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The Worst Candlenights Ever

Chapter Text

When Taako walked into his apartment Lup was sitting at the kitchen table, running the corner of what looked to be a letter through a candle flame.

It was the third time this month.

“Hold on Lup, douse that bad boy, you know I gotta get a look at the new bushel of bullshit,” he said, walking over to the table after dropping his bags down on the floor. Lup sighed, taking the paper out of the candle flame and pinching the corner that had started to catch before it could spread.

“I don’t know why you wanna see, it’s the same bullshit as always,” she grumbled, handing the paper over to him none the less. The small scorch marks hadn’t reached the words yet, so Taako figured he must’ve caught her right when she started to slowly burn the thing. Taako just shrugged, reading over the letter from, oh, this one was from Uncle Vividar. They hadn’t gotten one from him yet. God, they must be getting desperate. Uncle Vividar had thrown them out the good old ‘come home to find all your shit in the front yard’ way. The fact that they’d gotten him to write them was impressive. No wonder Lup was taking an extra long time burning his letter, gotta squeeze out as much enjoyment from this bad boy as elvenly possible.

“Can you believe these fuckers? We get a little bit of notoriety, and they’re all coming out of the woodwork,” he said when he finished reading the letter, handing it back to his sister to continue with the burning. It was pathetic if he was being honest, it wasn’t even like he and Lup had gotten super rich or anything. Well, not that they knew that, from the little hints in the letters it sure seemed like they thought the two of them had money now.

They had gotten accepted into a super fancy program at their swanky college, but it wasn’t because they bought their way in. They were just that good.

It had gotten them a spot on the news though, along with a couple other people who’d been in the program. One of their relatives must’ve seen it though, and then proceeded to show literally everyone else. Now, every fucking week they’d get a letter from some asshole relative who was ‘so proud’ to hear about their accomplishments and ‘wanted to see them again, it’s been so long now’ and shit. It was almost hilarious how transparent it was.

“I wish they’d go back into the woodwork. And that I could then burn up said woodwork,” Lup said, and the letter was flaming up nicely now. She dropped it onto a plate and let it finish burning. Taako couldn’t blame her for that one, as amusing as the letters were, they were starting to get pretty fucking irritating. He'd be just as happy, if not more so to never get another one.

“I mean, we could write back and tell em to fuck off,” Taako said, but honestly that idea wasn’t too appealing. He doubted they’d give a shit about what they wanted after all. Lup grumbled wordlessly at the suggestion, not sounding too thrilled with it either.

“Ya know,” Taako started slowly, an idea beginning to form in his head. “We could go visit everyone.” He wasn’t surprised in the slightest when Lup’s head shot up with a look of absolute disgust.

“What the fuck? No goddamn way bro bro. You know those assholes don’t actually give a shit about us. I’m not about to play nice with them now that they’ve decided they want a ‘relationship’ or whatever the fuck, they already had a chance to appreciate all of this and they blew it,” she said.

“Who said anything about playing nice?” Taako asked, a smile starting to form on his face. “Listen, Lup, listen, okay they’re inviting us back. If they want us around so badly, if they miss us that much, let’s see just how much of us they can take,” he said, and Lup looked confused for all of half a second before she realized what he was suggesting.

“Wait, Koko, you might be onto something here,” she said and Taako nodded enthusiastically.

“We’re not some helpless little kids at their beck and call anymore, we got more fucking status and panache than they ever will. They don’t got shit on us,” he said and he knew Lup couldn’t argue with him there.

“Taako, my dearest brother and twin, just so we’re clear here, you’re suggesting that we go back to our shitty fucking family who abandoned us and raise goddamn hell,” she asked.

“Abso-fucking-lutely I am,” he said, so fucking pleased with the downright evil smile spreading across Lup’s face.

“God, Taako, you’re a fucking genius.”

The two spent the rest of the night planning when and how this was going to go down. They needed to get the maximum amount of family at one place for the most affect. Something over multiple days would leaving a longer lasting impression on everyone too. It had to be perfect. Thankfully, the answer was staring them right in the fucking face.

“Candlenights break is in two weeks, that's probably why the letters have been increasing,” Lup pointed out as they huddled together over a paper, trying to figure out how to write back. Once the ‘reason’ for coming back was put in place the rest of the letter came easily. They put in the same bullshit all their letters had contained, about missing them and it’d been so long and oh, they’d just love to come visit everyone for Candlenights.

“Lup, I swear after this visit we’re never gonna get another letter asking for us to come on down ever again,” Taako said with confidence once they were finished, sealing the envelope in his hands.

“Oh, I’ve got no fucking worries about that,” she agreed, the two starting to brainstorm on different ways to freak out their relatives. It'd been a while, but it'd be worth it to remember all the bits and pieces of what had really set certain people off when they were little as they could.

“I’m gonna ask Barry to come with us,” Lup said, and that one was kind of a surprise. Like, not that Lup would want Barry around for Candlenights, that was a given. Both her and Taako has spent the last Candlenights at his house, and him and Lup hadn’t even been dating yet at that point. Well, Taako had spent most of last Candlenight's at his house. He'd gotten called away by Magnus and Merle pretty late, and he'd gone along with them hoping if he left Lup and Barry alone they would get on already with the dating thing.

They didn't of course, took another whole three fucking months before either of those idiots made a move, but whatever.

“Can’t stand the idea of not having the boyfriend around on Candlenights that much huh?” Taako teased, but Lup shook her head.

“No, well that too okay, but mainly because you know he’d be down to fuck with these assholes. He’s such a chill looking dude too, they’ll never fucking expect it. They’ll think I’ve actually settled down with a normal guy!” she said and Taako couldn’t help but burst out laughing at that. God, Barold did look painfully normal if you didn’t know him, it was the perfect trap.

“Okay, okay that’s golden Lup you got me. Fuck, go call him now and let him know what’s up,” he said and without hesitation Lup did just that. Taako stayed at the kitchen table, laughing to himself at their plans. God, the weird boyfriend thing was so fucking good, he couldn’t get over it. Like, himself and Lup would be good on their own, natch, but bringing someone as a plus one was a goddamn fucking classic.

Damn it, he wanted to bring someone too.

“Luuuuuup,” he whined at her when she finally came back from talking with Barry. She raised an eyebrow at him all slumped across the table.

“Yes, Taako?” she asked, clearly amused. “Oh, also Barry is super fucking down. He’s got some dead things in jars he’s gonna bring and he even said he’s got one that he’s totally willing to sacrifice if we need it smashed,” she added before he could say what was wrong and damn it that was perfect.

“Luuup, I don’t have a weird boyfriend,” he complained, and he didn’t even need to look up at her to tell she was rolling her eyes at him. “Lup, you get to bring Barold motherfucking Bluejeans and he’s gonna let you smash a formaldehyde pig brain on the shitty casserole and it’s gonna be great and I don’t have a weird boyfriend Lup it’s not fair,” he continued.

“Well, you know you could always get a weird boyfriend,” she suggested, but Taako was already shaking his head. She had no right saying that like it was so easy when she went literal years crushing on a dude before saying anything.

“Ain’t that simple and you know it. I mean, yes, I could get a boyfriend, I’m Taako. I can’t get a boyfriend in two weeks with a guarantee that they’ll be both cool with fucking with a bunch of strangers and capable of doing such,” he said. Lup sat down on the table, nodding thoughtfully.

“Yeah, alright you got a point there, gotta be sure they’re actually viable for the mission,” she said. “Could fake it, bring one of our idiot friends along instead. I’m sure Magnus would be down to hang out over break,” she added, and Taako chewed a nail as he thought that one over. It wasn’t the worst idea, bringing a fake date.

“He would, but Magnus is too likable. He’ll try and be off putting and just end up charming everyone with his lovable oafish self and that’s the opposite of what we want here,” he said. Lup looked like she was about to argue with that for a second, before stopping and thinking it over.

“Yeah no, you’re probably right about that, especially since we’re gonna be there for a few days. You can’t spend a few days with Magnus and not end up liking the dude. I'm pretty sure it's illegal,” she agreed. There was a moment of quiet while they both thought before Lup suddenly snorted out a laugh. “Merle?” she suggested, and Taako burst out laughing.

“I don’t- Lup no. I can’t, I mean, what, are we going for some fucking sugar daddy scenario? Okay, that’d be fucking incredible but no, I can’t pretend to date our fucking dad, I can't do it Lup,” he managed to get out in between bursts of laughter.

“I guess that means Dav is a no go too?” Lup asked, sending Taako into even more fits of giggles.

“Nope, sorry, fuck I can’t, I’m literally dying already,” he said, wiping at his eyes as he slowly managed to get a hold of himself. It would be hilarious, but Taako knew for a fact he wouldn’t be able to keep it together and would end up gagging or something at some point. Not the best thing for their ruse, for sure.

“Okay, well that takes away our main options because you’re so picky,” Lup said. “Uh, if we’re going full fake bullshit here you could always bring Lucretia,” she suggested but Taako was shaking his head again.

“Lup, we want this to be somewhat believable. You’ve seen my straight guy impression before, and honestly Lucy’s isn’t much better. They’ll never believe us,” he said and Lup reluctantly nodded.

“Tuff Gregg was kind of a shitstorm,” she agreed.

“Avi? Avi would be down to get exaggeratedly drunk in front of strangers, that could be fun,” Taako said, but this time Lup was the one to shut it down.

“Just talked to him yesterday, he’s already brought tickets to go back to Brandybuck for Candlenights. Promised to bring back some choice shit for everyone though,” she said and Taako groaned, leaning back in his chair until it hit the kitchen wall behind him.

“Not fair,” he grumbled, starting to chew on one of his nails as he wracked his brain for some sort of solution here. Sure, he could just not bring someone, but there wasn’t any fun in that.

“Um, you remember Kravitz?” he asked after a moment, not particularly liking the look Lup gave him at that.

“I remember you telling me about that dude who ended up breaking Merle’s arm with, what the fuck was it? A chunk of amethyst?” she asked.

“It was a large shard of pink tourmaline and the dude did apologize once he realized we weren’t actually breaking in,” Taako clarified, even though he knew that Lup knew exactly what had happened and was just being difficult. “But yeah, that dude. He’s in my drama class-”

“Because you really need to take a class for drama,” Lup cut in, but Taako ignored her.

“And I don’t know, I’m grasping at straws here but like, he already knows what we’re all about considering the whole arm incident. Also he does a really bad fake accent during class when he gets nervous, and it’s fucking hilarious so maybe it wouldn’t hurt to ask,” Taako said. Lup was still giving him a look, and he knew that look, and he was ignoring it.

“Nope, absolutely would not hurt to ask that really hot dude who you’ve talked to like twice to pretend to be your date for like a week,” she said, sounding oh so smug and Taako was highly considering pushing her off of the table.

“Well if you’re gonna be weird about it then I’m definitely going to do it,” he said, ignoring the way she rolled her eyes at that. “He’ll probably say no or already have plans anyway, I’ll have better luck putting out a personal ad,” he said but Lup shook her head at that.

“Taako, this is for fun and revenge, I don’t want to accidentally invite a real murderer,” she said.

“Okay, you got a point there,” he conceded. “Look, I’ll ask Kravitz and if he says no then, I don’t know I’ll ask fucking Johann or something. That depressed fuck handing out mix tapes to everyone in a half mile radius might be able to get some laughs too, and if he can’t then I’ll just go all alone and sad,” he said, shifting in his chair to lean forward and rest his head on the table. “You sure I can’t fake date Barry and you could find someone else to come with instead?” he tried, already knowing the answer.

“No, if you ever need a fake date to something I’m not going to, sure you can borrow my boy, but not for this one bubula,” she said and Taako sighed.

“Yeah, I figured.”

The next day Taako had dropped the letter off to be mailed on his way to class, and he wasn’t nervous. He was Taako, and this was going to be hilarious, and if Kravitz or whoever didn’t want to be a part of it that was fine. Really, he was gonna have Lup and Barry there, and those two were all he needed in life.

If Kravitz thought he was a total weirdo for inviting him to a Candlenights thing with his relatives to help enact a convoluted revenge plot, well he probably already thought he was a total weirdo for finding him and two other dudes trying to break into the science lab at 2am last Candlenights. It couldn’t be worse than when he threw a model squid at the dude while Magnus yelled in the background about having to amputate Merle’s arm. Taako really couldn’t lose in this situation when that was the background they were going in with.

He got to class early, because he had no idea how long going to the post office would actually take. Thankfully the answer had been ‘not as long as the DMV, but fuck if it didn’t feel that way’ which had left him with plenty of time to get to class.

He was pretty sure Kravitz didn’t expect him to sit down next to him, but besides from the real quick glance over he hid it well enough.

“Sup my dude?” he asked, because hey he had the time and might as well get this out of the way as soon as possible.

“Uh, not much? How are you doing Taako?” Kravitz asked back, clearly sounding confused as fuck. It wasn’t like they never talked during class before, but that was usually because they got put into the same group for some scene, so most of those conversations were about whatever assignment or another. Sometimes they strayed from that, and that was cool, but there wasn’t an excuse to talk to him that Taako had right now. He was just talking for no good reason.

“Oh, good good. Hey, so cha boy needs some help with something, and this is gonna sound like kind of a weird request, but I swear it’s worth it,” he started.

“I’ve yet to find something with you that’s not at least a little strange,” Kravitz said, and he didn’t actually sound annoyed with that, more amused than anything, which okay. Good, that was a good sign.

“Gotta keep the people on their toes and shit ya know? Anyway, uh, you doing anything over break?” Taako asked, and he could see the surprise and confusion all over Kravitz’s face. He managed to get it under control pretty quick though, although Taako could tell he still had no fucking idea what was going on.

“Are you planning another Candlenights midnight heist and trying to keep me out of it?” he asked, and Taako actually laughed a bit at that.

“First of all, all parties involved agreed that whole shitstorm had been Lucas’s fault, and that’s why he was the one expelled. Second of all, nah dog, ain’t anything like that,” he said.

“Fair enough,” Kravitz conceded. “I mean, I don’t have anything specific planned I suppose? I would like to know why you’re asking me though,” he said and Taako couldn’t blame him for that.

“Okay so, me and Lup, you’ve met Lup right?” he asked.

“I’ve heard of Lup,” Kravitz said in a tone of voice that suggested what he heard was exactly the kind of shit Taako would’ve hoped.

“Right, so me and Lup are going back to our shitty relatives for Candlenights. Listen, okay, they’re real fucking assholes. We’re only going back because we were thinking we could enact a little revenge and get them to stop sending us fucking letters trying to get money and shit out of us,” he started to explain. Kravitz was nodding, seeming to be paying pretty close attention to what he was saying.

“I’m sorry your family’s like that and trying to take advantage of you. Do you uh, need someone to watch your apartment or something while you’re gone?” he asked, and yeah, that would probably be the normal request in this scenario.

“Actually, I need a date,” Taako said simply, might as well get that out in the open already.

“Oh,” he swore Kravitz fucking squeaked out the word, it took all of Taako’s self control not to start laughing at the poor dude. He really didn’t want to be an asshole right now though, so he managed to contain himself. “And you’re asking me because?” Kravitz asked after a moment, and ouch okay clearly not interested in that, gotta back it up.

“Not like a real date, this isn’t a couples only thing or whatever. It’s uh, like I said this is to get back at a bunch of complete douche canoes, and me and Lup thought it’d be funny to bring some really bad dates,” Taako started to explain.

“I’m a bad date?” Kravitz asked, and Taako swore he almost sounded kind of hurt and damn it no this was not going well.

“No, no dude not like that, shit. I wanted to know if you could be a bad date, like, intentionally. This is an acting class and shit and I though, uh. Like, okay Lup’s bringing her actual for real boyfriend Barry and he’s gonna bring a bunch of dead things in jars to gross people out and stuff like that, and I wanted to bring someone too but I don’t actually have a weird boyfriend and Lup won’t let me put an ad up on Craig’s list because she’s afraid I’ll get an actual serial killer and that’s just a little too intense for what we wanna do,” Taako said, pretty sure he was speaking a lot faster than he probably needed to.

Kravitz stared at him for a moment, and okay Taako wasn’t nervous before but maybe now he was kind of starting to be a little. Then the dude started laughing and rested his head against his hand.

“Well, when you said it would sound kind of weird you weren’t kidding,” he said, and look, Taako wasn’t one to blush but he was kind of feeling put on the spot here a bit.

“I tried to warn you my dude,” he said with a shrug.

“I um, well I’m not too sure how good I can be at intentionally being bad, but I can try,” he said, and this time it was Taako who looked surprised.

“Wait, seriously?” he asked, and Kravitz shrugged.

“If that was a serious offer. Like I said I don’t actually have anything planned for the break, and from the way you describe your family it seems like it’s for a good cause,” he said, and Taako had to fight down a smile trying to spread across his face.

“Hell yeah it’s a good cause. Cool, uh, yeah cool. Lup and I are still workin out the details, but I’ll keep ya posted I guess?” he said and Kravitz just nodded. The class was beginning to start and it was a little awkward as they both turned to pay attention to the professor.

“So um, what kind of bad date are you, um, looking for exactly?” Kravitz asked quietly, and Taako shrugged.

“Whatever your heart is telling you my dude,” he said.

“…Are pets allowed?”

“What kind of pets we talking?” Taako asked, suddenly extremely curious.

“Um, large bird?” Kravitz said, holding his arms out to what was the approximate size of said bird. Taako had to put his hands over his mouth to muffle the sound of his laughing so that they didn’t get called out.

“Yes, please god this is going to be perfect,” Taako said, not even bothering to try and fight back his smile anymore.

This was going to be the worst Candlenights ever, and he couldn’t fucking wait.

Chapter Text

Kravitz was certain that he had absolutely no idea what he’d gotten himself into.

That at least had seemed like a bit of a given with Taako. To say he could throw people for a loop was a major understatement, at least in Kravitz’s experience. Sure, there hadn’t been a huge pool of experiences to choose from in that regard, but the ones he did have seemed to speak for themselves. From the few people he'd run the story by that knew Taako and his friends, it wasn't out of the ordinary at all.

Still, he’d been amiable enough in the class they had together, and Kravitz was willing to blame everything on the fact that the request had been too strange to turn down. Besides, he didn’t have anything planned for Candlenights and he could think of worse ways to spend the break. Probably, at least.

The only issue was that once he agreed to Taako’s request to be a ‘really bad date and screw with his family’ Kravitz had no godly idea what to do. If he wanted an awkward date he could pull that one off no problem, but he was pretty sure Taako wanted something a bit more, uh, dramatic.

There were two weeks for him to try to figure out exactly what that meant though. Over that time he’d gotten Taako’s number and occasionally sent him questions and permission for ideas.

---
“You’re absolutely sure I can bring my bird? Because thinking about it now I’d rather not leave her alone for a few days and if I could avoid having to find someone to watch her that would be really helpful.”

“Yes, please fuck bring the bird. I’m pretty sure one of our aunts is deeply unsettled by birds she’s gotta come.”

---
“You said your sister’s boyfriend is bringing dead things? Should I do something gross like that?”

“Barold would be offended at the gross comment, but nah dude you don’t gotta go for that kind of thing if that’s not what you’re feeling. It’s whatever you wanna do.”

“Well, what are you doing?”

“Nothing, I’m Taako.”

“I suppose that is strange enough.”

“Rude!”

---
“What’s your opinion on music?”

“My dude you have got to give me more info than that.”

“Bad music?”

“Look man, obviously the answer is yes, not sure why you gotta ask.”

“Just thought I’d make sure.”

It was all pretty damn ridiculous, and that was a bit of a given from the start. As it got closer and closer to break though Kravitz was becoming painfully aware that this was a thing he was actually doing. For god knows what reason he’d agreed to go and make a complete fool of himself in front of a bunch of strangers. This wasn’t anywhere close to something he’d normally do. Why did he agree to this?

Well, he knew why. It was because Taako was an incredibly hard person to say no to and also unfairly attractive. He could admit to the first thing, the second was simply a fact.

Their last class before break Kravitz was trying very hard not to be nervous about this whole scenario. If everything went horribly, horribly wrong, he was never seeing any of those people again. He and Taako had different enough majors that the chances of any classes overlapping again was pretty minuscule too. He could disappear and no one would know.

“So, you ready for break my guy?” Taako asked, and it was close enough to the end of class that the professor had stopped pretending to have any control on what anyone was doing. He'd managed to keep them all from leaving and that was the best he could do.

“I suppose I am,” Kravitz said, because he had no idea if he actually was or not. Probably not. “Taako, can I ask you something?”

“Sure thing,” Taako answered easily, although he did seem a little bit curious as to what was on his mind.

“Is this… this isn’t some trick to just get me to make an idiot of myself, is it? I can understand if you and your friends want payback or something from what happened last year, but I’d really rather not have a situation like that,” he said, and Taako actually looked surprised.

“Oh, shit no dude, it isn’t anything like that. That was literally a year ago, I don’t give a shit, that whole thing was fucking hilarious. Magnus and Merle aren’t even coming, it’s just gonna be me, you, Lup and Barry,” Taako assured him, and he really did seem like he was being genuine. Kravitz knew there was still a very real chance he was lying, but it didn’t seem like he was. “If you’re for real uncomfortable with it though, you don’t gotta come dude. Don’t wanna force you to have a shitty holiday, kind of already did that last year after all,” he added, but Kravitz shook his head.

“No, no as long as it’s actually what you’re telling me I’m fine with it. It’s completely ridiculous and I don’t know why I’m fine with it for the life of me, but I thought I’d make sure before I show up looking like an idiot,” he said. Taako smiled brightly at him and Kravitz tried very hard to ignore the way that made his stomach flip. "And I'd say you made last year more interesting than anything."

“Fucking sweet. This is gonna be gold,” he said happily.

“It’s certainly going to be something.”

The day they were set to leave for Taako’s family Kravitz stood in his room, trying to figure out exactly what he was doing. Well, he was getting dressed, in a very ridiculous outfit, or well, ridiculous wasn’t quite the right word. Dramatic.

Kravitz was slightly embarrassed to admit he’d already owned every piece of clothing, including the cape. None of it was for any sort of costume. He just knew not to wear it all at once, and to not wear the cape at all.

He had on a dark red and black satin vest with golden buttons, long black pants with a matching gold chain. A black suit coat with red trim was on top of the vest, and the black cape hung around his shoulders. He’d done some makeup, slightly more exaggerated than a normal person would wear.

He looked like a fucking vampire.

Well, Taako had said to go with whatever his heart was feeling. Maybe this was more what he had access to, but it worked.

He packed up some more clothes to last him the rest of the trip, although nothing else was quite as dramatic as his current outfit. Still he could mix and match items and come out with something about as good. He made sure to pack everything his raven would need as well, since she was coming along too.

“Come here Queen,” he called, holding out a hand for the large bird to land on. She did, and he set her perched on his shoulder, glancing at the time before heading outside. Taako was supposed to be there with Lup and Barry to pick him up soon, and hopefully they wouldn’t be too late. He didn’t want to spend too much time outside looking like this in a place where people could recognize him.

Thankfully they showed up right around the time Taako had said they would (which was ‘We’re supposed to leave at ten and your place is like ten minutes away, so we’ll be there around noon). When Taako climbed out of the car and caught sight of him Kravitz saw a smile flash across his face before he doubled over laughing.

