxus?"

"It is possible. We have subs and doms, the subs call us sir... and there are a lot more parallels as well. For example we train subs."

"Can it get even /more/ kinkier?" Jazz asked amused. "Why haven't you told me of that earlier?"

"It's not exactly good dating material to say 'oh by the way in my culture it is considered very appropriate to chain you up, to train you and to make you obey my every command.' Who wouldn't run?"

"Wow, seriously?" Jazz looked at Prowl as if he grew a third door-wing, "Chain them up and train them?"

Prowl looked away, more than a tiny bit embarrassed. "Well... it sounds worse than it is? No really, Jazz. There are certain stipulations and rules and laws - not to mention the family of the sub." He suddenly smiled. "You might want the training too, to know how to act. And maybe you will try the chains. I will not force you, but my brother who is a sub assured me that it was... enjoyable for him."

"Out of everything you said, all I heard was that you /want/ to chain me up?" Jazz was looking at Prowl curiously. "Prowler is this a new kink I'm learning about?" He laughed when Prowl blushed deeply.

"It is not like I have done it ever before. It is not proper to do it to anyone but your own mate! It is a sign of trust and bonding and loyalty..." He stopped himself, when he noticed Jazz’s teasing smile. "Suffice to say, you would be my first. And don't forget to call me sir, not Prowler or Prowl."

"Sweet! I haven’t been chained before, too. This should be fun. Pr-Sir. I mean yes sir, boss-mech sir."

Prowl couldn't hide the pleased doorwing twitch at the revelation that he would be Jazz's first as well. He kissed Jazz's sensor horn again. "Just ‘sir’ is fine. Boss-mech is a bit too casual and the old term master I do not want to demand from you."

Jazz grinned, shifting his helmet so Prowl had more access to his audio horn. "You should’ve said earlier you wanted me calling you 'sir' in the berth, sir."

Prowl hummed, and let his engine vibrate. "I can't say that it wouldn't please me. You really feel comfortable with me being the dom of you?"

Jazz shrugged. "Why wouldn't I be? I trust you, love - I mean sir. This will be hardest, calling you sir instead of love or some other nickname."

"Trust is important," Prowl said, his optics carrying a seriousness beyond the mere words. "I will do my best to prove myself worthy of everything you are prepared to give me. Yet, this is only the first of many rules, I am afraid."

"Just how many rules are there?"

"... I have never counted," he admitted. "It is something you grow up with and just understand. Just like you give an Iaconian the hand when you greet them. I needed to learn that as well." Prowl frowned as he remembered his old exasperation. "And have you ever noticed that it is important who you give the hand to first? And if you stand or sit? It's the same for Praxian rules."

"Huh," Jazz mused. "I guess. So what else is there besides me calling you 'sir'?"

"Well, a sub usually lets the dom take the lead in the social interactions. As a result, a good sub does not speak out of turn." Jazz frowned, and Prowl scrambled to explain: "For example, if you see me doing the biggest mistake ever in front of five mechs, you can comm me or later scream at me in private, but as long as we are in public you shouldn't say anything out loud that makes you appear to disagree with me."

"...What?" Jazz shook his head in amused disbelief. "Weird, but I guess... Well, doesn't sound that hard."

Prowl chuckled. "You say that now. But the thing is, if you speak anyway it would... make you seem inadequate and shame me and in turn my family. We would lose honour."

"Then I better make sure I do not dishonour you." Jazz grinned. "C'mon, all of this sounds easy. I'll be good in Praxus."

Prowl frowned. "It's not that easy, Jazz. If meeting new mechs, you are to stand behind my left doorwings until I introduce you. Trying to gain attention by flashy colours, loud behaviour or rudeness is not looked at positively in every orn situations. If another dom talks to you and requests something, you are to agree as long as you do not think it would displease me or the family. If another sub talks to you, rank comes into play..."

"Alright, so if I mess up, what's gonna happen? I'll cost you honour but what does that even /mean/?"

Prowl's face became utterly serious. "It is a matter of severity. Honourless mechs are... quarantined, for a lack of better term. No one speaks with them, no one sells them anything, no one wants them to live anywhere near them. They have no friends, no family. Some are executed for whatever crimes made them like this. The rest flee the city-state. Most starve to death."

Jazz frowned too. "And because I speak out of turm I'll risk dishonouring you? That's...extreme."

"It's not merely speaking out of turn. But Praxus thinks that honour starts in small every orn gestures and builds up. If my own submissive mate disrespects me, doesn't trust me and shows no loyalty, why would anyone else?"

"Okay, alright. I said I'll submit," Jazz answered. "I won’t let you down Prowler-Sir. I mean sir." He sighed. "I think the most trouble I'll have will be how to address you. The rest sounds easy."

"You are already learning," Prowl said soothingly. "But it will not be easy... as your dom it will be my responsibility to help you, so you can comply without any mistakes," he admitted. "Such a training can involve chains, punishments, but also rewards. Whatever you enjoy and is most effective. Do you want to add another rule to the 'Sir'-rule already?"

"Yeah, shoot. Show me what else I gotta watch over. I can do this Pr-sir. You don't need to worry so much." Jazz smiled at Prowl, reaching to pet a door-wing.

Prowl hummed thoughtfully, mentally categorising all the social rules and which ones were the most important. There was a lot, and he already knew that it was impossible to teach them all in time. "In public, you can't initiate bodily contact. That will be up to me."

Jazz’s hand froze over the doorwing and he looked at Prowl scandalised. "Whhhaaat? Aww, but you never do PDA's all on your own." Jazz pouted.

Prowl couldn't really argue that and he was well aware just how much such displays meant to Jazz. "I guess we will both have to learn."

"So what, I can't hold your hand or pet a door-wing outside?" Jazz looked at Prowl. "That's not fair."

"You can't," confirmed Prowl, then smiled slightly. "But if you comm me, I can pull you into my lap even in the middle of a conference. There are a lot less rules about what a dom can do in public."

If Prowl was honest with himself, he was a bit afraid that Jazz would reject Praxus. The cultures were so different and there were so many rules, and well, Jazz rarely had done well with those. As a result, he tried to highlight the positive changes as well, and there were some, even some pretty significant. He just hoped Jazz would stick around long enough to find them out and to become comfortable with Praxian culture. Or at least comfortable enough, that he didn’t run screaming on the second orn.

"Well, as long as I can comm you." Jazz finally managed to smile again. "I can handle Praxus, relax. Plus, we're not going to stay there forever so there's no need to worry."

"Maybe you will want to stay forever?" Prowl joked. "But if ever in doubt in Praxus, look to me, comm me and everything will be well. That I promise you."

"Does that mean I get to go too?" Jazz grinned, tasting victory.

"If you manage to not forget to call me sir the next orns and promise to try, yes." 

"I promise to try," Jazz said and meant it. "I really do." Then he grinned and said, "Sir."

He shouldn't be so pleased to hear Jazz calling him sir, but he was. With a soft smile, he kissed his lover. "I think I might look forward having you with me in Praxus." Now, he could only pray that it would go well.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 – Meet and Greet

 

The orns went by fast. Jazz got used to calling him sir, but Prowl didn't have the feeling that his lover was taking the whole situation seriously yet. The other rules Prowl told him were less rigidly followed by. Especially the "try not to be noticed"-rule, Jazz seemed to forget. Not that this was a rule per se, but Prowl lacked the means to better explain the subtle cultural meanings certain behaviour had. It just came naturally to him and within Iacon most behavioural rules seemed to apply to everyone equally and superfluous often.

So when they boarded the shuttle, Prowl was understandably nervous. What if his family didn't approve of Jazz? What if Jazz thought his family stuffy or strange? What if Jazz thought all of Praxus horrible?

"So, when do the rules go in effect? When we land in Praxus?" Jazz asked, sprawling in his cushioned seat that had clearly been made for bigger mechs with doorwings. It meant that he had a lot more space than on most shuttles and he loved taking advantage of it.

Prowl nodded. "If there is any... crass misbehaviour, we might even get approached by other Praxians."

"Alright, noted," Jazz said. "No crass from me then." He grinned, still amused by the whole situation. "Sir."

Jazz was happy that he didn't have to change his paint-job to some boring grey. It was something Prowl explained that most subs had, but wasn't mandatory, so for now he opted to keep his colours. He rather liked his black and white paintjob to match Prowl.

Prowl chuckled. "Never doubt that I love you, even if you do not understand something immediately. You can always ask me over comm or stand behind my doorwing and let me take charge of whatever is happening."

"Right." Jazz smiled. "I just hope your family likes me."

There was no way in the pit Prowl would answer 'Me too'. Oh, an Iaconian would have, maybe even in Iacon Prowl would have, but already he could see Praxus' towers and feel how his native cultural protocols bloomed within his processor. And as a dom he had the responsibility to reassure his sub, everything else was failure.

And Prowl would never accept failure.

He gently squeezed Jazz's hand. "They will. You are a brilliant, talented, gentle mech that loves me. More they cannot demand."

Jazz smiled fondly at Prowl and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. "Don't know about the other things, but I most definitely love you."

"I do initiate, remember?" Then he kissed Jazz on the mouth and muttered, "Even in public, I will if you want me to."

Jazz gave a wince. "Sorry sir, old habit." 

"Very good," praised Prowl, squeezing the hand in reassurance again.

Jazz gave him a cheeky glance. "Can't help it though, you're kissable."

"Well, I would hope that you think so or I might have been mistaken about a rather large part of our love life so far."

He looked up to the information screen of the shuttle and checked if his doorwings were correctly positioned in the seat’s holders. It always hurt when they bumped into something. "We are landing. Jazz, don't forget to fasten up. I saw you unstrap too early after the start."

Jazz chuckled as he did as told. "I always do that. Remember that trip we did to Yuss? The one where you recharged the entire time and woke up when we landed? I didn't even put a belt on."

Prowl stared at his mate aghast. "Right. Thanks for reminding me what I shall not do in the future."

"Aww come on, sir." Jazz grinned. "Loosen up. Before I started dating you I almost never used safety of any kind."

"That also doesn't reassure me," Prowl said sternly.

Jazz didn’t answer the playful banter, too busy looking out of the window, where Praxus with its many towers and domes had come very close. "Is the trip to your creators’ house long?" he asked suddenly.

The shuttle rattled as they landed, Prowl waited until the turbines had powered down to answer: "They live at the edge of the Praxian crystal park reserve. It is quite a bit, yes. Do you remember where to drive in relation to me?"

"Always behind you, yep." Jazz nodded as they waited until it was clear they could start departing the shuttle and stood up from his seat, waiting for Prowl.

"Standing up after me is proper as well," Prowl mentioned distractedly, carefully freeing his doorwings. "Come. Do you need fuel before we depart the spaceport?"

"Nope, but we can get some if you're hungry, sir." Jazz had chosen his answer carefully, trying to remember the rules. He could learn to do this. It wasn't that hard.

Prowl blinked. Yes, the style of the delivery wasn't proper at all, but the sentiment behind it very much was. It made him feel a bit warmer. "No, thank you, I am quite well fuelled, currently."

Jazz smiled as he saw his lover let go of a bit of his stiffness. Really, Prowl was too worried about this.

The black and white Praxian led them through the crowd, most of them other Praxians with doorwings, who easily parted the way for them. At the transformation platform that led down to the highway he looked to Jazz: "Ready?"

"Yep, lead the way sir," Jazz said as he kept looking around. Praxus was beautiful. They were just on the spaceport and already there were so many crystals and a fine architecture that seemed to concentrate on light and its many possible angles.

Prowl transformed smoothly and waited for Jazz to do the same, then he accelerated sharply. He knew that Jazz would be capable to keep up and enjoy it too.

The average traffic on Praxus was faster than on Iacon. Iacon had a lot of heavies and minibots that slowed things down, here though, nearly every Praxian engine could be classified as upgraded or speedster. Not to mention, the added information input from the doorwings made the faster driving a lot safer. As such, Prowl didn't think twice of joining the highway traffic at nearly double the speed he would have ever considered doing such a thing in Iacon.

::Okay, this is definitely fun,.:: Jazz said over the comm as he easily kept up with Prowl. ::In Iacon you never drive this fast! I'm almost tempted to see how fast we're allowed to go.:: He revved his engine playfully.

Prowl echoed the rev and decided to accelerate a tiny bit more. ::Praxus has a bit of a different philosophy. You can go as fast as you want to, as long as you do not crash. If you crash, the penalties are harsh. Some might never drive again. It is why subs drive behind their doms. If we crash, you will be considered innocent by default.::

::When does one become sub anyway? Are they all doms until they chose otherwise or do they know what they'll be when they get their adult upgrades?:: Jazz asked as he followed Prowl.

::Technically, Praxians are just unbonded until they decide to commit to a relationship, even if they already know their inclinations. We are both considered pre-bonded, which means in a relationship but not quite bonded yet. Only once bonded, one becomes truly a creator couple and can start a family.::

Prowl couldn't hide the slight excitement in his voice when talking about it. He wanted that, oh yes.

::Have you always known you'll be a dom?:: Jazz asked, curious.

For a moment Prowl fell silent. He really didn't know how to answer this. ::It is not as... easy as that, Jazz. No, as a youngling I hadn't known. And later... I did not think anyone would agree to be my sub. Most saw me as too stiff or that I didn't offer enough...:: It pained him to admit that. Probably more than Jazz understood. 

::Well, they were just too blind to see past that. I guess I'm lucky then, that no one grabbed you before I came along,:: he said, voice filled with fondness. ::But does that mean you would have become someone's sub if no one wanted to be yours?::

::I am the lucky one,:: Prowl replied with the same warm emotions. ::And no. I am not... I wouldn't have shamed others by being less than a good sub and I do not feel I could have held up those expectations. I am what I am, Jazz.::

Jazz was quiet for a moment, then asked slowly, ::But how do you know I'll make a good sub then? I'm not exactly the submissive type.::

::I don't,:: Prowl admitted. ::But if you are unhappy with the role, we will leave Praxus.:: Immediately, even if it would hurt his own spark. They wouldn’t be the first mixed couple unable to deal with Praxian culture by a long shot. He had known the odds when he had started dating Jazz. ::But objectively, you are already more of a sub than I ever was.::

Jazz swerved for a moment, surprised. ::I...what? Wait. Seriously?:: There was actual astonishment in his voice.

::Yes?:: Prowl was confused. ::Everything alright?:: He slowed a bit.

::Just how am I so submissive?:: Jazz asked, confused. ::Before Praxus I always thought myself pretty...well, confident and doming material in Iacon.:: He wasn't exactly upset, just...intrigued.

Prowl actually laughed. ::What made you think that a sub isn't confident?::

Jazz hummed thoughtfully over the link. ::Okay then, what about me is submissive then?::

::Do you remember that holiday in Protihex? Where that mech just didn't stop hitting on you and I might have become a bit... well, aggressive?::

::Oh yeah.:: Jazz's grin could be heard over the link. ::You were pretty hot.::

Prowl's engine purred. ::You enjoyed being defended, the display of power. If I had been in your position, I would have been mortified that I needed help. But that I could defend you... well, that made me very satisfied, proud even. Do you see the difference?::

::Kinda,:: Jazz said. ::But you do know I could have taken him and two more on my own, right? I just think you look hot with your door-wings spread and engine revving and being all territorial and all.:: 

::Oh, I know. If you had said the word, I would have let you as well. But it wouldn't have made me happy.::

Jazz chuckled over the line. ::You're weird, you know that? But in a cute way.::

Prowl made a cocky little swerve. ::I am Praxian.:: 

For a few breems they drove in silence. Prowl then slowed down. ::We are nearly there. Do you have any last klick questions?::

::Not that I can think of, nope.::

::Well, just remember to call me sir, let me do the introductions, while standing behind my doorwing and if you are unsure look at me and comm me.:: They were now in smaller streets, with houses showing up left and  right. A youngling group played in a side street, and memories from his own younglinghood assaulted him. Then, his family's house came into view. ::There it is. The green one with the blue and white crystals.::

::It's beautiful, Prowler,:: Jazz said as he gazed at the house. He could almost picture Prowl playing there as a youngling, playing on the porch.

::Thank you,:: he replied softly and drove into the driveway. There he transformed back, and watched Jazz do the same. They exchanged a last, reassuring glance, then steeling himself he turned around walked up to the door and rang the bell.

It was immediately opened, with a speed that was a bit suspicious. Surely, they hadn't actually laid in wait...?

"Prowl!" A big mech with a bigger grin stepped forward and hugged the smaller enforcer as if he never wanted him to let go again. "It is so good to see you again."

"Carrier," came Prowl's muffled answer, his pedes actually having left the ground. "Hello."

::Carrier?:: Jazz commed Prowl, amused as he observed the encounter fondly. ::Can your sire even fit in the house?::

::Yes, of course. Azurstrike is the biggest of my creator trine.::

When he was gently put on the ground again, Prowl made a small step backwards, offering his carrier a chance to look him over. "You still haven't upgraded to a better amour grade, I see," the Praxian giant chided gently. "What if some of those criminals shot you?"

Prowl sighed. "Carrier, I like my speed as well. Not everyone can still do a 180° spin at over 300 kilometres per hour while in grade five armour."

"Well, you also have never tried it," Azurstrike said. "You look well."

Prowl’s doorwings lowered a bit shyly. "Thank you. You too." 

Azurstrike's paintjob was a very light grey to which blue and green lines had been added. His chevron stood out with a fierce red. It was no question from where exactly Prowl had inherited that.

"Always so polite." Azurstrike looked only now over the doorwing to the silent Jazz. "You bring a guest, my creation?"

"No." The doorwings went up, proudly spreading as far as they could. “Honoured carrier, I wish to introduce you to Jazz, my hope for a future."

His carrier smiled warmly. "You bring him into the home and the family then?"

"If he meets the approval of my creator trine, yes."

"Then we welcome you both as you are, as family and future."

Only now Prowl stepped aside, letting Azurstrike fully see Jazz. "Thank you, carrier." Prowl smiled at Jazz. "May I introduce you to my carrier Azurstrike, the primary sub of my creator trine?"

Jazz smiled at Prowl's creator, waving a hand. "Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Jazz, hopefully your creation's future bond-mate."

Azurstrike blinked. "You are welcome in our home," he said then looked at Prowl with a slight frown. "You haven't taught him the right words?"

Prowl looked back. "He isn't Praxian."

"Yet," Azurstrike said. "He will need to know. But now both of you come in! Tourlight has prepared a small feast for the two of you."

"Thank you, he shouldn't have." Jazz said politely, smiling as he commed Prowl. :: I greeted him wrongly?::

Azurstrike gave Jazz another long look, then made a doorwing flick towards Prowl. Prowl gave the flick right back.

::This was a traditional exchange , and you didn't say the right words. But your behaviour was correct, you did well. Just be prepared that Azurstrike might give you a datapad on the greeting traditions later. And remember, that my creators rank higher... he shouldn't have, is a phrase that might not be received well.::

::I meant it he shouldn't have to bother with us, I'm sure he has better things to do,:: Jazz commed Prowl back.

::Tourlight takes pride in his confections, to say that he shouldn't have bothered means to him that he is not worth to make them... in fact, in all likelihood he will greet you, put some sweets into your arms, command that you eat them and then ask if you like them. Just greet him politely back, accept the sweets and then give him as honest praise as you can,:: Prowl said. ::And believe me, his sweets will deserve honest praise. They are amazing.::

::He sounds really sweet.:: Jazz smiled. ::And I'm sure I'll love them. You know that if it's sweet, there's no way I won’t like it.::

They had followed Azurstrike into the kitchen, where another light grey doorwinged mech was busy moving around with a variety of plates. He had red and blue lines added, while his chevron was a dark green.

"Tourlight, my dear," said Azurstrike, warmth colouring his words, "might we have your attention for a second?"

Prowl strategically moved again in front of Jazz, doorwings hiding him as well as they could. Which wasn't very, but it was more the thought than anything else.

"Oh, yes, of course!" Tourlight was smaller than Azurstrike, though that wasn't very difficult. It was also clear, that he was a bit shier. "Prowl, it is so good to see you again. And you bring someone home, finally." He mildly blushed. "Not that I am saying that you should have brought anyone home earlier..."

Azurstrike chuckled. "May I introduce you to Jazz, he is family and future."

"Oh, of course, welcome in house and home." 

Prowl moved aside and smiled. "Jazz, this is Tourlight. The secondary sub of my creator trine and the best cook this side of Cybertron."

"Hello." Jazz smiled at Tourlight. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm sorry I still don't know the proper words to say, but I really am happy to be here and hopefully bond with Prowl in the future."

Tourlight blinked, then looked towards Azurstrike who nodded. He smiled back. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well. Do not worry, if you are willing, then education and the training will take care of the rest." He looked to Prowl. "You will train him, of course?"

"If he is willing," said Prowl. "But at the moment, I wanted to introduce Praxus and you to him first."

"Of course." Azurstrike nodded. "A good training needs a solid base."

Tourlight's doorwings performed a complicated sequence, and Azurstrike gave a tiny flick back. "The sweets are nearly ready," he said. "Let us sit down, yes? Prowl, you certainly have to tell us a lot, your messages from Iacon were... sporadic."

Jazz kept looking around. It was nice and clean and clearly well taken care of. "Your home is lovely," Jazz couldn't help but say and then he remembered he should have done that and covered his mouth with a hand. "Oops, sorry."

Prowl put his hand on Jazz's shoulder, a silent show of support. "You will learn."

"Yes," Azurstrike agreed. "Please sit, everyone. Tell me, Jazz, what is your home city state? You do not look Iaconian."

"I'm from Polyhex actually." Jazz smiled shyly. "I studied at Iacon and then settled there to work."

Tourlight put half a dozen dishes on the table, each one smelling delicious.

"Polyhex," Azurstrike's optics flickered to his helmet. "That explains those cute sensor horns. And what do you work as?"

"I'm a performer," Jazz explained. "I studied music and can play a couple of instruments and eventually I joined the Iaconian Royal Theatre where I perform there in different plays. That's how I met with Prowl actually." He would have said more but a comm made him pause.

::Stop,:: Prowl commed him. ::Not too much information at first.::

::Oh, oops. Sorry,:: Jazz answered.

::You couldn't know. But that's why we have comms.::

The two creator subs meanwhile had exchanged a delighted look. 

"A performer," Tourlight said with the first honest smile. "That is marvellous! And don't forget to eat, you two had a long journey." Tourlight shoved a plate towards Prowl and a different one to Jazz. "I know that Polyhex uses less paladium, which means that probably most of these will taste a bit acidic to you, Jazz. But please try these."

Curious, Jazz reached for the offered goodies and took a hesitant bite. His visor brightened in delighted surprise. "It's spicy but not too much. I actually like it, which is saying a lot since I eat only sweet. But this is really delicious!"

For half a second Tourlight looked wrong-footed, then he beamed.

::You should have thanked him and then let him ask if you like it first.:: Prowl chuckled over the comm. ::But I think the honesty of your praise means more than anything else to Tourlight.::

Jazz did a small groaning sound over the comm. ::There are rules about everything. But I hope I didn't offend him.::

::Believe me, an offended Praxian isn't smiling like this.::

"Thank you, Jazz. I try very hard to offer a wide range of pleasing tastes. Please eat as many as you want to." Tourlight moved a few more plates towards Jazz.

Jazz smiled and picked up another one to try them. Taking another bite his visor brightened but this time for a different reason.

::Mouth. Is. Burning!:: He commed Prowl and forced himself to chew, smiling politely at Tourlight.

"Maybe a cube of energon," Prowl suggested quietly. "It would go well with this sweet."

Tourlight's optics flickered. "Oh. Of course." He stood up and hurried to get one.

::You did very well, that you commed me,:: Prowl said. ::Is it bad?::

::Uhm, not exactly. Just, in Polyhex we never have something so acidic and in Iacon I never really ate sweets like that... I can't say something is bad when I'm unused to it. I bet it tastes lovely to someone who grew up eating it.::

Before Prowl could answer, Tourlight came back with the energon cube. "Mild energon," he said and put it in front of Jazz. "I processed it myself." There was concern in his white optics.

Jazz had his mouth still closed as he took the energon and took a big sip, washing his mouth and throat with it. After the burning stopped he tried to offer a reassuring smile at Tourlight. "Ah, now those goodies have a... bite I've never tasted before. It's unique." 

Tourlight actually looked at Prowl.

"It is fine," Prowl answered. "Just a bit too strong."

 The secondary sub nodded, looking a tiny bit relieved. "Maybe dilution can help...? Jazz, would dilution help you to enjoy them more?"

Jazz bit his lip. "...Maybe?"

::Prowler, I don't know if I can lie to him. And he's trying so hard. I loved the other goodies. Just not the acidic ones...::

::If it really is a matter of preference and not strength, then you should simply tell him. He knows that not everyone can like everything,:: Prowl answered. ::Or else he might try for the next vorn to find a formula that you like.::

"Um," Jazz started, squirming a little and not able to look at Prowl's creator, he was trying so hard to make sure Jazz liked the goodies that he felt bad for this. "I'm just...not used to acidic tastes... Polyhex doesn't really have that and in Iacon I avoided them...But these are delicious," Jazz said and meant it as he took another goodie from the other bowl.

Tourlight nodded, and started to ask in detail what dishes Jazz liked, or he disliked. 

Meanwhile, Prowl relaxed and looked towards his own carrier who watched the scene with barely hidden amusement.

::You really haven't trained him yet?:: Azurstrike send his creation.

::No. We were in Iacon, it would have only made him uncomfortable,:: said Prowl. ::And I am still not sure that it is what he wants. Our cultures are so different.::

::They are. But he certainly isn't a dom and Tourlight already likes him.::

Prowl nodded, glad for that. ::And you?::

::I will reserve my judgement for a bit longer, my creation. But I admit, I didn't expect you to go for a cute performer.::

::Carrier...:: groaned Prowl.

::Did you notice, that whenever he commed you for advice he leaned a bit towards you?::

Prowl’s doorwings stiffened with surprise. ::No?::

::You should be more attentive, little one. But for now I approve.:: Azurstrike watched for domestic scene in front of him for a long moment. ::He seems to make you happy.::

::Very.:: answered Prowl with the utmost certainty.

::Good.:: 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 – It’s a Gift

 

The rest of the evening was filled with with polite conversations about sweets, energon and a few funny humorous stories about a very young Prowl that delighted Jazz and made Prowl nearly regret ever introducing anyone to his sub-creators. After all, Jazz hadn’t really needed to know that as a sparkling Prowl had fallen into the trash collector thrice!

This story and the fact that Jazz seemed a bit stressed made Prowl decide that it might be wise to retire early. Citing the travel and exhaustion, he showed his lover the rest of the house and finally his old room.

It wasn’t a big or an exciting room, Prowl had always preferred practicality over aesthetics. Yet, Jazz kept walking around, looking over different items in it, smiling whenever he saw something particularly Prowl-like that hadn’t changed at all since then. In front of the shelf that covered a whole portion of the wall, he stopped at looked at the various datapads that stood there. Many were filled with dry knowledge, but the fantasy and crime novels came as a welcome surprise.

Jazz pulled an interesting pad out and looked it over, while trying to sound as casual as possible when he asked, "Do you think your creators liked me?"

Prowl had sat on his old berth and just observed Jazz. "You listened to Tourlight talk about sweets for close to four joors." He huffed amused. "He doesn't just like you, he is thanking Primus for your existence."

Jazz turned around to Prowl and managed to give a stupidly wide grin, that barely covered his nervousness beneath. "You really think so? Even when I made all of those mistakes?"

"You made less than you think," Prowl assured him. "And while Azurstrike has noticed those mistakes, but he puts much stock on the 'willing to learn' part."

"Ah, okay then, I guess," Jazz said and put the novel back to where it belonged. Then he walked across the room and sat down on Prowl’s lap, leaning against that large Praxian bumper. "At least, I’m pretty sure it could’ve gone worse. Now all that's left is to meet your sire and brother."

"Hunter is a cheerful mech, more so now he is bonding to the love of his life. I am afraid, when you meet him at the ceremony, he might not have the processor or time for anything meaningful. If you are not careful, he might start talking about sparklings with you and barely anything can get him to stop."

Jazz laughed. "He sounds lovely. Are you two close? You don't mention him that often at home in Iacon."

Prowl rested his helmet against Jazz's. "Close is maybe a bit too much. We were close when growing up, but soon it became apparent that our characters are very... different. We don't really have any pastimes we enjoy to share. But I still love him."

Jazz offered a sad smile. "At least you don't resent each other. I have friends who don't even speak with their siblings and I'm pretty sure they would be happy if the other offlines." He paused for a moment, before adding something unexpected even for himself. "Promise me that when one orn we have creations we won’t let them drift apart? That we'll help them get along with each other?"

Prowl gave Jazz a glance. That was the first time the other mentioned that he wanted creations with him at all. "Of course, we will give our best. Our home will be their home forever, where they will always be welcomed." He kissed Jazz's cheek. "We will make it into a true home."

Jazz grinned and this time he kissed Prowl on the lips. "Thank you."

"No, thank you." Prowl kissed him again. "Now, what do you think of my sub-creators? They are not too horrible, I hope?"

"No!" Jazz hurried to say. "They are actually very sweet! I like them very much. Just, ah… well, is it normal to trine in Praxus?"

"Actually, yes. Not everyone trines, but most try to." Prowl hesitated a moment, considering Jazz’s words: "Do you want us to search for a third?"

"Ah." Jazz looked away. "Trines... I'm not used to them. I don't know, it’s not exactly Polyhexian standard, ya know? I will feel like I'll be useless or the other mech will be useless...For now, let's not?"

