He can taste blood not long after he tells them. His followers outraged because after all, who would give up what he had? Especially for that. And they won't even call the Light's ruler by name, just hissed curses as they kick at him referring to the person he loves. Not that it can be love because frankly he doesn't believe in love. Even as he lets them kick him, their feet grinding his wings into the dirt and if he believed in love, he might have to admit that maybe this is it. But he doesn't. And eventually he blacks out, and as black spots dance in front of his vision he can't help but put on a barely-sane grin, blood dripping off his lips from a broken tooth as he considers that he might not even ever see the cause of this again. Won't see the cause of this again.

ooo

The first things he's aware of when he comes to are his second-in-command, and the fact he's in the back of a van. Allows himself a confused moment because vans are practically impossible to come by in this time, before he finally registers Fubuki's voice hissing repeatedly, "Why, why, why? For Darkness' sake why, you idiot?"

Comes to realise after a few confused moments that Fubuki hasn't noticed the faint rise and fall of his chest, or the fact that he's stirring. Too busy mourning his ruler to notice that said ruler isn't dead. Or to remember that in all honesty he should have been joining the mob, not saving the corpse (not a corpse quite yet, but oh sweet Darkness does he feel like one). After a few minutes he manages to control himself enough to cough quietly, and Fubuki's head snaps up. Leans forward and the next thing he knows Fubuki's clinging to him. Left wing beating against his chest hard (and there is no word in any language to describe how painful that is). The torn remains of a right wing beating out of time to the other, and even in this state he can't help but wonder if things like that would have been different, had this happened before. And then he blacks out again, the last things he hears Fubuki hissing, "Idiot, idiot, idiot," again and again and again.

ooo

The first words he hears once he wakes up the second time are, "Did you enjoy it?" So obviously Kaiser that he can't help but laugh, instantly regretting it as he ends up choking, coughing and spluttering and hacking up a mixture of blood and phlegm. Kaiser just watches in silence, eyes cold. His wings folded behind him, once light feathers stained a deeper, darker blue by Darkness' touch. Not that Darkness had any particular part in it, except for being the force Fubuki was born to serve. Not Darkness' touch then, Fubuki's. Because he doesn't feel like chalking everything up to Darkness and the Light any more.

Once he's recovered from his coughing fit, and wiped his mouth, he glances up at Ryo. "Well?" comes the demand, "Did you?"

He shrugs. Can't quite decide how to answer that. Did he? Does it matter? The cold gaze remains on him for a few more moments before Ryo sweeps out of the room. A dingy little room that makes him wrinkle his nose a little. Disgusting really, compared to what he's used to, probably from the remains of one of the villages that was never rebuilt. But eventually the pain overwhelms his disgust and he lets himself drift off, because at least that way he's not in pain. And without the pain he has no need to wonder if he enjoyed it.

ooo

It takes a few days of passing in and out of consciousness before his mind really clears. Still feverish and Fubuki insists he should be resting (not that Fubuki is ever allowed to insist people rest, because telling that boy to rest is like telling a cat to swim across an ocean). Except his mind is clearer than it's been before, even when he decides he wants some fresh air. Lurches out of bed, ignoring the way his muscles scream in protest, and grimacing a little at how his wings drag broken and useless along the ground as he walks. Strides outside and stares up at the dark sky, Fubuki hanging behind him like a second shadow.

"Would you have done the same?" he asks Fubuki, and his second-in-command blinks a few times, then shakes his head.

"I wouldn't," Fubuki murmurs, "You've given yourself up completely to him. If he rejects you, you'll have nowhere. You committed yourself to something that's a sin to start with."

"You wouldn't even have done it for Hell Kaiser?"

Fubuki doesn't answer that, and he laughs before sweeping back into the ruined house.

ooo

It's a week before Fubuki finally admits that there really isn't anything they can do to save his wings. Stares mournfully at him and runs his fingers over the jet-black feathers, still matted with blood and dirt.

He can't help but smile, a thin, twisted smile that looks more like a long cut across his face. Fubuki stares for a moment, suppressing a shudder, and after a few moments he starts laughing. Long and hard and the only thing that stops him is a coughing fit, and he knows Fubuki's glad. Glad of anything that can shut him up.

ooo

"Shut up," Edo hisses, "I don't want to hear it."

Fubuki frowns, and Ryo sighs quietly. Steps forward and drops to his knees in front of Edo, pulling Fubuki with him and trailing his wings along the floor submissively. Fubuki copies the best he can, trailing his left wing on the floor and simply drooping the stump of the right one downwards. After a few moments of that Edo frowns, and nods.

