Steady As You Look


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Scene Title Steady As You Look
Synopsis Perhaps it's fitting that of all Kain Zarek's former clients, Wes Smedley would pick up Nicole Nichols as well.
Date April 5, 2011


The pulsing beat of bass throbs through the walls of Rapture, a high-class nightclub in the heart of Harlem. Rows of expensive cars line up out front of the exclusive club and a crowd of would-be patrons wait outside, cherry-picked by the bouncers to have only the cream of the crop on the interior, while leaving just enough eye-candy outside to entice other patrons. The club serves as a respite for the trendy and the influential from the grind of daily life.

On the inside, Rapture is as much a spectacle as it is a structure. Multiple dance floors in tiered balconies overlooking an enormous central dance floor ringed by plush leather-upholstered booths. Pale blue light shines on the wrap-around bar that curved around the back of the establishment, and the entire building is filled floor-to-floor and shoulder-to-shoulder with the pulsing, flowing sea of people dancing to the rhythmic beats of electronic dance music piped through the expansive sound-system.

One wouldn't think that a city under the grip of martial law would have a thriving week-night club scene, but for some reason, Rapture is packed when Wes Smedley gets past the bouncer. He may have cleaned himself up in order to get in, but he still isn't the usual sort of patron. Even the nicest pair of jeans he owns is frayed a bit along the hem at the heel, but his Calvary style leather jacket and tooled boots mark him as either someone who doesn't give a damn about style or someone who is trying to bring the old west back east. At least he isn't wearing a bandana around his neck.

He mutters something under his breath as he steps through the doors, looking back over his shoulder in the doorman's direction as he unsnaps one corner of the jacket to reveal a button-up shirt, letting the leather flap hang when he gets swept up in the sprawl around the dance floor. Too many people too happy about too little - the pervasion of masks is almost unreal. There's no way this many people can be this careless, and to pretend carelessness in an effort to attain it is just…

No, Rapture isn't Smedley's kind of place.

Rather than go to the bar, he picks his way through the crowd toward the booths that hug the wall, keeping his gray-blue eyes narrowed slightly as he searches the laughing groups. At the same time, he can't help but curse his contact for wanting to meet here. Sure, it's got enough people in it, but it's also the sort of place where if you can't feel your bones shaking to the beat, they don't have the music turned up loud enough.

Wes Smedley isn't the type of man that normally gets let into a place like this. And a few of the attractive young woman near the mouth of the club, waiting in the chilly spring air in too little clothing for over an hour for a chance to enter the club are more than a little outraged when the man gets ushered in ahead of them.

But when the woman who makes sure the checks get signed says the cowboy gets inside, the cowboy gets inside. And when Nicole Nichols spots him, she doesn't lift a hand to wave him over or something foolish like attempt to call to him over the music. What she does is tilt her chin upward, peering through a gaze half-lidded and painted in an iridescent blue that matches the shade of her eyes. Though while it shimmers, those eyes glow an electric blue. It also matches her dress. Which, if the glimpse of long legs beneath the table is any indication, is quite short. Appropriate for the setting.

The woman's head tips to one side, gesturing to a spot next to her in the wide, circular booth. There's a burly man standing not too far from there, obviously not at Rapture to enjoy the atmosphere. Coloured lights reflect off his bald head, but do nothing to soften his countenance. He's there to watch over the lady - that much is obvious in the warning narrow of eyes Smedley receives on his approach.

When Smedley's eyes move from Nicole's legs, to her signal, to the bodyguard, he flashes the man a quick half-smile before slipping past him, giving the wall of muscle as wide a berth as possible. He slides into the booth on the opposite side of the woman, taking her in piece by piece while avoiding looking her directly in the eye. "You're Kingsley?" he asks, one eyebrow raised slightly as he studies the woman's left eyebrow.

He frowns and leans against the booth's upholstered back, one hand with fingers curled toward his palm still resting on the table. He glances back toward the bodyguard, his frown gaining a thoughtful quality rather than a speculative one.

"That's right," Nicole confirms. For the purposes of their business, her name is Eugenie Kingsley tonight. "Mister Smedley." One well-manicured hand is offered out toward him. Aside from a writing callus, it's obvious she doesn't work with her hands. She fixes him with a pleasant enough smile, having no similar qualms about meeting his gaze. If she notices she doesn't quite match hers, she doesn't show it. "Sorry it's a bit… Raucous, but the better to avoid being overheard, don't you agree?"

Suggesting that Miss Kingsley perhaps isn't entirely comfortable with what she's asked Smedley to Rapture to deal with. Or maybe it's just a quirk of the lady. She does look rather comfortable in her club attire. "Would you care for a drink? I can have one fetched for you." She has a martini glass to her left. Three olives.

In contrast, Smedley's hands are rough from years of hard labor. But he takes hers with a firm grip, either ignorant of the way it was offered or else determined to treat her like an equal in every way. With the greeting out of the way, he sets his hand back down on the table and glances at her drink. "Whiskey," is all he says, and he waits until the drink has been ordered, arrives, and he's taken a sip before discussing matters further.

He sets the low-ball glass on the provided napkin and slings an arm over the back cushion of the booth. "I gotta say, Kingsley, it's your lucky day. It ain't usual for me to have a stash sittin' around. Way things are, some'uh my regulars'd…well, let's just say they'd jump at this sorta chance."

