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Run, Run, Lost Boy

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Taako’s making dinner when there’s a knock at his front door. He turns to look into his living room, and he makes a quick headcount of the people home. Kravitz is sitting on the floor with Barry, playing with Jules and Blaine; Lup is spread across the couch, half-asleep, rubbing absent circles into her rounded abdomen; Magnus is sprawled in his armchair with Wyatt in his lap; Angus is leaning against Magnus’ chair, in between Magnus’ legs, taking notes from a huge old book in his lap. They all look up at Taako when whoever it is knocks a second time, and he sighs.

“Don’t worry, I’m not fucking busy making you motherfuckers dinner or anything,” Taako calls over his shoulder to them. He gets dinged in the shoulder with a soft toy, and he turns to see Blaine laughing at him as Barry slides her out of view. Taako points at her. “You’re not my favorite today anymore, you dropped in the ranks.” He points to Wyatt instead. “You’re my favorite now. Good work.”

Wyatt shrieks; Magnus has to rush to get a hold on him so he doesn’t topple off of his lap. Taako opens the front door.

“What the fuck do you want?” Taako says, before he even sees who’s there. As it turns out, it’s Lucretia, holding a trunk and a sheaf of papers. She looks startled.

“Uhh— I wanted to talk to Angus,” Lucretia says. “Sorry if this was a… bad time?”

“No, no, it’s fine, come on,” Taako says. He steps aside. “Ango! Lucretia wants to talk to you.” Taako holds his hands out, and Lucretia stares at his arms like she doesn’t know what they’re for. “Hand me your shit, I’ll put it down for you. Jeezy creezy, you’d think we’ve never met.”

Lucretia hesitantly hands over everything to him, and Taako takes it, dumping it on the kitchen island. He hears Lucretia come in and shut the front door behind herself.

“Actually, I’d— This would probably be best if you were there, too,” Lucretia tells him. Taako turns to look at her, eyebrow raised. Angus slides up to his side, angles his body so Lucretia can’t see him take Taako’s hand. Taako squeezes his little hand back.

“What do you need?” Angus asks. Lucretia looks into the living room, then leans in.

“It’s personal,” Lucretia says. “It’s up to you who you want there, but I have something to tell you and something to ask you.”

Angus eyeballs her, and Taako can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he tries to figure out what Lucretia wants based on what she’s said so far.

“And you want Taako there, too?” Angus asks. Lucretia nods, straightening back up.

“If you’re okay with that,” Lucretia says. “Actually— Magnus and Kravitz should probably be there, too. This affects them, as well.”

“Does it?” Magnus asks. He stands from his chair and drops Wyatt with Lup before he cracks his back. “Well, lay it on us.”

“Do you want to talk in your room?” Lucretia asks. Angus glances to Taako, who shrugs.

“Your call, bubbeleh,” Taako tells him. “Whatever you want.”

Angus looks up at his face for another beat, then looks to Lucretia. “You can tell me here.”

“O-Okay, well, then, sit down,” Lucretia tells him. Angus hops up into one of the stools at the island, and Taako stays next to him, rubbing his thumb over the back of Angus’ hand behind his robes. Magnus sidles up on Angus’ other side.

“Krav,” Taako says, softly, and Kravitz climbs up off the floor, stands next to Magnus. Lucretia looks at them a bit like she’s facing a firing squad which, yeah, they do kind of look like that. She stops looking at anyone but Angus after a quick moment, though, and she folds her hands together in front of her.

“Angus, I’m sorry, but your grandfather passed away,” Lucretia tells him, and Taako’s stomach drops, and he instantly turns, looking to Angus’ face, but it’s unreadable. He keeps staring at Lucretia, then looks to Magnus. Magnus reaches out and puts a hand on Angus’ shoulder, squeezes it.

“I’m sorry, buddy,” Magnus says. Angus looks away from him to look at Taako, and Taako squeezes his hand again.

