Almost done for the day. A winged young woman thought to herself as she flew over a park, lit by a glowing sunset. It was the kind of sunset that tended to help her work, a beautiful way to end the day. Oranges and pink clouds crossed what was left of the blue sky, with darkness forming around the edges of the horizon. She smiled and settled down on lamp post that hadn't yet turned on. Her name was Annamore C. Upidianalus, but she ended up being known as "Cupid" to most people.
Annamore scanned the ground below her intently, pushing her hair back from her face. Her hair was long and red, matching the feathers of her wings. She wore a silver shirt that wrapped her neck and tied at her low back, leaving room for her wings to move freely, and black loose-fitting pants that moved in the wind. The ties from her shirt were long and almost touched the ground, trailing behind her when she flew like twin tails. Her arrows were carried at her side to not get in the way of her wings, and she was currently fitting an arrow to bow. She'd spotted her last target of the night and was preparing to fire.
"Douglas Farr, you will forever remember today as the day you fell in love." She smiled, drawing back. As she started to release, a stream of gold sand crossed in front of her, startling her. The arrow shot for the target, but instead of striking true it ricocheted off the bench he was sitting on, and flew off into the air.
She stared in shock momentarily, before quickly firing another shot and hitting her target, who had no idea anything happened at all - she was invisible to most. She flew away in a panic to look for her lost arrow. "Never! All my hundreds of years and this... I can't believe this!" Night had already fallen, as it always did in the fall, but this would make her search easier.
Flying in the direction she'd seen it go, she scanned the ground and the trees. Magic gold arrows couldn't hide that easily, considering they glowed. However, she was having no luck. She went a little farther, and finally did see something that glowed gold. Something that also made her heart sink a little. A small cloud of gold sand, with tendrils flying out from it in all directions. The same sand that made her miss for the first time in her long life.
"Oh no. Oh no, oh no!" She flew up and landed on the cloud, and nervously walked up to the owner of it. She knew who it was, but had never met him personally. She didn't work too much at night, and he rarely operated in the day. "Hello? Sandman?" The little golden owner of the cloud turned to her and smiled happily for a second. Moments later a little heart popped up over his head as he stared at her.
Her heart sunk even further. She wasn't used to dealing with the guardians. Her job wasn't kid related, after all, and since most adults didn't believe in Cupid, she was usually alone and unseen. Not that she minded it, her job was an important one, one that tended to help keep the kid population up, so it helped them too. Now, she slowly realized, she might have just struck the oldest of all the guardians with a magic arrow. "Have... I seem to have... Lost an arrow... Have you seen it?" She slowly stammered. The lord high protector of sleep and dreams shook his head at her, and the heart disappeared from over his head. She felt slightly better and walked closer, peering at him carefully. "You know, you should be more careful with this dream sand of yours. It's not good to distract a girl when she's working."
The sandman appeared to think this over, smiled, and nodded. Cupid smiled in return, unable to resist since he appeared so innocent and peaceful. She regretted her action when, spotting her smile, another little heart appeared over his head. He shook his head quickly and it was gone, but she'd already seen. She was in the air instantly, hovering around him. "This isn't good! Did I hit you? Maybe a graze?" He looked amused by her concern, but shook his head and shrugged. "You... Don't think so, but who knows?"
The harbinger of romance felt ready to yank out hair as she fluttered about him. She'd heard he didn't talk, but in this current situation she found it was merely making her more on edge. He went back to his work of sending out dreams, while she flopped down on the edge of the sand cloud, peering down at the ground, resisting the urge to groan. "At least this is as good a place as any to look for it from." Cupid mumbled, more to herself than to the owner of the cloud. After saying that, she realized that asking permission to stay here might be a good idea, but glancing at the Sandman it was easy to see that he didn't mind.
"Whoa! Sandy, buddy, when did you start hanging out with Cupid?" A very loud, mischievous voice sent her flying awake. Literally. She hadn't known she'd been sleeping until she was awake and flying ten feet above the cloud, looking around in a panic, her hand on an arrow and ready to attack.
Her eyes rested on a young looking white-haired boy. She recognized him as Jack Frost, the newest guardian, and someone she'd met in the past. He had a love for causing snow storms on Valentine's day, which often aided her work instead of hindering it. The look on his face matched the level of mischief in the voice she heard. He was casually leaning on his staff next to Sandy, and looking back and forth between the two of them.
"Jack. Good to see you again." She nodded, landing on the golden cloud again. "It's been a long time."
"Likewise. I'm glad you decided not to shoot me." His eyes met hers, twinkling. "So why are you here? I've never heard of you socializing with... Well, much of anyone."
"I usually try to avoid shooting the Guardians. Well, there was that one time, but that was part of the job, you understand. Er, I'm babbling. Anyways, I make a habit of only shooting those I want to shoot." She couldn't keep a look of embarrassment from her face. "Unfortunately, accidents happen?"
He raised an eyebrow at her and waited for her to continue. "I may have hit the Sandm..." She paused, remembering she heard a different name used on the dream giving guardian. She switched to that. "Sandy... With one of my arrows."