Prowl suddenly had the feeling, that Jazz wanted nothing more than to snap "no" and then bury the whole trine idea in the Sonic Canyon. "If you say no, it is no," he said solemnly. "Never doubt that."

Jazz nodded without looking at Prowl. His spark twisted at the thought that he was barring, worse, forbidding Prowl from something he obviously considered normal and had maybe even looked forward to happening. "Maybe in the future..." he said. "When our bond is stable and all, maybe you can ask then again..." Not that he was sure he would ever be ready for that.

"I do not want to ask you to make room, I will only ever move if you want it as much as I do," Prowl promised. "And even now I couldn't name a single mech that could even come close to possibly occupying the same place in my spark as you do. And many Praxians never trine. It is not a necessity."

Jazz finally managed to look at Prowl, offering a small smile. "I'm usually good with sharing...only if that thing isn't you. I can be just as territorial about you."

"Good." Prowl nuzzled his neck. "Now, berth?"

"Only if it means cuddles from you." Jazz pressed closer.

"What else?" 

Jazz smiled as they did just that.

~

The next orn, a bell called them to a delicious breakfast that had been prepared by Tourlight. Azurstrike was already sitting at the table, reading a datapad, when Prowl and Jazz entered.

"Good morning," Prowl greeted. 

"Good morning, my creation. Good morning, Jazz," Azurstrike said. "I hope you have slept well?"

"Morning," Jazz smiled at him. "And thank you, I slept very well. How are you this orn?"

"It is good morning, Jazz," said Prowl at his side. "Else you are saying you didn't have a good morning."

"He is correct," said Azurstrike gentle. "Also it is appropriate to let the one of higher rank to ask you first how you are, and then to reflect the same question back." 

Tourlight smiled. "Don't forget to sit down, dears. The enelgions are still warm! I even made a Polyhexian version for Jazz, it is the slightly red one."

"Thank you, sub-creator," said Prowl and sat down. His doorwings made a swipe to the chair next to himself.

Jazz sat down next to him, peering at the goodies Tourlight offered. "Thank you for this. Though now I feel bad for causing the extra work." They did look delicious though.

Both sub-creators smiled. "Do not worry, Jazz. You will find a way to provide as well," Tourlight said warmly.

"If not, we will help," promised Azurstrike.

"Provide how?" Jazz asked, suddenly curious. 

"There are many ways," explained Prowl. "I do not think I can fully explain over the course of a single breakfast."

"Though, I might be able to show him?" Tourlight offered. "Don't be offended, Prowl, but you never will be a sub and understand more subtle things about it."

Prowl sighed, yet he couldn’t deny the point his sub-creator had made. ::Jazz, do you wish to spend an orn with my sub-creator? He really would be a good source of information.::

::Sure, that sounds fun,:: Jazz commed him back.

"Jazz will be happy to accept," said Prowl. "Meanwhile, I will visit sire and Hunter. Sire has already demanded my presence and Hunter sent a message worrying about the chairs at the ceremony."

"The chair problem has already been resolved, I think." Tourlight’s doorwings fluttered with repressed laughter. "Blip probably really needs you. To be the sole dom can’t be easy."

"They are both eagerly awaiting you." Azurstrike took a last sweet and stood up. "Excuse me, please, I have to go. We have a drill in the morning, and it would be bad form for the drill instructor to be late." He kissed Tourlight gently. "Your breakfast was marvellous. I wish you a wonderful orn."

Then Azurstrike walked out of the door.

Prowl glanced after him. "Carrier is a drill instructor?"

"Only part-time and when there isn't an emergency." Tourlight's smile faltered a bit. "He is teaching the new soldiers... and he thought that teaching is more acceptable."

"That sounds exciting!" Jazz grinned. "And fun."

Tourlight winced and returned his attention to the breakfast. Prowl sighed. ::This is a bit more complicated than that, Jazz... Also, try to wait for my own opinion, before showing your own.::

"You aren't as approving, sub-carrier?" Prowl said out loud.

Tourlight shrugged. "It is an improvement, I guess..."

"Improvement from what?" Jazz asked, curious. "I mean, if I'm allowed to ask."

::You are.::

"Carrier works in the bomb disposal corps," said Prowl flatly. "It is not exactly a safe work environment."

"Really?" And this time Jazz's visor brightened excitedly. "Is he allowed to take visitors? I would love to see some of those bombs."

This time Prowl winced. Tourlight said nothing, just watching.

"There are tours for visitors every deca-orn, if they haven't changed the schedule," Prowl looked towards Tourlight for confirmation, who nodded. "I am sure, Azurstrike would be delighted to show you around. But Jazz, you should be aware of a few things first." He hesitated. "Actually, I think Tourlight, might be better at explaining. Would you do me this favour, sub-creator?"

"Of course," came the fast and warm answer. "Why don't you already go to Blip and Hunter?"

Prowl nodded. ::Jazz, do you mind this arrangement?::

::No, not at all. Go be with your sire and brother. I'll learn more about your culture this way.::

::Very well. Comm me if something, anything really, happens.:: He kissed Jazz for a moment. "Try to obey Tourlight, he is of higher rank here. Besides that, enjoy yourself and have a good orn. I’ll try to be back before dinner."

"Bye, love." Jazz waved at him goodbye.

"Sir," Prowl corrected.

Jazz sighed. "Bye, sir."

Prowl left, and Tourlight and Jazz were alone. For a moment they simply looked at each other silently, the social awkwardness having hit both. Jazz straightened up and offered a hesitant smile.

"I have a question. Well, okay it's not exactly a question... I just don't know how to phrase it," Jazz said, looking at Tourlight.

Tourlight opened his mouth, closed it and shook his head. "I guess our cultures are really different. As the higher-ranked sub here, you should have let me initiated the talk. But considering everything, I think your question is more important. Please, ask, I will try my best to answer."

"Ah." Jazz rubbed the back of his head. "I always speak before thinking, sorry about that. But anyway, my question... I feel weird with the term 'submissive' everyone uses around here. It's... well, in my head it seems like this is a weak person and I always wanted to ask someone how you don't view it as an insult?"

Tourlight's optics had grown bigger. "An insult?!" he nearly squeaked. "Who – Primus, do other cities view us really that badly, that they use it like that?"

"Not exactly. Just, well...it's strange in my head because...Well, Prowl and everyone around here wants me to submit and I'm not sure if I'm okay with that. But I'm eager to learn..." He felt heat on his cheeks, embarrassed. "See? I don't even know how to phrase it. It's just... weird."

"Oh." Tourlight looked disturbed. "I see. I guess it is natural, considering that you know nothing about... well, everything. No wonder Prowl hasn't started training or anything..." He put a finger to his lower lip, tapping it as he thought. "I think, part of the problem is that you really can't know what it means. First of all, if you do not want to do something, then no one will force you. A gift is given, not taken."

"Gift?" Jazz asked, intrigued.

"Yes, of course?"

"I don't get it," Jazz said simply. "What gift?"

For a moment Tourlight looked really thrown. "Uhm. Submission is a gift towards the dominating mech. It demonstrates trust and loyalty and love to everyone around you. It is... well, a gift."

Jazz just stared at the other, trying to understand. "So...if I submit," And did that word sound strange, "If I submit to Prowl, it will be a gift?"

"Yes." Tourlight leaned forward eagerly. "And he will be a very lucky mech! I do not know you for long, Jazz, yet I can already tell you that Prowl really was shooting above his weight class with you. He must have been so nervous courting you."

"Courting?" Jazz smiled fondly. "But we're already together! We're to bond soon."

Tourlight's doorwings fluttered happily. "Yes, yes. But Prowl must have shown that he has a good rank, that he can provide for you, must have given you some gifts...?"

"Well, yes?" Jazz said unsure. "But so have I. I may work as a performer but I act sometimes too and I have enough money to buy Prowl gifts as well." He blushed a bit, not used to stating things so plainly. "I want to make him happy."

"As you should, but please elaborate - you are a successful actor as well as a musician?" Tourlight was fascinated. "Prowl didn't mention that!"

Jazz nodded nervously, used to the fact that acting wasn’t exactly a stable job and that in Iacon mechs could see that in a negative light. He truly hoped that Tourlight wouldn’t prove to be one of those mechs. "Well... I'm not the biggest star in Iacon, but I have quite the few request for various plays and can actually choose."

"What do you enjoy the most?" Tourlight blinked and looked around in the kitchen. "And could you help me with cleaning up? I am running a bit late."

"Of course I’ll give you a hand, no prob," Jazz said. "What should I do?"

"Just take put everything that liess there into the dishwasher."

Jazz nodded and began his task, while he worked he said: "So, about what I enjoy… Uhm, among the music instruments I like the twings the most, I guess. They’re a bit old fashioned, but they got this sparkdeep resonance, that is unique to them. And I love it when they are used for a stage play. Besides that, I like stories with action and love. The more action, the more romance - the better. That's why 'Prima's Creation' is one of my favourite plays. Also, I like 'When the Mechs Lost Their Optics' too, even if it’s a bit cheesy." He grinned sheepishly at that.

"That sounds lovely. I enjoy theatre a lot as well," Tourlight was swift in the kitchen, every movement fast and sure. "The yellow plates go there, and the red ones there. It is usually me who cooks. Azurstrike can't cook to save his life and Blip is the dominate mech."

"Really?" Jazz asked as he did as told. "I'm...a lazy cook. The faster the meal, the better. Before I met with Prowl, I existed on junk food only. Prowl's the one that actually cooks."

Tourlight chuckled. "You two sound like Azur’ and Blip. I was absolutely appalled when I found out what exactly these two were eating every orn and decided to make sure that none of our sparklings will have the same trouble feeding themselves," Tourlight said fondly. "Maybe in a few hundred vorns you will also find a cooking-enthusiastic third."

That startled Jazz and he dropped the plate he was holding. "Ah! I'm sorry Tourlight, I'll clean it up right away."

"No, no. Let me do it." Tourlight rushed to the broom. "Here, so nothing happened! Just like new. Oh no, you didn't get hurt?"

"No, I'm fine." Jazz stepped out of the way. "Sorry about the plate again."

"Don't worry, it was old anyway." He cleaned the shards away, and put them into the trash. "Can you finish the pile over there? Then we can go."

"Yep," Jazz said and easily did the task. Soon, he was finished and looked expectantly at Tourlight: "So what are the plans for this orn, boss?"

Tourlight nearly flinched. "Oh, don't call me that!"

"'Boss?'" Jazz asked. "It's a nickname. Plus, technically, you outrank me."

"Ah, yes, but... boss sounds like we are in a working environment, and I am worth more than you are and both just isn't true. I am the secondary sub of your dom's creator trine. As such I do outrank you by being bonded alone, but also in a familial context." Tourlight sighed. "But as I said submission is a gift, and..." He struggled for words. "Subs are different from doms."

"How are they different?" Jazz deliberately refrained from using 'we', he just wasn’t like that. "How is a sub supposed to feel?"

"Well, for starters dom would never be invited to sub-meetings."

Jazz laughed. "Really? You have sub-meetings? What do you do on them? Do they have dom-meetings?"

"No, they are doms. They are not... social." Tourlight smiled, relaxing in response to Jazz’s mirth. "And we do a lot, there are for every occasion different ones. I mean I went to one a few vorns ago, which was part of the carnival and we tried to make pretty costumes, so we would look beautiful." He paused. "For our doms." And winked.

Jazz laughed at that again. "That sounds interesting. And the doms like it?"

"Of course, who doesn't like it that their subs look beautiful?" Tourlight’s optics twinkled. "You might have noticed that our paintjobs are pretty dull, so if we go out we go all out. It enhances the effect. And besides, I like glitter."

"I like glitter too," admitted Jazz automatically as he thought of the various costumes had had worn during his career. "And fluorescent light. It would be fun to paint Prowl in fluorescent light!" He snickered at that thought. Prowl would look cute.

"I still have a few youngling photos of him at the local carnival..."

"Oh, I need to see those!"

"Tomorrow? I will prepare them," he promised. "Doms usually dislike being painted on. They think it improper." Tourlight took a long suffering sigh. "So we paint each other and our younglings. And share photos when they are adults."

"I love that idea!" Jazz said, excited. Then it hit him. Like a brick in the face. "...I'm really a sub... aren't I?" He winced.

Tourlight laughed. "Only a bit. But if it reassures you, Azurstrike is a sub too and he definitely is different from me. Less," he made a hand wave, "homey?"

Jazz grinned at that. "I know what you mean. I personally love fast speeds and my favourite show is 'Stunt Doubles'. I always want to apply for it, but Prowl talks me out of it." He snickered.

"Oh, you and Azurstrike will just love each other. He watches 'Stunt Doubles' too, and he always tells me that this is impossible or that Firebreaker really is the best at things. Blip even once became jealous of Firebreaker!"

Jazz grinned. "Prowl always huffs at him too! But he's awesome. There's this one jump he does that I can do too and I'm waiting for the right moment to show Prowl! He'll be speechless. You just need to accelerate, jump, transform mid-air, land on the car in front of you, jump again, transform in car-mode and bam! You're in front of him!"

Tourlight covered his optics and groaned playfully. "You will push my sparkling into a pump attack!" Then he grinned. "Prowl might just cuddle you afterwards and chain you the berth and 'punish' you. Azurstrike loves it." He gives Jazz a calculating glance. "If you promise to never tell me what exactly Prowl and you are up in the berth room, I will give you the location of Azurstrike's race track."

Jazz laughed at that. "Mech, you don't ever need to worry about that. What happens in the berthroom, stays there. I may not look like it, but I dislike the idea of someone seeing us interface or talk with others about it. It’s just...private, you know?" He grinned sheepishly. "I'm old fashioned, I know."

Tourlight might a very approving sound. "Me too." He checked the kitchen a last time. "Do you have everything? We really should go now."

"Yep! But go where?" Jazz followed after him.

"Blip and Azurstrike both have well-paying jobs, which freed me from the need to work." He gave Jazz a glance. "Another advantage of being a sub - if your partners provide enough, you don't have to work. Anyway, I always supported charities and are now doing this full-time without a bitlet running around."

"I don’t think I'll be able to give up working," Jazz offered. "I would go crazy without something to occupy my processor. Plus, imagine if Prowl sparks? Someone will need to bring in credits." Now that was a thought, Prowl carrying their sparkling. His lover would glow with happiness, he just knew it.

"There are ways to make it more likely that the sub sparks," said Tourlight. "But you are right... I think that is the reason why we have codelines that encourage us to trine. So that there always is someone around to provide for the others."

They stopped at the driveway and he pinged Jazz with his commline. "Just in case."

::Thanks!:: Jazz commed him back and transformed, waiting for the other to do the same, engine purring.

::Please remember, the one with the higher rank transforms first. It is a simple sign of respect,:: said Tourlight. ::It is also appropriate for you to drive behind me, because I am your elder, from your dom's creation-trine and you are new to the city and I have taken the responsibility for you for this orn... not to mention, I know where we are going to.::

Jazz chuckled, ::That's why I waited for you. But sorry, I think that's the hardest rule for me to abide - to follow the higher ranked mech's lead. I keep forgetting that part.::

Tourlight transformed and immediately drove away. ::Easy solution, become the higher ranked mech.::

::Become a dom?:: Jazz asked, confused.

::No, a higher-ranked sub. Actually, you are already quite high-ranked already. You just interacted so far only with your dom and us. And I am only slightly higher ranked than you, mostly through familial relations, a bit through knowledge and station. In short, I am your elder.::

Jazz hummed at that. ::I think I 'll also have trouble with one more thing - I kinda don't like being ordered around...:: He chuckled nervously.

Tourlight was silent for a long while. ::I will not lie to you, Jazz, obeying is part of being a sub. It does not make us less than anything we are, but... it is part of it.::

::It's not that I'll flat out refuse orders, don't get me wrong,:: Jazz started, ::I mean, I don't like following orders that make no sense to me. At the very least if someone wants me to follow their order they better explain to me why I should. Um...get it?::

::Yes. You dislike stupid, careless doms.::

Jazz snickered as the mech phrased it in his own words. ::Or just stupid mechs with power.::

::Those are even worse!:: 

They were driving from the nice suburb area into an industrial area and then on into a less well-off housing area. ::We are nearly there. I have taken the liberty to inform them that you will accompany me today.::

::Thanks, but where are we going? I seem to have missed that detail,:: Jazz commented.

::I forgot to mention it... I am sorry. I volunteer at the Praxian Care Centre in the kitchen, and provide cooking lessons for younglings. It's not terrible glamorous, but I enjoy it.::

::Oh right! You mentioned that part!:: Jazz said over the comm, ::I've never been a volunteer even though I wanted to be one. Sounds fun.::

::Maybe you will enjoy it as well.:: Tourlight sounded hopeful. ::Most of the younglings here lost their families for various reasons. Sometimes a creator couple becomes sick, or doesn't work out, or... just sick. They can all need a loving hand.::

Jazz felt his spark constrict at the thought. ::It's wonderful there are mechs like you who help those younglings. I hope they’ll like me."

::I can't imagine, why they wouldn’t.:: They stopped in front of a massive building with a big yard that held a big playing ground. Everything was clean, and well-kept.

"Most workers here are subs. It is the kind of work that attracts us. Though, the bookkeeping mech is a dom."

Jazz transformed after him. "I love younglings and sparklings. Are there any rules I should follow here?"

Tourlight frowned. "I am sure the basic rules are the same in any city. Nothing inappropriate, no hitting, no screaming...? Also, you shouldn't let some of the younglings walk all over you, not matter what they claim they are to be. They are younglings, unbonded and have to obey."

"But they are younglings," Jazz said. "They play." He followed him inside.

"Of course they do. But there are lines and these should be respected." Tourlight patted his shoulder. "Do not worry, in the end younglings are younglings and you will know what to do. Ready?"

"Yep!" Jazz grinned at him.

Tourlight gave him a smile in return.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 – Call me Sir

 

Prowl came home in the evening with news from the bonding preparations. "Hunter is very happy," he announced. "And I quite like his dom."

Azurstrike and Tourlight asked some more questions over dinner, but finally they all retreated to their own rooms.

"Sub-carrier took you to the youngling centre, right?" Prowl asked once they were alone.

"Yep." Jazz looked from his pad and paused the video he was watching. "It was quite fun. Not the part in the kitchen but the little ones themselves. He goes there often I take it?"

"Don't forget to call me sir," reminded Prowl gently, but continued before Jazz could answer, "Nearly every orn as far as I know. He stayed at home, when Hunter and I were young, but afterwards he searched for new things to do."

"He's very sweet," Jazz said with a small smile. "It's actually scary how much I see myself in him... He likes all the things I like."

"Really?" Prowl was a bit surprised. "I thought, you would see more of yourself in my carrier. I am quite sure you both have a penchant for stunts."

Jazz gave a chuckle. "I guess. We'll see after I spend some time with him as well." He looked away, nervous. "But it's...weird."

"Weird? In what way?"

"Well, sure you and everyone calls me a sub, but… That term. It's... well, it's kinda making me uncomfortable. I mean, doesn't that mean you're weak and need someone to protect you?"

"No?" Prowl stopped. "Well, some subs are weak and need someone, but that is them... A sub definitely doesn't have to be weak. In fact, personality wise I am quite sure Tourlight is the strongest in this home. Frame wise it is Azurstrike..." Prowl felt at loss how to explain it better. It was so obvious, natural to him. A sub was a sub, a dom a dom and a sun a sun. 

"Did you know I was a... sub when we met?" And pit was it strange to use the term in relation to himself. A bit like waking up and discovering himself to be an orange microbot with a tail. A neon-green spiked tail.

Prowl sighed. "I was attracted to you, Jazz and I knew that I have very strong dom protocols. I couldn't be sure, of course, but it was likely that you were someone that would... fit together with me. And when you did - I wouldn't have cared if you were a sub or a dom or a chromalligator. We fit together, that is what counts."

Jazz couldn't help but smile fondly at Prowl for the words and leaned in to give him a brief kiss before pulling back. "Yeah, I never really cared about that, but now it's like I'm seeing this whole new world and you're making me see this other side of me that I'm scared to even acknowledge. I'm not sure I can admit it yet. It's like I'm admitting I'm this weak little thing and I'm not. I know that I'm not!"

"That is fine, Jazz. Praxus and Iacon are very different, and I struggled for a long time to adjust as well." Prowl paused as he tried to find a way to understand Jazz’s feelings and fears better. "I guess what you are experiencing is what most of us Praxians live through in their final youngling state in a way - we try to find out who we are, and what we need to be happy. Some only learn it a lot later, too. There are no clear cut lines."

"Tourlight seems to /love/ being a sub." Jazz’s voice shone with amazement at the fact. "He's really trying to show me all the awesomeness in it." He chuckled and then remembered something he had been meaning to ask Prowl. "Does Praxus have crime?"

The sudden change of topic made Prowl blink. "Yes, of course, but less than other city states."

"Yeah, I figured as much. It seems quite peaceful here," Jazz commented, remembering how unconcerned mechs had seemed on the street and how his own native city-state has always compared less than favourably to Praxus. In fact, Praxian tourists were the favourite of the Polyhexian pickpockets.

"It is," Prowl said a bit wistfully. "I was a bit shocked when I visited other states for the first time and realised that there were truly gangs roaming streets and worse. Nowadays, I know the differences are caused by a combination of various factors, and that Praxus is quite fortunate." Prowl nuzzled Jazz's throat. "You know, you should have called me sir during this conversation at least once."

Jazz laughed, returning the nuzzle. "I keep forgetting. I swear, that's the hardest rule." And then he added, "Sir."

Prowl's engine rumbled in approval. "I could help you remembering with rewards and punishments?" he offered a bit hesitantly, suddenly very aware of the fact that Jazz wasn’t Praxian and might not appreciate such help.

"Oh?" Jazz looked at him curiously. "What kind of rewards and punishments are you talking about, sir?" A part of him was undeniably nervous, but a deeper, other part liked the promise of attention and care - the promise of tangible proof.

Prowl caressed a sensor horn in exactly that way, he knew would get Jazz's engine revving. "Reward," he said with a smile.

Jazz's engine gave a pleased purr. "And what are the punishments?" He leaned more into Prowl's touch.

Prowl twisted his hand and squeezed the very same sensor horn, until it was a little bit painful. "Punishment." He immediately let go and could only hope he hadn’t gone too far.

Jazz blinked, surprised as his helm pulled away automatically and he shook it lightly. That… had somehow been less that what he had expected, and yet was better, too. It made him feel warm to know that Prowl cared enough to act, and the tingling of his horn was just a reminder of that. "Okay, deal."

Prowl’s doorwings dropped a big with relief. "Where do you want to do this? Only in private?" Prowl asked. "Or in the house as well? Or... everywhere?"

Jazz hummed, "Let's just keep it to the house? Your creators won’t mind, right? It'll be easier for me to remember with others around." There was no way he would mention how embarrassing this would be in front of strangers. Just no. Prowl’s creators was the most he could stand and that was just because trusted Tourlight and Azurstrike to understand.

"No, they will not mind," Prowl assured him. "It is common for a dom to help a sub remember the rules in that way."

Jazz blinked then shook his head. "I don’t even know why I’m surprised." He blinked, then smirked mischievously. "Oh, did I ever tell you that I used to dom my previous lover? I was pretty good at it too."

That really startled Prowl and he gave Jazz a long look. "No, you didn't tell me," he said quietly. "Did you enjoy it?"

Jazz gave a shrug. "I guess? Yeah, it was fun."

"... so you acted, it wasn't natural behaviour?"

"Well yeah, I had to get into the role. Why do you ask?" Jazz looked at the other curiously. Maybe Prowl wanted that too?

Prowl was silent for a few moments. "Do you act like a submissive when you are with me?" There was a deep uncertainty beneath the words suddenly.

Jazz gave Prowl a deadpan stare. "Seriously? I don't know how I am around you, but it is most definitely not an act. That's why I fell in love with you, remember? Cuz I get to be myself."

Prowl exvented deeply. "For a moment… That is all I want, for you to be yourself and happy."

"I am, you make me so happy." Jazz took his hand and squeezed it. "But if you need it, I can get in role for you as well. I've been told I'm a pretty good dom."

"Sadly," Prowl said, true regret colouring his voice, "I have been told that I am a very bad sub."

Jazz actually laughed at that. "Really? Why? What did you do?"

Prowl actually looked away, doorwings fluttering in clear embarrassment. But if one mech deserved to know then it was probably Jazz. He sighed and pulled Jazz’s hand and with it the whole mech into his lap.

"Well," he said slowly, "I might have stood up and told him that his decisions are slag, he has the intelligence of a slug and that I can't understand why I am supposed to remember his favourite taste, when he can't even remember my favourite café." Looking back, Prowl had to admit that – if nothing else – it had been a magnificent rant. "Needless to say, it was the end of our relationship... and frankly, I was very close to being dishonoured."

Jazz had been amused at the story until the last bit. "Dishonoured? Seriously?"

Prowl shrugged, and then smiled sheepishly. "Well... we might have been at a ceremony in his honour."

"Oh, you just picked the /best/ time to tell him everything!" Jazz laughed, kissing the other’s chevron affectionately. 

Prowl nodded. "He didn't deserve that. In the following vorns I worked hard to make it up to him..."

"Well, you shouldn't have bottled up everything. It was only natural that it would burst eventually. And of course it had to happen at the worst time possible. You’ve got a nasty temper, dear spark." Jazz chuckled. "But I'm happy you're not with him now, otherwise we wouldn’t be together."

"Me too." Prowl flicked the horn. 

Jazz blinked. "Sir?"

Prowl nodded and continued as if he hadn't done anything: "Eventually, everything died down once it became clear that I was very young and had... confused my inclination. It wasn't exactly an excuse for him, because he should have noticed that something was amiss before, but it saved both of our honour enough to continue on."

Jazz shook his helm, amused. "I wish I could've seen that. You were probably awesome, dressing him down." He then remembered and added, "Sir." 

"A friend later assured me that I was the picture of an upset dom." Prowl chuckled, rubbing the sensor horn as a reward. "It kind of sealed things."

A smirk grew on Jazz's face, engine purring at the caress. "You like it when I call you sir, don't you?"

"...yes." Prowl leaned forward and stole a deep kiss. "Very much so."

Jazz smiled against his lips. "Why didn't you tell me sooner you liked that?"

"Well... Praxians have a bit of a bad reputation and I didn't want to scare you away?"

Jazz hummed. "I guess but I'm not that easily scared off, lover." He looked at the other curiously. "Are there other things you held back from? You can tell me, I promise not to react."

"Sir," Prowl said, and squeezed the horn a bit. "I might have, though not consciously. I guess I do like providing things for you that make you happy. And I do like opportunities that show that you are mine. For example, when you stand behind my doorwing and I can introduce you. It is such a strong symbol of love and protection here, I like that."

Jazz smiled fondly at the other. "I like those things too."

"Really?" Prowl very nearly didn't dare to hope.

"Yeah." Jazz grinned. "I also like giving /you/ gifts and making you happy. I especially love it when I get you to smile. And I find it amusing and quite cute when you hide me behind your doorwing, but I miss taking your hand whenever I want. I /love/ that."

"It is the sign of a good Praxian relationship that both add to it," said Prowl. "The differences between dom and sub are often be subtle. About hand holding... well, you can comm me and I can initiate the contact? Or we could use a more... traditional method."

"Oh? Like what?" Jazz asked, curious.

"A leash," Prowl answered bluntly. "Or collars. The glyphs with Blip’s designation on the doorwings of my sub-carriers are a lesser version of this."

Jazz burst out laughing at that. "No, seriously, what?"

Prowl blushed a bit. "I am not joking, Jazz. It is a relatively common practice."

Jazz stared at him. "...And mech's walk around on /leashes/?" He asked, disbelieving. "/Seriously/?"

"Yes?" Prowl shifted a bit. "Not many prefer nowadays leashes, but... some do."

"And mechs just walk around... wearing a leash?" Jazz was having a hard time wrapping the idea around his head. "...A leash. But /why/?"

"Because they like it," Prowl said. "It gives them a certain sense of protection and freedom."

"...Isn't it degrading?" Jazz asked quietly. "Like they are someone's pet."

"They don't feel like it is degrading, I think." Prowl's doorwings twitched. "It is not like they couldn't protest. If they want a leash, it has to be added to the sub-files which can be called up by any enforcer."

"So every leash is consensual?" Jazz asked, wanting to make sure. "Okay, I guess..."

"Yes," Prowl sounded sure. "And if it is not, it is a clear sign of sub-abuse, which is a crime."

"Well, I'm relieved they get to choose and are protected," Jazz said and gave Prowl a look. "...So, can I just add here: no leash for me. Okay, sir?"

"Yes, my dear." He rubbed both sensor horns. "If you really want to know more, you should ask Azurstrike. He is my carrier, so I never enquired, but... a creation notices things."

"He wore one?" Jazz asked, surprised.

"I at least found one, when I was playing hide and seek with Hunter."

Jazz was silent at that for a while. "...You want me to wear one?" 

"I want you to be happy, that is all. A leash isn't anything very positive or negative for me. But there is a lot more out there than a leash Jazz, and I want you to know your options."

The relief in Jazz was palpable. "Okay, thanks." 

Prowl squeezed the horn. "Sir." 

Jazz rubbed the horn, grimacing a bit. This really shouldn’t be that difficult to remember. "I just... I'm still having trouble with the term sub, if we add a leash into the mix, it will be a liiiiiiittle too much."

Prowl accepted that easily. Truthfully, Jazz was doing quite well for an independent and fun-loving outsiders. Or at least he wasn’t taking the first shuttle back to Iacon yet. "As you wish. Do you already know what to do tomorrow?"

