Ok, this looks like it's turning into a longer story. Not sure where or how far it's going, but I'm enjoying the ride and writing it as it comes! The "Secret Agent Man" song seems to be perpetually stuck in my head, so that probably has a lot to do with it!
Thanks to 0afan0, thyme2read, Fameanon, and JustACrazy-Man for your reviews!
Swingin' on the Riviera, one day
And then layin' in the Bombay alley next day
Oh no, you let the wrong words slip
While kissing persuasive lips
The odds are you won't live to see tomorrow
It was a Tuesday night. Normally, that was Setal's "day off," but one of his co-workers had gotten sick and called in. His report to Koval was just going to have to wait another week. But delays such as these were to be expected from time to time in his line of work. There wasn't much to report that week anyway.
Tuesdays were always slow. The clientele, having recovered from the Monday blahs, were back into their work routines and therefore feeling too responsible to darken the doors of El Club. Setal wondered why the owner even kept the place open on that day. Not that he was complaining, because today he would likely have the chance to dance with some pretty ladies. He was getting to be quite accomplished in his rumba lessons, and was eager to test his abilities.
Now, if only a lovely dance partner would show up soon… Well, well, well, he thought, just as one such woman came through the door. She had on high heels and a fringe-trimmed skirt. Her hair was pulled back in a chignon at the nape of her neck. To a bartender's trained eye, it was obvious that she had come to dance.
Thank you so very much for calling in sick, Carlos, Setal thought with glee.
Following the typical traffic pattern, she came up to the bar and ordered a drink. She had a thick French accent to go along with her plunging neckline.
"A mojito, coming right up," he said flirtatiously. He had never before met a French girl. In the words of so many of his customers: she was smokin' hot!
"So what is a Vulcan like you doing in a place like this?" Seldom did a night go by when he wasn't asked a question along those lines. But this time, he didn't mind at all. Her alluring accent made his tapered ears tingle.
Naturally, he was automatically suspicious, but he kept an open mind. "Waiting around to dance with a lady like you," he answered, raising a brow.
Her face lit up with pleasure. "How did you know I came to dance?"
Setal laughed. "I'm a bartender; I know everything."
"And you are modest, too," she winked. "Do you rumba, Mr...?"
"Soren," he said. "Yes, I can do all dances, in fact," he informed her confidently. "When you finish your drink, I'll show you—if you are so inclined to honor me, of course."
The woman giggled as she sipped through her straw. "I am inclined. My name is Celeste," she introduced herself.
"A lovely name," he remarked as he sliced the citrus fruits behind the counter. He made a point of paying attention to his task so that he wouldn't cut himself.
When she finished, he took her hand and led her over to the dance floor. The light from the chandelier prisms splashed colorful rays all over the room as they danced.
"You are a talented dancer, Soren," she said as she stroked the back of his neck with her fingernails. Shivers went down his spine.
"Thank you," he said boyishly, "You are, too."
"You know, the way you smile all the time, you're so cute," she said as he turned her under his arm. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a Romulan."
Setal felt his heart stop. Of course she was a good dancer. She was too good, he realized. And far too attractive to be innocent.
But he laughed it off. "Sometimes I wish I were," he said smoothly, "It would certainly make things easier on me. Vulcans are not as tolerant as they claim to be."
"I can only imagine, mon cher," she said, blinking her long eyelashes with understanding sympathy. That did it. She was definitely a femme fatale. As exciting as it felt to flirt with danger, he had his mission to consider.
He was about to make the excuse that he had to go back to work when a powerful-looking man yelled at him from the doorway.
"Hey, you pointy-eared freak!" he pointed furiously, "Take your hands off my wife!" He wore a Starfleet uniform, but otherwise had the appearance of a person he had once heard described as a "hick."
Setal dropped his partner's hand. Oh…
"Merde!" Celeste swore in alarm. "Blake! What are you doing here?"
Blake grabbed Celeste's arm and forcefully pulled her away. "If you ever go near her again," he threatened Setal, "you're gonna look like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone after I'm done with you!"
There was a pleasant, gentle rain falling outside when Setal left El Club to go home. What a night! He had heard the complaints of countless individuals about their bad days at work. Now, for the first time, he would honestly say that he knew exactly what they meant. He was just glad it was over. To top off the dancing fiasco, the uncertainty as to whether or not his cover had been blown loomed over him.
He didn't get the chance to ponder his lot for long, however. A gang of thugs appeared at the entrance of the alleyway. Their leader was none other than the man who called himself Blake. Setal's superior Romulan strength would have enabled him to easily take down one or two. But there were six of them.
"Where ya goin' pretty boy?" Blake taunted. "Think you're some kinda ladies' man, do ya?" His ruffians laughed, no doubt in anticipation of the beating they were going to give his supposed rival. "Get him!"
The goons attempted to seize Setal, but he managed to take down two of them. Unfortunately, there were too many. Before long, he was overpowered.
"You think you're so smart?" Blake ground out. "Well I happen to work for Starfleet Intelligence. What do you think about that?"
Setal thought he was in big trouble. So, he had been discovered after all. And his interrogator had a grudge against him, too. Things were looking bleak. But he had trained for situations like this. They weren't going to get a shred of information out of him.
"Yeah, I really know how to put the hurtin' on," continued Blake, packing punches with his fist into his other hand. "Get ready, boys! Papa's gonna open up a can o' whip ass!"
"Wait, wait!" called Celeste. She ran over to the hapless bartender. "I'm so sorry, Soren. It would have been wonderful, mon cher," she said with tears gleaming in her eyes. Setal remained silent. Celeste rapturously pressed her lips to his. "That's how we say goodbye in France," she told him sweetly.
Celeste was quickly pulled away. Setal soon realized with dismay that she had only made matters worse for him. Her husband was inches from flying into a rage.
Blake threw Celeste toward the direction of the street. "Go clean the house, baby," he said, "I'll be there soon."
The frightened woman sprinted off without another word. A part of Setal felt sorry that she was involved with such a cruel man. But on the other hand, she had chosen that life. And it was because of her that he would likely be dead before the sun rose again.
Blake overshadowed him. The smell of alcohol reeked from his mouth. "And this is how we say goodbye in Starfleet!" He proceeded to give Setal a sound beating.
As the blows were dealt to him, Setal thought about the fact that Blake was drunk. This wasn't an interrogation, he realized, only the vendetta of a possessive husband. Only? he thought wryly. Though it was clearly the end for him, at least his true purpose hadn't been discovered.
"I'm gonna kill you, boy!" the human roared.
For praetor and empire, Setal reminded himself. And then his vision went black.
"Soren! Are you ok? Soren!"
Setal soon perceived that it was Hajime Fujisaki who was shaking him, trying to rouse him back to consciousness.
"Hajime," he responded weakly. His eyesight slowly focused. It was daylight—that much he could tell. One of his eyes was so bruised he couldn't see out of it at all. He understood, with a great deal of relief, that he was still in the alley and not in captivity. All things considered, he should be grateful to be alive.
What happened?" Fujisaki asked him excitedly.
Setal tried to chuckle, but it came out as a cough instead. "I danced with the wife of a jealous redneck. Only I didn't know she was married."
"Let's get you to the hospital," the admiral started to say.
"No," said Setal, probably a little too eagerly. "I have a med kit in my home. I can handle it."
Fujisaki blinked. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," he insisted. "I hate doctors."
"Okay, okay," Fujisaki said defensively. Then he laughed. "Now I'm starting to think you were wise to swear off women."