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Hot Single Dads In Your Area

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Let it be known that Taako didn’t like kids. He just happened to be pretty okay with them.

No, okay he wasn't even going to give himself that much. He didn’t know the first thing about how to deal with kids. He was pretty sure there were rules, but like fuck did he know any of them. He found that generally, if you asked them what the hell was up they would tell you. Despite that, for some reason people were always shocked when he knew how to solve the problems. Like fuck, he wasn’t even that good of a listener, kids just tended to be real blunt. If anything, he didn’t understand why people always had such a problem with kids.

But none of that meant he liked kids. He liked them about as much as he liked most people, which suffice to say, wasn’t a whole lot.

Something he did like though was money, and having it in general.

And that was something that had been in pretty short supply for him lately. Like, he wasn’t struggling or anything (or at least, that’s what he told Lup and Barry whenever they’d get on his case being all concerned or what not) but things had been a little tight lately.

Maybe there were a couple factors influencing the number of jelly and nothing sandwiches he’d been eating lately. Some of them had nothing to do with money, but it was still definitely one of the leading ones. Not the only one, but it was up there for sure.

The main point of order for all of this was that income had been pretty tight for a while. Trying to get another part time job on top of the hours he was already working would be hell on earth though, but he needed something to bring in some extra cash.

And Taako, even if he didn’t like kids never had any issues convincing people he was good with them. Sure, sometimes it was a little bit harder to convince them that he was qualified to actually tutor kids, but fuck it, he had a degree. No one could deny the fancy paper with his name on it. He could handle some ten year olds with multiplication tables or writing five paragraph essays or whatever it was they were teaching the youth these days.

Plus, it worked with his hours. Tutoring wasn’t a real structured thing, his availability was more of the deciding factor than the student’s. It wasn’t like the kids had another job or anything they had to get to after all. As long as he was good at least twice a week after school hours it could be squeezed in.

And hey, if it didn’t work out he could just stop. This was a tentative thing he was trying out to see if it was worth it for the extra cash.

Which he guessed he was about to find out. He was sitting in what was a little study room in the library. The school that had hired him was pretty fancy, but it seemed more like a closet than a functional room. The only things in there were a couple beat up, shitty chairs and a table with a million carvings on its surface. He’d been waiting here for about ten minutes now, which he knew wasn’t actually a super long amount of time. He was still starting to get the urge to fucking add to the carvings himself though, he was so bored.

Maybe whatever kid he was supposed to help wouldn’t show. He would hope for that, if he wasn’t unsure whether or not he’d still get paid for the time otherwise. Right now he only had one kid he was going to work with. Something about the fancy charter school here wanting kids to get good one on one attention and things like that, which Taako guessed was a valiant effort. He was mostly glad that it meant this would be pretty damn easy. He wouldn't be stuck doing the same damn work over and over again, at any rate.

He spent about fifteen minutes in total of waiting and tracing the crudely carved names in the table and biting on the end of his pencil. He was getting dangerously close to gnawing right through the thing when the door to the study room opened.

“Um, hello sir, sorry to disturb you. Are you Mr. Taako?” a kid asked, peaking in a bit nervously. He had these big glasses on and his clothes looked like a school uniform, even though Taako knew that uniforms weren’t required at this particular school. So he just chose to dress like that. Or he had parents who fucking hated him or something.

“Sure am, and you must be Agnes? You’re pretty late kiddo,” he said, and once he confirmed who he was the kid rushed into the room. He looked like he was about ten or so, and his bookbag was a little too big for his frame.

“Um, it’s Angus, Angus McDonald, and I’m really sorry about that! I got lost trying to find this study room, and I ran into one of my teachers while I was looking and we ended up talking and I’m really sorry for being late sir,” he said, speaking pretty rapidly. Taako waved a hand dismissively as the kid started pulling a whole bunch of junk out of his backpack.

“Not a problem, this fucking library is pretty much a labyrinth. I can’t blame you there,” he said, and then flinched somewhat when he realized exactly what he’d said. “Uh, I mean, fricking, or um, darn library,” he tried to correct. It was a good thing he didn’t have like, a supervisor on him right now. The kid was trying to suppress some laughter as he finished getting out his supplies though.

“You can curse in front of me if you want to sir, I won’t tell anyone,” he said, and okay, that was good at least.

“You sure you’re not a nark kid? Positive you’re not gonna go nark on me?” he asked, mostly teasing. Kids did tend to eat it up sometimes hearing curses, so he doubted it would actually be an issue as long as no actual responsible adults overheard.

“Oh I promise! I’m no- I’m not a square,” he said, clearly trying to sound as confident as possible. It was kinda cute. Taako still wasn’t fucking ecstatic about this whole gig, but at least the kid he was stuck with didn’t seem completely horrible yet. Which, speaking of

“So, what do we got going here? I’ll be straight with you kid,” he had to physically hold himself back from adding ‘well, gay with you’ to that. “This is my first try at the whole tutoring thing, so there might be some stumbling around. Plus we lost a good chunk of the hour already, so we should probably get to the meat of this,” he said, and Angus nodded.

“Right, of course sir! Um, I’m not too sure where to start either I suppose. I uh, I have a book report I need to write, but I’m not sure if you’ve read the book or not. I have some math homework I guess we could do… and a history project, but that’s not due for a few more weeks,” he started listing off. Taako nodded, and that all seemed pretty fair game.

“Cool cool, we can totally get to all that stuff. Maybe not in the uuuh, 40ish minutes we’ve got left today, but we’ll get to it,” he said, trying to think of how best to approach this. “I guess, what’s due first? We can start on that,” he said, and Angus nodded, shuffling through the junk in his bookbag before pulling out a math book.

“The math homework is due tomorrow, the report isn’t until friday,” he explained, and that would work.

“Cool, math today then, and we’re meeting up again on Wednesday right? We can take care of the essay then,” he suggested, and Angus nodded.

“Sounds good sir!” he said, opening up the book and showing Taako the section he had homework on. It was definitely a bit more advanced than multiplication tables and long division, but even though Taako kind of sucked at math it wasn’t anything super out of his reach. It also didn’t seem to be too much of a problem for Angus either.

In fact, he seemed to pretty thoroughly understand it. He’d given Taako a quick run down of what he was supposed to do, and that checked out. Whenever he finished a problem Taako would go over it, checking for mistakes with the kid. Sure, there were a few spots here and there where he’d added in his head wrong or flipped around a couple numbers by mistake, but that was human error stuff. Otherwise, he seemed to understand what he needed to do pretty damn well.

Which honestly, wasn’t a shock to Taako. Like, he knew you couldn’t judge people based off of looks alone, but he also knew that looks told you a lot about a person. People dressed and acted the way they did for a reason, and sure that wasn’t everything about someone but it was still a good start a lot of the time.

And Angus? He looked like a fucking nerd, for sure.

“It’s been forever since I’ve been in elementary school, is this really the standard of what they’re teaching you kids now a days? It seems pretty advanced,” he said, after a good thirty minutes of quietly working with the kid on his homework. This was going a hell of a lot better than he thought it would. He only had like two more problems left, and so Taako figured it wouldn’t hurt to start wrapping up soon. They probably wouldn’t have enough time to start any meaningful work on that book report once they were done after all, since he’d come in late.

“Um, I’m actually in the middle school sir, but I can understand how you would make that mistake since there is an elementary school here too,” Angus said, and once again, Taako wasn’t shocked. He still lifted an eyebrow in question though.

“Really now? How old are you exactly? Like eight?” he guessed, and he knew he was low balling that estimate. From the slightly offended look on Angus’s face, it was definitely older than eight.

“I’m ten sir,” he said, and Taako shrugged, not caring much either way.

“Same difference. You must be pretty smart to already be in middle school,” he said, and Angus smiled proudly before nodding.

“I am, they let me skip a bunch of grades,” he said. He’d stopped working on the math homework at this point, although he wasn’t done yet. Taako pointed back at his paper, and Angus seemed to jolt, having forgotten about the homework for a moment before going back to it.

“Right, that’s what I figured,” Taako said, and yeah, it seemed like this was going to be pretty easy. At least for as long as he had Angus, the kid definitely didn’t seem like he actually needed a lot of help.

“So, if that’s the case, why a tutor? Not that I don’t mind the easy job but I’m just curious here,” he asked, and Angus finished up the last of the problems before answering.

“I mean, it just seemed like a good idea. They were offering them and I figured it wouldn’t hurt,” he said, and there was something there that felt like he wasn't telling the whole truth. Still, Taako guessed that made sense. Not to him, he never would’ve done something like that when he was in school, but looking at Angus he could see how he would think that.

“Ah, so you’re just a nerd trying to get even more ahead of the game here, huh?” he said, and Angus looked a little embarrassed as he closed his math textbook.

“I guess so,” he muttered, and Taako didn’t particularly feel bad about teasing the kid, but he figured he should probably lay off a bit right now. He was being payed to help the kid after all, not mess with him.

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. My best friend and sister are both huge nerds, I know how it is,” he said, and Angus laughed a little at that.

“But you’re not a nerd, are you sir?” he asked and Taako scoffed at the question.

“Of course not, do I look like one to you? Trick question, there is only one answer to that and it’s hell fucking no,” he said. Angus looked pretty amused and not all embarrassed anymore now, which was good. Taako didn’t want him going to people saying his tutor was mean or something like that. He couldn’t tell if he was the kind of kid who would do that or not yet.

“Um, are we going to work on anything else today sir?” he asked, and Taako shrugged.

“I mean, if you’ve got anything else we can do quick sure, but otherwise we’ve only got like ten minutes and I’m not sure if it’s worth it to start something only to have to put it away again right away,” he said. Angus seemed to think it over before nodding.

“That’s fair sir. I promise I’ll be here on time Wednesday and we can get more done then,” he said, and Taako waved him off.

“It’s your grades and shit kid, not mine. I’m fine either way,” he said.

“I suppose that’s fair sir,” Angus said, starting to pack his supplies back up. It was a little weird having someone call him ‘sir’ so much, Taako didn’t even think people did that sort of stuff anymore, let alone kids. He guessed this one was a big enough dork to though, but he wasn’t going to call him out on it. He’d already teased the kid enough, and he didn’t want to risk messing up this new gig yet. Especially since it seemed like it would be a lot easier than he thought it might be.

“So, I’ll see you Wednesday?” Angus asked, and Taako nodded.

“Sure thing. Same room, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it this time,” he said. Angus slung his slightly too big book bag back over his shoulder once he was finished filling it up again.

“Alright, see you then sir! It was nice to meet you,” he said with a smile before rushing out of the room. As soon as he was gone Taako started packing up his own stuff, which was a lot less than what the kid had. He didn’t have too much of an idea about what he was supposed to bring, so he’d only had like, a notebook for scrap paper in case he needed to write and a calculator. Stuffing that shit back into his own bag, he grabbed his phone where he’d had it charging on silence in a corner.

He frowned when he saw the missed call on his screen from Lup. Of course she had to try to get in contact with him right when he’d been avoiding his phone. It wasn’t that he wasn’t chill to talk to his sister, he always was. It was just that he hadn’t told her or Barry about this new job yet. He’d been planning to try it out for a few weeks before mentioning it, in case it ended up being completely horrible and he had to quit. Didn’t want to end up getting anyone’s hopes up after all.

Taako didn’t go to call her back right away. Instead he made sure to leave the school first, giving a nod to the people still in the front office on his way out as a general ‘hey I was here and worked and you see me leaving at the normal time I’m supposed to leave’ thing.

Once he was outside he sighed, pulling his phone out of his pocket and hitting Lup’s number. It only rang twice before she picked up.

“What up, tell me no one died in the fucking forty five minutes I wasn’t hovering over my phone,” he said immediately. There was no reason why anyone would die, as far as he knew at least, but you could never be sure.

“No, no one died,” Lup said, sounding amused more than anything.

“Cool cool, so why didn’t you just text me then?” he asked, because that was the general go to with them. It was definitely weird that she’d called but didn’t leave any kind of text when he hadn’t answered after a bit.

“Because this is something pretty important, actually, despite the lack of death,” she said, and that had Taako’s attention.

“Oh? Well fucking lay it on me, what’s up?” he asked, starting to walk back to his apartment. Thankfully it was a nice day, and his apartment wasn’t far for the days when it wasn’t. He’d been pretty damn lucky to get this school. He might’ve also been not jumping at the first job that came along, even though he probably should’ve. Shit worked out in the end though, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Hopefully whatever Lup had to talk about was important enough that she wouldn’t question what he’d been doing that he couldn’t answer her phone. They tended to be pretty alright with the whole privacy thing, but Lup and Barry had been kind of on his case lately. He guessed he could understand why, but he’d rather they lay off some. He was doing fine.

Maybe he hadn't been too fine for a while there, but he was fine now.

“So, I just realized that like, I have no fucking idea what to get Barry for our anniversary,” she said, and she sounded a lot more worried than Taako was used to hearing his sister. That wasn’t a surprise though, it was fucking ridiculous how into each other her and Barold were. Taako joked about it making him sick a lot, but he honestly was happy for the two of them. It was pretty nice, seeing the two most important people in his life all happy and shit.

So Lup being all nervous about getting a perfect anniversary gift seemed pretty par for the course. He wouldn’t have thought twice about this, if not for one thing.

“Lup?” he asked, doing a bit of mental checking to make sure he was right here.

“Yeah Koko?”

“I’m pretty damn sure your anniversary isn’t for another five goddamn months,” he said, letting his voice sound as unamused as possible.

“Well yeah, but I should start figuring this shit out now. The first anniversary is fucking important,” she insisted.

“Okay, I will give you that your first year being all in marital bliss is a pretty cool milestone, and it took you two dorks long enough to get there,” he said, although this whole thing was still pretty ridiculous.

“That being said, it’s not fucking ‘stop the presses! Gotta call Taako right fucking now, no time to send a text this is an emergency’ deal. Seriously, I was actually busy,” he added. He could hear Lup grumbling on the other side of the line, and he rolled his eyes even though she couldn’t see him. She could probably sense it, and that was the most important part.

“I might've gotten a little caught up in the realization okay, happy?” she said. Taako took his time hemming and hawing a bit dramatically.

“I guess so,” he finally relented once he reached his door.

“So, what exactly were you busy with?” Lup asked suddenly, and Taako was glad she couldn’t see him flinch. She could probably sense it though, which was less satisfying than the eye roll.

“Oh you know,” he said flippantly, starting up to his shitty apartment. That was the wrong thing to say, because he could practically feel Lup getting suspicious on the other end.

“Nope, don’t know bro, that’s why I asked,” she said. Taako was debating in his head if he wanted to tell her yet or not. He’d been planning on waiting until he was sure about this job, but this had been a pretty good first day. Of course, that might just be because he was lucky with the kid he got.

He had no idea how long he’d stick with a kid for yet, but he doubted it would be too long. Angus didn’t seem like he actually needed a tutor after all, so who was to say in like two weeks he wouldn’t have new brat who would drive him up a fucking wall. Hell, there was no way to say that the kid he was working with now wouldn’t turn out to be insufferable. Good first impressions could always be wrong.

But he also knew Lup, and that she was going to find out eventually. It didn’t matter if he quit or not, she would be able to tell something was up. Especially with the way her and Barry had been kind of hovering over him ever since they got back from their honeymoon.

“Listen, it ain’t a big deal. Just started a new part time job today. Fuck, not even part time, like a quarter time job, if that,” he said, unlocking his apartment door and heading inside. He’d been living here for about half a year now, but there was still shit packed away in boxes and piled in corners. He told himself he’d get to them once he actually needed the shit that was inside. He hadn’t yet, so taking the things out would make an even bigger mess than there already was.

“Oh shit, seriously? What kind of job? I didn’t know you got another job,” Lup asked, and that was about what Taako had been expecting.

“Like I said, it’s barely a job. I just figured some extra spending cash wouldn’t hurt. I haven’t been able to go on a real good shopping spree in a fucking while and it’s a goddamn shame,” he said. He could hear Lup humming in agreement, and he knew she was aware it was more than a lack of shopping sprees, but she didn’t call him out on it. That was why he appreciated her so fucking much.

“But yeah, it’s just a little tutoring thing. Helping some tiny gremlins with their math homework or whatever a couple times a week. You know that fancy charter school a few blocks down from me? It’s there,” he explained.

“That’s great Taako!” Lup said, and she sounded genuinely happy about this. Taako wasn’t too surprised by that, he knew she was worried about him being all shut in and shit.

“Eh, today was the first day so let’s not get our hopes up yet, but it wasn’t horrible. The kid I’m stuck with seems alright, he didn’t even need my help really,” he said, shifting the phone on his shoulder some so that he could grab a shitty microwave dinner out of the freezer. Maybe it was a little early for dinner, but he didn’t have anything else to do for the rest of the night.

“Well, it sounds like a good gig, I’m proud of you bro,” she said, and Taako tried not to let himself get uncomfortable with the sincerity in her voice. Of course Lup was proud of him. No matter what disasters they got into they were always proud of each other.

“Like I said, we’ll see,” he said, not letting himself put too much stock in this whole thing yet despite that. Even if it ended up being a fine thing, it was still temporary at the end of the day. Sure, he was stuck at his dead end goddamn call center job for now, but he wouldn’t be there forever. Or at least he wasn’t planning on it. Once he got something nicer he could quit that and the tutoring thing.

“So, you were going on about not knowing what to do for an anniversary gift?” he asked, and maybe he was deflecting the slightest bit, but also there wasn’t much left to talk about on his end either.

“Right, and like I know it’s a long time from now but what if I want to like, plan a trip or something? That requires a lot of working in advance. Would something like that be too much though?” she asked, and Taako couldn’t help but be amused at how much of a fucking disaster his sister was. Like sure, he was a wreck too, but she was one in lots of fun other ways.

“I mean, that might not be the best option. If Barry decides to do a trip too you two could end up with conflicting schedules,” he said.

“Oh shit, fuck you’re right that would be a problem,” she said. Taako laughed at the fact that he should’ve been joking about that, but it was actually a very real concern with the two of them. “So not a trip, but uh, something,” she said, sounding like she had absolutely no ideas, and Taako guessed that was probably the case. That or she had too many ideas to the point where she couldn’t focus on one. Both were extremely likely.

“Well, the good news is you’ve got some time to figure it out,” he assured her, and Lup reluctantly agreed.

Taako spent the next hour or so on the phone with his sister, eating his shitty microwaved dinner while they spit-balled ideas for anniversary gifts. Most of the ones Taako suggested were shitty, mainly because it wasn’t anywhere close enough for him to feel the need to be serious about this.

It was nice though, and right before they hung up Lup told him again how proud she was of him for going out and getting the tutoring job on his own. He brushed her off, but he was smiling the slightest bit when he set the phone down.

Taako could admit that things had been kinda shitty for him lately. Like, they were getting better and all, but it was still a lot of bullshit he hadn’t wanted to deal with.

And this job was small and barely even counted as one and he didn’t even like working with kids, but maybe it would be a step in the right direction.

Yeah, as reluctant as he was to hope for anything right now, he guessed this might actually be something good for him.

At the very least, it didn’t seem like it would be horrible, and that didn’t seem like too much to ask for.

Chapter Text

Kravitz breathed a sigh of relief when he got to the school and saw that Angus wasn’t waiting outside yet. He wasn’t sure how long this new tutoring thing was going to go for, but he didn’t want to mess it up right away. The teacher he’d talked to said the sessions would last for about an hour, but he wasn’t sure if they’d end early since it was the first day or something like that. He’d been cutting it pretty close, but he managed to get there with a few minutes to spare.

As soon as he stopped in front of the school he saw Angus walking out the front door, and yeah, he'd been down to the wire there. He knew his son would understand if he was a few minutes late, but he’d rather not do that to him today.

Angus hadn’t said anything about it, but Kravitz had gotten the feeling that he wasn’t super thrilled with the whole tutoring arrangement. The least he could do was pick him up on time for his first day. Hopefully for more than the first day, but as it was Kravitz was trying to take this one day at a time.

“Hey dad, how was work?” Angus asked as he climbed into the car, taking his backpack off and setting it down by his feet before putting on his seatbelt. Kravitz waited until he was all settled in before starting the car up again to head back home. He didn’t seem particularly upset or anything, so that was a good sign. Or at least, he hoped it was.

“Good, I’m going to have to stop back there tonight while I grab dinner to drop off a few papers,” he said and Angus nodded. It wasn’t too unusual for him to have to run in at random intervals, but thankfully his office was close enough that it wasn’t too much of an issue most of the time.

“How was school?” Kravitz asked, not specifically bringing up the tutoring. If Angus didn’t want to talk about it right away he didn’t have to, but hopefully him being in a good mood meant he would.

“It was alright, we uh, we started a new section in history today,” he said. Kravitz nodded to show that he was listening as he drove, and the school was a little ways from their house, but it had been the best one Kravitz could find for Angus. “Um, the tutoring went well,” he added, and that was good to hear.

“Oh really? What did you go over?” he asked, trying to sound interested while also trying not to pry.

“We did my math homework,” Angus said.

“Oh, that’s good,” Kravitz said, and it wasn’t the most in depth explanation but it was enough. It really was good hearing that it didn’t seem to be a waste so far and that Angus didn’t seem to hate it or anything either.

Kravitz knew that homework had been one of the issues his teachers had brought up during the meetings they’d had. So his finishing his math homework was definitely an improvement.

“Yeah, my tutor seems nice, he said this is his first time doing this program too,” Angus explained as they pulled up to their house. Kravitz nodded, climbing out of the car and grabbing the paperwork he’d need to bring back to the office in a few hours out of the back seat.

“That’s good, you can figure it out together,” Kravitz said, leading Angus inside. Honestly, he would of preferred someone who had a bit more experience, but he knew Angus could handle his own. If this person being new as well made him more comfortable, it was for the best. “Just make sure to tell anyone if you don’t think this is working out or you have any problems,” he added, and Angus nodded.

“I will, don’t worry Dad,” Angus said, sounding a little annoyed with the doting. He knew he told Angus those kinds of things all the time, but he wanted to be sure that he understood and didn’t feel like he couldn’t say if there was a problem.

Maybe he wouldn’t worry so much if there was someone else he could count on for Angus to be able to go to, but as it was it was just him. Well, there were his grandmas, but he still didn’t like the idea of Angus not wanting to come to him for a problem. The last thing he wanted was for his son to feel like he had nowhere to turn.

Angus was already starting to him room, and Kravitz was about to head to his office to get started on this paper work when he stopped.

“Oh, what do you want for dinner? I figured I’d grab something while I was taking this work back,” he asked. Angus stopped, seeming to think the question over for a moment.

“Um, McDonalds I guess?” he said, and he was a simple enough suggestion and it wasn’t like they didn’t eat there a lot. Still, he couldn’t help but be amused by the suggestion.

“You only pick that because of the name, don’t you?” he asked, and Angus shrugged before turning back to his room.

“Maybe,” he said, and Kravitz rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything about it. Instead he just made plans to stop by the McDonalds on the way back from work.

“Do you want the meal with the toy?” he called down the hall, a teasing tone to his voice because he already knew the answer.

“No dad! I’m not a baby,” Angus called back, sounding offended at the suggestion.

“Just checking,” he said. After a moment he heard the door to Angus’s room open and close and started over to his office.

Sitting down at his desk, Kravitz made sure to set an alarm on his phone for when he needed to head out. If he didn’t, he’d end up getting caught up in his work and forgetting he had somewhere to be. It happened a few times, with Angus coming into his study a few hours past when they should’ve had dinner and making sure he was okay. He’d gotten better at it, or well, at remembering to set alarms for himself at least, but time management still wasn’t a skill he had much of.

As he expected, by the time the alarm went off it barely felt like any time had passed at all, and he had missed how dark it was starting to get outside. Grabbing up the necessary paperwork, Kravitz quickly threw his coat back on to head out.

“I’m leaving now! I’ll be back with dinner in a bit!” he called towards Angus’s room once he was at the front door.

“Okay dad!” he heard Angus yell back after a moment, and once he knew Angus heard him he locked the door behind him and headed out.

There weren’t many people left at the office this late into the day. It used to be that Kravitz was one of the few people who stuck around this long, which he was trying to do less of. It was kind of hard though, especially now that he had to bargain to get off early on Mondays and Wednesdays now. Angus rode the bus home every other day, but with this new tutoring thing Kravitz had to be out in order to pick him up.

Sure, he knew his boss would let him have pretty much any schedule he asked for, especially if Angus was involved. He didn’t want to use his relationship with her unfairly though.

Besides, the whole tutoring situation was a good thing, even if it resulted in a little more driving around for him. According to the last parent/teacher conference Kravitz had gone to it was something Angus needed. He’d talked it over with Angus, and he had been insistent on trying out the tutoring program rather than the other option the teachers had suggested, which was moving him back a grade.

Kravitz hadn’t thought letting Angus skip fifth grade was a bad idea at the time. Both Angus and his teachers at the time had thought it was what would be best for him. Still, he seemed to be struggling a bit more than they anticipated, so a tutor it was. The running around was the least he could do since he couldn’t be there a lot of the time to help Angus himself.

“What are you doing back here? I thought you already left for the day?” one of his co-workers, a pleasant woman named Julia, asked as he came into the office she was in.

“I did, I’m just dropping off some paperwork I finished up at home,” he explained, ignoring her soft ‘tsk’ at him.

“Alright then, but I better not see you still here in five minutes. I know how long it takes to drop off papers, and honestly I’m giving you a lot of leeway there,” she said, and Kravitz rolled his eyes but nodded.

“I’m leaving, I can tell when I’m not wanted,” he joked. Work was pretty stressful a lot of the time, but he couldn’t say he didn’t like it and that he didn’t like his coworkers. Or most of them at least, some were a little bit more irritating, but they weren’t bad people. Sure, working at a pharma testing company wasn’t what he imagined doing with his life, but plans change. He couldn’t say he wasn’t happy, and he knew he wouldn’t change anything about this.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said as he walked past Julia again after dropping the papers off in the correct mail slot. The ride home wasn’t far, and he had the route to the nearest McDonalds between his work and home memorized.

“Angus, dinner!” he called once he was home, nudging the door closed while being careful not to drop the bag of food or drinks in his hands. After a moment he heard movement coming from Angus’s room, and then he was heading out and over to where Kravitz had dropped the bags on the kitchen counter.

“Are you all done with work stuff for the night?” Angus asked, grabbing his burger and one of the packs of fries.

“Yes, did you have any other homework besides the math you finished that you need to do?” Kravitz asked back. Angus shoved a couple fries into his mouth, and it was hard to tell if it was because he was hungry or if he was buying time to think of an answer.

“I have a book report due Friday, but Mr. Taako said we’d work on it together on Wednesday,” he said after a moment.

“Mr. Taako?” Kravitz asked, not recognizing the name. He knew it wasn’t any of Angus’s teachers. If someone asked him, he wouldn’t believe it was actually real.

“The tutor,” Angus explained, and Kravitz nodded. Still a strange name, but it made sense now.

“Alright, and you’ve read the book already right?” he asked, and Angus nodded quickly.

“Oh yeah, mostly. Enough of it,” he said, and that wasn’t the most convincing yes in the world. Kravitz figured he should tell Angus to finish reading the book tonight. “Can we practice some music after dinner?” Angus asked before he could say anything, and Kravitz almost sighed out loud.

“Sure, we haven’t gotten to do that in a while, have we?” he said. He wouldn’t say he was an especially indulgent parent, but he knew he didn’t get to spend that much time with Angus all things considered. Sure, Kravitz knew this was partially deflecting for him, but Angus had done a lot today from what he could tell. He could let him relax some for the evening.

With that they ate dinner, and Angus told him in more detail bout how his school day had gone, and a little more about the new tutor he had. Which ended up not being much, but was pretty well summed up in that he seemed ‘fun’ and hadn’t been mad at Angus for being a few minutes late to their meeting.

After they finished eating Angus pulled out his keyboard and Kravitz grabbed one of the guitars from its stand and they played for a bit. Angus had only recently started to show an interest in music, and so Kravitz had pulled out a lot of his old instruments and had started to teach him. He was picking it up pretty well, and Kravitz was fairly certain he wasn’t being too biased because it was his kid. It hadn’t been hard for him to learn how to read music, and he still stumbled over his fingers and stuff sometimes. Those were all things that worked themselves out with more practice.

They’d had dinner pretty late though, and it was a school night, so after a bit Kravitz ushered him off to bed. Angus had protested enough to get a couple more songs out of him, but after a bit he relented and headed off to get ready to sleep.

Kravitz took the time to put the instruments away again while he did that, and it was kind of nice. He felt like he had absolutely no fucking idea what he was doing as a parent a vast majority of the time. Even though Angus was ten now and so he should have gotten a hang of it by this point. They’d been doing more things like this lately though, and maybe even if he wasn’t sure about what he was doing, he could feel like he wasn’t doing anything horrible.

The next day was their normal routine. Kravitz got Angus up, helped him get ready for school and then rushed out to get to work on time. Since he didn’t have the tutoring today Kravitz didn’t have to leave early, and so Angus was already home when he finally got back from work.

He was only home alone for a little over an hour, and it was something they only started last year. Kravitz still wasn’t sure if that was too young or not, but it had worked out so far. He’d made sure to get Angus a phone, even though he felt like he was definitely a little too young for that, so that he would have a way to contact him in case anything happened.

And Angus was a smart kid, a little too smart for his own good sometimes, but he’d done well with the little bit of time alone so far.

That night he made sure to tell Angus to finish reading the book he needed for his book report. Which he knew Angus loved to read, so that shouldn’t be a problem. He said he’d do it and get a start on his report so that he had something as a base for meeting up with the tutor tomorrow.

Maybe he should be trying to help more? Whenever he offered though Angus insisted he knew what he was doing, and he did too. It was pretty clear from that whenever Kravitz actually got the time to double checked his stuff or asked him questions about his work or anything like that.

Still, a lot of his work had started to go undone, and he wasn’t sure why that was but he was hoping the tutoring would help. Just having a dedicated time and place to do his work and not get distracted.

The next day had ended up being more of a hassle than Kravitz had anticipated. Much more of a hassle, actually. He knew that things would be a bit difficult as they adjusted to the new schedule, but he was still hoping things wouldn’t break bad quite so soon.

It started off not even all that bad. When he walked into work that morning Julia saw sitting at her desk, and instead of greeting him like she usually did she just sat scowling at some papers on her desk. Over the years Kravitz had started working more on the administrative side of things than the actual scientific testing. Julia was part of administration too, which was why he worked with her often.

“Hey McDonald, does this look wrong to you?” she asked before he could get to his office. Kravitz headed over and looked at the papers she was going over, some detailed reports about their general profit and expenses and such. It didn’t seem strange at first, but after closer inspection something was definitely off.

“Yeah, that’s not right. Julia could you get me the full reports for this month?” he asked.

“You got it,” she said, already getting up to do just that. Kravitz had figured it had been a simple mistake and he would be able to find the problem pretty quickly. When he started going through it though, more and more seemed to be off and it became clear that it was starting to snowball.

By three o’clock Kravitz had a pile of all of the paperwork that had been submitted in the last three months on his desk. At this point he was trying to figure out if these errors were the result of some calculation malfunctions, or if they were intentional.

He hoped these were just some sort of error, or else someone was definitely going to lose their job over this.

He hadn’t meant to forget the time. He hadn’t set an alarm because he hadn’t expected something to so thoroughly distract him from when he was supposed to go home. He might’ve forgotten that the time he had to go home wasn’t the time he had gone home every other day for the past year too. He hadn’t glanced at the clock in at least a few hours when he heard a knock on the door to his office. He’d just been praying that it wasn’t some more files that had found to be faulty.

Instead, it had been his boss, and one look at her face could see the expression of slightly unsurprised disappointment.

“Oh Kravitz, you’re still here,” she said. Kravitz nodded, a little confused by that. She certainly knew him enough to know that him staying late wasn’t exactly a new thing.

“Yes, I was going through those uh, botched documents and trying to figure out exactly where they went wrong and how,” he explained, glancing down at his watch to double check the time. He was maybe supposed to leave like ten minutes ago, but considering everything that had gone down today this little bit of overtime wasn’t surprising in the slightest. He’d certainly stuck around for longer under less dire needs.

“Kravitz, didn’t you need to pick Angus up from tutoring today? I believe we changed your schedule so that you could do that,” she said, and Kravitz’s heart stopped. Of course she had remembered that when it’d completely slipped his mind.

“Wait, fuck,” he said, wincing afterwards because he did try to keep a professional appearance in front of his boss. Even if she was also his mom. That was something he liked to keep on the down low, so that he wouldn’t abuse any leniency. Quickly he scrambled back to his desk and started to pack away as much of this paperwork as he could justify taking home. “I’m so sorry, it completely slipped my mind.

“It’s fine Kravitz, you don’t have to apologize,” she said, and he finished packing up before rushing out. Angus’s tutoring was scheduled to end maybe fifteen minutes ago, but the school wasn’t that far from his work. He might’ve drove a bit more recklessly than he would under normal circumstances, but in the end he was only about twenty two minutes late.

Which could’ve been a lot worse if he hadn’t been reminded of the new schedule, but he still winced when he saw Angus sitting outside of the school.

And there was someone sitting with him.

As he pulled up they were sitting on a bench at the front of the school. Angus had a notebook out on his lap and looked like he was writing while the man that was with him talked. Jumping out of the car, the man noticed him first and well, he didn’t look all that happy.

Then Angus glanced up and saw him, and his face lit up and Kravitz felt even worse about forgetting the time.

“Hey dad! Did you get caught up at work?” Angus asked, closing his notebook and pulling out his backpack to start putting it away.

“Yes, I’m so sorry Angus. There was this big issue with something and we had to go through several months worth of files and I forgot about the new schedule,” he explained.

The man was still sitting on the bench, clearly looking him over with a very unimpressed look on his face. He didn’t look like a teacher. His clothes were bright and seemed to only barely meet any sort of dress code requirements. His hair was tied back in a braid and he was wearing too much jewelry but somehow it all seemed to work on him.

Or maybe he was just like, really attractive. Not that it meant much to Kravitz one way or the other. Whatever it was, he didn’t seem particularly pleased.

“Um, who’s your friend?” Kravitz asked Angus, although he already had a pretty good guess on who exactly this was.

“Oh! Right, this is my tutor Mr. Taako, he was helping me with some things while we waited for you,” Angus explained and yep. That was exactly what Kravitz had figured. Yeah, this wasn’t the first impression he’d been hoping for.

“Hello, I’m Angus’s father. Thank you so much for staying with him, I promise this isn’t going to be a habit. It’s been a, ah, a long day,” he said, trying to seem a bit more put together than he probably looked getting here. ‘Mr. Taako’ stared at him for a moment before smiling brightly.

“Not even a problem my dude! Ango and I had a blast,” he said, all casual and easy pretty much out of nowhere. And well, Kravitz had seen fake customer service smiles before, he could tell that Taako still wasn’t exactly his biggest fan.

“Well, thank you anyway. You ready to head home Angus?” he asked, and Angus nodded, slinging his bookbag onto his back.

“Yep, see you next week Mr. Taako,” he said, and Taako’s smile looked a bit more genuine at that.

“See you then pumpkin, make sure to finish that essay,” he said, picking up his own stuff to head off to his car or something.

“I will,” Angus said before turning fully to get into the car.

“Sorry again for being late,” Kravitz said once the door was shut. Angus didn’t seem bothered by it, but it still wasn’t something Kravitz was proud of.

“It’s fine, it wasn’t that long and Mr. Taako hung out with me so I wasn’t bored,” he said. Kravitz nodded, driving much safer than he was when coming over here.

“That was nice of him,” he said, although he figured it might’ve been some policy not to leave the children alone until their parents got there. It would explain the very annoyed expression the tutor had been shooting him. Kravitz figured he would like to go home and get on with the rest of his day.

“Yeah, I told him he didn’t need to but he said it wasn’t a problem and had me get my essay back out,” Angus explained.

“Well, hopefully this won’t happen again anytime soon. At least I’ll give you a heads up next time I might have to stay over for a bit,” Kravitz told him. He’d been caught pretty off guard this time, but the last thing he wanted was for Angus to think he made a habit of forgetting about him.

“A heads up might be a good idea. Is everything okay at work?” Angus asked. Kravitz couldn’t quite tell if he was worried and trying to hide it or if he was just curious when he asked about his work. He figured Angus could tell how harried he’d been when he got there, as much as he was trying to hide it, so he would be able to see that something was off for sure.

“Everything’s fine. There were some errors in our books dating back for a couple of months, and it’s hard to tell if they were a computer error or intentional or not,” he explained. It was a pretty big deal, and the fact that they’d gone this long without noticing anything was bad. Still, Kravitz was fairly certain it wasn’t something he in particular would lose his job over. If this was intentional then someone would for sure, but the issue was just that he needed to figure out who that was.

“Oh alright, will you have to stay late tomorrow?” Angus asked, and Kravitz felt a little bad about having to nod.

“Probably for most of the weekend until I can get this cleared up. Would you want to stay home or go visit your grandmas?” he asked.

“I could go to grandma’s,” Angus said, and that was a bit of a relief. It definitely felt better than leaving him at home alone pretty much all weekend.

“Alright, I’ll let them know and drop you off early Saturday before I head in if that’s alright,” he said, and Angus nodded. Kravitz knew his mother wouldn’t actually be there, since she’d be dealing with the same issues he was, but Angus got along with his stepmother wonderfully. It was probably because he spent a lot of time with her, especially when he was younger and Kravitz was struggling even more to balance the whole single father thing.

Pulling up to the house, Kravitz made sure to grab all the files he’d throw rather haphazardly into the back seat before heading into the house with Angus. He’d have to spend a lot of time tonight going through them. The sooner he could figure this all out the sooner it would be behind them and his schedule wouldn’t be so hectic.

“Is pizza good for dinner? There’s a frozen one in the fridge I think we can have,” he asked, and Angus nodded.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” he said. Kravitz pulled out his phone to put a reminder on it right then before he forgot.

“Oh, how did the tutoring go? Did you finish your essay?” Kravitz asked, realizing he hadn’t actually asked Angus much about his day yet.

“It was good, we finished most of it, I just have to do the conclusion and edit it,” he said, and that sounded good. It seemed like he was actually getting work done with the tutor, which was a relief.

“Alright, make sure to finish that tonight,” he said, and Angus nodded.

“I will,” he said before turning to head back to his room. With that Kravitz headed over to his office, dropping the large stack of papers down on it before slumping into a chair. Before getting started, he pulled his phone out and sent a quick text to his stepmother asking if it was alright if Angus stayed over for the weekend. He’d barely put the phone down again when he got a message back saying ‘of course.’

Sighing in relief, Kravitz sent back a quick thank you before putting his phone away. He’d explain what was going on, but he was sure his mom would once she got home tonight. Starting on the paperwork, it was a lot, but right now he wanted to get through it as soon as possible.

It was easy to lose himself in the numbers and structure of it all. Even with the way it was knocking off his schedule like it was, it somehow felt like it was a part of the routine.

His life had been a routine for a very long time now, and he couldn’t complain about that. He liked the dependability of it.

If he could keep everything running predictably, then maybe he wasn’t doing too bad of a job as a parent after all.

Chapter Text

Angus was only slightly disappointed when he walked out of the school after his second tutoring session and saw that his dad wasn’t there yet. It wasn’t a big deal or too surprising, but it did mean he might have to wait a while. His dad would get home at his normal time and realize Angus wasn't there in about an hour or so. He figured something like this might happen at first. His dad was kind of bad at adjusting to new schedules.

Without any fuss he sat down on a bench outside the front of the school to wait for a bit. It was always possible that he was on his way and was running late. If he wasn’t here by the time he normally got off work then Angus would call to remind him.

He’d left the school before his tutor had, and after a few minutes he saw Mr. Taako walking out the front doors as well. He didn’t expect him to say or do anything besides maybe nod to acknowledge his presence or say goodbye again.

As soon as Taako caught sight of him though he stopped walking, taking a quick glance around the area. When he didn’t see whatever he must’ve been looking for he headed straight over to him.

“Hey there Ango, expected you to be long gone by now,” he said, and Angus shrugged. They hadn’t run over late or anything but he guessed it wasn’t early either. This was only their second time meeting up, but it felt rather productive. Angus only had a little bit of his essay left to do, and he kept telling himself that he would finish it as soon as he got home.

“Hello sir! I think my dad is just running a bit late is all,” Angus said, expecting that to be the end of it. He was sure Mr. Taako had his own things to get to after all.

“That happen a lot?” Taako asked, and he was speaking in a way that was meant to be casual, but Angus could hear the curiosity behind it. He wasn’t sure why it was important to Taako, but he didn’t see any harm in answering.

“I don’t do a lot of extracurriculars where he needs to pick me up, so not really. He gets busy at work a lot though I guess,” he explained.

“What about your mom?” Taako asked, and he was sort of expecting that question. It tended to come a lot when adults who didn’t know him very well yet asked about his parents.

“It’s just me and my dad, I never had one,” he explained, and Taako nodded. There seemed to be a moment's hesitation on his face, like he wasn't sure what to do, but after a moment Taako came and sat down on the bench with Angus. He didn’t seem like the comforting type, and it was even more awkward since this wasn’t something he particularly needed comforting with.

“Fucking same hat kid, although I guess you’ve still got me beaten by like fifty percent on the whole parent front,” was all Taako said though, and that was a little unexpected. Normally when he told people that it got kind of awkward because they’d go all falling over themselves to apologize and things like that. He liked Taako’s method a lot better.

“So similar hats then? The same style hats but different colors?” Angus joked. It got a little huff of laughter out of Taako, which wasn’t something that had happened very much yet. Angus counted it as a win. He wanted Taako to like him, well because he wanted all of his teachers to like him. Taako seemed a bit more fun than most of them though.

“Yeah sure, that works,” he said, stretching his arms up above him as he got a bit more comfortable on the bench. “So, if you’re stuck here for a while why don’t you pull your essay back out. Maybe we can finish it before your pops shows up,”  Taako added. Angus nodded, quickly pulling the paper out. If he did finish it now that meant he wouldn’t have to worry about it later.

They didn’t quite manage to finish the essay by the time his dad showed up. It wasn’t as late as it could have been, but he got the distinct impression that Mr. Taako was kind of annoyed with his dad over the whole thing. He asked a few more questions about how often his dad was around in between helping with his paper, and Angus told him the truth. He was around a lot, as much as he could be, but he was really busy with his job too. Being a single parent is hard and Angus tries to help out where he can. It wasn’t a big deal.

Maybe aako was just annoyed at having to stay over though. Angus had told him several times that he didn’t have to wait with him or anything like that, but Taako insisted the whole time that it wasn’t an issue.

It turned out there was a good reason for his dad to be late. Something pretty major was wrong at work and he’d have to go in a bit more for the next couple of days or however long it took for it all to get sorted out. Angus could tell that it was something kind of serious, because his dad was bad at hiding when he's stressed out about something. He tried, but it was clear that his mind was occupied with these form errors.

So Angus agreed to go to his grandmas over the weekend and went up to his room. He promised Mr. Taako he’d finish up this essay first thing. So even though he was tempted to put it off and say that he had plenty of time and could finish it up after dinner he forced himself start working on it.

It didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect, he just needed to get a conclusion down and then he would be able to do other things. He didn't even need to look at the rest of the essay again. He could get it done real quick and stop stressing about it.

Despite his attempts to tell himself he could put down a haphazard conclusion and it’d still be good enough to earn him a decent grade, especially when combined with the rest of the essay, Angus still found himself trying to make it perfect.

Which took longer than he would have liked. A conclusion that should have taken him like fifteen minutes to write started to stretch well into an hour. Angus hadn’t expected the tutor to help that much but he found himself wishing he was here. Maybe it would be better if he had someone there who he could have double check and tell him it was fine so that he could stop second guessing everything. He just needed it done, but he needed it to be perfect so that people thought he was smart enough to handle this workload.

He was erasing a couple of sentences (why did they have to insist on paper essays? If he was allowed to type them at least he could backspace without messing up the paper and show how much he’d gone back and changed) his paper ripped, and it felt almost cliche in its disaster. He hadn’t even been erasing angrily, he’d just already done it so much the paper had gotten weak.

His first instinct was to ball up the ruined essay and throw it away. He was halfway through doing just that when he stopped himself, unfurling the wrinkled paper and sighing heavily.

He’d take a break until dinner to calm down, and then he’d transcribe everything he had onto a fresh piece of paper. It would be fine and he’d still have it done in time. He just needed a break so that he didn’t give up like he had with so many other assignments now. It was so stupid. He didn't know why he couldn't finish things like he used to. At least he was trying his best not to give up in frustration this time.

He guessed part of the reason for that was he didn’t want to throw away all the work that Mr. Taako had put into helping him with the majority of the essay. He could believe that part at least was good enough.

Dad seemed pretty distracted during dinner, so Angus was able to avoid letting out that anything was wrong. Yep, he’d been working on his essay, it was pretty much finished now. He just had to read it over to make sure there wasn’t any mistakes. That was a lie, but his dad believed it well enough.

Angus really did try to get it done. When he went to copy it over to a new piece of paper after dinner though he kept finding mistakes and things he was sure he could do better. Taako had approved those parts but it still didn’t feel good enough.

The next day he didn’t have anything to hand in, and at least his teacher didn’t call him out on it in front of everyone. It seemed like she had realized at that point that it wasn’t exactly going to help with anything.

It was Friday though, so once he was out of school he was able to push away thoughts of the failed and crumpled up essay at the bottom of his bookbag. When his dad asked him how school was he told him it was fine, talked about his other classes and quickly asked his dad if the situation at his work had improved. He’d sighed heavily, drumming fingers on the dinner table nervously.

“I think there’s been some progress, but everything we’ve found so far makes the whole thing look worse. It seems way too severe and deliberate to be some sort of computer error, so we might have to start looking into individual employees,” he explained. Angus nodded, and even though it was stressing his dad out he couldn’t help but be interested in the whole thing.

“Do you have any idea who might’ve done it? What exactly did they do anyway? It’s a money thing right?” Angus asked, and his dad shrugged.

“Right now I don’t want to put any sort of blame on anyone, other than it had to be someone with pretty unfiltered access to our files,” he said, taking a moment to eat some of the take out they’d gotten for dinner before continuing. “And yes, it’s a money thing. It’s looking like a very complicated form of embezzlement if I had to guess.”

“Maybe you can let me come to work with you and I can help you figure out the culprit,” Angus said. He was only somewhat joking in his suggestion. He loved solving mysteries and he was pretty good at figuring them out if he did say so himself. He doubted there were a lot of people with unfiltered access to most of their files too, it probably wouldn’t even be that hard to crack.

“You can ask your grandma this weekend,” his dad said, and it was clear that he meant it as a joke. Even still, Angus had full intent to ask when he saw her.

The next morning his dad woke him up early, and it was a little bit later than he would’ve had to for school but it still wasn’t very fun for a weekend. Angus sleepily got dressed, shoved some stuff rather indiscriminately into a duffel bag so he would have things to do and got into the car. At some point he guessed his dad had given him a poptart, and he managed to eat about half of it before crashing again.

The ride to his grandmas house wasn’t far though, and Angus groaned when he was woken up by his dad lifting him out of the passenger seat of the car.

“’M wake,” he mumbled, not actually making any moves to climb out of his dad’s arms or anything.

“Mhmm,” he heard his dad hum, and it didn’t seem like he believed him but Angus was too tired to argue. He felt him take something out of his hand, and he guessed he'd still been holding that poptart from before. Then Angus felt them walking and he heard his dad and grandma talking some, but he wasn’t paying much attention. He must've fallen asleep again at some point, because some time later he woke up in the guest bedroom. Well, it was a guest bedroom in name, in function it was pretty much Angus’s second bedroom.

Crawling out of bed he left the bedroom and headed downstairs. If he had to guess his dad probably carried him up here before leaving so that his grandma wouldn’t have to.

She was awake when he got down to the living room, and it wasn’t much of a surprise considering the clock on the TV said it was a little after 10am.

“Morning Mummum Issy,” he said, and it wasn’t the first time he wondered if he was getting too old to be calling her that. It was a way to distinguish his two grandmas though, and he was pretty sure Grandma Raven had insisted on the Issy nickname when he was too young to even remember. As much as it felt kind of childish he was worried about hurting anyone’s feelings if he stopped.

“Good morning dear, did you sleep well?” she asked, and Angus nodded.

“Yeah, thanks for letting me stay the weekend,” he said, even though he knew she didn’t mind him being around. It was just the polite thing to do after all.

“It’s not a problem at all dear,” she said, getting up from her chair. Angus followed her into the kitchen, where she’d already had some muffins cooked for breakfast. They ate and she asked him how things have been lately and he told her about school and such. He might’ve glossed over the tutoring thing a little, but he knew she already had a vague idea about it and he didn’t want anymore to worry. This was only a temporary problem, he was sure of it.

Weekends at his grandmas’ house were always really relaxing. Angus knew his dad felt bad when he’d have to leave him there because he couldn’t be around, but he didn’t mind at all. Lately it had been kind of a nice distraction whenever he’d get to come over. He knew that avoiding his problems was part of the problem here, but he didn’t know how to fix it on his own yet.

As soon as he had that squared away, it would be fine. He was getting better too, probably. He almost managed to hand in that essay. Maybe if he could finish most of his things in tutoring it would be better.

This weekend went about as nice as his usual stays here. He relaxed with mummum Issy most of the time. They played a few games and read a lot. One of the things he liked about staying here was that no one treated him like he was just a little kid. His dad and Grandma Raven were out pretty much the whole weekend, so he didn’t get to see either of them much. That was pretty expected though, considering everything that was going on at work.

They had dinner together Sunday when his dad came home to pick him up though, and he was pretty sure mummum Issy insisted on it. It was mostly his dad and grandma Raven talking bout everything that was going on at work and filling them in on the progress they manged to make over the weekend. It sounded like they had managed to make progress, at any rate.

“Oh, Grandma Raven, dad said to ask you if I could help with the investigation,” Angus said in between mouthfuls of food. He was very aware of the fact that he probably wouldn’t be allowed to help, but it didn’t hurt to ask.

“Well, we could certainly use some extra help,” she said, like she was actually thinking it over. His dad gave her a look after a moment though and Angus had to resist the urge to pout at him for that. “Perhaps when you’re a bit older, if you’re still interested in working with your family then,” she added. That was about the answer Angus expected.

“Fine,” he relented. He figured they almost had it all figured out anyway, so there wouldn’t be much left for him to do at this point.

The rest of the dinner was filled with casual conversation. It was nice, and almost completely distracted Angus from the fact that he’d have to go back to school the next day.

Of course, time still moved and he found himself back at school in what felt like no time at all. Which really, wasn’t so bad. His teachers seemed like they weren’t going to try to pressure him much while the tutoring was still new. They were probably trying to see if it was working or not without them doing anything.

Angus was starting to think that he’d be off the hook for getting in trouble about that essay (at least, until his grades came out). Those hopes were dashed the next time he walked into tutoring. Taako didn’t say anything about it right away, which only made Angus think more that maybe he didn’t know. He had no idea how closely his teachers were talking to Mr. Taako after all. They might not be telling him everything he handed in or not.

As he sat down Taako asked what they had to work on, and Angus explained the homework he had for the night. There weren’t any big projects he had to worry about at the moment, now that the essay was 'done.' Taako had sat and nodded as he listened to Angus explain what he had.

