Mission Day Four - Part 2
After seeing Ahsoka to her dressing room, Rex went searching for the manager of The Catalyst, a human male he'd met twice before by the name of Rhyn Qualilles - Quill for short. He wasn't hard to find, having an office on the second floor of the cantina, and Rex wasted no time in climbing the stairs to the next level.
Rhyn was in his office when Rex was announced and shown in, going over what looked to be an account ledger and adjusting numbers. As Rex was shown in, he finished his task and placed the stylus aside, offering a smile and a gesture to the seat across from the desk. "Rex. Good evening." The cultured tones were even and refined. "Please; have a seat."
Rex sat, though he had no desire to, and took in Rhyn with a look.
An older gentleman with tanned skin and piercing, shrewdly intelligent green eyes, Rhyn Qualilles was not what Rex had envisioned an owner of this kind of establishment to be. His silvering golden hair lent him an air of respectability and refinement that well matched, what Ahsoka had called, classically handsome human features, and a smart wardrobe. All in all, the image before him didn't appear to belong to the owner of the establishment, but one of its higher class patrons.
"What brings you to my office this evening, Rex? Nothing wrong with your Kora I presume?"
"You promised me safety, Quill," Rex returned shortly, "and my girl was attacked last night; damaged." He narrowed his gaze on the older man.
"An unfortunate event that prevented her from entertaining the clientele you'd no doubt engaged for her."
Rex wasn't about to inform the other man he'd shot the only two who'd been interested in paying the price for her. "She was damaged; only an old recipe from her people and a full night's rest let her recover."
"Regrettable," Rhyn agreed. "Perhaps she can make up the lost revenue this evening."
"She'll dance," Rex growled, wanting to cut his tongue out before continuing, but knowing he had to play the part, "as we agreed but your clients from last night cost me credits!"
"And your girl's lack of customers cost me," the deep green of Rhyn's eyes gleamed with carnal intent, "she could entertain me to make up for it."
There was a moment of silence as Rex realized what the other man was suggesting. Bile rose in the back of his throat as he momentarily saw red. He slowly rose to his feet, placed both hands on the desk, and loomed over the older man, glaring. "Your clientele damaged my girl; she didn't work because your people couldn't protect her. The way I see it, your establishment couldn't live up to our agreement," he patted one of the pockets on his coat, "and you owe me for her lost earnings."
"Never; she should have kept working."
"She couldn't stand."
"Is standing a necessary requirement for entertaining a few gentlemen? Last time I checked, most Burlesque Coquettes are on their knees or their backs."
Narrowing his gaze at Rhyn, Rex smile coldly, more of a smirk than a smile, gritting his teeth as he wished he could plant his fist in the man's face. "The fall was hard enough to rattle her, Quill; she was no use to me."
Also known as Hustler speak for she couldn't have worked to standard. Rhyn leaned back in his chair and folded his hands together. "Then perhaps it's time you add another girl or two to your repertoire, my friend."
"Perhaps I should take her elsewhere," Rex pushed off the desk, seriously considering scrapping the mission right then. There were other ways they could get close to their target. None as effective, be he was certain, but they'd figure something else if need be. He crossed his arms over his chest. "Some place where she'll be appreciated for her talents."
"And where would you go? No other cantina in this forsaken town will take in freelancers!"
"Then perhaps I'll take her into an exclusive cantina." The threat wasn't an idle one; Rex knew Ahsoka could not only match, but exceed, the talents of the girls she shared the stage with if she needed to.
"We have an agreement!"
"Yes, Quill; we do," Rex pulled the data rod with said agreement from his pocket and placed it with a deliberate motion onto the desk before Rhyn. "And you're going to authorize it with my new cut."
"Your new…" Rhyn snatched the datarod and slipped it into the reader, his eyes widening fractionally as his head snapped up to glare at Rex. "Forty percent!"
"Call it hazard pay," leaning back down on the desk to put his face near Rhyn's, Rex curled his fingers tight against the wood to resist the urge to grab him by the collar, or throttle him. "Your boys couldn't keep my girl safe last night; I'll do it myself."
"No wanton whore is worth a forty percent cut to her Hustler!"
