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Kravitz has seen some shit. He's a paranormal investigator, a small but vital part of a larger organization. He specializes in ghosts, but he's seen a lot of different monsters; there was that vampire den he'd cleared out last year, or the werewolf pack he'd delicately asked to please be more careful on full moons. He’s argued with the best of them and viciously fought the worst, but this…

He's seen some shit, yes, but the pond creature of Satapaki Forest takes the cake.

Literally, actually. The beast in front of him is sitting cross-legged in the shallows of its pond, petulant, its myriad tendrils wrapped protectively around dozens of stolen pastries. Kravitz sighs.

“Look,” he says, “you can't just...take things. From human settlements.”

The thing scowls up at him, deceptively human face reading displeasure and mild confusion. “Sure I can,” it shoots back, waving the confections in the air as though in example. “I did.”

Kravitz pinches the bridge of his nose. It hadn't taken him long after he got to town to find the source of the bakery's complaint; clearly it didn't care overmuch about being tailed. He's not sure if it's naïve or just cocky, but he'd only taken about a day to track it back here. Clearly, this was the preternatural entity taking things from the shop window each evening.

As he tries to formulate a coherent reason why Stealing Is Bad, the creature arches an eyebrow and pops a cupcake in its mouth, eating it whole.

“You can't-people notice these things,” Kravitz says. “I'm not gonna hurt you but the police sure fuckin’ would if they found you.”

It stares at him, then stands up languidly, the unoccupied tentacles winding around its humanoid body like a robe. “They've never noticed before,” it says, taking a step forward. It's almost in Kravitz’ space. Not quite, but enough to be a threat.


“Sure,” it says, shrugging. The gesture looks just slightly off, like a child copying a move they saw a movie star do. “I steal shit from Safeway all the time. Don't see what makes the bakery so different.”

Kravitz blinks at it several times in quick succession. Okay, that cuts the “naïve” and “unfamiliar with human culture” arguments and leaves “cocky and inconsiderate.” He can work with that.

“...What made you change your routine?” he asks, warily shifting his weight as a tendril bearing a cookie pokes into his personal bubble.

“My oven broke,” it says flatly. “I wouldn't be eating this cheap shit otherwise. Snickerdoodle?”

“Your...oven,” Kravitz says slowly, gingerly taking the offered confection. “Where, exactly, do you keep that?” He eyes the pond, which is fairly large, but doesn't look like the sort of thing that defies too many laws of physics.

“There's a house deeper in the woods,” it says easily. “My brother-in-law’s. He's human. Sorta. He lets us use his kitchen ‘cause he doesn't know anything about cooking, but the oven broke, and I need sugar to live. What's your name, by the way, thug?”

“My name?”  It has a sibling? The sibling is married? To a human? Who’s only sorta human? He has a lot of questions, but the easy familiarity with which it talks to him makes the top of his list.

“Yeah, like, what people call you. You know, the collection of syllables that make up-”

“No, I get what a name is. Mine’s Kravitz. Why do you care ?”

It shrugs again, much more smoothly this time. “Handsome fella comes wandering into my home, askin’ questions,” it says, “can't blame a guy for wantin’ to know his name. Mine’s Taako, by the way.”

“...Taako,” Kravitz says, violently shoving the handsome comment to the very back of his brain. “Nice to meet you, I suppose.”

Taako blinks, a complicated process given that he has what appear to be several layers of extra eyelids. Then he smiles, lips curling up and up and up , farther than a human’s would, revealing rows of sharp, vicious-looking teeth. He holds out his hand, like he wants Kravitz to shake it.

He takes a deep breath, then he does. Taako's hand is warm and smooth and slightly damp, with long, elegant fingers that feel just slightly too soft to contain human bone. His smile gets impossibly wider, and Kravitz can feel his own face crack and start to return the expression. Something about this monster has him charmed. Maybe it's the image of a terrifying swamp creature with pink icing on its nose or maybe it's just the glib, personable way he speaks, but Kravitz likes him.