Jazz shook him helm. "Not really. We might go to the youngling centre again."

"Did you make friends there already?" Prowl was amused. "They might miss you."

"Those younglings are great. I won’t mind seeing them again and you would love them too."

Prowl gave him a glance. "So everything was fine?"

"Yep." Jazz blinked. "Why? Did Tourlight say something?"

"No, nothing at all, beyond praising you for your natural talent at gaining the little ones’ trust." Which had warmed Prowl’s spark more than he probably would ever admit. He had nearly burst with pride. Still, he had worried if it had been an as positive experience for Jazz as well or if Tourlight had seen something that hadn’t been real. He was quite aware that as an actor Jazz was very skilled at fooling mechs.

Jazz grinned. "Younglings and I think alike."

"I wonder if that is a good thing..." he said half-seriously and then laughed when Jazz gave him a mock-wounded look.

Really, Prowl thought, he probably was worrying too much about Jazz.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 – Thermal baths

 

The next orn Jazz joined Tourlight again at the youngling centre. This time he went immediately to the smallest youngling groups, where he was warmly welcomed and helped with the play and teaching.

In the afternoon, after napping time, Tourlight entered the room, where Jazz was still playing with some sparklings and younglings, who were currently climbing all over him. Jazz had the goofiest grin on his face.

Tourlight raised an optic ridge: "It seems they love you, though I can remember saying to not let them walk all over you."

"What can I say?" Jazz grinned at him. "I'm that lovable."

Tourlight's serious expression cracked and he smiled. "Very much so." Then he visibly steeled himself. "Cough. Younglings?" He was ignored. With a frown he clapped his hands twice. "Younglings, I need to talk to your caretaker. Go to someone else, yes?" Sadly, he sounded more hesitant than commanding.

Some of the younglings listened to him, but a few remained perched upon Jazz, giggling and beeping happily. Jazz did nothing to get them off him. 

"Seems like they like it here," he said amused. A couple of the younglings giggled at him.

Tourlight frowned. "Jazz, this is not very appropriate, please get up. Azurstrike commed..." He looked down at the youngling that was gently pawing is leg. "No, little one, I do not have time to play now with you, I am sorry."

"But –" The youngling’s optics widened and Tourlight hastily added slightly alarmed, "Next time, yes?" Nodding happily the youngling joined his friends.

"They are so adorable," Jazz commented as he finally relented and shifted to snatch the last youngling, who had seemingly decided to treat all that as a game, off of him and gently place them on the ground next to his friends, ignoring their pouts. "Azurstrike? Is everything okay?"

Tourlight had observed him with the air of a mech witnessing something they very much approved off, but Jazz's questioned startled him. "Oh yes!" he hurried to say. "I am sorry, I should have clarified, Azurstrike commed and offered to show you Praxus. After all I am still quite busy here and you haven't seen much yet, I am sure."

"Oh that would be great!" Jazz beamed at that and stood up to stand next to Tourlight. "When will he be here? You sure this ain't troubling him?"

"Very sure. I know that he is looking forward to meeting you properly. He will be here in a few klicks." Tourlight waved to follow him out to the hallways. Once there, he looked far away for a moment, clearly listening to the bond deep within his spark. "He is delighted that you want to spend the time with him."

Jazz relaxed a bit at that. "I'm happy to spend time with him as well."

"I am glad to hear that." Tourlight gave him a gentle smile. "I am aware that our... lifestyle is occasionally strange to you and in personality you and Azurstrike seem to share a few things."

"Your culture is actually quite interesting," Jazz admitted. "They don't write about Praxus in the cultural books."

Tourlight blinked. "They don't?" He sighed. "I wonder why? We are not that difficult to approach..." He paused. "Well, there are some rules who can enter and leave, of course. You probably didn't notice them, with Prowl designating you as his pre-sub you are nearly Praxian anyway."

Jazz only nodded at that. He had been quite aware of the restriction who was allowed to enter and who wasn’t, it had been one of the reasons he had hoped to accompany Prowl. Truly, Praxus was beautiful, but difficult to truly experience outside the specially designated tourist sector. "Did Azurstrike say where we'll be going or are we just looking around?"

"Oh, he wants to go to the public bathing pools and then buy a few new cushions. I think mainly he wants to show you around. So don't worry if you wish to go somewhere special, yes?" 

"I'm cool with wherever he takes me," Jazz said as he was led outside.

Tourlight's doorwings gave an approving flick. "You have a beautiful spark, Jazz." He stopped. "I have to leave you now or the soup might burn. Azurstrike will arrive any moment. Tell him, I will make Kaon's Krapfen tonight."

"R-right." Jazz said, flustered at the compliment about his spark, not used to receiving one if it wasn't Prowl telling him. "I will. And see you tonight."

Azurstrike did show up indeed not even a klick later. Compared to Tourlight's driving mode, his was massive and clearly military. In fact, he seemed to part the street flow in front of him, just by his sheer size. 

Jazz went to the street, waving as he did. "Hi, should I transform?"

He received a comm ping and accepted it.

::Good afternoon, Jazz. Yes, please do so. Prowl has shown you how to follow someone through the traffic?::

Jazz transformed. ::Yep. Oh, Tourlight said he's going to make Kaon's Krapfen tonight.:: 

A vibration went through Azurstrike. ::Kaon's Krapfen! I love that mech! They are wonderful and tasty... I first ate them on a Kaon military tour, and couldn't find them anywhere within Praxus. I was desperate, I tell you, and then Tourlight somehow found the recipe! He is the only Praxian who sometimes bakes them.::

Jazz chuckled at that. ::I can't wait to try them. So, where are we going anyway?::

::I thought I could show you a highlight of Praxus - the Thermal Bathing House. It is not open for tourists, but luckily you are not considered one.::

::Cool! I've never been to a thermal bath before.:: Jazz said, revving his engine excited.

::I am not sure how common they are elsewhere. Kaon definitely didn't have them. Jazz, there is a few things though you should know before. There is a reason, tourists aren't allowed to enter, they might misunderstand.:: When Jazz said nothing, he continued: ::Subs that are coming alone like us, have their own area. So do not worry too much. But there is a dom and sub area, which is sometimes used to... show off. This usually begins at the entrance, so do not be shocked if you see things like a leash or a sub kneeling at his dom's feet. If you feel uncomfortable or have any questions, please comm me or Prowl.::

Jazz swerved a little at the explanation behind Azurstrike, processing the information. And here he thought bathing was harmless!

::Why...why would they do that?:: he asked, curious.

::Oh usually, because a thermal bath is a wonderful place for playing and they want to get into the right mood. Others use it as a place so the dom can show how pleased they are and basically pamper their sub beyond all reason. If they do that, it's only natural if the sub shows more deference... it's a bit like egging our doms on, you know? You submit and they become happy and flutter around you and you submit more...:: There was a bit of an embarrassed chuckle. 

::Well...now I know why we don’t have them. It sounds... intriguing. I mean, the entire concept of subs and doms and showing off and leashes.... and Prowl tries to hide it, but he likes all of that, I can see it. I sometimes wonder... Um, can I be brutally honest with you?::

::Yes. If I may be the same with you.::

::Okay, well... doesn't it feel /humiliating/?:: Jazz asked. ::I mean... won't other mechs laugh at you for wearing a leash and make fun and well...degrade you since you're doing it yourself?::

::No one in Praxus laughs. It is normal here. Somewhere else they might not understand, that is true.:: Azurstrike paused. ::Those in Kaon would have certainly not understood, even though I sometimes thought 'You would be happy with a good dom.' But that is nothing you say to an active gladiator.::

Jazz’s processor provided him with the vivid picture of an upset gladiator, holding a mace in his hands, claws dripping with energon blood, and then the reaction to such a statement. Yeah. ‘Not good’ would be an optimistic outcome in that scenario.

::I guess... I just, well... I really don’t know.:: Jazz’s words died down. ::Sorry.::

::No, do not be. Maybe... maybe it would help, if I tell you a bit more about subs and myself?:: Azurstrike said. ::Look to the right, do you see the great dome? That is already the thermal bath.::

Jazz looked at the direction. ::Looks nice.:: A little apprehension filled him. Will he see mechs in leashes and on their knees there?

The dome was part of a sprawling white complex, covered with shining green and blue crystals. As they neared, Jazz realised that strategically placed artificial light was used to eliminate shadows and to brighten the way towards the entrance. It made seem everything inviting and light. In front of the entrance was a transformation pat that Azurstrike drove to transform back into root mode.

::Keep half a step behind my right doorwing. It is the formal place for a lesser placed sub and shows I am responsible for you.::

Jazz transformed after him and nodded. "Sure thing." He kept looking around, taking it all in. He had rarely seen so much white and crystals anywhere before. "It's really pretty."

"It's our place for relaxation." Azurstrike turned towards the entrance, which had been finely wrought out of blue crystals and silver metal. ::Follow me.:: "Most Praxians come here once a decaorn."

Jazz followed after Azurstrike, making sure to stay behind his right door wing, while constantly looking around. There were surprisingly many mechs here.

Most had obviously come in groups of two or three, but there were some bigger groups as well. The subs were easy to recognise with their mostly plain and grey frames, but there were many styles around. Some were completely grey with only the glyphs of their doms. Some were various shades of grey, a few mirrored their doms paintjob in a greyer variation. 

But while most had glyphs that wasn't all he could see. Some wore instead beautiful shackles on their wrists, several elaborate collars and a few had fastened onto those collars leashes. Many subs were walking hand in hand or even arm in arm with their doms, the rest respectfully a step behind.

When they entered, Azurstrike got into the queue at the reception. In front of them, was a trine, and both subs immediately knelt down.

It was all... so strange. Wearing a collar...shackles... /leashes/. Praxus has turned submission into art and it was both incredible and disturbing. Not to mention frightening. Jazz couldn't help but step closer to Azurstrike, while searching for signs that the mechs were calling for help but no... all of them, every single one, seemed genuinely submissive.

::..This is something you don't see every orn in Iacon,:: he said quietly over the comms.

::Well, I kind of do,:: was the amused answer, but Azurstrike did flare his doorwings, shielding him from the hall and trying to provide a sense of protection for Jazz. ::Anything that seems especially strange to you?::

::Besides the colourful and glittery collars, the leashes, the shackles, the written designation on their door-wings, the colour of their frame-types and the kneeling?:: Jazz asked, ::Nope, nothing strange here.::

::So in short everything?:: Azurstrike moved slightly to let Jazz see the dom with the two kneeling subs better. ::Do you see his doorwings? They are a bit similar positioned as mine, right, just even higher and less canted. The spread means you are under our protection, but his is higher because he is a dom. It says clearly 'mine to protect'. The cant shows his mood, he is happy with his subs and clearly looking forward to spend time with them..::

::Yeah, I guess...:: Jazz nodded. ::I'll get used to this, don't worry. It's just strange. In Iacon such a display... it won't be taken well.::

::Understandable.:: Azurstrike was quiet for a moment. ::I guess you can already read doorwings quite well, thanks to Prowl?::

::Yes. It's actually fun, trying to decipher what they mean.::

::Then forgive me my presumption.:: Azurstrike paid for their tickets. ::But allow me to point something out - most mechs who wear leashes also hold hands with their doms.::

Jazz followed the mech deeper inside, looking at him curiously. ::...Have you ever worn one?::

Azurstrike's doorwings flicked. ::Occassionally.:: He sounded a bit embarrassed. ::Do not misunderstand, it is nothing I am ashamed of, but well with my stature and Blip's we do get a few glances.::

Jazz gave him a kind smile. ::If it feels right for you and it makes you and Blip happy, then I'm supporting it.::

Azurstrike relaxed, obviously he had cared about Jazz's judgement a great deal more than he had wanted to ever admit.

::That is good to hear. I think the same about Prowl and you.::

Azurstrike walked right to the sub area, which was decorated with green crystals, dark green tiles and sings with numbers on them. "If you want, you can remove some armour here in this area. The locker with the number 3368 is ours."

::Remove armour?:: Jazz looked at him, surprised. ::Huh, well...I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised, heh.::

"It is not necessary to remove all, but it is recommended to remove military and battle grade armour." He pointed at himself. "It comes across as aggressive. As far as I can see you only have civilian armour, so I would recommend maybe the removal of the armour at the arms and legs, but nothing more than you are comfortable with."

Jazz looked down at his hands and legs and nodded. "Okay, I can do that." He seemed thoughtful for a moment. "I actually can't remember the last time I took off any armour. This should be interesting."

"It is a common past time here. And the oil has many properties that is good for the protoform." Azurstrike began unlocking his parts that showed that he was a relatively slender mech beneath. The armour was truly the thickest Jazz's had ever seen.

Jazz mirrored him but he started removing only the armour on his legs and then moved on to his hands and arms. In the end he had armour on only his tights, chest and interface covers. "Well...this is weird," he said, but his voice was more amused then nervous.

"In a few moments, it will feel wonderful," Azurstrike assured him. "This is a sub only area, so there aren't many rules here - nothing you shouldn't know anyway from Iacon."

Azurstrike lead him first into a shower area, where the remaining armour was freed from the dust, then into a great hall, dottered with crystals. He walked around a small crystal field and in front of them appeared a large oil pool that stretched across the entire all and further on. Inside were several dozen mechs, just relaxing or talking. Most without any armour on. 

Azurstrike took Jazz's servo. "Come, you will enjoy this."

Jazz just followed the other, letting him lead as he kept looking around. He didn't know where to look at, actually. The beautiful decorations, the pool or some of the armourless mechs inside it.

He led Jazz into the oil pool. The oil was warm and heavy and went around the protoform like a heavy blanket engulfing everything.

"Ha," Jazz made a surprised sound at the strange feel of the oil, but it wasn't unpleasant. Not by a long-shot. "This is nice."

"Oh yes." Azurstrike went into an area, where they could lie down. He stretched and did just that. "Ahhhh, after that explosion today, this is just what I needed."

"Explosion?" Jazz perked up at that and settled himself next to Azustrike, feeling the oil sip between his armour plates and warm him even more. His engine gave a soft purr.

"At work. A young soldier that I am training did not listen to my orders... It is a good thing he was already upgraded. We still finished earlier today than usual." Azurstrike shuttered his optics. "Young fools always think they know it better and then everything explodes into their faces." He smirked. "And that one deserved it too."

Jazz grinned. "Your work sounds epic. Tourlight said there are visiting joors. Can I maybe come some orn to watch too? I would love to see some explosions."

Azustrike laughed. "Well, if we do our work right, there are no explosions, I'm afraid. But I will write you into the visitor list, next decaorn? You will need Prowl's signature for it. He is responsible for your safety and well, explosions."

Jazz waved him off. "Prowler will give me the signature. But I can't wait, it's probably so exciting. I love acting, but I also love being a stunt double but, well, I don't get as many offers for that I'm afraid." He grinned sheepishly.

Azurstrike grinned back. "I understand that. Sometimes one just wants the excitement, right?" He went a bit deeper into the oil. "Mmh, that reminds me, I did promise you to tell you a bit about myself. Tourlight seems to believe that it would... help you?"

Jazz gave a blush but it was hard to tell in the pool, with the oil being so warm. "If you don't mind?"

"I do not. It is not something I am ashamed of." Azurstrike smiled. "Well, I suppose it begins when I was a youngling. I was very interested in the military and well, have you ever seen the Praxian military paintjob? I loved it. So, I joined the army when I became an adult. Most soldiers see themselves as mavericks, seeking danger and conquest. As a result, most Praxians think that a soldier is a dom. I thought so too and naturally looked for a sub. Not a single one interested me though."

Jazz gave him a knowing smile. "Because on the inside you were a sub?"

"Exactly." Azurstrike shrugged. "I wasn't sad or anything, I pursued my interests and that were explosions. They are very beautiful to me. I joined the bomb disposal squad and decided that racing is fun alright, but maybe a bit of a thicker armour is worth the trade-off. I became bigger as a result and very much looked like a dom. Acted like one too. Then, at a café I met Blip. We simply sat next to each other and... I was in love."

Jazz grinned. "That sounds nice. I'm so happy you found each other. Didn't Blip think you were a dom too at first?"

"Oh, he did." Azurstrike laughed. "So much, he tried acting like a sub even!"

"Really?" Jazz snickered at that. "Now that must have been funny to witness."

"We must have been hilarious to our creators, when they first met us." Azurstrike grinned. "My sub-creator gave me a very unimpressed look at said 'If you like pleasuring him so much, maybe you shouldn't claim the dom position'. It was a bit of a wake-up call. The more I got comfortable with Blip the more we... switched the roles, until I was the sub and he the dom."

"And Blip likes being the dom?" Jazz asked, getting off the stool to go deeper in the pool, twirling it a little, enjoying how it warmed his frame.

"He /is/ a dom, it's his spark... But yes, he likes it too. He once said to me, that he likes that he just has to give me the tools and protected space and I make myself happy. I answered that this doesn't sound a lot like submitting, and he just laughed. Later he said, that a dom needs happy subs to be happy." Azurstrike turned around in the oil, covering himself completely. His doorwings fluttered. "We are happy."

Jazz didn't know what else to say, so he just gave him a grin. "I can see that. You three raised Prowl well."

"Thank you." Azurstrike smiled. "You know what was really funny? The faces of my work colleagues in the army, when I came one orn to work with the grey paintjob of a sub! It was hilarious. One of my lieutenants - I swear this is true - walked smack deep into the wall."

Jazz laughed. "You surprised them big it would seem. But it's good that mechs get to /chose/ what they want to be. Everyone here seems so happy."

"We have our unhappy moments too." Azurstrike sighed deeply. "Some mechs thought that because I’m a sub, I am less of a military commander to them. There were a few hard vorns."

"...That's just it! That's what makes me feel uncomfortable about being...called that." Jazz looked away. "Everyone here calls me a sub, even Prowl and...and," He gave a shrug, "It makes me feel less of what I am...do you get it?"

"Yes." Azurstrike was utterly serious. "I had these doubts for some moments too... but my sub-creators assured me that it was entirely fine to punch everyone into the face who thinks me less. It helps. Even when you deep down want your dom to do the punching - it makes you not any less capable."

"I don't know." Jazz sunk a little in the war until it reached his chin. "I don't feel...okay letting Prowl fight my fights."

"Do you think I do? Blip weighs less than half of me!" 

Jazz laughed at that. "Yes, true!"

"Sometimes reality is not perfect. Sub or not, we have and can fight too..." Azurstrike smiled. "Even if we submit to the one we trust most in the universe."

"Oh, we fight." Jazz gave a wince. "Not often and I don't count the playful bickering, but Prowl can be /very/ stubborn when he wants to."

"Good. Prowl needs someone to keep in on his toes." Azurstrike rose slowly from the oil bath. "Do you want to leave? I still have some cushions to buy."

Jazz stood up as well. "I go where you go. And...cushions?" he asked, amused.

"Oh yes! Praxian doorwings need cushions to feel good in the berth." Azurstrike winked.

"Hey, I like cushions too!" Jazz followed him. "Sharing a berth with Prowl has spoiled me when it comes to bedding. I might get some cushions too actually."

"Wonderful. I thought about a cushion with eight corners..."

They went into the showers, talking about the possible cushions variants. Clean, relaxed and with armour they left a bit later the thermal baths and drove to 'the best cushion shop in Praxus' as Azurstrike claimed. This time Azurstrike accelerated for the fun and Jazz kept up.

::We make yet a Praxian driver out of you,:: praised Azurstrike. ::Have you already visited a racetrack?::

::No. But I most certainly plan to visit one.:: Jazz said.

A ping gave Jazz a map with an address of a race track. ::That's my home track. I will love to race you.::

::Oh you're on.:: Jazz answered, amused and sped up just a little, but not enough to pass him.

Azurstrike swerved a little in teasing.

The cushion shop was a lot bigger than anything Iacon had to offer. It was clear that cushions weren't merely a fancy here, but a beloved necessity. There were thousands of styles, colours, forms and variants. And even a polite sub that offered help, something Azurstrike refused just as politely.

"So," he looked around. "I want something in grey and satin, soft on the doorwings, but where someone can't that easily sink in. And a small one, in red and round... what about you?"

Jazz grinned at him. "No idea actually. I think I'll be just looking around and get whatever catches my optics?"

"Okay. We are a bit short on time, so do you mind to meet here again in, say, five breems?"

"Sounds like a plan!"

Five breem later Jazz just stood there, wearing another goofy grin as he waited for Azurstrike. In his arms he held a pillow that was easily big as he was and judging by the way he clutched it and how his hands had sank in - it was /soft/. It was in light, soothing blue with patterns around the edges. 

Azurstrike came with two cushions under his arms and stared for a moment at Jazz's soft conquest. "That is a big one..." 

"I know!" Jazz laughed. "It's so big and so soft too! Did I mention it was big?"

"Yes." Azurstrike smiled softly. "Prowl will certainly love it. Pit, I want to fall on it. I have to remember it for the next anniversary. Ready to go?"

"Yep! Just..." He glanced at his pillow. "Do you think I'll be able to stuff it in my subspace or should I look for an alternative?"

"Give it to me, I have a bigger subspace - military design, remember?" He subspaced his own pillows and then took Jazz's. "I might feel a bit full, but that is the worst of it."

"That's one big subspace." Jazz whistled as Azurstrike placed all the pillows into it.

"Oh yes. I can fit several tool boxes for bomb disposal into it and in the worst case a folded bomb shelter. Not that I have ever needed that one so far." Azurstrike subspaced Jazz's cushion a bit more slowly, but in the end it had disappeared. "Well, there we go. For private shopping such a subspace is gold worth."

"I can't wait to show the pillow to Prowl!" Jazz said. "We go home now?"

"I need to pick up a parcel at a friend of mine, but after that we can if you want to," Azurstrike nodded. "Or we can drive to the statue of Vector Sigma, it’s just a small detour. It's a touristic mark of the city and you can climb the stair upwards on the inside."

"Vector Sigma it is!"

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 – Gifts and Golden Chains

 

When Prowl entered his berth room he stopped surprised at the door. He saw a huge pillow on his berth and... his lover's legs hanging out of it. 

"Jazz?" he said hesitatingly.

"Like our new pillow, Prowler?" Jazz's voice could be heard from it.

"It is sir, Jazz," came the stern reply, followed by a swift, gentle flick against the pedes. "Repeat."

"Yes, sir," Jazz amended, squirming a little. "I keep forgetting."

"I am noticing. Repeat the full question, maybe it helps."

Jazz rolled his optics, hidden behind the visor but there was a fond smile on his face. "Do you like our new pillow, sir?"

Prowl didn't even bother to hide the happy rev of his engine. He loved Jazz more than anything, but the 'sir' got him every single time. "It looks very soft," he said and carefully walked around it. "How does it feel?"

"If someone else asked me, I would say like I'm lying on a cloud. But since you, sir, asked me, I'll say - join me and find out?" Jazz shifted a little in the pillow, peaking at his lover.

"How could I say no to that?" Prowl gingerly climbed onto the cloudlike pillow and fell into it, on Jazz. "It's wonderful."

Jazz quickly cuddled against Prowl. He grinned and pecked him on the lips. "Yep. Your carrier took us pillow shopping. I wasn't planning on buying anything but then i saw this huge awesomeness and I had to have it."

"It is a very nice pillow," Prowl admitted, and deliberately did not think about the price. It certainly had been worth it... he hoped. "My carrier mentioned you also went to the public baths?"

"Ah, yes." Jazz hid his face in the crook of Prowl's neck, mumbling the next words there. "It was really nice. Weird. Kinky. But so nice. The oil was amazing."

"It is one of the things I miss most in Iacon," said Prowl softly. "It's lonely in a private shower."

Jazz sat up, looking down curiously at Prowl. "...They didn't wear any armour," he said.

Prowl looked at him, not getting it. "Yes?"

"They were walking around... without armour. Saw so many mechs and realized something." Jazz looked away, blushing, but his hands ghosted over Prowls chest, feeling the edges of his armour. "I've never seen you...without it."

Prowl blinked. His doorwings flicked as he called up the memory files. "I tried once in the shower. You asked what I was doing and I stopped. I thought you weren't interested... or that it is a very private thing for a Polyhexian."

Jazz stared at the other. "...Prowler."

"Sir," he corrected automatically with a flick against the left sensor horn. "Don't forget it." 

"Sir, yes, sir. I just asked because I didn't know what you were doing. You didn't explain anything! And... we'll bond soon. What's more private than that?"

Prowl frowned. "Nothing. So... it is a private thing to you, but you wouldn't mind anyway?"

Jazz bit his lip before he gave the other a smile. "No. Actually, I've never been with anyone without my armour and, and..." He traced his hand over Prowl's chest again. "We could try?"

"... really, never?" He caught Jazz's hand gently. 

"No...?" Jazz looked at him uncertain.

Prowl looked back, doorwings flaring outwards. "And you are willing to gift this to me?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Jazz managed a shy smile. "I mean, like I said, we're going to bond. Nothing tops that."

A part of Prowl just wanted to move forward and take and claim. Another part, protective and gentle, wanted to make his sub understand just how much he treasured this. He leaned forward and kissed the gentle smile. "My dear, if it is this private to you, it is an honour to be trusted and loved enough to be gifted with this. I am honoured in every way a Praxian can be."

Jazz leaned to kiss him again. "Have you done it without an armour before?" he asked, curious, still running his fingers over the edge of the armour.

"Yes," admitted Prowl easily. "But that doesn't change the worth if your gift, my sub."

Jazz blinked at how the other called him, and he looked away, feeling uncomfortable. Everyone kept calling him that and it still felt... strange. And scary, because in a way it fit. The visored mech didn't like it just how much it fit. 

"...Did you like it?" Jazz asked instead, trying not to focus on that part.

Prowl huffed amused, but filed away that Jazz seemingly wasn't quite yet ready to embrace the term. "I didn't know that there was another way."

"What do you mean?" Jazz asked. "That’s the only way we interfaced since we started dating."

"Regrettably, you are not the first non-Praxian gracing my berth. Though I wish that it were so. Still, the others have made their preferences very clear."

"But you never said anything," Jazz told him, feeling a little bad. "You never mentioned you liked it this way. And don't you dare tell me you tried to tell me, I would've remembered it. Sir."

Prowl had to smile at the aggressive sir, but he rewarded Jazz any way. Playfully, he licked a sensor horn, then licked it again just to hear Jazz's tiny giggle. "I got used to the armour," he said quietly. "And after a while it felt natural to me. It was not big sacrifice on my part, if it kept you comfortable."

"Well, you should've said something." Jazz pecked him on the lips. "You know I get off on pleasuring you, my lovely sir." 

Prowl's engine rumbled deeply. "Do you even know what you do to me, when you speak like that?"

Jazz snickered. "I have a pretty good guess. So... may I?" His fingertips settled in a way to allow him a better grip on the armour plate, waiting for the permission to remove it.

Prowl felt his doorwings trembling. He was aware that Jazz said he had a good guess, but the overwhelming surge of his protocols at being called sir, at being offered a gift and pleasure - in short at the whole display of submission - was nearly overwhelming. Why had he ever doubted that he was a dom? Jazz was ruining him for every other sub, ever. And he was waiting now. Waiting for Prowl's word. For Prowl's command.

Something very deep within settled happily.

"You may, my dear," he said and it felt like love.

~

Prowl left very early this orn, explaining that because tomorrow was the bonding everyone was needed for last breem corrections and additions. With a smile he added, that Hunter was near a nervous breakdown and had commed Prowl twice during the recharge cycle to ask if the colours of the crystals very really pretty and something his to-be-bonded would like. Prowl had assured him that they weren't pretty but beautiful and that his future bondmate wouldn't even care if they were rust-coloured because he would only see Hunter anyway.

Still, Prowl left early and that left Jazz once again with the two subs of the household.

"I have to go in two klicks, Jazz," said Azurstrike. "But I thought this might interest you." He held out a datapad. 

Curious, Jazz took the pad. "What is it?"

Azurstrike gave him a wry smile. "How to be the perfect sub, rules and tips by Timbre."

"Err, thanks I guess?" Jazz opened the pad. The rules were neatly categorised and easy to understand. "...Wow, there are more than I expected."

"Indeed. But it is very helpful, especially for an outsider. I would recommend that you especially look at chapter five, how to behave in large social gatherings." Azurstrike's doorwings flicked. "I do not want to pressure you, Jazz, but the bonding tomorrow will be a large step in our creation's life and we wish for nothing to mar that orn. We do know that you cannot know everything or are even trained yet, but..." For once Azurstrike looked very unsure, "but our dom wishes that you try your best."

Jazz stared at the other and saw how Azurstrike did his best to try formulate it like a request and not like an order – something that came no doubt more naturally to him. Jazz managed a small smile. "I wasn't planning on giving anything other than my best."

"I know that." Azurstrike seemed stressed. "But we want to help. Tourlight has taken the orn off if you have any questions."

"That's sweet, he -" ‘He didn't have to do that,’ Jazz wanted to say, but stopped himself in the very last moment, remembering nearly the same words and cookies when he had entered the house for the first time. Instead of sounding polite, he had offended Tourlight by presuming or something… Why couldn’t Praxus culture be an easy one! "I'll gladly take advantage of his offer," he said instead, and hoped that it was a good answer.

Azurstrike only nodded, apparently the answer didn’t raise any red flags. "Tourlight will be happy to teach you. Don’t hesitate to ask him."

"I will not, really."

"I know. Good learning," wished Azurstrike and went to work.

"Well, better to start reading right away," Jazz said and went to the soft couch in the living room. 

Tourlight, who had worked in the kitchen, came out a short time later. "How are you progressing? Our traditions probably differ a lot."

