Meeting Death is strangely anticlimactic after the fact. Like, he’s hot, he’s got a cool scythe, and his face is sometimes just a skull. Pretty dope, Taako’ll give him that. Nothing exactly mind-blowing , though. Taako’s not experiencing any revelations about his existence, he doesn’t fall to his knees in reverence or suddenly become aware of his size in the universe. They barter with a loaded deck and walk away with little more than a warning.
That’s Death. That’s Kravitz. Drop-dead gorgeous and a bit of a dork, who stutters out an offer for a second date and gets flustered when Taako kisses him on the cheek. He knows this because his cloak is a practical moodring, the feathers that adorn him puffing up and out like a startled bird's.
It’s cute. Death is cute.
It means that dating Kravitz is like dating any normal person would be — a person cursed with absolutely terrible circulation, but. Hey, when you’ve seen the shit Taako’s seen, having a man with cold hands really doesn’t even register.
Then he sees Kravitz.
His fiance wears several masks. A crystalline vessel, a skeleton, a raven, a half-drow man. He swaps them out as needed, for work and for play, and it’s long since become mundane to see Kravitz’s skull shimmering beneath his skin on a bad day.
There’s something that lies underneath those. And staring at it, on his back, the taste of metal upon his tongue, Taako remembers that Kravitz has been Death for a long, long time.
His feathered body blots out the moon. He pants, hissing breaths that make his shoulders rise, his chest swell. A breeze ruffles his ragged plumage, feathers bent out of place, bristling with lingering violence.
Taako drags in a breath, cold and aching in his lungs. It seeps to his ribs and lingers in his marrow. There’s a sting in his belly — it burned at one point. He can still feel the drip of blood, silken down his skin.
Bodies are strewn about: empty vessels, their souls now banished to the stockade. Kravitz’s scythe makes for clean kills, a cut down the chest or across the throat or through the abdomen. The carcasses on the ground have been torn apart.
When Kravitz stirs, Taako hears it, the rustle of feathers grating in his ears, his heart swollen and pounding. “Taako,” he rasps. His voice is a song. There’s blood on Taako’s tongue, tasting sweet.
Kravitz lurches towards him, shadow darkening over Taako, wrapping him in a soothing chill. A gnarled, scale-laden hand emerges from a curtain of feathers. He hisses, “ You’re hurt.”
He shudders, frozen, drawn to that hand but perfectly still. The feathers flare. Taako sees teeth, needlepoints. Hears the crunch of bone into powder, “They hurt you.”
He can feel the particles of dust in his lungs. Then he is reaching, sees but does not feel his body move to grasp Kravitz’s fingers. Talons curl around his hand, engulfing it as Kravitz descends.
Taako is pulled, trembling, into a bed of feathers. They’re darker than ink. Navy blue glistens behind his eyes. He inhales, breathes in stale stardust as the world spins twice around and he falls.
He comes to in his bed. Sweat coats his forehead, loose hairs plastered to his skin. Eyes blink, focusing, a breath drawing slow into his lungs. Clean air, chest rising and easing as he lets it out.
There’s a glass of water at his bedside, glistening with condensation. Suddenly parched, Taako rolls over to grasp it, the sheets clinging to his damp skin. He could moan with the relief of soothing his dry throat.
Begs the question of who put the glass there. It'd been a good idea; Taako feels like he's just been wrung out of a fever. Maybe Lup or Barry, if he’s been sick, or Kravitz —
He’s crossed frequencies over his stone of farspeech before. Voices knitting in and out of each other, hovering at a perfect overlay before one fizzled into static again — that’s how the memories come to him. Fresh perspiration breaks out over his skin, a shiver wracking his spine. There are just snatches in his brain, always viewed through the peripheral, never dead on, but what he puts together is —
feathers and bone and the sky around his ankles
A breath shudders out of him. Taako smiles, giddy.
His legs tremble when he puts his weight onto them. They hold him, though, and when he steps forward, the exhaustion slowly away.
Kravitz is waiting on the couch. Like a schoolboy awaiting the principal, he sits with his back slouched, shoulders hunched, hands folded in his lap. The moment he hears Taako, though, he’s bolting upright, coming for him in hurried strides.
And then he stops. Well out of arm’s reach, Kravitz freezes, draws himself up with a breath, and then sags. “Taako,” he murmurs. There’s something in his voice that Taako doesn’t like. “I… how are you feeling?”
Taako makes a show of stretching his arms over his head, entire body pulled into an arc. “Better by the second,” he declares, a yawn prying his jaws open. He clacks his teeth shut. “Bit sticky, though, probs gonna hop in the shower. Is that just gonna happen when you go all beast mode on those suckers? Cause gonna be real, I feel somewhere between a hangover and the morning after a thorough dicking.”
