Afterward, they shared a quick scrub down with a damp washrag. Starscream took the opportunity to complain about the amenities offered because Blurr didn’t have his own private facilities. Blurr ignored him.
He figured he’d be doing a lot of that in the future. Not all of what Starscream said was important, especially if he was whining.
They passed a decanter of coolant between themselves before Blurr was ready to get down to business. They sat on the berth, and Blurr pushed the limits by taking up the most space and shoving his pedes into Starscream’s lap.
Starscream did not complain. A first.
“No more games, fun as they are,” he said as Starscream’s fingers fiddled around his pedes, tracing the edges of each armor plate as though they were fascinating. “How’s this going to work?”
Starscream smirked. “I’m as flexible as you are. Spike. Valve. So long as you’re screaming, I’m for it.”
Blurr huffed and wiggled his pede. “Don’t be obtuse, Starscream. You want an Autobot trophy, you got one. But I want to know what you think I’m going to do.”
One talon nudged against a tire, idly spinning it, which shouldn’t have provoked a reaction in Blurr, except that it did. He shivered.
“I wish to hold rallies. Debates. Discussion panels. You know the type.” Starscream explored every inch of Blurr’s tire with the tip of his talon. “We can host smaller ones here to start. And when I make a statement, I want you standing beside me.”
“A silent trophy, I would assume.”
Starscream chuckled low in his chassis. “Oh, you can speak. In fact, I’d prefer it.”
“No. The public would see through that.” Starscream’s optics burned brighter, his grip on Blurr’s tire tightening. “I came to you because I want you, Blurr.”
Try as he might, he was unable to keep the bloom of desire from bursting within his spark.
Blurr was used to being desired. It came with the territory of being a famous entity on Cybertron. He’d had many a mech throw themselves at him. He wasn’t ashamed to admit that he took them up on their offers. He loved pleasure as much as he loved racing. Especially if it was freely given.
Starscream’s statement should have provoked a smirk at best. After all, how often had he heard something similar before?
But it didn’t. It actually came off as sincere which meant Starscream was either a fantastic actor or he actually meant it.
Blurr wasn’t sure which one was the safer bet.
“I see,” Blurr said and pushed his pede closer to Starscream, encouraging the delicate touches. “I assume you have a plan.”
“I always do.” Starscream’s grip eased but only because his hand moved up Blurr’s pede to his ankle struts, his lower leg, and then the complicated gears of his knee.
The lights flickered. Blurr looked up as though that would keep them on. His apartment hummed. There was a click in the distance.
“You might want to make that your first issue,” Blurr pointed out.
Starscream’s free hand waved dismissively. “It’s on the list of numerous complaints I have been fielding from ungrateful residents.”
“Well, those same ungrateful residents did just barely survive a Megatron-led uprising which is what they left Cybertron to escape in the first place.”
Blurr tipped his ankle, the tip of his pede tapping against Starscream’s chestplate and right over the repaired glass of his cockpit. “You’re one to talk.”
“My cowardice is of a different nature, should it exist it all.” Starscream’s hand rested on his pede but did not push it away. His field, however, rang with disdain. “Do not compare me to those who consider themselves pacifists.”
He spoke the word pacifist with the sort of scorn he typically reserved for Megatron. Well, if there was one thing that had almost united the Autobots and Decepticons, it was their mutual dislike of the NAILs, though Blurr was of the opinion that he couldn’t blame them. He hadn’t wanted to join the war and get scrapped either.
But look where he’d ended up anyway.
Blurr popped an orbital ridge. “Did I pluck a wire or something? That sounded a bit offended to me.”
The hand on his knee moved further still, prickling over the thinner armor of his thigh vents. Talons slipped beneath the overlapping plates, teasing the delicate circuitry beneath. “Statements such as those were a surefire way to a quick offlining in the Decepticons.”
“You aren’t a Decepticon anymore.”
Red optics narrow at him. “Neither are you an Autobot.”
Well, that was a matter up for debate. But Blurr would let him have it for now. Sure he had, for all intents and purposes, cast aside his factional allegiance in the wake of Megatron’s attack. Sure he had, by saying nothing, claimed himself Neutral. But he was not so naive to believe that there were no faction lines that quickly.
Blurr was an Autobot. Would always be an Autobot.
But he wasn’t sure if Starscream was ever truly a Decepticon.
Blurr tilted his helm. “What’s first on the agenda?”
“I want to announce our partnership.”
“Is that what we’re calling it?”
Starscream smirked, fingers pushing deeper and causing a sharp spike of pleasure. “I could go into all the gritty details but I suspect my subjects aren’t interested in who I’m ‘facing.”
Blurr’s ankle twitched despite himself. Whether by coincidence or design, Starscream had his fingers in a very erogenous zone. But to pull away would be to admit a weakness. And that Blurr couldn’t abide.
“They’ll figure it out,” he said. “You haven’t been subtle.”
Starscream dismissed his concerns with another wave of his hand. “If they’re gossiping about who’s warming my berth than they aren’t paying attention to what else I’m doing.”
