In the soft, slow hours of the morning, in the darkness of their bedroom, Kravitz revels in being warm. Even after two years, the sensation is new and wonderful — a change from centuries spent in a bone-deep cold he had never noticed. He’s warm from the down duvet, from Taako lying immovable on his chest, and from inside too — his heart inexplicably beating out a slow rhythm he sometimes finds his fingers tapping in absent moments, his body automatically keeping time to the tempo of his pulse.
When they first began spending the night together, Kravitz would sometimes lie beside Taako and watch him sleep. He hadn’t yet admitted that he couldn’t remember how to sleep, and Taako hadn’t yet flicked his ear and told him to try closing his eyes instead of staring like a stalker all night. Taako hadn’t yet charmed and cajolled heckled him into being a person again. Kravitz would watch Taako sleep and he’d marvel at the steady rise and fall of his chest, at the unconscious flick of his pointed ears and the heat of his breath against Kravitz’s skin.
It was utterly baffling to Kravitz, then, that he should have this.
Sometimes he wakes up like this, with Taako draped over him, and he can’t help watching him still, even though he knows if Taako catches him at it, he’ll be teased mercilessly. Sometimes the fact that all this is real hits him anew.
Honestly, the likelihood of being caught is pretty small. Taako may be an elf, but he’s a heavy sleeper, and reluctant to wake unless he gets one of his night terrors.
Kravitz reaches up to tuck a strand of Taako’s hair behind his ear and Taako shifts on top of him, blinking awake. Taako smiles as he does, only half-conscious as he looks from under heavy eyelids at Kravitz, and then he glances at the clock sitting on their bedside table and makes a grunt of disapproval.
“No,” he says, turning and pressing his face against Kravitz’s chest.
Kravitz can’t help the laugh that bubbles out of him, even though it earns him a sleepy glare. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Sorry.”
“Watchin’ me sleep. Creeper.” Taako burrows deeper under the blankets. “Fuck, Krav. S’only seven.”
Kravitz’s job means he doesn’t keep regular hours. He comes and goes when his goddess calls and Taako’s mortal sleep schedule doesn’t change that. But Kravitz made a deal on Lup and Barry’s behalf, and in doing so engineered himself days off — a luxury he hasn’t known in his millenia working for the Raven Queen.
To be fair, days off were a luxury he hadn’t wanted before now.
“You don’t have to get up,” Kravitz says, and kisses Taako’s forehead. “I’ll put coffee on and do some work.”
Taako groans and tightens his grip as Kravitz tries to pull away. “No. It’s cold and it’s dark out there, bones. S’not even morning.”
“The clock says it’s seven.” Kravitz presses a kiss to Taako’s eyebrow, his temple, his stubbornly closed eyelids.
“Clock’s wrong,” Taako grumbles.
“Clock’s not wrong unless you changed it, because I certainly didn’t,” Kravitz says, and peels Taako off of him, ignoring the whine he gets in return. Taako’s already half asleep again anyway, despite the protests and clinging. “I’m only going to the living room.”
“I know. M’not worried.”
“I didn’t think you were.” Kravitz brushes his fingers through Taako’s hair again.
Taako’s eyes open, just a sliver, and although it’s clear he’s still fighting consciousness, he’s more awake than before. “I’m sleepin’ here.”
Kravitz hums in acknowledgement. “I’m not trying to stop you.”
Taako snorts against Kravitz’s pajama-clad chest. “Are too.”
Maybe he is, a little. Watching Taako sleep is nice. Convincing Taako to get up with him so they have more time to spend together during the day is better. “Are not.”
Taako shoves him, gently. “Fine,” he says, face scrunching up as he squeezes his eyes shut. “You get up. Taako’s good in here.”
Taako says this, but he makes absolutely no move to shift off Kravitz. If anything, he clings tighter, stubborn even as a feigned half-sleep slips into something real and Taako’s breathing evens out again, his expression going soft and open.
