“Come on, it’ll be fun!” General Kenobi grinned, “Three days, in and out. Practically a vacation.”
Fox wasn’t sure whether to stare or to sigh. He settled for clicking off the screen of his datapad and wondering whether it was too late to ask for a reassignment.
It’s not the the general wasn’t right - the assignment was handed down from on high, and they both were the best equipped to wrangle information out of the smuggling ring one of Kenobi’s informants had mentioned to him.
It was just… did he really need to wear those?
As if picking up on his thoughts - or more likely the dour look directed to the gaudy clothing piled in the general’s arms - Obi-Wan Kenobi patted the garishly patterned robes and smiled consolingly at him. The sentiment wasn’t as reassuring as the Jedi seemed to think, and the man sighed.
“I suppose we should get something more suited to your demeanour, then?”
Cody was laughing at him. Cody had to be laughing at him, even if Fox made certain there wasn’t a camera in sight that could record him wearing the appropriately sober clothes the Temple apparently had on hand.
For the love of all things Jango-spawned, he practically looked like a Sith. Kenobi patted his arm, “Your scowl is perfectly charming, dear!”
This time he did sigh, as the general led him to the bar with a merry step to his gait. The ostentatious robes that were originally assigned to him were belted and folded into something that looked - according to General Windu - “suitably leisurely”.
He gratefully accepted the drink Kenobi pushed into his hand, if only to erase the pink and green monstrosity from his memory. “Shall I find a table?”
“You read my mind, darling.” Kenobi drawled, raising his own umbrella-decorated drink with a cheerful wink.
For the general’s sake, he mustered up a smile with the hoisting of his own glass.
Fox managed to find a suitably private sabacc table from which to watch the crowds, the view of the bar and nearby wall of dartboards in relatively easy view. Kenobi seemed to keep this in mind, loitering by a dusty lamp in his line of sight as the general tossed darts in a haphazard manner.
He squinted, wondering if the aurebesh on the dartboard was his imagination or not. From the way Kenobi slung satisfied slurps of his ludicrously neon drink, decorative umbrella tilting madly around the rim, the quietly gregarious stumbling seemed more choreographed than literal. Perhaps the message slowly being etched and erased with each round was the same.
The dealer at his table clicked in annoyance at Fox’s drifting attention, and he gestured back, tapping the table for another card. He nodded when the Lowen flicked a card toward him, the game resuming with scattered murmurs and taps from the other players.
It was an absorbing game, and despite both of them coming in with dossiers for preparation, the obscured identity of their contact was making him restless. Across from them, one of the other sabacc tables was having an increasingly furious argument, with clattering chips being slid across the table and overtaking the tinny pop hits from the old speakers scattered around the club.
“The blue chips are a hundred credits, not fifty!” An Ebranite protested, dappled skin rouging into starker spots with his temper.
The opponent in question, a stocky Selonian whose garb held close similarities to Fox’s own, arched a finely-shaped brow over their fringed eye coverings. “Perhaps I merely misread which was blue and which was green.”
Fox nearly missed his dealer’s next card in the river when a familiar hand clapped on both players’ shoulders. “An understandable interpretation, I believe,” Kenobi interrupted, all smiles to the table across from him. He waved a hand loquaciously, the multitude of convincingly fake rings glittering despite the grimy yellow lights. “Dealer, perhaps they could correct the chips they added to the pot? I think this is a simple misunderstanding, no?”
The Bimm was already nodding, removing the disputed chips the Selonian player had added. Fox raised a brow at his own cards, discarding a couple when he received a Commander card that worked towards the same-suited set he was eyeing. It had the unintended side effect of a Khommite three players down running finger along their temple and raising the pot.
He sipped from his drink, letting the burn encourage him against a smile. The funds for this excursion were from the senatorial wallet, and Fox had few qualms about the expenditures racking up this evening. Kenobi seemed to agree from the way he nearly glided over, settling into a seat that had been evacuated a few rounds ago.