“It’s gonna be okay,” Taako tells him. He has no idea what this really means to Angus; he never talks about his grandfather, but Taako remembers how he used to mention him. He remembers that Angus’ pleasure room on the Rockport Limited train was his grandfather’s library; he remembers that Angus was going to his grandfather’s deathbed when they first met. He’s surprised the guy wasn’t dead already; Angus hasn’t mentioned him much recently, so he’d kind of assumed he already had died. “If you want to… I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Angus turns his face away, briefly, into Taako’s robes, and Taako lets him. Kravitz shifts, moving to stand between Magnus and Angus, and he leans over the island to whisper to Angus.

“I can check on him for you,” Kravitz tells him, quietly, in a voice meant only for Angus, but which Taako can hear with his elf-hearing. He turns his head like he’s not listening. “But I want you to know, the Astral Plane is not a bad place to be. It’s a neutrality for souls. He’ll be at peace there, I can promise you that.”

Angus nods, and Taako looks back at him, even as Angus looks to Lucretia instead.

“That sucks,” Angus says, simply. His eyes are a little glassy, but he doesn’t cry. “I mean, it’s been a while. I kind of— We thought he was gonna die a little while ago, actually. By we, I mean, him and me, and his weird nurse. And, I mean. People die, which is just how the world kind of— Goes. So, it’s fine, I guess.”

Taako feels his brow furrow. “Damn, kid. Like, you’re right, but, damn. Be a kid.”

“I’ve seen a lot of people die,” Angus says, looking back up at him. Taako hesitates, then pulls the kid in for a brief hug, stroking his hair back. When he pulls back, Angus still has his head tipped back to look at him.

“You just, uhh— You feel whatever you gotta feel, pumpkin,” Taako says. Angus squeezes his hand again, then turns back to Lucretia.

“What did you want to ask me, then?” Angus asks. Lucretia blinks at him.

“Um, well— He was your legal guardian and the last member of your family to have legal guardianship over you,” Lucretia tells him. “By his— death, legal guardianship was transferred to me by default, because I, as your employer, am the only adult who has recently signed anything relating to your— living situation.” Lucretia sorts through the papers on the island, then hands one over to Angus. Angus releases Taako’s hand to take it and read it over. “I received the guardianship by default, like I said, so— You do technically have a legal guardian, in me. But, I wanted to ask you what you wanted.” Lucretia’s eyes flicker to Taako, and Taako’s chest clenches up at the idea of Lucretia taking Angus away to live on her fucking shitty moon base or wherever she’s at nowadays.

Angus reads over the paper a couple of times, then hops up off the stool. He hands the paper back to Lucretia, who takes it.

“I’m gonna take a little bit to think about it,” Angus tells her. “Don’t leave. I’ll be right back.”

Magnus reaches out and squeezes Angus’ shoulder again. Angus smiles back at him, then leaves, heading down the hallway and vanishing into his room.

“Jesus fucking fantasy Christ,” Lup comments from the sofa. Barry gets up and helps her to her feet. “That’s heavy. Dude died and they just gave Ango to you?”

“Actually,” Lucretia says, and Taako’s already looking at her, suspicious. “His grandfather signed his guardianship rights away once Angus started working with the Bureau of Balance.”

“Jesus,” Taako hisses, rubbing at his face with his hands.

“I took guardianship then,” Lucretia continues. “I’d— Well, honestly, I’d kind of forgotten about it all until his grandfather actually died, and I realized the issue of guardianship would have to come up with Angus now. I just didn’t— I didn’t want Angus to know about that part.”

Taako stares at her. On the one hand, he gets it, because he doesn’t want Angus to hurt anymore than he already has. But on the other hand—

“You’ve gotta stop keeping fucking secrets from people about their own lives,” Taako tells Lucretia, and she looks him directly in the eye.

“It wouldn’t’ve helped him to know,” Lucretia says.

“That’s not for you to decide,” Taako snaps. “It’s his life.”

Lucretia stares at him, then deflates a little. “That’s actually— That’s why I wanted you here. I think he’d be better off if you just took legal guardianship.”

The pit of dread in Taako’s chest disappears, as he realizes Lucretia’s not here to take Angus away, but instead to make sure Angus can stay. He almost hugs Lucretia, then he remembers he doesn’t hug Lucretia. Magnus, however, has no such qualms, and he springs forward to yank Lucretia into his arms.

