Living with two liches, especially when one is actively a nerd about necromancy, can often be very Interesting. For example one time Taako walked in on Barry cutting open a clone of himself while Lup chanted something which sounded a little like a preservation charm. It was 7am and a Wednesday.
So when Taako opens the door to the living room to see Lup standing in a circle of fire, Barry slumped on her shoulder but still conscious, facing someone dressed in black with a scythe, Taako honestly barely even registers the stranger.
“Lup where the fuck is the lace skirt?” It is more of a demand than a question, but still.
“Oak wardrobe?” she said and then fires off a small flurry of magic missiles. The stranger dodges them and looks vaguely affronted, though whether it is over having such a low level spell used against him or the fact that he had generously paused when Taako entered, Taako can’t be bothered to figure out.
As Taako closes the door he hears a thump and a muffled curse. He pays no attention to it.
A few seconds later the door swings open again to reveal Taako standing there, still in the crushed black velvet top and white slacks combo from earlier. Barry has got behind the stranger and is attempting to get past the stranger’s scythe while Lup attempts to distract him. It isn’t really working. The stranger is clearly very skilled, but he has a hood drawn over his face and still isn’t Taako’s top priority.
“Why the fuck would it be in there? That’s strictly pastels! White is not a pastel, Lulu!”
“Just try it, it’s not like you’ve got any better ideas is it.”
Taako swirls on the spot and tries not to stomp like an irate child. Judging by Lup’s chuckle before the next fwoosh of fire, he’s not exactly successful.
Another few seconds later Taako bursts in again. This time it is to Barry being held against a wall with a gold mage hand while the stranger holds his scythe above Lup, apparently frozen by Taako’s entrance. Taako finally pays attention. The hood has fallen back to reveal a chiselled face, dark and handsome and patterned with unmistakable cream splatters that mark out emissaries of the Raven Queen. Lup and Barry must have done some shit. Taako hesitates for a second, but manages to drag his gaze back to Lup.
“It wasn’t there, goofus.”
Lup crawls backwards from where the reaper stands, scythe poised, and pays no attention to Taako. Which will absolutely not stand. Taako has barely a second to consider his actions and think of something to say. Which is probably why he shouts “Yo, thug! I’m gonna tentacle your dick!” and casts Evard’s Black Tentacles. He follows it up with “Give me a name so I can properly credit the tent porn I’m about to make with your body!” There are probably worse ways to greet an emissary of death that is apparently here to take your twin and her husband’s souls while you try to stop him from doing exactly that. None immediately spring to Taako’s mind, but they probably exist.
Luckily the reaper doesn’t simply smite him, instead hesitating and stammering out that his name’s Kravitz before he gets grabbed by the tentacles. And yeah he’s trying to take Lup’s soul and junk, but that’s probably only his job, and he didn’t recoil at the mess of a sentence Taako shouted at him, so that’s good. He seems torn between trying to struggle out of the tentacles and just not bothering, he doesn’t seem to know the etiquette for being grabbed by tentacles. Which doesn’t actually exist. There is no etiquette guideline anywhere that details the appropriate reaction to tentacles. Eventually he settles on not bothering.
Taako’s heard stories about reapers. And he’s also been told by Lup that reapers are allowed to make deals in exchange for souls. It had been framed as an offhand comment, but it had definitely been a take-note-in-case-this-is-relevant-please moment. So Taako approaches Kravitz. He really wishes he had that skirt right now. The slacks go with the top and they are definitely a look, but it’s a little restrained for his tastes. Speaking of restrained.
“I’ve heard you make deals?” It comes out as more of a question than he’d meant it to, but Kravitz chuckles a little and blushes slightly, so it’s ok.
“…well most of the time it’s a kind of…kind of ‘beat me at poker’ thing rather than a deal per se, but yeah I sometimes make deals if there’s something I want.”
“Well then why don’t you tell cha’boy why you’re trying to kill my sister and Barold and we can work something out.”
