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Where Do I Go From Here?

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It’s cycle 6, and they’re still fairly new to this. Turns out, resetting at the end of a year takes adjusting. They don’t quite grasp fully yet that when you die, you come back. This information is gleaned because Magnus has already died before; the rest of the crew learns that he’s self-sacrificing to the max. They also learn the hard way that you cannot bring intelligent lifeforms on the Starblaster and expect them to stay.

They’re all trying to cope with things in their own way. Davenport and Merle play various board and card games. It gets real intense real fast, lasting up to days on end, and the others sometimes watch for fun. Lucretia writes and draws. She tends to keep to herself, so no one really knows what the subjects are. Barry experiments. He’s got a sort of fascination with necromancy, but as long as he doesn’t involve them in dangerous situations, no one really minds. Magnus trains hard so that he’s able to have back the bulk he’d built up in previous cycles and thus the ability to protect them all. The twins, Taako and Lup, have each other, so they’re mostly fine. They cook and banter and just generally spend time with each other.

It’s cycle 6, and everyone copes the way they cope. For the twins, that means getting into playful fights over stupid trivial things. They tend to hang out at the railing or, in this world, on the mountainside they’re on. The weather’s nice, and the mountainside grassy and flowery and pretty. The Starblaster is nestled in a cave, and there’s a cliff overlooking the mountain base and forest down below, and the village farther ahead. They’ll sit and pluck grass and flowers to throw at each other, or stand and do ridiculous dances now and then. Today, they talk in their mother tongue, Elvish, about the rest of the crew.

“Davenport? More like Dadenport. He and Merle lowkey feel that way,” Taako says. Lup hums in agreement. “Magnus is ripped but stupid.”

“So, your type.”

“Basically. But I don’t know that I’ll make a move on him. I mean, we’re like, coworkers, Lulu. That’s weird, right?”

“So you’re gonna not have sex for however long we’re stuck doing this?” She scoffs. “Yeah, right. Doesn’t sound like you, li’l bro.”

“Excuse me? Did you say li’l bro? I’m most def not the younger one. I exude big brother energy. You’re widdle sis. You exude widdle sis energy. I take care of you.”

“Says the immature one.”

“Don’t hafta be mature to be older. Look at Merle vs. the rest of us.” She laughs and he smiles. “Anyways, I wasn’t done. You interrupted me when I was offering up my very important and valuable opinions on the crew.” He sniffs and turns his nose up and she laughs again. He cracks open an eye at the sound.

“Yeah, okay. I’m so sorry, O Wise Elder. Please, do go on.”

Thank you. That’s more like it. Barry and Lucretia, they’re both hella nerdy in their own ways. Which, by the way, right up your alley.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Uh, yeah huh! I’ve seen the way you look at them,” he says, leaning in close before returning to his original position. “I’ve seen the way you wanna get close to them. You want them to be your very nerdy partner, want them to hold you in their noodly arms.” He bats his eyes.

“Oh, shut up,” she says playfully, shoving him. He’s not meant to topple over the edge. He’s supposed to maybe just fall over at most, but that means falling over onto the grass, not over the edge. He’s supposed to catch himself because they’re elves, they’re agile, they’re nimble they’re them. But he’s caught off guard, and he does fall. She sees the look of surprise on his face, sees his hands reaching up for her.

“Taako!” she cries desperately, crawling to the edge. But calling after someone does fuck all to prevent them from falling to their death. Lup turns away, unable to bear looking at him hit the bottom, despair bubbling up inside her. She rests her elbows on her knees, forehead on her fists and starts sobbing.

It’s cycle 6, and Taako has quite literally died at Lup’s hands. She’s responsible for his first death, and she’s terrified of returning back to the crew and how they’ll see her. They’ll see someone who murdered not just a crewmate, but her twin. They’ll see someone who fucks with people’s lives like it’s nothing. They’ll see someone who’s careless.

Lucretia finds her outside like that. She also likes going to the cliff, usually to write or draw. Today, she’s brought a journal and pen. Upon seeing Lup crying, she purposefully drops the journal and pen to announce her presence and heads carefully to Lup, sitting down in front of her.

“Lup? Are you okay? And where’s Taako?” It’s the wrong question to ask, because it seems to make Lup cry harder, which makes breathing harder.

“Shit, sorry. Try to breathe. Exhale, yeah there you go, and when there’s nothing left, just hold your breath for a bit, and then inhale. Yeah, just like that. Try to do it again until your breathing’s more under control.” Lucretia’s been there before, and had panic attacks. She’s well-versed with what to do in this situation.

