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I'll Be Home For Candlenights

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Kravitz was not a fan of traveling. He was even less of a fan of traveling during the holidays, but that was exactly what he was doing now. Not of his own choice of course, but it had been an exceptionally shitty couple of weeks.

Usually he tried to get out early before the big holiday rush, but things had gotten held up at work this year. He wasn’t supposed to spend so long out on this project, he was actually supposed to go home two weeks ago. There had been some complications in the closing procedures though, which threw everything out of whack. Because of all that Kravitz was forced to stay for an extra two weeks to oversee everything.

Now he was flying back just three days before Candlenights, and it was obvious with the rush too. He made sure to leave for the airport two hours before the recommended arrival time, and security plus traffic had proven that it was at least somewhat worth it.

He was waiting at his gate now though, and there was still another whole hour before the flight was supposed to take off. If Kravitz had to wager a bet, a bit longer with the snow happening outside. He’d been keeping an eye on the boards posted up on his flight, and there hadn’t been any official delay announced yet. Even still, Kravitz was prepared to be sitting here for at least double the time they had told him he’d needed to.

One good thing about getting here so early though was that he actually managed to get one of the seats near a working electrical outlet. So he had his phone plugged in, but the internet really wasn’t that great here. It was never great at airports, and he wasn’t about to bother one of the workers for the wifi password. He was pretty sure you had to pay for that anyway, and so he’d just struggle on the flimsy connection he could get.

He wasn’t even sure why he’d decided to get on tinder of all things. Well, maybe because he was heading back home and his mother had been the one to insist he get ‘one of those dating apps’ anyway. He’d barely used it since he’d downloaded it, and he hadn’t actually met anyone with it yet. He’d gotten several people swiping ‘yes’ on him, but uh, it just seemed strange. He knew it wasn't and that lots of people made good, long lasting relationships through the internet now a days, but it wasn't his style he supposed. He was mainly flipping through it now so that he could prove to his mother that he’d used it and it wasn’t for him when she asked.

Except the internet kept going in and out, which was frustrating. Sometimes he’d swipe six times and it wouldn’t work, and then like twelve people would flash past him at once. He guessed it didn’t matter much, since he wasn’t actually looking to hook up with anyone at an airport of all things. He just wanted to go home and rest from an absolutely awful couple of weeks.

The app got stuck again, and Kravitz frowned in annoyance as he swiped pretty rapidly again. Of course, it jumped over to the next person almost as soon as he did that, if he had to guess specifically to annoy him. He only got to look at the new person for longer than a few seconds because it froze again. Even still he’d already swiped no on them because of it, and he definitely would have said no even if he hadn’t by accident, because he wasn’t looking to date right now.

He maybe would’ve hesitated a little bit though, or at least checked out the profile first. Not in a creepy way (a voice in the back of his mind said that if you had to specify that it wasn’t in a creepy way it was absolutely in a creepy way) but just because that man had been really, really pretty. The only photo he was able to see there was only shoulders up, but it was a very good head shot. Thick blond hair pulled into a braid over his shoulder, bright green eyes and freckles across his face. Kravitz wouldn't say he had a type, but if he did this person would be hitting pretty close to it.

“Ouch, hard no on that one, huh?” A voice said, close enough that Kravitz couldn’t safely assume that whoever it was wasn’t talking to him.

Looking up, Kravitz instantly glanced back down at his phone to double check, but it had already unfrozen and moved onto the next person. Still, there was no way this wasn’t the man he’d just been looking at on his phone. It was pretty damn cold in the airport, but Kravitz could feel his face heating up in embarrassment.

“I’m uh- I’m not looking to date um, at the moment,” he stuttered out. The man rolled his eyes, crouching down to the sockets and inspecting it. Kravitz figured (hoped) he’d move on when he saw that it was obviously full and he’d need to look for another one. Instead the man unplugged someone else’s phone and put his own charger in instead. Kravitz kind of felt like he should say something about that, but was still a little dumbfounded. Of course, he actually had to run into someone on that fucking app.

“Dude, you’re literally on tinder right now. I mean, I guess a lot of people aren’t on there to date, but that’s semantics,” he said. Kravitz wished he’d read what this guy’s name was before it changed over, but he hadn’t thought to. He might’ve been too busy staring at his picture.

Which, he was just as pretty in real life. Maybe more so. His hair was in a similar braid as it had been in the picture, and he was in some pretty comfy looking black pats and blue knit top. Those clothes made sense for the airport. He was also wearing sandals, which considering the fact that it was snowing outside was a little bizarre.

“I mean, I wouldn’t know. I’m uh, pretty new to the site. Site? App,” he said, not sure what was happening or why he was trying to continue this conversation. The outlet was at the end of a row of seats, and so Kravitz expected this man to put his phone down and go sit somewhere. Maybe if he was worried about someone else unplugging his phone like he’d done (which, was honestly pretty damn rude) he’d sit on the floor by it.

He didn’t expect him to go and sit in the empty seat immediately next to Kravitz, his phone charger cord stretching across him and the man having to lean a little bit too close so that it wouldn’t fall out.

“Um, do you mind?” he asked, pressing back in his chair some.

“Huh? Not at all bubula, you just keep doing you,” he said, and Kravitz let out a sigh of frustration at that. He wasn’t sure if this guy was just this callus and oblivious to other people’s feelings, or if he was deliberately trying to bother him. There was no way someone would take being turned down on a dating app like tinder as that great of an offense though, right?

Which, looking at his phone now, Kravitz got out of the app. Maybe he’d look at it some more a bit later if the internet stabilized and this guy left. Otherwise it really wasn’t worth it.

“Aw, that’s all? Was hoping to see what your taste actually is instead of just ‘definitely not Taako,’” the man said, and Kravitz could hear the air quotes around the end there.

“Not what?” he asked, not quite understanding what he meant by that.

“Taako, cha’boy, sorely unappreciated in his time and sorely tired of these shitty airport chairs,” he said, and oh. His name was Taako, that made sense now.

“Yeah they’re uh, not great?” Kravitz said, not sure if that had been an attempt at small talk or not. He briefly considered giving him his own name, but he was hoping not to talk to this guy for much longer. Sure, he was very, very pretty, but this was also a prime example of why he wasn’t interested in internet dating. Especially through an app that at least to him, seemed to prioritize looks over everything else.

Taako was very nice to look at, but so far he’d been nothing but rude and irritating. Not really someone Kravitz was interested in dating, even if he was looking for that.

“Come on, come on, fucking, turn on already,” Taako muttered, smacking his phone. It was obvious at least now that he wasn’t talking to Kravitz anymore. He was still leaning with both of his elbows up on the armrest though, so it was a little hard to ignore him. Kravitz only had to lean back the slightest bit to see his phone screen, which seemed to be an unhelpful black void. There was also a huge spiderweb of cracks running across it. Sure, Kravitz had seen phones working in that condition before, but it wasn’t looking too good for this one.

He didn’t comment on it or anything though, since it wasn’t his problem. Sure, it sucked if he broke his phone or something, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

“Fucking- damn it,” Taako said, finally seeming to give up on his phone. He still left the wire running across him, but he put it down on the armrest and slumped back down in his seat so that he was no longer hovering on the edge of Kravitz’s vision. Which honestly, that was good enough. He wasn’t expecting to have an enjoyable time in the airport, so he might as well be glad the guy was no longer actively antagonizing him.

Kravitz wasn’t surprised when a few minutes later there was an announcement over the loudspeaker and across the departure and arrival time boards. Flight delayed an hour. He’d been expecting it, but it was still frustrating.

Next to him, Taako let out a very loud groan and threw his head back, letting it hang there in the air for a long moment. The act made several other people waiting for the flight to look over in confusion and annoyance, and Kravitz tried to shift as far as he could away from Taako. Just, trying to channel as much ‘I don’t know this guy’ energy as possible towards the rest of the people here.

“Hey, Picky Pete, can I use your phone for a minute?” Taako asked, and Kravitz frowned at that.

“What did you just call me?” he asked, blinking in dumb confusion.

“High Standards Stu, my dude, can I please use your phone? Mine’s busted to the ninth layer of hell and back and I need to let my sister know my flight was delayed,” he said. Despite the annoying nicknames he actually sounded pretty desperate about wanting to call his sister.

Kravitz swore he was too nice. He could’ve told him to go ask someone who he hadn’t been a jerk to for their phone instead.

Having a broken phone at the airport was pretty horrible though. Kravitz honestly wouldn’t wish that on most people, let alone some guy who was vaguely rude to him over some dumb dating app misunderstanding. With a sigh, he unplugged his phone from the charger and held it out for him.

“Kravitz,” he said, and Taako gave him a confused look as he took the phone.

“Huh?”

“My name is Kravitz, not picky Patrick or whatever it is you said,” he explained. The look of confusion on Taako’s face shifted into a wide grin at that. He leaned back in his chair again, pulling up the dial pad on Kravitz’s phone.

“Excellent, well thanks a bunch for the save Krav,” Taako said before turning to the phone and quickly dialing a number. “Come on, don’t you dare not answer cause it’s a weird number,” he muttered as it rang several times. His phone volume was up just enough that Kravitz could hear when the ringing stopped and it clicked, someone having answered it.

“Oh thank fuck Lup,” Taako said, and unfortunately Kravitz couldn’t actually hear his sister well enough to understand her through the phone. “It broke, fucking long story, someone’s letting me borrow theirs. Anyway, important shit, flight was delayed,” he added. Kravitz wasn’t actively trying to eavesdrop, for the most part at least, but Taako was talking really loud and it was kind of hard to ignore.

“I know, I know, okay? Look, I’ll fill you in once I get home, promise… it says only an hour, but it’s snowy as fuck right now, so I don’t know… Yeah, just keep an eye out for any weird numbers, I’m gonna have to bum off other people until I get back… Uhuh, you too. Later,” he said, hanging up at that and holding the phone back out for Kravitz to take. “Thanks again my dude, you have no idea how much she’d have my head if I didn’t let her know shit was gonna be late,” he said, addressing Kravitz now.

“Not a problem,” Kravitz said. Once he had his phone back he figured he should send a text to his mother letting her know he’d be late as well.

A few minutes later he got a text back from her saying ‘Sorry to hear that dear. Hope things clear up soon. Can’t wait to see you <3’ which was about what he expected.

The next twenty minutes or so were actually pretty quiet. Kravitz went back to futilely trying to use the internet. Taako had stopped bothering him and pulled some book out of the carry on duffel bag he had with him. From the cover it looked like it was some young adult series, which didn’t seem like this guy’s style. He guessed some of those books could actually be really good though, although Kravitz was pretty sure he’d never read that one.

The relative quiet was interrupted when someone came over to the outlet they were sitting by. Kravitz hadn’t paid him much attention at first, people were constantly coming up and checking their phones. It wasn’t until the man let out a pained sound of frustration did he look up.

“Did you unplug my phone?” he said, and Kravitz expected him to be looking at Taako. Since Taako was the one who'd been unplugging people's phones. Instead the short old man was glaring directly at Kravitz, and he could feel himself bulk.

“I- no. No, that wasn’t me,” he insisted, because it wasn’t. The guilty party was sitting right next to him, his broken phone still uselessly plugged in. He was also avoiding all eye contact, very interested in his book at the moment from the looks of it.

“Well, did you see who did?” the old man snapped, glaring at him and frowning deeply behind his beard.

“I hadn’t been paying attention,” Kravitz blurted out. He should have pointed straight at Taako, so he better appreciate that he hadn’t. The man was glaring absolute daggers at him at this point.

“Are one of you done with the outlet?” he asked, finally looking at Taako as well.

“Oh yeah man, you can undo mine. My phone’s busted anyway, no point in having it plugged in,” Taako said, cheery as anything. The old man sputtered wordlessly for a moment, before finally unplugging Taako’s phone and putting his back in. Kravitz quickly grabbed the charger and handed it over to Taako so that it would stop pressing into him.

Kravitz watched as the old man walked a bit away and sat down at an empty seat, his eyes glued to the outlet now.

After maybe a minute, Taako broke into a fit of laughter next to him.

“Holy shit. Fucking hell dude, I appreciate you not ratting me out, for real. God, that dude was so pissed off,” Taako said in between bouts of laughter, shooting Kravitz a big grin once he managed to pull himself together. Which, okay, Kravitz still was not a big fan of this dude. The facts hadn’t changed though that he was just, unfairly attractive.

“I was not about to get dragged into the middle of an airport argument over outlets,” he said simply, which was the truth. Taako shrugged, rolling up his charger and sticking it and the broken phone back into his bag.

“Hey either way, no skin off my bones,” he said. It was quiet for a few minutes, and Kravitz was pretty sure that Taako had gone back to his reading or something.

“So, would it be fucked up or what if I unplugged that dude’s phone again the next time he looked away?” Taako asked suddenly, and Kravitz snorted, trying and failing not to laugh.

“Please don’t,” he managed to choke out after a moment. “I don’t feel like getting shouted at by angry old men in an airport anymore than I already have been,” he added. Taako started hemming and hawing like he was actually debating on whether or not he was going to. Kravitz did not know this guy well enough to be entirely certain that it was an act either.

“Fine, I guess I won’t. Only cause you let me borrow your phone and covered for me just now though. Otherwise I would’ve thrown you to the fucking wolves my dude,” he said, and Kravitz rolled his eyes at that. He might’ve been smiling more than he intended though. Okay, this guy was an asshole, but he was a pretty amusing asshole. He couldn’t deny that.

“Really? Just because I didn’t, fuck, which way is it? Just because I didn’t ‘swipe right?’ You wouldn’t have even been able to see it you know, your phone’s broken,” Kravitz said. Honestly, this whole thing was pretty funny once Taako had stopped being actively irritating to him.

“It’s a matter of pride my man, and more importantly than that it’s a matter of taste,” he said, and Kravitz genuinely couldn’t tell what was exaggerated annoyance and what was real. He guessed it didn’t really matter.

“I think I have pretty good taste actually,” Kravitz said, and he could see out the window now that at least their plane had pulled up to the terminal. Hopefully they might actually only be an hour or so late. It would be a miracle if it happened, but Kravitz was still optimistic enough in the day to be willing to hope.

“Oh really now? I still don’t know what your taste is my guy, cause from where I’m standing right now it looks pretty bad,” Taako said. Kravitz leaned back in his chair, humming thoughtfully as he tried to figure out what to say.

If he was going to be honest, he could start listing off some of Taako’s features. Most or all of Taako’s features actually. He wasn’t going to do that, because one, it was a little weird to start flirting now. He also wasn’t going to start flirting with a random guy he met in an airport that he wasn’t ever going to see again after this. And two, that would be letting Taako win.

“Hmm, I would say my type typically is someone who has the self confidence enough not to get petty over something as insignificant as being rejected on tinder,” he said. He couldn’t say he was surprised by the outrageously offended expression on Taako’s face at that. He had to quickly raise his arm up to block him when Taako started trying to swat him with the book he’d been reading.

“Fucking rude! Well my type are guys who aren’t huge dickwads, how about that? I guess it’s good for both of us that you swiped no on that one, huh?” Taako said, continuing to smack his arm and whatever else he could get at with his book. Kravitz was pretty sure he was just being dramatic, and was having a hard time not laughing before he realized how many people were looking at them.

“Taako could you please- Taako stop, you’re causing a scene,” Kravitz hissed at him. Taako huffed, still looking peeved and Kravitz suddenly got the feeling that maybe this wasn’t all funny dramatics. Which, shit. He hadn’t meant to genuinely offend the guy. This was why he kept his mouth shut around anyone he might be the slightest bit interested in. Didn't do that well for dating, but it did keep them from automatically hating his guts.

“What was that? You’re gonna have to speak up my dude, can’t hear you over how petty and insecure I am,” Taako said. He wasn’t hitting him with the book very hard, but there was definitely an irritated tone to his voice that didn’t sound fake.

“No, it’s not- people are staring,” Kravitz tried to insist. When it didn’t seem like he was going to listen to that Kravitz managed to snatch the book from him.

“Excuse you! Give that back!” Taako said.

“Only if you promise to stop hitting me,” Kravitz said, leaning away as far as he could and holding the book up out of Taako’s reach. Not that that seemed to deter Taako any. He was practically climbing over the arm rest and onto Kravitz as he tried to grab his book.

“I don’t gotta promise shit, it’s my boo-”

“Sir! Could you and your boyfriend please stop,” a very tired looking woman snapped at the two of them. It was enough to get them both to freeze, and Kravitz could feel his face heating up again. Taako for his part at least also looked embarrassed, his ears in particular going bright red.

“He’s not-” Taako started to shout, and then seemed to realize he was still fucking half on top of Kravitz and scrambled off into his own seat again. Kravitz instantly dropped the arm holding up the book, and then proceeded to hide his face in said book. He was done interacting with people. He was never going to interact with people again as long as that was cool. “He is not my boyfriend,” Taako finished.

“I don’t care, please just behave,” the woman said. Taako huffed, but thankfully didn’t seem like he was going to try and continue that argument. Kravitz wasn’t looking up to see if everyone had stopped paying attention to them yet. He lived in this book now.

“Gimme my book back,” Taako grumbled after a moment. There was a part of Kravitz that wanted to argue and continue to keep the book for himself. That part was weighed out the barest amount by the part of him that didn’t want to risk starting another argument and annoying everyone at the gate again.

“Here,” he said, handing the book back to Taako, who smacked him in the arm with it once more for good measure. He then proceeded to start doing exactly what Kravitz had been. Hiding himself in it and avoiding all eye contact.

It was very quiet and very awkward between them for a few excruciatingly long minutes.

“Flight 46290 to Neverwinter has been delayed another hour. The new boarding time is now 3:53pm, I repeat, Flight 46290 to Neverwinter…”

Kravitz sighed heavily, letting his head fall into his hand in frustration.

“Hey Krav? Uh, could I borrow your phone again?”

This was going to be such a long day.

Chapter Text

Taako was not having a very good week, and somehow it just kept managing to get fucking worse. It was supposed to be great. He flew out here for this cooking gig, and he was actually excited for it. Sure, the timing meant he'd be away from Lup and Barry and all of them for Candlenights, and he was gonna have to move out here eventually. That kinda sucked but he and Lup both agreed it would be worth it.