“Cool, cool,” he said, not sounding too interested. Angus couldn’t blame him for that though, none of his homework was particularly thrilling. “So, I heard you forgot to turn in that essay we worked on,” he added as Angus was pulling out his math textbook. He almost ended up dropping it, flinching in guilt.

“Um, yeah. I accidentally left it on my desk at home,” he lied. Taako nodded, and he didn’t seem mad or anything. That was one thing that was nice that Angus noticed, Taako didn’t seem like the type to get upset at him making mistakes. Of course Angus had only met him a few times so he could be wrong, but he felt like he was a pretty good judge of character.

“I know how that is, you make sure to turn it in today? You know even if your teachers try and be sticklers about late work, they’ll usually accept it for some credit, which is a hell of a lot better than none,” Taako said. Angus knew he was right about that too, most of his teachers had explained to him that they were very willing to accept his work late. Sometimes they were even willing to give him full credit if he made sure to get it in fast.

Of course, the issue was that he hadn’t just forgotten his essay on his desk.

He must’ve been quiet for too long, because Mr. Taako was looking at him kind of suspiciously now.

“Oh, yeah no I for sure handed it in today,” he lied again. He didn’t particularly like lying, at least if it wasn’t for a good reason. He was pretty good at it, but he felt bad when he was just doing it to keep himself out of trouble.

“Okay, sounds good,” Taako said, apparently not going to press him on this. Angus didn’t say anything else about it either, because if he did Taako would figure out that he’d been lying about turning it in. Hopefully he wouldn’t find out anyway, but Angus couldn’t be certain about that. His teachers might ask him if they'd worked on it some more, but he'd deal with that possibility if it came up.

Maybe he could dig the crumpled up essay out of his backpack tonight and finish it up anyway. His teacher would still accept it after all, and he should hand it in anyway. He didn’t want to look at it or think about it anymore though. That wasn’t going to fix the problem any, but maybe if he pretended it wasn’t there long enough everyone else would forget too.

The rest of the tutoring session went well, and this time he actually managed to finish up his homework for tonight. He didn’t have a lot, since it was the beginning of the week.

When he started packing up Mr. Taako did too, seeming to move a little bit faster than he did the last couple of times.

“I’ll head out with you alright? In case your pops ain’t here yet again,” he offered, surprising Angus somewhat. Maybe not leaving him alone really was against regulations or something.

“You don’t have to sir, but thank you,” he said, not going to question him about it. If it wasn’t something the school was making him do, it was an awfully nice gesture. Angus had no problem waiting by himself, but it didn’t hurt having someone else around.

Luckily when they got outside his dad’s car was already waiting out front. Angus was pretty sure he still felt bad about forgetting about the new time on Thursday and having to leave him at his grandma’s all weekend. He’d said at dinner last night though that they were starting to make some progress on all of this mess, so maybe he was less busy on top of everything else as well. Angus kind of hoped so. As much as he didn’t mind when his dad had to go off and do his own thing it was nice when he could be around too.

“Oh, my dad’s already here. I’ll see you again on Thursday Mr. Taako,” Angus said, and his tutor nodded. He seemed kind of relieved at seeing his dad there, and Angus guessed he hadn’t wanted to waste his whole afternoon waiting again. Which he really couldn’t blame him for.

“Mhmm, see you then kiddo,” Taako said, starting away as Angus went to his dad’s car.

“Hey, how was school?” his dad asked as he climbed into the car. He was sort of looking past him as he spoke. When he glanced in the direction he was looking Angus managed to catch sight of his tutor turning down the next street before disappearing behind a building. He was probably worried that he’d had to stay with Angus afterwards again.

“It was good. I managed to finish all my homework with Mr. Taako this time,” he said, and his dad smiled as he started the car.

“That’s good. I might actually have some free time tonight, so maybe we should do something,” he said, and Angus found himself a bit excited at the prospect.

“Do you have free time tonight, or is Grandma Raven forcing you to take a break?” he pressed, and his dad sighed in a way that let Angus know he was right on the money with that one.

“I suppose it’s a little bit of both,” he admitted. That wasn’t very surprising, but Angus wasn’t going to complain. His dad definitely needed to be told to take a break from his work every now and then. Whatever worked after all.

“That sounds good dad,” Angus said, looking out the window as they made their way back home. Spending the night with his dad and not worrying about dumb school problems really did sound good after all.

He knew he couldn’t avoid those problems forever, but one more night of avoidance wouldn’t hurt.

Chapter Text

Taako was pretty sure there was something up with Angus. Like, he knew what a kid lying looked like, he was a kid lying for the better part of his life. So when Angus insisted that he for sure handed in his essay, there was no way Taako actually believed a word he was saying.

But the thing was, Taako didn’t know how involved he was supposed to get with this. He helped Angus with most of the essay, he knew the kid didn’t have much left by the time he went home. It shouldn’t have been an issue, and like, Taako was doing his job. He was just supposed to help kids with their work, it wasn’t his responsibility if they turned it in or not.

Of course, there was no way to prove he was doing his job if Angus didn’t turn in his work, so they were kind of at an impasse here.

So that day before he left he managed to run into Angus’s English teacher again, a casual thing and he definitely hadn’t been on the lookout for her. Still, he double checked and of course, he was right in thinking that the kid had been lying. He didn’t tell her that he’d lied, Taako wasn’t gonna be a dick like that. He just kept it in the back of his mind until his next tutoring session with the kid.

“Good afternoon sir!” Angus said happily when he came into tutoring on Friday. He was supposed to turn the essay in on Monday if Taako remembered right. He only saw Angus a couple times a week though, so it wasn’t his fault for not getting around to it until now.

“Sup kiddo,” Taako said as Angus sat down and started getting out whatever homework he had for today. “Hey, before we get to all that can we talk a minute?” he asked. He didn’t know how he was supposed to approach this, so blunt and straightforward was probably how he was gonna do it.

“Um, of course sir. Is something wrong?” Angus asked, clearly trying not to look nervous.

“Well, that’s what I was gonna ask. I ran into your English teach again, and she said she still hasn’t seen hide nor hair of that essay, or like, something along those lines,” Taako said and yep, there’s that flash of guilt across the kid’s face.

“Oh, um, I’m sure she must’ve just misplaced it or something. She’s a very busy lady and I didn’t give it to her with the rest of them, I can write it again and hand it in on Monday,” Angus stuttered out. The fact that he was trying to double down on the lie wasn’t a good sign.

“Hey, lemme get some shit out in the open, okay? I’m not mad at you for not handing in the paper, it’s your grade not mine, remember?” Taako said, and reluctantly Angus nodded. “I just want to know why you didn’t turn it in, you didn’t have much left to finish.”

“I just forgot sir. I promise I’ll bring it in on Monday,” Angus said, not meeting his eyes and picking at the edge of a notebook in his hands. Taako couldn't tell how much of the truth that was, but if that's what Angus said he'd believe him until something else came up.

“You know, if memories an issue they’ve got like, things you can do for that. Do you got a phone little man?” Taako asked. He definitely wasn’t qualified to see if the kid was suffering from ADD or whatever, but he could at least help him set some reminders and ask if he could get tested or something. Really, Taako had no idea how that stuff worked. He barely qualified as a school employee. He barely qualified as an employee at all.

“Oh, yes,” Angus said, quickly searching around in his pockets before pulling out a phone and turning it on. Taako couldn’t help but let out a snort like that, of course this kid kept his phone completely off when he was at school instead of on silent. Goody-two-shoes.

“Cool, cool so there should be a thing in the calender. When you need to remember like, bring in essay on Monday, you can put down a reminder Sunday night to put your essay in your backpack,” Taako explained. As he did he showed Angus the steps once the phone was fully on.

“Oh yeah, my dad has to do stuff like that all the time or else he forgets to eat or other things that people really shouldn’t forget to do,” Angus said, and Taako let out a little laugh at that.

“Does he? Yeah maybe it’s a family thing then. So did his alarm not go off that time he was late or what?” Taako asked. He probably had no business prying into his family stuff, but hey, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to check. If Angus was being fucking neglected or something that would definitely affect his grades and shit.

“That? There’d been an emergency at his work that day and yeah, he forgot about the new schedule,” Angus explained. With okay, Taako couldn’t blame him too much for that he guessed. Taako hadn’t really kept a schedule in a while, but when he needed to he’d never been particularly good at it either.

“So um, I’ve got some social studies homework today,” Angus aid, and right, the actual tutoring shit.

“Well, let’s get on it then, show me what you got,” Taako said, and with that Angus finished pulling out his homework. It wasn’t hard, and this was the first time Angus had brought in homework from that class so it probably wasn’t one he was struggling with much.

They managed to finish it by the name their session came to an end. According to Angus the only other homework he had was some readings to do over the weekend and a test in math to study for. Taako had almost blurted out ‘so no homework at all then’ and it was probably a good thing that he stopped himself at the last minute. He tended to skip the readings, or at least he definitely had before highschool. And through most of highschool. And a lot of college. However much he might’ve ignored those kind of things, that wasn’t something he should encourage to a kid he was tutoring.

When they left the school his dad was waiting in his car at the front of the school. Honestly, other than that one day he seemed to be pretty punctual about it.

Which, definitely hadn’t been a stellar first impression as far as Taako was concerned. He wouldn’t go and say he gave much of a shit about Angus other than what he was being paid to care about, but Taako didn’t like shitty neglectful parents.

It didn’t seem like that was the case though. As far as he could tell, Angus didn’t show any signs of bad parents or things like that. No one could say he didn’t know what to look for with that kind of stuff either.

But it was whatever now. He’d given Angus some advice to keep from forgetting things, and if it kept being a problem he could probably report it to a counselor or something. If it was even a memory thing, he still wasn’t 100% sure if he believed that or not.

Taako didn’t have to worry about that until the next time he saw Angus though. It was the weekend now and he actually had off from the dumbass call center too. For once he had a good couple of days to himself. If he was smart he’d use that time to unpack some of the shit that he’d been leaving in boxes in the six months he’d been living here, but hey he’d gone this long without needing that stuff. He needed a break and unpacking was not a break.

No, instead he was going to go to the store and buy some nice food and actually cook himself something for a change. It’d been a while since he’d had the chance or the energy to cook, and he wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.

So Saturday morning he woke up bright and early, or well, he woke up at 11:48am. Which was before noon so that was bright and early for a weekend as far as Taako was concerned. He half considered going over to Lup and Barry’s for the weekend instead. It’d be less work and he could probably use the company.

He’d already decided he was going to stay in and cook though. Plus, he’d spent every day off he’d had so far at their place, and sure he knew they didn’t mind. Hell, Lup was bugging him to come over more often than not, but he could still stand to give them a little bit more space than he usually did. He could chill in his own house, if Lup and Barry wanted to hang out they could come over to his place for a change.

With that decided, Taako forced himself to get dressed like a person. As tired as he usually was after working at the call center and then running over to the school so he wasn’t late for tutoring, he should’ve gone shopping afterwords. That way he could’ve spent the whole day not having to get dressed. Well, he guessed there was tomorrow, since he didn’t have to work then either.

As it was, stuffing himself into some faded black skinny jeans (he refused to get bluejeans, Barold be damned) and an old t-shirt was a necessary sacrifice. He pulled his hair up in a messy bun and didn’t bother with any sort of make up. One, because he didn’t need it to still be jaw dropping gorgeous. And two because society dictated that he needed to be clothed to go outside, but no one said they needed to be nice clothes. He dressed presentable all the time for work, that was all they were getting out of him.

The only downside of going to the store by himself instead of with Lup and Barry or some other chucklefuck he called a friend was the fact that he had to take the bus. Walmart was technically in walking distance, if he didn’t mind tearing his own arms off walking back carrying everything. Easier to take the bus and actually get to go to a real grocery store.

In a rare stroke of serendipity neither it nor Taako were late today, so it went better than it usually did. It also gave him time to decide what exactly he was gonna buy. Chicken? No. Turkey? He had energy, but not that much energy. Eventually he settled on spaghetti and meatballs. Simple enough but he could really go all in on the meatballs and sauce.

Shopping was nice, it’d been a while since he’d gone on his own and was able to go through and pick ingredients and take his time. Shopping with Lup was fun but often resulted in arguments over which type of tomatoes would be better in the sauce, while Barry kept buying dairy shit they all knew he shouldn't eat. Shopping with the boner squad was like trying to herd a couple of poorly trained dogs who figured out how to throw little debbies into the cart when he wasn’t looking.

So Taako was fucking casual about it, picking up the stuff he’d need for dinner, and grabbing something to make for tomorrow too. Also just a bunch of shit he’d been running low on. If he was going to go shopping might as well get as much done as possible so he wouldn’t have to run back out for a while.

Soon enough his cart was pretty much full, and Taako was starting to regret getting so much stuff as he thought about having to carry it all back up to his apartment. Well, he’d deal with that problem once he got there. Still, he figured he should head to the check out instead of doing another loop around the store and getting even more junk he didn’t need.

“Mr. Taako!” a voice called as he was on his way to the checkout, and stopped pushing his cart and turned towards it. Yeah, Taako didn’t know a lot of kids, or a lot of people who would call him ‘Mr.' So he wasn’t surprised to see Angus coming towards him.

“Sup little man?” he asked, taking a brief glance around and yep, there was the dad. Usually Taako doubted he’d be able to remember what the guy looked like after one quick encounter with the guy. For as off putting as that encounter had been though, Taako could admit the dude was hot. Tall, dark and handsome to a frankly ridiculous degree, which had only served to piss Taako off even more when they first met. Where did a dude get off looking that good and still being a shitty dad?

Except maybe Taako had judged a bit too harshly a bit too fast. Or at least he hoped so, cause Angus was a good kid.

“I’m sorry, he saw you and wanted to come over and say hello,” Mr. Tall Dark Dad said, giving a sheepish smile.

“Ain’t a thing to apologize for,” Taako said with a dismissive wave. “How’s it hanging my dude? You remembering to study for that math test?” he asked. He was pretty sure it was math, if it wasn’t math hopefully Angus wouldn’t call him out on it.

“Yep! I have it marked down in my phone like you showed me,” Angus said. Okay, so either Taako had gotten the subject right or Angus wasn’t bothering to correct him.

“Fuck yeah little dude,” Taako said, and then remembered that he was not alone with Angus this time, and maybe his dad wouldn’t like him saying fuck in front of his kid. “I mean hell yeah,” wait, that might still be bad if he was like, old fashioned. From the way the two of them dressed they might be old fashioned, shit. “Uh, shit- I mean, I’m usually a lot more professional at work, off hours, ya know?” he lied.

“Oh yeah absolutely dad,” Angus said, backing him up. Taako wasn’t sure if that made him sound more or less credible if he was being honest. He could tell Angus was full of shit, but Taako was attuned to that kind of stuff. For his part though his dad just looked kind of amused.

“I’m sure it’s no worse than what he’s hearing at school, and Angus knows he’s not supposed to repeat that kind of language,” he said. Angus pouted somewhat but didn’t look like he was gonna argue, and alright, seemed like this dude wasn’t a total dickwad.

“Oh, I don’t remember if I ever properly introduced myself. You caught me kind of frazzled last time. I’m Kravitz McDonald, Angus’s father,” Kravitz said, holding out a hand for Taako to shake.

“Yeah I caught that last part, so I’ve just been referring to you as daddy in my head up till now, but I guess I can stop that,” Taako said with a grin, shaking his hand. Maybe pushing his luck a little but hey, Angus had said he didn’t have a mom. The instant flustered look that came over his face was hilarious and so worth it.

“I- ah, yes you can- you can just call me Kravitz,” he managed to stutter out, and Angus was snickering.

“For sure, for sure,” Taako said, nodding sagely. There was an awkward moment where no one said anything and they were all just standing there. “Uh, hey Kravitz?”


“Can I have my hand back now?” Taako asked. Angus fell into a fit of giggles that it sounded like he’d been holding in up till then, and Kravitz pulled away so fast it was like Taako had suddenly burned him. Taako couldn’t help but start laughing as well, because holy shit. He did not expect to be able to short circuit the dude like that.

“I am so sorry, I uh, we should probably get going. It was quite nice seeing you again,” Kravitz quickly said, and Taako managed to get his laughter back under control and nod.

“Yeah of course my dude, I should be heading out too. Ango make sure to remember to study before Monday, you got that?” he said, still grinning pretty wide. Okay, he might’ve judged the dude a bit too harshly at first. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, and Angus seemed real comfortable laughing at his dad being a doofus. Being able to laugh at someone without being worried was important.

“Of course sir, see you later!” Angus said happily. With that they started walking off, and Taako continued to head to the check out.

All going in the exact same fucking direction.

“Are you heading to check out too Mr. Taako?” Angus asked, walking along with his hand on the side of his dad’s cart.

“Well, I was. But now I think I might walk right out and shoplift all of this to get out of the awkward 'walking the same direction after saying goodbye' situation we got going on right now,” Taako said. At least Kravitz somehow managed to look even more uncomfortable than Taako felt.

“Don’t do that,” Kravitz said, like he was actually concerned Taako would actually run off with a cart full of groceries. Which like, he might’ve if he didn’t like coming to this grocery store so much.

When they got into line Taako took the time to glance over what was actually in their cart. It looked like it was mostly frozen and instant food. He was half surprised he didn’t straight up see some lunchables in there. He guessed it made sense with the whole single parent thing. That wasn’t a fucking gig Taako would want to end up with, that was for sure.

Taako expected them to leave once they were all rung up and paid, but to his surprise they waited around while he checked out his own groceries. He guessed they were in this thing together for the long haul now. Might as well go the last mile and head out of the store together.

Taako had kind of forgotten how much he’d grabbed with the distraction from Angus and his dad. He was quickly remembering that though as the cashier bagged it and he put everything back into his cart. Fuck, it was not going to be fun getting all this shit on the bus, let alone all the way up to his apartment. Taako was remembering the upside to shopping with his friends, even when they were fucking disasters. More arms, and he could always make either Magnus or Barry do most of the heavy lifting.

“Where’s your car sir?” Angus asked as they left the store. “So that we know if we’re going to be walking in the same direction again and can say bye at an appropriate place this time,” he added, and Taako let out a snort of laughter at that.

“I think we’re in luck on that one this time,” Taako said, starting to try and hang as many bags from his arms as possible. “I took the bus, public transportation is good for the environment and all that jazz,” he said.

“Are you going to be able to carry all that on the bus?” Kravitz asked. Taako had about three bags on each arm at this point, and oh boy he made a mistake buying so many drinks. Maybe he could like, steal the cart and walk home.

“Absolutely. Can’t you tell from the bod that I’m pretty fuc- pretty dang diesel,” Taako said, managing to stop himself before cursing again. Angus still ended up laughing, but it was probably at Taako’s not too convincing lie.

“We can give you a ride back to your house if you want, can’t we dad?” Angus offered.

“Oh, yes of course. It wouldn’t be a problem, and carpooling is about as good for the environment as the bus is, I think,” Kravitz added. Taako stopped trying to shove a fifth bag onto his right arm, not expecting that. Angus offering didn’t surprise him that much, he seemed like the kind of kid to help little old ladies cross the street and shit like that. Of course he’d offer to give him a ride. He didn’t expect his dad to agree so quickly though.

Taako’s arms were already starting to die a little from trying to hold all his shit. Plus he still hadn’t found a safe way to try and hold the eggs and bread without them getting crushed. So, he let it all drop back into his cart and nodded.

“Uh, yeah that’d actually be like, a huge help. I usually go shopping with my sister and her husband, I’m used to having more hands,” he said.

“We’re right over here,” Angus said, grabbing the front of Taako’s cart and starting to pull him into the parking lot. After a bit they stopped at a pretty nice looking car. Taako didn’t know shit about cars, but it was shiny and seemed sleek. It took a bit of finagling to fit all their bags into the trunk, but Taako managed to keep most of his shit to one side.

Once they got everything in Taako followed them into the car. Angus jumped in the backseat so Taako figured he was free to grab shotgun without an issue. It smelled kind of like McDonalds inside, and it was real hard for him not to comment on it. He was getting a free ride though, so he somehow managed it.

“It ain’t far, it’s those apartments on Balance, by Ango’s school,” Taako explained. Thankfully Kravitz nodded and seemed to have an idea of where he was talking about. Driving was a lot faster than the bus, it was more of a straight shoot and they didn’t have to make a fuckton of stops. So it wasn’t long at all before they were pulling up in front of his apartment building.

“Do you need any help carrying everything to your apartment?” Kravitz asked as they parked. Taako was desperately trying to remember the last time he actually cleaned, and what level of dirty was considered a normal human amount.

“You don’t gotta. You already did me a huge solid getting me here, and I’m sure you both got shit you need to get to,” he said.

“It’s really not a problem,” Kravitz said, Angus was already up and out of his seat, grabbing some of the lighter bags.

“Well if you’re gonna insist and shit. Fair warning though, my place is kinda a mess right now, wasn’t expecting to have people over. I mean, even if I did it probably wouldn’t be that much better,” he said, starting to pile up the bags as well. Between the three of them, they might be able to make it in one trip.

“That’s quite all right,” Kravitz said. They did manage all the bags, and Taako was thankful as fuck for the help once they finishing climbing the stairs and were up at his apartment. It was a disaster area inside, like Taako figured, but neither of them commented on it.

“Did you move in recently?” Kravitz asked, and it was as close as he got to mentioning the state of things. It was a fair enough question, with all the boxes around.

“More or less,” Taako said, dropping his bags on a clear spot of the counter. As much as the rest of his place was in shambles, the kitchen was clean enough. “Thanks again, I owe you guys big time,” he added.

“It’s really not a problem, we’ll get out of your hair now though,” Kravitz said.

“See you Monday Mr. Taako! It was really nice running into you!” Angus said. Taako nodded, walking them to the door.

“Nice seeing you too pumpkin, later,” he said, shutting the door once they were out of his apartment.

That had been.


That had certainly been something all right.

Turning back to the kitchen, Taako started putting the groceries away, leaving out the stuff to make dinner with. He really had been lucky for that chance encounter, he might’ve had to give in and call Lup or Magnus for a ride if they hadn’t offered.

Well, he had until Monday to figure out what to do as thanks. It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something.

Chapter Text

Well, that run in had been both entirely unexpected and a lot longer than Kravitz figured it would go. He thought they'd talk for a few minutes at most and then go their separate ways, although that wasn't how it worked out. Kravitz had been hoping to have a better second impression than his first one must’ve been. Considering everything he wasn’t too sure how successful he’d been in that regard. It had been a lot at once and he was certain he’d made a fool of himself on multiple levels.

He and Angus were leaving the apartment complex they’d taken Taako to now. They weren’t in any hurry but Kravitz figured they should get home before all the cold stuff started to melt. As he got into the car Angus joined him up in the passenger seat this time, which was where he usually sat.

He also had a grin on his face that Kravitz didn’t trust for a second.

“Mr. Taako sure is nice, isn’t he?” Angus asked, and Kravitz nodded hesitantly.

“He seems pleasant enough. I’m glad you’re getting along with your tutor,” he said, starting the car and beginning the drive back to their house.

“You should’ve asked for his number,” Angus said. Kravitz had to resist turning to look over at his son with disbelief, focusing forward on the road and pointedly not looking embarrassed for any reason.

“Why would I do that? If you feel like you still need some extra help with your school work when you’re home you know you can always come to me for help Angus, no matter how busy I am,” Kravitz said. He kind of got the feeling that this wasn’t about Angus’s school work though.

“Oh, I didn’t mean for me. I meant you should’ve asked for his number because you like him,” Angus said, blunt as anything. Kravitz was well aware of the fact that Angus did that mostly because he thought people’s (particularly his father’s) reactions were funny. So, he was trying very hard not to give him any sort of flustered response.

“I don’t- where in the world did you get that impression?” he asked, pretty sure he was failing on not giving Angus the reaction he wanted.

“Do you want a list? I can write you down a list,” Angus said, and his tone of voice was of a little boy trying to be helpful, but his words were nothing but mocking.

“No, Angus I don’t need a list, and I don’t like your tutor,” Kravitz said, and then frowned somewhat because maybe that came off as too harsh. “I mean, I don’t not like him either. Like I said he seems like a perfectly pleasant person and I’m glad you two get along,” he added quickly. Angus didn’t seem particularly offended by anything Kravitz had said though. In fact when Kravitz glanced over his son still looked rather smug.

“I think I might make a list anyway,” Angus said, and if Kravitz wasn’t driving he would’ve hidden his face in his hands. Thankfully it did not take too much longer for them to get back to their house. Angus helped him carry in the groceries, although Kravitz made a point of carrying any of the particularly heavy bags.

“You forgot to let go of his hand,” Angus said, rather out of the blue as they started putting away the groceries.

“What?” Kravitz asked, although he knew what Angus was referring to. He wished he didn’t, he would very much like to forget that blunder. It had taken him off guard was all, he couldn't be blamed for that.

“I’m making the list,” Angus said, like it was obvious. Kravitz groaned, letting his head rest against the bottle of apple juice he was currently holding.

“Angus, please don’t make the list,” he said, even though he was pretty sure it was a futile effort.

“You forgot to let go of his hand. You helped him take up his groceries,” Angus continued, like Kravitz had assumed he would. Kravitz left out the frozen burgers for dinner tonight so that they could defrost some.

“That was just being polite, and you suggested it anyway,” he argued. He didn’t think it was an unfair protest, although Angus seemed to ignore him.

“You didn’t get mad at him for cursing in front of me,” he added, and Kravitz grimaced the slightest bit at that. He didn’t have as good of an excuse for that one. Or, not excuse, because none of these were excuses, they were just his reasoning. Separate reasoning from the one Angus had, because his son definitely had the wrong idea.

“You’re getting older,” he said, and he could see Angus start to open his mouth to ask a question and continued before he could say anything. “Not old enough to be repeating those words, but I understand that you might be hearing them out in the world now,” he said. The excited look that had flashed across Angus’s face quickly died at that, and it was a little funny. His son was teasing him enough, Kravitz could do a little bit of teasing back.

“You kept staring at him, like a lot,” Angus said, and Kravitz could feel his face heat up as he went back to making ‘the list.’

“No I wasn’t,” he said. It wasn’t a very good defense, but he was certain he hadn’t been staring at Taako anymore than a normal human interaction amount of staring. Which was probably no staring.

“You were,” Angus insisted, and then a look flashed across his face. Kravitz knew that look, it was when he realized something that would have gone unnoticed by most people.

“Wait, is that what you’re always looking at when you pick me up at school? Are you staring at Mr. Taako before we leave?” he asked, excitement building in his voice. If Kravitz thought his face was warm before it was positively burning now.

“I- no. That’s not- that’s ridiculous, of course not,” he stuttered out. He supposed he might’ve watched Taako walking off a few times, but it wasn’t in a creepy way or how Angus was suggesting. He was just a person walking, and Kravitz’s eyes had been drawn to him. Angus was laughing openly now, and even if this was all very false and wrong it was nice seeing his son having fun like this.

“You were!” he insisted, and he’d stopped laughing but he was still grinning widely. “Don’t worry dad, I promise I won’t tell him. I’ll let you work that out on your own,” Angus added. Kravitz laughed a little awkwardly at that, putting the last of the groceries away. He was fairly certain it had only taken so long because he kept getting distracted with this conversation.

“Well, thank you for that, but I really wouldn’t be getting your hopes up,” Kravitz said. Angus had never seemed invested in his dad having any sort of love life before, and now with this Kravitz didn’t want to disappoint him if nothing happened.

When nothing happened. Even if Kravitz was interested in the slightest, he’d spoken to the man twice and had made an idiot of himself both times. He highly doubted there was much chance left there.

“We’ll see,” was all Angus said at that though. There was a confidence there that Kravitz didn’t trust in the slightest.

Still, he told himself that Angus would forget all about this in a couple weeks. Probably no longer than a month. After all, Kravitz doubted they be having that many more encounters with him out in their day to day. Sure, Angus would see him at school on the regular, but he’d probably realize quick enough that Taako wasn’t interested in him.

As it was at the moment though Angus seemed content not to press it anymore. He said he had to study for a test on Monday and Kravitz told him he’d get him for dinner. It was good that Angus was studying. He still seemed to be doing alright on tests and such in school, but studying never hurt.

Making sure he had an alarm set for when he needed to go out and make dinner Kravitz headed back to his office. Even though he’d been working on this for nearly two weeks now they still had made less progress on figuring out what was going on with the screwed up reports than he would’ve liked.

He’d had it insisted that he not spent another full weekend in the office though. That spending some time with his head not buried in numbers and spreadsheets might help give him some fresh eyes. It was a fair point, and he had enjoyed spending this extra time with Angus.

He was already itching to get back to figuring this out though. Luckily there was plenty of things he could look into while not at the office. It wasn’t as ideal as having everything on hand, but it still made him feel like he was at least getting some progress done.

From what they could tell so far it seemed to be a very complicated form of embezzlement. For what and by who they’d yet to figure out though, as whoever had done it managed to cover their track incredibly well. Kravitz supposed the 'for what' question wasn’t all that important either. They just needed to find out who it was and stop them, because despite them having noticed the problem now it was still happening. Either whoever it was hadn’t realized they’d been noticed yet, or they didn’t care.

By the time his alarm went off for dinner Kravitz felt that his mother had been right about him needing fresh eyes. He felt like he managed to work through a few things that had been stumping him for a while, narrowing down the list of departments it could have come from. It still wasn’t by much, but it was something.

He wasn’t technically even supposed to be working today, so he figured that was enough for now and went to start working on dinner. It was just burgers and fries, but they weren’t brought from a fast food place at least. Sure, they were frozen and Kravitz didn’t know what to do with the burgers but put them in a pan and flip them over occasionally until they turned brown. There were probably like, seasonings he could use, but he didn’t have the faintest idea what kinds.

Once everything was done he called Angus down to eat. He showed up about a minute later and quickly started making himself a plate.

“Were you able to study for your math test some?” Kravitz asked. Angus still had Sunday if he hadn’t, but it was what he said he was going to do. He seemed a bit distracted, and it took a moment before he registered the question and nodded.

“Huh? Oh yeah, for sure. I got a lot done,” he said, and there was something there that didn’t quite seem like the whole truth. Kravitz wasn’t sure what to do about it though. He wasn’t sure why Angus would lie about if he studied, especially since Kravitz hadn’t even told him to. It was something Angus had brought up doing himself.

“That’s good, let me know if you need any help. It’s for math, right?” he asked, and Angus nodded. It seemed like he was focusing a bit more now, whatever was distracting him before pushed from his mind.

“Yep. I think I’m good, I got pretty much all of the practice questions down,” he said, and Kravitz smiled at that. The smile dipped a little somewhat when he bit into his burger. Maybe grabbing some from McDonalds or Wendy’s would’ve been better. Even with ketchup and mustard that was very bland. If Angus thought the same thing he was at least polite enough not to say anything.

“Want to do something after dinner? I’m sure we could find a movie to watch or something if you’re bored,” Kravitz asked. He was trying not to let this problem at work distract him from spending time with Angus. At least too much. He tried to make it a point to put his work away and spend the evening with Angus most days of the week, but he’d kind of lacking with that since all this went down.

“Um, yeah I guess so. Are you sure you don’t have work to do though?” Angus asked.

“I’m sure. We’ve made some good breakthroughs on the money issues this week,” he said. Angus still looked uncertain for some reason, and Kravitz didn’t know why that was but it didn’t sit very well with him.

“Then yeah, that sounds like fun,” he said, and Kravitz didn’t know if he should press Angus on this. It was possible that he was just getting to that age where hanging out with your dad wasn’t as fun anymore. Reluctantly Kravitz let it go, making a mental note of it instead. If Angus starting making a habit of pulling away or there were other signs that something was wrong he’d ask him. As it was right now though he would give him some privacy.

Whenever had made Angus hesitant this time though seemed to fade once they got settled in the living room. Kravitz let Angus pick out a movie while he made some popcorn, and at least he couldn’t screw that one up too badly.

Angus seemed to relax more as the movie got started. It wasn’t long before he was picking out plot holes and laughing when Kravitz did rather poor imitations of the actor’s accents.

Maybe he’d just been worried about taking up his time with all the issues going on at work. Kravitz wasn’t very happy with the idea, but it made sense. He knew he could get too wrapped up in his job, and that he needed to be careful that Angus never felt like he came second to his work.

“Angus, how would you like to go out and do something tomorrow?” he asked. Kravitz had gotten rather distracted from the movie at this point and wasn’t too sure what was going on.

“Uh, what do you mean?” Angus asked, sounding cautious again.

“I was thinking we could, I don’t know, go to the mall or something. Maybe get some new clothes and make a day of it,” he suggested.

“Yeah okay, but uh, don’t you have to work on the stuff going on at Astral?” he asked, which made Kravitz think that he might’ve been right about what was going on.

“Your grandmother is already going to have my head for working on that today. That’s not something you should worry about anyway, work will get done when it gets done,” he said. Angus was giving him a bit of a look at that, which was a little fair.

“I guess if you’re not busy then,” he said before turning to put his attention back to the movie.

The next day they did end up going to the mall, and again Angus seemed a bit uncertain at first. Once they were there though and started looking through the stores he relaxed and seemed to be enjoying himself. Kravitz was pretty sure he’d ended up getting more clothes than Angus had though. He’d gotten a few things, but was more interested in scouring through the bookstore for new things to read.

Angus had finally seemed satisfied with his finds and they’d left the Boarders to grab some lunch in the food court. Angus already had his head in one of his new books, careful not to get any teriyaki sauce on it as he ate.

Kravitz was taking the moment to check his email on his phone. Just to be sure that nothing catastrophic had happened while he wasn’t paying attention to the office. If he hadn’t looked up to grab another bite of his chicken he would’ve missed them walking by like Angus had.

It was a surprise seeing Angus's tutor while they were out once in a weekend, twice was starting to get a little freaky. It was clear that he hadn’t noticed the two of them at all though, already past their table so that Kravitz couldn’t see him straight on.

The reason he hadn’t noticed the two of them was clear as day too.

He was laughing, smiling so brightly at a man he was holding hands with. From the absolutely smitten expression, Kravitz wasn’t surprised when he leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to the man’s lips. It was a chased thing, probably due to the fact that they were in public. It still managed to make the other man, who was clearly Taako’s boyfriend or some such thing, flustered.

The two started moving on, and Kravitz made a split second decision not to draw Angus’s attention to them. He knew he would be excited to see his tutor again, since he really seemed to be fond of him. Still, he didn’t want to interrupt what was very likely a date.

Well, he hoped Angus didn’t stay too hung up on thinking Kravitz had a crush on Taako for very long now, especially knowing this. Even if Kravitz had been in any way interested, he wasn’t going to go after someone in a relationship. He supposed if Angus did press this he would just have to tell him that, even if he ended up getting disappointed.

Kravitz hadn’t realized he’d been spacing out for a bit there, but he quickly turned back to his phone. Okay, no messages saying anyone had died or that they found the culprit, so he put it away and finished up the last of his chicken and rice.

“Do you want to finish your food now or take it home?” Kravitz asked. There was still a fair chunk of food left in Angus’s bowl, but it looked like he’d stopped paying attention to it a bit ago.

“I’m full, we can take it home,” he said, grabbing the lid Kravitz had already got in case and putting it on. Kravitz did a double check to make sure it was on tight before putting it in one of the bags with the clothes. If the worst happened and it spilled they could wash those, but that wouldn’t work for the books.

“Are you feeling up to walking around a bit more?” Kravitz asked, and he definitely didn’t want to rush Angus, but a part of him was a bit worried about running into his tutor now. Not that it was bad or anything, it was just- it would be awkward.

“I’m actually kind of tired, do you mind if we head home?” Angus asked, which was somewhat of a relief to hear. If Angus had wanted to stay he wouldn’t have objected, but this worked out well.

“That’s quite alright Angus. We can head out if you want,” he said, doing a quick check to make sure they weren’t forgetting any bags. Angus nodded, and on the way back home he started telling Kravitz about the book he’d begun reading. It was by the same author who did the Caleb Cleveland books, but it was a fantasy series instead of mystery so he hadn’t bothered to check it out until now. It sounded interesting enough to Kravitz so far, but Angus hadn’t gotten very far while they were eating lunch.

Once they got home Kravitz was about to suggest some other way for them to pass the time, scrabble or maybe uno or something. Before he could though Angus was already heading off to his room with his bags from the mall.

“I had a lot of fun dad, let me know when dinner’s done,” he said, and Kravitz nodded. Angus probably wanted to finish up the book he’d started, so he guessed he wasn’t that surprised.

“Alright. I’ll uh, I’ll probably be out here catching up on some things. Let me know if you get bored and want to hang out some more,” he offered.

“Will do,” Angus said, and then he was down the hall and Kravitz could hear his bedroom door open and then close again. Kravitz quickly put Angus’s leftovers away before he forgot about them and then did the same with the new clothes he’d got.

Once that was done he wasn’t all that sure what else to do. He told himself he wasn’t going to work today, although that had mostly been so he could hang out with Angus. Now he was kind of feeling like he should keep from work on principle though. To prove that he could go the whole day without working.

Pulling his laptop out into the living room, he tried to relax that way. It was way too easy to click over to the tabs he had open keeping track of the flow of money in Astral and as soon as he found himself starting to look them over to closed the laptop. Okay, that was a bust.

He supposed he could always read as well. There were a few books he’d been meaning to tackle for a while now, including a couple Angus had wanted him to check out. He felt too distracted to read though, even if there was no real reason why he should be. He guessed work was still wearing on him pretty heavily.

And for some reason his mind kept wandering back to when he’d seen Angus’s tutor at the mall. There was no reason for him to be thinking about that, and he tried to dismiss it every time it came up.

He was probably worried about Angus. He’d seemed real excited at the idea of him having a crush on Taako, he was bound to be disappointed when he found out that wasn’t going to happen. That was the only thing that made sense.

In the end, Kravitz ended up cleaning most of the house before the time he had to cook dinner. It was a decent enough distraction.

Chapter Text

Angus really and truly did appreciate his dad, and it was always a lot of fun when they had the time to hang out together and relax. He didn’t begrudge his dad any for all the time he had to spend working. Even still, it was nice when he was able to pull himself away from that and they could spend the day together. He really did look forward to those moments.

So Angus definitely had fun spending the whole weekend with his dad. He knew the stuff going on at work was stressing him out, and it was nice getting to ignore all of that and watch movies and go to the mall. He liked it, and any other weekend it would have been great.

Except for one problem. This weekend he’d wanted to redo his essay. He told himself he would dig out the old ruined copy and finish it. If he needed to hole himself up in his room the whole time pretending to study for his math test, then he would. He figured his dad would be busy again with work, that no one would even notice if he spend the whole weekend working in his room. It was supposed to be easy.

When his dad said they needed to go shopping Saturday morning, he figured it was fine. It was early in the day and grocery shopping never took too long, as soon as they got back home he could go work on his essay. If anything, it was a good way to mark when he was going to start.

And that was what he did. Sure, it took a little longer to get home than he expected, since they ran into Mr. Taako and helped him with his groceries too. Angus would say that detour was definitely worth it though. Seeing his dad and Mr. Taako talking had been great and pretty hilarious. It didn’t seem like Taako was annoyed with his dad anymore, and it was funny how obvious his dad’s crush was.

Angus was kind of surprised it took him that long to notice it honestly. Usually he was quicker at things like that. He was pretty sure he’d never actually seen his dad have a crush on someone before though, so it made sense that he didn’t realize it right away.

But even with all that happening they were still done pretty early in the day. Angus had told his dad he was going to study, and went to his room to work on his essay.

He managed to pull out the crumpled, somewhat ripped up paper and look it over as best as he could. Some of it was kind of smudged and hard to read, and the conclusion he’d been working on was mostly erased. He could gather what parts were missing from context clues though and fill in the blanks.

He still wasn’t happy with it in the slightest, but he just needed it done. It still took longer than he would’ve liked to start transcribing it, not pleased with the idea of handing in something that looked like trash, even if he was moving it to nice fresh paper. In the end he’d only gotten about halfway done copying the finished parts down when his dad called him for dinner.

And then during dinner, he asked Angus if he wanted to watch a movie afterwards. Which, yeah he wanted to. That sounded like fun. Angus’s only attempt to get out of it was to ask his dad if he should be working. He insisted it was fine though, and so Angus said yes.

He still had all of Sunday to work on the essay after all, and as long as he stopped fussing with it, it would be fine. He was already halfway done. Mostly.

Except then while they were watching the movie his dad asked if he wanted to go out to the mall the next day, and once again Angus found himself agreeing. It was stupid, he should’ve just told his dad he had stuff to do any said no.

But he didn’t want to tell his dad that he was still struggling with an essay he was supposed to hand in weeks ago. He’d already told his dad he only had studying to do, and that he’d mostly finished it anyway. If he tried to think up some other excuse his dad would think he was trying to avoid him or something, and that wasn’t it at all.

Angus guessed he could tell him the truth, it wasn’t like he’d be mad. Probably disappointed and worried and concerned that maybe the tutoring wasn’t enough and they’d have to move him back down a grade again. Angus didn’t want that.

So as soon as they got back from the mall he headed straight back to his room. It was already well into the afternoon at that point, and Angus wanted to get as much done as fast as he could. He got the feeling his dad was kind of sad about him leaving in such a hurry, but once he finished this dumb paper he could stop worrying about it.

Angus told himself he just couldn’t care anymore. He wrote down everything he’d had on the crumpled up, dumb essay word for word, not letting himself have an opportunity to try to change things. He wasn’t happy with it, but he wasn’t going to be happy with it. He still needed a conclusion when he finished transcribing, and he wrote one hastily. He didn’t even let himself check it over for spelling. It was done and he’d just managed to stick it in a folder and put it in his bookbag by the time his dad called him for dinner.

The rest of the house was clean when he went out, which was surprising. Not that their house was particularly messy, but it was usually pretty cluttered. And maybe a little messy, but they knew where everything was so it wasn't a big deal. His dad must’ve noticed the way he was looking around.

“I figured that since I’m not working today might as well clean up some around here,” he said. Angus nodded, heading over to make himself a plate of food. It was just spaghetti, and he had those leftovers still in the fridge for later if he got hungry again. Or he could have them for a snack after school tomorrow.

“It looks good,” he said, which was true. While they ate dinner Angus asked if he wanted to get their instruments out afterwards. Partially because he was pretty sure his dad had been disappointed that he’d run off as soon as they got home. Also because he didn’t want the chance to go and mess with his essay anymore. His dad seemed happy with the request, and Angus was glad for the distraction.

He wasn’t anywhere as good as his dad at playing music, but it was still fun. Plus his dad had a lot longer to practice this sort of thing, and it was more of a passing hobby for Angus. He was pretty sure his dad had plans to go professional at some point when he was younger.

The next day he walked into his English class, trying not to look too nervous. It wasn’t early enough that Angus could talk to her without some of the other students seeing, but at least it was before class. As he handed it in he gave a mumbled nonspecific excuse and an apology. She assured him it was fine and that she was glad he’d managed to turn it in. All in all the exchange wasn't as horrible as Angus had been expecting, but it still wasn't enjoyable. He'd rather not do it again.

Angus still hadn’t looked at the thing since he finished it, and he really didn’t want to hand it in, but once she had it there wasn’t anything else he could do. He told himself that at least it was over now.

It was better than getting a zero. He knew that getting a bad grade would be better than getting none, but for some reason it didn’t feel that way.

He might not have even gotten a bad grade if he’d managed to hand it in on time. He was sure his teacher was going to dock points for how late it was. So even if it was great, which Angus didn’t feel like it was, his grade was going to be worse.

He tried to put it out of his mind for the rest of the day and actually focus on his classes though. When he wasn’t frustrated over getting things right he really did love school and learning. After a bit he somewhat managed to put the essay out of his mind some, and by the time he reached his final period he had almost forgotten about it.

Except then he remembered he had tutoring today. Which he was actually excited about for a moment, because that meant seeing Taako. Angus had been looking forward to that since they saw him at the store on Saturday.

But it also reminded him that his essay was a thing and that he wasn’t happy about it. Still, it was a good thing that he turned it in, and that he could tell Taako he had. He didn't have to keep bothering him about it and he could even check with his teacher to know he was telling the truth.

“Good afternoon Mr. Taako,” Angus said, closing the door to the study room behind him. It was still as small and shabby as it had always been, but Angus was starting to get a little fond of the place. He really hadn’t been thrilled by the prospect of tutoring at first, but it was helping some, and he liked Mr. Taako.

“Sup my dude, how’d your test today go?” he asked, and Angus had almost forgotten that had happened, he’d been so wrapped up in other things. He hadn’t actually studied any for it, since he’d been working on his essay all weekend. He was pretty sure he did decently on it though.

“I think it went well sir,” he said, pulling a seat out and sitting down across from Taako. “Oh, I uh, I finally remembered to hand in my essay today,” he said, since he figured it was best to get that out of the way as soon as possible. It actually got a smile out of Taako.

“Hell yeah, now you never have to think about it again,” he said, and Angus figured that was true. Well, he’d have to think about it once he got the grade back, but it was all officially out of his hands now. There was a bigger sense of relief with that than he expected. “I guess these can be a reward for that too, as well as ya know, a thanks to you and your pops,” Taako said, and he was digging around in his bag now.

After a moment, he came out with a small tupperware box. Angus could see through the clear plastic at some sort of cookie inside. Even from a distance he could see that they looked homemade and really good.

“I was making some and had extra, figured might as well throw some your way since you guys helped me actually get the ingredients into my apartment,” he explained, handing Angus the box. If these were just the extras, Taako must’ve made a whole lot.

“Wow, thank you sir! You didn’t have to, we were happy to help,” Angus said, surprised at how much this had actually managed to cheer him up. “Is it okay if I have one now?” he asked, and Taako shrugged.

“Go nuts. I mean, don’t eat all of them, share some with your dad or whatever, but sure,” he said. Angus opened the tupperware up, and they weren’t still warm or anything like that, he figured Taako must’ve cooked them last night or something.

“I just wanted to check first, since technically we’re not allowed to bring homemade baked good into school. I guess they’re afraid of allergies or poison or something,” he said, taking a bite of the cookie. Even though it wasn’t warm it was still real soft and delicious. “These are really good sir!”

“I- yeah, natch,” Taako said, and when Angus looked up at him he looked nervous. “You don’t have any allergies, do you? I made sure there weren’t any nuts or anything, cause I didn’t know if you guys were like, good with that. I didn’t think about anything else though,” he said, and he actually sounded pretty worried about it. Was he afraid he was going to lose his job over this if he got sick or something? Angus shook his head though, waiting until he swallowed the cookie to speak.

“No, I’m fine with nuts too sir, but thanks for considering it,” he said. He grabbed one more to eat before closing the box back up. He figured he should cut off the temptation to go eating all of them before his dad could have any.

“Okay. Okay cool, that’s good,” he said, and it looked like he was pretty distracted now. “I mean, I also skipped on the nuts cause cha’ boy is allergic, so what would be the fucking point, but it still counts,” he said. Angus laughed a little at that, sticking the tupperware into his book bag.

“That works too I suppose,” he said, and Taako still looked a little nervous. “I won’t tell anyone about the cookies, other than my dad I guess. You didn’t know they weren’t allowed and I don’t want you to get in trouble,” he added. It looked like Mr. Taako relaxed some at that.

“Sounds good my dude. Yeah, best to keep my rad cooking skills on the down low. Don’t want everyone trying to get a piece after all,” he said, and Angus nodded in agreement. Figuring they should start with the tutoring stuff for real Angus pulled out his science textbook. Taako still seemed a little distracted, although Angus wasn’t sure why.

“Um, I’ve got some vocabulary I have to do, although I’m not really sure how you can help with that. Vocab is pretty easy,” he said, and Taako nodded, seeming to get back into the mind of teaching and less hung up on whatever it was he’d been thinking about. Angus couldn’t help but be curious there, but maybe he was just genuinely concerned about the possibility of Angus having some sort of allergic reaction.

“Yeah, I get you. Well, we can make some flashcards and then practice with them once we’re done, how about that? Is that all the homework you got tonight?” he asked.

“I need to start reading a new book for English, but I can do that on my own sir,” he said, and Taako nodded, seeming to believe him.

“Sounds good pumpkin, let’s get started on those note cards then,” he said. The rests of the tutoring session was pretty relaxed. Angus didn’t have a lot to do and Taako didn’t seem too sure about what to do when Angus didn’t have a lot of homework to finish up. That was fair, it was his first time doing the tutoring thing, Angus wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do with the downtime either.

Soon enough Angus was gathering up the flashcards they’d made and they were heading out of the school. His dad was just pulling up when they headed out, which made sense, since they had come out a little early.

“You should come say hi to my dad,” Angus said with a grin. Taako raised an eyebrow at that, looking a little amused by the idea.

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?” he asked, and Angus was already digging around in his backpack for the tupperware he’d tossed in there earlier.

“So he can thank you for the cookies too of course,” Angus said like it was obvious. Taako snorted at that, but shrugged. Thankfully he didn’t seem worried about his dad finding out he’d made them cookies, which Angus had been a little worried about.

“Yeah alright, why not,” he said, following Angus to his car. As they got closer Angus could see the look of confusion and slight panic on his dad’s face. He quickly masked by a polite smile, but it was still easy to see how he was feeling if you knew him well enough. Once they were in speaking distance he rolled down the windows, and Angus tried not to look too amused at how nervous his dad was.

“Hello there, is everything alright?” he asked, looking like he was uncertain about whether or not to get out of the car. Angus ran around to the other side so that he could get in.

“Mr. Taako made us cookies to thank us for helping with his groceries,” he explained, shoving the box at his dad as soon as he was inside. He could see the befuddled look on his face before he turned to look at Taako, who was still standing outside of the car.

“Oh, uh, thank you. You really didn’t have to do anything,” he insisted, and Taako shrugged, waving the thanks away.

“Don’t even worry about it my dude, any excuse to cook is a good one in my book,” he said. His dad handed the tupperware box back to Angus, and it didn’t seem like he was going to eat one right this second. It was a little disappointing, but Angus wasn’t going to push him on it.

“Well, it was very kind of you none the less,” he said, and it was kind of hard to read the expression on Mr. Taako’s face at that. It didn’t look like a bad one though.

“Like I said, don’t mention it. Ango, make sure to get started on that new book, alright?” he said, and Angus nodded.

“I will sir, don’t worry,” he said. With that Taako nodded and started walking away from the car. “Bye Mr. Taako! See you Wednesday,” Angus called after him, and he waved back casually at that.

“Later my dudes,” he said. With that his dad rolled the windows back up, and as soon as Angus had buckled himself in he started driving off towards their house.

“You need to try the cookies when we get home dad, they’re really good,” Angus said, and his dad nodded. He was still looking a little flustered from the whole interaction, which wasn’t exactly a surprise to Angus.

“I will. How was school today?” he asked, changing the subject. Angus wanted to call him out on it, but if he teased his dad too much then he’d definitely never actually own up to anything.

“It was good,” Angus said, and he was kind of surprised that he was telling the truth there. Even with how unhappy he’d been with the essay, at least he’d gotten it in and Taako was right. Now it was over with and he wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore, this was better than getting a zero. All in all the day had definitely been a lot better than he expected starting out.

As soon as they got home Angus headed to the kitchen to put the box of cookies down. “You really should try one dad,” he continued to insist. His dad looked amused but seemed to relent, putting down a pile of paperwork he’d grabbed from the backseat of the car on the counter before grabbing a cookie. Angus could see his eyes widened in surprise when he at it.

“Oh, damn,” he said, and Angus laughed at that.