“I—fuck, I-I killed Taako. I—we were talking and he was teasing me and I shoved him I didn’t mean to make him fall we do it all the fucking time but he fell, he toppled over the edge and I know he’s dead I just know it I can feel it what do I fucking do? I just murdered my brother, my twin.” Lup can’t even see properly anymore; everything’s so blurry. And it might just be her imagination, but the colours around her all seem duller, muted.

“I think we should go inside, okay? I’ll go get Magnus to carry you; just stay right there. It’ll be quick.” Lucretia grabs her journal and pen and heads inside.

Lucretia returns with Magnus, who’d been told that something bad happened and Lup needed to go back inside. Magnus goes to Lup and kneels down, while Lucretia hovers, still concerned.

“Lup? Hey. It’s Magnus. I’m gonna carry you inside, okay? We’ll talk things out. They’re not gonna be mad at you, and on the off chance they are, Lucretia and I’ll protect and defend you.” Magnus cradles her gently against his chest and Lucretia follows behind. Lup laugh-sobs at how Lucretia was the one who found her, at how Magnus holds her. If Taako were here, he’d be jealous of her, be swooning at the thought of Magnus holding him. He’d also be all smug.

Once aboard the Starblaster, they go to the living room. Davenport, Merle, and Barry are sitting on one of the big couches, Davenport in the middle. Magnus goes over to the other big couch and sets Lup down, sitting next to her. Lucretia sits on her other side so Lup’s tucked snugly between the two of them. It’s comforting.

“Hi Lup. Do you wanna talk about what happened?” Davenport asks kindly. And that’s something Lup notices: none of them hold any judgment in their faces.

“I’m sorry,” Lup says quietly. “I know you don’t want us messing around and I ended up killing my brother that way. We were talking, Taako and I, and he was teasing me so I shoved him like we do. He fell and died.” Her nails are digging into her thighs and Magnus and Lucretia see that, each hold one of her hands.

“Jeez kid. Sorry you had to go through that,” Merle says.

“I should’ve known better.”

“No, you shouldn’t’ve. You’re all young. You guys just wanna have fun. These things don’t normally happen, and you shouldn’t have been factoring that in. You shouldn’t have to worry about that.”

“Lup,” Davenport says. “I know this won’t be much, but do you wanna have some sort of memorial service?”

“I—yeah. He’d want a party, a loud celebration. He’s—he was big and wild like that.”

“Sure,” Davenport says understandingly. Lup can’t help but feel like she doesn’t deserve this kindness.

---

Lup is sitting on the deck again. It’s night, and the sky is clear. She wonders what would happen if she pitched herself off the cliff. That way, Taako wouldn’t have to be alone. But the selfish part of her likes being around the others. They’re mother-henning and hovering in a way she and Taako never got to experience. She feels like if they had a more normal upbringing, she wouldn’t feel this way, but they didn’t, and she loves this treatment. She hears footsteps and looks up to see Barry walking towards her with two cups of tea.

“Hey Lup,” he says. “I got you some tea.” She accepts the cup, blowing on it and taking a sip.

“This is good, Barry.”

“Thanks! I’ve started learning the different teas they have everywhere we go. There’s actually a stockpile of plants and teabags in my room.”

“That’s cool. You can move it out into the kitchen, if you want. Taako wouldn’t mind.”

“Yeah, I might just do that.” He falls silent, and Lup actually doesn’t mind. It’s a nice sort of silence, and she likes that she doesn’t feel pressured to speak.

---

Lup goes out to the deck to find Lucretia already there. She’s got an easel set up, and paints on the table beside her. Lup decides to go anyway.

“Hey, Lucretia. Whatcha workin’ on?”

“Painting the view,” Lucretia murmurs. As Lup gets closer, she can see the hints of the mouth of the cave framing what’s starting to look like the cliff and sky.

She ends up sticking around to watch Lucretia finish the painting. When Lucretia steps back to admire her work, Lup’s awestruck. She keeps looking up at the actual view and then down at the painting and up again. It’s nearly identical.

“Damn. You’ve really got a skill.” A blush settles on Lucretia’s cheeks and Lup smiles.

“I can show you my other paintings, if you’d like.”

“Yeah, I’d love to check them out.”

“I like to draw the view from the deck wherever we go,” Lucretia’s explaining as they walk to her quarters. “I draw the homes of the inhabitants too, but I just . . . think it’d be cool to remember the view the first time we touch down.” Barry collects tea and Lucretia collects memories. Lup wonders what she’s been collecting each cycle.