Except it really fucking wasn't. He showed up to find the studio under fucking lockdown, the guy who’d promised him the job getting shoved into the back of a cop car. The only thing lucky about the situation was that he hadn’t shown up earlier and gotten caught up in whatever crazy fucking investigation was going on now. So good news, he was free to go.

Bad news? He was stuck in a city he’d never been to, a few days before Candlenights, with no job and he didn’t know a single goddamn person.

So fuck that. He was going home, even if the last minute tickets three days before Candelnights had made him wince when looking at the prices. Lup told him not to worry about it, they’d figure it out once he got back. He wasn’t in the mood to argue with her, so he bought the shitty overpriced ticket.

The next day he got an uber down to the airport. He was ready to go fucking home and stress bake an entire Candlenights feast. He'd exaggerate the fuck out of what happened until everyone was laughing about it instead of worried for his emotional state. Later he knew he'd end up talking to Lup about how shitty the whole thing was once they were alone and Barry would show up with some convenient job offer for him in a week. It would be fine. He just needed to fucking get home so it could happen.

He wasn’t paying attention when he got out of the uber, it was cold as balls and he just wanted to get inside. The fucking heel of his boot must’ve snagged on something in the car, because he got one foot out and felt himself get thrown wildly off balance.

His other foot slid out from under him, the slushy snow on the side of the road providing no traction in the slightest. He managed to put his hands up enough to keep from smashing his face in, still landing in a disgruntled heap on the sidewalk. Taako heard a loud crash a second later and winced, very aware his phone was no longer in his hands.

“Fuck, you okay man?” the driver asked, turning around back to look at him in his seat.

“Fine,” Taako snapped, scrambling up and grabbing his bags and phone. He was walking with what looked like a limp, and he quickly realized the heel had snapped right off one of his boots.

Heading to the bathroom, he changed into clothes that weren’t dirty from falling on the sidewalk and some sandals. They were the first thing he grabbed and he needed to hurry up and get through security.

At least checking his bag in and getting through security had gone without much issue. He still felt like shit, and he was pretty damn sure his phone was a lost cause, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. He wasn't going to fucking cry about it. He already cried once because of this whole shitty situation, it wasn't happening twice.

When he was heading over to find an outlet to try and breathe some life back into his mortally wounded phone, he was in sore need of a distraction. So when he saw his own fucking tinder profile on some guy’s phone, it was hilarious. The funniest fucking thing he'd seen all week. The dude's reaction when Taako called him out for swiping left was even better.

He needed a distraction, so he thought he’d stick around this guy and bother him a little until the flight took off. The fact that he was also chill enough to let Taako borrow his phone once he realized his was busted beyond salvation was just a bonus.

What was also a bonus was the guy’s face. It was an incredibly nice face, even if the guy it was attached to was kinda a jerk.

He was a jerk who let Taako borrow his phone though, and when the flight was delayed for another whole fucking hour, he asked to borrow it again. He didn’t particularly want to be talking to Kravitz after the fucking fiasco a few minutes ago, but he needed to keep Lup in the loop.

Kravitz handed him the phone wordlessly, not even looking up from where he had his head in his hands. Which was probably fair, it might’ve been Taako’s fault that they looked like idiots in front of everyone waiting at the gate. Kravitz had been a dick first though, and he took his book.

Sure, he didn’t think Kravitz actually intended on keeping it, and it was just a dumb Caleb Cleveland novel. Angus gave it to him as an early Candlenights gift since Taako wasn’t supposed to be in town, and it was the only book he had on him. With his phone busted and no other forms of entertainment he might as well try and read the thing.

He guessed that wasn’t too important right now. Kravitz at least wasn’t being a dick enough to not let him use his phone, and Taako quickly called Lup’s number again. Thankfully she answered a lot faster this time than she had the first.

“Luuuup,” he whined, slumping further into the uncomfortable plastic chair.

“Did you get delayed again?” she asked, and it was nice that she always knew exactly what he was about to go on about. Or at least it was most of the time, sometimes it was annoying as hell, but in this instance he appreciated it.

“I’m going to be stuck here forever Lulu. I’m going to starve in this airport because I’m not going to be able to afford their overpriced shitty chips,” he complained. He could hear her snort on the other end, not surprised she was taking amusement in his suffering. Although, she didn’t actually know how shitty his trip to the airport had been so far, and probably thought he was just dealing with the delays.

And also the job he’d been pretty damn excited for going up in flames. she was well aware he was trying to ignore that whole deal at all costs at the moment.

“I know for a fact that you are perfectly capable of stealing shitty chips if the need arises,” she said, and he pouted even though she couldn’t see him.

“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have to. The airport is a scam and is holding me hostage until they can squeeze as much of my lifeblood out of me as possible,” he said. Lup laughed at that, and Taako was surprised to hear Kravitz snort next to him as well. The dude quickly tried to cover it up, staring off at nothing since Taako had his phone at the moment.

“Are they holding you hostage or is it perhaps the fact that the weather is shit right now?” Lup asked.

“It can be both things Lup,” Taako said. He didn’t need to see her to know that she was rolling her eyes at him.

“When are you supposed to come in now? Or is it up in the air?” she asked.

“I mean, they delayed us for another hour. We’re supposed to board at almost four, so we probably won’t be in until late,” Taako said, biting at one of his nails. “If you’re too tired you can just send Barry to pick me up,” he added.

“We’re both coming bro, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, and Taako was more thankful for that than he would admit. He’d already been a little torn up about leaving them for this job, and things continued to get worse and he could use some fucking time with his family.

“Cool, that works too I guess,” he said. He wanted to keep talking to Lup for a while. Until his fucking plane finally took off, but Kravitz was just kinda staring off at the windows across from them and occasionally trying to glance over at him without Taako noticing. So far it seemed he wasn’t doing too good with that, since Taako was definitely noticing.

“This was the same number you used before. You make a friend?” Lup asked suddenly, and yeah okay. This was where Lup knowing shit without Taako having told her got into the annoying aspect.

“Hardly. Just some jerk with bad taste sitting next to me, he let me use his phone again,” he said.

“Hey!” Kravitz said next to him, and Taako only resisted laughing at that because Lup would hear.

“Oh my god. He’s hot, isn’t he?” she asked, and Taako sputtered. He was pretty sure the volume wasn’t up high enough for Kravitz to overheard, but he wasn’t certain.

“No. Fuck you,” Taako said. “I gotta go, see you at home,” he added.

“Have fun!” Lup sang before Taako managed to hang up.

“Here’s your phone,” Taako said, shoving it back at Kravitz. For his part he looked confused and vaguely annoyed, so he probably hadn’t heard Lup’s side of the conversation.

“You’re welcome I suppose,” he muttered, wiping the phone off on his pants before pulling up his text messenger. Taako was nosy enough to glance over and see who he was typing to, but it looked like it was his mom. He wasn’t going to read a guy’s texts to his mom, that would be rude and weird.

The next hour passed painfully slowly. Taako was trying to read the Caleb Cleveland book as slow as possible, but he was already halfway through it. He wasn’t gonna have shit to do on the plane, and fuck knows he wouldn’t be able to sleep on it.

He had only been paying passing attention to Kravitz because the dude was sitting right next to him. Occasionally Taako would glance over to see what he was doing on his phone for some attempt at entertainment. It was mostly boring shit he didn’t understand though, probably work related. Not that Taako could tell what kind of work. Dude was probably a fucking accountant or something from the fancy suit and tie get up he was wearing.

Like, he was working it, Taako couldn’t fault him on that one, but still. This was the airport, wear comfortable shitty clothes like the rest of humanity. Everyone’s supposed to look their worst in an airport.

There was about an hour until their new flight time when Kravitz suddenly stood up. Taako almost asked where he was going before remembering that it wasn’t actually any of his business.

“Um, do you think you could watch my things for a moment?” Kravitz asked, which, okay. That meant he wasn’t moving seats. Probably going to the bathroom or something.

“I’ll stab anyone who tries to take your shit in the dick, for sure,” he said, and Kravitz burst out laughing. From the way he quickly slapped a hand over his mouth, a little louder than he meant to.

“I guess that works?” he said, clearly trying to get himself under control. Taako shrugged, and then Kravitz walked off somewhere.

No one tried to take his stuff, although there were a few people who looked like they were debating on taking his seat. Kravitz was gone a bit longer than he expected, and when he finally came back and sat down he held out a bag of chips in front of Taako.

“I hope this works as payment for you watching my things?” he said, and the grin that stretched across Taako’s face was a bit more genuine than he intended as he snatched up the chips. He could see now that Kravitz had his own bag, which made sense.

“Smart move. If you hadn’t brought some tribute I would’ve just taken your phone as payment,” he said, and Kravitz snorted at that. The chips were pretty shitty, but Taako was pretty fucking hungry by this point. He told himself he’d eat when he got home, but he hadn’t been planning to spend this long just waiting for the plane.

So he fucking devoured the bag of chips, and hopefully they were getting close to boarding and could actually get up in the air without anymore delays.

Even though he’d been hoping for that, Taako was genuinely surprised when right around 4 o’clock they actually started calling the first boarding groups for their plane. It looked like it was no longer actively snowing outside, even if it was still icy and cloudy as fuck.

“Oh thank god,” Taako muttered, so relieved to actually be getting out of this shitty city with it’s shitty people.

“Well, um, it was a pleasure meeting you, I suppose,” Kravitz said, and Taako almost burst out laughing. Holy shit, the dude sounded so unbelievably awkward. Taako wasn’t even sure why he was trying to have some goodbye right now, it wasn’t like they actually knew each other.

“Oh yeah for sure. I’ll treasure the memory of hitting you with a book until my dying days,” he said.

“Yeah actually nevermind, I take that back,” he said, disgruntled. Taako pouted, standing up and grabbing his duffel bag from where he stuffed it under his chair.

“Rude, and here I was trying to be polite,” Taako said.

“Uhuh, sure,” Kravitz said, not sounding convinced at all and walking off with his own shit to go stand in line to board. Taako made sure he had his ticket, and thank fuck he’d gone with a physical copy instead of doing the phone version. That would’ve been so many different layers of hell.

It was fucking freezing as he walked down that long tube thing to the actual plane. He really should’ve taken the extra time to find some shoes that weren’t fucking sandals. His toes were going to fall off and that wouldn’t even be the worst thing to happen to him this week. Finally, he got onto the plane, carefully scanning the aisles for his seat. It didn’t take too long to find it, and-

And a huge fucking grin spread across his face. God, he almost felt bad for the dude.

Except he absolutely didn’t. Not in the slightest.

“Fancy seeing you here my man,” Taako said. Kravitz was already seated and staring out the window, and his head fucking snapped around at the sound of Taako’s voice.

“Oh no,” he blurted out, and Taako broke into laughter at that. Kravitz seemed to instantly realize what he’d said and at least looked embarrassed by it. Taako was really wanting to make this last, but there were still a lot of people behind him.

Looking up at the overheard compartment, he could identify which bag was Kravitz’s pretty easily. He might’ve slammed his bag into the side of it and squished them both in there with not a lot of room to spare, but hey, planes were tight like that. He could hear Kravitz sigh, and when he looked down the dude had his face in his hands again.

Taako still had a bright grin across his face as he sat down next to Kravitz, buckling himself in as a perfect note of finality.

“What did I do to deserve this?” Kravitz muttered, and Taako shrugged.

“Shoulda brought me a sandwich with those chips, would’ve offset your karma a bit more,” he replied helpfully.

“If I buy you a drink when the flight attendants start coming around will you be nice?” Kravitz asked, and Taako had to resist the urge to instantly say yes to that because hey, free drink.

“I don’t know. Buying a drink doesn’t sound like something you’d do for a guy you didn’t swipe right on,” he said, leaning his chair back as far as it would go.

“Oh my god,” Kravitz groaned, and alright, this made up for fighting over the book at the gate. This totally meant Taako won here.

“Sir, please keep your seat back up until we’re in the air,” one of the flight attendants said. Taako did not appreciate the way Kravitz was instantly snickering into his hand at that.

“Of course,” Taako said, reluctantly putting his seat back up. Kravitz had a smug as fuck look on his face at that, and Taako stuck his tongue out at him. Kravitz rolled his eyes and turned to keep looking out the window, which wasn’t any fun.

Taako was bored. Taako was even more bored than he’d been in the airport. They were just sitting here and not moving and he couldn’t even check the time to see how long they’d been waiting. They’d probably been waiting forty minutes. It felt like it’d been forty minutes.

“Krav, what time is it?” he asked. Kravitz pulled away from the window and looked at his phone.

“Uh, 4:14? Why?” he asked, and Taako groaned.

“When are we gonna move? I want out! Of this place!” he complained, wanting to lean his chair back again. If he did though the damn flight attendant would get on him and Kravitz would laugh at his suffering. Kravitz was still snickering at that his complaining, but that wasn't as bad.

“Right, you’re the only one. The rest of us are just ecstatic to be sitting in here for as long as possible,” he said, sarcasm heavy in his voice.

“I bet you wouldn’t be so chill with kicking it if your phone decided to meet an early grave,” Taako said, crossing his arms in a huff.

“How did you even manage that by the way?” Kravitz asked, with was kind of a surprise. Taako didn’t expect the dude to actually want to engage in any kind of conversation with him. Maybe he was just bored too. He wasn’t on his phone at the moment either. Probably one of those dudes who actually listened to the whole ‘turn your phones off during takeoff’ thing. Cute.

“I spiked it down into the sidewalk like it was the winning goal at the football game. Just slam dunked it through the net with a righteous fury,” he said. Kravitz was staring at him for a long moment, a look of confusion on his face.

“Why?” he asked, and the befuddled sincerity in his voice made Taako laugh. Fuck, for someone who may or may not have spent most of the past two days angry and crying, he’d been laughing a lot in the last couple of hours.

“I tripped dog. I didn’t just murder my phone in a fit of overwhelming sports metaphors, shit was an accident,” he said between bursts of laughter.

“Oh. That makes more sense,” Kravitz said, actually sounding kind of sheepish. That was- shit, this guy was still a major dick, but that was fucking cute.

Finally, the plane started to move. It didn’t take off, but it at least left the gate and started taxing around, which meant it would take off eventually. Soon, hopefully. Taako saw Kravitz pull out his phone and actually put it on airplane mode and snorted. Yeah, he fucking figured.

“So, you heading to Neverwinter or this just a connecting flight?” Taako asked, and he wasn’t usually one for small talk, but he didn’t have anything else to do. And Kravitz was kind of cute. It wasn’t going to go anywhere, he figured that one right off the bat, but he could still use the distraction.

“Just to Neverwinter. God, I can’t imagine trying to have a connection with all these delays,” Kravitz said, and Taako nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, that would fucking suck,” he said, and god, small talk was worse than he remembered. “Do you think we’ll crash?”

“I certainly hope not!” Kravitz blurted out, looking pretty aghast by the question. Which was fair. That was kinda a shitty question, that one was on Taako.

With kind of perfect timing, the plane started to speed up for take off at that, and Kravitz actually looked kind of nervous now. Aw man, Taako hoped the dude wasn’t actually afraid of heights at all, he didn’t mean for that question to be a mean one.

Soon they were in the air, and Kravitz looked considerably more relaxed once they evened out. The seatbelt light stayed on for a little while, and Taako wasn’t happy with being in the middle seat. He hadn’t had any sort of choice with how last minute his ticket had been though, and at least he wasn’t stuck three deep in the window like Kravitz was. The person on his other side seemed pretty stubbornly trying to avoid him and Kravitz.

At least he could see the window pretty easily from here, and Kravitz was keeping it open. It was still kinda boring, but at least it was something to look at, since he already finished his book.

Soon enough the seatbelt light went off, and Taako quickly unbuckled his. Kravitz had gotten his phone out by this point and had headphones in. Taako knew it was the best decision to go with the cheapest seat he could get, but that also meant he didn’t have a screen for a fancy in flight movie. He thought he could just amuse himself on his phone.

He was getting pretty bored again, and when he looked over at Kravitz he had his eyes closed.

Debating for a moment, Taako figured that he had a couple more hours with this guy tops, and then he’d never see him again. Quietly, Taako pushed the armrest between them back up, and then leaned as obnoxiously as possible across him to look out the window.

“What the- I- Taako what the fuck?” Kravitz sputtered, and Taako was barely able to hold back the shit eating grin his face wanted to make right now.

“Just looking out the window my dude. Go back to your, I don’t know, podcast about accounting or whatever the fuck you’re listening to,” Taako said. It kind of hurt his back, but Eventually Taako managed to angle himself so he had an elbow resting on the arm rest on Kravitz’s side right by the window, only leaning the barest bit on Kravitz himself. Taako could still see the completely flustered face he had out of the corner of his eye though, and that was great.

“You’re insufferable,” Kravitz said after a moment, finally seeming to have once again accepted his fate.

“No, I’m Taako,” Taako said, and Kravitz snorted.

“You realize that was basically a dad joke you just made right?” he asked, and Taako shrugged.

“Gonna start calling me daddy?” he asked, very pleased with the way he could see Kravitz’s already dark skin get even darker at that.

“No. Absolutely not,” he managed after a moment of seeming to choke on air.

“Would you rather I call you da-” he started, but before he could finish there was a hand over his mouth.

“Don’t,” he said. Taako managed to keep himself from laughing, if only because trying to stay serious made it even funnier. It was childish and something Magnus would do, but Taako wasn't above that. So, after a second he licked Kravitz’s hand. Just as he expected it was pulled away from his mouth instantly.

“Did you just lick my hand?” Kravitz asked, sounding flabbergasted and wiping his hand on his pant leg for good measure. Taako snorted, and this position really was starting to be more of a pain than it was worth and leaned back in his chair.

“I have a twin sister, you think I’ve never had to lick someone’s hand before?” he said. Kravitz seemed to think that over before reluctantly shrugging in acceptance.

“I’m an only child, I wouldn’t know,” he said, and Taako nodded with a thoughtful expression on his face.

