2016-09-28 Prickly Pretensions

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2016-09-28 Prickly Pretensions
Date 2016/09/28
Location Lost Light: Recreation - Visages
Participants Mirage, Blast Off, Whisper
Summary Everyone is in a weird mood.

A grand staircase serves as the entrance to the lounge. Upon descending, the first thing that draws the optics is the neon sign that hangs on the wall to the right. It announces "Visages," with quotation marks, in elegant, blue script. The lighting is dim, accentuated by soft lanterns placed on the tables, in order to foster an intimate setting.

The lounge itself is small, only large enough to hold several dozen patrons at any one time. The counter in the far, right corner does play host to a handful of stools; however, the majority of sitting space has been given over to chairs placed around low-slung coffee tables. They are placed at irregular intervals. This allows mecha to choose whether they would prefer to sit near others to socialize or in a more private alcove. Most mecha speak in hushed tones, leaning towards each other in order to be better heard and understood.

The centerpiece of the room is a stage along the left wall. A mic always stands at the ready for both scheduled and impromptu performances, along with a line of instruments displayed on stands. Paintings, rather than pictures, of past performances line the wall behind the stage. For days the lounge has been rented out for private gatherings, everything can be cleared away so that the stage can also serve the double purpose of a dance floor. A monitor by the foot of the stairs announces the bar's constantly fluctuating business hours, along with upcoming activity days and private parties.

A lone ficus tree stands stands to the left of the grand staircase. A brass plaque on the pot announces the plant's name as "Fantasia" (also in quotation marks for mysterious reasons).

Ever since what seems to be his breakup with Whirl, Blast Off has lived in a fog of misery. He goes to work in a haze, gets his job done, and then goes back to his habsuite. All alone. Mostly he just sits in Whirl's berth, where the other mech's scent still lingers. (Probably of various illegal and questionable aromas but ah well, that's Whirl.) Staring at the wall. After a time that gets to be too much so he then sits in his own berth, staring at a different wall as sad music plays. Romance novels are too painful to read and he can't muster the gumption to go back to the shuttle bay because Whirl might show up again. Right now Blast Off just wants to avoid Whirl entirely (while desperately wondering what Whirl is doing now), so all the old haunts just won't do. No.

So Blast Off starts wandering the ship on his time off. Trying to be anywhere except old haunts where he might be more likely to cross paths with the cyclops. On one of those wanderings, the dazed shuttle finds himself in front of... Visages? Oh wait, didn't he hear about a new bar or something opening up? He meant to go, it *sounded* fancy! He just hadn't had the time. Until now. He has all the time in the world, now. Sigh. The Combaticon takes a step inside and looks around. If he wasn't so depressed he'd be impressed right now. As it is, he stares blankly at all the fancy furniture- at least it seems nice in here. And there's no Whirl, thankfully. He takes another step inside.

The bar is mostly empty, only one or two mecha lingering around the coffee tables. Only a few minutes from closing, the scout has been gently reminding people of the time. Mirage glances up when he sees a shadow coming down the staircase and is about to repeat the same message. And then he sees the look on the mecha's faceplates. The words die on his lip components. That mecha looks like he could use a drink.

The scout stashes his cleaning rag under the bar and sets out a freshly cleaned glass. He leans across the counter with a curious glint in his optics. "Welcome to "Visages." Is there anything that I can do for you?" he asks.

Blast Off freezes as Mirage comes near. His violet optics dart immediately down to the Autobot badge the other mech carries and a frown forms under his faceplate. Fists flex once, then relax as the Combaticon reverts to looking at the floor, then the bar. He vents a cycle of air, steadying himself. Still feeling raw about Autobots in general, or trusting Autobots at all, he has to gather up his gumption to even stay here. "No, I'm.. fine." However, Mirage has one thing going for him. Blast Off had heard of him. He had a reputation as high class, maybe even a free-thinker... there were even rumors that his ultimate loyalty were questionable. Hmm. As a Combaticon, Blast Off can empathize.

Those rumors combined with the fact that Blast Off is simply exhausted and really wants a drink push him to reconsider. "I.. I mean," He scans the room again, still no Whirl. "I just... I'd like a drink. Some... something." So eloquent and refined.