They talk for about an hour; Kravitz sits down on a log near the pond and Taako imperiously drapes himself over it next to him. Taako’s position on respecting people’s property appears to be that he doesn’t give a shit, and that once he gets his hands on things they’re his now. He says this conspiratorily, face twisted into a strange grin, winding one thin tendril around Kravitz’ arm. Kravitz has to cough and feign more agitation than he feels as an excuse to stand up, out of his grasp, and pace back and forth until his heart rate slows.

Taako’s pretty, is the thing, and he clearly knows it- the way he moves is choreographed to show off the delicate smoothness of his skin, to drape his long magenta hair alluringly over his shoulder just so . He’s clearly not human, although with his tentacles wrapped around him like they are he could be mistaken for one from a distance; his smooth brown skin is dotted with patches of blue and his eyes are just a shade off, deep red-purple sclera with irises and pupils so black Kravitz feels like they could swallow him. His sharp-toothed smile has Kravitz stumbling over his words, even though they should be easy.

Eventually, when Kravitz finally manages to make a valid point without stuttering or nervously affecting an accent, Taako sighs. “Fine,” he says, looking put out. “I won’t steal things from the dumb bakery anymore. Magnus should have the oven fixed soon anyway.”

“You shouldn’t steal from the grocery store either, Taako,” Kravitz replies, rubbing his forehead.

“I don’t exactly have a job , hombre,” Taako says, rolling his eyes. “Dunno how you expect me to trade legal tender for goods and services.”

“Yes, I’m wrestling with that one myself,” he says, and sighs. “Listen, just try and stay out of trouble for a few days. My job isn’t to kill monsters, it’s to help them, or, you, I guess, specifically, right at this very moment. I’ll talk to my boss and see if we can figure something out that will keep anyone from coming after you with pitchforks, all right?”

Taako rolls over on the log, dropping his head off it and staring at him upside-down, a smile on his face. “Sure thing, handsome,” he says, and Kravitz chokes. He continues, “so long as it’s you that comes back next time. I’d hate to hurt someone because I thought they were, mm, how did you say it? Coming after me with pitchforks.”

He flows off the log and is inches away from Kravitz in a heartbeat. “I don’t usually... eat ... humans, but you never know what might happen,” he purrs, grinning wider than Kravitz ever could. Kravitz makes a strangled noise and Taako winks dramatically at him, and then, moments later, is gone. The only sign of him is a ripple on the surface of the water and the faint smell of honey.

Kravitz is left standing there, winded. Before he turns to leave, he muses out loud, “was that a threat or an incentive?”


Kravitz gets a Look™ from Raven when he explains the situation to her. She’s halfway through some paperwork for one of the intentionally terrible late-night ghosthunter TV shows that pay their bills, but she sets aside her pen and levels her gaze at him as he reaches the end of his report on what happened with Taako. She purses her lips.

“Kravitz,” she says. Here it comes.


“I sent you to discourage a monster from destroying a town and you sat around eating cookies with it?”

“He said he’d stop stealing things,” Kravitz points out, mildly offended at the way she doubted his methods. She rubs her forehead.

“Christ,” she mutters, “yeah, okay, we feed monsters all the time. Why did you promise to bring shit to it instead of trying to convince it to come to one of our houses.” It’s a statement, more a signal of her frustration than an actual inquiry. He feels his lip quirk up in an embarrassed smile, and she stares at him for a moment, then groans.

“God damn it, Kravitz,” she says, and for all her posturing there is laughter in her voice.

“What did I do now ?”

“I can’t believe we’re going to have to set up a covert grocery delivery system because you have a crush on a swamp thing,” she says, trying for disapproving and falling far from the mark. She looks like she’s on the verge of cracking up.

Raven is an excellent boss, and a good person; she had practically raised him, and although usually how well she knows him is a positive, there are downsides. Like her being able to see right through him as though he had no skin to speak of.

“I. Have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says, which is horseshit and they both know it. She levels her gaze at him again, one immaculate eyebrow raised, and he feels his face go hot. Dammit.