“Yep, that explains your whole deal. Didn’t get your hand licked enough as a kid, I can see it all so clearly now,” he said, and at least he was close to making Kravitz laugh again. He wasn’t sure when that had become the goal, but apparently it had.

“I think you might just be insane,” Kravitz said, and Taako shrugged.

“Insane? Or crazy like a fox?” Taako said, fully aware that he was spewing bullshit at this point. Kravitz seemed to be pretty aware of it as well.

“You know, I’d still offer to buy you a drink, but it sounds like you might not even need it,” Kravitz said. Okay, if this guy was offering him a drink twice Taako was not turning it down.

“Nooo, please I so fucking need a drink. I’ve had the worst couple of days and this shitty plane ticket was so expensive I couldn’t even drown my sorrows,” Taako complained, whining and being pretty dramatic about it. He expected Kravitz to laugh or at least look amused at that, since he seemed to find most of Taako’s other dramatics pretty funny.

He actually looked vaguely concerned and curious though, which wasn’t what Taako was going for. He wasn’t going to go spilling his feelings over this last hell week to some cute dude on a plane.

“Well, I don’t think they’ll let you have enough to properly drown your sorrows, but if you want to pick something out the offer still stands,” Kravitz said. For some reason it was sweeter than Taako expected.

“Yeah uh, sounds good. Whenever they come by with the drink cart,” Taako muttered. The flight attendant came by about fifteen minutes later, and by then Taako thought Kravitz would’ve forgotten or reconsidered his offer, but he hadn’t.

As much as Taako wanted to order something with just, the highest alcohol concentration he could find, he ended up grabbing something pretty light. He’d basically only ate those chips today, and getting wasted on a plane on an empty stomach seemed like a real good way to make his day even worse.

After a bit he’d finished his drink, and about an hour into the flight Taako was starting to think maybe it would be okay. A few more hours and he’d be home. Even with the delays and breaking his phone and the way his feet were freezing in his sandals, the whole deal hadn’t been as horrible as he expected. Kravitz had been a wonderful distraction.

And then there was a ding as the seatbelt light came back on. That wasn’t too unusual, it’d been coming off and on the entire flight. The turbulence had been shitty as fuck. Then there was a crackle of the speakers.

“Hello flight 46290 to Neverwinter, this is your captain speaking. We’re going to be making an emergency landing in Phandalin National Airport due to weather. We apologize for the inconvenience and we promise to get you all to your proper destination as soon as the skies allow us. Thank you for your understanding and happy Candlenights.”

There were loud groans and murmurs of complains from the other passengers on the plane, but this time Taako was fucking silent. He should have fucking known not to expect a single goddamn thing here to go right.

“Would you like to borrow my phone again when we land?” Kravitz asked after a moment. Taako sighed heavily and nodded.

“Yeah. Yeah thanks.”

Chapter Text

After Kravitz had bought Taako a drink he seemed more or less placated. Not drunk or anything, maybe he’d run out of ideas on how to bother him. Maybe he really was having a god awful day and had finally started to relax, which Kravitz would believe. Between the smashed phone and the sandals and the fact that he was at the airport three days before Candlenights, it certainly made sense.

Still, either Taako had gotten bored or in less of a bad mood or something. Kravitz thought that perhaps they could get through the rest of the flight with minimal suffering. Maybe even a somewhat pleasant experience, as much as flying could be. The more he actually talked to Taako the more he found he enjoyed it. His sense of humor was the worst and continued to fluster him repeatedly, but he still found himself laughing more often than not.

Maybe Kravitz found himself a bit curious about what Taako was like in his day to day, and why he was traveling so close to the holiday. Just, he seemed like an interesting person, and it seemed like there had to be a story behind there.

Before he got the chance (to work up the courage) to ask Taako about any of that though, there was an announcement from the pilot. They were making an emergency landing. They were making an emergency landing in some airport Kravitz had never even heard of before.

Kravitz sincerely did not know how this day could get any worse.

“I can’t believe this. I can’t fucking believe this,” Taako was muttering. Kravitz couldn’t blame him, he was having trouble comprehending how things could continue to fuck up this bad as well. That might have partially been due to the extremely bumpy ride down they were taking.

It wasn’t that he was afraid of heights. He just had a reasonable, healthy awareness of his own mortality and the fact that falling from the sky in a giant metal tube would almost certainly kill him. Which, in his opinion, would be bad.

He forgot Taako had put up the armrest that was supposed to go down between them. When the plane took a particularly nasty dip that made his whole stomach flip, Kravitz grabbed for it on instinct. He might’ve been so wrapped up in ignoring the way it definitely felt like they were falling even though he knew they weren’t, that it took him a moment to realize he hadn’t grabbed the armrest.

It wasn’t until he noticed that it was a lot warmer than an armrest should be that he looked and saw he was clutching Taako’s hand. For his part Taako was looking at him, amusement all over his face.

“You good dude?” he asked, and there was definitely a teasing tone to his voice. He also sounded strangely concerned, and Kravitz figured he looked more worried than he’d intended.

“Yes, I’m- it’s fine,” he muttered, wanting to crawl into a hole. Kravitz didn’t know how it was possible to continue to embarrass himself in so many new ways in front of a single person. “I’m so sorry,” he said, trying to pull his hand away. To his surprise though, Taako tightened his grip, not letting him let go as a grin spread across his face.

“Nope, we’re in this together now. Gotta see this emotional journey through to the end. Don’t let go Jack,” Taako said, taking their joined hands and holding them up between them as if to show he was serious. It was ridiculous, but at least that got Kravitz to laugh and start ignoring the uncomfortable decent down.

“I don’t want to be Jack, it doesn’t exactly end well for him you know,” he said.

“No it’s okay, I promise to let you on the door. I'm not that selfish,” Taako said with a firm nod.

“They tried that though, it almost flipped over,” Kravitz argued. At least, he was pretty sure that happened, it had been a very long time since he watched the titanic.

“You just gotta be smart about it! Figuring out how to distribute the weight so you can both get out of the freezing fucking water isn’t that hard,” Taako insisted. Kravitz shook his head, not able to keep the fond smile off his face and oh-

Oh no.

This was not happening. He was not actually getting any sort of crush on this guy. Sure he wasn’t as unpleasant as he expected at first, he was actually pretty funny. And fun to talk to. And kind of a dick but in a way Kravitz could appreciate. And just, still, like, unfairly attractive as a person.

Fuck.

Kravitz didn’t even realize that they’d almost made it to the ground at this point. The flight evened out so much that he jolted in surprise at the thud as they hit the runway.

“See? It’s chill. I’m not lucky enough to have some fiery plane crash come and save me from this torment,” Taako said, casually letting go of Kravitz’s hand now that they were on the ground. Which, of course that had just been a surprisingly kind thing for Taako to do to help him stay distracted for the last bit of the flight.

God, Kravitz needed this day to be over with. He needed to stop before the fleeting idea of a crush developed into anything more because he was always one to fall way too hard way too fast.

“Welcome to Phandalin National Airport. Once again, we’re sorry for the inconvenience. I just spoke to our people on the ground and we’re going to be working our hardest to get you all to your proper destinations as fast as possible,” the pilot said over the speakers. They were still taxing around, but after a bit they finally pulled into a terminal.

Getting off the plane was slow, and Kravitz rolled his eyes when he saw the way his carry on bag had been kind of smushed in the overhead compartment. It wasn’t annoying him as much as it should have though.

“Fuck fuck fuck, cold feet. God how’s it even colder here?” Taako muttered as they walked through the tunnel back into the airport. Kravitz figured he was just waiting for him because he’d said he could use his phone once they were on the ground again.

“Here, you should update your sister,” Kravitz said as soon as they were inside, holding his phone out.  

“Yeah, god this is the fucking pits,” Taako said, taking the phone. Kravitz was a little surprised when he walked off quite a distance before making the call. He guessed it was fair, there was no reason to let him overhear his private conversations after all.

There was a help desk not too far off, already crowded with people from their flight. Kravitz knew there wasn’t much he could add to that, but he headed over to it to try and get some idea what was going on.

“I’m very sorry, but as of right now we’re not sending out anymore flights for the night,” the frazzled help desk employee said, from the sounds of it not for the first time. “It’s- no sir, that’s a different airline, but it’s still this airport. We can give you transportation to the nearest other airport but their flights are also grounded for the night,” she continued, seeming to be arguing with the angry old man who’s phone Taako unplugged.

Kravitz sighed and stepped away from the angry crowd. He wasn’t going to get much more out of that. Of course. Of course everything was grounded for the night. Whenever Taako got back he’d have to let his mother know that he might not be getting back for quite a while and to not wait up for him.

He was slumped waiting on a bench when Taako suddenly was sliding down next to him, phone held out. “Thanks, any update on what the fuck’s going on with an alternate flight?” Taako asked. Kravitz grabbed the phone and started texting an explanation of what was happening to his mom.

“They aren’t sending out any more flights for the night. Might be able to get a voucher for transportation to another airport, but apparently they’re grounded too,” he said. He couldn’t even blame Taako for groaning loudly at that.

“Fuck. Fuck! All I want is for this shitty, shitty week to be over with and to go home. I might as well start walking at this point because apparently that’ll be faster,” he complained. Kravitz nodded in agreement, reading over the response from his mother telling him to keep her updated.

Taako leaned forward, arms around his stomach and head practically between his knees. “So fucking hungry, bullshit,” he muttered, so quiet Kravitz almost hadn’t heard him there.

He had though, and he was also starving as well. He’d eaten breakfast before he came, but other than that he’d only gotten that bag of chips.

“I think I’m going to grab something to eat and then see if someone here can find a replacement flight. Or at least somewhere to sleep for the night once it’s a little less crowded,” Kravitz said, pushing himself up off the bench. Taako nodded wordlessly, still staring at the ground. “It’s- feel free to join me, if you want,” he added.

This was probably a mistake, but he wasn’t ever going to see Taako again after this. It wasn’t like there would be any real lasting harm.

“Yeah, uh,” Taako said, laughing humorlessly. “I’m gonna be real with you my dude, cause what’s even the fucking point anymore, ya know? Anyway, I’m like, broke as fuck right now. I spent basically everything on this stupid fucking flight, so uh, hey as long as you’re paying I’m down,” he said. Taako had sounded frustrated or angry about all the flight mishaps, but right now he just sounded exhausted.

“Of course, I don’t mind at all,” Kravitz said. Almost immediately Taako hopped up off the bench and was smiling like that whole moment of vulnerability had never happened.

“Hell yeah, lead the way! Cha boy is fucking wasting away over here,” he said brightly. It was such a rapid change of mood that Kravitz was left wondering if he’d been duped.

“Right, um, this way,” Kravitz said, starting off in the direction he was pretty sure the restaurants and such were in. It was starting to get late, so there weren’t a lot of places open. Eventually they found a Chili’s to go and a little out of the way part of the airport to eat.

“So,” Kravitz said once they had started eating. A part of him was still very confused as to why he and Taako were sticking together at this point, but he wasn’t going to say anything and make it weird. Weirder than it already was. “Is there a reason you’re heading to Neverwinter so close to Candlenights?” he asked. Taako had said he spent basically everything on this flight, so he figured it had to be important.

“Uh, I live there?” Taako said, before taking a very large bite of his food. After a minute though he sighed, shrugging. “I was in Glamour Springs for a job thing. Was supposed to move there and start this sweet ass cooking show gig. Shit fell through, and like fuck was I gonna stick around in a place without a job or any family or shit,” he explained.

“I’m sorry, that sounds awful,” Kravitz said, and Taako shrugged, shoveling more food into his mouth.

“Yeah, it was pretty shit,” he said, a somewhat forced casual tone to his voice. “So what about you dog? What’s your story?”

“It’s not all that riveting. I was supposed to head home two weeks ago. There was an issue with a client though and I ended up having to stay to oversee the final proceedings, it was a mess,” Kravitz told him. He was starting to feel a bit better with some food in his stomach, but that didn’t change the fact that he still had no idea when he’d be able to get home or where he was going to stay for the night.

“That sucks,” Taako said, and it looked like he was pretty much done with his food now as well. “Wanna go see if they’ll give us anything to end our suffering now? Oh shit, I had a checked bag too,” Taako said, and Kravitz grimaced at that reminder.

“Same. Hopefully they’ll transfer those over to a new flight without any issues,” he said, gathering up the trash from their meal. When they got to the ticket counters and baggage claim it looked like stopping to eat did at least let them skip most of the crowd. With how late it had gotten the line wasn’t too long to begin with either.

“Hello. We were both on flight 46290 to Neverwinter. I heard you weren’t sending out anymore flights tonight but we were hoping to be rerouted as soon as possible,” Kravitz said once they called him up to the counter. He wasn’t sure why he was speaking like he and Taako were together, other than the fact that Taako had walked up with him he supposed. They were both going to the same place anyway, and right now it felt nice to have some strength in numbers.

“Yes, unfortunately the soonest flight to Neverwinter has been booked up as well. The earliest we can get you in is…” the lady hummed, tapping a few times on the computer screen. Kravitz wished he could see it so he could have some idea what was coming for him. “Tomorrow at 7:38pm we have a flight leaving to Neverwinter that still has a few empty seats,” she said finally.

“We’re gonna be stuck here all day?” Taako snapped, and Kravitz could understand the frustration. At that rate they wouldn’t be getting in until early morning the day before Candlenights.

“It’s the holidays combined with bad weather, it’s to be expected,” Kravitz said. There was no reason to take any of this out on a worker who had nothing to do with it. “We’ll take the flight,” he added, and then flinched and turned back towards Taako. “I mean, if you’re good with that?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yes, please fuck I don’t care anymore just take me home country road,” he whined. The woman nodded, apparently not too fazed by that reaction.

“We have two adjacent seats left, I take it you’d like those?” she asked, and Kravitz’s head snapped over to Taako once again, feeling his face heat up slightly. For his part, he also looked embarrassed.

“Um, I mean we don’t need - we’re not together,” he said, gesturing without any real meaning between them.

“Yeah it’s not a deal breaker, we only fucking, you know, met on the plane. I guess if you already uuuuh picked em, that’s fine though,” Taako added in helpfully.

“Totally fine,” Kravitz agreed, not sure what was happening anymore. He didn’t think this lady had any right to look as surprised by all of this as she did though.

“Alright then, not a problem,” she said, and Kravitz was relieved once she got them on the plane. She put them in the seats next to each other, which was fine. Everything was fine.

“Is there perhaps something we can do about a hotel for the night? Also, we both had bags checked,” he said once she’d printed out their new tickets.

“We will allow your bags to be rechecked free of any extra charge of course. You should be able to find them at baggage claim 3 once we’re done here,” she said, and that was a relief. “Unfortunately,” she continued, and Kravitz already felt like wincing. “All of the hotels we’re associated with are full for the night.”

“What the fuck!” Taako shouted in a huff. Which, god that was how Kravitz was feeling, but still.

“Are you sure you can’t find anything? It’s been an unbelievably long day,” he pressed, trying to be polite. The woman frowned and shook her head, seeming to go over something on her computer again.

“I’m sorry, it’s very busy this time of year. I’ve already had to turn several people down before you both,” she said, and Kravitz sighed heavily. Alright. Of course. Looked like they were going to have to sleep in the goddamn airport.

“Alright fuck this. I’ve got a plan. Listen, can you take whatever hotel you would have given us and put it towards a car rental?” Taako asked, and Kravitz wasn’t sure what he was planning. The woman also seemed a little taken aback, but nodded.

“Of course,” she said, and it wasn’t long before she was printing something out and handing Taako some some of voucher. “You’ll want to take this-”

“Gotcha, come on Krav,” Taako cut her off, grabbing Kravitz’s arm and starting to pull him away from the ticket counter.

“Taako, even if we drive around town I doubt we’ll be able to find someplace with an open room at this short notice,” Kravitz said, still letting himself be dragged along regardless.

“Huh? No dude, I know okay. We’re stuck up shit creek and everyone already bought all the paddles during black Friday. I’m not sleeping on these shitty plastic chairs or a metal bench or the fucking floor. We’ll sleep in the car,” he explained. They were at baggage claim now, and Kravitz blinked as he let that sink in.

“Huh. That’s actually not too horrible an idea,” he said, and Taako nodded.

“Of course it’s not, I’m a fucking genius,” Taako said, and Kravitz snorted at that. He didn’t try to argue though, since that was a much more clever solution than he would’ve thought of. At least for one night, sleeping in a car wouldn’t be that bad.

It didn’t take too long to get their luggage, since it seemed like most everyone had already come and grabbed theirs.

“Is everything you own just super high business black? Do you relax? Do you own like, a sweater?” Taako asked when Kravitz grabbed his bag. Which was black, but it wasn’t like that was an unusual color for a suitcase. Taako grabbed a bright purple one though, which Kravitz supposed has the upside of being more readily identifiable.

“I own sweaters,” Kravitz said, not able to hide the amusement in his voice. “God, now that you mention it though, after we get the car I might run and get changed. Sleeping in a suit isn’t comfortable,” he said, and Taako snorted at that.

“That only occurring to you now? Yeah, let’s go get this squared away and then you can get comfy,” Taako said. Kravitz wondered at what point they had both decided they were going to be spending the night together.

Maybe it was when Taako had started going on about seeing this emotional journey through to the end. It had clearly been a joke at the time, but well, it seemed like that was what they were doing anyway.

“Hey, we got this thing. What’s the biggest, comfiest car you can give us?” Taako asked as soon as they were up at the counter. The man there blinked in confusion before starting to look over the voucher.

“Well, you’ve got a few options with this. Um, what exactly were you looking for?” he asked.

“Just a big, comfy car. Something you can really stretch out in, ya know?” he said. The man slowly looked from Taako to Kravitz and then back over to Taako again. Kravitz wasn’t sure what kind of conclusions he was drawing but he hoped no one noticed the way his face was heating up again. That probably would not help this man’s incredibly incorrect suspicions.

“Uhuh. Uh, I got a Volkswagen Golf?” he said, and Taako looked back at him.

“Is that good?” he asked, and Kravitz shrugged.

