Title: What We Have Here is a failure to Communicate

PCs: Shiftlock, Rumble, Blast Off

Location: Tenement Tower 2-B

Date: 11 November 2014

Summary: Blast Off makes the world's most drawn out and painful attempt at asking someone on a date ever. Shiftlock and Rumble are confused.

Tenement Tower 2-B <2B>

Shiftlock has finally gotten all all of Drift's energon cleaned up (no thanks to Hot Rod) and is flopped down on her couch, staring at the small video screen she's set up on the table, which effectively serves as her TV. She's a low battery from all that work and is giving her motor systems time to process the day's ration of energon into useable fuel.

Blast Off strides in the door, and for once the Combaticon's demeanor appears just slightly more upbeat than it's been lately. He's more focused than usual. Upon spotting Shiftlock on the couch, he does pause for a brief moment... still just the slightest bit awkward and aloof around the femme. (Well, more than usual, at least.) If she looks at him, he'll give her a polite nod. But then it's back to business- and he heads straight to a table (maybe hers, if it's the only one) while taking out not only his ionic blaster, but some gun cleaning solvent and wipes. It appears he's intending to clean up his weaponry.

Shift does notice Blast Off is rather quiet and withdrawn; she assumes it's because of you-know-who. "Sorry about Drift. I don't know what to do about that guy; the more I try to distance myself from him the more he won't leave me alone. One minute he's swearing up and down that he loves me and the next he's a total murder machine." She looks over at the vidscreen again, which is featuring Blaster doing the nightly news. "... Maybe I should have just let him kill himself," she mutters.

Blast Off sets up the blaster on top of a cloth, then procceeds to bring out a bore brush to begin the long tedious process of scraping and brushing the gun bore clean. He glances up as Shiftlock mentions Drift. He remains silent until her last comment. "Is... that a trick question?"

"Hmm?" Shift's a little puzzled by Blast Off's response. "I didn't even ask a question, what do you mean?"

Blast Off blinks, looks down at the rifle barrel, then back up to Shiftlock. "I.. just meant your... last comment. I don't know why you keep trying to help him. He's tried to kill me several times. I think he DID kill Rung, not long after Rung pleaded with me to spare Drift's life when I *could* have ended it. AND he tried to /blow Arcee up/. Not exactly..." His word drips with the irony of understatment, "...nice." Then he glances to where the stains had been on the floor. "And now he's trying to kill YOU."

"... because he was my friend." Shiftlock seems to sink lower in her seat, folding her arms over her middle. "He was someone I could do something about. All the other empties wandering around with no hope, no fuel, no chance at life, and my ability to help him was the one thing in my life I could control."

She's quiet after she says that, as if she's just put her finger on a realization that had never crossed her mind until now.

Blast Off's irritation flares... then subsides at that. He shifts back in his seat a little, becoming a bit quiet himself. He looks back down at the gun in his hand for a moment before starting his work again. Eventually, he says softly, "I... think a lot of us have found we don't... have the control in our lives that we once did." He scrubs extra hard after that before easing up, adding, "Well, I mean... I maintain control better than *some*! Of course." He frowns under his faceplate. "But still... not like the old days. We're all a bit... adrift." His optic ridge raises up at the irony of that last word.

She continues to talk about Drift, because his actions are causing her to have a crisis of morals. "I still want to help him. Try to get through to him, but he won't listen. ... I'm beginning to think that he won't, and that it's my fault he's out there, doing this. Not only did I fail him; I failed everyone he's hurt."

Blast Off looks uncertainly at Shiftlock... and tries to decide what to say. His immediate reaction is one of blunt, cold you-gotta-be-kidding- which is what he feels regarding Drift by now. But Shiftlock feels differently, obviously. The shuttle tries to think what he'd do in a situation like that... but he hasn't exactly had a lot of friends to draw experience from. The closest he can think of it Vortex... who's a bit crazy, yeah. Though usually Vortex's more killer instincts are directed elsewhere, not at Blast Off. He glances around, not feeling very good with this kind of conversation.

"That's the thing. What he chooses to do is on HIS head, not yours. And the reality is- some people you just can't save. If they're determined to self-destruct- they will. You just have to make sure they don't bring YOU down with them."

Shiftlock does the only thing she can do when faced with this truth, as she can't deny Blast Off's sound advice: She begins to cry, or whatever the closest mechanical equivalent there is.

