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Show Me Your Teeth
by Miimaas
<< Chapter >>
Three days.

Three days and Ry finally found him.

It wasn’t easy to find out where he is, even with Ry’s connections, and it grated his last nerve like a block of cheese.

He’s had to put off all of his jobs that weren’t time-sensitive, to focus on this one damn search.

The man may be beautiful but Ry couldn’t care less about that now. He’s a pain in the ass who has finally come up for air.

You turn over enough rocks and eventually you’ll find the ants but he’s still miffed about the effort this man made him put into just findinghim; Effort that could’ve been spent on more lucrative activities.

Ohhh… If he wasn’t making so much money off of this one job, he’d have dumped it on someone else to track the guy down and just go collect him from wherever he was, and get the job over with. But Ry learned his lesson the first — and last — time he did that with a high-priority job.

That son of a wounded harpy should be decomposing nicely right about now.

No onecrosses Arson and gets away with it. Especiallynot the ones too cowardly to stab him in the front instead of the back, because trust me, the only time you’ll see him coming is when he’s right in front of you, and by then it’s too late.

The minute he found the man, Ry boosted a better car than usual for this job (an SUV).

It’s a ride that’ll make a one-man kidnapping easier and won’t stand out too much in the getaway, but is fast enough to be maneuverable if need be, and provides more protection than a normal car.

It’s slightly nicer than what he wanted and higher risk, but this whole job is turning out to be high risk — andtedious. The worst kind. So, for the sake of ensuring the safety of the job, he’s willing to walk the edge a little. Obscuring his trail will be easier than trying to balance between getting the job done and doing it safely now. As long as it stays within acceptable parameters, he can clean up the aftermath.

He also cashed in a favor and picked up a special care package from a regular client in the drug leagues.

They were more than happy to oblige the request, considering all Arson’s done for them, and this is a bridge no sane person would burn unless they had no other choice.

Ry couldhave asked for something far more difficult and dangerous of them, with the amount of debt they owe him, but they’re lucky this is what he’s started with. This much is nowhere near repaying that debt, but it’s a decent start and a step into Arson’s good graces, which is a better place to be than the alternative they were edging towards before that call.

Kidnappings can turn messy real fast, but Ry isn’t looking for help. Retrieval is his specialty. Though usually, he hires at least one extra hand for someone like this, in case something goes wrong.

Kidnappings can be unpredictable but kidnapping criminals — particularly skilled ones — are ridiculously difficult. Just about anything could happen.

Sometimes a higher payout is a real bitch, but unfortunately, it’s usually worth the extra leg work.

Besides, if he brought on some temporary help, splitting the payout isn’t the only concern he’d have to watch out for when the target looks like this. He’s had that problem before when the victim wasn’t half as ethereal.

It’s difficult but Ry’s done plenty of solo kidnappings with people who’ve had far more protection than this lone grifter.

Those still rank in his top 20 messiest jobs though, jobs he had to go off-grid for and hideout afterward, but ohdid they have a handsome payout. Almost as handsome as this photo.

Anyway, this club — ‘Paradise’ or whatever — is a dreamfor this sort of thing.

He’s tempted to think it was built for shady dealings, and judging by what he’s gathered on the place, it very well might have been.

It’s always a packed-to-the-brim shameless scene, teaming with the wildest kinds of people. Sweaty bodies coming & going, deadass drunks dropping and passing out in every corner at all hours of the night.

There’s a wide car alley with a side door that only opens from the inside and leads directly to the parking lot. It has one lackadaisical bouncer guarding it that’s only paid to make sure no one tries to go back in once they come out.

There are no cameras except for one shitty piece on the front entrance, and one nicer aimed directly at the cash register (that’s set into the bar so no low-rate thieves can just try to grab it) and the angle of the camera looks like it’s purposely aimed away from the patrons.

Ry also had a contact check for other feeds to see if the real cameras were simply hidden, but nope.

Like he said, the place looks designed to give the impression they care about security but leave no actual evidence. If it looks this easy to a professional, amateurs wouldn’t have any trouble getting away with stuff in here. Provided they had at least some semblance of intelligence to get away with what they were doing.

It must be heaven for a grifter in that club, with all those virtually defenseless people piled in there at all hours of the day and night. This place is one of those rare clubs that isn’t too shabby looking but also not a high-class bar, attracting a nice mid-crowd of both ends of the working classes. You wouldn’t be singled out no matter how padded or thin your bank accounts are.

No wonder it’s “Chol’s” favorite spot. It could very well be where he met this ‘CEO Dae-hee’ in the first place.

Ry can’t imagine this client being much of a clubber. Then again, it’s probably a good bet that half the people in Paradise aren’t there for clubbing.

The good news is, he doesn’t have to worry too much about cops, because it’s a known criminal hotspot.