The scout senses the sudden tensing of the newcomer's frame, and curious optics quickly shift to narrow and guarded. He looks down his nasal bridge as Blast Off sizes him up. While he is used to this from Autobots, that does not necessarily means he welcomes or enjoys it. Any graciousness he might have been feeling when the other mecha first entered is quickly silenced.

Mirage picks up the empty glass on the counter, twisting it between his fingers so that it catches the light of the lanterns. "Are you sure about that?" he asks, wondering if the mecha isn't a bit overcharged already. His stumbled words make the scout wonder. "You look like you're having a rough night. It might not be the best thing to add on top of it."

Blast Off huffs softly, muttering mostly to himself, "I don't need an Autobot telling me what to do..." He still looks ruffled and dazed, armor oddly fidgety. Finally, something seems to focus within and he straightens and smooths down again. Violet optics that had roved the room snap back to the Autobot. "I... Do you serve drinks here or not? Or do I have to be an Autobot to get one?"

Mirage can understand why this mecha is getting defensive; after all, mecha come here expecting to be served. Having their bartender talk back to them isn't exactly great customer service. Still, when he has an opinion to voice sometimes he finds it difficult to bite his glossa. Besides, tonight he is tired and thought he was about to close for the night. It makes his glossa a bit looser than usual. "We do, and no you do not," he answers.

He places the clean glass back underneath the bar without filling it. But that does not mean he is compelled to serve a mecha who might already be wasted. Mirage has to draw the line somewhere. "Do you wish me to call a friend to help escort you back to your hab suite?" he adds, the implication of 'That might be best' in his tone.

Blast Off blinks as he realizes the implications of Mirage calling a friend- and the sad truth that he really doesn't *have* any friends to call on, anyway. Does he? Vortex is dealing with his own problems right now, and... well... there aren't many other options, are there? Not now. Blast Off suddenly feels a flare of panic that shifts into sadness. He doesn't want to go. He's putting on a horrible first impression and if he's going to stay on the ship he has to get along, even with Autobots ...and...

"No." Blast Off raises his hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, trying to center himself. "Wait," The hand drops down to look at Mirage, this time with less hostility. "I just... I need a place to think. " Mirage is still a little leery, but at least the newcomer isn't bristling at him anymore. Besides, he cannot very well kick out a customer until the clock actually passes the time for closing. The scout nods his helm and then scoots down to the other side of the counter. Maybe that will give him space to wrangle whatever thoughts got him into this state in the first place. "Though we have plenty of dry options, too, if you feel inclined," he adds. The scout would not feel nearly as bad about serving this mecha something without engex or high grade.

"Just say the word. Or let me know if you change your mind about calling a friend."

As Mirage gives Blast Off some space, the shuttle seems to relax more. He makes his way to the bar, where he sits down on a stool and proceeds to stare at... whatever is in front of him. The Combaticon tenses at that last statement, optic ridges furrowing down. He huffs again. It's a *dry* sound of its own, the mirthless chuckle of someone who teeters on the edge. "*What* friends?" He places his hands in front of him and stares at those now. "I don't need friends, they just cause trouble."

And then it clicks. Mirage glances sidelong down the bar at Blast Off, finally seeing not an overcharged mecha but one in the midst of a break down. It happened often enough in the war, after all. Reaching down underneath the bar, he grabs the cleaning cloth and continues to scrub at the spotless counter. Maybe he is just trying to buy time before he has to speak, but Mirage always feels more comfortable taking on awkward and difficult situations when his hands are busy. The scout's voice drops to a whisper. "I happen to know a mecha," he mutters. Then he remembers the way that Blast Off had eyed his badge. "Not an Autobot. He's good with these sorts of things, and I'm certain he would be willing to talk with you. Right now, even, if it is a very serious situation. His designation is Watts."

His gaze darts over to the mecha still at the coffee table, ensuring they are not listening in. They still seem caught up in the rush of finishing their drinks, though.

