Chapter 48: Am I... Interrupting Something?

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 'How's your jaw?' Ryn asked, balling up a square of soaked steel-wool, folding her right wing in front of her, and scrubbing furiously at the first flight feather.

The paint was stubborn, but so was she, and eventually it succumbed to her will, flaking away from the glassy-substance, with her fervent attempts, and leaving it clear, once again.

Colt sat cross-legged in the grass behind her, working on her left wing, up near where it connected to her back, out of her own reasonable reach.

It was odd, she had thought.

When Darcy had touched her wings, in order to paint them, she'd barely felt it. But as soon as Colt's hand had come in contact with the glass, it sent soft, almost pleasant vibrations running down to the tips of her flight feathers.

She tried her best to ignore the unusual sensation, as they both continued to clean away the pigment.

Colt huffed at her question, amused. 'Jackson was holding back.'

Aderyn grimaced. 'Didn't look like it...'

'A hit like that, if it had been serious, would easily have dropped me.'

She rose an eyebrow, glancing back at him, briefly.

'Why do I get the feeling you're saying that from experience?'

He shrugged, eyes flickering up to meet hers, before focusing back down on her feathers.

'When I was about fifteen, sixteen, I went through, what my sister called, a young-and-stupid stage,' he explained with a soft chuckle. 'I don't think a week went by where I didn't get into some sort of a fight.'

Ryn was startled.

'Seriously? I... I didn't think you were that type.'

He scoffed. 'Yeah, I'll admit it's not my proudest couple of years, but common sense didn't catch up to me until I was nearly seventeen.'

'Is that how you learnt to fight?' she asked. 'I saw you in the ring with Jackson. He wasn't the only one throwing decent punches.'

'I find it's a useful skill to have. Just wish I'd learnt through a less idiotic method.'

'During those years, did you ever.... you know... accidentally...'

'Transform?' he picked up on what she was trying so hard not to say. 'Yeah, a few times...'

'What, in public?!'

'I may have been an idiot, but I wasn't entirely without some sense. As soon as I could feel the change coming, I bolted. I usually got back to the warehouse in time...'

'Usually?' she asked, rather tentatively.

'Like I said... Not my proudest couple of years...'

His voice had darkened as he trailed off. Taking the hint, she dropped the topic, too, instead moving to clean the feathers higher up her wing.

She really didn't want to pry, but her curiosity seemed to get the better of her in situations like these.

Slowly, the paint chipped away, and after about twenty minutes, she had nearly cleaned off the primaries of both wings. Colt was still working behind her, but he had moved to the other side, cleaning the covert feathers around her right shoulder blade, this time.

'They're beautiful,' he finally spoke up, his fingers tapping at the glass of her wings with a resonating hum, breaking the silence that had descended upon them.

'Thanks.' She smiled lightly, feeling her neck grow warm at the compliment, her feathers rippling as his fingers traced them, softly.

'Were you born with them?'

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