Kravitz shifts in the tentacles. “Sure. I presume you know they’re liches?” Taako nods “Yeah, well that’s just absolutely not on as far as the Raven Queen is concerned. It’s subverting the natural order of life and death, and they’ve been doing necromantic experiments, and they’ve been doing something with clones? None of us in the Astral plane have any idea what but whatever it is it can’t be good for the balance of the universe, and there have been a lot of bets about what they’ll actually get called in for and the Raven Queen got sick of it. Basically they need to go in the Eternal Stockade or do something else to pay back the balance of life and death.”
What he’s saying is definitely serious stuff that Taako is absolutely in no way qualified to contradict, but as he says it he’s getting more and more flustered, and black feathers keep appearing in his hair, so Taako’s having a hard time not laughing. Barry’s still being held by the mage hand, Lup is somewhere in Taako’s periphery with an expression that is somehow both penitence and pride. Mostly pride though.
“So what if they did what you do? Go around, collect some wayward souls, get back in time for dinner?”
For a moment Kravitz looks absolutely blank, but then it passes and he switches to concentration instead.
“They’d have to meet with the Raven Queen…a contract would have to be written up, severity of the crimes, number of crimes, will definitely affect the length of the contract…could be a lot of paperwork, but it could definitely work. It’s not totally unprecedented, but it is a chunk of effort.”
Taako considers this for a second.
“Do you eat food? I could pay you back with meals?”
Kravitz tilts his head and smiles. It’s unfairly cute. “Sure.”
And that’s how it begins.
The first meal is risotto. It’s got a ton of things in it that Kravitz doesn’t recognize, but it’s divine and it almost makes up for having to do a ton of paperwork all on its own. Taako wears a dress that looks like sunset and at one point he laughs. It is amazing. At some point Kravitz reveals that he’s a bard and Taako spends the rest of the evening getting him to play the piano which he just has for some reason. It’s mahogany and littered with notebooks and knickknacks. Kravitz loves it.
The second meal is braised bass with some sort of sauce that Kravitz feels like he would know if he had actually bothered to eat food since becoming a reaper. Taako wears chandelier earrings and a suit that glitters. Kravitz complements him on the suit and Taako preens and says that they match. Which isn’t exactly accurate. Kravitz’s suit is darkest black with a slate grey waistcoat and gold accents for colour. Kravitz doesn’t correct him. They play cards. Kravitz loses badly and Taako makes a joke about their deal. Kravitz feels like he’s been fairly compensated for the paperwork, but he doesn’t want to lose this. Which feels. Weird.
The third meal is a picnic. Delicate sandwiches with fillings which don’t seem like they should work but do, a salad with melon and a fruit which Kravitz has never heard of, and delicate pastries with every filling Taako thought of. Taako wears a fairly simple top with gauzy sleeves that sparkle and striped trousers. It’s pretty restrained as far as Taako’s outfits are concerned, but Kravitz is making up for it with a feathered cloak and gold beads woven into his dreads. Kravitz takes Taako’s hand and asks him if this is for business or pleasure. Taako flushes and says “a little bit of both.” Kravitz is beaming the rest of the evening.
The fourth meal is chicken stuffed with something herbal and creamy. Taako wears a black top with sleeves but no shoulders, and a layered white lace skirt that Kravitz presumes is the one he was looking for that first day. Kravitz takes one of Taako’s hands and presses a kiss to its back, at which point Taako apparently has enough of this, grabs Kravitz’s face and kisses him properly. It’s forceful and sweet and Kravitz doesn’t quite know what to do with his hands and there are a bunch of feathers in his hair now and it’s perfect. Eventually Taako has to breath, and Kravitz tries not to whine when he retreats slightly. Taako giggles into his neck, so he guesses he’s not exactly successful, but it doesn’t matter. At the sound, Kravitz feels something inside him shift and then he gasps. His heart beats. And something new begins.