"I've had a shit day, and you two can only be here to make it worse. But go on, if you must."

ooo

"They can't see any faults in you," Edo murmurs to him once they're reunited, "You're completely broken, and yet to them you're still perfect."

There's no response from him, and after a moment Edo snorts.

"Idiots. They're complete idiots. Fubuki could be ruler by now, and yet him and Kaiser are still following you around like lost puppies."

He laughs quietly, twitching his broken wings and gasping a little at the pain that spikes through his spine. Pauses for a moment and repositions himself on the bed before murmuring, "They're friends, I suppose. It's what they're there for."

ooo

"Are you insane?"

He can't help but laugh at the shocked tone of Edo's voice, wheezing a little before murmuring, "They're only getting in the way. Even you admitted that you can't save my wings."

Edo nods slowly, curling up on the bed beside him and running a hand over the soft feathers. They've been cleaned up now, the jet black feathers shiny and clean, not matted with blood and dirt and dust from being dragged along the ground. But still broken. He's right, the wings only get in the way now. Drag along behind him, limp and useless, weighing him down when he barely has the strength to walk i the first place.

After a pause Edo sighs, and nods again, bitterly murmuring, "You're right. I'll see what I can do about having them removed."

ooo

Edo's never seen what happens when someone's wings are removed before. When Saiou and Fubuki had ripped each others' wings off, he hadn't witnessed it. Hadn't come in until later, when Saiou was a mess, clutching at the stump of his left wing with bright blood trailing over his fingers and his arm.

He watches in silence as his wings are cut away, not revealing any signs of pain even though it hurts like hell. A sick smile twisting his features as they fall away from him, dissolving into nothingness. All but the feathers, which drift to the ground slowly, carelessly, piece by piece, all that's left of the once-mighty wings.

It doesn't seem to bother him that he's just lost half of himself, and as he picks up a handful of feathers, his twisted smile widening ever-so-slightly, Edo can't help but shudder a little.

ooo

"You're everything that--" Edo's cut off by a harsh kiss. Sharp teeth biting at his lips and tongue, and Edo can't help but wonder exactly what caused this. Pushes him away and frowns.

"Did I do this? Or was it losing your wings?"

He doesn't answer, just watches Edo hungrily. Eyes barely open, only slight purple slits trained on Edo showing that he's even listening. After a few moments of this Edo shakes his head slowly, stands up and walks to the door. Doesn't look back, too sickened by the lack of wings to even look at him any more. Curls his own wings around himself a little as he pauses in the doorway.

"I don't even know what you are any more."

With that, Edo sweeps out of the room, white wings flaring up behind him, and he's left alone in his room.

ooo

Edo doesn't go back after the last time they spent together. Makes excuses every time, because he's sickening now. That great empty space behind him where his wings should be. Those twisted smiles and jumbled words, questions that Edo can't answer and questions that Edo won't answer. He knows he's doing it, too. Smirks up at Edo from the bed, and Edo just wants to throw up.

So he throws himself into everything else he can, because he can't take those vague words, hinting at tangled things that Edo can't even begin to comprehend.

ooo

It's not until New Year's Eve that Edo finally works up the courage to go and see him. Six (seven?) months of no contact whatsoever, and it's only a well-timed comment from Ryo that makes him go anyway.

"Yusuke will be all alone tonight," he had murmured to Edo, slipping into the party only long enough to collect food for Fubuki.

Edo had tensed a little, frowning. "What about you?"

A slight smirk had crossed the Kaiser's features as he pointed out, "Fubuki's ill. Since Yusuke's not my ruler any more, my first loyalty is to Fubuki. And what about you? You're obviously not enjoying the party, and it's been months since you saw him."

After that Ryo had left, and with a slight sigh Edo had resignedly made his way to the tower where Yusuke had lived since he'd arrived.

He knocks on the door quietly, and at first there's no answer. He wonders if Yusuke is asleep. Part of him hopes Yusuke is asleep. And then there's the sound of someone walking across the room, and Yusuke pulls the door open. A slight frown crossing his features for a moment before one of his twisted smiles splits his face, and Edo shudders as he's invited inside.

Yusuke steps over to the tower window, looking out with his back to Edo, and Edo can't help but think he's doing it on purpose. Making it so all Edo can see is the lack of wings.

"So," he purrs after a pause, his voice smoother than usual, "It's been a while, hasn't it." It's not a question, more a statement, and Edo doesn't quite know how to answer.

