From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Location||Lost Light: Recreation -- Swerve's|
|Participants||Drift, Rodimus, Skystalker|
Often referred to as the heart of the ship (by Swerve), the bar is rarely empty, rarely quiet. Central to the whole is the bar itself: just tall enough for a minibot to serve over the edge and lined with stools capable of accommodating bots of any height. Large, clear vessels stand behind the bar, containing the brews of the day. Behind the bar, an engex distillery assures there's always something new.
Round tables are scattered across the floor. Seats fold up from the floor beneath. Large boots along the sides of the room have room for a half-dozen or more, if they don't mind getting cozy, while monitors here and there find occasional use showing old vids.
It's not exactly rare that Swerve's bar is quiet-- there are just certain times of day that are crowded, rowdy messes, and others that provide a little quiet time to those who want it. At the moment it is a fair crowd, folks stopping in after early shifts and those who have nothing better to do on an afternoon off. A couple occupied booths, a few occupied stools, a table with some sort of card game going on. A bit of volume, but not too much. Like porridge, just the right amount of din.
Skystalker is seated at one of the booths with Drift seated opposite, currently with a nice buzz and a refill to whatever was in his energon vial. "By the way, I don't think I'll have any problems with lab equipment-- so your, ah, open hands can rest easy."
Rodimus enters and stops a moment to bask in the ~wonder~ of his light show. After that moment spent looking around, pleased with himself and the world, he continues in to the bar. It's Drift's pointy finials poking over the booth's back that he spots first, and his stride becomes a galloping lope as he jogs over. He crashes without 'hello' or 'do you mind' to sling his arm around Drift's shoulders and dump himself in next to him, against him, and over him. It's a little aggressively friendly. The brightness of the smile he slings at Skystalker might have something to do with that. "Oh, hey!" he says in a 'didn't see you there' but a total 'he saw him there' kind of way.
Drift is no stranger to Swerve's, though when he's there he tries not to drink too much. For some reason, being here with Skystalker, he makes an exception. "Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that," he says, pouring himself another drink. "I mean.. of course, even if that wasn't the case, you know I would spare no expense to make your botany lab happen." He knocks back his drink just as Rodimus swoops in out of nowhere and puts his arms all over him. Drift is okay with this. "Oh, hey bro. We were just talking about Skystalker's botany lab." He takes another sip of his drink. "By the way, Skystalker is going to have a botany lab."
Skystalker largely ignores the various lightshows. If he notes that one, he doesn't seem to react until Rodimus is slipsliding his way into the booth and Drift's personal space. Only at the last second does Sky look up, hearing that pang pang pang of those feet he'd know with his optics offline. Aggressively friendly indeed, huh? Amber optics stir at Rodimus, between amused and the edge of an eye-roll. Still, there's a smooth smile for him, despite overtness. "Hello."
Rodimus leaves his arm around Drift's shoulder, like bros do, and waves his hand to order. He makes the drink strong, because -- as he nudges Drift -- "Gotta catch up with you, looks like." He leans forward then, elbows on the table (and arm off Drift), to say, "Why a botany lab? What's a botany lab?"
Drift leans into Rodimus. No, that's not accurate, he snuggles up real close to Rodimus, his body radiating the warmth that excessive drinking seems to always bring. He makes a little unhappy grunt when Rodimus pulls away to make his drink and he straightens up. "It's like uh... it's pretty much a lab for plants. You know for like.. plant research and stuff.." He looks at Skystalker, silently asking for help explaining this.
"Yeah. Plant study." Sky lifts his vial to drain part of it, the contents of a certain strength but not for the sake of knocking him over. He takes a moment to narrow his eyes in thought. "Among other things, I want to try and engineer Devisiun crops for colonies and Cybertron." He is certainly testing his limits, but there are not many Cybertronian botanists. Skystalker lets out a melodic laugh, betraying his nerdiness. "Can you imagine that impact?"
Well, if Drift is gonna make unhappy noises, Rodimus is gonna put his arm right back around him. He pulls Drift back against his side, and curls his fingers loosely to rub his knuckles along Drift's shoulder. "Sounds kind of nerdy." He grins across the table at Skystalker. There's an edge of challenge -- of maybe just slightly defensive challenge -- in the grin. "Guess you had a lot of time to pick that kind of stuff up while we were busy, huh?"
