The white noise machine whistled soothingly in the corner of the dark bedroom as the door slowly opened. Kravitz snored lightly, sleeping peacefully on his back. Taako was starfished half across the bed and half across Kravitz. A figure crept through the room and Taako was awoken unceremoniously from his sleep as a hand covered his mouth and another pinched his nose. He gasped, but the hand remained across his mouth. Lup was kneeling by his side of the bed and she put a finger up to her mouth.
“What’re you--” Taako started to whisper, but she gestured more forcefully. He sighed and nodded. Lup motioned for him to follow her and she headed for the door. Taako rolled over and started to sit up, but then stopped. Lup motioned again as if to say,
Taako gestured back.
‘You go ahead, I’ll catch up.’
‘No, come on!’
“I’m not wearing any clothes, you heathen !” Taako whisper-yelled, holding the duvet up to his chest as if to protect his virtue. Lup rolled her eyes but headed out into the hall.
Taako picked up the outfit that had been discarded from the evening before, or at least what he could find of it in the bedroom. Kravitz still slept on as Taako shut the bedroom door quietly behind him.
Lup held out the shirt that had been left in the hall with a smug grin.
“Fun night?” she asked.
Taako buttoned up a few buttons, following Lup back out into his living room. “It was, till a nosy sister woke me--wait, how did you even get in here? There’s no way Krav left the door unlocked.”
Lup dropped onto the loveseat and rested her feet on the coffee table, examining her nails too casually. “You need a better lock. It was way too easy to pick.”
Now it was Taako’s turn to roll his eyes. He walked over to sit next to her, pushing her feet off the table at the same time. “Get your feet off my furniture, Munch. Krav waited for months for this table.”
He flopped down on the couch next to her, rubbing his eyes. They were too old to be getting up in the middle of the night like this. But looking at Lup, he wouldn’t have been able to guess. She was bouncing, like a current was running through her. Though she was definitely trying to hide it.
“So what’s this about?” he asked around a yawn.
“What’s what about?” she asked back. He glanced over at the VCR/DVD player and rolled his head back on the couch.
“Lup, it’s three fuckin’ thirty in the morning. Please just tell me, or let me sleep.”
“Okay. Okayokayokay.” She smacked her knees and sat up. “Okay. So… I… damn, how do I ask this…”
Taako groaned. “Three. Thirty.”
“Right, sorry. So I need a favor. A pretty big one.”
Taako lifted his head slightly and narrowed his eyes. “What kind of a pretty big favor?”
Lup bit her lips for a second, then took the plunge. “I need you to come with me, do what I say, and not ask questions. Oh, and also not tell anyone.”
Taako sat up and leaned close. “...you didn’t kill anyone, right?”
“No! No. Not this time.”
“Oh, good.” Taako looked at his sister for a moment. She definitely had something up her sleeve. But it didn’t seem to be her usual tricksy attitude. He shrugged. “Fine, I guess. When’s this Navy Seal operation going down?”
“Right fucking now. Get your coat.” Lup hopped up and jogged to the front door. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and flipped it open with a flick of her wrist. “Barry, bring the car around.”
Taako shut the coat closet door, having pulled out Kravitz’ favorite sweatshirt. “Barold’s coming?”
Lup scoffed. “I told him to go hide. He was getting nervous about the lock picking.”
“Gee, I wonder why.” Taako slipped on his flip-flops and shut the front door behind him, taking care to make sure it was locked.
Barry’s very sensible tan sedan of a car pulled up next to the curb and Lup literally jumped into the front seat.
“Drive!” she yelled as Taako got in. And Barry actually pulled away from the curb before the door was shut, much less Taako’s seat belt on.
“Hey!” Taako said, pulling the door shut.
“Sorry, Taako.” Barry glanced in the rearview mirror apologetically but kept driving. Faerun downtown turned into a more residential district.
“Where are we going?”
“Uh, I believe I said no questions,” Lup said, turning to look at Taako.
Taako sighed. “Fine.”