“I guess so? We only need it for the night,” he said, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah alright, we’ll take that,” he said, and then he stepped away from the counter. “Krav, do the thing for the car,” he said, and Kravitz raised an eyebrow at that.

“You have the car voucher. Can’t you sign for it?” he asked. Sure, he didn’t mind if he had to, but he didn’t see why Taako couldn’t since this wasn’t technically costing either of them any money.

“Uh, no? I don’t have a driver’s license my dude,” he said, like it was obvious.

“Why not?” Kravitz asked, even though he figured that really wasn’t any of his business.

“I’m gay? You can’t actually expect me to be able to drive,” he asked, like the idea was ludicrous. Kravitz stood there gaping for a moment before words decided to catch back up to him again.

“So am I Taako! I still learned how to drive,” he said. Taako just nodded and patted him on the arm.

“And the rest of us appreciate your sacrifice. Now use your powers for good and get us a car,” Taako said. Kravitz sighed heavily, but signing for the car wasn’t actually an issue. His face might’ve been burning up the entire time he was filling out paperwork though, from the suspicious look the man was giving the two of them. There was no way of saying ‘we’re not going to fuck in this car’ without convincing him without a doubt that they were going to do exactly that.

Embarrassment asides, soon enough though they had some keys and were able to leave.

“I’m going to go get changed before we head out. Um, I guess we can head to a Walmart or something and grab some blankets afterwards,” he said, and Taako nodded.

“Sounds good. Could I get your phone real quick while you’re doing that so I can give my sister the new game plan?” he asked, and Kravitz handed it over. With that he headed off to the bathroom and started searching through his bag for something that would be more comfortable to sleep in.

But also something that wouldn’t be too weird to sleep in with Taako there. Plus they still needed to go to Walmart and grab some blankets before then too.

He ended up throwing on a white sweater with a simple blue design running across it, mostly to prove that he both owned sweaters and things that weren’t black. It wasn’t typically his out and about style, but it would have to do. He still ended up wearing some black slacks with it as well though, but that was besides the point.

Heading back out, Taako looked to still be on the phone with his sister.

“Nope, not a thing. Listen, listen, that’s not how it- oh, shit,” Taako said, blurting out that last part when he turned and noticed Kravitz. Which, it was probably his dumb brain being hopeful, but he swore he could see a blush starting to form on Taako’s cheeks.

“I uh, I gotta go… No, fuck you! Yeah, tomorrow a little after midnight. Ugh, miss you too, bye,” Taako said, quickly hanging up at that. “Okay, you weren’t lying about the sweaters then,” he said, handing over the phone. Kravitz snorted at that, nodding.

“That’d be a pretty weird thing to lie about,” he said, and Taako shrugged.

“Eh, I’ve heard weirder,” he said. With that Kravitz started heading out and towards the rental car lot. Taako followed after him, cursing almost as soon as they were outside.

“Fuck! Why am I still wearing sandals! Gimme a minute,” Taako said, and Kravitz nodded. He quickly searched through his bag, throwing on some actual socks and sneakers on.

“Why were you wearing sandals to begin with?” Kravitz asked, unable to keep the befuddled amusement out of his voice.

“Cause the world hates Taako, next question,” he said, and Kravitz snorted at that. He figured it was easier to accept it than continuing to pry on that particular topic.

“What do you usually do for Candlenights?” Kravitz asked. Every so often he would click the unlock button on the car keys and they were slowly following the sound to whichever car was theirs.

“Huh?”

“You said next question, I figured we were just doing this now,” he said, and Taako snorted. Kravitz could see the lights flashing for their car now and turned off in that direction.

“Yeah right, shit, you got me there,” Taako said. The car had a pretty decent sized trunk, and Kravitz helped Taako throw his bags in before putting in his as well. “Usually spend it with my sister and brother in law. One of our friends will decide to throw some huge party and we’ll be forced to do all the cooking, natch,” he said, and Kravitz wasn’t sure if he’d been expecting him to actually answer.

“You said you came out here for some cooking show, right?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, I’m a fucking baller chef like you wouldn’t believe,” Taako said. They’d gotten into the car now and Kravitz was searching on his phone for the closest walmart. “What do you usually do?” he asked, fiddling with with dashboard before starting to blare the heat.

“I usually spend it with my mom and her wife. It’s pretty quiet, but it’s nice,” he said. It didn’t take long to get to the walmart thankfully, although it was still much more crowded than it usually be at this time of night.

“Oh shit cookies,” Taako said, instantly grabbing a box of some Candlenights cookies they had on display right up front. Kravitz had figured they weren’t getting enough to justify grabbing a cart, but maybe he was wrong.

“Should we really be getting cookies?” he asked, although he was already kind of tempted. Sure, they hadn’t ate that long ago, but they were going to be stuck in a car with pretty much nothing all night.

“It’s Candlenights dude. Of course we should be getting cookies,” Taako said, only seeming to hesitate some afterwards. “I mean, if you don’t want to grab them I could probably swing em myself. I’ve got some cash left but I should be saving that for an emergency and like, getting a new phone once I get home,” he added.

“No, that’s alright. One good thing about that project running over was all the overtime,” Kravitz assured him. Taako grinned brightly at that, holding the box of cookies a little bit tighter.

“Hell yeah, bagged myself a rich one,” Taako said happily. Kravitz opened his mouth to respond to that, although he had no idea what he was supposed to say. So he didn’t actually end up saying anything. So he didn’t actually end up saying anything.

Taako must’ve noticed his silence after a minute, because he suddenly looked really nervous.

“Uh, blankets?” he asked after a minute, and Kravitz quickly nodded.

“Right! Right, blankets,” he agreed, starting off in the direction of bedding.

It was just one more day. Then he would be home and he and Taako would never see each other again.

Kravitz wasn’t sure at what point he’d stopped looking forward to that and had started dreading it. It didn’t really matter though. There wasn’t anything he could do to change it.

Chapter Text

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Taako was so screwed.

Kravitz was cute. No one could argue with him on that. Taako had kinda thought he might’ve been a dick at first, but actually sitting down and talking to the guy kept showing how he was just like, a genuinely upstanding dude. Willing to buy Taako food cause he was broke as shit and seemed all about not yelling at the customer service workers and junk like that.

Okay, he was still kinda a dick, but it he wasn’t that’d be boring.

Lup could tell something was up when Taako called her. Sure, the phone number was a dead giveaway that he was hanging around the same guy, but Taako was pretty sure at this point Kravitz had accepted him tagging along. Probably wasn’t all that ecstatic about it, but he wasn’t complaining either.

Which, fuck. He’d only been trying to distract from the shittiness of the situation by annoying some hot guy who got caught turning him down on tinder. It was supposed to be funny.

And well, he was certainly distracted from everything else going on. Fuck though, he hadn’t meant to start genuinely liking the dude.

It wasn’t fair. He just had to go and hold his hand all nervous while the plane was landing and helped Taako get a rerouted flight and then come out adorable as fuck in a comfy looking sweater. Taako wanted to steal that sweater.  It would probably be bad for Taako to try and steal that sweater.

Whatever though. At least Taako was self aware enough to know that nothing was actually going to come of this. The best he could hope for was maybe having some fun chilling out with him until they landed in Neverwinter. Which was fine. At least when he looked back on all of this later he could say ‘hey this one thing wasn’t that bad.’

They got a couple blankets, since it was going to be cold as fuck sleeping in the car, and a couple of pillows. They also got the cookies and some water bottles to snack on later.

Soon enough they were back in the car and driving around, looking for some place they could park and chill for the night without being bothered. Phandalin seemed like kind of an up and coming town, but it didn’t take them too long to find an empty lot by some park close to the airport. By that point Taako had opened the cookies and started eating some. Once they were parked he held up the box for Kravitz to see if he wanted any. He chuckled before taking one and grabbing one of the water bottles as well.

They were just sitting in quiet for the most part, other than the radio. Kravitz had it turned to some classical channel, and Taako couldn’t tell if he was genuinely into that stuff or if he thought it was the most non offensive thing he could pick.

“What’s your favorite type of cookie?” Taako asked suddenly. Even though he was pretty physically exhausted his mind was still up and going, and it had decided that they were done sitting in silence now.

“Hmm?” Kravitz asked around a bottle of water.

“Never properly got into our game of twenty questions before, so, favorite cookie?” Taako explained. Kravitz seemed to think the question over for a minute.

“Oh, you know those cookies? I don’t know if they have a name, but the soft round ones? With the icing? Those,” Kravitz said, and Taako snorted at that.

“Those are just sugar cookies, but pretty good ones yeah. We actually got a recipe for a homemade version, our icing is way better,” Taako said. Usually he and Lup would’ve made some by now for Candlenights. He wondered if she’d gone ahead and made them herself with Barry or what.

“What’s your favorite animal?” Kravitz asked, and Taako guessed they were really getting into the whole twenty question thing now.

“Mongooses,” he said. Kravitz let out a burst of laughter at that.

“Why a mongoose?” he asked, and it didn’t sound like he thought it was a dumb answer or anything like that. More befuddled confusion and amusement at the somewhat odd answer.

“Mongeese are fucking rad, that’s why,” he said simply. Kravitz shrugged, not looking like he was going to argue. “What are your favorites?” Taako asked.

“Probably ravens,” he said, and Taako could feel a huge grin starting to spread across his face.

“Oh my god. I can see it now.”

“See what?” Kravitz asked, amusement in his voice.

“You were a goth kid! You totally were, weren’t you?” he asked, and Kravitz broke into another fit of laughter.

“Maybe a little. I don’t know how you’d be able to pick it out that fast unless you were one too,” he said, and Taako shook his head, still grinning.

“Oh no, no you misunderstand me. That was all Lup, her and Barry. I was a simple prep trying to survive in a family of black clothes and ripped fishnets,” Taako said.

“I think you could probably pull off fishnets pretty well,” Kravitz said, and Taako quickly nodded.

“Oh, natch,” he said, trying to ignore the way his face wanted to turn red at that. It wasn’t like Kravitz was saying anything particularly out there. Taako could pull off anything, no questions asked. It was about time that other people started acknowledging it too.

They just sort of went back and forth asking questions for a while. All bullshit things like favorite color (‘purple, and if you say black dude I swear to god.’ ‘…listen.’ ‘I knew it!’) and things like that. It was surprisingly fun, and by the time they were winding down they’d almost completely finished the box of cheap, store bought cookies they’d grabbed. It was nice enough that Taako had almost put into the back of his mind how absolute shit the day leading up to this had been.

“We should probably figure out how we’re doing this,” Kravitz said once it was obvious that it was getting pretty late, and right. Taako hadn’t really thought past 'sleep in the car.' It wouldn’t be the first time he had to, although it had been a pretty long fucking while.

“You can take the backseat if you want. I’ll just lean this one back,” Taako said. Kravitz frowned somewhat at that, looking uncertain.

“Are you sure? I really don’t mind if you’d rather take the backseat,” Kravitz said, which was pretty sweet. Taako shook his head though, waving the concern away.

“It’s chill. I can fucking guarantee you the cold is gonna bother me a lot more than sitting up a little once we gotta turn the car off,” he said. Kravitz nodded, wincing somewhat at the reminder of the cold.

“Right, that’s not going to be fun,” he said. Taako nodded in agreement, reaching up and starting to undo the braid his hair was in. One because it would be more comfortable to sleep with it out, and two because it might keep his ears a bit more warm. They only had the little car light on and a street light from outside, so it was pretty dim.

When he looked over at Kravitz though after shaking out his hair it was real obvious that he was staring. Taako flashed him a big grin and Kravitz turned to look out the window again in a flash. It wasn’t like Taako didn’t know he was attractive, but still. Nice to be appreciated.

It wasn’t that late technically, but Taako was fucking exhausted and time didn’t exist when you were traveling anyway. So it wasn’t that much later that they set up for sleep, Kravitz climbing into the backseat. They waited as long as they could to actually turn off the car, but they had to eventually or else they’d run down the battery.

Taako curled up as much as he could with the blanket and pillow he had, but it was still cold as fuck. Too cold, Taako wasn’t cut out for this kinda rough and tumble lifestyle anymore.

“Hey Krav?” he said quietly, not sure how much time had passed or if Kravitz was still awake.

“Hmm?” Kravitz said, not sounding like he’d been asleep at all. That honestly wasn’t surprising.

“It’s fucking cold,” Taako said bluntly, and Kravitz snorted.

“Yeah, it might’ve been smarter to just sleep in the airport,” Kravitz said, but Taako shook his head.

“No, no we got this. We can fix this,” he said. There was an idea in Taako’s head, and it was a dumb one. He wasn’t gonna see this guy after tomorrow though, so even if he made a complete idiot of himself it wasn’t like it was going to matter. Hell, that might be for the best. Might actually kick his brain into remembering that feelings were an objectively bad idea.

“Hey, it okay if I come back there?” he asked.

“We can switch places if you want, I don’t mind,” Kravitz said. Taako shook his head though, pulling his blanket tight around himself while he twisted around to look back at Kravitz.

“No, like, not switch. I just figured more blankets and body heat might, ya know, help with the fucking cold,” he explained. It was pretty damn dark, they’d turned off the overhead light so only only streetlight several feet away outside remained. Taako couldn’t see what Kravitz’s face actually looked like at that suggestion. Which probably meant he couldn’t see Taako’s, which was good. He’d rather no one see how fucking red his face had to be right now.

“Oh. Oh, um,” Kravitz said, and Taako couldn’t see much yeah, but he certainly sounded flustered as fuck. This was probably a super bad idea. “Yeah, that might actually be a good idea,” he said, taking Taako by surprise. He hadn’t been expecting him to actually agree on that.

“Okay, yeah uh, sweet,” Taako said. He climbed into the back seat before it had any time to get weird. Probably, at least. Anymore weird than it already was, which was a lot of weird. There wasn’t even enough room for them to lay side by side, not without a severe risk of one of them slipping and falling onto the floor. It took a lot of awkward adjusting but eventually Taako was lying down on top of Kravitz, with both blankets now wrapped around them.

“Well uh, this is warmer, a little,” Kravitz said, and he wasn’t wrong.

“Yep,” Taako said, and Kravitz was laying like a fucking board underneath him. He was pretty sure the dude was barely even breathing.

This was awful.

“Dude, you can like, arms,” Taako blurted out, pretty sure he was going to die if shit didn’t get less awkward.

“What?” Kravitz asked, clearly having no fucking idea what he was talking about.

“Your arms are glued to your sides like you’re a fucking corpse. This doesn’t have to be weird. Just put an arm around me or something,” he complained. He was real fucking lucky that he was pretty sure Kravitz also couldn’t see shit in this darkness, because his face was beet red at this point. “And you could stand to remember to breathe too.”

“I’m breathing!” Kravitz objected. Taako felt him start to move one of his arms around Taako’s back though.

And then a hand was under his shirt and pressing freezing cold fingers into his skin.

“Fuck!” he shouted, jumping at the sudden sensation. Kravitz had started laughing, and even though Taako knew he couldn’t see it Taako had the most offended goddamn look on his face. “You did that on purpose! You jackass!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Kravitz said in between bouts of laughter.

“Yeah, you sound real fucking apologetic. Just drowning in remorse,” Taako grumbled. Kravitz stopped laughing for the most part now, and he actually wrapped an arm around Taako’s back. Which was uh, nice. Less weird feeling.

“Alright, I might not be that sorry,” Kravitz said, and even though Taako could barely make out his face he could tell he was smiling. Taako huffed, crossing his arms across Kravitz’s chest so that he could rest his chin there. As annoyed as he was, it did do a lot to break the weird tension.

“Jerk,” Taako pouted, although he guessed he didn’t actually mean it that much either. “I swear, nothing but insults and injuries from you. First tinder and now this, it never ends,” he complained, being very dramatic about the whole thing. Luckily Kravitz seemed to get that he was exaggerating a little and laughed.

“That’s um, do you want to know something about that?” he asked, sounding kind of sheepish suddenly. Which, that certainly had Taako’s interest piqued.

“Hmm? Sure, I’m a curious soul,” he said, not sure where Kravitz was going to go with this.

“The wifi was really shitty in the airport and the app kept freezing. I didn’t actually get a chance to look at you before I ended up swiping no,” he said. Taako lay there for a moment, letting that information sink in.

“It was a fucking accident?” Taako asked, and he could feel Kravitz nodding underneath him.

“Yeah, and I don’t actually even use tinder. My mother kept insisting I try out internet dating and I was swiping no on a bunch of people in case she wanted to see if I was giving it a chance,” Kravitz added. Taako broke out into laughter at that point, sitting up some because holy shit.

“Dude! You let me give you shit about that all day,” Taako said, and Kravitz shrugged.

“It seemed like kind of a weird thing to start explaining,” he said.

“That’s fair,” Taako said, letting his head rest back down again. There was a smile on his face that was stubbornly refusing to leave at this point. “I suppose I’ll have to excuse some of your previous offenses. Not all of them, you’re still on thin fucking ice my dude,” he added.

“I guess I’m just going to have to keep working on getting into your good graces. I could have sworn those cookies were going to put me over the edge,” he said, and Taako snorted.

“Those definitely helped, for sure,” Taako said. His stomach felt like it was dipping and doing flips and shit, and there was super no reason for that to be going on. “You’re a smart dude, I’m sure you’ll think of something,” he added.

Taako wasn’t sure what he expected Kravitz to do at that moment, or if he even expected him to do anything. He still had an arm wrapped around Taako’s back, and he felt his other hand come up and fucking caress his face in the dark. Caressing wasn’t exactly a thing Taako was used to.

When Kravitz’s hand started to lead him forward, Taako went without any fucking hesitation. He went maybe a little too fast even. That combined with the dark, they might’ve ended up bumping a little harder than intended.

If it bothered Kravitz any he didn’t show it. Instead he simply adjusted his position somewhat before proceeding to actually kiss Taako. It was softer and gentler than Taako was typically used to, which was uh, actually real fucking nice. Even though it was dark Taako closed his eyes as he started to really kiss back. He still let Kravitz take the lead with the pace. He’d had a really fucking shitty week, so maybe he was just in the mood for something sweet out of this fling.