Blast Off stares at his hands.. until Watts is mentioned. Or specifically, the fact that Watts is NOT an Autobot. This is... good. Wait no, but it's still bad. It's...uh. The Combaticon glances up. "No, I don't need to... I doubt he'd...I just mean that I prefer not to unload sob stories on strangers. I'm a space shuttle, I'm built for this kind of thing. I'll be *fine*!" He really makes a point of emphasizing that last word, despite the fact that his voice wavers while doing so. "Just... fff..." His voice dies as the staring recommences. There's a long silence. "I... what I could really use is a drink right now."

<FS3> Mirage rolls Bartending: Good Success. (2 2 3 8 6 8 5)

(New BB message (1/12) posted to 'Announcements' by GameWiz: Welcome Firestar!) Mirage falls silent, finally relenting to the mecha's request. He pulls out a glass and a tumbler, beginning the process of mixing a drink. He chooses to do something on the weaker side. Just enough for this mecha to pretend he's getting overcharged, but not enough to actually do a lot of damage. With a few twists and shakes of the tumbler he completes the simple mixture. With a flourish, something he does more out of instinct than necessity, he pours it into the glass before carrying it over to his customer.

Leaning forwards, he places it on the counter directly in front of the mecha. His voice remains a whisper. "That's the funny thing about talking and friends. People only remain strangers as long as you don't talk. At least think about it," he advises. He offers up a reluctant smile. "Trust me, no one is too proud to look after themselves. Just look at me."

Chuckling quietly, he shakes his helm. "Yes, I'm well aware of my own reputation."

Thank Primus, he's getting a drink. Blast Off feels relief flood through his entire body, sinking forward a little as he leans on the bar. The normally very proud looking shuttle is too tired to really care right now. Let him slump a little. As he waits, he brings his fingers together, stroking digits absentmindedly. An then- ah! There it is. The Combaticon takes the drink and lifts it to his faceplate, where a htach opens. It allows him to drink without exposing all of his face- he seems to like keeping it more hidden than not.

He takes a long swig then places it down. "Ah." He takes a moment to enjoy the warm buzz flooding through his systems now. Mild, but it's something at least. "I... I usually drink wine, actually. I just... needed something a little different tonight." He glances up to MIrage, studying the Autobot as he speaks, his own expression seeming to harden slightly. "No, talking leads to friendships, and friendships lead to.. to *trust*, and trust just leads to betrayal. I am a Combaticon warrior, I ought to know that."

He lifts his glass for another drink, then goes back to studying Mirage. The Autobot *does* have a reputation. "Well... is it true?"

Perhaps it is just the unfortunate wording of Blast Off's question, and it is likely that Mirage is simply misunderstanding, but the same defensiveness from earlier suddenly rears its ugly head. The scout's armor flares and he rips his gaze away to stare at an empty spot on the wall. He goes back to scrubbing the counter, hardly paying attention to where as he does. "I have the feeling that we're speaking about completely different aspects of my reputation," he snaps.

"But if you really must know? No, I'm not secretly a Decepticon. No, I did not betray the Autobots nor do I aspire to. There is a difference between having reservations about the abhorrent violence of the war and not being loyal. Few seem to be able to wrap their helms around that simple fact. Does that answer your question?"

Blast Off snaps out of his self-centered haze to slowly turn his head and stare at Mirage. Pale violet optics flicker as he digests all this, expression rather blank beyond a slight tint of surprise. This could go many different ways, but the shuttle's exhaustion leads him towards the option that doesn't involve a fight. He's too tired for stubborn pride right now. "....My apologies. That was rather... boorish a question." He stops staring to look down at his drink with a sigh, wrapping his black hands around it. "I... I did not mean to pry." He hastily takes another drink before looking at the Autobot again and straightening up a bit.

Maybe he should try this all again. "My name is Blast Off. I am... a Combaticon. Perhaps you know of our reputation, too. If it helps any, we..." he looks back to his drink, "we have a similar reputation I suppose. We've had our loyalty questioned, too. It is... a tiresome accusation, I admit."