He didn’t recognize it at first, but he’s actually heard of this place before. A few clients have wanted to meet here in the past (of course that never happened), but he didn’t recognize it until after he did his homework on the place.

As expected, it’s a cesspool for drugs, alcohol, sex, party animals, and most importantly: people who are — at best — loosewith the law.

It’s the perfect hunting ground. He doesn’t socialize, but honestly, this place might come in handy in the future.

Lots of deals go down here; people meeting up, exchanges, information marketers, drop-offs and pickups, prostitution — even high-class call girls with rates and clientele that could rival his own. And nobody wants to mess with or pay too close attention to anybody else’s business lest it get them into hot water.

It’s like the modern equivalent of a pirate town.

No one would even think of calling the cops even if they do see something going down, for fear their own business will be disrupted, investigated, or worse: they might cause problems for the wrong person.

It was a good idea not to go in personally and pay off what the underground calls ‘watchers’ instead, to hang out around the club and notify when his target showed up.

Watchers are exactly what they sound like. People who keep a lookout for a certain person(s) in a specific place or area, for a little side cash.

Most of them start as kids in low-income parts of town with high criminal activity, but they get more sophisticated as they grow.

By the time they’re adults, they’re masters of disguise and excel at blending in and slipping out unscathed. Usually, you can turn a kid, teenager, or homeless person into a temporary low-quality watcher for a few spare bills. You see them a lot in movies & tv — even video games with criminal elements, like Watch Dogs and The Last of Us.

For cops, they’re called informants. For criminals, they’re much subtler, more passive, and don’t get involved. Watchers. They only do what they’re paid to do, then GTFO and forget it ever happened. The smart ones, leave as soon as their job is done and make sure that they don’t see or hear anything they’re not paid to.

While his watcher did their job, Ry spent the rest of his time paying off two others to do the same thing in a couple of other places and kicked over rocks anywhere he could afford to; trying to get his prey to skitter out of his hiding place without causing too much of a fuss. It was a long process but Ry didn’t want the target to get wind that someone is after him. It makes the job much harder than it has to be when they run.

Although judging by how hard it was to find this guy, he might have already been running from Dumbo the CEO.

Ry doesn’t know the circumstances in which they parted, but it doesn’t take a professional to see that Chol cut his losses and ran.

He got the watcher’s message barely two minutes ago, his guy is inside the shittily lit club.

It cost him a little extra to scope this place out because it’s almost impossible to see anything happening on the dance floor beyond the wall of sweaty bodies blitzed out of their skulls, jumping around (offbeat) and shamelessly grinding on one another. But he’s definitely here. Someone of that caliber is noticeable even in the dark.

It took less than five minutes to get to Paradise from his nearest hideout which he’d stuck around at in anticipation of exactly this. He had a feeling the club would be the place he’d turn up; call it an educated guess.

Ry positioned the low-end SUV in exactly the right place for a clean fast getaway in the large side parking lot.

The large, dark maroon brick building looks almost like a small converted warehouse but the pounding of the bass can be heard even out here. Any louder and the street lights out front would be shaking.

Instead of heading to the front, he cut through the backside alley and went straight to the fire escape, climbing up the back of the building.

He memorized the layout of the building days ago when he first set up and had it watched.

The air is still cold today, but a little less so than when he usually operates, so the metal wasn’t too cold to pierce through his gloves like it would be in a few hours.

He was up to the second floor in a few seconds and wrapped his knuckles against the window. A moment later it opened and he slipped inside, while a Chinese man in a  satin red dress shirt (with a godawful, cheesy golden dragon design on the chest) closed the window.

Why are all the people he deals with so tacky nowadays? If you’re going to advertise your profession with your attire, at least try to not look like a criminal from the 90s, please. The old gangsters stuck in the 70s have a better sense of style.

Ry ignored the prostitutes on the typical cherry-red sofa tucked into the left corner, opposite to the door in the maroon-themed office.

“Do you have it?” The man spoke in broken, heavily accented French, most likely to avoid his company in the corner understanding their conversation.

Ry doesn’t say this often, but, this guy isn’t stupid. He’s bottom-rung in the criminal world, but he’s the king of that rung. He knows his place and keeps to it, not meddling in the affairs of others — especially those higher on the chain; or like Ry, who takes that chain and will whip anyonewith it, for the right price. Hell, Ry’s been paid to take himself out before. Now thatwas an interesting job.

That still doesn’t mean he trusts this man, which is precisely why he pulled a thumb drive from his pocket and tossed it into the sweaty open palm that barely caught it.

Ry didn’t inform this club owner he’s pulling a job here; that would compromise his operation.

Instead, he pulled a fast job for the owner so his presence will be overlooked from the start. And so he can get an idea of how this place operates; what kind of secrets it has and securities it’s hiding, and how he can work around them if he decides to use the place for future business.

