An Orange Themed Restaurant

By tercio

> the storm is a blessing and a curse

> your restaurant is barely chugging along

> there's a lot of competition

> everyone says your food is great

> you specialize in dishes using fresh oranges, you have a great deal with some local farmers

> but most restaurants around here have good food

> barely can afford to hire help and you're gradually burning out working long hours doing everything yourself

> you need some kind of edge

> that's where the storm comes in

> this low lying section of the city is under an evacuation warning in case of flooding

> as a result basically everybody has left

> but you plan to ride it out

> you busted your ass waterproofing and fortifying

> you plan to be the first place open after the storm

> hopefully that will get you some loyal customers


> that was a hell of a storm

> power's out and the area did briefly flood a little bit

> mostly just left flotsam but you're sure a few places have water damage

> fortunately your modifications held and your place is bone dry

> you have backup tanks so you can cook even without power

> just need to police the area around your restaurant and you can open-

> Holy shit, is that a body floating in that puddle?!

> Oh God, it stinks like one...

> Is it moving?

> zombiepatientzero.jpg

< "help...."

> really hope you aren't going to regret this

> "Are you OK?"

< "hurts..."

> it's a monster girl!

> one of those blob/slime ones

> there are bubbles fitfully percolating through her body, but not many

> she seems really out of it, like she's barely hanging together

> you have no idea how to provide medical treatment to an amorphous blob

< "please... help me..."

> shit, gotta do something

> "Hang on!"

> you take off your rain coat and try to sort of scoop her up with it so she doesn't break apart

> good grief she reeks, can you really bring her into the restaurant?

> decide to take her to the basement via the back way

> put her in a huge laundry sink leftover from when the building was a multi-family residential home

> still have no idea what to do

> power's out, phones are out, ain't no cavalry coming

> "How can I help you?"

< "uhhhhh..."

> "Please Lady, I'm no doctor. You have to tell me how to help you!"

< "water..."

> dammit, this is going to hurt

> you laid in a large stockpile of potable water in anticipation of the storm but you don't have an unlimited supply

> every bit you give her is that much less you'll have to cook with until municipal services are restored

> but you can't just let her die

> grab a jug and realize you have no idea how slimes drink

> "Should I just pour this over you or...?"

> no response

> oh shit

> wait a minute, why does she need water?

> she was just lying in a pool of water outside

> it hits you like a bolt of lightning: that was SALT water

> she must need the water to flush her system!

> start pouring

> her body soaks it up

> sure enough a few minutes later you see a salty sludge oozing out of her lower puddle and into the sink drain

> she's still unresponsive though

> guess she needs more


> you've gone through a disturbingly large portion of your stockpile by the time she starts expelling clear fluid

> sigh as you mentally cross quite a few things off of your restaurant's menu

> she's still unresponsive though

> you rack your brain: what else could be wrong with her?

> she does seem awfully small for a slime

> maybe she needs to eat?

> what do slimes eat anyway?

> you've heard that all monster girls like semen but there's no way you're jerking off onto a helpless, unconscious stranger

> well, you do have a fuck ton of one thing

> oranges

> grab one, peel it, and drop a single segment into her

> watch as it sinks into her and starts to dissolve

> actually looks pretty cool

> she doesn't come to, but it didn't seem to hurt her any

> toss in the rest of the orange

< "g...ud..."

> hell yeah, everybody likes farm fresh oranges!

> you spend the next few hours peeling oranges and feeding them to the slime girl

> she finally regains her senses enough to speak a little more coherently

< "more... need more... lost so much mass... give me lots..."

> she holds out a trembling pseudopod barely shaped like a human arm

> shrug your shoulders and give her the bag

> she sucks up the whole thing, rinds and all, and then spits out the plastic net bag

< "Mmph, tank ooo..."

> you drag over a few crates of bagged oranges and some more jugs of water so she can reach them from the sink

> "Will you be OK for a bit? I want to see if I can contact anyone to help you."

