Annah listened along, at first, with the same look of 'oh god don't laugh' and '...wut' that she'd had. Until Jang started getting racist. The moment Jang brought up slavery, Annah simply got up and slapped Jang hard across the face, ignoring the handful of cheers and that one cry of 'catifight!' from the rowdy patrons.
"Don't you fucking ever!" She shouted at Jang. "I would never!" She yelled. "Never."
Jang's deadened reflexes were a little too slow, and did little to block the oncoming slap.
Of course, all of the writhing fishgirl's bravado dissappeared at the slightest application of pain, and had her blubbering like a child in seconds. The knife in the shoulder was no fluke. Jang just had no concept of self-control or pride. -and no concept of racism, but certainly enough of a history of being taken advantage of to let it blur her barely-existant judgment.
"J-j-aj-jang s-sorry! No hit, no h-hit..." She cowered and covered her head, letting out a garbled, paniced tone. "Jang will be nice for an-nah but no hit... p-please!..."
Annah softened and leaned over towards Jang, wrinkling her nose at the Mermaid's foul stench. "Oh, hey," she had a brief coughing fit. "Look... I'm sorry. I -" another fit "- I know you didn't, ugk, didn't mean it."
"Now kiss and make out! I mean up!" Came a drunken cry that Annah shot down with a hard glare. "Come on. Zach tells me we're shipping out again tomorrow. We're going to give you a bath, and and then I'm going to take you around town and everyone won't be able to resist what a pretty Mermaid Jang is." Annah said, forcing a smile before standing up straight and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
Fresh of course, being a relative term. The bar, like most of Latoti, stunk of fish, cheep booze, and more than a hint of vomit, piss, and in the nastier places, shit and sex. But it was a generalized, dispersed, miasma, as opposed to the concentrated density of Jang's uber-funk.
Jang was backing away with a tremendous grimace, and still on the verge of tears before hearing the word 'pretty'. It was probally fortunate that Annah did not say anything that would make the merperson sound worse off otherwise, because Jang was very much a glutton for free stuff as much as she was a self-important little fish monster.
New words were mouthed, but none made it all of the way out. She looked over to a member of the jeering crowd, then down into the floor. The faint squeeks continued. Every once and a while, a quick glance was given to Annah, as if the woman was supposed to understand. A nod. Just one. Was she agreeing?
After a while she made a trip to the bar, and returned with a drink that might well have been called 'something expensive', and handed it to Annah with a miming action for her to consume it. It was blue. There were far too many little umbrellas in it.
The dancer could have sworn she caught another half-mumbled string of words.
It sounded like "Not hate."
Groh watched the hot piece of ass and his merlady companion from his cosy seat near the musicians at the back of the bar. It wasn't until Annah slapped Jang, full throttle, in the face that he showed particular interest in their discussion. It was a little odd to see his companion blubber at the slap she had received, but he had always suspected that most of Jang's character was bravado. Although a decent fighter and a loyal comrade, and someone who would take an arrow to the throat without so much as a wimper, he had always suspected that if she were hurt with any degree of intent to attack her emotionally, she would collapse like a house of cards. Groh felt nothing at the sight of being proved right. Every man, woman and child of every race and species he had ever met had been the same, a scared little emotional mannequin. A mannequin that could paint itself any colour it wanted, and with all the paint in all the worlds to allow those layers to set as thick as they wished. But beneath that paint was that same old mannequin, untouched, unchanged, just as small, scared and emotional as it always was.
Victims...Aren't we all?
He then heard that this Annah girl wanted to take Jang around town too make her pretty or something like that. This made Groh chuckle within himself. There is a reason why polishing a turd is completely futile.
He finished his drink then strolled over to their table, interjecting in their moment of awkward silence. He sat down, unannounced, on an available seat and looked directly at Annah as he spoke, a roguish smile across his inebriated face.