Eventually he manages to tear his gaze away from Yusuke's back long enough to awkwardly murmur, "Kaiser said you'd be alone tonight. I... I didn't think you should be alone on New Year's Eve, is all."

Yusuke laughs quietly, almost mockingly. Raises his hand in a mock toast without turning round and purrs, more to himself than Edo, "Well here's to the New Year."

Edo leaves not long after that, and doesn't come back.

ooo

Years after, Yusuke can't quite remember why he lost his wings. He hasn't seen Edo since that night, years ago. Edo had told him he shouldn't be alone at the new year, he remembers, but he'd been left alone in the end anyway, too sick and twisted for Edo to stand any longer.

He holds his head high as he walks through the capital. He can feel eyes on him, children pointing and frowning curiously while their mothers herd them away. He smiles faintly, drops his head and slumps his shoulders, and if he closes his eyes he can imagine what it would have been like if Edo had lost his wings instead.

Edo wouldn't have dropped his head, no matter how many people shied away, no matter how many jeers he heard. He would have held his head up, eyes blazing as he stepped forward. Dead on his feet but he would have kept upright, blood staining his pale robes and dripping onto the sun-baked stones under his feet while his wings dragged behind him.

It hadn't been like that for himself, he muses. Beaten and bloodied until he had fallen unconscious, and then herded away by Fubuki and Ryo. He never had been as dignified as Edo, after all.

He makes his way through the city slowly, half-listening to the people around him as he walks with his head down. "Is it true that at night he walks around at night looking for wings to steal, to replace his own?" comes one voice, a small child. Yusuke can't help but flinch visibly, turning his head a little to see the child. Its mother sweeps in front of it, the feathers on her wings fluffing up, and Yusuke sighs and turns his head away.

After he's walked for what feels like hours, Yusuke reaches the edge of the city. Climbs up onto a grassy hill and leans himself up against a huge tree, looking out away from the capital. His breath rattles painfully in his chest as he sits there, and the scars on his back where his wings were ache and throb. He closes his eyes slowly and leans his head back against the trunk of the tree, ignoring the pounding headache that drove him out of the palace in the first place.

Takes in a deep breath, one that makes him lean forward, hacking and coughing until his chest and heart burn and he can barely breathe. Once he's caught his breath he collapses onto his side on the grass, staring blankly ahead. There's a patch of flowers in front of him, and he stares at them for a while, half-trying to work out what they are. It's around ten minutes before his mind finally connects the flowers to their name, and when he does he sucks in a harsh breath. Immediately regrets it, hacking and coughing again. When he's recovered, he reaches out, brushes a finger over one of the petals of the forget-me-nots.

He can remember finding a patch of them when he was being brought to Edo. He had picked them, carefully making sure they were each the same length, obsessively trimming them to be exactly the same. Had kept them with him, had brought them out for Edo only to find them dead and wilted. He smiles faintly to himself as he remembers bursting into tears, so raw from breaking his wings, in so much pain from insisting on walking through the capital with them dragging on the stone that even something as small as some wilted flowers had taken him over the edge.

Edo had laughed harshly at first, but once he'd controlled himself he'd comforted Yusuke. At that memory something in Yusuke flares up and he tears the flowers roughly out of the ground. There's no care this time, and once he has them up he rips at them viciously, only dropping them back once the flowers are completely shredded. He sits there for a few minutes after he's dropped the forget-me-nots before standing up and brushing himself off calmly, and makes his way slowly back to the palace.

ooo

Yusuke remains in his room in the palace after the day he finds the forget-me-nots. Curled up in his bed because it hurts to move. Hurts to breathe, hurts to move, hurts to think. Eventually gets to the point where he's numb to it all, and that's when he's finally able to think straight.

It's ironic, he muses. He gave up absolutely everything for Edo, and he hasn't seen Edo for years now. Everyone will remember him for what he's done, he knows that. And he's always wanted to be remembered. And yet, he can't help but wonder if it's been worth it. Remembered for being a broken wreck, for breaking so many rules and himself in the process. For giving up everything for someone, only to find that they couldn't accept him that way.

With a slight sigh he curls in on himself, coughing weakly at the movement. Smiles faintly to himself. It's not worth it, he decides. He's wanted to be remembered, he's always wanted to be remembered, but this isn't what for. Still. Not like he can do anything about it. Not now, not like this. Can't make anything of himself, because he's been broken and holed up in this room for so long he's unsure of the himself he's trying to make something of.

There's a bittersweet feeling to that realization, and Yusuke smiles, wide and thin and insane, with the thought that he's entirely too used to that sort of feeling.