He's assuming that's what this is. He's met gods before, and they've been nothing special, but now he wonders if maybe they'd been holding back. Kravitz is only an emissary, and seeing him like that, a body formed from the deepest crevices of his soul, the raw magic born of the celestial plane, and Taako woke sweat-slicked and addled.
Kravitz is just. Staring at him. Gawking almost, something which Taako happily accepts from strangers but less so his betrothed. So he lifts his eyebrows until Kravitz snaps out of it, blinking and abashed. “Sorry,” he says, head ducking. “I just. You’re okay?”
“Be better once I’m all washed up, but yeah, my man. Taako’s good.” He can taste magic in the back of his throat, but it doesn't feel bad. It's buzzing, and just on the side of sweet, like sugar water dripped behind his tongue. He twists a lock of hair around a finger, regarding Kravitz a moment longer. Chin down and eyes distant — reaper boy is definitely holding something back right now.
Taako huffs. He steps forward, closing the frankly ridiculous distance between them to push his fingers up against the underside of Kravitz’s chin. “I can hear you thinking, sweetcheeks. What’s eatin’ ya?" He rolls his shoulders, feels his shirt cling to his back, and wrinkles his nose as he shakes his had. "Actually, hold on a mo', I have to shower right now cause th is is pret-ty gross.”
He lets Kravitz stay silent as he cranks on the water. Lets him gather himself and think as the spray warms, as Taako undresses and Kravitz follows suit. He draws back the curtain, both of them stepping into the shower. It’s one of the fancy sorts with far more shower-heads than necessary, cause he has money now and Taako deserves some pampering.
“Start talking, babe,” Taako drawls. His fingers skim over the labels of shampoo until he settles on a coconut-scented wash. He’s gonna smell like a goddamn dream. Be a bit nicer if Kravitz were the one to work it into his hair. Be nicer if he would touch Taako at all. “And, uh, maybe cut out the hands-off approach? I know I said I was gross, but like, don’t deny yourself on my account. I’m all rinsed off and everything.”
Those are apparently the magic words. Kravitz’s hands settle at his waist. Then they slip around, arms wrapped about his stomach. There’s just the slightest sting, Taako glancing down at the pain. There’s a faded line on his belly, red but healthily scabbed.
Right. Necromancers. Knives. Bird demon fiance.
The sense of losing himself, Kravitz the only thing keeping him anchored. Mind and body and soul wrapped up in shadows, the dragging of whispers in the shells of his ears, inaudible. Somehow he hadn't been afraid.
“I was worried I’d hurt you,” Kravitz murmurs. It’s nearly lost to the clatter of water.
Taako chews on that for a moment. Says, “Babe, I’m pretty sure you hurt that guys that hurt me. It was kind of gruesome, so, uh, actually ‘pretty sure’ is gonna get bumped up to ‘absolutely certain.’”
There’s a breath of a laugh against his neck. It sobers too quickly. “Not physically,” Kravitz says. “I’m not… that was a loss of control there. It was irresponsible of me to take that form in front of you.”
“Cause of the, uh…” He gropes for a good word. “Definitely were giving off some kind of vibes. Like, ancient terror beyond mortal comprehension? But more lowkey.”
Kravitz’s arms had tightened. They ease after a beat, several more stretching out without even a murmur. When he does speak, it’s quiet: “The last thing I want to do is scare you.”
Taako can’t help but bark out a laugh. “No, darling, I promise that was one of the last things on the list.” On the list, sure. But it was pretty low. “I mean, yeah, definitely got a bit disconnected there. Real wibbly all up in my headspace. But, uh. It was kind of hot.”
Taako knows he doesn’t have a record for being attracted to anything good for him. He’s seen Kravitz at work before, had to conceal a hard-on watching it — a feat that's not exactly easy in a skirt. He can't be blamed; there’s just something freakily alluring about his fiance cutting a lich down in one swipe. So yeah, he's gonna be a little bit turned on when Kravitz turns into a semi-godly horror. He could feel it, too, could sense what kind of power he wielded. It was unearthly, twisted his guts and made him shake with want.
“...Hot,” Kravitz repeats.
Taako shrugs. “It’s an acquired taste,” he says, which doesn’t make sense but Kravitz gives a small, incredulous snort into his hair. “I mean, is that like, a possibility?”
“Is what a possibility?” Kravitz sounds like he doesn’t quite want to know.
So of course Taako says it anyway. “You know. Getting to the bone zone with demon Krav. You got a dick on that fiendish bod?”
“I don’t…” His voice is aghast. “Taako, don’t joke about that, this is serious.”