Kravitz watches for several long minutes before he works himself up to actually easing out from under Taako and getting out of bed. As soon as he’s up, Taako shifts into the warm spot he left behind.
Outside the cocoon of blankets, the room is, as Taako predicted, cold. Kravitz resists the temptation to crawl back into bed. They’ll spend all day there if he doesn’t give Taako an incentive to leave it.
If Taako was still awake, he’d complain about Kravitz doing things like making sure he’s properly tucked in under the duvet. He’d pull Kravitz back down onto the bed and give him a reason not to get up — or at least not to be out of bed — but he’s unconscious so it’s easy for Kravitz to tug the sheets a little higher and press a kiss to his temple.
He moves around the room quietly, changing from his pajamas into casual weekend wear since it’s his day off — trousers, a grey button-up, and a thick black cardigan. When he leaves, he makes sure the bedroom door is open, just a crack, so Taako will hear Kravitz moving around when he finally wakes.
It’s truthfully still pretty dark out, but sunrise is starting to break over the horizon and the skylight in the ceiling of their penthouse apartment offers a clear view of the gradiented morning sky. Unlike the clear vastness of the horizon, the massive space — part living room, part kitchen — that makes up most of their apartment is a cluttered mess.
Or, well, the kitchen at least is spotless because Taako is a professional, but outside of the domain Taako considers his, it’s a warzone — magazines, books, notes, and clothing everywhere. Kravitz should probably tidy, but that would mean cleaning up his papers, sprawled across the coffee table and stacked on top of the piano. Kravitz knows where everything is right now. If he cleans, all his paperwork will be out of order.
Besides, life is messy. It’s strange and wonderful and chaotic — uncontrollable, but Kravitz finds he doesn’t mind. Life surprises him in little ways, over and over. Distracts him from paperwork. Encourages him to pick up habits he shed centuries ago, along with his humanity.
Life is good.
Kravitz turns on the coffee pot that Taako sets up every night before bed and begins his morning rounds, checking the plants that litter their apartment. The plants are gifts from Merle, and even if Taako doesn’t seem to notice them, Kravitz is determined to keep them alive.
They inadvertently killed the first three because Kravitz assumed Taako was taking care of them — Merle had given Taako, specifically, the plants — but Taako was aggressively uninterested in babying ficuses. Kravitz put himself in charge from plant number four onwards, and now they have nine plants dotting their home. Nine plants that need care and watering and different amounts of sun exposure. Nurturing them, these tiny living things that rely on him and the occasional unspeakable visit from Merle, has become his morning routine.
It’s calming. Domestic in a way Kravitz’s never been before — another consequence of meeting Taako and getting pulled into his baffling, extraordinary orbit, of Taako choosing him, of all people, to make a home with.
Taako wakes up because something is burning. Eggs. Which means Kravitz is probably scorching the shit out of one of his good pans. So even though it’s only nine and Taako would love to sleep in, he drags himself out of bed and grabs his fluffy teal robe on his way to the kitchen.
“Hey, Krav? You ruining my non-stick skillet, homeboy?” Taako tugs on the robe as he moves out into the kitchen in his sleep shorts and the MUST LOVE DOGS t-shirt he stole from Magnus. He squints at the love of his life, standing beside the stove with a sheepish expression on his handsome face, definitely in the process of ruining Taako’s pan.
Taako raises an eyebrow. ”Thought we agreed you wouldn’t cook without me.”
“I was making you breakfast in bed.” Kravitz says, because he’s a disaster when it comes to most real people things, but he’s a considerate, kind-hearted, loving disaster. Kravitz looks despairingly down at the unsalvageable, burnt, weirdly crispy contents of the pan. “There’s coffee.”
Taako pats Kravitz’s arm in consolation on the way to the coffee pot. He pours himself a cup and loads it up with sugar. “Toss your egg mess and let’s start again, my dude. First, the heat is up way too fucking high. What was that supposed to be?”
