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the last long crack in your armor

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Kravitz gets home in the late afternoon, sunlight streaming molten through the windows. He's very cold. He was supposed to be back the night before. The good weather feels like mockery. He's too tired to bother with any living niceties, and portals into his bedroom to change out of his work clothing.

It's empty. The bed is unmade.

Strip: gloves, cloak, jacket. Kick off shoes, unbutton pants, unbutton shirt, loosen tie. Not in that order. Sit on the edge of the bed and take a deep breath, let the warm home-scent of detergent, clean laundry, Taako's shampoo and his own body wash, the way the sheets smell like sleep, let all of that wash over him. Stop thinking about work. He likes his job, most days. There's no need to bring it home with him.

Footsteps.

"You're home! How'd it go? I didn't miss you at all," his boyfriend says, walking through the doorway, demanding to be swept into Kravitz's arms not so much with words but with his body. Kravitz obliges, half-dressed in only pants and an unbuttoned black shirt, putting his arms around Taako's waist. It is still a surprise, to come home and have someone waiting for him. Someone hot to the touch, with a heart that beats liquid in his chest. He could listen to Taako's heart forever.

"I'm glad to be back," Kravitz says, because he does not like lying to his boyfriend but also does not want to talk about work.

"I'm glad you're back too," Taako says, tilting his face upward to be kissed. Kravitz is happy to deliver — soft lips, closed eyes, open-mouthed. This is still a surprise. He does not believe the novelty will ever wear off.

They break apart, and Kravitz gets a better look at his boyfriend's face.

Clear eyes, skin smooth like porcelain, a shimmer of shadow on his hooded lids. Dark lashes, full lips. Everything edging on ethereal, Taako's features just barely clinging to the grounded clay of mortality.

"You're wearing a glamour, love," Kravitz says.

"No I'm not," Taako says. His ears twitch as he says that, and Kravitz catches the movement in his hand. It's soft. With his other hand, he runs a hand over Taako's cheek — feels the acne scars, the rough imperfections that are proof of living. He can't see any of them while Taako is wearing the glamour.

"You don't need to waste the spell slots for my sake," Kravitz says. Taako winces, cups Kravitz's hand into his own. Taako leans into it imperceptibly.

"I'm level sixteen, cha’boy can waste all the spell slots I want, they're like peanuts at this point," he says.

Kravitz doesn't press. Taako doesn't seem to want to talk about it. Sometimes he's enigmatic for the sheer thrill of it, sometimes reason doesn't come into the equation. Maybe he was feeling insecure. Maybe he needed to complete an outfit. Either, or.

"You know I think you're beautiful either way," Kravitz says. A little positive reinforcement never hurts. Taako smiles.

"You're super gross," he says.

"Well I was going to go take a shower," Kravitz says, gesturing to his half-dressed state. "Until someone accosted me."

"You can still go take that shower, bone daddy," Taako says, stepping forward so they’re flush against each other, hangs his arms around Kravitz’s neck.  "But there better be room for two.”

“There always is,” Kravitz says fondly, liking the way that blush spreads across Taako’s face. He’s so transparent, Kravitz thinks. Taako thinks he isn’t, but there’s always the way his ears twitch, the look of surprise on his face every time. Familiarity breeds adoration. “You have to let go of me first,, love.”

Taako reluctantly disentangles himself. They head to the bathroom.

Kravitz leaves his clothes folded neatly on the toilet seat. Taako sheds shirt, shorts, sweatshirt, underwear, without any regard for where they might fall. It’s one of things they sometimes argue about. Kravitz’s closet is full. Taako’s closet is the floor. Kravitz doesn’t bring it up this time, preoccupied by the way that Taako is shepherding him into their shower stall, the hot points of contact that are Taako’s hands on his body.

“I was actually planning on taking an actual shower,” Kravitz admits, as he turns the knob and hot water washes over them. He’s still acutely aware of Taako’s hands on his hips, the press of Taako’s face into the hollow of his collarbone as the air around them warms, as Taako’s hair changes value from platinum to gold as water drips down his head, his back. Kravitz can feel his skin warming as well, heat permeating from the outside in.

“Planning,” Taako says, his voice echoing in the stall, drowned out by the sound of the water hitting the tile. He punctuates the word by reaching down and firmly grabbing Kravitz’s dick. Kravitz breathes in, sharply.

“P-planning,” he says, taking a shaky breath as Taako raises his head and grins at him all crooked and lovely.

“Just say the word and I’ll stop,” he says even as he continues to stroke Kravitz’s dick, rubbing the head of it with his thumb, forming a firm circle with his fingers around its length as it snaps to attention. Kravitz’s breath hitches. His hips jerk, and Taako laughs, speeding up the motion. Kravitz tucks a strand of wet hair behind Taako’s ear.

