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Palliative

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Just moments ago, Lup had been in pain. She had felt herself fading, finally fading. And now she stood with Barry’s arms around her and Taako. Clearly, if Taako let Barry hug him, she’d missed something big.

She took a deep breath, amazed that she could fill her lungs without that burning sensation taking over. Cautiously, she raised her arms to hug Barry back. When that didn’t hurt, she finally let herself relax.

She was okay. It was over.

Taako tensed beside her. Barry let them go and instead cupped Lup’s face in both of his hands. She could see his eyes scanning her features, as if trying to memorize them. Lup smiled gently and rested her own hand on his.

She saw Taako shift and turned to him just in time for him to envelop her in a tight embrace. Barry stepped back, giving them some space. “Hey, Koko,” Lup whispered.

"Alright gang," Davenport called back from his place behind the wheel, "We've got a lot to do to get settled in. Let's get to work. Lup, it's good to have you back."

"Good to be back, Captain." Lup grinned. Taako gave her one final squeeze before letting go, and she leaned over to place a gentle kiss on Barry’s cheek.

--

The rest of the day passed by in a busy haze. This world seemed to be inhabited; they could see lights glowing on the horizon and the shapes of domed buildings in the distance. Davenport set the ship down in a harvested field.

Taako spent the entire day arm-in-arm with Lup. And Lup understood, but by the time night rolled around she was more than ready to spend some time with Barry. She hadn’t had a moment alone with him since she came back. She hadn’t even been given the chance to kiss him.

“Sorry that took so long, babe. Had to tell Koko I’d chill with him tomorrow.” She quietly closed the door to their room, throwing Barry an apologetic look. “But I’m here now. How you holdin’ up? Ready to catch up on some smoochin’?” With a sigh, she flopped down onto the bed beside him.

Barry stayed silent, and Lup’s tired smile fell. He looked at her as if she were a ghost, his eyes wide. Lup pushed herself up. “Hey,” she whispered, “I’m right here.”

He pulled her wordlessly into a hug and took a shaky breath against her. Lup wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him the best she could. “You wanna talk?”
Barry nodded, straightening up a little. He touched her hair softly and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "Sorry." He cleared his throat. "It’s... It's been a really hard year, Lup. Really hard. I don't know what you think about what happened, or how much you remember, but… It wasn't good."

Lup straightened up with him, concern clear on her face. She remembered burning, her lungs and her body on fire. She remembered each movement shooting more pain through her body, and she remembered being unable to escape. She remembered death coming as a relief. "I... I remember how bad I was hurting Bar, but that's about it. I'm sure it wasn't great to see. Was that it? Or...?"

Barry’s face fell. He took her hands in his and stared at them, rubbing his thumbs over her skin methodically. “I kept stabilizing you with spare the dying and y-you, um… Kept screaming and things were bad, and you kept saying 'please.' And I killed you, Lup. I-I thought that's what you were telling me, and things were bad. And now… I don't know. If you don't remember, I don't know what that means."

At first, all Lup could give him was a soft "oh." She pulled his hand into her lap instead and traced circles along his palm, trying to keep both of them grounded. "Bar... It was the worst pain I've ever felt, and you know that's saying something. I definitely wanted it to end."

"I wish I could've saved you," he muttered. "I buried you and went back alone and… and Taako almost killed me and I probably would've been okay with it." He sighed, his shoulders sagging. "Things got a little easier as the year went on, but… Things weren't good, and just… Fuck, I missed you."

Lup's hand stalled. "Taako what?"

Barry looked up and touched her knee gently “It's really not a big deal, Lup, I promise."

"Bar, you say that about a lot of things that actually are a big deal." She caught his eye and raised an eyebrow. "What did he do?"

He stuttered for a moment before finally finding his words. "When I got back, he beat me up a bit and Magnus had to step in. And then for a few weeks he used dairy in his cooking so I couldn't eat with everyone. Which was honestly fine, after the first time I just ate alone because I was depressed anyways.” Then, as if it would lessen the blow, he quickly added, “And Davenport intervened, and we worked it out and were good friends again for the rest of the cycle."