“An omelette,” Kravitz admits, which is… cute, but Taakos’s a professional chef and he has no desire to eat a bad omelette, not even a bad omelette made with love. Even with Taako’s hypothetically expert instructions, walking Kravitz through making one, he doubts Kravitz could make something passable.
He loves the dude and all, but you don’t try to fly before you can fucking walk.
“I’m feeling like french toast,” Taako says. “Let’s do french toast.”
Kravitz dumps the burned eggs in the bin and starts wiping out the pan. “You don’t trust me to make an omelette.”
“Nope,” Taako says, breezing past Kravitz to get the cream out of the fridge. “You’re fucking lucky I trust you with this. An omelette. Sure. Let’s skip the frying pan all together and just toss you straight into the fire. You’re already dead. You know, half the restaurants in Neverwinter make wannabe chefs interview with an omelette, and here you —”
Kravitz cuts him off with a kiss, his lips curled into a half smile against Taako’s.
“I get it,” Kravitz says. “Love you too.” He pressed another kiss to Taako’s forehead as he pulls away, looking at him expectantly. Kravitz is real tactile sometimes. “So. French toast.”
“Right. Uh, french toast.”
They’ve got eggs and cream and cinnamon and leftover french bread. Real maple syrup because Taako’s rich as balls now and hell yeah he’s gonna get the good shit.
Taako dollops some of the cream into his coffee, then hands it to Kravitz. He hops up to sit on the kitchen island. “I’ll walk you through it, but you’re doing the work. Cha’boy’s got nothing to prove.”
“I assumed you’d rather watch than work,” Kravitz agrees, a hint of a smirk on his face.
“Excuse me?” Taako conjures mage hand, groping Kravitz without shifting from his perch on the counter. He pinches Kravitz’s butt and hides his grin with his mug when Kravitz makes a squeaky sound in response that’s half laughter, half protest. “What happened to the dude who was making me eggs?”
“He got told to make you french toast instead,” Kravitz says, and leans in for another kiss as he walks by Taako to get a dish for the custard mixture.
When Taako and Lup were on the road, way back when they were kids, he dreamed about having a big house with a massive kitchen. The kind of kitchen chefs dreamed about — all stainless steel and granite, hardwood floors and coordinated cookware, with a good floorplan and an industrial dishwasher. After the Day of Story and Song, once all the dust had settled, Taako had bought his dream house — a massive fuck-off mansion on the top of a hill with a fountain and a pool. Two pools. It had beautifully manicured gardens and a big iron gate that he’s transmuted himself to have a giant golden “T” at the centre. It had a large kitchen made of granite and steel with mahogany cabinets even Magnus admitted were pretty fucking swanky.
It was everything Taako’s ever wanted. And he hated it. Hated the long, drafty hallways that echoed no matter how many carpets he laid down. He hated the way it always felt empty, even when he invited all of the I.P.R.E. and most of the Bureau for dinner. The way he never ran out of room, even when he tried to overfill the place.
Taako hated feeling like he was haunting his own damn house. The kitchen — his dream kitchen — was the worst fucking part — too big, too cold, too impersonal. He and Kravitz stayed for a month and a half before Taako threw his hands up in defeat and admitted that he didn’t like it, that he wasn’t comfortable, that he couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of the place.
Kravitz had just laughed and kissed him and told him he’d be happy no matter where they lived, as long as they were together, and that he didn’t really like the mansion either.
Taako told him that was gay, and they started looking for a new place the next morning.
The apartment is a fifth of the size of their old mansion. If pressed, Taako would admit that he adores it.
When they first moved in, the apartment had looked like something out of a magazine. It was open and light and airy in a way the mansion wasn’t. The kitchen had quartz countertops and simple cabinets, an apron sink and gas range and oven. The appliances were still stainless steel, but in the smaller space, with the living room right there and a big island where people could watch Taako cook, all the steel didn’t seem so cold.
