At present, there were two distinct voices in the subway station that, ordinarily, only the unmedicated schizophrenics and a few among the druggies could hear if they listened carefully enough.
An adolescent girl's voice rose most unheard above the tumult of the bustling crowd: "I would recommend that you desist, Puteo, but this is far too amusing."
A head turned over its shoulder, pink wings stopped flapping, and the naked winged boy descended slowly to the ground as if he weighed far less than he looked. Then he turned himself around, scanning the crowd, afraid that mortal eyes had seen him and not just his feather. Then, realizing he'd been called by name, he came to the relieving conclusion that it was no earthbound tongue that had spoken.
"Oh, where are you?" his unbroken voice called out with delight. He slid his bow over one shoulder, and held the arrow firmly in one hand. "I cannot see you past these many villagers."
She stepped into view. And though she was immediately eclipsed again by Torontonians walking past her and through her, he caught sight of her and smiled in recognition.
Hers was a head of brown hair and freckled, sun-kissed skin, topped with a winged petasus. Her lithe, athletic body was nearly naked. Her breasts, of no great consequence, were blocked from view only partially by a brazier of white wings that spread from between them.
For a split-second, he had to stop himself from looking disappointedly at the way they covered her, though he knew that her nipples would be unfazed by the cold, crisp Toronto air.
At her waist was a short, wrap-around cloth of fleecy brown. Upon it was a belt of minotaur leather and a sheathed fencing blade. Below that, her feet were entwined with the laces of an ornate pair of sandals that, like her hat and breasts, sported small white wings that twitched eagerly with every step she took. The tiny gold wings of Irisian origin that sprouted from her shoulder blades remained unseen.
"Have we met?" the putto asked the harpy.
She took a step forward and nodded where he could see her, "Ever so briefly, little cherub."
First, he bowed garishly, wings full spread. "You've been watching me, eh?" he acknowledged with curious interest. "Got a name?"
She extended a hand and a smile toward him, as if his bow had been too pretentious to suffice. In her left hand, she held a rod circled by two very real, live snakes. And she remained silent until he took her free hand.
He did so, cocking his head to one side with a frown.
"Epistulana, but you can call me Lana," she told him. His florid redolence met her nose kindly. "Or Eppy. Someone insists on calling me Eppy."
One snake hissed, as if it didn't like whomever it was its master spoke of. The other blinked with indifference. Their mid-sections curled around the hand with which she grasped the rod.
Puteo stepped back and up with a flutter, caught off-guard by how realistic the snakes had been carved on her caduceus. He held his dark arrow toward them defensively.
Lana laughed. "They won't hurt you. Besides, you've got more to worry about."
He pursed his lips, "How much did you see?"
"Enough," she told him.
"Do you work for the thermometer?" he asked.
She snorted a giggle. "Yes, I work for Hermes. But haven't people stopped putting mercury in them?"
"Who's the hatred for?" she asked, inclining herself toward the arrow with a look that fully appreciated his mischief.
"You'll see," he grinned the last word.
"Sssss!" the snakes hissed delightedly.
"I suppose I will," Lana foretold. "And I'd rather watch first-hand than scry it from the Outpost." She paused, gathering her thoughts. "Do you know why this happened?"
"Not a clue," Puteo said with a shrug. And he turned around.
"I reckon she was special even before you shot at her," Lana surmised, eyes distracted by the spread of pale, pinkish tail feathers that emerged from Puteo's tailbone, too short to provide modesty.
"Are we alone in this?" he asked. The nostrils of his cute little nose flared.
"I have my doubts," she told him. "Now, please, do not allow me to hinder you."
Puteo put his arms on his hips in a contrary manner and faced her directly. "You have no message for me. Nor are you here in any psychopomp-ous manner! So... may I ask, what draws you here? Her thieving?"
"Thieving!?" Lana was exasperated, almost insulted, and pulled at her brown braids that fell to her waist. "High heavens no! I just want something to write about."
The boy looked away, and spoke with what might have been sarcasm to distract her from how he had blushed at the prospect of being written about. "Darn, I was hoping you'd have a message for me. I so enjoy receiving them." He smiled at this, as he scampered off with her in tow. Then he leapt into the air and flew up the stairs with a graceful glide that left her sprinting to catch up.