“I told you,” he said, and his dad nodded. Angus grabbed another one as well, since he told himself he could have some more once he was home and his dad had tried them. It looked like he was contemplating grabbing a second as well.

“Alight, I suppose you weren’t joking, these are very good. Um, I suppose thank Mr. Taako again for me when you see him on Wednesday,” his dad said, and Angus nodded, grinning brightly.

“I will,” he said, and he could see the suspicious frown on his dad’s face. It was probably warranted, so Angus couldn’t be that annoyed by it.

“Just thank him for the cookies, you don’t need to do anything else,” he said, and Angus pouted some at that.

“Fine, if you insist,” he relented. His dad rolled his eyes, but Angus could tell that he wasn’t actually all that annoyed with him. Besides, he only only teasing his dad about the obvious crush he had on his tutor because it was funny. Angus wasn’t actually all that sure if he actually wanted anything to happen with that.

He guessed he did like Mr. Taako a lot, although he didn’t know him all that well yet. If it ended up making his dad happy, he wouldn’t be opposed to it. It was just a little weird thinking about it being more than him and his dad. Sure, his grandmas were around a lot and he went over to their house all the time, but that was different from if his dad actually started dating someone.

So he was fine with teasing his dad about this, but if he wanted to actually take his time and not rush into anything that was fine by Angus. It would definitely be a little too weird if they just started actually dating or something right away.

There was something he really liked about Mr. Taako though. He wouldn’t mind the opportunity to get to hang out with him some more outside of tutoring. If he dad was ever going to end up dating someone, he’d rather it be someone he got along with like Mr. Taako.

“Was grandma surprised at you actually not working over the weekend?” he asked, letting the subject change from his tutor for now. His dad chuckled and nodded, and he did end up taking a second cookie.

“She said she was very proud of me, and also to thank you for keeping me occupied and away from work,” he said, and Angus laughed at that.

“Let her know she’s welcome,” he said happily, giving in and eating a third cookie.

“I will,” his dad said, and then he picked the papers he’d put down to try one of the cookies back up. “I do have some work I need to get to now though, are you gonna be okay on your own for a bit?” he asked, and Angus nodded.

“Yeah, I’ve got a book I gotta read for English class,” he said, reaching for another cookie. Before he could get one though his dad picked up the box, which seemed a little difficult considering all the folders he was already holding.

“I’m just gonna put these away for now, don’t want anyone getting sick,” he said, walking over to the food cabinet. It was fair, since Angus had already ate quite a few, but he still pouted somewhat.

“I wasn’t going to eat all of them,” he argued, and his dad nodded, not looking too convinced.

“Then you shouldn’t have any problem with them being put away for now,” he said, which was fair. Annoying, but fair.

“Yeah, fine,” he said, trying not to look too put upon. His dad just laughed though, heading back to his office.

“I’ll let you know when dinner’s done,” he said, and Angus nodded, going back towards his room as well.

“Okay, later dad!” he said, and once he was in his room Angus felt himself relax more than he had for a while. He had been more stressed out about his school work than he realized, he supposed.

He guessed the tutoring really was helping, even if it was still taking some time. It was definitely better than doing this all on his own, that was for sure.

Chapter Text

Taako headed back home after tutoring on Monday, feeling like things had gone pretty well. Angus had liked the cookies, although he definitely needed to be smarter about that shit. He hadn’t even considered the idea that the school wouldn’t be down with bringing homemade shit. When he was a kid they did that kind of stuff all the time.

It wasn’t like it didn’t make sense though. Not every kid could down a sleeve of dos-si-dos peanut butter cookies and then skip French class to run down to the nurse for their epipen. Even less kids could do that while shooting finger guns at every panicked teacher and student asking horrified if they were okay and why would he do something like that if he was allergic to peanuts.

The answer ‘I just really fucking love dos-si-dos’ was apparently not sufficient or appropriate.  

Still, that was besides the point. Might have been a little weird to make Angus and his dad something he guessed, but hey, Taako was trying to be a nice person here. He mostly wanted the excuse to bake, and he figured it couldn’t hurt to get in good with the kid he was tutoring and his dad. Mostly, he’d done it before he could have a chance to think it through. Then he had a bunch of cookies and figured he might as well go through with it if he’d already made them.

At least Angus seemed to really like them, and wasn’t allergic to anything in them. He didn’t see if Kravitz had liked them or not, since the guy hadn’t tried any in front of him. That was a bit disappointing, since Taako looked forward to any chance for praise, especially for his cooking, but it wasn’t like he could demand the dude try a cookie right that second. That would be fucking weird.

So yeah, all in all it had gone okay. All of this was going pretty damn okay actually, better than he expected it to. Sure, he was fucking exhausted all the time between this and call center hell, but at least it kept him busy. He didn’t have much time for wallowing or whatever.

Yeah, shit had been pretty nice lately. Taako was trying not to think about it too much, since he didn’t want to jinx that shit, but still.

This job was okay, and he was starting to cook again. He didn’t even freak out when Angus had brought up the prospect of getting sick from his cooking.

Long lasting trauma and depression who? Taako didn’t know them, he was fucking functioning baby.

Unlocking his apartment door, he ignored the mess and still packed boxes that would like to argue otherwise. He was a busy dude, so what if he’d rather rest when he got home than go through a bunch of his shit he didn’t need and had no idea where to put. Everything he used regularly he had on hand, and he had a general idea of what was in each box. It was an efficient storage system and he’d screw it up if he tried to mess with it and put everything away now. He wasn’t even sure if he had the space for it all. It sure didn’t feel like he did.

Heading into the kitchen, he still had a couple of the cookies left over from the batch he’d made for Angus and his dad. It was maybe more like Taako had gotten the leftovers rather than he’d given the leftovers to them, but small details. He ate one while he looked through his fridge to figure out what to actually make himself for dinner tonight. He wasn’t sure if he was feeling actual cooking again though. He guessed he could do one of the easy dinners he’d picked up, but those didn’t feel very appetizing either.

Taako was still debating when he felt his phone start to buzz in his pocket. Grabbing it, he saw Lup’s name on the screen and quickly answered it.

“It’s cha’ boy,” he said, giving up on figuring out what to cook for now and closing the fridge. He was pretty sure he still had some pasta leftover from the other night. He was out of sauce but maybe he could heat that up. Or he could just eat it cold.

That was edging pretty close to unhealthy depression meal, but it was homemade pasta, so Taako was pretty sure it didn’t count.

“Hey bro bro, how’s it going?” she asked, sounding pretty casual all things considered. So far Taako couldn’t tell if there was some sort of ulterior motive for her calling, but it was only a sentence in. Sure, most of the time he could tell from that, but it was whatever. He shrugged, falling in a heap on the couch.

“Pretty good, just got back from the tutoring gig,” he said, turning on the TV but immediately muting it as well. He didn’t need the noise, but it was nice to have something to look at while he talked.

“How’s that going? The rich brats driving you crazy yet?” she asked.

“Nah, not really. I’ve still just got the one kid, and he’s pretty chill. A total fucking nerd, I haven’t told you about him yet?” he asked, kind of surprised. He guessed he wasn’t giving Lup a lot of the details since he was worried shit might not end up going well, but so far, he was actually liking it.

“Not much nope. I was actually calling to see if you need a ride to the store, you didn’t stop by this weekend. You can tell me all about your new job while we shop,” she said, and oh right. He guessed he hadn’t actually told Lup or Barry what he’d been up to this weekend. He’d been pretty concerned with not bothering them that he hadn’t thought of filling them in.

“Oh, uh, I’m actually good on that front. I went by myself this weekend, stocked up for the whole week,” he said, and he could feel Lup’s surprise through the phone.

“Did you?” she asked, and she seemed kind of skeptical about that. “You been working out Koko? How’d you get all that stuff back home?” she asked, and okay, that was a fair question.

“I mean, I’m pretty diesel,” he said, ignoring the way she snorted. He was grinning as well at the ridiculousness of it. “But I had help getting the stuff back up to my apartment, if you must know,” he told her.

“Mags and Merle said they didn’t see you this weekend either,” she said, which Taako guessed didn’t surprise him. He knew they all tended to worry about him lately when he went off the grid like that, but still. He was fine. Shit was getting better, they didn’t need to go talking behind his back.

“That’s because I’d hardly qualify them as help when it comes to getting groceries. Those two cause more chaos than they’re worth,” he said, not meaning it much. They definitely were more trouble than they were worth, but he’d still fucking kill a man for those two idiots.

“Like you’re not just as bad when you three are together,” Lup said, which was fair. It was part of the reason he liked hanging around with those two fucks so much, not that he’d ever admit it to either of them. “So, that help you were talking about then?” she asked. Taako sighed dramatically, laying back along the couch.

“Well it’s not anyone’s business, but on the topic of that kid I’m tutoring, I ran into him and his dad while I was at the store. The kid must be like, a fucking boy scout or something cause they insisted on helping me take everything back to my apartment,” he explained.

“Oh, really now?” Lup asked, and there was a tone to her voice that Taako wasn’t thrilled about. Something really excited and probing. It wasn’t like there was anything he was keeping from her, so there was no reason to sound that jived.

“Yep, just some kid and his dad doing their fucking community service for the week I guess,” he said, trying to sound casual about this. He didn’t know why he had to try with this, because it should be a casual thing. It was a casual thing.

“You’ve really taken to this tutoring job, haven’t you?” she asked, and Taako shrugged.

“I mean, it’s not horrible. Like I said, I got lucky with the kid I’m stuck with for now. He’s not a bad egg,” he said. He could practically feel Lup grinning from here.

“That’s really good Ko, I’m glad you’re doing well,” she said, sounding genuinely pleased for him. There was also a hint of relief in her voice, and he guessed they’d been kind of worried about him after he was radio silent all weekend. He should’ve called sooner so they knew he wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere.

“It’s whatever, not like it’s something I can do for a career, but the extra cash is pretty nice,” he said, flipping through muted channels on the TV. Eventually he stopped on what looked to be one of a million home renovation shows.

“I mean, you could do it as a career. If you wanted to go into teaching or something,” Lup said, but Taako rolled his eyes at the idea. Tutoring a single kid a few times a week was one thing, but actually being a teacher meant he had to be like, a functioning person. He was getting there on the functioning side for sure, but not so much on the person part.

“Yeah, I don’t really think that’s cha’ boy’s style,” he said, and he was pretty sure Lup wasn’t buying it, but it was whatever.

“If you say so bro bro,” she said, and at least she wasn’t pushing it for now. That probably meant it’d be something she’d hint at here and there for however long. Either until Taako either relented and they had an honest conversation about the idea, or Lup realized it wasn’t happening. Either of those things could take a long, long time.

“So, anything else you forget to mention about that kid you’re tutoring? Sounds like you’ve grown pretty fond of the squirt,” she said, and Taako shrugged.

“I mean, not really? He’s just a kid, I'm a dick but I'm not gonna be too mean to a kid. He was all excited to see me at the store for some reason and him and his dad helped me take my shit back to the house, so I made them cookies for like, thanks for whatever,” he said.

“You baked for them?” Lup asked, not doing the best job of concealing the surprise in her voice. Which, Taako guessed was kind of fair. He hadn’t exactly been cooking for people like he used to lately, but it wasn’t a big deal.

“Yeah, I’d already been planning to do some cooking anyway, figured I could use the excuse,” he said.

“Are there any left?”  Lup asked, and Taako snorted, not too surprised.

“You can make your own damn food, you know that right? You’re a fucking grown ass woman,” Taako complained, not actually bothered by any of this.

“So, there are some left,” Lup pressed, and that actually got a full laugh out of Taako.

“Yeah, if you want to come over here and eat me out of fucking house and home then sure, by all means,” he said, not quite able to keep the smile out of his voice. Sure, it hadn’t actually been that long since he’d last hung out with Lup, but it had still been too long.

“Sweet, catch ya in a bit bro,” she said, hanging up. Taako pushed himself up from where he’d ended up kind of splayed across the couch, doing a quick sweep of the room. It was kind of a disaster, but Lup was used to that.

Maybe while she was here though they could actually like, start working on putting some shit away. She wouldn’t be thrilled to help him organize his junk, but he doubted she’d refuse to help him either.

It wouldn’t take Lup long to get over here, her and Barry’s house wasn’t that far away by any means, so he didn’t have a chance to get much of a head start. Still, he started digging somewhat through the closest box, actually looking past the first layer of junk he’d ended up throwing on top to see what was actually packed away in there. It was mostly winter clothes, which he’d need soon, come to think of it. It was starting to get colder, and people would start to notice that he only had the one red hoodie to throw over his clothes when it got chill at night.

“The party has arrived,” Lup said, not bothering to knock or anything as she came into the apartment.

“The party better have brought either alcohol or pizza for me because otherwise she has no right to call herself the party,” Taako said, frowning at the box in front of him. He’d need to wash all of these clothes, but the washer was like, three floors down.

He could deal with this one later, once it was more pressing. For now he could work with the clothes he had on hand.

“The party will order you pizza, is that good enough for you?” she asked. Taako nodded, closing the flaps to the box and turning back to actually face his sister. Hopefully she’d think he’d just been looking for something and wouldn’t question it.

“It will appease me,” he said, and she rolled his eyes. Lup was already pulling the plastic wrap off of the plate of cookies he’d made yesterday, stuffing one in her mouth.

“So, how’ve you been Ko?” she asked, and Taako could see her looking him over carefully. “You’re looking good,” she added, and it was the first time she’d said that in a while. Well, no. It was the first time she’d said it in a while and it sounded 100% genuine.

“I always look good,” he answered easily, going over and snatching the next cooking she grabbed out of her hand. She pouted before grabbing the whole plate and heading to the couch with it. “But yeah, shit’s been whatever. Tiring. I’m always fucking working I swear, this weekend was the first decent time off I’ve had in forever,” he said, following her to the couch. He could see her already ordering a pizza on her phone, which was much appreciated.

“Tutoring on top of everything hasn’t been too much stress?” Lup asked, and Taako scoffed at the question.

“Nah, the worst it does is cut into some nap time I could be having instead,” he said, and then he snapped his fingers as a thought came to him. “Now there’s an idea. Maybe I can convince Ango to get all his work done early with the promise of naps during tutoring instead.” Lup snorted at that, shoving another cookie in her mouth. At this rate they were gonna finish them before the pizza arrived.

“I mean, it would work on me,” Lup said, and Taako nodded in agreement. “Ango?” she asked afterwards. Taako shrugged, reaching over and grabbing another cookie. Definitely gonna finish them before the pizza got there.

“Angus. The kid I’m teaching, come on Lulu, context clues,” he said. She rolled her eyes at that, thoroughly unimpressed.

“I figured as much,” she said, and then the annoyed look fell away into one of genuine fondness. “You’ve always been real good with kids, ya know?” she said.

“Shit, god. Is this your way of telling me that you and Barold have decided to get a gremlin? Cause can I say? It’s a bad one,” he said, genuine terror in his voice. Lup instantly started sputtering at the suggestion.

“What? That’s- no Ko, holy shit that is not what’s happening here,” she said, and Taako instantly relaxed at that.

“Oh thank fuck,” he said, slumping back into the couch cushion.

“I cannot believe you actually thought that,” Lup said, looking at him incredulously.

“Hey! I can never know with you two! You take a million years to actually admit you like each other, and then you get married before a guy can fucking blink. How am I supposed to know kids aren’t next on the menu at the ol’ Bluejeans household,” he said, waving his arms around dramatically. It wasn’t like Taako faulted them for getting hitched so fast. They’d been dating in all but name long enough that it wasn’t like everyone didn’t already know it was going to work out.

It had still taken him off guard was all. Put some shit in perspective that he’d maybe been trying not to deal with at the time.

“I was just saying that you’ve got a knack for teaching and you should embrace that shit bro. Then you had to make it all weird,” she said, the complaint a bit too dramatic for him to think it was serious.

“If I’ve got a knack for anything it’s making shit weird. If you think this was an awkward turn of conversation, I called Ango’s pop daddy when we met at the store. Now that was weird,” he said, grinning brightly when Lup choked on her cookie.

“Holy fucking shit. You didn’t,” she said, and Taako just let his grin widen even more. “Oh my god, you did,” she said, falling back in laughter.

“What can I say? You know how shit just slips out,” he said casually, quite pleased at leaving Lup beside herself in laughter.

“You’re the worst person,” she said, still clearly delighted. “So, like, was he hot or what?” she asked once she finally managed to control her laughter. Taako shrugged, looking at his nails in a still hyper-casual way.

“I mean, naturally. If you typed ‘tall dark and handsome’ into google you’d probably get his picture,” he said, and then he sat up some, pulling out his phone. “Wait, gimme a second I’m actually gonna try that,” he added, ignoring Lup snorting and rolling her eyes. “Aw, nevermind. Way too many white guys,” he complained, putting the phone back down.

“You should put that on a pillow,” Lup said, and Taako nodded in agreement. “So, he single or what?” she asked.

“I assume so. Angus said it’s always just been him and his dad so there definitely isn’t a mom in the mix at least,” he said, although that part wasn’t too important in his opinion. He wasn’t actually vying to get with the dude in any capacity. Sometimes it was just fun to fluster people who weren’t used to dealing with all of him.

“Gotta say babe, never realized you were into the single dad thing. Like, I’m your sister and I support you, but you do realize that if you marry this guy and become a step-dad you legally have to change your name to Ron,” she said, and Taako wasn’t able to hold in the bark of laughter that got out of him.

“I can assure you that is not a problem we will ever have to deal with. Pretty sure I scared that pretty face off with the whole daddy comment in the middle of a goddamn Ralph’s on a Saturday morning,” he said, which was true. Even if he was looking to date at the moment, which he wasn’t, he sure did shoot that boat in the foot.

“And yet he still helped you take your groceries back home,” Lup countered, and Taako shrugged at that.

“I’ll admit, that was mostly Angus. Like I said, kid is spiritually if not legally a boy scout,” he said, Lup raising an eyebrow at that.

“Is there a legal process to becoming a boy scout?” she asked, and he shrugged.

“Fuck if I know.”

“Fair enough.”

The pizza arrived pretty soon after that, distracting from the conversation which Taako was fine with. There wasn’t much else to say on that matter, since like he said, he wasn’t actually interested in Angus’s dad. Like, he kept thinking of him as Angus’s dad, for one thing. That probably made it weird, right? It definitely made it weird.

That wasn’t even getting into the fact that he seemed all like, professional and a functioning member of society and junk. Pretty sure the dude could get some better prospects than the disaster person who worked part time as his kid’s tutor.

It was a good thing Lup hadn’t gotten on him more about this junk. She would definitely have a bone to pick with some of those thoughts, which he certainly didn’t need.

Thankfully, they didn’t end up delving into any of that stuff. Spending the evening with Lup ended up being greatly needed, the two of them talking bullshit and eating more pizza than was strictly necessary. Sure, Barry was his best friend and Taako loved having him around, the same went for the rest of the gaggle of idiots that had attached to him barnacle like over the years.

But sometimes it was nice having it just be him and Lup again. Helped him recenter or some other touchy bullshit like that.

When she left, he felt that little bit more like a person again.

Sure, work at the call center the next day did everything in its power to try and squash those feelings. They still managed to be there somewhat when he came back into tutoring on Wednesday.

Angus came in right on time, as was typical for him. Taako had thought that first day he’d been avoiding it. Knowing him better now he was pretty sure he’d genuinely been lost or whatever he’d said the problem had been.

“Good afternoon sir!” he said, putting his backpack up on the table and pulling out his usual seat. There were a couple in here, like it was set up for larger study groups. He and Angus had managed to find the ones that looked least likely to fall apart at the slightest touch.

“How’s it hanging my dude?” he asked, wondering if Angus had a lot of work today. If he didn’t, he might actually try out that whole nap idea he’d talked about with Lup. He could certainly use one, and he got the feeling Angus was one of those overachiever kids who didn’t take a lot of naps. He seemed a lot less stressed out since he turned that paper in too, he probably deserved a nap.

“Good sir! Oh, my dad wanted me to tell you thank you for the cookies. They were really delicious,” he said, pulling out the tupperware Taako had given him the cookies in and handing it over. It was empty and Taako snorted.

“Did you seriously eat all of em?” he asked.

“Not at once. Or by myself, pretty sure my dad ate half of them,” Angus said. Taako found himself smiling as he shoved the tupperware back into his own bag.

“Fucking fair enough little man. Well, let your dad know that if he ever wants anymore sweets he can hit me up. Always need the excuse to bake, and I’d prefer hearing whatever praise he might have in person,” Taako said, mostly joking.

“Would you like me to give him your phone number then Mr. Taako?” Angus asked, his tone cheerful and innocent. Too cheerful and innocent. “Actually, it’s probably a good idea that I get your phone number anyway. In case I ever need to cancel tutoring for any reason,” he added, still in that same tone.

“Uhuh,” Taako said, letting himself sound as suspicious as he felt. “Yeah, alright. Here’s my number, you can give it to your dad, for business. Like if you need to call out of tutoring, strictly business,” he added, writing down his number and handing the slip of paper to Angus. The kid was grinning way too much to not be plotting something.

“Or if we would like some more cookies, as long as it’s not too much trouble, right?” he asked, and Taako laughed, nodding despite himself.

“Yeah, that too I guess,” he agreed. Angus actually ended up having homework he needed to get done, so Taako didn’t suggest nap time quite yet. Which he supposed wasn’t too bad, he didn’t really need one at the moment.

All in all, Taako was actually feeling pretty good.

Chapter Text

Kravitz waited in the car outside of Angus’s school. He was starting to get into the new routine for tutoring, and hopefully once things settled at work it would just be another thing. He was pretty sure Angus would get over any childish notions he had about Kravitz possibly having a crush on his tutor soon.

And if he didn’t, Kravitz figured he’d only have to deal with it for the rest of this school year at most. As much as Angus liked this tutor, even if he ended up needing one again next year he figured it wouldn’t end up being the same guy.

He’d been worried at first that Angus would hate the tutoring, but now he was more concerned that he’d be disappointed whenever it came to an end or he had to get a new tutor. Kravitz pushed that thought out of his mind for now though. They were still pretty early into the year after all. It wasn’t anything he needed to concern himself with for now.

Kravitz watched as Angus came out of the school with his Taako. It didn’t seem like he was coming over to the car today. Kravitz was a little relieved when he saw Angus wave at the man and he started walking off in the direction of his apartment. It wasn’t that he disliked Taako any, he was just… awkward. Kravitz was, that is. Not Taako. He didn’t seem bothered enough about anything to really be awkward.

“Hey dad,” Angus said as he hopped into the passenger seat, shrugging his bookbag off and putting it down by his feet.

“Hey, how was school today?” he asked, not quite pulling the car out yet. It looked like Angus was looking around for something, so he waited.

“Really good, here,” Angus said, and then he held out a small slip of paper. Kravitz took it, and from a glance it was obvious it was a phone number. There wasn’t any name or explanation written with it though.

“What’s this?” he asked, sounding about as befuddled as he felt. He had one idea about what this could be, and he wasn’t very happy with it.

“Mr. Taako’s phone number,” Angus said, grinning brightly as he confirmed Kravitz’s fear. He sighed heavily, folding the paper up and turning to Angus with a look he hoped was serious.

“Angus dear, I’m… glad, that you want me to be happy, but this isn’t… I specifically asked you not to do things like this,” he said. The smile on Angus’s face faded quickly, and Kravitz felt bad about that, he really did. He shouldn’t encourage this though. Sure, it was pretty cute how Angus was trying to play match maker, but he figured it would end in disappointment if he tried to play along.

“It was just a joke,” Angus muttered, and even though he wasn’t sure how much he believed that it was still a bit of a relief. “I mean, it really is his number. But it’s for like, letting him know if I can’t make it to tutoring,” he clarified.

“Oh, okay that actually is an important thing to have,” Kravitz said, definitely feeling better about how Angus had gotten the number now. Taako must've thought it was a serious request and hadn’t realized Angus was fucking with him. Taking out his own phone, Kravitz quickly put the number in. Under the name he wrote ‘Angus’s Tutor’ since it wasn’t like they were friends. It’d probably be weird to put him in by first name, right?

“He also said we can hit him up if we ever want more cookies,” Angus added as Kravitz finally pulled out from the front of the school. He couldn’t help but chuckled a little at that, no intentions on actually following through with that. He wouldn’t want to like, demand food from a guy he didn’t know.

Maybe if he let him pay for some? They had honestly been some of the best cookies Kravitz had ever had, and he hadn’t even had any fresh. He certainly wouldn’t mind paying for something like that.

“Well, that’s quite nice of him to offer,” Kravitz said. As they drove home Angus talked about the rest of his day, and it did seem like he was doing a bit better lately. He was a little less guarded when Kravitz asked him about his assignments and such.

He was glad this was helping. Angus had been so excited about skipping a grade and Kravitz hated seeing that excitement turn to fear and anxiety. He didn't have any idea how to fix it either, for a while there.

“So, how was work today?” Angus asked as they pulled into the driveway. Kravitz let out a long sigh, he hadn’t even been meaning to. “Ah, that bad?” he said, wincing in an exaggerated manner.

“It was fine,” Kravitz insisted as they headed inside. It was, even if he was incredibly frustrated by the whole thing. Whoever had been messing around with their systems had definitely realized that they’d knew by this point.

Their online records dating back several months had changed. He’d noticed it this morning. He was just trying to double check to make sure the information he was putting in now was correct. He’d only been able to confirm that someone had messed with it because he’d been a little paranoid and had printed out copies of everything. Julia liked to tease him for being old fashioned, but he worked better when he could actually write with paper and pencil on things.

“No new progress?” Angus asked, and Kravitz shook his head, heading to the kitchen and taking a quick look in the freezer. Okay, they still had one more dinner left, he’d either have to go to the store tomorrow or they’d eat out.

“The opposite actually,” he said with a sigh. “It’s fine though, we know for sure it’s someone in our systems now. Which is unfortunate,” he added, not wanting Angus to get too worried. He knew Angus was curious about it all too though, so it wouldn’t hurt to fill him in on little things here and there.

“No idea who though?” Angus asked, and Kravitz shook his head.

“No, but honestly there aren’t a lot of suspects, or uh, people who have that kind of access and skill. So hopefully it won’t be too much longer,” Kravitz told him, and that was true at least. He wasn’t happy about having to fire someone over this, but it had caused him such a headache already he wouldn’t be too torn up over it.

Well, being fired would be the least of their worries. They’d been squirreling away a pretty damn large sum of money over the past several months, and were falsifying documents now as well. They were probably going to end up going to jail once they finally caught them.

“So, who are the current suspects?” Angus asked, trying to sound casual about it. Kravitz could tell that it was anything but casual, the curiosity barely concealed.

“Angus, I don’t want you spying on my co-workers. Again,” Kravitz said, not quite able to sound as annoyed as he wanted to. To be fair, nothing bad had happened last time and the people Angus had decided to give a bit of extra attention to all took it in good fun. Kravitz wasn’t sure how much that would be the case this time though, especially since everything was so tense right now.

“It’s not spying, it’s just some light detective work,” Angus insisted.

“Well, I’d rather you not do any light detective work on my co-workers. We have it all under control,” Kravitz said, reaching over and ruffling Angus’s hair. He felt like he was telling the truth. It was only a matter of time before they caught whoever was doing this, and it seemed like they’d managed to catch it before they managed to do any permanent damage to the company.

“Fine,” Angus said, not sounding too pleased by that. Kravitz wasn’t entirely convinced that he would let this go, he was always a little too curious for his own good.

“I’ll let you know when dinner’s done,” Kravitz said. Angus nodded, grabbing a snack out of the cabinet before heading to his room. Kravitz headed to his office, pulling out the stacks of paper he’d brought back here to work on. He really was thankful he’d gone and print them all out. Now he needed to see how much exactly they had changed since he made those print outs.

Kravitz wasn’t sure how long he’d been working for when his phone started to buzz. Checking the number, he quickly answered when he saw it was his mother.

“Hello dear, sorry if I’m bothering you,” she said, and Kravitz put down the paper he’d been comparing with what the online reports were saying.

“No bother, is everything alright?” he asked. It was always hard to tell with her, she was good at masking her worry. Kravitz would say that he’d gotten pretty good at figuring out when things were bothering her though and he knew that everything that’d been happening was putting a lot of stress on everyone.

“Yes, everything’s fine. I heard that you figured out someone’s still actively changing information?” she asked, and Kravitz nodded, tapping his pencil as he spoke.

“Yeah, it’s- they’ve definitely been tampered with since I printed everything out the day we realized something was wrong. I was just looking to see exactly how much they changed,” he explained. He heard her humming thoughtfully on the other end of the line, and Kravitz could tell she was debating something.

“I really hate to ask you to come in again this weekend, but-” she started, and Kravitz quickly cut in.

“It’s fine, honestly. The faster we can figure this all out the better,” he said, and he heard her sigh in relief somewhat at that.

“Thank you dear. Istus has already said that she doesn’t mind having Angus over again if he’d like,” she said, and Kravitz nodded.

“I’ll send him a text right after this letting him know,” Kravitz assured her.

“Sounds good,” she said, and Kravitz really did hope they figured this out soon. He didn’t mind spending the occasional extra time at work, but this was definitely more than usual. “Please do try and relax at some point,” his mother added.

“I’m plenty relaxed,” he said, choosing to ignore the disbelieving hum from his mother. “Alright, talk to you later, love you,” he added.

“Love you too dear,” she said, and with that Kravitz ended the call. Quickly switching back over to his contacts, he tapped on Angus’s entry to start texting him.

‘Grandma just called, would you mind heading over to their house this weekend? I need to head into work to handle a few things’ he quickly typed up and sent. Turning back to his paper readouts, Angus’s response took a bit longer than he expected.

‘Either ur in possession (HA!) of one hell of an ouija board my guy, a real GHO ya know? Or you got the wrong number’ came the reply. Which… definitely wasn’t Angus. Glancing up at the contact, Kravitz cursed out loud. The only good thing about this was that he was alone in his office and could therefore hide his face in his hands as much as he wanted.

Of course he selected ‘Angus’s Tutor’ by mistake. He’d had the number in his phone for an hour.

‘I’m so sorry, this is Angus’s father. I meant to text him but I selected your number by mistake’ he sent. That should be pretty much the end of the conversation, but despite himself he sent another quick text. He knew Angus was always too curious for his own good, but so was he. ‘GHO?’

‘Oh shit the kid actually gave you my number. Sup daddy’

‘Genuine Hasbro Ouija’ came two texts in quick succession. Kravitz wasn’t sure how he managed to be even more capable of taking him off guard through text. Maybe because he hadn’t been expecting it? It was still baffling and it felt like his face was a million degrees.

‘It’s Kravitz. Please just Kravitz’ he sent back.

‘Too late’ same the reply, and there was a photo attached to it. Kravitz was almost worried to look, but it was a screen shot. Specifically one of a contact with Kravitz’s number labeled ‘Daddy McDonald.' It was ridiculous, and despite himself Kravitz laughed.

‘No, please god change that’ he sent, trying to bite down a smile that was stubbornly worming its way onto his face. He was extremely lucky that Angus wasn’t in the room at the moment or else he’d never heard the end of this.

‘Can’t it’s locked in there forever’ Taako replied, and Kravitz rolled his eyes at that. He didn’t know why Taako was messing with him like this, other than he supposed it was his sense of humor. It didn’t truly bother him so much as it left him flustered, so he guessed it wasn’t that bad.

It was still pretty bad though, because like. It just was.

Despite his better judgment Kravitz found himself heading back into his contacts. He needed to change Taako’s contact name anyway, since he didn’t want to risk doing this again and he texted Angus way too much to trust himself. After a moment of hesitation (and also a moment to figure out how to take a screen shot) he sent the changed name back to Taako.

‘In that case I guess this is fine too,’ he sent along with the image, showing the contact now as ‘Free Cookies- and tutoring.' Taako’s next reply took a minute, and Kravitz was suddenly very afraid that he’d overstepped some boundary. Angus had said that he’d offered, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

‘Holy shit, so you can be fun after all! Fuck yeah’ came Taako’s reply, and Kravitz relaxed some at that. Not a lot, but he wasn’t as worried that he’d taken some great offense to the name. Quickly another text from Taako came in. ‘We’ll see what we can do. Free cookies are earned.’

‘Not quite free then, are they?’ Kravitz send back, and there was definitely a dumb smile stuck on his face now. He guessed it’d been a while since he’d joked around like this with someone. It was just joking though, Kravitz tried to remind himself. Angus made a lot of jokes about crushes, but that wasn’t actually a thing.

And even if it was, he’d seen seen Taako with someone who was definitely at least his boyfriend. Plus, Kravitz didn’t have time to start dating! He had Angus to take care of, plus there was everything going on at work. Oh god, he definitely couldn’t start dating with the whole debockle at work, and-

Oh god, he sounded like the workaholic single woman in every lifetime movie. Okay, no, he wasn’t going down that logic anymore. He just wasn’t interested in Taako, and Taako wasn’t interested in him. Simple as that.

‘Monetarily free, which is the only kind of free that matters’ Taako sent back. Then another quick text. ‘Hey shouldnt you be asking ango about his grandma or whatever?’

‘Oh shit. Right, thanks for the reminder’ Kravitz sent him, switching over to actually text Angus about going to his grandma’s this weekend. Taako texted him again while he was doing that, but Kravitz waited until he finished sending the message to Angus before looking.

‘Not a problem my dude. Happy to help ;)’

If Kravitz didn’t know any better, he’d almost think he was being flirted with right now. He did know better though, so he pushed those thoughts out of him mind. Either way he wasn’t sure what to say to that, so he just didn’t say anything. It was a good enough stopping point in the conversation, and he’d already been talking to Taako for much longer than he’d intended to.

Any talking to Taako had been more than intended, but he supposed he could have stopped a lot sooner than he actually did.

Angus’s reply came quickly, saying he wouldn’t mind heading to his grandma’s this weekend. That was a relief. As much as he knew Angus was getting older and was very responsible for his age, he still didn’t like leaving him alone for too long if he could help it.

With all of that squared away Kravitz tried to get back to work. It was important to figure out what the right numbers were supposed to be, even if Kravitz wished they could find the person who’d done this to begin with.

The rest of the week passed relatively uneventfully. They were getting close though, Kravitz was sure of it. He was trying not to spend too much of his time single-mindedly focused on work, but the list of possible suspects was getting narrower and narrower. In fact, Kravitz was feeling pretty damn certain on who it was. They needed proof though, which was a little harder to come by.

They were almost there though. Kravitz had been intending to go to work this weekend and not leave until they had what they needed. He’d already talked it over with Istus and Angus, and they were both fine with having a sleepover.

And Kravitz had promised Angus that with this it would be over and he would take a good long break from overtime. He really did hate getting so wrapped up in his work like this while Angus was struggling with school. Sure, the tutoring was helping a lot it seemed, but he still wanted to be there as much as he could.

When his phone started ringing Friday afternoon, Kravitz didn’t think anything of it. Even when he saw it was Istus’s number, it wasn’t any sort of red flag. He figured she just wanted to know what time they were coming over or wanted to tell him about what she had planned for the weekend.

“Kravitz dear, there’s been a change of plans,” his mother’s voice said right when he answered the phone.

“I’m fine, it’s- oh, stop your fussing,” Istus’s protest came in weakly over the line. Kravitz frowned, because she certainly didn’t sound fine.

“Is everything alright?” he asked, starting to pace. He’d just gotten back from picking Angus up at school. Angus was currently pouring himself a drink and watching him with obvious curiosity.

“Everything’s fine. Istus just woke up with a nasty cold this morning and refuses to rest,” his mother explained.

“You really aren’t one to talk darling,” he heard Istus comment, which Kravitz knew was fair. He was still frowning though, but he took a quick moment to mouth ‘it’s okay’ to Angus, who was trying his best to listen to the other side of the call.

“Do you guys need anything? I can run up to the store real quick, I just picked Angus up from tutoring,” he offered.

“No, we’re good but thank you. I’m afraid Angus can’t spend the weekend here now though,” she said, and he winced at that, glancing over at Angus. Right, that would be an issue.

“I just don’t want him catching this,” Istus added, and Kravitz nodded.

“Right, no that’s fair. Tell Istus not to worry about it and to focus on getting better,” Kravitz said.

“I will, don’t worry about coming in this weekend,” his mother said, and Kravitz sighed, running a hand down his face.

“No, no it’s- I want to get this done with. Don’t worry, I’ll think of something,” he insisted. He had no idea what he would think of, but he would figure this out.

“Alright, but know it’s no pressure, and tell Angus we’ll make it up to him,” his mother said.

“I will, tell Istus to get some rest,” he said. Hanging up with a sigh, Kravitz took a moment to rub at his temples. He knew he usually didn’t have the best luck in the world, but this was extremely frustrating.

“What’s going on?” Angus asked.

“Mommom Istus came down with a cold, so you’re not going to be able to stay the weekend with her,” Kravitz explained. He figured Angus had managed to deduce most of that with what he’d overheard, because he didn’t seem very surprised. He actually looked pretty casual. Too casual.

“Oh, I guess I can stay home then,” he said, and ah, there it was.

“No, Angus,” Kravitz said with a sigh.

“I’ve stayed home by myself before, it’ll be fine,” he said. That was partially true, Kravitz had to leave him home alone for a few hours here and there before.

“Not overnight though, I’m not leaving you by yourself for the whole weekend,” Kravitz insisted. Angus frowned a little at that, but he didn’t seem too torn up about it. Kravitz knew he wasn’t the type of kid to try and throw a party when he was home alone or anything like that, but that really wasn’t why he didn’t want to leave him on his own.

“But you gotta go to work,” Angus said, and Kravitz nodded. “I can come with you,” he offered, and Kravitz was almost considering it.

“I don’t want to make you sit in a boring office all weekend,” he said, and Angus shrugged.

“That’s fine. I can entertain myself, I’ll bring some homework or something,” he said, once again in too casual a voice.

“Once again, I don’t want you spying on my co-workers Angus,” Kravitz said, and Angus pouted at that, crossing his arms.

“Not even the one who stole a whole buncha money and is the reason you have to go in extra in the first place?” he pressed, and Kravitz shook his head.

“Especially not that one,” he said. Okay, he had to have some other option here. There had to be someone else who would watch Angus, right? Kravitz had friends. There was Julia but, damn it, she’d probably be at work this weekend too. Kravitz pulled out his phone, scrolling through his contacts for someone he could ask. There were decidedly fewer options than he’d been hoping for. Shit.

His finger paused over one name. It was a bad idea, he didn’t really know him at all. Angus liked him though, he probably wouldn’t even put up a fuss at the suggestion.

He supposed it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask. It wasn’t like he had many other options.

“Who are you calling?” Angus asked as soon as Kravitz had hit the dial button.

“No one,” Kravitz said, walking off towards the living room. He was not surprised in the slightest when Angus followed right along after him. After a few rings there was a click, and well, he was in too deep now.

“Hello Taako? Sorry for bothering you,” he said, putting on his most polite and formal voice.

“Taako?” Angus asked in a not very quiet whisper, a look of delighted disbelief on his face. Kravitz tried to wave him away, but it was very clear that he wasn’t heading anywhere.

“Not a bother at all homie. Everything cool? Ango lose something at tutoring?” Taako asked, and Kravitz shook his head even though he couldn’t see him.

“No, nothing like that. It’s- okay, I need to ask you something, and it’s going to sound like something else but I swear it’s not that,” Kravitz said, feeling the need to heavily preface this. Angus was sitting on the couch watching him and halfheartedly trying to muffle his laughter.

“Well shit, now you got me curious. Ask away,” Taako said.

“Are you doing anything this weekend?” Kravitz asked, trying not to wince as he did. Taako was very quiet for a moment, and he could only image why. Hopefully it was to look at his schedule.

“Uh, no actually. Got a brief respite from the drudgery of capitalism, why?” Taako finally said, which was honestly a better response than Kravitz had been expecting.

“So, you know how Angus was supposed to go stay at his grandma’s this weekend?” Kravitz said.

“Wait, dad why does Mr. Taako know that? Wait, holy shit have you guys actually been talking?” Angus asked.

“Don’t say shit,” Kravitz said, covering the phone with his hand for a moment, not that it probably did much good. Especially because he could hear Taako snickering on the other end.

“Yeah, I remember that. What about it?” Taako asked, still sounding pretty amused by this whole thing.

“Angus’s grandmother came down with a nasty cold this morning and isn’t going to be able to watch him, and I’ve been having some trouble finding a replacement,” Kravitz explained.

“Oh,” Taako said, sounding decidedly less amused now. “And uh, I guess you’re wondering if ol’ Taako can watch the kid for a couple hours?” he asked.

“More like the whole weekend,” Kravitz said. “Not for free, of course, and I completely understand if you can’t. I know it’s a big ask rather last minute,” he quickly added when Taako didn’t say anything.

“No, that’s not- ugh, just, what times? Estimated drop off and pick up?” Taako asked, which genuinely surprised Kravitz. He wasn’t expecting him to even consider it for a good while there.

“I’d be dropping him off around 7:30am Saturday and picking him up around 8pm Sunday,” Kravitz said. Angus was watching him intently, looking as surprised as Kravitz felt.

“Youch, early start, huh?” Taako said.

“He’ll probably fall right back to sleep for a couple of hours,” Kravitz said. He could practically feel Taako debating silently on the other end of the line, before sighing heavily.

“Yeah, why not I don’t got any other plans. And don’t fucking worry about paying, just like, chip in twenty bucks for some pizza or take out or whatever,” Taako said, and Kravitz felt his shoulders slump in relief.

“Thank you so much Taako, you’re a lifesaver,” Kravitz said.

“I’m pretty spectacular, you got that right,” he said, which got a chuckle out of Kravitz. He quickly stopped when he saw the look Angus was giving him. “You remember how to get to my place or you need the address?”

“If you could send the address just to be safe it’d be a big help,” Kravitz said.

“You got it,” Taako said. “And uh, guess see y’all tomorrow then, bright and early,” he added, sounding almost nervous. Kravitz couldn’t blame him, this was definitely a weird situation.

“Right, see you then,” Kravitz said before hanging up and letting out a long sigh. When he turned to look at Angus he had a huge, shit eating grin on his face. Kravitz couldn’t even properly defend himself from it.

“You’re going to stay at Mr. Taako’s for the weekend,” he said, trying to get some semblance of control over the situation.

“Mhmm,” Angus hummed, still looking entirely too pleased with this situation.

“And that settles that, I suppose,” he said, just sort of standing there now not sure what to do. “I’m going to call your grandmas and tell them I got it taken care of.”

“So have you guys been talking a lot or-” Angus started to ask.

“Calling your grandmas!” Kravitz insisted, cutting him off. Angus dissolved into giggles, and Kravitz sighed. He couldn’t exactly be annoyed with seeing Angus so delighted. So it was fine.

All of this was just fine.

Chapter Text

Angus had not expected for this to be his weekend plan. He might have had a little bit of trouble sleeping the night before due to excitement. He was also a little nervous, because as much as he had fun and liked Taako in tutoring, it was another thing to be spending the whole weekend with him.

Excited was definitely the more prominent emotion at play here though. That and having fun teasing his dad about it until he got shooed off to bed. He insisted that he’d texted Mr. Taako their weekend plans instead by mistake, and it seemed like he was telling the truth.

It was still real funny though. Plus, his dad was more flustered about it than he would be if he truly wasn’t interested in Mr. Taako at all.

Which was still kind of a weird thing to think about. Angus figured that would be a good use for this weekend though. It would be much easier to get a gauge for his personality and if Angus actually thought his dad would be happy dating him, and if Angus would be happy with them together.

He wanted this to work, but not if it would actually be a bad idea.

Because he hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep last night though, he was not very happy to be waking up so early. Angus groaned when his dad came into his room and flicked the lights on.

“Come on dear, you need to get dressed,” his dad said, poking his head into the room for the second or third or fourth time while Angus stayed in bed. Instead of answering with words he make a vaguely positive sounding noise and shifted somewhat. He heard his dad sigh slightly, which was fair. They'd been at this for a little while now.

“You can sleep some more once we get to Taako’s,” he insisted, and very reluctantly Angus moved so that he was at least sitting up in bed.

“’M awake,” he mumbled, rubbing at his eyes.

“Good morning,” his dad said, coming into the room and ruffling his hair. It was probably already messed up but even still Angus tried to swat his hands away. Once he stopped messing with his hair Angus watched him move to grab the bag he’d packed the night before. “I’m gonna go put this in the car, get dressed,” he said. Angus nodded sleepily.

Once his dad was out of the room Angus forced himself to get out of bed and get dressed. He’d put everything he’d need for the weekend in the bag before he went to sleep, but he still did a quick check around the room to make sure he had everything. It wasn’t that big of a deal when he was at his grandma’s, because he had a lot of spare stuff over there. He wouldn’t have that at Taako’s though.

It should be fine though. He was too tired to care if it wasn’t, but that was why he made sure to pack the night before. Once he was dressed he headed out into the living room, slumping down on the couch and closing his eyes for a minute. A bit later, Angus wasn’t sure how long exactly, his dad was shaking his shoulder and pushing a warm poptart into his hand.

“We need to get going soon Angus,” he said, and he nodded, blinking his eyes open.

“I’m ready to go whenever,” he mumbled, taking a bite of the poptart. His dad hummed, not sounding very convinced of that. Angus wasn’t sure why, he was just gonna keep sleeping at Taako’s for a bit anyway. He didn’t pay attention as his dad walked out of the room and then came back a few moments later.

“You forgot your shoes,” he said, clearly amused as he handed them over. Angus took the shoes and slowly put them on, and he guessed his dad’s skepticism about him being ready to go before was somewhat warranted.

“Kay, I’m good,” he said. His dad didn’t argue this time, and Angus was awake enough to at least walk out to the car by himself, still nibbling on his poptart. He still ended up falling half asleep in the car by the time they got to Mr. Taako’s apartment complex. His dad must’ve thought he was fully asleep, and maybe he was more asleep than he wanted to admit. He didn’t notice they were there or that his dad had gotten out of the car and over to his side until he was lifting him up out of the seat.

“I can walk,” he tried to say, but it sort of came out as an intelligible mumble.

“You didn’t sleep at all last night, did you?” his dad asked, slowly heading up the stairs of the complex.

“Did to,” Angus muttered, not making any attempt to get down. He was still dozing slightly, only jolted out of it somewhat when they reached Mr. Taako’s apartment and he heard his dad knock on the door. He still wasn’t making any move to put him down and Angus didn’t have time on insisting he do before the door was thrown open.

“You’re here! I mean, you said you would be here and now you are so that makes sense, so uh- wait shit, is he asleep?” Taako said, the second part said much quieter than the first.

“’M wake,” Angus muttered, and he didn’t even sound all that convincing to himself. Still, he was awake enough to listen to his dad and Taako talking.

“He’ll probably knock out for a few more hours. Are you sure this is okay?” his dad asked, stepping into the apartment.

“Yeah no it’s totally chill. He got like, any sort of special diet I should know about? Allergies? How many times should I walk and water him a day?” Taako asked, and his dad laughed at that.

“No, you should be fine. I’m sure he’ll let you know if he wants to go outside,” he said. Then Angus could feel his dad shifting him somewhat, and yeah, he'd been holding him for a while now. Normally he’d be talking a lot more during something like this, or at least demand to be let down, but he was comfortable.

“I hate to run so soon, but I really do need to get to work. Is there a place I can, uh,” and Angus felt himself being lifted somewhat. The fact that he hadn’t opened his eyes the entire time they’d been in here probably wasn’t helping them think he was awake.

“Oh! Right yeah no, this way. Got a spare room back here. My sister and the rest of my bum friends are always around and I’d like to have my couch to actually sit on sometimes, ya know?” Taako said, leading them further back into the apartment. “Not this weekend though! Not gonna have any fuckin, wild parties while watching your kid, I swear,” he added quickly. Angus felt himself get placed down on a bed, and then heard the small thunk of his bag placed on the floor close by.

“Of course,” his dad said, and Angus wasn’t awake enough to tell if he sounded like he believed that or not. “I’ll see you Sunday Angus, be good for Mr. Taako,” he added, leaning down to ruffle his hair again.

“Mhmm,” he mumbled, not bothering to form proper words. With that he heard footsteps walking away and then a door quietly closing. There were some hushed voices then, still clearly Taako and his dad. Angus wanted to get up and try to listen in on what they were saying, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to. Before he knew it he’d managed to fall into a deep sleep.

When he woke up it was a lot later in the day. Digging around in his bag, he quickly found his cell phone to check the time, since the room he was in didn’t seem to have a clock in it. The room was pretty plain all things considered. It definitely looked like a guest room, no real personalizing features. It was clean though, with about five large cardboard boxes carefully stacked up in the corner.

His phone said it was 11:23am, which was a bit later than he typically slept for sure. He guessed he needed it, but he hoped Taako didn’t think he was lazy sleeping in this late. Making sure his shoes were off, he hadn’t even noticed whenever his dad must’ve taken them before he left, he got out of bed.

Peaking his head out the door, he didn’t see Taako right away. There was a hallway with two other doors, his bedroom and a bathroom if Angus had to guess, but they were both closed.

Heading down the hallway, he could start to hear the sounds of someone moving around now. It led out into the living room area, and he could see across it into the kitchen where Taako was. He was hunched over the stove, cooking something that smelled amazing. He hadn’t seemed to notice Angus any yet, and he took that time to quickly glance around the place. He’d been too sleepy to get a proper look when they were coming in.

It was cleaner than the last time they were here, although there were still boxes stacked up in places. Those were all now nicely placed in corners and behind chairs instead of all over the place though. The place was obviously pretty well lived in still, and if Angus had to guess he’d probably been staying here a while. Which did make it strange that he hadn’t unpacked everything yet.

“Good morning sir,” Angus said, stepping out from the hallway and into the living room. Taako jolted, definitely not having noticed him before then, but seemed to recover quickly enough.

“Oh hey, he lives,” he joked, turning back towards the stove. Angus walked over, pulling out a stool that was set under the counter and climbing up to sit down.

“Thanks for having me this weekend Mr. Taako, I’m sorry it was so last minute,” Angus said. As excited as he was about all of this, he could admit that it probably wasn’t how Taako had hoped to spend his weekend. He just shrugged though, flipping the food he was cooking over in the pan. Angus could see a plate next to him, already stacked with quite a few pancakes.

“Not a problem my dude, didn’t have shit to do this weekend anyway,” he said, and then he paused in his cooking and turned towards Angus. “I cannot censor myself for an entire weekend though, so let’s keep that between the two of us and uh, I’ll let you say fuck,” he said.

“We’re not at school sir, I don’t need your permission to curse,” Angus said simply, and then shrugged. “But fuck it, works for me,” he added, which got a sharp bark of laughter out of Mr. Taako.

“Shit, yeah alright, we’re in agreement then, hell ya,” Taako said, taking the pancake he’d just finished and a couple off of the stack and putting them on a plate. “Got a couple different kinds there, your dad said there’s no allergies so congrats, you get to be a guinea pig,” he added.

Angus didn’t see any problem with that, starting on the first pancake in front of him. It was delicious, and he quickly began shoveling more into his mouth. Taako put a few on a plate for himself and started eating as well, and whenever Angus glanced over at him he looked like he was trying very hard not to look awkward.

“These taste amazing sir,” Angus said after a bit, figuring that he should say something and not be rude.

“Course they do,” he said simply, eating another piece before adding, “but thanks.” There really were a lot of different types, some of them had different kinds of fruit and some had chocolate and the mix of flavors should be overwhelmingly sweet but somehow it wasn’t.

