When Lup was young, she liked fairy tales. Taako too, and they agreed that the best ones were the stories that had a clever protagonist who outsmarted the villain through their wits, even though they were smaller or weaker. Those characters reminded her of her and her brother - if the people in the stories could make it, then so could Taako and Lup. When they ran out of stories to tell each other, they made up new ones.
Lup was more interested in the idea of the happy ending part, after everything. When she was little, she’d always thought that the the happily-ever-after part was too final; she wanted to think that there would be more adventures and that the story just didn’t have time to cover a whole lifetime of excitement and clever tricks. And Lup didn’t expect her life to settle into permanent complacency - there was still too much she wanted to do and see - but she thought she understood the appeal in a guaranteed sort of happiness. There was an unwritten contract, in every story, that when the hero won, their happiness is promised. It was an abstract concept, over-simplified and at best unlikely, but she wanted that promise of happiness.
The Hunger was no longer looming, everyone had lived (almost) and everyone was fine (pretty much). Lup had a new body that had been customized to specifications, Magnus, Fisher, and Junior had a full week of bonding time, Lucretia was… sort of working on repairing some serious damage in all of her relationships; it was going to take a while. Davenport was starting to get ahold of the stutter and teaching a few interested bureau employees how to operate the Starblaster. Merle introduced all of them to his kids. Barry smiled like some kind of damn (adorable) fool nearly all the time.
Everything was all set for the happy ending. Almost. Pretty much.
Except for a few loose ends, like the fact that Taako wouldn’t stop looking at her like that.
It was always when he thought she wouldn’t notice (and that was hilarious, that Taako really thought he was sneaky enough to get anything past her), usually from across the room. It was like he was waiting for her to suddenly not be there, or like he was surprised to see her there at all. It was a lost look, and it didn’t look right on Taako, who she’d always known as confident to the point of ridiculousness. Even in his weaker moments, when his confidence was not as certain, he’d never looked at her with doubt.
She really didn’t like that. Lup didn’t like the implication that Taako didn’t trust her to exist.
You can read the rest on AO3 here.