Lup’s surprised to see that Lucretia’s room isn’t perfectly neat; there’s little piles of things here and there. The drawings and journals though, have a clear home on her shelves. Sure enough, Lup finds paintings from each cycle so far.

“These are truly amazing, Lucretia.”

“Thank you,” Lucretia says shyly.

“I’m serious. Have you shown anyone else? Because I think that really is a neat idea, to have paintings of scenes from each cycle. I’m sure Davenport would love it.”

“Yeah I’ll . . . consider it,” Lucretia replies, and it’s genuine.

---

Lup’s at the forefront of the planning of Taako’s memorial/celebration/party; as his twin, she of course would know best what he’d want. Although it’s supposed to be a happy event, Lup can’t help but feel down in the days leading up to it. She’d always thought—however naive—that they’d die together. She knows he’s not dead dead, but it still feels awfully permanent.

The planning is mostly a matter of what to buy and make for the feast, and a tiny bit of what to say. It can’t be anything that would detract from what’s supposed to and will hopefully be a lively atmosphere. For the food, she’ll make his favourites. It’ll just be her cooking, because she’d feel weird inviting someone else into their space without him to approve. Davenport and Merle will go get wine, because of course they need wine for something remembering Taako; Lucretia will be on decorating duty; and Magnus and Barry will be on standby for anyone who needs help.

Everything is in place when the chosen date comes. The food’s cooking, there’s wine, the table’s set, and Lucretia’s painted a picture of Taako that he would definitely approve of. The picture goes in the empty seat on Lup’s right. The strangeness of it all is also something Taako would approve of.

When the food’s set on the table, everyone helps themselves. Davenport serves the wine. There’s a plate in front of Taako of a minimal amount of food. Lup feels weird not giving him anything, but she also doesn’t want too much food to go to waste. She lightly clinks the lip of her glass with her fork once everyone has wine and waits for it to fall silent.

“As you came from the earth, back to the earth you go. As your body has served you well, may it serve the earth well too. As the earth has given to you, may your body give back to it. You are the earth’s prettiest flower, the sky’s brightest star, the water’s most vibrant wave, and the fire’s hottest flame, and your time is not yet over.” Her voice steadily gets louder until it feels akin to giving a team a pep talk. Much like with a pep talk, there’s cheers and woots afterward as they clink their glasses together and take a sip. Davenport and Merle have really outdone themselves. She can’t wait for Taako to get back and try it.

---

As a team, the rest of the crew decide not to saddle Lup with too hard of tasks. She’s usually in the field, usually the magic muscle. She likes having a break, but she also likes that they give her simple tasks so she doesn’t feel completely useless.

“Hey Lup?” Barry asks. He opens the door and peeks his head in. “I was wondering if I could borrow you for a bit. I’m moving the tea like you said to the kitchen, and I need some help.” Lup almost snorts. She’s laying on the bed; does that look like someone who’s being productive? So she gets up and follows Barry.

Barry’s room is messier than Lucretia’s, but there’s still clearly defined piles of things. In the corner of the room is the small mound of tea things. She and Barry each carry as much as they can to the kitchen. There’s cabinets below the counter that Taako doesn’t—didn’t—like to use because they’re too low to the ground, so they use those.

“Thanks for your help, Lup,” Barry says gratefully.

“Yeah, no problem.”

---

“Hey Lup?” Lucretia asks. They’re both on the deck, Lucretia with a journal and pen. They sit there together a lot now.

“What’s up ‘Cretia?”

“I . . . do this thing where I go down and ask people to tell me their stories. I try to get as many as I can so I can remember as many of them as I can when we leave. I—would you wanna maybe go with me? We all know I’m not the best at speaking.” Lucretia’s looking at her honestly and, well, how could Lup say no to Lucretia?

“Sure. I’d love to.”

They end up gathering the stories of countless citizens, as well as getting to know the stories of each other’s lives pre-IPRE.

---

Their room and bed’s too big, too cold, too empty, without Taako there. She finds herself in various places on the ship more often than in the room. It means she also finds herself falling asleep and taking naps at random times of the day. The crew doesn’t seem to mind; they start keeping blankets in every location, just in case.

Magnus and Barry are the best to nap on; they’re soft and cushy. Lucretia isn’t as soft, but she likes cuddling and Lup does too, so it’s a win-win. Davenport and Merle are too short, but that means they rest her head on their laps, and that just feels like the most dad thing ever. They’ll all indulge her; she’s never heard anyone complain, and her hearing’s stellar.