"Kora has brought you customers you'd never seen before and every time she dances, she will continue to bring in those customers. The further her reputation spreads," and the thought made him sick to his stomach, "the busier your establishment will be. Togrutan females are notoriously hard to control; the novelty alone would make you credits."
Rhyn seemed aware of it and changed tactics. "At a forty percent cut, she works the floor."
"She'll work the floor the night after she gives her first lap dance," Rex snapped. "Only once I'm certain she won't be harmed off the stage, will I allow it."
There was another moment of silence between the two men and Rhyn finally nodded. "Agreed," he skimmed through the rest of the contract, Rex knowing he'd find no other changes, before notarizing it. Ejecting the disc, he handed it back to Rex. "Just don't take too long in deciding when she's to work the floor, friend, or I'll take my percentage out of her hide."
"Try it," growled Rex through gritted teeth, "and you'll be lucky to be sucking your meals through a straw for the rest of your life." He let that sink in for a moment before turning to walk away, his threat having gained him a narrowed gaze. Tough; the man needed to know Ahsoka wasn't to be trifled with - and neither was he. "Pleasure doing business with you, Quill."
He didn't register the response he was certain Rhyn called to his back as he instead focused on eliminating the pressing real urge to permanently damage the man's perfect features, grab Ahsoka and run.
Unfortunately, there was the mission to consider. The mission. He wanted to say damn the mission, scrap it, and spirit her away from the lust filled gazes of the lechers in her audience. But, with Ahsoka still intending to follow it through to the end, how could he do any less?
Ahsoka gained the stage for her second dance, this time with several of the girls as they shimmied and shook and basically looked pretty for the audience without any real skill. It gave her a chance to look towards the small table in an alcove by the stage where Rex had been placed at the beginning of the night. Several creatures had already spoken with him, but as with the night before, two were dead and none approached him during the dances.
She didn't exactly approve of his casual violence but she wasn't about to deplore it either; Rex needed to do what was necessary to protect her; how could she object to that?
While she swayed and danced with several of the other girls, Ishka and Zidel left the stage, practically flowing into the crowd. As a Zeltron, Zidel was a favorite for a reason, but tonight she'd objected to sharing a stage with Ahsoka.
The dance manager had simply laughed at her and ordered her on stage before his voice had dropped away to a menacing whisper. The Zeltron had looked... irritated and flounced onto the stage. Ahsoka was curious to know what threat one used with a real Burlesque Coquette to get her to cooperate.
Watching her now, Ahsoka had to admit that she could learn a thing or two from the Zeltron. She moved through the crowd almost like a bird, flitting from one customer to the next, teasing them with tantalizing touches and flirtatious looks. Dancing and swaying to the music, she appeared to be enjoying herself except Ahsoka could feel the malevolence behind the act. Zidel had no desire to be on the floor and the only reason she was there...
Ahsoka sucked in a sharp breath, missing a step as Zidel's focus shifted to Rex and stayed there. No. A quick jab in the side from another of the girls reminded her to move and she resumed her mindless swaying, her heart climbing into her throat.
There was nothing she could do as the Zeltron approached the corner, moving from customer to customer, but obviously with a mark in mind - and Rex seemed unaware of her approach. Ahsoka tilted her head in the dance, catching his eye, knowing he could see hers through the heavily veiled and adorned face, and deliberately shifted towards where Zidel was almost at his side.
Rex turned just as the Zeltron reached him, pressing forward to push her breasts against his face and Ahsoka saw his eyes widen as he withdrew in a lightning quick move. Zidel was no stranger to men though, and Ahsoka could do no more than move with the music, feeling the burn of an unfamiliar emotion in the pit of her stomach as the Zeltron slid into Rex's lap.
"She's good at what she does," the dancer on her left leaned in, touching her shoulder and drawing her around and away into a circle, forcing Ahsoka's eyes off Rex. "Zidel will handle your Hustler."
I don't want her to. Ahsoka choked back the immediate reply, unable to help the way her gaze went straight back to Rex as they faced forward once more, spinning slowly apart to four corners of the stage. Each rotation showed her a scene she didn't want to see.