“Listen,” he says, and then stops talking completely. She snorts.

“Whatever, it’s not like we haven’t made exceptions before,” she says, returning to her paperwork. “Which reminds me, dear, do check in with your doctor before any... strenuous physical activity.”

Kravitz chokes and flees the room, chased by Raven’s scratchy, hoarse laugh. An hour later he gets an email from one of her assistants, letting him know that he would be the primary agent in charge of bringing resources to the swamp spirit in Satapaki Forest. He drops his head onto his desk with a thunk.


The next day he finds himself standing in the grass next to Taako’s lake once again, shifting his weight uncomfortably and readjusting the coolers of groceries he’s got clutched in his arms.

He drops the cooler carefully on the ground next to him and takes a step closer to the pond. “Taako?” he calls, nervous. After a long, silent moment, soft ripples break the surface of the water, and Taako’s large dark eyes peek up at him, his long hair fanning out around him in mesmerizing waves. He blinks up at Kravitz, looking confused, his eyes flicking back and forth from Kravitz to the coolers and back.

Kravitz sits back on his heels, getting down as close to Taako’s level as he can. “I-I brought you groceries,” he says, “like I said I would.”

Taako blinks, and then the rest of his head surfaces and he grins at Kravitz, his tongue darting out from between sharp teeth to lick his lips, which makes something warm and pleasant thrum in Kravitz’ chest.

“Wow,” he drawls, “you actually fuckin’ did it. Huh.” He slips out of the water, arranging himself so his tentacles look more like a strange avant-garde dress and less like, well, tentacles. Kravitz realizes he’s technically naked and is violently reminded of Raven’s comments, finding himself admiring the way his tendrils fade in color from blue to purple to a deep tinted red, which itself fades smoothly into the rich brown of his skin where they grow out of his back. Kravitz’ mouth goes dry as they shift with Taako’s movements, as he steps fluidly out of the pond with that same catlike grace he’d seen before.

He shoves those thoughts as far into a bottle and under a carpet on a back burner of his mind as he possibly can and clears his throat, tamping down the urge to put on a fake Russian accent as a diversion.

Taako gives him only a cursory glance, focusing instead on the cooking ingredients Kravitz had brought him. He hums, sounding mildly irritated, but after a moment of deliberation seems more or less satisfied.

“Not what I would have picked out, but okay,” Taako says, shrugging. “Not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“I mean, you mentioned needing sugar, so that’s what they concentrated on,” Kravitz says, inexplicably defensive. “I didn’t pick it out, anyway.”

Taako grins at him, which makes that warm feeling spread a little. “Nah, homie, I appreciate it,” he says. “Some of us used to have jobs ‘n shit, before, but times change, I guess, and so instead Lup and I have been stealin’. It’s nice to have stuff I won’t get sighed at for.” He pauses. “Probably. Might still get bitched out for talking to you though.”

Lup was his sister and a fire elemental; he’d mentioned her two days before, during their first conversation. He’s not sure who would ‘bitch him out’ for meeting Kravitz, though, and he doesn’t press; Taako had seemed reluctant to go into any detail other than brief, nonspecific mentions of a house and a brother-in-law and possibly a friend named Magnus? Anyway, he doesn’t want to pry.

“Did you manage to fix your oven?” he asks, figuring it’s probably a safe topic. Taako shakes his head, which has the side effect of getting pond water on Kravitz’ face. He doesn’t really mind.

“No, my dumb friend is taking forever, but I can use the stuff you put in here with just a regular fire,” he says, shrugging. “I won’t really be able to bake, but Lup’s got good control, and I’m a fucking rad chef.”

Kravitz chuckles. It’s not his most suave laugh ever, but Taako smiles when he hears it, and that’s enough to count it as a win, really. “I have to go,” Kravitz says, sighing. “I technically probably should have delegated this delivery to someone else anyway, since I’ve got a flight to catch in an hour and a half, but I wanted to explain in person-these drops should be about once a week, and you can use this… ” he fishes through his bag until he finds the simple cell phone he’d brought with him, “to text me any specific needs. You get...okay reception out here, it’s not great but it should work.”

