Pale looked around the little room and shifts in her chair. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s nothing like the TV shows. The coffee is nice and she’s not allowed to smoke. She’s not allowed to read her book either so she just waited for a while, staring at the white walls and thinking about what she could and should be doing with her Saturday afternoon.
Two police officers flew in and Pale sat up, stretching her own yellow wings out behind her with a little flutter and a shake before they settled again against her back. She smiled at them but they didn’t smile back and she waited for one of them to talk.
“Pale Hanaharn?” the first asked.
“Yeah, that’s me, what did you want?”
“Are you honest?”
It was an odd question to start out with and didn’t really answer her own question. They were older than her by quite a bit and their wings were starting to shrivel around the edges even as their faces remained wrinkle free, their hair thick. Not a lot could be done once the wings started to go though, she mused, her own wings would go eventually.
“Mostly,” she answered after a thought. No one had ever asked her outright like that before. Laid out in front of her she supposed she wasn’t always honest but she wasn’t a bad person.
“It’s a yes or no question, Miss Hanaharn.”
They didn’t reply and Pale sighed, shifting again in her chair so her wings weren’t crushed against the plastic of the chair.
“Yes then,” she tried.
The men looked at each other and nodded. A slide was placed on the projector and they flicked the switch on the side of the box. An image popped up on the crisp white wall and Pale turned to look at it seeing a slightly blurred photo of Chain’s Goods – a little store that sold a little of everything. She wasn’t sure what it had to do with Pale being honest but then she wasn’t really sure why she was there. She flexed her wings, an old reflex she couldn’t shake when she was nervous. She had always been a bad liar, that’s why she was mostly honest. She had a huge yellow tell on her back.
“Yeah, Chainy sells some good sodas,” she said.
The men looked at each other and nodded. They put another slide in the projector, and Chain’s store was replaced with the man himself and another Pale didn’t recognise. Again, it was blurry and dark, the two men were standing in an alley; probably the one by his store she guessed.
“Know this man?”
“No, never see him before.”
Another slide and another blurry picture. This time of Pale and the second man, she was holding out something but she couldn’t make it out.
“I’m sure, I don’t remember meeting him.”
She shrugged, looking back at the two men. Green wings were fluttering a little violently on one of them and she wondered if it was a tell like her own but then he raised up into the air and flew out of the room. Pale looked back at the second man, who flicked the projector off and turned to face her.
“We need you to do something for us,” he said.
“Whaaaat?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.
“The second fairy is called Arthur Linseele,” he said, “he’s a dust dealer in your neighbourhood.”
“We’re having trouble getting close to him. He knows every single undercover we send in,” he explained but Pale didn’t reply, she just waited until he told her what he wanted from her. “We need you to get close to him. You live in the neighbourhood, you’ve met him-”
“I’ve bumped into him.”
“He knows your face, Chain knows you.”
“He sells me soda,” she cuts in again, wings fluttering behind her.
“We can’t even get close enough to take a decent picture, we need someone to get close enough to him to get more information.”
“Are you paying?” she asked.
The police officer looked stunned and Pale stood up.
“Look, I have a full time job, and a relatively active social life,” she said, raising into the air and off her feet. “I don’t have time to be spying on my neighbours and some guy I’ve never met before.”
“We have a picture.”
“He probably asked me for a light,” she said, throwing her arms up. “Look, it was nice to meet you both, but I need to get going.”
She flew out of the room and didn’t look back – this had been a huge waste of time.
For the police at least.
Pale went straight to Chain’s. She was pretty sure she shouldn’t, but she wasn’t involved with anything. She wasn’t involved with Chain and she wasn’t involved with the police. She just wanted to work in her crappy admin job that meant she could afford her rent and her bills and left her enough for a damn slightly illegal soda from the human world now and then.
They obviously didn’t care about the sodas from the human world, they would’ve shut him down years ago.
She smiled at the young woman serving as she went towards the fridges in the back, landing close by and walking on the cold ground the last few feet. She wasn’t sure of how it worked but she didn’t care – somehow she got to drink 7UP and Red Bull and that’s all that mattered.
Apparently, soda came in metal cans in the human world, but that’s all she knew.
She just worked, and played canasta in the bar with her friends at the weekend and drank imported sodas. Then she started the week all over again.
“Pale, my dear, you should try this,” Chain said, reaching into the open fridge from behind her and grabbing one of the glass bottles.
“Tastes a bit better than Red Bull,” he told her with a smile.
“You drink this swill.”
“Sometimes,” he said. “Nice visit to the police station.”
She chuckled. He knew, of course, he knew. She turned so they were facing each other, Chain was a big guy – one of the few she knew to wear shoes – a weird coloured leather that he had wrapped around each foot. His wings were healthy, that much was obvious from the bright blue shining and flapping behind him. She assumed the size of him meant that he could keep himself in the air for very long; she couldn’t remember seeing him fly at all but it wasn’t her business. Maybe so much time surrounded by human things he had an affinity for them. Maybe he really liked his shoes.
Maybe he hated flying.
Pale didn’t care.
“Confusing. Nice viewing of some blurry photos.”
Chain laughed again and handed her the bottle of energy drink.
“They think you’re working with a dust dealer.”
“Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong.”
“And this time?”
He smiled, she didn’t need to know; she didn’t care what Chainy did she didn’t have time for morals. Not right now, but Curiosity would never forgive her if she find out some local gossip. The barmaid lived on gossip and soda.
“A bit of both.”
“Okay, well, just watch yourself cause they’re watching you.”
He nodded, and she walked over to the till.
“Take them,” he said, “on the house.”
“Thanks,” Pale said, raising her drinks at him. “See you later.”