Zidel sliding her hands behind Rex's neck, his on her wrists. A switch in perspective and she could now see Zidel arching backwards and down as Rex pulled her arms back, an obvious attempt to dislodge her but one that pressed the much better endowed Zeltron's chest to his.
Ahsoka felt sick as she turned again with the dance only to find Rex had pushed Zidel from his lap but she was now facing away from him. Undulating against his hold, Rex's hands were clearly visible on the dancer's hips, but she'd planted herself in his lap. Firmly; her feet were hooked around Rex's ankles.
The urge to do something, to tear the hussy's hands from Rex broke upon her with the force of a crashing wave or rough landing. It was agony to stand there knowing she could do nothing and consoled only by the fact that he was pushing Zidel away. He was...
He wasn't and, as Ahsoka watched, Zidel straddled one of his thighs, baring her teeth at the clone.
Ahsoka saw red.
Rex tilted his head away but not fast enough to avoid having his earlobe nipped by the aggressive dancer.
"Come on, honey," she told him with an almost feral smile, "I could teach you things that little horn head has never even heard or dreamed of."
The context of the offer wasn't lost on him as she slid closer, pressing her knee against his aching groin, her short nails raking the back of his neck - and for a moment Rex was tempted. She was willing and experienced and while she wasn't Ahsoka, she could no doubt provide the kind of relief his body craved. For a second he considered it, picturing it, wondering what it would be like to have her take him backstage.
Her breath feathered across his cheek. "It's not natural for a Hustler to have just one girl," her words were a purr, holding a power of suggestion he'd never encountered, "you must get tired having the same thing night after night; a little change never hurt anyone."
Indecision allowed her to ease further forward, her free hand on his chest, sliding downwards with deliberate intent. Rex made no move to stop her and she nipped him again as her fingertips slid under the band of his pants, teasingly, promisingly, the heel of her hand applying an intimate pressure.
"Nothing to say, Rex?" her lips pressed against the joint at the back of his ear, her teeth scraping along the bone as her hand applied pressure below his belt, her breasts pressing against his chest. "Youth has its advantages, but experience comes with age…"
He half closed his eyes, his breath escaping on a hiss as her fingers flexed.
"You've large hands, Hustler. Hands to bruise and spank and pin." She breathed against his neck, her words a breathy invitation, "Spank me; pin me; bruise me; when there's as large a man as you for a reward between my legs, I'd be your willing slave."
The seductive murmur of her words painted a picture he could practically see. Of having her pinned against the wall with the full force of his grip; of putting the temptress at his mercy as he gloried in her submission.
"Take full control, Rex; dominate me, own me... find your girl some other company and come with me..."
Her lips slid along his jaw, her tongue darting out to taste his skin, and it was that touch that startled him, jolting him partially free of the spell she was weaving. He stiffened, clenching his hands to find they were still on her hips and gave her a reflexive shove, growling low in his throat. It was enough to push her back from the top of his thigh to his knee and dislodge the hand at his belt.
"Mmm," she lifted free in a single move -
-and let out a shriek as she was suddenly tumbling around and towards the stage. Crashing into a table back first, Zidel was saved from hitting the ground by a couple of quick handed patrons.
Rex was on his feet as she moved, looking around; he hadn't struck her that hard.
No one was in the vicinity, but his gaze darted to Ahsoka unthinkingly for support only to see a smug smile peeking through her veiled features. She made a gesture he was familiar with, but couldn't immediately place, and he was pulled forward two steps before planting himself to prevent it further.
His head cleared as the Zeltron moved away, assisted by her adoring fans, and it was then he realized what Ahsoka had done.
Daringly, one might say stupidly, she'd hauled Zidel from his lap with the Force.
The music dwindled away, the girls sashaying off the stage to the roar of the crowd. Rex, his mouth dry, resumed his seat, eyes narrowed, as he watched Ahsoka disappear. He was taking a sip of his drink when a shadow fell over his table and Rhyn, without being asked, slid into the empty chair.
"What do you want for her?"
"She's not for sale."
"Everything is for sale, especially a beautiful dancer; name your price."
