The journey was reasonably tolerable until the drunken man boarded. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was on this bus at all, he chose to sit on the backseat between me and the tanned woman.
The woman seemed to have the sense to move - except she moved in front of me. She scribbled something down on a piece of paper and passed it up to me.
‘I know your pain, you’re suffering. He was wrong, have you accepted your fate?’
Was the woman psychic? An unwelcome memory surfaced in my mind. I felt strong discomfort at the scene of Russell’s attempts to woo me.
I looked at the slip of paper again, gritting my teeth against those unwanted pictures, and thought 'Could she be any more patronising?'
I leant forwards to tell the woman, "I'm not interested in a counsellor."
I offered her her paper back.
"Keep it, I hate having contact with English written language. It's horrible." She paused, giving me time to process what she had said. I wondered what her mother tongue was. Not that it mattered or concerned me. The less you knew about a person, the less you were bound to them.
"I wasn't offering counselling,” she continued. “I am intrigued. I've never met an immortal such as yourself before."
I made a sound of irritation. She must be psychic.
"How do you know?” I asked, not bothering to hide my annoyance. “Can you read it on my face or something?"
"Him, I can smell,” she said, nodding to the drunkard. “The dog, simple. You, it was the ether on your form that reacted with the rune I threw at you."
"Why d'you keep callin' me a dog?" the man slurred with a look of annoyance not too dissimilar to my own on his face, if lacking the same intellect behind the eyes. I myself wondered the same thing as he was asking.
"Because you are... a drunken pup," she responded.
"Am not," the man protested.
"Then what are you?" The woman almost growled, her deep sound echoing that of a dog's.
"I'm just me!"
I decided that I didn’t really care. Letting them fight I returned to my crossword. Frustratingly, I had never been one blessed with the ability to block out exterior noise.
"That is a werewolf that is insistent on ruining his life with alcohol!"
Could this day get any worse? The woman was obviously magical and, now, apparently the drunkard was a lycanthrope. I dryly asked myself what the chances were that the shape-changer loved men.
I vaguely noticed as he lunged at the woman. He ended up face-planting on the floor.
"Oh dear," the woman tutted and decided to turn to me again. "So, have you accepted your immortality? Purely out of the fact that you are an intriguing and curious specimen."
"Well, I don't know what you mean by accept," I said, still more focused on my crossword. "I've been this way for over a century and a half."
"Curious," she nodded, turning back to the huge leather-bound tome I noticed in her arms.
I sighed contentedly, relieved that she didn't expect me to speak anymore. I glanced absently at the lycanthrope on the floor. He was now rolled over on his back, looking like he had totally forgotten why he was down there.
Satisfied that he wasn't dead, I continued with my crossword.
"Di Caprio's co-star in Titanic," I read out absently.
The woman leant over, staring at him with a smile.
"Come on, you." She reached out her two hands for him - I gathered she had placed her book on the chair next to her. "Can't leave you down there."
"Oh no?" I said, looking up briefly.
I noticed that the lycanthrope just looked confused.
"Kate...." I murmured to myself as I wrote the name. Then I sighed. "What was her surname again?"
"Never have been one to let a soul wander aimlessly." The woman paused for a giggle, "Winslett," before grabbing the man’s arms and hoisting him up.
"Thanks," I said, vaguely annoyed that I'd had to be told an answer.
"She was pretty" I heard the man mumble.
Internally I sighed with relief. It sounded like he didn't love men.
To the woman, the man said, "You're pretty too." I felt his eyes on me and then heard him giggle. I ignored him. "You'd be prettier if you weren't in a suit," he told me.
I felt like attempting to produce a feral growl.
Instead: "I don't go for other men," I said curtly, and lapsed into a bitter silence, mentally asking the universe why it loved to torture me so.