Jazz looked up from the pad and smiled. "Everything so far seems pretty easy and straightforward. I do not so much worry about not understanding things, but rather about forgetting them."

The secondary sub smiled. "It is straightforward, but the details often can make quite a difference. When you have finished chapter one, general expectations and chapter two, appearance, call me? We can then talk about what you can expect of tomorrow." He paused. "And how much you want to submit."

The submitting part worried Jazz a little, but not that much and soon he was done with the chapters and had called Tourlight back again.

Tourlight brought, as expected, sweets and put them on the couch table between them. "Let's talk about the expectations first. What did you think?"

"Well, I have the general idea from Prowl before I came here. The main goal is to not shame him and his family," Jazz explained.

Tourlight's doorwings lowered a bit. "I wouldn't quite say that this is the main goal," he said softly. "I like to think that the main goal is happiness. But... yes, it would be unfortunate to be shamed and lose honour."

"Oh. Um, well that's what I got from the book, too..." Jazz rubbed his shoulder.

"Honour is an... ideal in Praxus we all strive to achieve." Tourlight shrugged. "Our social ranks outside the trine's interact closely with honour. For example, if I raise a sparkling well it adds to my honour. If I don't, it diminishes it. It might mean that I might not be invited to work at the sparkling centre anymore, because I am clearly not a good role model."

"Not possible." Jazz grinned. "You're an amazing creator from what I can tell."

Tourlight actually blushed. "Thank you." He hesitated for a moment, then added: "If it might make your spark a little easier, I think you have the spark deep inclination of a good or even very good sub in abundance."

"Thank you." Jazz managed to smile. There they went with calling him a sub again, but it felt nice to be praised by Prowl's creator. He just had to get used to being called that.

Tourlight noticed that his praise missed a bit of its mark. "I mean it, Jazz. You have a beautiful spark, maybe even pure in its love to Prowl. That is all we could wish for in a future bondmate of our creation."

"Thanks, it means a lot to me to know that you accept me. I was a bit worried at first but... your home and Praxus - it's all amazing. No wonder Prowl turned out great."

Tourlight's optics widened, than he practically radiated joy. "No, thank you. And in all fairness we were a bit worried at first as well. Prowl isn't exactly forthcoming with personal news and while we knew that he had found a steady partner, the seriousness of his intentions did surprised us. Outsiders as bondmates are rare." 

"Yeah, I noticed I didn't see mechs without doorwings around here."

"Several have surgery so they fit better in," Tourlight explained. "But most... most are scared away by our culture. Interestingly, in the end it rarely seems to matter if they are sub or dom inclined. They just flee." His doorwings drooped a bit.

"I think they flee, because some things probably aren't explained to them properly. Your culture isn’t dark and gloomy or...kinky - okay, it's kinky, but it's definitely nice. Everyone is really kind to each other. You won’t see that in a big city like Iacon."

"Sounds like Iacon is a dreadful place to be." Tourlight shuddered. "But what do you mean by that our culture is kinky?"

"Well," Jazz grinned. "Leashes, collars, writing your dom's name on your doorwings... just the fact that you divide into subs and doms - we don't have that. Everyone in Iacon has the same status."

The sub stared. "But they aren't the same mechs by spark. How can they be treated the same? Isn't that unfair?"

Jazz shook his helm. "It's fair because everyone is...well, free to do what he pleases. Um, how to explain... everyone is the same. We are all equal. And treated the same way."

Tourlight thought for a moment. "And... if I am naturally a... kinky mech than that is allowed?"

"Well...it’s a choice you talk about with your partner or partners. It's something both should agree on, it can't be forced or enforced. But for example, if I walk around in Iacon with a collar on... it’s not a good idea. Not only will I get looks from everyone and their pet symbionts, but enforcer might stop us to ask if everything is alright. They might even not allow it, because it could easy be thought as a form of public intercourse."

"Oh." Tourlight swallowed. "Azurstrike might not like that. He is so proud of his new collar." He vented deeply. "It seems we might have many differences to explain to each other." 

Jazz offered a smile. "I can admit to you that, well... collars scare me. That's too much control in someone else’s hands and well..." Humiliating. But Jazz didn't say that.

Tourlight allowed a small smile. "Collars are not just about control." He looked away for a moment, clearly engaging in bond communication. "Azurstrike says, that he allows you to see his collars, if it would make you more comfortable with the fact that they exists."

Jazz blinked, curiosity flaring in his field before he beat it down and looked away, blushing. "Really? I don't want to make him uncomfortable."

Tourlight chuckled. "I tell you a secret, Azurstrike has them because he loves showing off. He is only a bit embarrassed in front of other doms, so he usually keeps it inside the house and when Prowl isn't here. He is too dom to understand."

"I don't know if I want to...I want to, but a part of me says it's probably private and that I shouldn't?" Jazz said uncertainly.

Tourlight reached across the table and took his hand. "I understand. It is very considerate of you... maybe I should simply bring only one out?"

The curiosity bubbled again. "If it's really cool with Azurstrike..."

"He is my bondmate, and the primary. I wouldn't ever hurt or embarrass him willingly." Tourlight rose. "I’ll bring his newest collar." With swift steps he left the room and returned with both arms full with something gigantic and golden. He stumbled in the doorway.

Jazz stood up quickly, going to assist him. "Here, let me help you." 

"Th-thank you." Together they carried it towards the table and set it down. Tourlight gave Jazz a bit of a sheepish look. "I love that Azurstrike is such a big and massive mech, truly. But... his possessions come in his size as well."

Jazz snickered. "For someone so big, he's full of fluff, isn't he?"

"Very much so." Tourlight smiled fondly. "Though sometimes I just love that he isn't the traditional sub like me. Not a dom, no, but... edgy, with a bite." He hesitated. "I am sorry, if I talk too much about by co-sub."

"No, it's nice." Jazz grinned. "I'm happy you feel comfortable to share this with me. Prowl...he called me his sub last night. It felt...strange. Not bad. Definitely not bad. But...weird."

The older mech touched his arm in a gesture of comfort. "I can only imagine that feeling... but I can assure you: Prowl is aware of your difficulties, and if he did it anyway you probably made him very... well, you got his engine purring. In several ways, I think."

Jazz laughed. A creator knew his creation well. Or Tourlight knew how doms thought. "So, um, anyway. Do the collars have special features or are they just colourful? With leashes?"

"They can have all that, but they don't have to." Tourlight draped the golden things across the whole table, revealing that in reality it where several dozen, delicate golden chains, connected by silver chains, that formed a sign at the front.

"Do you see these here?" He pointed towards a chain arrangement at the top of the table. "They are magnetised to his helmet. This extremely small one goes down the nose ridge, and here they all connect around the throat. Those bigger chains here are magnetised to his doorwings, the holes are so they don't cover the glyphs there. And then you see all this? It goes down over his shoulders and breast plates, presenting a combination of Blip's glyph and my sub-glyph. It highlights his strong shoulders and the extra thick armour he has there. When he walks with it on, he looks magnificent!"

Jazz stared.

For a long moment he was rendered speechless, which was saying a lot because Jazz was rarely speechless. ''I...I don't know what to say besides Holy. Slag. That’s...wow. And he likes it?"

"He loves it." Tourlight looked dreamy. "He surprised us with it at our anniversary. I have rarely seen Blip so stunned. And I wasn't any better. Every single of his movements was pure sensuality." He touched the chains lovingly. "I dream of the orn when he dares to wear it in public. The doms will cry in his wake that he is already bonded..."

Jazz really didn't know what to say. "I'm happy he's enjoying this so much and that he has the opportunity. In Iacon... this wouldn't be taken well."

Tourlight looked from Jazz to the elaborate 'collar'. "What a pity," he said softly. 

"It probably is, yes." Again the treacherous thought to maybe get one and surprise Prowl came to his mind, but Jazz quickly chased it away. Prowl didn't want to degrade him. But this wasn't what it meant. No mech wearing this dream of gold and chains was degraded. Slag. Okay, maybe he could get one as a souvenir before they left, so that Prowl can have something in Iacon to remind him of Praxus. That was an okay reason, right?

Tourlight wasn't noticing Jazz's thoughts and struggles. "I never was as fond of collars and leashes. I have a few small collars as well, but they are more statements that I am the same as Azustrike than anything else. Tomorrow we will both wear a small one with Blip's glyph..." Tourlight's hand went to his throat in thought. "Nothing as wonderful as this one here. But then few mechs can carry such a big collar."

"Yeah..." Jazz thought about the rest. "Am I required to wear a collar too?"

"What?" Tourlight blinked. "Oh no. I mean, you can, of course. But you aren't even bonded yet... If you want to, we have to buy one for you. They are custom made, and if it should be finished by tomorrow, we have to hurry." His doorwings fluttered. "I am so sorry, Jazz! I should have asked you earlier, if you want one. I didn't intent to limit your choices."

"No, you didn't. Don’t worry," Jazz said, looking away, rubbing his shoulder. "...I don't know what I want. Do you think Prowl would like it? And... No one would make fun - no, wait. Okay, let me think. Um."

Tourlight smiled gently. "Well, Prowl is our creation, and he does take after Azurstrike most. Considering that, I would guess that he might crash with happiness and arousal if he sees you with one. If that is your intention." He took the datapad with the book and switched several hundred pages forward. "Second, there is a very honourable, traditional option... if you are willing."

"What kind of option?" Jazz asked, curious.

"You could wear the same collar as Azurstrike and I do. Just with a different glyph." Tourlight became serious. "It... would represent that we are accepting you completely as our new creation and sub of the family. And vice versa." He gave Jazz the datapad. "Here it is described in more detail."

Jazz took the data pad and skimmed through it. "What do you think is better? ...The second option since it's an official event?" He honestly didn't know.

"Such traditional collars often symbolise many things. Submission, a gift to our doms, family, pride, loyalty and probably above all - love." Tourlight pointed to the picture. "That is why these collars are so thin. They do not only look breakable, they are. You wear them out of your own free will alone." He straightened and stepped a bit away. "That is why I can't tell you what is better. I can tell you what it means, and that we would be honoured and delighted if you would wear it. All of us, our entire trine. But... it is your choice alone." He vented deeply. "You can also chose another design, and only have Prowl's glyph. Or paint. Or nothing. These things are only done out of free will."

Jazz nodded at the long explanation. "Thank you." He seemed thoughtful. "Maybe...I should surprise him. Tomorrow for the bonding... I know he'll be happy to see me wearing one. Something that would match his paint job? And his glyph? He hides it but I can see he wants to see that..." Did he just agree to get a collar? Primus.

"He would never demand it, you know that?" Tourlight looked at him long, searchingly.

"I know." Jazz nodded. "Prowl never demands things from me. He knows that the more he pushes the more I'll pull away."

"As is your right to." Tourlight's doorwings fluttered with barely contained joy. "I know this a big step for you. We should hurry, to get a fitting collar for you now. They need some time to craft it. Allow me to warn them that we are coming?"

Jazz smiled, suddenly nervous and nodded. "Sure."

So...he was getting a collar. Well then, no pulling out now.

Within a breem they were off and racing through the streets of Praxus.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7 – Hornblow’s smithy

 

Tourlight led him to a shop on the edge of Praxus, hidden by several dozen more modern and bigger buildings. Next to them it was small and kind of bland, as if it was hiding. Or, Jazz mused, as if it was the grey sub among houses... wow, his thoughts were getting stranger, weren’t they?

"Here it is!" Tourlight announced after transforming. "Hornblow's smithy. Come." Without waiting he simply took Jazz's hand and went inside. 

The shop wasn't very big, but there were vitrines with collars everywhere. Or rather with everything between things he would have always called collars and elaborate jewellery meant for the throat, as well as giant jewellery like Azurstrike's 'collar' that covered a lot more. And they weren't all golden by far, some were a steely grey, some silver, or copper coloured, some shimmered in a fiery red, or in a cold blue. Some had crystal plates, other glittering stones in beautiful colours. Some had leashes, some blades, some rings and additions that were clearly not meant for the public; not even in Praxus. The sheer variety was vent stuttering.

Jazz easily followed after Tourlight, while looking around and... honestly, he didn't know where to look first. Praxus took its collars not just as a sign of submission, but as art and beauty and – Jazz suspected – physical appreciation.

"Tourlight!" A thin mech, a head smaller than Jazz, greeted them. He was entirely grey, not a single bit of colour anywhere on him and even his optics where of a rather dull white. But all that only enhanced the stunning collar around his throat and the fiery glyph on it. "It is a delight to see you again."

"And you." The two subs hugged each other.

"Who have you brought into my shop, Tourlight?" The shopkeeper looked towards Jazz with interest. 

Tourlight's left doorwing had shielded Jazz halfway, but not with the same determination as Azurstrike or Prowl had. He quickly lowered it too. "This is my future bonded-creation, Jazz." He stepped aside. "Jazz, may I introduce you to the best smith of Praxus?"

Jazz nodded. "Sure."

Tourlight's optics widened for a moment. With a forced smile he turned towards the smith. "Honoured Hornblow, he is delighted to meet you."

The smith raised in optic ridge. "I am equally delighted."

Jazz noticed the sudden change behaviour change and quickly commed the other. ::I wasn't supposed to speak?::

::You should have said something like 'If it pleases you' or 'I would be delighted to meet x'. ... I assume it wasn't your intention to insult me.::

Jazz couldn't quite hide the horrified look on his face, ::I insulted you?!::

::Well, I am of a higher social rank and were just introducing you to a very high ranking sub. And... your answer indicated that I am below you. Far below you. That it is even my duty to introduce you.::

::Can I say something to fix it? I didn't mean to insult you.::

::I know.:: There was a gentle tone in Tourlight's voice. ::Try to say you are honoured to meet such a renowned smith and that you are fortunate to have been introduced to him by me. See, he is waiting for our comm conversation to finish. He already knows that it was not intention, but accident.::

::That's nice of him. And those are a lot of sugary words, hah.:: Jazz said amused.

::It's the introduction that counts most in Praxus.::

"I am honoured to meet such a renowned smith and thank you, Tourlight. I'm fortunate you introduced me to him," Jazz said with a small easy smile.

"It is always a delight to see a new face in Praxus," answered the smith, relaxing now slightly. "You might call me Hornblow, I hope that my work will please you."

::Good,:: praised Tourlight and said out loud: "It is my pleasure, Jazz, and my duty."

Jazz smiled nervously. "I've never had a...collar, before. So, all help is welcomed."

During Jazz's first sentence, Tourlight's doorwing had stiffened again, but it relaxed after the second one. 

Hornblow blinked. "Then all help you shall receive, young one," the sub easily answered. "May I ask you a few questions before proceeding?"

Jazz nodded, "Yes, sir."

Hornblow's doorwings went up sharply. "I am not your dom. You do not need to call me that." He gave Tourlight a short glance. "I take it, he hasn't had any training."

"He arrived two orns ago," said Tourlight. "And is learning quickly, but you are the first he meets outside of the closest family."

The smith smiled. "In this case, all is forgiven." He turned towards Jazz. "As I said, there is no need to call me sir. We subs have ranks, and we do respect these ranks, but we do not submit to each other. In that we are all the same."

"Sorry, I just didn't know how to show you proper respect," Jazz told him honestly.

"We can remedy that," said Hornblow. "Yet, I do not think you are here to be lectured about proper social respect." He chuckled. "I do know about the bonding tomorrow, so I guess you want to dress to impress?"

Jazz grinned, the mech managing to put him at easy. "Yes." He was trying too hard to behave properly that he forgot why he was here for.

Hornblow smiled. "Prowl is a fine dom what I heard from. A bit of a temper, but a fine mech in spark and conduct." He glanced at Jazz's throat critically. "You haven't completed any sub trial yet, if I understood it correctly?"

"...No?" Jazz said, looking at Tourlight.

"Sub trials are more commonly known as training," explained he. "Some prefer the name sub trials."

"Of course, we prefer it! It is about a lot more than just mundane training." Hornblow huffed. "Putting this matter aside, you are clearly not Praxian. What is your city state and do you wish to see it reflected in the collar?"

These were easy questions. "I'm originally from Polyhex, but I live in Iacon and... not really. I just want it to match Prowl," Jazz said, looking aside, blushing.

That earned him a genuine smile from both subs. "Excellent," Hornblow said. "Do you want it to match Prowl's physical frame only or his family as well?"

Jazz glanced at Tourlight and said more quietly this time: "Prowl's frame...if it's alright with you?" He asked Tourlight.

"Very much so," was the sincere answer. 

Hornblow nodded. "A slow process is more satisfying that arriving at the end too quickly." It sounded like a quote. "If I remember right, Prowl still has the black and white paintjob and a red chevron?"

"Yes, your memory is excellent as always," said Tourlight.

Hornblow nodded, slowly, clearly distracted. "Jazz, considering that you are already black and white, it might limit our options. Is this your natural paintjob or a Polyhexian tradition for pre-bonded mechs?" 

"It's my natural colours. It was just a cute coincidence it matched with Prowl," Jazz said, smiling. They often called them a cute couple in Iacon.

"Primus' designs move in mysterious ways," answered Hornblow. "Still, I do not suppose you want to change to grey?"

"Ah." Jazz looked to Tourlight. He came here only for a collar and...

Tourlight shook his helmet gently at the smith. "One step after another, Hornblow."

"Of course, of course. But you, my dear Jazz, will be a challenge. We will concentrate on red, yes? Pointy, fiery, with a bit of character and a glyph... in white. Yes. White will be perfect." Hornblow walked towards a small door hidden behind a few vitrines. "Follow me please."

Jazz did that, it was easy to just follow the instructions. "Alright."

From the shop they stepped into a warm smithy, easily thrice as big and lying there in eternal twilight. Hornblow ignored the hot fire that illuminated everything and went towards a shelf with several hundred boxes. "This one, no, that... ah, yes, here." He took one in hand. "A copper-tambrium combination, melted and remelted over a thousand time to capture the nature of fire itself. Metallic, but it shines in the most beautiful red and when formed it is very responsive." The smith smiled. "Look at it, young one, do you like the material?"

Jazz gazed at it, curious. "May I touch it?" This would go around his neck...

"You are even invited to."

Jazz reached, hesitating, brushing his fingers. He gave a low hum in appreciation. "It's very smooth. Almost like organic silk."

"You have touched organic silk?" asked Hornblow surprised. "A rare thing to do, indeed. And you are correct, its smoothness is one of a kind. We would take this metal to represent Prowl's chevron and temper. Cool, smooth, but with that fiery spark that he has inherited from Azurstrike." He glanced knowingly towards Tourlight. "No need to defend your bonded. He is one of my dearest friends, and a wonderful sub; dedicated, loyal as no second mech, but he has a temper."

Tourlight looked unhappy for a moment, then smiled in defeat. "I suppose even I can't deny that."

Hornblow pushed the box into Jazz's arms and walked towards a second shelf.

Jazz followed him, holding the box carefully, looking at everything.

The new shelf held crystal shards, and Hornblow immediately selected a bright glowing white one. "For the glyph," he explained. "Representing the white and Prowl's patience."

"Pretty." Jazz smiled.

"Very," Hornblow smiled right back. "Let's see... black. No, no crystal... Ah, I have an idea." And on he went to yet another shelf. "Black stone, mined on an asteroid several leagues away. Black as night and just right to represent his sincerity. I would use it as adornment." 

"Every stone has its own meaning?" Jazz asked.

"Most, yes. Colours too. Form as well," Hornblow explained, clearly enthusiastic about the subject. "I try to make every collar unique. Azurstrike's collars for example are usually elaborate, because he likes chains. I still try to make everything into more than just a collar. It should tell you a story, and have a meaning beyond, well, pretty. That is were true art shines!"

Jazz could only nod. "So what now?"

"Design, of course." Hornblow unsubspaced a datapad. "I have here several thousand possible designs. Chose one that looks good, and we will adjust it so it represents Prowl and no one else."

"Just several thousand?" Jazz asked.

"For collars that can be worn during bonding ceremonies, yes... but do not worry, I can get a lot more creative without such restraints." 

Jazz chuckled. "Alright, what design do you have in mind for this one?"

"I?" For the first time the smith hesitated. "I would say something along the lines of 5230. But Tourlight's knowledge of his creation is superior to mine, he should agree as well."

"Most of all," said Tourlight. "It is your choice."

"But I don't know what would look best," Jazz told them. "I've never wore one before and I just want him to like it… I'm doing it for him after all."

The smith's face softened. "Then we will help you. Between my expertise of collars and Tourlight's knowledge of his creation you can't go wrong."

The next joor was spent discussing designs. Elaborate and simple, beautiful and sturdy, Hornblow had them all. A few collars enclosed face and helmet, some others went down far further than anything named a collar should according to Iaconian opinion. In the end they settled on something elegant and simple with small sharp leafs on the outside that made the metal glint, black as adornment and a white glyph at the centre of his throat. It was subtle, but beautiful.

"I will be able to finish it until tomorrow," promised the Hornblow.

"Thank you," Jazz said honestly. "Sorry it's on such a short notice." And to Tourlight he commed again, ::No one will laugh at me in Praxus, right?::

::No one,:: came back the reassuring answer. ::Not a single spark.::

::Alright.::

Together they drove back to the home of the family. 

~

"Jazz," Tourlight said once they were back in the living room. "There is still a lot to know about tomorrow, and time is slipping through our fingers. It's early afternoon, and while the collar will be beautiful, I guess that you would like what to expect besides admiring glances."

"Yes." And he would have admiring glances? Jazz still felt like they would just laugh at him. "Maybe you can quiz me or something? I really don't know what to tell you, besides I'll do my best."

"I can give you an overview what will happen first? Primus, you haven't even met Hunter yet! Not to mention Cadence." Tourlight's doorwings lowered for a moment. "Hunter is Prowl's younger brother, I carried him and he took more after me than after his co-creators. He is very sweet and would love to meet you. Do not doubt that. He is so very sorry, he can't come over for a chat, but of course the traditions..."

Jazz nodded, "Of course. So he's not allowed to speak with anyone but Cadence?"

"Oh, no. He is not allowed to speak with Cadence!" Tourlight smiled. "The to-be-bonded are kept separate for an entire deca-orn, so that they can be questioned by their families if they really do this out of their own free will and love."

"For an entire deca-orn? Huh, alright." Jazz wondered if he would also be separated from Prowl before they bonded. Probably not, since they would eventually bond in Iacon...

"Well, yes. How else to be sure?" Tourlight said. "Prowl and Blip are doing the questioning of Hunter, because Hunter will accept to be the sub of the pairing and as doms they are responsible that Hunter's new dom will take good care of him." 

"Okay. And what happens if Hunter changes his mind?"

Tourlight looked at him strangely. "Well, then there will be no bonding ceremony, of course." A moment later his faceplates cleared. "Ah, you mean in relation to honour! We would suffer a bit of a dishonour, admittedly, because Blip and we didn't notice before that Hunter was unhappy... but the worst off would be Cadence. His family and he were deemed unworthy of Hunter in the optics of Praxus."

Jazz stared. "That's...harsh." Bonding was a big deal, but to suffer that much for not following through... "Is there something else I should keep in mind?"

"Lots of! Where was I?" Tourlight thought for a moment. "Of course, Cadence as the new dominant is also questioned by his own sub-creators. He would be the new dom, so they prepare him for the responsibilities..." His doorwings flicked. "Tomorrow the doms of our family - Blip and Prowl - will lead Hunter down the aisle towards the priest and hand him over to the new dom, who is surrounded by the subs of his own family. Together they will take Hunter's hands and lead him the last steps to Cadence."

Tourlight’s optics darkened with sadness. "It is tradition that the sub joins the new family... and leaves the old one."

Jazz put a hand on Tourlight's shoulder. "He will probably be very happy. And he can visit, right? You will still see each other?"

Tourlight nodded. "Yes, yes..." He looked down on his hands, optics a bit watery. "But he was my little one, you know?"

"This can't be easy for any creator. Hopefully one orn I will get to experience this bitter sweet moment myself. And...if you allow me to be bold, Prowl with me in Iacon and your youngest bonding off...maybe you and your trine can have another one?" Jazz offered a smile.

Tourlight blinked, then moved forward and hugged Jazz tightly. "You truly are a gift of Primus, Jazz. The last orns... without you... you made this better. Thank you."

Jazz hugged him back, grinning. He had no idea what he did, but if it made the other happy then he was glad. "You're welcome. You're an amazing creator and teacher."

"And you are an amazing mech. I still can't believe that Prowl found you." Tourlight leant a bit backwards, but didn't free himself from the hug. "Jazz... this might not be the right moment, and not the right place, but if you decide to bond with Prowl, I will be delighted to call you family."

Jazz blushed at that and couldn't stop the sheepish grin on his face. "It'll be my honour if you do that."

"As if I would reject you! It would be pure madness, I tell you." Tourlight gently stepped back, optics still watery but they were regaining their happy gleam. "About the ceremony... uhm, we will not have a big part in it. You are invited as a sub of Prowl, and as such you are expected to remain close to Azurstrike and myself. But besides that…"

"Sure, no problem. It'll be fun to see how a Praxian bonding takes place," Jazz assured him.

"There is also the matter of rank. You are lower than Azurstrike and myself, so let us do the introductions, yes? And remember, Prowl is to initiate physical contact. If another one touches you, comm him. Ah, and don't forget to call him sir. I know it is strange to you, but Prowl..."  Tourlight's doorwings twitched. "He has told you about his last serious Praxian relationship?"

Jazz seemed thoughtful. "He told me he tried to date another dom and that it had ended...epically." To say the least. "It would've been fun to witness it, hah."

"It was a disaster," said Tourlight flatly. "He made amends and then left Praxus. Most probably didn't expect him to come back."

"It couldn't have been that bad. So they had a public fight? It that really such a horrible thing here?" Jazz asked.

"It's... it's just not done." Tourlight sat down on the couch, his hand rubbing the chevron gently. "Just as in Iacon mechs don't kneel, we don't disrespect. Prowl... Prowl has Azurstrike's temper, Blip's intelligence and from Primus knows where a glossa that can hit truer than any dagger." Tourlight sighed. "It wasn't that he just became angry and insulted his partner. He said the truth and dragged every fault and mistake of his into the public."

"Well, I'm pretty sure the other mech deserved it. Prowl doesn't do things like that just out of spite. The mech must've really pissed him off." Jazz chuckled. "I would enjoy a show like that. He's great to watch when angry."

Tourlight stared at him, opened his mouth, closed it again and finally slowly nodded. "I guess? He is my creation. When he is angry, I am concerned..." Tourlight looked aside, but then he smirked a tiny little bit. "And that mech might have deserved it a little. He wasn't a very good dom, really. Last I heard he had improved greatly and is now trying to court Oilcrack's little one. Trying, because that sub is a flirt."

Jazz chuckled. "Well, on the bright side if Prowl hadn't snapped at him and left for Iacon, I would've never met him and we probably wouldn't be holding this conversation."

"How true... Primus works mysteriously sometimes. Maybe it truly was meant to be, that is an uplifting thought." Tourlight rose. "But this is the first bigger gathering, where they see Prowl again and that he has you with him... you, who wears his glyph, well... " Tourlight playfully twirled his doorwings. "They will be curious."

"I'm sure they will be! There will be no more questions if Prowl is a dom or a sub after tomorrow."

Tourlight raised an optic ridge. "... you haven't planned something, have you?"

"No, don't worry. Wearing a collar should be more than enough, right?"

The answer was a decisive nod. "As long as you do not do something like hugging Cadence, yes."

Jazz snickered. "Relax, I have this under control."

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 8 – Dom Protocols

 

After Prowl got home, Jazz was sleepy and he and Prowl retreated soon after dinner. The events of the orn seemed to still have their effect on Jazz, because his recharge wasn't peaceful as usual, but filled with different scenarios. He dreamt of messing up spectacularly during the bonding ceremony, and of some of his friends in Iacon seeing him with the collar and calling him “slave” and worse.

At one-point Jazz just gave up on resting and decided to go to the kitchen. Maybe a snack would help him fall back again in recharge? Not to mention for some reason he woke from the last dream with tears on his face. Luckily, he didn't remember it anymore, but the feeling had stayed with him. 

So, munching on some leftover goodies that Tourlight had made, Jazz enjoyed the silence in the house.

Something in the hallway moved. 

Jazz glanced at the direction, but there was nothing there. Stupid nightmares. He sighed and even his appetite died as he contemplated going back to the berth. Casually, he just played with the goodie in the tray.

Suddenly, a door fell close and steps moved to the kitchen.

It was too dark for Jazz to see more than mere shadows, but there was someone there. Was that Tourlight?

"Hello?" Jazz called quietly, not wanting to wake up the rest in the house. "Who's there?"

The steps ceased, then hurried up. A mech appeared in the doorframe.

"Identify yourself immediately!" a deep voice growled, every syllable promising violence. The stranger’s doorwings were raised in an obvious display of aggression, his hand moved to the subspace - certainly not to get our something harmless like a pillow.

Jazz jumped at the unfamiliar voice, standing up from the chair. "W-whoa! Hey! Easy!" 

Out of the subspace the mech pulled a gun and aimed it at Jazz. "Servos up! Don't dare to move any further!"

Jazz obeyed, suddenly deeply worried. There was a gun pointed at him. Holy slag.

"Good." The unknown mech made a step forward. "Now, keep your hands there, nice and steady."

"Okay, okay! Just who the frag are you? Put the gun away and take whatever you want and be on your way, there's no need to hurt anyone!" 

"What are you doing in my home?" 

Jazz blinked, surprised. "Your...home?" Only then did he notice that he was trembling, "I'm... I'm Jazz, Prowl's mate."