Ahhh, all is right with the world when Drift is pulled against Rodimus' side again. This is nice, getting a little (maybe a lot) drunk with two stupidly handsome bots? Heck yes. Surely this will only go well for everyone, right? No awkward or tense conversations here?
Purely wishful thinking.
"It is nerdy!" Drift blurts out. "There's nothing wrong with that, though. It just means someone is really passionate about something."
"It is, but-- Excuse me?" Though Skystalker is able to take the canoodling and poking at his nerdiness in stride, and lets Drift defend it, the last words catch him off-guard, optics darting from one mech to the other. The edge isn't unfamiliar, nor what he assumes is physical posturing, but the defensive nature of it has him hesitating.
Rodimus leans to bump his cheek against Drift's helm. "Spoken like a nerd." He knocks back a good double-swallow of his drink when it arrives, then settles to a slower sip. The waft of fumes suggests it's strong, and he coughs a little, because he's actually a nerd, too. "But what?" he asks, brushing past the 'excuse me'.
Drift being close to Rodimus always puts Drift at ease, but the sudden turn this conversation has taken (thanks bro) is making him feel quite uneasy. "Come on guys.." he mumbles, torn between wanting to keep things 'chill' and wanting to see just what the heck this is all about.
There's a moment of consideration-- wondering whether or not Rodimus knew what he said. Amber optics stare back at Rodimus. The way he moves onto another moment of canoodling, and nudging for a finished sentence-- Sky is pretty sure he knew what he said.
"But it's useful." Skystalker finishes, his tone considerably less excited than before, gaze travelling briefly down to the slender fingers curling more tightly around his vial of engex. "What are you doing?" It's a wee bold for Skystalker, but engex definitely loosens his tongue.
Rodimus gives Drift a little pat on the chest at the mumble. It's okay, bruh. They are all friends, here. Rodimus stares guilelessly back at Skystalker. "I'm ... drinking? I'm ... hugging Drift? I'm ... talking to you? What do you mean, what am I doing? I'm not doing ~botany~, sorry, if that's what you were looking for." He jazzhands a little to make his point, lifting his fingers and splaying them over his drink. His hand on Drift stays where it is.
"What.. what was with that?" Drift narrows his eyes at Rodimus and imitates the saracastic jazz hands he just did. "That. Are you implying that botany isn't completely and totally awesome? Because it is. Just think about all the untapped potential these crazy plants have, the things they can do for our people.." He starts looking kind of emotional. "It's so beautiful."
A small flush of air leaves Skystalker's vents, and his expression finds a set of stone, mouth a fine crease between the purse of his lips. He stares back at Rodimus and his jazz hands, everything still even when Drift starts talking about how awesome botany is and the potential for greatness and then, last, how beautiful it is. How lovely they are. Sky's stare moves to Drift when he hears the rise of something, his rigid expression softening along with a new warmth in his optics. Oh, Drift.
Oh no. Drift's having feelings. Rodimus looks a little uncomfortable, but that little pat becomes a soothing rub even so, brushing back and forth over Drift's chest. There, there. "Yeah, I mean it's great now that we've got the luxury of it, I guess. Most of us didn't have a lot of time to sit around and look at plants before, though."
The soothing touch to his chest causes Drift's engines to rumble with contentment and he starts to sink further against Rodimus' side, starting to disappear under the edge of the table before suddenly straightening up. "That's what I love most about this post-war world we live in! Finally we all have a chance to pursue interests we wouldn't have been able to pursue before."
There's some fuming as Drift contents and sits up again, Sky's eyes back on Rodimus when Drift accidentally bolsters his digging. Does he want a reaction? Fine!
"That!" Skystalker's hands slam onto the tabletop, jostling glasses. He's not shouting, per se, but the effects of his hands puncuate his emphasis. "What are you doing?"
Rodimus's arm tightens around Drift. His hand flattens in a protective splay like he can defend him from Skystalker's table slamming. Such a dangerous attack. He gives Skystalker a frown. He's gonna wake the baby. "What? Guilty conscience, much? Look, whatever, you took off to go do your space thing, study plan--ts." He has to pause to shape the right word. "Like Drift said, it's post-war. Now the rest of us, who actually stayed to fight, have our chance."