Taako takes it gingerly and stares at it, for the first time looking as confused by human technology as Kravitz had come to expect from monstrous beings. He stifles a laugh and shows Taako how to turn it on, and how to text - he’s already registered in it, the only contact, with a goofy candid photo from a year prior he hadn’t realized Raven had set as his image. Taako croons, delighted, when he sees it, and manages to tug the story of it out of Kravitz before he leaves; it had been a messy end to a messy case, one that had involved, quite frankly, far more Peeps than was necessary for any mortal endeavor.

Kravitz misses his flight. He shoots Taako a text about it, ending it with a >:[ emoticon, and gets back a string of random emojis, the only connecting factor of which seems to be they feel like they’re making fun of him.


They talk quite a bit, after that; perhaps more than Kravitz is strictly speaking supposed to, but Taako is clever and funny and discovers the selfie entirely by accident, and so when Raven sees him snickering at his phone screen for the fourth time, she just smiles and marks down the Satapaki case as dealt with in her files.

Kravitz is still dedicated to his work, though; he deals with three other cases before the next time he sees Taako, all simple and easy and involving nearly no baked goods at all . They’re routine. Boring, or as close as anything can be to boring in his line of work.

Kravitz isn’t bored, though, because he texts Taako about all of them. He has little to no idea how he’s keeping the phone charged, but he elects not to worry about it too much, because when he asks all he gets is a message that says “ know ;)” and he feels unsure he wants to admit that he doesn’t .

Still, it’s nice to see him again, when he finally does. Kravitz walks into his clearing carrying a box of ingredients he completely doesn’t understand, ready to call out for him again, but this time there’s no need. The moment he’s within a few feet of the pond, a long blue and purple tendril snaps forward out of the water and snatches the box from him. It’s followed by the rest of Taako, who comes most of the way out of the water. His legs are still in the pond, though, and they and some of his tentacles are flicking idly behind him as he looks through the foodstuffs; Kravitz finds the sight of his feet splashing in the shallows oddly charming.

“Good stuff,” he says to Kravitz by way of greeting, glancing up to smile at him. Kravitz smiles back hopelessly, unwilling to admit that some of it he’d bought with his own salary after Raven’s people hadn’t been able to find it at your standard Safeway.

“Thanks, I have no idea what it is,” he says, dropping to the ground. He arranges his legs comfortably, props his elbow on his knee and his head on his hand. “Hello, by the way, Taako, good to see you too, I’m doing well.”

Taako snorts. “Hi, Kravitz,” he says. Then, after a long pause, he continues, “thanks, by the way. For. Sendin’ those guys to keep giving me stuff. ‘Preciate it.”

“Of course,” Kravitz says, smiling gently. “I’m glad to help.”

Taako slips slightly deeper into the shallows, and says, quietly, “like you better, though.”


“Than your guys. I like you better. You’re not scared of me.”

Kravitz blinks, lips slightly parted. “Taako, I-” he starts to say, and Taako shakes his head and cuts him off.

“I mean, you’re handsome and they weren’t, and I’m petty and shallow and stop looking at me like that,” he says, all at once. Kravitz laughs, feeling his face warm.

“Thank you, I suppose,” he says, shifting a little to look at Taako better.

“-Speaking of which, I like this look ,” Taako adds, poking at Kravitz’ knee with a tendril. He’s dressed more casually today than he had been before; most of his clothes were in the wash after his last trips, and it’s a bit of a hike to Taako’s pond, so he’d traded his usual suit for worn jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. He always wore black sneakers, of course, so he could run in a pinch, but they matched this outfit a bit better than his businesslike attire.

“Oh, thanks,” Kravitz says, “don’t tell my boss, she’s a stickler for fancy clothes.”

“She’d hate me, then,” Taako says, grinning, gesturing vaguely to his own constant state of undress. Kravitz’ ears burn.