The mech froze, then he slowly lowered the gun. When nothing happened, he hastily subspaced it again and stepped into the dim light of the kitchen. On his face was something very similar to panic. 

"Oh Primus! Jazz, I am so sorry. My designation is Blip, I am the dom of this household. ... You are trembling. Please, sit down. Are you feeling faint? Shock? Nothing happened, you were safe the entire time."

Jazz stared for a long moment, until the name finally registered, "...Blip? Oh! I'm sorry, it was so dark and I was distracted and didn't recognise you..." He sat down on the chair again, the startle he got from earlier starting to wear off. He took a deep breath and managed a smile. Now this was one first meeting he would remember for life.

"Prowl will be here any moment, can you manage for that long? You still look a bit pale." Blip moved past Jazz, guilt clear as day on his faceplates. "My sub Tourlight always says warm, sweet energon helps against anything, I find myself inclined to agree." Within moments he had put a warm cube in front of Jazz. "Here, take some slow sips, it will help. This must have been terrifying for you..." The blue optics darkened. "I assure you, had I known who you were..."

"Oh, no, it's fine, really. It's a normal reaction to seeing someone unknown in your own home, I probably would've reacted the same if we were in Iacon..." He trailed off, knowing he was forgetting something and then he remembered, "Sir." He had forgotten the sir part, after all this was a clearly dom. "It was just startling, ‘cuz it was in the middle of the night and it was dark and... you know, the gun..." He gave a nervous laugh, rubbing his helm.

Blip gave an approving nod at the 'sir'. "I agree, Jazz, your reaction was entirely normal. That does not mean this should have happened." He smiled tightly. "I will just have to hope that my creation takes this incident as calmly as you."

Jazz gave him a curious look. "What do you mean? Prowl will be surprised you're back too?"

"Something like that. Now drink the warm energon, yes? It is good for stressed systems." Blip was still concerned. "At least your servos have stopped trembling."

Jazz gave him a kind smile, "I'm fine, don't worry." But he did draw the warm energon closer. Just as he was about to take a sip Jazz saw his mate and the smile grew. "Prowler look, your sire is home."

Prowl walked into the kitchen, recharge still clinging to his sluggish frame. "It is sir, Jazz," he said near automatically, but instead of flicking the sensor horn he looked from Jazz to his sire and back. Something, he sensed, wasn't quite right. "Good evening, sire. Did something happen?"

"Ah, sorry sir, forgot that part again." Jazz gave him a wince. "And no, don't worry. Everything's fine, I just met your sire."

Prowl's optics narrowed, clearly not believing the reassurance. Instead of bothering to ask once more, he turned to his sire. The doorwing flicked in a clear question.

Blip nodded. "I do not know, why Jazz was awake and in the kitchen, but he startled me in the hallway and to my great shame I didn't recognise him immediately."

Prowl frowned. "That means...?"

"Ah." Jazz gave a sheepish grin. "Um, let's just say our meeting will be a memorable one and leave it at that? It's really fine."

Prowl's optics widened as suddenly the pieces formed a picture. "Sire! You didn't threaten him did you?"

Blip sounded regretful as he answered: "Just a bit? I demanded that he identified himself. Standard procedure."

"Standard procedure is also a gun!" bit Prowl.

The elder Praxian met his furious creation's optics calmly. "Well, yes." The challenge was there.

"Mechs, /sirs/, c'mon. It's really /fine/," Jazz said, strained. Why were Praxians so thick-headed?

Prowls optics flashed, but Jazz's words distracted him. No matter his anger, his concern outweighted it by far. With fast steps, he was next to his sub. "How are you, really? And I do not want a pretty lie for my comfort."

Jazz looked at Prowl reassuringly, amused at his last comment. "Nothing happened, love, really, there's no need to make a big deal." He gave him a fond smile.

"I gave him warm energon," added Blip. "He hasn't drunken it yet."

"Good idea," Prowl had to admit, but was fully concentrating on his sub. "Jazz, is the energon too strong for you?"

"Oh." Jazz looked down at the energon and lifted it up to take a sip. "Nah, it's okay. How did you know I was awake? Did we wake you?"

"Sire commed me as he should." Prowl paused. "Why weren't you in recharge?"

Jazz gave a shrug. "No reason." But then he commed his mate, ::Just a nightmare, love. It's fine.::

That honestly did nothing to reassure Prowl, but he nodded clearly sensing that Jazz did not wish to discuss this further here and now. And why should he? Blip had just threatened Jazz! 

"I see..." Prowl said slowly. "Why don't you get up to our room? I will follow shortly. I just need to discuss something with my sire first."

"I guess if you're sure..." Jazz said as he stood up. He smiled at Blip. "Sorry for the trouble." With that he went to the room. ::Don't be upset, love. Nothing happened.::

::I'm not upset. Not really. Don't worry everything will be fine.::

When Jazz was away, Prowl turned to his sire. "A gun? I can't think of any way your first meeting could have gone worse!"

"He seems like a sweet mech" offered Blip. "That I frightened him..."

"Of course you did!"

Blip's optics narrowed. And though he was smaller than Prowl, he threw himself up to full high. "What else was I supposed to do? It could have been a burglar and my subs and family are just upstairs!"

"Yes, but... " Prowl huffed. "I think he took it well mostly, but if he's nervous in your presence don't fault him for that!"

Blip crossed his arms. "I would never and you know this."

"Good." Prowl hesitated. "I do."

The silence stretched between them, with the two doms just staring at each other. 

"Strong protective protocols, mmh?" said Blip finally, understanding colouring his voice.

Prowl slumped a bit. "Yes."

"That is a good sign, even if it feels strange the first few times they influence you." Blip put Jazz's energon cube away. "If you want to hear the recommendation of your old sire, you should go upstairs. He needs you now. Also, in general, you should be more careful. It is not a good sign, he is having trouble recharging."

"I know!" Prowl nearly shouted. Then he vented and visibly forced himself to calm down. "I will do as you say, sire. ... Good night, sire."

"Good night, Prowl."

Upstairs, Prowl entered their berth room carefully. "Jazz?"

"Yeah?" Jazz looked up toward Prowl. He had been sitting on the berth, knees drawn close, waiting for his mate to return before turning off the light.

Prowl closed the door behind him and turned towards his lover. Once again, he looked for damages, hints of distress, but he found nothing. Still, his protocols were agitated.

"I am sorry," he said and sat down next to Jazz. "This shouldn't have happened."

"Nah, it's fine. I mean, I'm a stranger in his house. I think I would've reacted the same if this happened in Iacon in our apartment." Jazz said, offering a small smile that turned into a wince. "I didn't mean to cause trouble though. Are you and your sire okay?" And then belatedly he added, "Sir?"

It was the 'Sir' that triggered it. A tiny, small thing, but Prowl couldn't stop himself from putting his arms around Jazz and pulling him into his lap. "I don't want this to happen in Iacon either, and even less that you are ever forced to defend yourself with potentially lethal force." He nuzzled Jazz's throat. "But tonight, everything is fine. My sire understands probably better than you do. In a way I think he might be..." Prowl hesitated, voice falling silent.

"Might be what?" Jazz asked softly, placing his hand gently on Prowl's cheek.

"Proud of me," admitted Prowl very quietly, nearly disbelievingly. "After that incident, when it became clear I am truly not a sub, he supported me. But... he was so disappointed. I don't think he believed I would ever bond."

Jazz gave a small frown. "I don't think once incident should define your entire life. I know Praxians think differently but...mechs make mistakes. You were young and discovering yourself, sir. Stuff like that happens."

Again the ‘Sir’ didn't fail to influence Prowl. He hugged Jazz tighter and kissed the sensor horns. "Not my entire life, Jazz. I am here now, aren't I? And no one will accuse me of being not honourable." His right hand wandered below Jazz's plating, tweaking a cable gently. "In some ways, my sire's standing was hit far worse than mine. I just... had to correct my mistake as well as I could. He..." Prowl sighed deeply. "He had been witnessed as a dom that wasn't able to raise another dom."

Jazz squirmed a little in Prowl's hold, enjoying the gentle touches very much. He pressed even closer to the other. "I don't think the rules should be this strict and... If you ask me, I don't think it was a mistake - it was fate. If that didn't happen, then I would've never met you, love." Then Jazz corrected himself with a fond smile. "I mean sir. Love-sir." He chuckled softly.

Prowl's doorwings shuddered. With his denta, he half-nicked the sensor horn, but then turned it into a lick. "You are becoming much better at not forgetting to name me properly." He chuckled, knowing that he was becoming warmer. "And I can't claim that it doesn't affect me." He leaned closer to the audios. "I am proud of you."

Jazz shuddered, turning off his visor as his own frame became hotter. So apparently Prowl had a thing for being called 'sir'... Jazz intended to take full use of that. He let out a deep breath, "I am motivated to be perfect for you," he whispered, one hand reaching behind the other to caress a door-wing, turning his helm so it still touched the other's lips. "Sir..."

Prowl's shuddered with a code - and spark deep delight. With one swift move, he turned around, positioning Jazz on the berth beneath him, doorwings flaring wide in a display that every Praxian would have described as pure dom behaviour. Even a non-Praxian would have easily recognised it as possessive, or maybe protective.

"Do you even know what you are doing to me, my gorgeous treasure?" asked Prowl huskily, dimming the light in the room with a ping.

"I guess you have no idea what you're doing to me, sir," Jazz moaned quietly, reaching with a hand to press Prowl's helmet close for a kiss. "Primus, I love you," he whispered against the other's lips.

Prowl let himself be guided, but his culture’s values made it imperative that he initiated the kiss. He stopped shortly before he touched his Jazz’s lips, heard the plea and felt only a burning, hot-love. "I love you too, Jazz. More than anything else." He leaned forward and initiated a kiss - deep, hot, wanting.

With Jazz distracted, he took his pre-bonded sub's wrists into the left hand and pulled them above Jazz's helmet. 

Jazz shuddered against the other's frame, feeling small under Prowl. Usually this would have frightened him, but it was the trust that was doing it for Jazz right now. Dimming his visor, Jazz stared with deep longing at the other. "Sir...," he breathed, arousal growing with every single move.

"Jazz," Prowl groaned quietly. "My lovely, beautiful Jazz." His right hand wandered lower, seeking those pleasure points and ports he had long mapped.

Jazz didn't reply, he just gasped against the other, trying to press closer to his frame, while his field brimmed with pleasure.

Finally, Prowl found the port. It wasn't the main port, and the night was young. There was much time for the major ports and the valve later. For now, though... 

"Open, dear," said Prowl, and the command in his voice was clear.

"Yes, sir," Jazz breathed, opening the requested port, visor still offline.

When he heard the 'snick' and felt the port open, Prowl leaned forward and kissed Jazz as a reward.

"Good," he said quietly, and then let a cable from his hip search for the port.

Easily, with much experience, he plugged in. Pleasure protocols raced between them, activating nodes and letting electricity crawl across them. Prowl send a small pleasure package across, pulsing glyphs of his need and love through the connection. It felt as good as always, and yet... some, small detail was different.

Prowl needed a moment, but then he realised that for the first time in his entire life all his deep-seated protocols as a dom were online. And enhancing everything. Jazz, arching beneath him, the very display of a sub, - his sub, the one he adored the ground he walked on - was triggering it again and again. Prowl found that he did not mind. It enhanced only what he wanted to do anyway: Pleasure and protect Jazz. Love him and everything he was.

He went down and intended to do exactly that to the best of his ability.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9 - Pick up

 

The next morning Prowl woke Jazz earlier than usual, despite that both had stayed awake for 'extra' activities.

"Sire and I need to show up early. You will accompany Azurstrike and Tourlight a joor later," Prowl explained as he looked himself over in the mirror for one last time. His doorwings occasionally flicked with nervous energy. Then he turned around and walked over to where Jazz was still sitting on the berth. "Just stay near them... And try to follow social rules. I know this will be difficult for you, but try your best." He leaned forward and gave Jazz a gentle, quick kiss. "Can I also ask you for a personal favour?"

"Of course, sir." Jazz looked up, curiosity plain on his face.

Prowl smiled at him, proud and full of warmth. "You are perfect," he muttered and rubbed Jazz’s horn for a moment, in just the right way to turn Jazz into a puddle of goo. The moment passed quickly to both of their regret, and Prowl became serious again. "I know that you usually use such social gatherings to mingle and talk. While that is possible and, I have been assured, completely normal for a sub to want I... well, I don't want another dom touching you." He squirmed with sudden embarrassment. "I mean... I just..." He sighed deeply and just gave up. "It sounds horrible, no matter how I word it, does it?"

Jazz was quiet for a moment. The request had surprised him. "Okay... I guess I can do that. For you, sir. So that means no dancing with other doms?"

Prowl relaxed, when he realised that Jazz was taking this a lot better than he had feared. "I just worry. I must be with Hunter until the ceremony as it is his orn and he deserves all the attention. But... you are mine, Jazz, and to see you walk into there, clearly a sub and I can't be around to tell them that you are taken…" He paused, just barely resisting the urge to wring his hands. "It is irrational, I know that. I don't doubt you. I just... doubt them."

His doorwings trembled, as he himself wasn’t exactly sure why this was so important to him. It was a primal, emotional part of him and he could say without any hesitation that Jazz was ten times better with emotions than he was. Not to mention, that Jazz was entirely within his rights to say ‘no’.

"No, it's fine, sir." Jazz offered a smile. "I won’t touch the doms." He then added amused, "So what happens at such gatherings? Some dom will try to steal me away?"

Prowl blinked. "No, of course not. But some things that are easily done in Iacon have a much bigger meaning here. Especially who gives energon to whom or who stands next to each other. For example, it would be custom that you bring energon to me, while I introduce you to those you do not know. Because I am not there, my creators would step in. Lacking them, it would be your own dom-creator. If he also isn't there... it would usually be the organisator of the gathering, organising something. Actually, Hunter has organised something like that, so you will see it anyway." He checked the time and realised that he had to go know or be late. There were a lot of things he wanted to tell or explain to Jazz, but it seemed he had to trust his sub creators to do it. He kissed both sensor horns and said, "It's a pity that I have to go now..."

"It's alright. I have a surprise for you anyway," Jazz said with a goofy grin. "Have fun, sir."

"A surprise?" Prowl looked at him strangely for a moment, then he nodded. Clearly, he had learned from a small age that if a sub had a surprise, it was better not to question them. "I look forward to it. Until later."

Then he was gone and for a moment the room seemed very empty.

With Prowl and Hunter on their way to the ceremony, Jazz sought out his other two of creators of Prowl. He spotted Tourlight in the kitchen, fussing over something, while Azurstrike seemed to just stand next to him.

"Good morning, Tourlight, Azurstrike," he greeted. "Can I help?”

"Yes, yes!" Tourlight looked stressed out, while his doorwings were twitching constantly. "I am making his favourite cake for the flittervorn afterwards, it’s nearly finished. But I can't decide: Shall I just write ‘Happy bonding’ or ‘With love your creators’? With our designations? Or just ‘Your family’, but he hasn't even met Jazz yet..."

"Shht." Azurstrike took his bondmate in his arms. The size difference made Tourlight nearly vanish, and it had an immediate effect on the sub. He calmed visibly. "He will love your cake, no matter what. Just write Hunter and Hornblow's designations on it and in the middle the bonding glyph. It is for them after all."

"Ah..." Tourlight sagged a bit against Azurstrike. "Yes, I will..."

Both were already wearing their collars. Small, and nearly the same, they declared Blip's glyphs for the world to see. Below and intervowen with it, was the other sub’s glyph.

Azurstrike released Tourlight after another moment and turned to Jazz. "Good morning," he greeted. "Please don't forget that the higher ranked subs usually speak first." He gave a smile, but it was clear he was nervous as well.

"Alright." Jazz nodded, giving a slight smile to the two creators. It was a big orn for them. Gazing at the collars they wore, he touched his own bare neck, suddenly nervous himself, but for a different reason. "Um, so....my...collar...," he stammered, looking around, blushing.

Azurstrike looked back at Tourlight, who waved at him. "Go, go! I can manage this cake alone."

"Very well." Azurstrike’s hand caressed his bondmate’s doorwing for a quick moment, then he looked at Jazz warmly. "Tourlight confided just a breem ago, that you bought a collar after seeing mine?" 

"Yes?" Jazz looked to the floor. "It's probably stupid of me, but I got curious... I don't want to take you away from your mate and the cake, Azurstrike. It's okay, I can get the collar another orn..."

"Oh no, this orn is perfect!" Azurstrike gave Jazz a sly look. "I can't wait to see Prowl's reaction, truthfully!" He chuckled, while gently pishing Jazz out of the kitchen.. "My creation is always so reserved, that will be wonderful to see..." As they were outside of it, he added much quieter, "And it makes Tourlight happy, as well."

Jazz smiled shyly at that. "Okay, if it makes Tourlight happy and it's really okay...shall we go?"

"Yes, now if you have everything?" Azurstrike squeezed Jazz's shoulder reassuringly. "It makes both of us happy to have you with us this orn. We give Hunter away, but we do hope to gain as well."

Jazz blushed at that, but then managed to give them a sheepish grin. "Thank you. And yep, I have everything with me."

"Very good." Azurstrike wasted no time hurrying out of the door and transforming.

Jazz followed him, waiting for the other to transform before doing so himself. When Azurstrike started down the road, Jazz dutifully followed him at a sedate pace.

Only Azurstrike accelerated to previous unknown speeds. ::Jazz, tell me if I go too fast!:: With that he took a corner very sharply, and overtook a whole truck, followed by two other Praxians - a dom, sub pair.

There was amusement in Jazz's field. ::Oh, go faster if you want. I love the no-speed-limit rule here in Praxus. Iacon is so annoying with the speed limit. Prowl always made sure I obeyed it.::

::Doms like rules.:: There was laughter in Azurstrike's voice as he accelerated once more, clearly maxing out his engine and speeding past everyone else on the road. ::I can imagine that he was worried on your behalf, that you wouldn't get into trouble with the law. But I think he liked making you follow them more, though.::

::Oh tell me about it.:: Jazz anwered lightly. ::I feel like a part of his coding that has been dormant is finally waking up. Sure, he liked to play dom sometimes, but ever since we arrived here in Praxus it's been more...extensive. Like, he's 100% Dom now, instead of the 48% back in Iacon.:: When he realised just who he was talking to, he quickly added, ::Not that it's a bad thing! Just… strange.:: He gave a nervous chuckle.

::It doesn't make you uncomfortable? I have heard of outsiders who... had problems.:: There was a careful note in Azurstrike's voice, but also true and honest concern.

::No, not uncomfortable, just... strange. I don't mind it. I'm not saying I need it, but if he likes it... It costs me nothing to give him this,:: Jazz said fondly.

::It should also make you happy,:: pointed Azurstrike out. ::If not, talk with him, yes? Dom or not, reason and logic is nothing foreign to doms.::

::Of course,:: Jazz said, ::And I like it, I guess. I have just spent my entire life self-reliant. The dynamics are so different between Praxus and Iacon. As a mech who is used to handle everything of his life by himself, to know to have someone who is so protective of me...it's both flattering and sending me for a loop... Does this make any sense? Sorry for the babble. I dont know how to explain it.::

::It makes perfectly sense. May I ask what your creators are thinking about this?::

::My creators?:: Jazz mused, ::Well, they kinda don't know. I mean, they know Prowl's from Praxus, but they aren't familiar with the culture and... I would rather they don’t learn too much about it. My sire... he's a great mech, but can be shallow at times. He would rip the universe apart for me, but he has his own opinion about things and if he hears that I’m called a sub and that I might wear a collar? Let's just say he will be...disappointed.:: A little of Jazz's insecurities came to the surface at the admission.

There was a stunned ::Oh.::, then silence for a moment. Azustrike slowed down momentarily. ::We had wondered why Prowl didn't mention your creators. It sounds like they are good mechs, just... expecting different things from there creation? And hoping for very different things, too...:: He sounded deeply worried.

::Yes, they are great mechs. It's just... I don't know how to explain it. For the same reason, we don't walk around in collars in Iacon. They just won’t understand it. Either they will think you are forcing me to wear one or that I’m weak and humiliating myself for wearing one...:: After a short pause, he asked yet again, ::No one will laugh, right? At me with the collar?::

::Never.:: The deep certainty of it was resounding. ::And don't forget Jazz, you are not just some guest, you are with the bonding sub's family. To laugh at you, would mean to laugh at us, and at the bonding pair. And we wouldn't take that with a smile.::

::Alright, I trust you.:: Jazz said and meant it. Yet, the closer they get to the shop, the more nervous he became and Azurstrike noticed.

::Jazz, if someone laughs and Prowl or Blip aren't nearby, feel free to comm me. I will happily take them apart.::

Now that made Jazz laugh. ::Thank you, Azurstrike. You're awesome.::

::You as well,:: came the warm answer back. ::And here we are! I bet Hornblower is awaiting us already!::

::Oh,:: Jazz said, a little less enthusiastically as he felt his spark beat faster. ::I bet he is...::

Azurstrike had already transformed. ::If I know him well, and I do, he hopes that you will like his design and will play it all cool and in control. But inside he is giggling and happy.:: There was a soft smile on his face. ::Do not tell anyone this, but Hornblower is a bit embarrassed that he loves his collars that much. In fact, it was he who gave me my first collar as a bonding gift...::

Somehow that information helped a bit and Jazz even managed a smile, after he had transformed as well. ::I’m happy he loves his job. It's good when a mech loves what he does. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you know Hornblower so well?::

Azurstrike coughed, looking away a bit embarrassed. "Well, I thought I was a dom and he was a beautiful, talented sub with a gift for creating things out of metal..."

Jazz laughed at that, amused. "Really? Heh, that’s so sweet."

"Do not tell Tourlight that you think that. I love Tourlight will all my spark, but Hornblower is still one of my best friends and Tourlight does compare himself a bit to him." Azurstrike sighed sadly. "They are both incredible mechs and Hornblower has found happiness elsewhere, but... Tourlight sometimes believes that his cakes aren't as impressive as the collars. Probably because he loves and adores the collars secretly."

Jazz gave the other an understanding nod. "Alright. I won’t. And Hornblower seems really nice."

"Well, I wouldn't have dated an ignorant brute, would I?" Azurstrike grinned. "Now, don't forget, Hornblower is a very, very high-ranked sub. You have already been introduced, but let him begin the conversation. Ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be when getting my first collar." Jazz gave him a nervous grin. "But yep, I'm ready."

"Which is probably still more than I was, when I was unwrapping my bonding gifts and found Hornblower’s collar," Azurstrike muttered good-natured and entered the shop.

Inside, nothing much had changed, but Hornblower indeed was already there and polishing one of the vitrines. He immediately looked up, the doorwings going up when he recognised Azurstrike.

"Good morning, Azurstrike," he greeted, then made a more than complicated series of movements with his doorwings. Azurstrike replicated every single one half-a second later perfectly. 

"Good morning," answered the bomb expert with a smile. 

::Should I also greet him as well?:: Jazz asked, uncertain.

::No, he is greeting me first, because I outrank you and... ah, here it comes.::

Hornblower had put his cleaning arsenal aside, and straight up hugged Azurstrike, getting up on his toe tips and then kissing Azurstrike's collar. 

"You look beautiful as ever, 'strike," he said.

Jazz blinked next to them, surprised. Alright, this visit was different from his first time here with Tourlight. But Jazz now kinda understood why Tourlight acted so formally with Howlbower and why he was worried. Jazz gave the two an amused look, but remained silent.

"Only thanks to your magnificent collar," was the playful answer, but Azurstrike bowed down and kissed Hornblower's crown. Then they stepped apart.

"You always say that," answered the smith amused, then looked at Jazz. "Good morning, Jazz. I have yours ready, if you wish to see it?"

"Good morning." Jazz gave the smith a nervous grin. "And yes...let's see it."

Hornblower simply nodded and walked away fast. Azurstrike's optics followed him fondly.

::What did I say, playing it cool, but not able to wait to see how it looks at you.::

Indeed, before Jazz could even answer, Hornblower came back with a black box - steps just as fast.

Jazz peered curiously at him, spark beating fast. This was it... he would put on a collar. Primus, he must have gone mad on the flight to this city. Maybe it was something in the energon here that made mech’s strange?

Gently, the smith put the box on the table, gave Jazz one last look, nodded as if to himself and opened the box. Inside was a beautiful collar, finely wrought of gleaming red metal, studded by black stones and proudly displaying Prowl's glyph in stark white.

"It's so pretty..." Jazz said awed. And it really was, even if it was a collar. "I'm scared to even touch it."

"It's not that easily broken," said Hornblower with a hint of amusement and gently freed it from the black velvet of the box. "Here, this is the opening and closing mechanism. It's mostly mechanical and I have taken the liberty to add a code which will always open the collar no matter what. Of course, brute force can accomplish this even faster." He gave Jazz a glance. "You can upgrade it to have a closing code as well, but I thought it might be better without one for now."

Jazz nodded, "...Yes, yes thank you." He said sincerely, but for some reason took a step back, fear mingling in his field for a moment. He would have to put it on and walk out with it... Jazz felt his vents work faster as the thoughts raced.

"Jazz?" Azurstrike's optics narrowed. "Are you alright?"

Hornblower, who had held out the collar towards Jazz, froze.

"I... I'm sorry. I can't- I mean..." Jazz felt himself shake a little. He would have to put on an actual collar. Like an animal. Mechs would laugh at him. How could he degrade himself so much? Primus, if his creators saw him…

Hornblower's face crumbled. "It's ugly, isn't it?" he said quietly, uncertainty shaking is entire frame.

"No!" Jazz quickly exclaimed. "It's beautiful. It's amazing and it has Prowl's glyphs." Jazz brushed his face, because he felt a few tears there. "It's just... "

Azurstrike vented deeply. "Jazz," he said. "Jazz, listen." He took his chin in hand and forced him to look away from the collar and up into Azurstrike's optics. "You don't have to. It is a gift. A sign of your love. Nothing more and nothing less."

"No, no I want it." Jazz shook where he stood. "It's just... I need Prowl. I don't think I can put it on by myself. I need him to put it on or I'll never have the strength to do it. I just... I can't."

Azurstrike relaxed, and gave him a soft, understanding smile. "Of course. I should have thought of that." He looked at Hornblower, who sighed.

"I had hoped to see Jazz in it," the other sub admitted, "But I understand and can wait." He touched the glyph of the collar gently. "I made it, but it is not for me." He looked up. "You aren't the first sub to feel that they want their dom nearby for this."

Azurstrike's hold on him felt lose enough for Jazz to turn and look at the other sub. "I'm so sorry. The collar is really beautiful." He brushed his face one last time, removing any evidence he had cried. "I don't know what came over me. I promise to stop by and show you how it fits?"

Hornblower beamed. "You would do that?"

"Of course." Jazz told him kindly.

"Thank you!" Hornblower's doorwings rose to their previous position. "If you really want to gift it to your dom, do you want the box wrapped? I have some beautiful bows."

Jazz blinked at that, surprised but quickly decided and nodded. "That would be great, thank you."

"Follow me." Hornblower knelt next to a cupboard. "I don't have as big a selection as some other shops, but I hope you will find something fitting." He opened it and stepped aside. Inside were dozens of wrappings in many different colors, and several dozen bows. "It comes free of charge, of course. Just feel free to choose."

Jazz peered curiously at the different colors and liked a nice golden wrapping that has a dazzling effect all by itself.

"This one. It's really pretty." Jazz pointed at his chosen one.

Hornblower hummed, "It is, isn't it?" He went on to wrap the box in it.

"Very," agreed Azurstrike easily.

Hornblower chuckled. "As if you ever had a processor for colors." 

"True enough," admitted the big sub easily. "What about a bow?"

"I think a bow would distract from the wrapping. It's pretty on its own," Jazz said, excited. Primus, he was doing this! For now, he had managed to delay putting the collar on...but he would eventually wear it.

Hornblower agreed, and started chatting about customers which had proven to have a horrible taste in everything from color to glyph design. Then he was finished, and handed it to Jazz with the same care others handled a sparkling. "I hope you will enjoy wearing it."

"I will! Thank you so much for the patience…"

Hornblower smiled. "I enjoyed having you as a customer and I hope to see you again - not only to show the collar off." 

Less than a breem later, Azurstrike and Jazz were on the road, hurrying towards the bonding ceremony.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 - Subhall

 

::We go directly to the bonding celebration site,:: Azurstrike informed Jazz, during a very fast drive. ::We are already a bit late, so Tourlight will wait for us there.::

Without any polish or wax? But if Azurstrike thought, that they wouldn’t embarrass themselves by being a bit less shiny than they could be, it was probably alright. After all, he wore grey, and that was not exactly a colour that could shine very well. So he simply send is confirmation. :: Sorry for the delay and thanks for the...well...:: He had to stop when emotions welled up again. ::I don’t get emotional like that unless it's Prowl...:: he finally said.

His answer was a gentle chuckle. ::You should have seen me when I bought my first collar. I felt like melting on the spot. Hornblower had to walk me through every step and then I hid the collar together with the first collar for two vorns. Of course, when I got it out, it was at the office party of Blip. I didn't like that arrogant co-worker of his, and well, it was a good way to show off and his face was priceless!::

::That's really sweet. I think I will give Prowl the gift after the official ceremony, after he walks Hunter down... It'll give me more time to gather my wits, heh,:: Jazz said, amused but with a note of nervousness.

::As you wish. This will be your moment.::

Azurstrike completed a few fast manoveures that would have earned him a ticket just about anywhere on the planet, just so he could cross a few crossroads faster. Jazz followed near automatically, for a moment giddy with the experience.