Drift reaches over the table and begins pouring himself another drink when Skystalker finally gives Rodimus the reaction he was surely looking for. He startles, spilling some engex on the table and stares at it in complete confusion for a moment before taking his hand and 'scooping' the spilt liquid into his glass. He still drinks it. Someone should probably take it away from him. "Bro, come on.. I thought we talked about your weird.." He waves an hand around vaguely. "Thing with Skystalker. What are you doing?"
There is a tremor in Skystalker's chest that doesn't make it anywhere else, even when Drift mentions talking about Rod's weird 'thing' with him. What?
"Is that really what you think I did?" Voice low, Skystalker's hands are still on the table, shaky fingers clutching into loose fists, his expression and output torn between hurt and actual, honest disbelief. "Do you really think I fled for my life to do space things and pick flowers?"
"I don't have a thing," Rodimus says in a near-hiss, ruined only by the lack of sibilants. He tries his best with the th-. "Hey." Rodimus holds his hands up in defense. "'Pick flowers' are your words, not mine. If you feel bad about it now--" Because that is definitely what's going. "--whatever. What's done is done. People might hold it against you a little--" 'People'. "--but they were your choices."
"You do have a thing! You so do!" Drift blurts out loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear. Volume control seems like such a foreign concept to him right now. Glasses too, apparently, as he forgoes them and clutches the entire bottle of engex in his fist, taking swigs out of it like a sailor on shore leave. "We got in a big fight about it," he says, glancing over at Skystalker. "And now he's picking a fight again!" He slams his free hand on the table and rises out of his seat. "You two very clearly have some kind of issues going on with each other and you guys.. you.." He sways a bit and then belches loudly. "Ugh, anyway, you guys need to work it out because you're both amazing and it bums me out that there is so much animosity here!" Even though it's coming entirely from Rodimus.
"WORK YOUR SHIT OUT!" Drift hollers, waving his bottle at the both of them before knocking it back and taking a long swig.
Loose knuckles make fists on the table. Skystalker feels something rise in his throat when Rodimus tries to turn it on him and say those are his words. No, you were just too afraid to say them.
"Of course I feel bad about it. That was my home too. There is no need for you to rub my regrets in my--" Skystalker's words are cut off by Drift when he starts blurting. He freezes up, aware of more eyes as Drift keeps talking and there's really no stopping it now, is there? The starfighter's face and neck gather heat as it rises to his head, and he sinks back into the booth when Drift stands up, bottle in hand.
By the time Drift has said his piece, Skystalker is threatening to just slink on under the table, his arms still on the surface and his optics on Rodimus' familiar face.
Rodimus lunges for Drift, trying to get his arms around him and his hands over his mouth, which only draws more attention to their table and to what Drift is saying. On his feet next to the table, he stands with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. "You have no idea what you're talking about. You're so drunk I'm surprised you even know who's at the table. Go sleep it off," he says, snatching at the bottle before Drift can drain too much more of it.
Drift puts up one hell of a struggle as Rodimus tries (and fails) to wrangle him. "I'm not drunk, you're drunk!" He puts on a very serious face and then busts out laughing. "Oh my god, I am super drunk. STILL, I know what I'm talking about! You got super jealous when I told you about the staff stuff Skystalker was helping me with and I was like 'bro, don't worry, I'm not going to run away with Skystalker' and we had a big serious talk about it and.. and.." It's at this point that Rodimus snatches the bottle away from him which causes him to (thankfully) lose his train of thought. "Ugh, you guys just need to like.. work out your problems and be friends again or.. or whatever."
If he really wanted to be unseen, Skystalker is a stealth mech. His subsystems are totally ready for it. He looks up at the two wrestle around a little, the bottle being absconded with in favor of quiet. But in the course of this, Drift lets out plenty of context that Rod doesn't want him to hear. Or even have an inkling about. Jealous? Is that what it is? "...R-run away with me?" Skystalker doesn't mean to mutter it out loud to himself, but he does, mouth clicking shut as he nervously tries to become one with the booth seat. It does not work.
Once Rodimus has the bottle, he slams it carelessly back onto the table. It hits, and spills, clattering to the floor. He grabs Drift's finials and drags his helm in line with his own. He looks extraordinarily uncomfortable. "Stop," he says, just once, just one word, but with a note of quiet pleading that says more than his sputtered outrage.