“So um, what are we going to do this weekend sir?” Angus asked once he’d managed to finish as much of the food on his plate as he could. There was still about half a pancake left, and he felt a little bad even letting that go to waste. He was pretty sure pancakes didn’t taste great heated up once you put syrup on them though.

“Uh, well let’s see,” Taako said, sounding like the question caught him off guard a little. “What are we going to do... this weekend, hmm, let’s see,” he continued, definitely letting Angus know that he had no plans. “What do kids like to do for fun?” he asked finally.

“I mean, it depends on the kid,” Angus said, which caused Mr. Taako to groan slightly, rolling his eyes.

“Okay, allow me to rephrase that question then. What does the kid I am gonna be responsible with for the next forty-eight hours or whatever like to do for fun?” he asked. Angus hummed, thinking the question over. He actually wanted to be a good guest after all and didn’t want to cause Taako too much trouble, since he really was helping them out last minute and all.

“I like to read, and um, movies are nice? Mystery are my favorite,” he said, and Taako nodded, seeming to accept that answer well enough.

“Alright, we can do movies, that works for sure,” Taako said, still sounding pretty uncertain about all of this. If Angus had to wager a guess, he’d probably never watched a kid before, or at least not on his own. “Uh, do you want to do that now, or what?” Taako asked after a brief pause.

“Sure sir! If you’re not in the mood for one now though I brought some things to entertain myself,” Angus said and Taako shrugged, standing up and grabbing both of their plates. He scooped Angus’s uneaten pancake into a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge before putting both plates into the sink.

“Eh, I could do a movie, for sure,” he said. With that they headed into the living room, and Taako told him to wait for a minute before coming back with a laptop. It seemed like he already had the set up to hook it to his tv, quickly pulling up a list of movies and it coming up on the screen.

Angus watched as Taako flipped over to the ‘mysteries/suspense’ category, and started scanning down the list. After a moment he started frowning some.

“Uh, a lot of these movies seem kinda um, mature? How old are you again?” he asked.

“Ten, but my birthday’s coming up soon,” Angus answered happily. Taako looked even more hesitant at that though, starting to scan through the movies a little faster.

“Okay, okay let’s seeee, something pg, something pg, pg, pg,” Taako said, starting to chat a little under his breath.

“I can watch PG13 movies too if that makes it easier,” Angus offered. Taako gave him a slightly skeptical look at that. Which was fair, but Angus was honestly pretty surprised that Taako had thought to consider movie ratings at all. He guessed he was a school tutor though, he seemed to know the basics about dealing with kids and stuff.

“That feels like something I should run by your dad first pumpkin. Don’t want you having like, nightmares tonight,” he said, and Angus shrugged. And okay, his dad would usually be pretty careful about letting him watch anything too high rated. Usually if it was something Angus really wanted to watch, his dad would watch it first and decide if it was okay or not.

“It’s noon sir, I highly doubt I’ll still be scared by tonight, if I get scared at all,” he said. Taako seemed to consider it for a moment before turning back to the list of movies.

“If we can’t find anything I’ll consider it, last thing I wanna do is piss off your dad,” he said.

“Why’s that sir?” Angus asked innocently. Taako only briefly glanced over at him out of the corner of his eye before going back to reading movie titles and descriptions. There was definitely a look there like he knew what Angus was doing. Which, that would make figuring out if Taako would be good for his dad a little more difficult, but it was also a point in his favor.

“No sense in making enemies of my favorite pupil’s dad, right?” Taako said, and Angus couldn’t help grinning at that. And then he paused, thinking.

“How many kids do you tutor again?” he asked, letting himself sound as suspicious as he felt.

“This is a part time gig, so they just got me on the one for now,” Taako said, a large grin on his face. That was about what Angus figured, and he rolled his eyes, not actually offended.

“Have you picked a movie yet sir?” he asked instead, changing the subject. It ended up taking a little more bartering, but eventually they ended up on a PG mystery movie that at least Angus hadn’t seen before. The mystery ended up being pretty easy to solve, Angus called it not halfway through the first act, which seemed to impress Taako when it was revealed to be correct.

The important thing was that it managed to kill some time, which is what Angus figured the main goal was. Taako spent most of the time absentmindedly playing on his phone, but even though he was trying to look like he wasn’t paying attention Angus could tell that he was.

“Well, that was a movie,” Taako said once it was over. It wasn’t obvious, but Angus could tell that he still seemed a little stressed and confused about all of this. He was definitely less relaxed than he was during tutoring at least, and way less relaxed than when they saw him at the store.

“It was pretty good, they managed to not make the mystery too obvious,” Angus said, and Taako shot him a look at that.

“You guessed that shit after like fifteen minutes,” he said, and Angus shrugged.

“I’m really good at solving mysteries,” he said, which got a snicker out of Taako. It wasn’t particularly mocking or anything like when some adults did it though.

“Is that it? Sure, makes sense,” he said, his amusement starting to fall away into nervous uncertainty again. It was all masked pretty well with an air of aloofness, but it was pretty obvious that Taako did want this to go well. “So uh, you said you’re like, good to entertain yourself for now? You getting hungry for lunch yet?” he asked.

“Maybe in a little bit? That was a really big breakfast, I’m still full,” he said, and Taako seemed content with that. “And yeah, I can go grab one of the books I brought. Is it okay if I read out here?” he asked, and Taako nodded, waving away the question.

“Yeah sure, doesn’t bother me any,” he said. With that Angus headed back to the guest room he’d been in, ruffled through his bag until he found a book and headed back out. In the time it took him to do that Taako had gotten up and had started doing the dishes from breakfast, so Angus curled back up on the couch.

It was quiet between them for a bit, in a pretty comfortable way. Angus was kind of surprised, but it seemed like Taako was a bit more relaxed as long as Angus had something to do. After some time though Angus spoke up, because his mind really wasn’t on his book.

“It was really nice of you to watch me on such short notice sir,” he said. Taako shrugged, sticking dishes in what looked to be an already pretty stuffed cabinet. Considering Angus remembered several boxes full of kitchen stuff laying about the last time they were here that were no longer around, that made sense.

“Yeah, I’m just great like that, what can I say,” Taako answered easily. Angus knew they were still pretty early in the visit for him to try and push things, especially with someone as smart as Taako. Still, he did only have two days.

Also, it was really hard trying to be subtle and not blurt out every question that came to his mind.

“Sir, can I ask you something?” he ended up asking after a moment, having lost all pretense of pretending to read his book at this point. Not that Taako was paying much attention to what he was doing. He was pretty preoccupied trying to get the last bowl he had in his hands to fit in the cabinet.

“Shoot,” he said absently, and Angus figured that was good enough.

“Mr. Taako, do you have intentions with my father?” Angus asked, and maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it, but it was the way that happened. The bowl Taako had been precariously trying to fit into the cupboard fell, making a loud crash on the counter. Angus winced, Taako cursing under his breath.

Jumping up from the couch, he went over to the kitchen. “I’m sorry sir, do you want any help?” he asked, but Taako was immediately shooing him back out.

“Nope, no, step your ass back bubala. No kids near broken glass,” Taako insisted. It was fair enough, so Angus stayed back, watching as Taako scrambled around looking for a dust pan. “Fuck it,” he muttered after a moment, picking up the larger pieces and then using a spatula to brush the others into a dish tray before dumping them into the trash.

Once it was cleaned up the two of them stood there in silence for a moment, before Taako turned and looked at him with an exhausted expression on his face. Angus slowly grinned back nervously.

“So, um, you never answered my question,” he said, and Taako groaned.

“Of course. Well, if you’re gonna just fucking throw it out there like that, no. I’m sure he’s a great dude but Taako ain’t really searching the market at the moment,” he said, which honestly wasn’t the answer Angus had expected. He figured Taako wouldn’t say yes straight out like that, but he didn’t think he’d claim to be completely uninterested either. Mostly he’d been anticipating denial.

“Really? Why not?” he asked, realizing immediately afterwards that that was probably rude. “I mean, it’s none of my business of course,” he added.

“Sure fucking ain’t,” Taako answered, moving past him out of the kitchen. Angus followed after him, and he just went to slump back down on the couch. It didn’t seem like he was going to say anymore than that for a bit, but Angus supposed the quiet got to him. “How old are you again?” he asked, which wasn’t quite the question he expected.

“Ten, almost eleven,” he answered, and Taako seemed to think it over.

“So like, you know what dating is, right?” he pressed, and at that Angus rolled his eyes.

“Yes sir, I’m not dumb,” he said, and Taako waved that off.

“Okay okay whatever. You’re a baby I don’t know what you know. If you really gotta have all the juicy details, ain’t got anything to do with your dad, alright? I was dating someone recently and it ended bad, so Taako’s taking some me time,” he explained. Angus’s shoulders slumped at that, suddenly feeling bad for prying.

“Oh, I’m sorry sir, I didn’t know,” he apologized, but at least Taako didn’t seem too upset over it.

“Eh, it’s chill. Better off now, for sure,” he said, and Angus nodded. That was good at least, but it did change things considerably. He definitely didn’t want to try and press things if Mr. Taako was coming out of a bad break up and needed time. His dad might’ve been right about leaving it all be for now.

“So, why you ask? Your dad uuuuh, say anything?” Taako pressed after a moment, clear interest thinly veiled under a mask of indifference. Angus couldn’t help but snort at that.

“Nothing directly sir,” he assured, because it would be bad to say his dad had said something when he’d been pretty clear to Angus about all of this. He wasn’t going to lie to make this happen, he was pretty sure that would blow up in his face. That's how it worked in all the books and movies at least.

“Right, right, yeah no of course,” Taako said quickly. “You want lunch yet?” he asked almost immediately afterwards, an obvious attempt at changing the subject. Angus figured it would be best to let it change for now, since he’d already pressed for more personal stuff than he’d intended.

“Sure, lunch sounds good,” he said. With that Taako got up and started messing around in the kitchen again, and Angus followed to sit at the counter and watch.

Well, he guessed if he didn’t find out anything else this weekend, that was still good enough for now. He had a much clearer understanding of the situation at least, and he could probably safely assume that nothing was going to happen for a while.

Which Angus was honestly fine with. He wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of everything changing so rapidly if they did start dating. It was kind of a relief knowing that both Taako and his dad would want to take things slow, if they happened at all.

Angus was still pretty sure they were going to. It was just nice knowing he’d have some time to adjust.

Chapter Text

Okay. Alright. So far, things had been pretty okay. At least as far as Taako could tell, nothing catastrophically bad had happened yet. Angus seemed to be a pretty low maintenance kid, despite being nosy as fuck. It wasn’t like Taako could pretend he wasn’t already aware of that though.

Still, a lot of the panic Taako may or may not have worked up had started going away once Angus was actually doing shit. Maybe it wasn’t a complete and utter mistake accepting this whole babysitter gig.

Sure, he doubt it would be worth it either, especially since he refused to let Kravitz properly pay him. Fuck knows what possessed him to make that decision, but after they’d dropped Angus off in the guest room to nap Kravitz had tried again to pay him. And like, normally Taako would have fucking snatched up that hunk of cash the dude had started pulling out of his wallet with a smile and a wink.

But instead he shoved it back at him and told Kravitz to get off to his job already, it was chill. All of this was chill. In the end he let Kravitz give him twenty dollars so they could buy pizza or something, just so he would stop insisting. Taako guessed he was a regular goddamn saint.

Or maybe he’d been too fucking tired to think straight. Since Kravitz had called him the night before and asked if he could watch Angus Taako had not stopped moving around, trying to get his apartment in some sort of working order. Sure, they’d been in there for like, a hot minute before, but this was different. Angus was going to stay the whole damn weekend with him.

No one could know he lived like this.

Most of the boxes and piles of assorted bullshit that he needed to really shift through had ended up in his room. As long as no one went into there it would be fine. He hadn’t managed to get nearly as many into his closet as he would have liked, but maybe this would at least motivate him to start fucking cleaning finally.

So far shit had been alright though, even when Angus got all nosy about his romantic life. He couldn’t say he didn’t see that one coming though, the kid wasn’t as subtle as he wanted to be with his hints. It was cute, even if Taako couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to set him up with someone they actually cared about. Kid was too young to notice how much of a disaster he was and how not equipped he was to be in any sort of serious relationship. That was the only logical explanation.

He seemed to get the picture now though, or at least understood ‘something bad happened and now I need time’ enough not to push it anymore.

Taako was making lunch for the two of them now. He could kind of tell that Angus wasn’t super hungry after the big breakfast, and honestly neither was he. Making food was the best change of topic Taako knew though, so he decided to go light and make them some chicken salad sandwiches. Not his favorite, but it would work. He already had some leftover chicken cooked he could use.

“So, what’s this big thing your dad’s gotta deal with at work? Seems like it’s been quite a shitshow,” Taako asked. He’d meant to try and pick some topic that didn’t revolve around Angus’s dad, but it wasn’t like there was anything going on in his own life. It felt redundant to ask about school when he was already the kid’s tutor.

“Oh, yeah there’s been a big issue with like, falsified documents and embezzling I guess? He won’t let me actually look into it too much myself, which is annoying but I guess it makes sense. It's technically confidential,” Angus said, and Taako snorted at that as he cranked some pepper into the chicken salad.

“Yeah, that something that interest you? You aiming to be like, a big time lawyer or something?” he asked, and Angus shrugged.

“I mean, maybe? I want to be a detective, but I suppose being a lawyer in court is like one real big ballroom scene, but with more arguing,” he said. Taako chuckled at that, although it made sense. That’s why the kid had wanted to watch a mystery movie. “What about you sir?” Angus asked after a moment, and Taako raised an eyebrow at that.

“Whatcha mean bubala? You asking me what I want to be when I grow up? Cause I’ve got some news for you concerning my age,” he said, and Angus rolled his eyes at that.

“I know you’re an adult, but when you mention your other job it doesn’t sound like you like it very much, and you said tutoring is new for you,” he said, and okay, that made more sense. Kid really was more perceptive than Taako remembered a lot of the time.

“Sometimes what job you end up with doesn’t really matter. Like, as long as you’re not fucking killing yourself over it, some people are chill collecting a paycheck and heading home to do what they actually want,” Taako said. Angus was just a kid, so he was trying not to be too hopeless capitalism is hell. “Tutoring hasn't been half bad so far though, you’re making that one pretty easy,” he added, Angus smiling at that.

“Well, what do you like to do when you get home then?” Angus pressed. Taako had finished putting together the chicken salad at this point and started making the sandwiches.

“You’re looking at it little man,” he said, gesturing down at the food.

“Why don’t you become a cook then? Your stuff is really good, you’d be great at it,” Angus said, and Taako managed to keep himself from rolling his eyes. Kid was just trying to help after all, probably thought that was all new advice Taako had never heard before.

“Sometimes shit just doesn’t work out,” he said, ending the conversation by pushing one of the sandwiches towards Angus. “What you want to do after eating?” he asked. Angus seemed to get the picture, letting the topic drop and thinking over the question as he ate.

“What are the options?” Angus asked after a moment.

“That is a good question,” Taako said, although he couldn’t blame Angus for asking that. He’d rather give the kid some things to choose from then Angus asking to do a bunch of shit that Taako had to turn down because he didn’t have it or he didn’t want to. “We could uh, could go somewhere. Not sure how your dad would feel about that though, didn’t get permission for any sort of field trips,” Taako started, and Angus seemed to think that one over.

“He probably wouldn’t be upset? Depending on where we go,” he said, which was fair enough.

“We’ll keep that one on the back burner. Let’s see, we could do another movie, but then we’re starting to get into a movie marathon territory. Since we just ate it’d be a waste of popcorn and candy,” he listed off, Angus nodding in agreement at that. “Definitely have some board games stashed around here somewhere… might take a while to find though,” he said, and Angus shrugged at that one.

“Finding them could be a part of the game,” he said, and Taako snorted at that.

“Yeah, a fun game called ‘figure out where the fuck Lup put all my shit packing in a blind rage over a year ago,’ sounds great,” he said, standing up from the counter. That didn’t seem to deter Angus any, who had finished his sandwich and sat up as well.

“Even when people are doing things fast they tend to have some sort of order to what they’re doing. Sometimes it's just not a real clear or strict one. It’s like a mystery, I’m sure we can figure it out,” he said with confidence, and yeah alright. Taako couldn’t really say no to that, especially if it would keep him occupied.

“Alright then, let’s try not to make too big of a mess here though. I just cleaned up,” he said. Angus nodded emphatically at that, giving him a big reassuring grin.

“Of course sir!” he said.

They did not end up keeping shit clean.

To be fair, that wasn’t entirely Angus’s fault. Kid was able to tell from a quick glance if a box was pretty unlikely to actually have board games in it, and would move onto the next one. Taako just wanted to be sure through, so he’d look through them anyway and take shit out and get distracted. There was a lot of junk he’d forgotten he’d owned in the time it’d been packed away.

They’d gotten through the boxes he’d had left in the kitchen, which Angus had deemed the least likely, and the ones he had left in the living room as well.

“We can check the ones in the guest room next. If it’s stuff you didn’t use a lot it would make sense that they would be in there,” Angus said. Taako looked up from where he was leaning deep over into a box, having to blow back some ribbon that had fallen into his face from the hat he’d found.

“Oh yeah, that makes sense. Got lots of shit in my room too, but let’s leave that one as a last resort,” he said. He’d rather grab boxes out of his room and bring them out for Angus to inspect than to make an even bigger mess in there.

“Sounds good Mr. Taako,” Angus said. Before he turned away to start going through the guest room Taako grabbed a large rainbow sun hat and threw it onto Angus’s head. He had to tip it pretty far back so that he could actually see.

“Why do you even have this hat?” he asked, looking up at the large sparkling brim.

“Because it’s fucking amazing?” Taako said. Angus shrugged but didn’t argue, didn't take it off either. This time Taako following him back to the guest room without any sort of delay. Looking through the first box, it was mostly clothes, also a sewing kit Taako had forgotten he owned. The second one actually got Angus to pause, starting to carefully look through the box.

“This one looks promising,” he said, and so Taako stopped looking through the sewing kit and headed over. Inside it looked like it was mostly a bunch of miscellaneous junk, but there were some books and game looking things.

“Oh hey, half a set of jenga,” Taako said, opening a small metal tin. “Wonder where the rest went,” he mused.

“There’s a bunch of blocks in here, I think they fell out,” Angus said. Taako started shifting through the stuff, grabbing as many little wooden blocks as he could and getting in Angus’s way. He’d grabbed some of the books that had been in there out and was looking them over.

“Did you use to play dungeons and dragons Mr. Taako?” Angus asked. Taako actually looked at what books those were exactly and huh, those were dnd shit.

“Kinda? My sister and her boy were real big into it for a while, they dragged me into a few games,” he said. Shit, that had been a while ago. Taako was pretty sure Lup and Barry still played on occasion, but definitely not as regularly as when they were all stupid teenagers.

“Can we play?” Angus asked, starting to flip through the beat up player’s handbook. Taako was pretty sure Barry had brought that for him so he would stop claiming to have racial features without any sort of backing.

“I mean, that’s a little more work than a board game my dude, and we’ve only got two people,” Taako said, frowning slightly. He was pretty sure Angus wasn’t trying to look disappointed, which only made the whole thing worse.

“Oh, that’s okay,” he said, still looking through the book, if a little slower now. Taako kept looking through the box, maybe he could find something else that he’d be interested in.

“If only I had clue or some shit, that seems like the kinda game you’d be into,” he said, and Angus grinned at that.

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be very fair though,” he said casually, and Taako snorted at that.

“Really now? You saying you’d wipe the floor with me?” he asked, and Angus had to push the over sized sun hat out of his face again when he nodded.

“Absolutely sir,” he said with confidence. Taako chuckled, continuing to look through the box. He had a broken connect four board with most of the pieces, a very inappropriate card game that he hid in another box while Angus was distracted, basically all the jenga pieces by this point. Finding a small tin, there was a set of cheap purple game dice inside, and Taako sighed.

“Yeah, fucking alright. Gimme a bit,”  Taako said, sitting back and pulling out his phone, googling ‘two person dnd oneshot.' There wasn’t a lot there, but he could work with this, make something real simple to entertain the kid for like an hour.

“Give you a bit for what?” Angus asked, and Taako motioned towards the book still in his lap.

“To finger out how to make a short game for two people. Here, make yourself a character cause I guess we’re fucking doing this,” he said, tossing Angus the tin of dice. The kid just managed to snatch it out of the air, a huge smile on his face now.

“Really?” he asked, and Taako nodded, not looking away from what he was reading. Honestly, he could improv most of this. He wasn’t going to put that much effort in, especially if they wanted to play sometime soon. “Do you have some paper I can use for a character sheet?” Angus asked, and Taako had to think about that for a moment.

“Yeah, there should be some paper in the like, hutch thing in the living room,” he said. As soon as he finished speaking Angus was up and running across the apartment. “Bring me some too!” he shouted after him, realizing it would probably be good if he could write some of this shit out.

“Found some pens in there too,” Angus said as he came back into the room, placing a handful of colorful pens and some slightly crinkled paper onto the floor. Taako grabbed a pink pen and a piece of paper, and then a purple pen when the pink one turned out to be totally illegible. Angus had grabbed the book and some supplies and moved a little ways away. He had his phone out too, probably looking up what a character sheet was actually supposed to look like.

Character creation alone had ended up keeping Angus occupied for nearly an hour. Taako didn’t even have to help too much. In fact Angus seemed totally absorbed in it, only really acknowledging him to ask things like what level should he be starting out at and if it was okay if he took feats.

Taako told him sure why not, and they settled on level 3. Angus had never played before, but also Taako didn’t want to instantly kill a level one player because he couldn’t remember how shit actually balanced.

Taako was basically done with figuring shit out on his side after like, ten minutes, but that was because he was winging most of this. He used the spare time to draw a map. Although he briefly considered using a candyland board just because they had it.

“Okay, I think I’m done,” Angus said finally, and at that point Taako had also made a separate final map for the boss fight out of boredom.

“Hell yeah, tell me what you got there pumpkin,” Taako said, folding up the single piece of paper with some notes on it up so Angus couldn’t see. It was mostly stats for some easy monsters he found online, everything else he’d figure out as he went.

“He’s a tiefling rogue named Kaylis, and it said at third level I get to pick an archetype. I wanted to do the arcane trickster one but I thought picking out spells might take too long, so he’s an assassin instead. He’s got the criminal background and a couple spells because of his race I think? Those are already picked out though,” he said. Taako nodded along, and honestly even if something was super off he wasn’t gonna be sticking harsh to the rules here.

“Sounds good Ango. We don’t got tokens or shit, grab a couple of game pieces out of the box and we’ll make due. Only got the one set of dice too, but we’ll make it work,” he said. Angus quickly dug through the box, picking out a candyland piece for his character. Taako mostly used miscellaneous chess and checker pieces for the monsters and any random landmarks or NPCs he decided to make up on the fly.

The whole thing actually ended up going better than Taako expected. There was definitely some fast and loose playing. Despite being his first time Angus was better at sticking to the rules than Taako was. Kid seemed pretty nervous about getting into character, but if Taako was playing dungeons and dragons he was going to fucking play dungeons and dragons, character voices included. Angus loosened up after a bit, especially after some of Taako’s more ridiculous character voices.

Despite being not planned in the slightest though it worked. There wasn’t much of a story, his character was hired to help save a some dude’s kid who’d been taken and locked in a dungeon. He decided that all the doors were locked since Angus was playing a rogue. There were a lot of really convenient healing potions found after battles.

It also ended up taking a lot longer than Taako expected. By the time they finished the final battle, a fight with a sentient death dog because shit was more interesting if Taako could have him talk, it was dark outside. Taako stretched his arms way up above his head, several loud satisfying cracks sounding in his back.

“Fuck my back is killing me, is it really already past seven? Hey, you good with doing the pizza tonight?” Taako asked, and Angus quickly nodded, playing with the dice some more.

“Yeah that’s fine. Thanks so much for playing with me sir, that was really fun,” he said. Taako shrugged before pushing himself up off the floor with a groan.

“A nerd like you would like that game,” Taako said. Angus rolled his eyes, starting to gather up all the papers and such. He’d long since taken the giant sun hat off, which was now hooked on the bedpost behind them.

“They’re your books sir, and you’re the one who kept insisting on voices,” Angus said.

“Hey, I’m just saying if you’re gonna do something fucking commit. I demand to be whisked away to a fantasy land of magic and intrigue when playing dungeons and dragons or what is even the fucking point,” he said. Pulling open the pizza app on his phone, he quickly started ordering something. “What you like on your pizza?”

“Just cheese is fine, or pepperoni,” he said.

“Ha, basic,” Taako answered, putting in an order for half cheese, quarter pepperoni, and a quarter white spinach. Angus rolled his eyes heavily at that.

“Where should I put everything? Just back in the box?” Angus asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, I need more like, shelves and shit if I’m ever gonna unpack everything for real,” he said. Angus was rolling the dice around in his hands some, seeming reluctantly to put them away. “You can keep those if you want,” Taako added. Angus looked up in surprise, pretty obvious that he hadn’t realized Taako was watching him.

“Oh no Mr. Taako, it’s fine. They’re yours,” he said, but Taako waved that away.

“I haven’t played this junk in years, forgot I even had em. If Lup and Barold end up ever dragging me back in I’ll just buy some more. I’m an adult now I can buy those fucking, gemstone ones if I want,” he said. Angus seemed to hesitate for only a few seconds longer before smiling brightly and putting them back in the little tin.

“Thank you Taako! I really really appreciate it!” he said. Angus took the dice and also the folded up piece of paper for his character sheet and stuffed them both into his bag.

“Don’t mention it,” Taako said. “Pizza should be here in like twenty,” he added, heading out of the room. His face fell the slightest bit when he saw the state the rest of the apartment was in. Yeah, yikes. They’d have to clean all of this up before his dad came to pick him up tomorrow night.

Taako was thankful for the large pizza by the time it arrived, even if it was only the two of them. He was real hungry. Angus refused to try any of the spinach pizza but that meant more for Taako. He also stole a slice or two of the cheese, since it wasn’t like the kid could eat all that by himself anyway.

“Whatcha doing?” Taako asked when Angus had pulled his phone out while they were eating.

“Letting my dad know everything’s good. He tries to pretend he isn’t worried a lot but he is,” Angus said, and Taako snorted at that.

“Hey, worrying is good, means he cares,” Taako said, and Angus just nodded.

“He says he’s glad I’m having fun and to tell Mr. Taako thanks again,” he said. Taako rolled his eyes at that, having to give up on finishing that last bit of pizza crust as he leaned back.

“Man, you two say thank you too goddamn much. You act like I saved a kidnapped child from some fucking, two headed devil dog,” Taako joked, and that got a grin out of Angus.

“No, I did that,” he said.

“Pretty sure that was Karlus.”

“Kaylis,” Angus corrected, and Taako waved him off.

“Close enough,” he said. Angus had finished eating his pizza a while ago and looked like he was starting to struggle to hold back some yawns. “So, I should probably remember this since I’m your tutor, but you got homework this weekend?” he asked. Angus nodded, not looking super thrilled by the subject.

“Yeah, we had that history packet we were working on on Friday, remember? And I’ve got some math,” he said, and Taako nodded.

“Right, right it’s coming back to me now. Let’s make sure to finish all that up tomorrow before your dad comes to pick you up, alright?” he asked, and Angus nodded. He seemed relieved to realize Taako wasn’t about to make him start work on any of it now.

“That sounds good sir,” he said. Taako leaned back in the couch more, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table and being careful not to hit the pizza box. There was enough leftovers that they could probably have some for lunch tomorrow. Grabbing the remote, he turned the TV on and started flipping channels.

“So, what now? Cause I’ll tell you what, I’m good to chill and watch some mindless tele. You like game shows?” he asked, and Angus nodded.

“Game shows are fun,” Angus said, placing his empty plate down on the pizza box and curling up on the other end of the couch. Taako quickly flipped through until he found what he was looking for.

“Cool, cutthroat kitchen it is then,” he said. Angus snorted at that but didn’t argue. Taako made comments as they watched, and Angus would chime in here and there. They managed to get through two episodes before Angus’s contributions were starting to taper off, and when Taako glanced over at the end of the second his eyes were closed.

“Hey pumpkin, looks like it’s about time to hit the hay,” Taako said. Angus’s eyes flicked open, and he wasn’t quite able to catch his yawn in time enough to stop it. He nodded after a moment, uncurling himself from where he was sitting.

“Yeah, thanks for hanging out with me all day. It was really fun,” he said, and Taako brushed it off.

“Not like I had anything better to do,” he said, which was pretty much true. “Now get lost, you look asleep on your feet,” he said, and Angus giggled a little at that.

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Goodnight Mr. Taako,” he said, starting off to the guest room.

“G’night,” Taako said back, starting up another episode of cutthroat kitchen, but turning the volume down some just in case. His walls were pretty damn well thin. Not that he doubted it would actually keep Angus up, he was falling asleep on the couch after all.

Angus woke up a lot earlier on Sunday, which made sense since it’d barely been past nine when he’d stumbled off to bed. Taako made breakfast quite a bit simpler, just the best fucking scrambled eggs the kid had ever had and a bagel. He didn’t quite feel the need to panic bake as he’d been the day before, plus he was tired.

“So, you wanna get your homework out of the way first so it ain’t looming over us the rest of the day?” Taako asked while they ate. Angus didn’t look super happy with that suggestion, but nodded none the less.

“Yeah okay, I guess that makes sense,” he said. Taako figured that would take like an hour or two at most, although it was still pretty early morning and his dad wasn’t coming until eight. Well, they managed to fill up yesterday pretty easily, hopefully today wouldn’t be too bad either.

They started with the history packet, since Angus was already mostly done with it and seemed to have a handle on it by now. Taako sat on the couch with him in case he needed help, although the most Angus needed was for him to check his work every now and then. For the history one at least.

Angus had finished the history packet and was starting on his math set when Taako felt his phone buzz in his pocket.

‘Were heading to the store, want us to swing by?’ a text from Lup read. Which, yeah Taako hadn’t actually gotten around to telling anyone what he was doing this weekend. He'd been hoping that if he ignored everything and everyone it just wouldn't come up.

‘Nah, busy today. Ill run up after work or something’ he sent back. He hoped that she wouldn’t question it, but he knew he should know better than that by now.

‘Thought you were off this weekend?’ she asked, and yep. That’s what he figured.

‘I can be busy with shit other than work lulu’ he said.

‘Like what?’ came her reply almost immediately. Before Taako could think of some reason to give her that wouldn’t be a total lie Angus spoke up.

“Um, sir? I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do from here,” he said. Glancing back up, Angus looked stuck about halfway through some algebra problem. He still didn’t know how a kid so young had gotten into algebra, but he was smart.

“Yeah okay, lemme see,” Taako said, taking the text book from him to see what the problem was. It’d been a while since he’d done this kind of math, and some of the steps were a bit different from what he remembered, but it didn’t take him too long to figure out and then help Angus through the rest of the problem.

You’d think he took several hours on it though, from the accumulation of texts by the time he was able to look back at his phone.

‘Secret secrets are no fun koko’

‘You know I just worry about you’

‘Wow its really taking you a while to come up with something this time aint it’

‘If you dont respond barry and I are heading over’

‘Too late were on our way’

Luckily that last one had only been sent a minute ago, and Taako frantically started typing back.

‘Holy shit I was gone *five minutes*’

‘Oh good youre alive’

‘Yes Im alive I told you im busy’

‘Dont come over seriously’

‘Well now I gotta’ she sent, and Taako knew that if he didn't give her a legitimate reason there would be a very upset and concerned twin barging into his apartment in the next fifteen minutes.

‘Fucking fine, I have a student over, happy?’ he sent. Might as well rip the band aid off so that he didn’t actually have Lup and Barry coming over and Kravitz thinking that he was inviting people over while he was watching his kid.

‘A student?’

‘Remember the tutoring gig? It kinda turned into a babysitting gig and now im stuck watching the kid this weekend. I specifically told the dad I wouldnt be throwing any wild parties so you and barold can chill out’

‘Aw, ko thats real sweet’ Lup said, and Taako rolled his eyes. Of course she would find this cute.

‘Im ignoring you now’

‘Love you bro <3'

“Everything okay sir?” Angus asked, and Taako quickly put his phone away again and nodded.

“Yeah for sure, why you ask?” he asked, even though he was a pretty good idea on that one.

“You looked kinda annoyed while you were talking to whoever that was,” he said, and yeah, that made sense.

“Oh yeah no it cool. My sister decided now was a good time to be a distraction, should be done though,” he said, and Angus seemed relieved at that. “How’s that next problem coming along?” he asked, and Angus turned back towards his paper.

“Good, I think I got it now? Could you check to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong?” he asked and Taako nodded, looking it over. That for sure wasn’t going to be the last he heard of all this from Lup, but he could deal with that later.

Right now, he was just going to try and have a fun rest of his weekend.

Chapter Text

All things told, spending the whole weekend at work had been worth it. It had been frustrating, and he’d only gotten a few scattered hours of sleep at his desk. But between himself, his mother, and a few other people they had been very thorough in knowing they could trust, they managed to narrow it down.

More than narrowed it down, they managed to track exactly where the funds were going and who had been channeling them. They had their proof, and now all that was left was actually confronting him and having him arrested.

They’d yet to say anything to Lucas yet. They were trying to keep it as down low as possible from him, so that he wouldn’t catch word and run before they managed to arrest him. Luckily, they had everything set for the police to already be there by the time he came in to work on Monday. It should hopefully be a pretty easy clean up after the frantic hassle of everything they’d had to do to actually figure out it was him.

It was going to be all kinds of hell finding someone to replace him though. Kravitz had to force himself not to let his head fall down onto the steering wheel at the thought. That would be a bad thing to do while driving. Maybe he could indulge in it like some overworked tv drama character who’d just made a life altering decision once he parked.

Or he could not, like a regular goddamn adult.

It turned out steering wheels weren’t the softest surface to rest your forehead on, and it was important to be careful about where the head hit so that one didn’t accidentally blare the goddamn horn. Not the worst thing to slump onto dramatically though, far from it.

Checking the time, Kravitz figured it was close enough to when he told Angus and Taako that he was going to be able to stop by. He actually managed about half an hour early, but there was no reason not to go up and free them sooner rather than later.

Heading up to Taako’s apartment, he didn’t have to wait long for the door to open once he knocked. Kravitz hadn’t realized how worried he’d been until he saw Angus smiling up at him, having thrown open the door in excitement. He’d only gotten a few small updates here and there, all positive sounding. He hadn’t thought anything would go horribly wrong, but he also hadn’t known Taako very long or all that well yet. From the look on Angus's face though, it seemed like there had never been much of a reason to worry.

“You’re here early!” Angus said, and Kravitz nodded, a smile quickly forming on his face despite how tired he was.

“I am, we managed to wrap everything up a bit faster than I expected,” he said, ruffling Angus’s hair. He could see Taako now, having sat up from a stool he’d been sitting on at the kitchen counter and walking over. He was wearing his hair down, and had on a comfy looking jumper outfit. Kravitz didn't let his eyes linger long, because that would be weird. “How was everything?” he asked instead, turning back to look down at Angus.

“Good! Mr. Taako made food and we watched movies and he played d&d with me and gave me some- oh wait, lemme go get them!” Angus said, jumping away and rushing back towards the guest room. As Kravitz’s sight followed him he noticed that the apartment was in a much larger state of mess than when he had dropped Angus off at the start of the weekend.

“He wasn’t too much of a handful, was he?” he asked. Taako had been watching Angus run off with a look of amusement on his face, and seemed surprised by the question.

“Huh? What, no. No man, it was chill. That’s a good fucking kid you got there,” he said, and he sounded pretty genuine about it. Kravitz couldn’t help but relax some at that, his smile widening again when Angus came running back in.

“Mr. Taako gave me some dice! Look,” he said, holding up a handful of purple dice. Kravitz blinked in surprise at that, quickly looking them over.

“Those are very pretty Angus, did you say thank you?” he asked. Angus nodded and started to speak, but before he could get a word out Taako cut in.

“Like a million goddamn times, don’t you worry about that. I finally got him to stop thanking me,” he said, some exaggerated annoyance to his voice. Kravitz couldn’t help but smile at that, patting Angus on the head again as he pulled his hand back and put the dice in his pocket.

“Well I’m glad you had fun Angus, are you ready to head home? I don’t want to abuse Mr. Taako’s hospitality anymore than we already have,” he said. Angus nodded, and Kravitz supposed it was a good thing that he actually looked a bit disappointed at leaving right away. That meant he’d definitely had a good time here, and that maybe if they were ever in another crisis he could consider Taako as a backup again.

“Oh yeah, I can go put everything away real quick,” Angus said. Before he could run off again Taako started waving a hand like he was trying to brush away their concerns.

“Please, you all don’t have to rush out or whatever, it’s not like I’m doing anything else anyway. If you want to chill a minute it’s fine,” he said. Kravitz tried to smile politely at that, but he figured Taako was only trying to be nice and would greatly appreciate his alone time once they were both gone.

“I appreciate it, but really we can-” he started to say, but before he could finish Taako cut him off.

“When was the last time you ate businessman?” he asked, and Kravitz blinked in confusion.

“Last time I ate what?” he asked, and he’d been trying to ignore the absolutely wonderful smell coming from the apartment. Angus had mentioned Taako cooking, and he remembered how those cookies had tasted. Whatever he made had probably been so much better than the microwaved burrito Kravitz was planning on eating once he got home.

“When was the last time you ate, dog? I’m just calling you businessman because of the whole suit and tie get up and the fact that you apparently just spent like 48 hours in a cubical,” Taako explained. It still took a few seconds longer for it to click in Kravitz's head than it should have, and he guessed Taako must have realized that because he started snickering. “Holy shit you must be tired.”

“Very. It’s been a long weekend,” he admitted sheepishly. Taako nodded, not seeming surprised by that.

“We just finished eating, shit’s still warm even. Grab some before you go or whatever,” he offered, and Kravitz quickly started shaking his head.

“Oh no, I don’t want to impose any more than-” he started, but Angus had grabbed a hold of his arm and was dragging him fully into the apartment now.

“It’s real good dad! Mr. Taako’s a great cook and he let me help!” he said, and Kravitz couldn’t help but smile at that.

“I mean, I suppose if you insist,” he relented, because he couldn't refuse to eat something Angus had worked on. Maybe he could have tried more, but Kravitz couldn’t bring himself about feeling too bad about this, because he honestly was starving. Before he knew what was happening Taako had shoved a bowl and a drink into his hands.

“Chicken and dumplings, that cool?” he asked and Kravitz quickly nodded.

“Yes of course, that’s fine,” he said. Angus had moved over to go sit on one of the stools at the counter, and Kravitz was unsure if he should do the same or continue to stand there awkwardly. He at least walked over so he was standing by the counter and could put his cup down before tasting the stew. Taako was right about it still being warm, and Kravitz had to resist the urge to shove as much of it into his mouth as fast as possible after that initial taste.

“This tastes incredible,” he said, Taako nodding and looking over his nails like he wasn’t paying attention.

“Oh yeah, natch,” he said, and Kravitz was pretty sure he  was trying a little too hard to look like he didn’t care. Instead of pressing it he turned over towards Angus.

“You helped with this?” he asked, and Angus nodded, smiling brightly.

“Yep! Only really with mixing and adding ingredients though,” he said. Kravitz had never considering cooking being a thing Angus might be interested in, mainly because he didn’t have much of an idea what to do in a kitchen himself. Maybe he could ask Istus to bake with Angus some time he this turned out to be a legitimate interest of his.

“You know you’re allowed to sit my dude,” Taako said after a moment, clear amusement to his voice. Kravitz tried not to look too embarrassed as he nodded, heading over and sitting down on the stool next to Angus. Instead of pulling another chair over, Taako pulled himself up to sit on the counter. Which was just… the slightest bit distracting.

“So, you said you guys played DnD? I didn’t know you could do that with two people,” he said, and Angus quickly nodded.

“Yeah! We were kinda making up some of the rules we we went I guess, but it was still real fun,” he said, and Kravitz supposed that made sense. He was pretty surprised that it was something Taako knew enough about to indulge Angus with at all. Kravitz could remember being interested in high school but never having enough people around to play with.

“Mr. Taako does sound really fun voices when he DMs,” Angus added. Kravitz glanced over at the man, raising his eyebrows as he quickly swallowed the spoonful of dumplings in his mouth. He could see a look of embarrassment on Taako’s face, the tips of his ears turning a bright red.

It was adorable, and Kravitz was a bit too tired to fight back the grin that started stretching across his face at that.

“Does he now?” he asked, and Taako huffed, shrugging and trying to look like it wasn’t a thing.

“I mean, listen, if you’re gonna stoop so low as to play dungeons and dragons you gotta fucking own that shit and go all in,” he said, and Kravitz nodded like that was all completely reasonable, which he supposed it was.

“I’d love to hear a sample sometime,” he said, and Taako was avoiding eye contact with him now. Angus was snickering next to him, obviously trying to hold back his laughter and failing.

“You’re gonna have to do a lot more than that if you want dinner and a show bubala,” he said.

“That’s fair,” he relented. “Maybe next time then,” he added, the words coming out before he could think about them. He really was tired, he didn’t know why he had said that. It was dumb of him to imply that there would be a next time. Hell, he was lucky enough that Taako hadn't turned down the request this time and left him in the lurch with no one to watch Angus.

To his surprise Taako didn’t look offended or annoyed or anything like that. Instead he snorted in amusement, looking somewhat less embarrassed now.

“Maybe,” he said, and Kravitz wasn’t sure what to say to that so he just shoved some more food into his mouth. Which to be fair, it was very good food. It didn’t take him much longer to finish the bowl, and god, he really did need that. He hadn’t even realized how much he needed that, having worked right through the hunger. He had about half a bag of potato ships and a shitty sandwich his mother had insisted he eat at around one and nothing else.

“Thank you for that, it was- it was absolutely delicious,” Kravitz said. Taako grinned at that, seeming very pleased by the praise.

“Yeah, it’s a gift,” he said, pushing himself off the counter. Kravitz glanced down at Angus, kind of surprised he’d been quiet throughout all of this. He had his head resting down on his arms on the counter, and it looked like it was taking him quiet a bit of effort to keep his eyes open. Kravitz felt a soft smile spread onto his face at the sight.

“Well, we really do appreciate your hospitality but we should probably be heading home now,” he said, and Taako grinned.

“Oh yeah, I’ll go grab the kid’s junk,” he said, heading back into the guest room. Angus pushed himself up so that he was no longer resting down, looking like he was pushing himself to be more awake.

“Okay, I’m pretty sure this is all the kid’s junk. You put your homework away, right?” Taako asked as he came back into the room, carrying Angus’s bags. Angus nodded, and Kravitz felt a little relieved at hearing that. He supposed it made sense that they managed to finish his homework, since Taako was his tutor, but it was still good to hear.

“Thanks for letting me stay with you this weekend Mr. Taako, it was really fun. Maybe we can do it again sometime?” Angus said once Taako had handed the bags to Kravitz, who slung them over his shoulder. Kravitz saw Taako glance over at him somewhat unsure at that, before patting Angus’s head and nudging him towards the door.

“Maybe bubala. We’ll see how your dad feels about that,” Taako said, and Kravitz wasn’t surprised when Angus immediately turned to him.

“You’d be okay with it, right?” he asked, and Kravitz smiled, starting to lead Angus out of the apartment.

“I’m sure Mr. Taako’s very busy. Maybe if he ever has some free time,” he said, not wanting to lock Taako into having to watch his kid again. He didn’t want to completely shut it down either though, since Angus did seem to have such a good time. “Either way, it’s starting to get late, so we can talk about this some other time when we're all a little more awake,” he said, and Angus seemed to relent some at that.

“Yeah, time for everyone to go home and pass the fuc- pass the hell out,” Taako said, standing in the doorway now. “You sure you got everything pumpkin?” he asked again, and Angus nodded.

“Yep! But if you find anything I’ll see you tomorrow in tutoring,” he added. Taako nodded, looking a little relieved at that reminder.

“Thanks again, are you sure I can’t-” Kravitz started to ask, hand moving to his pocket for his wallet. He couldn’t say he was surprised by this point when Taako started shaking his head before he could even finish the offer.

“How many times do I gotta tell you don’t even worry about it? Now both of you get lost, cha’ boy needs his beauty sleep,” Taako said.

“I mean, you seem to make due pretty spectacularly without it,”  Kravitz said, his mouth once again betraying him. Kravitz wanted to hide, get a big feathered cloak he could throw over his head like a bird and pretend the rest of the world wasn’t there. He expected some witty retort from Taako, but instead he was staring back at him in surprise, his face getting steadily redder with embarrassment.

“Well goodbye Mr. Taako see you tomorrow!” Angus said, definitely a little bit louder than he needed to as he grabbed Kravitz’s hand and started dragging him away.

“Yep, that’s- bye,” Taako said, and Kravitz could hear the door to his apartment shut behind them. Kravitz hoped that if he pretended that never happened Taako would too and no one would have to address it ever again. It was quiet as he and Angus walked down several flights of stairs down to the main floor. Thankfully it wasn’t very far to his car from there.

“You’re not very good at flirting, dad,” Angus said suddenly, and Kravitz felt himself choke on his next breath.

“That’s not- I wasn’t flirting Angus,” Kravitz insisted. At least, he hadn’t intentionally been trying to flirt. He wasn’t sure what the fuck had possessed him to say those things.

He was very tired, and had ate a lot of the best food he’d had in months, and Taako was an unfairly beautiful person.

“Uhuh, sure,” Angus said as he got into the passenger seat of the car, not sounding like he believed him for a second. Kravitz quickly put his bags in the back seat before getting in as well. “So, how did the investigation go?” he asked once Kravitz had started the car. He was kind of surprised for the shift in topic, expect he knew Angus had been very invested in the issues at work.

“Good, really good. We know without a doubt who’s responsible now, and we have proof for it too,” he said. Whatever tiredness had been tugging at Angus before was gone now, the boy wide eyed as he leaned towards him over the middle console.

“Really? Who was it? How did you manage to prove it? Have they been arrested yet?” he asked rapid fire.

“I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to give the name yet, since we haven’t arrested them yet. We have contacted the police and they’re going to be there to intercept him when he comes into work tomorrow,” Kravitz explained. Angus sat back in his chair some, seeming to think that over. Kravitz wasn’t sure what exactly he was thinking over, but it was something clearly.

“So it’s a he,” he muttered, and Kravitz snorted, turning a corner. Of course he was still trying to guess who it was on his own. “Is it Mr. Miller? I never liked him very much,” he said, and Kravitz was glad they were stopped at a red light because his head whipped towards Angus.

“That’s not- I mean, I really shouldn’t confirm,” he said. He knew Angus could tell he was right though, especially from the smile that started to spread across his face.

“I knew it! He was one of my main suspects,” he said, and Kravitz shook his head before starting to drive forward again as the light changed.

“He was one of ours too. We just had to find enough proof,” he said, and he could almost feel Angus bouncing in excitement next to him. They weren’t too far from the house now, and Kravitz was glad for that. He really was starting to get tired. The food had woken him up a bit, but now that it was starting to settle in his stomach he just wanted to take a long nap.

“You said you’re having the police come in and arrest him tomorrow?” Angus asked, and Kravitz nodded.

“Yes, hopefully it won’t be too much of an issue. I don’t imagine him trying to run once he’s caught, but you never know,” Kravitz said. He really wasn’t looking forward to it if he was being honest. Lucas wasn’t his favorite person in the office, far from it, but he’d still known the man for a while, and the whole situation was unfortunate and messy. He wasn’t sure if it was more relief or annoyance knowing that because of Lucas’s family name and connections, he probably wouldn’t end up facing any serious jail time.

He was very much losing his job though. So as long as he wasn’t Kravitz’s problem anymore he supposed he couldn’t really complain.

“Can I come?” Angus asked suddenly, and Kravitz blinked in confusion as they pulled into the driveway. He’d kind of gotten lost in thought there and wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Can you come where?” he asked, grabbing Angus’s bags out of the backseat.

“With you to work tomorrow. I want to see the arrest,” Angus insisted like it was obvious. Kravitz supposed it was, but he still shook his head as he unlocked their front door.

“Absolutely not. I know you’re interested in these things but I assure you it’s not going to be fun. I’m sure Lucas will come in without any trouble, he’s a mostly sensible man,” he said, and Angus was pouting.

“That’s fine! I don’t need to watch a shoot out or something, I don’t care if it’s boring,” he said, but Kravitz wasn’t swayed.

“You have school tomorrow, Lucas is coming in around eleven. I’m not having you miss most of the day for five minutes,” he said, and he felt bad about how disappointed Angus looked, but he was finally starting to do better in school. Kravitz didn’t want to ruin that by having him miss a day for something like this. He honestly didn’t even want to be there himself, but he wasn’t going to let his mother deal with all the nitty-gritty of this by herself.

“But-” Angus started, but Kravitz didn’t let him finish.

“I’m not changing my mind on this. I promise you’re not missing anything, I’ll tell you all about when I pick you up tomorrow, alright?” he said. Angus looked like he wanted to keep arguing, but reluctantly nodded.

“Fine, I guess so,” he grumbled. Kravitz started carrying his bags over to Angus’s room, his son following along after him.

“So, you really had fun at Mr. Taako’s?” he asked as he dropped Angus’s bag down on the foot of his bed, hoping to change the subject. Angus nodded, looking a bit happier at the new topic.

“Yeah, he’s really nice, even if he tries to pretend like he’s not,” he said, and Kravitz felt himself smile some at that.

“I’m glad you had a good time,” he said, and he really was. This whole experience with tutoring and Taako seemed to be doing a lot of good for him, and Kravitz couldn’t be anything but thankful for that.

Kravitz went to say something else but he was cut off by a loud yawn, quickly having to cover his mouth and take a moment before he could speak again. When he managed to blink his eyes open again Angus was looking at him in amusement.

“I’m sorry. I think I’m going to head off to bed now. I know it’s still pretty early so if you want to stay up a bit longer that’s fine. Just make sure not to stay up too late, you’ve got school tomorrow,” he said. Angus nodded, and to be fair he was also starting to look a bit tired.

“I’ll probably get to sleep soon too, go rest dad,” he said, and Kravitz nodded, reaching over and pulling Angus into a quick side hug.

“I’m glad you had a good weekend dear, goodnight,” he said, and Angus hugged him back.

“Thanks, goodnight dad,” he said. With that Kravitz closed the door to Angus’s room, quickly heading to his own. He barely managed to force himself to change out of his work clothes before collapsing down into his bed.

At least this was all over with now. Things could start to move on normal again. The only hiccup would be finding someone to replace Lucas, but even that shouldn’t take too long. He was too tired to worry about that right now anyway, or worry about anything, really.

It didn’t take long for Kravitz to fall asleep once his head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that he really was tired from spending the whole weekend at Mr. Taako’s, it took Angus quite a bit longer to fall asleep that night than it should have.

He knew his dad had shut down the idea of Angus coming into work with him. He also knew he should listen to his dad, because he was just looking out for what was best for him. School was important, and he really did try not to miss days when he could help it. He had tutoring tomorrow too, and a part of him would be pretty sad to miss that. He never expected to like tutoring as much as he did when he started it, but it felt like it was helping and he liked Mr. Taako a lot.

But he really wanted to see how everything went down at his dad’s work. He didn’t get to be involved in anything else with this whole investigation and this was the last thing and he didn’t want to miss it. He’d had super good attendance so far this year too, since he’d been falling behind he’d tried not to miss as much as possible. He was doing better now too! He could afford to miss one day.

