Note: This story is for dragonwrangler - I so loved how she got 'The Magnificent Samurai' started that when she asked for a drabble in the same setting, I leapt at the chance. I'm happy to announce that dragonwrangler loved the story, which was a big relief for me - I hate screwing up other people's works.


Something Exotic...

Your typical frontier Western town, the sort of place where a group of settlers had either struck gold or given up, and decided that here, and no farther, they would put down their roots and make their homes. Typical hotel, typical shops, typical saloons...

Except for one. The townspeople called it the Jade.

Night after night, after the sun went down and the shops closed, more than a few of the locals headed to one saloon in particular. On the outside, it didn't look all that different from the rest - a couple of hitching posts, a sign over the swinging doors, music plinking from the piano inside, but inside... that was different.

There was no spitting on the floors inside the Jade, no obnoxious cigars, no yelling or cursing or throwing of furniture. No, not if you wanted to come back. It had a slightly more refined air, a touch of class that the town was proud to call its own.

And as locals were fond of telling out-of-towners, you could always find something exotic at the Jade.

But as often happens, there's always one person who wants to throw a wrench into the works, and on one memorable night, a particularly drunk cowboy shoved open the swinging doors and weaved his way inside.

There were seven men sitting in a corner, quietly enjoying a drink when the new arrival staggered up to the bar and loudly demanded a drink. The bartender paused for a moment, then poured a large glass full of something and handed it to the cowboy with the slightest of bows. But the cowboy didn't care much for that, because after taking one sip, he spat it out on the floor, threw the rest in the bartender's face, and tossed the glass against a wall where it shattered.

"Pig swill," he muttered. "I heard this place served up some real unusual stuff. I want some of that."

"Please, sir, we do not want any trouble in here," the bartender began, but the cowboy growled, reached across the bar, and grabbed the bartender by the front of his shirt. Several other patrons got to their feet, but the drunk hauled the bartender bodily over the counter and threw him into a group that had been about to accost him.

The seven in the corner made no move to rise.

The drunk unsteadily drew a pistol and announced, "Now I came in here looking for something exotic, and I intend to find it!"

"Something exotic?" came a soft voice from behind him, and the drunk turned to see a woman leaning against the bar a few feet away. He leered appreciatively at her, swaying a bit closer to look her up and down. Long hair, oval face, lovely eyes, and a rather nice body that he could tell. But unlike so many saloon girls, she wasn't scantily clad, her wares on display for all to see. No, this one was wearing some silken wrap sort of thing that covered her nearly from throat to feet, but clung nicely to her slender form.

"Now this, this is exotic," he belched, moving closer still. He placed one large clumsy hand on her shoulder and slid it down her arm, and almost every other patron in the bar instinctively reached for whatever weapons they might have had on them, but the seven men in the corner did nothing. In fact, they were smiling.

"Do you like what you see?" the woman murmured, moving closer, reaching up to lightly caress the cowboy's cheek.

"Oh, yes, I do," he said with a wide grin, twirling a long strand of hair around his finger, as she gave the cowboy a smoldering look. "Now, what do you cost, little lady?"

She shrugged, and the silken wrap shifted, giving the cowboy a better look at the body beneath the silk, and his eyes widened. "Well..." She moved closer to him, pressed her body up against his, and smiled seductively as her hands slid up his body.

The cowboy grinned hugely... right until her hands abruptly moved, striking at a point about halfway up his chest, and he dropped to the floor like a marionette with all its strings cut at once. The woman looked down at him, then smiled, holding up her right hand.

In which rested the drunk cowboy's money pouch.

"Oh, about this much," she told him, but he was too unconscious to notice. She walked over, helped the bartender to his feet, bowed slightly to the men who had gotten up to help, and then walked the bartender back around to his side of the counter. As she did so, several of the patrons leapt up, seized the unconscious drunk, and tossed him out into the street.

The woman placed the drunk cowboy's money pouch on the bar and said, "If you would, drinks for all of our guests, please, courtesy of our recent visitor."

The locals cheered, and raised their glasses to the woman, who smiled, took a drink of her own, then went to join the seven men in the corner, each of whom lifted their glasses to her in an ironic toast.

"You're incorrigible, Nasami," one of them chuckled, and the woman laughed and tossed back her drink.