He's not the same man Kravitz fell in love with, after. Kravitz don't mean this in a bad way — there is something centered about Taako now, the crumpled vitriol and his quiet desperation smoothed out. He's always been a good liar about being okay all the time, but now it's less a veneer and more the truth.
It's good, Kravitz thinks. It's just different.
"Krav? You there?"
Taako waves a hand in front of Kravitz's face. It's a nice hand. Thin-fingered, nicked with knife scars, chipped pink nail polish. Very warm. Surprisingly strong. Kravitz thinks absently about the way it feels against his skin when Taako touches him.
"Yes. Hello," Kravitz says.
"Hi babe," Taako grins a crooked grin. "Copper for your thoughts?"
"Just thinking," Kravitz says.
"Er. You," Kravitz says, and then winces because that was terribly awkward. There's something about his boyfriend that brings out the fourteen year old in him, even though it's been centuries since his adolescence.
Taako laughs. Kravitz watches him. Taako looks lovely when he's laughing. Action illuminates him, tousles his hair, pulls his lips into a perfect gap-toothed grin. He's a man made for motion, Kravitz thinks, Kravitz could write symphonies about him. The thought's a little saccharine, though.
"I mean it!" Kravitz says. "I was thinking about you."
"What about me?" Taako says, rolling over on the bed, reaching for Kravitz with his perfect hands, arranging Kravitz around him so that they're spooned together, legs tangled under the covers. Taako likes being the little spoon, likes curling up into a neat little curve and wrapping Kravitz around him. This much hasn't changed.
"You seem happier these days," Kravitz says, staring into the half-light of Taako's bedroom over Taako's shoulder. His old bedroom — not the room on the Bureau of Balance. The berth on the Starblaster, the one Taako shared with Lup until Lup finally shacked up with Barry. It's got two twin beds shoved together into one ultra-king-bed covered in silky transmuted sheets and pillows, and a desk covered in alien knickknacks and magic trinkets, and a closet full-to-bursting. There are shoes all over the floor. It's very Taako. Taako had been delighted to get all his stuff back, after everything was over.
"Really? Huh," Taako says. "I didn't notice."
"Mm," Kravitz says, and hopes that Taako drops the subject. Taako does not drop the subject. He nudges Kravitz with his shoulder.
"C'mon. I'm an open book, just for you. One time deal. No refunds. Ask me anything. What were you thinking, about me?"
"Tell me about your sister," Kravitz says, to change the subject. Taako's told him about his childhood before. But that was the childhood without Lup. Lup is a mystery to Kravitz, the woman the mirror-image of Taako, who shoved an umbrella (The umbra staff mark two, this time with fifty percent less vore) in Kravitz's face the first time she met him and said "I don't care if you're the grim reaper or whatever, dipshit, if you break my brother's heart then you're gonna get eaten, and I mean eaten." Taako had nearly pissed himself laughing.
Kravitz had said "Um, okay, I mean, I don't think I'm going to do that," and then Lup's face has split into a wide grin as she looked at her brother and said, "Oh my gods, Taako, you're dating a nerd."
The situation deteriorated from there.
Kravitz doesn't really remember being alive, but he remembers his older siblings — they were also twins. He remembers they cried at his funeral, him already invisible and resplendent with the Raven Queen's heart beating in stead of his own. Sometimes seeing Taako and Lup dredges up old memories of them. Did he love them? He must have.
Kravitz is very, very old.
"You got this choice piece of guy in your bed, and you want to talk about his sister?" Taako asks.
"Er," Kravitz says.
Taako laughs. "I'm just fucking with you, bubeleh. What do you want to know about her?"
"I don't know. What's she like? When she's not trying to kill me, I mean." Kravitz closes his eyes as he buries his face in the crook between Taako's shoulder and neck, so that he feels rather than hears Taako's drawn-out "hmm." Taako's heart beats a steady liquid thump. It's still novel for Kravitz, who doesn't have a pulse. Deathly magicks run silently through veins and arteries.
"Well. She's really good at making explosions happen — magic, flamethrowers, you name it, Lup's got it. Her and Barry have been an item for uhhhh, forever, basically. She and I were pretty much inseparable, when we were kids. Um. We're actually not that similar?"