It only took a week of living in the apartment for it to stop feeling like a showroom and start feeling like home. Merle brought them plants for Kravitz to try to keep alive. Kravitz’s ghost death murder paperwork and Taako’s brand contracts and school reports took over the coffee table. Piles of mingled clothing colonized every square available inch of flat surface. They bought a daybed for the spare room, and if maybe Angus sleeps there sometimes, that means nothing. Neither does the collection of Caleb Cleveland novels that Taako just happened to pick up and leave on the bookcase next to the daybed. It’s fine. They don’t need to talk about it, and if sometimes Taako makes breakfast for three rather than two, well.
The apartment is smaller and cozier and messier than Taako wanted. It reminds him of his room on the Starblaster, the one he shared with Lup. This isn’t at all how he pictured his future, but even as a wildly dreaming kid he never dreamt up Kravitz and Kravitz is a pretty good consolation prize. Makes up for the lack of mansion.
“Alright,” Kravitz says, when he has the appropriate dishes and ingredients laid out on the counter. Taako’s drilled a healthy appreciation of a proper mise en place in Kravitz. “Walk me through this, love.”
“Two eggs and half a cup of cream.” Taako curls both hands around his coffee cup and resists the urge to slide off the counter and take over. Kravitz isn’t gonna learn if Taako keeping cooking for him, and also he’d probably object. Kravitz’s insistence on doing things for Taako is one of his best features. “Toss in a pinch of salt and teaspoon of cinnamon, then whisk it all together. Be better if we had challah, but I didn’t know we were doing brunch.”
“I’ll warn you the next time I try and surprise you with breakfast in bed.” Kravitz’s voice is dry as he reaches for the cream, measuring where Taako would have eyeballed it. He’s slow but precise, and Taako probably shouldn’t find it as charming as he does. He knows Kravitz. They’ve been together plenty long enough. He’s seen the deliberate way Kravitz moves around the kitchen when he’s trying to impress.
Kravitz turns back to Taako, when he’s whisked the custard together. “Now I soak the bread?”
“Mmhmm. Slice it thick. Don’t want it disintegrating in the bowl. And make sure it’s even or it won’t cook properly.”
Kravitz grabs the bread knife and his brow furrows in concentration as he cuts slow, even slices from the stale loaf of french bread, ever so careful about it.
He’s a fucking nerd. Taako raises his mug to his lips to hide the smile on his face. “Turn the heat to medium-low,” he says. “Or you’re going to burn the outside before the inside’s cooked through and also ruin my fucking pan. You’re lucky you’re pretty.”
Kravitz dips the bread into the egg mixture and flashes Taako a grin on his way to switch on the stove. “Very lucky,” he agrees. “It’s one of the things you and my Queen have in common — liking pretty things. I wouldn’t have met you if I wasn’t.”
Taako snorts. “Babe, comparing me to your mom counteracts every sweet thing you just said.”
“Not my mom,” Kravitz says, in the tone of a man who knows he lost this particular argument long ago. “What’s my next step?”
Taako turns the soaking bread with mage hand before it can get too soggy and nods toward the butter dish on the counter. “Butter in the pan. Swirl it to coat once it start to melt. Then you’re gonna cook these bad boys until they’re golden brown. Easy peasy. If you burn fucking toast I’m leaving you.”
Kravitz laughs and levitates the dish over to the stove so he can lay the bread down in the skillet. “I better do a good job then.”
“I’m here to supervise. You can’t fuck up too bad.” Taako gets up off his stool so he can keep a closer eye on what Kravitz is doing, looping his arms around Kravitz’s waist and hooking his chin over Kravitz’s shoulder. If Taako has to stand ever so slightly on his toes to do so, Kravitz is smart enough not to comment.
Kravitz tries to move to grab a spatula from the stand beside the sink and Taako stays right the fuck where he is. Kravitz laughs, and Taako can feel the rumble of it reverberate through his own chest, even with his plush robe and Kravitz’s ridiculously put together weekend outfit between them. “Taako, do you want the toast to burn? I need a spatula.”