---

Lucretia becomes ‘Cretia becomes Creesh. Lup loves that she’s getting closer to her teammates, but hates that it’s at the cost of Taako. Taako, who is totally right about Barry and Lucretia being totally up her alley. She wishes he were here so they could talk, even if it means telling him he’s right and having him be insufferable afterwards. She doesn’t mind his insufferable. Never did.

---

The cycle ending and them resetting is such a big relief that Lup doesn’t even care about the hangover. All she cares about is the fact that Taako’s in front of her, Taako’s clutching her hands. She pulls him in for a tight hug, already crying. Taako hugs her back just as tightly, and is the first to break the hug.

“What’d I tell you? Widdle sis energy,” he says, pinching her cheeks. “You could barely survive a year without me!” He pulls her right back into a hug, though.

“Sorry,” she whispers in his ear.

“Hey, hey, it’s all good, Lulu. I’m still here, still the same me. And it feels like no time passed at all!”

“It felt like forever on this end.”

“Well whaddyou know! Forever has an end!” She laugh-sobs at his stupid quip and he laughs fondly, mussing her hair.

“I missed you so fucking much.”

“I’m here now. No more me to miss, Lulu.”

---

They land in a forest. They don’t venture out right away, instead getting time to acclimate themselves. For Lup, that means sticking to Taako like glue, same as usual.

“Tell me what I missed,” Taako asks one day. What he missed ends up filling a lot of cooking sessions and boring times.

“Well first off, I just wanna say . . . you’re right.”

“Yes, I always am. Go on.”

“Barry and Creesh are right up my alley,” she whispers, leaning in close.

“Get out!” Taako hits her shoulder lightly. “How’d you come to this conclusion? Did shit happen? Spill!”

“I will if you stop interrupting. And it’s not like any one thing happened; it was a buncha little things. Like, okay, Barry’s real good at like . . . being there. I dunno how to explain it. He’ll bring you tea and just sit there, and the silence isn’t even uncomfortable. Like, I didn’t feel pressured to fill it. Creesh and I spent a lot of time just sitting on the deck together. She’d bring something to draw or write, and I’d just sit there watching her if she was drawing or painting.

“I didn’t really feel like being in our room last cycle, so I wasn’t meditating or sleeping much, and I’d fall asleep a lot. Actually, there’d usually be a member of the crew next to me. Barry and Magnus are really comfy, Creesh is real cuddly, and Davenport and Merle would put my head in their lap all dad-like.”

“He really is Dadenport, isn’t he?”

“He really is.”

“But don’t think I forgot everything else you said. Lup! You cozied up to Barry and Lucretia! You just got right in there!”

“Not on purpose! . . . Well not at first, anyway.” Taako cackles and she fights a smile. “Take what you can get, am I right? They’re offering to cuddle. You could try it, T. Magnus absolutely loves cuddling too.”

“Yeah,” Taako muses. “I could say because I died, I’m craving that skin contact.” Lup tenses at the mention of that, but if Taako notices, he doesn’t show it. She feels like she’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He might not’ve had much of a reaction when they first reset, but surely he’ll be mad now that he’s been around longer. How can he be murdered and not mind? But she’ll take advantage of things now that they’re still close.

---

Lup loves sleeping with Taako the way they have since they were little, loves how full their room feels when he’s there. She doesn’t fall asleep on people anymore.

She also can’t let Taako out of her sight, afraid that he’ll disappear if she does. Even if she were tired, she’d fall asleep on Taako over anyone else. She’s always keeping in contact with him somehow these days.

---

A little over a month in, it’s time to start going on missions again. Which means deciding who’ll go.

“I’ll go. I’m the muscle,” Magnus says. He’s almost always gone on missions.

“Yeah, I’ll go too. Biologist and cleric,” Merle says.

“I can go too. Best cook on this damn plane,” Taako says. Lup looks at him.

“T . . .”

“We all have the Stones of Farspeech. I’ll call you every night. I’ll be fine, Lulu. And I mean, you won’t be there to kill me, so . . .”

That’s not supposed to hurt her; she knows that. They’re twins, and they joke; she knows that too. But she hates the idea that she poses a danger to the person most important to her, the person that is her heart. She forces a smile.

“Okay.”

Putting a hand to her cheek, Taako says, voice softer, “I’m serious. I’ll be talking your fucking ear off all night. You’ll start getting annoyed soon enough, and then I’ll be back before you know it.” She nods and pulls him in for a hug.

