Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the city bus on one of those wet days that smell like fish. Everyone is damp, the kind of damp that makes you wish you could blow-dry your bones. You and your friend at the back, sitting on either side of the farthest row of seats, watching either side of the bus like the bored scouts you are. You're tired out, a little psychic hangover, from tossing psi-balls around all day.

You both look up as he enters the bus, bringing the dirty sea ozone smell of the city with him. He wears black (half the damn city does), modest, nothing special. He looks at you. It's that electric zap, that feeling that there's a person looking at you, not just another drone with foggy eyes coming home from work. He glances to your friend, triangulating, testing.

To your right, the flicker of that same jolt, begging for reassurance, coming from your friend. He's put off by the stranger.

The newcomer doesn't even pause, there's nothing outside of the normal. You can feel his emotions; indecision, calculation, a mischevious ripple. He sits down with a sigh, between you and your companion.

He knows, of course. All three of you know. He has thrown down a tentative gauntlet, but nothing that could be misconstrued by an average person, just in case you can't trust that intuition. The bus lurches away from the stop, rattling and bustling through traffic. The interloper sits calm, grounded. You mentally raise an eyebrow to your friend. He responds with curiosity, but there's no way to communicate without talking across the stranger. Normally, this would be perfectly acceptable, but the awkward silence that only empaths can truly dread has settled like a cold fish.

You open your consciousness, feel the gentle winds of ether/firmament/energy (whatever they're calling it these days), filling your mind with a nice rocking hum. The travel spirit plods along, whispering of a bit of congestion up at the bridge, and of what if you kept going on the bus, and then on the next one and the next... but that's just wanderlust again. You refocus and observe your neighbor.

He has wings.

Giant, gauzy, like the fog collects around the piers at three in the morning. Filmy enough to avoid blasting anyone they pass through, but definitely there. And so unusual, you've never seen that before, how intriguing. You have to know. Curiosity buzzes in your ear. Torture!

Your stop is next. A minute to decide.

"Nice wings," you finally comment, as if you were complimenting a good pair of boots. He looks over without a smidgen of surprise, but with a gentle smile, and gratitude.


You and your friend rise at the same moment, share a grin, look down at the new friend, exit the bus.