> she just nods as she sucks up another bag

> head upstairs and try the phone again

> no luck and the cell towers are still down, natch

> take some time to clean up the flotsam in front of your place and put up the "OPEN" sign

> write on the specials blackboard "YES WE ARE OPEN! JUST RING THE BELL LOUDLY, WE'RE AROUND SOMEWHERE!" and head back to the basement

> the first thing that hits you is the smell

> the stench which you originally mistook for a rotting corpse has been replaced by a wonderful citrus scent

> the source is obvious: your guest polished off almost three crates of oranges in the time it took you to clean up!

> she hums happily to herself as she hoovers up yet another bag and takes a swing from one of the water jugs

> you realize that she's eaten so many oranges she's actually turned orange

> is that normal?

> "Are you OK?"

< "Oh thank you so much! I feel so much better now!"

> "Er, do you think you should maybe slow down a little? I'm not sure it's healthy to eat that much so fast."

< "You might be right. I think I'm saturated to the point where I'm just passing nutrients. I'm just so hungry..."

> "You said something earlier about losing mass. What happened to you?"

< "I- I don't remember..."

> "Who are you then? Someone must be worried about you."

> she looks a little scared

< "I don't know!"

> "Hey just take it easy, you went through a lot. I'm sure it will come to you. Once the phones come back up we'll call some help and figure this out."

< "OK..."

> she still looks concerned but you're literally saved by the bell

> you excuse yourself and run upstairs to see two bemused looking utility workers

> you put some coffee on and give them orange strudel you made before the storm as they tell you about the damage they've seen so far

> they thank you for the meal and radio in the news about a rescued slime girl to headquarters

> the disaster coordination HQ says a doctor will be by soon, but the workers warn you that services will be down for a while

> you're pleased to see that the workers take note of your sign as they leave

> by being open now and handing out free food you've earned some goodwill and maybe new customers!


> it isn't long before the doctor arrives on a white and red hoverbike

> he gives the slime girl a thorough examination, feeds her a lollipop for being a good girl, and then pulls you aside for a private conversation

> "She should be dead. I've never seen a slime take that much damage outside of some kind of deliberate attack. How did you treat her?"

> you quickly explain what you did, showing him the empty water jugs and orange bags

> the doctor is amazed, "Her guardian angel must be working overtime. Not only did you figure out an effective treatment on the fly, but you actually had the supplies to pull it off in the immediate aftermath of the storm."

> "But is it OK that she's orange? She wasn't before."

> the Doctor shrugs, "She is, or at least was, a bubble slime who was hurt so badly she almost stopped effervescing. The amount of salt water she was exposed to not only stripped a dangerous amount of her mass but it also overwhelmed her body's natural ability to process toxins. If we had her in the emergency room we would have done the same thing you did. A full system flush with water and then an aggressive attempt to restore nutrients into her system."

> "The trouble is that a massive shock like that probably would have altered her body no matter what. Slimes are incredibly resilient but they accomplish that by being extremely adaptive. She seems to have assimilated some of the properties of the nutrient source she was first exposed to after the trauma. I'm just glad she found someone who could give her the help she needed."

> well, at least you didn't give her an orange overdose or something

> "You've done so much I'm hesitant to ask for more, but do you mind keeping her here? I'd rather not move her if I don't have to and you've got more supplies here than the shelters anyway."

> you agree and he gives you a crank powered two way radio before leaving

> "Don't hesitate to call if you need help! The amnesia is normal for her condition and should be temporary. I'll try to figure out who she is so her family will know she's OK."


> you only have a few more customers for the rest of the day

> utility workers and a few cops

> none of them have any cash (what the hell would be open now?), but they all compliment the food and some of them explicitly say that they'll tell their friends about your place

> you're feeling pretty good when you close up for the night

> that's when you hear the moaning

> you rush to the basement expecting the slime girl exploded or on fire or something

> instead she's tossing and turning in the sink with her eyes closed

> is she having a nightmare?

> you tentatively reach towards her, unsure if you should shake her awake "Are you OK?"

> she mumbles something about being dark and cold as she unconsciously reaches out to grasp you hand

> the physical contact immediately calms her and she stops writhing as a beatific look comes to her face

> she seems so peaceful you don't have the heart to pull lose

> awkwardly pull a chair over with your foot and somehow manage to fall asleep sitting with your hand trapped by the slime sleeping in your sink


---


> you wake up on your bed in your room above the restaurant

> you're sore from sleeping in the chair but how did you end up-

> Oh shit! You slept in way too late! You have to open or all this will have been for nothing!

