The kitchen was quiet, outside of the teapot steaming on a cooler corner of the woodstove, and a few muttered swears from a Black Swordsman trying to get wild boar bacon to cook without charring.
“You still haven’t leveled your Cooking.” Smirking, Asuna moved in to rescue crispy bits, slice in more bacon, and deftly stir batter a few more times so Kirito’s attempt at journey-cakes would come out a little less like chewy bricks.
“It’s easier to cook for one person on the trail.” Kirito materialized a half-dozen green-speckled eggs, and cracked them into another pan.
That was actually true. Cooking for yourself had a lower difficulty than trying to make a guild-sized batch of anything. Asuna had found that out the hard way trying to make mochi.
She eyed the fragments of shell before they lost durability and vanished. They looked oddly familiar. “Were those cockatrice eggs?”
That surprised a chuckle out of him. “Vincent says they’re one of the best things to happen to Aincrad,” Kirito admitted. “Raising chickens is a disaster. Too many things will eat them.” He stirred the cooking eggs, which seemed to be turning a proper yellow even if they acted heavier than scrambled eggs in the Otherworld. “Youkai can let cockatrices roam their farms, as long as they’ve got a fenced run to come back to every night. They can take care of themselves.”
Like a certain Black Swordsman. The kitchen was mostly lit by a glowstone lantern he’d set in place, but there were enough hints of dawn creeping through the window to pick out feathery glints in his hair. And shadows under his eyes. “Bad dreams?” Asuna said softly.
Black eyes dodged her gaze. “Everyone has them.”
His hand hadn’t quite strayed toward the feathers. But Tournesol had known another Moonsword ranger, and Asuna saw echoes of that same tight self-control cloaked in black. He won’t talk about it. Not unless I ask first. “Are you sorry you got those grafts?”
“…I don’t know.”