Angus knew his dad wouldn’t listen to his arguments though. It wasn’t that his dad never listened to him or anything like that, he just clearly hadn’t approved of this idea, and Angus didn't have the time to convince him otherwise.

So that should have been the end of it. Angus knew his dad wouldn’t let him, and there was little he could do to change his mind.

But the thought refused to leave his mind. He ended up tossing and turning most of the night, because he knew it was a bad idea. There was no way he wouldn’t get in a lot of trouble, and he’d deserve it because he's not supposed to skip school and his dad said no to begin with.

He couldn’t get in trouble if he wasn’t caught though. His dad had said that Lucas was scheduled to come in at 11. The office was a pretty good distance from his school, and Angus had never walked there before. Still, he should have plenty of time to get back to school before his dad noticed. If he was fast enough he could get back in time for tutoring too so Mr. Taako couldn’t tell anyone he’d been out either.

Sure, there was still the absence in his classes he’d have to deal with, but if his dad was busy enough with the fall out of everything at work it was entirely possible he might not notice. Or not notice until a lot later, and think it was a mistake or something.

It wasn’t the best plan, but Angus found himself more and more tempted by it as he lay in bed, until eventually sleep found him.

When his dad woke him up for school bright and early in the morning, Angus had resolved to do it. It was just one day. He wouldn’t even go inside the office, he would only watch from outside. Maybe ask the police a few questions to find out the things Lucas was going to have to do now.

He tried to not show any signs of suspicion, going through with their normal routine of getting ready for school. That wasn’t super hard, because he was very tired and spent most of the time sitting on the couch struggling to keep his eyes open as his dad packed his lunch and kept asking to make sure he had everything.

“You’re sure I can’t come with you to work instead?” Angus asked as his dad handed him his lunch bag. He pretty much already knew the answer, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. It’d be a lot easier if his dad decided to let him come along of his own accord instead after all.

“I’m sure. If you still want later maybe I can bring you in during some long weekend, alright?” his dad offered. Angus shrugged, and his dad seemed to take that as good enough. “You have your homework?” he asked, and Angus nodded, slowing slinging his bookbag onto his back.

“Yeah,” he said, and with that he started following his dad out to the car. He made sure to pat his pocket to be sure his cell phone was in there, because that would be important later. The ride to school was quiet, the radio playing softly. That’s how it was most days though, Angus usually too tired for much in depth conversation. His dad seemed a bit more awake this morning than normal, but he’d gone to sleep much earlier than he usually did so that made sense.

As they pulled up to school Angus felt a pit of nerves in his stomach. Maybe this was a bad idea. No, he knew this was a bad idea. It wasn’t making him want to do it any less though, despite how worried he was of something going wrong.

“Have a good day at school Angus, I’ll pick you up after tutoring,” his dad said, knocking him out of his thoughts. Hopefully it looked like he’d been jolted awake a little and not anything else. That wouldn’t be too uncommon, sometimes Angus stayed up a lot later than he should have after getting wrapped up in some book.

“Okay, later dad,” he said, opening the car door and starting to climb out, turning back to grab his lunch box as well.

“Love you Angus,” his dad added.

“Love you too,” Angus replied before shutting the door and heading into the school. It was a lot less suspicious if he went inside, and when he glanced back behind him he saw his dad’s car pull away.

Once he was inside Angus didn’t head to his first period class. The first bell hadn’t rung yet, so there were still plenty of students milling about the hallways. Angus headed towards the end of one long hallway, and thankfully there weren’t a lot of people in this one, mostly other students. People tended not to look twice at him, since he didn’t ever get in trouble for misbehaving. Also because he didn’t have that many friends, especially after skipping a grade.

Right now he used that to his advantage. Opening the door at the end of the hall, he slipped out one of the side entrances of the school without any problems. It was almost scarily easy, and there weren’t any administrators on this side of the school watching for students. It was no problem for Angus to wait until the street was clear and rush over to the other side, not paying much attention to if he was heading in the right direction for now, just wanting to get away before anyone spotted him.

Angus slowed down once he was a few streets away and pretty certain he wasn’t in danger of getting caught anymore. Pulling out his phone, he quickly pulled up the maps function and put in the address for his dad’s work. He frowned slightly at the time it said it would take to walk there, almost two hours. He hadn’t thought it would be that long, but it was a good twenty minute drive, and some of it was on highway.

Well, it would still give him plenty of time to get there and back, so Angus found the right direction he needed to go and started walking.

At first it was nice. It was a cool day out so he wasn’t getting super hot as he walked, and a lot of this section was through neighborhoods, so he was alone for the most part. He’d shoved his lunch box into his bookbag so he wouldn’t have to carry it, and he’d look down at his phone every so often for directions.

He felt like he wasn’t going as fast as the maps app thought he would, but he guessed it was going off adults walking speed and not little boys. After maybe thirty minutes though he found himself leaving the neighborhoods he was in, instead walking along a busy street. Thankfully it wasn’t taking him right along the highway, he wasn’t sure he’d feel safe walking there. This way would take longer to walk though, but he guessed it was worth it.

The walk so far had been quiet, no one else around other than the cars speeding by, but every so often now he was passing other people. He saw adults glance at him in confusion, but no one had bothered to question him yet.

Glancing down at his phone, it was already past 9 o’clock. He still had plenty of time to get to his dad’s work, but he’d completely missed his first period class. He was too far in it to back out now without someone definitely noticing.

Slowly the busy road he was on gave way to a market place and shopping centers, this area starting to get more crowded with people. Angus kept his head down, doing his best not to gather attention to himself. The last thing he wanted was for someone to ask him where his parents were or why he wasn’t in school.

He’d been walking for about an hour now, and he wasn’t too sure where he was at this point. He and his dad didn’t usually drive this way. He was following the directions on his phone closely, not wanting to get lost.

Angus supposed he’d done too good of a job making sure people didn’t notice him. His eyes had been on his phone and not the sidewalk in front of him, looking for the next turn he had to take. He felt his phone go flying out of his hand as someone barreled into him, knocking him to the ground, the man barely managing to keep from falling over himself as well.

“Don’t get under people’s feet kid,” the man snapped at him.

“Sorry sir,” Angus said, not feeling particularly sorry. The man didn’t try and help him up, barely staying long enough for Angus to get to his feet before rushing off again. Angus didn’t pay him much mind, quickly going to grab his phone again.

He felt his heart sink down in his chest as he picked it up, the screen shattered and the back fallen off. Glancing around, he couldn’t find the battery piece for it anywhere.

“Hey! Hey sir! You broke my phone!” he shouted after the grouchy man, who didn’t bother glancing back. If anything he sped up before turning the corner, leaving Angus huffing in frustration.

His anger didn’t last long though, shifting quickly to worry and fear as he stared down at his busted phone. He moved out of the way of the busy intersection so that no one would run into him again, trying to think of what he was supposed to do now. He definitely didn’t have to blink back a few tears, and if he did it was just because his hands and knee got pretty scrapped up when that dude smashed into him.

Once he was in a slightly less crowded area he tried to think. He knew his next turn was on Maple, and he could remember the general line the directions had made on the map. Taking a few deep breaths, he told himself it would be fine. He would be able to figure it out no problem and head back to school the same way he came.

Instead of immediately starting out again, Angus pulled out his lunch box. It was a little early for lunch, but he hadn’t eaten a lot of breakfast and he’d been walking a lot. It didn’t take him long to completely devour his sandwich and chips, having to pace himself so that he didn’t run out of his juice pouch before he ate his tasty cake. He should have thought to bring a water bottle with him. It was a nice day out but it was still a good idea to drink more if he was going to walk this much.

Once he started walking again, Angus realized that with his phone gone he no longer had a way to check the time as well. It had been almost 9:30 when he ran into that guy, so he probably had a little over an hour left to get to his dad’s work without this whole thing being for nothing.

He made the turn on Maple street, and he tried to guess on what streets sounded familiar after that, heading in the general direction he felt like his dad’s work was supposed to be in.

The area around him started getting more and more unrecognizable, and he slowly left the area where all of the people were. When he ended up turning onto a rode with chain link fences and the only open store being a run down looking autoshop, Angus turned back around.

It was okay. He must’ve made the wrong turn somewhere. He just had to retrace his steps and figure out where he’d gone wrong.

It wasn’t too hard to get back to a place with more people, but he wasn’t sure if this was the one he’d been at before. He tried to look for Maple Street, that one having stuck in his mind, but he couldn’t find it. The man had ran into him on a corner with a deli store, but he couldn’t find that either.

Angus knew it was getting later. The sun was pretty high up in the sky by this point, if was wasn’t 11 already it was going to be soon. There were stores around, but he was almost afraid to go into one to check the time.

By the time he finally managed to peak into a window to look at the time, it was getting close to 1:30 in the afternoon. He’d completely missed his window, and he was hopelessly lost.

It was hard to keep from crying at that point. The only thing that managed to stop him was the fear of drawing more attention to himself. Angus told himself that at this point he had to try and get back to school before tutoring started so that his dad wouldn’t ever find out any of this happened. He could cry later once he was alone in his room.

Angus tried to get back to school, he really did. He’d gotten so turned around trying to find his dad’s work though he found himself only getting more and more lost. He had no idea where he was or how to get back, and the last clock he saw said it was already getting towards 3 o’clock. There was no way he was getting back before tutoring started, or even before it ended.

He was getting hungry and scared and he wanted to call his dad but he couldn’t because some jerk broke his phone and he didn’t know what to do.

After a while he managed to find a bench that wasn't at a bus stop. Sitting down, he pulled his knees up to his chest. His legs were burning from walking around all day and he tried to hide his face as much as possible as he cried.

Angus guessed he never needed to worry about drawing unwanted attention to himself by crying, because no one was stopping to ask if he was okay.

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there for, but eventually his tears began to slow. Digging around in his bookbag, he didn’t have any napkins or tissues. Instead he wiped his face as best he could on some gym clothes.

When he looked up from cleaning his face, he saw someone walking on the other side of the street. There were several people walking on the other of the street, but his eyes immediately drew to one in particular, relief flooding in his chest and causing tears to prick at the corners of his eyes again.

Quickly zipping his bookbag back shut, he slung it over his shoulders and ran across the street the second it was safe enough.

“Taako! Mr. Taako wait up! Taa-” Angus called after him, running as fast as his still exhausted legs could carry him. He was pretty close by the time they turned around, and Angus felt his voice die in his throat at the look of confusion on his person’s face.

They weren’t Mr. Taako. From across the street and behind they looked just like him, but looking at them straight on there were clear differences.

The look of confusion didn’t stay on this person’s face long though. Instead it quickly shifting into a soft smile as they walked up and crouched down to be on Angus’s level. He was honestly too upset to be annoyed at someone bending down to talk to him like he was a little kid.

“Hey there kiddo, you must be thinking of my brother. Don’t worry, happens all the time. I’m his sister, Lup,” she said, and Angus nodded, quickly blinking back tears because he didn’t want to cry in front of a stranger. He remembered Taako talking about his sister.

“I- I’m sorry ma’am. Mr. Taako never mentioned that you guys are twins,” he said, and Lup waved the apology away.

“That’s fine little man, tends to be funner to let people find out themselves,” she said with a grin. Angus supposed that would lead to some pretty amusing scenarios, none that he could really appreciate at the moment though. “So, I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say you’re Angus,” she added, and Angus couldn’t keep the look of surprise off his face at that.

“Mr. Taako’s told you about me?” he asked, and Lup was still grinning as she nodded.

“Oh yeah, you’re basically all he’s been talking about,” she said, and Angus was fairly certain she was exaggerating at least a little bit.  Even still Angus couldn’t help but smile some hearing that. It was short lived however, the smile dropping into a frown and tears starting to try and fight their way out again at the thought of how angry and disappointed Mr. Taako would be at him for missing tutoring today. Ms. Lup seemed to immediately notice, a look of concern falling over her face.

“Hey now, no need for any of that. I know I’m not Taako but I’ll let you in on a little secret,” she said, before glancing around then dramatically and leaning in further. “I’m totally the nicer twin. So why don’t you tell me what’s wrong and we can try and figure something out, alright?” she said. Angus couldn’t help but chuckle a little at that, wiping some tears from his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he didn’t have anyone else to turn to, and there was no way he wasn’t going to get in trouble at this point.

“I- I skipped school today because I wanted to go see something cool that was happening at my dad’s work, and he said I couldn’t go. I know I shouldn’t have but I thought I’d be back before anyone noticed but I got lost and my phone broke and I don’t know how to get back home and I’m pretty sure I missed tutoring so Mr. Taako’s gonna be mad at me too,” he said, the words coming out of him in a rush and a few hiccuped sobs starting to work their way up by the end of it.

“Can I see your phone?” Ms. Lup asked, and Angus pulled the remains of his phone out of his pocket for her to look at. She didn’t look mad at him or annoyed as she looked it over, but she did grimace at the state of it.

“Some mean guy ran into me and I accident- accidentally dropped it. The screen was all broken and I couldn’t find the battery anywhere,” he explained. She nodded, handing it back to him and he slipped it back into his pocket. “Um, do you know what time it is miss?” he asked, still not really wanting to know. She pulled out her own phone and glanced at the front.

“4:20 hell yeah,” she said and Angus would have winced at the time if it wasn’t for the strangely excited way she’d said it. Instead he looked at her in confusion, which she quickly noticed, the smile on her face dropping some. “I mean it’s 4:20, almost 4:30 sweetheart,” she said. Tutoring was supposed to start at 3:50, there was no way Mr. Taako hadn’t noticed his absence by now.

Everyone was going to be so mad at him.

“You know your dad’s phone number kiddo? We can give him a call and have him come bring you home,” she asked, and Angus shook his head.

“I don’t have it memorized. Mr. Taako has it though,” he said. There was a curious look from Lup at that, and Angus probably would have snickered about it if he wasn’t so upset. “For tutoring stuff, and he watched me this weekend while my dad was at work,” he explained instead. Lup gave him a smile at that and stood back up, stretching slightly.

“Well, we’re in luck because I for sure have my brother’s number,” Lup said, which Angus would have guessed. He supposed finding Lup was a good thing, even if it meant that now he was probably gonna have both his dad and Mr. Taako yell at him today over this. He’d been hoping to at least put off Mr. Taako’s until Wednesday. “You look exhausted, are you hungry?” she asked, breaking him out of his thoughts. He was a little confused by the sudden question, but nodded none the less.

“A little,” he admitted.

“There’s a cafe right up the street here. How about we go sit down and get you something to eat and a drink, and we can make some calls while we relax and wait for your dad to come pick you up? That sound good?” Ms. Lup asked, and Angus nodded, the temptation of getting something to eat and drink overriding any caution he might have felt. Besides, it was Taako’s sister, he already found himself liking her.

“Yes please,” he said. Lup smiled at that, starting to lead Angus down the street. It wasn’t far to the cafe she was talking about, and it was nice and quiet inside, the air conditioner going and making the place almost cold.

“Go pick out some seats for us while I order, alright? You got any hard nos for food or drink?” she asked. Angus thought the question over for a moment, doing a quick scan of the menu up above the counter before shaking his head. With that Lup went up to order and Angus found some comfy looking chairs in the corner. He could still see the front door for whenever his dad came, which was good.

It wasn’t very long before Ms. Lup came back with food and a drink. She’d gotten him some sort of sandwich on a big crescent roll, with chips and a cookie. The drink was some fruity thing that tasted really good. He immediately started eating, not realizing how hungry he’d been until there was food in front of him.

“I’m gonna call my brother now okay? Let him know where you are and that you’re safe, then we can get your dad’s number, that alright?” she asked, and Angus was kind of surprised that she was asking permission. A little reluctantly Angus nodded.

“Yeah, it’s okay. I wanna go home,” he admitted. Lup gave him a soft smile at that before pulling out her phone and getting up her contact for Mr. Taako. Angus almost felt sick from the nerves. He didn’t want to talk to Taako or his dad or anyone really, but he didn’t want to be alone anymore either.

Angus knew this was a bad idea from the moment of thought of it. He did it anyway even though he knew that, and he couldn’t blame his dad or Mr. Taako if they were upset with him forever. He should have known better. He should have at least been able to get back on his own instead of breaking down in tears and having to have them come pick him up.

He was such an idiot.

Chapter Text

Taako felt almost nervous as he came into tutoring on Monday, which honestly hadn’t been an issue for a while. He’d gotten pretty chill with Angus, he liked the kid. Definitely could have gotten stuck with a much worse one to deal with at any rate, Taako still felt like he got a lucky draw with him.

He told himself it was stupid worrying that Angus might not like him anymore after spending the weekend at his place. Like, that clearly wasn’t the case, at the end of it the kid was asking if he could come back after all. Even Kravitz seemed surprisingly into the whole thing.

Which, yeah okay, maybe that was why he was nervous instead. Angus liked him, at the very least Taako was pretty sure that Kravitz didn’t hate him. Dude had seemed kind of out of it the whole time, which was what Taako was going to chalk up some of the things he said to. He really doubted he'd be throwing out compliments like that if he had his full eight hours and all that jazz.

And besides, even if Kravitz was interested, Taako had meant what he told Angus. He just… wasn’t looking to date right now. He didn’t have time for all the bullshit again. He sure as fuck didn’t have time to date someone with a kid. Probably? Taako didn’t actually have any idea how that would affect things. He didn’t mind Angus sure, he was a good kid and easier to chill with than expected, but if he dated his dad then that would make Taako like a dad. That was not an option.

The point was, for some bizarre reason Kravitz and Angus actually liked him. Which meant Taako now had the chance to screw it all up.

He tried not to think about all of this junk while he went to their regular study room in the library. Setting his stuff up, he kicked his feet up onto the table and leaned back in his chair, scrolling through his phone as he waited for Angus to show up. Taako had gotten there a bit early today, having come right over from the call center. It was a nice place to just chill out. He almost considered grabbing a book from the library to kill time, but he knew Angus would be here soon enough that it wasn’t worth it to get into something only to immediately have to stop.

Plus, he couldn’t risk Angus seeing him reading and thinking he was some kind of nerd. That was wholly unacceptable.

Fifteen minutes rolled by, and Taako frowned at the door. Sure, he’d gotten there early, so it was only 3:55, but it was still later than Angus usually showed up. Usually the kid was a few minutes early if anything. Barring the first session Angus really hadn’t been late so far, which was pretty impressive if Taako was being honest.

It was entirely possible that Angus had gotten caught up talking to a teacher or something on his way though. He figured he’d give him a bit more time before worrying about it.

Five more minutes passed, and it was 4 o’clock, and a pit of unease was starting to form in his stomach. He double checked the day to be sure that he hadn’t somehow completely fucked up and gotten the wrong date and it was actually Sunday or some shit, but no, it was Monday.

Scrolling down to Kravitz’s contact in his phone, Taako hesitated a moment, debating on whether he should wait some more. It would be better to just be certain though, because if Angus had stayed home or something he could head back to his own place and take a fucking nap. Pressing the call button he put the phone up to his ear, and it took a few rings before he actually heard someone answer.

“Yes, hello?” Kravitz’s voice came through the phone, sounding pretty distracted.

“Uh, sup m’dude? It’s Taako,” he said, which probably wasn’t the best intro. He could practically feel the confusion on the other end of the line in the brief pause that seemed to stretch out way too long before Kravitz finally answered.

“Oh, um, hello Taako? I’m sorry, I’m a little tied up at work right now, do you need something?” he asked, and Taako couldn’t say he was too surprised by that, work seemed to take up a lot of this dude’s time. At least he seemed like a good dad otherwise, or else he’d definitely rub Taako the wrong way.

“Yeah no problem. I was just wondering if Ango came into school today?” he asked. There was another pause on the other side of the line, like the question had taken him off guard.

“Yes, I dropped him off right out front. Why?” he asked, an obvious concern lacing his voice now.

“He just hasn’t shown up for tutoring yet and he’s not usually late. I’m sure he got caught up talking to a teacher or something, I was just calling to check,” Taako said, trying to assure Kravitz before he started worrying himself to death or something. There was no reason to panic over a kid being ten minutes late, even one who was typically pretty good about this stuff.

“Right, yes no, you’re probably right,” Kravitz said, not sounding all that convinced. Taako stood up, opening the door to the study room and peaking out. There wasn’t any sign of Angus, and even though it was probably nothing he figured he should like, check, right? Kid was kinda his responsibility for this hour.

“I’ll run up to the office real quick and ask if they’ve seen him. I’m sure it’s chill,” he said, already grabbing his bag. That seemed to offer some relief to Kravitz.

“Yes, that’s a- that sounds good. Could you let me know when you find him? A text is fine if you don’t want to call,” he said and Taako nodded. He couldn’t blame the dude for that, good parents probably actually have like, a lot of anxiety when they find out their kid isn’t in the place its supposed to be in.

“For sure, I’ll keep you posted my dude,” Taako said, heading out of the library and down towards the office now.

“Thank you Taako, goodbye,” Kravitz said, and with that he hung up. Slipping his phone back into his pocket, it didn’t take Taako very long to get to the front office and luckily the main receptionist lady was still there. Sometimes she was already gone by the time they got out of tutoring, so Taako wasn’t sure when she headed out.

Taako put on a breezy smile as he headed up to her desk, not letting the nerves that were bubbling up inside of his show. He was worrying over nothing, Angus was fine, he was a good kid.

“Hey, I was wondering if you could check if Angus McDonald was in class today? We have tutoring scheduled but he hasn’t shown up yet,” he asked. The receptionist nodded, quickly clicking around on a few things on her computer.

“Of course,” she said, and Taako had to resist the urge to start tapping his foot as she took her sweet old time. As far as he could tell the people here didn’t actually mind him. He liked this job more than he ever expected to, he wasn’t gonna start getting on their bad side now.

“No, it would seem Angus wasn’t in any of his classes today. In that case you should be free to go,” she said, and it took a lot more effort than he expected to keep that fake smile on his face as he nodded.

“Alright then, thanks so much,” he said, turning and immediately heading towards the front doors of the school, thankful he'd decided to take all his shit with him from the library. His phone was in his hand and he was calling Kravitz before he even stepped outside. This time he answered a lot faster.

“That was fast, is everything alright?” Kravitz asked, and Taako let the door close behind him, not sure where to go from here. He just headed out towards the sidewalk in front of the school, scanning around. There were still a few kids here and there, but they slowly seemed to be breaking off and leaving as well.

“Angus wasn’t in class today,” he said. Was this because of something that happened this weekend? Normally Taako could pinpoint all the ways he fucked up pretty easily, but all in all it had seemed to go well. He genuinely couldn’t think of a reason why the kid would want to avoid him so bad that he’d skip out on an entire day of school.

“He what?” Kravitz asked, immediately sounding slightly panicked and Taako couldn’t rightfully try and insist it was all fine this time.

“I checked with the front office, apparently he wasn’t in any of his classes today. You said you dropped him off?” Taako asked. He’d started walking, not in the direction of home, just picking one at random and looking around in case Angus was close by.

There was no reason for him to be so worried. Angus wasn’t his kid. If he didn’t show up for the entire school day it wasn’t like he’d gotten lost on Taako’s watch. He was just the first one to notice something was wrong.

“Yes, and I saw him walk in. He didn’t go to any of his classes?” Kravitz asked, and Taako nodded.

“That’s what they told me,” he said. It was quiet for a short moment on the other end of the line, and then Taako heard Kravitz cursing under his breath.

“Fucking- shit, damn it, this is my fault,” he said, and Taako could hear papers shifting and the random clinks of things being gathered up.

“Whatcha mean? Come on give me the scoop, you got an idea where he might be?” Taako asked. Maybe Angus had been feeling sick today. Maybe he’d just gone home.

“He wanted to come with me to work and I- I told him no. There’s been thing big… investigation thing going on, and we had the culprit arrested today. He wanted to come and see but it- he’s just started getting his grades back under control, and if anything went off the rails I didn’t want him in danger,” Kravitz explained. Okay, okay that was a clear motivation. It was pretty obvious that’s where he’d go but-

“But he’s not there? Like you’re at work right, you don’t see him?” Taako asked, and he could imagine Kravitz shaking his head.

“No, I don’t. It’s- I’m going to go ask around. God, it’s a long walk from his school, shit. I need to get going,” Kravitz said, seeming intent to hang up without another word.

“Wait!” Taako cut in, and thankfully that seemed to get him to pause. “Where do you work? If he’s not there I can start walking, trace his path and see if we can find him that way,” he offered. There was a quiet moment where Taako was worried Kravitz was going to turn down his offer.

“Astral Industries, it’s on- I’ll text you the address. Thank you so much Taako,” he said, a genuineness to his voice that left Taako almost as speechless as a rejection would have.

“Don’t even worry about it man. We’ll find him, it’s gonna be fine,” he said, giving his best attempt at being comforting. He wasn’t sure how much he believed all of that, but like, it was probably true. Angus was a smart kid, he wouldn’t have gotten into any unnecessary danger. It was fine.

“Of course. It’s- I’ll call you and keep you updated,” Kravitz said, and Taako nodded.

“Likewise,” he said, quickly hanging up. Like Kravitz said not even thirty seconds later Taako got a text from him with an address. Putting it into his phone, he grimaced. Kravitz hadn’t been lying about it being a long walk. Not wasting anymore time, he started off, keeping a sharp eye out for Angus. Every so often he’d call out for him, so far to no result. He tried to branch out from the straight shoot the map was taking him down too, in case the kid had wandered off or gotten distracted.

So far there was nothing, and he guessed he shouldn’t be too surprised by that. It was a lot of area to cover and it felt like he was going at a fucking snail's pace. He wasn’t sure how much later it was when his phone rang again, and he barely bothered to glance at the screen to see it was Kravitz before answering.

“Any luck?” he asked, and despite himself he felt his heart sink when Kravitz answered.

“No, it’s- I’ve looked all over the office and asked as many people as possible, everyone has an eye out and no one’s seen him all day. I’ve tried- I called his phone maybe five or six times, it just keeps going straight to voice mail. He’s not- I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Kravitz said, sounding on the edge of a breakdown. It wasn’t like Taako could blame him for that, his fucking kid was missing.

“We just keep looking. We’ll find him, it’s gonna be- I’m sure he’s fine. Angus is a smart kid, his phone probably ran out of charge or something,” he suggested. Taako could hear Kravitz take a deep, shaky breath on the other end of the line before speaking again.

“Right, no you’re right. I’m sure he’s fine, it’s just- should I call the police? I don’t- I’m not sure if it’s been long enough for a missing child report,” he said. Taako frowned, still scanning the streets as he walked.

“It depends, since you know he skipped school you might have more of a case for it. I’d say we finish searching the path from school to your work and if we still haven’t found him then call,” he said, not that it was his call to make. Kravitz could do whatever he felt was best, but Taako really hoped they managed to find Angus before the police had to get involved, that could be scary for a kid.

“Yes, no that’s a good idea,” Kravitz said, sounding the slightest bit calmer with some direction. “It’s- you don’t have to do this, honest. I- you know I appreciate the help so far, but you don’t-” he started to say, but Taako didn’t let him finish.

“Dude, relax will you? I’m not just gonna go home and leave you in the lurch when the kid’s still missing, alright? I’m not that much of an asshole, I actually like Angus,” he assured, not leaving much room for argument. Kravitz was quiet for a moment, and Taako was suddenly worried that he'd been trying to get Taako to stop. After all he said he’d already been talking to other people, they probably had a whole search party going by now. Maybe he blamed Angus doing this on Taako's influence and didn't want him anywhere near his kid anymore.

“Thank you Taako. It’s- I want you to know how much I appreciate it, truly,” Kravitz said, and okay. Maybe it wasn’t that.

“Like I said, it’s chill dog,” Taako said, turning down another street. There was still no sign of Angus anywhere, but he was starting to get into more bustling areas now. “You’re like, still good to keep looking, right? Your work’s not an issue or anything?” he found himself asking. It didn’t sound like Kravitz had thought twice about work since Taako had told him Angus was missing, but he still found himself curious about where that fell in all this.

“Of course. Anything with work can wait until I know Angus is safe,” Kravitz said, like the thought of anything else was ridiculous.


“What is it?” Kravitz asked, sounding confused by Taako’s reaction, which was fair.

“Nothing. You’re just like, a real good dad my dude. Not gonna lie, kinda got the wrong impression of you at first,” Taako said.

“Oh, that’s- I’m glad you think so. I know I could be better, but it’s… I really am trying,” Kravitz said, and Taako just nodded along. This was not the kind of conversation he was super skilled at.

“I’m gonna keep looking. Call you if I get any updates,” Taako said after a long stretch of quiet.

“Right, yes of course. I’ve left the office and am heading towards the school, I’ll let you know if I find anything,” he said.

“Catch ya in a bit,” Taako said, hanging up. Continuing to look, the streets were crowded enough now that it didn’t feel like he was hollering at nothing when he shouted Angus’s name. There still wasn’t any sign of him though, so he might as well been.

The next call he got was a lot sooner than he expected, and Taako answered it without even looking.

“What’s up?” he asked, still not pausing in his search.

“Hey Koko,” Lup’s voice came through the line, and Taako had to keep himself from sighing in irritation. There was no reason to get annoyed with her, even if she was having some absolutely awful timing lately.

“Listen, Lup I’ll need to call you back. I’ll explain later but I’m in the middle of something and I need to keep the phone open in case someone else calls,” he said. She was going to grill the fuck out of him about this later, but that was a problem for future Taako. Present Taako was being pretty one track mind right now.

He was sure Angus was fine, but it was- shit could be dangerous for a kid out on his own. Him and Lup had been through their fair share of bullshit during their childhood. They just needed to find Angus before he wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“By any chance does this stuff you’re in the middle of have anything to do with your favorite student not showing up to tutoring today?” Lup asked, and that caused Taako to come to a full stop. He knew Lup could tell that he was worked up right now, he wasn’t doing the best job of hiding that and they understood each other. So she wouldn’t throw out something like that unless she knew something.

“Yeah, it does. That just a shot in the dark or…” he trailed off.

“You can chill bro, he’s right here in front of me. We’re at that cafe down on Brickstone, the one with the dragonfruit drinks you like,” Lup said, and Taako wasn’t expecting the rush of relief that flooded him at hearing that. He leaned back against the nearest building, a hell of a lot of tension he hadn’t even noticed was there before leaking out of him.

“Cool, that- that’s cool. And he’s good? How the hell did you even find him?” Taako asked. He just barely managed to bite back the urge to ask her if he could talk to him. If Lup said he was fine then he was fine, there wasn’t a person Taako trusted more in this goddamn universe than Lup.

“He’s good, a little upset about the whole thing, but nothing a good meal and some sleep won’t fix, right Angus?” Lup said, and Taako couldn’t hear what his answer was exactly but it sounded vaguely positive. “As for how I found him, he ran up to me thinking I was you. Twin shit comes in handy once again,” she said, and oh, that made a lot of sense.

“Yeah, useful as fuck all those times it's not annoying as hell,” Taako said, pushing himself off the wall to start walking in the direction he knew they were in. He wasn’t too far from the cafe Lup was talking about, it shouldn’t take him too long to get there. “I should call Kravitz, let him know he’s okay. Dude’s been a fucking mess worried about him. Oh yeah, why hasn’t Ango been answering his phone?” he asked.

“It broke, kiddo’s had a long day. Technically, I was calling you to get the dad’s number. He said you have it?” Lup asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, I’ve been calling him as we looked. It’s- actually, you want me to just call him and tell him where Ango is? I might have to give him your number anyway though, since he’ll probably want to talk to him before he gets there,” Taako asked. It would be simpler to let Lup call him, but they’d been working through this together so far. He kind of wanted to tell Kravitz.

“Works for me,” Lup said, and Taako found himself relieved by that for some fucking reason.

“And uh, you’re sure he’s good?” he asked, even though Lup had already said that. He could picture her knowing fucking look as if it was directly in front of him.

“You just wanna talk to him bro bro?” Lup asked, and Taako hated being called out like that. He couldn’t even be that mad because it was Lup doing it. Or no, he could be mad, but he couldn't do anything about that.

“If he wants I guess I could spare a few minutes,” Taako relented.

“Hey Angus, you good to talk to Mr. Taako for a bit?” he heard Lup ask. He couldn’t make out Angus’s answer, but a few seconds later he heard the sounds of the phone being passed over.

“Hello sir, I’m really really sorry about worrying everyone. I- I swear I didn’t mean to,” Angus said as soon as he had the phone. His voice was a little hoarse from the sound of it, probably from crying. It made Taako’s heart ache more than he expected, what was to say at fucking all.

“Listen, as long as you’re not dead in a ditch we can deal with the rest later,” Taako said, which was true. At least on his end, as long as Angus was safe they could figure everything else out once shit had calmed down.

Or well, Angus and Kravitz could figure everything else out. He wasn’t a part of this equation, just right place at the right time and all that jazz.

“Okay sir,” Angus said quietly. Taako figured he should leave it at that, he needed to call Kravitz as soon as possible and let him know his son was safe after all. Despite that, he found himself continuing to speak.

“Hey, pumpkin? I’m not good at this shit, but it’s gonna be okay. We’re both just real glad you’re safe,” Taako said, and he heard Angus take in a deep, shaky breath at that.

“Alright, thank you Mr. Taako,” Angus said, and Taako wasn’t sure if he helped or made this whole thing worse, but he was trying to help. That was what was supposed to matter.

“Not a problem Ango. You wanna give the phone back to Lup for a minute?” he asked, and he could image Angus nodding on the other end.

“Okay, thanks again sir. I love you,” Angus said, and that took Taako off guard. He knew little kids were just like that, they threw those sorts of thing around with no regard, but it still caught him by some major surprise.

“Yeah, that’s- you too pumpkin,” he managed to say before Angus handed the phone over again. He wasn’t quite a big enough jackass to brush off a kid who’d been crying and freaked out all day. Or well, maybe he was, but he had to keep interacting with Angus.

“You good Ko?” Lup asked once she had the phone back, and Taako scoffed.

“Uh yeah? Why the fuck wouldn’t I be?” he asked. He knew she was rolling her eyes at that, but since he couldn't see it he ignored it. “Listen, I’m gonna call Krav now and let him know his kid’s okay. I’m not far from you guys, so I should be there in a bit,” he said, changing the subject.

“Okay, see you soon bro,” Lup said.

“Later,” Taako replied, and as soon as he hung up he switched over to call Kravitz. The phone had barely rung once before he answered.

“Anything yet?” he asked, still a definite panicked tinge to his voice.

“Everything’s good, we got him,” Taako said, and usually he would tease or joke about it now that he knew everything was chill. That would probably be in poor taste on someone who was scared their kid was fucking abducted and in the back of a truck or something.

“Oh thank god. He’s with you now?” Kravitz asked, the relief almost choking his voice.

“No, I’m on my way over to him now. He’s with my sister, but I talked to em both on the phone, they’re not far, everything’s alright,” Taako told him. That seemed to take Kravitz by surprise, which was fair enough. Taako was also taken by surprise by Lup having found him.

“Your sister?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, he mistook her for me and went to her for help. Twins, it happens,” Taako explained. Kravitz was quiet at that, so he continued. “They’re at a little cafe down on Brickstone, I’m not even ten minutes away. Like I said, I talked to the kid and he’s fine, Lup is- there’s not a single person I trust more in the fucking world, he’s in good hands,” Taako assured. He heard Kravitz sigh in relief at that.

“I’m just so glad he’s safe. I can’t thank you enough, you and your sister. You said they’re at a cafe? Do you have the address?” Kravitz asked.

“Yeah, I’ll send it right over. Lup’s number too, if you want to call and talk to Angus before you get there,” Taako added. Now that the adrenaline and panic were starting to fade he was feeling fucking exhausted. Lup and Barry’s place was a lot closer thank his own, maybe he could crash on their couch for the night. He wouldn’t have to cook dinner for himself that way too.

“Yes please,” Kravitz said, and Taako couldn’t blame him for that. “Why wasn’t he answering his?” he asked, and right, he’d almost forgotten to tell him that part. God, there was so much going on right now, his brain was a little fried.

“Apparently it broke, Lup said the kid had quite a day,” Taako explained. It didn’t actually answer much, but it was all he’d gotten from Lup so it was gonna have to do until he got down there.

“Alright, I’ll head over there right now then,” Kravitz said, despite the fact that Taako hadn’t actually sent him the address yet. He couldn’t blame the dude for wanting to get there was quick as possible. “And just, thank you,” he added. It was more of that raw genuine emotion that Taako had no fucking clue what to do with.

“God, both of you say thank you way too damn much. If you really want to thank me put some pizazz into it! Get me an edible arrangement, I don’t fucking know!” Taako blurted out. It probably wasn’t the right thing to say, but it did get Kravitz to burst out laughing.

“Noted,” he said, and Taako felt relieved at the break in tension. This had all been getting way too real for him.

“I’ll send you the stuff now. I’ll probably get to them before you,” Taako said, turning them back to the subject at hand.

“Right, see you soon in that case,” Kravitz said, and Taako nodded.

“See ya,” he said. As soon as they hung up Taako sent over Lup’s number and the address for the cafe. It took longer than he would have liked, but soon enough he was turning the corner for Brickstone and he could see the cafe. He walked at a normal human speed over to it, quickly looking around once he was inside. His eyes fell on Lup and Angus over in a corner almost immediately and he rushed over.

It was pretty obvious that Angus had been crying, but he still had a cautious smile on his face once he spotted Taako.

“Normally I’d commend you on breaking out of that nerdiness you got going on to skip school, but how about next time you do it in a way that doesn’t worry everyone half to death, alright pumpkin?” Taako said as he sat down, squeezing himself into Lup’s chair instead of grabbing his own. She tried to shove him away but it didn’t do much good.

“I don’t think you need to worry about a next time sir,” Angus assured him, which was what Taako figured.

“Your dad call yet?” he asked, grabbing the drink off the table that looked like it was Lup’s and draining the last of it.

“Yeah, we just got off the phone with him, he’ll be here soon,” she said, not making a fight for the drink. Taako nodded because good, that was good.

Taako had no idea when he’d gotten so invested in this, but it was starting to get hard to deny that he had.

Fuck it though, he was gonna try and keep denying for a little bit longer.

Chapter Text

It was difficult to explain the relief Kravitz felt knowing that Angus was safe. He’d been beside himself with worry and guilt ever since Taako had called, first just asking if he’d come in today, and then with confirmation that Angus had skipped school. It wasn’t hard to figure out why, Angus had been very clear about what he was hoping to do after all.

Maybe it would have been better if Kravitz had just brought him along. He’d never expected Angus to do something like skip school and attempt to walk all the way across town to his work though. But maybe he should have. Angus tended to get a single-minded focus on certain things, Kravitz knew how hard it could be to persuade him when he got like this.

He hadn’t realized he’d been like that with this though. Kravitz hadn’t been around enough, had been too tired to pick up the signs. If Angus ended up getting hurt, it was his own fault for not being more attentive. That guilt sat like a sour rot in the pit of his stomach as he searched.

Taako had found him though. Or not quite, Taako’s sister had. His twin apparently, Angus had mistaken the two. A stroke of luck Kravitz couldn’t begin to wrap his mind around, he just knew he was indebted to the both of them.

Kravitz’s first instinct was to run straight to the address Taako had sent him. Apparently it was a cafe, and that was something else he’d have to thank them for, bringing Angus somewhere calm and safe. Reluctantly Kravitz resisted the urge to go straight there, instead running back to get his car so that they could go home afterwards. He didn't want to force Angus to walk anymore than he already had today. Taako had asked about his work, but Kravitz couldn’t bring himself to care about that at the moment, even knowing Angus was safe. His mother had insisted Angus come first as well, and that wasn’t something he had any desire to argue with her on.

As he headed back he selected the phone number Taako had given him. At least he could call and talk to Angus to hear for himself that he was alright. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Taako’s word, he did more than he expected to if he was being honest.

Kravitz just wanted to talk to his son and make sure he was alright. It didn’t matter who he was with.

The phone picked up after barely half a ring, Taako’s sister was probably waiting for the call.

“Yellow,” a woman’s voice said, one strikingly similar to Taako’s. A bit of an odd greeting, especially given the circumstances, but Kravitz supposed wanting to break the tension ran in the family.

“Hello, it’s- is this Taako’s sister?” he asked, figuring he should just be sure first.

“Yep, this is her. I take it you’re Mr. McDonald?” she asked, and Kravitz nodded, his pace picking up ever so slightly. A part of him was already regretting deciding to backtrack for his car, but he tried to tell himself that it wouldn’t be much longer now.

“Yes, I’m- that’s me. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to speak to Angus first, it that’s alright,” he said. Kravitz couldn’t actually bring himself to care much about what was rude or not right now, but also this woman was the only person watching his son. He owed her a lot right now.

“Yeah of course. Hey, it’s your dad sweetheart,” she said, the second part obviously to Angus as she handed the phone over. There was a short moment where Kravitz didn’t hear anything that felt like an eternity, and then Angus spoke.

“Hi Dad, it’s- I’m really sorry,” he said, and the rush of relief at hearing his phone was just as strong as when Taako had confirmed he was safe.

“God, Angus, do you have any idea how worried I was? I thought something might have happened to you,” he said, the horror of what could have happened still tinging his voice.

“I know, I- I’m so sorry,” Angus said, his voice starting to get choked with obvious tears. It was clear as he spoke that he’d been crying throughout the day, and the sound had completely bulldozed any of the anger Kravitz had felt at Angus freaking him out like this.

“Shh, shh darling, it’s alright. I’m just happy you’re okay. You’re okay, right?” he asked, some of that worry building up again.

“Y-yeah, I’m okay,” Angus said, and Kravitz could hear the way he was trying to fight down the tears. Taako had told him he’d had quite a day, but he had no idea what that entailed, just that it had somehow resulted in his breaking his phone on top of all of this.

“Angus, if something happened or you’re hurt you know you can tell me. I promise I won’t be mad I just want to be sure you’re alright,” he insisted. The last thing he wanted was Angus keeping things from him right now.

“I know dad, I promise I’m okay. Just- just tired, I wanna go home now,” he said, and Kravitz felt his heart ache hearing that.

He should have been paying more attention to Angus. Despite everything going on at work, he knew Angus was going through a hard time with school right now. He should have been more attentive and he could have caught this before it ever happened.

“I’ll be there soon Angus, I promise. I’m just picking up the car and then I’ll be right over and we can go home,” Kravitz assured him.

“Okay,” Angus said, his voice still smaller than Kravitz was used to it being. He hated hearing it like that, he wanted to fix it.

“Would you like me to stay on the line with you until I get to the car?” he asked, and there was a quiet moment where Kravitz assumed Angus must’ve nodded before he actually spoke.

“Yes please, if- if that’s okay,” he said, and Kravitz could feel the soft smile on his face at that.

“Of course it’s okay Angus,” he said softly. He supposed it was possible that it wouldn’t be alright with Taako’s sister, but he remembered the way Taako had talked about her. Even from that small bit, she didn’t seem like the type of person to get annoyed over something like that.

It honestly wasn’t very long before Kravitz managed to reach his car, talking softly with Angus on the phone the whole way. He assured Kravitz that he really was fine, Miss Lup had brought him food, she was real nice and he was glad he met her. Even still, Angus sounded the slightest bit reluctant to actually get off the phone once he was at his car.

“I’ll be right over dear, just hold on for a few minutes,” he said, and Angus softly agreed. Even still, Kravitz was almost tempted to stay on the phone with him for the drive over. That was more for his own anxiety than Angus’s though.

Kravitz had barely remembered to run inside of the office before he left to assure his mother that they found Angus and he was going to pick him up now. The relief on her face was obvious, and Kravitz was pretty sure if he’d come in with any other news she was a hair away from going out to start looking and raising hell herself.

Kravitz definitely drove a bit faster than he normally would. It definitely seemed like Angus had gotten lost along his way to his work if he had ended up over here. Still, it didn’t take long for Kravitz to find the cafe Taako had sent him, although he did end up cursing in frustration for the amount of time it took him to find a parking space. Finally though he managed to find one, and rushing inside Kravitz felt his whole body relax when he saw Angus. He was sitting at a table in the corner with Taako and someone who looked incredibly similar to Taako from behind.

He saw Angus perk up when he caught sight of him, and Kravitz ran over, pulling Angus into a hug as soon as he was close enough.

“Do you have any idea how worried I was?” he asked, pulling back and starting to check Angus over. His hands were a little scraped up, but not bleeding. His eyes were puffy from crying, but other than that he seemed fine. He was fine. Kravitz pulled him into another hug.

“I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” Angus mumbled, and Kravitz nodded, rubbing his son’s back some in an attempt to comfort him.

“I know you didn’t,” he said, holding him for a bit longer before finally pulling back again. “You’re still grounded though,” he added, still not quite able to get himself to sound mad about all of this while he was so glad to know Angus was safe.

“Yeah, that’s fair,” Angus said, not looking like he had any intention of arguing with him on that. Still keeping a hand on Angus’s shoulder, Kravitz stood up fully and turned towards Taako and his sister. Lup, that was her name.

From the front, there really wasn’t much difficulty telling the two apart. It was still obvious that they were twins, but you probably wouldn’t mistake them for each other unless they were trying to trick someone. Or if you saw them from far away.

Kravitz vaguely wondered if he’d actually seen Taako at the mall that day, or if it had been his sister. He had no real way of knowing. It certainly wasn’t the most important thing to focus on at the moment though, so he tried to push those thoughts to the back of his mind.

He did notice the engagement ring on Lup’s finger, and despite having talked and somewhat flirted several times, Taako had never mentioned even dating anyone. It had always seemed odd that it hadn’t come up. Kravitz tried to file those thoughts away for laer.

“I really can’t thank you two enough. It’s Lup, right?” he asked, and Lup nodded, holding out a hand for him to shake, which Kravitz quickly did. Yep, that was definitely an engagement ring.

“That’s me yeah, and don’t even worry my guy. We’re glad to help,” she said. Kravitz nodded, since Taako had insisted the same thing.

“Even still, if there’s just… anything I could do to repay the two of you,” he said. Lup smiled, turning towards Taako, who’d been surprisingly quiet throughout all of this.

“I don’t know, there anything you can think of Koko?” she asked, and Taako huffed, looking vaguely annoyed.

“Nope, I’ve already told both of these idiots that they say thank you way too fucking much. So yeah, I’m not gonna request anything extra,” he said. Kravitz snorted a little at that, because he wasn’t sure what else he expected. Lup shrugged, turning back towards the two of them.

“Well, I guess that’s that then, we’re all good here,” she said. There was a part of Kravitz that wanted to stay and keep talking to the two of them. He glanced down at Angus though, who was slumping against him slightly now. He looked exhausted, and yeah, it would probably be best to get him home now.

“I hate to run so soon, but I should get this one home,” he said, and the two twins nodded.

“Yeah for sure. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll see you around,” Lup said, winking at him for some reason. Which was, um, odd. Kravitz never knew what to think when someone winked at him, he certainly didn’t know what she was trying to convey with that. Maybe he was also feeling kind of fried after all those high emotions.

“I’ll catch you on Wednesday, alright pumpkin? Don’t think you’re getting out of tutoring twice this week,” Taako said, speaking to Angus, who nodded.

“I meant to come back before tutoring, I really didn’t mean to miss it,” he insisted, and Taako nodded, not actually looking annoyed with Angus any.

“Yeah, I figured as much. You’re enough of a nerd you actually like going to tutoring,” he said, reaching out and ruffling Angus’s hair. It actually managed to crack a small smile onto Angus’s face, and he seemed to hesitate slightly before moving forward and giving Taako a quick hug. Taako seemed to freeze for a moment before hesitantly giving him a small hug back. It was sweet, and watching the two of them made something in Kravitz’s chest feel tight. Tight with what, he was a bit afraid to try and put a name to, but it certainly wasn’t a bad thing.

“Let’s head home Angus,” he said once Angus pulled back from the hug. He nodded, moving back to Kravitz's side and grabbing his hand. Kravitz smiled down at him before turning towards the two one more time. “Do either of you need a ride, or…” he trailed off. Lup shook her head, leaning back in her chair some.

“Nah, I live real close by. Thanks for the offer though,” she said. With that he turned towards Taako, because he knew his apartment was a bit of a longer distance away.

“Thanks babe, but I think I’m gonna go and bum dinner off of Lup,” he said, and Kravitz could feel his face heating up at the petname. It seemed to take Taako a second to realize what he said, but it was obvious when he did. His eyes widened slightly and his ears went a bright red, which would have been hilarious if Kravitz wasn't equally embarrassed. Thankfully before anyone else could comment on it Lup spoke up, giving Taako an exaggerated look of annoyance.

“Am I allowed to be included in these plans bro? Or you just gonna make them without any sort of check?” she asked, and Taako shrugged, giving his best attempt at not looking bothered.

“Eh, if you weren’t down I’d figure I’d ask Barold. He’d let me in for dinner,” he said. Kravitz wasn’t sure who Barold was, but Lup huffed, the annoyance on her face not very convincing at this boy.

“Ugh, he would, damn fucking… sweetheart…” she mumbled, and Taako rolled his eyes at that before turning back towards them.

“Either way, thanks for the offer, but it’s chill,” he said, and Kravitz nodded. With that he said goodbye one last time before leading Angus out of the cafe and to the car. They didn’t talk as they got in, or until Kravitz had pulled them out on the road and started heading towards home.

“Are you mad at me?” Angus asked softly after a moment, and Kravitz sighed, shaking his head.

“No. I was scared, and disappointed that you would try and do something so dangerous without telling me, but I’m not mad Angus,” he said. He could see Angus nod out of the corner of his eye, still looking upset. Kravitz couldn’t blame him after the day he’d had.

“I just wanted to see what happened with the investigation,” Angus mumbled, so under his breath that Kravitz almost hadn’t heard it.

“I know,” Kravitz said softly, before sighing as he stopped at a red light. “And I should say sorry about that too. I hadn’t realized how much it meant to you,” he added, which seemed to take Angus by surprise.

“Really?” he asked, and Kravitz nodded.

“Yes, it’s not- I’m not saying I would have let you come regardless, but we should have talked about this more. I’m sorry I’ve been so distracted lately,” Kravitz said as they pulled into the driveway.

“You’ve had a lot of work to deal with though,” Angus said as he grabbed his bookbag off the floor of the car before getting out. Kravitz shook his head, because that was no excuse.

“You’re more important than any work,” he said, heading into the house. Angus had just eaten at the cafe, so Kravitz figured he wouldn’t be hungry again for a bit. “You should go rest dear, I’ll come get you for dinner later, alright?” he said, and Angus nodded. Before he left though a thought seemed to come to him, and he reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone.

“I didn’t mean to break it. Some guy ran into me and I dropped it,” he explained, handing it over. Kravitz winced slightly as he turned it over in his hand. Yeah, that was completely busted.

“We’ll get you a new one this weekend. You’ll just have to make due without until then, alright?” he said, and Angus nodded. Kravitz wouldn’t typically take his phone away for a punishment, since he’d gotten it for him in the case of an emergency anyway. He supposed not immediately running out to get Angus a new phone was alright though, especially since he wasn’t going to be leaving the house other than for school for the rest of the week.

“Now go get some rest, you’ve had a long day,” Kravitz said, and Angus nodded. “I love you Angus,” he added.

“Love you too dad,” Angus said back, giving him another quick hug before heading to his room. Once he was in his room Kravitz stood there for a moment, taking a deep breath to try and collect himself. Heading over to the couch, he went and slumped down into it, resting his head in his hands.

