[TiA] Into the Fire

He was not waiting for the comm. And he was not disappointed when it did not come. After all, Blurr had better things to do than involve himself in Starscream’s machinations.

Curiosity would not be his downfall.

Blurr had cut ties with the past and with the Autobots. No mech was going to drag him back and especially not Starscream. Not when he’d worked so hard to recruit Blurr the first go round.

“So is there a certain degree of clean you’re going for there or am I missing something?”

Blurr cycled his optics. “What?”

“That cup.” Jazz tilted his helm toward Blurr’s hand. “You’ve been cleaning it for at least five minutes. I was beginning to think you’d glitched.”

Blurr looked down at the glass, sparkling clean. He’d been organizing the cabinet when he’d noticed a smudge. He’d only meant to wipe it clean while forming a reprimand for the new washer he’d hired.

Blurr scowled. “I was thinking.” He shoved the cup into the case and shut the door.

“Dare I ask the nature of your thoughts?” Jazz’s vocals read teasing, but he hadn’t abandoned his training as quickly as he’d cast out his badge. There was still something of Special Ops left in him.

Blurr ignored him, turning to rearrange the brightly lit bottles of flavored engex.

“A certain treacherous former second-in-command wouldn’t have any influence, now would he?”

Blurr scowled. “Jazz?”

“Yes?” His tone was as innocent as innocent could be.

“Shut the frag up.”

Jazz had the gall to laugh. “Touch a wire, did I?”

He turned, slamming a bottle on the bar top, the contents sloshing around. “Like there isn’t a part of you itching with curiosity.”

Jazz’s visor glittered. He leaned forward, bracing his weight on the counter. “I admit nothing. And even if I did, I suspect our motivations differ.”

Blurr snorted and poured them each a cube. It was after hours. He’d finished cleaning and prepping for the next shift. He could indulge however the frag he wanted.

“I’m done with this slag. I like peace,” Blurr said. “I like this bar. I like your music. I like having something that’s mine.” And, though he wouldn’t admit it aloud just yet, he liked working hard. He enjoyed the value of it.

“Uh huh.”

“And the last thing I’m going to do is let him use me or this,” Blurr paused to gesture to the bar, his new life and future, “for his political slag and whatever game he thinks he’s playing.”

Did he sound bitter? He hoped not. Because Jazz could sniff out bitter, pounce on it, and find some way to sweeten the cube.

Jazz’s lips curved in a slow grin. “And you’re sure that’s all that he wanted.”

Blurr’s vents hissed. He tossed back his engex, noticing that Jazz hadn’t touched his. To keep a cool processor or prove a point? Starscream wasn’t the only one playing head-games around here.

He thought about Starscream’s smirk, the confident slant of his lips. The glitter of his Decepticon-red optics.

Blurr grabbed Jazz’s cube and tossed it, too.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sure.”

 

0o0o0

What the frag was he doing? Seeking out Starscream in the dark hours, not quite over-charged but not sober either.

The streets were as deserted as they could be here in Iacon. Blurr strode past dark alleys and makeshift shelters, and felt optics tracking him. Things shuffled in the dim, rattling armor, shuffling over piles of debris.

But no one protested. No one barred his way. Either Starscream had anticipated his arrival or no one cared enough to protect their self-proclaimed leader.

Should he be flattered or appalled?

Or maybe he should turn around, go back to his bar, and never make this mistake. He told himself this, but he still found himself outside what he thought was Starscream’s door, pinging a request.

The door slid open. Blurr hesitated. What the frag was he thinking?

He went inside, Starscream sweeping into view with a cube of glittering high grade in each hand. His plating gleamed in the flickering overhead light, freshly cleaned, freshly waxed. He held his wings relaxed, at ease, as though lord of his domain.

Last time, Starscream had approached Blurr in his territory. Now, the situation had reversed itself, and still, Starscream held all the cards.

Starscream grinned, one hand gesturing toward him. “I see you’ve come to your senses.”

“That’s debatable,” Blurr said. He tilted his helm, getting a good look around.

Starscream, unsurprisingly, lived in what would have been personal quarters for the mid-caste, back on the Cybertron-that-was. Now, it was considered luxurious. Two closed doorways probably led to a private berthroom and washrack. He had a receiving room and beyond it, a recreational room. Blurr caught a glimpse of a personal dispenser with at least two nozzles for taste additives.

Trust Starscream to surround himself with the finery Cybertron-that-was would have denied him. Finery that Blurr would have considered subpar, once upon a time.

“How so?” Starscream asked.

“I’m here.” Blurr traced the filigree on a decorative statue, one of a Seeker in flight, of course. “That doesn’t say much about my sanity or sense of self-preservation.”

A noise of amusement rumbled in Starscream’s chassis. He strode closer, field a flicker against the edge of Blurr’s own, testing.

“Why Blurr,” he purred, offering a cube. “It’s almost as if you don’t trust me.”

Trust? Pah.

Blurr took the high grade, the scent of it floating to his olfactory sensors in an enticing wave. “You have a reputation.”

Starscream laughed. “But that was then. This is now. Circumstances have changed.”

“And some remain the same.”

Starscream’s field hummed with invitation and promise. “Can I offer you a seat?”

He hadn’t left yet and wasn’t leaving still. There was no point in refusing for the sake of it. Not with Starscream watching him, perhaps trying to pinpoint weakness.

Blurr slid into a chair and sipped the high grade, a sweet crackle bursting over his glossa. It warmed his tanks, adding to the overcharge already swimming through his lines.

Starscream took his own chair and watched him. Waiting. Expecting.

Admiring.

Blurr didn’t miss the lingering way optics traced his frame. He wondered what Starscream saw. A racer? A warrior? A bar owner?

He took another sip. The quiet should have been awkward, but it wasn’t. Something simmered beneath the silence. He didn’t know what name to give it.

Impatience won out.

“I’m here. I’m listening.” Blurr lowered his cube, meeting Starscream’s gaze. “What’s your proposition?”

Starscream’s wings shivered, his lips sliding into that slow, confident smirk that had a strange effect on Blurr. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Blurr worked his intake, optics dimming. His spark fluttered. There was a creeping sense of danger, but something else as well. Something… intriguing.

He downed the rest of his high grade. Later, he might need the excuse.

One did not simply waltz into a Seeker’s berth and expect to climb out without repercussions. Especially when that Seeker was Starscream.

But…

Blurr cycled a ventilation.

That was the risk he’d have to take.

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