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We're Good, You and Me

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He had had a crush on the elf for a long time, at least three or four cycles. Ever since Taako had come back to the Starblaster one night, blond hair tangled and falling into his face, dirt smudged on his pointed ears and nose, and clothes a mess… He should have been angrily stomping around, as he had before when his perfect image had been ruined. Instead, his golden amber eyes were alight with excitement; his ears perked and twitching. He had laughed in delight at Davenport’s expression as he reached into his robes and pulled out a large, brightly glowing orb: the Light of Creation.

“It was just sitting there!” He had exclaimed, “Just waiting for us. Out there, in that forest. The whole time we’ve been combing the cities and it’s been on our doorstep!” The Light seemed to glow brighter as his excitement grew, and Magnus had to shield his eyes.

“That’s fantastic, Taako!” He had said, and when Taako had turned to face him, something in Magnus’s gut twisted pleasantly. The light of the orb in his hands illuminated his face in soft blue-orange-white spots that danced across his features and made every angle, every curve so much more pronounced. Taako grinned and the gap between his front teeth burrowed its way into Magnus’s chest and locked in. It hurt a bit, but it was the good kind of hurt; the kind that he knew was meant to be there.

From that moment on, Magnus’s heart belonged to the wizard.

 

Their first date wasn’t even called that until many days later. It started as just a shopping trip—after all, the Starblaster had really only been supplied for a month, max, so every time they landed in a new plane it was a delight to learn of the new food and supplies the locals had. They were in some sort of exotic marketplace, with colorful tents lining the streets and shopkeepers shouting their wares from the corners of side trails. There were dazzling lights strung up, making the perpetual dusk of this planet seem brighter.

“Hey, Mags, come check this out.”

Magnus, who, as always, had been sent as a sort of pack mule, gathered the bags and followed the sound of Taako’s voice to a vividly purple tent. Around the elf’s neck was a silky, almost weightless scarf. As Magnus looked closer, he realized what he initially thought was simply sparkles decorating the black fabric were, in reality, thousands of miniature stitched runes. He cast his mind back to the few times he had studied Taako’s books and recognized a few as protection spells, and maybe something for luck? It was fascinating, for sure, but all he could really focus on was how the scarf brought out those green flecks in Taako’s eyes that he so adored.

“So? What do you think? Don’t just stare.”

“It’s… beautiful, Taako. Wow.” Magnus blinked to clear his mind and raised his eyebrows. “Those are runes?”

“Yeah,” Taako said, and flipped one end of the scarf back over his shoulder. He adjusted the collar of his shirt and examined himself in the mirror. “I recognize some of them, but most of them are local specialties, isn’t that great? Barold would get a kick out of studying them—don’t tell him I thought of him, though.”

Magnus grinned. “Of course. So you’re getting it, then?”

Taako sighed. “No. Dav was stingy with my personal funds this week; said I spend too much money on souvenirs and not enough on things that help the mission or something ridiculous like that.”

Magnus couldn’t help but laugh. “Aww, Dad cut your allowance?”

Taako rolled his eyes and shoved the fighter, but a smile twitched at the corner of his mouth. “Shut up. He’s not our dad.”

“He kind of is, to be fair.”

“Does that make Merle our dad, too?”

“Definitely not. He’s the weird uncle.”

Taako shrugged. “I can see it.” He sighed again and took off the scarf, folding it carefully and placing it back on the table of wares.

Magnus made up his mind. “How much for the scarf?” He asked the shopkeeper, an old woman with dirty brown-and-white hair. She grinned, revealing a few missing teeth.

“For a young man such as yourself? Twenty bits.”

“Magnus, you don’t—“ Taako started, but Magnus was already counting out twenty of the coins the locals used for currency and giving them to the shopkeeper. She bit one and, satisfied with its authenticity, nodded.

“The runes were hand-stitched,” she said as she wrapped the scarf in paper, “by my daughter. Protection, fortune, mindfulness…” She leaned in and added conspiratorially to Magnus, “love.” She winked and he blushed.

“Ah, um, well it’s very beautiful. Thank you.” He took the package with a nod and put it under his arm.

She waved as they walked away, chuckling. “So good to see two young people happy together, no?”

The blush still burned on Magnus’s face long after they left the tent. Taako, once they were a suitable distance away, shoved Magnus—hard. This wasn’t the teasing pushes Magnus was used to, and, startled, he stumbled a bit. “Why did you—“

“I told you that you didn’t have to do that,” Taako said angrily, his eyes covered by the shadow of his wide-brimmed hat.

“So? I wanted to.”

“You wanted to? What kind of excuse is that? If you wanted me to do something, you could have just asked; you didn’t have to try to butter me up.”

“It’s not an excuse, Taako,” Magnus said, furrowing his brow in confusion. “It’s the truth. I thought it looked nice on you, and you liked it.”

Taako was silent for a moment. “I just… I just don’t get it. Yeah, we get each other gifts at Candlenights and stuff, but there're no holidays coming up, or birthdays…”

“That’s the point, Taako.” At this, Magnus stopped walking and gently grabbed Taako’s wrist, stopping him, too. “I did it because I wanted to. Full-stop. No ulterior motive, no reason other than it made you happy. Is it really that hard for you to understand?”

Taako looked at his feet. “Maybe.”

Magnus sighed and chewed his lip, trying to figure out how to phrase what he wanted to say. He knew Taako and Lup hadn’t had the happiest of childhoods, and even though they had all been together on the Starblaster for a long time—almost 30 years now—they still had trouble trusting anyone’s intentions. In the end, Magnus just decided to get it over with.

“Look, Taako. I…” He took a deep breath. “I really like you. Like, like-like you.”

“What are we, 12?” Taako teased automatically, but through his wrist, Magnus could feel the elf’s heartbeat start to race.

“I wasn’t sure how to say it,” Magnus continued, “but I’ve liked you for… a while. I really do want you to just be happy. Nothing else. So please, just accept the gift? And we can pretend like this never happened if you want.”

Taako swallowed. “…Who said that I want to forget?”

“Huh? I—“

Taako rushed in.

Their lips met and Magnus let out a short gasp, nearly dropping the bags he held in one hand. Taako’s hands moved up to the fighter’s arms and rubbed his biceps as he deepened the kiss, and Magnus practically melted; putty in the elf’s capable hands. When they parted, Taako wore a small smirk and Magnus blinked in disbelief.

“…Wow.”

“I like you, too, you big dumbo.”

“Oh.”

Taako laughed, a bright, airy sound, and took Magnus’s free hand. “Come on, Mags. I’m not going back home from this date until we get some food. Papa’s hungry.”

“Yessir,” Magnus said, still a bit dazed, and followed Taako’s lead.

In truth, he would follow him to the ends of the universe.