[35, 36]

“Look at them.”

Saren ignored him.

“You don’t see Alliance looking this relaxed much. Or this hot.”

He was doing it on purpose.

“They almost got the asari good looks.”

He wasn’t drunk, but more than half of the way there.

“You know,” Nihlus leaned next to his ear, breath smelling strangely sweet with a dull edge of bitter liqueur, “I can just imagine–I’d love it if one of them’s wearing the stripper outfit beneath the uniform, and the other one…eh?” Nihlus nudged Saren in the ribs.

“What, Nihlus?” Miserable charade, this.

“Well, the other one would stick to that uniform, right?” He swirled the leaf-green liquid in his glass. “Maybe that Kasumi girl can give them tips on where to find a good set, ha…”

The tendons of his hand were taut beneath the glove. Nihlus, with the peculiar perception, instantly backed off. “Don’t even start. That’s done and over with.”

Saren stared straight ahead, at the glowing sign advertising all-inclusive vacations to Thessia.

“I betcha it was the Euler’s fault anyway.” His tone indicated that he considered the case closed, dead and reduced to ashes. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think they waved.”

After making sure the din of the club was sufficient to cover his voice, he muttered: “You’re excused.”

“Hey, how’s it going?” Nihlus said.

The music was laying waste to Saren’s neurons.

“‘s nice?”

Saren turned. Nihlus, with an outsized grin, was giving him the two-thumbs-pointing-up gesture. It was, as far as he understood, a synonym for ‘all’s well.’ Each of Nihlus’ arms was draped around the neck of a smiling asari dancer.

“What happened to the humans?”

“Oh, I… got sidetracked. Yeah.”

He took note of Nihlus’ shirt. Clean, not too rumpled. His pants too, as far as he could tell. “Evidently. You wish to leave.”

“Yeah, that too.”

Saren reached for his credit chit. But before he got anywhere close, he found Nihlus’ heavy arms around his collar instead. “I owe you one. Spirits, big time.”

“You owe me one more.”

And then Nihlus kissed him, to the gasps and giggles of the young dancers.

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