Taako kneels down smoothly, still moving his hand. He glances up at Kravitz, still smirking, and then moves his hand upward and moves his open mouth to Kravitz’s dick, licks the head like candy, and Kravitz smothers a laugh, a soft moan, which makes Taako smile, and press forward, taking it in one smooth motion.

The warmth of the water, the heat of Taako’s mouth, it’s starting to make Kravitz feel a little cross-eyed with how good it feels. He watches Taako suck his dick, and there’s something in the way that Taako’s mouth looks stretched around him that compels him to jerk helplessly forward.

“I want to see your face,” Kravitz says, almost a plea. Kravitz likes the way Taako looks better, the spray of freckles and the crooked teeth, the scars from misfired spells and acne.

Taako opens his eyes. He glances up, lets out a muffled “No,” without removing his mouth, jerking his hand on Kravitz’s shaft.

“P-please,” Kravitz says, running a hand through Taako’s wet hair, smoothing it away from Taako’s face. “I like how you really look better.”

Taako rolls his eyes theatrically, and snaps his fingers. The spell cancels and the glamour dissipates like a fine mist. “Happy?” Taako says, barely audible around Kravitz’s dick, sending pleasant vibrations up its length.

But Kravitz’s eyebrows shoot up.

Taako looks....awful. There are dark circles under Taako’s eyes, the size of dinner plates, a haggard cast to his face. His eyes are red and irritated, a little glassy, slightly vacant. Has he been crying? Or just rubbing his eyes? Taako stares back at him, bemused, probably surprised by Kravitz’s sudden change in expression. Kravitz runs a thumb over the delicate skin under Taako’s eye, the purple bruise-like blooming. Taako frowns. Kravitz’s forehead furrows. He gently moves Taako back so that his mouth is no longer touching Kravitz.

“You didn’t sleep at all last night, did you?”

“Elves don’t need to sleep,” Taako says, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. “Hey, I didn’t get all ugly for you to call me out on my flaws, are we doin’ the dirty or what?” He squeezes Kravitz’s the shaft of dick as if to remind Kravitz of what’s supposed to be happening here, presses his open mouth against Kravitz’s flesh, looks up at him through long lashes in what would be seductive except for the uncertainty coalescing itself in the back of Kravitz’s mind.

“Don’t call yourself ugly,” Kravitz says, mentally calculating the hours. He came back around four, it’s four-thirty now, Taako and him got out of bed around eight the day before, that’s thirty-two and a half hours awake total. Thirty-two hours is a lot for any living creature, he thinks. What happened last night? He moves his hand downward to gently remove Taako’s fingers from his softening length, previous arousal overwritten by concern. “Meditation?”

“I tried,” Taako stands up, shrugging sharply. “Couldn’t get in the right headspace, kinda just gave up on it as a bad job, cause, well, fuckit.” He smiles, and it’s too wide. A showman’s grin.

Kravitz realizes that he has deeply misinterpreted this situation.  

Taako’s smile too wide, the set of his shoulders too stiff, like he’s holding himself up with sheer force of will. He was wearing a sweatshirt and pajama shorts — he should have been wearing his cloak, one of his expensive outfits. Why is Taako at home, this time of the day? He’s usually at the school, or at the company, or doing a show. He set a glamour. He has dark circles the size of small continents under his eyes. His eyes have a glassy sheen. He leaned into Kravitz as soon as he saw him, as if Taako was too tired to hold his head upright.

"Love, are you alright?" Kravitz asks, moving his hands to cup Taako’s face. He knows that the words are inadequate as soon as they fall out of his mouth. Taako bats his hands away, squinting under the water rushing over them from the showerhead.

"I'm great," Taako says. He scowls, pushes hair away from his face. "Don't handle me. Stop treating me like I'm made of glass! I told you: cha'boy's fine. We're good, baby." He motions to bring his hands back to their previous activity. Kravitz catches them instead. Taako is deflecting, and as much as Kravitz would love to have Taako’s hands and mouth back on him, there’s a time and place, and right now, none of the numbers are adding up.

"You’re my boyfriend," Kravitz says. "I want to be nice to you. It's not handling, Taako."

“If you want to be nice to me, fuck me,” Taako says, trying to jerk his hands away from Kravitz’s, turning his face away. Kravitz tightens his grip, startled by the sudden movement, and then shock smears itself across Taako’s face and with a slick squeak, Taako stumbles, and with no sound at all, his foot slides across the bottom of the tub and gravity decides to take hold of them. A dull thump, a sharp “Oh, shit—,” a crash against the glass and a cry of surprise as Taako slams his head against the glass door of the shower and pulls Kravitz down with him in an inglorious heap.