“Thanks, Lucy,” Magnus says, as he buries his face into her neck and rocks her back and forth. Taako just watches them, then turns to Kravitz, who holds a hand out to him. Taako takes it, squeezes it, lets go. Kravitz offers him a half-smile.

“What if Angus wants to go back with you?” Barry asks, and Lup elbows him.

“Obviously he’s not going to,” Lup hisses at him. Taako glares at him.

“If he wants to go back with me, he may,” Lucretia says. “But— I mean, I don’t think he’ll want to.”

“He does have a pretty sweet setup here,” Lup comments. Lucretia and Lup stare at each other for a long, long moment. Taako turns back to the papers on the island and starts sorting through them.

“What’re all these?” Taako asks. Lucretia breaks away from Lup to go to the papers with him.

“These are all the documentation he will need,” Lucretia says. “Plus the adoption paperwork, if he does want to switch guardianship.”

“Whoah, it’s adoption or nothing?” Magnus asks. “That’s a lot to spring on a kid, even a kid like Angus who’s basically, like, a grown adult in a kid body.”

“It’s up to him entirely,” Lucretia says. “Guardianship, adoption, or— Whatever he so chooses. He may even decide to emancipate himself, which— He’s more than capable of taking care of himself, but he is still a boy. It’s best if he stays in a family environment.”

Taako looks to Lup, and he can feel her thinking the same thing he is, which is, Yeah, no shit. Taako picks up some more paperwork and sorts through it. He can’t make himself actually focus on any of the words, so he just drops it back on the counter.

“What’s in the chest?” he asks. Lucretia shrugs.

“It was left to Angus,” Lucretia tells him. “By his grandfather. I’m not entirely sure what’s in it. It’s only for him to open.”

“Alright,” Taako says, but he eyeballs the chest. When Lucretia turns back to Lup again, Taako lifts his hand and casts Detect Magic over it, but finds there’s nothing but a simple locking spell on it. He’s a little relieved, then he hears Angus’ door open again. Angus comes back and stands right next to Lucretia, looking right up at her. He’s catching up on Taako’s height, but Lucretia’s still much taller than them both, so he has to tip his head back to look at her face.

“Madam Director, I’m sorry, but I don’t want you to be to be my guardian,” Angus says. “Now, I— Can I pick anyone to be my guardian? What are my options?”

“Well, you can choose a guardian, or you can request adoption, or you can request emancipation,” Lucretia tells him. Angus nods, then his eyes flick to Taako, and Taako’s chest jumps.

“I actually want Taako,” Angus says. “If— I mean, if you want to— adopt me, sir. Taako. I realize I didn’t ask before I said it, but if you’ll have me, I want—”

“Yeah,” Taako says, cutting him off before he can go off on a wild train of thought, and before he, himself, can think too much about it. He's already basically adopted him; it's just a stupid piece of paper. “I’ll adopt you, kiddo. No sweat.”

“It was a little hard to pick which one of you to adopt me,” Angus says, looking to Magnus and Kravitz. “But Taako’s kind of my dad already, so it’s not really that much of a change, in the long run, really, if he just does it, right?”

“Well, you can choose more than one person,” Lucretia tells him. “If you wanted that.”

Magnus looks like he’s about to start crying. Taako wishes he had a gold piece for every time that happened. Angus looks away, looking down at his feet and scuffing his shoes. Taako’s chest hurts seeing it.

“I mean, if you also wanted—” Angus says, looking up at Magnus and Kravitz, and Magnus rushes in, scoops Angus up and squishes him against his chest.

“Absolutely I wanna adopt you, Ango,” Magnus says, burying his face in Angus’ hair. Angus laughs and wraps his arms around Magnus as best as he can. Magnus swings him back and forth a little, then passes him off to Kravitz, who puts Angus down on the ground and puts his hands on his shoulders.

“I’d be honored,” Kravitz says. He pulls Angus in and hugs him, and Angus hugs him back. Taako wonders when the hell he decided that he’d rather burn the whole world down than let Angus fucking McDonald get hurt by it.

“I have all your required paperwork,” Lucretia tells Angus. “Guardianship rights, adoption petitions and agreements, all your records. I’ll show you all what to sign, and I’ll take care of the rest for you.”

