Chapter Four / Lessons LearnedMature

            All three declined.  Henry allowed his gaze to follow Seymour as the merman paced over to the bar and leaned against it to order, setting his lean frame in profile.  He really was quite attractive.  His form was an even mixture of hard angles and smooth curvatures, all wrapped in clothing that was worn out, but fashionable and well-fitting.  Henry found himself imagining him without any of it on.

            A few minutes later, Seymour returned with a large goblet of something-or-other and collapsed in his chair once again.

            “Let me get this straight,” he said into the goblet.  He took a long draught from it, then set it down on the table and folded his webbed hands.  “Did you know of his arrest by the time he went on trial?”

            “I was notified, yes,” Alasdair replied.

            “And yet you let a seventeen-year-old with no resources and presumably little to no legal knowledge take the stand in his own defense?”

            The alt-mage shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  “Correct.”

            “Why?” asked Seymour, eyes wide with indignation.  “Or did you not want your lofty governmental position sullied through any acknowledgement that you were related by blood to a male prostitute?”

            “At the time, I felt it was his father’s call to make.”

            Glaring at him, the detective took another swig of his beverage and leaned forward on his elbows.  “And tell me, sir, why should a man who would deny his own child a safe place to live have any authority in the matter of that child’s future?  And don’t look at me like I’m some sort of mystic mind-reader.  Well-adjusted adolescents with loving parents and a place to call home generally don’t end up on the streets.”

            “Yes, I understand that now,” said Alasdair.  “That’s why I’m taking action to get him out of there.  Anyway, he’s surely learned his lesson.”

            Seymour exhaled protractedly through his teeth, closing his eyes and massaging his temples with the heels of his hands.  “Learned his lesson,” he said, his voice low and dangerous.  “Learned his lesson.  Yes, he’s certainly learned a lesson.  That his life is worthless and nobody fucking cares about him.  Fuck!  Fuck you, mage. You make me sick!”

            “I’m glad for that,” said Alasdair.

            The merman opened his eyes and looked up.  Henry saw that this time, his eyes were indeed glassy with unshed tears.

            “It means that you’re exactly the right person I need to help him, merman.”

            “And I will,” Seymour said, sniffing and wiping an eye with the back of his hand.  “What do you need me to do?”

The End

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