“Sounds like a you problem, homie.” Taako turns his face into Kravitz’s neck, pressing a kiss to cool skin. “Taako’s good right here.”
“Love, please. I already burned breakfast once today.”
“Better not give a repeat performance, my dude. Taako doesn’t joke about wasting food. Got my lawyer on speed dial, darling.”
Kravitz wiggles in his grasp, but he’s not trying very hard to escape and Taako’s vision might be all dark skin and sharp jawline right now, but he’s a chef. He’s got an innate instinct for when shit’s about to burn and they’re good.
Kravitz wiggles again. “Taako.”
Taako takes the opportunity to snake his fingers between the buttons of Kravitz’s shirt to touch his stomach, grinning when he feels the hitch in Kravitz’s breath. It’s good to know he’s still distracting. Taako presses another kiss to his neck and Kravitz makes a low, pleased sound that’s promptly countered by another half-hearted attempt at escape.
“Taako, the toast,” Kravitz says, half-fond, half-exasperated.
Taako laughs against Kravitz’s skin. “Hey babe? Pretty sure you’ve got magic.”
Kravitz goes still. “Fuck,” he says, and Taako lets out a gleeful cackle as Kravitz levitates the spatula over just in time for him to flip the toast.
The crust on the first side is perfect, natch. Any recipe Taako touches even tangentially is going to be great. The kitchen smells like cinnamon and custard and Taako’s actually pretty hungry, now that breakfast is almost done. He pulls his hand out from under Kravitz’s shirt and kisses his clothed shoulder as he steps back and takes a seat at the island, actually using a stool this time.
Kravitz having the day one-hundo percent really truly off is nice. They’re not going to be interrupted by a surprise cult or a soul that needs extra guidance to the astral plane. They have dinner plans — with Lup and Barry — but other than that the day is theirs. Part of Taako wants to stay in, be lazy. Make excuses to Lup about why he can’t provide his promised contribution to dinner. Strip Kravitz out of his cardigan and shirt. But it’s the weekend and they live in Neverwinter and there’s a whole city out there for them to explore — stores to grace with their presence. Taako could use something new.
“Gotta get groceries for Lup and Barry’s tonight,” he says, watching Kravitz grab plates and cutlery for them as the toast finishes up cooking. “Lu wants me to do dessert. M’thinking pie.”
Kravitz glances over his shoulder at Taako. “Farmer’s market?”
“Yeah, we should have time. I was thinking… maybe shopping too? First?” Shopping with Lup is good, but shopping with Kravitz is great. Shopping with Kravitz means Taako gets to play dress up with his clotheshorse of a man and yeah, okay, Kravitz is old-fashioned and tied to his suits, but he looks good in them, and honestly Taako has no objections to his boyfriend being fancy as fuck.
Kravitz plates the french toast and carries both servings over to the island for Taako’s inspection. “That sounds lovely. You know I never turn down a shopping trip.”
Taako takes the bigger piece of toast and then has to pull Kravitz down into a kiss because of his handsome face and ridiculous insistence on trying to be a real person and the way he takes care of Taako in little, unthinking ways are sometimes too much to bear. He has to touch Kravitz to make sure he’s real and solid and here.
“Good boy,” Taako says, patting Kravitz’s cheek and then pushing him away. “Get the maple syrup, bones. Let’s see if your cooking gets the Taako’s Amazing School of Magic seal of approval.”
Kravitz steals one last kiss before pulling away to fetch the syrup. Taako watches the easy, familiar way he moves around their kitchen as he slices off a corner of the toast and pops it into his mouth. It’s perfect — faintly cinnamon-scented, caramelized on the outside, soft in the middle — the product of Taako’s excellent instruction.
“Mm, solid seven out of ten,” he says, when Kravitz returns, and revels in the way Kravitz chuckles in response and shrugs off the slight. “Good effort, but we can do better.”
“I’ll take it,” Kravitz says, shrugging as he takes a seat beside Taako. “I’ve got lots of time to improve my grade.”