::Jazz, how much do you know about how such a gathering works?::

::Well, Prowl told me to not touch other doms, and Tourlight gave me a pad with rules which we went over with. I know how to act, but not really what to expect,:: Jazz said easily.

::Prowl told...:: The creator laughed. ::Oh dear, you really got his dom protocols sitting up and paying attention to you, after last night. Blip did mention something, but that is remarkable.::

::Ah, that.:: Jazz swerved a bit, embarrassed. ::It was a big misunderstanding, but everything's cleared up now.::

::Do not worry, doms like posturing and flaring, but a good dom knows when to step down as well. They are both good,:: Azurstrike took a corner hard. ::Did you have time to read the rule pad and learn it by spark?::

::I read it. Learned it? I guess, we're about to see,:: Jazz told him honestly.

::If at any moment you are really in doubt of how to act, comm someone of us. Oh, and of course, you can always use the not-so-secret sub card: Act nervous or even afraid, that will give you leeway even if you have just commited the worst social misstep... just don't over do it. I love my creation, but I do not need a dom fight on my other's creations bonding.:: Despite the warning, Azurstrike sounded very amused.

::Oh wow,:: Jazz said.::I would want to avoid that as well, yes. And I'll take your advice, totally.::

::See, you are a natural.::

For a breem they drove fast and without talkig, then Azurstrike commed Jazz: ::Do your creators know about Prowl?::

::Yes, they know I am dating him serious and that we even plan to bond. They just don’t know about Praxian culture in detail. I was thinking to introduce him to them after our visit here is over.::

::Ah. That is good. ... So, they didn't reject him?::

::Oh no!:: Here Jazz gave a laugh, but there was a small bitterness in it. ::In all of my relationships, they always liked the mechs I dated. Okay, minus one. But my point is, with my ex's...they always assumed I was the one who led to the break up. They just don't have a reason to dislike Prowl. If they see me with a collar? They will be upset with me, not Prowl.::

::...I could explain it to them?:: offered Azurstrike hesitantly. ::I am sure there are some aspects of Polyhexian culture we do not understand very well either.::

::You'll have better luck talking with a wall.:: Jazz said. ::It's...they love me. I know that. Maybe too much. And that's why they act, well, crazy. They want me to have a good life so they want me to act a certain way... to look good socially, have a good job, a nice family. But they overdo it sometimes. I admit, it's driven me crazy in the past, but once you remember that they do it out of love...well, you can't choose your creators. And in spite their obvious insanity,:: And here Jazz chuckled, showing he was joking, ::I still love them with all of my spark.::

::If there is love, they must have done something right,:: said Azurstrike. ::Very well, I will hope that my creation meets their approval anyway. It would be unfortunate to see him rejected, when we already ... well, when we already like you so much.::

::Even if they reject, which I highly doubt, that won’t stop me from bonding with your creation. The only mech that has that power is Prowl himself, so until he tells me he doesn’t want me anymore, no one in the entire universe can stop me from bonding with him.::

Azurstrike's engine purred. ::I really like the way you think, even if it is not exactly the Praxian way.::

::I call it the 'Jazz-way', or rather, Jazz-logic as Prowl likes to say when he doesn’t understand something I do.::

::Prowl was raised by Tourlight as well.:: He slowed. ::We have arrived, Jazz. Any last klick questions?::

::Just one last one. Do I have to stay with you and Tourlight the entire time or can I mingle too?:: Jazz slowed as well. It seems the big, round building that was surrounded by a ring of glowing white crystals was their destination.

::In the right areas we mingle freely. But until I tell you, you should better stay with us or Prowl. Especially because you have no glyphs on you.::

::Ah right, wouldn't want a dom-fight.:: Jazz joked amused. ::I will stay by your side until you tell me, it's okay for me to go.::

::Good. And you will see probably at least one dom-fight.:: Azurstrike sighed as he transformed. ::Some subs can't let things be.::

Jazz followed him, giving the other a curious look. "Usually in Iacon when I see a fight, I rush to stop it... I'm guessing here I should let the doms do the work?"

Azurstrike walked to a big, blue hall, with thirteen small towers surrounding it. "I haven't organised security here, so I do not know the details, but usually dom-fights aren't exactly dangerous. If the offending dom didn't threaten violence, it is more about the display. Which means strength, speed, intelligence, technic. Ever heard about Praxian wrestling? It's the professional sport, resulting out of it."

Jazz actually snorted through his vents at the last comment, following Azurstrike as he did. "Praxians wrestle? Now that I gotta see."

Azurstrike looked at him in something close to shock. "Of course, we wrestle! It's our national sport! ... well, next to racing, but our traditional sport is wrestling."

Jazz snickered at that. "Prowl never said Praxians wrestle." He spotted a familiar mech ahead. "Is that Tourlight over there?"

Azurstrike looked and his doorwings went up. "Yes!" He walked faster and Tourlight had spotted them now as well. The sub stood in a group of five other mechs, looking quite happy.

"Azurstrike!" He greeted the other with a kiss. "I have already greeted our guests here, they travelled together from Xion."

Azurstrike nodded and looked to the guests. All of them wore the grey of subs, three had glyphs on their doorwings, two collars, and one had a glyph on his bumper. Only one of the subs stood there without any glyph on him.

Jazz stared at them all, curious. So...many...subs... The collars, the names, the colors of their frames... They all submitted to their mates. And not a single one seemed embarrassed or ashamed of it. And most of all, no one was laughing or pointing at them. Jazz stared, intrigued at them.

Tourlight introduced the subs to Azurstrike and Jazz in the ritualised Praxian way, then in turn introduced the two. It was a bit slow, stiff and formal, but obviously all Praxians felt it normal and necessary.

"Now, that we are finished here, we might go in?" said Azurstrike. "I am sure we are already missed."

"Oh yes," said one sub. "A friend of mine is already inside and very pleased with the preparations."

"Indeed?" Tourlight smiled. "The food plans were mine."

"That explains the remarkable quality of it," said another sub. "How much time do we have left to the ceremony?"

"Two joors," said Tourlight. "Just enough."

"It is cutting it a bit close," sighed another sub. "But it will have to do. How are Blip and Prowl?"

"Very well. Blip is of course excited and quite grumpy with the future dom of his creation," Tourlight answered happily. "But he is secretly looking forward to the ceremony."

"That is good to hear."

The group fell quiet for a moment.

::Jazz? It is customary to answer questions about your own mate by yourself.::

Blinking, a bit surprised at the sudden attention Jazz quickly answered, "Prowl's excited. From what I know, he likes Hunter's future's dom," he said, wondering if the answer was good enough.

The positive doorwing reactions quietened his worries a bit.

"Hunter has made quite the catch," said the glyphless sub wistfully.

Another sub laughed. "You had wanted him for yourself!"

"Only as long as he was availabl, but Hunter was faster." 

The group laughed good-naturely and entered the hall. There they made a turn right, another left and entered through a small door a hall.

::This is the sub-hall of the ceremony centre,:: commed him Azurstrike.

The sub-hall was not small, but mostly it was very, very colourful. There was glitter in the very air, grey mechs everywhere, standing between cloth and fabrics, elaborate chains and leashes. In the back, a few subs were lying on something close to berths, while other subs painted glyphs on their body. On the left side, a few subs were trying to wrap a chain around a big sub, clearly joking all the while, and on the right a whole bunch of subs were having a small fashion show.

The moment the new group entered, they were greeted with a cheerful hello from all sides.

::This is a sub only area, mingle freely!:: send Azurstrike happily.

::Right...:: Jazz said and dared to walk a little from Azurstrike. Like a sparkling making his first steps, Jazz wandered deeper into the room, looking around, watching the dozens of grey mechs that were doing their best to dress up. This was...strange. But not in a bad way. Actually, he was quite amused at the antics of everyone and how they all tried to look their best for their doms. 

::If this is the sub area of the reception, what do the doms do?:: Jazz asked Azurstrike curious as he went to what appeared to be glitter station, where mechs placed different coloured glitter and diamonds on their frame that stood out so much more due to their dull colors.

::Stuffy things, Tourlight would say,:: came the amused answer. ::He never went into the dom area. In my dom-phase I did... and I tend to agree. Usually they try to mingle as well, but it takes the form of intelligence games and other small forms of competition. It's all very ... dignified.::

Jazz actually snorted at that. ::That's...well... it makes me want to go over there and stirr up trouble.:: He chuckled, ::But this isn't Iacon so I would never. But still, there's an itch in me for it and ohh - these diamonds are so pretty...:: Jazz picked up a few and they all glittered in his hands. They were silver and caught the light perfectly.

Tourlight pinged and was allowed by Azurstrike into the conversation. ::Do you like those? I have once worn something similar on a creation-introduction party.:: He send a picture of himself with diamons along his arms and legs.

::Yes, they are really beautiful. I can put them on my shoulders and maybe a few places on my chest and forearms and with a little glitter over the area for added effect...:: Jazz stopped himself. He sounded utterly ridicoules, but he couldn’t help it. He enjoyed the thought of putting them on too much.

::Oh, you have such wonderfully formed armor there, very elegant rounds, truly. It would be a great idea to pull a little attention there!:: came the enthusiastic answer from Tourlight.

::Personally, I like glitter more. In the right amounts and right places in can be very effective,:: came the calmer answer from Azurstrike. ::'light remember ZoomZoom? He once put glitter only on his pelvic area...::

::Who could ever forget?:: Tourlight across the hall held up a fabric. ::Jazz, I commed a good friend to help you. He is an expert with those diamonds and not a bad servo with glitter.::

::Sweet, where is he? If it's not too much trouble for him it would be great.:: Jazz said and looked around.

::Two steps behind you. He can be a bit shy.::

Jazz turned around and indeed there was mech there that was covered with diamonds and glitter and seemed to glow from all the light he reflected. Jazz approached him and waved, smiling. "Hi? Tourlight said you're the best around here with those diamonds?" Jazz gave him a grin.

The mech looked at him and then slowly nodded. "Hello." He shuffeled. "You... are Jazz?"

"Yes," Jazz rubbed his shoulder, giving the other a sheepish grin. "Ah, sorry for dropping in on you like that. But I've been told you know your way with the diamonds and glitter and this is my first time here...."

"Your first time!" The sub gasped. "That is... your dom has never seen you all pretty?" He stopped. "Oh. I mean, I am sorry, if you do not have a dom. It's okay, if you don't it's just you are the only non-Praxian and here, and..." He hunched his shoulders. "Sorry?"

"Oh no, it's fine." Jazz quickly reassured. "I'm actually from Iacon and this is my first time visiting Praxus. I have a mate - Prowl, if you know him. He is Hunter's brother. Please, everything's fine, don't worry." He smiled.

"Prowl! You... oh, I understand." He straightened a bit. "It is an honor to take care of one of the bonding sub's family." He looked up for a moment, then looked the ground again. "I am Bellsound. My bonded is Highwall. Not that you would know him, of course, we are not very high ranking..."

Jazz stared at the other for a moment surprised, before resuming his normal smile. "Bellsound. That's a really pretty name. You knew already, but I'm Jazz. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"The pleasure is all mine." Bellsound smiled. "I am a friend of Hunter, too... and of course, I know Prowl." He looked at Jazz critically for a moment. "You... are still very colourful for glitter. Not that you aren't pretty, but we usually work with… more grey?"

"Oh." Jazz looked down at his frame. No one had ever called his black and white paintjon colourful before. "Prowl asked me if I wanted to change colors before I came here... I didn't know why until now. I don't suppose I can change my colors so soon for the bonding ceremony."

Bellsound actually smirked at him. "We are in a sub hall. We can do everything." His shyness disappeared as he walked around Jazz with the demeanour of a professional. "Permanent paint change, something that washes off, painted glyphs?"

"Really? We can do it? Huh, well... I guess something that washes off for now. And no glyphs. I have a collar," that he had to put on eventually, "It has Prowl's designation."

"A collar!" squeed Bellsound in pure delight. "Don't say Hornblower did it! We had wondered why Azurstrike said he would be a bit late!"

"Yes, his work is excellent. I am very pleased with the collar." Jazz said easily. Okay... so he would change his colors and put a collar. Nothing big. He could always take off the collar and the colors can wash off. Nothing to worry.

"Hornblower does fantastic work," said Bellsound and smiled. Then he turned around: "MECHAS!" Several dozen subs looked up and there was a short-rage ping with a whole lot of information. The grey colour, the existence of a collar, Jazz's name, rank, his bonded. And a clear glyph declaring urgency.

"Don't worry," Bellsound petted Jazz's arm. "In two joors you will be the most beautiful mech in the hall... well besides Hunter, of course."

Behind him the subs had broken into organised chaos. Jazz could only stare as suddenly there were servos over him and before he knew it, a dozen of mechs were working on his frame.

"Oh wow, you have the cutest sensor horns ever!"

"Look at this, I got grey number #235, it will go great with his visor shade!"

"He has a Hornblower collar, really? Aw, I heard there is a waiting queue."

"There is. Azurstrike pulled a favour probably."

"No wonder they were late, has anyone seen that collar already?"

"Dom gift!"

"How romantic!"

"Jazz, your visor is wonderful, we can change it to white if you want?"

"Ooooh, look at this glitter! I think I can mix any colors with it."

"We need blue! Same as his visor!"

"But his collar?"

"Red and black and white."

"Gotcha!"

"Oh my, he really is beautiful. I wish he had doorwings to paint as well..."

"If my dom looks at him one klick too long, I will provoke a dom fight."

"... again? You just like him fighting."

"So, what?"

"Jazz! Look at you! We are finished!"

Of all the things Jazz could have said the first words that left his mouth was, "I think I have a mouthfull of glitter in my mouth." But then he looked at himself in the mirror and couldn't recognise the mech that stared back. "...That's me?" He asked softly.

Bellsound was at his side, but over a dozen stood behind them both looking anxiously and hopeful. 

"Yes," said Bellsound softly. "All that is left is the collar. ... I hope you're satisfied and that your dom will like it? We tried our best... if not we have a bit of time left...?"

"Thank you," Jazz said, offering them all a smile as he turned to look at them. "Really, thank you for this. I look..." He glanced back at himself and the unfamiliar mech that stared back. He was a soft gray, more whitish then dark. Where his black colors had been, the grey was a little darker and accented by the glitter. His shoulders had silver crystals attached to them, the entire plates covered in glitter. His visor was actually the only color on his frame, minus the glitter and diamonds and it made it that much more piercing.

Primus...this was him. This was really him. The only thing missing was the collar and he would look like a Praxian sub... For a moment Jazz wondered what his friends would think and his creators. Would they approve? Probably not. But Jazz was enjoying himself too much to actually care about that now. 

"I'm sorry, I know I should say more, but I'm lost with words. This is incredible."

"You look awesome," said Bellsound. "Your dom will not be able to believe that he is lucky enough to even know your designation!" He smiled. "I think you were the last."

"He was," said Tourlight and turned to the crowd. "Mechas, I am happy to greet you all to my creation’s bonding. This is his big orn and afterwards he will be one of us subs truly and forever. It is a big orn for him, but even more so for us. So, let us show ourselves from our best side, let us please our doms and let us celebrate that we are greeting one more!"

::Jazz,:: said Azurstrike, who stood next to Tourlight. ::It's nearly time, can you come to us?::

::Yep.:: Jazz easily spotted the big mech and made his way to him. ::...It’s not overkill, right? The diamonds and glitter?::

::Have you looked at Tourlight?::

Jazz glanced at said mech and all that he managed to say was, ::Oh. Well.:: He chuckled. ::He sure does 'sparkle'.::

::He loves it.:: Azurstrike flicked his doorwings. ::As the sub-creators we will lead the sub-procession to the ceremony hall. We are ordered by rank and family and occasion. Because you belong to our family, you are immediately behind my left doorwing.::

Jazz nodded at that and went into position. ::Alright.::

Tourlight talked a bit some more, at least half of what he was saying traditional words of some kind. Then, a bell tolled, and the subs moved out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 – Take me

 

The ceremony hall was massive, with white and gold everywhere, someplaces grey and green and black. But mostly, white and cold. The doms had already arrived and taken place on the right side of the hall. The chairs on the entire left side were empty, and Tourlight and Azurstrike moved towards the first row without hesitation. The effect they had on the doms - which were unadorned - was obvious.

Most were clearly looking for their subs in the crowd, and the moment they found them, doorwings and expressions made their very pleased reactions obvious. Some dom's gazes lingered longer on the glyph-free subs, considering and interested. Jazz, clearly caught more than a few mechs’ attention. Glyph-free, beautiful and in a position of honour, it was an attention-catching position.

But Jazz had only wanted to catch the attention of only one mech and he had succeeded very well indeed.

At first, Prowl hadn’t seen Jazz despite knowing his position as he had looked for a black and white mech. When he did, though, Prowl was staring. Openly. He had expected some adornments, hoped for it really, but not this. Never this. Mouth slightly open, doorwings stiff but trembling, he looked at Jazz and saw Primus’ most precious spark in all its beauty and wanted nothing more than to worship it.

Jazz glanced at the rows with the doms that were so openly staring at them. The description Jazz could give this scene was starving mechs gazing at energon for the first time in eons. Or some really, really horny mechs. Either way worked.

But just where was Prowl in this forest of doorwings? Jazz nearly gave up, but then they reached the front and he spotted the familiar black and white frame and something in him purred, when he saw Prowl looking at him. The Praxian wasn't just looking, he was flat out staring with an awed expression Jazz had never seen before and a pleased, warm feeling spread through him. It felt far too good to hold Prowl's undevided attention like this.

Well, now he knew why subs took so much time preparing.

Something hit Prowl in the side.

"Prowl, my dear creation," said Blip drily, "I know your mate is beautiful, but close at least your mouth, please?"

He closed it. Then he growled at his own sire, for the fact that he had looked at Jazz and called him beautiful.

Blip gave him just a very amused look. "We have our own duties to fulfill. Hunter is waiting."

Prowl wanted to say "no". But it was ridiculous, his future sub-mate was safe, sound and content. And wearing sub-colors. And beautiful with sparkling glitter, sparkling stones that accentuated his curves in such teasing ways and oh, wearing such a knowing, teasing look. If any dom would dared to touch him...

"Prowl?"

Prowl forced himself to turn away, gritting his denta. "I am coming, sire."

Jazz took his position within the rows as instructed by Azurstrike and couldn't hide his amusement. ::So...glitter. I see now why you all like it so much.::

Azurstrike grinned. ::Just wait for the night, or the next moment you and your dom are alone...::

::Yeah, I have a feeling Prowl 'liked' this.:: Understatement of the vorn.

::As the carrier... I would agree with this assessment. And just imagine, he hasn't seen the collar yet!:: 

And their side Tourlight nodded slightly. ::If he takes after Blip or me, the collar will do it for him even more. In fact, I know that even Hunter likes collars that way. It seems to be a family thing.:: A pause. ::Blip just said that Prowl really liked it and seems now a bit distracted.::

All three chuckled.

The ceremony began shortly after. Blip and Prowl let a mech in that was painted in a swirling miasma of grey, adorned and highlighted by glitter, diamonds and gold inlay, and wearing a long see-through fabric. On first glance, the three didn't look related, but it was just because the sub looked so stunning next do his unadorned dom sire and brother. Besides that, he had the same basic frame, if a bit smaller than Prowl. Tourlight's influence showed.

The dom was led in by the subs of his own family. Which were three, a creator sub and two sibling subs. All three of them decorated in a very similar scheme to Hunter, if a little bit toned down.

After that, the ceremony went similarly to how the rest of the planet did it. A priest came, there were warning and praising words about joy and duty, and then vows. Even if said vows were a lot more about protecting and obeying than what Jazz was used to. 

At last ancient glyphs of Primus and eternal joy were painted upon their foreheads in gold, symbolising their new bond.

And then it was done.

::They have already bonded last orn,:: Tourlight explained quietly after. ::Which was another reason Prowl and Blip guarded him.::

::If you want to meet Prowl, the next several dozen breems would be good. We are leaving the ceremony hall for the reception room where the feast with energon and music awaits us. There are several dozen side hallways…,:: Azurstrike trailed off, intentionally not saying more.

::As a fair warning, other couples might have the same idea.:: Tourlight sounded wistful. ::I love those moments.::

::I'll find one that's hopefully free. And the ceremony was really beautiful,:: Jazz said as he walked away, following the crowed towards the feast hall. The two sub-creators had been right, seemingly randomly and often small hallways appeared on both sides and several mechs went into them. He wondered which one to take, where there differnces in meaning? It wouldn’t even surprise him… In the end he choose a small hallway, which seemed empty.

Excited, spark spinning fast in his chest, Jazz commed Prowl with his location marker and a request for meeting. 

The answer was extremely quick and to the point. ::I am coming.::

Primus...this was it, he would show Prowl the collar! Jazz took a deep breath. "Calm down," he whispered to himself. If he had doorwings, they would have been fluttering on his back.

As he stood there, several mechs entered the hallways, some stopped, some walked further in. All of them were pairs or trines, smiling, flirting and kissing.

After a few momets, Jazz decided that a bit more privacy would be a good thing and he walked further into the hallway.

"Hello, beautiful," a voice suddenly said behind him. 

A voice that was not Prowl's. Surprised, Jazz turned around and saw a dom he wasn’t familiar with.

"...Hi?" Jazz looked at him curiously. "Can I help you?"

"I hope you can, yes." The dom was an average Praxian with a dark green paintjob and an open smile. "You are so beautiful, I just had to ask you for your designation. And maybe invite you for energon? I have good vintage energon, directly imported from Tarn..."

"Thank you, you're really sweet." Jazz offered a smile. At least the mech was giving his best. "And I'm Jazz, but I'll have to decline. I'm already waiting for someone. But thanks."

"Surely, that someone wouldn't let you wait if he were worth it, my beautiful Jazz?" He caught Jazz's hand. "Just a chance?"

"Okay, three things: That someone is important to me. Second, I am not yours to be called that and third, you have three seconds to let me go before I free myself." Jazz replied drily. 

The dom stared at him, clearly not used to such frank behaviour from a sub. Then he bowed down and kissed the hand.

Jazz quickly pulled his hand away and placed three steps of distance between themselves. "Are all doms this grabby?" he asked, frowning.

But before the dom could even answer, he was jerked back and thrown against the wall. Before him stood a very angry other dom, who growled at him. "If you dare to touch him again..."

The dom growled right back. "Oh, he’s yours? It’s not as if he wears your glyph."

"Glyph or not, you have no right!" Prowl's doorwings went up in a display of aggression.

The dom copied him. "I have every right, you overstuffed dom-imitator."

"He clearly didn't want your attention." 

"Oh, I bet he doesn't know what to do with a real dom's attention." He smirked. "After all, you are just a dishonoured, pale imitation -"

Prowl threw him to the floor, and tried to catch his arms and legs in a grappling hold. The mech turned, managed to free himself, and tried to pin Prowl down with his right doorwing. He failed, and what ensured was a very public, intense wrestling fight. 

"Prowl!" Jazz yelled, as he realized that he was really having a front row seat to Praxus' most famous sport. Now, if he could just get his mate to stop. "Prowl, don't. Stop! Jeez!" He went to the mechs as best as he could without being hit in the process, but the mechs kept squirming away from him. "Slag it, Prowl, stop!"

"Let him," said an elderly voice at his side gently. "I know, it can be difficult, but they aren't hurting each other beyond anything what will be healed by next orn."

"So, I just let them fight?" Jazz asked, incredulous, "They are fighting over nothing! This is stupid and unnecessary."

"It's entertainment. Just look at the crowd." And the old sub was indeed right, a crowd had formed which was watching and talking animatedly. "Besides that, for doms it's all about rank and being better." He gave Jazz a sly look. "If your mate wins, just praise him and give him some reward. If he loses, walk pointedly away from the victor."

Jazz gave a huff. "Lovely. Well..." He gazed at the two brawling mechs. "So much for a quiet celebration."

"Mmh, it will be over in a moment any way. That mate of yours clearly had training - Enforcer, right?" 

Before he could answer, Prowl made indeed a twist, fell on his back, shoved the other around and then pinned him.

"Do you yield?" he growled

"N-" Prowl squeezed the pressure points. The dom gasped out, "Yes!"

Without another comment, Prowl stood up to the applause of the crowd. His doorwings spread, standing over the loser, he was probably the very picture of Praxian dom fights.

The elderly sub chuckled. "See? Everything is fine."

"Well, that's something you don't see every orn, or ever, in Iacon," Jazz said drily, but there was amusement in his field.

"Those Iaconians have simply no appreciation for a good physical outlet...oh." The sub stepped aside. "I think this is your show now."

Indeed, Prowl practically stalked towards Jazz, optics wandering over the frame in a smoldering, intense way as if memorizing every curve and shade.

"...Prowl? Sir?" Jazz asked. This was new and strange. Then he remembered the other's words: "Good work, you were amazing..." he said a little uncertain.

Prowl stopped a step away from Jazz, but the ‘sir’ had send a by now familiar shudder through his doorwings. The praise only helped to turn the heat of the fight into something far different. Again, he checked Jazz for injuries or scratches and found nothing. 

"Are you alright, my dear?" he finally asked.

"Yes. Even better now that you're here," Jazz said.

Prowl managed a small smile, then he stepped forward and pushed Jazz against the wall, doorwings blocking the sight from everyone else.

"You are lovely on a bad orn," he whispered. "But now you are just stunning. I can't blame that brute of a dom... even if I just want to pin him down and force him to submit again in your name."

Well, this was certainly new. Jazz stared at his mate, seeing a new side of him. "Thank you, that was sweet of you, protecting my honor like that." Then he glanced behind Prowl and saw that mechs were still staring at them. "Ah, let's go somewhere private? I still want to give you your gift, sir."

Prowl was startled. Not at the request, but at the promised gift. "Of course." He took Jazz's hand. "There is an empty closet the next hallway to the right." It was one of the many more, or less, hidden places in this building for exactly this purpose. Every Praxian youngling tried to discover and map them all, before having their own partner.

He led Jazz there quickly, and closed the door behind them. The tiny room was empty, barely big enough for the two of them, with a small light above. The moment they were alone, he took both of Jazz's wrists and kissed him deeply against the closet's wall.

"Thank you for being mine," Prowl whispered. "I know that your honor doesn't need to be protected by me, but that you let me do it any way... for that also, I thank you."

Jazz hummed against the other's lips and grinned when the kiss was over. "I know. But you like doing it...and I like you doing it. I just feel bad you had to fight because of me..."

Prowl let his engine rev, the vibrations going through both their frames. "Not because of you, for you," corrected Prowl gently.

Jazz grinned at him, spark beating furiously in his chest. "I... Well, um... I have a gift and, it's- Primus, this is so embarrassing, heh." He shuffled against the other. "Promise me, that you won’t laugh?"

"At a gift from my s- from you?" Prowl struggled for a moment to even comprehend the concern. "How could I?"

Taking a deep vent, Jazz reached into his subspace and took out the gift wrapped in gold. "Here... I didn't want to do it without you..." He looked down shyly.

Prowl took the golden box out of Jazz hands. "I will appreciate it," he assured his sub. And while he knew that Jazz still had trouble with that role, how could he call him anything else when he stood there in grey and the traditional glitter, and acting like this? "May I open it?" he asked softly.

"Yes. Please open it," Jazz said, biting his lip. He gave a nervous laugh. "It's for you..."

"My gift," said Prowl, more as a confirmation than anything else.

He wondered if Jazz knew just how traditional this was, and how often he had dreamed of being gifted anything. Sudden anticipation hit him. This box could hold anything and he already knew that he would treasure it for the sole reason it came from Jazz. But what was it? His lover was nervous, so for him it was a daring move.

And they were in Praxus. Oh. Oh... if Jazz dared to paint himself grey and done the glitter as the other subs... did he... 

No. He shouldn't get his hopes up. It was unfair towards Jazz and his gift, whatever it was.

Carefully, not bothering hiding the anticipation he tore the golden wrappings apart and they fell to the ground. In his hand was a black, mysterious box. There were no designations, no hints, nothing. Only a small latch.

One last time, he looked at Jazz, who was blushing and avoiding his optics. Prowl leaned forward, kissing him on the helmet for a moment, then he went back to the box.

It could be anything or everything.

Including....

He opened the box and his vents stalled. For a long moment, Prowl thought nothing. Every single percentage of his CPU too busy taking in what laid in his hands.

Jazz on the other hand was shaking, feeling embarrassed beyond reason. He was looking down at the ground and trying to stop his small tremors. He even took a small step back from Prowl, increasing their distance as much as the space allowed. "...It's not stupid, right? I mean, if you don't like it, it's totally fine. Maybe I should've asked?" Jazz said, working himself in a fit, pressing even more away from Prowl, "I'm really sorry!" 

Few things would have pulled Prowl out of his stupor - but ‘distressed sub’ definitely counted among them. ‘Distressed Jazz’ made his helmet snap up immediately, concern overriding anything else. "Sorry," Prowl repeated, not understanding the issue. Then his processor connected the words with what Jazz had gifted him.

Meanwhile, Jazz added quickly. "It's silly, right? I knew it, what was I thinking--" 

His embarrassment had grown into humiliation and Jazz wanted nothing more but to dig a hole into the ground and hide in there. He felt the tears that would start falling any moment and was grateful for his visor that hid them.

"No!" Prowl interrupted the babble firmly, then practically threw himself at his sub, the box in his left servo. "You are wonderful, beautiful. And this collar, it is amazing." How could he make this clear? His right hand captured Jazz's helmet and forced him to look up, to look at Prowl, who at this moment wanted nothing more than to keep Jazz forever. "Look at me," he pleaded. "This is the most amazing gift, I have ever received. It... it is everything I have dreamed of, and more. Because it is from you. Jazz, listen, this... This is not in any shape or form silly." Prowl vented deeply. "Please, believe me, it makes me proud that you consider me to be yours."

