It’s the middle of the night, and something is poking his face. It feels like a rather slender, persistent finger, but Barry does not have dark vision and also his glasses are somewhere on the nightstand so he doesn’t even bother trying to open his eyes to confirm.
“My cuddle buddy is dead, move over.”
Barry sighs through his nose, mumbles some wordless, barely half-awake acquiescence and uncurls himself, shifting onto his back and nudging Lup to make space. She grumbles at him, but after a moment un-plasters herself from his back to scoot further toward the wall.
Their bed wasn’t really big enough for three people in it’s first life, but they’d fixed that several dozen cycles and a handful of spellslots ago.
Taako slips into the space left beneath the covers. His skin is cool where it presses up against Barry’s and his feet are like ice, but Barry is too asleep to complain. Or he’s just used to it by now. He wouldn’t say it happens frequently, but it’s happened frequently enough over the last handful of decades that Taako showing up in the middle of the night no longer phases him.
Especially on cycles like this one.
There are nights, when it’s the three of them, that Taako will curl against Lup, nights he needs home and familiarity and the rhythm of his sister’s breathing the same as it was when they had spent their nights for so many years on the road. Some nights, but much more rarely, he’ll slide between them, and Barry still hasn’t figured out if that’s just Taako being petty or if Taako takes as much comfort from Barry on those nights as he does from Lup. Barry likes to think it’s the latter, not that Taako would ever admit, vocally, that he needs comfort, even as a concept.
Tonight, possibly rarest of all, Taako mirrors his sister, tucking himself under Barry’s arm, his unbound hair tickling Barry’s chin, his frozen toes pressed very deliberately up against the arch of Barry’s foot. Tonight, on a cycle like this one, it’s exactly the position that Barry expected Taako to choose.
Because Barry feels more like Magnus and Magnus is who Taako is missing right now.
(He’d taken a bad hit. Merle had been too far away, and no amount of practical medical training was going to help this time, not for that much blood. They hadn’t been able to save him.
It will be another three months before the reset.)
Barry suspects they will have company for a good number of nights to come. He’s genuinely happy to provide it. Privileged, even.
The twins are cuddlers, if they trust you. Barry is literally covered in elf on all sides--he’s grateful there’s enough of him to go around--and he still feels a weird sense of...pride? worthiness? Even after all of the years of living and dying together, that these two would choose him, specifically, as someone they trust, is amazing to him. The Hunger is objectively terrible, and they lost their whole world, but sometimes Barry thinks about the fact that this mission was only meant to last two months, and all of the wonder he would have missed out on if things had gone according to plan.
Barry sighs deeply, runs a sleepy hand across Lup’s shoulder and brushes Taako’s hair away from his nose with the other. Lup curls her fingers into Taako’s at the center of Barry’s sternum, and their intertwined hands rise and fall with his breathing. In the morning, Taako will have breakfast ready before Barry is even awake, before Lup has dragged herself out of bed, and they’ll all pretend that this is normal, this life of running and dying and learning to live with all of it mixed up inside them.
And it will be enough.