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Swindle rarely talked first. He was always ready to jump into a conversation, but he tended to wait so that someone else would be the start of it. That was not to say he never spoke without prompting, but rather, he rarely addressed you. When he joked, he just put words somewhere out in the open, directing them at no one in particular, take-it-as-you-wish kind of thing. Blurr would throw him a smile when he appeared, Swindle would smile back, and that was it.

And if he stayed busy, that would be it for the night. Busy nights were actually not as rare a commodity as one would think. Mechs found time for Maccadam's. Slag, Starscream found time for Maccadam's. Though these days were not really anyone's favourite.

Despite that, his business was still not going as smoothly as one would have hoped - as Blurr certainly hoped, along with his numerous regulars.

Who were always ready to blame it on Starscream's occasional presence.

Swindle must have also harboured some hopes re: future of the Old Oil House, judging by some off-hand mentions and random phrases he sometimes threw Blurr's way, which were surprisingly easy to remember for the barkeeper. It was hard to be sure with the evasive way he often spoke, not to mention the way he sounded ironic at best, acerbic at worst, and yet Blurr didn't feel like it was meant to hurt, because he didn't address anybody, as if used to others not paying much attention.

That must have served him well during the war.

So when one day Swindle made a beeline straight for him and declared, "It's done," and then buried Blurr in datapads-- the last part was not even the most startling one.

"Eh?" Blurr managed.

"Sorted out your paperwork," Swindle declared. "No thanks required. Though try not to frag it up so screamingly in the future."

"Well, I might keep you around for that," Blurr replied, finding his footing - and then found himself flashing his classy pre-war you-better-appreciate-me smile at Swindle; and immediately caught himself. It didn't feel right.

"Uh," he offered then, much more clumsily and yet more comfortable than the previous reaction. "I meant, thanks."

"Should've just asked me in the first place," Swindle said, shrugging and getting onto a stool.

Somehow, imagining this was so laughaubly absurd that Blurr spluttered. "Are you serious? Should I have askedyou pre-Astrotrain or after?"

Swindle, who just finished putting the last datapad on top of the pile, frowned.


Blurr replayed the words. Oh, frag. Frag, frag, frag. Did he just offhandedly mention something they never spoke of by the name he gave the incident in his mind?

That went far beyond the "finding Swindle's grating voice a nice, soothing sound" brand of eccentric and straight into the weird territory.

"Ah. Forget-what-I-just-said-busy-day-here-have-one-on-the-house!"

Ridiculous. He never thought of anything he did as ridiculous. He used to be much less sensible than he was right now, granted, but it was in the past! When he didn't know better! Now... As much as he was quite sick of the war by the end of it, he did like to think it straightened him out. Got some priorities sorted out. He liked to think he surrounded himself with those who felt, generally, the same.

Even if it put them all under Starscream's rule.

Blurr glanced back at where Swindle now sat, from the far corner he stormed off to. Well, there were other customers here; in that he was quite justified.

The merchant was still sitting in front off the impressive pile of information. It was fine; he'd be fine, Blurr would just serve the rest of the customers with ease and pleasure; after all, a friendly bartender was half the success of a bar, and an ex-celebrity ex-Wrecker bartender was probably even better, a smile there, a welcome here, a glance back--

Oh, frag. And now he sat there all alone. Usually Slug would pester and occassionally insult him, or Dirge hover uncertaintly nearby, or Sky-Byte would suffer memory loss and consider him a nice enough listener - which Swindle could be, but very rarely and only when it suited him, - but none of them were here today. Blurr had no obligation to entertain his customers, sure. But Swindle was not just a customer, he was...

He wasn't drinking his energon, in any case.

Blurr pulled up the file with the recipe of the mixture he had chosen and frowned. No, it was all right, Swindle liked that mix just fine on other days. No matter; it wasn't his problem, really. Whatever happened that made the drink lose Swindle's favour, he didn't have any part in it. Or did he?

The bartender huffed, frowning, which immediately changed into a pleased smile when he saw Windblade and Chromia entering the bar. Here was someone who had no problem drinking whatever he poured.

He didn't even have to ask the Cityspeaker to spill the latest news - the moment she settled in the booth, woes poured out of her like energon out of a broken fuel line. Chromia was just nodding and letting out angry ex-vents, in what were apparently all the right places.

"And then he dares - oh, hey, Blurr, - and then he dares..."

"Two portions of your strongest," Chromia said without taking her optics off the practically steaming jet. Windblade seemed to hear it, though, and nodded for impact.

Blurr patted her sympathetically on the shoulder. "Coming right up." Windblade gave him a glance full of gratitude and endless suffering and continued. It took Blurr a moment to stop listening and run off to get the drinks, as quick as he could. Almost as quick.

Back at the bar, Swindle looked ready to burn optic-shaped holes in his glass. Did he really hate it that much? Frag, frag. Blurr speedily filled up two glasses, then zipped straight to the booth occupied by two Caminus representatives. Windblade seemed to just be getting to the best - narratively speaking - part, but staying to listen was no longer an option, not with the way the sight of Swindle hunched over a full glass was all he could see.

"Excuse me," he said cheerfully, though they barely seemed to notice.

Swindle's helm, on the other hand, came right up the moment he came close enough to reach out tentatively with his field.

"Sorry I ran off like that," Blurr muttered, getting behind the bar.

Swindle didn't respond for a while, staring ahead with a closed-off expression, then gestured at the datapads. "You know, surprising as it is, I didn't do it for the free engex you keep pouring me," he said slowly, as if getting through the words was a trial in itself.

"I didn't mea--" the bartender started, but the next words made him freeze.

"I did save you back then because you saved me, though," the ex-con added and grinned. "Nothing wrong with some quid-pro-quo."

Blurr's hands slowly uncurled from where he was grasping the bar counter. "Yeah. Yeah. Still, thank you. I never... I never said it, I guess."

He laid a hand on Swindle's shoulder amiably. The ex-con flinched, field held tightly to himself. Blurr didn't know what to do here; he was pretty sure he'd have pulled Swindle in a hug, were it not for the bar counter between them.

He had no idea how Swindle would respond. He didn't know if Decepticons did hugging. The realisation that he could, easy as that, find it out now, was sobering, but exhilirating. Reminded him how unbelievable it actually was, that they were here, all of them, sitting in a bar. Post-everything, and they were in a bar. Something he played no small part in. He smiled helplessly at Swindle, wondering if he could somehow transfer the feeling to him, if he should let his field wash over the smaller mech unashamedly, wondering if he would get it.

Swindle ducked his helm, and Blurr followed his gaze to the full glass of engex.

"You should drink it, by the way. You know how it looks when customers leave their drinks untouched. Even... well-you-know."

Swindle squinted at him. "What?"

"Even-friends," he said, feeling ready to pour something for himself.

"Huh." Swindle looked at the glass as if he was seeing it for the first time, and cocked his helm to the side. He raised the glass and sipped.

"You did add something," he commented, and licked his lipplates. "Something good."

Oh. So he did, then. Must have forgotten. Must have gotten distracted by something and forgotten, again.

He snorted nevertheless."I am not this place's sole bartender and keeper for nothing, you know," he proclaimed before raising his optics. "Just - well. Not the accounting stuff."

"Best leave it to me, then." Swindle took the glass once more and finished it in one gulp.

"Yeah. Best," Blurr said a little breathlessly and left his hand where it was.