“I don’t know,” he replies before he can think better of it, “she does have a soft spot for people who make me trip over myself. I’m fairly certain tormenting me is her favorite hobby.”

Taako grins up at him, his dark eyes glittering. “...You sayin’ I make you trip over yourself, handsome?” he asks.

“It might come as a surprise to you, but I’m usually capable of finishing a sentence, Taako,” he says sardonically, “as opposed to the truly embarrassing fool I made of myself when we first met.”

“Agent Kravitz, I do believe you’re flirting with me,” Taako says after a beat, tilting his head to the side. He looks delighted, and Kravitz privately breathes a sigh of relief.

“Just trying to match you, Taako,” he says, “you’ve got me tragically outpaced in that department so far, I’m afraid.”

Taako lifts himself easily out of the water, coming to a stop much closer to Kravitz than he usually lets people be. He catches Kravitz’ hand in both of his own and traces his fingers, smiling softly. “I hope I’m not lookin’ at this wrong,” he says, “‘cause It sounds to me like you like it when I flirt with you.”

Taako must be able to feel Kravitz’ heart thudding in his wrist, but he looks at him expectantly for a response anyway. Kravitz smiles sheepishly at him and says, quietly, “...yeah, I do. You’re...charming, Taako, and I’ve had a wonderful time talking to you. Constantly. For the last month.”

Taako laughs, loud and bell-like, and winds the fingers of one of his hands into Kravitz’ own. Kravitz’ heart is doing some truly impressive acrobatics, but he manages not to pass out as Taako says, “I’m fairly charmed by you too, mister paranormal investigator. If you don’t mind all this-” he gestures to himself, or to his tentacles, or maybe the fangs, Kravitz isn’t sure, “-I’d sure like to get to know you a little better.”

Kravitz nods enthusiastically, his hair bouncing around his face, and Taako laughs at him. “You should go soon, though. I know you warned me this morning it’d be a short visit today.”

Kravitz looks down at their interlocked hands and wants nothing more than to forget about his flight home, but he sighs. “Yeah, I should probably go, but… Taako?”

“Yeah, homie?”

He takes a deep breath. Counts to five. Tucks some of Taako’s long magenta hair behind his pointed ear. “Can I kiss you? Before I go.”

Taako stares at him for an instant, then answers him without saying anything, tugging him forward by their connected hands and gently, softly, kissing him. His lips are warm and soft and taste faintly like honey, and as Kravitz’ eyes flutter shut he wishes he could stay like this forever.

He’s late to the airport, of course. He’s beginning to think this is going to be a running theme.


The next time, Taako barely glances at the cooler before he darts fully out of the water, tendrils trailing behind him, and kisses Kravitz full on the mouth. He barely has a moment to suck in a breath before he’s being kissed like Taako is trying to devour him, and he spares a thought to stories of monsters that seduce men to their deaths before casting it aside, because, frankly, there are worse ways to go.

After a long, searingly hot second, Taako pulls back. His arms are draped over Kravitz’ shoulders, and Kravitz’ hands have come to rest on his hips, which are as oddly smooth as the rest of him.

“Hi,” Taako says, nipping at Kravitz’ bottom lip. Not hard, but enough that he can tell his teeth aren’t even remotely human.

“Hey,” Kravitz breathes. He’s distinctly aware of the lack of tentacles touching him, and he’s not certain why Taako’s not touching him with them, but he’s a little sad about it. He swipes his thumbs back and forth on Taako’s hips, pulling him a little closer. “Good to see you too.”

Taako sticks out his tongue, which is long and pointed and pokes Kravitz in the nose. “Not my fault you kissed me, disappeared, and then sent me cute selfies every few hours for days when you were too far away to touch. Been thinking about this for a week and a half.”