“Okay,” Angus says. He lets Lucretia lead him back to the island, and he hops back up onto his stool, taking a pen from her and scribbling where she tells him to scribble. Kravitz goes first, alphabetically, so he goes next, then Magnus. Then, Magnus hands the pen to Taako.

“You’ll be his primary caregiver,” Lucretia says. “You’ve got a little bit more to sign off on.” Lucretia hesitates, then puts her hand over his wrist where he holds the pen over the scrolls. “I’m really proud of you, Taako.”

“Yeah, don’t get used to the feeling, I’m gonna fuck this kid up colossally,” Taako tells her. He looks back at Angus. “Ain’t that right, pumpkin?”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Angus says, beaming at him. Taako feels the overwhelming urge to hug him again, so he turns back to the scrolls.

“Just show me what to fucking sign,” Taako says, and Lucretia does, points out every line and script and rule and tiny little byline. Taako listens to all of it, tries to remember it all; he knows Kravitz will remember it all, anyways, but it feels important that he knows it, too.

“That’s it,” Lucretia says, when they get to the last page. She takes the pen and goes through on her own in a flurry, signing seemingly random spots as she goes. She stacks the papers up neatly and tucks them into her robe, then slides the chest to Angus. “Your grandfather left this to you. You may do whatever you please with it.”

“Thank you,” Angus says, taking the chest. He just sits on the stool, holding it, making no attempt to open it. Lucretia looks at them, then backs up a step.

“Well, I— I don’t want to overst—”

“Have dinner with us,” Lup says, interrupting her.

“Oh, Jesus fucking— My stir-fry,” Taako exclaims, as he remembers, running back to the stove and trying to salvage dinner. He manages, just barely, between him and Lup, to save it. Lup smacks at him.

“We should probably present you to the Raven Queen,” Kravitz comments. “Just— nip that right in the bud.”

“Oh, hey, you can get a blessing!” Magnus exclaims. He tugs Angus into a headlock and tousles his hair. “You can be a Burnsides, too, now.”

“God, what a horrible name to share between this many people,” Taako comments. Magnus flings another soft toy at his back, and Blaine shrieks with delight. “Keep it up, kiddo, see what happens.”

Blaine claps her hands together and reaches for him, so Taako sighs, goes to her and lifts her up, letting her rest on his hip while he finishes cooking. He sets everything out on the table with Lup and Barry’s help, and dinner is normal, but Taako keeps looking at Angus, considering the fact that yeah, now, legally, this kid is his kid.

“This is fucking unfair,” Lup says, part of the way through dinner. “I’m trying to have one kid over here, and you get four just by making a bunch of mistakes.”

“That’s how I do everything, Lulu, get with the program,” Taako tells her. Lup sticks her tongue out at him. Kravitz intercepts them by handing Lup another slice of bread, which she demolishes. As soon as dinner’s over, Kravitz stands.

“Angus, I’m going to present you to the Raven Queen,” he says. “If that’s okay with you.”

Angus blinks up at him. “Yes. I mean— Do you think she’ll like me?”

Kravitz’s whole demeanor softens. “Of course she will. I’m bringing you to her to present you as my son and so you can receive her blessing.”

Angus keeps staring at him, then he smiles and stands. “Okay! Do you think she’d mind if I asked her some questions?”

“Maybe ask for an appointment for that,” Lup comments.

“I’m going with you,” Taako says, pushing his own chair backwards.

“Nobody can go anywhere alone in this house,” Lup says. She gets up anyways. “I mean, obviously I’m going, I love visiting Mom.”

“I’d rather— not,” Lucretia says. Taako picks up Wyatt and straps him to his back.

“You don’t have to,” Taako tells her. “If you’d rather not visit the death goddess—”

“—and Kravitz’s mom,” Magnus adds.

“And Kravitz’s mom,” Taako amends, “then you don’t have to.”

Lucretia looks at him, studying his face. She probably suspects he’s goofing on her which, yeah, a little. “I’ll go.”

“Fine by me,” Taako says. Magnus straps Blaine to his back and Jules to his chest, and Kravitz turns to bone and opens up a portal to the Astral Plane, guiding Angus through it. Taako watches as Kravitz guides them to the lake and summons the Raven Queen.