Sometimes he had no idea if he was doing any of this the right way.

He told himself he had to be getting some of this right, because Angus was such a good kid. Maybe he’d lucked out and Angus was good in spite of him, not because of him.

He was trying his best, but it still seemed like he kept noticing things too slow, not until they spiraled into these huge problems.

After a minute or so Kravitz pulled his phone out, quickly calling his mother to give her the rundown of the full story. He hadn’t been able to say much other than Angus was safe and a friend was watching him until Kravitz could get there.

He explained everything in full detail to her, about how Taako’s sister had found him, that they were safe at home now and Angus was resting in his room. It didn’t take long for the conversation to stray from the details of everything that had happened, how Angus had broken his phone and all of that, to Kravitz’s feelings about it all. He made sure to move away from Angus’s room and over to his office, shutting the door behind him before they got too into all of that.

“I just feel like I’m not doing enough for him. I should have realized what he was planning, he was out all day. Anything could have happened,” he said, slumping into his office chair.

“You thought he was at school dear, skipping like this is incredibly unlike Angus,” his mother said, and Kravitz nodded, because it was unlike Angus.

“I should have realized something was off. I thought things were getting better, he absolutely loves the tutoring,” he said, and he could image his mother’s calm, patient look on the other end of the line.

“You’ve both been dealing with a lot lately. Children do these sorts of things, it doesn’t mean you’re failing as a parent,” she insisted. Kravitz knew she was right, but it didn’t make him feel like he was screwing this up any less. He guessed she was able to tell that when he didn’t say anything right away. “You might be right though, you could probably do to having more free time with him,” she added, and Kravitz sighed.

“I don’t want to leave you in the lurch while we’re still dealing with the whole Miller mess,” he said. Even he could hear that his heart wasn’t really in the protest though.

“Don’t worry yourself over me dear. I’d already been considering hiring a few more positions before this happened. Take some time off, I might just need you to run an interview or two, if you still insist on helping,” she said, and alright, Kravitz told himself he could live with that.

“I suppose that could work,” he relented. He couldn’t help feeling incredibly thankful that she was being so understanding about all of this, but he wasn’t very surprise either. He knew how much she loved Angus, the both of them really.

“You’re doing your best dear. You know Angus appreciates that’s more than anything,” she said, and Kravitz forced himself to nod.

“I know… thanks mom,” he said, his voice somewhat choked as he blinked back a few tears.

They didn’t speak for too much longer. Kravitz knew she had a lot of work to do now that he was taking an impromptu mini-vacation, and it was starting to get late anyway. He should go out and make something small for dinner soon. He said as much before ending the call, thanking her one more time for everything.

Hanging up Kravitz leaned back in his chair, running a hand down his face and scrubbing at his eyes some. This was not how he’d expected his day to go, even in the worst case scenario options he’d thought of for himself. He told himself it was alright though. Angus was home safe, so they could figure out where to go from here.

He needed to go make dinner. He needed a distraction.

Glancing down at his phone, he almost considered calling Taako. There was no real point to, he’d already thanked the man profusely for helping to find Angus. There was nothing else to say to him.

A part of him still wanted to. Not because he needed to, just because Taako was a fascinating person who was surprisingly fun to talk to. Who might actually be a whole lot more single than Kravitz had previously thought.

If that was the case, all the things he’d brushed off as jokes or teasing might have been more.

He’d wanted a distraction, but he hadn’t really meant like this.

Still, his mind was on it now. He couldn’t be sure of course, just because it was possible Taako was actually single didn’t mean he was interested in him. Even if he was, it didn’t mean Kravitz could handle a relationship right now. He needed to keep his focus on Angus, especially after all of this.

Angus really did like Taako though. He clearly enjoyed spending time with him, and when he’d been in danger and thought he’d seen him he hadn’t hesitated in going over to him.

It seemed so easy for Taako to make Angus smile, even when he was upset.

Kravitz wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do about any of this, but he wanted to do something.

Figuring he should shove it to the back of his mind, he went to search through the kitchen for something to make. He was sorting through the fridge when a stupid idea came to him.

It seemed exactly the kind of stupid idea Taako would appreciate though.

Pulling his phone back out, it did not take long to google a nearby edible arrangement shop that delivered. He had no idea what kind of fruit Taako liked, so he just got one with a lot of variety. Before he could second guess this, because he knew as soon as he did he would decide against it, Kravitz quickly put in Taako’s address, typing up a small message on the card that came with it, and put the order through.

It didn’t look like it would take very long to be made and shipped, the order saying it would get there sometime Wednesday.

Well, that was certainly a thing he’d just did. He could deal with the consequences of that later.

Forcing himself to get back to dinner, he decided on just making some grilled cheese and soup. It didn’t take long, and Kravitz carefully balanced the plate with the sandwich on top of the bowl as he went to take it to Angus’s room. Usually they ate at the table, but he wanted to offer Angus the chance to keep resting if he needed to.

Knocking quietly on his door, there wasn’t any response. For the few seconds it took him to open the door while balancing everything there was a surge of panic running through his body.

That left when he managed to peak inside. Angus was fast asleep, looking like he’d knocked out before he even managed to take his shoes off or pull the blanket up over him.

Setting the food down on the side table, Kravitz quietly made his way inside, fixing Angus up before pulling the blanket over him. He could let him sleep for now.

“Goodnight Angus,” he said quietly, grabbing up the food again before switching his light off as he left the room. He could stick the soup in the fridge for him to eat if he woke up later, and Kravitz ate the sandwich himself. He could make Angus a fresh one later as well if he wanted it.

Until then, they both could use some rest.

Chapter Text

When Angus woke up it was the next day, the sun already risen. He hadn’t even meant to fall asleep, let alone for so long. He always ended up sleeping for a really long time after crying though, it felt like it drained all the energy out of him.

His first instinct was to check his phone for the time, but the memory of breaking it came back fast. Rubbing at his eyes, he pushed himself out of bed. He was still in his crumpled clothes from the day before but he ignored that for now. His dad must’ve come in and fixed him up, because his shoes were set neatly by the foot of his bed and his glasses were folded up on the side table. Grabbing his glasses, he stumbled out into the living room to check the time.

His heart sunk when he saw it was already nine in the morning. Rushing straight over to his dad’s room, he didn’t bother knocking before heading inside. He was asleep still, which is what Angus had figured must’ve been the only explanation. Running up to the bed he started shaking his dad to wake him up.

“Dad! Dad wake up! We overslept!” he said. His dad shot up in bed, a very panicked look on his face.

“Huh? What’s- what’s wrong Angus?” he asked, obviously pretty discombobulated.

“We overslept, it’s already nine,” Angus explained. He expected his dad to jump up out of bed and start to frantically try and get ready. He was as late for work as Angus was for school after all.

Instead though, he blinked a few times as he seemed to process the sentence, the worry from before fading away as he realized what Angus had said.

“Oh, is that all?” he asked, yawning heavily into his hand. Angus was frowning in confusion now, because this wasn’t like his dad.

“I mean, I guess so? We should hurry up and get ready though, right?” he asked, and he was surprised when his dad shook his head.

“I was going to check in with you during dinner, but you were already asleep. I thought after yesterday it might be good for you to take a day off,” he explained.

“Oh,” Angus said. That wasn’t what he expected, but he supposed it made sense. For a moment he was worried that his dad was keeping him from school as a punishment, but it didn’t seem that way. “Shouldn’t you be at work though?” Angus asked, because that was also weird. His dad shook his head though.

“Your grandma insist I take some time off now that the whole Miller incident is behind us,” he said, having to pause again to yawn. “And I think she might have been right about me needing it,” he added, and Angus couldn’t help but smile a little at that as he nodded.

“Yeah, she’s usually right,” he said, his dad snorting at that. He didn't look like he was about to argue though.

“You want breakfast dear? You didn’t have dinner last night, you must be starving,” he said. Angus hadn’t noticed it until his dad pointed it out, but he was really hungry.

“Yes please,” he said. Heading out to the kitchen, his dad wasn’t the best cook but they tried their hand at pancakes anyway. Most of them came out edible, and Angus told his dad about the amazing pancakes Taako had made for him while he was staying at his house.

It was nice. The whole day ended up being nice actually. Angus was technically grounded, but his dad wasn’t making him stay in his room or anything like that. Instead they spent most of the day hanging out, watching movies and playing music together. It was relaxing and fun, and nice enough that Angus didn’t think about the fact that he’d missed two days of school now.

He didn’t think about it until Wednesday at least. He probably should have. He knew his grades had only just started to get back under control. He was pretty good at not getting sick too, he wasn’t that used to missing days like this, and when he had it had been back when all the work had been easy. Not when he needed to go to tutoring three times a week just to keep on top of his stuff.

At the start of the day he told himself it would be fine. He couldn’t have missed that much in two days. He almost managed to believe it for a little bit too.

And then things kept on piling on. They’d started something new in math, and he found himself lost three steps behind everyone else. That was fine though, he could have Taako explain what he missed in tutoring.

Then Angus went to his next class. He couldn’t focus on what they were going over in history, because he was too busy telling himself to stop worrying about math.

Science was a little bit better. He was good at science, it was the class he always did best in, even throughout all of his school issues. His teacher just told him to make sure he would be ready for the quiz on Friday, and other than that he should be fine.

Despite all the little things that kept on piling up until they weren’t all that little anymore, Angus almost managed to lie and convince himself it would be okay until English class.

He’d been worried about it in the back of his mind all day. He told himself that they were probably still going over the last book though, and maybe they’d had a quiz or something. That would be bad, but he could always convince his teacher to let him retake it after school some day.

When he went up to the teacher at the start of the day, she quickly explained that they’d finished going over the book like he’d thought. Luckily, they hadn’t had the quiz yet, that was today, so he hadn’t missed it. He hadn’t studied either, but he’d read the book and paid attention during the days he had been there, so he told himself it would be fine.

Then she handed him a piece of paper with an assignment on it. They had another essay, and Angus had a hard time paying attention to her as she explained it, just staring at the paper and nodded along.

He had no idea if he did any good on the quiz, he was having a hard time comprehending anything he read. He put down answers though and handed it in. He probably failed it, and by the time he walked out of that class it was hard to keep the tears back.

He didn’t want to go to tutoring like this, but he couldn’t skip, not after Monday. Angus almost considered going to the bathroom to properly cry some, but he felt like if he opened the floodgates he wouldn’t be able to close them again. So instead he sucked it up and headed to the library. Taako was in the study room like he always was, his head shooting up as soon as Angus had opened the door.

“Hey there, fancy seeing you here,” Mr. Taako said with a grin, and Angus tried to smile back.

“I’m really sorry about Monday sir,” he said, pulling his chair out and sitting down. Maybe if he didn’t tell Taako how much he had or that he missed yesterday too he could pretend it wasn’t as bad. He could do it one at a time and try and get a lot of the stuff finished by himself at home.

“Already told you the important shit’s that you’re not dead in a ditch somewhere. Don’t even worry about it pumpkin,” Taako said, and Angus nodded. He knew he should be paying attention to what he was saying, but he was trying to figure out what he could try and get Taako’s help with. The essay should be the first priority, but he kind of wanted to pretend that didn’t exist at all. Maybe math would be safer, and he really needed help with that too. But he wasn’t even sure what was happening in history and he didn’t-

“-ngo? Hey, Angus, earth to nerd, anyone in there?” Taako asked, and Angus quickly shook himself from his thoughts.

“Yes? I’m sorry sir, were you saying something?” he asked, forcing a smile onto his face. It didn’t feel very convincing, and from the look Taako was giving him it didn’t look convincing either.

“I was asking if you’re alright little man,” he said, and Angus nodded.

“Oh yes, I’m fine sir! It’s just- it’s been kinda a long day, is all,” he said, and that wasn’t a total lie. Taako nodded, still looking at him a bit suspiciously.

“Yeah, alright…” he said, and then he pulled his bag up and started digging around in it. “In that case, it’s a good thing I brought these,” he added, pulling out a large tupperware container and handed it over to Angus. Blinking in confusion, Angus opened in up, revealing that it was packed full of delicious looking brownies.

“What are these for?” he asked, not able to mask his complete confusion. He didn’t know what he expected from Taako after everything, but it certainly wasn’t a treat.

“You, but you could stand to share em with your dad some,” Taako said. He guessed his confusion stayed just as apparent, because Taako sighed after a moment and continued. “You seemed all fucking worried that I was mad at you about missing Monday. Thought I’d made it more clear that I don’t give a shit, it’s chill,” he continued.

Angus could feel tears pricking at his eyes again and he hated this. He never used to cry this much. He didn't even know why he was crying, Mr. Taako was being nice to him.

“Shit, shit how the hell did I manage to fuck this one up?” Taako asked, clearly panicked about the tears starting to fall down his face. Angus shook his head, quickly putting the lid back on the brownies so that he didn’t cry on them too much.

“It’s not- you didn’t do a-anything sir. I just… I don’t know what to do,” he said. It was pretty obvious that Taako had no idea what to do either, his hands held up like he was afraid to touch anything, least of all Angus. It would have been funny if Angus didn’t feel so overwhelmed with everything.

“Hey, come on now,” Taako said in a voice that was clearly trying to be comforting when he didn’t have a lot of experience with that. “Just- deep breaths. No need for all that bullshit,” he said, and Angus tried to do what he said, taking deep breaths and pull himself back under control. It was obviously taking longer than Taako was comfortable with though.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath, before sighing heavily. “You need a hug little man?” he asked finally, and it was pretty obvious this wasn’t something Taako liked very much and Angus should say no and that he was fine.

Instead of doing what he should though Angus nodded. At that Taako sighed, standing up out of his chair and coming over to give Angus a pretty awkward hug, patting at his back stiffly. It didn’t take too much longer for him to bring his tears back under control, and Taako seemed pretty relieved when Angus pulled away, quickly going and sitting back down.

“You’re pretty bad at hugs sir,” Angus said, attempting to lighten the mood some. The exaggerated look of offense on Taako’s face did help, not able to keep himself from laughing some at that.

“Rude! I mean, not fucking wrong, but still,” he grumbled, and Angus found himself giggling some at that.

That laughter quickly died when he realized how much of the tutoring session he’d already wasted and how much he still had to do. Taako clearly noticed the change in mood, frowning slightly.

“Alright, so what’s the deal? Cause it’s pretty obvious that whatever the issue is it’s more than just you being upset about Monday,” he asked. Angus was tempted to try and lie again, to make up some little thing Taako could fix up right away and pretend that everything else was fine.

He was pretty sure Taako would be able to see through any lie he tried to give him though. There wasn't much of a point in lying if the person you were lying to knew you were. 

“I missed school yesterday too cause my dad let me stay home, and it was really nice but now I’m all behind in everything and I’m lost in math and we have another essay and I don’t want to mess it up again and make everyone upset and disappointed in me even more and I don’t know what to do,” he said, the words continuing to spill out once he got started. When he finished he was afraid Taako might think he was overreacting or that he was stupid or that he didn’t need tutoring he just needed to get better at using his time right and not want to tutoring him anymore.

“Shit, yeah pumpkin, that all sounds pretty fucking overwhelming,” Taako said after a moment. Angus blinked in surprise, taken more off guard by that than he expected.

“You don’t think it’s dumb?” he asked, and Taako scoffed at the question.

“What? Fuck no, it’s not dumb. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, alright?” Taako said, and Angus nodded, not sure what he was talking about but curious. “You’re in what, 6th grade?” he asked, and Angus nodded. “Yeah, middle school is the fucking worst. Highschool is fucking hell too of course, but middle school is the pits all around. All the teachers insisting they’re trying to prepare you for college? Lies, college is a cake walk compared to the shit you gotta put up with in middle and high school. Like, not easy, but at least you get to pick the shit you're learning and stuff.”

“Oh,” Angus said, and he wasn’t sure how much he would believe that, but it certainly sounded like Taako was convinced what he was saying was true. “I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to help sir,” he mumbled.

“It’s supposed to help by letting you know you’re not dumb for needing some help on this shit, alright? Now we’re just gonna take it one at a time. What are you most freaked out about, and we’re deal with that first and we can worry about everything else afterwards,” he said. Angus reluctantly nodded, because he supposed that made sense enough. It still didn’t feel like this was very salvageable, but if Taako was willing to try then he guessed he was too.

“I guess I’m most worried about the essay,” he said, because he really was. It felt dumb that he couldn’t handle this, but at least it seemed like Taako wasn’t going to judge him for any of it.

“Okay, what’s got you so worked up about it?” Taako asked, and Angus didn’t expect that question. He just sort of thought Taako would try and help him through the assignment, not question why it was an issue.

It had taken him so off guard that it took Angus a moment to actually think of how to answer it.

“I don’t wanna mess up and do it wrong,” he said, because that was the short of it he supposed. He didn’t want people thinking he was dumb or that he didn’t care if he didn’t manage to get it right.

“Yeah alright, but you’re a smart kid. Your last essay was fine, so what’s got you all freaked about this one more than anything else you gotta do?” Taako pressed. Angus wasn’t really sure what made the why important, but he tried his best to think of an answer anyway. 

“There’s no one right answer,” he said finally, trying to figure out how to put it into words, but that was the problem. “With everything else there’s one right answer, or at least something close, there’s a clear thing that- it’s pretty obvious what the teacher wants with everything else. There’s so many different ways to write an essay though and there’s so many options I don’t want to pick the wrong one and have everyone think I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said. Angus had never laid it all out like that before, even for himself.

Taako didn’t say anything for a moment, and Angus pulled his knees up to his chest, avoiding looking at his tutor.

“Sorry sir, I’m sure that sounds stupid,” he muttered. He didn’t expect Taako’s immediate dismissal at that.

“Hell no, it doesn’t sound stupid, that shit makes sense,” he said, and Angus actually chanced looking up at Taako now. He looked like he was thinking something over. “This shit’s been bothering you for a while?” he asked, and hesitantly Angus nodded.

“I guess so. It got worse this year though,” he said, and Taako didn’t look surprised by that. He guessed that made sense, it was probably obvious since he needed the tutoring now.

“And have you like, talked to anyone about it before now?” he asked, and Angus shook his head.

“Not really. I guess I didn’t think about it much,” he said. He had kind of been trying to avoid thinking about it. He never really knew how to put it into words until he was asked to, and even now it didn’t feel quite right.

“Okay. Okay. I’m gonna keep helping you through this shit, and we’re gonna get this essay done and all your other work, because it’s ya know, my job. But you should probably like, let your dad know about all this. Pretty sure he’d want to know,” Taako said, and Angus knew he was right. His dad would not be happy to know that he’d been so worked up about all of this without telling anyone. Even still, Angus found himself worried about actually saying anything.

“He’s just really busy all of the time and I don’t want to bother him over something like this when he’s already working really hard,” Angus said, but Taako didn’t look very swayed.

“Kiddo, you know your dad told me you’re way more important to him than any of the junk he’s got going on at his work, right? I don’t think that excuse is gonna fly,” he said, and Angus knew his dad thought that. It still took him by surprise a little to know that he’d actually told Taako that.

“Look, you can decide if you wanna do anything about that on your own time, alright? No rush,” Taako said, and Angus nodded. “Until then, let’s see what’s the deal with this new essay. And like, listen. Just cause there isn’t one right answer, doesn’t mean yours is gonna be wrong, alright? I ain’t just trying to feed your ego when I say you’re a smart kid,” he added, and it actually managed to get a small smile on Angus’s face.

“You’d know a lot about feeding egos, wouldn’t you sir?” Angus said, pretty surprised that he was already feeling better enough to joke around some. The look on Taako’s face at that was very offended and very funny, and Angus actually giggled some.

“Fucking rude! And this is the thanks I get for trying to be a nice person for once,” he huffed, and Angus was smiling now. It was pretty obvious that Mr. Taako wasn’t actually mad at him.

“Sorry sir,” Angus said, not actually sounding very sorry. His attention fell back on the tupperware full of brownies that was still in his lap, and he opened it back up and grabbed one out to eat. It tasted just as amazing as he had thought it would.

“Uhuh, sure,” Taako grumbled, it pretty clear that he didn’t believe that very much. “So, you good to start cracking at that essay, or what?” Taako asked. Angus felt his mood dampen a little bit at being reminded of the essay again, but he took a deep breath and nodded. He needed to do it after all, and it would be better if he could get as much of it done with Taako’s help as possible.

“Yeah, I think I’m good,” Angus said, finally digging through his bookbag to get the paper with the assignment. They’d spent so much time taking care of Angus’s little breakdown that they didn’t actually have much time to get a lot done. Still, Taako went over the assignment with him, breaking it down to all its base parts to try and make it a little less daunting. They even managed to brainstorm some ideas of what exactly Angus could write about, since it turned out they had a pretty broad area they could choose from.

Taako seemed pretty insistent on Angus taking the lead on most of the brainstorming, which made sense since it was his essay. He guessed it was nice to have someone telling him that his ideas sounded good so far.

It seemed way too soon when Taako glanced at his phone and winced slightly at the time.

“Shit, kinda ran over a little there. We should head out before your dad starts to freak,” Taako said, and Angus reluctantly nodded. A part of him really wanted to keep working on his essay with Taako, they were starting to get on a roll, but he knew Taako had a life outside of this. He couldn’t expect him to stay overtime when he probably wouldn’t get paid just to help him with an essay. Plus, his dad would start to worry if he didn’t hear from them soon.

“Yeah, okay,” he said, starting to put the stuff away. He paused at the tupperware of brownies, even though Taako had said they were for him. “Um, is it okay if I-” he started, but Taako cut him off before he could finish.

“Yes, take them I said they were for you,” he said. Angus smiled a little at that, quickly putting them into his bookbag with the rest of his stuff. With that he followed Taako out to the front of the school, and it had started raining at some point while they were in tutoring. Angus hadn’t noticed, there weren’t any windows in the study room they used. He wasn’t surprised to see his dad’s car already waiting for him. He said he had off work for the rest of the week. That was pretty surprising, but it wasn’t like he didn’t deserve it.

“Is everything alright?” his dad asked as they got close. He must’ve turned the car off while he was waiting, because he actually got out to see them. He wasn’t expecting that with the rain, but it wasn’t too bad and his dad didn’t seem to mind. Angus was suddenly worried how noticeable it was that he’d been crying, hoping maybe the rain would mask it. Before he could say anything though Taako started speaking.

“Oh yeah, we’re all good dog. Just ran over a little making up for the lost time,” he said, and Angus had to resist letting out a sigh of relief. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell his dad, because he was pretty sure Taako was right, he really did need to.

He just didn’t want to get right back into it as soon as he was starting the cheer up again.

“Right, that makes sense,” his dad said before turning back towards him. “How was the rest of your day Angus?” he asked.

“It was alright, I have some make up work I gotta do,” he said, and he considered pulling the brownies out, but figured on one would want to keep standing around in the rain while he did. “Mr. Taako baked for us again,” he said instead. He was changing the subject, but he told himself it was good that he brought up the make up work to his dad at all.

“That was kind of him,” his dad said, and Angus nodded in agreement. “Would you like a ride home? I don’t know your opinion of walking in the rain, but I thought I’d offer in case it wasn’t great,” he added, and Taako looked pretty surprised by the offer. To be fair, Angus was a little surprised too. It was the polite thing to do though, and Taako had helped them out a lot lately.

“Oh, yeah I’ll take you up on that. Not really feeling the whole singing in the rain thing, and I forgot my umbrella,” Taako said. With that they headed into the car, and Angus was pretty glad to be out of the rain. He got into the back seat so Mr. Taako could have the front again, since he was an adult. The drive to Taako’s place was a little out of the way from going straight home, but Angus didn’t mind.

As they drove Angus told Taako about how they’d tried to make pancakes yesterday, and how they hadn’t come out as good as his. Taako actually explained his own recipe, and did not approve oh his dad not even putting any fruit of chocolate chips or anything in his.

It was fun, and easier than it should have been.

It was real easy to image that they weren’t dropping Taako off at his own place and instead all three of them were heading home together. Closing his eyes and leaning against the window, it was so simple to pretend that this was how things were supposed to be. Angus wasn’t sure when he’d stopped thinking it would be a nice thing to see his dad happy about and actively wishing it was real.

Soon enough though they dropped Taako off, and Angus knew he had to stop pretending.

With how stressful everything else was though, it was nice to pretend even for a little while.  

Chapter Text

Taako gave a quick wave back at Kravitz as he got out of the car, turning it into a thumbs up at Angus in the backseat before rushing to get into his apartment. The rain was coming down harder than it had been when they came out of the school, so he was pretty fucking thankful for the ride. That was definitely a good thing.

What wasn’t a good thing was everything else.

This hadn’t been a part of the plan. There hadn’t even been a plan, he just wanted to pay his bills and afford to eat shit other than rice and the shitty instant mac for a change. Tutoring had been the most nonthreatening thing that had gotten back to him fastest.

He wasn’t supposed to start giving a shit.

After they found Angus he did end up going to Lup’s house, because it had been a bit since they last hung out. Not really, but still, they could never have enough twin time.

Taako had spent most of that time assuring Lup that everything that happened that day hadn’t been a big deal. Yeah okay, he’d been worried, but it was a missing kid. A missing kid who was missing during the time in which Taako was supposed to be responsible for him. Of course he was going to freak out.

And yeah, Angus was a good kid. Yes, his dad was ridiculously hot and single. Yeah, Taako was very aware of how sweet they both are, it’s disgusting.

He told himself and he told Lup that he wasn’t fucking attached. Told himself that even if he was, it wouldn’t matter in the long run. Nothing was coming out of this and Taako didn’t want that anyway. He had enough of putting himself out there only for shit to go wrong, he wasn’t interested in dealing with kids in his personal life on top of that. It wasn’t a big deal.

Taako didn’t have much of an excuse for making Angus brownies. He figured the kid might still be upset, and Taako didn’t know how to deal with that shit other than with food. It turned out he was right on the money with Angus still not doing great, although the brownies didn’t actually seem to end up doing much. Not initially anyway, he still fucking loved them once he calmed down a bit.

And he had calmed down a bit. Somehow Taako managed to help him through the little meltdown he had and by the end of it it actually felt like they made some progress. Or at least, he was pretty sure he helped. Taako was actually kind of frustrated at having to end the session, because it seemed like Angus’s confidence was just starting to pick up some right when they had to stop.

He almost offered to let the kid come over to his house again this weekend, so they could tackle the essay and the rest of his make up work together. That would probably be kind of weird to offer though, so he didn’t.

Maybe he could at least look up some of the issues Angus seemed to be having. It definitely sounded like perfectionism problems, but maybe some other stuff too. Taako wasn’t actually trained in how to spot this kind of junk, but he guessed if no one else was gonna look into it he could.

Except every urge he had to keep looking into things, to try and help were signs that he was caring about this too much. It wasn’t like working at the call center, where he could throw that shit behind him the second he walked out the door. Hell, a lot of the time he was actively not giving a shit and fucking off while he was working. He’d gotten real damn good at solitaire from playing it while pretending to listen to customers complain.

It would be fucked up to check out like that with Angus though. He didn't want to check out for this one.

He never should have gotten a job with kids. What the fuck was he thinking?

At the moment Taako trying to push all of that to the back of his mind. He was trying very hard not to think about how fucking worried he’d been when Angus had been missing. How he really wanted to be able to help but had no goddamn idea how to besides running around and shouting his name up and down the streets. How easy it was to be around both Kravitz and Angus. How he’d wished the drive to his apartment had been longer. He was focusing so hard on not thinking about all of that, he almost didn’t notice the large package sitting at his apartment door. The only reason he managed to notice it was because it was big enough to be real hard to miss.

Blinking in confusion, he leaned down to read the postage. It was definitely addressed to him. It didn’t look like someone had sent it personally, but he didn’t recognize the company it had come from either. It’d been a while since he got drunk enough to accidentally blow money ordering shit for himself and forgetting about it in the morning, so it couldn't be anything like that. Shrugging, Taako grabbed the box and headed into his apartment, pretty thankful for the distraction.

Dropping the rest of his shit, he put the large box down on his kitchen counter and quickly looked around until he found a box cutter. Opening it up, there was a slightly smaller refrigerated bag inside. There was also a card on top, which he immediately grabbed and read.

I hope this thank you has an adequate amount of pizazz for your taste.

It didn’t have a name attached, but it didn’t really need one.

Despite everything, Taako was surprised to pull out a fucking edible arrangement. It was still cold, and despite the box it wouldn’t have lasted like that for too long, so someone must’ve dropped it off recently. He poked at a flower made of mango with a grape stuck through it and was torn between laughing and just fucking dying.

He couldn’t believe this.

His first urge was to call Kravitz immediately, and he pulled out his phone to do just that.

He was probably still driving though. Taako barely managed to force himself to wait about fifteen minutes to be sure they were home. He spent a lot of that time trying different fruit in the arrangement. He took a picture before actually eating anything, because this felt like something he should fucking document. The actual fruit wasn’t half bad, even after being manhandled into flowers and shit. Also a lot of them were covered in chocolate, which was even better.

Finally, the mental timer Taako had been keeping went off, and he called Kravitz. It was barely two rings before he picked up, and Taako didn’t give him time to say anything before speaking.

“I wasn’t being fucking serious!” he shouted, and immediately Kravitz started laughing. It was a way nicer laugh than it had any right to be.

This was bad.

“You were very explicit about what you required for thanks, I’m not sure what the issue is here,” Kravitz said, and Taako could hear the shit eating grin in his voice. It was clear he knew full well that Taako hadn’t meant he actually buy him floral fruit bits. He had anyway though, because... because Taako didn't even know. Was kind of scared to think about.

“I can’t believe this. You’re terrible,” Taako said, and now he was smiling too.

This was real fucking bad.

“If- if it’s too much, I can have it returned,” Kravitz said, some nervousness leaking through his voice. It would have been cute if Taako could fucking think. He was having a hard time doing that though, words leaving his mouth without any sort of idea what he was doing. He should probably be trying to have a bit more of a filter before he said something he would regret.

“You can fucking try, I’ve already eaten like, four flowers,” Taako said immediately. That got another laugh of out Kravitz, this one sounding tinged with relief. Taako wasn’t sure what was happening here, except he knew exactly what was happening here he just had no idea what to do about it. He should cut it off at the pass. He wasn’t sure if he actually wanted to.

Except of course he wanted to. This sure as fuck wasn’t something he wanted to pursue. It was too good to be true so of course it would blow up in his face if he ever tried anything.

“Well, in that case I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” Kravitz said. It sounded like he actually meant that too.

“Yeah it’s- it’s certainly a bunch of fruit cut into the shapes of flowers and shit,” Taako muttered, poking something that looked like cantaloupe. They weren’t real flowers, but they were flowers he could eat, which made them even better in Taako’s opinion.

Did the same connotations as sending real flowers exist in sending fruit flowers? Probably. There was no way Kravitz didn’t know what he was doing. Unless he didn’t. Unless Taako was just an idiot.

Except Angus had definitely implied some shit otherwise.

“Yep, that’s kind of what an edible arrangement is,” Kravitz said, somehow managing to sound even more nervous. “It’s um, so it’s alright? There’s nothing- I remember you saying you were allergic to peanuts,” he said, and Taako quickly nodded. He kind of thought that was going somewhere else for a second.

“Oh yeah, it’s all good. No worry about that,” he assured.

“Good, that’s good,” Kravitz said, still a tone to his voice that set Taako on edge. Like he was working himself up to say something else, something Taako really didn’t want to hear.

“I really do need to thank you though. Not- not just for Monday either. Everything you’ve done, it’s been a huge help. It’s- you’re pretty spectacular.”

No no no oh god no.

“There’s no obligation, but I was wondering if-” 

“Hey my dude I’m gonna have to call you back later,” Taako cut him off before he could finish his sentence. It felt kind of hard to breathe. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what a panic attack felt like. He told himself that if he didn’t know what it was Kravitz was going to ask for sure, then there was no reason to freak out.

“Oh. Oh yes, that’s fine. I uh, I’ll talk to you later then,” Kravitz said, sounding like he was trying real hard not to come off as disappointed as he was. It was still leaking through despite his best efforts, and for some reason that made Taako feel shitty. There was no reason for that though. It wasn’t Taako’s problem. None of this was Taako’s problem.

“Yeah, later,” Taako said, moving to hang up. Before he did though he stopped himself. “Oh! And make sure Angus doesn’t eat all those fucking brownies at once. They’re fudgey as fuck, kid’ll give himself a stomach ache,” he added quickly. He meant to get on Angus about that before leaving, but he’d been a little distracted. For some reason he didn’t want his quick shut down to be the last part of this conversation. He wanted it to be anything else, so that he could maybe pretend that part didn’t happen.

“Right, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on him,” Kravitz said, an attempt at some amusement back in his voice. It didn’t do much to make Taako feel better, but it was something.

“Cool. Uh, later,” Taako said, still having a hard time keeping himself under control.

“Goodbye Taako,” Kravitz said, and with that Taako hung up.

His first instinct was to run right out of the house to Lup’s. Before he managed to leave though, he caught sight of the fruit arrangement again, and Taako paused. He shouldn’t give a shit, but he wasn’t about to waste food. Besides, it would give him some time to try and calm down.

He hated to completely undo the arrangement, but he couldn’t fit the whole thing in the fridge like that. So instead he took all the skewers that were left off and wrapped them up, sticking them into his fruit drawer.

As soon as it was away Taako grabbed his keys and ran out of his apartment, checking the bus times on his phone as he did. Luckily there was one soon, and he didn’t have to wait out in the rain for too long. It was long enough to make him look as bedraggled as he felt though.

It wasn’t a long bus ride to Lup’s place though. He spent the whole time tapping his feet and undo and redoing the braid in his hair. As much as he’d tried to brush her off before, he could really use some help right now. It was getting to the point where he couldn’t even lie to himself anymore, which was the point where it became a huge fucking problem.

As panicked as he felt though, he probably could have though to like, called beforehand. He might not have thought about how bad it would look showing up at Lup’s door unannounced, having clearly ran from the bus stop in the rain, and quite obviously having a crisis.

“Shit, Taako what’s wrong? Get in here,” she said as soon as she saw him, ushering him inside.

“He got me fruit flowers Lup!” Taako shouted, letting her lead him towards the couch. He sat down in a heap, holding his hands up to his forehead as he slumped back. When he opened his eyes to look at Lup, she looked confused as fuck. Taako could hear movement coming from further in the house, probably Barry coming to check what was going on.

“What?” she asked bluntly, staring at him. Taako groaned, covering his face again and slumping even further into his chair.

“He got me an edible arrangement Lup! Those things are expensive as fuck! There were goddamn chocolate covered strawberries in it!” he whined. That wasn’t the thing that had sent him into a damn near panic attack, but it was the easier thing to focus on. It was the silly thing, he could joke about it any maybe Lup wouldn’t realize how serious of an issue this was. He felt more than saw Lup come and sit down on the couch next to him.

“Wait, who did? Hot dad?” she asked, and Taako could hear the smile in her voice without even looking over at her. Sure, that was what he wanted, but he was also suddenly filled with a lot of regret. How did he ever think talking to someone about this was a good idea?

Because it was Lup. He knew that was why it was a good idea. She was his sister and was real damn good at getting him through this kind of bullshit. The problems only ever got real bad when he didn’t go to her.

“No, Barold, who do you think?” he snapped, even though there was no reason to get pissed at her. It didn’t seem to bother her any though, which he couldn’t be that surprised by. She was probably relieved, thinking something was seriously wrong but no, he was just having a crisis because a cute guy got him some fruit.

A cute guy he really fucking liked. A cute guy with a kid Taako really fucking cared about.

A guy who came this close to asking him out, and Taako couldn’t deal with that because he was a faking disaster.

“Aw, Ko, that’s real sweet,” Lup said, because of course. Lup was a functional person and wouldn’t see this as a reason to immediately freak out.

Okay, that wasn't entirely true. She wouldn't see that as a reason to now. A couple years back and Taako could distinctly remember Lup coming to him in similar panics about Barry.

“No, it’s awful. I have to quit my job and move away,” he whined. Shifting around, he moved so that his feet were resting in Lup’s lap, and he could see her roll her eyes at him. Barry had just walked into the room, watching from the doorway with a look of confusion.

“Why’s Taako going off the grid?” he asked, not sounding phased by this in the slightest.

“A hot guy he’s been crushing on gave him fruit,” Lup answered before he could. In response Taako kicked her.

“Oh. Good fruit?” he asked, and yeah, Taako wasn’t surprised that that was the thing Barry was curious about. Despite how that was so not the point, the frivolity of the question was kind of a nice distraction. 

“Pretty good. Expensive,” Taako muttered. Barry nodded, seeming to think that over.

“Well, good luck with that,” he said bluntly. It wasn’t useful in the slightest, but even still Taako snorted, throwing an arm over his eyes and holding his other hand up with a big thumbs up in Barry’s direction.

“Helpful as always, my dude,” he said. Taako couldn’t blame Barry for not offering up some words of wisdom in the romance department. His idea of a good plan was to suffer in silence for nearly a goddamn decade.

Honestly, right now that wasn’t looking like too bad of a plan.

“I’m gonna finish up this app Lup, just holler if you all need anything,” Barry said. Taako waited until he couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore before speaking.

“What’s Barold applying for?” he asked, wondering if it was too late to change the subject and pretend all of this never happened. Probably, but it was worth a shot.

“Job shit, if you’re actually interested we can talk about it after you spill the beans on hot fruit dad,” Lup said. Taako sighed, letting his arm fall back some so it wasn’t obscuring his eyes anymore.

“I’m not, was just hoping to distract you,” he admitted, which got a laugh out of Lup.

“Yeah, that’s what I figured,” she said, not sounding bothered by that in the slightest. It wasn’t that Taako didn’t care about Lup and Barold’s fancy jobs and science shit, he’d let them talk his ear off about that junk all day. He figured they would if something came from this, so there was no need to probe.

After a minute Lup sighed, and Taako kinda wished he hadn’t uncovered his eyes already.

“So, he just like, got you fruit bouquet?” she asked, still sounding pretty amused by this whole thing. There was also that soft cautious tone to her voice, the one she used when she was trying to get him to open up about something that always fucking worked.

“Yeah, for helping him look for Angus. When he kept thanking me I told him he should just get me an edible arrangement, and so he fucking did I guess,” he explained. Honestly, talking about his part almost put a smile back on Taako’s face. It was exactly the kind of ridiculous over the top dramatics that Taako could appreciate, and Lup snorted in amusement.

“I mean, can certainly appreciate a guy who follows through,” she said, and Taako couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

“Ugh, yeah. It’s kinda fucking incredible, like, complete stupid bullshit, but stupid bullshit that benefits me,” he said. Then the smile dropped from his face and he rolled over so that his head was pressed up against the couch. “Pretty sure he was about to ask me out,” he said, his voice muffled somewhat against the cushions. It was enough that he knew Lup could still understand him though.

“Oh shit, like, legit?” she asked, and Taako just nodded. He was pretty sure Lup was starting to understand why he’d been so freaked by all this. “So, what stopped him then?”

“I told him I had to call him back,” he muttered, this time the words unintelligible even to Lup.

“What was that now?” she asked and Taako sighed, kinda hating everything about this.

“I cut him off and said I’d call him back later,” Taako repeated, this time at a loud enough volume that Lup could understand. He knew she could understand, because she sighed heavily.

“Koko…” she said, and Taako pushed himself up some to actually look at her.

“What else was I supposed to do? Just let him ask me out?” he asked, and Lup nodded emphatically.

“That would be a good start,” she said, and it wasn’t like Taako couldn’t understand why she’d suggest that. She was all in loving bliss with Barry and probably wanted that for him too.

“Not gonna happen Lulu,” he said, not that it seemed to deter Lup any.

“Alright, why not? If you’re not into it that’s fine, but I wanna hear why because where I’m from it looks like you’re pretty fucking into it,” she pressed. Taako sat up so he was leaning back against the armrest, crossing his arms as he tried to get his thoughts in order.

He couldn’t exactly claim that he was just totally uninterested in Kravitz. That wasn’t the truth at all, and Lup would be able to tell. Still, there were other reasons.

“He’s got a kid,” Taako started with, because that was a pretty huge one.

“So? How’s that a problem, you’re crazy about Angus,” she said.

“Not really, ” he muttered, the words sounding hollow even to him. Lup was giving him a look showing how entirely unconvinced she was, and Taako sighed. “Okay, he’s a good kid, but that’s not really the issue. He’s still his kid, I’m not a dad Lup,” he insisted.

“Taako, no one said you had to be. You don’t gotta marry this guy. You’re allowed to take it slow,” Lup tried to assure him, but Taako shook his head. In different circumstances maybe, but it didn’t feel like it worked like that here.

“If we started dating and broke up that’d be shitty for Angus,” he said. Normally he wasn’t sure if he’d care about something like that, but he knew Angus liked him. And yeah, he fucking cared about this kid despite his best effort. When he glanced over at Lup again it looked like that had actually given her some pause.

“I mean, listen Taako. I know I hadn’t talked to the guy for very long, but from what I saw and everything I’ve heard, he sounds like a pretty good dad. And the fact that you’re already worried about Angus getting hurt if things go south makes me think that even if it doesn’t work out, neither of you would let any of it fall on him,” Lup said, her voice gentle and confident.

Taako wanted to argue that he was a piece of shit who’d still probably end up hurting them anyway. That was how shit went, any sane person who spent long enough with him ended up hating his guts. A part of him really didn’t want this to turn out like that. He liked that they liked him, and he didn’t want to fuck it up.

The only way he knew how to keep that from happening for sure would be to not get too close. It would all go wrong as soon as he started trying shit, so he just couldn’t try.

“It’s just a bad idea Lup,” he said after a moment. It was far from the fool proof defense of why he didn’t want to date Kravitz that he knew she was looking for. That’s what it boiled down to though, a bad idea.

“Look, I’m not gonna push you into this if it’s not- if you’re just not ready yet Ko. It’s okay if you still need time. I just don’t want you regretting not going for this later,” Lup said, and Taako knew not all that deep inside that she was right. Maybe he would regret not giving this a chance later. He probably would. That didn’t make it any easier to actually go through with this.

“Will you get off my back if I promise you I’ll think about it?” he asked, even though he knew Lup wouldn’t pressure him if he told her not to. Lup grinned at that, nodding.

“Yeah, I guess I’ll ease up on you some,” she said, acting like this was some huge inconvenience to her. Taako knew she wasn’t serious about a lick of it, but he appreciated the act. Made everything feel a little less serious, a little less daunting. Taako didn’t say anything for a moment, quiet as he tried to think this over. He wasn’t going to come to a decision now, the whole issue was still too fresh and close to panic for him to think that clearly about it.

It wasn’t like he’d been totally uninterested. That was pretty obvious, there was a reason he kept flirting with the guy, other than the fact that he was ridiculously hot. He’d just, ya know, never expected anything actually serious in return. Maybe he should have when Angus started playing at matchmaker, the kid was pretty perceptive after all.

“Ya know, I just realized that this is like, the only way I’m ever gonna get a nephew. So actually, scratch everything I was saying before about taking your time if you’re not ready and not pressuring you, you gotta go for it now,” Lup said suddenly, breaking the comfortable silence they had fallen into. Grabbing a throw pillow, Taako threw it at her head.

“Well now I’m definitely not doing it,” he said, ignoring Lup’s whining. Despite trying to look grumpy, there was a smile persistently trying to pull at his lips.

Taako knew it wasn’t going to ever happen. Even if he decided to take a chance on this, it doubted it would last. He could almost picture it though.

He never thought it would be his scene, but it was still kinda nice to imagine.

Chapter Text

That hadn’t gone how Kravitz hoped it was going to. He supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised. It was- he wasn’t surprised. He’d been more certain than not that Taako simply wouldn’t be interested. Ignoring everything else that was the main reason he’d decided he wasn’t going to pursue anything in the first place.

He should have just stuck to that decision. It was obvious now that it had been the right one, even with Taako actually being single. Of course that wouldn't change how he felt after all.

There’d been a small, nagging part of Kravitz that thought maybe he should go for it. Insisting that there was no way to know for sure unless he put it out there. That he couldn’t rightfully say Taako hadn’t been flirting with him, and that he should just take this chance.

And for a moment Kravitz had thought…

Well, it didn’t matter what he thought he supposed, because now he knew. Which was fine. It was the whole point of asking in the first place. He supposed he was thankful that Taako had cut him off before he made things too awkward. He might have preferred being turned down properly, but at least he could see that this was just an attempt at sparing his feelings, and Kravitz could take a hint.

He certainly wasn’t going to try anything else. Even if that wasn’t just a scummy thing to do at all when someone gave you their answer, he cared too much about letting Angus continue to have this good relationship in his life than to ruin it by attempting to pursue something that wasn’t wanted. 

So Kravitz took a deep breath, ignored the stinging in his chest and in his eyes, and slipped his phone back into his pocket. It wasn’t like he didn’t have more important things to focus on right now anyway.

Leaving his office, he’d ducked inside of it when he saw Taako was calling him. He saw Angus was still in the kitchen, sitting at the counter with a tupperware full of brownies open in front of him. He was eating one and turned towards Kravitz with a small smile on his face, which Kravitz tried his best to return.

Much more important things to focus on now.

“Hey dad, you should try one of these, they’re really really good,” Angus said, grabbing the tupperware and holding it out for him. Kravitz smiled as he grabbed one, because there was no reason to say no. Angus would probably get worried or suspicious if he did, and they did look delicious.

“Oh damn, you weren’t kidding,” he said once he took a bite, and Angus’s grin got a little bit wider as he nodded. He grabbed another one out of the tupperware, but after that Kravitz took it from him, getting a pout in return. “Taako said not to let you eat them all at once, you’ll get a stomach ache,” he said, moving to put them in the cabinet.

“Was that Taako on the phone?” Angus asked, and Kravitz could tell he was trying to sound casual with the question. He instantly regretted bringing the man up, because of course Angus would notice. He was such a smart boy.

“Yes, he was just… saying thank you for the ride,” he said. Angus didn’t look like he believed him very much, and from the slight smile on his face Kravitz was pretty sure he knew what he actually thought was going on.

God, he was not looking forward to disappointing him on this front. At least he could probably put it off a little bit longer. Just until Angus was truly feeling better from everything that had gone on the day he skipped school.

“Yeah, okay,” Angus said, hopping down off his stool. “Well uh, I’ve got a lot of homework to do, from the days I missed? So I’ll be in my room, tell me when dinner’s done,” he added, and Kravitz was only going to nod and let him get on with his work. That had been the habit they’d gotten into after all, Angus doing his homework in his room while Kravitz worked in his office.

Except Kravitz didn’t have anything to work on right now. He was supposed to be taking this time off to spend it with his son.

“Angus?” Kravitz called, catching his attention before he got too far. Angus turned back to him, a curious look on his face. “Why don’t you come do your homework out in the living room instead? I promise not to be too much of a distraction if you need to concentrate,” he said, trying to sound like he was joking some on that last point.

Angus looked genuinely surprised by the idea, taking a moment as he thought it over. After a few seconds he nodded, seeming somewhat hesitant although Kravitz wasn’t sure why.

“Yeah okay, that sounds nice,” he said, and Kravitz smiled at that.

“Okay, I’ll meet you in the living room then,” he said. Angus nodded, heading off to probably grab his bookbag and other supplies. Kravitz quickly moved back into his office, grabbing his laptop. He wasn’t going to use it to work, but it would be a good idea to have something he could do himself that wouldn’t be too distracting for Angus.

When he got back to the living room Angus was sitting down, pulling the coffee table a bit closer to the sofa so that he could use it to work. Kravitz got himself situated on the other end of the couch, letting the laptop take a moment to start up.

“What homework do you have?” Kravitz asked, watching as Angus pulled a few binders out of his backpack. He was genuinely curious, Angus didn’t tell him too much about the work he had lately. At first Kravitz hadn’t noticed, until it had started to become an issue. Now he figured it was because he was getting the help he needed in tutoring.

“Um, I have an essay I need to work on. Mr. Taako helped me figure out a little bit, but we didn’t have a lot of time left,” he said, and Kravitz nodded. There was definitely something that sounded a little hesitant there, his voice even in a way that was a bit too deliberate. Kravitz wasn’t sure what the reasons for that could be.

“Did you have a lot of other things you needed to work on?” he asked, and Angus nodded. He didn’t say anything else though, his eyes scanning over the assignment. Kravitz leaned back some in the couch then, figuring he should let Angus concentrate. “Well, I’m right here if you need anything,” he said, and Angus nodded wordlessly again.

Kravitz tried to find a few mindless things to do online to distract himself. There was a short moment where he tried to tell himself he didn’t need a distraction, but that wasn’t very productive or true. He felt foolish for feeling upset about Taako, but it wouldn’t do anything to dwell on all of that right now. He certainly didn’t want to rehash those emotions while Angus was in the room. So, he needed a distraction.

The distraction ended up coming in the form of mindless animal videos, mostly of birds or cats. Seemed a little stereotypical for sure, but they worked all the same.

Maybe getting a pet would be a good idea? It did get kind of empty in the house with just him and Angus, although that had never been much of an issue before. Still, he was sure Angus would love the idea of a cat or something. A dog might be a little too much, and a bird definitely too much, but yeah. A cat might be nice. 

No. No okay, these were not the kind of decisions he should be thinking about when he was still trying to be not upset over certain things. Maybe he could revisit the idea again later, once he was over all of those complicated bruised emotions. Maybe at the end of the school yeah, as a reward for Angus for getting through it. Yeah, that sounded like a much better plan.

“Hey dad?” Angus asked after a bit, knocking Kravitz out of his thoughts. That was definitely a good thing, as he was starting to consider going onto some local shelter sites to get an idea of how one would go about adopting a cat. That was not information he needed to know at the moment.

“Yes dear?” he said, looking up from his screen. There was a nervous look on Angus’s face, and he had a paper clenched a little too tightly in his hand. There were more papers on the table, and Kravitz suddenly got the feeling that he should have been paying a bit more attention to whatever it was Angus was working on.

“It’s- actually, nevermind. I think I’m gonna go keep working on this in my room,” Angus said quickly, already starting to gather up the papers into a messy pile on the table. Kravitz frowned, shutting the laptop and pushing it to the side.

“Angus, darling,” he said, which at least got his son to pause in his frantic rush to leave. “If you’d rather work in your room that’s fine, but if you need some help well, I might not be as good at it as Mr. Taako is, but I’d love to give it the old college try,” he said, giving Angus what he hoped was a comforting smile. He could still see some hesitance and nervousness there on his face, why would he be nervous? But after a moment Angus put his papers down again and nodded.

“It’s nothing real big,” he said, handing Kravitz over the assignment paper, which he quickly read as Angus continued to speak. “I just… I can’t figure out how to start this essay. Mr. Taako helped me figure out what to write about and- and brain storming and all that stuff, but we took too long figuring out other things and I don’t know how to actually start. Nothing I write sounds right,” he finished. Kravitz nodded, trying very hard not to think about how long it had been since he’d written an essay.

“Starting is always the hardest part. What did you two decide for your topic?” he asked, and Kravitz wasn’t sure what he was feeling as the topic of Taako came up once again. A bitter shot of disappointment still, he supposed. Luckily for this one thing, it seemed like Angus was too wrapped up in his essay to notice. That was not something Kravitz particularly liked to see though.

“How the Caleb Cleveland books use deductive reasoning in order to show Caleb’s intelligence and set him apart from the other characters as the protagonist,” Angus said. It sounded a bit like he was reciting a thesis sentence him and Taako must’ve cooked up. Kravitz had to blink as he actually processed it.