Jazz managed to give a wavering smile, shyness in his field. "...You have no idea how relieved these words make me. I... I want this. To give it to you - to gift it to you. But I'm...well..." Jazz looked away for a moment. "I'm scared," he admitted and then looked back at Prowl. "They wanted to put it on in the shop. Hornblower really wanted to see me wearing it, but I wanted you to... be the first to see me." And give Jazz the strength to actually put it on.

Prowl’s engine purred. "I want to be the first to see you with it," he admitted. He kissed him gently, softly, crowding Jazz's frame against the wall in a show of possessiveness. "Tell me, tell me to put it on you. Please."

Tell me, to make you mine.

Blushing for the sole reason of how much he enjoyed this exchange between them, Jazz nodded. "...Put it on, sir. I... I want you to." 

Because I don't have the strength to do it on my own.

Prowl swallowed his groan, because while a large part of him wanted nothing more than to pull Jazz down and ravish him, but he knew this wasn't the time or the place. Not now.

Instead, he kissed him once more, then stepped as far back as possible in this tiny room. 

"Turn around," he commanded, voice deep with anticipation.

Taking a deep vent, Jazz did that. "Yes, sir," he whispered.

For some reason, his entire frame felt over sensitive. He could feel exactly how and where his mate stood behind him. Primus, this was it. Prowl would place the collar on him and Jazz would like it and that thought alone was terrifying. 

Jazz was nervous, Prowl could see that. It made him feel protective, possessive even. He let his right hand caress the backstrut of Jazz, loving the shudder this caused. He caressed the sensor horns, spread his usually so contained EM-field as far as possible so it could for a short moment touch Jazz's frame and electricity circuits. 

He then leaned forward, asking nearly silently into the sensitive audios there. "Ready, my mate?" 

"Are..." Jazz breathed, turning off his visor and all he had was Prowl's touch and voice. "Are you putting on a collar, or planning to frag me?" he asked, feeling hot. "Because I'm ready for both." He chuckled.

"Collar first," decided Prowl. 

He took the collar out of the box, admiring it once again. It was stunning, and clearly one of Hornblower's finely wrought art pieces. He was sure his carrier had something to do with this, maybe Tourlight as well... 

But as beautiful as the collar was, as much as its very colors represented Prowl, nothing - absolutely nothing - compared to the single glyph of his designation on it.

He let the box fall to the floor, and leaned forward to put the collar around Jazz's throat. It was made to fit snugly around the cables, and Prowl found that he liked that even more as he pulled it up.

Then he closed the latch. Instead of stepping away, he pulled Jazz against his frame, never intending to let him go again.

"Mine," he said. "My beautiful Jazz." 

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Jazz said, quietly. And every word was the single truth. He couldn't think of anyone else he would even dare to do this...to allow them to do this. But that's what made it so amazing. Because he had someone he trusted so much - trusted them with this. "I'm yours."

Prowl shuddered as pure possessiveness born out of love made him tighten his arms once more. The emotion was so strong, that he feared it for a small moment.

"Not as much as I am yours," answered Prowl and hoped that no one and nothing would ever trigger that dark part inside of him. He feared how far he would go for that being in his arms. But for now, he had Jazz in his arms and was able to put the tidal wave down and away into the deepest corners of his spark. Only the love and desire remained, heating his frame.

"Do you want to turn around? But I warn you, I might not be able to control myself when I see you with collar. It was hard enough in the ceremony hall, when you came in looking like this, looking as if you were Primus's most precious jewel. But here and now... I want to take you in every way possible and I will not stop."

Jazz gave a playful smirk that the other couldn't see and turned around, but there was something else - he had lifted his hands so they were hiding the collar. "Really now? So, should I just walk around like this all night, sir?" he asked, amused.

Prowl wanted to tear those hands away from the collar, from his glyph. But they were the hands of his sub, and as such nothing he could tear away from anywhere. 

"Jazz," he growled, struggling with his desires. "I want that everyone sees my glyph on you. I want that everyone knows who you belong to. I want to claim you publicly, privately and forever. So yes. Yes, to all this." 

Prowl vented. He would control himself enough until his sub invited - gifted – him with the view, because he knew that no matter how teasing and confident his sub appeared, he was still insecure about Praxus and its culture. That knowledge gentled him enough to find the right words - the words, he hoped, Jazz had been waiting for.

"But all this doesn't compare to your spark. I want to bond with you," he said, utterly sincerely, giving every word the weight it deserved. They had planned to bond for a while now, but never had he stated it as plainly. "No matter where or when, I want to bond with you in whatever way you will have me."

Humbled by the words of the other, Jazz felt the fond smile grow on his face. And it even turned mischievous. 

"Do you really think I am that cruel to deny you this after I've given it to you just now, future-bond-mate-of mine?" he asked amused and lowered his hands, showing the glyph, offering it up. "I would bond with you even here, in this closet if it means I get to spend the rest of my life with you..." he whispered, looking at Prowl with longing.

It was a good thing mechs couldn't explode from happiness, Prowl mused. Or he would meet Primus right now. 

"Me too." He leaned against Jazz, pulling him against his frame. "Jazz, I want you. And the collar is more than I ever expected from you," he confessed. "You... you are more than I ever expected of life. But I think you deserve a ceremony, and a party - not just a closet." He caressed the sensor horns. "Let me give that to you."

Jazz kissed again, pulling him close. "You're giving me your spark. That's all I ever want. Only you, all of you." He kissed him again. "Primus, I love you so much Prowl, it's insane just how in love I am with you."

"Same here, same here, my treasure." Prowl smiled. "But I think Tourlight would never forgive us both, if we deny him the chance to organize our bonding orn. He was sparkbroken, when the sub-creators of Hunter's bondmate claimed the right."

Jazz gave a knowing smile. "Well, my creators know nothing about Praxian bondings so Tourlight can go wild on our bonding."

"Do you really want to give him that kind of freedom?" Prowl chuckled. "You have seen what subs can do when they get free resources, time and motivations, right? He might just turn the entirety of Praxus into a gold-white bonding fairy tale."

Jazz laughed at that. "I won't mind. It'll cost me nothing, but it'll make him insanely happy so I won’t deny him. And besides, he has only two creations to bond-off." He grinned at him.

"True..." Prowl never understood why subs put such a huge importance on such things. Jazz seemed to understand it more than he did, and if it made his sub-creator and sub-mate happy, he would be slagged before he said no. "So..." He gently unbalanced Jazz to push him down. "I have heard someone wanted to be fragged...?"

Jazz snickered, falling into his arms. "You seem to want it more than I, sir." 

Prowl hummed. "I think I might be able to change that..." 

And he set out to prove that little fact.

 

Chapter Text

They showed up to the bonding party late, and in Jazz's case a bit disheveled. But this was Praxus and the other subs knew what their decorations had to suffer before the orn was over. Still, Prowl made it a point to have Jazz walk behind is doorwing, in the traditional position of a sub. While no one would have looked twice for their state or timing, he was very aware about his past, the nasty rumors about him and the fact that Jazz was now wearing his collar. 

A fact that still filled him with giddy disbelief.

Proudly, he walked past old friends, enemies and acquaintances, among subs and doms both. It was high time for Jazz to meet his brother.

::So many are looking at us...::

::They are looking at me, not quite at you... They can't believe I have a happy, beautiful sub at my side.:: There was a trace of bitterness in  Prowl's voice. 

::...Right. And why is it so hard to believe that?:: Jazz ignored the sub comment, finding it much easier as of late. Well, he was painted in greys, literally bedazzled and wearing a collar...that term kind of come with the whole package. 

::Remember, I shamed my family... I truly hope Pulsfast isn't here.::

::So you did one little mistake while you were young, sir.:: Jazz commented. ::It can't be that bad. They thought you would be alone forever?::

Prowl nearly stumbled. He had kind of grown used to Jazz calling him sir out loud, but over comm... it sounded so natural. He slowed down and took Jazz's hand, caressing it as a reward. ::Yes,:: he said. ::Most subs in my generation thought me... something close to a monster.:: It hurt to admit that.

::Monster?:: There was actual surprise in Jazz's field at that and he squeezed Prowl's hand in return. ::Why? You didn't attack or hurt the other mech from what I know.::

::From their view I kind of did. And he was a dom –  they are seen as the protectors and he nearly cried. Who would let me touch a sub, when I am capable of breaking a dom in twenty klicks flat?:: He still could feel the shame and horror at the memories. The sheer revulsion with himself after. He hadn't meant to sound that cutting, that mean and cruel - that much out of control. But he had been. ::A good dom is never out of control.:: he said, tone nearly dead. It was a fact.

::...They were afraid of you, because you were out of control?:: Jazz asked, frowning. ::I don't believe it is possible for mechs to /always/ be in control. Mech let loose sometimes and they can't help it.:: He looked around, searching for the subs in the room, to see their reactions. ::And are they still afraid of you, sir?::

::... I hope not.:: He truly did. Prowl had prayed that they would be able to look at him with trust again. ::But it has more to do with you than with I.::

::Me? Because they see me happy they think you're good?:: Jazz question, honestly curious. The next words that left his mouth he really forgot to filter. ::Are all subs that cowardly?:: He asked, but there was no malice in his voice. Just confusion.

::They are not cowards, Jazz.:: Prowl didn't like that Jazz would think of Praxian subs as less. ::My carrier Azurstrike is unusual, because he has learned to fight. But most subs not only haven't learned to fight, but have no inclination to fight as well. Not with their bodies, not with weapons, and some not even with words. A bad dom...:: He struggled to find the right words. ::A dom who would get a sub so submissive, that he wouldn't defend himself no matter what... and that dom not able to take the right care of that sub... it can lead - no - it will lead to disaster.::

Jazz was quiet for a moment, processing the words. He squeezed Prowl's hand tighter. ::... Has that ever happened before? Why would subs, /anyone/ really, allow themselves to be so defenseless?::

::Yes, it has happened. We have few crimes... but when things go wrong, they go really wrong.:: Prowl remembered a few scenes from his enforcer orns in Praxus and forced himself to thin about something else. ::But over generations Praxian society adapted. There are protections in place. And one of them is that... if a dom shows certain traits, he is shamed. He loses honor and his family loses a certain amount of honor too, in case it is a bad code, or... or the abuse has been beaten into the dom.::

Jazz gave Prowl a worried look. ::Have you lost honor because of that incident, sir? Tell me no. It wouldn't be fair - you were young and still discovering yourself. How were you supposed to know you were a dom, anyway? It's not your fault.:: He said firmly. 

::I am sorry, I can't tell you no. I lost honor, in fact my whole family lost honor. In part because I lost control, in part because I didn't recognize what I was and mirrored in that my carrier. They worried it was a family thing...:: Prowl vented deeply. ::But as you said, I was young and I made amends. Not enough to put my honor to where it had been, but enough that my family didn't have to suffer for my mistakes.:: 

Jazz gave a soft huff. ::Well, I think this is the only thing I'm not fond of Praxus. It's just... not fair.:: 

::Praxus operates on the belief, that it is better one dom remains alone, than to have one sub suffer in his claws.::

::Sir, you make it sound like Doms are beasts.:: Jazz pointed out.

Prowl did a double take. ::What-?!:: 

::Claws?:: Jazz repeated, a little amused. ::I didn't mean to offend. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you and Praxus think doms are so dangerous. But I guess that's to be expected... I didn't grow up defenceless like these Subs here.:: Jazz really hoped his words weren't taken the wrong way.

Prowl was still a bit surprised as his vocabulary had been taken that way. ::Doms aren't dangerous. It's just... have you ever heard the word Breaker before?::

::I've just heard it, but I'm not sure what exactly it means.:: Jazz told him.

::It means to break your sub. To break him 'in'.:: Prowl's voice was dark. ::It's the worst insult a Praxian Dom can receive. They are honorless and yes, we see them as monsters. They are our monsters under the berth, the shadows on the streets. They... they aren't doms, Jazz. Just beasts, taking and ripping apart for the joy of it.::

::I am impressed they still manage to exist with so many rules and traditions against it.:: Jazz said.

::Some mechs are born with Unicron touched sparks. Thankfully, most leave the city when they realize they can't fit it.::

Most leave the city. Oh.

Prowl's optics widened as he suddenly realized something. No wonder everyone was staring.

::Sir?:: Jazz called out when he saw Prowl's doorwings and felt the shift in his field. He squeezed his hand. ::Love?::

::Jazz,:: Prowl was trying very hard not to panic. ::I just realized... I lost my control, then left the city and came with a very much subservient outsider back. They might think... they might...:: He couldn't say it. His tanks rumbled, and he just couldn't speak that anyone might think he had 'broken' Jazz in. 

::No... They wouldn't think that about you, sir.:: Jazz insisted. ::Prowl. C'mon. Your creators don't think that, and anyone I speak with doesn't think it. And if someone /does/ dare to spread lies like those, it's because they need a new rumor or gossip to talk about. You're a great dom. And you most certainly /didn't/ break me in.:: Jazz told him, firm. ::You did nothing I did not want.::

Prowl relaxed marginally. Yes, whatever they would say, he hadn't done it. He wasn't a Breaker. Just what would he do without Jazz sometimes? But anyone Jazz spoke to...? The subs. ::The subs aren't afraid of me?:: He barely dared to hope. It had been a dark cloud over his processor for so long, that it sounded strange to his own audios.

::Not from what I could gather, no.:: Jazz offered him a small smile. ::I don't know what the doms say, but from the subs I spoke with, they aren't afraid. Surprised I'm your mate, but no fear. Trust me, sir.::

::I do.:: More than he had realized before too, he thought a bit surprised. Because indeed, Jazz's words let most of his worry disappear. ::I can deal with surprise.::

::Good. Because the only thing that scares me, sir, from you, is your taste for bitter sweets.:: Jazz chuckled. ::I mean, /no one/ likes their energon THAT bitter.:: 

Prowl returned the chuckle, as he remembered how Jazz suffered when eating his favorites. ::Let's go and greet my brother. Hunter has wanted to meet you since the first moment I mentioned you in a video call. It was he that encouraged me to try to flirt with you.::

::I'm eager to meet him as well. Both to congratulate him and, well, thank him.:: Jazz chuckled, looking around, searching for a hostile look among the many glances he could feel on his frame or a sneer or someone that would laugh at him for the way he looked and the decoration on his neck. ::He must be very smart if he's the one that prompted you to speak with me.:: 

::He is. At least in social situations he usually drives circles around me. And he isn't very traditional usually... but he really tried to have a perfect orn today. So, I think he would appreciate the traditional words from you. Do you know them?::

::....Uhg, 'Congratulations, I wish you vorns of happiness.'?:: Jazz guessed, still looking around.

::Nice try, and in most cases it wouldn't be too far off, but here Hunter is my brother and as such family. Because he bonded and we aren't yet, he is higher ranked. Also, because he bonded, he is now officially part of another family, but that barely changes anything in regards to you.::

::And about your brother, what should I say then?::

::I will introduce you first. Nearly the same deal as with my creators. After that you say: 'It is a honor to meet you, future sub-brother of mine. May your dom and you always be happy and my door always open for you.' The door part is important that you will not deny the other sub our home, when we bond...::

::Alright, I'll remember it.:: Jazz shook his helm, amused. ::So many rules...Praxus never stops to surprise me.::

::You are a natural at them,:: assured him Prowl. ::When Hunter's dom is there, things will get slightly more complicated. But because you are clearly my sub, you have the advantage that as long as he isn't speaking directly to you, you can ignore him.::

Jazz snickered. ::Cool. Not that I aim to ignore his mate, sir. Will they have a honeymoon or some getaway vacation or is that nor normal for Praxus?::

::It is traditional to have a second training, called reaffirmation, after the bonding... but in reality I think it very closely resembles what you know of as a honeymoon. It is considered good luck to come back carrying after all, even if less than five percent do.::

::That soon after the bonding?:: Jazz asked, shocked. ::Won't it be better to consume their bond, to enjoy each other's company as bond-mates fully, before they decide to bring in a new life into the world?::

::Yes,:: agreed Prowl. ::But Praxians usually have the training period beforehand. It is not easy on both and a very good test, if a pair is really meant to be. It might surprise you, but bondings go rarely wrong here in Praxus than in Iacon.::

::Cool. So what exactly is this training period you speak of, sir?:: Jazz asked, ::They live together to see if it works?::

::No.:: Prowl twitched his doorwings. ::I... Jazz, forgive me if I say this, but training is a very delicate subject that I do not wish to explain in less than three klicks. And considering that I am sure Hunter has seen us and is wondering why we aren't walking over to him, I propose you ask me next orn again?::

::Sure.:: Jazz nodded and followed his mate. ::By the way, he looks very pretty.::

Prowl looked at his brother. The grey paintjob, the amazing art the artists had drawn on him in gold and silver. The intricate collar that spread from the throat to the doorwings and then fell down to the floor like an endless rain of glittering metal. Objectively, yes, his brother was stunning.

Next to Hunter stood Cadance. He was a bit older than Hunter, with a serious face, serious optics and a behavior as if he took the whole world serious. Only, now he was looking at Hunter, his optics never straying far, and all there was only softness, adoration and love in his face.

::They look happy.:: Jazz said, fondly looking at them. ::Let's go greet them?::

::Yes.:: Prowl strode forward. Hunter immediately caught his approach and smiled brilliantly. 

Cadance, of course, moved in front of his sub, doorwings spread. For a moment he reminded Prowl if a sentinel, guarding an entire city. Hunter, behind his doorwings, waved a little at Prowl, clearly amused and flattered by his dom’s behavior.

Prowl sighed. Hunter was a great sub, but he always had this rebellious streak.

::Oh, someone's protective.:: Jazz chuckled. ::Just tell me when it's the right time to greet them, sir.::

::Cadance takes his dom duties very seriously,:: Prowl confirmed. ::And I will.::

"Cadance, bonded of my spark-brother, it is good to see you in good health," Prowl greeted.

Cadance gave him a small nod back. "Prowl, brother of my bonded sub, it gladdens my spark you have followed our invitation."

"It is an honor to do so, and to bring the bright and blessed union between my spark-brother and you to fruition." Prowl smiled. "How is my spark-brother?"

"Radiant," answered Cadance, smiling a bit as well. But his doorwings spread wider, and his optics sparkled with sheer happiness. "Welcomed in my family, he is now us and mine, but your spark-brother he will remain."

"So may it be," answered Prowl and watched as Hunter finally stepped forward.

"Prowl!" Hunter beamed. "Isn't it great? Everyone is here and so far nothing has gone wrong. Even the energon goodies have arrived on time, I am so glad." Cadance put his arm around Hunter and pulled him closer. Hunter snuggled against his dom. "Oh, even Windfall is here, have you greeted him already?"

"Not yet," admitted Prowl. "But I have someone I want to introduce to you."

Hunter blinked and looked to Jazz, hiding behind Prowl's doorwing. "Primus, he took on our colors and the decorations!" He looked delighted, pulling out of Cadance arms. "And is that a collar even...?!"

"Hunter," rumbled Cadance with a frown, pulling the sub back. "He hasn't been introduced yet."

"Oh right."

::Now?:: Jazz asked, twitching to speak.

::In a moment.::

"Brother of my spark, Dom of my brother, I wish to introduce you to Jazz, my hope for a future."

"You bring him into your family and your home then?" asked Cadence. 

"He has met my approval as well as the approval of my creator trine. My home is his home."

"Then I welcome you both as you are, as family and future."

Prowl moved his doorwing aside. ::Now.::

"Hi!" Jazz beamed at him, waving a hand much like Hunter did in the first place. "It is an honor to meet you, future sub-brother of mine. May your dom and you always be happy and my door always open for you."

Hunter managed to wiggle out of Cadance's hold - probably because the dom allowed him to - and made a step forward, to take Jazz's hand. "It is an honor to meet you, Jazz, after hearing so much of you from my brother. May your dom and you always be happy and my door always be open for you as well." He grinned. "And from sub to sub, awesome decoration. First time?"

"Thanks! Both for the wish and the compliment, and yep. First time. Your carrier actually helped - he pointed me to this sweet mech who knows his way with diamonds and glitter and before I knew what was happening, there were around ten mechs around me and glitter in my mouth too." Jazz chuckled. "And you look stunning."

"Thank you!" Hunter spread his doorwings proudly. "I designed these myself, Hornblower helped a lot though." Then he peered at Jazz's mouth. "Why would they put glitter in your mouth? I remember there was this strange fashion many vorns ago, where they decided that black denta was the rage of the season, but... glitter?"

Jazz chuckled, "I'm kiddin'. They didn't actually put glitter there, but they were putting it /everywhere/ and at some point I felt it get in my mouth too." He snickered.

Hunter laughed. "Oh yes, that happened to me as well." He spread his arms. "This took joors. Totally worth it, really, but there was this moment when the artist splashed the paint bucket over my entire left leg. And you know, I like decorations, but bit of grey should remain behind." He winked. "By the way, have you already tried the food? Because I haven't."

Jazz smiled at his explanation before blinking surprise. "Oh, not yet. I forgot." He grinned. "I've been busy meeting mechs." And doing other activities as well.

"Me too!" admitted Hunter. "I invited them all, of course, but a mech has needs." He looked back to Cadance. "Sir, may we go to the buffet table?"

Cadance nodded. Prowl looked over to Jazz. "You can accompany him, if you wish so."

"Thank you, sir!" Hunter took Jazz's arm. "I am sure, carrier has already completely spoiled you with sweets," he said while moving away from the two doms. "But I have some truly exotic things too. I wanted to try something new, you know? Surprises keep a mech alive."

"Tell me about it." Jazz said, smiling as he let the mech lead him around. "Your carrier cooks heavenly. I love it." As they reached the buffet table, Jazz glanced at it. "Just tell me which ones are the /really/ bitter ones and which ones are the really sweet ones?"

"I have told carrier that he should open a high-end bakery. But I think he worries that no one in our family would then do any social work anymore..." Hunter thoughtfully looked over the hundreds of tiny sweets. "Those in the corner are old Praxian ones, they are all bitter, I think. But see the kind of red-brown ones there? They are from Sonic Canyon. I think they are at worst neutral. Let's try them?"

"Sure!" They spent a good amount of time trying different sweets, some more bitter then the rest before they decided it was time to head back to their mates. Before doing so, Jazz took a small tray and filled it with the old Praxian sweets for Prowl as well. 

Hunter gave him a long look. "I thought Prowl hadn't trained you yet...?"

Jazz blinked. "No...? Should he?"

"Only if you want him to." Hunter shrugged and took a smaller selection than Jazz with him. When Jazz watched, he explained, "Cadance has already eaten, but it would look bad if only you returned with something for his dom."

"Oh!" Jazz said, surprised. "I just know Prowl's crazy about anything bitter, and I don't remember him having any fuel as well." 

Hunter made a grimace as they weaved back to the crowd. "Oh, he was always terrible at remembering his own needs. It drove our creators up the walls."

"Tell me about it." Jazz rolled his optics behind the visor, "He keeps forgetting to fuel all the time. He's such a workaholic." 

They reached their mates and Jazz gave Prowl a smirk. "I don't remember you fueling either, sir. Here, the most bitter ones from the buffet." He offered the tray.

Prowl's doorwings fluttered in surprise, then they went up happily. "Thank you, my sub," he answered and took the tray. A bite later, the doorwings went even higher. "They are delicious."

Hunter and Cadance observed them for a moment, the former looking as if watching the best romance movie of all time, Cadance more quietly amused.

"We have to move on, greet the other guests, Prowl," Cadance said. "But we would be honored to be invited to your bonding."

Prowl blinked. "The honor will be ours," he said automatically.

As they walked away, he looked at Jazz. "Cadance thinks our bonding is inevitable," he said a bit surprised. "I had expected him to be a bit more skeptical. He is a traditionalist."

"He seems sweet, though." Jazz said with a smile. He glanced at the sweets Prowl still held. "Are they /really/ that good?"

"Very much so." Prowl leaned forward and rubbed a sensor horn of Jazz's as a reward. "You choose well."

Jazz laughed. "Well, it wasn't hard, sir. I just found the most bitter of them all." He looked at them thoughtful. "Can I have a small bite? Maybe they really are that good."

"Of course." Prowl took one, ate most of it, and then held the last one in front of Jazz's mouth. He smiled, a mischievous spark in his optics. "Eat."

"Oh, you would like that, wouldn't you, sir," Jazz muttered playfully as he took the goodie in his mouth and...froze after he started chewing. He shifted from pede to pede, looked around and when he saw there was no place to spit it out he resigned himself to swallowing it. "...why would you torture yourself with this?" He laughed, coughing a bit from the bitterness in his throat.

::Please, Jazz, next time when this happens comm me?:: Prowl looked worried. But answered out loud: "I admit, my taste runs a bit to the extreme. Do you need mild energon to settle your tank?"

::Sure, but why?:: And out loud he said, amused as his throat still burned. "Yes, please." nodding repeatedly.

Prowl had thought the solution obvious. ::Well, if you dare to eat another one...:: He took Jazz’s arm and led him to the next server. "Mild energon, please." The server gave Prowl a cube, who held it at Jazz's lips. "Sip slowly, it might upset your tanks."

Jazz reached with both hands to better support the cube but didn't pull away from Prowl, enjoying the other helping him as he took a couple of big gulps before he lifted his helm, smiling at Prowl. "Well, on the bright side, it does leave a nice after-taste in your mouth." 

"It does, indeed?" Prowl ate another one, until only a small bite was left. "Do you want to try one again? I might help you this time."

"Well, if you can help, then yes sir." Jazz said, amused.

Prowl smiled and held the goodie at Jazz's lips. 

::You're enjoying yourself, aren't you sir?:: Jazz asked, even as he opened his mouth for the goodie.

Prowl pushed it in. ::Shouldn't I enjoy this? Well my dear, do you need to be rescued?::

The goodie, even if Jazz wasn't chewing it, was still melting that bitter-sweet flavor all over in his mouth and Jazz felt as if his glossa was on fire. Just what did they put in these things?

Jazz nodded frantically. ::Yes, please!::

Prowl lost no time to lean forward, grabbing his lover's helmet and to kiss Jazz deeply. His glossa invaded the smaller mech's mouth, fishing for the sweet and sucking it out. A gulp and it was in his own tank, and he continued to "clean" Jazz's mouth with his glossa, until the smaller mech's vents were activating.

Then, with a smirk, he stepped back. "Feeling better?"

Jazz actually had to lean on him for support. His legs felt weak from this world-shattering kiss. Wonderful. ::Good, you took care of my glossa - it's no longer on fire. The only thing burning now is /me/. Hope you're happy.:: Jazz said it with a grumble, but there was no mistaking the amusement in his voice. Primus, what a kiss - he was literally dizzy from it. ::Maybe I should eat bitter sweets more often...::

Prowl actually laughed. ::Only if you want to be rescued.:: He put an arm around Jazz and pulled him closer. 

Jazz didn't resist, smirking at his mate before looking around. ::Well, I hope we weren't /that/ obvious/.:: He chuckled. ::And to answer your question - yes.::

::Then I will see to it, that it might happen more often.:: Prowl loved to feel his lover's heat. ::And do not worry about the audience here. We are in Praxus, a dozen subs here are kneeling and at least one is crawling. A little hand feeding will not make anyone look twice.::

::I was talking about the processor-breaking kiss.:: Jazz said. ::So... does this mean we can go visit that closet again?::

::Yes. Let's.::

They moved out of the hall towards the very same closet they had already occupied previously. Neither noticed anymore the optics following them, some amused, some in wonder, some in contemplation.

Blip, though, looked at Tourlight and smiled. "If it takes these two longer than a vorn to bond, I will agree to that berth toy you wanted to try out."

Tourlight smiled. "Sir, I am afraid that isn't a bet I would like to take."

Next to them Azurstrike snorted. "Let's just begin planning now. It will save us time."

"Might be a good idea," agreed Blip.

Chapter Text

Bonding orns hadn't received their names by ending in the afternoon. Soon the traditional dances started to Prowl's barely hidden dismay. He had never been an exceptional dancer, and had only with the patient, unwavering help of his sub-carrier Tourlight been deigned passable. At his side, Jazz was also just watching, but in his case it was a more a lack of knowledge than ability.

Then the long-awaited dom dance came up, led by Cadance, followed by the two dom-creators, the dom-siblings of the bonding pair and finally every dom present. Everyone would notice, if he refused to enter this one as well.

"Time to dance," he sighed and touched Jazz's arm. "Wait here for me?"

Jazz blinked, giving Prowl an amused look. "Wait, /you're/ going to go dance? Without any prompting and begging involved? Are you sure you're feeling alright, sir?"

Prowl gave his sub a flat glance. "Yes, I am. I just learned that prompting, begging or running doesn't help to avoid this particular dance. They are not above waiting for me." Or, in his sire's case, running after him. That was an embarrassing memory. "So, I do my duty and then return. It's the fastest solution."

"Well, get going then. Don't keep the mechs waiting, sir." Jazz grinned at him, enjoying beyond reason Prowl and dancing in one sentence. Prowl had danced with him in the past, but it was a rare occurrence. Usually Jazz danced either by himself on the dancefloor or with a skilled partner. But then again, Prowl always joined in after he felt said partner got too grabby with Jazz.

"Of course not," Prowl said and walked to the dance floor, doorwings high. ::After this is the traditional sub dance,:: he commed. ::I am afraid at this point it would be ill-advised for you to join.::

::We'll see about that.:: Jazz told him. If the steps weren't that complicated he could learn to dance them just by watching.