Drift makes a pitiful noise when his finials are grabbed, but it does stop his drunken rambling. Now he's silent, staring into Rodimus' optics and.. oh boy, even in his inebriated state, he knows he is going to wake up tomorrow feeling like a total asshole. "O-okay," he says quietly, gaze drifting to the floor.
Skystalker lets the bottle roll and fall, his eyes moving to watch the pooling spill instead of either Drift or Rodimus.
"Okay." Rodimus releases Drift's helm to put his hands on his shoulders and pull him close with a quick, affection forehead-bonk even in the midst of his embarrassment and frustration. He releases Drift to drip back down in the booth and kick the bottle to the side. He doesn't look at Skystalker.
Drift dims his optics and leans into the headbonk but it's quicker than he expected and he stumbles a bit when Rodimus releases him. Now that he's made this bar outing a total mess, he just.. leaves. Good luck putting those worms back in that can, guys!
Skystalker draws his arms from the table and tucks them across his middle, hands clasping at the sides of his torso. He has eased trying to sink away and is now rather upright. it is a simple but meaningful gesture borne of shaky nerves, shame, and a buzzed confusion. He only looks up to Rodimus when he is certain Drift is gone.
Flattened over the top of the table, Rodimus sends a medium glower after Drift as he departs. He looks back to catch Skystalker's glance and then looks away before looking back. "What?" he demands with a belligerence that rings a little hollow.
The starfighter tenses as the word snaps at his audials. Don't what me. Skystalker's mouth is a sad curve, small and unobtrusive. "Rod-- I don't-- We've gotta talk."
Rodimus roooolls his head the other way. He looks ridiculous. He looks up at Skystalker and vents a long, long sigh. "Do we, though? Do we really have to?" He drags himself upright, elbows on the table, cheeks on his hands, and looks across the table at Skystalker. "Yeah, we gotta. Okay."
Skystalker is okay with waiting for the dithering to stop. It happens. "Yeah." He glances off at the bar for just a split second. Drift made a compelling watch, but now that he's gone, Sky hopes that they'll only have some listening in, if anything at all. He doesn't like being watched like this. Both hands clasp back on the surface of the table, fingers a loose tangle.
"Do you want to start, or..." Should he? "And before anything else, I'm not-- here to get in the way of anything. Not on purpose." Because Sky can't control what Drift thinks of him, but he can control what he does about it, and how he recipricates. It's a delicate balance.
"Get in--." Rodimus breaks off and huffs a short, pained little laugh. "Oh. Ah. No, not on purpose, sure. You just can't help being all--." He breaks off and waves his hand at all of Skystalker's everything. He leans a little more heavily against his other hand, the metal of his cheek smushing up around his knuckles. "Everything. It's okay. Drift's right." He looks deeply, profoundly uncomfortable. "We talked about it. Not like you could get in the way." He straightens a little. "Drift and I, we've got a bond. Sure, you might be really great at everything and stupid ridiculously good-looking, but whatever, you know?"
"I'm intensely aware of how I present." Skystalker is quiet, and the words are a little weary. "You wouldn't be the first person to think I was being untoward. Or the first person to call attention to me. Thinking I was trying to get more of it." Sky doesn't seem to particularly enjoy any of this, however. Therein lies the key. "That aside, though... what you were saying before Drift got up..."
"Untoward." Rodimus's lip curls. "Do you really think I'd call someone untoward? Because I'm pretty sure I'd say something way worse than that if I wanted to." When Skystalker pokes after prior specifics, he makes a disgruntled noise. "What, about the plant thing? Whatever. Do your plant thing. I'm sure it'll be great. What isn't. Some of us never got the chance to do the stuff you did, is all."
"I know you would." Skystalker lifts his hand to his face, fingers cradling up along a sculpted cheekbone in a flush of overwhelmed heat under his skin. He keeps his temper in check this time, emotions quelled and kept from making too much stir on his face. "Not the plant thing. That. How much do you-- really resent me? Do you think I was somehow unaffected by the war? I didn't... escape and find a nice little planet to settle down on, if that's what you think."
"Look at you! What do you think happened after you left?" Rodimus shoots back at him. "You think we just played a little friendly target practice? You were always just kind of -- you know, above it all. Not that surprised you up and left."
"Everything burned to the ground, that's what." Skystalker doesn't shoot it out. He just lets it come, on a breath of his vents. It's not the voice of blame. "I didn't just up and leave. When everything went to hell, I was on my way home."