Blast Off stops and stares. Wait, what? Now feeling completely lost, the shuttleformer's wing elevon twitches and he glances around nervously. "I...uh... I didn't mean to..." He sits there, not sure what to do. Part of him would like to try comforting her... but then that's close contact (OMG) and he's feeling awkward around her enough as it is. And part of him is ready to flee to the stars right now. "I... apologize if I said something... wrong."

It takes a few minutes before she can respond, and she does so haltingly, through choked back sobs. "No, it's not -- not your fault. I just... He's really gone isn't he? The Drift that was my friend -- he's gone and there's just this crazy killer left behind!"

Well... slag. Now she's making Blast Off have to really *think* about this. His optic ridges furrow down, and he glances to Shiftlock again. He isn't exactly the most compassionate or warm individual, but... he still doesn't like seeing her this unhappy. It's weirdly unsettling to him.

"I... don't know. He seems to be seriously glitching right now, and..." Blink. What can he say? "...Maybe he just needs some space?" (Always something that easily occurs to the shuttle.) "Sometimes a little space, and a little distance lets people sort things out." Then he frowns again, and adds, "But the fact remains... you need to keep your own space, too. Not get... sucked in by someone like him, because he *might* still self-destruct."

"Have you heard of black holes? When dealing with such things, one must always be careful of the event horizon- that's a line you don't want to cross. Or you get sucked in and, well... that's that." He looks down at the gun lying neatly on the cloth. "Boundaries. They're important for keeping your sanity... *especially* when dealing with crazy people." Again he thinks of Vortex. "And I should know."

"He won't leave me alone! I left when he told me to go, and he just kept coming back!" Shiftlock protests, still sniffling. "You were right here! He climbed up the &^$ing window and asked me to interface!"

Blast Off suddenly has a fit that coughing? His ventilation systems seem to undergo a series of stuttering hiccups, and he has to bend forward and get control before he can continue. HACK HACK WHEEZE. "*Cough*!" Optics are wide and pale, though they normalize quickly. "I...*huff* I, well... *ahem*, that's true." His shoulders slump a bit and he takes on a more deadpan, slagged-if-you-do, slagged-if-you-don't look. He shrugs. "Well in that case, if I were you... I'd just shoot him if he tries that again." And it's true.

She spreads her hands in a gesture of futility. "I don't have a -gun-."

Blast Off's deadpan looks just intensifies. He stares at her, shoulders still hanging down. Then, finally, he sighs with some annoyance, reaching into subspace. He pulls out one of the two pistols Sixshot gave him not too long ago. The pistol is placed down on the table in front of Shiftlock with a *thud*. "There. Now you do." Well.. he *would* be remiss to leave her unarmed, possibly alone, to fend for herself against crazy window-climbing nutjobs....

Shiftlock looks at the gun.

"... I have no idea how to use that."

Blast Off look remains the same. He picks it up. "See this? It's the barrel. Keep it pointed away from you. See this? It's the trigger, it makes things go "Boom"." He points to the chamber. "Load your bullets in there, take the safety off here- when you're ready to shoot.... and then just aim and pull the trigger. Easy." He'd offer to do a proper lesson, but is feeling inexplicably annoyed. And, again- that might mean getting close.

Shiftlock is picking up on that irritation. "Do you hate me or something?"

Blast Off blinks, suddenly leaning back in confusion. "...What? No, of course not."

Shiftlock sits up, a little straighter. "You're very impatient with me now. Withdrawn, gruff, aloof. It's like... you don't like me anymore. Or you don't want to be around me." She looks aside. "I don't blame you though, Drift tried to kill you and I didn't really take a stand between either of you. You're both my friends, I didn't know what to do. I just wanted him to stop."

Blast Off's optics flicker and he freezes, staring at Shiftlock before finally stirring back to life enough to glance around uncomfortably. He almost absent-mindedly picks up his gun as if trying to get back to cleaning it, then places it back down, then picks up some solvent and starts clumsily applying it to an already saturated cloth. "I...I... no. That's not..." He glances away, then tries to focus on the cleaning again. "It's not Drift. It's..."

He suddenly gets to work just *scrubbing* that barrel, "Well, we already discussed it, and you made your feelings known, and there's really no point in discussing it again."

Shift folds her arms. "And what feelings were those, praytell? Refresh my memory. I'm still getting used to just being -one- person instead of /two/."