“Dude! Dude you look incredible. Holy shit talk about tall dark and handsome, fuck is that bird real?” Taako said, quickly walking over to him. He felt said bird shift on his shoulder as he got closer and saw Taako’s face somehow get even brighter.

“Yes, this is Queen. Are you sure this isn’t too much? I feel kind of like I should be going to a masquerade party, I just need the mask,” he said but Taako shook his head.

“Nah man it’s perfect, although yeah that would be a pretty choice outfit for a masquerade. Man, you should’ve told me you were going all Gothic chic up in here, we’re gonna have to stop at some stores on the way to the main event so we can match some,” Taako said, speaking very fast and at least he sounded excited for this. “You named your crow Queen?” he asked before Kravitz could process everything else he’d said.

“Uh, yeah. Well, she’s a raven. It’s like the Raven Queen,” he said, but Taako didn’t look like he got it.

“Raven Queen?” he asked, and yep he had no idea.

“It’s um, like a god, character, thing from this game I used to play in highschool. Dungeons and, ya know it’s really not important,” he said, and Taako was looking at him all amused.

“You can rivet me with all the details on the way, let’s get going. If we leave Lup and Barry alone for too long they’ll start trying to eat each other’s faces,” Taako said. Kravitz didn’t comment on that, grabbing his bag and making sure Queen was alright as they got into the backseat of the car.

“Guys, guys look at my fancy new goth boyfriend,” Taako said in a singsong voice once they were in the car.

“Holy shit is that an actual bird?” Lup said, twisting around from where she was in the passenger seat. That didn’t seem to deter the person Kravitz had to assume was Barry any, because he calmly pulled out of the parking spot, only glancing back at them for a second.

“Taako uh, didn’t mention I was bringing her? Um, yes this is Queen, my raven,” he explained.

“Oh, like the Raven Queen?” Barry said from up front and Kravitz couldn’t help but perk up a little at that.

“Yes, exactly,” he said, noticing the almost unnervingly similar looks of complete loss that Lup and Taako threw at each other. Barry seemed to notice it too, because he sighed.

“You know, like in dungeons and dragons,” he said, although that didn’t seem to clear it up much for either of them.

“Neeerd,” Lup just teased, although she didn’t sound like she meant it.

“Lup, you’ve played dungeons and dragons with me before. You cried when your Goliath druid died,” Barry said, and Kravitz could see the look of indignation on her face from behind her seat. The car was suddenly very loud between her yelling and Taako’s nearly screeching laughter besides him.

“You are an excellent wordsmith! You made her death both devastating and fulfilling you fucking jackass!” she said, swatting at his shoulder, not quite enough to distract him from driving.

“I appreciate the angry compliments sweetie,” Barry said simply, not looking phased by the whole show at all. Kravitz was kind of impressed.

“Neeeeerd,” Taako repeated, teasing his sister and sounding extremely pleased with this whole situation.

The car calmed down a bit after that, and Queen moved from his shoulder to resting in his lap. Taako seemed pretty intrigued by her, asking Kravitz questions that he couldn’t tell were jokes or genuine or not. Never the less he did assure him that he wouldn’t get any diseases if he pet her, although he didn’t have to explain that to his family if he didn’t want to.

Apparently it was a couple hours drive, the twins hadn’t particularly cared about staying closer. It was only by sheer luck that they were even within driving distance at all. They hadn’t been for a long while, but when they moved here for the school it had brought them closer again.

“Lup, Lulu, we need to stop at a store before we get there,” Taako spoke up after a bit.

“What did you forget or what do you have planned?” she asked, not bothering to look back at them.

“I need some good goth aesthetic to match my new vampire boyfriend. I was thinking something with a veil,” he said, and Kravitz couldn’t help but chuckle some at the thought of Taako dressing up like he was going to a funeral for Candlenights. He was steadfastly ignoring the way Taako kept referring to him as his boyfriend. He was clearly having a lot of fun with the whole ruse, and why wouldn't he. It was all rather ridiculous.

“Only one store, because I know you and otherwise we’ll never get there, so make it count,” she said, and that honestly wasn’t too surprising to Kravitz. The store he ended up picking out didn’t put them too out of the way, and Kravitz had no idea how he managed to pick a place he’d never been to before that somehow managed to have a small selection of items almost exactly what they were looking for.

“It’s a skill,” was all Taako had said, walking out with a small bag of black and red accessories and such. “Just some little things I can tack onto some outfits I’ve already got planned. I can tell everyone they’re gifts from you,” he said proudly.

Once they were all back in the car (god, Kravitz was so thankful to be back in the car. He’d forgotten exactly what he looked like at the moment until after they went into the store, and that along with not wanting to leave Queen alone outside had drawn a bit of uncomfortable attention) Barry checked the time.

“Cool, we should get there right on time,” he said, and Kravitz had no idea how he managed to plan around the twins, and expressed such.

“A lot of practice,” was all Barry had bothered to say, and Kravitz was starting to accept that short, cryptic answers were a bit of a trend here.

When they were about half an hour out from their destination Taako and Lup started discussing ‘the plan.’

“Okay, so we gotta start off slow, we don’t wanna go in gun’s blazing,” Taako said, putting some black and red dangling earrings he'd brought in his long ears as he spoke. Kravitz took a long look down at his own outfit when he said that before looking at him incredulously.

“Well you could’ve mentioned that before now,” he said but Taako was quickly shaking his head.

“No, no dude you’re perfect. You and Barold are like reverse goofs. He looks normal but turns out to be a fucking weirdo, and you look like an elegant Dracula model but can start off acting like a regular dude,” he said and Kravitz shrugged. He guessed that made sense.

“If you say so,” he said, letting the twins continue with their scheming.

“So yeah, gotta start off a little strange obviously, enough to unsettle them and set the tone. But we’re not coming out of the gate smashing formaldehyde jars and catching the candlenight’s bush on fire Lup,” he said, very pointedly looking at his sister for that last part.

“I know! We don’t wanna get kicked out right away, there’s no fun in that,” she said. It wasn’t long before they finally pulled in front of a rather unassuming house. It was large, but high elf homes tended to be, and if this was the place the family had chosen to gather then it was probably the largest out of everyone’s.

“I feel ridiculous, are you sure this’ll be alright?” Kravitz asked, starting to have second thoughts now that they were there.

“Babe don’t even fret, you got this. Whatever they think doesn’t mean shit anyway because they ain’t shit,” Taako said as he got out of the car. Taking a deep breath he got out after him, placing Queen up on his shoulder once he was standing. Lup and Barry were already outside as well, and at least Barry also had the decency to look somewhat nervous about all of this. The twins looks like they were nearly vibrating with excitement.

Following them up to the door, Taako pressed the doorbell. And just kept pressing it. He didn’t lift his hand up and they could all hear the long, continuous note coming from inside the house.

Well, Kravitz supposed that was certainly a way to set the mood.

Finally the door was thrown open and an older elven woman was standing their, the look of annoyance on her face quickly replaced with an almost exaggerated excitement.

“Taako! Lup! Dears it’s so good to see you both!” she said, moving forward and pulling them into a hug before either of them could object. She let go after a minute though, and Kravitz could see similar not quite genuine smiles on the twin’s faces.

“Auntie Seransie, is that you? You look so different, what did you do? Dye your hair? Lose some weight?” Taako asked, sounding excited and amiable.

“Oh, I wish!” the woman laughed. “Come in come- oh, and uh, who are these two?” she asked, having finally noticed Kravitz and Barry behind the twins. Her smile seemed a bit more strained from what it’d been before.

“We’re so sorry we didn’t warn you all in our letter,” Lup started, her smile still bright. “We just had to take the opportunity to introduce everyone though! Auntie, this is Barry, my boyfriend, and that’s Taako’s boy Kravitz,” she said. The woman nodded, not seeming too surprised by that.

“Well, it’s a delight to meet the both of y- Oh my god!” she jumped back slightly, and Kravitz could see the raven on his shoulder shifting and well, he guessed she noticed it too.

“I’m so sorry, I swear she’s friendly. Taako insisted I bring her,” he said, and honestly that was close enough to the truth.

“Yeaaah, sorry Aunt Sersie, I couldn’t leave our little Queenie all alone all break,” Taako said, turning and scritching the bird’s head some as he did. At least it made it pretty convincing, and Queen did seem to be enjoying the attention.

“Ah, well, I suppose it can come in as well? It’s trained?” the aunt asked, sounding very much like she did not want to let the bird into the house. Well, he supposed the idea of making the people here uncomfortable was going swimmingly so far. He had to give her credit for not pointing out his outfit though, at the very least.

“Yes, I promise she’s a sweetheart,” he said, and that honestly was the truth. It didn’t quite seem like she believed him, but that wasn’t his fault. She nodded though, not seeming like she was going to argue with him.

“Alright, well why don’t you all come in then, everyone is so excited to see you two again,” she said, starting to usher them all inside.

Kravitz nearly jumped when he felt an arm snake around his waist, but the aunt seemed to be too distracted leading them into the house to notice. Looking down, Taako just smiled from where he was up against him and right, okay, dating. It’d make sense that he’d want to sell it.

Letting Taako lead him into the house, Kravitz was stricken with the fact that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. God, this was going to go horribly.

Well, at least that was the plan.

Chapter Text

Taako kept an arm around Kravitz’s waist and a smile on his face as his aunt led them further into the house. Neither he nor Lup had been surprised at the fact that the Candlenight’s party was being held at Aunt Seransie and Uncle Daelar’s place. Those two were always looking for ways to show off that they were the most well off out of everyone in the family.

Well, were the most well off. As far as any of these assholes knew, he and Lup were fucking loaded and they all had to deal with it.

“You had such a long car ride, you all must be absolutely famished. Why don’t you head into the family room and catch up with everybody and I’ll bring out some food,” Aunt Seransie said, still glancing nervously at the bird on Kravitz’s shoulder every now and then. Taako still wasn’t over how fucking perfect that was. He was already surprised that the dude had agreed to be a part of this at all, he certainly hadn’t expected him to step up to the plate as some perfect gothic prince.

Taako was gonna have to find some serious way to repay him once this was all said and done.

“That sounds great, thanks a bunch,” Lup said, and Taako could laugh at how fake polite she was being. It was like her old customer service voice turned up to 22. Well, it fit with everyone else here he guessed.

“I’m lactose intolerant. Also, those little green olives weird me out, the black ones are fine though,” Barry said, and Taako only barely managed to keep himself from bursting out laughing when he realized that was the first thing Barry had said at all. The perplexed and barely hidden irritation on their aunt’s face didn’t help at all either. God, this was going to be even harder than he thought. Fuck if it wasn’t somehow worth it already though.

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” Aunt Seransie said, speaking a bit slowly like she wasn’t sure what to say. “Well, you all go get comfortable and let everyone else know you’re here! They’ve all been dying to see you again,” she added, back in her peppy tone. With that, she turned to head towards the kitchen and the rest of them started towards the family room where apparently everyone was. Before they got there Taako leaned into Kravitz a bit more as they walked.

“That’s Aunt Seransie, I guarantee you at least half of the tacky bullshit in this house was brought with money they stole from us when we were living with them,” he whispered, Kravitz frowning deeply.

“That’s awful,” he said, and Taako shrugged.

“Hey man, think of it this way, if any of us happens to break anything while we’re here it’s totally cool. After all Lup and I probably paid for it anyway,” he said with a grin, Kravitz chuckling against him.

“I guess I’ll have to keep that in mind,” he said. Taako would’ve been fine with continuing to fill Kravitz in on particular details about certain relatives, but they were at the family room and couldn’t risk people overhearing.

“The party has arrived!” Lup announced as they walked into the room. It didn’t seem like everyone was there yet, that or they just weren’t all in this one room, which was also pretty likely. Still, it was a decent chunk of people.

“Oh, we’re so glad you two could make it! Who are thes- is that bird real?” Uncle Daelar asked, coming to a halt once he noticed Queen. Taako smiled, reaching across Kravitz to scratch the bird under her chin, because honestly? This bird was fucking amazing. He loved this bird.

“Yes, but I swear, you won’t even notice she’s here,” Kravitz said, and Taako sincerely hoped he was lying about that.

“This is my boyfriend Kravitz. Queen’s basically our child, I couldn’t leave her behind,” Taako said proudly. He was so fucking good with going along with Kravtiz’s thing about him being the one to insist they bring the bird, because he kinda was after all. Their uncle looked incredibly uncertain about this, which was exactly what Taako was hoping for.

“Uhuh, and this is my Barry, we’re so excited to see you all again,” Lup said. Uncle Daelar nodded, looking like he was trying to ignore the bird for now.

“Right, well, it’s a pleasure to meet you two. Why don’t you all come sit and tell everyone about how you’ve been. Here let me take your coats, and uh, cape?” he said, grabbing their outerwear and heading to stash it in a nearby closet. Taako did a quick scan of everyone in the room while that was going on.

Cousin Larniya was smiling at them from the couch, and the excitement Taako had felt this entire time about fucking with all of them was briefly overshadowed by the desire to tell them all to fuck off and leave. God, he forgot exactly how much everyone here actually pissed him off, but yeah no just remembering Larniya’s existence reminded him loud and clear.

Still, he fought that down because it was going to be worth it to go the long game instead. Uncle Vividar was over with Grandpa Tostada, neither of them paying the utmost attention to them. That wasn’t the least bit surprising though, both of them couldn’t be bothered on the best of days.

Grabbing Kravitz’s hand, Taako went over and sat down on the couch with Larniya. He did not want to, but he didn’t want Lup to more. He swore, the fucking things he did for that girl.

“How have you been, ah, Taako? Is it still Taako?” she asked, and oh boy, getting right into that conversation. God, he’d have to ask Kravitz tonight how well trained that bird was and if it could fly into people’s hair on command.

“Always Taako baby,” he said easily, crossing his legs and leaning back into the couch cushions some. He could see Lup give him a quick sympathetic glance from over where she’d started talking more with uncle Daelar. Yeah, she totally owed him later for taking her first.

“How old are you two now? Surely you’ve got to want to grow up a bit now that you’re doing so well for yourself?” she asked, and oh boy, this was gonna be a real fucking struggle. He was starting to doubt his ban of formaldehyde jars on the first day.

“It’s rude to ask an elf their age,” he said, slumping into Kravitz some. He figured he probably should’ve asked beforehand how much casual contact the dude was down with, but he had agreed to the whole fake dating thing. He’ll ask him next time they’re alone what’s cool or not. Right now he was irritated and still stuck in the playing somewhat nice stage and Lup was all the way across the room so he couldn’t use her for support instead.

“I’m only saying it's a bit childish to still be holding onto those names still,” Larniya said. Yeah okay, Taako was gonna have to start pulling some shit soon before his brain started to revolt and started slapping people without his permission.

“I think your name is wonderful, don’t see why you should change it if you don’t want to,” Kravitz said, and Taako smiled brightly at that. He didn’t even care if he was only saying it to be contrary, hell, that was fine by him.

“Aw, thanks babe. Sorry Larni, can’t change it now for sure, the boy likes it,” he said. Larniya laughed in what Taako assumed was supposed to be good naturedly but sounded vaguely forced instead.

“I guess you’re right,” she said, and then finally aunt Seransie came back into the room with a couple trays of boring finger foods. Taako could tell from a glance that they were all almost entirely store brought.

“How’s everyone doing so far?” she asked as she walked in and put the trays down on a table.

“Oh, fantastic,” Taako said brightly, thankful for a bit of an excuse to end that whole conversation. When he looked over Barry had immediately gone over to the food, picking up crackers and inspecting them before putting them back down again without eating or saying anything. God, the dude was such a natural weirdo.

Taako grabbed a couple little hors d'oeuvre and nibbled on them, because yeah as plain and boring as they were, he was actually kinda hungry. Kravitz grabbed some of the crackers and fed a few to his raven, which made crumbs everywhere and Taako could see the dude having to hold back from quickly cleaning them up and that was kind of great.

Okay, time to start doing shit before someone tried to drag him into another awful conversation.

“Hey, Krav babe? Wanna run with me to grab a drink?” he asked as he stood up. He could go on his own, but he wasn’t sure how cool Kravitz was with him leaving and throwing him alone to the wolves.

“Uh, sure thing,” he said, standing up as well and looking like he was trying to brush the crumbs off of himself with as little notice as possible. Before someone could offer to show them where the kitchen was like or get something for him themselves or anything like that Lup had started up some bullshit conversation asking for life updates on everyone.

Once they were in the kitchen Taako immediately started rummaging through the fridge, getting a layout for what they had to work with.

“Are we actually in here to get drinks or…?” Kravitz asked when Taako pulled a carton of eggs out. These would work for now.

“We’re gonna get drinks too,” he was actually kinda thirsty from the crackers after all. “Hell yeah, they’ve got jelly, that’ll come in handy later. Here, hide these it’ll take someone a while to find,” Taako said, handing him about five eggs out of the carton. Kravitz kind of stared down at the eggs in his hands for a moment, vaguely bewildered amusement on his face before going along with it.

“Alright then, if you insist,” he said, starting to look around for places to hide them. “Who was that woman you were talking to before? She seemed, uh, pleasant,” Kravitz asked, putting an egg in a mug and shoving the mug to the back of a cabinet. Taako made an only slightly exaggerated look of disgust as he explained.

“Ugh, yeah okay that was like one of our cousins. She’s a lot older than us though, so we stayed with her a bit when we were kids. She’s fucking awful,” he said as he actually poured them a couple of drinks. If nothing else they had to keep up the charade for why they came back here.

“She didn’t exactly come off as the nicest person in the world so far,” he agreed and Taako nodded.

“Yeah no, like, okay. So, when me and Lup were little we stayed with one of our aunts for a while, on our mom’s side, this is our dad’s side of the fam just fyi, but yeah. So we were staying with her for a while, and she was cool. Like, an actual decent elf person, taught us how to cook and stuff. Well, she died, and we were sent off to live with cousin Larniya afterwards. Only Larni didn’t tell us she died, she just said that our aunt had gotten sick of taking care of us and wanted us gone. Lup and I figured out pretty damn quick that was a load of bullshit, but we still missed the funeral because of it, which kinda sucked I guess,” Taako explained. He didn’t talk about the kind of bullshit these fuckers had pulled on them to a lot of people, but he figured Kravitz deserved like, some amount of backstory for going along with all of this. Plus, the dude was surprisingly easy to talk to.

“Taako,” Kravitz said after a moment, and when he looked back over to him he was still holding one of the eggs left, a deep frown on his face.

“Sup dog?”

“I really don’t like your family,” he said simply, and a smile spread across Taako’s face at that.

“Well then, why don’t you stick that bad boy somewhere no one’ll be able to find for weeks and leave this place smelling like shit for hopefully twice as long,” he said, very much enjoying the smile that got out of Kravitz.

“Sounds like a solid plan,” he said, reaching up to the top of the fridge and rolling the egg so that it was way back against the wall and completely out of sight. Fuck, that was perfect. You wouldn’t be able to find that thing unless you climbed up onto the counter to look. Even then, there was a decent chance you might miss it at first glance.

“Hells yeah my dude. Now let’s get back before they start to miss us,” he said, handing Kravitz a drink as he did.

“I’m more concerned with leaving your sister and Barry to deal with everyone on their own for an extended period of time than whether or not we’re missed,” Kravitz said, and Taako shrugged.

“Both are important things I guess,” he said, and then he remembered what he wanted to ask before. “Oh yeah, you cool with like, the pet names and hand holding and shit? Shoulda asked beforehand I guess but I kinda forgot,” he asked and Kravitz nodded.

“Oh, yes that’s all quite alright. I did agree to play the boyfriend role after all, it’s not a problem at all,” he said.

“Fucking sweet,” Taako said, slinging an arm around Kravtiz’s waist again before they walked back into the family room. If nothing else it was really funny walking around like he was fucking Dracula’s wife. When they walked in Lup’s fake smile got a tiny bit more genuine at the sight of them, and it seemed like Barry had finally finished inspecting every single solitary cracker and had started eating some.

Taako’s eye caught sight of some tacky vase filled with small glass balls on a side table, and fuck it. Shit was a little too quiet, the eggs were a long term punishment, time to get some shit fucking rolling.

“Oh hell yeah, bouncy balls,” he said loudly, sticking his hand in the vase and grabbing a good five or six of them. Before anyone could quite process what he was doing he fucking slammed them all to the ground, the glass shattering loudly across the hardwood.

The entire room went silent, and he was pretty sure even Kravitz was stunned next to him, which was fair. Queen was all ruffled up on his shoulder, apparently irritated at the sudden loud noise. Taako was doing his best to also look shocked at this totally surprising turn of events. He glanced over at Lup and she was biting down on her lip, trying so hard to keep a straight face.

“Or, not so bouncy. I guess,” he mumbled. After a few more seconds everyone else seemed to start to get their brains up and running again.

“Oh uh, well let me clean that up before someone gets hurt,” aunt Seransie said, standing up.

“Lemme help, lemme- that one was totally on Taako,” he said, letting go of Kravitz to get down and start picking up some of the larger shards.

“Taako dear don’t do that with your bare hands,” Kravitz said, actually sounding concerned. Taako waved that away though, he’d broken enough shit in kitchens before to know how to pick up some glass.

“I got it bubula,” he said easily, but his aunt was already coming in with a broom and a dustpan.

“Okay, let me just, please get out of the way Taako,” aunt Seransie said, starting to sweep up the mess. Instead of arguing with both her and Kravitz he dumped the glass in his hand back onto the floor for her to sweep up and stood.

“We’re here, sorry we’re late!” an older woman Taako recognized came rushing into the room with a man that he did not.

“Careful! Broken glass!” Aunt Seransie snapped as they came in, the two quickly halting.

“Oh, well I see the fun has already started then I suppose,” she joked.

“Aunt Haelin, ooh, is that a new one? What happened to uncle Saldwin? Saldarn? Or wait, was it Ksiton then Saldron or Saldron then Ksitel?” Lup asked, and Taako couldn’t remember the names either but he was pretty damn sure she was butchering them.

“Oh we don’t really talk about those fools anymore,” Aunt Haelin said, and it sounded like she was joking but Taako wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of those divorces hadn’t gone super great. There was enough of an edge to her voice that he figured that was the case.

Taako pulled Kravitz to go sit back down while aunt Haelin introduced her newest husband. Once again, the poor dude had to insist that no, the bird is fine, don’t even worry about her when they noticed. “Oh, Zinlen and Themis should be here soon, they called to let us know they’re on their way,” aunt Haelin added once introductions were finished.

Taako kind of tuned out of the conversation for a bit after that. There was enough people around that no one noticed too much if he kind of only popped in here and there to talk. At one point Kravitz let Queen sit in his lap and Taako got to pet the bird, which was great because it got him several looks from everyone else as he fucking baby talked at the thing. Whatever, as far as anyone here was concerned this bird was his fucking child.

It was maybe an hour or so later when the last of their cousins showed up. Taako couldn’t say he was happy to see them, not at all, but at least this meant the gang was all here and shit could properly start rolling.

Everyone was in that beginning, sit around talking about useless bullshit while the food finishes up stage. Annoying and tedious, but something they just needed to get through for now.