Taako's voice is hesitant, trailing off. Kravitz isn't sure if it's because Taako isn't sure what to say. He's noticed that Taako has been avoiding his sister, like a cat circling a person they aren't sure of. But this morning he walked in on the two of them deep in discussion. They were both laughing. He was almost sorry to have broken the conversation with his presence, though Taako welcomed him enthusiastically.
"— Although everyone always used to say we were like, the same person. I think they probably just thought we looked the same. Y'know, she's a better person than me, I think."
"You're a great person," Kravitz protests. "I like you, at least." Taako shakes his head, prompting Kravitz to run a hand through Taako's hair so that he stops shifting. Be still, please. Let me enjoy this moment next to you, Kravitz thinks. I get so few quiet moments. Taako continues.
"I just mean she cares more than I do. Like, she actually gives a shit about people. I just pretend to. Everything but her and you guys can go hang, y'know?"
Kravitz opens his eyes. It's getting late. He should go turn off the light. He doesn't want to get up.
"I kill people for a living, Taako. I'm not in the best position to judge morality."
"Mm. I think you're pretty okay."
"Thanks," Kravitz says. "I'm glad to hear that my boyfriend thinks I'm pretty okay."
"Yeah, you're alright," Taako says, shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. "Stay right there, babe, I'm gonna go turn off the light."
"Okay," Kravitz reluctantly acquiesces, letting Taako pull away from him.
Love to watch you go, hate to see you leave, Kravitz thinks, as Taako slides out of bed, leaving a detritus of blankets and pillows in his wake. The bed chills quickly without his body heat. Kravitz is only good for keeping drinks cold.
Taako walks over to the light switch. He's wearing underwear and a shirt, which is a terribly derivative way to describe what he's actually wearing.
Taako's underwear is made of hot pink lace that hugs the curves of his ass compellingly. The shirt is a tank-top that reads TSU CLASS OF 3762, square across Taako's chest. It's practically translucent.
The thing is, Kravitz thinks despairingly, the thing is that Taako isn't even wearing these for any particular reason. This is just what Taako wears to sleep. Kravitz hates that the sight of Taako in his ridiculous pajamas makes arousal pool in his stomach.
Then again, Kravitz is wearing one of Taako's shirts, so he can't pass any judgment.
Taako notices Kravitz staring. He smiles lasciviously, pops a hip and poses dramatically, one hand running down his torso, the other pointed toward Kravitz. Blond hair tumbles.
"Y'like what you see?"
"It's very nice," Kravitz says, dry as bone. "But I liked having you over here better."
"Mmkay, well, all you had to do is ask," Taako says, immediately dropping out of his pose and flicking the switch down. The room is thrown into shade, the only light coming through the porthole window high on the wall above the bed. Stars wink above them.
Taako kicks spare high-heels out of his way, stumbling to the massive bed, levering himself onto the mattress. It's endearing, Kravitz thinks, and welcomes him by helping him climb on.
"So what were you really thinking about, hombre?" Taako says as he lies down, a sharp u-turn back to their original topic, a precision strike of a query that Kravitz can't evade any longer. In some ways, the rest of their conversation has been Taako playing with him, Kravitz thinks wryly, just a detour back to Taako's original curiosity.
"I guess I was just thinking about how you're not the same as before you got your memories back," Kravitz says, and braces himself for the fallout. Taako can be high strung. A little dramatic. And astonishingly secure in his perceived insecurities — his idiocy, his lack of abilities, etcetera. Kravitz doesn't want to be another person who suggests that there is something wrong with his boyfriend.
"Oh. Is that all?" Taako says, completely unconcerned. Kravitz blinks. This is not the same man who told him "I'm afraid no one will have me," over wine and pottery.
"Yeah," Kravitz says. "It's not bad! I just. Er. I didn't want you to think that I didn't like you because you changed, or something. Because I like you. I like you a lot."
"I like you too, m'dude — " Taako yawns. " — and I didn't know I was acting different."
"You're not, really," Kravitz says. "It's just, more your attitude?"
"I'm still the same guy," Taako says. Kravitz shakes his head.