“We’re almost there,” Barry offered as he turned down another street. This street was very familiar, even in relative darkness. They passed by the Burnsides’ house, the front yard littered with tricycles and a half-finished home improvement project. And then Barry pulled into the parking lot of The Adventure Zone. The lone light in the parking lot was surrounded by a small cloud of bugs.
He killed the engine and the trio sat in silence for a minute.
“Okay, I think we’re good. Go go go!” Lup whispered. She and Barry hopped out of the car. They pulled a few bags out of the trunk as Taako slowly got out.
The twack of his flip-flops seemed to echo through the quiet neighborhood with every step.
Lup turned to look back at him. “You couldn’t have picked quieter footwear?”
Taako shrugged. “I didn’t know this was a stealth op, homie.”
They got to the front door of the rink and Lup handed off her bag to Barry. She knelt down by the lock and wiggled a small pin in it. Taako looked in alarm to Barry, who was resolutely scoping the street.
“So this is what we’re doing? Breaking into The Adventure Zone?” he asked, semi-quietly. Lup shushed him. “You know that Merle was in the army right? Or navy? I’m pretty sure he has a gun. Like 95% sure of gun.”
“It’s fine,” Lup said, still picking the lock. Taako turned to Barry.
“ You ’re good with this, Barry? You.” Barry half-smiled and shrugged. “The man won’t go swimming after he’s eaten, but sure, he’ll break into a place of business.”
“Got it.” Lup stood up triumphantly and held open the door. Taako glared at her as he walked inside the dark rink.
“Somehow the old nacho smell is even stronger at night,” he said, dryly. Lup took one of the bags from Barry and smiled at him.
“Okay, I’ll go get ready and you guys set up,” she said, sounding genuinely excited. Though his face was in shadow, Taako could see a similar expression on Barry’s face.
Lup jogged off towards the locker rooms, leaving Barry and Taako. Barry started walking over towards the banked track. He dropped the duffle on the ground and unzipped it, pulling out a large extension cord.
“You think you can find an outlet?” he asked, holding out the neatly wrapped bundle. Taako looked between Barry and the cord a few times.
“Okay, Barold. Level with me. What is happening??”
Barry smiled sheepishly. “Don’t worry, you’ll see soon.”
Taako scoffed and took the cord from him. “Lup’s a bad influence on you.”
“Actually… this was my idea.”
Taako stared at him for a solid minute, sputtering. “Wha--but--you think ketchup is spicy! It was your idea to break in here???”
Barry shrugged. Taako eyed him warily but then went off to do as Barry asked. It took him probably a solid ten minutes to find an outlet anywhere near the track. By the time he brought the end of the plugged-in cord to Barry, there was a whole lot of something arranged around the inner edge of the track.
“Let’s hope this works,” Barry muttered, taking the cord from Taako. “Oh, can you get the CD from Lup?”
Taako headed over to the locker room and poked a head in. “Lup? Barry said you had a CD?”
She was in the middle of some sort of hair-do. She gestured with her chin to the CD on the counter next to her. Taako grabbed it.
“Norah Jones? Really?”
“Track five, you butthead,” she said around a mouth full of bobby pins. Taako scoffed but headed back to the rink. His mouth dropped open as he walked closer. Whatever Barry had planned had obviously worked.
Every Candlenights light string they owned and then some were all strung together and arranged around the inner circle of the track, casting soft light in the large space. The benches had been moved away and Barry was in the process of lighting candles of all different sizes that formed a sort of makeshift aisle.
“Are you--” Taako sputtered a few times. Barry looked up, trying to feign innocence. Taako gasped and pointed an accusatory finger at him. “You’re wearing your best jeans! This is--holy--you’re getting MaRRied?? ”
Barry’s eyes went wide and he ran towards Taako, gesturing for him to be quiet. He looked over Taako’s shoulder at the locker room beyond and when no one came out Barry relaxed.
“Okay, you got us. Yes.” Barry put his hands in his pockets. “And I know we don’t have a lot of time before you were supposed to figure it out, but could you act surprised anyway? For Lup?”