“So, Taako,” Zinlen said sitting down on the arm of the couch they were on. Okay, he was a complete douche canoe, but at least he wasn’t Themis. Taako was content to let Lup handle her for now. “How have you been, this is your, ah, date?” he asked, glancing over at Kravitz next to him.

“Yeah, it’s my boy,” he said with a smile, leaning into Kravitz a bit more. Zinlen just hummed slightly, looking him over.

“Human, huh? You know I’ve heard that relationships between humans and elves don’t really tend to work out. I’m not sure if you and Lup thought about this but uh,” he said, and okay, it didn’t matter what level of pretend niceness they were in right now, Taako made a face of absolute disgust at the dude. He could see an equally offended look on Kravitz’s face and sure they weren’t actually dating but still fucking rude.

“You know I’ve heard that relationships between slicked back hair and office shirts don’t tend to work out either but it seems like you didn’t really bother to think about that,” he huffed. Between the snort of laughter Kravitz quickly tried to cover with a cough and the insulted look on Zinlen’s face Taako was rather pleased with himself.

It also got the subject to change pretty damn fast, which was another good thing. Taako would rather not have to deal with dumb elf elitism bullshit if he didn’t have to. Like sure, he was better than everyone else, natch, but that was because he was Taako, not because he was an elf.

After a bit food was announced and everyone got up to go eat. While they were walking Taako handed Queen back over to Kravitz, using the moment to whisper to him.

“Hey, how well trained is this bird? Ravens and shit are supposed to be like, super smart right?” he asked as quietly as possible.

“Pretty well trained, and yes she’s very intelligent, why?” Kravitz whispered back.

“Think you could get her to act a little less well trained, around the food?” he asked, so fucking pleased at the smile that pulled across Kravitz’s face.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said. When they got to the dining room there were a couple of casseroles set out. Nothing super fancy, but it wasn’t officially Candlenights yet so that made sense. Had to save the big meal for the big day, but this was passable enough for a ‘family get together.’

While people started to get plates, Taako saw Kravitz whisper something to the bird and jerk his head in the direction of the food. No one else was paying him any attention thankfully, so all anyone else saw was a very large black bird fly off of Kravitz’s shoulder to go land next to and start pecking curiously at one of the dishes. There was a glorious amount of screaming and running away, and Taako was very glad everyone was suitably distracted enough not to notice the shit eating grin on his face as Kravitz ran up and grabbed the bird before anyone could start trying to swing at her.

“I’m so, so sorry, she’s usually not like this,” Kravitz said, petting the bird now sitting very docile in his arms.

“Aw, she’s just hungry is all,” Taako said, giving the bird a couple scratches on her head for good measure. Aunt Seransie had managed to make her way back over to the food and was picking at the casserole Queen had ‘inspected’ clearly debating whether or not to throw the whole thing out.

“Right, I should probably feed her. I left the food in the car, back in a second,” he said, and Taako was pretty sure he was about to make some offhand comment or another. Before he could though Kravitz gave him a very quick peck on the cheek and rushed off.

Which.

Okay then.

That was, uh.

Yep.

Lup was giving him a look, and he would’ve flipped her off if that wouldn’t be a really out of place thing to do at this particular moment. Instead he went and got a square of nasty casserole because it wasn’t like he had anything else to do.

Uncle Vividar went to open a soda, and the entire thing exploded on him, and Taako hadn’t even seen when Lup would’ve been able to fucking shake the thing.

Well, so far so good, he guessed.

Chapter Text

Kravitz wasn’t freaking out.

But he was pacing around outside in the cold at night for several long moments, trying to figure out what in the world had possessed him to give Taako a kiss like that out of nowhere.

Okay, it wasn’t out of nowhere. They were pretending to be a couple after all, and Taako had spent most of the day so far with an arm around his waist or leaning up against him. An incredibly tame peck on the cheek had to be about equal to all of that, right? So he doubted Taako thought anything too strange by it. Hopefully, at least.

Fuck, it was cold. What was he even doing outside again?

Queen shifted in his arms like she could sense that he’d forgotten his purpose in his totally not panic. Oh right, bird food. Heading over to the car they’d came here in, he dug around until he found the bag with the bird food and everything he’d brought for queen. It was a lot of fruits and nuts and bits of pet food, things that would be easy to carry around for the few days and that he wouldn’t have to worry about going to bad. There were also a few packs of bugs and some dead mice, which he figured both Queen and Taako would enjoy. He figured it'd be best to save those for another time though, after that last little display.

Hurrying inside from the cold, he set Queen up with a few of the berries and dried food before heading back to where everyone had gotten their food and started eating.

“Sorry about that again,” he said as came in, heading to grab some food as well. One of the uncles, one Kravitz hadn’t gotten much of a chance to meet yet, was trying to dry off his shirt that was completely soaked for some reason. He guessed he missed the twins doing something while he was outside. That was kind of a shame.

“Well, let's try and keep a bit of a better handle on the bird from now on, alright dear?” the aunt who Kravitz was pretty sure owned this house said. She seemed rather miffed by the whole thing, and Kravitz was trying his best not to feel too sorry. From what little Taako had told him about them all so far, they did not seem like good people in the slightest.

“She’s usually so well behaved, I’m sure it won’t happen again,” he said, sitting down in an empty seat next to Taako. He guessed he must’ve saved it for him. He flashed a quick smile at him, which probably meant he wasn’t annoyed at the kiss thing. Hopefully. Okay it was a tiny peck on the cheek, it barely counted as anything so he doubted Taako would be annoyed with him for it.

The actual eating of the meal was quiet and awkward. There was some conversation here and there, but nothing Kravitz could find particularly engaging. He was rather confident the rest of the people he’d came with felt pretty much the same way, especially with the way Lup stood up almost as soon as she somewhat finished the food on her plate.

“Hey babe, ya wanna maybe start getting our stuff out of the car? It’s getting a little late and I figured we should start getting set up,” Lup said.

“Oh yes, let’s get you all settled in. We didn’t realize you were bringing guests, so I hope the rooms aren’t too crowded,” that one aunt said, but Lup waved her concern away immediately.

“It’s fine darling, don’t you worry at all,” Lup said. “Why don’t you show Taako and I where the rooms are and the boys can start grabbing our things?” she added. The aunt nodded, clapping her hands together as she stood up.

“Wonderful, this way, this way,” she said, leading the two out towards the main entryway where the stairs up were. Kravitz and Barry followed after them, since that was the way outside anyway. When they were in the entryway Kravitz picked up Queen who seemed finished with her food and carefully handed her over to Taako.

“Take her up with you?” he asked, and Taako nodded, flashing him another smile as he pet the bird.

“Of course,” he said simply before following his sister and aunt up the stairs. Kravitz turned to rush after Barry, who was already heading out to the car.

“How you holding up with all of this? I know those two on their own can be a bit much sometimes, let alone everything else,” Barry asked once they were alone outside as he started to pull out bags. He’d talked so little since they’d gotten here it surprised Kravitz for a moment.

“Well, it’s certainly been an experience so far. Not a particularly bad one though, the people here haven’t given me much to think they don’t deserve a little harmless revenge,” he said, throwing his bag over his shoulder and trying to figure out how many others he could carry at once. It seemed like the twins had brought a bit more than would justify the length of time of the visit. Kravitz couldn’t say if that was just how they were, or if there were supplies in there they were planning on using.

“Oh yeah, you don’t gotta worry about that. Lup’s told me stories of how they were growing up, Taako too to a lesser extent. Honestly I’ve been hoping I’d get the chance to meet them all someday to do something like this. Well, maybe not exactly like this, but this is a better, more legal way of dealing with it I suppose,” Barry said, and it seemed like he’d somehow managed to gather up almost all of his and Lup’s bags. Kravitz couldn't help but be impressed at how well he was able to adjust to them.

“You’ve definitely seemed to be enjoying acting strange around them,” Kravitz said, and Barry smiled a bit sheepishly at that.

“Oh, honestly that all was just me without any sort of filter. Lup said we should wait a bit before we really cranking up the weirdness,” he said. Kravitz carefully shut the car door, trying and somehow succeeding in not dropping any of the bags he was holding.

“Well, if we’re going on pre-existing strangeness, I just kind of… owned, all these clothes. Including the cape,” Kravitz admitted. Barry chuckled some at that, locking the car behind them.

“Yeah, figured there was a reason Taako liked you,” he said, and Kravitz wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that. Probably just why Taako had decided to choose him to come along on this whole little mission. It would be weird to ask for clarification, and it was also freezing outside and Kravitz wanted to head back in as fast as possible.

Heading inside and upstairs, it wasn’t too hard to find the two rooms that had been designated to them. Mainly because Lup had waved Barry inside, and there was only one other door open. Heading over and peeking inside, Taako was sitting on the bed, still holding Queen in his lap and petting her.

The room wasn’t super big, a guest room with one twin bed and a little vanity and mirror set up and a chair in the corner. It didn’t look like the kind of room two adults could share too comfortably, but Taako and Lup had neglected to tell anyone about him and Barry, so it made sense.

“Krav, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to tell you this,” Taako said, and Kravitz raised an eyebrow as he shut the door behind him and carefully started setting the bags down on the floor.

“Don’t know how to tell me what?” he asked.

“I’m taking your bird. She’s mine now,” he said, and Kravitz couldn’t help but laugh at the seriousness in his voice.

“Is that so?” he asked. Taako nodded, scratching Queen’s head, and the bird shifted into his touch some. It was honestly adorable.

“Yes. We’ve bonded,” he said. Kravitz couldn’t help the smile on his face as he walked over and petted Queen some, letting her stay in Taako’s lap though. She seemed very comfortable for the moment.

“Well in that case I guess there’s nothing I can do,” he joked, and it was kind of awful how easy it was to talk to Taako. It was especially noticeable now that they both seemed to have relaxed some away from the rest of Taako’s relatives.

“I promise to still let you have visitation rights my dude, I won’t take that from you,” he said.

“Your generosity is astounding,” Kravitz said, sitting down near the end of the bed. A respectable distance away, because there wasn’t any reason to keep up the dating charade when it was only the two of them.

“What can I say? I’m just fucking incredible like that,” Taako said, and Kravitz couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. It didn't feel like that mattered though. There was a brief moment where Kravitz had nearly blurted out ‘you are’ in agreement, but he managed to pull that back at the last second. He might’ve been able to play it off as sarcastic, but there was a chance it wouldn’t have come across that way. He wouldn’t have meant it that way.

“Sorry about how cramped and shit it is by the way,” Taako continued, not seeming to have noticed his near slip up. “I guess this place had seemed bigger when we were kids.” Kravitz quickly shook his head, because it was a bit awkward yes, but it wasn’t awful or anything like that.

“It’s fine, I’m sure we can figure some sort of arrangement out,” he said, starting to look around the room some more. He supposed he could sleep on the floor. Throw down some blankets and he doubted it would be a big deal. Before he could suggest that though Taako started talking.

“Yeah no, I’ll just meditate in the chair, no worries homie. Sometimes this elf shit comes in handy after all, even if sleep is like, objectively better,” he said, and Kravitz blinked in surprise. Right, no that made sense.

“Are you sure? We could trade off if you want. I don’t mind sleeping in the chair for a few nights if you prefer that over meditation,” he offered, but Taako shook his head.

“Nah, thanks but sticking with meditation’s easier. I get night terrors when I sleep sometimes and I don’t wanna make you deal with that nonsense,” he said. Kravitz nodded, trying not to look too surprised at that admission. That didn’t seem like something Taako would deal with, or if it was something he’d admit so openly. He guessed Taako was nothing else but surprising though.

“I suppose that’ll work then,” he said, and it was kind of quiet for a bit. Kravitz wasn’t sure if they planned to go back down and join everyone else again in a bit, but a part of him doubted it. It looked like Taako was done with dealing with his family for the night, and Kravitz couldn’t blame him for that in the slightest.

“So, we’re gonna start kicking shit up a bit more tomorrow, so I hope you’re ready for that my dude. I’ve got a few ideas here and there, but mostly gonna be playing it by ear I think. Lup’s got something planned she won’t tell me, not sure when that’s happening but we’ll see I guess,” Taako told him. Kravitz couldn’t help but he a bit concerned about the idea of Lup having something in the works that she wouldn’t even tell Taako about. He didn’t know Lup well, or much at all, but he’d heard stories. Very concerning stories.

“I’ll try to be as prepared as possible, I guess,” he said. He highly doubted that would help much, but Taako nodded like it was a good plan.

Kravitz was a bit surprised when they ended up spending the next hour or so talking. Or well, it was mostly Taako talking and him listening, but it was still nice. It had started with Taako joking, or maybe not joking, it was hard to tell, about potential pranks (Kravitz couldn’t quite understand the hilarity of someone being mildly inconvenienced by finding jelly on various items, but seeing Taako laughing so hard was more than welcomed).

Then the topic shifted towards the actual relatives here, and it was still nice. Taako was still talking in the same jovial tone, smiling and confident in the same way he’d been when he’d told Kravitz about them having stolen from him and his sister, or lying about their aunts death.

Still, it was a little hard to smile along with him when he started going on about how when they finally left for good, it was because they came home to find all of their belongings out on the front yard, most of it trashed. Or how staying with their aunt Haelin was the most tolerable, because she was never around and it was better to fend for themselves than having to deal with everyone else’s bullshit. Or how one time, when they were young Lup had gotten sick and was stuck quarantined for nearly a month. Their cousin Themis had taken the opportunity of having the two separated for once to make Taako’s life during that month a living hell.

Taako spoke about all of this like it hadn’t bothered him in the slightest, and Kravitz didn’t press him on it. He was honestly surprised that Taako was willing to share that much with him at all.

It had very effectively gotten rid of any and all hesitation he might’ve still had about all of this though. These weren’t nice people, and he could understand why Barry had said he’d been hoping to get to meet them one day.

Eventually the conversation started to die down and Taako suggested getting to sleep. Heading to the bathroom to put pajamas on was a bit awkward, but neither of them commented on it thankfully. Kravitz made sure to offer the bed one more time, in the off chance that Taako changed his mind, but he kept insisting he’d be find with meditation, so Kravitz let it go.

When he woke up the next day it was early. He usually woke up early, but this was early even more him. Sometimes Queen would poke and prod him if he slept in too late for her liking, and that’s what he’d assumed was happening for a moment. Then he realized it was person hands prodding at him and not bird claws and beak.

“Dude, hey, Krav. Kravitz, do you know how to cook?” Taako was asking him. Kravitz blinked several times as he tried to process the question while still half asleep.

“No?” he said after a moment, pushing himself up. It still looked dark out, gods, how early was it? He guessed elves didn’t need much time to rest when they meditated though. Glancing back over at Taako, a huge smile spread across his face at that answer.

“Excellent. Wanna help me cook breakfast?” he asked, and Kravitz was starting to be awake enough to process what was actually going on. At Taako’s family’s home, fake date, destroying everything they hold dear. Right.

“Sure? Um, give me a minute to wake up first,” he said, Taako nodding.

“Of course m’dude, I’mma go get dressed while you make yourself a person again,” he said, and Kravitz nodded vaguely as Taako grabbed one of his bags and left the room.

Once he was gone Kravitz got out of bed, throwing some clothes on as well as he woke up (all black this time, no cape, but dark gloves instead). The movement roused Queen, who’d taken a perch up on the vanity. Before she could start to properly yell at him that she was starving and had never been fed a day in her life Kravitz put out some breakfast for her as well.

When Taako came back into the room Kravitz couldn’t quite fight back a smile at his outfit. The first thing that stuck out was that he was wearing a couple of the accessories they’d grabbed on the way here, most noticeably the sheer black veil, long enough to cover his eyes but not his whole face. His hair was also tied back, a black ribbon woven into his normal braid. Kravitz was surprised that Taako actually owned a pair of plain black pants, but apparently he did. The shirt was a bit more showy, speckled different shades of purple, cinched at the waist and with long, billowing sleeves.

“What’d ya think boychik?” Taako asked, actually spinning around. “Didn’t bring much that’ll fit the whole spooky scary skeleton vibe you got going on, but I figured this’ll work,” he said and Kravitz nodded.

“That definitely works,” he said, and god was that too sincere sounding? It wasn’t like the outfit was even that ridiculous, especially if you took away the veil. Taako didn’t seem to notice anything though, walking over to pet Queen who’d about finished her food.

“Hell yeah. Okay, now let’s go cook before everyone else gets up,” he said, and Kravitz was very certain that this was some sort of trap for everyone now.

Grabbing Queen, he followed Taako downstairs and to the kitchen. The sun was still a bit off from rising and the house sounded almost deathly quiet asides from the two of them moving about. As soon as they got to the kitchen Taako started going through all of the drawers and cabinets, hmming and hawing as he seemed to try and think of what to make.

“Something that’ll make a decent sized mess, also it’s gotta be something that won’t look disgusting right away. They need to actually eat some of it for maximum effect,” Taako mumbled, sounding like he was talking to himself more than anyone else. Kravitz just smiled as he watched him move about from where he was sitting at the bar.

“Maybe some sort of pastry? I mean, I have even less of an idea of how to bake, but I feel like that’s not an issue here,” he suggested, and Taako nodded.

“Damn right it’s not. I mean, I can cook. I can cook real fuckin well but that’s not what we’re doing here,” he said, starting to pull out some ingredients now. “Pastries sounds like a good plan though. Some muffins’ll work.” Kravitz watched as he started pouring some flour into a bowl, adding water and milk without measuring the amounts.

“Okay, good we didn’t use all the eggs yesterday, here, crack like, eh, the recipe calls for two, so put four eggs in there. Make some some shells get in too, these boys are gonna be crunchy,” he said, and Kravitz couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“I’ll do my best,” he said, taking the eggs and cracking them into the bowl. It wasn’t very hard for him to fuck up and get shells in there. He was a little relieved he was supposed to be doing that, because then he could pretend it was intentional.

Taako did most of the cooking, and Kravitz wasn’t too sure what he was doing. Taako clearly knew what he was up to though, cutting up fruits and berries and putting them into the muffin mix. It looked pretty damn good from where Kravitz was standing, if he didn’t know about all of the egg shells in them.

“God, these are going to be awful,” Taako said as he put them into the oven, sounding pleased as fuck with himself. “Really could’ve made a bigger mess of the kitchen though,” he added, looking around.

“I mean, we could fix that, no one else is awake yet still,” Kravitz suggested. Taako smiled for a moment before pouting at him.

“Man, you can’t offer up the chance to throw flour at you when you’re wearing all black. I just put this outfit on, it’s the best match I have with you! I can’t go ruining it right off the bat,” he whined and Kravitz couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“I’m terribly sorry for dangling such a temptation in front of you like that,” he said, not sorry at all. He was pretty sure Taako could tell that as well.

“Lame,” he complained, smearing a little bit of batter on the counter. They heard the sound of someone coming down the stairs, and Taako picked up the large bowl they’d stirred everything in. He didn’t move to put it away or in the sink or anything, just holding it and facing away from the door like he was waiting for something. Kravitz didn’t ask him what, raising an eyebrow silently in question instead. Taako only flashed another smile at him and Kravitz was having a hard time ignoring the way it made his stomach flip every time that happened.

“Well you two are up earl-” Seransie’s voice was cut off by Taako jolting in fake surprise and the bowl crashing to the ground. Ah, so that was what he was planning. Kravitz wondered if breaking glass items was going to become a trend.

“Oh god, darling I didn’t hear you,” Taako said, crouching down to scoop up the largest chunks of the bowl.

“It’s alright dear,” she said, although she was frowning at the state of the kitchen. “What were you doing?” she asked, an edge of irritation to her voice.

“I thought since we were up so early I could make everyone some breakfast. The muffins should be done in just a bit,” he said happily, throwing the broken bits of bowl into the sink. Those would be a hassle and a half for whoever tried to get them out later.

“Well, that’s very sweet of you,” she said, and it sounded a bit forced. Neither of them commented on it though, because it was honestly better that way. “Why don’t you two go rest and once everyone’s awake we can eat,” she added.

“Sounds wonderful. I’ll go see if Lup and Barry are awake,” Taako said, picking up Queen where she was resting on the counter. Kravitz had somehow managed to get used to the veil and ribbons, but seeing him holding the large black bird brought it all back home again and it was kind of hilarious.

“Please do,” his aunt said, and Kravitz was almost surprised at how much he didn’t mind leaving her in the filthy kitchen.

“She used to hate it when Lup and I got into the kitchen,” Taako said to him once they were out of the room and heading back up the stairs. Kravitz chuckled a little at that, certainly made that reaction make sense. “I’m gonna have to cook you a real thing after all of this, so that you don't go on with the horrible impression that I’m a fucking disaster in the kitchen, because that is anything but the truth,” he added, and Kravitz nodded.

“I look forward to it,” he said. He wasn’t sure if Taako would actually want to hang out again after this, but if he was Kravitz certainly wasn’t going to object. Once they were upstairs Taako stormed over to one of the other guest rooms, a large smile on his face.

“Lulu! Barold! Put some goddamn clothes on and wake up!” Taako yelled through the door, banging loudly on it as he did. There was the sound of shuffling coming from inside the room, and when the door opened a tall, disgruntled looking elf man was standing in the doorway.

“Whoops, sorry uncle Vi, wrong door,” Taako apologized, smiling sheepishly. The man huffed, grumbling something unintelligible before shutting the door again. As soon as it was shut Taako doubled over in snickers.

“Okay, that was pretty good.” Kravitz turned to see Lup standing in the doorway of her’s and Barry’s actual room, and he wondered how much of that she’d actually seen. “Nice outfits by the way,” she added.

“Right back at ya,” Taako said, and Lup was just wearing an old looking nightgown and mismatched slipper socks, her hair a bit tousled and out of place. Whether that was from sleep or something things Kravitz didn’t particularly need to know.

“Yeah, was thinking of going down like this,” she said and Taako nodded enthusiastically.

“Fuck yes, work it,” he said. “Oh, Krav and I made made muffins, so make sure you and Barold get yourselves down in time for breakfast,” he added. Lup smiled, pushing herself off of the door frame as she nodded.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Gonna go wake up the babe, catch you two in a bit,” she said before turning back into the room and closing the door behind her.

“Sweet, now let’s get back before someone eats a muffin and we’re not there to see it,” Taako said, grabbing Kravtiz’s hand and starting to lead him down the stairs again. They weren’t around anyone else at the moment, so there wasn’t any reason for Taako to be holding his hand. He was probably just excited.

And if Taako wasn’t going to comment on it, well then Kravitz wasn’t going to either.

Chapter Text

Taako felt pretty damn cheerful as he led Kravitz back downstairs. Meditating in the chair hadn’t been the most comfortable thing in the world, but he’d had hells of a lot worse attempts at resting in his life. He wasn’t exhausted right now so it’d gotten the job done well enough, which was the most important thing.

Once they were downstairs he could smell the muffins, and for as bad as he knew they were gonna taste they sure as fuck smelled delicious. Not letting go of Kravtiz’s hand he headed back towards the kitchen. He guessed he didn’t technically need to hold his hand, but it added to the theatrics of it all, and Krav already said he didn’t mind. Turning into the room, Taako was glad to see that his aunt had taken the muffins out of the oven already.