“Oh wow, that sounds like a very good topic Angus,” he said, and Angus shrugged, not really meeting his eyes.

“Mr. Taako said it would be a good idea to do it on something I liked,” he said, and Kravitz quickly nodded in agreement.

“That does make the whole thing much less of a slog to get through,” he said. Looking back at the assignment paper again, Kravitz was a bit at a loss on how to start this as well, but he tried not to let that be too noticeable. “You said you already gave a shot at a opening line, can I see it?” he asked. Angus looked a little reluctant, but started shuffling through some of the other papers.

“These are all the ideas I’ve come up with so far,” he said. Kravitz blinked as he read the paper over, and he wasn’t sure what he was expecting. He remembered writing essays for school. He’d never had any trouble in English, but it wasn’t his passion either. Still, he did well enough, and he remembered writing out rough drafts, tweaking them a bit before eventually handing them in.

Angus was clearly going above and beyond in that regard though, as Kravitz read over six different options for just the opening line of the essay. They all seemed, well they all seemed fine to him.

“You said you didn’t like any of these?” he asked, and Angus nodded. He was watching Kravitz carefully, trying not to look like he was on the edge of his seat as he waited for a reaction. “What’s wrong with this one?” Kravitz asked, pointing at one almost at random.

“In Grant Andrews’ series, Caleb Cleveland: Kid Cop, Andrews uses a number of different techniques to make his protagonist stand out,” Angus read out loud, frowning as he did. “It feels too blunt, there’s nothing making you interested in actually reading about it,” he said. Kravitz supposed there was some truth to that. Looking at the paper again, he pointed to another line.

“What about this one?” he asked.

“There are many ways in which an author can set their protagonist apart from the other characters in a story,” he read, looking even more unhappy with that one. “It’s too broad and generic,” Angus said definitively. Kravitz took the paper back again, reading the remaining ones once again before pointing at a third.

“How about this one? I like this one,” he said. Angus looked a bit hesitant as he took the paper back, reading over another line.

“One of the hardest tasks an author has when writing a book is setting their protagonist apart, both inside and out of their story,” he said, before leaning back into the couch some. “I guess that one’s not too bad. It’d be a little easier to follow up than the others,” he relented, and Kravitz nodded.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try dear. You can fix it up some once it’s written,” he said, and Angus sighed before nodding.

“I know, it’s just… I know,” he said, grabbing a new piece of paper and writing that line down. Then he paused, and Kravitz watched as he tapped his pencil several times, clearly thinking something over. “Mr. Taako said I should talk to you,” he added, which caught Kravitz off guard.

“He did? About what?” he asked, and Angus seemed to take a moment to get his words in order. Whatever it was, it seemed to be bothering him. A lot.

“It isn’t- it’s not anything bad. I just, kinda got really overwhelmed in tutoring today, cause I missed a lot of stuff while I was out of school. That’s- that’s why we didn’t have a lot of time to work on anything,” Angus started, and Kravitz felt his heart sink hearing that. He’d hoped giving Angus the day off would help, but it seemed like it had only made things worse.

“And it’s just, I guess some of this stuff has been kind of overwhelming for a while? And it’s- it’s not like that’s anything new, that’s why I’ve got the tutoring now. And it’s helping! I promise it’s helping but it’s just… I don’t know. Mr. Taako said I should talk to you about it," he said, pulling his knees up to his chest and mumbling that last part. Immediately Kravitz moved closer to him on the couch, wrapping his arm around Angus’s shoulders and pulling him into a side hug that Angus immediately leaned into.

“He was right. Angus, if you’re ever feeling like somethings too much you can always come talk to me about it, alright? I don’t care if we’ve talked about it before or anything like that. As long as it’s still an issue for you, I want to be able to be there to help you,” Kravitz said. Ideally, he wished he had the easy answer to solve all of Angus’s problems so he never felt overwhelmed or upset again. He was realistic enough to know that was never going to be an option.

“Thanks dad,” Angus said, and there was still a strong part of Kravitz was wasn’t exactly happy to think about Taako right now. That still hurt from the rejection, as much as he knew he should have seen it coming. Still, another part of him couldn’t help but still be grateful to the man. Happy that he was in Angus’s life and able to direct him to open up like this.

And another part of him hurt even more. Seemed determined to fall just that little bit further despite knowing for a fact now that it wasn’t going to happen.

Kravitz took a deep breath, tearing himself away from those thoughts.

“You said it’s been overwhelming for you for a while. Is it- is there anything specific that’s been bothering you?” Kravitz asked, because right now he needed to focus on his son.

“Essays. I don’t like writing essays,” Angus answered after a moment, a hint of disdain in his voice. Kravitz could feel a small smile starting to pull at his lips again.

“That’s quite alright darling. You don’t have to like everything you have to do in school. There were quite a few parts of school that I absolutely loathed,” he said. Angus shifted somewhat so that he was looking up at Kravitz.

“Like what?” he asked, and Kravitz didn’t have to think for very long before answering.

“Math. Statistics were the worst,” he said, and Angus immediately gave him a look of disagreement at that.

“What? No, stats are the best math. The graphs make it so much easier to see,” he said, but Kravitz shook his head.

“They’re all just squiggly lines, it doesn’t help at all,” he said, and as they argued over this Kravitz could see Angus slowly starting to relax again. It was good. This was good.

“My point is,” Kravitz said, cutting off the frivolous argument. “You’re allowed to struggle with some things Angus, it doesn’t have to all come naturally to you. Never feel ashamed about having to come to someone for help, alright?” he said, and Angus nodded.

“Alright dad,” he said, and this time he sounded a bit more sure of himself as he spoke. Kravitz couldn’t help the smile on his face at that.

“Now, how about we keep working on this essay, if you’re still feeling up to it,” he suggested, and Angus nodded once again.

“Yeah okay, that would probably be a good idea,” he said. With that Kravitz sat by and tried his best to help Angus through the essay, one line at a time at first. Slowly though it seemed that Angus was picking up steam, writing larger bits before asking for his input. Kravitz wasn’t sure how much help he actual was, but it seemed to be enough to keep Angus’s confidence up and occasionally help him unsnag an idea.

Kravitz lost track of the time, but it was starting to get late by the time Angus actually had a full rough draft completed in front of him. Angus was slowly flipping through the pages, seeming a little stunned to have actually gotten it all done in one sitting. To be fair, Kravitz was pretty surprised by that too.

“Oh god, I didn’t realize how late it’d gotten. I’m going to go throw some food on, alright?” Kravitz said, standing up. He slowly stretched some, letting his body pop back into place from all the sitting and hunching over to check Angus’s work. His son quickly nodded, putting the pages of his essay back in order and starting to put them away. He was moving fast, like he was afraid he’d second guess the whole thing if he didn’t stop now.

“Yeah okay, that sounds good. I’m starving,” he said, and Kravitz wasn’t surprised by that. He was halfway back into the kitchen when Angus spoke up again. “Hey dad?” he called, and Kravitz stopped to look back at him. “Thanks. For helping me with the essay,” he said, and Kravitz felt a soft smile stretch over his face at that.

“No need to thank me darling. I’m glad I could help,” he said, and Angus just smiled back at him. Kravitz made the rest of his way into the kitchen at that. It was too late to make a very good dinner (not that Kravitz ever made a very good dinner. He wished he could be better about that, but remembering to eat had never been his strong suit, let alone actually cooking for himself) so he just grabbed a frozen bag of fries and a frozen bag of popcorn chicken out of the freezer, preheating the oven as he started putting them out on trays. 

He had just finished putting them into the oven when he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket. Kravitz tried to ignore the swell of hope that rose in his chest as he quickly pulled it out of his pocket. It was stupid, Taako had already given him his answer, however indirectly. The chances of him actually calling back were very slim.

Even telling himself all that, Kravitz still felt his shoulders slump and his heart sink that tiniest bit more when he read the name on the caller ID.

“Hello mother, how are you doing tonight?” he asked as he answered the phone, trying to mask the disappointment that still stuck to the inside of his chest.

“I’m doing fine dear, thank you,” she said, and then there was a pause. “Is everything alright?” she asked, and Kravitz guessed he hadn’t hid it as much as he’d hoped. He nodded, moving to go sit in a chair as he waited for the timer to go off to flip the food.

“Oh yes, everything’s good. Just got finished helping Angus with some of his homework, we ran a bit late is all,” he said, which seemed believable enough. He wasn’t sure how much it actually convinced his mother, but she didn’t seem inclined on pushing it.

“I’m glad you two had a productive day then,” she said, and it was very hard for Kravitz not to ask for an update on how everything was going on work. He was fairly sure that she wouldn’t tell him much even if he did ask though.

“I’m keeping you on your vacation,” she continued, which Kravitz wasn’t surprised by. “I was wondering though if you’d be free this weekend to do an interview or two for me? Not at the office, shouldn’t take more than a few hours. I have a few candidates that look promising, but I’d like your opinion before making any final decisions,” she said, and Kravitz found himself nodding. That was honestly a bit of a relief, something small and relatively easy he could focus on that wouldn’t take much time.

“Of course, whenever you need. You can just email me their information and I’ll set up an interview for them,” he said.

“Thank you dear,” his mom said, and she sounded genuinely grateful. “How’s Angus been?” she asked after a moment, her voice a bit quieter even though there was no way he would be able to hear her over the phone.

“Good, I still need to get him a new cell phone, but…” Kravitz trailed off, trying to find a way to sum up everything they talked about in a few words. “We’re doing good.”

“I’m glad,” she said. They didn’t talk for too much longer, just until the food beeped for Kravitz to turn it over. After that it wasn’t a long wait before the food was done completely, and Kravitz carried two plates out to the living room, handing one to Angus immediately before setting his own down and going back for some drinks. As soon as he was sat down comfortable Angus leaned against his side, having already shoveled a good portion of dinner into his mouth.

“Was that Grandma Raven?” he asked after taking a big gulp of his drink. Kravitz nodded, starting to flip through the tv for something to put on in the background as they ate.

“Yes, she just wanted to know if I was free to do some interviews this weekend,” he explained. Kravitz almost stopped the tv on some competition cooking show, before thinking twice and moving on. After a bit he settled on some polite procedural. Angus tended to love finding the faults in those.

“Oh, neat,” Angus said, probably more about the interview than the show. “Are you… um,” he hesitated. Kravitz quickly washed down the mouthful of food he’d had before turning to look more directly at Angus. “Are you gonna have more days off now that you’re hiring new people?” he asked, and it was obvious that he was trying to make it sound like a casual question. He didn’t quite manage it though, and the slight hopeful tone to his voice made Kravitz’s heart break. He hadn’t realized how much Angus had missed him being around.

“That’s the plan darling,” he said, and he could feel Angus relax that little bit more against him.

“Cool. That’s cool,” he said, and Kravitz nodded in agreement. It wasn’t perfect maybe, but it was better. It was good enough, and that was all Kravitz could ask for. At the end of the day, this was all he really needed.

Chapter Text

Angus couldn’t really believe that he managed to get the essay done so fast. He’d been so worried about it, and it still felt wrong, but it was done. At the very least, he would actually be able to hand in a rough draft when the teacher asked for it, and he had no excuse not to this time.

He actually felt a little proud of it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the first time he’d actually gotten a writing assignment done on time all year, and it had only taken a day too. He got it done before he even had a chance to go back to tutoring. Sure, it meant he was still behind in all of his other classes, but this one thing was done. Which meant he could spend less time worrying about it and more time trying to get himself to work on his other subjects.

A part of him had really thought it wouldn’t have made a difference. That even if he asked for help it wouldn’t matter, he’d still manage to mess it up, or whoever he asked would be too busy to help him. He'd just be stuck in the same position and then people would know how bad it was too. That wasn't what happened at all though.

And sure, he doubted his dad would be able to sit with him for several hours and help him methodically write an entire essay every time he needed help. But maybe it wouldn’t have to be every time. He hoped it wouldn’t have to be, that eventually he’d be able to do it on his own.

His dad had said he might have more free time with the new people being hired at work though. Angus couldn’t help but he a bit excited about the idea. He knew his dad had to work and he didn’t mind it, but he definitely liked it when he was home. Even still Angus told himself not to get his hopes up, he couldn’t ask his dad to help him with every single project. Still, maybe he could every so often now, just on the ones that really stumped him.

The next time Angus had tutoring, he was practically bounding into the little study room. Sure, he was still a bit behind in some of his other classes, but he couldn’t help feeling excited about actually being able to give good news for once. Taako must have noticed, immediately perking up some at the sight of him.

“Well, someone’s in a good mood,” he said, and Angus quickly nodded, pulling out his seat and putting his bookbag on the table.

“I am sir! Your advice really worked!” he said, digging through his folders before he found the one for English class. Taako looked a little confused by that, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Advice?” he asked, and Angus nodded again, pulling out the essay. He didn’t have to hand it in until Monday. He actually got it done early for once.

“Yeah! About talking to my dad,” he said, and he could see the look of realization that that fell over Mr. Taako’s face at that. “I talked to him and we worked on my essay together all night and we got it done, look sir!” he said, kind of shoving the papers at his tutor. Taako took the essay, and Angus tried to sit patiently as he slowly read the whole thing over. It was hard to tell what he was thinking, his face not giving away much. After what felt like much longer than it actually was Taako finished, flipping through the pages a few more times before handing them back to him.

“Fucking stellar little man, you two really knocked it out of the park,” he said, and Angus felt himself grin widely at that. “You ain’t even gonna need me anymore now, huh? You got this shit on lock,” Taako added, and Angus’s smile dropped immediately. He couldn’t tell if it was a joke or not, but either way he didn’t like that idea at all.

“Oh no sir! I still definitely need the tutoring, I promise! We spent so long working on the essay so I’m still really behind in my other classes, and my dad has to work so he can’t help me all the time. And- and it really helps to have someone be able to check my stuff, and my dad’s bad at math!” he said quickly, running off a list of why he still definitely needed the tutoring. He didn’t expect to get attached to it so quickly, or at all if he was being honest, but he really didn’t want to stop now.

A part of that was because the tutoring was helping so much, and another part was because he didn’t want to stop seeing Taako. He really liked hanging out with him, and he didn’t want that to end yet. Or at all, really. He was trying not to get his hopes up about anything with that too. He was pretty sure he was doing a bad job of that one though.

“Hey now kiddo, chill yourself. We ain’t gonna stop tutoring until you feel good and ready to stop, alright?” Taako said, and Angus nodded. Taako was giving him a kind of weird look, like he was nervous about something. “So uh, you said you were still behind a lot?” he asked, and Angus nodded.

“Right, yes sir. I could still really use some help in math,” he said, and Taako nodded, looking kind of relieved at the change of subject.

“Well then, let’s get cracking, shall we? You said your dad’s shitty at it?” he asked, and Angus smiled again as he nodded.

“Yeah, he keeps saying they changed it from when he was a kid,” he said, pulling out his math book and opening it up to the chapter they were working on. Taako snorted at that, looking pretty amused.

“I mean, he’s not wrong, cha’ boy just decided to learn all the new math anyway,” he said, and Angus felt himself grinning at that.

“That kind of sounds like something a nerd would do sir,” he said, getting a very offended look from Taako.

“You want help with this junk or not?” he asked, and Angus was still smiling as he nodded.

“Yes sir,” he said. From there Taako started to look over what they were doing, and Angus explained to him the section he missed and how it made everything confusing because he didn’t know a bunch of the steps. Taako carefully worked through the missing steps with him, guiding him through practice problems until it was all starting to click together in Angus’s brain.

The whole time, Angus couldn’t help but notice there was something off with Taako. He couldn’t quite place what it was, and it wasn’t hampering his tutoring really. Somehow though he just seemed kind of distracted, like half his mind was thinking about something else.

They were getting towards the end of the session now. Angus was pretty sure he had the math down, having worked through a few of the homework problems he had to do on his own. Sure, he should probably use the little bit of time they had left to get a few more problems done while he still had Taako to help him. He couldn’t help but be a lot more interested in whatever what bothering Taako than he was in his math homework. He’d probably regret that later, but that was a problem for future him to deal with.

“Um, Taako? Is it okay if I ask you something?” he asked, and once again Taako looked a little distracted as he nodded, chewing on the cap of a pen.

“Course pumpkin, that’s kinda the whole job,” he said, and Angus knew he thought he meant something about his school work. He didn’t bother to clarify before asking his question.

“Are you doing okay sir? You’re not sick or upset or anything are you?” he asked, the question very clearly catching Taako off guard. He blinked dumbly, taking a few seconds to process the question.

“What? No. I mean yes, wait- I mean , yes, I’m fine! No, I’m not sick or upset or whatever, what the fuck made you think any of that?” he asked. Honestly, Angus wasn’t too sure how much he believed that. The insistence was a little too strong to be casual.

“You just seem a little out of it today is all sir. I’m real good at noticing things about people like that,” he said, which got kind of an amused snort out of Taako. He still looked a little defensive though.

“Have you ever considered the fact that I just think math is boring?” he asked, which wasn’t a definitive answer in the slightest and Angus knew it.

“I might have, but then I found out you decided to learn math twice so that doesn’t really check out,” he said, which got a not all that genuine annoyed huff out of his tutor. Angus was pretty glad that whatever was bothering Taako it wasn’t bad enough that he stopped joking around.

“You come off as such a polite kid with the whole ‘hello sirs’ and ‘yes ma’am’ stitch you got going on. How many people know you’re actually a smart mouthed little shit?” Taako asked, sounding a lot more fond than he probably intended to. Angus grinned brightly at that, kicking his legs back and forth as he answered.

“Very few sir, you can get away with a lot more when people don’t suspect you of anything,” he said, which got a full laugh out of Taako.

“Yeah, that sounds about right,” he said, and then there was an expression on his face that Angus couldn’t quite read. “But to answer your question, it’s not- I’m fine. Everything is just fine pumpkin,” Taako insisted. Angus honestly did want to believe him, and it was hard to say if he was actually lying or not. He definitely seemed a little more serious than usual, but Angus had no idea if that meant he was telling the truth or very much not telling the truth.

“Well, I’m glad sir. I would hate to see you upset,” he said, which was true. Not even taking into account all of the ways Taako had helped him in the pretty short time they’d known each other so far, Angus just liked him. He didn’t want to see him sad. Saying that however caused Taako to make a face at him.

“Holy shit, you just don’t quit huh? Fucking- both of you,” he said, grumbling that last part, which caused Angus to tilt his head curiously.

“Both?” he asked, but Taako shook his head, not looking very interested in discussing that any further.

“Not important my dude. Come on now, end of the day, let’s pack up and get out there before your dad starts to worry again,” he said. It was a little disappointing, but it was the end of the session so Angus couldn’t really argue with that. Instead he nodded and started putting away the last of his math homework as Taako packed up his own things.

It was starting to get pretty chilly, his dad having finally convinced Angus to start wearing his heavier coat that morning, which he threw on now. As they headed outside it was a little bit warmer than it had been that morning, but the beginnings of winter were definitely starting to seep into the air. Taako didn’t seem to have a coat with him, instead just a bright red hoodie.

His dad’s car was already sitting outside, and they had kind of gotten into a habit lately of Taako walking him to it. So Angus was pretty surprised when Taako started to turn away almost as soon as they were out front of the school.

“Well, see you Monday pumpkin. Make sure to finish that math homework, alright?” he said as he started walking away. Angus paused, nodding and trying not to look as confused as he felt.

“Okay, I will,” he said, frowning now as he glanced between Taako and where the car was parked. “Aren’t you going to come say hi to my dad?” he ended up asking outright. There wasn’t any reason Taako needed to come do that he supposed, but it felt weird that he suddenly wasn’t. The question seemed to surprise him, Taako stopping in his tracks and some sort of internal debate flashing across his face before he shrugged a little too casually.

“Yeah sure, not like I got anything better to do I guess,” he said, turning back around. Angus wasn’t sure what was going on, but there was definitely something off as they walked to the car. He could see his dad’s face as they got closer, and for some reason he looked as nervous as he had when they were still just starting to get to know Taako. Even still he rolled down the window as they got closer.

“Sup,” Taako called out as they came up to the car, not really seeming like he was going to say anything else.

“Hello, how was your day Angus?” his dad asked, smiling politely at Taako before turning to him. Which was weird. Not that his dad smiled at Taako, but that it just seemed… polite.

It was all so starkly different from how things had been when they’d given Taako a ride last time, Angus had no idea what changed.

“Good,” he said, not moving to get into the car yet. “It’s getting pretty cold Mr. Taako, do you want us to give you a ride again?” he asked instead, and he could see Taako and his dad both share a quick look at his question. He couldn’t quite tell what either of them were thinking though, and it was really rare that Angus felt this confused when it came to the people around him. He didn’t particularly like it.

“Nah, I’m good but thanks for the offer,” Taako said after a moment, although he was looking at his dad and not Angus as he answered.

“Are you sure?” he found himself asking, but before Taako could answer his dad cut in.

“Mr. Taako can walk if he wants to dear,” he said. Reluctantly Angus nodded, moving to get into the passenger seat.

“Later dudes,” Taako said before turning to walk away. His dad gave a polite goodbye, and Angus was still trying to mask his confusion and disappointment as he responded as well.

“Have a good weekend sir,” he called, and then his dad rolled the window up and started pulling out. Angus didn’t wait very long, just making sure the window was rolled up completely and there was no way for Taako to hear him before speaking.

“Did you two get into a fight or something?” he asked, and the surprised and befuddled look on his dad’s face at the question at least seemed genuine enough. To be fair, Angus couldn’t even think of when they could have gotten into a fight. Everything had been fine on Wednesday. More than fine! Both Taako and his dad had seemed really happy even.

Taako had called afterwards, and Angus supposed he never bothered asking much about that. He’d been pretty distracted with his homework, but he hadn’t heard any yelling when his dad was on the phone or anything like that. He’d actually heard some laughing, so he hadn’t thought anything of it. At least, certainly not anything bad.

“What? No, of course not. What gave you that idea?” his dad answered, and well, it didn’t seem like a total lie. It didn’t seem like the complete truth either though.

“You were both acting really weird. Like you were scared of each other or something,” he said, crossing his arms and probably failing at trying not to pout. His dad sighed, but he didn’t sound angry or annoyed. If anything he sounded sad, which wasn’t doing anything to convince Angus that something hadn’t happened between them.

“I’m not scared of your tutor Angus,” his dad said, which didn’t actually answer anything. Instead of pressing him more Angus stayed quiet with his arms crossed, pouting as he stared out the window in silence. It didn’t take too long before his dad broke and continued. “Nothing happened dear, Mr. Taako just didn’t want to catch a ride with us today. It’s not that cold out, and it’s not like we’re even-” he said, cutting himself off suddenly. Angus immediately turned back towards him at that.

“Not like you’re what?” he pressed, and this time his dad was the one avoiding eye contact, staring stubbornly forward despite the fact that they were stopped at a red light. “Dad, what were you gonna say?” he asked, maybe whining a little, but he wanted to know.

“Friends, Angus. Mr. Taako is a lovely person and I appreciate how much he cares about you and has helped out with everything, but it’s not- I wouldn’t call us friends,” he said, and Angus was frowning heavily now, his brow furrowed as he listened to his dad speak. Okay, he didn’t know what had happened, but something clearly had and there had to be some sort of confusion.

“What are you talking about? That’s not true,” he argued, because it wasn’t. His dad just sighed again, not looking very thrilled by the idea of continuing this conversation.

“Angus,” he started, but Angus shook his head, continuing.

“No, dad you’re being stupid,” he said.

“Don’t be rude dear,” his dad chastised, and they were pulling onto their street now. Angus wished the drive had been longer so that he could guarantee a little bit more time before his dad probably tried to go hide in his office or something so they didn’t have to talk about this anymore.

“I’ll stop being rude when you stop being stupid,” he said, which caused his dad to roll his eyes. “No, I mean it. I know the dating stuff is just a joke. Mr. Taako told me you guys weren’t going to, but he never said anything about you guys not being friends,” Angus said. They had pulled into the driveway now, and as soon as the car was parked his dad’s head turned towards him.

“What? When in the world did he talk to you about that?” he asked, clearly surprised by that. Which was fair, Angus knew his dad had told him not to press that kind of stuff with Taako before.

“When I was staying at his house. I kinda asked him if he was interested in dating you, and he said he wasn’t looking to date right now cause he just got out of a real bad relationship,” Angus explained. He only realized after he said it that maybe he shouldn’t be telling anyone Taako’s personal business. His dad looked surprised again, but it was a different kind of surprise this time. The kind of surprise where suddenly everything made sense in a way you weren’t expecting. And maybe a little bit guilty too, although once again Angus had no way of knowing why he felt like that. “Don’t tell, I never asked Mr. Taako if it was okay to say anything about that,” he added quickly.

“I promise I won’t say anything,” his dad said, and Angus relaxed a little at that.

“Anyway, you’re being dumb. Mr. Taako definitely thinks of you as a friend,” Angus insisted. Even though they were home neither of them had moved to get out of the car yet. His dad seemed to actually hesitate as he thought that over some.

“You might be right. I might have been a little dumb just now,” he said and Angus nodded sharply, finally moving to pick his backpack up off the floor of the car.

“I’m definitely right, and if you guys got into a fight or something you should apologize on Monday,” he said. His dad chuckled a little at that, turning the car off and starting to move to head inside as well.

“I promise you, there wasn’t any fight,” he continuing to insist, and Angus guessed that was probably true. Still left him pretty confused about what had actually happened, but as long as they both put whatever it was behind them he guessed it didn’t matter that much. “But I suppose I could say something to him,” he said, and Angus grinned as he nodded.

“Good,” he said, following his dad into the house. “Are you gonna call him now?” he asked, and his dad shook his head at that.

“You said Monday,” he said, and Angus couldn’t help but pout a little at that. He guessed he could live with it though, since he had been the one to say it.

“Fine, as long as neither of you are being stupid anymore,” he said, and his dad nodded.

“I’ll try my best,” he said, and Angus got the feeling he was telling the truth with that. “So, you have some math homework this weekend?” he asked, changing the subject. Which was probably fair, there wasn’t much left to say about Taako, and Angus was just glad he actually convinced his dad he was wrong about whatever dumb thing had made him think Taako didn’t want to even be friends. He wasn’t thrilled about the subject it was changed to, but the talk of school work wasn’t quite as dreadful as it had been before.

“Uhuh, I was pretty confused on it from missing those days but Taako managed to explain it to me,” he said, and his dad nodded at that.

“Well, I’m not sure how much help I’ll be with math, but if you want to do it in the living room again I should be free most of the weekend. Your grandma just wants me to run a few interviews in the morning,” he said, and Angus found himself nodding at that.

“Yeah okay, that sounds good,” he said, and it actually did. The idea of what they’d done with the essay not being a one time thing sounded really good to him.

He really hoped Taako and his dad would make up soon, because then things would be almost perfect.

Chapter Text

Well, Taako was fucked.

In just about every conceivable way, as far as he was concerned. He’d been pretty sure all day that he was fucked, but that last horrible attempt at a conversation with Kravitz really drove the final nail into the coffin.

Lup could give all the advice she wanted about taking his time and putting himself out there once he was ready. None of that mattered if he already screwed up the one chance he had, and from the way Kravitz was acting, he’d done exactly that.

Which, honestly he should have been fine with. It wouldn't be the first time he'd screwed his one and only chance. Besides, he told himself he wasn’t ready for this shit anyway, wasn’t feeling the whole relationship thing right now. So there was no reason for him to be so bent out of shape. Kravitz certainly didn’t have any sort of obligation to stay waiting around for Taako to get his head out of his ass. If that was a one time office then it was his own fault for not jumping on it.

So there was no reason for him to feel as shitty as he did walking home. It was a little chilly, and he guessed he could have taken the ride Angus offered, but it seemed a little weird to do that after last time. It was probably best to make sure that didn’t become a habit anyway. The last thing he wanted was to get used to something that sure as fuck wasn’t going to last.

Getting to his apartment, Taako dropped his bags with a heavy thud by the door, heading straight to the couch instead of bothering to even glance at the kitchen. He wasn’t in the mood to look in the fridge and see a bunch of fruit flowers, and he wasn’t even that hungry. Normally he was starving by the time he got back home, especially after working at the call center beforehand.

He called out of there today though. Hadn’t been feeling up to it, and so he shoved a sandwich down his throat before running to tutoring. He would have to eat that fruit soon though, it was nice and whatever feelings he was having about any of this, Taako wasn’t going to let good food go bad.

He’d only been lying face down on the couch for a few minutes when he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket, and Taako groaned as he shifted around enough to pull his phone out and look at it. Maybe it was Lup, sensing the shitty mood he was in via twin telepathy or whatever.

Looking at the screen, he groaned even louder when he saw who it really was. Hesitating only a moment, he went and hit ignore on the call center. That was probably going to bite him in the ass later, but he couldn’t bring himself to give a shit. He already called out of that job today, so they could wait for him to deal with their shit until tomorrow.

God, he fucking hating that job though. He hadn’t realized how much he hated that job until recently. Sure, he always knew he was not a fan of getting cursed out by strangers on the phone wanting to return an order they never goddamn made in the first place. He’d never put much thought into it though. He couldn’t do the cooking thing anymore, so any other job he tried to get was gonna be shitty in comparison. That’s what he figured and he had just sort of accepted it.

And he was trying to tell himself that tutoring didn’t count. He just got lucky. Angus was a good kid, and that probably wouldn’t happen every time. Plus, it wasn’t like it was something he could ever make a living off of. He was still struggling despite having both it and the call center job. Not as bad as he’d been with just the one, but tutoring wasn’t close to capable of paying his bills, even if he somehow managed to get to do it every goddamn day instead of only three times a week.

So there was nothing else to think about. He had to stick with the shitty dead end job where he got screamed at constantly because he couldn’t do anything else, and that was that. Or at least, he had to stick with it until he snapped one of these days and cussed out a customer and got fired. He would deal with that inevitability when he got to it though.

He wasn’t getting out of this job. He had to back off any ideas of taking a chance on Kravitz, because he knew he already blew his chance. His luck continued to be the worst, nothing new under the sun.

So it was stupid as fuck that he was still hung up on these things. That he found himself staring at the open google search on his phone too worried about what the results would be if he looked up what was needed to get certified as a teacher. The idea that it would be out of his reach was just as terrifying as the thought that it was something he could actually manage.

He was half tempted to distract himself by looking up some more stuff for Angus. That was the other thing he was trying not to focus on though, so he pushed that idea down as well. Instead he shoved his phone back into his pocket and threw on some mindless television. It didn’t do much, but he could at least try and pretend that he wasn’t a complete mess over this shit for the rest of the night.

The next morning he was woken up by his phone ringing again. Rolling over in frustration, he hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep on his couch and crashed in a flustered heap onto the floor. Cursing, he grabbed the phone where it had fallen near him and checked to see who it was.

It was the call center again, and Taako felt panic grip at his chest as he saw what time it was. It was almost eleven, Taako was supposed to be in over two hours ago. He could see from a glance that there were several missed calls, and even if he couldn’t see who they were from at the moment he could take a pretty damn good guess.

He should answer the phone. He should answer it and make up some excuse, a family emergency. Lup would sure as fuck play along with him for that. Tell them he was heading in right now and rush and grovel to make sure he didn’t lose his job.

Instead he just kept staring at it, and after a few more rings it went silent.


He was definitely going to lose his job.

He should probably be more upset about that then he actually was. He was sure it would hit him later, but at the moment the only thing he could feel was relief at the idea of not having to bust his ass trying to get to work.

Pulling himself off of the floor, Taako headed to his room and changed into some clothes he hadn’t slept in. It was the weekend, so no tutoring, and now he wasn’t working the call center today either. Which meant he had a whole day to himself. Normally he’d be fucking ecstatic by this, but it was barely twenty minutes later when his brain was already starting to turn on him.

Being alone was bad. He knew it did shitty things to him, and he couldn’t go to Lup right now. She knew he was supposed to be working this weekend, and if he went she’d know he ditched and would get worried he was doing worse again. Taako didn’t even think it was strictly that either. Sure, it probably was, but it was less than he didn’t want to do anything like before and more that he wanted to do… different things. Which would be fine, if he wasn’t completely convinced that trying any of the ideas his brain kept coming back to would be a total disaster.

Taako quickly decided that he couldn’t stay in the house today. Maybe once he was supposed to be out of work he could head over to Lup’s place again, even if he knew she’d get worried again. Not even because he was coming over so often, because sometimes they just did that. They didn’t particularly like being apart for too long after all, that shit was the worst. No, she would worry because she knew him and would be able to see that something was wrong.

He couldn’t stay in the house in the mean time though, so instead he grabbed his stuff and started walking down to a nearby coffee shop. Maybe some caffeine and shitty pastries would make him feel a little better. He kind of doubted it, but at least being out and surrounded by people would probably do something.

Sitting down in a corner with a latte and a croissant, Taako tried not to think about the fact that he really shouldn’t be spending money in case he didn’t have a job tomorrow. That wasn’t exactly easy though, and a part of him was almost hoping he would get fired so that he would have an excuse to try and do something else.

It didn’t take long before Taako finally broke, starting to google what was needed to become a teacher. It was just to see. He told himself it would be something untenable, that he’d probably have to go back to school and get a whole new degree. Once he knew he could tell himself he just didn’t have that kind of time and could put this damn train of thought to rest.

Except as he looked now that didn’t actually seem to be the case. Doing it while in school seemed to be the most common options, but there were others he was finding. Alternative certifications that he could do online, the only things he needed to need to go somewhere physically for was a test. A few of the programs even looked like they set up with own internships for people doing them.

It almost seemed like something he could do. It was kind of terrifying, but Taako couldn’t get himself to stop looking. There was no way it would actually work out, but maybe… at the very least, it wouldn’t hurt to look into it…

“Taako?” a familiar voice broke through his thoughts, and he nearly dropped his phone as he jumped. Looking up, Taako felt his stomach flip as he saw Kravitz smiling down at him nervously. Glancing down at his phone, Taako almost wanted to laugh as being thrown directly into everything he’d been trying to avoid by getting out of the house.

“Sup my dude?” he said, trying to sound as casual as possible. He hadn’t even noticed Kravitz coming in, so he had chosen to come over and talk to him on his own. No need to make any of this weird if he wasn’t going to.

“Not much, um, what are you doing here?” he asked, shifting a laptop he had under one arm. He still sounded worried, but if Kravitz wasn’t up to talking to him it was his own damn fault for coming over here. Taako didn’t even see Angus around anywhere to have forced him into it, so that certainly couldn’t be to blame.

“Oh, just having a little me day, you know how it is,” he said, and he could see Kravitz relax the slightest bit at that, which was kind of weird. “What about you my man? Planning on setting that computer down and start working on a novel? Where’s Ango at?” he asked, curious despite himself. Kravitz chuckled at that, and it felt better to hear that than Taako expected. This was going better than the disaster that had been the last time they talked, although he had no real idea why. That had only been a day ago after all.

“He’s at home. I’m actually here to conduct an interview, so I was a little surprised to see you here,” Kravitz explained. That was unexpected, and Taako smirked a bit at that.

“What, you saying you wouldn’t want to hire me?” he asked, mostly joking. He wasn’t actually sure what Kravitz did for a living, he just knew it seemed to take up a lot of his time. Kravitz immediately looked nervous again at that, quickly shaking his head.

“Oh no, that’s not it! It’s just, I don’t uh, don't think that would be a very unbiased interview,” he said, and Taako tried not to grimace at that before nodding.

“Fair enough,” he said, finishing off the last of his latte. He should probably get up and leave, but he didn’t want to go yet. He still had way too long before he could start to head to Lup’s place without her knowing he skipped work. He supposed he could find another coffee shop to sit in though. That way he could get another cup of coffee without anyone judging him too, not that he actually gave a shit if they did.

“I actually got here a bit early though, would you mind if I sat for a moment?” Kravitz asked, gesturing towards the other chair at Taako’s table. He’d been pretty damn sure beforehand that Kravitz wanted absolutely nothing to do with him, so he was thrown by the request. Even still he nodded, trying not to show it.

“Go right ahead, ain’t a problem here,” he said, and Kravitz smiled again as he sat down and put the laptop down on the table. He didn’t open it or anything though, instead sitting there for a moment, biting his lip as he seemed to be thinking over whatever it was he wanted to say. Taako for his part was trying very hard not to look like he was debating bolting out the door.

“Taako, I just… wanted to apologize. If I made you uncomfortable in any way I truly didn’t mean it,” he said finally, which wasn’t what Taako was expecting, not by a long shot. It took a few seconds for him to even figure out why the fuck Kravitz would feel like he was the one who needed to apologize. He still didn’t have a firm grasp on it, but from the sound of it he guessed it was pretty obvious that the almost question hadn’t done great things to Taako.

“Dude, you don’t gotta apologize for shit,” he said, because well, he didn’t. Taako was the one who hadn’t even let him finish his question, let alone give him a straight answer. If anything he should be the one apologizing, but he wasn’t going to go so far as to say that. At least not yet, if he could help it. Kravitz just smiled sheepishly though and shrugged.

“I still wanted to. I should have checked first before overstepping your boundaries,” he insisted, and Taako wasn’t even sure what the fuck to say to that. It was just… nice. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do with nice.

“You didn’t overstep shit,” he mumbled, and Kravitz smiled sweetly at that. It didn’t make much sense, because Taako had been pretty damn certain that he’d shot himself in the foot in this regard, so there was no reason for Kravitz to be anything but done with him now. But he was still talking to him, and that probably meant something.

“So, what are you interviewing for?” Taako asked quickly, wanting to change the subject. If Kravitz wasn’t completely over him then he needed some time to process that, and he couldn’t do that while talking about emotions and shit. Kravitz for his part didn’t seem bothered by the topic change any, finally moving to open up his laptop.

“Oh, a few spots actually. We need to replace the vacancy after the whole mess that went down with us last week, losing one of our lead researchers. We’re looking for maybe hiring on one or two more people as well. Just something so that I’m a little less overworked,” he explained. Taako nodded at that, raising an eyebrow curiously.

“Is this like, your own business?” he asked, which would definitely explain why the dude was always so damn busy. Kravitz shook his head though, looking kind of sheepish.

“Oh no, well, not yet anyway? It’s my mother’s, and I know she does plan on leaving it to me someday, but hopefully not for a good long time,” he said, and oh okay, that still made a lot of sense.

“Family business, I’m into it. You gonna leave it to Ango too?” he asked, and Kravitz chuckled some at that.

“If he wants it. I don’t want to pressure him into taking on something that doesn’t make him happy,” he said, and Taako was trying real hard not to smile at that. It was kind of bullshit how good of a dad this guy was. It was unfair for one person to have so many good qualities about themself.

“Yeah, having that passion and shit is important, if you can manage it,” he said. Kravitz nodded in agreement, pausing before he spoke to take a drink of his coffee. Taako had already ran out of his and was left just fiddling with the cup.

“Is that why you took up tutoring?” Kravitz asked, the question kind of taking Taako off guard. He guessed it shouldn’t have though, Angus had asked something kind of similar after all. His first instinct was to immediately shut the idea down, but he ended up pausing long enough that he wasn’t sure how genuine it would sound.

“Not to start, I just needed some extra cash,” he said, and Taako figured he could leave it at that. If he didn’t mention any of the other thoughts swimming around in his head that made them a little less real somehow, a little less terrifying. Instead of keeping quiet though he shrugged, running his finger along the rim of his coffee cup. “It’s not half bad though. My life kinda blew up a little while ago, I figured no where else would have me, ya know? But I kinda have a knack with the whole kids thing, apparently, so I might start looking into teaching,” he said.

Kravitz was staring at him, looking caught off guard by that. Taako couldn’t blame him, it certainly wasn’t usual for him to blurt out his feelings like that. Kravitz didn’t look annoyed though, and Taako had kind of expected that.

“That was very honest of you,” he said, and Taako laughed nervously and shrugged. “Not that I mind, I mean. And you’re right, from everything I’ve seen you’re amazing with children. If you think you want to become a teacher you should try it,” Kravitz added quickly. Taako still wasn’t sure what to do with that kind of encouragement. He expected this kind of stuff from Lup and his friends, but it was different from someone new.

He probably just didn’t know Taako well enough to be able to have the best judgment. Of course, sometimes it felt like his family knew him a bit too well to be able to judge, so it was kind of a toss up.

“It’s a new idea, so we’ll see,” he said, trying to be as casual about it as possible. He really wished he hadn’t finished his drink so that he could at least pretend to still have a reason to be sitting there. “Thanks though,” he added, because that was probably the polite thing to do. It wasn’t often that Taako felt compelled to want to thank people, but that was impossible to tell from how often he felt like thanking Kravitz.

“What about you?” Taako asked when the silence started to feel like it was dragging on for too long. Kravitz looked confused by the question, so he continued. “You working with your passion or whatever? Or was there something else you wanted to do?” he asked.

“Oh, well, no I wouldn’t say it was ever my passion. Not that I dislike it any, but uh, I actually wanted to be a musician,” Kravitz explained, swirling what was left in his cup around slightly. That was a bit of a surprise, but Taako could see it. He kind of wanted to hear some of Kravitz's music now, but he didn't know how likely it was for that to ever happen. “Of course, priorities changed when Angus came around,” Kravitz added, and Taako nodded. It was a little crazy, he expected to at least see some regret there, but as far as he could tell there just wasn’t any.

“I wanted to be a chef,” Taako blurted out, and for his part Kravitz didn’t seem very surprised by that.

“You certainly have the skill for it,” he said, and Taako nodded in agreement at that.

“Hell yeah I do,” he said, having to hold himself back from sighing dramatically afterwards. “There was- uh, I was working on a cookbook. A lot of my own recipes, but a bunch that had been passed down from an aunt of mine were in it too. My ex got a copy of the thing, published it under his name and when I found out and shit broke bad he tried to fucking sue me for stealing my own shit from him,” he explained, the words just sort of tumbling out once he let them get started. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever actually laid it out for someone like that. Lup and the rest of his family knew, but they were more in it as it happened, even if most of the shit had gone down while Lup and Barry were off on their honeymoon.

“That’s terrible Taako,” Kravitz said, and he sounded genuinely upset. “Can’t you do something? Counter sue?” he asked, and Taako shrugged, leaning back in his chair some. It almost felt nice, getting to talk about this with someone new who hadn’t been through his breakdown and shit while it was all happening.

“He’s got a better lawyer and shit. Doesn’t help that he left the country as soon as my sister got back cause he knew she’d break his fucking head in,” Taako explained, and Kravitz winced a little at that.

“That would make it difficult, yeah,” he muttered. “I’d hate for your sister to get in any sort of legal trouble, but it is too bad he left before she could. Sounds like it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” he added, and Taako full out laughed at that.

“I really shoulda called her sooner, but ya know, didn’t want to ruin the honeymoon,” he said, and Kravitz nodded. Taako sighed, and it had been- well, he was pretty damn sure he hadn’t ever been able to talk about this without feeling profound anger and exhaustion. It felt weird to actually laugh about it, even in the smallest way. Not a bad weird though.

“I’m sure it’ll catch up to him in the end,” Kravitz said, and Taako nodded in agreement. He wasn’t too sure how much he believed in that sort of stuff, but it was nice to image.

“It fucking better, jackass certainly deserves-” he stared, jumping when there was suddenly a hand on his shoulder.

“Sorry if I’m interrupting anything buds,” Barry said, and Taako tried real hard not to scowl too noticeably at the dude. He loved his brother in law, but the dude could just be so unnecessarily creepy sometimes.

“No no not at all Barold, make yourself at home. Pull up a goddamn chair, relax,” he said, the sarcasm clear in his voice. Barry just chuckled, shaking his head.

“Nah, I’ll stay out of your hair. I’m meeting someone here for an interview anyway,” he said, and Taako sat up a lot straighter at that, looking back over at Kravitz. He looked just as surprised, his eyes were going back and forth between them, clearly trying to figure out the connection there. Taako grinned at that, pushing himself up and out of the chair.

“In the case, looks like I’m the one who’s gotta scram,” he said, which seemed to surprise Barry as well. “Krav, this is my brother-in-law, so if you need another reference feel free to call me right up. I'll let you know all the fun stories this dork won't put on his resume,” he said, clapping Barry on the shoulder as he did.

“Right,” Kravitz said, seeming a bit dumbstruck. “I’ll do that,” he added, and it was weird how much Taako was smiling right now. The only thing he was kind of upset about was that he couldn’t keep talking to Kravitz at the moment. He was kind of hopeful about the idea that there would be other times to talk to him though. Giving a wink to Bary he started out of the cafe.

He had just gotten to the door when he heard Barry calling after him.

“Hey wait! Taako, I thought you worked this weekend?” he asked, and right. He’d been trying to keep that from Barry and Lup. Oh well.

“Yeah, fuck that. I’m quitting that terrible job Barold,” he said, which got a look of surprise and then a laugh out of Barry.

“Sounds good, make sure to let Lup know,” he said, giving him a big thumbs up. With that Taako nodded, giving them both another flash of a smile before heading out.

Taako figured he should still be feeling miserable. The only thing that had truly changed was that Kravitz didn’t seem to hate him like he feared. He should still be terrified and panicked over the idea of losing his job. He should know that this wasn’t going to work out like he hoped.

He actually had some hope though, and it had been a long as fuck time since that was the case.

Chapter Text

Kravitz knew he’d been staring for far too long as Taako left the cafe. He honestly hadn’t meant to, it was just a surprise. This whole thing had been a surprise, and he’d tried not to look as terrified as he felt when he came up to talk to him. It seemed to go well though, better than well even. He hadn’t expected Taako to open up to him like that in the slightest, and it very much felt like a precious privilege few people got to experience.

Honestly, Kravitz had kind of forgotten about the interview by the time Barry showed up. Even when Barry had shown he hadn’t made the connection. Honestly he’d only noticed that it was the man he’d definitely seen one of the twins with that day at the mall. With Taako introducing him as his brother-in-law, he figured he could safely be certain that it had been Lup. He’d been more than a little shocked when it turned out he was the one he was going to be interviewing.

Kravitz had meant to set up everything for the interview beforehand, which was why he came early in the first place. When he saw Taako sitting off at a corner table, he’d told himself he would only stop and talk to him for a moment, if he even wanted to talk that was. He’d still been half convinced that Taako might not want anything to do with him, even after talking to Angus.

That didn’t seem to be the case at all though, and there definitely seemed to be a change there. Maybe it was the apparent decision he’d made to quit the other job he currently had, but whatever it was there was a distinct improvement there. He seemed happy, and his smile was unfairly mesmerizing.

“So, Kravitz uh, McDonald, right?” Barry asked after what was way too long a moment to be staring off in the direction Taako had gone. He was holding a hand out for Kravitz to shake, and so he immediately scrambled to stand up and take his hand, trying to get some semblance of dignity back into the situation. It was probably too late for that, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t damn well try.

“Yes, it’s- Barry Bluejeans, is it?” he asked, letting go of the man’s hand and the both of them sitting down now. Right, yes he could think about anything with Taako afterwards, not that there was much else to think about. He was very thankful that he didn’t seem to hate his guts or anything like that, but that didn’t change the fact that if anything was going to happen he should let Taako be the one to make the first move.

He was sort of past the point of pretending he didn’t want something like that to happen. He could try, but he wasn’t fooling himself anymore, if he ever really was at all. He certainly wasn’t going to press it though, especially now knowing the full story.

God, that was infuriating. He couldn’t image someone being lucky enough to have Taako in their life like that and throwing it all away to betray his trust so horribly. He wasn’t sure how long ago it had been, but he couldn’t blame Taako for not wanting to get back into dating right away after that. 

He wondered if it was creepy or romantic that he felt willing to wait until Taako was ready. If that ever became an option, not thinking that Taako would just come around if he waited long enough. This was all still so new, but Kravitz was well aware of the fact that he tended to fall long and hard. He didn’t mind if Taako decided to take his time.

Shit. Wait, Barry was talking. He wasn’t sure how long Barry had been talking for but he had definitely said something and Kravitz had not processed a single word of it.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” he asked, telling himself to focus for real this time. Barry just chuckled, looking more amused than anything.

“It’s nothing, I was just saying pretty small world huh? You’re uh, the dad right? With the fruit?” he asked, and it took Kravitz a moment to parse what that meant by that. As soon as he did he felt his face start to heat up, thankful it wasn’t noticeable as he nodded.

“Yes, that’s- Taako’s my son’s tutor,” he explained, trying to at least sound somewhat professional here. He guessed he couldn’t blame Taako for telling his brother-in-law about the edible arrangement, especially since he didn’t seem to make the connection about this interview. Which he should really start soon. He quickly began pulling up the things he’d needed on his computer, the resume Barry had submitted and such. He’d meant to have this all done ahead of time, but he couldn’t pass himself off as anything but a flustered mess anymore it seemed.

“Yeah, the tutoring gig. It’s uh, it’s really obvious that it’s been a good influence on Taako. It’s nice to see him so happy and like, passionate about stuff again. So like, thanks for that,” Barry said, and Kravitz wasn’t sure what would make the man think he needed to thank him.

“That’s not- please, I haven’t done anything. Honestly, I’m the one always having to thank him, he’s done so much more for us than we ever expected,” Kravitz said, because that was the truth. Taako truly had been a lifesaver on several occasions, and that wasn’t even getting into how dedicated he seemed to be to helping Angus. Despite that though Barry shook his head, looking rather certain of himself.

“Nah, you’ve definitely done more than you think. It can be hard to tell when you haven’t known Taako for that long, but it’s pretty amazing to see,” Barry said. Kravitz wanted to insist that he had to be wrong, but he got the feeling that Barry knew what he was talking about. He never would have guessed it from looking at the two men separately, but from the short time seeing them interact and the way Barry talked about Taako, it was obvious that they were close.

“In that case, I’m… very glad, that I’ve managed to be some help. It’s nice, seeing him happy,” Kravitz ended up saying, more sincerity slipping into his voice than he meant. Also probably more than was appropriate, considering that he was supposed to be conducting a job interview. Instead of saying anything else Barry smiled, and Kravitz quickly tried to shift gears again.

“So, interview, interview. Right, let me just… get on that,” he said, frantically doing a few more things on his computer while Barry laughed.

“Yeah alright, that might be a good idea,” he agreed, and Kravitz nodded, taking one last deep breath to steady himself. It had taken some doing, but he managed to shift himself back into the professional mindset he’d been so thoroughly knocked out of.

The interview ended up going well once Kravitz actually managed to start it. As they talked about work and Barry’s past experience and such a flow started to come back and Kravitz was able to actually put everything going on with Taako to the back of his mind.

That was mostly because Barry’s qualifications were kind of insane. Sure, Kravitz had seen the resume, he very much understood why his mother had wanted to interview him so quickly. It was still a little wild actually hearing about it all though, especially as he went more in depth.

Sure, it was the first interview he’d done so far for the spot, but he was fairly certain they wouldn’t get anyone more qualified. He even fully believed that he wasn’t thinking that because Barry was connected to Taako, as worried as he was that that fact might have influenced him a little. At the very least, Kravitz made a mental note that he would at least have to meet with the rest of the applicants before truly deciding. Plus, his mother got the final say in who they ended up bringing on anyway. He knew she was going to interview one or two people on her own as well, although he hadn’t gotten a chance to look through those resumes yet.

The interview felt like it was starting to come to an end, and Kravitz smiled as he stood up and shook Barry’s hand again.

