He came around the Stanton Arms and the park like he owned the area, walking in with a swagger like he was the strongest guy in the place.
Tia Lian hated him immediately. This was her street, her neighborhood. She didn’t need some big sleek guy with slicked back hair and a shiny smile coming in. She didn’t need no fairy who screamed fey from every line of his body to take over when she was just sort-of-fey-around-the-edges. She didn’t need him.
So she ignored him, while the others flooded around him. “Who are you? What are you doing here? Where are you from?”
And he just smiled.
“What kind of fairy are you? Are your family from around here, did you come from the Other Place? You’re fey, right? You’ve got to be fey, tell us you’re fey.”
And he just smiled.
“Do you play? You like games, right? We’re playing Cowboys and Indians and the Wild Fey, come on, you can be an Indian.”
And he just smiled, and made a hand gesture like he was pulling guns out of his pockets, pointed at the two in front, and said, “Bow, bow. Dead.”
“That’s not how you play!” Tia Lian jumped up as the two staggered, playing dead very convincingly. “The Indians don’t get guns. The Indians get bows and arrows and the wild fae get spears and the cowboys, they get guns!”
He just smiled, and holstered his invisible guns.
Tia was enraged. “That’s not how you play!”
He wouldn’t answer, which just made her angrier. Nothing but “bow, bow.”
“Let him play a cowboy, then,” one of her friends urged. “He can have my hat. I bet he’d make an awesome cowboy, with those guns.”
“Those are just his fingers!”
“Your spear’s just your hand, what’s your point? Come on, he’s new, let him be the cowboy.”
“That’s not how it works! I’ve been here longest, I get to be the cowboy!”
“You get to be the fairy, you’re the best fairy we have.”
That almost placated her. “I do pretty good at the fairying thing,” she admitted.
At that, the new stranger nodded. He pulled out his invisible gun and shot up into the air. “Bow, bow. The moon.”
“He thinks you hang the moon! See, come on, let him be the cowboy this time!”
Tia had already determined that they would never let her be the cowboy, but that didn’t mean she had to take it in good grace. Besides, she knew that “shoot the moon” wasn’t the same as “hang the moon,” but she wasn’t sure it was a compliment either way.
“Fine.” She couldn’t sulk without looking like the bad guy, which just made her want to sulk even more. “He can be the cowboy. But you know what they say, cowboy. Watch out for trech’rous fairies.”
“I thought the Indians were supposed to be trech’rous!” Her minions were beginning to grate on her. She gave them all her best evil-girl smile.
“That’s what we want you to think.” She made a stabbing gesture, aiming for the new guy’s armpit. He caught her imaginary spear in his heart, and staggered backwards, falling to the ground.
“Bao, bao,” he whispered. Under the shadow of a borrowed hat, he winked at her. “Right in the heart.”
Tia Lian felt an echoing stab in her own heart. “Tia Bao,” she corrected him.
Everything after that was just formalities.
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