“Lup and Barry’ll be down in a few,” he said. She nodded, not seeming too interested, but that didn’t bother Taako at all. The less they paid attention to everything the more shit they could get away with. She was pretty distracted at the moment with trying to clean up the mess he’d left the kitchen in. There were a whole bunch of dishes in the sink and he was pretty sure no one had thought to take out the broken shards of the bowl he smashed yet, so that would be a fun surprise for someone later.

A few minutes later Zinlen came into the room, and Taako watched in utter delight as he instantly went to the muffins cooling on the counter. They looked and smelled delicious after all, Taako had made sure not to mess up the texture and presentation any when fucking with the taste. Except for the egg shells of course. Those weren’t noticeable until they were in someone’s mouth though, so no issue there.

“Oh nice, breakfast,” Zinlen said, grabbing a muffin and taking a large bite of it. Taako was so goddamn pleased with the way he face started to twist in disgust, clearly debating whether or not to spit it out.

“What do you think darling? It’s a new recipe, it’s supposed to be rather exotic,” Taako asked, his cousin very slowly managing to swallow the bite.

“It’s unique,” he said after a moment, distaste clear in his voice as he quickly went over to the fridge to get something to drink. Taako wasn’t surprised that he did not go to take anymore bites of the muffin. He didn't go to throw it away, so Taako figured he was hoping he'd forget he had one in the first place and then he could throw it out. After a bit everyone else started to head down as well, and Taako barely managed to keep himself from laughing when Uncle Vividar came down and did the exact same thing as Zinlen, only he spat out the terrible muffin out with no goddamn hesitation.

“Aw, you don’t like it?” he asked, trying to sound as genuinely disappointed as possible. There was a bit too much excitement in his voice for it to pass, and he figured that was one of the reasons aunt Seransie hadn’t gotten near the things yet.

“A little too sour for me,” he said as he went to throw what was left of the muffin away, and that was honestly as forthcoming as Taako could imagine any of them being about it.

The only other person to eat a muffin was Themis, which Taako felt particularly proud of. There was a moment where he could see Zinlen about to say something, but she had already put the thing in her mouth. Taako tried to look concerned when she ended up coughing on an eggshell and loudly snapping ‘what the fuck’s in this disgusting thing.' From the way Kravitz very gently nudged him with his elbow, Taako guessed it wasn’t too convincing. After that everyone seemed to get the idea that perhaps the muffins weren’t too good and avoided them. A shame, but managing to get three people with em was good enough for Taako.

Lup and Barry were the last ones to come downstairs, and Taako had no doubt that they did that on purpose. They both looked like they’d literally just rolled out of bed, Lup yawning loudly as they came into the room as if to emphasize that fact.

“Mornin,” she said in a sleepy voice, and Taako wasn’t surprised that both of them had the sense to avoid the many remaining muffins.

“Good morning dear, do you two maybe want to get dressed?” Aunt Haelin asked, and yeah it was pretty fucking hilarious how the two contrasted with everyone else. Sure, Taako and Kravitz were a little bit too formal and dark for the occasion, which was great. He was fucking loving this style. There was something particularly spectacular though about Lup coming down in a raggedy over-sized t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Hug Life’ he was pretty sure she stole from Magnus, and Barry in a pair of ripped jeans he’d obviously slept in and a shirt that said ‘Necromancy is just Extreme Recycling.’

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lup said casually, and Taako had to turn a snort into a cough. It was pretty clear that everyone else wanted to say something but weren’t sure how to go about it after that.

“Well, Taako, ah, thank you so much for the muffins, but I was thinking we all go out to eat for breakfast instead,” Seransie said.

“Oh not a problem, you can save them for later,” he said, very easily noticing the flash of annoyance on her face at having to save the muffins. It was pretty damn great.

“Of course,” she said, her voice the slightest bit strained as she started wrapping up the muffins in some plastic wrap. Taako severely doubted anyone would end up eating them, but maybe he could figure out something else to do with them before he left. No point in letting them go completely to waste after all.

“There’s a nice little Dwarven place we could go to, it’s not far,” Uncle Daelar suggested. Seransie immediately seemed to cheer up at the idea, clapping her hands together and nodding.

“Oh yes! You all will just love it, it’s so quaint,” she said happy. When Taako glanced over at Lup she had on the same barely hidden look of dread that he was sure was on his face. Nothing like going out with the family being slightly below blatantly condescending to a bunch of people to bring back that nostalgic Candlenights feeling.

“That sounds wonderful! Why doesn’t everyone go get ready. Lup dear, you might want to put on something a bit warmer. I think it’s supposed to snow sometime later today, you’ll freeze in that,” Haelin said, and Taako had to give credit for a somewhat believable reason to beg Lup to please for the love of god change into some actual clothes.

“Good call auntie, I’ll go throw something a bit toastier on,” Lup said, pushing herself up from where she’d been leaning against the wall. Taako headed to the living room with Kravitz while they waited for Lup and Barry to come back, a few others excusing themselves to go get ready as well.

“Do you think they’ll let her into the restaurant?” Taako asked since they were alone for the moment, motioning towards the bird on Kravitz’s shoulder. He was certainly going to try to bring her along, because that was fucking hilarious.

“I don’t know, I never had the ill-sense to try and take her to one,” Kravitz said.

“Fair enough my dude, guess we’re just gonna have to find out,” he said. If worst came to worst, he would not be upset about having to dip and eat outside or something. It’d embarrass everyone else and he’d get a moment away from them all in one go. That honestly might be best case scenario now that he was thinking about it. Sure it’d be cold as fuck, but still might be worth it far as he could see.

They stopped talking when other people came into the room, and Seransie quickly noticed the bird when Taako reached up to pet her.

“Oh, dear you’re not bringing the bird with you, are you?” she asked, sounding very worried about the possibility.

“Of course! I’m not going to leave her all alone in a new place, she'll get spooked,” Taako said, like just the suggestion of doing such a thing was one of the most ridiculous things he’d ever heard.

“I’m sure the bird will be fine on its own,” she tried, but Taako was shaking his head before she could even finish her sentence. Before anyone could say anything else Lup and Barry were back, and somehow throwing a giant furred coat and leggings on along with the over sized t-shirt made the whole ensemble Lup had on even better. Like, he was pretty damn sure that was his coat, but he wasn’t going to begrudge her for wearing it now. Barry had thrown a jean jacket on as well, because of fucking course he did.

“Everyone ready?” Lup asked before anyone could comment on her outfit or continue arguing about the bird. Taako smiled when their aunt looked from him all done up in a veil and black ribbons, hanging on Kravitz’s arm (he’d thrown the cape he had before back on, because apparently that was functioning as his coat here) scratching Queen’s head, and then looked over at Lup looking like she’d grabbed whatever she could find at the bottom of her closet, before sighing under her breath.

“Yes, I suppose so,” she said. The ride to the restaurant was actually pretty great, since they piled into Barry’s car and followed everyone to the place. Taako did not mind the chance to get to drop the act and laugh at these fuckers in the slightest. He told Lup about the eggs they’d hidden around the house since he hadn’t gotten a chance to yet. She let him know that she’d gone and replaced every can of shaving cream with whipped cream, even somehow managing to switch the labels.

(”When did you get a chance to do that?!” “You two went to sleep early as fuck, I had all night to get shit done.” “Wait, Lup did you sleep at all? You told me you were gonna come right back to bed.” “Don’t you worry about it babe.”)

Once they got to the restaurant Taako looped an arm around Kravtiz’s as they got out of the car, because it put the stark contrast between them and Lup and Barry even more on display. It didn’t take long for them to get a table, since it was still pretty damn early in the day and the people that were there weren’t quite in so large a party. He wasn’t sure if it was because there was a lot of them, but whatever it was, the server didn’t seem to notice the bird. Or if they did they didn’t say anything about it. So most likely hadn’t noticed her yet. To Kravtiz’s credit he put Queen down into his lap as soon as they were seated to keep her out of the way. Taako couldn’t really blame him for that, after all they weren’t here to ruin some random innocent minimum wage worker’s day.

“So Taako, Lup, how have you two been? We heard you were on the news,” Larniya asked once everyone was settled.

“Oh that little thing? It’s no big deal,” Taako said easily, and he was surprised it took them this long to actually ask about that. He guessed they were trying not to be too blatant. “That was for school, it’s not that impressive,” he added, trying to very obviously downplay it.

“Well it’s still ver- er, dear, what are you doing?” Seransie started, and when Taako looked over at Barry he had a notebook out and was writing something down in it. He didn’t look up for a moment, before finally glancing and seeming to realize that someone was talking to him.

“Oh, notes,” he said simply before going back to writing.

“On what?” uncle Vividar asked, sounding a bit unnerved.

“Yeah,” Barry mumbled, nodding the slightest bit and clearly not paying any fucking attention to any of them. Except for of course whenever he’d look up quickly before seeming to take a note on something going on. Leaning over some, Taako could see the paper and holy shit, he couldn’t tell if he was writing in Infernal or Abyssal but either way it was glorious.

An awkward silence fell over them at that, although it got broken up when the waiter came over and started taking orders for drinks. Taako made sure to order an extra water for his dear Queenie. He had to try real hard not to laugh when the poor dude jumped back as he noticed the bird in Kravtiz’s lap. Kid seemed too confused to actually do anything about it though, nodding and saying he’d get their drinks out right away.

Once that was done with the small talk slowly managed to get itself going again. A lot of it was directed at Taako and Lup, asking about how’ve they been, what were they up to now, what kind of things they did at school.

“Well, Barry does a better job explaining it all than I do, don’t you babe?” Lup said, and Barry paused in whatever he was writing and nodded absently, not actually bothering to explain anything.

“And uh, what is that?” Larniya asked, almost sounding like she didn’t want to know.

“Oh, you know. Science,” Barry said.

“What kind of science?” Zinlen pressed, and Barry looked up at him like the question was ridiculous.

“You know. Science. It’s not that hard to understand,” he said in a tone suggesting that they were idiots for not getting the complete nonsense he’d just said.

“Right, science…” Zinlen said, trying to sound like he understood when he clearly didn’t have a single clue what the fuck Barry was talking about.

“Like I said, he explains it better,” Lup said proudly, and Taako was proud that this time he wasn’t the one who had to badly suppress a laugh. Kravitz let out a snort next to him, trying to cover it up before anyone noticed, which was pretty fucking adorable. It didn't seem to work, but it was adorable none the less.

The waiter came back with drinks and took their food orders, and Taako was so fucking pleased when Kravitz let the bird up onto the table to drink the water Taako had ordered for her, which she seemed to greatly enjoy. Every time someone would ask them to get her off of the table Taako would wave away their request and insist it was fine. He couldn’t help but be disappointed when the food came out and Kravitz picked her up off the table and put her back into his lap.

The rest of the breakfast went without much fanfare. Taako had to admit that the food here was at least better than the food at the house, and not just because he’d made that intentionally horrible. Everyone talked a lot less while they were eating too, so that was a nice retreat. When it was time to leave the ride back to the house didn’t take anywhere near as long as Taako would have liked.

Heading into the house, they were the last ones inside, and as soon as the door closed behind them there was a crash. Glancing into the next room where it’d came from, Themis was on the floor, the chair she’d apparently been trying to sit in fucking demolished underneath her. When he looked back at Lup, she had a hand over her mouth, which if anyone looked could be construed as in surprise, but it was very clearly muffling laughter.

Everyone else was focused on Themis, asking if she was alright, trying to figure out what happened with the chair. Taako took the opportunity to raise his hand up for a high-five, Lup instantly reciprocating.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Themis snapped, pushing herself back up to her feet.

“Auntie, how old are those chairs?” Taako asked, figuring at least one of them should get in on the concern pile.

“Not old at all, I only got them a few months ago. Are you sure you’re alright, sit back down,” Seransie said, directing Themis over to another seat. She didn’t argue, going to sit down in a chair identical to the first one, obviously part of some gaudy set their aunt had brought. And just like the first one, as soon as she put her weight down on it the thing collapsed underneath her. Taako had to bite his lip, squeezing Kravitz’s arm to keep himself from bursting out laughing.

“What is going on?” Themis growled, scrambling to her feet and kicking at the remains of the chair before going to sit in a huff on the couch. That unfortunately did not collapse underneath her, although he guessed that would’ve been a bit difficult for Lup to pull off.

“I have no idea, Daelar dear, go grab some extra chairs from the garage,” Seransie said.

“Let’s get all this out of the way, before someone else gets hurt,” Lup said, coming fully into the room and starting to pick up chair parts. Their aunt quickly nodded, and Zinlen started helping to gather up all of the pieces.

“Go put those in the garage as well and we’ll figure out something to do with them,” she said. Taako figured he could help with that, but instead he went and sat down as well, making sure to stick to the couch instead of any remaining chairs. He had no idea which one’s Lup had messed with after all.

“Are you alright, that looked like quite the fall,” Kravitz asked once they were seated. Which yeah, it would probably be good to look at least somewhat concerned with what happened. Even though he wasn’t, by any stretch of the means.

“I’m fine, thank you for asking,” she said, still sounding incredibly irritated by the whole thing. Taako figured that almost made up for the time she tied him to a tree and left him there. It had taken nearly seven hours before Lup was able to realize something was wrong and sneak out of her room where she’d been holed up sick as fuck and untie him.

“Let’s talk about something else though. Anything else. How long have you two been dating for?” she asked, and despite the fact that they’d been asking him and Lup all kinds of questions about their lives since they got here, that was the first time someone actually addressed something concerning Kravitz. At least, something that didn’t involve a poor attempt to get rid of the bird. Taako was pretty sure they were trying the ‘if I pretend it’s not there it’ll go away eventually’ method when it came to everything else.

“It’ll actually be a year on Candlenights,” Taako lied. It was an easy enough thing to remember if anyone else asked, and it was when they met, so close enough.

“Well isn’t that romantic,” Themis said, and Taako couldn't be sure if she was being sincere or mocking them. Probably the second one.

“Yeah, you could say he really stole my heart. I didn’t stand a chance,” Kravitz said, his voice fond as he wrapped an arm around Taako’s shoulders. It also pulled the cape around him as well, which was sweet. Uh, suitably dramatic. Dude was good at this. Yeah.

“Hell yeah you didn’t stand a chance babe, Taako knows what he wants,” he said, leaning into Kravitz a bit more exaggerated than was necessary.

Lup and Zinlen came back then, followed by uncle Daelar with a couple of new chairs for people to sit in.

“Well, aren’t you two looking cute,” she said at the two of them as she walked in. She’d taken off the coat and the leggings at some point while she was gone, back to just the over-sized t-shirt. Taako could admit it looked comfy as fuck.

“Always,” Taako said easily, because hey that was true. He was fucking adorable and Kravitz was doing a real good job of fitting in with all of that. Dude was a better actor than Taako had anticipated he guessed.

A few moments later, Barry came back into the room, and Taako wasn’t even sure when he left or where he went. Neither did anyone else for that matter, several people glancing towards him confused as he walked in. He didn’t say anything though, sitting down next to Lup without a word.

Shit was a bit boring after that, Taako was itching to do more shit but there wasn’t any excuse to leave and set anything up for the moment. So instead he was stuck in boring small talk and a debate for what to put on TV. He suggested every middle school goth movie he could think of, although no one else seemed interested in that. Well, besides Kravitz. Taako was pretty sure that his enthusiasm was not entirely faked either.

The rest of the group seemed to come to some agreement after a moment. Taako stayed curled up with Kravitz as they put on a movie. This was partially because it was comfortable and they were ‘dating’ so why not some overly affectionate cuddling in front of everyone.

The other main reason for staying like this was because after a bit Queen moved down from his shoulder to sit in Taako’s lap, and at that point he was trapped. You’re not allowed to move when an animal is sleeping on you, which he announced to everyone in the room. Every time someone would start talking a bit too loudly for his taste he’d angrily shush them and point to the bird.

He could see them getting increasingly more frustrated the longer this went on, so Taako was hoping the bird would sleep for a long while.

Taako put only the bare minimum of effort pretending to be interested in the boring elf adaptation of Elf, apparently made to be more accurate towards elves, and somehow managed to be longer than fucking gone with the wind. Thing had three goddamn intermissions. Taako wasn’t sure if they settled on this movie not realizing they had two humans over and the weird method of a half-elf rejecting their human half would be a little insensitive, or if they chose it specifically for that reason.

“Maybe we could watch something a little less offensive to humans,” Lup had tried, but uncle Vividar waved the concern away.

“Nonsense, it’s a great movie. You two don’t find anything wrong with it, do you?” he asked, looking towards Kravitz and Barry.

“Well, I’ve never actually seen this version,” Kravitz said, and poor dude sounded like he had no idea what the movie was about. Which Taako figured was exactly what was going on.

“The way elves view themselves is very fascinating,” Barry said, not actually answering the question at all. No one asked him to clarify what he meant. The whole atmosphere was awkward as fuck. No one was paying attention when Zinlen got up and left the room, not until their was a sudden loud scream from the kitchen.

Instantly everyone was scrambling to their feet, and Taako was about to run up as well. Clearly something magnificent had happened, but there was a slight problem. He still had a sleeping bird on him. He could feel Kravitz laughing slightly when he noticed his hesitation, reaching around and managing to pick up Queen without waking her.

“There you go, free at last,” Kravitz joked.

“Well aren’t you a regular old hero,” Taako said as he stood up, brushing himself off a bit, tiny little fluffs of feather having stuck to him.

“I try,” Kravitz said, and Taako could’ve continued to stand around and joke with him, but he needed to go see what that screaming was. Kravitz quickly followed him to the kitchen, and when they got there it was just as glorious as Taako had hoped.

Barry had a jar in his hands, and Taako could see several other similar ones shoved into the open fridge. It was a little difficult to see with the way the murky fluids inside were swirling around as he moved it, but Taako was pretty sure it was the pig head.

“There’s nothing- there’s nothing to panic about. I just needed someplace to keep them chilled. It’s not- they won’t contaminate the food, they’re sealed. There’s noth-”

The sound of crashing glass from the dropped jar was almost completely drowned out by the sound of screaming as everything ran out of the kitchen as fast as possible. The smell of formaldehyde wasn’t pleasant, but Taako couldn’t give less of a shit.

Lup was doubled over the counter, her shoulders shaking with near silent laughter. Taako wasn’t much better, having buried his face into Kravtiz’s side to muffle the sound somewhat.

“Oops, I guess,” Barry said after a moment, not sounding sorry in the slightest.

Taako had to cling to Kravitz even more, his laughter fucking doubling at that. Fuck, this was just perfect.

Chapter Text

Kravitz tried his best to keep his laughing to a minimum, which was pretty difficult considering the way Taako was damn near breaking down against him. At least they seemed to have a quick moment where everyone else here was too afraid to come back into the kitchen.

Barry seemed to get a hold of himself the fastest, poking tentatively with his foot at the moist pig head splattered on the floor along with all the glass. That sent Taako into another fit of giggles against him, Lup wiping tears from her eyes as she tried to get herself back under control.

“You might want to pull yourself together before someone comes back in dear,” Kravitz said, hoping Taako didn’t notice the unnecessary pet name. It was much too easy to call him sweet things, it had just slipped out. It didn’t seem to bother Taako any though, the elf nodding as he tried to fight down the last of the giggles.

“God,” Lup said, sounding out of breath from the laughing. “We should probably clean this up, I’m sure they’re pretty pissed after that,” she added, looking down at the mess. Kravitz could feel Queen shift in his arms, having woken up from all the screaming and laughing. The bird seemed rather interested in the mess but he didn’t let her jump down to it.

“No, not for you, that’s disgusting,” he said, petting her to keep her content in his arms. Taako seemed to have finally gotten himself back together, although still leaning on Kravitz somewhat for support.

“Yeah, right, cleaning. You two got that under control?” he asked, Lup rolling her eyes at him.

“Wait, no, I have… yes,” Barry mumbled, looking through some of the lower cabinets until he managed to pull out a very large Tupperware container. The three watched as he slowly scooped the slightly mutilated pig head into the container with the lid before closing it and placing the whole thing precariously back into the fridge.

When Kravitz glanced over at Lup, there were tears in her eyes and he couldn’t help but be worried that the lingering smell of formaldehyde was bothering her.

“Whoa, Lulu, you good?” Taako asked as she started wiping away tears, nodding quickly at the question.

“I just… I love him so much,” she said, gesturing hopelessly at Barry. He laughed at that, quickly coming over, giving her a side hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Love you too babe,” he said. Taako made a fake gagging noise at the display, but neither of them seemed to mind. If anything Kravitz was pretty sure this was a common thing, and it didn’t seem like Taako actually meant it.

After that Barry and Lup actually started to clean up the glass and fluids. Kravitz offered to help, although Taako seemed very content staying away from it. They told the two of them to go see how much damage control was needed not to get immediately thrown out instead.

So the next hour or so was spent apologizing and assuring everyone that Barry and Lup were cleaning the situation up, Barry's terribly sorry, the jar had gotten cracked during the drive and he hadn’t noticed it until the leak caused his hand to slip. No, of course none of the other jars cracked, they’re perfectly fine. Probably. You could go check yourself if you wish.

Kravitz couldn’t be quite sure, but he was pretty certain that they insisted on going to bed a bit earlier than they might have normally. Well, that and the fact that when they saw the pig head was still in the fridge, only now in one of their own containers, that seemed to be the breaking point for them. That didn’t bother Kravitz any, since he was pretty sure they were all going to have to keep somewhat normal for the rest of the night. They still had two more days there after all, from what Taako had told him.

Besides, he was pretty exhausted. Taako did wake him up at the crack of dawn after all.

Once they were up in their spare room he insisted Kravitz take the bed again. It didn’t seem like meditating in the chair had bothered him any, but Kravitz still felt a bit bad about hogging the thing. Still, Taako kept saying that it wasn’t a big deal since he was an elf, so Kravitz figured it was best to go along with it.

It was later the next morning when Kravitz woke up, and so he figured Taako didn’t have anything planned for super early this time. Or at least, nothing he needed his help for.

“Mornin sleeping beauty, I’m was starting to wonder who’d give in to waking you up first, me or the bird. You beat both of us though, just barely,” Taako said, and Kravitz had to muffle a yawn before speaking and pushing himself up.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, sleep takes a bit longer than meditation,” he mumbled, trying to push himself awake. It was still pretty early all things considered.

“Yeah, it’s fucking great though. Soon as we get out of this joint I’m taking the longest nap, you don’t even know,” Taako said, standing up and stretching his hands up above his head. He had already gotten dressed, so Kravitz figured he must've been up for a while. He was wearing a bright blue knit dress that actually looked warm and just a bit of the black, Gothic jewelry they’d brought on the way there. Once again he had the ribbon tied into his hair, although no veil this time.

“If you’re tired you can have the bed tonight, I swear I don’t mind,” Kravitz said with a frown, but Taako was shaking his head again.

“Don’t even worry about it my guy. Taako’s good,” he said with a wave of his hand.

“Well, let me know if you change your mind by tonight, I really am fine with switching,” Kravitz said. Taako nodded absently, petting at Queen where she was sitting on the vanity.

“I’ll keep you posted on that my dude,” he said. “Anyway, I’m gonna go make myself presentable, feel free to do the same since Lup and Barold called dibs on the hot mess look,” he added.