That night, she can’t fucking stop thinking about what he said. He and Magnus and Merle are leaving tomorrow morning so Taako’s in bed with her, and she knows she should be taking advantage of their last night before he leaves, but she can’t. She just barely got him back and she’s never stopped thinking about how she killed him.

“Mmm Lu, shut your fucking brain off and go to sleep,” Taako mumbles. “You’re gonna worry me which means I’m not gonna sleep enough, which means I’ll be going on the mission all pissy and you don’t want that for Magnus and Merle, do you?”

“No,” she whispers back. She rolls off her back and onto her side, facing Taako. He rubs his eyes and he’s looking more alert now.

“What’s up? What’s goin’ on in that brain of yours?” He taps the side of her head and she sighs and takes that hand in her own, squeezing it. He squeezes back.

“I’m sorry about killing you T. I can’t fucking stop thinking about it and I know it’s been a year, but I still feel bad. I felt guilty, and I just felt . . . bad, overall.” She’s tearing up now.

“Whoa, hey, what brought this on? I thought we went over the fact that it’s okay, that I don’t fault youuuu wait, it was my jackass comment, wasn’t it? Aww, Lu, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. If I’d’a known you were still fucked up about it, I wouldn’t have said that. I love you with all my heart and I’d love nothing more than to have you by my side ‘til the end of time. Even if you were a danger to me, which you’re not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you as a danger. To be honest, I thought it was kinda funny, when I tumbled over the edge. Like, who the fuck else would die like that but one of us?”

“It’s not funny,” Lup responds angrily. “I killed you. You were gone for a year. It fucking sucked.” Taako lets go of her hand to pull her close.

 

“Okay, okay,” Taako says soothingly. “It’s not funny. It’s also not your fault and I love you. Try to get some sleep, okay?” She nods and wipes away her tears.

---

She wakes up early the next morning and heads to the kitchen. Magnus is already there, though from the looks of it, had arrived not too long ago; his coffee’s still brewing.

“Morning,” she says, getting eggs and a pan.

“Morning,” he echoes. They go about quietly getting ready for the day before Magnus speaks again. “Try not to worry about Taako. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect him. Merle too, but Merle’s not your brother. I know you’re still nervous because you just got him back, but we all look out for each other, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Lup says, smiling. “Thank you Magnus. That means a lot.”

“Of course.”

Taako comes in soon after, going to her side, and she hipchecks him.

“Someone’s up early,” she says.

“Yeah, because someone left the bed and now it’s all cold.”

“Aww, poor baby.” And then quieter so that only Taako can hear, Lup says, “What are you gonna do on your mission? Sleep with big and cuddly over there?” A little blush settles on his cheeks and Lup smirks.

“You’ll just hafta wait and see, my dude,” he responds.

The others slowly filter in as more food gets placed on the table and help themselves. When the twins deem it enough food, they also start grabbing some themselves. It’s a fairly silent breakfast which isn’t unusual, but it feels heavier to Lup, who’s trying to picture more of her life without her brother. That also feels different this time, after his death.

Eventually, it’s time to say bye to everyone. Taako, Magnus, and Merle are standing with their bags by the ramp.

“Everyone has their Stones of Farspeech?” Davenport asks. They all hold theirs up and he nods. Lup hugs Taako.

“I don’t wanna ever let you go,” Lup mumbles into his hair.

“The sooner you let go, the sooner we can get going, and the sooner we get going, the sooner I’ll come back to you,” Taako says gently. She grumbles but lets go. “Love you, Lu.”

“Love you, T.”

---

“Hey Lup,” she hears from her Stone. She’s been cradling it for a while now, since night has fallen.

“Hey!”

“I’ve made it through the day alive, natch. How’ve you been, sis? Not too busy worrying, I hope.”

“Me, worry? About what? Ask Creesh and she’ll tell you I’ve not worried a lick at all!”

“Creesh, huh? You’ve been spending a lot of time with her?”

Yes and you already know that, dingus. And how about you? You gonna cozy up to Magnus? Or maybe Merle?”

“Ugh no! I’m not into old people. No offense to him of course, but eugh. Don’t ever say that again Lulu. And no I will not tonight. I’m a big boy. Anyways, their homes here are fucking amazing, Lu! There’s so many complicated treehouses, some of them connected. Wish you were here to see it; you’d defo love them.”

“I’ll get to see them, just maybe not with you. Creesh and I are gonna go interview some people soon. She likes writing down people’s stories so there’s something to remember them by.”