Which was all this was going to amount to. A nice little fling with some guy way fucking out of his league while stranded in some random ass town during Candlenights. Definitely not the worst way this day could have gone, but Taako wasn’t going to delude himself into thinking it was going to end up being anything more.

He was going to fucking enjoy this though. Everything was awful so he was going to have fun making out with a hot guy in the back of a freezing car.

Deepening the kiss, Taako repositioned himself so that he wasn’t stretching up to reach Kravitz’s mouth as much. It was a lot more comfortable like this, his hands resting back around the nape of Kravitz's neck. The arm still wrapped around his back tightened, somehow pulling him closer. The hand gently resting against his cheek moved up and Kravitz started carding fingers through his hair.

Taako wasn’t paying any fucking attention to the time, but he was a little breathless when they finally pulled apart for a moment.

“Is this okay?” Kravitz asked, speaking quieter than he probably needed to.

“Yeah, it’s- for sure. Super-duper okay,” Taako said, pretty sure he sounded like an idiot right now. To fix that he pressed forward and caught Kravitz’s mouth up in another kiss, because it was a lot better than talking. Thankfully Kravitz seemed pretty on board with this plan, starting to kiss him back again.

Taako wasn’t sure how far they were planning on taking this. Maybe nowhere, since for a long while they just continued to make out lazily. Which was honestly fine by Taako. It’d been a long as fuck day and this was nice. It was a very good distraction and was doing a pretty decent job of making the car feel a little warmer.

In fact, this was all doing such a good job of distracting that he really wasn’t paying attention to much else.

So when there was suddenly a rapping knock on the car window, Taako might’ve jolted pretty badly. His mouth snapped shut a tad too early, biting down kinda hard on Kravitz’s tongue. Kravitz jerked back, from the sound of it smacking his head on the car door.

“Fuck,” Kravitz snapped, a hand held up to his mouth.

“Shit! Sorry, sorry!” Taako said, and then he realized he could actually see Kravitz pretty well. Which was confusing until he noticed that whoever was outside was shining a flashlight into the window. Taako scrambled up so that he wasn’t laying sprawled out across Kravitz anymore. As soon as Taako was mostly off of him Kravitz was sitting up as well. There was a look of dread on his face, or at least the parts of his face he wasn’t covering where Taako had bit the crap out of him. With clearly much hesitation he started rolling down the window.

“We weren’t having sex!” Taako said as soon as it was mostly open.

“Taako!” Kravitz shouted, his head snapping back towards him.

“What? We weren’t!” Taako said. Kravitz sighed, rubbing at his temples in clear frustration. Which was, ugh, Taako knew all this was just because they were cold and bored and didn’t have anything better to do, but he couldn’t help but feel like he was still fucking it up.

“I mean… yeah, we weren’t,” Kravitz said after a minute, turning back towards the cop standing by the window and staring at them. Taako had to slap a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing at that. Fucking hell, he liked this guy. A lot. Shit.

The police officer sighed looking frustrated already, which wasn’t a good sign. Taako tried to school his face into something more serious and less giggling idiot with an obvious crush.

“I’m going to need to ask you to move your vehicle,” the officer said.

“Of course sir,” Kravitz said, and yeah, this wasn’t a battle worth fighting. “Um, our flight was delayed for the night and the airport wasn’t able to find any rooms open at the nearby hotels. You wouldn’t happen to know some place we could go that would have a room for the night, would you?” he asked. Taako doubted this would actually get them anywhere, but if nothing else it was a good way to change the subject. The officer at least looked like he was considering the question.

“There’s a motel off Queens and Sixth. It's not a chain place, so it might have some rooms open,” he said, actually pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “Here’s the address,” he said, tearing a page off and handing it to Kravitz.

“Thank you so much,” Kravitz said, taking the paper and reading it over.

“Don’t let me catch you two out here again tonight,” he said, and Kravitz nodded.

“Of course,” he said. When the officer turned around to start heading back to the cop car neither of them had noticed until that moment, Taako stuck his tongue out at him. The way Kravitz had to bite his lip to keep himself from laughing was incredibly satisfying.

With that they headed back into the front seats, and Kravitz started putting the address the cop had given them into his phone. Taako wasn’t sure if they would actually be able to find a room there, but the dashboard clock said it was 11:38pm and it was worth a try.

It was quiet and extremely fucking awkward now that it was only the two of them again. Taako didn’t usually have any issue being chill with the occasional fling or hookup or whatever. There wasn’t any reason for shit to be different this time.

“Your tongue okay?” Taako asked finally, and Kravitz nodded, slowly pulling out of the parking lot.

“It’s fine, although I’m pretty surprised you didn’t bite it off completely,” Kravitz said, and Taako chuckled at that.

“Want me to kiss it better?” he asked, grinning. For a guy he spent a good at least twenty minutes casually making out with, Kravitz looked real fucking flustered at the suggestion. God, that shit was just, unfairly adorable.

“I mean, not when we’re driving,” Kravitz said after a moment, and Taako snorted at that.

“Fucking, fair enough dude. Not like we won’t have time for that later,” he said, only partially joking. They had the heat on high again, but Taako still had a blanket wrapped around himself for good measure. Even though he was teasing Kravitz about getting up to more shenanigans, he was fucking exhausted. If they managed to get into a real bed tonight he’d probably pass out on the spot.

When they pulled up to the motel it looked pretty fucking sketch, but also not too crowded. Taako was kind of shocked when they actually found someone still up and working the office.

“Good evening. Our flight was delayed and we were wondering if there were any rooms available for the night,” Kravitz said once they were up at the desk. Taako felt his whole body slump in relief when the dude nodded.

“Yeah, we’ve had a couple people come in with that problem. Were you just looking for the one room?” he asked. Kravitz looked back at him, questioning.

“Were we? It’s uh, we can get two if you’d be more comfortable with that,” Kravitz said, which Taako guessed was pretty sweet. Like, they’d just been prepared to sleep on fucking top of each other in a car, a hotel room was kinda a step up from that.

“Nah dog, get the one. Whatever’s cheapest, I already owe you big time and it’ll all be better than sleeping in the car,” Taako said.

“Hey, it was a decent idea until we had to move,” Kravitz said, and Taako grinned at him.

“Oh, so you were having fun then?” he asked, enjoying the way Kravitz’s face darkened in a blush.

“We’ll uh, we’ll just take the one room,” Kravitz said, and the guy at the desk nodded. Taako mostly zoned out for the rest of the whole paying part, genuinely pretty exhausted and out of it.  Soon enough though Kravitz had the keys to a room and they were heading back out.

“We should get the bags out of the trunk,” Kravitz said, and Taako nodded, having to suppress a yawn before speaking.

“Yeah, shit almost forgot about those,” he said. They moved quick, because it was still fucking freezing, with a pretty decent layer of snow on the ground. Soon enough they were in an only somewhat cold hotel room. Taako also made sure to grab the extra pillows and blankets they’d bought earlier, dumping them on the bed.

“Hey uh, so I know I made some promises about kissing your tongue better and junk, but cha boy is fucking beat,” Taako said, crashing onto the bed. He could afford to change into some pajamas since they were actually in a room and shit now, but that was so much effort.

“Oh, that’s not- I mean, it’s- I’m pretty tired too,” Kravitz said, fumbling over his words some. Which was still way fucking cuter than it had any right to be.

“Sweet, well goodnight then,” he said, turning away and curling up with the extra blankets and pillows. Kravitz could have all the ones that actually came with the bed if he wanted.

“Oh, um, goodnight Taako,” Kravitz said, sounding kinda awkward again. Which he probably was. Maybe Taako was being kind of cold or whatever, but it wasn’t like they were together, or would even keep in contact after all this.

He honestly couldn’t imagine someone like Kravitz being interested in someone like him as anything more than a dumb holiday fling. And that was fine.

He felt the bed shift as Kravitz crawled in, and there was a lot more room in the bed than there’d been in the car. Wrapped up in the blankets it was warm enough and they didn’t have to worry about getting too close at all.

Which was fine. All of this was just.

Fine.

Chapter Text

This was a mistake.

This was such a huge mistake.

Kravitz didn’t know what he was thinking, doing something stupid like that. It was, well, Taako certainly seemed to be on board. More than that, he’d been rather enthusiastic about the whole thing. Taako didn’t seem to find any issue with curling up together in the back of a car and making out for half an hour. Which was fair, it had just been a way to kill time and distract from the cold. All of this, the teasing and the flirting and the kissing, it was all just a distraction from some awful travel experiences.

Of course Taako didn’t see any problem with it. There shouldn’t be any problem with it.

Kravitz was the problem. He’d always been the problem with it came to things like this. Falling too hard and fast for any reasonable person to want to deal with.

He couldn’t sleep, which was frustrating. Tomorrow was going to be just as hell as today had been, and he should rest while he had the chance. But his brain kept going and going in circles about what he could have possibly done to keep himself from getting in this predicament. Not kiss Taako for starters, but there was a lot of stuff that led up to doing that.

It was quiet in the motel room. He could hear Taako breathing with his back turned to him on the other side of the bed and the occasional rush of wind from outside. A part of him wanted to close the distance between them and wrap his arms around Taako and hold him like they’d been in the car. And also maybe stick his cold fingers up his shirt again to see his reaction, because it had been funny.

Taako wasn’t interested in any of that though, not really. Trying would either make things even more awkward between them, or Taako would play along and Kravitz’s dumb heart would get even more hopeful about something that wasn’t going to happen.

At least their flight wasn’t until late. It meant he was able to sleep in some when he spent a good hour or so laying in bed, trying to list all the reasons why he shouldn’t be getting attached.

When he woke up the next morning Taako was already awake. That wasn’t a surprise, since he seemed to have gotten to sleep much easier than Kravitz had. He’d also already gotten changed, and Kravitz wondered how much staring was too much staring. The answer was any amount of staring, so he should really stop that.

Still, Taako looked good. Not that he hadn’t looked good the entire time he’d seen him so far. He was wearing a plane white shirt with black high-waisted pants and a bright red jacket. It was a pretty simple outfit, but he somehow managed to make it look really good.

Or maybe Kravitz was just really gay.

“He rises,” Taako said, clearly amused. He was standing in front of the crappy mirror they had hanging up next to the door and was braiding his hair back up. Kravitz’s heart might’ve skipped a beat when he took his hair down in the car the night before. He’d looked good with it down. Really good.

Kravitz was having a hard time trying to put together words to describe how Taako looked. It was just good. And not something he’d be getting to see after today.

“I guess I was pretty exhausted, what time is it?” he asked, rubbing at his eyes.

“Uh, like eleven something? We shouldn’t have to be at the airport for a good long while,” Taako said, and Kravitz nodded. They had basically a whole day to kill, and not much to do. Kravitz had no idea what was in Phandalin, he’d never even heard of the town before.

“We can probably head out to grab some breakfast, and um, see what’s around the town. At the very least getting the car means we don’t have to sit at the airport all day,” he said, climbing out of bed.

“Oh yeah, sounds good dog,” Taako agreed.

Kravitz quickly searched through his suitcase and pulled out some clothes for the day. He went and changed in the bathroom, going a little more casual than he’d been yesterday. He just had on a plane gray button up top and some slacks. He tied his locks back up in a loose bun before heading back out.

“Aw, no more sweaters? That was cute,” Taako said when he came out.

“I think I’m good with this and a jacket,” he said, quickly searching through until he found that as well.

“Fair enough, still killing it, for sure,” Taako said, and Kravitz laughed, more embarrassed than anything.

“Well, I’m flattered. You look, um, you look great as well,” he said, and Taako grinned at that.

“Of course, I’m always looking great,” he said, and like a dumbass Kravitz nodded in agreement.

“From what I’ve seen that’s certainly true,” he said, wishing afterwards that Taako literally biting his tongue last night would’ve knocked some sense into him. When he spared a quick glance over at Taako to see how he’d reacted his face was definitely tinged pink. He guessed that made sense. Although with his looks Kravitz couldn’t imagine him not getting these kinds of compliments often.

“So uh, breakfast?” Taako asked, changing the subject. That was fair, Kravitz had made it weird again.

“Right. Um, should we just check out now and throw our bags in the car. The flight isn’t until eight but we’ll need to get there early and there’s probably like, shopping or something we can do in this town until then,” he said, and Taako seemed to be in agreement with that.

“Sounds good. Here, see if you can fit one of the blankets in your bag. We bought em, don’t wanna just leave em,” Taako said, tossing one of the blankets they’d grabbed at Walmart to him. Kravitz fumbled for a bit trying to catch it and went to start trying to shove it in his checked bag. It was kind of bulging by the time he managed it and got it all zipped up, but it worked.

Heading out to the car, Kravitz started looking through his phone for places to eat. It seemed like this was a pretty nice town, there were several restaurants not too far away.

“Hey uh, thanks again. This is like- I’d just be sitting staring at a wall in the airport otherwise, ya know?” Taako said, that surprisingly genuine tone back to his voice. It had came and went so fast last time Kravitz had almost thought it was fake or he imagined it or something.

“It’s not a problem in the slightest. It’s- I’m having fun,” Kravitz assured him. “Is Denny’s alright? I uh, I just realized I should probably let the chef pick where we eat,” he added, and Taako snorted in laughter at that. Kravitz really liked his laugh.

“I mean, listen, I’m a fucking kickass chef for sure, my food is to die for. I’ll still slam my face full of McDonalds the first chance I get though, I’m not above Denny’s. No one is above Denny’s,” he said, and Kravitz smiled and nodded.

“Denny’s it is then,” he said, putting it into the GPS and starting off. It was pretty damn busy when they got there, and Kravitz supposed it was two days before Candlenights. Everyone who was trying to cook in advance were probably eating out, or they were out eating while doing last minute shopping.

“Table for two?” the server asked as they got up to the front of the line, and Kravitz nodded.

It didn’t take long for them to get seated, and Taako was instantly looking through the menus. Kravitz wasn’t sure how long he’d been awake for, but if it was any decent amount of time he was probably pretty hungry.

“Hey uh, after we order is it okay if I call my sister again real quick? Just wanna keep her up to date with everything,” he asked, and Kravitz nodded.

“Of course,” he said, looking through his own menu. He was starting to get pretty hungry as well. “You uh, you two are close? You said twins, right?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Close as fuck. I almost didn’t take the whole cooking show job cause it meant moving away from her,” he said, and then sighed. “That would’ve been smarter, but I guess Taako doesn’t really do smart,” he added.

“You seem pretty smart to me,” he said, and maybe he was laying on too many compliments. He was never good at judging these things. He liked Taako and thought he was funny and fascinating and clever and wanted to tell him all of that but it would be weird if he did.

Thankfully before he could tell if he’d made it weird again a waitress came up and took their orders. By the time she left it seemed like if there was going to be any awkwardness it had passed.

“Here you go,” Kravitz said, handing over his phone. He wasn’t surprised when Taako got up and walk away to make the call. From the looks of it he went all the way outside to make it, which was fair. It was kind of rude to talk on a phone inside of a restaurant after all.

While he was gone Kravitz tried to figure out what they were going to do. For the day, that is. In general, they were going to kill time until they got to the airport, and then go home, and then never see each other again.

He told himself to stop being upset about that. He didn’t have any real right to be. He’d known Taako for a day, it was weird for him to have feelings already. It was creepy. If Taako found out he’d definitely want nothing to do with him, and they already had seats next to each other on the plane. So he just had to keep it under wraps.

Taako was outside for quite a while. Kravitz was starting to get worried by the time he finally saw him coming in again, his face flushed from the cold.

“Sorry about that, she doesn’t know when to stop,” Taako said, handing his phone back over.

“Not a problem at all,” Kravitz said. Taako had pretty perfect timing, their food coming out almost as soon as he’d sat down again. Kravitz always forgot how much food they gave you here, but he guessed that was a good thing. He was really starting to get hungry, and it was best if they could eat a lot before heading back to the airport.

“So uh, got any ideas on how to kill time?” Taako asked about halfway through the meal. Kravitz honestly couldn’t tell if the silence between them had been awkward or comfortable. Kravitz felt awkward, but that was his own damn fault. Taako might be fine. Taako was probably fine.

“I’m not sure. I figured we could um, head to a mall or something,” he said, and Taako nodded.

“It’ll be crowded as fuck, but as long as we head out in time to get to the airport that should be fine,” he said. Kravitz knew he’d be right, only a few days before Candlenights. Still, he didn’t know many other places they could go to kill time, and everywhere was going to be crowded anyway.

Kravitz made sure to send a text to his mom letting her know he got a motel for the night and that he was sorry for not updating her until now. He explained that he’d been tired, which he supposed was true. He was more distracted than anything, but he figured they could get into that once he got home. There was no doubt that she’d notice something was up eventually after all.

Once they finished eating it wasn’t too far of a drive to the mall. Taako had been right about the place being packed, and Kravitz almost reconsidered this as an idea. Eventually though they managed to find a packing spot, and they spent so much time searching Kravitz felt a need to take it out of spite.

“I should get my sister some dumb souvenir. Do they have souvenir shops in malls?” Taako asked, and Kravitz shrugged.

“Maybe? Technically anything you get her is a souvenir since you got it while you were away,” Kravitz said, and Taako grinned at that.

“Hell yeah, you got the right idea my dude,” he said, starting to head off into the mall. They were window shopping for the most part, but every so often Taako would find something and insist on getting it for someone he knew back home.

“Dude, dude look at this dumb fucking umbrella. Who puts flame decals on an umbrella. I gotta get it for Lup.”

“You’re getting your sister an umbrella for Candlenights?”

“Fuck yeah, she’ll love it.”

Or

“Is that a crystal skull?”

“Yeah, I was thinking of getting it for Barry.”

“Is that… something he’s into?”

“I told you I came from a family of fucking goths didn’t I?’

And

“Oh shit, I don’t think Angus has this one yet.”

“That’s the book series you were reading earlier, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s uh, this brat I watch sometimes is really into them.”

And finally

“Do you think they’ll let me take an ax on the plane?”

“No- that’s- aren’t you supposed to be saving money?”

“Oh, shit.”