“I’m being serious, doll.” Taako tips his head up against Kravitz’s shoulder. “I mean, if you don’t wanna then that’s the end of that. But I am saying that if you’ve maybe got some more primal urges going on when you go all hellmurder beastmode, Taako’s down.”
Their gazes meet for a moment, warm water streaming between their bodies. There’s something in Kravitz’s eyes he doesn’t fully recognize, wary and uncertain and maybe a little bit hungry. In the red of his irises, Taako sees a flash of what he was before. His breath hitches.
Kravitz breaks the silence with, “Why don’t we talk about this... a little later? I need some time to think.”
Taako hums to himself. He turns, slips his arms up around his neck to lay a kiss on his lips. “Hell yeah,” he says. “Though, uh, I will say that just thinking about this? Little more into it than I realized.” His smile turns taunting as he shifts his hips forwards, lets his half-hard length rub over Kravitz’s thigh.
He watches Kravitz's expression, how his eyelids lower, the slide of his tongue over his bottom lip. “Mm," Kravitz hums, "I suppose you expect me to take care of that?”
“Well I’m not gonna,” he snorts, and sets a hand on Kravitz’s shoulder to press down, heat in his belly as he watches his fiance sink down to his knees.
Kravitz brings it up over dinner two nights later. Asks for a knife and says, “Also did you still want to have sex when I’m a monster or did you think better of it?”
Taako passes him a clean knife.
“Nope, that is definitely still on the table,” Taako says, putting his own utensils down. “You, uh. Is it for you? On. On the table, I mean.”
“It is,” Kravitz says, but the words come out slow. He stares down at the table, pausing his meal as he stares down at his knees. “But I just. I’m not, not really sure if you realize what you’re getting into here. That is a reflection of… Well, of what I am. You have this me, the body and mind from my mortal life.” He gestures to himself. “And my reaper form, as a servant of the Raven Queen and, technically, a member of the undead.”
Taako nods. “You don’t gotta say technically, pretty sure undead means undead. It’s chill, all cops break their own laws.”
He makes a face at Taako. Clears his throat and says, “But. That. That is… I suppose something between a celestial and a fiend. It… I lack full control, I’m much stronger but more instinctual and frankly, Taako, I’m concerned about the size…” He looks a bit more embarrassed there, his brief tirade tapering off into quiet.
Taako bites his lip. “Yeah,” he says, nodding. His belly feels tight. “Gonna, uh, gonna be real with you here. None of that is really turning me off, my guy.”
“You say that now,” Kravitz says, “but what if you change your mind, or I — I do something you don’t like, or scare you —”
Taako takes his hand. It’s a maneuver that forces him to lean across the table, nearly sticking his elbow in the butter, but Kravitz falls silent, meeting his eyes. “Can’t stress this enough. If you don’t want this, we’re not doing it, hands off, game over. But I’ve got a little something-something that I think will solve the problems you’re laying out. Finish up dinner, darling, and then let ol’ Taako blow your mind.” He flashes him his best grin, the one that says he has a plan that's sure to change the game.
It does the trick. Kravitz relaxes, puffing out a laugh. “Of course. I suppose we’ll have to see what you’ve come up with.”
What he’s come up with is just a bracelet. He presents it to Kravitz, a nice little silver chain that fits around Taako's wrist. “This,” he says, all drama and flair, “is a little trinket Lup and I whipped up. Activates at will. The second I want it to, it’ll... Well. Lemme show you. Suppose I should apologize in advance, so, uh, sorry.”
Kravitz’s eyebrows raise, but he inclines his head, permission given. It only takes a thought from Taako for the magic to pulse out, pure radiant energy that makes Kravitz flinch and draw back, the feathers of his cloak bristling a protest.
Taako withdraws his magic before any damage can be done, leaving Kravitz rattled but unharmed. He spreads his hands, wiggling them as he beams. “There you have it! If something goes wrong — and nothing’s gonna,” Taako interrupts himself to assure him. “But if it does, if I get a little freaked and wanna call things off, this is pretty much an auto-stop.”
Kravitz steadies himself, shaking off the jolt. “That… that should do it,” he laughs. His eyes are admiring, silent praise that Taako basks in. And finally, he can see that last little wall of concern and reluctance break down.
And that’s the last step. It settles in Taako’s brain, then, that this is something that will happen. It makes him as giddy as it does anxious, toes curling in his boots at just the thought.
He remembers the saccharine flavor of decay, heady on his tongue when he breathed in midnight down. When his lips meet Kravitz’s, he thinks he finds a hint of it, cups his jaw and kisses him deep, scrapes nails across his skin, eager for when he would feel the catch of minute feathers beneath them instead.