Habits can get so ingrained under the skin that you don’t even notice them anymore. They become less about actions and more about summation. They are what makes up a person, not what a person does. The resets got like that. They dug into Magnus, holding him captive as The Light of Creation pulled him through time and space, bound like a bug on the windshield of a fantasy car. Dying and waking became less of a habit and more of a reflex, and then just became who Magnus was. It was an integral part of his life.
Sometimes Magnus still thinks that things are going to reset. It’s not a conscious thought, and it’s not something he encourages or even shares with the others. It colors his actions sometimes, though.
He thinks maybe Merle knows. He thinks maybe Merle reaching out for that gem was a muscle memory of that. Knowing that he’d get a new arm eventually, even if Junior wasn’t letting him know why he knew, or that he knew. Maybe that’s why Magnus was so quick to cut it off. He hadn’t considered the consequences. He’d have another in a year.
They’ve lived here, on this plane, for longer than they’d lived on any other. Still, the main sum of his life is that century. He’s used to getting scarred up, used to comparing cool tattoos with Taako and Lup, only for them to dematerialize and reappear, fresh as the day they left. Nothing to show for it. He’s more used to that than he is this. Living day to day.
Losing what he’s lost should affect him, he knows that. What really affects him is how much he remains unaffected. The world moves around him, and he knows that they’re not getting another reset after this. So why can’t he stop acting like it will? Habit. Reflex. Action. The sum of who Magnus is. This bites at the core of him.
Magnus loses a leg on an adventure one day, a stupid dungeon crawl, and Taako tells him that he was lucky Merle was feeling competent enough to get it all fixed up, reattached, bada bing bada boom, eh Maggo? Magnus had laughed, and caught himself from saying. ‘I’d have just regrown it next cycle.’ There is no next cycle.
It’s not just physical loss that Magnus has to deal with. It’s the loss of unbridled enthusiasm. Before he’d been able to wholeheartedly throw himself into absolutely any task and know that even if he died he’d still wake up after what felt like a night’s sleep, retaining all knowledge. That’s not on the table anymore, and he misses it.
He misses not feeling his age, either. The new body after Wonderland had been in perfect shape, just like it was before that nightmare, and he hears Merle grumble about that a time or two. He’s slowly been aging though, and after remembering what it had felt like to not do that for so long, he suddenly understands elves a lot better. The aches and pains of growing old suck.
Magnus does like that year after year he celebrates holidays with the same people, people that were never on the Starblaster. He doesn’t know exactly how to word it, but he tries. Lucretia calls him a big doofus, and Angus gives him a watery hug. He figures he made his point alright.
It’s hilarious, really, that it’s old age that takes him in the end, considering how foolhardy he had been about living his life like he had hundreds more lined up to follow. Still, he can’t help but wonder, even there at the end, if he’s going to wake up on the ship again. He can’t say anymore that he even wants to. Will death shed the habits that had become so ingrained Magnus can’t separate them from himself? He hopes so. He really hopes so. He thinks that the thing he really wants most of all is to see Julia again. He'd change his habits for that.