Shopping with Taako was fun and somewhat exhausting. Every time Taako would excitedly grab something and start laughing as he explained how such and such person he knew would love it Kravitz could feel himself falling a little bit deeper.

Ugh. He just needed to bottle all of these feelings up and then one day, die.

“Hey so uh, I was thinking of heading out on my own for a bit. You cool with splitting up and meeting up in the food court in like, half an hour? Grabbing something to eat there before heading back to the airport?” Taako asked suddenly. Kravitz forced himself not to look disappointed by that. It made sense that Taako would want some time on his own and not with some random dude he met at the airport.

“That sounds good,” he said, and Taako flashed him a big grin and a thumbs up.

“Cool cool, see you in a bit my dude,” he said, before dashing off. There was something about Taako’s mannerisms that were so odd Kravitz couldn’t help but laugh.

Kravitz suddenly found himself alone though, without much of an idea on what to do. A half an hour honestly wasn’t that much time to kill, so he wasn’t sure of the reason why Taako had run off. Unless he was just, really tired of his presence. He liked to think that past the awkward teasing Taako didn’t find him too unpalatable.

He supposed he could go wait in the food court, but that seemed kind of… weird. Awkward. He figured it couldn’t hurt to keep wandering around for a bit more.

Kravitz hadn’t been intending to buy anything as he looked around. Maybe if he saw something in particular he felt his mom or her wife would like, but he’d already picked out and brought their presents a while ago.

He’d actually been considering starting to head back when he saw it. At first he just snorted in amusement, heading over to check out the little stuffed animal. Kravitz honestly didn’t know enough about them to tell if it was a mongoose or like, a regular weasel. Or if there was any differences between them at all.

Still, it was purple and was wearing what looked to be a witch hat, and Kravitz figured it had to be leftover stock from Halloween. It was pretty hilarious that it was still out even. He figured Taako would get a pretty big kick out of it.

He kind of wanted to buy it for him.

That would probably be weird of him.

He needed to get back to Taako soon though. Without letting himself over think it he grabbed the stuffed animal and headed up to the counter. If he felt like it was too weird he wouldn’t give it to him.

The line ended up taking longer than Kravitz would’ve hoped for, which really wasn’t a surprise. Still, by the time he was out he’d shoved the stuffed mongoose into his jacket and had to run back towards the food court. When he got there and managed to catch sight of Taako he was nearly fifteen minutes late. Taako was sitting at a table with a soda, staring off a bit pensively.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t- I lost track of the time,” Kravitz said, pulling out a chair and sitting down in a heap. Taako seemed to immediately perk up at that, which was- it was nice.

“Was wondering where you went off to. Thought you might’ve just gotten bored of ol’ Taako,” he said.

“I think the last thing you need to worry about is being boring,” Kravitz said. Taako was a hard person to read, Kravitz honestly couldn’t tell what he was thinking when he said things like that. He at least seemed somewhat amused though, so hopefully it wasn’t that bad. “So um, lunch before we head back?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yeah, for sure!” he said. The lines were just as long at the food court, but thankfully they were giving themselves a lot of time. By the time they finished eating and headed back to the car they still had a good two hours before their flight was supposed to take off.

It took a bit of finagling for Taako to fit all the gifts he’d gotten into his bags, but he seemed to manage it after a lot of effort. Kravitz took the moment while he was distracted to shove the stuffed mongoose into his carry on bag, still not sure in the slightest if he was actually going to give it to him. By the time they actually started to leave to head back to the airport they had about an hour and a half.

“Hopefully things go bett-” Kravitz had started to say as they pulled up to the airport. He didn’t manage to finish his sentence before Taako was shushing him though.

“Ah ah ah! Don’t you fucking dare put that kind of energy out into the world. I am not being stuck here all through Candlenights because you decided to jinx us,” he said, and Kravitz snorted.

“Alright, that’s fair,” he said.

The same fucking guy was working at the car rental place when they returned it. Kravitz could feel his judgment as he returned the keys.

“We didn’t fuck in the car by the way. We managed to find a motel,” Taako said right as they were leaving, and Kravitz could feel his face getting very hot.

“Taako!” he snapped after several moments of silent gaping. For his part, Taako had managed to keep a pretty straight face until that moment, instantly dissolving into a fit of giggles.

“I mean- fuck, it’s like- dude your face! Listen, it’s true, isn’t it?” he managed out between bursts of laughter.

“We’re just going to… go now,” Kravitz muttered to the car rental employee.

“Yeah,” he said back, and Kravitz grabbed Taako’s arm and started dragging him back towards bag check and security.

“You’re the worst,” Kravitz said once Taako finally seemed to have a hold of his laughter again. They were already well into the checked bags line by the time that happened too. Kravitz’s face still felt warm but he also couldn’t quite keep himself from smiling. God, he hated that this was all so endearing to him.

“Pretty much. I’m sure you’re fucking ecstatic to be getting rid of me,” Taako said, and before Kravitz could respond Taako was called up to the counter. Which was probably for the best. He definitely would have said something dumb there if he’d had the chance.

Thankfully getting his own bag checked and going back through security managed to go pretty smoothly. They were actually getting pretty close to the boarding time, already almost seven. It wasn’t long before they were back at a rather immediately familiar scene. Sitting at the gate, waiting to board the plane.

The whole thing was pretty boring now.

“Hey, hey Krav,” Taako said after they’d been sitting for about fifteen minutes.

“Hmm?”

“I’m bored, come with me,” he said, and Kravitz raised an eyebrow at that.

“Come with you where?” he asked, not able to hide the amusement in his voice. He couldn’t tell if Taako sounded like he was plotting something or embarrassed. Possibly both.

“Just, you know, around,” Taako said, and okay, definitely plotting something.

“We should probably wait at the gate, it’s not too much longer till the flight,” Kravitz said, and Taako pouted at that. It was cute. Kravitz was honestly going to miss it.

“I mean, we could do that I guess. Was just bored and figured I promised to make it up to you for hurting your tongue and you’d want some privacy for that. If you want to just make out here though I’m game for that,” Taako said, adding the last part on flippantly.

“That’s- uh,” Kravitz stumbled over his words. The smart thing would be to politely turn him down. Kravitz had already made the mistake of getting too invested in something that wasn’t going to last. He knew Taako wasn’t intentionally trying to string him along. He needed to be honest and end this before things somehow managed to get even worse.

Taako was smiling hopefully at him though, and Kravitz felt his resolve quickly dissolve.

“It’s, um, I suppose we do, you know, have a bit of time to kill,” he muttered, and somehow Taako’s smile got even wider. This was okay. He was already going to have to deal with these unrequited feelings once they went their separate ways anyway, it wasn’t like he could get in much worse.

Getting up, Kravitz felt a little ridiculous as they started looking around for a place secluded enough. That turned out to be a pretty difficult task in an airport two days before Candlenights.

Kravitz still found himself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, carry on bag slung over his shoulder as he followed Taako around the airport. Eventually they managed to find a little hidden away corner where no one else could really see them. It wasn’t like they were planning on doing anything particularly scandalous. Kravitz was pretty sure Taako was enjoying the theatrics of it all more than anything else. Which, he couldn’t deny being a fan of as well.

As soon as Kravitz let the bag drop from his shoulder Taako was leaning against him. Kravitz felt himself freeze, and he guessed Taako noticed. There was a slight look of concern and nervousness on his face now.

“You uh, you know if you’re not into this it’s fine, right? Like, no hard feelings, we can just go back to the gate,” Taako said, and Kravitz quickly shook his head.

“No, that’s not it. I’m uh, I’m definitely into this,” he said. To prove his point Kravitz carefully cupped Taako’s face in his hands and brought it towards him. Like last night that seemed to be all the permission Taako needed before he was closing the gap between them.

Kravitz let the awkward stiffness that had been locking him into place ease away as they kissed. Taako didn’t seem to have any problem with that, wrapping his arms around Kravitz’s neck and basically melting into him.

It was nice, and despite himself Kravitz found himself getting a bit lost in it all.

Maybe more than a bit lost.

It had taken them longer to actually find a place than he had expected, and he wasn’t sure how long he was um, distracted for.

The fact that they were waiting for a plane came back to him all at once, and he jolted away from Taako.

“Shit, uh, everything okay?” Taako asked, clearly confused and maybe looking a little dazed. That was nice, but Kravitz couldn’t appreciate it at the moment, quickly fumbling for his phone.

“Yeah, it’s- shit. We need to get back to the gate,” he said, wincing when he saw the time. He could see Taako’s eyes widen at that, quickly reaching down to scoop up his carry on bag.

“Oh fuck, how long do we have?” he asked, and Kravitz was already slinging his bag back over his shoulder.

“Uh, negative two minutes? If it wasn’t, you know, delayed,” Kravitz said.

“Shit!” Taako said. Not wanting to waste anymore time, Kravitz grabbed his wrist and started running back to the gate. Taako was able to keep up pretty well behind him, although his wheeled bag flipped over a couple times when they went around turns and they had to stop to flip it back.

The plane had clearly started to board once they finally got there. It seemed like only a few straggling people were heading on, as well as the attendants.

“Wait! We’re- ah, we’re on this flight,” Kravitz said, quickly scrambling around until he managed to pull out his ticket. He could feel the judgment as the flight attendant looked them over, but she nodded and checked his ticket. He had to let go of Taako’s hand to actually let him grab his, but they were quickly brought onto the plane. As soon as they were on the door was shut behind them, and Kravitz let out a sigh of relief once their bags were in an overhead compartment and they sat down.

“Ha ha! Fuck yes,” Taako said, slamming down into his own seat and putting his fists up in the air. Several people looked in their direction but at this point Kravitz just shook his head in exasperated fondness.

“I can’t believe you almost made us miss the plane,” Kravitz said, still laughing somewhat in relief. That could have been so very bad.

“Hey man, you have the phone, I figured you were keeping the time,” Taako said, still pleased as anything.

“I was- it- you were being very distracting,” Kravitz stuttered out. Taako somehow managed to look even more pleased with himself at that.

“We made it on the plane, didn’t we?” he said, and Kravitz sighed, nodding reluctantly in agreement.

“Yes, thankfully we did,” he said. Despite the snow and ice on the ground, the storm in the air seemed to have passed, the sky now relatively clear. They still sat on the runway for a frustratingly long time, and Taako ended up calling his sister at one point to let her know they’d still be like an hour late.

But then finally they were in the air and heading home.

Kravitz honestly couldn’t tell if he was more relieved or disappointed

Chapter Text

Taako kept waiting for something else to go wrong. For the plane to get fucking grounded again or for there to be a mix up with their seats or for the luggage to have been horribly lost in all of the rerouting. Just some last little cherry on top of the shit pile that had been the last couple of days.

The plane landed a little after 1am though, only an hour after their original ETA. No one bothered them, and their luggage was with everyone else’s at baggage claim. Taako yanked his off the carousel and realized with a sense of finality that this horrible fucking travel experience was over.

Well, shit.

“You got someone picking you up?” he asked Kravitz, who had just grabbed his own bag. How he managed to distinguish his plain black suitcase from literally every other plain black suitcase, Taako had no fucking clue. He guessed he could actually be reading the names on the luggage tags, but that was so much work.

“I was just going to call an uber or something,” Kravitz said, stifling a yawn. Taako couldn’t blame him for being tired, he was goddamn exhausted after all. The last couple of days had been hell, and it was one in the morning. Sure, that was also because of timezone changes, but still. Long fucking day. Days. Week. “What about you?” he asked.

“My sister and bro-in-law should be coming. Probably already here actually, knowing them. Uh, it cool if I borrow that cell of yours one more time to let em know we landed?” he asked, and Kravitz looked kind of amused by the request, not that Taako could rightfully say why.

“Of course, I’d hate to ruin a holiday tradition now,” he said, and Taako snorted at that, taking the phone when he handed it over. Walking a few feet away, Lup answered almost immediately.

“Please tell me nothing else went wrong,” she said, and Taako could understand her caution.

“The plane crashed, I was the only survivor. I’m stranded on an island and I’m gonna start hunting pigs and using shells as symbols of power and maybe god? Never really got that part,” Taako said in as blunt a void as possible. He could practically feel Lup rolling her eyes.

“Alright, I’ll make sure to avenge your tragic fate,” she said, just as humorlessly.

“I always knew I could count on you.”

“For real bro, you land okay?” Lup asked, and Taako nodded even though she couldn’t see him.

“Yeah, I’m at baggage claim now. You guys here yet or should I just chill out?” he asked, and he really was fucking relieved to be here now. There was something so stupidly bittersweet that he was feeling at the moment, but he was doing his best to ignore that. He just wanted to get home.

“We’re here. We're circling in the parking lot so they don't try and charge us. We’ll head over to pick you up,” she said, and Taako sighed in relief at that.

“Cool, see you in a bit then?” he asked.

“Yep, be right over,” she said, and with that Taako hung up. Well, this was it.

Not giving himself time to second guess himself, Taako dug through his bag before heading back over to Kravitz.

“Your family here?” he asked, and Taako nodded.

“Yep, I’m finally free of this place,” he said, handing over the phone. He was pretty sure Kravitz was going to start calling an uber for himself, but then he noticed the other thing in his hand. “This doesn’t make up for all the ways you’ve managed to save my ass over the past couple of days, but uh, I figured happy Candlenights, ya know?” Taako said.

Kravitz very carefully opened the small box, and Taako wasn’t nervous. He wasn’t going to see this guy ever again once the next five minutes passed, so if he didn’t like it or thought it was weird that was on him. Taako was just, you know, trying to pull a nice gesture for once in his life. Kravitz could take it or leave it.

“Taako, these are beautiful,” Kravitz said, examining the earrings inside. They were some sort of black gemstone carved into the shape of feathers and had been kind of more expensive than Taako was willing to admit. He just had in some black studs right now, but Kravitz seemed like the kind of guy with fancy taste when he wanted. Taako could appreciate that.

“They seemed like the kinda flair you’d be into,” he said with a shrug, and there was a smile spreading on Kravitz’s face now. Which, okay, that probably meant he liked them. That was good. It didn’t matter but still, Kravitz had helped him out a whole fucking lot during this hell trip. Normally Taako wouldn’t feel indebted or anything, but this time he wanted to at least make an attempt at paying him back.

“It’s uh, well god, now I feel kind of silly,” Kravitz said, putting the earrings on and switching out his studs. They looked good on him, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Then Kravitz was reaching around and starting to dig through the duffel bag he had hung over his shoulder. “This isn’t nearly as nice of a gift as yours, but um, happy Candlenights,” he said, pulling out a small stuffed animal.

It was a purple mongoose (probably a weasel, but Taako figured the thought was for mongoose) with a witch hat, and Taako felt a smile instantly start spreading across his face. It looked so stupid and was clearly supposed to be a Halloween toy.

“Holy shit what are you talking about, that’s fucking incredible,” he said, snatching up the toy. Kravitz laughed at his enthusiasm, but Taako didn’t particularly feel bad about that. For some reason it felt like if Kravitz was judging him at all, it wasn’t in a bad way.

“Well, I’m glad you like it,” he said, and Taako nodded. Then they were just… standing there. Taako knew he should head outside so that Lup and Barry could spot him and he could get home already. Kravitz needed to go call his own ride.

“Uh, well I guess nice meeting you, it’s been fun? Shitty as fuck, but you know, not as terrible as it could’ve been,” Taako said, and there was no reason for him to sound as awkward as he did. Byes weren’t a thing he normally cared enough to do though, it wasn’t like he had a lot of practice.

“Still going to cherish those memories of smacking me with a book?” Kravitz asked, teasing.

“Fuckin- dick. Just for that, yes, I absolutely am,” Taako said, and Kravitz laughed again.

“It was wonderful meeting you as well,” he said, with a sincerity in his voice that Taako didn’t know how to handle. “And um, happy Candlenights,” he added, and Taako nodded.

“Happy Candlenights my dude,” Taako said, and if he stayed any longer now it’d get awkward again. So he nodded (again, fuck, he was like a bobble head at this point) and readjusted his grip on his suitcase before heading out. Kravitz waved before heading over to sit down on a bench to call an Uber or something.

Once he was outside, it wasn’t long before he saw Barry’s car pull up. Lup was outside of the car before it managed to fully stop, wrapping him up in a hug and almost making him lose his grip on his suitcase.

“Missed you bro,” she said, pulling away from him after a moment. She was grinning brightly and fuck, he was glad to be home. Even if the show had been a success and gone off without a hitch, Taako didn’t know what the fuck he was thinking, deciding to move so far away from his family.

“Fucking missed you too. Now it’s cold as fuck, you can hug me in the car,” he said. She nodded, taking his carry on bag from him and slinging it over her own shoulder. Then she looked around them like she was searching for something.

“Where’s your new friend?” she asked, and yep, that was what Taako figured. Kinda hoped they could’ve at least get inside before she mentioned anything, but that was a fool’s dream.

“Probably going the fuck home? I doubt he wants to stay here any longer either, can we go?” Taako asked. Lup sighed but didn’t put up anymore of an argument, heading to the trunk and helping him throw his bags in. They they both climbed into the backseat. Barry smiled back at the two of them before starting up the car again.

“How’s it going bud?” he asked, and Taako let out a long, loud sigh of frustration.

“I’m never getting on a goddamn plane again,” he said, crossing his arms. He was still holding the stuffed mongoose though, and so he kind of ended up hugging it to his chest, which Lup immediately noticed.

“Where’d you get that?” she asked, and Taako tried to look nonchalant.

“Just a Candlenights gift,” he said, kind of wanting to hide it now. He knew that wouldn’t do shit but make Lup even more suspicious, which considering the grin she had on was already pretty high up the charts.

“Holy shit, did phone boy give it to you?” she asked, and ugh, it was way too late for this. This day had been so fucking long and he was not at the mental capacity to be able to thwart Lup. He had to be on the top of his game for that and now certainly wasn’t that.

“It’s just a cheap stuffed animal, I don’t see what the big deal is,” he said, still trying despite everything. It didn’t technically answer her question, but Taako knew he didn’t need to for Lup to know.

“Oh my god, he did. That’s fucking adorable bro,” she said.