The Jedi observed the round quietly, not acknowledging him as he waited for a polite time to be added to the game. It took a while, a nonsensical pattern to the cards dealt, but the polite attentiveness of Kenobi was making him wonder otherwise.
By the time his drink was nearly empty, the Khommite bowed out, sliding over the last of their money to the dealer with a disgruntled grumble. The Lowen dealer glanced at the general while they shuffled, looking pointedly at the table.
Kenobi smiled, genial demeanour in place as he leaned against the table. It seemed signal enough, and a hand was smoothly dealt to the Jedi as a new round restarted. Fox watched him make a quizzical hum at the cards in his hand, squinting at them in what looked to be curiosity.
The action incited a flutter of movement across the other players, including a cloaked individual that slid smoothly into the Khommite’s former seat. Fox arched a brow at the river being dealt onto the table, the corner of his eye registering the newcomer extend a pair of slim hands politely folded onto the table’s edge.
Kenobi seemed to think the action meant something, for his face smoothed into disinterest as he tapped the table for another card, a relaxed set to his shoulders as he incorporated the newest card to his hand.
For his part, Fox sensed a gentle pressure against his mind, precisely the way he and the general had practiced when they received their assignment. It was a signal that their contact had been found, and he resisted the urge to grumble - this phase in their plan meant for him to lose the game, and being a scant few points away from winning was a sullen realization.
As if in reply - and it likely was - Kenobi smiled, a quick glance directed at him that was accompanied by another push to his mind. It didn’t make throwing the game any more satisfying, but he shook his head at the way Kenobi raised a glass when he departed. The Jedi certainly had a sense of humor.
He ambled over to the bar, picking up something with less alcohol than what his companion had cheerfully pushed into his hands earlier. The bemused smile on his face was more difficult to swap out, but the raucous laughter from the other side of the bar let him pass it off as symptom of unintentional eavesdropping.
It distracted the droid, at least, and he let the carbonated drink capture his attention as he waited for Kenobi and the informant, removing the citrus slice affixed to the rim of his glass and savouring the blend of tart bubbles and bitter-sweet rum.
With the indisputably lurid wardrobe of his case partner easily visible through the fog of smoke from death sticks and other recreational combustibles even from the corner of his eye, Fox decided it was acceptable to lounge on his bar seat, whiling away the time people-watching until he was contacted. Admittedly, it was almost like a vacation, and he wrinkled his nose at the amused, smug tilt to his mind that was distinctly Kenobi.
Imagining a particularly creative invective, he almost missed the foreign brush across his senses, so uniquely unlike the Jedi he worked around that his hand clasped tighter on his glass.
Oh, none of that. His mind thought quite clearly, which was bewildering mostly due to the fact that his internal voice was decidedly more like Fett’s than a woman’s.
Fox blinks, casting his eyes around him. His gaze catches on the same cloaked sabacc player as before, their head tilted just enough to expose two eyes glittering from underneath their hood. Taking a bracing drink, he attempts the response-thought Kenobi coached him through before the mission began, and nods in the direction of the erstwhile sabacc player.
Indeed. The… flavour? Of amusement was quite similar to the general’s, and for a moment he wondered if there were more Jedi lurking around the room. Hmm. No, but I understand the confusion. If you would care to step outside?
He set his glass down slowly, chancing a glance at the only Jedi firmly accounted for.
Kenobi was still at the sabacc table, but with the way he was gesticulating, Fox guessed that he and the informant would be joined by the man soon. Sighing a mental shrug, he gestured to the bartending droid to pick up his drink, sliding a chit over as thanks.
The air outside the bar wasn’t too much better, with how many levels below the surface they were, but it was infinitely more secluded. He enjoyed the meandering route to the rendevous point, wondering at how many places there were in Coruscant left to be explored.
It was… not quite an alley with a dumpster that they met at, but neither was it an unnervingly empty spot with poorly-disguised bloodstains. For a twenty minute walk, it was likely one of the better spots.