Rex shook his head and placed his glass back on the table. "Not tonight, Quill."
"Then perhaps a favor for a favor," Rhyn raised his hand, drawing the Zeltron who'd been in Rex's lap over with a snap of his fingers. "Zidel could bear to learn a few new tricks... and I'd love to teach your Kora some of mine."
Over my dead body. Rex's smile was as easy as it ever got - a half smile with a tilt of his head. "Another time; I've already offers to fill her night."
"I could pay them out," the suggestion was more of an order Rex chose not to follow, "Kora moves exquisitely - I simply must know the feel of her beneath me." As he spoke, Zidel placed one hand on the side of Rhyn's face, stroking it, her eyes on Rex even as Rhyn continued. "Hustler to Hustler; Manager to patron, it would be remiss of me not to know what is being offered in my own establishment, wouldn't you agree? Zidel for Kora for the evening – it's a more than fair trade."
Rex shook his head and was about to answer when Ahsoka slid around the back of the booth, the hair on the back of his neck standing up as her fingers trailed over the crown of his scalp and down. "A fair trade, Rex?"
Her voice was a purr, but off enough Rex's gaze flashed to hers. He almost winced; he knew that look - knew it well. It was the look she turned on her Master when he did something stupid enough to cause major injury. Irritation and frustration normally laced with concern; the latter was decidedly lacking. "Kora, this is Quill; he owns The Catalyst."
Ahsoka extended her hand, bending far too far over the table for Rex's liking as she offered it to Rhyn. "I can't thank you enough for the opportunity to work in this fine establishment... and the chance to bring it a touch of class."
Rhyn accepted her hand, drawing it to his lips, and her further across the table top, his eyes blazing in a way Rex didn't like one bit. With the costume she was wearing, he could bet Rhyn was getting an eyeful and then some. Reaching forward, he grabbed Ahsoka by the hips, his fingers brushing against her flesh, and hauled her off the table and down into his lap, yanking her hand from Rhyn's in the process.
Good; he didn't want the creep touching her anyway.
Ahsoka didn't fight but instead turned towards him, sliding her knees apart a touch for balance and shifted to straddle his thigh. The one still under the table. It left her intimately pressed against him from hip to shoulder, her wide blue eyes staring up into his face. "You spoke of a trade, Rex; did I interrupt an intense bargaining session?"
Casting her a cautionary look, Rex turned his attention back to the pair across the table; a pair that appeared to have taken Ahsoka's initiative as an invitation. Rhyn arched an eyebrow, motioning to Ahsoka as Zidel's arm moved up and down just below the edge of the table; Rex didn't have to ask what she was doing.
Rhyn, however, seemed to take it as nothing out of the ordinary, nodding to Ahsoka. "Shall we trade, Rex? A... sample for a sample?"
Ahsoka's eyes narrowed, he caught it from the corner of his eye, and he tightened his grip on her fractionally. If he didn't play this just right, she'd end up the manager's play thing for the night; he had to focus. Doing so with a sexy, aggressive Ahsoka in his lap wasn't exactly an ideal circumstance.
She turned her head before he answered and addressed Rhyn herself. "Only a fool trades a taste of good whisky for that of cheap ale." She cocked her head coquettishly, visibly pressing herself into Rex's body, "perhaps some other time... when you've something of real value to trade."
Zidel sucked in a sharp breath as the barb found its mark and Rhyn let out a delighted shout of laughter. "Oh Rex, a gem! A corusca gem; you've let her keep her spirit!"
Ahsoka slid from Rex's lap, making him tense as she dipped under the table, the tips of her montrals the only thing visible as she pressed her face to the inside of his knee. The tiny, sharp points of her teeth penetrated the leather and pricked his skin with enough of a pinch to mark. It was all Rex could do not to jerk as she, somehow, managed to slid out gracefully and twirl to her feet.
Without a backwards glance, Ahsoka walked away, leaving Rex to nurse a wound and try to explain to Rhyn about his girl's sense of self. It was not, Rex would reflect later, a pleasant or easy conversation but one that, in the end, only solidified the owner's determination to secure a night with her.
A night, Rex vowed, that would never happen.