It was a mistake to leave the hamper unattended, Kenshin knew that but the phone was ringing. The 'Sou had a landline specifically for the instances of particular members of the household going out and forgetting their cell phones (or destroying them, as Edward was wont to accidentally do). The phone did not ring that often, so Kenshin always made it a priority when someone called.
Fortunately it was nothing particularly pressing - Kennichi checking in, just so no one panicked when they realized he was missing again. Apparently, he was in Europe ... somewhere. Kenshin was reasonably sure he had just seen the werewolf this morning, so he was not about to inquire as to how Kennichi made it across the ocean just that quickly. There were ways, after all.
By the time he returned to the abandoned hamper, it was completely full to overflowing. Kenshin looked around the living room and sighed, wondering who in particular was bold enough to dump their dirty clothes in with Kenshin and Edward's THIS time - but it was not worth the energy he would have to commit to sniff out the perpetrator of the crime. Too many Elrics, too many similar sets of clothes. It was easier just to wash them and leave the clean, unclaimed clothes on the dryer.
Laundry was one of those few chores that Kenshin did not despise as much as he let on. There was something soothing about the routine. It was not nearly as complex or time-consuming it had been well over a century ago, with automated machines doing the majority of the work for him now. He barely sorted the clothes, shoving a load's worth into the machine and glancing at the full - and untouched - dryer.
Someone had done a load and abandoned their clothes. Kenshin started emptying the cold, wrinkled clothes so that when the wash cycle was done he would not have to wait to move on to the next load, when the pair of panties hit the ground at his feet. He stared at the underwear, a little nonplussed, and dumped the remaining clean clothes into an empty laundry basket on top of the dryer.
It was a pair of pink panties, with a ruffled hem and a little bow on the front. Kenshin held the (thankfully clean) panties and could not, for the life of him, reconcile the sight.
The sound of Edward pulling the door to his lab closed made Kenshin look up. The laundry room was a small alcove annexed off of the same hallway that Edward's lab was on. This was HIS Edward, even if the silver ring did not give it away, most of the other Elrics stayed out of Edward's lab unless expressly invited. Edward snorted a bit in amusement. "You are making the most ridiculous face," he announced.
Wordlessly, Kenshin held up the panties.
Edward cocked an eyebrow at him, and then looked from Kenshin to the panties. "What? They're not mine."
Kenshin balled up the panties and threw them at Edward, who batted them out of the air. "Dumbass," Kenshin said. "I know they're not yours, you would not put on anything frilly if I begged for it."
Edward retrieved the panties with his automail hand. "Are they clean?"
"They came out of the dryer."
"Who do they belong to?"
"Your guess is as good as mine." Kenshin shook his head and nudged the hamper full of wrinkled, cold clothes.
"Dude, someone here gets their rocks off walking around in women's underwear. I can't decide if that's fucked up or not." Edward held out the panties. "They're pretty small. Can't imagine anyone here wearing them."
"They also have an elastic waist, Ed, like most underwear. They would stretch." The thought of Edward, barely restrained by such panties, suddenly crossed his mind. Kenshin thankfully had his back to Edward as he sorted the rest of the laundry, so that he was able to quell that nosebleed before it started.
"Huh," Edward said, and tossed the panties in the hamper that Kenshin had nudged. "Now I'm curious. It's not like you can go around yanking people's pants down. Or outright asking them 'are you fancying a ponce in women's undies?' I'd get punched."
Kenshin lifted his head and looked back at Edward. "Did you just develop a British accent?"
Edward shrugged. "I've been reading British expedition journals since eight o'clock this morning."
"Expedition journals? What happened to that book in hieratic you were having a go at?"
"When I start dreaming in glyphs it's time to change languages," Edward said. "The papyri have been around a few thousand years, a couple of weeks won't make or break anything." Edward crossed the small hallway to flop against Kenshin's back as Kenshin finished up sorting. Kenshin sighed deeply as Edward hooked his arms over Kenshin's shoulders, his breath warm against the nape of Kenshin's neck.
Even as Kenshin was about the open his mouth to complain about Edward's inopportune clinginess, Ed came tromping down the stairs.
Ed was an Edward - one of the older ones, generation-wise. He looked a little haggard, his hair freshly trimmed and a healing cut under his left eye. "'Sup," the older man grunted as his boots hit concrete.
"Look at that," Edward huffed. "The old man returns."
"Who the hell are you calling old, you're bedding a centagenarian."
"Actually, I don't think there's a term for my age, as human life expectancy is significantly less than a hundred and sixty years," Kenshin corrected mildly.
"Whatever," Ed snorted. He stomped over over the the laundry basket, slinging it up on his shoulder in one solid movement. "Sorry, forgot I was doing laundry this morning."
Edward and Kenshin exchanged a silent look of curiousity, but neither wanted to be the one to bring it up. Edward snorted into Kenshin's shoulder as Ed gave them both critical looks, before heading back up the stairs with a sullen expression on his face.
Fortunately, Edward had enough tact to keep his reaction silent until Ed was well out of hearing range. "D-did you see?" he gasped, his arms still around Kenshin's shoulders and his face buried in Kenshin's back. "RUFFLES."
"I saw," Kenshin confirmed, not quite as taken by mirth as Edward. He certainly had, the purple edges of frilled underpants peeking out from the edge of Ed's jeans. "I really did see."