Mirage has to choke back a suddenly laugh. Blast Off. Of course. The one that Vortex had not-so-subtly attempted to get invited to Mirage's party so many months ago. Over time the conversation had been lost and forgotten, especially under the stress of opening the Lounge and all that entailed. "Ah yes, the Combaticons. I've met Vortex before. I get the feeling that, for some reason or other, he thought we might get along," Mirage remarks. His glance darts back to the glasses underneath the counter as he considers pouring Blast Off a complimentary 'You have to deal with Vortex' drink, and then thinks better of it.

For the sake of being polite, as Blast Off is being more mannerful now, the scout turns his gaze back to his customer. "Apology accepted. Also, I'm sure you already know but my designation is Mirage. A pleasure." He pauses. "Let me know if you would like a refill."

"Vortex," Blast Off mumbles morosely into his drink before setting it down again with a heavy sigh. "He's something, isn't he? I have to keep an optic on him. Or I *try* to. I....." Another sad sigh and he shakes his head. He failed. He failed so badly. "I..." he seems to focus on Mirage again after having slipped off somewhere a second. "I...oh. He did?" He ponders this a moment before nodding. "Well, if your establishment here is any indication, I.. I ...could see that. It's quite... *sophisticated* here, isn't it?" Like him!

To the rest, the shuttleformer gives the Autobot a nod of acknowledgement. "Yes. I heard you were a mech of taste." Again, like him. he doesn't hesitate to hand out his glass again. The manners seem to be returning. "Please."

Compliments are something that Mirage can appreciate, and he tilts his helm to the side to give Blast Off a slight smile. Still, the smile does not reach his optics. "You flatter me," Mirage answers. "Thank you." Words that are the picture of manners, and yet completely empty of any meaning. Tucking the dirty glass away, he pours more from the tumbler into a fresh one and slides it across the table.

"I'm so glad you're enjoying the atmosphere here. I did try for a certain feeling," he continues with the mindless chatter. The whole time his mouth is moving, though, the words and the question are replaying in his brain module. Becoming friends with people who expected betrayal had always ended up badly for him. Whether they have things in common or not... Well, for now it may be better to maintain an easy distance.

Whisper enters quietly, the only sound denoting her presence the click of her heels over the floor. There's a faint wilt to the angles of her wings as she paces carefully down the stairs, fingers curving down the rail. The comparative hush of the place, generally speaking, is one of the draws, at least for Whisper. She pauses, visored gaze scanning the room, as she enters, and then begins to drift inside on long paces to the lure of actual drinks.

Meaning and emptiness. Blast Off feels like he has none of the former and vast quanitities of the latter. But he can cling to formalities, manners.... these little things that remain steady even when you're world is falling apart. He doesn't really notice that the smile doesn't extend to the Autobot's optics, but he's not usually that skilled in social situations anyway and he's especially out of it now. "I am enjoying it." In turn, he doesn't sound all that happy... but he's trying not to sound depressed. "I should come here again. Do you have wine?" he takes a glance at the stage. "Entertainment?"

This is about when he notices Whisper. Oh yes. The Combaticon tenses slightly, remembering how they first met, remembering the fights, remembering how *amazing* Whirl was in them and.... His draws in a sharp vent of air, fists clencing around his glass before taking it up for another hasty drink. Mirage is gearing up to answer Blast Off's questions when he sees the other mecha's frame tense. The scout's frantic scrubbing ceases, and he throws the dirty rag over his shoulder armor as he turns to spot what Blast Off is watching. A mecha he vaguely recognizes from one of his activity nights here, but he cannot say much more than that. Mirage can only hope that whoever-they-are is not responsible for whatever funk Blast Off is in. He's in no mood to break up a fight.

Still, until he knows for certain he will treat them like any other customer. The bartender leans across the counter to wave to them. "Good evening and welcome to "Visages". Let me know if I can do anything for you," he greets with a wide smile.

Distractedly, he nods to Blast Off. "Wine can be arranged, and I'm in the process of scheduling more regular entertainment. The schedule is posted by the door."