> you're grateful you're still wearing yesterday's clothes as you practically tumble down the stairs

> only to find that the restaurant is already open?

> there's a small crowd of utility workers and cops drinking coffee and eating pastries

> and the place smells amazing

> there's the usual smell of fresh coffee but there's something new

> the now familiar citrus scent of the slime girl

> you see her digging through one of the plastic bins you sealed the pastries in to help them keep

> she notices you and looks a little sheepish

< "Oh, good morning. I'm sorry I kept you up. That chair looked pretty uncomfortable so I thought I'd let you sleep in. Some people came to the door looking for food so I let them in and gave them coffee and these pastries you have here. I hope that's OK..."

> "Er- I would have preferred if you told me, but it looks like things are going OK. Keep holding the fort while I grab some things."

> you run to the basement to grab some supplies

> run back upstairs, fire up the propane grill, and start pressing oranges

> soon the slime girl is shuttling stacks of pancakes and pitchers of fresh squeezed orange juice to the emergency personnel

> you didn't even need to ask, she just saw that you needed help and did it

> your new customers all seem to love her

> they're all dirty, smelly, and exhausted - you suspect some of them haven't slept since the storm

> but they all cheer up when she splorches up to them with a tray full of fresh food and a smile

> the fact that she looks like a cute girl and smells amazing probably helps

> it gets busier and everything becomes a blur

> you don't worry about money or rationing or anything

> you just keep the griddle, coffee maker, and orange press going so that when hungry people come in there will be something to eat and drink

> so you're pretty surprised when a some soldiers march into the kitchen

> "We've got the water tank trailer set up in the alley. Will that work for you?"

> "What?"

> "This is the rally point right? We were told the rally point for this lane was running low on potable water and to deliver a new tank."

> the slime girl sticks her head into the kitchen looking even more sheepish than she did before

< "I... might have mentioned that we were running low on water. I didn't think they'd do all this."

> "What do they mean rally point?"

> she gestures for you to look

> you step out of the kitchen for the first time since this morning to see what looks like a kicked over ants nest

> utility workers, soldiers, and police are milling about everywhere

> senior looking men have pushed some tables together to hold a map of the district and are ordering people to one place or another as they arrive

> people are constantly coming and going, and the slime girl is constantly welcoming them to your restaurant and offering them refreshments

> "I, uh, I might need some more food and propane for this many people."

> "No problem. I'll send word for a truck."

> you numbly go back to the kitchen and keep working

> no wonder the demand for food and drink never slowed down...

> the power and phones come back on around sunset and the workers clear out soon after

> you get handshakes from the gaggle of older men who were directing the day's activities from your dining room

> they stick some papers under your nose and ask you to sign

> a "Requisition Reimbursement" form?

> you're too tired to think straight so you comply without thinking

> once they're gone you lock up and stagger upstairs to your bedroom



> you're just about to fall asleep when you hear a knock at the door

> Good grief! The slime girl! How could you have forgotten about her?!

> she's wrapped herself in a waterproof tarp like a blanket and gives you a plaintive look

< "I had a nightmare. Can I sleep with you tonight?"

> wait, your momma warned you about monster girls, "You aren't going to rape me, are you?"

> she gives you a sad, scared look that makes you feel like an absolute asshole

> "Oh, OK, come on in."

> you both plop down on opposite sides of the bed, back to back

> you try to get to sleep but now that you're awake again your mind is spinning

> Did anyone pay you today? Will you get any customers out of this? WILL she rape you?

> your worrying is interrupted by a whimpering sound

> the slime girl is making panicked little noises in her sleep and muttering "Keep it together..." over and over again

> you aren't sure what to do, but last time...

> you roll over, give her a hug from behind, and hold one of her hands in yours

> once again she immediately calms down, and this time she snuggles into you

> you feel a little guilty spooning her in her sleep but she's wrapped in a tarp so it's not like you can do anything bad to her, right?

