She clutched at the shawl around her head.
“You should have used a pin to hold that in place, or something.” Costa said, unhelpfully.
Looking at him, Annigail stuck out her tongue. “You’re one to talk. You’re fucking invisible.”
“All the better to observe everyone. It’s what we do, remember. Or have you forgotten?”
“You know I haven’t.” Annigail said with an edge of steel to her voice.
A tendril of her hair snuck free from underneath the shawl and the light around her glowed brighter, the air seemed to him. She pushed the hair back underneath the shawl. “What the fuck do you want?”
“Such language! Do they all talk like that here? Or is it just you who speaks so eloquently?”
Letting out a loud yell of rage, Annigail pointed a finger at him in a threatening manner. “Don’t make me come over there and rip your fucking wings off, you fucking bastard.”
Costa smiled. “Oh, the dulcet tones of your voice, how I’ve missed them. There isn’t anywhere I’d rather be than on this…did you call is a but? It feels like a can full of sardines held together with spit and a prayer. Do human’s actually ride in these things willingly?”
“It’s called a bus.” She ended the word on a hiss. “And people need a way to get around.”
“Why don’t they just magic themselves where they want to go? Close their eyes and think of where they want to be and then, poof! They are there. We’ve always done things thusly.”
“That kind of thing only works in your world. Here we exist without magic.”
Grimacing, Costa said “You don’t mean to tell me you actually walk? Annigail You are royalty. The least you could do is have someone carry you or fly. You can still fly, can’t you? You haven’t done something horrible like cut off your wings in an act of rebellion, have you?” Costa reached out to her and clutched at her left arm. “Oh Gods, Annigail! Please tell me you weren’t so stupid?”
“What do you think I’m wearing this shawl? Clearly not for fashion points.” To prove her point, Annigail fluttered her wings a bit, which made the shawl flap behind her.
Costa put a hand to his chest. “Oh, thank the Gods. I mean, when they told me you had come here, to this…place, I thought they had learned a few tricks from your uncle Loki.”
Annigail scoffed. “By then, I suppose you mean my parents?”
“Yes, angel, who did you think I meant? Why don’t you come home? They miss you.”
“They’re the reason I’m here.” She said.
“Surely not. I doubt that Morganna and Oberon would never see fit to send you to a place filled with so much…smog.” He shuddered. “Sweetheart, wouldn’t you rather come home? Where your family is, and you have everything you could possibly want?”
“That’s part of the reason I’m here!” Annigail said. “Anything and everything you could possibly want in the blink of an eye!” Her voice was raising but she didn’t care. “When was the last time you actually worked for something you wanted?”
Costa grinned and stretched, ruffling his wings. “Oh honey, it’s work for me getting up in the morning. That counts for something, doesn’t it?”
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Why are you here, Costa?”
He ran a finger up her arm. “Mayhap to rekindle an old flame? How long has it been since you’ve ridden a maypole?”
Annigail slapped Costa’s hand away. “You’re such a fucking pig.”
He simpered. “You say that like it’s a bad thing. Seriously, honey, what’s with all the anger? And why are you here? Why won’t you come home? Are you just torturing yourself? Is that it? You’re being a sexy martyr, aren’t you?”
She crossed her arms. “You wouldn’t understand if I told you.”
“Try me.” Costa reached out and touched her arm, running a finger along her skin. “There was a time we always understood each other. Don’t you remember?”
She slapped his hand away. “Don’t you fucking touch me!” She stood and towered over him. “That was another problem! All of the Fey folk, always fucking like rabbits! It’s all trickery and fucking with the whole lot of you.”
“You’re one of us, Annigail. You can’t deny who you are.” He smiled kindly. “Besides, I’ve brought some friends to see you, too.” He opened his coat and reached inside. When he pulled it out, two small pixies, so beautiful and sporting a bright metallic purple colour, sat on his palm. They were smiling at her and one of them waved.
“You brought pixies here? Don’t you know what trouble they can cause? Besides, they were your pets!” He held his hand out and the pixies flew up to Annigail, rushing around her head and talking in high pitched voices.