::The traditional dances right now, are not something one can learn within a few breems. Else, I would certainly not feel as awkward right now.::

Jazz tried not to pout too much at that. ::Right. Okay.::

::There is no shame to watch once,:: Prowl said, getting in line. ::And at the next sub dance you will be able to join.::

::Well, I hope the dances aren't that complicated. I would love to join.:: Jazz said, watching eagerly. Just what were Praxian dances?

::Later, with more high grade involved, the dances will change... mechs, well, actually subs may even improvise... Excuse me, I must concentrate.::

The music had begun and the doms had lined up in two long lines. Now they bowed to each other and started something that was a dance yes, but also more a chorography of moving frames, wings and ... were that gestures of threats, whenever two doms stood in front of each other, before stepping aside? Yes. They were. Ritualised, perfected gestures of half-aborted attacks. In a dance.

"Excuse me," said suddenly a soft voice behind Jazz. "Are you Dom Prowl's sub?"

Surprised, Jazz glanced back towards the new voice. "Yes, and who are you?" he asked, curious.

The Praxian was as big as Jazz, with a grey paint-job and some clothes draped around his frame that were the exact same shade as his green optics. He lowered his head deeply, so deeply in fact that it was half a bow.

"It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Softlight." He straightened, but was still looking at the floor. "I hope I am not bothering you too much, but my dom sent me..."

"No, don't worry. It's no bother, but who is your dom?" Jazz asked.

"Dom Excelsior." The mech wringed his hands a little and then added with the air of a mech who would rather be elsewhere: "He is a friend of Sparkpulse."

Surprise flared through Jazz as he regarded the sub more wearily this time. "And he wants to see me? Why?"

"No!" Softlight's helmet snapped up. "He would never try to steal you away from your dom. Excelsior is a good mech!"

"Whoa, no." Jazz said hurriedly, trying to soothe. "I didn't mean that, sorry. I just meant to ask what this is about. Don't worry, I know he's not--" Jazz took a deep sigh:‘Praxians!’ "I know he's not trying to steal me."

"Oh." Softlight deflated a bit. "I am sorry then, that I misunderstood your meaning. It was not my intention to distress you." He bit is lower lip. "My dom is a really good dom, and I am lucky to have him."

"You didn't distress me," Jazz said calmly, even offering a smile. "And I trust your word that your dom is good. Now, will you tell me what this is about?" 

"Ah..." He shuffled a bit on his pedes. "I- I am really sorry to ask you this... but is Dom Prowl a good dom?"

"Yes," Jazz replied before even thinking. "Yes, he is. Why do you ask?" He cocked his helmet, looking at the sub curiously and then glanced at Prowl who was still busy with his military dance. By the look of it, Prowl was concentrating really hard on every movement.

"Well... you are an outsider." The word was said with as much awe as fascination. "You don't have a dom-creator to protect you, or a sub-creator to guide you. And... well, Prowl," his voice fell, becoming a mere whisper, "he lost once control." He looked down at his pedes. "I am sorry."

Jazz blinked, finally realizing what this was about. A part of him wanted to say that he loved it when Prowl lost control - that he was beautiful and quite hot then, but that wouldn't exactly help his mate's case, so Jazz had to force his glossa to form another reply: 

"Prowl's amazing, really, there's no need to worry. Plus, as you said, I don't have a dom-creator to protect me, or a sub creator to guide me, but I still have creators who raised me to be able to protect myself." Jazz offered a smile. "I can protect myself. And Prowl...he's really, really amazing. I love him and he loves me. Thank you for asking though. You're sweet, but there's no need to worry."

"But... wouldn't your creators try to protect you?" Softlight sounded slightly confused. "And... I truly hope you do not need to protect yourself from Prowl. Ever. That would just be wrong."

"My creators are always there for me," Jazz tried instead, hoping this would help the sub understand. "And no, I don't need to protect myself from Prowl, because he would /never/ hurt me." 

"Oh." Softlight's doorwings relaxed. He offered a smile. "That is good. For a moment... I went with him to school. With both of them, Sparkpulse and Prowl." He looked to the dancefloor. "It was awful what happened between them."

"I guess..." Jazz said, uncertain. His view on the subject was just too different from Prowl and probably any other Praxian here. "Prowl was young and didn't know what he was so it was natural to explode like that. I have fits like those too, sometimes." Jazz chuckled, trying to get the sub to relax."We all have those orns. It's sad that it reflected so strongly on Prowl and his family."

Softlight nodded slowly. "It is how it is... but it wasn't only that. They had been best friends. Everyone thought they would be the first of us to bond. I guess," he sighed, "I guess it was also our expectations that pushed them. Sparkpulse was spark-broken, when he heard Prowl had left Praxus."

"It saddens me that this happened between them." And even more because they let something that seemed so small to Jazz come between the two friends like that. "Hopefully...maybe they could amend things now that Prowl's back for a little while?"

The sub blinked, then a small hopeful smile bloomed on his face. "I would love that! I was already so surprised to see Prowl, and then you. Those news alone will unburden Sparkpulse." His doorwings twitched. "May I give you my comm number, Sub Jazz? I know it is a bit fast, but the dom dance is nearly over and... and I would like to stay in contact...?"

"Of course!" Jazz agreed easily. "And please, call me just Jazz. I'm still trying to get used to the whole "sub" thing." 

"Just Jazz is informal," Softlight pointed out. "It is for friends."

"Well, we could become friends?" Jazz offered, grinning. "I really prefer to be called just Jazz though, heh."

"I would love to be your friend, Jazz. In this case, please call me Softlight, yes? My Dom Excelsior will be delighted to hear that." Softlight smiled widely. "May I hug you, before Prowl comes?"

Jazz actually laughed fondly at the sweet mech. "Sure!"

Softlight hugged him swiftly. "Please take care of Prowl, s- Jazz?" He looked Jazz in his optics. "He... he was always too intense for me, but he is a good mech. I know it. Despite everything."

Jazz hugged him back, smiling. "He is. Trust me, he is."

"Then you must be too." Softlight kissed him on the cheek, and stepped back. "My dom is expecting me. It was my pleasure!"

"Mine too! See you later, Softligt." Jazz waved at him, grinning sheepishly.

Softlight was taken aback at the wave, but then shyly waved back and hurried away. The dom dance had just finished, with the doms bowing to each other one last time. Softlight reached the edge of the dancefloor where he waited until a massive Praxian walked towards him. The hulking mech was surely Azurstrike's size, and moved as if he enjoyed eating cyber-hounds for breakfast - after hunting them down for a few joors every morning. Softlight knelt down, and the Praxian touched his head so gently, as if he would break apart any moment. The sub rose and smiled at him.

"Jazz," said Prowl as he came towards him.

Jazz jumped, turning to look at Prowl. He hadn't realized he had been so long inhis thoughts and smiled at his mate. "Hey, so how was the dance, sir?"

He chuckled at Prowl's response to the dance."Hey is very informal," answered Prowl, but didn't punish him. "It was... passable."

"Oh? And how would my mate," Jazz couldn’t say it yet, couldn't say 'my dom' just yet, "like me to greet him?"

Prowl's optic ridges climbed up for a moment. "What would you be willing to gift me with?"

"Well, what do you want?" Jazz asked with a smile, placing a hand on his hip.

Prowl gave Jazz a scrutinising glance. He seemed well, playful even, relaxed. Prowl decided he had nothing to lose then. He smiled right back. "If you make it sound like a dare, my lovely Jazz, then I will dare you. So, do you dare to do what nearly every sub around did when they greeted their dom back from the dance?"

They had all knelt. Some just for a second, some for longer, some had leant against their doms legs even - but they had knelt.

"...You want me to kneel?" Jazz asked, looking at Prowl surprised. "Why?"

"It is the traditional way to welcome the dom back from the dance." Prowl smiled. "And if you do, I will welcome you back from the sub dance the traditional way even if you do not dance this orn."

Jazz hesitated as he looked around, looking at the mechs around them. "It's not that I mind kneeling to you, sir, but...everyone will see," he said the last part quietly, as if sharing a secret only he knew.

Prowl blinked. That was actually already more than he had thought he would get. "Yes," he admitted. "They wouldn't care, or nor think anything negatively, but if they looked towards us, they would see. That bothers you more than the act itself?" 

"Yes." Jazz admitted, rubbing his shoulder nervously. "I don't enjoy being viewed as submissive...as weak." 

::Even if I enjoy doing it because I know it /you/ and I /trust/ you,::he added the last part privately.

Prowl contemplated the statement for a moment. If he was truthful, it was a reasonable thing for Jazz to feel. He didn't know these mechs. To Prowl they were family, friends, acquaintances. Familiar faces and familiar sparks. To Jazz they were strangers in a strange culture, and Prowl was his only anchor. Really, it said less about Jazz than about his environment.

::Trust is necessary,:: Prowl agreed  and let go of his desire. "Then maybe something less... extreme?"

"Wait!" Jazz said at that. "I can do it. Just..."

He looked around again and shifted one leg to kneel, but heat flushed to his cheeks as he saw a few mechs look his way and stopped.

Prowl saw the conflict, and while he was flattered that there even was a conflict, Jazz was pushing himself too hard to fulfil some expectations that weren't there. Well, at least weren't there in the way Jazz was used to. He stepped forward, his left hand grabbing Jazz's upper arm. 

"Don't," he said, quietly. Then took Jazz's chin in hand and forced him to look up. "Don't force yourself more for my sake. It would make neither of us happy."

Jazz shut of his visor, chin still held by Prowl, not able to look at his mate as he felt embarrassed. "Sorry."

Prowl's hand wandered from his chin to the sensor horns, caressing them. "You have nothing to be sorry for. It is your right to refuse me. Just as it is your right to gift me. I might ask, but in the end it is your decision. Always."

Jazz shuddered for a moment in the other's hold, at his touch before nodding. "Thank you," he told him. "And, I can do it in private for as many times as you wish. Just... I don't like the idea of others watching."

"Mmh," Prowl leaned down and whispered so that Jazz had to strain to hear him: "Then I have you just for myself? Just me and you? And no other dom around?" He let his possessiveness, his protectiveness bled into the words. 

Jazz actually managed a quiet chuckle at that. "I wouldn't mind it one bit - just the two of us, no doms, no subs. Just us. I want no one but you watching after all."

"Watching?" Prowl chuckled. "That sounds like my favourite actor has a show planned."

"Sir," ::Love:: "I can give you a private show whenever you ask, you just gotta ask." Jazz grinned.

"If we disappear a third time, my creators might think you have replaced me." Prowl's optics laughed at him. 

"I never said /now/." Jazz mirrored him. "When we get back to the room, after the party."

"As you wish, my love." 

Prowl kissed his sensor horns, flaring his doorwings as a sign to the surrounding Praxians that everything was okay. He could only hope that Jazz hadn't noticed how their little episode had drawn more attention than a kneeling ever would. A distressed sub was as good as a homing beacon for most doms. That it had been Prowl’s, had made them probably only more curious or wary. Whatever the case, they had watched how he would solve Jazz’s distress.

Thankfully, said distress had ranked so much higher in both spark and processor that he really hadn't cared what was going on around them.

"Well, I might not kneel in public but if it's allowed, I would gladly hug and kiss you?" Jazz offered with a loving smile.

Prowl smiled back. "The dom does usually initiate the bodily contact. But considering that we are already touching... feel free to." Not to mention that it was normal for a sub to seek tactile reassurance after a scare. And Jazz hadn't yet learned the signs how to initiate something from his side, and lacked even the doorwings for most of said signs... 

Jazz didn't need to be told twice and hugged Prowl close, pressing his lips against the other's. When the kiss broke he smiled stupidly at the other. "I hope I didn't embarrass you and your family too much this orn," He nipped him on the lips again, "Sir."

Prowl hugged him a back for the sir, then loosened his arms. "Oh Jazz, if anything today you have added to our honour." He smiled mischievously. "The sub dance is nearly finished now. Do you want to experience the traditional reward anyway?"

"I do, I really do, but I don't feel like I've earned it..." Jazz gave him a shy grin.

"So be it then. I am proud you want to earn this the hard way. Do you wish for me to arrange a dancing teacher for you?"

Jazz gave a shrug, "Sure, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, sir."

"Never," assured Prowl. "Besides, I have the feeling that before the lessons are over, you will be teaching me."

Jazz grinned. "We'll just have to see. So what now?"

"Now it's time to be merry." The music was changing around them and pairs and even trines entered now the dancing floor together. "This one is relatively simple. I might not be the most graceful nor the most agile, but would you give me this dance?" He had stepped back and held out a hand now.

"Sir, I've been waiting for this all night." Jazz laughed, "With pleasure."

::Place your hand in mine, lightly. I will lead you to the dancefloor and through the dance.::

::Alright.:: Jazz did as instructed, offering his mate a fond smile.

Thankfully, Prowl did indeed know the dance and knew what he was doing, even if they probably were the worst dancing pair on the dancefloor. But Jazz was learning quickly and soon they smoothly sidestepped the other pairs and whirled around.

::So this is what I gotta do to get ya to dance - start music for a traditional Praxus dance,:: Jazz commented.

::At least I know this dance and the steps are logical in itself. Those loud pits you call clubs in Iacon are simply chaos.::

::It's liquid movement,:: Jazz told him with a smile. ::And the dance is nice. A little slow, maybe,but I would dance on my hands if I have to if it means I get to dance with you,sir.::

::I am not that difficult to impress,:: answered Prowl amused. ::But I am really looking forward to the spectacle later. It is kind of dancing competition between subs and Hunter has told me that he plans to win it. He is very good and prepared several dance combinations.::

::Oh? Is it free style dancing or traditional dances again?:: Jazz asked, interested.

::Free style. Very much free style. But the free style is the tradition.:: Prowl saw the interest and added a bit cautious: ::It starts when most guests have at least drank two cubes high grade. The subs challenge each other and then ask their doms to stand on the dance floor. They... how to say it, dance for the doms and the best dancer wins. The dances are not very chaste, to say it mildly.::

Jazz nearly tripped at the news, but used Prowl for support not to fall as he laughed.::Seriously? Oh this I gotta see!::

::If we don't run, you definitely will see it... and more,:: said Prowl.

::Oh, I want to see it.:: Jazz chuckled. ::I definitely want to see it.::

::If you stay around as a sub with a dom, you can challenge and be challenged. If you decline the challenge you forfeit. You decline by crossing your arms and standing closely with your back to me.::

::Can I just stay to observe? Or do I gotta dance, too?:: Jazz asked.

::The moment you forfeit, you cannot be challenged anymore.:: Prowl was a bit embarrassed, when he added: ::For tonight, I would prefer it if you decline the first challenge. From then on, we can relax and enjoy the Spectacle.::

::Love, that's why I asked. I want to observe and watch the show - it will surely be a fun one.::

::Oh yes.:: And there was a world of promise in Prowl’s answer.

Chapter Text

The orn continued, the high grade flowed and the mood in the hall became better and better. Beneath it all, was a strong undercurrent quiet anticipation, as everyone knew what was coming and slowly cleared the dance floor.

And then suddenly, two subs were standing very still, watching each other intently, with both their doms behind them, doorwings flaring. The subs were saying something as around them the crowd was falling quiet.

"They are explaining their own doms best traits and why he is the best dom in the room. They keep disagreeing, until ah yes, one sub challenges the others that the best dom has the best sub. The traditional answer is: ‘I demand proof, without proof your words are nothing but sound and smoke.’ And the answer is: ‘Proof I shall bring. I will serve my dom better than you!’ And, that's it."

All four mechs were entering the dance floor, which was now empty.

"The subs can choose the music freely. The dances are graded by everyone in the room through their noise volume."

"You mean... screaming?"

"And yelling, stomping, clapping, whistling," Prowl listed. "The louder, the better the performance was."

The first sub got into position, which was right in the middle of the two doms, and the music started. It was slow, sensual and the sub moved as if he had forgotten that such things as struts even existed.

Prowl enjoyed the spectacle as always, but couldn't stop sneaking glances at Jazz. The mech looked enthralled, fascinated even. No interface equipment was bared, but besides that everything was allowed.

"Primus," Jazz was laughing. "This is an advanced lap dance competition!"

Prowl smiled. "Now you know why I wasn't that much impressed by Blaster's performance. He was good, but..."

"Yeah. Different level."

Then a sub inevitable looked at Jazz, moving towards him. 

"He is going to challenge you," warned Prowl quietly, but didn't make a move. This was among subs, doms were merely decoration.

Jazz for a split second was tempted to raise to the challenge, but this was his first night and it would be better if he just stayed back and watched. He could always participate next time. A little disappointed, Jazz crossed his arms and took a small step towards Prowl, hoping this was the right gesture and yep - it was. The sub changed his path.

"Oh, did he just challenge Azurstrike?" Jazz asked, amused.

"Yes." Prowl answered, equally amused. 

"Well, this should be fun to watch," Jazz said quietly to Prowl, looking on with interest.

Azurstrike was impressive, as he knew exactly how to play his sheer size for erotic effect, especially in contrast to the two smaller doms. Yet, while Azurstrike was practiced in what he did, he avoided moving too much to the music. There was no doubt whom Prowl had inherited his lack of talent from.

"Well... he's definitely your creator," Jazz offered softly, holding no malice behind the words. "And he's is losing," he added quietly.

"Yes, but I think his true goal is to make Blip blush."

Jazz looked at Prowl's sire and snickered. "Oh... oooh! Blip looks happy but embarrassed."

"Dom Blip to you, when you are speaking about him. Or Dom-Creator." Prowl pulled Jazz into his arms. On the dance floor, Azurstrike took his defeat graciously. Tourlight stepped up next to him, a small smile on his face. 

"Is he challenging the other sub?"

"Kind of. He is taking over Azurstrike's place as the competing sub-mate. After all, they have the same dom."

"So, both can participate in the same dance?" Jazz looked on, curious.

"Yes. It's a trine privilege."

Azurstrike hadn't been bad, but it became very quickly very obvious who held the true dancing talent in the trine. Tourlight began with a kind smile, a swing of his hip that had no business of being that erotic - and then simply trashed his competition. His steps, his balance, his moves were perfect and it didn't help that Tourlight had a most acrobatic frame that he put on full display. 

It was no question who won this dance, as the hall shook with the noise.

"Well, sir, your creators can put up a show." Jazz chuckled. "I am impressed you can watch it so...neutrally. If I see my creators dancing like that, erotically I mean, I think I would pass out." They were creators for a reason. Jazz tried not to picture them doing these things. 

Prowl blinked. "Well... where do you think they practiced? The biggest room is our living room." He took a long suffering sigh. "Not to mention they often wanted second opinions... sometimes, they still do. And Hunter as well."

Jazz had to press a hand to his mouth, trying to stifle his laughter. "You poor, poor traumatized thing."

"Very much so," Prowl playfully answered. "And somehow I have the feeling that you plan to add to my suffering, my lovely Jazz..."

"Me?" Jazz asked innocently. "Sir, what makes you think you'll suffer? If I feel gracious enough, you will /love/ it." 

::And we can break the rules and I'll let you touch.::

So, Jazz had figured out by himself, that the true excitement for many subs was the fact that for once their dom was utterly forbidden to touch during the dances, no matter how much they wanted to. 

"Oh, I am certain that I will love it. With a burning love in fact," he said smiling.

::So, I am to stand then there, watching you, longing for you, until you gift me with the freedom to touch you again?::

::Yep. And you'll love every moment of it.:: Jazz smirked at him. ::I think I can say that I've learned how to make you run hot, sir. And how to make you yearn to touch.:: On the plus side, he was distracting Prowl from the very hot dance that Tourlight was giving.

Prowl didn't doubt this for a single astrosecond. He looked towards his creators, where Tourlight was happily showing everyone just how much he adored his dom - a dom that still looked half embarrassed and half yearning, as if wishing for chains to lock him down. It was a sub-dance, yes, but it was also a test of control for the doms. 

::I have the feeling, you will test my control thoroughly.:: And he would bet that Jazz was learning as they were watching the dances.

::Oh, you can count on that,:: Jazz promised.

At their side, the crowd started moving and Cadance was leading Hunter through it. A Hunter, whose doorwings were literally vibrating with excitement. Prowl - who had practiced with his brother - knew what was coming.

::Hunter is going to challenge Tourlight,:: he said and discreetly pointed to where the pair was approaching his creator trine.

Jazz looked on with open curiosity. ::Really? Why him of all mechs? He's his carrier::

::Exactly. Hunter wants to show our creators he is as good as them.:: He paused. ::Well, as Tourlight,:: he then amended. ::It will also cement his rank a bit more as a bonded sub. But mostly he is showing off for Cadance and my creators.::

::I find it a little strange,:: Jazz said but there was amusement in his field and tone. ::I wouldn't want my carrier and sire to watch me give you a hot lap dance.:: He chuckled.

Prowl tried to look at the scene through Jazz's optics. Lap dance. Iacon. ::Well, the goal is more than just interfacing...?:: he said hesitantly. ::And Tourlight did teach Hunter and me quite a bit. Before it became obvious that I wasn't a sub.::

::Yeah, I guess. Our cultures are different in this.:: Then Jazz snickered at a thought. ::This is new, my culture is being more prude than yours.::

::This... is indeed new. And unexpected. But then you did call Praxus 'kinky' if I recall it right.:: 

Hunter and Tourlight got into position, both doms behind them with crossed arms. Hunter, as the challenger, began, Tourlight responded. It was quite clear they were quite evenly matched. Prowl was unsure who to cheer for, but then decided on his brother. Hunter had trained for this, and it was his bonding orn after all. 

The longer the competition between the two lasted, the louder the crowd became. It was clear, that Hunter could keep up with Tourlight who had a Praxus wide reputation for this. 

::Hunter is making a very good showing,:: Prowl said, not quite able to hide his pride.

::Yes, he dances really well,:: Jazz said, smiling, ::So what happens when one of them wins? Do they get a prize or something?::

::Not really. It is expected that their doms provide suitable rewards. But our social ranks are determined through such talents as well. Career and honour aren't the only things that count.::

Jazz nodded at that. ::Well, it looks like your brother is winning.:: He smirked at Prowl. ::He must've trained really hard with you, sir.::

Prowl caressed the sensor horns in a clear reward. ::Oh, yes... But Tourlight is not making things easy for him. Sub or not, he likes giving his best.::

Jazz purred softly at the caress. ::It shows. How long do these games last?::

::Until no one challenges the victor anymore... ah you are right, Tourlight is really losing!::

Indeed, Tourlight had stepped away, and inclined his head to Cadence. The noise level of the hall rose and rose until it became deafening. Prowl clapped and stomped with the best of them. 

Jazz gave him an amused look. It was so strange to see Prowl in such a light. ::You missed Praxus, didn't you, love?::

Prowl winced a bit embarrassed. ::Sometimes,:: he admitted after a few moments. ::Iacon can be complicated.::

::Praxus ain't that easy too,:: Jazz said softly but he was smiling at Prowl. ::Your culture is amazing, really.::

Prowl hummed, revving so Jazz's body vibrated with his engine. ::Thank you. I am sure, Polyhex is just as amazing.:: 

::I would /love/ to show you around.:: Jazz purred at the idea. ::We are....well, hah, a little more open to everything but not to all. It's strange, you gotta see it to understand.::

::Well, so far I already know you keep your armor on, always.:: Prowl smiled. ::Oh, Hunter is being challenged by the resident Dancer!::

Indeed he was. A slender sub with a huge dom had stepped forward, and nearly awkwardly challenged Hunter, who accepted with a smile. But the challenging sub wasn't a stranger, indeed Jazz had talked with him a joor ago...

::That's Softlight.:: Jazz said, surprised. ::I didn't think he would be interested in something like this. He's, well...he's kinda shy. Like a lot from what I got from the few short moments we spoke. But very sweet too.::

::He was always shy. We were in the same class at school and he was the very first of our vorn-group to permanently decide what he would be.::

::Yeah, he mentioned that you and your ex were in the same class,:: Jazz said, watching. ::He came to me to ask questions about you during the Dom dance actually.::

Prowl straightened a bit, alarmed. ::What did he ask?::

Jazz shrugged. ::If you're a good Dom. Stuff  like that.:: He gave him a gentle look. ::He was a little afraid I think, but we cleared everything up so it should be good.::

Prowl mulled a moment over that. ::Afraid of me?:: 

::...Yeah.:: Jazz winced. ::But he isn't any longer. We cleared that up and I'm actually pretty sure it would be okay if you three went out, like in the good old times.::

Prowl vented heavily, whole frame trembling for a moment. ::You stood up for me. I- thank you. Thank you.:: The relief he felt was overwhelming. Maybe, just maybe, everything in Praxus would turn out alright.

::Of course I stood up for you!:: Jazz gave him a look. ::I love you, sir. I will /always/ stand up for you, even when you don't want me to.::

Prowl pulled Jazz closer, his spark pulsing heavily. He didn't want to have Jazz fight his battles, it didn't make him happy. But... he would not want anyone else at his back. ::I love you too, my Jazz.::

Jazz was about to say something else when he noticed a very interesting fact. ::Wait...is Softlight actually winning?:: 

That sweet little sub that was too shy to even look Jazz in the optics was dancing like struts didn't exist and metal was liquid. Not to mention, every dom - and a more than a few subs - were watching him with an intensity that spoke of pure, unbridled lust.

::Huh. Didn't see that coming,:: Jazz muttered.

Prowl grinned. ::He once said to me, that he is too shy to express himself without his dom at his back. But he loves to show off, when Excelsior is there and glaring at everyone.:: 

Indeed, Excelsior seemed to constantly switch between watching his bondmate with a soft, proud smile and trying to burn every other dom in the hall through optic contact alone.

::They seem like a fun couple,:: Jazz commented over the comm. ::Softlight seems like the kind of mech that wants to be protected and Excelsior seems like the mech that /wants/ to offer said protection. They fit well together.::

::They do, yes,:: agreed Prowl, happy for his old school comrade. ::Softlight's dom-creator, though, had doubts. Or was maybe just overprotective, and Softlight loved the situation... whatever the reason, Excelsior's courtship was over 50 vorns long and slow as a glacier. Softlight even had a chaperone.::

::Wow,:: Jazz said. ::That's going overboard if you ask me, heh. Just...wow, a chaperone? Hah, I didn't know they still existed.::

::It is unusual, but they do exist if someone worries that a sub might not say no even if he should. Softlight... well, you probably noticed, he is very submissive.::

At the dance floor Softlight had finished his dance and before Hunter even could admit defeat the hall crowned the victor - Softlight. The applause and noise was so loud, and not a few deactivated their audios and it went on for a long time too. Hunter didn't seem to take his defeat too badly, and was hugging a very embarrassed looking Softlight, who seemed to shrink into himself. Luckily, Excelsior was then immediately behind him and put a hand on Softlight's shoulder, which calmed him considerably.

::So you’re saying there are mechs that are 'too submissive' and they need chaperones?:: Jazz said, but it was more of a conclusion then a question. ::Huh now that's something I didn't hear before. He's...he's really submissive?::

::Yes, he is. Softlight is considered to be a living treasure. There are subs that just... might not know when to say no. Iacon forces every mech to learn to say no, but Praxus's culture doesn't. I only really started thinking about it when I was in Iacon and saw a submissive forcing himself to say no. He was miserable. I stepped in, helping him, but it felt wrong to have him even in such a situation at all without a dom nearby.::

Jazz was thoughtful at that for a moment. ::How submissive does one mech need to be...:: He glanced at Prowl. ::Am I submissive?::

This time Prowl wasn't sure he was following Jazz's thoughts. ::Yes, you are,:: he answered carefully. ::But less than Softlight. Just as I am less of a dom than Excelsior. We balance each other well, I think. Does this concern you?::

::No,:: Jazz said quietly. ::Just, it's odd. I am trying to wrap my head around it, is all. I never considered myself as submissive until I came here. Do you...like it when I submit?::

The 'no' was more of a relief, than Prowl would admit. When they had come to Praxus together, he had been prepared for the worst: An appalled Jazz, who rebelled against everything Praxian. He had been even ready to flee Praxus with even less honor than he had previously. Instead... this. It felt too good to be true, but he couldn't help hoping that Jazz truly liked his home. But for that acceptance and their own future relationship, truth was necessary.

::Very much so,:: he admitted. ::The thought that you are trusting me - gifting me - with yourself, there are few things that can compare.:: He let his hand wander to Jazz's plate, where below the spark is. It usually wasn't touched in public in Iacon and so he did it only briefly. ::I want to protect you and gift you the world in return, when you submit. I want to take you and never let go.::

::...You're awfully sweet, y'know that?:: Jazz asked softly at that long speech that made his spark to beat faster.

::You're probably the first to say this.:: 

With Softlight the winner of the sub dances, they ended and a giant energon cake was rolled out. The bonding dom cut the first piece, knelt down and offered it to Hunter, symbolizing that he would care for his sub. Afterwards it was gaming time, and the bonded pair had to answer questions about each other, then distracted Cadence to hide Hunter in the building. The dom had to search for him, while the guests watched with suggestions and encouragement. More dances followed, and slowly, even the most enthusiastic guests became tired. The elders went home first, and soon Cadence declared that it was time to retire. 

It was over.

Together Prowl's family drove home, with Blip in the lead, his two subs behind, then Prowl, who was followed by Jazz. 

::Did you like it, Jazz?:: commed Tourlight eventually on the family channel.

::Yes!:: Jazz said happily, ::I've been to many bonding ceremonies, but this one was the most unique and amazing one I've ever seen.:: And the best part was that he wasn't even exaggerating one bit.

::We are happy to hear that,:: commed Blip, answering for his whole trine.