uniforms that were clasped high on their throat and complimented by combat boots. One was laughing at some joke unknown to me with his muscular arm thrown around the shoulders of his leaner, more nervous looking comrade. I stopped what I was doing, rubbing my hands dry on the dark fabric of my work uniform, watching them turn towards the entryway and walk in.
The chiming of the bells hanging over the door caught everyone's attention. Lola leapt to her feet, running her hands over her skirt in embarrassment for being caught slacking on the job. Tension rose in the small room, a few men visibly tensing in preparation for whatever they were to say or do.
"Hey!" the muscular Bot said. He smiled, too white teeth flashing at us. There was a friendliness etched into everything about him, and I recalled having seen him several times before. He pulled his friend closer, who shrunk back and tried to escape from his grasp. "This is Theo. He just got assigned here, and I'm showing him around the town."
Theo went rigid, looking around in a slight panic. He let out a meek, "Hi," before attempting to vanish into the shadow of the other Bot. "Bill," I heard him whisper, "can we go?" He said something even softer that I didn't catch, but I saw Bill shake his head and shove him towards me. It took him a moment to regain his balance, and when he did he shot a glare at Bill, shaking hands turning to steady fists at his sides.
"Nah, I want some coffee. Be a pal, Theo." Bill winked at him before sauntering over to an empty table snug in the corner, collapsing in the chair and stretching like a pleased cat. After a moment he said, "Black, please."
Theo, on the other hand, stood in absolute shock in the middle of the store. All eyes were on him, and he clearly did not do well in such situations. With a deep breath and a swallow, he took the few steps necessary to be right in front of me. I was already reaching on tiptoes to grab a cup.
"You want anything?" I asked, drumming my fingers against the side of the cup. "No need to be shy, we're all friends here."