"How would you know?" Jack's voice grew serious as he glanced at his friend, who had mostly started ignoring them to focus on his dreams.
"That's just it. Arrows vanish once they hit someone. They don't leave a mark either, so it's either lost somewhere, which is hard since it couldn't have gone too far, or..." She glanced significantly at the diminutive guardian.
He frowned slightly, deep in thought. "Is it that big of a deal?"
"What?" She asked sharply. "It's a big deal for me. I do have a little professional pride, you know. I'm also concerned that... The object of his potential affections is, well..." Her wings started flapping in agitation, making her rise a few feet.
"I get it. You're afraid he might be falling for you!" His smile returned, and he started laughing.
"Keep it up, kid, and I'll shoot you on purpose." Cupid growled, her drawing fingers twitching.
"No, really. You've been shooting arrows at people for how many hundreds of years and you've never even gone on a date, right?"
"I'm too busy for that. Anyways, that's beside the point!" She retorted, pondering that she now knew why the Easter Bunny found Jack annoying. "Come on, Jack, this is serious!"
"Fine, fine. I'll go talk to North about this." He ran his hand through his hair and floated into the sky.
"What should I do till then?" She glanced back at the source of her problems.
"The same thing you were doing before I got here." He smirked.
"Sleeping?" She glowered at the boy.
"No, enjoying your dreams." With a wink, Jack flew off into the sky, leaving her alone with Sandy again, her cheeks red as she realized that her unexpected nap had been filled with the sweetest dreams she'd ever had.
She stared distractedly in the direction Jack headed for a minute, then turned to Sandy. "I guess there is no reason for me to hang about, I guess." He met her eyes, smiling, and held up a finger. She waited expectantly, wondering what she was waiting for. He looked like he was concentrating on something, and the cloud around them started to change form. She opened her wings to escape the moving sand, but the Sandman looked at her firmly and held his finger back up. Her wings folded over her back again.
A small, toy like plane formed around them both, with her in the back seat. He pulled a pair of sand formed goggles over his eyes and handed her a pair too. "I'm not sure I'll be able to see with these on." Annamore said, holding them up quizzically. "Besides, I have wings you know.
He turned his head to look at her, allowing stars and the moon to appear over his head. She puzzled over this for a moment. "Are you saying that my wings don't go as high?" He nodded, a golden cheetah appearing over his head now. "Or... As fast?" He smirked, nodding again.
"Oh, now that's just rude. I can go just as fast as anyth-!" The plane sped forward, stealing the rest of her retort from her lungs. Within seconds, they were going so fast her eyes stung from the wind. Maybe the goggles weren't such a bad idea after all. She quickly forced them over her eyes and found, to her surprise, that she could see with them on after all.
She wasn't afraid, she was at home in the sky after all. It was a very new experience though, flying without being in control. It was weird, but she laughed in exhilaration. He was right, her wings weren't capable of getting so high. She looked above them at the moon, now massive as it hung in the sky above them. "Wow, it's so close I could probably touch it." Sandy chuckled silently in front of her. She started thinking as she stared over the edge of the plane. "So, why are we flying around? Shouldn't you be working?"
Sandy pointed behind her, his eyes still focused ahead. She turned and saw trails of dreams streaming from behind the plane. "Pretty. Wish I could work like that." A few minutes later the plane landed on the cloud that she called home. The cloud carried a mirror like pond, surrounded by a garden, and a house that looked from the outside like a stone grotto. Sandy climbed on the wing of his plane and extended a hand to her. Shaking her head ruefully, Annamore accepted it and climbed out of her seat. "Should I be concerned that you know where I live?"
He smiled innocently at her, still holding her hand in his. He waved his free hand and a dream appeared. "Oh. I guess that it does make sense for you to know where I live then. And where I... Sleep." That was awkward, she thought to herself. She tried stepping away to hop down only to find her hand was not being freed just yet. Sandy raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, much like an old-fashioned gentleman, before turning around and climbing back into the plane.
Rattled, she flew into her home, threw down her bow and arrows, and resisted the urge to whack her head on the wall. "Why me..."
Later that night, well after she'd gone to sleep, Jack and North discussed the problem. North decided that the best thing to do was meet Cupid in person, preferably with the other guardians in tow. "Tomorrow night, Jack. We will invite her here. I could send the Yeti's, they do a good job getting people!"
"Hold on there, big guy. Don't send Yeti's to pick up a pretty lady. How about we take the sled and just pick her up tomorrow night." Jack waved his hands to hold his large friend back from his overabundant enthusiasm. "Everyone loves the sleigh, right? Isn't that what you always say?"
"Oh! Very good. But how will we find her?" North asked, reaching for a cookie. "We have no way of contacting her like we do the other guardians."
"Easy, we find Sandy." The white-haired youth grinned. "I have a feeling he's going to attempt to spend a lot of time with her."
"You think he has it bad?" The big man laughed cheerfully.
"North, he didn't even shush her."