> plus apparently she needs some human contact to keep her from having nightmares, right?

> and it does feel kind of nice holding her like this...


> you wake up with a start

> something has you trapped!

> oh wait, it's just the slime girl cuddling your arm

> crap

> you pull your arm loose, "Oh gosh, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have grabbed you!"

> she sits up and smiles at you

< "It's OK. I know you didn't mean anything by it."

> "I still shouldn't-"

< "I should be the one apologizing. I shouldn't have put you in this situation."

> her face falls

< "I just keep having that horrible nightmare..."

> now you really feel like a jerk, "Do you want to talk about it?"

< "I don't recall exactly. I think I'm remembering drowning. The cold, dark seawater trying to dissolve me."

> she puts on a brave face

< "I guess now I know how all of my meals felt!"

> you aren't sure if you're supposed to laugh at that

> you decide to sidestep the issue, "You've helped me out so much, but I don't even know your name."

> her smile makes you feel warm inside

< "One: you saved my life. I'm happy to help you. Two: I don't know it either, remember?"

> "Just calling you 'slime girl' seems a little rude."

< "How about Titrate then? I definitely changed color due to a reaction!"

> "What?" that seems like an awfully big word for a slime. As a matter of fact she uses a lot of-

< "Hey, look at the time! Don't you need to do all that human stuff to prepare for the day?"

> damn she's right, you quickly excuse yourself to get ready



> you are so glad municipal services have been restored, your hot shower is heavenly

> once again when you head down the slime g- ''Titrate'' has put some coffee on and opened up

> there are already two policemen placing orders

> Titrate is wearing linemen's gloves and a pair of mens' water proof work boots

> she must have picked them up yesterday to keep herself from sliming everything she touched or walked on

> kind of cute, the over sized gloves and boots make her look like a character from one of your Japanese animes

< "Hey Anon! Do we have any pastries left?"

> "No sorry, we're low on just about everything except water and military rations. I'm even almost out of oranges! At least those ration packs include coffee."

> the cops tell you not to worry, the evacuation order has been lifted and regular shipments should resume soon

> it's a much slower day

> the utility guys finished up yesterday so you mostly see a few cops and a trickle of families returning to their homes

> you end up giving away most of the leftover army rations to families who didn't stockpile or whose stockpiles were washed out

> still the only restaurant (or food store) open!

> an army truck swings by to pick up the water tank now that water service is restored

> better yet, one of your suppliers shows up in a small convoy of beat up old pickup trucks

> bunch of redneck brothers who all got proactively dated by a pack of hellhounds

> you can tell they mostly came into town to gawk at the damage but they still brought you a bunch of supplies

> and some wild fowl they shot on the way in

> "SPECIAL: GRILLED GAME BIRD - FRESH CAUGHT!"

> you and Titrate are having a little mini Christmas unpacking everything when you hear a familiar voice on the TV

> you stare open mouthed as a you watch tape of a Ratatoskr with an enormous rack interviewing Titrate in your restaurant's dining room last night

> the Ratatoskr is talking up how loyal monster citizens are pitching in to support the relief effort

> Titrate seems a little dumbfounded but she manages to work in the name of your restaurant between the Ratatoskr praising monsterkind and ogling a topless soldier trying to dry out his wet shirt

> the segment even closes with an outside shot of your place, clearly showing the sign!

> you give a war whoop, grab the startled slime girl, and twirl her around

> "YOU MAGNIFICENT MONSTER! WE JUST GOT A FREE TV SPOT!"


> things get back to normal over the next few days

> except now you have a live in employee

> Titrate is the best waitress you've ever had

> she's friendly and patient, even with difficult customers

> her amazing citrus scent complements everything on your menu

> you swear that scent even brings in foot traffic

> you're really going to miss her when her memory comes back

> you're ashamed to admit you're going to miss sleeping with her too

> every night she starts out in her sink, but ends up knocking on your door and giving you sad puppy eyes until you let her into your bed

> every night you start out back to back, but end up cuddling by morning

> you feel like a rapist or something despite the fact that she never once complains

> you can't shake the feeling that you're taking advantage of her night terrors to manhandle her

> but it feels so good just to lie there with her in your arms, protecting her from her nightmare...