“But you already look wonderful to me?” Kravitz asked, not sure what Taako meant by presentable. He couldn't think of what he could add to the whole outfit to make it any better. Taako stood there for a quick moment, looking like he didn’t know what to say, which was very unlike him.

“I mean, yeah of course I do. Regular wonderful Taako isn’t fun though. Gotta keep kicking it all up to 11 here,” he finally said. If Kravitz didn’t know any better, he’d swear Taako sounded embarrassed. “But I mean, if you want me to stick around while you get changed, well then by all means don’t let me stop you,” he added, sounding much more like himself again. Kravitz immediately started shaking his head, because no okay that was not what he’s meant by that.

“No, no that’s not, uh, you can leave,” he said, and Taako was laughing as he left the room. Pulling himself together after that, Kravitz got up and dressed before Taako could come back. He gave Queen a little bit less food than he normally would for breakfast, since he figured he could feed her a bit downstairs in front of everyone as well. He didn’t like to go so long giving her store brought processed pet food anyway, and she’d definitely earned a few mice at this point.

“Ready or not here I- aw boo, you’re dressed,” Taako said, opening the door without any sort of warning. Kravitz was pretty sure that was a joke. Or something. Taako didn’t look that much different from when he left the room, maybe a little more makeup on for as far as Kravitz could tell. Definitely not anything that made him look any more or less presentable than he had before.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” he said, grabbing the container full of feeder mice for Queen. “So uh, I was thinking,” he continued, and the idea had come to him while he was half asleep last night, he was kind of shocked he even still remembered it in the morning. It was incredibly stupid, and he was feeling embarrassed at even suggesting it.

“Oh yeah? What’s on your mind homedog?” Taako asked.

“Uh, what if I talked like this for the rest of the visit?” Kravitz asked, putting on a very thick cockney accent. He knew accents weren’t a skill he had, or at least, good ones weren’t. There was a long moment where Taako stared at him, like he was trying to process it before he doubled over laughing.

“Yes, holy fuck, please. Oh my god, you’re perfect,” Taako managed in between fits of laughter.

“Alright then, I guess this is my voice now,” he said, still speaking in the accent, sending Taako into even more laughter. “You might want to get that all out now, before we have to go interacting with anybody,” he added, and Taako weakly nodded.

“Yeah, yeah okay, I can control myself. It’s worth it to control myself,” he said, like he had to really convince himself of that.

“Ready to go then?” he asked, holding his arm out for Taako to take. The whole thing was marred by the way he had to swing his other hand around some, to keep Queen from trying to peck open the box of rodents.

“Of course,” Taako said, grabbing his arm anyway. “What’s that?” he added, motioning to the box Kravitz could barely keep away from the bird.

“Dead mice. I figured Queen could have breakfast with everyone else,” he said, and Taako managed to contain his laughter this time, instead smiling brightly.

“I fucking knocked it out of the park with my pick for this whole shindig, didn’t I?” he said happily. Kravitz figured he shouldn’t be quite as proud of this as he was, but that wasn’t stopping him. Besides, he could admit that seeing Taako so happy was a treat.

When they got downstairs it seemed like most people were already awake, chatting amiably as breakfast was made. The main Candlenights celebration wouldn’t be until tomorrow, so the food wasn’t the best they had to offer yet, but it was getting close.

“Good morning,” their aunt Seransie said as they came into the room.

“Morning,” Taako replied easily, sitting himself and Kravitz down at the dining room table.

“Stay,” Kravitz said to Queen, and bird reluctantly listening as he opened the container of food. “Taako, love would you like to feed her?” he asked, noticing several quick looks at him when he spoke. He tried not to pay any attention to them, not wanting to make this look like anything out of the ordinary at all.

“Oh of course!” Taako said excitedly, picking up one of the dead mice and holding it up by its tail. Kravitz could tell that he didn’t quite know what he was supposed to do with it, but that wasn’t a problem. Queen immediately grabbed it out of his hand and flew over to the other side of the table before beginning to eat.

“Oh my god!” their aunt Haelin shouted, jumping up from where she’d been sitting close by once Queen landed. The bird didn’t pay her any mind, content to rip apart her meal.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine, I promise. She won’t bother you, we’ll clean up any mess she leaves behind,” Kravitz insisted, although most of the people in the room still looked rather unnerved by the whole display.

“Er, did something happen to your voice?” Zinlen asked, and Kravitz frowned in apparent confusion.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” he asked, and keeping up this accent was going to get tiresome, he could already tell, but he was pretty sure it was worth it.

“Well, you sound, ah, different, is all. You didn't have an accent yesterday,” he tried, and before Kravitz could insist on having no clue what he meant by that again Taako let out a huff of annoyance.

“I figured you all didn’t care about my personal life but I didn’t think you couldn’t even remember what my boyfriend sounded like after two whole days of being around him,” he grumbled. Kravitz could see looks of completely bewildered panic on several faces and it was a little bit harder to keep the frown on his face at that.

“Love, it’s not a big deal,” he said, trying to comfort his clearly very upset boyfriend.

“Yeah no, apparently it’s not,” Taako huffed.

“Now dear, you know that’s not true, of course we care about your personal life,” Seransie insisted. It didn’t sound genuine, like she was only trying to placate Taako before he got even more upset. Queen finished her mouse, and when she came back over Kravitz handed her another one. Pretty much everyone jumped back when she flew over to the same side of the table as before and continued eating again.

“Mhmm,” Taako hummed noncommittally, like he didn’t quite believe her either.

“Well, why don’t you two get something to eat and tell us about how you met then, I’d love to hear it. Are you in the same program as Taako and Lup?” she asked, and Kravitz shook his head.

“Oh no, I’m not anywhere near talented enough for that,” he said, getting up and grabbing plates for both himself and Taako. Queen was eating about as cleanly as a bird could, so there were little bits of fur and bone scattered around that end of the table. Oh well, he could clean that up when he finished eating.

“Taako assaulted me and I snap his friend’s arm in half with a crystal,” he added as he sat down, placing the plate in front of Taako, who smiled gratefully at him.

“That’s um, well that certainly sounds like a story,” Haelin said, laughing like she wasn’t sure what else to do at that.

“Okay babe, you gotta make it clear that you broke Merle’s arm and then I started attacking you. Pretty sure at that point it’s self defense, not assault,” Taako insisted. Kravitz supposed he could be saying it to confuse everyone even more, but he got the feeling he sincerely wanted to make that distinction. Considering that after the fact there had been a rather long and loud argument on who had started what, it made sense.

“Uh, what happened exactly?” Seransie asked, sounding slightly horrified by the whole thing.

“Ah, it was just a big misunderstanding, lots of people in the wrong place at the wrong time, that sorta thing. Your friend came out of it alright, didn’t he love?” Kravitz said, turning to Taako then, who nodded, chewing the bland food in his mouth before answering.

“Oh yeah, he’s good. I mean, we ended up amputating the arm, but he’s fine,” Taako said casually. Kravitz was fairly certain he’d seen Merle around since then and with both arms, so that was probably a lie. Either way, he nodded and went along with it.

“Huh, well I should apologize to him at some point then, shouldn’t I?” he said. Taako shrugged, petting Queen when she waddled back over to them, having finished with her meal. That end of the table was a mess everyone else was keeping a large distance from. Yeah, they were going to wait as long as possible to clean that up.

“How long ago was this?” Haelin asked, sounding almost morbidly curious.

“Just last Candlenights,” Kravitz said, remembering only when he said it that that was when Taako had claimed they started dating. Apparently he wasn’t the only one to remember that, because the woman they’d talked to about that before frowning.

“I thought you said that you two started dating on Candlenights?” she asked, and thankfully Taako was nodding before Kravitz had to think of some sort of lie, a large smile spreading across his face.

“Yeah, it was a pretty busy night, wasn’t it babe?” Taako said, giving him a slightly exaggerated wink.

“You could certainly put it like that, yes,” Kravitz said, nearly forgetting to do the accent that time. Did he have to be that distracting all of the time? It was hardly fair or helpful.

“Mornin everyone,” Lup said before anyone else could say anything, coming into the room. Her and Barry were wearing the same exact clothes that they’d worn yesterday, and Kravitz wasn’t sure if he was hoping they would keep that up for the rest of the visit or not.

“Good morning you two,” Seransie said, looking a bit relieved for a change of topic.

“Hey, we wanted to say sorry about last night, it really was an accident,” Lup apologized. Kravitz knew that wasn’t true in the slightest, but their aunt nodded.

“Of course, accidents happen,” she said, still sounding rather peeved about the whole deal regardless.

“Can I take these?” Barry asked, pointing at the pile of tiny bones and bits of fur at the end of the table. Kravitz honestly couldn’t tell what was an act and what wasn’t at this point with him, but he was hoping that this part at least was for show. He wasn’t sure what use Barry could have for feeder mouse parts. If he did have a use for them, he hoped he wouldn't find out.

“Of course, help yourself,” he said, and there was the smallest moment where Lup and Barry seemed to process the accent, but neither of them said anything about it. Barry nodded after a moment, grabbing a paper towel to gather up the bits of mouse before leaving the room to take them somewhere. Presumably back up to the room him and Lup were staying in, but hopefully not. Hopefully he’d throw them away or something.

“So, what’s the plan for today? Some real good Candlenights cheer? Gonna go out and get a bush, make cookies, tell stories?” Lup asked once Barry came back, stuffing more food than was advised into her mouth as she spoke.

“Well, ah, we weren’t planning to put up a bush this year, it seemed a little childish,” Seransie said. Lup visibly deflated at that, and Kravitz couldn’t tell if she was playing up her disappointment or not.

“Aw, but it’s tradition Auntie!” she insisted, and Taako was nodding in agreement.

“How about we go out and grab one? It’ll be so boring tomorrow if we’re all just handing each other presents, there’s gotta be some fun in it all,” he said, and their aunt was starting to look a little nervous as she shook her head.

“No, no dears, it’s fine. You don’t have to go out of your way for that. It’s so close anyway, I doubt they’ll have anything good left,” she tried, but Taako was shaking his head.

“Don’t even worry about it, we’ll go check, it’ll be ten minutes, tops,” he said, already standing up from the table.

“Well if you insist, ah, make sure you get a fake one,” she said, but Lup was waving her concern away.

“Just make sure to have a spot picked out by the time we get back,” she said, running back to her room to presumably grab some warmer clothes to go outside. Kravitz could see through the windows that it had snowed some the night before, it was probably freezing out.

“We’ll wait for you out in the car,” Taako called after his sister before heading them both outside in a hurry.

“So, how exactly are you planning to ruin getting a Candlenights bush?” Kravitz asked once they were outside. Taako shrugged, leaning against the car as they waited for Lup and Barry to come out.

“In any way that presents itself my guy. You can’t always plan these things, some of it has to come naturally,” he said, and Kravitz chuckled. After another moment the other two came out and they all hurried into the car.

“So, what was up with the accent bird boy?” Lup asked, and Kravitz figured that was a fair question. He was impressed they didn't say anything while they were all inside, he wasn't sure if he would've been able to resist the urge if he was in their place.

“I thought it would be funny? I’m already starting to regret having to continue with it for the rest of the visit though,” he said, thankful for the chance to talk normally while he was alone with them for now.

“It was fucking incredible Lup. He insisted he always sounded like that and I got all upset and offended that they couldn’t remember what my boyfriend sounded like, I was dying,” Taako told her, and Lup burst out laughing at that.

“Aw shit, I can’t believe I missed that,” she said.

As they drove it was decided that they were absolutely getting a real bush, since they had asked for a fake one. It didn’t take too long to find a bush farm, although Kravitz was a little surprised that there were some still open this close to Candlenights. He guessed there was always the chance that someone needed to grab some for an emergency last minute.

When they got out of the car, Kravitz hadn’t expected Taako to hang onto his arm again like he did when they were around his relatives. He guessed he’d gotten used to the act, and it was very cold out. Queen was cuddled up against him for the same reason.

“Hail and well met my dude! We’re looking for the absolute shittiest bush you got. Like, the bigger the fire hazard, the better,” Taako called out to the worker huddled up in the both. The man quickly looked the four of them over, uncertainty about this whole situation written all over his face. Kravitz couldn't blame this man in the slightest.

“Well, if you’re looking for less than ideal Candlenights bushes, those are about all that we have left at this point,” he said.

“Cool, we’ll take a look around and let you know when we pick something out,” Lup said, staring back towards the very sparse rows of bushes left. The man wasn’t lying about not having the best choices left, most of the bushes left either had bare patches or were a bit too twiggy or hopelessly small.

“We could get six tiny ones?” Taako suggested, looking at what was practically a pile of rejected bushes.

“I’m pretty sure this one is just a bunch of sticks someone glued together,” Lup said, several of the minuscule amount of leaves that were left on the thing falling off when she moved it. “Tough decisions,” she mumbled, chewing her lip as she seemed to think it over.

“Stick the six tiny ones inside of the stick one, no one’ll notice at first,” Barry said, and Taako immediately started gathering up the mini-bushes as Lup picked up the large one, shaking it until the last of the leaves fell off.

“Won’t this just make one large, somewhat normal looking bush?” Kravitz asked, watching in amused bewilderment as the twins started to Frankenstein a bush together.

“Krav, babe, you’re wonderful, but you’re missing out on all the possibilities,” Taako said. Kravitz tried to ignore the compliment and pet name and instead focus on the way the twins were trying to stuff the mini-bushes in the large bush skeleton in as believable a way as possible.

“I’m almost afraid to ask what possibilities you could mean,” he said.

“Just let yourself be surprised then handsome,” Taako said. After a few more moments the two seemed to be done constructing their bush, carefully picking up the monstrosity and carrying it over to the man in the booth.

“This is actually seven bushes stacked on top of each other, what can you do us for?” Lup asked, holding it up for the dude to see. He just seemed to stare for a moment, trying to figure out exactly what she meant by that before nodding.

“Well, I’m not going to be selling a lot more of these, you said that’s seven of them?” he asked, not quite sounding like he believed them.

“It’s six tiny ones we found and stuffed together into a big one that had no leaves left,” Taako explained, sounding rather proud of that fact. The man nodded, seeming to understand a bit better after that.

“Huh, innovative I guess. Well, I’m not going to charge you for all the individual ones, you can take the whole thing for thirty I guess?” he said, sounding completely out of his element.

“Sweet, a steal. You’re a lifesaver,” Lup said, pulling out some cash and paying the man. It was a little difficult getting the bush back, it was too big now to shove into the trunk without risk of it falling apart, so it went into the backseat with him and Taako. Queen seemed fine with it after a few cursory pecks.

Barry and Lup ran inside of a store on the way back to grab some lights and decorations for the bush. Taako was kind of trapped under it, and Kravitz had offered to stay out here with him, since he tried not to take Queen into many stores anyway.

“Hey,” Taako said while they were waiting, and it was a little amusing looking over at him, since it was hard to see anything but his head poking out above the greenery. Taako apparently could tell he thought something like that, his expression turning into a pout. “What’s that face for?”

“You look like you're 95% bush right now,” Kravitz said, and Taako rolled his eyes.

“Yeah yeah, it’s hilarious, all this beauty blocked by plant. Anyway cha’ boy is trying to say something,” he said.

“I’m not the one who interrupted you,” Kravitz said.

“Whatever. Anyway, like I was trying to say before you rudely interrupted me, uh, thanks. For going along with all of this and being cool about all the weird junk we’re putting you through,” he said, and Kravitz was kind of surprised at how sincere he sounded. It wasn't that he thought Taako couldn't be sincere, but it still took him off guard whenever he was.

“You don’t have to thank me, it’s honestly been a delight. Definitely more fun than I would’ve had otherwise,” he said, and it was true. It was all a little strange and out of his comfort zone, but he definitely didn’t mind the chance to be a bit theatrical, or the chance to spend time with Taako.

“Alright, cool. Well, I still majorly owe you after this, so ya know, if you ever need help breaking the arms of anyone who’s not like, basically my dad, hit me up,” Taako said.

“You know I don’t go around casually breaking people’s arms in my free time, right?” he said, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, no I figured it was only when you were on the job or whatever, but if your boss won’t yell at you for bringing in some outside help offer’s open,” Taako said and Kravitz couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“I can’t make any promises,” he said, and Taako shrugged, not seeming put off by that any. “So, if you owe me, do you think you could tell me what you’re planning to use six Candlenights bushes disguised as one for?” he asked. Taako shook his head, ducking further underneath the amalgam of bushes for good measure.

“Well first of all, it's seven Candlenights bushes stacked on top of each other. Second of all, nope, no can do homeslice. You’re gonna have to wait and see like everyone else,” he said, and Kravitz pouted right back at him.

“No fair,” he complained, Taako lifting his head up just enough to stick his tongue out at him.

“If you two are making out time to stop, we got the decorations,” Lup said, sliding back into the car, a bag of what was presumably the items for the Candlenights bush in her hand.

“Uh, you know we’re not actually dating, right?” Kravitz said, trying not to look too embarrassed. He didn't have any reason to be embarrassed, the two of them weren't doing anything.

“Yeah Lup, shut the fuck up,” Taako snapped, hiding back inside of the bushes again. She just rolled her eyes as Barry started driving them back to the house.

During the ride back, Kravitz could swear that Taako kept looking at him through the bush, although he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why.

Chapter Text

Taako was quiet for the rest of the way back to the house, and not because he was embarrassed by any dumb junk Lup said. It was annoying to try to hold a conversation when trapped behind a bush. Sure Kravitz thought it was funny but it did make it difficult to talk to Lup and Barry up front.

Once they got back Taako threw a bright smile into his face as Lup helped him carry the bush inside. It wasn’t all that heavy, but it was better for them to keep it from falling apart that way. Taako couldn’t help but grin even wider at the brief flash of annoyance that ran across their uncle Daelar’s face at the sight of them. He’d been walking through the front room at the perfect time to see them all come bursting into the house.

“We’re back!” Lup announced loudly, and at that Taako could hear people moving in the other room now. A few moments later Seransie came into the front room, her smile looking rather forced at the sight of the bush they’d brought back. Made sense, she’s specifically asked for something fake after all.

“So, they were totally out of fake ones like you asked, but we managed to get a steal on this one. It’s a little lumpy but considering the options we had it’d pretty damn good,” Taako explained happily before she could say anything about it. She nodded after a moment, seeming to accept that answer well enough. It could be true after all, the only issue was that they never checked the fake ones to begin with.

“Did you figure out a place for us to set it up?” Lup asked, keeping up the excited tone.

“Yes, ah, over in this corner by the window I think would work wonderfully. Daelar, be a dear and move those chairs,” Seransie said, their uncle picking up the decorative chairs in the corner of the dining room to move them out of the way. As he lifted one up in just sort of fell apart in his arms, and Taako had to keep himself from snorting in laughter. He guessed not all of Lup’s deconstructed seats had been deployed after all.

“Well shoot, lemme help you with that,” Kravitz said, moving to help pick up the pieces of the broken chair that their uncle was staring at in defeat. He was speaking in an accent again, and fuck that was still glorious. Taako has thought that shit was hilarious when he used in their acting class, this was a whole other level he hadn’t been prepared for.

Once all the chairs and chair pieces had been picked up and put away Taako and Lup placed the bush down, carefully setting it up to look as normal as possible. A couple of their other relatives had come into the room at this point, watching for lack of anything better to do. No one actually seemed interested in helping any, which was both helpful and exactly what Taako had expected.

“We picked up some decorations on the way too, so don’t even worry,” Lup said, taking the bag of decorations from Barry. He was rearranging the items on a shelf and not paying attention to any of them as he stacked cups and figurines on top of each other. As they wrapped garland and ribbons around the bush it was starting to look more and more like a completely normal Candlenights bush. Hell, it was starting to look kind of nice, even. Never let it be said and he and Lup couldn’t make anything pretty with enough work.

Taako started pulling the little candle holders that clipped onto the bush out of their cases, letting Lup place them around the shrub. They didn’t light any of the actual candles yet though, they could do that once everything was set up.

“See how nice this is auntie? I mean, just because you’re what, six hundred, six-fifty now? That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy Candlenights traditions. Young at heart and all that jazz,” Taako said, having to fight to keep his face straight at the unimaginably offended look that crossed Seransie’s face.

“I am not six hundred,” she huffed.

“Oh don’t worry dear, you don’t look a day over five hundred,” Lup assured her. From the flabbergasted open mouth and the quiet ‘hmp!’ as she turned to leave the room, Taako was pretty sure his estimate of her actually being around 450 was right on the money.

Taako took a step back once they were done decorating the bush, and it really did look kind of nice. Lup knelt back down next to the bush pulled out a lighter slightly larger than they needed and started lighting the candles. Taako couldn’t tell if she’d brought those when her and Barry ran into the store, or if she had it on her and had been waiting for a chance to whip them out. Both options were equally likely.

“See, doesn’t that look nice?” Lup said as she took a step back from their work.

“It’s very pretty dears,” aunt Haelin said, not seeming to pay much attention. No one seemed to care much, and neither of them protested when people started gravitating out of the room after that. The conversation shifted to more boring small talk Taako could only barely be payed to even pretend to be interested in. It didn’t last too terribly long though, after a couple minutes the smell of smoke and burning started wafting in from the other room, the talking dying down as people began to notice.

“Is that coming from the kitchen? There's nothing cooking,” Seransie asked, sounding uncertain. Uncle Vividar stood up and glanced into the other room before shaking his head with a frown.

“No, it’s not from in here,” he said. Taako shared what he hoped was a concerned look with Lup.

“You don’t think…” she started, and Taako quickly shook his head.

“No, noooo. I mean, we made sure it was far enough away from the curtains, right?” he asked. There was another brief moment before several people scrambled to their feet and ran towards the foyer where they’d set up the Candlenights bush.

The bush was perfectly in tack, all of the little candles flickering away with no sign of harm.

The long curtain that was hanging on the window next to the candlenights bush however, was engulfed about halfway up the wall in flames. Taako had seen Lup quickly and effortlessly run the lighter underneath it, catching the tiniest corner while setting lighting the candles.

There were a few long seconds while everyone just sort of stared in shock. Then the fire alarm started going off, nearly fucking comical in how delayed the thing was. Taako was real afraid he was going to lose it then and there, but then fucking Barry broke before he could, snorting in laughter.

“Sorry, nervous laugh. Should maybe someone stop the fire or are we all just, like, cool with that?” he said, and that finally seemed to get people’s brains working again. Uncle Daelar and Vividar both ran to the kitchen, coming back with pots of water that they threw onto the fire. Zinlen and Themis both started moving as many flammable items away from the area as possible. Or any items really, they seemed a little too panicked to be careful about it. Honestly it wasn’t that big of a blaze yet all things considered, it didn’t seem like it would take too long to get under control.

“I’m gonna get Queen away from the smoke,” Kravitz said after a moment, starting to back out of the room.

“Oh nooo, poor baby! How is she? Is she okay?” Taako asked, following after him and making sure to seem way more fucking concerned about the bird than the potential of the entire house around them burning to the ground. Which to be fair, he absolutely was. By far his least difficult act to sell yet.

