“I hate you.”
Pyunma hid his smile, easy to do with water weighing Jet’s hair down over his face. “Uh huh.”
“I fucking hate you. I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
“Just come here.”
If anything, Jet’s look darkened even further. But he still sloshed through the water until he and Pyunma were chest to chest. Pyunma just wrapped his arms around Jet’s waist, tucked under his wings. “Ready?” He waited for Jet’s terse nod before letting both of them fall backwards.
Jet jerked as soon as they were underwater, his wings flaring in panic. Pyunma tightened his hold, gently stroking what skin he could reach. “I’ll keep you up. Just focus on moving.”
The words must have been understandable even through the water because Jet blinked at him through the waving mass of his hair. He was still for a moment before he spread his wings, the red of his feathers even brighter against the iridescent blue of Pyunma’s scales, and slowly, carefully, figured out how to swim again.
Cathy knew, as the sole person in town with regular access to the manor, that she’d eventually be inundated with questions. So it wasn’t a surprise when the grocer asked, too casually, as he counted her change, “Anything interesting going on at the magician’s house?”
“You should know me better than that,” Cathy scolded lightly, gathering up her purchases. He laughed, giving her a brief wave before he greeted his next customer.
It was a bit more of a surprise when one of his daughters sidled up to Cathy once she was outside. “Do you know…” she trailed off, her face turning red before she got her courage together. “Do you know if, uh, the redhead, Jet, if he’s sweet on anyone?”
Cathy stumbled in surprise, and the two of them spent a frantic minute making sure none of her groceries fell. “Is Jet…?” she repeated. “I don't…”
Except she did know. They’d forgotten to shut the door, and she’d walked in to change the bed linens. Jet’s wings hid quite a lot, but they couldn’t hide the tenderness in his touch as he traced Pyunma’s face, or the way Pyunma’s fingers tangled in Jet’s hair. The last thing she saw as she backed out of the room was Jet leaning down and resting their foreheads together, their peaceful expressions hidden when she shut the door.
‘Sweet on’ likely didn’t come close.
GB woke to the sounds of a camp already active, despite the dim light telling him just how early in the day it was. The morning chill manifested in the icy cold touch of the basin he slept in, despite the nearby campfire, and he surged over the side as soon as he registered it. He plucked a stray leaf out of his chest as he shifted into his default form and looked about the camp as soon as his eyes reformed.
And immediately had to protect said eyes when Jet took off a few yards away, kicking up sprays of sand with the first few sweeps of his wings before he caught the wind over the lake. Further down the beach, Geronimo sat feeding Ivan, and Pyunma could just be seen floating in the water. GB let his gaze wander over the lake, taking in the tranquility, until he felt a presence at his side. “You don’t get scenes like this in the city.”
“No,” Chang agreed. GB leaned into him, soaking in the warmth the shorter man emanated. He glanced around, checking for their unaccounted teammates, and found them still asleep on the far side of the fire. “Should we wake them?”
“No.” The flames in Chang’s eyes glowed faintly as he looked up. “We don’t know when Dolphin will be back from feeding, so we might as well let everyone rest up. Besides,” he added, sounding more chipper, “it looks like there’s good fishing in this lake.” He pulled away, ignoring GB’s protest, and spooned a mug of soup from a pot buried next to the fire. “Now, go enjoy the morning.”
GB laughed and looped his free arm around Chang’s shoulders in a quick half-hug before he let himself be shooed away. Chang’s cheerful humming followed him as he joined Geronimo and Ivan. Geronimo gave him a nod in greeting when he sat in the sand next to them, while Ivan blinked at him through his fringe. ‘You’re in a good mood.’
“Yes, well.” He tilted his head back, let the breeze run over his face, and watched Jet loop through the perfect blue sky. “It really is a lovely day.”