So has Kravitz. He nearly tripped down a set of basement stairs on a haunting case the other day daydreaming about the sweet taste of his lips. He kisses Taako again hungrily, chasing the sparks he feels in his belly at the soft give of his lips and the intoxicating taste of him. Taako drags the sharp nails of one hand down the front of Kravitz’ chest, and he can feel his shirt start to tear but he cannot bring himself to give a shit. He locks his hands together at the small of Taako’s back, resting right above the spot where his tentacles sprout from his skin, and tugs him forward so their chests are flush together without breaking the kiss.

Taako makes a tiny noise, tangling the fingers of one hand in Kravitz’ hair and fisting the other in his shirt, which is getting wet from the residual moisture on Taako’s skin.

“You’re destroying my shirt,” he says against Taako’s mouth. Taako twitches, runs his hands down it in an attempt to smooth it down, starts to apologize-and he pulls him closer again. “No, I don’t mind. It’s fine.”

“You’re gonna have to do a walk of shame through the forest with a shredded shirt, you know,” Taako responds, kissing his jaw. He hums.

“True, but I left a change of clothes in the rental car. I won’t have to explain myself to airport security, anyway.”

Taako snorts. “First of all, you came with a plan ? Cute. Secondly, what would you even say, ‘ sorry, my tentacle monster boyfriend was too excited to get me shirtless and shredded my top ?’”

“I was thinking I’d just say it’s avant-garde runway fashion,” Kravitz says, laughing, then pauses. “Boyfriend?”

Taako goes stiff against him, his hands clenching in his shirt again. “I-I mean, if you. If you wanted, I was just-”

Kravitz kisses him again, chaste, just to quiet him without upsetting him more. “I’d like that. I’d like that a lot,” he says. Taako smiles against his lips, wrapping his arms around Kravitz’ neck. He can feel his pulse in his neck, and his breath hitches when Taako slips his long, thin tongue into his mouth. It’s sweet and slick and strange, twisting around his own and exploring his mouth well beyond what a human tongue could do. He gasps, twitching his hips involuntarily, when Taako runs it along the inside of his teeth. Taako laughs, licking Kravitz’ lip as he pulls back.

Hello ,” he says, palming at Kravitz where he’s already embarrassingly hard in his jeans. Kravitz makes a noise, and Taako laughs.

“Do you wanna…?” he asks, trailing off. “‘Cause, I should warn you about-mm, Kravitz, I need you to listen for like ten seconds,” he says, giggling. Kravitz glances up from where he’s kissing down Taako’s neck and grins.

“I’m listening,” he says, nipping at his collarbone. “I can multitask.”

“You’re a menace.”

“You’re one to talk.”

Taako lets out a chirping laugh, carding his fingers through Kravitz’ hair, which-his eyes flutter shut and he leans his head into it on instinct.

“Anyway, like I was saying ,” Taako says, tugging on his hair teasingly, “I’ve got this, like...pheromone? That I let out when I’m. When I want to fuck a guy, whatever, and it does weird shit to the human brain, and I don’t wanna...take advantage of that. Without knowin’ what you actually want.”

Kravitz blinks. The air around them does smell strangely sweet, but he hadn’t been thinking about it. “Taako, it’s fi-” he starts to say, but Taako puts a finger over his lips and steps backwards away from him, into the water. He starts to complain, but as Taako gets farther away, his head clears somewhat and he understands what Taako’s trying to say.

Weird .

“From over there ,” Taako says, staring up at him, “do you still want this.”

Kravitz looks at him for a second, and then laughs. He’s immeasurably charmed by Taako’s concern, but- “Taako, I’ve daydreamed about this six states away from you. You’re not tricking me into wanting you.”

Taako stares up at him, licking his lips faintly, dark eyes flicking up and down Kravitz’ body. “Are you sure-”

“Taako I appreciate the concern but if you don’t fuck me right now I am going to die,” he says, all in one breath, and both of them have to pause to laugh at that.

“...Okay. Come here,” Taako says, uncharacteristically soft. Kravitz glances down at his clothes - any dignity his shirt may have once offered is long gone, so he drops it on the mossy ground, kicking off his shoes and socks as well, but he leaves on his trousers as he wades apprehensively into the water. He knows they're going to get wet, and may well be damaged, but he just. He just can't stand completely naked in front of a pond monster just yet.