Whisper pauses at the bottom step, her hand lifted as though poised to reach for a rail that is no longer there, and tilts her head in a cant to one side. She considers for a long moment, and then says simply: "Thank you." Pacing toward the counter, the lean Decepticon finally stops. She turns her yellow-visored glance to Blast Off and gives him a grave nod that seems not to take into account the shots exchanged the first time they met in the arena, and then turns back to Mirage. "A drink, please?" she asks, oddly hesitant by the tone of this request.

Fortunately for Mirage, Whisper is not the source of Blast Off's agitation... not really. She is only a reminder. The Combaticon looks at her, giving her the slightest of nods... then decides to ignore her for now and focus back on his drink. "You should. Get wine, I mean. No high class establishment should be without it." He glances up again. "So are you the high class version of Swerve's, then?"

"No," Mirage says a little too quick at the mention of Swerve's. "I'm an experience. The drinks just happen to be a bonus," he explains.

He moves across the counter to stop in front of Whisper. "Of course. Anything in particular?" he asks. At this point in time the scout has basically given up on the idea of closing the Lounge on time. If people keep coming, why should he? And he would rather work his digits raw over pouting about that little incident with Blast Off earlier. "I can give you a menu if you like."

Whisper looks vaguely baffled for a moment, and then rests her hands together against the counter, tipping her head. "A menu," she says quietly. "Yes." Menus. Civilized things like ... selection. She turns slightly, angling her hip against the counter as she lifts her chin. She considers Blast Off and his request for wine, but does not immediately say anything else.

Once she has her menu and has made her selection -- more or less at random, by drawing her fingertip down it -- she returns her glance to Blast Off. It seems appropriate to say more, since they are here together at the lounge, getting drinks. She thinks about it. The silence is probably growing awkward. This happens around Whisper a lot. She says: "... hello."

"I see, Blast Off says, trying to stay focused and not drift somewhere far away. "Yes. Well..." His hand lifts up to sweep across the room. Even if his spark is not in this, not in anything right now- he knows the motions. "This... this *is* an experience. Tasteful, subdued, a sense of sophistication and..." There's a *hello* nearby all of a sudden. Blast Off blinks, his hand wobbles, and then he continues, "...and... and it is different. Yes. Different. It's GOOD to change things up. You HAVE to. To move forward at least."

He finds himself glancing back to the source of that voice, optics contacting Whisper's, then looking away again. "You can't do the same thing forever anyway." He seems to tense, clutching his glass closer to his frame, then looking back to Whisper. "Right?"

Whisper cants her head the other direction, leaning there quietly as she watches him. "Nothing lasts forever," she agrees. Her fingertips reach up, and for a moment, they rest against the jointure of her throat and her chest, above the blazon of her purple badge. The scars of combat have long since been smoothed away to the gentle gleam of navy paint, but there still seems to be some meaning in the gesture for her.

Blast Off stares at her, not really comprehending the meaning of the gesture. But no matter. "Exactly!" He hesitates a second before lifting his glass in sort of a toast. Sort of a gesture of his own. "Exactly. You have to let go, move on. Try new things sometimes. You *cant* expect anything to last forever. It just doesn't work that way. *People* don't work that way. And..." He takes a swig, then places the glass down. "And it's better that way. You get... you get stuck if you try to stay in one place. You... you *stagnate*." Right?

Whisper studies him for a moment with a faint knit above the yellow glow of her visor. Scooping up her drink, she drifts a little closer to him with her faint frown lingering now at the corners of her mouth. She takes a swallow of the liquid, and then rests it gently against the surface of the table as she ducks her head, wings wilting in a weighted shift as though pulled down by some internal gloom. She says, "Forward is the only direction we can go. It is so."

The other Decepticon's gloom seems to infect the Combaticon, too, and Blast Off seems a bit morose as he watches her. "Yes." His cultured voice sounds tired now as he gazes back down into the liquid. "Indeed. You *think* you've found something that would last, but... it is never so. I should... we should all know this. We live long enough to watch societies built and crumble. Nothing ever stays the same." Something brings pause and he glances towards a window. Where the stars twinkle. Almost nothing.