“Individually, the average mech is intelligent and reasonable,” Starscream retorted, and his field licked out, teasing the edges of Blurr’s own. “As a mob, they are destructive fools that can’t begin to understand what I must do for their own good.”
Blurr loosed a noncommittal noise. It sounded like an excuse to him but what did he know? He was a racer turned Autobot turned bar owner. Politics were not his thing. He wasn’t out there to campaign on his own. He was here to try and rein Starscream in and if it came down to it, serve as advanced warning for anything malicious Starscream might have planned.
“You should listen take the time to listen to the individual then,” Blurr said.
“I don’t have time for that.” Starscream’s fingers removed themselves from his vents only to push higher, skimming the heat of his interfacing panel. He smirked. “That’s what I have you for.”
“You have a spy,” Blurr said flatly.
Starscream ex-vented. “Rattrap has his uses. He hears the whispers. You are the friendly face that the mechs can come to should I intimidate them.”
Blurr wasn’t sure intimidate was the right word.
“You want me to serve as go-between.”
“In a sense. You will be the voice of the people.” Starscream’s primary finger drew circles on Blurr’s panel, a soft scritch-scritch of metal on metal that sent a ring of vibrations through Blurr’s array.
And how quickly would he take the fall, Blurr wondered. How quickly would Starscream turn on him?
“But enough business,” Starscream said, his vocals turning into a rolling purr. “We match it equally with pleasure, yes?”
“Yes,” Blurr agreed.
This, at least, did not require so much thought.
Starscream was gone by the time Blurr onlined, sneaking out of Blurr’s apartment as though he had been trained in stealth by Soundwave himself. He debated for all of a moment on changing his locks but figured it wouldn’t do much good. Starscream would find his way in regardless.
He’d opened his door to the Chaos Bringer. He shouldn’t be surprised to find the Pit waiting on his couch.
Blurr rolled out of the berth, evidence of the night’s activities sticky on his frame. Today was not a day he could go without a wash. In fact, he would have to invest in a professional wax and polish if he was going to stand at Starscream’s side to declare their “partnership.”
He strolled into the main room and drew up short.
“Seriously?” Blurr asked.
Jazz, lounging on his couch as though he owned the place, grinned and winked half his visor. “You aren’t happy to see me?”
Blurr sighed and headed for his private stash of midgrade. “You’re the second mech to break into my apartment in less than a day.”
“I spose I’ll only need one guess.” Jazz propped his pedes up on the table, crossing one over the other. “You look like you had fun.”
“What was your first clue?”
Jazz tilted his helm and held up a datapad. “Got something for you.”
Blurr circled the couch and reached for it, only for Jazz to tilt it just out of his reach. “Nuh-uh,” Jazz said. “Not until you tell me what that means.” He tipped his helm toward something on the low table.
Blurr frowned. And realized it was a message from Starscream. He must have scribbled it down right before he snuck out of the apartment. It was little more than a time, a place, and an admonition “don’t be late.”
He slumped onto the chair opposite Jazz. “The next step.” Blurr cracked open the cube and took a long drink of it, though part of him longed for engex instead. “Formally declaring my association with Starscream.”
Jazz winced. “Sure that’s wise?”
“It’s part of the deal.” Blurr shrugged.
“Hm.” Jazz’s reply was noncommittal but at least he tossed the datapad to Blurr. “Here.”
“What is it?”
“A list of all of Starscream’s known associates, their previous faction alliance, and what purpose I think they serve now.”
Blurr’s optical ridges crawl upward. “That was fast.”
“I have my resources.” Jazz grinned that salacious grin that had won him many trips to many berths.
Blurr would know.
He turned his attention to the list, skimming the designations. There were more than he would have expected, but less than Starscream wanted no doubt. Many were former Decepticons, the rest were Neutrals. There was not a single Autobot among them.
Blurr did not recognize any of them. Save one.
“Fasttrack’s dead,” he said.
“Then someone else is using his designation. But you should know as well as anyone that mechs don’t stay dead around here.”
Blurr pressed his lipplates together. This would merit further investigation, though on his own.
“Mech, you still sure you want to do this?”
Blurr flicked off the datapad and looked Jazz in the visor. “Yes.” Now more than ever as a matter of fact.
Starscream was too sneaky and self-serving for anyone’s good. And Blurr was the best one to do this. Why? Because while Jazz was more famous with the Autobots, Blurr was liked by the Neutrals. And they outnumbered Autobots and Decepticons.
Should something happen to him that was in the least bit suspicious, there would be the Pit to pay. And Starscream attaching himself to Blurr went both ways. Starscream would be number one on their list of suspects.
Sure, Blurr might lose some face by openly throwing in his lot with Starscream, but it would be far less than Jazz suspected. After all, most of the mechs who truly loathed Starscream had left the city.
“Are you going to help me?” Blurr asked.
Jazz leaned back against the couch, folding his arms behind his helm. “Sure thing. And mebbe if we’re both lucky, Starscream’s on the level and peace is in sight.”
Blurr optics dropped to the list again, lingering on Fasttrack’s name.
He hoped Jazz was right.