> business is much better at least

> turns out that "Requisition Reimbursement" from the government was extremely generous, it more than paid for all the supplies you gave away

> and all the good word of mouth and the spot on the news have paid off

> now you're a regular morning stop for cops and municipal workers coming on and off duty

> local families come by more frequently too

> that segment must have run on the Monster News Network multiple times because you also see a big increase in monster customers

> so you aren't that surprised when a fancy air car pulls up just as you're closing and a human accompanied by three posh looking bubble slimes jump out

> "Hey Titrate, do you mind working a little late? I hate to send people away."

> no response

> "It's OK if you don't want to-" you turn to see her frowning at looking at her feet

> you're about to ask her what's wrong when the door practically explodes inwards

> "Titrate!"

> you're almost bowled over by the man and slimes rushing to hug your best ever waitress

> "Sweetie, we were so worried about you! We thought you had died!"

> "The doctor told us what happened!"

> "We'll all work together to fix your current condition!"

> their happy babble continues but you notice that Titrate is still frowning and looking at the floor

> the man walks over to you, "Sir, I'd like to thank you for saving my daughter's life. I can assure you that Egret Chemicals will see to it that you're amply rewarded. I'll have the money men contact you in the morning. Now come Titrate, it's time to go home."

< "No."

> "Sweetie, don't you want to come home with Mommy and Daddy and your sisters?"

< "No."

> "Oh no, Jonathan! Her memory hasn't returned yet!"

< "No. My memory came back the first morning after."

> "But sweetie, why-"

< "I remember everything. I remember the wind shearing off the lighting rod array. I remember going out to try to fix it. I remember fucking up and being too slow as usual. I remember the lighting hitting the fuel tanks and Offshore Research Site #5 exploding. I remember being thrown into the ocean."

< "I especially remember that. I still have nightmares about it. I remember the agony of the cold seawater tearing me to pieces. It felt like days before I washed ashore. An eternity of desperately willing my body not to break apart."

< "But then Anon saved me. He didn't ask for anything or expect repayment. He just did it because it was right. He was willing to burn through almost half his precious water stockpile on the off chance it might save me. He took me in and gave me shelter and food. He protected me from my nightmares. Since then I've been so happy. Here I'm not the 'dumb sister'. Here I'm not the last one to understand the equation. Here I'm not the one everybody always has to simplify explanations for."

> she's... crying

< "I like it here. I can make people smile here. I can give people a good meal or a hot cup of coffee and brighten up their whole day. But most of all I like being with Anon."

> she turns to you and tries to smile through the tears

< "I'm sorry I lied to you Anon. I took advantage of your kindness. I was just so afraid that once you knew I knew who I was that you'd expect me to go back. I never want to leave you Anon. You're the first person who ever cared about me just for me. Not as one of the Three Chemistry Sisters or an heir to the Egret Chemicals fortune. Please let me stay."

< "I love you."


---


> you closed a little early today for a "Private Party"

> a bit disingenuous since it's YOUR private party but whatever

> you're a little sore from the old man slapping you on the back so much

> chemist or not, you're definitely his favorite son-in-law tonight

> Titrate's parents were a trifle nonplussed to lose one of their research chemists

> but it looks like giving them a grandchild makes up for it

> everyone is laughing and cheerfully congratulating you and Titrate

> but the real star of the show is little Photosynthesis

> you can practically see Filtrate and Electrolysis catching the Babies Rabies as they take turns holding their gurgling, cooing, citrus scented niece

> hope their husbands are drinking plenty of fluids...

> Titrate's busy handing out refreshments and gently teasing her sisters about beating them for once

> you used to worry that she might eventually regret giving up her fancy life to work in a restaurant

> but you can see how content she is, surrounded by the people she cares about and doing simple, concrete things to make them happy

> you surprise her with a gentle hug from behind

> she closes her eyes and rests her head on your chest, smiling

> you love her so much

> when this all started you were hoping to make your business more successful

> that did happen, but you ended up with something even much better

> a family


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