The owner went to his computer and plugged it in while Ry simply stood there, ignoring the girls on the couch eyeing him up, as his side-dish client looked over the photos on the drive.

“Good,” he grabbed a brown paper bag (really?) and tossed it. Ry barely moved a hand, catching it with ease, and glanced inside to make sure it's cash. Normally he wouldn’t work for so little, but this is one of those rare occasions where he gets more out of it than just money.

Call it a… discounted price for the prospect that whatever business he may or may not bring through here in the future remains his, uninterrupted. Whatever it may be.

Stuffing the bag in his pocket, Ry headed to the office door.

——————

The club owner — who was about to ask why he wasn’t going back out the window — stared with his mouth open, the question on his tongue as he watched the door close behind the man.

The owner’s cousin, who put him in touch with this fixer, said this guy gets the job done and he wasn’t wrong. He also said he was odd and never speaks a word, even to his clients — coming & going in the most unexpected ways, without rhyme or reason, but he failed to mention the intense, scarily void presence that surrounds Arson. Like a walking shadow.

He would not want to run into that man in the dark. You’d never know he was there until something menacing started seeping from the dark — or even scarier, there’d be nothing at all to indicate that you aren’t alone until he’s already got you. Like a frickin’ jungle spider. The ones that are like the size of your fist and blend in so well you wouldn’t see it until it’s got your hand or something.

He shivered. That guy gives him the creeps. Definitely not someone to mess with, but it’d be nice to have someone like that hang around. He’d be less concerned about people causing trouble if he could send Arson after them — just having that secret trump card in his deck would put a lot of his worries at ease.

——————

The foggy red windows of the boss’s office overlooking the club from the second floor is the only distinguishable thing in the back of the establishment. The red squares look more like interior design than windows; a smart choice.

Standing in the shadowed part at the top of the staircase, blending into the pitch-black walls that have scatterings of glow in the dark paint like stars, Ry looked out over the spacious dark club.

Anyone looking up wouldn’t even be able to see him, given the colored spotlight-fixtures on the roof (at about his hip from this height), moving in slow circles almost like a spoon stirring a pot, pumping energy into the club alongside the booming sound system. The fact his ears aren’t ringing from the noise when it’s this loud, speaks to the quality of the system.

From atop the matte-black staircase, designed to be unnoticeable against the walls of the club, he can see everything surprisingly well. He made a mental note of it, as his eyes swept over the room.

The massive bar is in the far right corner with glowing shelves, to the left of the entrance, which is opposite the office. The massive dance floor crowds the entire central floor space of the building. A few tables + a VIP area on the left side, mirroring the bar. The, no doubt disgusting, bathrooms are through a hall on the left from where he is. The DJ set up directly below the boss’s office, pumping energy through the entire club, beside the spiral staircase that Ry stands atop of right now.

It’s definitely a converted medium-sized warehouse but they did a good job of covering it up.

Glow in the dark paint, however, means… Ry’s eyes trailed up to the lighting and sure enough, black lights.

Clever. He’s impressed.

A subtle way to tell if anyone has blood on them and deter concealed violence in a room as dark as this with a seedy crowd.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Ry secured a normal black mask over his distinguishable one. If he walked under those lights without it, he’d light up like a neon sign in a blizzard; practically announcing his presence to anyone who might have even the slightest clue of who he might be.

It would draw more attention than he’d like, even if no one recognized him. Best case scenario, a dangerous question of ‘who is that?’ drifts into the minds of anyone who gets a look at him. Worst case scenario — baring being recognized and this job going sideways — is rumors begin to circulate.

Sharp, calm irises scanned the crowd, locking on a woman clad in a maroon dress at the bar. His watcher.

Ry followed the woman’s line of sight to a head draped in silky black locks, reflecting the ever color-changing lights of the club, coming out of the bathroom. And right behind him, a mop of sandy brown hair Ry could have recognized even without the watcher.

Pitch black knee-high stockings cling in all the right places around long legs; faded distressed black short-shorts leave just the right places to the imagination. The space between the bottom of the shorts and the top of the stockings pull a person’s gaze to soft, muscled, and sun-kissed thighs. The fitted black-leather tank top clings like saran wrap to the man’s figure and has so many straps wrapping around his neck holding the backless piece up that it makes Ry wonder how he doesn’t feel like he’s being choked, or perhaps that’s the point.

Finally tearing his eyes away from the man, Ry pulled his phone from his pocket and shot a text to the watcher. Not a moment after receiving it, the woman stood and left.

Ry drew a deep breath through his nose, releasing it through his mouth.

This is gonna be hard. But at least ‘Chol’ is making things interesting.

These jobs are almost always difficult and boring. It’d be a lie if Ry said his spine isn’t tingling with anticipation.

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avatar Xhak - 2022-02-09 19:14:34
love the way you bring the back story and side story in to seamlessly carry the main plot forward ... very smooth
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