“Are you alright?” Kravitz says, as soon as he catches a breath, scrambling to his hands and knees so that he’s not crushing Taako. He presses his hand against the back of Taako’s skull immediately, ignoring the way that Taako’s face scrunches up, the way Taako turns his head — he’s not complaining, it gives him easier access to examine the spot where he heard the ferocious crack of bone against glass. He doesn’t feel a bump as he runs his hand over the back of Taako’s skull. It’s wet, but they’re both wet. The shower is still running.

“Taako?” Kravitz says, a little concerned that he’s not answering. Kravitz’s knee hurts where he banged it on the floor, but pain is easy enough to ignore – his body is only a construct.

Taako looks a little dazed. Kravitz isn’t sure whether that’s concussion or surprise. Kravitz is maybe being a little overzealous. Intellectually, he knows his boyfriend is the most powerful transmutation mage in multiple realities, Taako saved the world from being devoured by a reality-consuming monstrosity, Taako laughs in the face of death (literally!), Taako runs a multi-million gold piece empire. But Taako is mortal and has died nineteen times, Taako sometimes forgets which of his memories are real, and Taako is currently lying under Kravitz in a crumpled heap. Extenuating circumstances, sure, but it makes a man worry.

“Are you okay?”

Taako blinks. “What does it look like? I’m literally dying here. They’re gonna put it on my gravestone; here lies Taako, slipped in the shower and fucking died.

“Don’t even joke,” Kravitz says, relieved to hear Taako snarking.

“Sorry,” Taako says. “I know you hate it when I goof about offing it, that’s on cha’boy. Bu Jeez that hurt. Fuck.

“I think you might be bleeding,” Kravitz says. He pulls his hand away from Taako’s head and it comes back coated liberally, thinly in red, a vibrantly translucent shade that drips off his fingers.

“Well, that answers that one,” Kravitz says. As he speaks, he watches amorphous red rings bloom underneath Taako’s head. Head wounds bleed a lot, he reminds himself. He sees a lot of head wounds. He creates a lot of head wounds. “I’m going to try and patch you up, okay?”

He gives Taako a hand (the clean one, not the bloody one). Taako takes it, and wincing, sits up. Kravitz stands and finally turns off the shower, making sure to rinse the blood from his fingers. He looks back at Taako, who is clumsily standing, tentatively raising a hand to the back of his head.

Mixed blood and water runs down Taako’s back, discoloring his hair, painting everything a dull pink. It makes Kravitz’s chest tight. He’s seen Taako hurt before – too many times, some of them his fault. He folds the guilt away. This isn’t the place for it. He opens the shower door, and cold air rushes into the stall as he steps out, grabbing two towels and handing one to Taako. He wraps the second around his waist. Kravitz pushes his clothes off the closed toilet lid.

“Sit down, love,” he says, and Taako does. He looks small and exhausted sitting there, wet hair and towel around his waist, dripping blood-tinted water behind him. Kravitz tilts Taako’s head forward so that he can examine the site of the cut. It’s on the back of Taako’s head, a cheerfully bleeding gash from the sharp edge of the shower bar. “Okay, I think I can fix this.” Taako nods agreement, and then winces.

Kravitz turns to the medicine cabinet above their sink. He rummages through the shelves, which are filled with hair products, lotions, and first aid supplies.

“Why don’t you want me?” Taako says abruptly. Kravitz frowns as he takes a clean piece of cloth out of the first aid kit.

“What are you talking about? Of course I want you,” Kravitz says, preoccupied with stemming the bleeding before he heals the gash. He doesn’t do this often. He’s more in the business of breaking than fixing, but before he died, he wanted to be a conductor. He used to spend hours in music practice rooms, recital halls. He picked up some tricks from the bards there.

“You just, why’d we stop?” Taako asks. “I mean, before I started bleeding. I get why we stopped when I started bleeding – ow, fuck, that stings.”

Kravitz pats Taako’s shoulder apologetically and gingerly moves the now-bloodied cloth away from Taako’s head. it’s still bleeding sluggishly.

Kravitz hums a tune softly and runs two fingers along the cut, which stitches itself up seamlessly as he goes. He gently wipes away the remaining blood. Taako’s going to need another shower, but not now.

“Taako. You looked like you were about to fall over .”

“You were fine with it before!” Taako says, and his voice has an edge to it now, a wavering sharpness on the verge of tipping. Kravitz isn’t sure what to do.

“That’s before I realized you had been awake for thirty hours,” Kravitz says, trying to pitch his voice calming. “Can you tell me what happened last night?”