“It is pretty cute. Is it a witch?” Barry said, glancing back at them through the rear view mirror.

“No it’s stupid, the last couple of days have been nothing but stupid and I’m fucking over it,” he huffed. It didn’t look like Lup believed him, but hopefully she’d see that he was too tired to deal with this right now. “And yes, it’s got a little witch hat,” he added, not appreciating Barry’s snort of amusement.

“Fine, fine,” Lup said, sounding so put upon. Taako knew it was an act and she didn’t actually mind waiting for him to like, feel like talking about this. If there was even anything to talk about. “So, I know you’ve been a little out of touch so there’s been a change of plans. Candlenights is at our place this year,” she said, and Taako was thankful for the change of topic. He’d much rather talk about the stuff that had been going on at home while he was away for now.

“What? I thought Magnus was gonna do it,” he complained. He guessed it wasn’t that bad though. That meant he didn’t have to travel anywhere at least, even if it was only like, a five minute car ride.

“He was, but then things happened, you know how Magnus is,” Lup said, which wasn’t suspicious in the slightest. There was no way that didn’t mean ‘we changed it for you but if we said that you’d throw a fit so we’re not telling you it directly’ which was frustrating. Taako appreciated it, but it was still annoying as fuck.

And nice. They didn’t need to go out of their way for him but they did anyway, whether he liked it or not.

The rest of the ride home was spent with Lup and Barry filling him in on the details of this year’s Candlenights party. It was pretty much the usual fair, everyone was going to be there and no matter what they tried to plan chaos would run rampant. Taako was looking forward to spending the next two days in the kitchen preparing the food and ignoring everything else.

“So, I’d love to stay up and chat about all of the riveting details of my plane trip from hell, but cha’ boy is just about dead on his feet. So, I’m gonna go pass out, don’t bother waking me. I’ll come out when I’m damn good and ready,” he said once they got home. Barry had been tasked with bringing the bags in, so all Taako was carrying was the stuffed mongoose from Kravitz. He almost wished he’d grabbed his carry on or something, that might make it less noticeable.

“Yeah yeah, go get some rest, but you’re helping me cook tomorrow,” Lup said, and even though she rolled her eyes there was still a fond expression on her face. Taako made an incomprehensible series of noises which were mostly complaints but some vague agreement at that.

“Go get some sleep Taako. We’re real glad to have you home,” Barry said, handing over his bags.

“Ugh, yeah thanks. Sorry your one chance at getting rid of me fell through, look like you’re stuck with cha’ boy forever now,” he said. Neither of them looked particularly upset by that.

“Love you too bro,” Lup said with a smile. Taako grinned back and then headed up to his room. As soon as the door was shut behind him he immediately collapsed down onto his bed.

If nothing else, Taako truly was real fucking glad to be home.

It took longer to fall asleep than he would’ve thought, but the little mongoose toy seemed to help some. Taako was trying real hard to ignore that fact though.

He woke up pretty late the next day, almost one in the afternoon. Not the latest he’d ever woken up for sure, but still not exactly great. After the days of traveling he’d had though he felt like he earned it. Still, he got up faster than he usually would, immediately heading to take a quick, hot shower before heading down to the kitchen. He wasn’t surprised in the slightest to find Lup already in there.

“There’s sleeping beauty, thought you’d never join the land of the living,” she said as he walked in. Taako rolled his eyes, quickly tying his still damp hair back before going to check on what she was making. It seemed like today was dedicated to making the desserts for tomorrow, sweet. He had a hell of a lot of stress baking built up, time to put it to good use.

“After the time I had I would be fully justified in never leaving my bed again. Count yourself blessed that I have appeared at all,” Taako said, falling into step next to her. There was some pie filling half done so he started working on that.

“Fair enough. Did you have to sleep in the airport? You really didn’t fill me in much,” Lup said, which Taako guessed was true. He’d wanted to talk to her more, but other than when he called while they were at the Denny’s he’d kept it pretty short. He might’ve been purposefully vague about some things during that call too. And maybe more focused on talking about how everything was awful with no real details.

“No, we tried to sleep in a rental car but it got too cold and the police busted us for like, loitering or whatever, and then we managed to find a motel,” Taako explained. When he glanced over at Lup she had a grin on her face that he didn’t appreciate.

“We?” she asked, and Taako huffed, putting the finished pie filling aside to find something else to do.

“Yeah, you know I was borrowing Kravitz’s phone the whole time, obviously I was hanging out with the dude,” Taako said. He didn’t think it was that big of a deal. It was far from his first time hooking up with a dude, and everything with Kravitz had been almost hilariously tame. It was kinda cute, really. Kravitz had been cute and shy and shit.

“Kravitz is his name huh,” Lup said, humming thoughtfully. Taako didn’t know why though. He hadn’t even realized he never told Lup his name until now. “So, did that cop stop you for loitering or you know?” she asked, wiggling her eyebrows in a ridiculous fashion. Taako busted out laughing at that, because it was so stupid. 

“There might’ve been some macking happening. Listen, it was cold as balls, what else were we supposed to do,” Taako said, which got a snort out of Lup. She didn’t look particularly surprised by this, and Taako couldn’t even blame her.

“So, when are you planning on meeting up with him again?” she asked. It was obvious she was trying to be casual about the question, but Taako still felt himself bristle somewhat anyway.

“Uh, never?” Taako said, starting to get the stuff out for their sugar cookies. It was kind of a shame that he wouldn’t see Kravitz again, he would’ve liked to let him try their cookies. Taako could always appreciate some more praise on his cooking after all.

“You can’t be serious bro,” Lup said, looking over at him from where she was mixing the fudge on the stove.

“Why wouldn’t I be serious? He was just some dude I met in an airport. Look, I’ll admit it, you were right about him being hot, okay? But it was, you know, a dumb fling or whatever to distract from how shitty the situation was,” Taako said. Normally he wouldn’t have even felt the need to explain that much, but this was Lup. There wasn’t any point in hiding stuff from her, and he didn’t even want to.

Lup sighed, and Taako could tell she was still thinking her own junk, but it seemed like she wasn’t going to press it. At least not right now.

“If you say so Ko,” she said. They fell into a comfortable quiet after that, the only real noises being the clanging of kitchenware and timers going off intermittently. It was nice. It was honestly exactly what Taako needed right now.

A little while later Barry came in, and he wasn’t so much of a help as he was constantly trying to steal samples. Still, Taako felt himself loosening up as he hung out with the two, until he was barely even thinking about Kravitz at all.

It was getting kind of late by the time they actually finished cooking, and Taako collapsed in a heap into the couch. Lup came in after him, and Taako was very grateful for the glass of wine she put into his hand. Then she sat down on a nearby chair, kicking her heels up on the coffee table.

“Where’d Barold run off to?” he asked, pushing himself up some so he could drink without risk of choking.

“Wrapping presents I think. He was trying to be sneaky and said no one’s allowed in our bedroom for the next hour,” she said, and Taako laughed at that. Barry was just about the least sneaky person in existence. At least, most of the time. Sometimes he could genuinely surprise Taako.

“Fucking dork,” Taako said, not trying to hide the fondness in his voice there. Right now he was just glad to be home, and later he could always blame anything particularly sappy he might say on alcohol.

“So,” Lup started, in a tone of voice that Taako instantly recognized. It was the ‘I know you don’t want to talk about this yet but I’m you’re sister and I’m worried about you so we’re going to talk about it’ tone. “Are you doing okay Ko? That was a lot,” she said. Taako sighed heavily and nodded.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. Need a new phone,” he said. Lup was watching him, and he knew she wanted more than that. “It’s not a big deal Lulu. You know I didn’t actually want to move away from anyone to begin with,” he said, and it was the first time he straight up admitted that. There was some relief in saying it though, of actually acknowledging that he’d been way more hesitant about the whole thing than he’d let on.

“It was a real sweet opportunity though,” Lup said, and Taako shrugged.

“I’ll get a better opportunity that won’t make me leave all my fucking family across the country,” he said, and then laughed bitterly. “Or run the risk of getting me thrown in jail or whatever the fuck was going on there,” he said, and Lup nodded in agreement.

“Okay, fair enough on that one,” she said. There was a moment where Taako thought that might actually be the end of it. Lup actually looked satisfied with his answer, and honestly, Taako was telling the truth for once. Everyone had been so encouraging about the whole thing, and Taako didn’t want to be an idiot who missed his one chance at making it.

He was fucking good at what he did though, so there’d be other chances. There’d be opportunities without having to leave everyone.

“Well, then, now that I know you’re doing good on that front,” Lup said, and Taako threw his head back and groaned. “Come on bro, you gotta fill me in here on the whole Kravitz situation! You spend a day with this guy and he gets you a fucking mongoose plushy for Candlenights. Hell, he gets you something for Candlenights at all! After a day! There’s some details missing from this story!” she said.

“There aren’t any details! He’s just a sweet dude like that,” Taako insisted. That didn’t seem to deter Lup any though.

“Really? You managed to figure that out so fast? Because you’d seemed pretty intent that he was a jerk when you first talked about him,” Lup said. Taako had figured she’d remember that, but he’d been hoping otherwise.

“Ugh, yes okay. Listen, there might have been some Tinder based misunderstandings to start off with. Cha' boy might’ve gotten the wrong impression at first,” Taako said. Lup put her wine glass down, coughing in an attempt not to choke at that.

“Tinder based misunderstandings? How?! Your phone was busted six ways to Sunday babe!” Lup asked, and okay, that reaction was pretty hilarious. It was almost worth this whole fucking interrogation.

“It still worked on his phone. Really, that’s not important. The point is! He was still a total dick at first but honestly I can appreciate that. And like, we were both stuck in airport hell and he was real sweet the whole time about everything and like, paid for my food and stuff since I'm broke as fuck now. Like, he was just a good fucking dude. Probably didn’t even think twice about grabbing me some silly little Candlenights gift,” Taako explained.

He hadn’t realized that he’d been staring into his nearly empty wine glass as he spoke. When he finally did and looked up and over at Lup she had a look on her face that he did not like one bit.

“What’s that smile for?” he asked, already super suspicious.

“Holy shit Ko, you’re fucking smitten with this dude,” she said. Taako felt his face heating up and he chugged the rest of his wine to keep himself from sputtering too noticeably.

“You’re insane,” Taako managed to say after a moment, not that Lup seemed to care. She was getting progressively more excited, hanging over the arm of the chair she was in to get closer to him.

“You are! Oh my god, Taako I’ve never seen you this into someone so fast,” she said. Which was stupid. This whole thing was stupid.

“Uuuugh, I take back everything I said about not wanting to leave. Everyone here is awful I should’ve stayed in Glamour Springs,” Taako said, pulling his apron up and hiding his face in it. Lup laughed, not taking that seriously. Which, it wasn’t serious in the slightest, but still.

“Yes, I bring you nothing but torment,” Lup said, and Taako rolled his eyes. “Okay, seriously bro, what’s up?” she asked, instantly switching back to that kind reassurance thing she could do. The one that actually made Taako feel like he could be honest about shit.

“He was just real sweet and dorky and made me laugh a lot, okay?” he admitted, speaking faster than normal. He stopped trying to hide in his apron, as it was pretty ineffective. Instead he slumped face first into the couch cushion.

“Yeah, I thought it was something like that,” Lup said, sounding very pleased with hearing that. “So, what’s the issue then?” she asked. Taako looked up enough so she could see him lift an eyebrow in question.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, and she rolled her eyes at that.

“You obviously like the dude. Why are you so insistent on not seeing him again?” she asked. It was a fair question. Normally Taako wouldn’t have much of an issue telling a guy he was interested in to call him or things like that. But this was just…

“’s outta m’ league…” he muttered into the cushion, fully aware he was barely intelligible.

“What was that bro bro?” Lup asked, and Taako couldn’t tell if she genuinely couldn’t understand him or if she wanted him to be all upfront and honest with shit.

“He’s out of my league, okay?” he snapped, letting his head fall right back down as soon as he finished speaking.

“Taako, like two weeks ago you called yourself, and I quote, ‘a pinnacle of modern man that god is too fearful to strike down,’” Lup said, doing full on air quotes as she spoke.

“And that is still true. So now you realize like, how fucking great he is,” Taako said, sighing heavily. God, he hadn’t meant to actually develop feelings here. He doubted Kravitz was even thinking about him anymore. Hell, Taako knew he wasn’t even lying when he said he wasn’t interested in dating at the moment when they first spoke. He’d only been on ‘a dating site’ to get his mom off his case.

“You’re not even gonna try to reach out to him?” Lup asked, and Taako shook his head.

“Nope. If he wanted to make something out of this he would’ve said so before I left the airport. There was like, a good awkward minute and a half where we were standing there like idiots,” he said, and he heard Lup sigh heavily at that.

“Taako, you’re my brother and I love you, but you’re so fucking hopeless,” she said, and Taako rolled onto his back so that he could glare at her properly.

“You don’t have any right to call me hopeless. How long did you and Barry go before confessing?” he asked, even though he already knew the answer.

“That’s not-”

“Nine years!” Taako cut in, and he could see Lup pouting now. “Listen, ugh, lemme mope about this for a couple of days or whatever. It’s just a dumb crush, it’s not- I’ll get over it soon, alright?” he said. Lup didn’t look like she believed him that much, but Taako was relieved when she nodded.

“Yeah alright, I’ll let you be a dummy about this if that’s what you want,” she said, and Taako rolled his eyes at that. “But if he like, was to try and reach out to you?” she asked.

“I’d jump his fucking bones. I’m not quite as dumb as you and Barold,” Taako said, enjoying the offended look on Lup’s face at that.

“You’re fucking awful,” she said, and he just grinned at her.

“Missed you too Lulu.”

Fucking hell, it was good to be home.

Chapter Text

Kravitz walked over to a bench, sitting down to call an uber. Thankfully there were quite a few always around the airport, even so late at night, so he shouldn’t have to wait very long for one to arrive.

A hand kept going up and feeling the earrings Taako had given him. They really were beautiful, and he was eternally thankful now that he’d at least gone ahead and gotten him something. He'd been worried about the mongoose at first but now he was relieved he bought it. Sure, it wasn’t anywhere as nice as his gift, and Taako had said it was a thanks for the past day and some. He still would have felt kinda shitty if he’d been empty handed.

Maybe he should have said something. There’d been a moment where they’d both been standing there, and it felt like one of them should have said something. Neither of them did though, and that was probably for the best. He doubted Taako was anywhere near as invested in this as he’d been. If he wanted this to continue to anything, surely he would have said something?

Soon enough Kravitz got the message that his uber had arrived, and he quickly headed out to find it. He threw his bags in the trunk and gave the driver the address to his mother’s house as soon as he was inside. He’d been planning to go to her house to begin with, although he hadn’t imagined it would be quite so late. Part of him wondered if he should go home and then visit her in the morning, but he didn’t want to worry her if she was waiting up for him even after he’d told her not to.

It wasn’t too long of a drive to his destination, and he rushed somewhat to get inside. It was still extremely cold, if not quite as bad as it had been in other towns he’d had to stop at along the way. He was a little surprised to find the door unlocked, but he had told them he’d be back late.

He was less surprised to see his mother still up in the living room as he walked in. He put his bags to the side and shut the door before anymore of the cold could get in.

“Welcome home dear, I’m sorry you had such a rough time traveling,” his mother said, standing up from where she’d been sitting on the couching and coming over to him. Kravitz smiled tiredly and let her take his coat. She’d always been pretty doting on him, Kravitz had long since learned there wasn’t much point in trying to stop her.

“It was definitely a rough one,” he said, greeting her with a quick kiss on the top of her head. “You didn’t have to stay up for me, I have a key,” he added, but she waved that away.

“I wanted to make sure you made it back this time and nothing else went wrong,” she said, which Kravitz supposed was fair. There had been so much going wrong, he wouldn’t have put it past the universe making him miss Candlenights all together. “Are you hungry? We have some leftovers you could heat up,” she asked, but Kravitz shook his head.

“No, I think I’m too tired to eat. If it’s alright with you I’m probably going to head straight to bed,” he said. She nodded, not seeming bothered by that request at all.

“Of course dear. Istus tried to stay up to see you but she headed to sleep herself about half an hour ago,” she said, and Kravitz smiled at that. He wasn’t surprised that his step mother had tried to wait up for him as well.

“I’ll have to thank her in the morning for trying, although really neither of you needed to,” he insisted, but once again his mother waved that away.

“I wanted to Kravitz,” she said, and then he saw her eyes flicker to something right by his head. “Those earrings are lovely, I don’t remember them,” she said, and Kravitz felt his face heat up at their mention. He supposed it made sense, but he’d been hoping he could get by with as minimal references to all of that as possible.

“Yes they’re ah, new. A candlenights gift,” he explained, trying to be vague. He could see his mother’s dark eyes light up in intrigue with that, and that’s exactly what he’d been hoping wouldn’t happen.

“Oh, from who? It looks like they have wonderful taste,” she said, and Kravitz knew where this conversation was going and he wasn’t sure if he was awake enough to stop it.

“Just uh, someone else who’d gotten a bit stranded at the airport is all. I guess neither of us were that sure if we were going to make it home at all and decided to have a little mini candlenights,” he said, which wasn’t exactly wrong. Sure, he wasn’t sure what had been going through Taako’s head exactly when he brought the gift, but it could’ve been that. He wouldn’t put it past him.

“That’s sweet, I’m glad you weren’t entirely alone through all of that,” she said, and Kravitz nodded.

“Yeah, he was uh, he certainly helped to pass the time,” Kravitz said, regretting those words almost as soon as they left his mouth. Nope, that was way too much to give his mother. Now there was no doubt that she knew everything.

“I’m sure,” she said, smiling a wry smile now. “When are you planning on introducing us?” she asked, and yep, that’s what he expected.

“That’s not- It’s-” he sputtered, taking a moment to actually get his words in order, because denying it wouldn’t be enough. Because well, it wasn’t like he could say he wasn't interested after all and be telling the truth. He’d certainly been interested, he just hadn’t been sure if Taako had felt the same way. And then he missed his chance to even see if he’d been willing to take it any further.