At this rate, though.

As he walks towards him, Taako's tentacles curve his way, stretching towards him as though pulled by gravity or magnetism, but none make contact. Kravitz spares a moment to be touched by Taako's attempt at human conduct.

All thoughts are chased from his mind, though, as Taako reaches out one graceful hand and cups the back of his neck, pulling him closer until Kravitz is pressed flush against his chest. Kravitz’ breath stutters when Taako leans forward enough to press a soft kiss to his lips. It's gentle, almost chaste; Taako's lips are soft and there's that strange sweetness again, like honey but warmer, somehow. Kravitz curls his hands uselessly between them, unsure where or how to touch, and Taako pulls back to smile softly at him before pressing forward again and. Oh.

This time it's far from chaste. Taako kisses him hungrily; he descends on him hard, their teeth clacking together for a moment before they get their bearings, Taako's hand tangling in his hair and pulling a small noise out of him. He feels him smile into the kiss, feels the moment he gives up on faking human and lets his tentacles twine loosely around them both, tugging Kravitz impossibly closer.

That honey-sweet smell is all around them, now, clouding Kravitz’ senses. As he breathes in, he can feel his skin becoming more sensitive by degrees, and he shivers against Taako, heart pounding. Taako pets his hair soothingly.

“‘S okay,” he murmurs, pressing kisses to the corner of his mouth, his cheek, the line of his jaw. “Pheromones. Like I said. Tell me if you wanna stop and I will.”

“No, it's all right,” Kravitz says breathlessly, twining his arms around Taako's neck. “It's-good. I like it.”

Taako huffs a laugh against his collarbone. “That's the point, yeah,” he says, breath ghosting against Kravitz’ skin. “”

He keeps kissing down his neck and across his chest, almost lazy. Each one sends a jolt of feeling through Kravitz, and he tangles his fingers in Taako's long, damp hair and shudders. He feels rather than sees him smile as he does, feels him hum agreeably into his chest. Kravitz grins, rubbing Taako's scalp gently, and Taako makes a delighted, thoroughly inhuman chirping noise before pulling away, embarrassed.

“Sorry,” he starts to say, “I-”

Kravitz kisses him again, then says, “it's all right, Taako, I don't want you to pretend to be human.”


“Taako,” he says again, serious, pressing their foreheads together. “It's okay. I like it. I promise.”

Taako sighs -through his nose, but Kravitz can feel the gills on his neck flutter against his arm- and kisses him again. “If you're sure,” he says softly.

Kravitz laughs, unable to resist kissing him again. “Trust me,” he says, “I’m sure. I like all of you, Taako, even and especially the monster bits.”

Taako smiles genuinely at him again for the first time in a hot minute, and he can feel his more slender tentacles starting to wind around him more closely. “That so,” he says, watching Kravitz closely as they twist around his chest, pressing tight enough to really feel it, and his smile splits into a hungry grin when Kravitz lets out a shuddery breath.

Yes ,” Kravitz says. He's almost never been so sure of anything in his life as he is right then, about how desperately he wants to be touched by every one of Taako’s dozens of limbs, of how much he wants them to hold him, how much he wants them to restrict him. He bites his lip at the thought, his hips twitching against Taako slightly.

Taako laughs, his hands letting go of Kravitz’ neck finally to undo his fly. Kravitz moans as more of the tentacles tug his pants off entirely, taking his boxers with them. Moments later, he hears the wet sound of them hitting the ground outside the pool, and he has to laugh. Walking back to his car is going to be a nightmare.

His laughter turns quickly to a quiet moan as Taako's hand finds his dick under the water, wrapping around him loosely. Taako kisses him again and the honey scent redoubles, filling his senses and fogging his brain with a cottony sort of pleasure unlike anything he's ever felt before. It leaves him panting, kissing Taako like his life depends on it as tentacles wrap gently around his wrists and ankles, gently pushing his arms back from around Taako's neck, then farther, back and up until they're raised above his head, and he's straining to keep his feet on the pond floor.