“What news have you for me today, my favorite child?” the Raven Queen asks Kravitz, and Taako knows Kravitz well enough that he’s a little embarrassed by the comment, and probably would be blushing if he had any blood or skin.

“I have another son in my line,” Kravitz tells her. He presents Angus to her. “Angus McDonald.”

Angus sticks his hand out. The Raven Queen stares at him for a moment before she gets off her throne, all smoke and feathers and a bone-skull bird mask. Taako holds his breath as she comes down to stand before Angus. In the end, though, she just takes his hand and shakes it.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Angus says.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, as well, Angus McDonald,” the Raven Queen says. Taako watches them both carefully as the Raven Queen summons a blade and presses it to her hand, drawing smoke and blood from her god-skin. “I swear my blood vow here and now. This child is under the protection of the Raven Queen, and will remain as such for eternity.” She presses her hand to Angus’ face. “Angus, I bless you and your line. You will be safe with me for all eternity.”

“Thank you,” Angus says. He reaches into his pocket and draws his own knife — one of Magnus’, it looks like. He presses it to his own palm, and Taako’s hands twitch towards him in an aborted movement to stop him. He holds up his hand, and the Raven Queen doesn’t move for a long, long moment. After a bit, she ducks her head and lifts her mask. Taako can’t see what’s under it; from the way she’s standing, only Angus can. Angus presses his hand to whatever he sees underneath.

“I don’t know what my protection means,” Angus says. “But you have it, too.”

The Raven Queen stands, replacing her mask over her head. “It means the world to me, Angus.” She looks to Kravitz. “He is a fine grandson. Maybe he will be a reaper, as well.”

“I’m thinking of becoming a teacher like my dad,” Angus says, and Taako just wants to disappear then and there. The Raven Queen lifts her head to look at him — or, at least, Taako assumes she’s looking at him.

“A suitable profession for my grandchild,” the Raven Queen says. Magnus snorts. The Raven Queen looks to Lup and Barry. “And you are close to giving me another, as well.”

“Uhh— I mean, probably not,” Lup says. “Elf baby. Got a while to go.”

“Your child is a child of liches and reapers,” the Raven Queen tells them. “I have only allowed her to remain as long as she has to ensure she is fully-formed, and to move the process along for you, but you are nearly done. Let me know when you are ready.”

Lup blinks up at her. She opens her mouth, then looks to Taako. Taako shrugs, as best as he can with Wyatt strapped on him. He almost wants to laugh at the look on her face, but everything about the situation is so insane that he mostly just wants to lay down.

“Uhh,” Lup says. “Well, lemme talk it over with Barry and we’ll get back to you?”

“That’s acceptable,” the Raven Queen says. She returns to her throne and takes a seat. “Any other news for me?”

Magnus grabs Taako’s left hand and holds it up. “We’re getting married.”

“Of course you are,” the Raven Queen says. She turns to Kravitz. “Why have you not told me of this yourself?”

“I was waiting for the right moment,” Kravitz mumbles. He looks at Magnus and mouths something at him that Taako can’t make out, then he moves, going up to the Raven Queen’s throne. He fishes his ring on its chain out of his robes and slips it off over his head before he holds it out to her. She takes it in one large, terrifying hand, brings it up to where Taako assumes her eyes are, and studies it.

“It’s lovely craftsmanship, Magnus,” the Raven Queen says. Taako doesn’t ask how she knew Magnus made it. She hands the ring and its chain back to Kravitz, who slips it back over his head. “Anything else?”

“Nope,” Magnus says.

“Yeah, I think that’s it,” Taako tells her. “You’re caught up.”

“Maybe we should start a newsletter,” Magnus comments. Kravitz opens a portal back to their home.

“Everyone back through the plane hole,” Lup orders, clapping her hands together. She ushers everyone through it. “I’m, uhh— I’m gonna take a sec, I’ll be right there, hold on.”

“You sure?” Taako asks, and Lup nods, reaching out and squeezing his hand.

“I’ll be right there,” Lup says. Taako nods to her, then heads through the portal back into his living room. Lucretia looks fucking shell-shocked as she sits down heavily on his sofa and puts her head in her hands.