“We’d started talking because he needed to borrow my phone since his broke, and uh, I never got around to asking for his number, since I wasn’t sure if he would keep the same one?” he said. It was a poor excuse for not asking. Still, it was an excuse, and he was willing to take any he could jump on at the moment.

He supposed he still had Taako’s sister’s number on his phone. Calling that would be super, super weird though, right? If anything he should probably delete it. Well, he could do that when he was less exhausted.

“That’s a shame,” his mother said, and Kravitz was almost inclined to agree with her. “Well, go get some sleep, you’ve certainly earned it,” she said, and he nodded.

“Alight. It’s good to see you, let Istus know I made it back okay,” he said, giving his mother a quick side hug as he did.

“I will, goodnight dear,” she said. Kravitz picked his bags back up and headed back to the guest bedroom as his mother headed up to her own. He changed into some night clothes almost immediately, wanting to get in bed as soon as possible and not wanting to spend another night in regular clothes.

He almost forgot to take his earrings off, and for a moment he considered leaving them on. The feathers dangled though, and he didn’t want to risk one getting snagged on a quilt and pulled off in the night. Kravitz made sure to put them back in the small box they’d come in though, not wanting to lose them.

He probably wasn’t being weird about that, right? It was a sweet gift and it would be rude to be careless with them. He was pretty sure he hadn’t stepped over into any sort of creepy line yet. God, it probably wasn’t normal for a person to be this concerned over if they were being weird or not.

Even still Kravitz managed to fall asleep fast, dead to the world almost as soon as he was under a blanket. It wasn’t quite as good as being home in his own bed, but his mother’s house was the next best thing, and so close to Candlenights it was nice to be around family.

When he woke up the next morning it was to the smell of food cooking in the kitchen, and Kravitz lay there for a good long while. He was comfortable and still exhausted from the trip and maybe still a little bit upset about not trying to follow up with Taako at all. He should have at least made an attempt. That way he would’ve had a concrete answer if Taako said no. Instead it was this lingering wonder on if he would’ve said yes.

Eventually he was too hungry and the smell of food too tempting for him to keep lying there. Climbing out of bed he grabbed some clothes and went to take a good long shower first. He should have gotten one last night, but he’d been too exhausted to think of it. Coming back out once he finished, he dressed in another sweater. It was kind of funny that Taako had specifically asked if he owned sweaters, since he actually had quite a few. That’s when happens with a stepmother who was a professional knitter.

He also put the earrings back in, since there was no real point not to. They were nice and he quite liked them.

“Good morning,” Kravitz said as he walked into the kitchen.

“It’s wonderful to see you Kravitz,” Istus said, coming over and giving him a hug. He quite liked his stepmother, she was kind and made his mother so happy.

Breakfast was nice, and Kravitz spent most of it talking to them about the trouble that had gone down with work that kept him for an extra two weeks in the first place. Those things were a little easier to talk about than all the issues at the airport. Whenever that topic got brought up Kravitz could feel himself getting embarrassed and deflective. That told both of them more than he wanted, but at least without much details.

Still, the day went by relaxing. Kravitz hadn’t been lying about Candlenights being quiet at his house, but he could appreciate it. After the wild couple of days he had, he could certainly use some peace and quiet.

Although he guessed some of the wildness had been welcomed as well. Still, he was trying not to think about all of that. He needed to get over this crush after all, since there wasn’t any chance of it going anywhere now, certainly.

It was getting rather late when his phone rang. He hadn’t expected it, and he might’ve jumped somewhat when it started buzzing in his pocket. He’d been watching a movie with his mother and her wife, and they both glanced over at him when he checked his phone. He expected it to be a wrong number, or maybe work (god, he might not answer if it was work. It was unlike him but damn it it was the day before Candlenights). Instead, he saw a number he recognized at this point, although it didn’t have a name attached like most of the numbers he had would.

It was the number that Taako had called a bunch of times, to talk to his sister.

“I uh, I need to take this. You two can keep watching,” he said. He could see the interest on their faces, but they didn’t question him about it yet. Quickly heading out to the patio, he immediately regretted that decision when the cold night air hit him. Still, he was already out there. Not giving himself any more time to second guess it in fear that whoever it was calling would hang up, Kravitz answered the phone.

“Um, hello?” he said, trying not to sound too hopeful. It might’ve been a miss dial or something like that after all. Maybe Taako had misplaced something and was wondering if it’d gotten caught up in his luggage. Considering the fact that Kravitz hadn’t looked though his stuff very well yet, that might have actually happened.

“Hey there, is this Kravitz?” a voice said. It wasn’t Taako’s, but it was very similar. He’d only heard his sister in muffled noises, but he was pretty sure this was her.

“Yes, can I help you with something?” he asked, genuinely confused about why his sister would be calling him. He could understand Taako calling on her phone, since his was presumably still broken.

“Mhmm, I think you can babe,” she said, and Kravitz was suddenly very nervous. He was pacing around the patio, trying to keep warm from the cold. He half considered going inside but he kind of didn’t want his mother and Istus to overhear depending on how this conversation went.

“Good? Are you- I’m sorry, this is Taako’s sister, right? It’s uh, Lup, yes?” he asked, struggling to remember the name for a moment.

“Yeah, that’s me. Also so far so good, you paid attention to my bro while he spoke, those are some serious points in your favor,” she said. Kravitz blinked in confusion, not sure what that was about.

“Um, yes? Of course I was listening to Taako he’s very- okay. I’m very confused right now, why are you calling me? Not that I’m not happy to speak to you, I’m just not sure why you’ve called me,” Kravitz said, trying not to be rude. He was extremely taken off guard by this call and he didn’t know if he should be happy or not. He couldn’t think of a specific reason why Taako would make his sister deliver a message to never speak to him again, but he supposed that could still be the case.

“Right, I guess I should get to the point. I’m sure you’re busy and still tired from the hell trip you spent with my bro,” she said. Kravitz found himself shrugging, even though this was a purely verbal conversation.

“I mean, it wasn’t that awful,” he said, his voice definitely sounding more fond than he intended to let slip. Lup laughed somewhat on the other end of the line, and Kravitz was kind of worried about crossing a line there.

“Yeah, that’s what I figured,” she said, and she didn’t sound annoyed with him at least. If anything she sounded kind of happy about it. “Listen, I figure you’re probably busy for the holiday, but I wanted to invite you to our Candlenights party anyway. And if that’s completely out of the question, just to stop by whenever,” she said. Kravitz stopped pacing, standing there in the cold for a long moment as he let that sink in.

“That’s- uh, really?” Kravitz stuttered out, still not sure if he had heard that right. He was pretty sure he could hear Lup snickering now, and maybe this was all some elaborate joke. Or maybe she was just as bad as his mother. He wasn't sure which possibility frightened him more.

“A hundred percent serious, I guarantee. You don’t have to come, but I wanted to throw the offer out there,” she said, sounding pretty sincere about all of this.

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but could I ask why?” Kravitz found himself asking.

“Because my brother’s an idiot, and I know he’d really like to see you again,” she said, and Kravitz could hear the smile in her voice. If it wasn’t so damn cold out Kravitz would’ve been able to feel his face start to get hot at that.

“Oh, I uh- you really think that?” he asked, and this had to be some sort of prank, right? Except Taako had been an asshole, but he hadn’t seemed like that sort of asshole.

“For sure. Like, just think it over my dude. I can text you the address if you wanna consider it,” she said.

“Yes please,” Kravitz blurted out perhaps a bit too eagerly. There was no way this wasn’t going to end up being a huge mistake, but Lup cheerfully went on like all of this was a very normal exchange.

“Cool, I’ll send it right over. Oh, and if you’re coming tomorrow, dinner and everything will start around five,” she said. Kravitz found himself nodding dumbly, still not sure if he was actually going to go through with this yet. Or with anything. This was all happening very fast.

“I’ll uh, I’ll definitely see what I can do,” he said.

“Awesome. Hope to see you soon then babe, and happy Candlenights,” she said. Before he could say anything else she’d hung up. Kravitz wasn’t even inside before his phone buzzed again with a text from Lup, giving him the address as she’d said. It was followed by a winky face, and Kravitz had no idea how to respond to that. He ended up sending a quick thank you for the address and that he hoped he would be able to make it.

He wondered if Taako had asked her to ask him to come. He didn’t particularly seem like the shy type, but a lot of the immediate first impressions Kravitz had gotten from him weren’t quite accurate.

What if he hadn’t asked though? What if his sister had gotten the totally wrong impression and he got upset if Kravitz showed up? Except what if he did want Kravitz to show up, and he was upset if he didn’t? There was no way for Kravitz to know the answer without going over there. He kind of wanted to go over there. He definitely wanted to see Taako again.

Heading back into the living room, Kravitz tried to school his face into something less noticeably flustered. Of course it wasn’t enough to be completely unnoticed, but it was something. He could see both his mother and Istus looking at him with curiosity.

“Is everything alright dear?” his mother asked. Kravitz nodded, settling himself back down on the couch.

“It’s fine. I was just uh, invited to a Candlenights party tomorrow,” he said, not meaning to found as baffled by that as he did. That was probably a sign that he could stand to get out a bit more.

“That sounds wonderful Kravitz, you should go,” his mother said, not bothering to ask who had invited him or when exactly tomorrow or where it was. Which honestly didn’t surprise Kravitz in the least. His mother tended not to even need to ask those kinds of things. Kravitz wouldn’t pretend to know how she did it.

“Are you sure? I’d hate to leave you both on Candlenights,” he said, although then he found himself adding, “it isn’t until later though. Um, I think they said it starts around five? Not sure how far away it is either,” he muttered. Despite himself Kravitz ended up pulling his phone back out and checking GPS to see how far away it was. Which, okay, that actually wasn’t very far at all. Huh.

“You should get out more,” she said, repeating the same thought he’d had only moments ago.

“Five o’clock gives us plenty of time to spend the day together,” Istus added.

“I suppose you’re right,” Kravitz said, a part of him stupidly grateful for them pushing him to go. At least this way if it fucked up irreparably it wouldn’t be entirely his own doing.

Kravitz still found himself second guessing and nervous all throughout the rest of the night and into Candlenights proper. He tried to enjoy spending time with his family but his mind was very much elsewhere. He was pretty sure they could tell too, but thankfully they didn’t call him out on it. Too much, at least.

It was both a tortuously long wait and way too soon when it finally got about the time when he should head out, if he was going to. Which he told himself he would. The worst that could happen was Taako demanding he leave. Probably. If he was being pessimistic Kravitz could think of a few even worse things that could happen, but he was trying to be at least somewhat positive here.

The drive to the address Lup had sent him ended up going by much too fast. Soon enough he was sitting in his car outside of a house with a lot of other cars parked around it. The place was lit up for Candlenights and Kravitz could see the vague forms of people moving in the bright windows. It seemed like this gathering was already well into full swing.

This was a huge mistake.

But he was already here.

It took Kravitz longer than he wanted to admit to work up the nerves to get out of the car though. At one point he ended up ducking in the seat as two men walked by so that they wouldn’t see him just sitting in his car. He waited a little bit longer than he normally would have, not wanting to risk them seeing him come out of the car after that.

Eventually though he managed to drag himself out of the car, taking a deep breath. He was being stupid. If Taako didn’t want him here, he would just leave. It was simple as that. He'd wanted the chance to see Taako again and see if he was interested in something happening here. This way he could get a concrete answer and not end up wondering forever about how it would go. He would just know and that would be that. Even if it was a no, he'd be fine with it.

The second he rang the doorbell Kravitz instantly felt that little bit of resolve he’d managed to work up crumbling. Was it weird that he was still wearing the earrings Taako had given him?

Oh god, was he supposed to bring something? Bringing food or something was the polite thing to do when invited somewhere. Taako was a chef though, if he tried to cook something he would’ve been able to tell that it was terrible. Store bought wouldn't have been great either though.

Thankfully or not, Kravitz couldn’t tell, he didn’t have very long to panic over this. Only a few seconds after ringing the doorbell he could make out very distinctive, familiar yelling coming towards him.

“Alright, alright! I swear you motherfuckers have had me on door duty all night, I got shit to cook!” Taako’s voice yelled, and Kravitz was pretty sure he was speaking to someone in the house. He still didn’t sound very happy though and Kravitz was wondering if he had the chance to hide.

He didn’t, the door slamming open in front of him.

“Come on, you people know you can come in and not take up my ti- my uh, muh… time,” Taako said, and Kravitz could pinpoint the exact moment he actually noticed who was standing there. As nervous as Kravitz was at the moment, the look on his face was kind of hilarious.

The brief moment of amusement was quickly shot with the realization that Taako definitely hadn’t known he’d been invited.

“Happy Candlenights, you uh, you look lovely,” Kravitz said, trying to stick to the script he’d ran through in his head a million times in the car. It wasn’t like it wasn’t true, Taako did look lovely. He was dressed up much nicer than he’d been in the airport, wearing a very pretty high collared green shirt and black pants. It looked like there were small bells braided into his hair as well.

Maybe instead of a compliment a hasty apology and scrambling to leave would’ve been a better option though. Taako was still staring at him in dumbfounded silence for a moment, and then there was a brief flash of anger or something similar across his face.

“Oh my god. I’m gonna fucking kill her,” he muttered, quiet enough that Kravitz almost didn’t hear him. Except he absolutely did, and wasn’t able to hide the way his shoulders slumped and the disappointed look on his face. He should have at least attempted, this wasn’t Taako’s fault after all. He hadn’t invited him here or make any move to show he ever wanted to see Kravitz again.

Still, as nervous as he’d been, he’d also felt stupidly hopeful about coming here. That hadn’t been the reaction he’d been hoping for.

“I’m uh, I’m sorry. I’ll just- bye,” Kravitz said, turning to leave before this could get any worse. That’s what he’d decided, if Taako didn’t want him around he would leave, simple as that.

“Wait! No no fuck, shit hold up kemosabe, don’t go,” Taako shouted, rushing out after him and grabbing Kravitz by the arm for good measure. It effectively got him to stop, looking back at Taako with his confusion very evident on his face.

“Taako it’s uh, I’m sorry for coming here unannounced. You sister called and invited me but I should have spoken to you first to make sure it was alright. It’s perfectly fine if you’d rather me leave,” Kravitz said, trying to be reasonable about this. He didn’t want Taako to let him stick around out of guilt or politeness if he wasn’t comfortable with him being around.

“What? No that’s not- god, you really don’t have any siblings, do you?” Taako asked, and Kravitz raised an eyebrow in question at that, not expecting the sudden jump in topic.

“No? I’m not sure what uh, that has to do with this, other than me not realizing this was a prank from your sister, or something,” he said. Taako was shaking his head though, an amused look on his face now.

“I mean, it’s a little bit of a prank? But not like that? I’m not mad at her inviting you is the thing,” he explained, and Kravitz found himself relaxing some at that. Still semi-positive this was going to end badly, but less so than he initially expected.

“Oh, then what are you mad at her for?” he asked, and maybe it was because they were standing out in the cold now but he could see the way Taako’s cheeks darkened at that.

“For calling me the fuck out,” he muttered. Taako was still holding onto his arm, and before Kravitz could ask what he meant by that Taako pulled him close by it. Then Taako’s lips were on his and Kravitz froze in shock.

Taako pulled back before he could get his brain in working order enough to kiss back. This time he was the one who looked panicked and nervous.

“Shit, okay, I should’ve asked first because maybe you’re just here cause you know my cooking’s sweet as shit but like come on you gotta admit you showing up here all sweet and shit after fucking, all that at the airport, and on freaking Candlenights too like, a guy’s gonna assume! This is like, so primo hallmark movie bullshit right here! You really can’t blame me for-” Taako was shouting, his face beet red at this point as he completely avoided any sort of eye contact.

The panic and fear Kravitz had been feeling about coming here up until that point was melting away as Taako continued to go on. A goofy smile had wormed its way onto his face and he didn’t even try to wipe it off his face as he gently grabbed one of Taako’s flailing arms. He didn’t wait for Taako to finish his thought before pulling him into another kiss. His brain for the most part seemed to catch up much quicker than Kravitz’s had, reciprocating after only a brief moment of surprise.

“Okay then. It would seem that we’re both idiots,” Taako said once they pulled away. Almost immediately Kravitz was doubled over laughing, nodding in agreement.

“It certainly would,” he said, grinning stupidly now. “I wanted to say something at the airport but I’m not good at this,” he added, and Taako snorted in amusement.

“Well I’m great at this. You’re just that bad you dragged down my natural skill I guess,” Taako said, and Kravitz rolled his eyes, not actually annoyed any.

“I could still go back home if you’d rather,” he teased. Taako shook his head, grabbing Kravitz by the arm again and starting to drag him back towards the door.

“Fuck no, I told you, we’re in this together for the long haul. Plus, I got cookies you need to try,” Taako and, and Kravitz had a totally unconvincing show of thinking it over.

“Well, if there’s going to be cookies I guess so,” he said, and Taako snorted in laughter. Then he froze again, a look of agitation on his face again and Kravitz was suddenly worried that he’d managed to fuck up somehow.

“I cannot believe my sister got me a fucking boyfriend for Candlenights. She’s never going to let this go! She won at Candlenights!” Taako shouted, and once again Kravitz found himself laughing. “That’s uh, if you’re cool with that, I mean. That’s probably like, a thing we should talk about,” he added, and Kravitz nodded.

“I’m quite happy with that, if you are,” he said, and a grin spread across Taako’s face at that.

“Hell yeah, boyfriend it is then,” he said, pulling Kravitz out of the cold and into the warm house. It sounded like there were just as many people in here as he'd expected, and he got the feeling that this was going to be a very long night.

God, this was not what Kravitz was expecting when he first met Taako. Words could not explain how far this was from what he was expecting when he first met Taako. He wasn’t complaining in the slightest though. After all, it had ended up much better than he would’ve ever dreamed.

He wasn’t sure how things had turned out so favorable when he only seemed to mess up over and over, but it had and Kravitz was going to appreciate it.

He’d been so looking forward to getting home throughout most of the trip. Right now though, Kravitz wouldn’t mind if he ended up staying out longer than originally intended.