“Stop handling me,” Taako says again, this time sharp, his face scowling. “You wanna know what’s going on? Fine. Absolutely nothing! Nothing’s going on! Lulu fucking grilled me about the Glamour Springs bullcrap last night, and I couldn’t go to sleep after that and I’m so fucking tired, and you weren’t coming home, and I ditched work cause hey! Fuckit! Maybe that’ll make me feel better! Maybe cha’boy will take a nap and everything will be chill! But that’s not what happened! Cha’boy just sat around the house like an absolute dipshit feeling sorry for himself, and I was waiting for you to come like some sort of pathetic loser , and now you don’t even want me, so well! That’s the state of the Taako right now!”

Taako works himself into agitation, voice spiralling upward until he’s almost yelling. His eyes are suspiciously shiny, and Kravitz moves to smooth out Taako’s hair, rub his back, something with physical contact, but Taako pushes him away weakly, more the gesture than any real force.

“Fuck,” he says wetly, dropping his head into his hands. “Fuck this, fuck you, you were going to be the one good thing about today and you don’t even want me, and well, fine I guess. Okay. That’s today. Fuck me.”

“Gods forbid that I worry about my boyfriend, who I love, who would rather fuck me than tell me anything about how he’s feeling,” Kravitz says, and his voice is tenser than he wanted it to be.  “You looked like you were about to fall over — you still look like you’re about to fall over!”

“What’s your fucking point!” Taako says.

“My point is, my point is that I want you, okay?” Kravitz says, his voice harder than he wanted it to be. “I want you all the time, that’s not the point, Taako, I love you. And that means that when you don’t tell me things, I get worried about you, when you don’t seem okay, and you don’t seem okay right now, and that’s more important to me than a blowjob.”

Taako stares up at him, his face washed out and drawn. Kravitz can’t tell what he’s thinking. And like a piece of ice shattering, Taako’s expression crumples, scrunching up in on itself, and he raises a hand to his face as he starts to cry in earnest. Kravitz surges forward and presses Taako against his shoulder in a hug.

It’s a very awkward angle to be embracing someone from. Taako sitting, Kravitz half-kneeling next to him, both of them wet from the shower, Taako sniffling into Kravitz’s shoulder as Kravitz rubs small circles on Taako’s back. It’s cold and wet. He casts a cantrip to fix at least one of those things, immediately banishing the water still clinging to both their skin and hair. It’s immediately more comfortable.

“I’m sorry you’re having a bad day,” Kravitz says, eventually. Taako laughs wetly.

“Yeah, me too, hombre.”  He sniffles. “Fuck. Sorry I yelled. That shit’s not cool.”

“I wish you wouldn’t try to shut me out,” Kravitz says.

“It’s not trying ,” Taako says, with a little hiccup as he wipes his eyes and untangles himself from Kravitz. “It’s just, well, cha’boy’s just like this, you know? S’not your job to fix me.”

You’re not something to be fixed, Kravitz thinks, but that’s a conversation for another time. He stands, and helps Taako stand as well – not that he needs the help, but Kravitz suspects that his head and sleep deprivation is bothering him more than he’ll admit.

“I care about you,” Kravitz says firmly. “You should tell me things. Or at least, you know, don’t try to hide it when you’re not great, okay? I want all of you.”

“Okay,” Taako says, and it’s quiet. There are tear-tracks down his face. Kravitz, for lack of any better ideas, hugs him again. They’ve had this conversation before. Kravitz supposes they’ll be having it until the message sinks in.

“How’s your head?” Kravitz asks.

“Kinda hurts,” Taako admits, his voice still off. “Not too bad.”

“Clothes, and sleep, I think,” Kravitz says, letting his boyfriend go reluctantly. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure, homeslice. You fixed me up real good. Just, headache. Tired,” Taako says, letting himself be led out of the bathroom, Kravitz maneuvering him to sit on the side of the bed. Taako rubs his eyes, still sniffling a little. Kravitz opens a drawer to pull out his pajamas (black shirt, pants patterned with little skulls that were a gift from Lup and Barry) and Taako’s (blue tank top, shorts that say VORE ME DADDY across the butt). He passes the clothes to Taako, and puts on his own.

Taako puts on his clothes by rote, getting stuck in the shirt for a second before slipping it over his head. He’s blinking sleepily, the last of the tears mostly gone. Kravitz moves the box of tissues from his nightstand to Taako’s, just in case. He moves the blankets, the comforter, so that he can get between the sheets and prompt Taako to get in as well. Taako crawls into the bed with little prompting. He reflexively reaches for Kravitz, who pulls him close, back to chest, the curve of Taako’s spine against his front, his arms around him, hand splayed across his chest where Taako’s heart beats securely.

A long moment passes.

“I’ll tell you what’s up, tomorrow,” Taako mumbles.

“Okay,” Kravitz says.