“ Act surprised? Barold, I AM surprised. And-and shocked! And appalled that you would have your wedding in this dirty old roller rink. If you had told me, I could have at least found you a nice park or something-- AND I’m wearing FLIP FLOPS to my sister’s wedding. Oh, this is a disaster.” Taako put his head in hands as Barry chuckled.
“She said you’d say something like that if you figured it out. If it makes you feel better, it’s not a legal wedding.” Barry put a hand on Taako’s shoulder. “We’d been talking about this for years now, whether we should wait till we could do the whole kit and caboodle. Was that even what we really wanted? And we finally realized that all we really wanted was each other.” Barry smiled softly.
Taako looked around at the decently romantic set up they’d managed to make. “But… you’re not going to invite the team? Are you going to even tell them?”
“We’ll tell them soon. Hell, we may even have a party eventually. But it was important to us, and to Lup, that this just be about us. And that you were here for it.”
Taako looked at Barry, his soon to be brother, and he understood. He nodded. “...thanks for inviting me.”
“Thanks for being here.” Barry squeezed Taako’s shoulder. “Lup, honey? He figured it out.”
“Damn, we were so close,” Lup’s voice came from the locker room. “Y’all almost ready?”
Taako looked to Barry who took a deep breath. But then he smiled and nodded.
“Ready when you are,” Taako yelled back. He put the CD in the boombox and queued up the track. Barry took his place at the top of the aisle, he kept fidgeting his hands like he didn’t know what to do with them. Taako started the languid song and the door to the locker room opened.
Taako took a moment to appreciate the look on Barry’s face. It was like he was seeing the sun for the first time. Then he looked over his shoulder to see Lup. She was even wearing the wedding dress the team had gotten for Julia, although how she’d gotten her hands on that Taako had no clue. She beamed at Barry as she walked into the flickering light of the track.
As she passed by Taako, she leaned over and kissed his cheek. She went and stood across from Barry; he immediately pulled her into a long hug as the song continued. Taako found himself holding back tears, and he was doing a poor job of it.
The pair of them smiled at each other for a while. Then Barry dropped her hands and pulled out a folded piece of paper from the pocket on his shirt. He cleared his throat.
“Lup. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not very good with words or speeches. And it took me a really long time to figure out how to tell you how much you mean to me. Because you mean the whole world, the moon, the stars, this whole plane of existence, to me. You have made my life amazing. And I never want to be apart from you. I promise to spend every day of the rest of my life making you as happy as you have made me, making you feel as loved as you have made me. I love you, Lup. Now and forever.”
He looked up from his piece of paper and Lup nodded quickly. He squeezed her hands in his and smiled at her.
There was a pause as Lup tried to figure out how to hold her bouquet and her own paper with her vows. Barry took the bouquet from her and she smiled. She took a shaky breath.
“Barry,” she started, her voice thick. A fat tear rolled down her cheek. “ Dammit. ” He chuckled a little and pulled out a hanky to dab away the tear. She watched him for a moment, then dropped her vows and put a hand over his on her cheek. “You’re the love of my life. I never thought that I’d be so lucky as to ever meet someone who’s half the man you are. You’re my fairytale come true. I love your mind, your voice first thing in the morning.” She smiled broadly. “I love your jeans and the way you blush when I kiss you. I love how you push me to be a better person.” She took another shaky breath. “You’re my home, Barry. And I’m so happy that I get to be yours.”
She wrapped her arms about his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
The sleeve of Kravitz’ jacket ended up quite damp as Taako just kept thinking about how far they’d come. How there had been a time when he would have laughed if you’d told him he’d be at his sister’s wedding. How there was a time when he would have laughed if you’d told him that he’d know his sister ever again. Yet here they were.
Lup rested her forehead on Barry’s, a smile spreading across both of their faces. Taako tried to stifle a sniffle and failed. She looked over at her brother.
“Are you crying?” she asked, laughing a little with tears on her own cheeks.
“Shut up, you’re crying. It’s beautiful,” he said, wiping some snot on his sleeve. Barry chuckled.
“Come here, you sap,” Lup said, grabbing her brother and her husband into a group hug.
And they were happy.