Blast Off blinks again, a wing elevon twitch or two adding to the generally overall uncomfortable state of the shuttleformer. He leans back in the chair, then forward again. "It was...after /that/. It was..." He glances about as if looking for an escape. His gaze lingers on the window. "It was... you know, when we talked. And you told me... how you feel. And I have been a complete gentlemech about it and given you your space ever since." He nods to himself emphatically, then goes back to work on his gun.

Shiftlock gets up and walks over to Blast Off, sitting at the table instead of the couch. "I need to figure out who I am first, that's all. It wouldn't be fair to you if I turn out to be something you don't like in the end, or someone you can't get along with. I mean... I don't fly, and you don't think very highly of those that don't fly. I'm not a high caste, I don't have all that polished behavior. I -do- like you, Blast Off, and I'll always be fond of you. Unless you go all crazy like... Drift.... that won't change." She looks up at him, across the table. "But I can't give you -me- until I know who -me- is."

Blast Off stops and looks up as Shiftlock walks near him. He seems to deflate just a bit, optics shifting slightly away and from corner to corner in the room. He furious scrubbing has halted as well, and he now rests his hands on the cloth while still gripping tool and barrel. "I..." Wing elevon twitch. "I don't know you much at *all*, and doesn't look like I'm going to, from what you say. I... it is true that I do not ordinarily associate with... ground vehicles, but... then again, ground vehicles are not usually in the habit of having saved my life at great risk of their own."

His optics darken a bit, and he starts to shake his head slowly. "And... that's what's.... confusing." He turns to look directly at Shiftlock. "You say all that, yet you have no problem giving yourself to..." There's a slight /huff/, "Rumble."

"I don't understand why that is such a big deal to you," Shiftlock explains, not hearing Rumble come in just yet. "Did I miss some kind of instruction manual where it says my affections are to be kept in a little box and given over completely to the first mech that shows interest in me? Because if that's the case, then I'd better go look for Drift and interface him immediately." Yes, there is sarcasm in that.

Rumble taps in the passcode, and strolls in cheerfully. He may or may not have been listening at the door for a few moments -- just to make sure it was 'safe'. Hey, one never knows! He figures Shiftlock's free nature is kind of what all femmes do, since he's never actually had a girlfriend before. "Hey, cutie. Hey, Blast Off." He strolls to the low-grade energon dispenser, to pour himself a container of his usual.

Blast Off blinks at Shiftlock. "No, you've locked yourself in a little box named "Rumble"... and I do mean *LITTLE* box..." Yeah, he's snarkily going /there/ again, "And you act like you're already in conjunx endura with him!" He glares at her, then vents a few times as he tries to calm himself down. Turning, he mutters, "Rumble is all you see, while anyone *else* is..." His optics dim further. "Well, it doesn't matter. You made it clear you only saw me... that night... as some sort of debt to be paid, like one of Swindle's deals gone bad." He glowers at the weapon on the table in front of him, flustered and trying to get back to that aloof and calm state he covets.

Rumble coming in suddenly just makes him glower more, and he doesn't respond. Great, just when he thought things couldn't get worse.... There's another brief glance to the window and escape, then back to staring at the gun like it owes him money.

Rumble plops down in his favorite easy chair, looking lazy and bored. He doesn't look like he's even remotely interested in any of Blast Off's personal pain. While he's seated there, he quaffs down his favorite low-grade energex. "Price went up on this 4 <CENSORED!> shanix a container! Such a rip!"

Shiftlock just stares at Blast Off. She can't believe what a big deal he's making out of this. For someone who accuses Shift of acting like she's already married to Rumble, Blast Off's complaining like he's already a nagging and betrayed wife.

"So you've been conjoined before?" she asks, chill as fresh coolant. "You're an expert on how bondmates behave through personal experience?"

Blast Off feels like sinking further into his chair... and probably does to some extent. "I...what? No, I just... you just... only seem to have optics for Rumble, and..." Then he forces himself to straighten up, glancing over AT Rumble and feeling embarrassed and way, way out of his comfort zone. He shakes his head, picking up the bore brush again. "IT DOESN'T MATTER ANYWAY."

And the furious brushing resumes. "You're not interested. The past is dead and gone, and... I should be out of your circuitry soon, anyway." He'll just have to accept that everything he knew, mentally and emotionally... has been rendered obsolete now. But he can handle it, he's a space shuttle, they're built to be alone. It's why he doesn't like most people, right?