Lup's mouth fell open. Her body shook with anger. "Oh, no fucking way that's gonna fly."

Barry's brows knit together and he took both of her hands in his again and squeezed them. "Lup, we were both hurting. We worked it out and talked about it and supported each other the rest of the cycle. It's okay, it's over now. Please."

"I don't care how much he was hurting, Barry!" She shook her head. "I shouldn't have to worry about my brother killing my boyfriend when I kick the bucket!"

"Lup, just… Wait until tomorrow to talk to him. Please. That was so long ago and we worked it out. Davenport helped us work it out."

Lup tried to calm down, for Barry's sake. But it hurt. It felt like her brother had gone behind her back and betrayed her. She was supposed to be able to rely on him like she always had. She thought he liked Barry. "I don't think I'm going to be able to calm down, Bar," she sighed, "This is a big deal."

Barry chewed on his bottom lip. "I know it seems like that. And… I mean, it is. But getting angry at him isn't going to fix it. It already happened and we moved on." He brought her hand up and pressed it against his face, leaning into it and turning to kiss her palm. "Please just wait until tomorrow. This cycle was so hard for both of us and… we're both tired and so happy to have you back."

It had only been a second for Lup, but it had been months for Taako and Barry. Life had gone on without her. Finally, she managed a whisper. "You promise you two are over it?"

Barry put his arms around her and pulled her into his lap. She leaned against his chest, wanting to be as close to him as she could. He nodded. "I promise. We talked it over and he started cooking things I could eat again. We even hung out a lot this last year. He let me help him cook, and he hung out with me down in the lab. We're friends."

Lup forced herself to relax into him. "Okay. Okay, fine. I'll wait until tomorrow. But I'm still talking to him about it, because I need to be able to trust him to fucking behave when I'm not here."

Barry squeezed her and kissed the side of her head. "That's fine. I just know how hard it was for both of us and I just… Go easy on him, okay?"

"I'll tell you what," Lup grumbled, "it'll be an actual conversation instead of me kicking his ass. Okay?"

"Deal." he ran his fingers through her hair, catching some of the curls. "I never want to stop looking at you," he added gently.

Lup hummed contentedly, twisting around to face him. “What about kissing me? Do you wanna do that?”

“Yeah,” Barry chuckled, “I do.” He leaned in and kissed her, gentle and slow.

And then he started to tremble against her.

Lup pulled away, concerned. “Hey.”

Barry’s eyes fluttered open, and he shook his head. “Sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to apologize for, Bar,” she whispered.

"Can we lay down? I want to hold you." he smiled, but it didn’t meet his eyes.

"Yeah. Whatever you need, babe." Lup's heart crumpled in her chest. She hated seeing Barry this upset.

He turned on his reading lamp before scooting down on the bed, and Lup nestled herself into his chest, facing him. “I know you probably wanted things to be a little more exciting in bed tonight. I just don't think I can right now." He wrapped his arms and legs around her. “I just… I just keep thinking about how you looked. How your eyes were open but you weren’t seeing me, and how your face was so twisted that you didn’t look like you. And I still hear your screams. I just…”

Lup pressed a finger to his lips. “It’s okay, babe. You’re fine.” She didn’t think she could handle talking about that right now. If anything, she’d been hoping for a distraction. This death had been particularly rough, and it had shaken her up more than she wanted to admit.

Barry needed her to be okay, and so she would be okay.

The laid in silence for a while. Lup hooked her arm around his waist and Barry rubbed her back. She tilted her chin up to kiss him, just a soft peck. Barry frowned after she pulled away. “Lup what’s wrong?”

"I'm just worried about you, babe," Lup sighed. She didn’t want to worry him, and so she wouldn’t give him any more than that. "That, and it's always a little disorienting coming back. You know?"

"Be honest with me, Lup. Please. It's been so long since I've seen you."

Her stomach sank. "I am being honest."