“Thank you again for your time. We have a few other interviews to conduct for the spots we have open, but I’ll be sure to keep in contact with you. I’ll be honest, I kind of doubt we’ll find anyone more qualified than you,” he said, wanting to impart the idea that they wanted him for the job. Barry laughed at that, starting to pick up the few things he’d brought along with him.

“Oh don’t count on that, my wife put in an application too. She’s just about the most amazing person I’ve ever met. She's done everything I have and then some,” he said, obvious open love in his voice at the mention of her. Kravitz would have been distracted by that if it wasn’t for the fact that he was distracted by something else entirely.

“Wait, you mean Taako’s sister?” he asked, even though he was already fairly certain about that. Barry nodded, a somewhat smitten expression still on his face.

“Yep, that’s Lup. Have you met her?” he asked and Kravitz nodded, frantically trying to remember if he saw her name in the applications his mother had sent him. He didn’t, so that probably meant she was in the group she was going to interview personally.

“Yes I have, she uh, she helped find my son the other week. He’d run off from school, we'd been pretty panicked about the whole thing,” he explained. Barry nodded, not looking too surprised by that. They’d started walking out of the coffee shop now, so Kravitz doubted they’d have much more time to talk.

“Oh right, I remember hearing about that,” he said, and once they were outside and away from the doorway Barry stopped and turned towards him. “Hey, is it alright if I give you some advice bud? I know unsolicited advice can be kinda shitty, but Taako can be a pretty tough nut to crack, ya know?” he asked, and Kravitz wasn’t sure what he was expecting but it certainly wasn’t that. Even still, he found himself nodding. Barry wasn’t wrong after all, and it felt like it’d be a pretty foolish move to turn down some insight.

“Um, yes, I suppose that would be fine,” he said, more nervous than he expected.

“So, you wouldn’t expect it from him, since Taako tries to come off as so loud and confident, you know? But when it comes to relationships and romance and stuff he tends to be a little hesitant,” he said, and Kravitz immediately started sputtering, his face heating up as he tried to backtrack and deny.

“That’s not- I have no idea what you- I-” he stuttered out, but Barry didn’t seem to pay his protests any mind, continuing on like he hadn’t said a single thing.

“He’s slow to trust, ya know? Just for people in general. Seriously, he’s my best friend and I was convinced he hated me for the first three years we knew each other,” Barry said, and if Kravitz wasn’t so flustered he would have laughed at that. It didn’t seem like Barry was joking, as far as he could tell he was being completely serious.

“Oh?” he said, not sure if he actually wanted this conversation to continue. He kind of wanted to crawl in a hole and die if he was being honest. Despite that, he knew Barry wasn’t wrong, and he couldn’t say he probably didn’t need the advice.

“Yeah, up until the point Taako started introducing me as his best friend I was totally sure he couldn’t care if I lived or died,” Barry said with a laugh. Kravitz smiled at that, trying to imagine the whiplash that must’ve caused.

“So yeah, try not to take it personally if it takes him a minute or he panics and tries to push you away and things like that. He’s pretty special but I’m not gonna lie, it’ll probably take some effort,” he continued, and Kravitz found himself nodding. He knew he should keep trying to deny this was even a thing at all, but it was very obvious that he wasn’t fooling anyone.

“Right. Thank you,” he said, and his face felt like it was burning with embarrassment. Kravitz had no idea if it was literally that obvious, or if Barry was that good at picking up these sorts of things, or if Taako had said something to him. Whatever it was, Kravitz had long since lost the chance to pretend he wasn’t entirely smittened with Taako. “I’ll be sure to let you know about our decision soon,” he added, and then when the realization came to him quickly added, “about the job! I will. tell you. about the job,” he repeated, and Barry chuckled again.

“Yeah alright, sounds good. Later,” he said, and with that he turned off and started to walk down the street towards a car parked not too far away. Kravitz went to his own car, having to  sit in there for a moment as he got himself back under control. That hadn’t gone anywhere close to how he had planned for it to.

As far as he could tell, Barry’s advice seemed pretty solid. From what he knew now, Taako reacting like that seemed reasonable. More than reasonable. It had been just about what Kravitz was already planning on doing though. Waiting and being open to that chance should Taako ever decide to take it. Now more than ever though, he really hoped he would.

There wasn’t much he could do about that but hope though, so he tried to put it to the back of his mind for now. It had become a more and more difficult thing to do lately, but he would have to manage. He had other things he needed to focus on at the moment at least to try and distract himself. He needed to call his mother and let her know how the interview went, to tell her that he highly approved of Barry for the position.

Since there wasn’t much of a point in waiting, Kravitz decided to call then, setting up the speaker phone as he got ready to leave. He had just hit the call button and was prepared to start driving away when he heard someone knock on his window. Looking up, he thought at best it would be Barry, having forgotten something, and at worse a traffic cop giving him a parking ticket for breathing wrong.

It wasn’t either of those things though. No, instead he saw Taako, grinning at him through the window and actually looking a bit nervous. He had rolled down the window to ask if he needed something when his mother answered the call and started speaking. He’d actually forgotten about that in the brief moment he saw Taako waiting outside his window.

“Good afternoon dear,” she said, both of them able to hear her due to the speaker phone. Kravitz wasn’t sure what to do, moving to grab it out of the holder he’d put the phone in for driving as Taako watched in amusement. Kravitz had tried to take a moment to regain his composure before calling her, but that was shot out the window now. Which was rather unfortunate, since he knew she typically had no problem telling how he was feeling, even over the phone.

“Hey mom, I just finished up the interview with Barry Bluejeans,” he said, the name an easy one to remember. He glanced over at Taako, holding up a hand in a ‘one minute’ gesture. Taako just grinned again, giving him an okay sign.

“Oh good, what did you think dear?” she asked, and Kravitz felt a little weird talking about Taako’s brother-in-law’s potential employment in front of him. That was probably something he shouldn’t do. Still, there was no reason not to tell his mother the truth, at least not since he did want to hire Barry.

“I think we’ll have a very hard time finding someone near his skill level. He’s incredibly well qualified, I’m kind of surprised someplace else hasn’t already snatched him up,” he said, and that didn’t sound like it surprised his mother any. Taako had moved so that he was leaning against the outside of his car now, and Kravitz wondered if he should like, roll the window back up? That seemed rude though.

“I had the same feeling,” she said, and it sounded like she was thinking about something else as well. “What did you think of him as a person? You will have to be working rather closely with whoever we end up hiring after all,” she added, and Kravitz knew he should have expected that question. He was fairly sure that was half the reason she had decided he should do some of the interviews. At the very least, he would be training them, but even after that he would be seeing whoever it was around the office regularly. He  figured he should appreciate his mother taking that sort of thing into consideration, but right now the question felt like a minefield.

“Oh, he’s uh, he’s just fine. Seems like a pleasant enough guy, not uh, not as boring as his appearance would have you think,” he said, and he could hear his mother humming along with that. In front of him, he saw Taako clap a hand over his mouth, trying to muffle a snorting laugh, which was probably fair. “He’s- well, it’s pretty funny actually. It turned out he’s the brother-in-law of Angus’s tutor,” Kravitz added, trying to sound casual as he said it. He was hoping it would come off to his mother as just a happy little coincidence he found out.

At the mention Taako stopped trying to muffle his laughter and immediately turned to look at him. It was pretty obvious that he was questioning whatever had possessed Kravitz to bring him up out of the blue like that. Which was probably fair, he wasn’t so sure himself, other than he was there and on Kravitz’s mind.

“Oh, is he now?” his mother asked asked, and Kravitz nodded, still giving his best attempt at coming off as casual. He could hear the suspicion in her voice, but as far as he could tell she wasn’t sure exactly what to be suspicious of yet. Oh, this might have backfired. Now he had to talk about Taako to his mother in front of Taako. This was bad.

“Yeah, I’ve mentioned Taako to you before right? I’m pretty sure he’s the whole reason Angus actually enjoys going to his tutoring,” he said. As he watched Taako he saw his face go the slightest bit red at that, seeming flustered by the compliment. Still, Kravitz wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t true, and Taako deserved to hear what a help he’d been to the two of them lately.

“One or twice I believe. So Angus is still doing well with that?” she asked, and Kravitz nodded. Maybe this was all some huge mistake, but he was in a little too deep now. Still, at least talking about Angus had always been a bit of a neutral ground for them.

“Yes, he seems to be getting himself back into the swing of things after that last misadventure,” he said, and he could hear his mother’s relief at that. He tried to keep her as updated as possible, but he knew she was trying to give the both of them space where they needed it.

Kravitz hesitated a moment, not sure if he should say the next thing on his mind. He’d been meaning to thank Taako about this though, and he hadn’t gotten a chance when they were talking before.

“A lot of it I know is thanks to Taako. He uh, actually managed to convince Angus to talk to me about some things that had apparently been bothering him for a while. It’s helped a lot,” he said. Taako’s face turned even more red at that, and it kind of looked like he was thinking about running away. Kravitz supposed he should have expected that from the advice Barry had given him. Still, it felt like an important thing to say. An important thing for Taako to know.

“That’s good to hear,” his mother said, which Kravitz was kind of thankful for. As long as she was speaking there wasn’t this tense silence between him and Taako. “It sounds like both of you are rather fond of this Taako then,” she added, and wait, no. Scratch what he was saying before about being thankful, he could feel his face heating up and Kravitz should have known not to say so much about this man to his mother.

“Like I said, he’s been a huge help with Angus,” he said, trying his best to play it off. He wasn’t sure how successful he was though. He wasn’t sure how successful he wanted to be. He didn’t want to push Taako into anything, but it was hard not saying how he felt either.

“I’m glad, I know it’s been rough for the two of you lately. Someone so helpful, you’ll have to introduce me sometime,” his mother said. Kravitz kept forgetting that his mother was extremely good at picking up on how he was feeling. He probably should not have done this.

“Well uh, we still have a few more interviews, but if we end up hiring Mr. Bluejeans you might end up meeting him whether I have a say in it or not,” he said. He was tempted to ask if she’d had a chance to interview someone named Lup yet. He decided to keep that to himself though, he didn’t want to influence his mom’s decision in that way, and he didn’t want Taako worrying about his family’s chance for employment. If she ended up hiring Lup he wanted it to simply be because she was the best for the job. And if what Barry had said was true, he was pretty sure it would be no contest.

“That’s true,” his mother said, sounding rather pleased by the idea. Kravitz was suddenly a little bit terrified of the possibility of Taako actually coming into work to see some of his family and running into his mother. Sure, at least after this he would have some idea about what he was getting into, but it was hard to prepare someone for what his mother was like in person. Of course, at this point Kravitz was well aware that he'd lost any sort of control he had on this situation at all. 

“Well, I’m pulling up to the house now, so,” he said, feeling a little bad about lying but also he desperately wanted out of at least one of these conversations. Plus, it was probably rude to keep Taako waiting while he talked on the phone.

“Alright dear, let me know how the rest of the interviews go tomorrow,” she said, and Kravitz nodded.

“Will do, talk to you later,” he said, hanging up after his mother’s goodbye. As soon as the call was done Taako seemed to break, doubling over against his car in laughter. Kravitz couldn’t rightfully blame him for that, even if his face felt about as hot as the sun because of it. He normally ran pretty cold too, so this was a feeling he wasn’t entirely used to.

“So, was there a reason you kept it in speaker phone the whole time, or what?” Taako asked once he got himself back under control, and Kravitz had to resist the urge to smack himself in the head.

“I uh, I put it on speaker phone because I was about to drive. I just sort of forgot to put it back,” he admitted, and Taako grinned at that. He still looked nervous and unsure under all of the laughing and smiling. “Sorry about that,” he added, but Taako shook his head.

“It’s chill, I kinda ambushed you,” he said, not looking too sorry about that. He bit his lip, looking like he was debating on what to say, and Kravitz certainly couldn’t fault him for that. Whatever he’d decided to come over to his car for probably got knocked a little off course by the call and everything. “So uh, Barold’s interview went well?” he asked. Kravitz kind of got the feeling that wasn’t solely what he wanted to talk about, but he nodded none the less.

“I’d say so, yes. My mother holds the final say in who we bring on, but uh, he’s got a pretty good shot is all I’ll say,” he said, and Taako grinned at that.

“Cool, cool,” he said, and there was definitely a part of all of this was almost suffocating in how awkward it felt.

“Would you like a ride home?” Kravitz offered, because that at least seemed like something productive to do, rather than sitting in his car with Taako hovering around outside. The question seemed to take him off guard for a moment, but then he nodded.

“Yeah sure, it’s uh, not far, but why walk when you don’t need to, right?” he said, and Kravitz chuckled as he nodded in agreement. He knew that Taako probably hadn’t come over here specifically to ask for a ride. If that was what he wanted, he could have asked Barry. As far as he could tell though, Taako hadn’t shown up from wherever he’d been hanging out until after Barry had left.

Kravitz waited as Taako got into the passenger seat of the car, quickly putting his address into the GPS as he did. He wasn’t lying about it not being far, only a couple of minutes.

It was quiet as Kravitz pulled out from the coffee shop, but after a few seconds Taako spoke up.

“So uh, that shit actually did help? With Angus?” he asked, and Kravitz quickly nodded.

“Yes, it’s- we’re still working on everything, but you’ve honestly been a life safer,” he said. Taako seemed to take a moment to process that, and Kravitz hoped it got through to him how much Taako had genuinely helped them. He wanted Taako to know what an amazing person he was, and he couldn’t force him to accept it, but maybe he could say it enough times that some of those thoughts would begin to take root.

“Cool,” he said, and whatever it was Taako had wanted to talk about would probably have to wait, his home coming up rather rapidly. Neither of them said anything as they turned into his street, and soon enough Kravitz was pulling to a stop in front of his apartment.

“Well, it was nice running into you again,” he said, and Taako nodded. He had unbuckled his seatbelt, but he wasn’t making any move to actually get out of the car yet.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said, and he was kind of staring at Kravitz now which was only the slightest bit unnerving.

“Is everything alrig-” he started to ask, but he wasn’t able to finish the question. Taako had suddenly moved, leaning across the car and catching his mouth in a kiss. It was quick, about as soon as Kravitz realized what was happening he’d pulled away again, the car door suddenly open and Taako getting up to leave.

“Thanks for the ride! Later!” he shouted back, practically sprinting into the apartment. Kravitz wasn’t able to say anything or really think for a few long moments. By the time he could there wasn’t much left for him to do but start the car and head back home.

Before he did though he grabbed his phone, a grin on his face as he sent a quick text.

‘Would you like to go out for coffee sometime? Intentionally, that is.’

He didn’t have to wait very long for a reply, and he couldn’t help breaking into laughter as he read it.

‘Sure thing daddy ;)’

‘We’re still not doing that.’ he sent back.

‘no fun :(’ Taako said, and Kravitz was smiling ridiculously as he put the phone back in its holder and started home. He told himself he could at least wait the short distance it would take to get home before responding to that message.

After all, he’d been willing to wait so much longer. A short drive home was nothing.

Chapter Text

Angus had slept in pretty late, but he still woke up before his dad went off to do an interview with someone for work. He was only going to be gone for a little over an hour at most, so Angus promised to stay inside and call him if anything happened.

Nothing had, of course. Angus had a late breakfast from sleeping in, so he hadn’t even gotten hungry while his dad was out. He’d honestly spent most of the time relaxing without the ever looming threat of schoolwork over him. Just letting his brain run on a comfortable autopilot as he reread one of his favorite Caleb Cleveland books. He hadn’t realized he’d been too stressed to actually do something like that without feeling all guilty lately. It was nice to lose himself in the familiar words and characters for a little while.

He was starting to get towards the end of the book when he ended up glancing at the clock out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t really process it for a moment, but when he did he paused slightly. It seemed like his dad was running a little late. Not enough for Angus to start panicking or anything like that yet, it might have ended up being a really long interview or he got stuck in some unexpected traffic coming back home or something. Angus made a mental note to text his dad if he wasn’t back by the time he actually finished his book.

He ended up cutting it pretty close. Angus was relieved that nothing had happened, but he still didn’t end up looking up from his book other than to glance out the window when he heard the car pull into the driveway. His bedroom window had a decent view of the driveway, so he didn’t have to go out to the living room to check. Angus figured he’d finish up these last few pages before going out to see how the interview had gone and what kept him so long.

Angus was a little thankful that his dad didn’t come to his room once he was inside. As much as he wanted to know how his day had been, he hated getting pulled out of what he was doing before he was ready. It only took him another five minutes or so to finish up the last couple pages. Shutting the book he put it back on his side table and jumped down off his bed, heading out to the living room.

“Hey dad, that was a pretty long interview,” he said as he walked out. He’d heard him still moving around out there, so he figured he hadn’t gone back into his office or his bedroom yet. Angus wasn’t sure what he expected his dad to be doing, but it wasn’t leaning over the counter, typing something up on his phone with a huge grin on his face.

His dad immediately looked up, still smiling despite looking a little confused. He seemed to process what Angus had said after another second though, nodding quickly.

“Oh yes, it ended up running over a little. I still need to talk it over with your grandma but I’m definitely recommending hiring him,” he said, and Angus nodded. That sounded good, and more so it sounded like his dad was telling the truth and wasn’t intentionally trying to cover something else up. Angus wasn’t even sure why he thought he was doing that, other than the fact that, well, he seemed really happy. Happier than Angus could image a regular interview would make someone.

“What was his name?” he asked casually, still not entirely sure if it was something specific with the interview or not.

“Barry I believe,” he said, and that name didn’t ring any bells as far as Angus was concerned. His dad didn’t seem super invested in it as he told him either, back to smiling at something on his phone again. Okay, whatever was going on had much more to do with whatever or whoever was on that, and not as much to do with the interview. That certainly opened up a lot more possibilities.

Angus had an idea, but he read enough detective books and mystery novels to know not to jump to his first conclusion. While he was trying to think of a few more likely options his dad looked up at him from his phone again.

“Dear, would you like to go out today?” he asked, catching Angus off guard. Sure, it wasn’t unheard of for his dad to want to do something kind of spur of the moment, but he tended to have a little more more forewarning than that.

“Go out where?” he asked, thinking the question over some. It sounded kind of nice, and unlike last time he wasn’t panicked over his school work at the moment. It would be fun not having to worry about that and actually getting to enjoy what they were doing. His dad shrugged, still seeming to be in a very good mood.

“Wherever you’d like. I don’t really have an idea in mind, I just thought it’d be nice to get out for a change,” he said, and Angus nodded in agreement. He was trying not to let how suspicious he felt show on his face, but he was pretty sure his dad was so distracted right now he wouldn’t have noticed anyway.

“Yeah okay, um, maybe we could go see a movie?” he suggested, having a little bit of trouble coming up with something he wanted to do on the spot like this. Still, a movie never hurt, and his dad nodded.

“That sounds great, why don’t you go see what’s playing and pick out something that looks interesting,” he said. Angus nodded, turning to go do that when he stopped. He supposed there was no reason to not just ask. People would be surprised how much they could learn from outright asking, he had to keep that in mind more often.

“You’re in a really good mood dad, did something happen?” he asked. The question definitely seemed to take his dad off guard, some of the happy daze he’d been in leaving as he looked quite a bit more flustered.

That was a little suspicious.

“Oh, well um, yes I suppose I am in a good mood. It’s just, hm,” he hesitated, seeming to think over the words he wanted to use carefully. If he was trying to keep something from him, that was smart, because Angus already had some pretty good ideas about what it might be. He was still trying not to jump to conclusions, not to get his hopes up, but it was seeming more and more likely the more he looked. “Things just seem to be getting a little better lately, don’t they?” he finally said, and even though Angus didn’t think that was the whole truth by a long shot, but he nodded along anyway. It was far from a lie after all.

“They have,” he said, and he figured he’d let his dad keep his privacy for the moment. “I’m gonna go pick out a movie,” he said, and his dad nodded.

“Sounds good pumpkin,” he said, and Angus was halfway down the hallway when he paused. That wasn’t a nickname his dad typically used. Angus had kind of gotten used to being called that lately though, so it had taken him a moment to actually catch it. If his brain wasn’t already in the mode of analyzing everything around him, he probably would have missed it.

Pumpkin was Taako’s nickname for him. 

Sure, that didn’t actually prove anything, but Angus had a hard time keeping the smile off of his face for the rest of the night.

The movie he ended up picking out didn’t start for another few hours, so they went out for lunch beforehand too. Angus didn’t press his dad on who he was talking to whenever his phone would buzz and he’d get that goofy smile on his face as he’d type a response back to whoever he was texting. As much as it killed him not to have a definite answer to a mystery that was right in front of him, Angus was a little afraid of pushing and jinxing it.

He told himself he could wait until tomorrow. He had school then, and he had a feeling that would get confirmation there one way or another.

His dad ended up being right though, it was nice to get out for the day. The movie wasn’t the best one he’d ever seen, but it was still fun and Angus actually found himself able to watch it with his mind barely wandering off to stressful things at all. 

He was sure there were other things too, but his dad wasn’t wrong. Things had been getting a little bit better lately.

The next morning Angus was actually excited to go to school. Not for school itself, but for tutoring. He was really looking forward to seeing Taako, for reasons he felt were pretty obvious.

He still had to get through the rest of the day first of course, which he was looking forward to significantly less. He wasn’t dreading it or anything though like he used to be, which was another sign that things had been improving lately. They weren’t perfect yet, but he told himself that they were better, and they were probably going to keep getting better. Or at least, he really hoped that they would.

He turned in the essay he and his dad had worked on, still kind of shocked that he’d managed to get it done on time. His teacher even seemed a little surprised, but she didn’t say anything about it, which was good.

The rest of the day was fine. Angus wasn’t paying as much attention as he probably should have, but he didn’t feel like he was missing out on anything essential in any of his classes. He didn’t feel like he was falling behind for once, which had gotten so rare lately. It was a nice change of pace, and he was really hoping his good mood wouldn’t have cause to end anytime soon.

Angus should have known not to jinx it like that, and he wasn’t sure how he missed hearing about it. He supposed it could have been mentioned one of the days he’d missed, or he’d been too stressed afterwards when he came back to notice. Whatever it was, Angus had somehow missed the fact that progress reports were being given out today.

He’d been staring at the clock, waiting for the dismissal bell and not really processing whatever his teacher was talking about. It was the last five minutes of the day, so he figured it couldn’t have been that important. She was calling people up and handing out things, so he’d just assumed she was giving back some of their graded stuff.

He was paying enough attention to notice when she called his name though, and when he went up he was handed something that definitely wasn’t anything he’d turned in for a grade. It was sealed and almost looked like a report card, and he tried not to let the terror show on his face as he quickly took it and headed back to his seat.

Further investigation showed that it wasn’t a report card, which he supposed made sense. He hadn’t thought it’d been quite long enough to get another report card yet.

That didn’t change the sudden dip in Angus’s mood though. He’d been avoiding looking at his grades for some time. He felt like he’d been doing better since the tutoring had started, but he was still so scared to look and see. What if it hadn’t actually helped at all and he was doing just as bad as he'd been before, despite the fact that he was handing more things in? For once, he didn’t want to know something. He didn’t want everyone to think the tutoring was useless and to make him stop.

The bell rang, and once he was outside the classroom Angus was half tempted to throw the progress report into the nearest trash can without opening it. He hadn’t known they were coming out today, so he hadn’t mentioned them to his dad or Taako. There was a chance they didn’t know and wouldn’t call him out on it. He could just keep pretending the whole thing never happened.

Taako had told him that they’d keep doing the tutoring as long as he felt like he needed it though. His dad also really seemed to think it was helping him. Things kept getting worse every time he tried to hide something from them, and he was scared to mess it up again.

It felt like he ran that risk whether or not he showed them the progress report, so he figured at the very least he could try not to hide things. So as much as he wanted to, he didn’t try to throw the sealed piece of paper away. Instead he kept it clenched a little too tightly in his hands as he went to the library and the study room him and Taako always met in.

Opening the door, Taako was already inside like he always was.

And he looked like he was in a pretty good mood as he turned towards Angus, smiling surprisingly genuinely at the sight of him.

“Hey there pumpkin, what’s that look for?” Taako asked, and Angus guessed his nerves were showing. He tried to smile reassuringly as he came into the room, putting his bookbag down and continuing to fiddle with the paper in his hands.

“It’s um, we got our progress reports in today,” he said, and he saw Taako’s eyebrows raise up in interest at that.

“Oh shit, how’d you do?” he asked, and Angus had expected that question but he still wasn’t super happy with it. He couldn’t help but be pretty annoyed by all this. He’d been so excited to see if his suspicions were correct but now all he could focus on was the dumb progress report. Taako did seem happy, which was a good sign, but he couldn’t get anything else out of it right now.

“I haven’t actually looked yet,” he admitted.

“Well how about you crack that bad boy open and we see together?” Taako said, and reluctantly Angus nodded. He still didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t avoid it forever. Somehow it felt better to be opening it with Taako with him than trying to do it on his own. Under normal circumstances he’d be afraid of disappointing Taako, but for some reason that wasn’t a worry. Instead there was some small relief at having him here in case it was bad and he got upset.

“Oh,” Angus said, finally tearing open the seal and looking over it, moving fast like he was afraid he’d lose his nerve. He honestly wasn’t sure what he’d actually been expecting, or even what he’d been hoping for.

“So, don’t leave me hanging, how’d it go?” Taako asked, and he actually sounded a little nervous. Angus guessed that made sense, he figured his face was a little hard to read right now. He'd deliberately opened the paper in a way that Taako couldn't see what it actually said too, in case it was real bad.

“I have a C in English,” he said, his voice noticeably blank. When he glanced up at Taako, he looked like he was struggling to figure out if he should congratulate him or start being sympathetic. It was actually a little funny how conflicted he looked, and Angus couldn’t help but crack a smile a little. “I uh, I had a D before, I was really close to failing,” he admitted, and Taako quickly started smiling at that, holding a hand up.

“Hell yeah little man, that’s some good fucking progress right there,” he said, and Angus laughed at that, giving him the high-five. He’d never felt this relieved over a C before. He put the progress report down on the table so that Taako could see the rest of it. His other classes were doing alright, a smattering of Bs, and he was almost back up to an A in his science class.

“I really thought they’d be a lot worse than that,” he admitted as Taako looked the paper over.

“I’m not surprised at all, you’ve been, ya know, working hard and shit,” Taako said, handing the progress report back over to him. Angus was still smiling as he glanced at it one last time before putting it into his backpack. It was far from the best report he’d ever had, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the last one he’d gotten either. That one had left him locked up in his room crying for a while and failing to convince his dad he was okay.

That day had actually been the thing that started the talks about getting a tutor. Angus hadn’t been thrilled with the idea at the time, but it was that or going back down a grade again, and that option had been even less appealing.

Angus was really glad that he let his dad talk him into tutoring now. For a lot of reasons.

“You’ve been a lot of help sir, I really appreciate it,” he said, because as much as Taako insisted he and his dad thanked him too much, it  still felt like they didn’t do it nearly enough. He wasn’t surprised when Taako rolled his eyes at that, although he actually looked a little nervous.

“Cool, cool. One isn’t a very good sample size but I could have a shittier track record to start with for teaching,” he said. Angus blinked at that, taking a moment to figure out what he was talking about. He still wasn’t 100% sure, but he was starting to get an idea.

“Do you mean tutoring?” he asked, and Taako shrugged, fiddling with his pen. They should probably get started on Angus’s homework, but he felt like it wouldn’t be too bad to take a little bit of a break today. He could say for certain now that he was doing better. That didn’t mean he could start slacking, but still, some of that panic was starting to ease.

“I mean that too. Was kinda thinking of going into the whole teaching thing full force though. It’d be nice to have summers off and shit,” he said, clearly trying to be more casual about it than he felt. Angus felt an excited smile immediately stretch across his face at that.

“Really? That’d be so cool sir! You’d make a great teacher,” he said, and then a thought came to him and his excitement quickly dipped. “It’s- uh, when are you gonna start doing that? Is it- are you gonna start right away, or…” he trailed off. If Taako did leave to become a teacher that would be really nice for him, but Angus couldn’t help being worried at the idea of Taako leaving all of a sudden. He knew he could get another tutor, but he didn’t want to.

“What? No, there’s like, classes and shit I gotta take first. Plus we’re already a ways into the school year, even if I like, sped run that shit I probably wouldn’t get hired right away,” Taako said, and Angus relaxed a little at that. Taako must’ve noticed, because he snorted. “Yeah tough luck, you’re not getting rid of me that easily. Now enough trying to distract me, what’ve you got to work on?” Taako asked, and Angus giggled at that, pulling his history textbook out.

“Fiiine,” he complained, not actually upset at all. “We’re starting a new unit in history, and there’s this newspaper project the teacher wants us to do,” he started to explain. Taako listened in, and by the time the tutoring session was starting to draw to a close they had come up with a pretty solid plan on what to do for the project. Taako was really good at thinking of ways to make the assignments actually interesting to him.

The whole thing with the progress report and then Taako talking about becoming a teacher had distracted Angus so much he’d only remembered what he’d been so excited about tutoring for today as he was starting to pack up. He’d been planning to be subtle and try to figure it out over the course of the session, but that plan was out the window.

“Oh right! Taako, did something really good happen to you yesterday sir?” he blurted out. The sudden question seemed to take him off guard, Taako blinking in surprise before looking at him with suspicion.

“Maybe. Why? What do you know and who told you?” Taako asked, and Angus couldn’t help but laugh at the cautious glare his tutor was giving him.

“Nothing and no one. My dad was in a really good mood yesterday and was texting someone a lot, and I know he has your number so I was curious is all,” he said innocently. He could very easily hear Taako cursing under his breath, which only caused him to laugh even harder.

“Okay that doesn’t mean shit,” Taako said, although his denial didn’t feel very believable. Yeah, Angus wasn’t buying it at all.

“Sir, I thought you said you didn’t have any intentions with my dad,” he teased, rocking back and forth some and feeling kind of giddy. He wasn’t sure what had changed, but he certainly wasn’t complaining. He kind of had a feeling he would have plenty of time to figure it out anyway.

“Hey, maybe you should have asked your dad if he had any intentions with me, alright?” Taako snapped, his face and ears all bright red.

“Do you really think I didn’t ask him too sir?” Angus asked, letting himself sound as incredulous at the idea as he felt. That at least got a surprised snorting laugh out of Taako, who grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulder.

“Alright, fair enough,” he said, and Angus was grinning as he following him out of the study room and through the library.

“So, are you two actually dating now? For real?” Angus asked as he trotted alongside Taako. He knew he shouldn’t push if they didn’t want to tell him right away, but he couldn’t help it. He managed to wait a day, which felt like forever to him if he was being honest.

Taako stopped walking, and he actually looked really nervous as Angus turned towards him. He shrugged, scratching the back of his head and avoiding Angus’s eyes as he spoke.

“I don’t fucking know, it’s- this is all pretty new, okay? And none of that stuff I told you before stopped being a thing, ya know. It’s just…” Taako paused, taking a deep breath and looking pretty uncomfortable with all of this emotions talk. “We’re giving it a shot, I guess? Just don’t get too upset if it doesn’t work out, alright?” he said, surprisingly serious. Angus supposed he could see why he would want to warn him about something like that, especially since he'd just gotten out of a relationship that very much didn’t work out.

Maybe he was right to be cautious, but Angus couldn’t bring himself to be all that concerned. Even still, he nodded and gave Taako a reassuring smile.

“Okay, I promise,” Angus said, and that did seem to relax him somewhat.

“I swear if you ever call me dad though this whole thing is off! I will hit the eject button so fast there will just be a Taako shaped dust cloud in my wake like some kind of old timey cartoon,” he shouted loudly, and Angus laughed. Taako started walking forward again, and Angus had to trot to keep up with his fast pace.

“No fun,” he complained, not actually upset by this stipulation in the slightest. The idea of calling Taako dad was still really weird, so he had no problem agreeing to not do that.

“Too bad, that’s the deal,” he said, and with that they stepped outside of the school. Angus could see his dad’s car parked out front in its usual spot, and he quickly reached up and grabbed Taako’s wrist.

“You should let us give you a ride home! Or you can come hang out at our house some!” he said, already starting to pull Taako towards the car. Despite some clear hesitation he was still letting Angus lead him, and he had no doubt that he could stop him if he really wanted to.

“I mean, that kinda depends on what your dad wants,” he said. As they got closer Angus could see his dad roll down the car window, looking interested and amused by the scene.

“Hey dad! Can Taako come over to our house for dinner?” he asked as soon as he was within speaking distance. The question seemed to take both of them off guard, not that Angus minded that very much.

“Oh well, he’s more than welcome if he would like to. I highly doubt that anything I could cook would live up to your standards though,” his dad said, and Taako snorted at that.

“Yeah no, don’t you worry about that. I can handle any cooking we need,” Taako insisted, and when Angus got into the backseat he climbed into the passenger seat.

“That’s not- you really don’t have to,” his dad tried to insist, but Taako shook his head.

“Nah, consider it a fucking celebration for the boy genius’s grades,” he said, jabbing a thumb back at Angus. That clearly caught his dad’s attention, turning to look at him curiously.

“Oh right, I uh, got my progress report today,” he said, digging around in his bookbag until he found the paper. Despite everything Angus couldn’t help but be a little nervous as his dad looked it over, although that worry quickly faded with the smile that spread over his face as he read it.

“This is wonderful Angus. I guess Taako is right, it does deserve a bit of a celebration,” he said, handing the paper back to him before turning around and starting up the car. He hadn’t meant for the attention to get turned back to him and his grades, but he couldn’t complain about that too much either.

“I suppose we could stop at the store on the way back. I don’t think we have enough ingredients at the house to make anything decent,” his dad said, but Taako quickly shook his head.

“Unnecessary my dude, whatever you got lying around I guarantee I can make it work,” he insisted.

“Really, it’s no trouble,” his dad tried, but Taako didn’t seem swayed in the least.

“Do not doubt my skill.”

“I promise there’s no doubt, only some slight fear.”

“Oh, well that’s perfectly acceptable then.”

Yeah, Angus couldn’t complain about any of this.

Chapter Text

Taako was having a hard time believing that any of this was actually real. It sure as fuck didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like a dream either, he wasn’t going to get that goddamn sappy yet, but still. It was a little hard to believe that all of this wasn’t some big, cruel joke. Life trying to pretend something good could actually happen to him before yanking it away out of his reach once again.

Except Kravitz kept looking at him like he actually did think this whole thing might be a dream, and Angus was practically bouncing as he jumped out of the car. Maybe if everyone had a hard time believing it was real none of them would bother bringing it all back to reality. That was fine by Taako.

Following Angus’s lead out of the car, Taako looked the house in front of them over. It looked like a nice place, not like, off the wall rich or anything, but definitely some solid income. A little darker than he might have expected, but he could dig it. It was probably a little shitty of him that his mind immediately started going to noticing those sorts of things. That was how his brain worked though, and despite that he was pretty damn sure they could have lived in a damn shack and it wouldn’t change how he felt any.

Not that he was doing that great of a job even defining how he felt. He could feel it, but putting too many words to those feelings was kind of terrifying, so he was trying to avoid that for now. It was what  it was, and it didn’t seem like Kravitz was going to pressure him into putting anything solid or definitive to any of that yet.

Which was nice. Nicer than Taako expected, which only ended up making all those unspoken feelings solidify even further.

He got the feeling Angus might pressure them both some, but Taako could tell the kid didn’t mean anything by it. He was a kid and this was his dad, of course he was going to be curious as all fuck. At least he didn’t seem resentful about anything that was going on. Instead he seemed downright ecstatic as he started leading the rest of them into the house.

“So, let me at it. I wanna see what I’m working with here,” Taako said as he came inside, and Angus immediately started leading him towards the kitchen as Kravitz trailed along after them.

“Taako please, you don’t have to- you could rest some first, if you’d like,” he offered, which was pretty sweet. Taako was gonna have to get used to just how sweet and shit this guy was. He waved the insistence off though, starting to look the kitchen over. There were some nice appliances in there, nothing chef grade but still decent enough. To say he'd worked with worse before would be an understatement. None of it seemed to get a lot of use, and Taako wondered if he could see to changing that.

He told himself to try and pull back some. They hadn’t even been on a date yet, not a real one, he couldn’t start thinking about practically moving in with them yet. Honestly, his own brain had been the one to bring the idea up and it still kind of terrified him.

Still, it was an idea. A maybe that could happen in the future that didn’t immediately make him want to run away and never look back. That meant a hell of a lot when it came to him.

“Resting is best done when there’s fresh food available, don’t even worry about it,” he said, and Kravitz still looked hesitant but nodded all the same.

“Can I help you cook? It was fun last time and I know where everything is if you need help finding things,” Angus said, and Taako nodded.

“A man on the inside, nice,” he said, which got a snort out of Kravitz. With that he started looking through the kitchen, and he was right. They had more ingredients than they thought, he could work with this. Sure, there was also a distressing amount of frozen meals and the like, but Taako couldn’t judge. He was as close to a professional chef as one could get without the professional part, and he still ate that garbage way more than he should.

There was a bag of rice though, and some eggs and cheese and tuna. They didn’t have as many spices as he would have liked, but he could still make a pretty decent casserole. Not the fanciest dish, but still home made enough to be worth it. Solid and filling and cheap, the kind of food him and Lup had eaten all throughout their teen and college years.

Angus seemed pretty damn excited to help, which wasn’t a surprise after the last time he’d let him help cook. It was just that one weekend he’d been watching him, but he was surprised how into it the kid had gotten. He’d kind of been wondering if Kravitz would object to him teaching Angus some of the old tools of the trade, but too many panicked thoughts had been going through his head to ever get around to asking.

Right now though it certainly didn’t seem like he minded. He was mostly staying out of their way, which Taako was the slightest bit thankful for. He was better at working with other people in his kitchen than most would expect, but that was from growing up cooking with Lup. So he didn’t mind Angus kind of getting under his feet in an attempt at helping, it was second nature to adjust for another body trying to work alongside him.

Nah, he was thankful that Kravitz was standing back and watching because that meant Taako had an audience to show off for. That tended to do excellent things for his ego normally, and Kravitz’s opinion felt like it mattered even more. Taako found himself grinning as he noticed Kravitz watching him with rapt attention as he had Angus measure out how much water they needed for the rice and little things like that.

This dish didn’t actually require that much skill, but Taako couldn’t help trying to put as much flair into the whole thing as possible.

“Hey, wanna see the way professionals crack open eggs?” Taako asked. The rice was done and they were mixing in the other ingredients now. Angus immediately nodded, and Taako could see Kravitz watching them from the bar with interest.

“Of course!” Angus said. With that Taako’s grin got a little bit wider, and he started spinning one of the eggs on the counter, giving it a few quick turns so it would pick up speed. Sliding the spatula underneath the egg, he held it there for a few seconds before throwing the egg up into the air, turning the spatula so that when the egg fell back down it cracked on the side, the insides falling into the casserole while the shell stayed on the spatula. It was actually a real simple trick, but that didn’t stop the two from looking genuinely impressed.

“Wow, can I try?” Angus asked, and Taako shrugged.

“I don’t see why not,” he said, not surprised that Kravitz looked significantly more hesitant.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he asked, but Taako had already gotten a small bowl out and was handing Angus a freshly cleaned spatula. Better for him to aim for a bowl instead of into the casserole just in case shells went everywhere.

“Yeah, this shit’s way easier than it looks,” he assured, starting to spin the egg. Angus was gripping the spatula with both hands, looking both nervous and excited. “So, you just wanna wedge it down under there while it’s spinning. Then once you got it balanced over the bowl you flick it up like this and then turn the spatula and it should fall right back down onto it,” Taako explained, Angus listening with rapt attention.

“Okay…” he said, and Taako gave the egg one last spin before stepping back. For his part, Angus actually did a pretty good job of getting the egg on the spatula and not letting it fall off.

When it came time for flicking the egg up though, Taako could immediately see the kid use too much force. The egg flew over his shoulder and splattered up against the wall with a crack.

“Oh no,” Angus said, and Taako probably shouldn’t be laughing as loud as he was, but it was kind of hilarious. He guessed it wasn’t that bad, because he could see Kravitz trying and failing to hold back his own chuckles as well. Grinning, Taako patted Angus on the shoulder, taking the spatula back.

“Pretty good balance, we’ll get the rest of it down some other time,” he said, and Angus nodded a little reluctantly.

“I’ll handle the cleaning crew. I promise that’s about as much help as I can be in a kitchen,” Kravitz said, grabbing some paper towels to go fix up the mess of eggs. Taako finished cracking the last couple into the casserole the normal way before handing Angus a spoon to let him mix.

“We’ll see about that, I’m sure we can hammer some skills into you yet,” he said, although Taako was pretty sure he wouldn’t mind if Kravitz just watched for the most part. Cleaning was his least favorite part anyway, so it would be nice to have someone to shove that onto.

It would be nice if this actually became a regular thing. Even though Taako knew he shouldn’t be getting his hopes up, he found himself liking the idea. He wanted it.

Putting the casserole into the oven, there wasn’t much left to do but wait. This was probably where it was going to start getting awkward and terrible. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do when he wasn’t doing something.

Instead of becoming silent and bad though they ended up sitting in the living room, Taako putting a timer on his phone so that they wouldn’t miss the one on the stove. Then they started talking, not even about anything in particular. Angus started going on about something at school, which shifted into talking about tutoring, which went to Taako talking about the whole teacher thing. Kravitz actually seemed interested to hear about it, didn’t seem skeptical at all at Taako actually being able to manage it. Sure, he’d been like that at the cafe too, but it didn’t seem like that was going to change. It was weird.

Taako really liked it. He really liked them.

This was all so domestic, he should probably be freaking out a lot more than he was.

When the food beeped Taako jumped up, and it had started smelling pretty good by this point. He wasn’t surprised at all at the other two following after him, and he had to shoo them away once it was out. Shit needed to cool for a minute if everyone wanted to keep their tongues in working order, and he told them as such.

Once they were able to eat it, the dish was damn good. Taako knew it would be, even with the minimal ingredients he had to work with, but it still felt like a huge success. It shouldn’t mean as much as it did to him to impress these people, but he wanted this to work. He wanted to actually put the effort in for it to work, and he almost wanted them to know that he was doing that.

Maybe not entirely yet, but still. It was all new, it wouldn’t hurt to take it kind of slow if they could.

Still, it was hard not to beam with pride when they tried it, Angus immediately starting to scarf it down as fast as he could, despite how hot it still was.

“Angus slow down, it’s not going to run away,” Kravitz said in between his own bites of food. “This is incredible though Taako, you didn’t have to do this,” he said, and Taako waved him off.

“Eh, I like cooking for bigger groups anyway. Cooking for one person gets depressing,” he said, and that was true at least. Taako was pretty sure he wasn’t even capable of cooking for a single person. His stuff always ended up with leftovers, the minimum number of portions he was capable cooking at one stuck at a solid two. It always felt wrong if he tried to go any lower than that, and it wasn’t like having leftovers was a bad thing.

It’d been a while since he let himself cook for larger groups though. Maybe this could actually kickstart something.

“Well, it’s still more than appreciated,” Kravitz said, and Taako wasn’t sure he was ever gonna get used to how genuine the dude sounded. It wasn’t like he didn’t have genuine people in his life, but just, ya know, not in this particular aspect of his life.

Fuck, he’d really fallen hard. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Taako found himself not giving a shit.

“Do you think you could come over like this all the time?” Angus asked, and Taako figured he should have anticipated that question. It was a damn good question.

“That depends, do you think I would still get paid if the school started to think I was tutoring my own damn kid?” he asked, and he’d meant it as a joke, only realizing what exactly he said afterwards. Instead of looking annoyed or insulted by the idea Kravitz just looked flustered, and Angus seemed pleased as punch.

“I don’t think there’s any rules against it! And you guys aren’t married so it’s not like they can prove anything even if there was one,” he said, and Taako could feel his face heating up at the mere mention of things like marriage. 

“That’s uh, yeah, that’s true. They can’t prove shit,” Taako muttered, taking a long sip of his drink so that he could avoid talking for a little bit.

“Well, it’s- you’re welcome to come by whenever you like,” Kravitz said after a moment, and Taako nodded. That was good enough, an open invitation that neither of them had to actually follow up on if they didn’t want to. Taako kind of did want to though, and he was pretty damn sure that Kravitz did too. Which was even better, he guessed.

The rest of the dinner managed to recover from that little spot of embarrassment pretty quick. Taako didn’t know how it was so easy to get along here, but he wasn’t going to fight it as much as he probably could.

Once they finished eating it was starting to get late, and Taako figured he should leave. He didn’t want to all that much, but it was a little too early for anything like that. Maybe in the future. Maybe someday soon there would be time to actually spend the night and build something like a home here, but for now they were in the beginning, and Taako didn’t particularly mind that. He actually liked it a lot, if he was being honest.

“It’s starting to get pretty late,” Kravitz said after a small lapse in the conversation, stealing the thought right out of Taako’s head.

“Yeah, I should probably be heading out soon. Just cause I don’t gotta be up early tomorrow doesn’t mean everyone else here doesn’t,” he said, standing up from the couch and stretching his arms above him. He’d had a talk with Lup last night, told her all about the whole becoming a teacher thing like Barry said he should. She was all supportive like Taako knew she would be, and they were both willing to spot him while money was tight as he got all of that under control. Especially since they were pretty sure Barry had gotten the job he’d been applying for.

“I can drive you back, it’s- I’d hate to make you walk so far, especially in the dark,” Kravitz said. Taako almost turned him down out of instinct and impulse. It was getting dark though, and his house was too far to reasonably walk, and Taako didn’t actually mind the idea of spending a little bit more time with him.

“Can I come?” Angus asked, already jumping up from his seat. Taako hesitated slightly, glancing over at Kravitz, who shrugged.

“If you wanna I guess. Don’t know what’s so thrilling about riding in the car for a couple minutes, but sure,” Taako said, and yeah, it definitely wasn’t anything super exciting, but that didn’t seem to deter Angus any. The kid instantly ran to go put his shoes back on.

Kravitz tried to insist he take some of the casserole with him, but Taako just shoved the tray back at him.

“Nah, I’ve got food at home. You two don’t get leftovers nearly enough,” he said, and Kravitz smiled in amusement at that.

“It kind of seems like that’s something you’re looking to change, huh?” he said, and Taako could feel his face turning red as he tried to shrug casually. He probably didn’t pull it off super well, but Kravitz didn’t call him out on it, which was good enough for him.

“What do you expect? Can’t let my boyfriend and his kid eat like a couple of college students during finals week,” he said. To his pleasure Kravitz looked just as flustered at that, but he also laughed all the same.

“Is it really that bad?” he asked, and Taako scoffed.

“If I was a lesser chef I would have cried,” he said, which got a snort out of Kravitz. By now Angus was waiting by the door, and right, he should be going.

Sitting in the front seat, it really did seem like Kravitz just listened to classical music in his car on the regular. Taako thought something like that would be annoying, but somehow it was endearing instead.

The car ride went faster than Taako would have liked. He had a feeling that it would, and that was still strange, actually wanting to spend more time with these people. It’d been so long since there was new people Taako really fucking liked. He wasn’t going to start complaining though.

Still, before he knew it they had pulled up in front of Taako’s apartment. The short drive could be good for some things thought. It meant he could visit more often, if he wanted to.

“Well, this is me,” Taako said, resisting the urge to cringe afterwards at how dumb that sounded. Neither Kravitz or Angus seemed to notice though, although Kravitz looked hesitant for some reason. “Uh, later then,” he said, unbuckling himself to start to head out. To his surprise Kravitz put the car in park and started to get out as well.

“Are we getting out?” Angus asked, starting to move as well. Before he could hop out of the car though Kravitz shook his head.

“No dear, wait in the car it’ll only be a minute,” he said. Taako was just barely able to keep himself from snorting in amusement at the pouting look of disappointment on Angus’s face. Despite that he followed directions, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms. Taako didn’t know what Kravitz’s plan was, but he was certainly curious enough to want to see. So he walked a few feet away from the car and waiting for him under the light of one of the street lamps.

“So, you need something or…?” Taako asked, and he’d been trying to pretend to be annoyed, but his voice came out amused instead. Even still Kravitz looked a little nervous, and Taako had thought that things were going good but maybe he’d fucked up after all.

“No, I just, well, wanted to say that it really was wonderful having you over,” Kravitz said, and as soon as he did Taako felt himself relax some. Okay, he was just a shy nerd, he should have known. Even though that should have been the least surprising thing in the universe, Taako still felt a relieved smile spread across his face.

“I mean yeah my dude, we’ve already been over that,” he said, because they had been. Kravitz laughed sheepishly at that and nodded.

“I suppose you’re right. Still, I know this isn’t much of a first date, but I wanted to say I had a lovely time,” Kravitz said, and right, they hadn’t had a first date yet technically. Taako wasn’t sure if the time in the coffee shop would have counted, and they’d been planning to meet up this weekend for something proper instead. He wasn’t too bothered by the idea of them stumbling into this instead of having some strict start date. They could figure out the problem for anniversaries if and when they got there.

“Eh, you can make it up to me this weekend if you feel so bad about ya know, letting me chill out at your house and show off my rad cooking skills. Third date’s a charm or whatever,” he said, trying to keep as casual as possible. Kravitz let out a snorting laugh at that, and god that was cute as fuck.

“I’m not sure if that’s exactly how the saying goes, but I’ll still take you up on that offer,” he said, and Taako grinned at that. There was a short beat where neither of them said anything, but it didn’t take long before Taako broke.

“Yeah, fuck this,” he said, immediately pulling Kravitz into a kiss. He hadn’t realized how long he’d been wanting to do that, and a rush of delight shot through him when Kravitz started kissing him back without any hesitation. If anything Taako kind of got the idea that this was the whole reason he’d decided to follow him out of the car to begin with, which Taako certainly wasn’t going to complain about.

“Gross guys! You didn’t go far at all,” Angus shouted at them from the car. He didn’t actually sound grossed out or annoyed, in fact it sounded like he was trying to hold back laughter. Pulling away, Taako could see him leaning out a window he rolled down, tossing a balled up receipt in their direction. It fell short, and there were a few others already on the sidewalk by their feet.

“Angus! Get back inside!” Kravitz sputtered out, sounding beyond embarrassed. It was cute, and Taako quickly dissolved into laughter.

“Or at least find something heavier to throw, you’re not gonna hit shit with those,” he said between bouts of giggling. At that Angus immediately pulled himself back through the window, starting to rummage around in the back seat.

“No, Angus do not-” Kravitz started, before breaking out into his own disbelieving laughter. “You two are going to be the worst, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he said, and Taako’s grin widened at that.

“Don’t lie, you already fucking love this,” he said, and Kravitz’s face went unexpectedly soft at that.

“Yes, I suppose I do,” he said, and Taako didn’t know how to react to that. Kravitz thankfully didn’t leave him suffering for long, quickly leaning over and giving him another quick kiss. “See you soon?” he asked after pulling away, and Taako was sure his face was bright fucking red as he nodded.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. With that Kravitz grinned, finally turning and heading back towards the car. Once he was inside Angus appeared at the window again.

“Later Taako!” he said, waving until Taako could hear Kravitz chastising him to get his head back inside.

“Later my dudes!” he called, turning and heading back into his building as they drove away. Taako found himself smiling the entire way up to his apartment, still grinning as he went and fell on his couch. It’d been a long while since he’d collapsed in anything other than exhaustion or depression, but this was so fucking far from either of those things. He was real damn happy.

This was just the start of something, and Taako was excited to explore the rest of this, this life that was stretching out before him.

For once, he was pretty damn sure it was going to be good.