“She’s fine dear, no need to worry,” Kravitz assured him, sitting down on the couch. Taako sat down next to him, giving the raven a little scratch on the head. It was a good spot to watch people continue to run back and fourth from the front room to the kitchen with pots of water. Taako was pretty sure they were going overboard, the fire was basically out by the time he left.

“I think we might be veering dangerously close to getting kicked out with this one,” Kravitz whispered to him when they were alone in the room for the moment, dropping the ridiculous accent. Taako snorted, trying to keep his laughter quiet enough that no one in the other room could hear.

“I mean, if we get kicked out before Candlenights proper Lup owes me fifteen dollars. You’re welcome to stick with us for the rest of the break if that happens though,” he whispered back. Taako tried to tell himself that they were only sitting so close together because it made it easier to hear while having to talk so quietly. Plus if anyone came into the room they looked like a cutesy couple and not like a they were planning to burn a house down.

“I might have to take you up on that offer,” Kravitz said, and damn it. The idea of fucking off and spending the rest of Candlenights with Kravitz and Lup and Barry and forget about finishing up the whole revenge plan shouldn’t be that tempting.

“Hey lovebirds, the fire got put out. Took the candles off of the bush too just to be safe,” Lup announced, poking her head into the room to tell the two of them. Taako could see her looking them both over for a moment, before a smile flashed across her face. It wasn’t a smile about how well they’ve managed to fuck with everyone here so far either, although he knew that no one besides him and Barry could make that distinction. Either way, he did not appreciate the look.

“Yeah, no that’s probably for the best,” he said, pointedly ignoring the look she was giving him. She nodded and headed back into the foyer. Kravitz gave a sudden little snort of laughter next to him, and Taako wasn’t sure why. “What’s so funny my dude?”

“Uh, lovebirds,” he said, holding up Queen slightly and at least he had the decency to look ashamed for laughing at that. Taako let his head fall onto Kravitz’s shoulder in an exaggerated display of utter defeat.

“Holy fucking shit, you are such a dork,” he said, and at that Kravitz just smiled unashamed. Fucking ridiculous.

A little reluctantly Taako pushed himself up off of the couch to go survey the damage. They’d opened all the windows in the room, causing a steep chill to blow inside, but starting to filter out the smell of smoke and fire. There were burn marks up the side of the wall where the curtain had caught, and all the little candles they’d stuck on the bush were sitting scattered and blown out on an end table. About half of the curtain that had caught on fire remained, a good portion of it left charred black and dripping wet where they’d doused the flames.

“God, we’re just so sorry, we didn’t realize the curtains were that close at all,” Taako said as he came in, trying his best to sound sincere. Even if the idea of getting kicked out early was kind of appealing, he wasn’t a quitter.

“It’s fine,” Seransie said, sounding almost physically strained. “I should have realized the candles were a poor choice,” she added. There was a silent ‘with you two around’ that she didn’t say out loud, but was very clearly there.

“At least it got put out before anyone got hurt,” Lup said, to some halfhearted sounding mumbles of agreement. After a moment Seransie took a deep breath and seemed to pull herself together somewhat.

“Well, that was certainly something. Why doesn’t everyone relax some, I’m going to go get a start on dinner,” she said, forcing as much cheer into her voice before bolting from the room as fast as possible. Taako had a distinct feeling that a trip to the liquor cabinet was happening before dinner was.

There was a short moment where everyone seemed unsure of what to do, and then Barry casually walked over to the burned remains of the curtain.

“Hey, you don’t like, need this anymore right? It cool if I take it?” he asked, glancing over at their uncle.

“Why in the world do you need a god damned, burnt up-” Daelar started to snap before taking a very strained breath. “Whatever. Really don’t want to know. Take it,” he growled before leaving the room in a huff as well. People started to awkwardly shuffle out at that, and Barry did fucking meticulously remove the burned piece of fabric from the curtain rod. He left the unmarred one hanging on the other side, and the whole thing was goddamn inscrutable.

They took it easy for the rest of the evening with that. Taako knew Lup had been looking forward to setting something on fire since they started planning this, so that whole fiasco would hold her over for now. Instead they kept things simple, just little comments here and there. Insisting to have Queen at the table during dinner, people continuing to be befuddled by Krav not letting go of the accent at all (but having a real hard time sticking to a consistent one), and letting Zinlen know that they totally thought he could make it in politics. You didn’t need charisma or a platform at all now a days, he should be fine.

Despite that, Taako was pretty thoroughly exhausted by the time Kravitz and him went and shut themselves in their guest room.

“Well, that was certainly a day,” Kravitz said, going to take a seat on the bed so he could take off his shoes. Taako snorted in laughter, earning him a confused look from Kravitz.

“You’re still using the accent my guy,” he helpfully informed him, a look of embarrassment immediately falling over Kravitz’s face.

“Fuck,” he muttered, back in his regular voice and Taako full out laughed at that one. “I guess I got used to using it,” he added sheepishly. Taako stopped his snickering and nodded.

“Yeah man, fucking method acting that shit, I can dig it,” be said before yawning loudly. He hadn’t meant to, but that shit snuck up on him. It’d been a long day.

“Have you made any consideration towards taking the bed this time? You did say you’d keep me posted on that,” Kravitz asked. Taako actually had to consider that now. He’d been meditating, which was fine, he could get by with meditating. Or at least, he could if he was getting the full four hours like he was supposed to. Maybe he was skimping out on it some, but he hated meditating here, especially without Lup in the room.

He was tired, and they weren’t leaving until the morning after Candlenights, so they still had another whole night there. That didn’t change the fact that it’d be shitty to kick Kravitz out of the bed when he was the one who actually needed it.

“Yeah, alright,” he said, coming to a split second decision he hoped he wouldn’t regret. Doubted he would regret. Kravitz looked like he was about to get up off the bed, but before he could Taako went over and slung an arm around him, collapsing them both back onto the bed. It left Taako partially on top of him with Kravitz on his back, laughing in what sounded like amused bewilderment. Fuck, he was cute.

“Taako, I can give you the bed, it’s fine,” he said, but Taako shook his head. Neither of them had changed out of their clothes yet, but whatever. Taako was too tired to care.

“Nope, method acting,” he mumbled.

“What?” Kravitz asked, clearly having no fucking idea what he was talking about.

“No questions, sleeping now,” Taako said, not actually answering his question in the slightest. He could feel more than hear Kravitz chuckle against him at that non-answer. Which was nice. This whole thing was a lot nicer than it had any right to be, legally or whatever.

“Um, Taako?” Kravitz asked after a moment, his voice quiet. Taako was so hoping he wasn’t going to like, ask about or question this in any way. He wasn’t sure what to say if he did. Probably play it off as a joke or something. That's how he usually fixed these things.

“Hmm?” he hummed sleepily, not moving any to look at him or anything like that.

“I kind of need to get up to turn off the light,” he said and oh shit, right. Even if both of them managed to pass out with the light on Taako was pretty sure like, birds didn’t like that. Maybe. He knew people throw blankets over their cages or something sometimes, but Queen didn’t have a cage, at least not here.

“Oh, right, sure thing,” he said, rolling over to let Kravitz up. After a few seconds the lights switched off, and Taako half expected Kravitz to go curl up in the chair now that he was free of Taako being a fucking weirdo. Then he felt a weight on the bed and Kravitz getting situated next to him, and it wasn’t quite as touchy as when Taako had pretty much draped himself over the dude, but there still wasn’t a lot of room on the bed.

“You’re sure this is alright?” Kravitz asked quietly, sounding all uncertain and hesitant. It was cute.

“Fucking perfect, don’t even fret,” he mumbled. He was pretty sure Kravitz didn’t say anything after that, but Taako passed out pretty quickly so if he did, it wasn’t like he’d know.

Taako groaned when someone started shaking him awake, because it was too fucking early. Any time that involved involuntarily being woken up was too early of a time. Before he could grumble and tell whoever it was to fuck off he heard Lup shushing him, which Taako wasn’t about to argue with when half asleep. Reluctantly he opened his eyes and Lup was standing above his bed with the biggest shit eating grin on her face. He didn’t have the slightest idea why for a moment, before he realized there was an arm around him and he somehow ended up sprawled on top of Kravitz again.

“Lup what the fuck,” he hissed at her, and he could feel his face was bright fucking red and this was awful. She only went and shushed him again because apparently sibling solidarity meant nothing to her anymore.

“Shhh dude, you’ll wake your boy. Untangle yourself and meet me downstairs,” she said before turning and leaving the room without any other explanation. Well, he didn’t actually need it now that he remembered what was going down. With a sigh Taako carefully pulled himself out of bed, making sure not to wake Kravitz in the process. The dude deserved to get more rest, Taako sure wished he could. They’d both fallen asleep in their clothes from yesterday, but Taako didn’t bother changing before heading down. He could do that after he helped Lup out.

“Morning sleepyhead,” Lup said, and Taako wasn’t surprised to find her out in the front room, carefully taking the garland off of the bush monstrosity. “Sorry to pull you away, that sure looked comfy,” she added, that dumb knowing grin back. Damn it, Taako didn’t like being on this end of it. It was real fun when he was teasing Lup back before her and Barry got together, but this was horrible.

“Eh, was getting tired of meditating in the chair,” he grumbled, taking the garland as she handed it off to him.

“Mhmm, and how many nights did you last in the chair exactly?” she asked, and Taako put the garland on the end table to sit down and help her start dismantling the carefully constructed bush.

“All the nights. Except for last night I guess. Hey, can we maybe not?” he asked, but Lup was shaking her head.

“We kinda gotta,” she answered and Taako huffed. They’d managed to get one of the tiny bushes out with minimal damage to it. Taako set it off to the side before starting work on the next one.

“It’s not a big deal, he kept offering because he felt bad for taking up the bed every night, and cha’ boy was tried as fuck. Neither of us changed out of our clothes even,” he said, and it wasn’t like he was lying. Lup could just see through his shit a lot better than that. Sure, the trade off was that he could see through her shit, but right now it didn’t feel worth it.

“Right, right, so are you gonna wait until we get home to ask him out for real, or are you gonna do it today? You know, if you do it today you wouldn’t have been lying about your anniversary being on Candlenights,” Lup said. Taako had to resist the urge to shout into the third tiny bush he’d just freed, mainly because that wouldn’t actually muffle shit.

“I mean, I’m not going to ask him out, so none of the above,” he said, and they’d managed to get the last of the mini-bushes out of the stick buddy. Taako started putting that one back where it'd been before, trying to set it up as close to identical as it had been.

“Koko,” she sighed, but he shook his head, starting to speak before she could continue.

“Nope, don’t Koko me. Do you know long it took you and Barold to get together? Do you remember?” he asked, starting to put the decorations back onto the skeleton stick bush that was left as Lup started gathering up all the little guys.

“I mean, I don’t really know what that has to do with this,” she started, but Taako cut her off again.

“Three years! That’s how long it took. I had to deal with you two sighing longingly and making goo-goo eyes and ‘oh Taako, I don’t know, what if it’s not the right time’-ing at me for that entire goddamn time. Now you get to deal with me being the stupid one,” he said. The bush looked utterly ridiculous now, all sticks with garland and little decorations hanging off of the twigs.

“So, you’re admitting that you’re just being stupid and you do like him?” she asked, and god, why did his sister have to be so smart and understand people all good and shit. Even with him, and he barely counted as a person.

“Okay maybe, but like, that was a bad comparison, because Barold was hopelessly into you and I doubt Krav likes-”

“Oh my god Taako don’t even fucking complete that sentence. I know you’re not that dumb,” Lup cut him off. Taako finished decorating the poor excuse for a Candlenights bush and turned back towards Lup, who was heading into the living room with her arms full of bushes. He followed after her, watching as she sat down and got the fireplace open.

“Kravitz doesn’t like me,” he said, because it was probably true and also Lup told him not to say it.

“Taako. What person would agree at the drop of a hat to be someone’s fake date for nearly a whole week. Would dress up as a weird goth and do a dumb accent to torment some people they’ve never met, for someone who’s previous encounters included that person nearly taking their goddamn eye out with a plastic squid, if they weren’t kinda into that person,” she said. She’d started jamming the bushes up into the chimney until they were out of sight. He handed her the next one whenever she seemed satisfied that they weren’t going to fall.

“Someone really cool who could do better than some elven dumpster fire,” Taako mumbled. Damn it, he didn’t want to have like, actual emotions about this. It was a dumb on a cute boy who ended up being a lot funnier and sweeter and all around more pleasant than Taako had prepared for.

“Oh no, don’t even start with that,” Lup said, finishing stuffing the last one up there and turning back towards him. “He brought his bird here and lets you tote it around like it’s your baby,” she added.

“Hey, don’t say shit about Queen. If I do end up dating this guy it’ll be 50 percent so that I can have unlimited access to the bird,” Taako said, only partially joking.

“I’m not saying anything about Queen, she’s a very good bird,” Lup said, and Taako nodded, satisfied with that. “Look, if you wanna take shit slow I really can’t say shit, considering everything. But like, Kravitz actually seems like a legitimately cool dude and I'm pretty damn sure he’s crazy for you,” she said. Taako pouted, and he wanted to argue but only grumbled and shrugged after a moment.

“I mean, I’m Taako. Who wouldn’t be?” he mumbled. “Anyway, are we done here or what?” he asked, and Lup seemed to think it over for a minute, looking around at the room and the fireplace and such.

“Let’s open all the windows, only a crack,” she said, and Taako nodded, both of them heading out to edge open every window they could find on the bottom floor. By the time they were done the rooms were already starting to get significantly colder. It was still dark outside and would be another hour at least until anyone else woke up, so it’d probably get freezing pretty quick.

“Alright, you can get back to sleeping now lazybones,” Lup said, the two starting back upstairs. The cold hadn’t reached up there yet, which was good. The longer it took anyone to notice the better.

“Yeah, yeah alright, you sleep too,” he said before heading back into the guest room. Queen looked up at him as he entered the room, but seemed content to go back to sleep after a few head pets, which Taako was perfectly willing to give.

Taako considered heading to the chair and resting there for a bit, but he didn’t want Kravitz to think he got weirded out by him or something in the middle of the night. So instead he tried to crawl into bed without waking Kravitz. Despite his best attempt as he was pulling some of the blanket back over himself he felt Kravitz shift towards him, squinting in the darkness.

“Somethin’ wrong?” he mumbled sleepily, looking like he was trying to blink himself awake some.

“Nope, was just helping Lup set up a thing. Get some more Zs my dude,” Taako told him, Kravitz nodding before yawning and lying back down completely. Taako thought he was passed out almost instantly, but then one of his arms reached out and wrapped around him and okay that didn’t disprove him being asleep. If anything it was more evidence for it, because there was no reason for him to do that if he was awake.

It felt nice though, so whatever. Taako wasn’t going to complain.

Chapter Text

When Kravitz woke up the first thing he noticed was the fact that he wasn’t alone in the bed, and that the other figure was pretty well wrapped up with him. After a moment he remembered Taako choosing to share the bed last night, and right, okay that made sense. This was probably a bit more contact than either of them had been anticipating though, so he should let go and get up.

Before he could though he felt Taako shifting and waking up against him, and he was left waiting for it to get awkward. When Taako pulled back somewhat though he either didn’t mind or was still too tired to. Instead of looking embarrassed or annoyed he just smiled sleepily and that, that wasn’t fair at all.

“Happy Candlenights m’dude,” he mumbled before pulling away a bit more to yawn, and Kravitz took that as a chance to start untangling himself as well. It somehow hadn’t gotten weird yet and he didn’t want to risk that changing. "Or not so happy, depending on who you are," he added.

“Right, I nearly forgot that Candlenights was still happening with everything else going on,” he joked.

“Well it sure is, now let’s see if we can get this Candlenights even more memorable than last years, huh?” Taako said, sitting up and stretching his arms up above his head. Kravitz was pretty sure he had no right looking so nice in rumpled clothes from the day before.

“Shouldn’t be too difficult a task for you, you’re nothing if not memorable,” Kravitz said. There was a smile on Taako’s face that he couldn’t quite place, and then he went and started digging through one of his bags of clothes.

“Damn right I’m memorable. Anyway, we should get the show on the road. Dress warm, alright?” he said, and Kravitz figured it was best not to ask why Taako would specify that. He left the room with a pile of clothes in his arms, probably to go get ready in the bathroom. Kravitz took the hint and started getting dressed as well, throwing yesterday’s clothes into his bag. There were a few wrapped presents he’d thrown in there before coming here as well that he grabbed. Most of those he left out on the vanity while he fed Queen her breakfast, but one he slipped into his pocket. It wasn’t a big deal if he didn’t make it into one.

Taako took a bit longer to come back than Kravitz expected. He was close to going out and seeing if everything was okay when Taako finally came back into the room,trying and failing to muffle his laughter. He somehow managed to look even more amazing than he had the rest of the week, and Kravitz wasn’t sure if it was his outfit or the fancy up-do his hair was in or the pure delight on his face.

“Don’t tell me I’m missing out on the fun already,” Kravitz said, Taako shaking his head as he started to control the giggles.

“Nah my dude, nah. I mean, Lup and I set a few things up last night, but that’s all preliminary shit. Just went to go check on her and Barold was all, they fucking knocked a hole into the drywall with their headboard,” Taako explained. Kravitz found himself laughing helplessly as well.

“You know, it kind of scares me how good they are at this,” he said, Taako smiling proudly at that.

“Yeah, aren’t they great?” he asked, nothing but obvious affection in his voice for them. “Anyway, what’cha got there? Tell me it’s terrible,” Taako asked, taking notice of the couple of small wrapped packages he’d left out.

“Well, they’re supposed to be so I hope so. Also, I didn’t exactly bring enough for everyone, so that should be fun,” Kravitz said, Taako’s smile getting even wider at that.

“Fucking perfect. Alright, let’s get down there and show everyone how Candlenights is really done,” Taako said, sounding nearly giddy to get everything started. Kravitz didn’t have any idea what things they all had planned for today, but he found himself more excited than nervous. Gathering up the gifts, he let Taako lead him downstairs by the arm, and as they walked he started to have an idea of why Taako had told him to dress warm.

“God, it’s, shit, I mean it’s freezing,” he said, only remembering after a moment to speak in the accent. Well, he was pretty sure everyone knew it was fake anyway, fucking up only made the whole insistence on it being real even more ridiculous.

“Yeah, uh aunty, did the heat break or something last night? Fuck it’s cold,” Taako asked the very frustrated looking woman messing with the thermostat. Kravitz had no doubt that he was behind this, although he was curious if they’d actually managed to break the heater while everyone was asleep, or if they’d just turned it off or something.

“Daelar is checking it out now dear,” she said , not bothering to look over at them.

“Okay, well let us know if you need any help. Krav, let’s put those under the bush for now,” Taako said, and Kravitz followed him out to where the Candlenights bush was. He had to keep himself from bursting out laughing at the sight of it. There were a few presents underneath it that others must’ve put there, but the thing was completely bare.

“What did you do with the rest of it?” he whispered, going over and putting the packets down under the decorated pile of sticks.

“I don’t have the slightest clue what you mean babe,” Taako answered simply, and okay, that meant they were going to show up at some point in the near future. Once the presents were under what remained of the bush they went back into the living room. Most everyone else seemed to be up and awake at this point, and everyone looked miserable and freezing. Kravitz was pretty sure the cold and their ruse were the reasons why Taako cuddled up against him. The reason he’d settled Queen in his lap was because he liked the bird. Kravitz couldn’t fault him for that in the slightest.

“The heater’s fine,” Daelar said as he came into the room, sounding beyond frustrated.

“It’s freezing, it’s clearly not fine,” their aunt snapped back at him, and now Kravitz was even more curious about how they managed to get the house so cold.

“Holy fuck it’s cold as balls,” Lup said, walking into the room with a large blanket wrapped around her. For a second Kravitz thought Barry was also huddled up in a blanket, but no. The fabric wrapped around him was in the style of a cloak or the cape Kravitz had brought. It reached to about his knees and the bottom of it was charred black and damaged at the end.

He was wearing the burned curtain as a cloak, and it looked like he even did a bit of sewing to allow it to fall correctly and fold over his head as a proper hood. A hood he had up, by the way. Other than that he was still wearing the same pair of jeans and ‘Necromancy is just Extreme Recycling’ shirt he’d been wearing for the past few days.

“Language dear,” Seransie said, and when she turned towards them it also seemed to take her a moment to comprehend Barry Bluejeans. Or comprehend as much as a mortal being could. She seemed at a loss for what to say for a moment, and then shook her head, like trying to say anything about it was a losing battle. “We’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with the heat,” she said finally.

“Well, let us know if you need any help,” Lup said, pretty much exactly repeating what her brother had said. Her and Barry sat down on the love seat, Barry very careful of his new cloak. It seemed like at this point everyone was trying to ignore him as much as possible.

“Maybe we could get the fire place going until we figure out what’s wrong?” Larniya suggested, and it was hard not to laugh at the way Lup perked up at the idea, especially considering the result of her last use of fire was wrapped around her boyfriend’s shoulders as a very odd fashion statement.

“That’s a great idea, let me help,” she said, and it was almost comical the way everyone else started shutting that idea down immediately.

“No, no it’s fine. You stay there and let us do it, alright?” Daelar said, Lup seeming rather disappointed by that but not going to argue over it.

“Yeah alright, let me know if you change your mind,” she said, slumping back down in the chair.

“We won’t,” Kravitz heard their uncle Vividar mumble under his breath as he walked over to the fireplace and started getting it ready. After a few moments of casually watching him start up the flames Kravitz felt Taako pull away from him, standing up from the couch.

“I’m gonna go grab a blanket, okay babe?” he said, and Kravitz nodded.

“You can leave Queen here if you want,” he offered, but Taako shook his head, already starting out of the room.

“Nope, she’s my space heater now,” he said, and Kravitz couldn’t help the fond smile on his face at that. Queen for her part seemed perfectly content snuggled up against a warm body and allowed herself to be carried back upstairs.

“Kravitz, you wear capes,” Barry said suddenly, and Kravitz turned back from where he’d been watching Taako leave the room like he’d been caught with his hand in a metaphorical cookie jar. He processed what Barry had actually said after a moment and nodded casually.

“Yes, I like what you’ve done with the curtain by the way. A cloak is very different from a cape of course, but they’re both excellent fashion choices,” Kravitz said.

“Yeah, I was thinking about cutting the burned ends off, but I think that takes away some of the charm,” Barry said. It would’ve been the most normal sounding opinion he’d shared since they’d gotten here if it wasn’t for the fact that he was talking about a burned piece of curtain he’d transformed into a cloak.

“The scorch marks make it seem like there’s a story there, I’d keep them,” Kravitz told him. This whole conversation was probably one of the more ridiculous ones he’d ever had in his life, which made the way they were both trying to be completely serious about it even better. Plus the awkward discomfort it was leaving everyone else in was rather fantastic.

By now their uncle had managed to work up a rather large fire, which was fighting the bitter cold somewhat. Kravitz didn’t notice the excess cackling for a fire that size at first. He might not have noticed it at all if it wasn’t for the way Lup seemed very expectant, glancing over at the flames every so often. No one else seemed to realize her looks though, which was a good thing. After a few more moments of the flame burning there was a loud crack, a shower of sparks falling down from somewhere higher up in the chimney. Then the sound of something large inside of it completely engulfing in flames, and a rush of wind as cold air was sucked up into the chimney, fueling the fire as people screamed and backed up in confusion and fear.