"I fought my way out-- it was the only real shot I'd ever had. They-- they were going to make me do something terrible. And then they never stopped chasing, not until..." Skystalker shakes his head once. No.
However Skystalker delivers it, there's only one way that kind of thing hits: the low hum of machinery beneath his hood sticks and skips in a guilty startle, and Rodimus's features blank. Something nasty in his gaze -- something mean, and petty, and wounded -- he says, "At least you had a shot."
The amber of Skystalker's eyes is a dim light, constricted by drink and shame. His vocalizer stammers, tangles. There's no venom, only something haunting and ...grateful. "T-there was only ever one reason I did at all."
When Skystalker's reduced to a stammer, Rodimus gives him a hard look. "Yeah, I know. No one can help their alt mode. I don't blame you for that."
Skystalker looks at the fallen bottle near the booth over the curl of his hand, which unfurls and draws up and over the crest at his brow and crown, a subtle pressure at his forehead to try and bring himself down again. "They are worth almost nothing, but my regrets are all that I have."
Rodimus makes an, "Nnrgh," kind of noise and then flattens back down on the table. He crosses his arms and rests his chin between the pipes on his arms. "Regret doesn't really take you far. I don't have a lot of time for it." Because if he started, he'd never stop.
Skystalker sets his hands back on the tabletop, the loose clasp only a short span from Rodimus' armrest. "It doesn't." He agrees. But unlike Rodimus, his coping mechanisms are a little different. "Everyone suffers some way." For the spunky Captain, those ways probably show more in action than word.
"Yeah, only some people get four million years of war, and some people get plants," Rodimus grumbles.
There's a severe temptation to reach out and smash Rodimus' face into the table. Maybe Skystalker even visualizes it, optics flickering. But, he resists. It wouldn't make him change his mind. Instead, he leans in with a whisper, coasting on his engex high. "Do you want to know where I learned to play my instruments?"
"Plant school," Rodimus guesses with a sullen roll of his gaze over toward Skystalker.
Another flicker hides behind Sky's optics, his vents exhaling with a tremor of his shoulders, the movement only stilled when it gets down to his fingers. He's angry, but it also takes a considerable amount of hurt from his core to be able to say something. But, well-- he has to. He can't run from this. No more running. "My first master thought that it would make his sitting room more appealing."
It takes a second for Rodimus to parse through that, and when he does, he sits bolt upright. Outrage quivers to the tips of his spoiler. He pauses, considering a few answers, before demanding, "Who?"
Skystalker has no answer for him, just a dimmed stare and a quiet volume. Not plant school. "His family has been dead for a long time." It implies being passed down, in so many less words. "So have most of the others, here and there." How many? He doesn't say. "Some were Cybertronian. Not all. So... many are long gone."
Rodimus's engine growls discontent with this answer, but his expression is even. He gives Skystalker a curt nod. "Why couldn't-- I mean-- How." He breaks off, never quite asking any one of a dozen terrible questions, and lapses into an awkward silence.
The lovely face of the other mech is hardened, yet for Rodimus and his questions that never get asked, his optics remain warm and set on his features. "Don't tell anyone." Skystalker breathes out, and his vents start a cycling that increases the more he speaks. Not quite hyperventilation. Excess heat washes off of him in waves. "Please. Only a couple know. I just-- I don't want that to be everything people see." He lifts up to his feet, hands levering the rest of him upward with a tiny stumble as he tries to sidle from the booth.
Rodimus reaches for Skystalker's hand as he pushes to his feet to give force to his promised, "Not a word. Not to anyone." His hand touches at his wrist -- not covering, not holding him back. There's an unstudied care in his touch that's so often absent from his words. After a moment, as Skystalker readies to bolt, he just says, "Sorry. For being an aft," he adds. The rest is too big for a 'wow, sorry, that sucks'.
Even Sky's hand is heated to the touch, and he stops in his attempt at escape to look to Rodimus again, the cool blue of his gaze a stark contrast when the promise comes. He has to tear his gaze away again, the spread of wingtips behind him tucked low. "Don't be sorry about that. You always have a right to your thoughts." Something he picked up, you know? Skystalker puts his hand over the one held at his wrist, and with a gentle, reassuring squeeze, slides it back before he turns to glide away.