"No you're not. But I like you, whoever you are."
"That's real sappy." Taako doesn't say he minds, Kravitz notes.
"What, I'm not allowed to like my boyfriend?" Kravitz smiles as he speaks.
Taako responds by wriggling closer to Kravitz. He shivers as he arranges Kravitz around him. Kravitz lets him. This is what a lot of their relationship consists of: Taako rearranging Kravitz, and Kravitz letting him. Taako rearranging the world around Kravitz to make such things as dating one of his former targets seem reasonable, and Kravitz letting him.
Kravitz has been an emissary for the Raven Queen for centuries. Taako is something entirely new.
"Jeez, you're like a massive icecube," Taako shivers. Kravitz moves his arms away from his boyfriend as if stung.
Taako pulls Kravitz's arms back around him. "Don't be, it's kind of nice. But pass me the blankets."
"Okay," Kravitz says, and pulls a thick down comforter over the two of them. Slowly, the air around them warms. Kravitz closes his eyes again, luxuriates in the still-strange feeling of warmth, the novelty of another body next to him. He hadn't realized it was something he missed, while being dead. He doesn't remember other lovers, from when he was alive, and his work left no space for romance. He's almost asleep when Taako breaks the silence.
"How'm I different?"
"Hm," Kravitz says, voice sodden with slumber, groping for a way to articulate. "You're more... centered? You seem happier, like I said. I'm not sure how to explain it. You just seem...different."
"You think you woulda liked me, if you met me now?"
"Of course," Kravitz says without hesitating.
"Mm. Good. I woulda liked you too, I think," Taako says, encircling Kravitz's left wrist with a his fingers, a chain that Kravitz has no desire to break. Taako continues.
"Me 'nd Lup talked. At breakfast — y'know, you were there. We talked before that."
"Just, you know. Stuff."
"Yeah. Stuff. Twin stuff." Taako hesitates. "She apologized for leaving."
"Thats good, right?"
"I think so," Taako says. "The weird thing is that I wasn't mad at her. I think I should be mad at her? Like, I would have been mad at her. Who I used to be would have been mad. But I'm mostly just glad she's back."
"Oh," Kravitz says.
"Yeah," Taako says. "It's weird. But it was good to talk with her, I think. Shit. She almost started crying, and I had absolutely no idea what to do, it was terrible, you can't even imagine."
"Sure," Kravitz says. "Did you almost start crying too?"
"Fuck off!" Taako says. Kravitz laughs softly, opens his eyes to the sight of his boyfriend giggling.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't tease you."
"Damn right you shouldn't. I'm emotionally distraught," Taako says, drawing the last word out into at least three syllables.
"You're emotionally distressing," Kravitz says.
"To Lulu, at least. Gods," Taako sighs. "This is the most unsexy conversation we could be having in bed,"
"Well, we could stop talking about your sister," Kravitz smiles. "We could talk about something else."
"Or, we could stop talking." Taako wiggles his eyebrows jokingly. Moves his leg between Kravitz's, strokes the inside of his thigh. Kravitz raises his eyebrows as if to imply, "right now?" He doesn't move away. Taako shrugs a little, as if to say "well, I mean, we're here," but yawns, which ruins the whole effect of the thing.
"You're falling asleep," Kravitz says, moving his legs to stop Taako moving. Taako shakes his head, even as his blinks slow.
"Elves don't sleep."
"I've seen you sleep."
"Lies and slander," Taako says, and yawns again, hugely. "Okay, but in the morning."
"In the morning," Kravitz agrees, quiet anticipation unwinding in the back of his mind. He pulls his boyfriend closer like a living hot water bottle. Taako lets him, tucking his head under Kravitz's chin and his arms octopus-like around Kravitz's back.
Taako's the most interesting thing that's happened to Kravitz since dying. When he thinks about it too hard, it amazes him, that he's even here lying in bed with his boyfriend, who saved countless worlds, who Kravitz was supposed to kill, who is warm in Kravitz's arms. It defies all logical explanation. Taako defies all logical explanation.
"I'm glad you're you," Kravitz says, too quietly for Taako to hear, and closes his eyes.