"Even our own selves do not last." Whisper draws her fingertip around the mouth of the glass, and looks down into the liquid. Sitting down, she draws her feet together and crisps up her posture, straightening the line of her wingspan as she lifts her head. "I used to believe I was invincible. I was not correct." She turns the weight of her gaze, and her frown, upon the Combaticon, and watches him as he watches the window, and whatever question hovers on the tip of her tongue, she does not immediately ask it.

Blast Off stares out the window for a moment, longing for the embrace of the stars since he can't have the embrace of a certain cyclops. Finally his gaze falls back to the flier nearby. "Invincible?"

Whisper's lips turn up at one corner. Her voice a low hush, she says: "Yes." Her hand stills across the surface of the glass in front of her, and she looks at it. There's a long moment where she just sits there, wings straight and still, heels together, gaze leveled upon the glint of the sophisticated lighting on her beverage. Oh. Apparently that's all she's going to say in reply for now. All right.

"Ah." Blast Off gets the sense he's said something uncouth again. Perhaps pried too far- again. He's really not on a roll tonight. ...Not exactly surprising, though. He gives her a nod and returns to his drink. "So we try new things. Like... here." He sweeps his hand across the room again. "Leave behind the failings of the past and ...embrace the future." His spark cringes on the word *embrace*. "And the less our past follows us, the better. The stronger we are."

The fans kick into gear to gust a roar of air through Whisper's systems as she lowers her head. "I don't know," she says. "I do not think we can escape the past entirely." She knocks back a long swallow from her glass, gulping its contents in a long swig, and then sets down the newly empty on the bar. Leaning forward, she says, "It is full of ghosts."

Well that's depressing. Blast Off turns to slowly gaze at the other Con, the thought finally fizzling through his muddled brain to wonder just what happened to her, too. Yet he wishes not to pry. Instead he makes a dry, hollow gulp as he returns to looking sadly at his own glass. "I... suppose not. Some ghosts..." he pauses to glance at the door, as if half expecting a certain cylopian someone to come waltzing in, "...are persistant." Turning back to his glass he finishes his thought. "Our past can attempt to define us even now. But... I am stronger than that. I am... more persistant than the ghosts. I'll *beat* them." He turns to face her again. "...Eventually. And save face." Eventually.

Whisper's frown deepens across her brow. She turns a more intense look upon Blast Off. She asks, "Face?" Bracing her arm against the surface of the counter, she leans on her elbow, and reaches with her other hand to tap the edge of his mask as if she finds it puzzling, which she can't, really, since she is wearing a visor, it's not like she doesn't know about faceplates.

"Uh..." Blast Off blinks, seemingly frozen as Whisper leans in and... taps his faceplate? He feels a sudden flush of circuitry from both embarrassment and someone egding in on his personal space like that. The surprised Combaticon flinches, wing elevons making a *clack* sound as they twitch against his legs. "I.. uh."

With a sharp inhale of air through his vents, Blast Off draws himself up straight, leaning backwards a little as he seeks some space again. "I..yes, face. I just..." His gaze darts about the room. "I have one, of course and..." His optic ridges furrow down a little. A moment of silence stretches between them before he continues, grabbing his glass to hold it close. "Well sometimes one... sometimes one... fails. Someone. And..." He face drops down more. "And all one can do is try to... well no TRY but...but to work even more diligently to ensure they do not fail again."

Whisper's touch falls away, leaving absence -- and, thankfully, space -- behind. She says, "I have already failed everyone." She slides her glass away from herself, and then rises again from her seat. She bows her head, stands for a moment still and quiet, and then lets a sigh cycle through her systems. She turns away, pacing back for the stairwell again. Over her shoulder she just says, "Good night, Blast Off."

Blast Off resumes the staring. There's a dazed quality to the Combaticon that usually isn't there but he seems to have it in spades right now. Her words cause what little is visible of his face to seem pinched. Questions bubble up to his lips but remain unsaid. he doesn't want to be rude. He's been rude enough tonight, after all. "Oh." Puzzled, optics flickering as he incriments back to looking at his drink. "Good night, Whisper." He lifts the almost empty glass to a final, almost whispered toast to the stars. "And goodnight, ghosts." He knows they'll accompany him back to his lonely habsuite. Sounds like they'll be following her as well.

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