Author's Note: Written in response to a prompt on the LiveJournal community 50 Passages. ("I will tell you what I know, and leave the reward to you. You may be glad to grant it, when you have heard me.")


The meeting place was hardly his sort of setting, but the woman insisted. So, unable to deny her, he found himself seated at a table in the back corner of a dimly lit bar on the bad side of Cerulean City. The scent of alcohol and cheap perfume permeated in the air, and his thoughts were almost completely drowned by the hum of strangers' voices and the din of a horse race playing on the television sets suspended in metal boxes above the bar itself.

She uncrossed her legs – long, dark things that rubbed against his like satin on sandpaper. With slender fingers, she plucked a cherry (the color of her tight cocktail dress and her full lips) from her drink and placed it in her mouth. She held the stem between her venom-red lips and her milk-white teeth just long enough to make it obvious that she was playing with him. Across the table, he swallowed, pushing down his conscience as he stared at the glass of water in front of him.

"So, Bill," she said. "You want to know the location of Entei, yes?"

He looked up briefly to take in the sight of her smooth, mocha-colored skin, her long, dark hair, and her intense, black eyes. Swallowing again, he looked at his water and nodded. His mind harshly reminded him that this arrangement was only part of his job and that nothing more should be thought of it.

"Well, then," she said with a slight frown, "I will tell you what I know and leave the reward up to you. You may be glad to grant it when you've heard me, though. Very glad."

He glanced at her with interest. She smiled and leaned a bit over the table, just enough to tilt her chest towards him. A blush colored his cheeks as he saw a bit of her cleavage. The light feather-touch of her fingertips gently caressed the back of one of his hands.

"My sources tell me," she said, "that it was spotted just yesterday in central Johto, just south of Ecruteak City."

Struggling to find his voice, Bill responded, "I-is that so?"

A smile crossed her lips, exposing her white teeth like a predator to its prey. "Yes."

"How do I know you're telling the truth?"

With the hand opposite the one on Bill's, the woman reached down her dress to the first knuckle. Bill, watching her, allowed his eyes to widen as his blood pooled in his lap. She drew a piece of paper from the dark space between her breasts and tossed it to a spot on the table in front of her client. With a shaking hand, he unfolded the paper and looked at what was printed on it. His wide-eyed glance rose to the woman's face as she continued to grin like the Cheshire Cat at him.

"Your payment?" she asked.

At first, Bill could only open and close his mouth soundlessly. Then, pushing down the shock of the information he held, he nodded.

"I… I'm willing to pay whatever price you name," he said.

"Are you certain?"

Slowly, he nodded. She smiled and moved her hand completely over his. Beneath the table, he felt her legs rub against his calves and was reminded of an ekans slowly entwining a pidgey.

"Excellent," she said.