Slowly the fire seemed to die down, and the air currents stopped. Bits of unidentifiable matter fell into the much smaller flame still burning in the regular spot a fire was supposed to be in. Kravitz had a guess as to what it could be, but even still the whole thing was surprising enough that he didn’t have to fake much for the look of shock on his face.

The sound of footsteps running down the stairs came quick enough, and Taako barged back into the room. He had a blanket around his shoulders and Queen looked a bit puffed up and irritated in his arms.

“What happened? I heard screaming and shit,” he asked, pulling off confused and concerned pretty damn well.

“Yes, what happened?” Seransie snapped, turning towards Vividar and Kravitz supposed that made sense. He was the one to start the fireplace after all.

“How am I supposed to know? When was the last time you cleaned that damn thing? Some animal must’ve nested in it and caught on fire or something,” he argued, and Kravitz was impressed. He didn’t think the twins could get them to turn on each other, but he supposed he really shouldn’t underestimate those two.

“Hey, hey now, let’s all calm down,” Lup said, jumping up from her spot on the couch. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault, let’s just be glad that no one was hurt,” she continued. It was kind of hilarious considering how certain Kravitz was that it was at least half her fault. The other half of fault had come back over, handing him the slightly frazzled looking bird in his arms.

“I think she got spooked by the noise,” Taako said, sounding genuinely apologetic.

“It’s alright,” Kravitz said, trying to reassure both Taako and the bird. Queen was already starting to calm down, even if she was still a bit irritated by the whole display.

“Why don’t we go hand out presents? That should be fun and get everyone’s mind off of the cold,” Lup suggested before anyone could start another fuss. Their aunt nodded reluctantly, still seeming peeved by the whole issue with the fireplace.

“Alright, that might be a good idea,” she said, and everyone moved into the other room without much fuss. It was even colder in there, and Taako was practically huddled into his side. Kravitz was pretty sure the only reason he wasn’t complaining mercilessly was because everyone else was forced to suffer along with him.

“Does anyone know what happened to the bush?” Lup asked when they came in, sounding mildly disappointed.

“You must have brought a dying one,” their aunt Haelin said, even though that didn’t make any sense. If no one else was going to think it through then Kravitz certainly wasn’t going to bring it up. The confused acceptance they’d grown to have at this point was rather amusing.

“Okay, Lup, Taako, these two are for you,” Seransie said, pulling two identical looking packages out from under the skeletal bush. Lup grabbed her own present, handing it over to the woman.

“And this one is for you and uncle Daelar, I so hope you like it,” she said. The twins quickly opened their gifts, a pair of decorative candles that were made to look expensive when they actually weren’t. Kravitz may or may not have known that due to owning a few himself.

“Well, these are just lovely,” Taako said, said, a clear disinterested tone in his voice, setting the candle down almost immediately. Candles on candlenights weren’t exactly the most original or interesting gift in the world. Kravitz couldn’t blame him if that reaction wasn’t exaggerated at all, even if he was a bit fond of that particular brand.

Their aunt opened up the present Lup had handed her, revealing two dreadfully hideous scarves. The base color was a garish yellowish-green that wasn’t pleasing to look at in the slightest, and there were these cartoon dancing candle designs running down them. Kravitz had no idea where they even managed to find something that bad. It was quite possible that they had to make them.

“Oh, they’re… cute,” Seransie said finally, clearly trying to hide her outright disgust with the items.

“Aren’t they? It’s so cold, why don’t you put them on?” Taako suggested, and it was almost a little too obvious how much joy he was getting out of this.

“I don’t know,” Their aunt started, clearly trying to think of some excuse not to put on the hideous thing.

“Aw, do you not like them?” Lup asked, starting to pout and their aunt shook her head after a bit too much hesitation.

“Of course I like it dear,” she said, reluctantly putting on the scarf and telling her husband to do the same. Presents continued to get passed out, each one about as bland and impersonal as the last. Every single one of their family members got an exact replica of the same horribly unappealing scarf, and somehow each time they managed to talk the person into wearing them it got more ridiculous.

After a bit Kravitz got up and grabbed the presents he’d brought, and there were only three of them.

“Well, I wasn’t sure how many to bring so I don’t have enough for everyone, so uh, you get one, you, and you,” he said, handing one to their grandfather, who’d seemed to spend pretty much this entire visit asleep, Zinlen, and Haelin. He didn’t say any sort of reasoning for why he chose who he did, figuring it was a bit more fun to leave them wondering. The truth of the matter was that they seemed to be the ones who were the least horrible to Taako and Lup when they were kids, even if that wasn’t saying much. A crappy present was a bit better than no present at all, so it fit.

“Oh, what’s this?” Haelin asked, trying to look interested in the disk she’d unwrapped.

“Just some music I’ve made, nothing special,” he said, and Taako instantly perked up at that.

“Aw, babe that’s so sweet of you! Krav’s music is fucking divine, we should play it,” he said. Kravitz was very aware of the fact that Taako had never heard any music he’d made, and was fairly certain he didn’t even know that was an interest he had. The gifting was starting to die down and it seemed like everyone was still looking for something to occupy the time, so it didn’t take much convincing to play the music.

It was awful. Kravitz had made sure it was awful when he made it, trying to get as grating as possible while still sounding like a genuine attempt at making music. Taako’s smile didn’t die down at all as the music played.

“Isn’t he so talented?” he asked, and Kravitz was impressed with his ability to continue to sound genuine.

“It’s certainly something,” Zinlen said, looking in apprehension at his own copy. They turned it off pretty quickly after that, making some excuse about it being ‘lovely but not quite in the Candlenights mood.’

Kravitz wasn’t too sure what was going to happen next. There was some awkward small talk and then a large breakfast was made that Taako criticized for lack of seasonings, and then more boring small talk. The house was still freezing, and their uncle had attempted to call someone about the heater, but it was Candlenights, so there was no way anyone was coming. From the delighted look on Taako’s face he saw when no one else was looking, Kravitz was pretty sure it wasn’t the heater.

“Hey. Uh, hey, can everyone shut up for a minute?” Barry said suddenly, which considering the fact that he’d been basically silent since their conversation about his new cloak was a little surprising. It was also almost immediately effective, all the forced small talk coming to a halt. “Cool, it worked,” he said, and Kravitz thought for a second that was it, which would’ve been admittedly hilarious.

Then he stood up, and his cloak didn’t quite billow out behind him, considering the way it was burned and stiff at the bottom, but it still gave the whole scene a very surreal effect as he walked to stand in front of Lup.

“Right, so Lup, I would kneel and all, but a couple years ago I broke my knee and my doctor said I should avoid doing strenuous activities like that. Did I ever tell you that story? I was rock climbing, or well not rock climbing like the actual sport, but there were rocks and climbing involved. I was in my back yard. I should show you the spot sometime, anyway,” Barry started to ramble, and at this point absolutely everyone was staring at him in utter confusing.

“So yeah, I would kneel, but I got a bad knee, so I’m gonna stand instead. I guess you can kneel if you want, but anyway wanna get married?” he asked, and there was a beat where you could hear a pin drop. Slowly a smile started to spread across Lup’s face and tears welled up in her eyes before she started nodding her head vigorously.

“Of course! Yes, yes absolutely!” Lup said, jumping up and wrapping her arms around his neck as she practically tackled him in a hug, and for her part she really did sound overjoyed. An uncertain clapping started to build up around them as everyone seemed to realize they should react in some way. Most likely a vaguely positive way. Barry pulled back from the hug enough to pull out a small ring box, and Kravitz couldn’t see too many details of the actual ring, other than the fact that it definitely wasn’t a traditional diamond ring. Instead it was some red gem, and at least from a distance it looked rather beautiful and legitimate.

“Oh, congratulations dear,” their aunt Seransie said, still sounding like she had very little idea on how to feel about this. The fact that none of them particularly liked or were comfortable around Barry was clear as day. There was a vague sense of dread over everyone at the idea of him being around permanently.

“How long have you two been dating?” Haelin asked, and somehow the absolute delight that flashed over Lup’s face at that question still didn’t prepare Kravitz for the answer.

“Three weeks!” Lup and Barry answered in unison, and Kravitz saw Taako’s hands immediately fly up to his mouth. His shoulders were shaking and there were tears starting to form in the corner of his eyes now. No one else seemed too concerned with this fact, all staring in apparent horror at this news.

“Are you alright dear?” Kravitz asked, and Taako didn’t move his hands away from his mouth as he nodded.

“Y-yeah. I just… I’m so happy for you Lup, it’s so- I know how much this- It’s just-” his words managed to stumble out, keep having to cut himself off every time he got ‘choked up.’

“Maybe we should step outside for a moment,” Kravitz suggested, worried that Taako would actually hurt himself it he didn’t get away soon. Taako nodded, letting Kravitz help him up from the couch and outside while everyone else continued to awkwardly congratulate and ask the newly engaged couple questions.

The second they were outside and the door shut behind them Taako collapsed against the porch railing, buckling over the side in laughter. Kravitz couldn’t help himself either, quickly breaking down in laughter as well.

“I can’t- holy shit did you see everyone’s faces? Fucking hell, Lup wins. We weren’t even competing this time and Lup won, goddamn,” Taako managed in-between bouts of laughter.

“How long have they actually been dating for?” Kravitz asked, curious now. He knew it had to be longer than that, even without having known them for any longer than this trip. Taako wiped away some of the tears that had leaked out, pulling the blanket he’d carried with him a bit tighter.

“Officially or unofficially? Two very different answers there,” he said, which wasn’t the answer Kravitz was expecting, but he wasn’t sure why anything with them surprised him after all of this.

“Both? And maybe the reason why those are distinctions?” he asked. Taako seemed pretty much in control of himself at this point, taking a few last deep breaths to fight off the last of the laughter.

“Yeah okay, officially they’ve only been dating for like seven, eight months. That’s when they got together and if you ask either of them when they’re not terrifying our relatives, that’s what they’ll tell you,” Taako started to explain, poking bits of snow off of the railing. “But, take it from cha’ boy. I was the one who had to deal with the incessant pining from the two of them, and they’ve been in love and dating in all but name for practically three years,” he finished, and Kravitz couldn’t help but be a bit surprised by that.

“Huh, well normally I’d say Barry at least seems like the kind of person to wait that long, although after this week I have no fucking idea anymore,” Kravitz said, Taako chuckling. “But Lup definitely doesn’t seem like the kind of person to go that long without saying anything,” he added, and Taako groaned dramatically.

“Right? Like good god, she’s usually the smart, outgoing one between the two of us,” he said, and Kravitz raised an eyebrow at that.

“Is that supposed to imply that you’re not smart and outgoing? Because that doesn’t seem accurate,” he said, and Taako flashed him a smile before shaking his head.

“Nah homie, but feel free to go on about how intelligent and likable you think I am,” he said, and Kravitz was tempted to do just that. Before he could thought Taako continued. “But yeah, Lup is just like, more so. I can’t even front, she’s 100% the better person between the two of us,” he added, not sounding upset by this at all. If anything he sounded proud of her.

“But!” he said, that pride instantly replaced with fond irritation. “She’s a completely fucking idiot when it comes to relationship shit. Like, even if it wasn’t completely goddamn obvious how hopeless Barry is for her, three goddamn years is ridiculous. Like, at that point I’d say something out of frustration if nothing else,” he said. Kravitz nodded, and Queen took off from his shoulder to go sit in one of the porch chairs. They were filled with snow that the bird started fluffing around in.

“So, if you liked someone you’d tell them right away?” Kravitz asked, and he hoped he didn’t sound too curious there. Taako shrugged, turning to start poking holes in the snow that remained on the railing.

“Oh, yeah absolutely. I mean like, I’m not gonna go throwing myself at every pretty guy that crosses my path but like, if I really liked them. Yeah, I’d say something,” he said, not looking at Kravitz as he doodled in the snow. It was pretty much the answer he’d been expecting, so it wasn’t too hard to hide any slight disappointment he might’ve been feeling. If Taako was interested in anything he would’ve said something, and he hadn’t, and Kravitz could respect that.

“Well, what about you? Are you one to sigh and pine from a distance or would you actually do something useful?” Taako asked, and Kravitz shrugged, thinking the question over.

“I’d like to pretend I’d say something I guess, but unless I was certain they also had feelings I’d be a bit too worried about rejection to speak up,” he answered honestly. It was a little strange having this conversation with Taako considering his current feelings. There was still something nice about talking to him though, even with the slightly awkward topic. Taako scoffed at his answer, waving his hand at him like he meant to wave his answer away.

“You can’t let that kind of shit stop you my dude, you just gotta go for it, fuck it if you get rejected,” he said. Kravitz supposed that was pretty good advice, but he still laughed a bit at it.

“That might be a little easier for you. Someone would have to be insane to reject you,” Kravitz said, realizing only after the words left his mouth that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say. Taako didn’t seem particularly bothered by that though, just raising an eyebrow at him as he turned to look at him, the blanket still pulled tight around him as he leaned back against the railing.

“You think so?” he asked, and Kravitz figured any extra coloration to his face could at least be blamed on the cold.

“I mean, yeah, what is it you’re always saying? You’re Taako?” he said, trying to turn it into a joke and thankfully it did make him laugh. “Oh, right I almost forgot,” Kravitz said, and it was a poor distraction, but it was a distraction and he’d take anything right now.

“It is Candlenights after all, so here,” he said, pulling the small box out of his pocket and handing it to Taako. He seemed taken by surprise for a moment before quickly opening the box. There was a pair of earrings inside, a little ridiculous for Kravitz’s taste but fit Taako rather well in his opinion. They were pink and white curled tentacles, and Kravitz smiled sheepishly as Taako looked them over.

“I uh, saw them in that store you got all that goth jewelry at and I thought it was, you know, funny, considering how we uh, met,” he said, getting more and more nervous as a frown formed on Taako’s face.

“Aw man,” he said finally, and Kravitz couldn’t help the way his shoulders slumped.

“You don’t uh, have to keep them if you don’t want to. It’s fine,” he said, but Taako quickly held the earrings to his chest like he was afraid Kravitz would try to snatch them away. Shaking his head, he started to take them out of the box to put them on.

“No, fuck you, they’re mine,” he said, and now Kravitz was hopelessly confused.

“Um, what’s the problem then?” he asked, and the earrings were still a little ridiculous, but Kravitz wasn’t surprised in the slightest that Taako managed to pull them off with ease.

“The problem? The problem is that these are fucking incredible and I didn’t get you jack shit,” Taako said, and Kravitz found himself laughing in relief. Even when Taako started pouting it didn’t bother him now that he knew he wasn’t actually upset about the gift.

“It’s fine really, I just saw them and they made me think of you, for some reason,” he said, teasing him slightly. Taako huffed, crossing his arms and having to uncross them when the blanket started to fall off his shoulders, which made the whole thing even more ridiculous.

“They’re amazing and I’m amazing, that’s the only connection you need. Still doesn’t change the fact that it’s pretty shitty of me to invite you along to some ridiculous, convoluted Candlenights revenge plot and not even get you a gift for your troubles,” he said, but Kravitz shrugged once again.

“It really wasn’t a trouble at all,” he insisted, and Taako made a few wordless noises of frustration.

“Uuugh, you know how unfair that is, you doing this shit and then being all nice on top of it?” he complained. Kravitz smiled widely at that, and well if Taako wasn’t interested in anything beyond friendship Kravitz was still more than happy with that. Taako was an incredible person, and the fact that he liked him as a friend even was enough.

“Holy shit you’re an asshole,” Taako said, and Kravitz was going to say something back. He wasn’t sure what, some dumb joke that would’ve made Taako regret this whole conversation or something. Before he could though Taako was suddenly pressed up against him and kissing him and uh, wait, what?

Taako pulled away before he could really process or do anything with that fact, and he actually looked nervous.

“I’m so sorry,” Kravitz blurted out, still not fully aware of what was going on. Taako’s entire form drooped when he said that, and shit. That wasn’t what he wanted at all, how was he fucking up so bad. What was even going on?

“Oh, okay. I mean, I just thought from the whole ‘someone would have to be insane to reject you’ and the cute gift and all you might’ve been interested, but you’re not. That’s cool, I can respect that,” Taako said and Kravitz started shaking his head because that was so extremely off base from what was happening here.

“No, no that’s not- I am very interested, in uh, in you. You’re interesting. Wow I am making this sound bad,” he stumbled out.

“Yeah you kinda are,” Taako said, and Kravitz took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to get the words out in a non-terrible way.

“I really like you Taako and if you are genuinely interested in a relationship that is not fake I would not turn you down,” he said, speaking very fast. It seemed to take Taako a minute to parse the words before nodding.

“Oh. Oh cool. Fuck yeah! Take that Lup, see? Look at us using our words and shit and not being complete idiots,” Taako said, sounding more confident and excited as he continued to speak. “Wait, so what the fuck were you apologizing for then? I thought you were like, saying sorry for turning me down or whatever,” he asked, and Kravitz shrugged sheepishly.

“I uh, I don’t actually know? I didn’t expect you to kiss me and I panicked and didn’t know what to do, apologizing seemed like the safest option,” he admitted. Taako stared at him for a moment before bursting into a fit of laughter, resting his head against Kravitz’s shoulder as he did.

“Holy shit, never mind you are a complete idiot,” he said, but there was nothing but affection in his voice.

“Yeah, but you don’t seem to mind any,” he said, wrapping his arms around Taako. He was rather pleased that he didn’t need to think of some excuse like the cold or fooling their relatives to do so.

“Damn it, I don’t. It’s endearing as shit,” he said, sounding practically defeated by this fact. The two of them stood there for a moment, and it was rather nice until a strong wind came blowing through, leaving Taako shivering against them.

“Maybe we should head inside? See how everyone else is coping with Barry and Lup’s announcement?” Kravitz suggested, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” he said, pulling away from Kravitz so that he could go pick Queen up from where she’d managed to shove all of the snow off of the chair.

“Why in the world are all of the windows open?!” a vicious shout came from inside of the house, stopping the two before they opened up the front door again.

“Oooor, we could stay out here for a little while longer,” Taako suggested. Kravitz found himself laughing again, pulling Taako back into a hug because if they were going to stay out here some more they might as well stay warm.

“That might be for the best,” he said, resting his chin on the top of Taako’s head. “You know, it’s a bit counter-intuitive with all of your plans, but I’m having a lovely Candlenights,” Kravitz said. He felt Taako chuckle against him, pulling the blanket around the two of them as he wrapped his arms around him.

“Yeah, me too.”

Chapter Text

Taako tried to fight back the smile that kept trying to worm its way into his face. Okay, he was in a good mood, so sue him. He’d stayed out on the porch with Kravitz until it was way too fucking freezing to stand anymore and they headed back in. They spent most of their time outside as a chance to talk about the shit that had gone down inside. Taako explained how they had shoved all the bushes up the chimney for them to catch fire, and he was kind of worried that the whole thing would spook Queen, so he found a reason to take her upstairs. Which turned out to be a good thing, because she got freaked even that far away.

Taako could’ve very happily stayed out there laughing about all the chaos for hours. After a while though Kravitz noticed him starting to shiver or whatever and suggested they go back inside. It was actually pretty sweet and also not an act or how he was with everyone apparently, and yeah okay, Taako couldn’t argue with that. Besides, they only had a bit longer to squeeze out of fucking with everyone, might as well not waste it.

From the yelling they’d heard earlier at some point while everyone grilling Lup and Barry over their ‘engagement’ someone had noticed the windows were cracked open. It was still cold as fuck inside, but it was starting to get better than it’d been before. They’d managed to close most of the windows at that point, although he kind of doubted they’d caught all of them yet. At the very least, they probably missed the bathroom ones.

“Hey, sorry about ghosting off like that, I got a little overwhelmed there. Lup, I’m so happy for you,” Taako said as he came back into the room, putting on a show a wiping at his face even though all of the laughter induced tears had gone away a while ago. That or got permanently frozen to his face, one or the other.

“Aw, thanks Koko,” Lup said still smiling proudly, her hands deliberately positioned to ‘casually’ show off the ring. It actually looked pretty nice, the band intricate carvings in silver with a bright fiery red gem set in it. Taako figured it was Barry’s legit Candlenights gift and they decided to use it for the prank.

The house continued to heat up again as they managed to close most of the windows and blare the heat. As soon as it started to get above freezing all of their relatives found excuses to take off the scarves. That was a shame, but they’d got them to wear em longer than expected anyway.

Sitting back on the couch with Kravitz, Taako could see Lup looking the two of them over. They weren’t acting any differently from the way they had been this whole time, except for the whole fact that it wasn’t like, an act anymore. These were actual legitimate couch cuddles with his boyfriend.

Which was cool. Real cool but like, no biggie. He was absolutely chill about this fact and barely even surprised. Sure he gave Lup a whole spiel the night before about how Kravitz didn’t like him and all, and he hadn’t been lying then. He’d figured Kravitz had agreed to all of this without thinking and then felt like he couldn’t back out of it and so figured he might as well give it his all. Taako hadn’t even been sure if he was completely over the whole fiasco from last year, but hey, Taako had never claimed to be an expert on people. He was clearly wrong in this scenario.

That didn’t matter though, because he got an unfairly adorable new, real boyfriend out of it and he was only a little bit giddy over that fact. It wasn’t anything noticeable enough for Lup to be giving him that look. Maybe Kravitz was being super obvious about it, that was probably it.

Whatever was tipping her off though, Lup couldn’t call them out on it now because of the ruse and all. She’d pounce on him the second she got the chance he was sure, but at least he had the time to prepare himself now.

Once things seemed to have settled for the moment a few people retreated to the kitchen to help make dinner. Taako and Lup both offered their services extensively, but they were told to ‘oh no, you two relax. Lup you just got such uh, wonderful news, we’re not going to make you work after that.' So they were left in the living room making small talk again. Most of it ended up being vague plans for the ‘wedding’ everything they said absolutely ridiculous, and pretty damn amazing.

It was just as incredible seeing everyone’s reactions to the plans they threw out. Barry suggested hand sewn outfits they made themselves, ‘out of something comfortable, like maybe denim.' Lup wanted a pyrotechnics display, preferably hooked up to the cake in some way. Kravitz casually offered to take care of the music for them. Taako was pretty damn sure the idea of getting invited to this event was forming in their relative’s minds as a waking nightmare vision of horror, and he was loving it. Taako would go to that wedding. Taako would be in that wedding.

Or well, he will be, but in like ten fucking years because holy shit, this was a great goof, the best goof, but he knew Lup and Barry. Those two moved at a snail’s pace in their relationship, there was no way they were putting marriage of all things on the table yet.

When Seransie came back into the room after a few minutes Taako knew that the food wasn’t done yet. Unless they were even more incompetent cooks than he thought, which was saying something. He was very aware of how shitty of cooks they were after all.

“Daelar could you come and take the trash out for us? There’s an odd smell in the kitchen,” she said, and something about the way she said it felt like she didn’t think the trash was what was causing the smell. Taako was pretty sure she would be right about that. He saw her eyes glance over at Barry, who had gone back to being totally uninterested in anything after the whole engagement thing.

“Erm, dear? Do you think the um, items you left in the fridge are going bad?” she asked, and Barry just kinda shrugged.

