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"It's tonight," Fat Tankor insisted.

Tall Tankor shook his helm.

"Highly improbable."

I can feel Blurr's field. From over here. It's a good night."

"You're imagining things."

Dirge slurped from the straw, loud annoying sounds reminding everyone that he was not a part of this.

"You have yet to convince me something's up," Chromia muttered.

"Oh, of course, nothing is up! Except our highly respected bartender having his wires up in knots. Except that if the ex-bad guy - no offence - leans in even the tiniest bit more, he'll end up falling down. On the other side of the bar counter.

Slug snorted, or emitted a sound that could be described as such.

"Sure, Tankor, sure, but look at them. It's been like this for orns. What makes you think tonight's gonna be any different?"

The group stole a glance, one by one.

Swindle was smirking, while Blurr looked like he was barely holding laughter. His biolights were flashing a little, shoulder pads raised up. He did not even pretend to be cleaning something. The rest of the bar might as well have been sucked into the Dead Universe.

When the door sounded, it took the barkeeper a moment to look away from the mech before him. Then he was speeding away towards the new customer.

Swindle lowered his optics immediately upon Blurr's retreat, but then raised them again as if against his own will.

Everyone sighed.

"Nothing changes, nothing ever will," Slug chanted.

"What are you, Sky-Byte's stand-in?" Chromia snapped.

"It's Earth stuff," Slug raised a finger and nodded for the good measure. “Gets stuck in your systems after a while."

"I thought the only thing you guys did there was crash into stuff," Dirge muttered.


"Night is far from over yet!" Fat Tankor broke in.

"I'll tell you how it's gonna go. Blurr will be away with the customers for some time, Swindle will look at him like he's his favourite bubbly drink that he can never afford, then they'll ogle each other some more, and then the night will end because it always does.”

"Sometimes Swindle stays up," the short mech protested.

"Oh please--"

"No, he's right," Tall Tankor was nodding, surprisingly. "What? We can't really know what they do during the off-hours!"

Slug just waved his hand at them. "No, trust me. Blurr's a racer. Ex-racer, granted, but that stuff never changed. He has a goal in sights, he goes for it, fast, and everybody can see him at the finishing line."


"So, you owe me."

"Did Alpha Trion die and make you the expert in all things?"

"I'm just trying to get the drink I deserve--"

A shadow loomed over Fat Tankor.

"Oh, is this free? You don't mind, do you?"

To be honest, Tankor, expression frozen on his faceplates, was the only one Swindle had the possibility to loom over.

Everyone fell silent as the yellow mech sat down on the only free chair. Sky-Byte's abscence was immediately regretted. Pit, it could be anyone. Windblade. Waspinator. One of Starscream's goons.

"What are we betting on?"

Slurping sounds slowly came to a halt. Tall Tankor tried to look more akin in size to his namesake. Slug tried not to laugh at the other Tankor's horrified expression. Chromia was, in a word, done.

Swindle smirked, then laughed shortly. "Come on, this is my area of expertise! Is it that nasty? I promise I won't tell."

"No, well, you see..." Tall Tankor mumbled.

"May I interest you in free drinks?" Slug interjected, looping a hand around Swindle, at which the latter looked with absolute indignation. "Our friend here just offered to buy some!"

"What!" Fat Tankor yelped, slamming his hands on the table.

"Shh, Tankor," Swindle berated. "Remember the rules! Tables are off-the... heh, well, themselves. And I'm fine like this, thank you. Now, what--"

"How do you feel about Blurr?" Chromia asked.

Everyone slowly turned their helmes. Away. Then back.

Swindle looked around. The mechs who were previously averting their optics now tried their best to hide the fact that they were all eagerly listening and watching his faceplates.

Swindle frowned. "What? Pff, well, he's certainly the greatest bartender that ever lived. Don't tell him that, Primus knows he doesn't need ego-boosters, and this business is constantly in danger of going-- well. But I mean, have you seen the little guy that went on the Lost Light?"

“Well, if you ask Fizzle, I’m sure he will be all too happy to tell you—“
Slug waved his hand. "Yes, yes, we know. Now, Swindle, you were--"

Swindle didn't answer, instead turning his helm back to watch the bartender come up to their table. Slug grinned into Chromia's direction, point made.

"If this isn't my favourite crowd," Blurr offered them a sour smile. "Any new orders?"

"Nasty customer?" Swindle asked.

"Something-like-that," Blurr replied very quickly. Swindle frowned.


Chromia ex-vented very loudly and got up. "Right, I see, I got enough. I think I'll wait for Windblade outside."

"It may be dangerous, what-with-the-blackouts--“ Blurr tried to say, but the door was already shut behind her. "Oh well."

"Write down that she needs to settle her tab later," Swindle noted, absently.

"Right. Got it. Thanks," Blurr flashed a smile, almost completely sincere now. "Now, anything I can do for you?"

"Yes, in fact!" Slug said, surprisingly cheerful. "The Tankor - nope, another one, - was meaning to buy something."

The short mech emitted a short frustrated whimper, then looked from the bartender to the ex-con and back. Blurr's hand hovered up in the air right behind Swindle's back, not settling on it. Swindle was smiling very slightly.

"Okay," the Fat Tankor groaned. "One Prime Truck for Slug."

"I suppose I should mention that I prefer--"

One Prime Truck, please.

“Truck it is," Blurr muttered, already lost in thoughts. His hand spinned one of Swindle's wheels as if on accident, and then he went away.

“Un-be-lievable,” Slug exhaled.

Swindle didn't even react.