“Oh that’s rad! I’ll hafta ask her if I can get some of those stories sometime.”

“Yeah I’m sure she’d love to share!”

---

She and Creesh start their interviews/story-collecting again the next day. She’s grateful, because she’d felt so restless and amped up that she could’ve exploded.

The houses really are breath-taking. She kinda wishes she and Taako’d had that growing up. The stories they tell too. They might be mundane to the people living there, but to Lup, they are just . . . otherworldly, fittingly.

---

All these adjustments are starting to get annoying. Lup’d just gotten used to Taako and then he’d gone out. Tonight’s problem is sleeping. Well, every night’s problem (and it’s only been five days how is she gonna last a whole month). She’s getting tired of being tired. Staying in bed feels worse though, so she goes out to the deck or kitchen at night. Sometimes Barry’s up too, sometimes Creesh, and they’ll both keep her company. Rarer so is Davenport, but he does occasionally offer up pearls of wisdom. One night she’s dozing off on Creesh when Creesh speaks up.

“Do you wanna go back to your room?”

“Nah. ‘S lonely without Taako. Can’t sleep.”

“Oh,” Creesh replies. “Do . . . you wanna come to mine? Bed’s big enough.”

“Sure.” Lup’s already falling back to sleep on Creesh’s shoulder.

“Whoa, don’t sleep now. Yeah, let’s go to mine.”

It turns out Creesh is also a big cuddler in sleep. Lup wakes up tangled in Creesh to find she’s pleasantly rested. And it’s not awkward.

After that, she starts going to Creesh, and she’s able to sleep again.

---

The sleeping together means they’re less afraid to be touchy with each other. Lup’s surprised that a, they didn’t do this last cycle, and b, she’s almost as touchy with Creesh as she is with Taako. She doesn’t usually do that. It spreads too. She’s not afraid to be touchy with Barry either. Sometimes when she and Creesh are on the couch and Barry walks by, Lup’ll coax Barry to sit on her other side. It’s really nice, being in a Creesh-and-Barry sandwich.

---

When Taako, Magnus, and Merle come back, they have another big feast. The three of them also have stories to tell. They know who has the Light and where it is. They know how to get it. It’s just a matter of who will.

That night, she goes back to her and Taako’s room. They get ready for bed together and it’s really nice. Comforting. Familiar.

“You were right,” Taako says.

“Yes. I always am. Go on,” she says, echoing what Taako had said when she’d said that to him.

“Maggie’s all cuddly and comfy.”

“Oh? Maggie huh?”

“I couldn’t fucking sleep. He offered y’know, like the big softie he is, to sleep with me. Said yes. And we ended up getting closer. We’d all three talk; things happen when those are your only companions, things like nicknames.” There’s a blush on his cheek.

“Merle got a nickname then?”

“Oh don’t worry homie, he got a whole fucking title: Plant Fucker. Don’t ask.” A shudder runs down Taako’s spine and Lup throws her head back, laughing.

“Okay then. Well, lemme tell you something. Creesh and I were sleeping with each other in her room when you were gone. She’s also big on cuddling. Did you know that? Well she was, and we also got closer and maybe Barry too. Maybe I would end up on the couch between them often.” Taako wolf whistles and she shoves him.

“Look at my baby sister go! She’s gettin’ the girl and the guy!”

“What can I say?” Lup tosses her hair and they both cackle.

---

“Lucy, Lulu said something about you guys getting stories of the people that live on this world?” Taako asks one night after dinner. It really is far too quiet even though they’re all together, and liveliness is much rather preferred to combat their often lonely reality. Hopefully they’ll all get closer, because who knows how long they’ll be doing this?

“What? Oh, yes. I um, like to ask people about their lives and write them down so we have stories to remember them by.”

“Creesh that’s awesome! I’d love to hear these stories if you’re willing to share them!” Magnus enthuses. The others respond in much the same manner.

“Sure. Lemme just go get my journals then.”

It becomes a nightly routine for Lucretia to read after dinner. She slowly works her way through all the stories, going from the most recent ones to the earliest ones. And when she’s done, she’s worked up the nerve to share some of her original work and it’s warmly received.

After that, after-dinner sort of becomes a talent show bonding event, though Davenport and Merle only spectate. Magnus shows off his strength, Barry his spells and discoveries, and Taako and Lup their spells and cooking. It kind of feels like they’re all a family and Davenport and Merle are proud dads. It kind of feels like the kind of loving environment Taako and Lup have never really had besides with their aunt. It kind of feels like home.