Rumble peers curiously at the spat between Blast Off and Shiftlock, but he doesn't interfere. Mostly because they're discussing something he's had absolutely no personal experience with. He's a miner, and a part-time bookie. This seems to involve him, but the anger involved just doesn't compute to him. Sure, he understands what it is to be angry...but why Blast Off is mad about this situation escapes him completely. He just peers over with a slight shrug to Shiftlock.

Shiftlock shrugs helplessly back at Rumble. << Sorry about all this, >> she radios to him privately. Back to Blast Off now.

"Oh, so you're going to tell me both what I'm thinking -and- what I've decided? How very thoughtful of you!" she retorts with a smirk. "Good thing there's a high caste around to do all my thinking for me, what a relief. Well, I guess that's settled then, your majesty, good to know what my final decision is." She snorts and gets up to go sit with Rumble. "Affection isn't all or nothing, like an on-off switch, Blast Off. There are gradients to it, and maybe someday when you get your nosecone out of the clouds you'll mech up enough to realize that."

She flops down next to Rumble. "Four shanix? So much for that money they were supposed to save by automating the mines."

Blast Off starts sinking into his chair again, feeling like his OWN circuitry is burning... with a sort of helpless embarrassment he really doesn't like the feel of at all. He glances uncomfortably at Shiftlock and Rumble, relucatant to continue talking with the other mech there. "I...simply repeated what you told ME, that's all." Then he falls silent, wing elevons twitching occassionally. There's a glance at the door now, like he's considering another one of his walks. He doesn't deal well with people, and doesn't know what to do about it except flee to the stars... and he can't even do that anymore.

Rumble grins as Shiftlock joins him in the seat, and he cozies up to her cutely. "...Look," Rumble says, "What's goin' on here is none a'my business, I get that. I'm stayin' out. But I wanna know one thing. What would it take to cut the tension in this place? What is it you want?" He's asking Blast Off specifically.

"I tried to be honest with you, Blast Off. I mean, what the frag, mech, I had someone else living in my body and interfering with every thought I had and every move I made. It's a little hard to say I have the exact same feelings for you then as now, because I -am not that person now-. Am I in love with you? No, I'm not, but that doesn't mean I don't care about you. You DID notice I was trying to, y'know /safe your life/ when Drift jumped in here. You DID notice that I /took you in/ when you had nowhere else to go, and now all the sudden you're upset because you don't have exclusive access to me? That attitude is probably the one thing you and Drift have in common."

"If not having me all to yourself right this very second means you're calling it quits, fine, but stop sulking and giving Rumble the evil optic. You don't get to shove me away and then whine when I'm not paying attention to you."

Shiftlock mutters and rubs her temples. When did life get more complex...?

Blast Off's cerebro-cortex is beginning to hurt. His optics dim and he shakes his head slightly. This is SO not anything he's good at. Much as he'd hate to admit it. He stares at the gun barrel for a long moment, mind flickering through disjointed thoughts and feelings. Then he turns and looks directly at Shiftlock. And while everything may be different for her.... that's not true for him.

The shuttleformer, depsite all his insistance otherwise, is a lonely mech. His friends are few and far between, and Blast Off's lack of social skills is probably a REALLY big reason for that. He just doesn't usually know how to interact with people. Then one day, this exciting, daring, flirty femme appeared in his life and took him for quite a ride... sometimes literally, like during their escape to outer space. She became one of the few people he actually trusts- which is a number he can count on the fingers of /one hand/. And the only one of those, so far, that he actually got... intimate with. And that kind of experience, to a lonely shuttle, isn't something that's easy to forget.

He is still uncomfortable talking about this to Shiftlock, much less to RUMBLE, but he radios her: << I ...did notice, and I... do appreciate those things. I just... I know it's over for YOU, but for me... when I look at you, I still see... that night. I still see that day we escaped the police. I still see...>> His guard drops down and a flicker of loss- the loss of *many* things that matter- waft through his expression for a second before fading again, << I still see the stars.>>

Then he blinks. <<Exclusive access? No, I have none at all. And you've made it clear you're not interested in even exploring such a thing. I was simply a debt to be paid. You...>> He glances at Rumble, <<You seem to have chosen him, and...>> He finally sighs, shoulders sagging slightly, and he turns back to his work. <<... That's your choice, and I will respect that.>>

Blast Off feels... defeated now, but there's also a weird sort of quiet calm that can come with that. He answers Rumble, voice quiet and flat. "I just... want to be left alone."

