I didn't even have to play any mind games. Humans these days are no fun! You'd have thought the superstitious idiots of the past would have been easier to make compliant, but apparently not.
I do up the zip on her dress and stand up as her friend approaches. I offer a hand to Mirry to help her up. She takes it and stands as her friend gets closer. One quick look in the girl's mind tells me her name is Sapphire.
"Mirry, you're with another guy again?" she asks, rolling her eyes. "Don't you ever get tired of playing with their hearts?"
"This one's different," she mumbles. Oh, so I'm ‘this one' now, am I? Apparently my vaguely disgruntled expression goes unnoticed, because Sapphire looks surprised by Mirry's apparently unusual tone of voice.
"How?" she asks, but Mirry shrugs, unable to answer.
"You must be Sapphire," I say, throwing on a charming smile, "I'm Ash." I take her hand and kiss the back of it, before stepping back and keeping a polite distance. Sapphire blushes, but turns her attention to her friend again, one eyebrow rushing up to meet her hairline.
"Since when did you go for gentlemen?"
"Hey!" Mirry exclaims, wounded. Sapphire's confused expression only grows.
"What's happened to you, Mirry?"
"It's amazing what a guy with manners can do to a person. No school like the old school, eh?" I chuckle lightly, my thoughts flickering to the apes that call themselves men now. Sapphire nods and smiles.
"No doubt you'll be a good influence on Mirry." Mirry flashes me a smile too.
"Yeah, I'll say you've changed me," she says, drawing that bewildered look from her friend again.
"What happened to 'no guy can tame me'?"
She shrugs. "I don't feel that way anymore. At least, not around Ash." Sapphire looks between us uncertainly, as if trying to work out if she's being tricked. When she realises that this is no joke, she gives me a scrutinising look that says she's trying to work out what I've done to her.
"There's a first time for everything, eh? Or perhaps she's had a little more to drink than she intended?"
"She's usually worse when she's sober," Sapphire tells me. "But yeah, you could be right." She turns to Mirry, "Come on, Mirry. I think we should get going. Drunk or not, we promised your mother we wouldn't stay out past midnight, and it's about eleven now."
Mirry gives Sapphire a kind of pleading look. "It only takes a quarter of an hour to get home. Can't I stay with Ash for a bit?" Sapphire looks startled and the words in her mouth freeze.
"I'd be happy to walk her home," I offer, "I could walk both of you home, if you like. It's hardly safe to be alone on the streets at night, after all."
"Hmm, I suppose," Sapphire replies. "But with Mirry like this, she'll probably need carrying. I've never seen her clingy before." Mirry doesn't seem to notice either of us, staring at nothing in particular. Her thoughts jump out at me, and I smile slightly as I see myself from her point of view as she relives the kiss. A concerned look etches itself into Sapphire's features and I laugh slightly.
"Someone definitely had too much to drink. C'mon, you," I say, slipping my arm around Mirry's waist. Her first few steps are a stumble, but after a couple of seconds, she seems to remember how to walk and she gazes up at me with a smile.
"What've you done to me?" she asks as we overtake a bemused looking Sapphire.
"Nothing, honey," I glance around at Sapphire, "are you not coming?" Apparently she was deep in thought, because she gives me a look of surprise. But she nods and follows, leaving enough distance between us to allow Mirry to talk to me. I'm not especially interested in talking, but she seems to be. She leans up and kisses me.
"I really like you," she tells me.
"It's the accent, isn't it?" I joke with a smile. She grins.
"Yeah. And that's it," she pokes her tongue out and I chuckle, nodding to myself.