'My dear, sweet, soon-to-be-moist cunt, it would be unwise of you, or indeed anyone, to try to change my friend here into something she isn't. Somebody who stinks like a fisherman's dick after a lonely month at sea, would surely wish to remain that way for all her days, since this is all she has known. This way of smelling and this poor command of the common tongue is her way of being, and I for one find it charming.' He slapped his massive, ape-like paw down on Jang's hand in a 'matey' way. 'Change ain't good for most, my little stiff-nippled maiden.'
He turned away from Annah and stretched out his arms, looking between the two of them as he spoke. 'Why don't we celebrate this new period of non-change with a few dozen beers, hey? I'll even let you buy your own, hows that?'
Annah smiled at Jang and took the drink before giving the Hadozee a shrug. "Did you know that if a shark stops moving, it dies? Life is change." She laughed and smiled though. "And no one can make someone into something they're not. We're not things. People, that is. Our lives are our own." She smiled at Jang and gave the merlady a wink. "Right, Jang?"
"R-r-r-right, hear? Old J-J-Jang was pre-tteey w-when had eye both face same and w-was not lined, I was, h-hear?" Jang spoke as if she was planting some great pearl of wisdom alongside the insight of the other two, through she was still a bit shaky and her entire body seemed to bob up and down with effort upon each syllable. The rudimentary fishgirl made it obvious with her face that she didn't really understand what the other two were trying to say, however, and probably just wanted to feel involved. "But still good because people scare of Jang and not fight and funny and sometimes-think-rob-but-not-even-if-then-maybe-do-because-not-good! But not, hear, like Annah, who not, or Groh, who... more is... hear? Right?"
She wasn't really sure which part of Groh to return the affectionate part towards, either, so she just stroked his face.
But then Annah was left out.
So she stroked the dancer's face too.
Then, she did it some more. She really liked doing that.
"Gruh and Annuh are friends and scary and good look and Jang do likeee!~"
Annah gave a confused smile and shrugged. "C'mon, Jang, let's get you that bath 'fore I get too drunk to remember what I'm s'posed to be doing." she smiled taking Jang by the hand and leading her out, giving Groh a bit of a 'hair' tussle and bumping her lovely bum into him. "And you can keep on dreaming about me." She laughed with a wink.
Nobody liked to see Annah go, but it was fun watching her leave.
Annah ended up taking Jang to a 'tavern' she used to dance at and where she was still friends with most of the working girls. Apparently they were either really good friends with Annah, or maybe they owed her favors, because they were willing to chip in as Annah did her best to give the struggling and fighting Jang-thing a bath.
"There! Don't you feel good, Jang?" Annah smiled at Jang who was all dried off and clothed. "You smell good too!" She smiled, which is to say Jang smelled like Annah, which is to say she smelled like a cheap pirate whore who wore too much perfume, but given what Jang smelled like normally, 'burning abattoir' would have been a marked improvement in the odor department.
Jang just sat there, looking terrified, doing a remarkably good job of curling that nearly five-foot tail into the towels that were given to her. It wasn't that she was afraid of being seen naked; It was fear of what evil foam potion that Annah was planning on dunking her into next...
"...J-j-jan j-jang h-have clovez bak noaw plees?..."
Every once and a while she coughed and heaved forward a little, the result of trying to inhale pure jangwater through the gills on her back. She didn't like peoplez looking at her 'lined-up not openin' eye, without the patch, either.
"...A-annnar, and why you make me smell like a foods... h-hear?..."
A polished faye good-smelling thing she was, but merbarbarian was still miserable about it.
"We... uh... we burned your clothes because um.. well we tried cleaning them but the clothes seemed to like... fight back." Annah gave a little laugh and a shrug. "Here. You can put these on. They're one of my friends. I'd lend you some of my clothes but um... I don't think they'd fit. You know." She gave Jang's much smaller chest a point then pointed at her own immense norks. "See?"
She handed Jang a pile of clothes and smiled, giving the mermaid a kiss on the forehead. "Friends?"