The sushi bar had a mermaid in its fish tank.
I was new in town, having just recently parlayed my experience with the Agency into a cushy consulting gig and my hazard pay into a nice little house, and I’d decided to check out the local eateries in the days before the gig officially started. People had told me the southern cities were a little out there, and I’d believed them, more or less, but this…
I didn’t bother pretending I wasn’t staring. It was okay, she was staring at me, too. She was, frankly, gorgeous, which means I really got the better end of the deal. Her hair was greenish blue, her eyes the same, her tail darker shades of the same hues. Even her nipples were blue, a silly conceit, but still a nice look. And her slave collar was mother-of-pearl. Of course.
I smiled at her, because what else was I going to do, really? She managed to stop staring at me – the royals of Tir na Cali do not accept deformity in their ranks, and I had the eyes to mark me as theirs, and a leg missing from the thigh down that I wasn’t bothering to camouflage at all. It was August in Southern California; pants would have been too damn warm. A bathing suit would have been too warm. I’d earned my hazard pay, damnit, and the regen would take months of visits, maybe years.
She flicked her tail at me, with a little bit of a smile. I wondered if she missed walking, too. I raised what was left of my left leg to her in a salute.
I wasn’t feeling much like sushi anymore. I ordered a bottle of sake, warmed, and two cups, one for me, and one for the mermaid.