“Sometimes, I wonder about the life we’ve chosen,” Lucretia comments. “That… was a god.”

“You get used to it,” Magnus tells her. “She’s also apparently a huge softie. She loves being a grandma.”

“Sometimes, I wonder, too,” Taako agrees. Lucretia glances up at him. “My children’s only grandparent is a fucking death goddess. That’s pretty fucked up.” Taako pulls Angus over to him, licks his thumb, and starts trying to clean the blood of his face. “Jesus, you’d think she’d’ve found a cleaner way to do this instead of swapping blood with children.”

“It feels really warm,” Angus comments. Taako just starts rubbing at his face with the sleeve of his robe.

“Don’t get used to it, I’m not gonna let you offer yourself up to any more goddesses,” Taako says.

“Okay, Dad,” Angus says. Taako lightly cuffs the back of his head.

“Don’t get smart with me,” Taako tells him. “I’ll… I don’t know. Ground you?”

“I’d like to see you try, sir,” Angus says. Taako laughs.

“Yeah, that’s probably more Magnus,” Taako comments.

“Hey, what the hell?” Magnus asks. “I’m cool! I’m a cool dad!”

“Okay, if you say so,” Angus says, at the same time Taako says, “Sure you are.”

“Tell them I’m cool, Kravitz!” Magnus exclaims. Lup comes through the portal, and Kravitz seals it up behind her.

“You’re cool, Magnus,” Kravitz says. Taako rolls his eyes.

“What did you want to say to her?” Barry asks Lup. Taako doesn’t even pretend not to listen as he watches Lup, waiting for her answer.

“I just wanted to tell her to wait a sec,” Lup says. “I figured— You know. She could wait until after we got married.”

Barry stares at her. “Uhh— Yeah, yeah, okay. I mean, did she— Do we have a timeframe, or?”

“She gave us two weeks,” Lup tells him. Barry keeps staring at her. Taako starts laughing. “Oh, yeah, laugh it up, dingus. You’re helping me do everything.”

“Lulu, you know I’d do anything for you, but this is hilarious to me,” Taako tells her. “Fucking absurdist reality shit. Life isn’t real. The Raven Queen is giving you two weeks to get married before she tugs out your magically-formed lich demon baby. Life is fake, Lup.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Lup says. “Jeezy, get your shit together.”

“I— Do you need help?” Lucretia asks.

“The fucking harbinger of chaos asks if we need help,” Taako says. “You show up and suddenly I’ve got another kid and Lup has two weeks to get married. What the shit kind of blood oath did you back out on?”

“Our kids aren’t gonna be twin cousins,” Lup says, sounding a little bummed. Taako knocks his shoulder into hers.

“Hey, they still will be,” he says. “Like, close enough. It’ll be fine.”

“Did she say her?” Barry asks. Everyone looks to him. “The Raven Queen. Earlier. When she was talking about our baby.”

“Oh, fuck, yeah, she did,” Lup says. “Well. Shit. That’s that.”

“Cool,” Magnus breathes.

“Alright, I’m gonna go meditate, fuck this,” Lup says, throwing her hands up. “Barry, come or don’t, but I’m about to lose my shit.”

“I’m coming,” Barry says. He hugs Lucretia. “Goodnight, guys.”

“I’ll head out, too,” Lucretia says. She makes her goodbyes, and before Taako blinks, he’s standing alone in the living room with Magnus, Kravitz, Angus, and the kids. Angus gets up and retrieves his grandfather’s chest.

“How’re you feeling, buddy?” Magnus asks. Angus shrugs as he pulls his wand out.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Angus says. He unlocks the chest with magic and cracks it open. Taako can see silverware, a couple of scrolls, a bunch of books, and a shitload of gold. Angus digs through and unfurls the scrolls.

“What’s it say?” Magnus asks. Kravitz sits down beside Angus on the sofa.

“It says I’ve inherited his entire estate,” Angus says. He sets the scroll back into the chest, then picks up the books inside and reads the spines. “These were our favorites from his library, when I was little. When I— After my parents died, I don’t think my grandpa knew what to do with me, so much. He and I liked reading together but he didn’t really want to be my dad.” Angus sets the books back down. “I’m gonna miss him.”