“No? I mean probably not? Dunno,” he said simply. She did not look too thrilled with that answer, but she also didn’t look surprised at this point.

“Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to take them out when we leave,” Lup said, and that seemed to sate their aunt for the time being. Daelar got up to go take out the trash anyway, and talk of the future wedding seemed to be dying down some.

“Those earrings new babe?” Lup asked, and Taako’s hands went up to the ridiculous tentacle earrings Kravitz had given him. Well, ridiculous in the best fucking way possible. He hadn’t expected her to mention them, but he guessed her curiosity was starting to get to her.

“Yep,” he said simply, a large smile stretching across his face. There wasn’t any reason for him to say anything more than that, and the longer he could go without Lup being able to say I told you so the better.

“So, what about you two, hm? When are you and Krav gonna tie the knot?” Lup asked, and fucking rude. They were supposed to be torturing their relatives, not each other.

“I uh, I think it might be a little early for something like that,” Kravitz said. Taako nodded in agreement, although he definitely wasn’t going to bring up the fact that Lup and Barold were supposedly three weeks into dating. God, fuck he couldn’t think about that for too long or else he’d start laughing again.

“Yeah, I think we’re gonna take that particular milestone slow,” he said. Joking about getting married as well could be funny, but he was kinda worried it would freak Kravitz out since they'd started actually dating and all.

Fuck, they were actually dating. That was wild.

“Aw, no double wedding?” Lup asked, and okay, that idea if nothing else was a little bit tempting, but yeah still nope.

“Sorry if you think I’m sharing the spotlight with anyone on my wedding,” Taako said, and Lup didn’t look surprised by that in the slightest.

“Yeah okay, that’s fair,” she said. Soon enough after that everyone else finished dinner. There was a pretty decent amount of food, for all that the shit was bland enough to only technically count as edible. Still, he got a plate of food without much fuss. While moving around the kitchen underneath the smell of the dinner he could tell there was the start of something foul. None of the eggs had been found yet, which was oh so pleasing.

They were only staying here one more night, so Taako casually ripped into the cooking. He only slightly masked it as ‘helpful tips for next time’ and ‘good, but have you considered.' Kravitz also let him feed little bits and pieces to Queen, which was satisfying as fuck.

Really though, after the initial explosive morning, the rest of Candlenights was pretty chill. He’d give little jabs here and there, Lup ran into Larinya when she was coming around a corner holding a drink and a plate for food, things like that. There was a slight air of anticipation around everyone else, like they were waiting for the other shoe to drop with them. It was pretty obvious they had managed to figure out at this point that shit wasn’t exactly safe.

Still, soon enough it was time for bed and he and Lup were wishing everyone a good night and saying how they’d had such a good time seeing everyone again before heading up to their rooms. Even Kravitz looked a little confused once Taako shut the door behind them, but he flashed a smile at him before going to collapse into the bed.

“Don’t worry homie, we got a pretty spectacular finish planned, just gotta wait for everyone to get to sleep first,” Taako told him. Kravitz chuckled, setting Queen down in the spot on the vanity she’d taken as her sleeping perch and nodded.

“I never had any doubts,” he said, coming to sit down on the bed as well. “How soon are you planning on putting those plans into motion, is it worth it to try to sleep any?” he asked, which was a fair question.

“Eh, it’ll be a while, gotta make sure everyone’s deep in mediation and all,” he said, lying down for good measure. He was certainly going to catch a few Zs before getting down to business after all. “I’ll set an alarm, and Lup’ll come wake us up if we take too long,” he added.

“Alright then,” Kravitz said, seeming to hesitate for a moment. “Um, you’re alright with sharing the bed again tonight?” he asked, actually sounding uncertain which was ridiculous.

“Of course my dude, I’m definitely not less okay with it than I was last night,” he said, Kravitz smiling at that and fucking hell. Dude did not have any right being that cute and shit.

“I’m glad,” Kravitz said, and Taako had to fucking shift so he could pull the blanket up over him some more. He wasn’t used to people sounding so sincere and shit.

“Cool, good to know. Uh, don’t bother getting changed, we’re gonna go outside and it’ll be cold as fuck,” he said. Kravitz laughed at that before lying down, and he still seemed a little nervous, but not quite as stiff as the night before. Before he could think twice about it Taako curled up against him, because why the fuck not. Kravitz didn’t seem to mind, wrapping his arms around him after a moment, and it was nice.

Yeah, he could get used to this.

He didn’t get a chance to get used to it, because it felt like fucking no time at all before his alarm started blaring and woke them both up. Taako groaned, flinging his hand around to try to find the thing so he could turn it off. By the time he managed to find it and make it shut up he was pretty much awake, which was annoying. This was gonna be great and all, but he wanted to sleep.

“Hey, you awake?” he asked Kravitz, trying to fight back a yawn.

“No,” he answered simply, and Taako chuckled against him.

“Well sorry, but you’re gonna have to wake up then, need all hands on deck for this,” he said, starting to untangle himself somewhat from Kravitz. For his part, he groaned and halfheartedly tried to cling to him some.

“And here I thought you liked me,” Kravitz mumbled dejectedly.

“Sorry babe, but the mission came first,” he joked, and after that Kravitz reluctantly started to get up. “We can go back to sleep once we’ve got everything done,” Taako promised.

“What exactly are we going to be setting up?” he asked, but Taako waved that concern away, starting to put on his shoes and coat.

“Don’t even worry about it,” he said, figuring he was good for now and sneaking out of the room. Kravitz followed after him, leaving Queen sleeping on the vanity this time, which was for the best. Taako wasn’t surprised to find Lup and Barry already out of their room.

“There you two are, took ya long enough,” Lup joked as they came down the stairs.

“Perfection takes time Lup,” Taako said easily. His sister raised an eyebrow at that, giving them both a quick once over.

“You slept in your clothes again. Taako you didn’t even take out your earrings,” she said and oh shit, he hadn’t actually realized that.

“Perfection,” he repeated instead of trying to defend himself in any way. “And whatever, we starting with the cars?” he asked, Lup nodding.

“Yeah, it’s the biggest thing and should take the longest,” she said, and that’s what Taako was thinking. Kravitz gave him a very curious look at that, which he guessed was reasonable.

“And what in the world are you planning to do with the cars?” he asked, but Taako just patted his shoulder.

“Don’t worry your pretty head over it. Why don’t you and Barold start filling up pots of water, we’ll go see if we can find the hose and get it to work,” he said. It didn’t answer Kravitz’s question, but he seemed more than content to go along with it.

“Sure thing dear,” he said, him and Barry heading to the kitchen while Lup lead them into the garage, saying that she’d seen some garden supplies in there when taking away chair parts.

“Fuck it’s cold in here,” Taako said as they went in, and it’d be even worse once they were outside, but that was fine. That would help with their whole plans.

“Mhmm, right, anyway. I think you were saying something last night about how goth nerd extraordinaire out there doesn’t like you?” she said, picking past boxes of old clothes and discarded lawn furniture to reach the garden supplies. Taako huffed, looking through a box to see if there was anything inside they could use to fuck with shit last minute. Nothing much in that one, just old sheets and shit.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Barold’s my best friend of course he likes me,” he said. Lup rolled her eyes at that comment, having finally reached the garden supplies. She handed Taako some hedge clippers as she began looking for the hose.

“Okay, he’s also a goth nerd, I’ll give you that much, but you know that wasn’t what I was talking about,” she said. Taako had started to casually go around the garage, cutting random items with the hedge clippers. He snapped the cords off of a few lamps and radios and such, tore holes in sheets. Pretty much just fucked with anything that looked like it was in good enough condition and on top of piles that it’d be likely they’d try to use them again sometime.

“Okay, cha’boy might’ve been wrong on that one, I’ll admit,” he relented. Taako wasn’t sure if the huge smile that spread across her face was from him admitting that or because of the hose in her hands.

“Of course you were. He have those earrings picked out the entire time or did he sneak out or what?” she asked, starting to work her way back to the garage door.

“He brought them when we were in that goth store,” Taako told her.

“That’s fucking adorable.”

“I know! And I didn’t have shit for him, do you know how lame that is? I mean, technically I guess he did get me as a Candlenights gift, and you can’t do much better than that, but still,” Taako complained.

“I”m sure you’ll find some way to make it up to him.” Lup said before leaving the garage and heading over to the kitchen. In the time they were gone it seemed like Barry and Kravitz had managed to find most of the large bowls and pots in the house and had filled a lot of them.

“Hell yeah, this is a good start, let’s take these bad boys outside and get to work,” Taako said, grabbing a full pot and starting out. Everyone else seemed good to go along with it, Lup slinging the hose around her arm before grabbing one and following him.
He was right about it being even colder outside, and there was even a bit of snow falling. A dusting over the current layer on the ground, but that was honestly perfect.

“This one’s uncle Vividar’s car, right?” he asked, heading over to one. Lup nodded, and they both started to slowly pour the water over the car. Some of it was definitely freezing, but it was good they got the hose because only doing this with pots of water would take forever.

“Hey babe, you wanna start packing some snow onto it too? That might help with the freezing,” Lup suggested. Barry started shoveling snow onto the car for them to pore cold water onto and Kravitz practically doubled over laughing as he realized what they were doing.

“Remind me to never get on your bad sides,” he said, but there was a huge smile on his face.

“Pretty sure you don’t need a reminder after all this. Go hook up the hose for us?” Taako asked. Kravitz nodded, and yeah okay, he was definitely the one being all obvious. Before he went to set up the hose he pulled Taako into a quick side hug and gave him a kiss on the head, which hey, Taako wasn’t going to complain about. It was freezing out here so hugs were definitely welcomed and he couldn’t blame Kravitz for wanting to get all up on this.

It was also real sweet and cute and when Lup snickered at him he flung some snow at her.

After that they started to really get down to icing each of the cars. The most effective method seemed to be covering them with layers of snow and then spraying them down with water to form thick shells of ice.

It took over an hour to get all of the cars completely encased in ice. It would take a hell of a lot of work to get them all free, which was so satisfying. You couldn’t even really tell which car was which unless you remembered where you parked. Of course, their car was spared from this fate, just covered in the light dusting of snow that had fallen so far.

By the time they headed inside Taako was fucking freezing. His hands and feet had gone numb about fifteen minutes ago and he was shivering like crazy, but fuck it was worth it.

“Are you alright?” Kravitz asked as he kicked snow off of himself in the doorway. Both him and Barry seemed a bit better off than the shivering messes Lup and Taako were, despite how pleased the twins looked with their work. Damn shitty elven constitution.

“Fuckin perfect my dude, ain’t gonna lose any toes,” Taako told him. Sure, he wouldn’t complain at the thought of climbing under a million blankets right now, but he was good. Despite his reassurances, Kravitz still came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Taako, which was admittedly really nice. He wasn’t much warmer than Taako was, but it was definitely better than not having him.

“So, is there anything else you want to set up or are you two satisfied for the night?” Barry asked, rubbing his hands together to get the feeling back into them.

“Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?” Lup asked back, and Barry didn’t seem surprised by that answer in the slightest.

“Maybe someday I’m hoping you’ll actually take a break?” he said, but Lup shook her head.

“Nope, you know you love this.”

“Yeah, you got me there,” Barry said, smiling all dumb at Lup. Normally Taako would make some smartass comment at this point about the two of them being sappy fucks. Considering the fact that he had Kravitz slumped over his back like a human blanket though he figured it was best to hold his tongue. Maybe that was why Lup had been all insistent that he make a move already.

“So uh, what else are we doing?” Kravitz asked, and Taako perked up as he got an idea.

“Oh shit, where’d I leave those hedge clippers?” he asked, and instead of pulling away from Kravitz he dragged him along with him into the kitchen. The clippers were lying on the counter where he left them and Taako grabbed them up. He made sure to unplug the microwave before snapping the couple of exposed wires in the back before setting it normal again. “What else can I cut?” he asked, definitely the most excited to use gardening tools he’d ever been.

So he and Kravitz went around snipping random items while Lup and Barry set up their own shit. Once he was satisfied at the number of holes he put in the backs of fancy decorative pillows and cut off the string that pulled the blinds up for every window that had one Taako threw the clippers back into the garage.

Nearly falling over himself laughing, Taako got that jelly he’d seen before and started going around the house. He made sure to put just a little bit of it on doorknobs and other little odds and ends. When Kravitz tried to ask him what was so funny about jelly Lup told him not to question it. Taako asked him what wasn’t funny about jelly.

As for Lup and Barry, he saw them taking the dead things in jars and just sort of scattering them around the house. He caught them hiding the things in closets underneath towels and in lower kitchen cabinets, whatever little out of the way nooks and crannies they could find. Taako hadn’t looked too close at the jars, but he was pretty sure now that Barry had made a bunch specifically to bring along and do this shit. He also saw Barry messing around inside of the fridge, and he wasn’t sure what he was doing but was pretty sure it would be glorious.

It was maybe four am when they’d finally finished everything and Taako was more than a little exhausted. They all looked pretty damn tired and so when Barry suggested going to bed this time no one argued with him about it.

Sneaking back into their room, Queen looked up at the two of them before going right back to sleep. Such a smart bird.

Taako was too tired to bother with shame, quickly stripping off his damp clothes from being outside and changing into warm dry pajamas. Kravitz for his part still looked in any direction but Taako before getting changed himself, and damn it that was cute. He was going to get Taako liking cute thoughtful shit like that, wasn’t he?

“Come here, I need warmth,” Taako said once they were both dressed, grabbing Kravitz and pulling him into the bed with him. He didn’t seem to mind any, laughing slightly and wrapping Taako up in a hug. It was nice until one of his hands brushed Taako and he nearly jolted away from the chill. “Fuck, those are cold,” he complained.

“We were out in the snow for like an hour, I’m not too sure what you expected,” Kravitz said and yeah okay, fair enough. “We should get some sleep, you want to be up to see everyone’s reactions after all,” he added and Taako sighed because he had a point there.

“Yeah alright fine, I do wanna see as much fallout as possible before we skedaddle,” he agreed, snuggling into Kravitz a bit more. It took almost no time at all after that to fall asleep.

Taako got woken up because there was a bird on him. Before that revelation could properly startle him the bird jumped over onto the other person in the bed. Then Kravitz had a bird on him and that was less startling and more hilarious.

“Noooo Queen,” Kravitz mumbled sleepily when the bird started to jump around him, cawing and tugging at locks of his hair every so often.

“Pretty sure you can’t just say no to the Queen,” Taako said, forcing himself to wake up. After a second’s hesitation, Taako leaned forward and pressed a real quick kiss to his lips before starting to untangle himself, because like, he was right there and he could. It seemed to wake up him some, Kravitz looked confused for a few seconds as he blinked awake. Then he smiled at him in that same dumb way Barry was always smiling at Lup and fuck. Taako quickly started digging through his bag of clothes, pulling out an outfit for the day and shoving everything back in for when they needed to leave. Like, he was still going to tease Lup whenever she got all mushy with Barold, but he could kinda understand now.

“Alright, time to get ready to make our glorious exit,” Taako said. He didn’t take too long getting dressed and put together this time, pretty jived to get shit popping off. Kravitz was moving pretty slow, and he guessed it made sense with how little sleep they ended up getting. He ended up finished with getting dressed and packing about the same time as Taako was.

Taako made a point to bring their bags down with them, since there was a very real chance that once shit started to hit the fan they should make a run for it. Kravitz was quickly on board with that plan, making a comment about how at least they won’t be able to go through with a car chase.

Aunt Seransie was up and in the kitchen when they headed downstairs, and Taako was pretty sure he saw some relief in her eyes at the sight of their bags by the door.

“You’re leaving soon?” she asked, probably trying to sound disappointed but only managing to come across as indifferent.

“Oh yeah, you know how it is. Gotta get back to work and all that, never enough time for family,” he said casually. She nodded and seemed like she was about to say something, but as she opened the fridge door the selves inside collapsed, food and drinks and fucking everything crashing loudly to the floor. Huh, so that’s what Barry had been up to with the fridge. Impressive. Taako didn’t bother to hide his snickering now, earning him a very heated glare from his aunt once she got over the shock.

“It looks like Lup and Barry got their jars out of there already, that sure is a relief isn’t it auntie?” Taako said, leaning onto the counter with a smile. Seransie looked speechless for a moment before managing to pull herself together and start inspecting the fridge, trying to see what had gone wrong. Taako couldn’t be any more pleased when Lup and Barry came down the stairs just then. Barry was still wearing that fucking glorious curtain cape and both of them still in the same goddamn outfits they wore since the second day.

“Oh dern, what happened here? All those leftovers wasted. Well I mean, no one was going to eat them anyway, so I guess it’s not that much of a waste,” Lup said as she took in the scene. A few other people had started to come out now, most likely due to the loud noise.

“What in the world?” uncle Dealar asked, taking in the sight.

“The entire thing just collapsed, I haven’t the faintest idea what happened,” Taako said, pushing past him and the small crowd that had gathered.

“What did you two do?” Seransie snapped, and that wasn’t surprising. Neither of them were trying to hide their intentions anymore, because fuck them.

“Auntie, I don’t have any idea what you mean,” Lup said, sounding about as sincere as drywall.

“Oh would you two stop it already? You’ve caused nothing but trouble since you’ve got here,” Larniya snapped, sounding completely done with their bullshit. Taako huffed, putting on his most offended look.

“Why would you say something like that? We thought you wanted us here, considering all of the letters you kept sending us nonstop,” he said.

“We thought seeing you two on the news maybe you’d gone and grown up some, but you’ve gotten even worse,” she said. Taako didn’t bother responding, turning on his heels like to march towards the front door. He made sure to swing the one bag he was carrying over his shoulder in a suitably dramatic fashion. It knocked perfectly into the dumb vase full of glass balls, the whole thing crashing to the ground, vase and balls shattering into a million tiny pieces across the floor.

“Oops, knocked over your bouncy balls,” Taako said as flatly as possible. Lup was fucking doubled over laughing, and it was making it incredibly hard to keep a smile off of his face.

“Get out of here, now,” uncle Daelar said, sounding a fucking hair away from completely losing it.

“Uh, before we go, are you gonna like, use this or can I have-” Barry started, picking at something in the mess of food and junk in front of the fridge.

“Out!” Daelar yelled before Barry could finish. Queen let out a sudden loud croaking caw at him from Kravitz’s shoulder. It sent most of them scrambling back a few steps and Taako into absolute stitches of laughter.

“Queen doesn’t appreciate screaming, so if you could refrain from that it’d be much appreciated,” Kravitz said, still using the goddamn accent.

“All of you leave this instant,” Vividar said, not yelling for what it was worth, although still sounding pretty damn enraged. Yeah, this was the point where it was best to cut it and run. Knowing there was a whole bunch of bullshit left for them to uncover was satisfying even if they couldn’t stick around to see the reactions.

“Wedding’ll be next spring! Make sure to RSVP!” Lup called back as they all ran out to the car. Taako thought for a disappointing moment that no one was going to notice their work on the cars as they ran out. They’d just managed to shove all their bags in the trunk though when Zinlen ran out the front door, a few of the others following after him, all of them looking horrified.

“What did you do?” he yelled, running up to what was probably his car and trying to get to the door handle. They’d made sure to make the layers of ice extra think in those spots.

“Freaky storm last night huh? Well, hope y’all have fun with the extra family time!” Taako called before ducking into the car. As soon as they were all inside Barry started driving off, all of them laughing hopelessly.

“Holy shit, oh damn, that was perfect,” Lup finally managed after a moment, wiping tears from her eyes. Taako nodded in agreement, slumped against Kravitz as he slowly managed to get a hold of himself.

“I don’t- I don’t think we gotta worry about them bothering us anymore,” Taako said, a wide smile still plastered on his face.

“Oh hell no, mission fucking accomplished bro bro,” Lup said, reaching her hand back for a high-five that Taako happily gave.

Things started to calm down after that, the four of them settling down some for the long car ride back home. Taako stayed snuggled up against Kravitz as they rode, and it was starting to feel real that this was actually a thing. It was going to keep being a thing when they got back home and it was kind of insane. In a good way, a really fucking good way.

Instead of actually thinking about that though he joined in on the conversation they were having mocking everyone back there. He had plenty of time to think about him and Kravitz later after all.

“Okay like, obviously Barry wins right? Babe, you were fucking incredible. I’m taking that cloak and mounting it onto the wall when we get home,” Lup said, and yeah, Taako couldn’t argue with that one.

“Yeah no, you two won the second you did that fake goddamn proposal. I would’ve either broken or died if Krav hadn’t gotten me out of there,” he said with a smile. He expected bragging from the two of them, an explanation of how they’d came up with the whole idea and shit. Instead, there was a nervous laugh from Lup as she turned to look out the window and pointedly not into the backseat.

“Right, that was pretty good, uh, yeah,” she said, and the smile that had pretty much been permanently welded on Taako’s face started to fade.

“Uhuh, it was hilarious. A great prank, right Lup?” he asked, sounding a lot less giggly about it. She didn’t answer him, staring out of the window like her life depended on it. Taako turned to look at Barry, and with his hands on the steering wheel it was very easy to see the ring he had on. It was one Taako hadn’t seen before, a silver band very similar to the one Lup was currently wearing, but this gem black with ribbons of colors strung throughout it.

“Barold!” he yelled, not feeling like he needed to explain himself any further.

“Taako, I am driving this car. If you attack me, you doom everyone in here,” Barry replied easily.

“Um, please don’t doom us all dear, I’d really like to date you for longer than a day,” Kravitz said. Taako let out a wordless groan of frustration before slumping even further into Kravitz.

“You all are just lucky my daughter’s in the car,” Taako grumbled, picking up Queen from Kravtiz’s lap and snuggling her to deal with some of this absolute betrayal.

“I mean, we were gonna tell you,” Lup said, but Taako pouted at that anyway.

“It doesn’t make sense! You two haven’t even been dating for a year. It takes three years for you idiots to say ‘I like you’ but ‘hey let’s get fucking married’ is no big deal?” he whined.

“Hey, you were the one who was always complaining we didn’t move fast enough,” Lup said. Which okay, she had a point there, but also no. He knew for a fact his teasing had nothing to do with their actual decision making.

“Babe. Kravitz, my hot as fuck goth prince boyfriend, promise me you won’t do me dirty like this. I need to know now that I’m not dealing with an absolute maniac because apparently I can’t tell when it’s my own goddamn family whom I love and trust,” Taako said. Kravitz laughed, wrapping an arm around him and nodding.

“Uh, it’s a little early to talk about anything like that, but um, how about I promise to let you be the one to propose?” Kravitz said and Taako quickly nodded.

“Yes, good, the only one I can trust is myself,” he joked. “And Uh, congrats or whatever, that’s really cool and it’s nice to know you two at least have some initiative,” Taako said to Lup and Barry, sounding quite a bit more serious then he did before. “Like, I knew it was inevitable but I figured you’d two would be slow as fuck like always.”

“Nah, making up for lost time or whatever,” Lup said, relaxing once again. “And thanks Taako, that means a lot,” she said, all hopelessly sincere and fucking hell, everyone in this car was too goddamn sappy.

Relaxing against Kravitz for the rest of the ride home, Taako was pretty sure he couldn’t be happier.