Annigail swatted at her head and began screaming. “You dare to bring them here? Where they could die? There’s so much technology here that their magic could drain out of them? Have you no conscience?”
Sighing, Costa crossed his arms. “There’s no need to yell at me. I love those little guys, too. I would never put them in danger. I’ll have you know that I put a cloaking spell around them, so they should be good for a while yet. Now will you sit the fuck down and tell me why you’re here? Why won’t you come home?”
Annigail let out a rough breath and sat back down. “I can’t, Costa. I hope you understand.”
He gave Annigail a hard gaze, narrowing his eyes at her. “I can’t understand because you’ve told me nothing about why you’re here.” He held his arm out, making a gesture to encompass everyone on the bus. “It smells here. The people seem rude and ignorant. I’ve only been here for a few hours and already I’ve seen two fights and read about the war going on in this land.”
Taking Annigail’s hands in his, he looked into her eyes. “I don’t understand. You could have anything you could dream of, many things you have yet to dream, if you went home. Why are you here? In this world without magic, there is nothing.”
She gently pulled her hands away and the pixies flew down to her, dancing in her hair. “There is magic everywhere here and there is everything.”
Costa let out a scoff of disbelief. “Don’t insult my intelligence. These people have to fight for everything and they are a rudimentary people at best.” He fluttered his wings. “I haven’t seen so many people in need of magic all at once before. They look like a sad lot.”
Annigail shook her head. “You’re wrong.” She pointed to a mother with her two children. She was reading to them from a book she had pulled from her bag. “See that? That mother sharing knowledge with her offspring so that they can grow and learn? That is magic.”
She pointed to the seats behind her. A younger man gave an older woman his seat. “And that? That man got up and gave that woman his chair, making sure that she was settled. Now he stands instead. That is magic.”
Turning to look out the windows of the bus, Annigal pointed to a man giving change to a homeless woman who sat on the ground in the snow. “That man gave that money that he had earned so that hopefully that woman will have something to eat tonight. That is magic.”
He smiled at her and patted her hand. “Still so naive, after all this time?”
“I’m not naive, I simply choose to believe the best of people. Kindness is magic. Every kind act increases the magic of this realm.” She turned to Costa and smiled. “Can’t you see how it shines?”
Costa let out a snort. “I think shine is putting it on a bit thick, don’t you? More like lumbers, don’t you think?”
Annigail touched his right cheek softly. “Oh, Costa. Still the same after all this time. So enchantingly simple and shallow.” She took her hand away. “I look after these people and the magic they are creating. They do not know it, but each one of them holds a grain of magic inside them. With each kind act, each time they believe in the fantastic, the magic grows.”
She stood, and Costa saw the magic spark in her eyes, the fire of it riding like silver lightning along her skin. “Sometimes though, I like to help their magic along.”
Annigail let her black shawl fall to the ground. She stood there, her hair falling to the ground in deep red ringlets that shone like the sun. Her wings were opalescent, and they pulsed and moved like the water from the sea. Her gown was a dark green that made Costa think of forests filled with trees. She flew a few inches off the floor of the bus, glowing ever so brightly, a dream made flesh.
The entire bus looked at her and Costa knew that they would all believe in magic from this day forward. Even he could see the kernels of magic inside each of the mortals growing bigger as the moments passed. Soon, the bus was filled with a light that the mortals could not see, but they could feel it.
Approaching the bus driver, Annigail said kindly, “I’d like to get off at the next stop, please.”
She turned back to Costa and bestowed a glowing smile upon him. “Tell my parents that I’m okay. It was good to see you, Costa.”
The bus stopped, and she carefully got off. The doors closed, and the bus began speeding away. Costa ran to the window, the pixies following close by, to see if Annigail was still there. He put his hand on the glass of the bus window and looked back to where she had gotten on.
She was already gone. He could see a shimmer of magic in the air. Looking back at the people in the bus, he was shocked to see that they were all looking at him.
Well fuck, he thought.