“It's okay,” Taako murmurs, breaking the kiss to nip hungrily at the crook of his neck. “I’ve got you, handsome, just relax. Let me do the work. Trust me.”

And...he does. Kravitz does trust him, which is a strange discovery and a stranger feeling, and for a moment he battles against the sickly-sweet haze in his mind to try and analyze that thought, but before long he gives up and gives in, taking a deep breath and relaxing back into the hold the tentacles have on him.

His weight is immediately shifted from his wrists to his abdomen, and the tendrils around his ankles gently urge his legs up, until he gets the idea and wraps them around Taako's waist. Taako hums, speeding up the movement of the hand on his cock in reward, and Kravitz moans wordlessly and lets his head drop back. Some of his hair hits the water, but he can't be bothered to care.

Taako's laughing at him. “Does that feel good, beautiful?” he asks, trailing his free hand down Kravitz’ chest. Kravitz moans assent, shuddering at the contact.

“I know it's hard,” he says, then stops while they both snicker immaturely. “- Difficult , but can you tell me what you want, lovely?”

“You,” Kravitz says immediately, voice sounding almost far away to his own ears.

“Okay,” Taako says, laughing again, and presses a kiss to the spot where his ear meets his jaw. His thumb swipes across the head of Kravitz’ dick and he jolts uselessly, against the tentacles holding him. Taako keeps talking. “You’ve got me. Gonna have to be more specific than that.”

Kravitz tightens his legs around Taako’s waist and fumbles for words. Eventually he lands on, “ more ,” whimpered more than spoken, and Taako chuckles breathlessly at him - yeah, okay, Kravitz will give him that one, that was actually less specific - and kisses him again, hot and wet and frantic. Kravitz feels the hand leave his cock and whines, but it’s swiftly replaced by something else, something slick and alien and warm twisting around him, and he jerks in place, moaning, when he realizes it’s not the same texture as the rest of Taako’s tentacles and, god, this is the best possible way to find out he has a prehensile dick, with it winding tight around his own and the saccharine-sweet taste of him coating his tongue.

Kravitz is overwhelmed with sensations, the wet motion of the pond water against his chest and the soreness that’s starting in his arms, the honey press of Taako’s mouth on his and the strange indescribable rightness of whatever  is happening with their dicks all compounding to a sort of perfect amount of too much, and he arcs against Taako as he’s pushed over the edge, crying out in a cracked voice. Taako’s tendrils constrict around him all at once moments later, pulling just slightly too tight, his sharp nails drag across Kravitz’ scalp and he makes a high-pitched animal keen that makes Kravitz shudder in his grasp.

After a moment, the tendrils holding his arms and legs let go, gently stroking the places they’d pressed down. The ones around his chest don’t let go entirely, but they do loosen until they’re just supporting him instead of holding his entire weight. Taako presses their foreheads together, panting, and the thick sweet smell in the air starts to dissipate. Kravitz wraps his arms around Taako’s neck the instant he has control of them again, weakly squeezing him in an exhausted attempt at affection.

Taako smiles at him, squeezing him just a degree harder, then pushes off the ground and drifts backwards, pulling Kravitz along with him, until he hits a sandbar that lets him sit comfortably with his back against the edge of the pond. He tugs Kravitz into his lap, and Kravitz goes easily, adjusting their embrace just enough to sit comfortably with his face pressed up against Taako’s smooth shoulder. He’s blissed-out and warm, just on the edge of consciousness, and if he were slightly more awake or trusted Taako slightly less he’d be worried about drowning. As it is, though, he rests his cheek against Taako’s skin and sinks willfully into the fog still swimming through his head, murmuring “that was nice” into Taako’s neck.

The last thing he feels as he falls asleep is the comforting rumble of Taako’s laugh and the gentle pressure of dozens of limbs wrapping protectively around him. Through layers of drowsiness he faintly hears Taako say “sure was, handsome,” back at him.