Rumble just looks confused. Blast Off stonewalls his every offer to be generous like no one else in the universe. Not even Frenzy holding a grudge is more obstinate than Blast Off. There's just no comparison. "Mech, in life you gotta make some choices. One a'those choices is bein' happy. You know what makes you happy, an' you can't control it all the time, but there are times when you can, an' you can make a decision to accept some things for what they are. That's all I'm gonna say. I mean, I offered. You don't wanna take my offer. I don't know what else to say."

<< I have to agree with Rumble. The only one holding you back is you. I haven't resigned myself to anything, -you- have resigned me away. I never said I can't grow to love you in time; that's why I'm seeking friendly relationships with multiple people. I won't know who I get along with best unless I play the field. If I just jump on the first person that shows me kindness, I'll always be left wondering if I made the right choice. This way? I'll know for sure who I want to bond to. >>

Shiftlock gives Blast Off a warm smile in spite of all the shuttle's sulking. She's said her peace, and the ball is now in his court.

"He'll be who he is, Rumble. That's all anyone can be."

Blast Off IS not a people person, remember. He looks to Rumble. "What is there to be happy about? I lost my job, my home, everything comfortable and classy in life, nearly lost my life... and have to hide here so I'm not empurated... or worse." His optics dim. "I haven't even had a glass of *wine* in ages." THE TRAGEDY. He looks away, then does finally add, "Though I suppose it could be worse. I'm... alive, and, well..." He glances up, "There's a roof over my head. Which doesn't leak... too much." Optics dim at that, then brighten to their normal hue as Shiftlock speaks.

Now he feels confused again. Wait, what? << I thought you said no way...>> His optic ridges furrow down. << You act as if you'd consider a... well, you know... and you said you won't!>> Yes, Blast Off is such a great communicator.

"I'll make you some enerwine. I learned how to do it in prison! You'll have your enerwine," Rumble grouses, beginning to lose his patience with Blast Off's complaining. "An' look, mech, we ALL almost lost our lives...our homes, friends...<CENSORED!> happens. It ain't over till it's over, y'know? Keep fightin'. It's a struggle sometimes. The payoff's gonna be worth it."

"This is the reason there's a rebellion brewing, Blast Off," Shiftlock explains. "Look at you - you were thrown out of your caste for the stupidest, trumped up reasons. used up and thrown away. The only way you're gonna get that back is if you mech up and get ready to fight for it."

Blast Off stares at Rumble. The idea of Rumble making him enerwine is both fascinating... and horrifying. ", thank you, I think I'll wait..." Then his look hardens as he picks the rifle barrel up again. "Oh, don't worry. Fighting is what I *do*. It's what I *know*." Slag with this- he might as well admit this- if the news reports haven't already broadcast his past *absolutely everywhere despite his desire for privacy* then it's going to become clear in the fighting pits in short order.

He gives Rumble- and now Shiftlock- that continued hard stare, and not without a definite flare of pride to be seen in it. "I am a *Combaticon*. From Combatron. We KNOW combat, and that is why we shall dominate the fighting pits." Suddenly there's a *we* here, somewhere. Wait, when did that happen?

Rumble suddenly sits up straighter, and claps his hands in approval. "YEAH! That's the spirit. Tell you what. Sign up for some pit matches, I'll publishatize your name around the Joint...kick some' you're back on your way to bein' that hard-line Combaticon you once was!"

Shiftlock assumes the 'we' is probably his friends - she knows nothing of Combatron. "Now that sounds like the Blast Off I know and like." She approves of this, it's much better than sulking. "Heck, when we kick Sentinel off his stupid Prime throne, you can have your own WINERY just for YOU!"

Blast Off blinks at Rumble, not quite sure how to respond to that either. But he remains a bit more... civil this time. "...Thank you. But there's no "back" needed." This is the one subject Blast Off seems to carry boundless pride in... besides himself, that is. "I have always been, and always /will/ be a..."hard-line Combaticon. Whether THIS planet approves... or not." Oh yeah, born to be a rebel here.

He turns to look at Shiftlock again. "Yes, well.... I will simply be happy when I am allowed to live my life the way *I* choose- and no one is dictating to me otherwise. And when..." He glances upwards, "I can reach the stars again." He clicks the barrel into place and realizing it's way *past* being brushed sparkling clean, replaces his bore brush with a solvent cloth. He starts scrubbing that, silent for a time. Eventually, though, he radios Shiftlock again. << I notice you did not answer my question. >>

"Welp, if you say so." Rumble says to Blast Off, then he turns and grins cutely at Shiftlock. "Want me to get you some energex, hon??" He's a bit restless, and needs to stretch his little legs, apparently.