Rather than flag someone down, Nicole reaches for her BlackBerry and punches something into the keypad. It's swiftly resettled on the booth next to her again, nestled against her thigh. Presumably so she'll feel it buzz if someone needs her attention. Whiskey and a second martini show up moments later.

"Then I find myself feeling very fortunate indeed, Smedley." Just as he treated her like an equal and shook her hand, rather than take it how she offered it, as a lady (a test he passed with flying colours), she does him the courtesy of dropping the Mister from his address. "Do you always put new customers ahead of your regular clients?" she asks with a playful twist of her lips.

"You flatter yourself, Kingsley," Smedley says with a tilt of his head and a wry smile. "We ain't got a deal yet. I know the song and dance th'others'll run in front'uh me. I don't need to hear it." He focuses on her nose and squints, leaning slightly away to affect looking at more than just that spot. "When someone new peeks their head up, I like to at least hear'im out. Opportunity bein' like it is these days." That is, not very common.

But he wouldn't be sitting here at all of the name Eugenie Kingsley hadn't checked out against the few resources Smedley uses to feel out new people. That's a credit to her, or at least the reputation of the name. The bodyguard helps too, and Smedley looks at the man's back once more before he folds his arms on the table and leans forward, curling a hand around his glass. "So what've you got for me apart from a generous knowledge'uh fine applications'uh distillation?" He lifts it and gives her a quick nod before taking another drink.

A sliver of a grin is offered in return for admonishment. More points for Smedley there. Nicole lifts her (first) glass to her lips for a sip while he talks of opportunity, then cants her head to one side, lifting the plastic skewer with its speared olives. She doesn't pluck one free just yet.

"I'm not ashamed to admit that I underestimated your business skills. Make no mistake, your name carries all the weight you should hope that it should in the circles you wish it to. But…" Blue eyes scan Smedley's form up and down once, punctuated with a lift of brows. Just look at you. "As for what I have to offer you, I have money. I'm assuming you like money."

The plastic pick is held between dark blue-painted nails, microglitter sparkling in the flashy lights of the club. Nicole eyes it, or perhaps her nails, with a deceptively casual affect. "But if there's something else you'd prefer in exchange for what you have, I'm open to negotiations." Finally, she gently sets her teeth around the lowest of the olive and slides it off the pick, peering at Smedley from the corner of her eye.

A breathy, snort of a chuckle escapes Smedley as he sets his glass back down. If he noticed Nichols' critique, he doesn't outwardly show it. "Money's the easy answer. You have something else in mind?" He gives her his own once-over, still avoiding direct eye-contact. "You know this sort'uh exchange ain't my usual business." She must, if she knows his name and reputation well enough to have caught wind of his current need to off-load goods. It wouldn't surprise him if she even knew it was because his original buyer flaked.

"You're pretty well set up," he comments, leaning back again. "Or at least well enough to make it look like y'are. S'trait not so common anymore. So I'm thinking," and he shrugs, affecting nonchalance, "you turn out to be as steady as you look, we might be able to have a more regular relationship."

The bodyguard withdraws an envelope from inside of his suit coat and sets it on the edge of the table, then slides it to Smedley. "I trust that's enough to cover what your previous buyer offered, and incentive to pursue the possibility of a more regular relationship?" It's much like when she stands up in front of the press to announce that the candidate she's speaking for is launching an exploratory committee to research the idea of perhaps running for office. The only promise given is one of consideration. Nicole doesn't watch Smedley to see if he decides to count the bills or not.

"The excess is also in exchange for your discretion. I have other outlets I could tap for a deal of this nature. However, I want this left off my books, so to speak?" Nicole tips her head to one side, dark hair spilling over hone shoulder. "This is something of a… side venture, you could say? I'm not out for profit, or to undercut anyone else. You come through for me, and I could perhaps see about opening further opportunities to you. I'm not the only one in the city with needs you could fill, but I do make a helluvah mouthpiece for them."

Smedley watches Nicole carefully as he lifts the envelope and opens it, thumbing across the array of bills inside to make a quick estimate of the total sum. It's easier to look at her when she's not looking at him. A smile curls across his face, and he tucks the envelope in his coat via the open flap. "Sure," he says as he dips his hand into one of the slim side pockets, drawing out what appears to be a key to a subway locker. He holds it up, then tosses it gently across the table.

He doesn't mention the fact that he knows the steps to the dance she's suggesting. Even with the man dead, it wouldn't be right to drag his name through that particular kind of mud. Or the names of the clients he gained from it. "Speakin' of," he says before taking another quick sip. "You find that," and he nods toward the key, "t'be…satisfyin', and I'll see what I can do t'set up a regular run'uh it." He narrows his eyes slightly at her, trying to determine whether or not she's the intended recipient of the goods. The end-user. But it's a difficult brush to paint with - not like others. "Then again, you need an A-to-B, and well," he shrugs, lifting a hand, palm up, his smile widening toward a grin. It would be a pleasure, the grin seems to say. A profitable pleasure.

"You'll hear from me one way or the other," Nicole promises. Whether she's pleased, or disappointed. Judging from the way that bald-headed linebacker over there squares his shoulders, but doesn't even need to look over his shoulder at the table, Smedley should hope that Kingsley isn't disappointed. The smile she flashes him, however, suggests that she doesn't expect to be disappointed. "It's been a pleasure making your acquaintance, Smedley. I won't keep you. I'm sure you have other clients, and other interests." The key is slid off the table and somewhere beneath the low drape of Nicole's dress. "Do take care out there."

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