“That’s okay,” Kravitz tells him. He puts an arm around Angus’ shoulders, and Angus turns his face into Kravitz’s side. His shoulders shake a little, and Taako leans over the back of the couch, rubbing Angus’ back. Magnus digs his hand into Angus’ hair and scratches at his scalp.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” Magnus tells him. “I know it sucks. You gotta just feel whatever you feel and work through it.”

Angus nods his head against Kravitz’s side. Eventually, he pulls back, and rubs at his face. “I think I’m gonna go to bed.”

“Okay, kid,” Magnus says. They let him go, and Angus gets up, going to his room. Taako watches for a moment, then turns back to Kravitz and Magnus.

“I’m just gonna— check on him,” Taako says. He hands Wyatt over to Kravitz. “Just to make sure he’s okay.”

“Alright,” Kravitz says. Magnus kisses Taako’s temple. Taako leaves them in the living room to knock on Angus’ door.

“Come in,” Angus calls. Taako cracks open the door and slips in, closing it behind him. Angus has already closed the chest and left it near the foot of his bed. He’s sitting on the edge of his bed, still in his clothes. Taako goes and sits next to him.

“It sucks,” Taako tells him. “Can I tell you something?”

“Sure,” Angus says.

“Lup and I lost everyone when we were little,” Taako says. “Except each other, I mean. Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles— Pretty much everyone. We just ended up bouncing between people who would watch our back as long as we kept feeding them, and even then, pretty much shit luck. But we still had each other.” Taako looks down at his hands. “I guess what I’m saying is, like, it sucks, to lose people. To lose family. But if you still have people who care for you, you’ll be okay.”

Angus swings his legs a little bit, then looks up at Taako. “Then it’s a good thing I’ve got you.”

Taako nods. He pulls Angus against his side, kisses the top of his head. “Don’t tell anyone about this.”

“Same as ever,” Angus says. Taako squeezes him close, then slides off of the bed.

“If you wanna talk, lemme know,” Taako says. “I’ll get Kravitz for you.”

“Thanks,” Angus says, smiling. “Actually— Um.”

“What’s up, pumpkin?” Taako prompts, when Angus doesn’t continue. Angus looks away.

“Do you mind— staying?” Angus asks. “Until I fall asleep. I know I’m supposed to be grown up, but—”

“Hey, no, none of that,” Taako says. “You’re young enough for me to fucking adopt you, so you’re young enough to do whatever you want. You don’t have to be grown up until you’re grown up. Jesus fucking knows we’ve all had enough taken away without losing that, too.” Taako motions at him. “Get changed, I’ll hang out.”

And he does. Angus changes into his pajamas and climbs into bed, and Taako puts out the lights, and he sits, humming to himself as he works on spells, just to give Angus small sounds and little lights to fill the room, so he feels less alone. Taako knows the feeling.

Eventually, Angus falls asleep, and Taako leaves, shutting the door softly behind him. The house is dark, so he creeps to their bedroom.

“He’s okay?” Magnus asks, before Taako even says anything. Taako shucks his clothes at the foot of the bed and climbs up in between Magnus and Kravitz.

“He’ll be fine,” Taako says. “If he decides he wants to talk, though, that’s all you.”

“Oh, sure it is,” Magnus says.

“We all know how much you hate talking,” Kravitz murmurs. He puts an arm around Taako. Magnus does the same, yawning right into Taako’s face. Taako shoves at him, and Magnus shoves him back, grinning. Magnus reaches down and runs his hand over Taako’s belly.

“Congrats on your giant fucking family,” Magnus says. Taako buries his face in Magnus’ chest and relaxes. He remembers, distinctly, when he got his memories of Lup back, and he’d thought he’d lost her again, and he really didn’t care if the world ended or not, because he didn’t really have anything left to fight for. Magnus had had no memories; he’d thought Lup and Kravitz were dead; everything seemed fucking horrible.

Now, things are pretty much at an all-time awesome. He’s pretty fucking glad the world didn’t end.

“Thanks,” Taako murmurs, against Magnus’ bare skin. Kravitz tightens his hold a little bit, and Taako just chills out in between the two of them, trying to get his mind to stop racing.