"Actually, I was thinking of going out to the forge and seeing how everything's shaking down. I wanted to see if I needed to make another run, but if you're goin' that way, I'll be happy to join you," Shiftlock says to Rumble. << You didn't ask one. I'll say this once and then I'm not gonna say it again: Someday, yes, I want to have a bondmate. I like the idea of being able to support someone, and having someone I can pour all my love into -- just not yet. Not until I'm ready and I know who I want, >> she radios to Blast off.

Blast Off blinks and stares at Shiftlock in shock. << A... what?!?!>> Now there's a flustered note of panic to his voice, followed by an indignant tone. Off balance again, he finally brings up the subject- the scary word- he's been avoiding all this time... before he can think otherwise. <<Asking someone to go on a /DATE/ does NOT imply bondmates!!!>> He lets out a *hufff*. <<At least not YET.>>


<< EXACTLY, >> Shiftlock counters firmly to Blast Off in return, grinning.

"Oh, okay! Well maybe I'll radio you, then, cause I got a couple stops to make." Rumble has the all-important enersmoke run to do, after all. Can't run out of *those*! Oh, and more spraypaint for tagging. He has a regular grovery list going on...

Rumble hops off the chair, giving Shiftlock a wink and Blast Off a wave. "Back later!"

Blast Off blinks. <<... Huh?>> Eloquent, it's not. He looks at Rumble as he heads off, then turns back to his work on the table. << I was... looking for "yes" or "no", actually.>>

Rumble disappears out the door. Which probably means no one needs to talk on a private channel anymore if they don't want to!

"What, a date, with me?" Shiftlock asks, stunned. "I don't even -- /why/?" It's like she can't fathom why anyone would want her at all.

Blast Off looks at Shiftlock, confused. "Well.... yes??!" He doesn't understand why she'd look so shocked by that. His own violet optics flicker with that confusion until he pushes it aside, and makes his best attempt at answering that. "Because... I..."

Ok, this "honest with your feelings" stuff is hard. "I... enjoy your company, and you... well.. you are ...important." He glances away. "I can count the people I actually trust on the fingers of one hand, and... well... you're among them. I..." he glances at another random corner of the room, "I'm not looking for conjunx endura or bondmates. But I /would/ love to have an evening with a femme I like, in ... well, as nice a place as we can *find* here, at least... and spend at least a brief moment living the world on our *own* terms, not the ones it keeps trying to dictate to us."

"Oh well that's just fine, though I thought you didn't like girls that don't fly," Shift teases, a little relieved but still shocked anyone would actually ask her. That's why she asks FIRST - she can get the rejection overwith right out of the gate and laugh it off and go on like it didn't hurt.

Blast Off knows all too well how that goes- which is why *he* rarely asks anyone, either. Though it's for that reason- and a whole bunch of other socially awkward or introverted ones. He allows himself a soft, amused *huff*. "I'm... having to adapt to many things I never... considered before." He tilts his head slightly. "Besides, did fly. Once. You know what it's like. And despite everything... I..." His gaze casts down a little awkwardly, then back to her again. There's a trace of rare warmth of he continues, "I still see the stars when I look at you."

Then he blinks. "Wait... that was a "yes", then?" Now he's the one sounding surprised.

Shiftlock smiles, a little charmed by this. Aww, Blast Off can be nice sometimes. "Well sure. I certainly can't argue with going out and having fun. Maybe it'll help me get a hold of who I am."

Blast Off CAN be nice, there's just a wall of defenses between him and his more relaxed and pleasant side- usually. It takes a lot of breaking through to get there, and long before anyone has gotten close they've usually given up and taken off. Another of those little tragedies in Blast Off's life... the more walls he puts up, the more hostile people seem, and the more hostile people seem- the more walls the shuttle puts up. A never-ending vicious cycle that leads to a lot of loneliness.

