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Ryou examined the blanket to make certain he had all the stains out, then draped it over the drying rack, dusted himself off, and started out of the laundry room. It was called a laundry room for the simple reason that was where they did what little laundry they had. Neither of them brought changes of clothing along with them when they’d gotten swept up into this confusing situation, but clothes didn’t care that their owners couldn’t easily replace them. Clothes got dirty regardless.

Modesty wasn’t something he or Edo worried about that much anymore. When their clothes needed washing, they washed them, and put them back once they dried. Though in fairness, they did do that mostly after dark, with a cheerful fire burning in the laundry room fireplace. Neither of them cared what the other saw. But people whom they didn’t know? Ryou didn’t think the state of his body was anyone else’s business but his own.

Edo lounged in their main room, flipping through a few cards, his wings stretched out over his back and legs. Like most wings, his were long enough to cover all of him. Ryou took a look, since Edo had them out for display anyway.

Most people would say that Edo’s wings were angelic. His feathers were a mix of silver-gray and white, with a few touches of blue on the edge, matching the rest of his coloring. He didn’t have them fully spread out right now, since that would’ve covered most of the room and not left Ryou anywhere to sit.

Ryou took a careful look at them and knew differently.

“They’re swan wings, aren’t they?”

Edo glanced up, one eyebrow quirked. “Excuse me?”

“Your wings. Everyone I know who mentioned them says they’re angel wings, but they’re not.” Ryou shook his head, settling into his preferred chair and bringing his own wings out for a quick inspection. Edo insisted on preening him every day, which helped with the rust spots. That meant the blanket had to be washed every day as well, but the weather here was warm, and they had their wings for more if they needed them. After two weeks of regular care, Edo’s bottle of wing-oil was almost empty and Ryou’s wings gleamed like they had when he’d graduated Duel Academia.

Edo’s face revealed nothing as he turned back to his cards. “Of course they’re angel wings. They’re white. All white wings are angel wings.”

“No, they’re not. White feathers do not mean angel wings.” Ryou picked up a glass full of some strange pale green liquid and gave it a very careful look. “What is this?”

“It’s a drink they make a couple of villages over. I got it at the market today. It’s supposed to improve one’s energy and speed healing.” Edo didn’t look up as he spoke. “I don’t like the taste of it. You can have it.”

Ryou took a careful sip, finding the taste of honey and mint flowing over his tongue, not so sweet it would revolt him, but just enough to satisfy him. He couldn’t say if he found himself any more energetic but a few drops could hardly do that much. He sipped a little more.

“If you -” Edo broke off as there was a sudden banging on the mansion door. The two of them looked at one another for a heartbeat. They had never had many visitors after dark, and to have one on laundry night wasn’t the best of timing. “I’ll take care of it.”

Edo stood, his wings shifting around until they vanished altogether. Not everyone could conceal their wings like that – Asuka hadn’t ever caught the trick of it, Ryou remembered – but Edo didn’t seem to have any problems mastering any trick that he chose. Now clad only in his own skin, Edo strolled down to the main door.

Ryou set himself where he could see what was going on, his own wings out and ready if he needed to do something. There was enough room for him to strike if he needed to. Edo could move fast enough to get out of the way.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

A knight of some sort stood at the door, or at least someone in head to toe silver-washed armor. It wasn’t a particular monster that Ryou recognized, but identifying them came second to wanting to know why they were there in the first place.

He could easily envision the calm look Edo gave them, a look that shouldn’t have been possible from someone standing there in nothing but his birthday suit.

“Can I help you?”

The knight hesitated, helmet-head tipping upward to meet Edo’s eyes. “My troop is in the area searching for any who serve Haou.” The head tilted up higher, pride rippling off of them. “Would you know any such foul beings in the area?”

Ryou could only see Edo’s back but he read the set of his shoulders and the tilt of his head very well. Edo wasn’t impressed by this knight at all.

“No. We haven’t seen anyone but ordinary villagers here for weeks.” Which wasn’t entirely true, but neither Edo nor Ryou saw any actual reason to tell the truth to this person. A few words that just said they fought against Haou weren’t enough to convince either of them.

He couldn’t see the knight’s face either but he could guess the confusion from the way their head moved. “’We’?”

“Yes.” Edo still didn’t move, but Ryou could recognize a cue when he heard one. He leaped downward, wings spread out to counter gravity, and strolled over to join Edo at the doorway. “We prefer living here in peace to being bothered by the war.”

They’d discussed this before, though having it involve being actually nude hadn’t come up in their considerations before. But now Ryou rested a hand on Edo’s shoulder.

“Is something the matter?” He gave them his very best glowering look, the one he turned on idiots who wanted to ask questions that weren’t any of their business.

The knight stared at them, trying very hard not to lower their gaze away from their faces. “No. Of course not. Have a good -” They swallowed, then delivered a quick salute and hurried away to where a group of other knights, all in identical armor, waited. Ryou could hear some kind of excited babbling but in moments, all of them rode on out of sight, with the occasional glance being thrown toward the mansion, until the visitors vanished out of sight.

Edo closed and locked the door, every movement snappish with annoyance, before he turned to Ryou. “What were you saying about my wings?” It was rather obvious he wanted a complete subject change from annoying visitors. Ryou could not blame him at all.

And yet he couldn’t resist something so obvious.

“You don’t have angel wings. Someone with angel wings wouldn’t have lied like a rug just now.”

Edo sniffed. “I didn’t lie. We don’t want to be bothered by the war.” That was so. Their intent was to end it, by ending Haou, if they could.

But Ryou kept on. “If they’d tried to force their way in, or anything else, you would’ve broken then in half. With your wings.” As they would be the only weapons that Edo had on him at the moment, there was no lie there either. Ryou let a small amused smile touch his lips. “Your wings are just like you: hidden danger. Your wings are swan wings.”

Edo stared at him for a handful of moments before he flashed a dangerous grin of his very own. “Saiou’s the only person who ever figured that out without being told. I won’t even let them put it on my official Pro League article.” He shook his head before gesturing back to the main room. “Care to get tonight’s preening started?”

“I don’t think I have anything more pressing to do,” Ryou said, leading the way.

Maybe he’d preen Edo as well tonight.


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