And possibly also the scene of his death, with the way General Kenobi stepped out from an alcove with a dark cloak Fox knew the man didn’t have when he left the bar. He glared at the other, thumping the Jedi on his shoulder with a clattering heartbeat as he muttered, “Fuck’s sake.”
“Language,” Kenobi chided with a grin that was altogether too big for his scolding tone. “Wouldn’t want to be impolite.”
He settled for a rude gesture, wishing he had his blaster if only to pat it reassuringly. Kenobi had the nerve to chuckle, and Fox wondered how Cody got on with it all. Though, judging by the usual yarns his vod spun, possibly only with outside aid. It would certainly explain all the droid-punching.
They had only just settled down - admittedly with several rounds of poking fun at each other and some mild gossip about the Senate - that their contact fairly ghosted into the rendezvous point. Kenobi straightened from where he was lounging against the wall, a polite nod to the newcomer.
“Hello.” The general said amiably, as if lounging in not-alleys and making faces at a commander in order to wait quietly was a daily occurrence. Fox raised a brow at him, shaking his head when the Jedi only flicked his fingers at him with a huff.
Hello there. Their contact said, and, oh, that was familiar now. He pointedly refused to stop his smug grin when Kenobi glanced at him in mystified shock, knowing an advantage when he saw one.
Making sure he didn’t bite his lip as he concentrated, Fox wound his return thought to the contact up like he had practiced, assembling all the pertinent information for confirming their contact into the mental equivalent of a sentence.
It seemed to have worked, given the approving nod from their erstwhile sabacc partner and Kenobi’s proud look. Very good, their contact said, I see there are many misconceptions about the soldiers from Kamino.
The wording was… politely put, and a refreshing change of pace. Fox decided he liked them, because the effort was more than what he saw on a regular basis from civilians.
Kenobi chose to conduct his part of the negotiations out loud, possibly to spare him from the taxing effort that was mental communication. Given the building headache behind his eyes, Fox was inclined to agree.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” The Jedi said, his voice in an undertone out of respect for the setting.
The contact nodded slowly, withdrawing a small pouch from beneath their cloak. It was rather plain, but at Kenobi’s all-clear nod, he reached out to grab it. Whatever was in the bag was thin, pointed edges that reminded him heavily of a data chip.
Regardless, he signalled all-clear to Kenobi, arching a brow at their contact in question. They tilted their head to the side, It is a solution to a problem. One, I think, will impact you personally, Commander Fox.
He twitched, shoulders falling back at the unexpected use of his rank and name. Likewise, General Kenobi shifted, stance falling into a battle-ready casualness.
The other raised their hand, slowly lowering it in a recognizable stand-down gesture. He exchanged glances with Kenobi, frowning at the contact.
“We did not come here for personal business,” Kenobi stated, the tension making his tone clipped.
What is personal is also public, was their calm retort. They nodded, cloak obscuring what little features they had revealed during the conversation. Fox frowned some more, not sure how to parse the statement, and by Kenobi’s posture, the Jedi was likewise uncertain.
Eventually, the stand-off dissolved when Kenobi sighed, gesturing for him to remove the second set of rendezvous coordinates. This time when a voice unlike his own reverberated in his mind, the distinct lilt of the general was overlaying his own thoughts, Go here, your payment awaits there.
Fox, not quite one to give up a suspicion without a fight, tensely out-waited the shallow bow made to them, the slip of flimsi delicately taken as their contact disappeared into the outer streets of the quarter.
“You’re writing this half of the report,” He said, pointing at Kenobi as he secured the package in one of his belt’s pockets.
Kenobi chuckled, shaking his head, “I’m sure the Chancellor will find it entertaining to read.”
The Chancellor never did get to read either half of the report, partly because it was never written. Fox didn’t think it was much of a priority when Kenobi found out that the package was indeed a data chip, with some rather pertinent information about the clone manufacturing process.
He sure did receive the blaster bolt, though, and frankly he would forever appreciate Kenobi’s enthusiastic permission to deliver the verbal report with a full clip.