But not so much today. He seems to straighten up some- had he been so slouched before? Even the shuttleformer's chest seems to puff out just a bit as he says, "Uh. Yes." Blink. "Well. Yes! Good. I..." He sits there like he's not sure just what to do with himself except almost (Primus forbid) look happy... then with another blink he suddenly starts trying to arrange the weaponry again. But it's a happy busy this time. "Yes. Definitely. It..." He stops and looks at her. "You never know. It could. New experiences can trigger memories- or unlock new interests." Then he blinks and suddenly realizes- Oh Primus. he's got to think *where* they're going, and what they'll have, and if there's any entertainment, and.... oh yeah, he's going to be overthinking this for awhile. The Combaticon starts reassembling his weapon in a tizzy, then realizes he put it together wrong. Oops. Ok, disassembling and REassembling now!

Shiftlock chuckles. "Okay, I'd better get going - you know where the Forge is right? Teeechnically I'm not supposed to fight in it, but the main person complaining about that Drift." She makes a face, this one: :| "So... slag that, I might just fight."

Rumble leaves the tenement tower.

Blast Off nods. "I do. I have ...already signed up. And I think learnign to fight would be wise. This place is too dangerous... the times we live in are too dangerous... not to at least know how to defend yourself." He nods at her expression. "Indeed." Then... "Oh." He picks up the pistol he'd placed on the table before. "I still want you to have that. You said you don't know how to use it, though?"

"Right," Shiftlock nods. She picks up the gun, holding it the wrong way, looking into the barrel.

You say "Ack!" The Combaticon instantly reacts, lifting half-way out of his seat as he tries to reach for the gun and point it *away* from her. "No... that's not... just.... no!" He's not angry, just a stickler on gun safety. "Wait, you hold it like *this*!" He tries to place it correctly in her hand. "Don't *ever* do that again." Again, not angry just... OMP!!!Don't-ever-do-that-again-kthanx- much-appreciated!!! "THAT's the end that SHOOTS things!""

"OH!" Shift is a little embarassed by her ignorance and coughs. "... This is, this is, uh, why I don't use guns," she says sheepishly.

Blast Off "breathes" a small sigh of relief as he stands up. Nodding, he makes sure she is holding the pistol correctly. "Well... you need to learn, no doubt. There is chaos and confusion here, Shiftlock, and the fighting isn't just in the pits anymore."

His optics dim a little, then flare out a deeper purple. "And I expect that to escalate before it subsides. Someone who doesn't know how to defend themself is going to find themselves with a big, fat target on their head." He looks at her soberly. "You used to know more about defense, or... well, maybe that was Mercury. It's time to learn again, then." The shuttle points to the chamber of the pistol. "You place the bullets in there- would you like a demonstration?"

"Yes, but not in here. I don't need a hole in the wall. Or through my neighbor," Shiftlock says, trying to encourage Blast Off not to fire the gun in her small and easily perforated apartment.

Blast Off raises his hands, "No, no... of course not... I just meant... show you how to load the gun. I'm hoping you at least know what *bullets* are, right?" He raises an optic ridge, and it's possible he might actually just be /teasing/ her... but with him it CAN be hard to tell.

"Yeah, I know what bullets are, I've picked enough out of my transform plates," Shiftlock dissmisses casually. "It's just that, y'know, I prefer to work with my hands and wheels. -Those- never run out of ammo."

Blast Off's raised optic ridge remains up there. "True, but... there's a saying somewhere about bringing your fists to a gunfight. It doesn't work. Or, well... if there isn't a saying like that, there should be." He takes the pistol, opens the chamber, and loads in a round. "You will still face armed opponents, and you must fight fire with fire sometimes." Clicking the chamber closed, he hands it to her. "The safety is *there*. That has to be taken off before you can shoot. Take that pistol, pratcice with it, and if I see you at the Forge, I will be happy to give you some shooting lessons."

She doesn't really believe him, but she'll humor his request. "All right then, we'll make it a date, but I gotta get going. I'm already late." She stands up and gives him a hug, like it or not, and takes the gun. "See you on the flip side!" And she's out the door.

Blast Off finds himself relieved to see her take the pistol... he firmly believes that sometimes one simply does need to have a gun to defend oneself. And he does care about Shiftlock, so... he'd be remiss to let her fall into danger for such an easily avoided reason. The shuttleformer siffens a little, still a bit shell-shocked that she actually said yes to a date- and then /awps/ and freezes again as she HUGS him. Then he simply watches in dazed- yet much more happy than before- state as she speeds away. "Uh...I.... yes." Straightening, the shuttleformer goes back to work- the subtle cloud of gloom that had been hanging overhead for so long.... disappated.

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