Barry searched her face for a moment. “I've had a lot of nightmares this last year. And just a hard time in general." He stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Really depressed for a lot of it. Some dissociation too, which is new."

Lup chewed her lip. "But it's over now." She said it for herself as much as she did for him. "I'm here."

He nodded. "I know, but... It still hurts. It's still gonna be awhile til the nightmares go away, probably.”

“I know.” She pulled him close to her again, taking in his smell. “I’ll do what I can to help. I’ll hold you while you sleep.”

Barry exhaled. "Dunno if I can sleep tonight. Last time I fell asleep next to you, I woke up to you dying." He laughed humorlessly and squeezed her tighter. "Was this one bad?" he asked quietly, "Compared to other times?"

Lup took a deep breath. "It was the worst," she said finally. "It was the worst pain I've ever felt."

Barry closed his eyes and shifted, his leg slipping over hers. "Do you think it's going to bother you?" When she hesitated, he added, “You can just say yes or no. We don't have to talk about it anymore."

Lup swallowed the lump in her throat. "Of course, it is."

He rubbed his thumb along the small of her back. "Will you promise tell me when it does?"

Lup hesitated. "I... Bar, right now I just need to make sure you're okay. Okay?"

"We have to both be okay, not just one of us." He pulled back to look at her with concern. "We have to be there for each other."

"Y-Yeah, but..." Lup shook her head. "You said we didn't have to talk about it."

Barry sighed, but nodded. "I did. You're right." She could hear his exhaustion. “Can we just hold each other like this? I’m tired, but I'm… A little scared, Lup. Of sleeping. And I want to keep feeling you breathe.”

"I'm scared, too, Bar," she whispered back. She wiggled a little closer to him, trying to take comfort in his warmth and his arms.

"Is the light on going to bother you?”

"No. It's fine." Usually, she would ask Barry to keep it dark. Even dim light could be too much with her darkvision. But tonight, she didn't plan on sleeping, so what did it matter?

"I love you, Lup.”

"I love you too, Bar," she hummed.

Lup held tightly onto Barry as he drifted off. Once he began to snore softly in her arms, she finally let herself release the tension she'd been holding. She curled into him, with her face in his chest, and let herself cry silently as he slept.

She stayed like this for a while before Barry jolted awake, terrified. "Lup?"

Lup steeled herself quickly, keeping her face hidden in his hair. "It's okay, Bar. I just moved a little bit. Didn't mean to wake you." She hoped his drowsiness would make her sound more convincing.

He shifted down until they were face-to-face. His chest rose and fell rapidly with tell-tale signs of panic.

"Deep breaths. It's okay." She smiled softly, slowing her own breathing.

He tried to copy her, but his breaths stayed shaky. He took her face in both of his hands. "I hope it's not like this for long." He started to laugh, but his face fell. No doubt he’d noticed the redness at the tip of her nose and eyes. "Were you crying?"

"Course not. Don't worry about it." She ran her fingers through his hair.

Barry pressed his forehead to hers and closed his eyes. "Do you trust me?" he asked sleepily.

"With my whole heart," Lup answered honestly. This wasn't a matter of trust. Lup just needed to work through this in a way that wouldn't hurt Barry any more. He’d been through so much already.

He kissed whatever part of her his mouth was closest to. He got just below her nose. "You were crying," he said. He sounded tired, but not accusing. He was just stating a fact. "S'alright." He adjusted himself to kiss her on the lips. "Can you try and sleep with me? Or are you staying up tonight?"

"Staying up. Maybe I'll try to meditate." She didn't want to think about the last time she fell asleep.

He nodded. "M'gonna try and sleep again. Here." he turned onto his back and opened his arms. "I can be a pillow. M'still pretty soft."

Lup didn't hesitate to curl up on his chest. "Go back to sleep, babe. I'll be right here."

Chapter Text

Lup had just pulled on her red robe when Barry bolted upright in bed. “Lup?”

She quickly closed the distance between them, resting a hand on his face and watching him relax. “Hey. I’m right here. Didn’t mean to freak you out. Just couldn’t stand laying down any longer, you know?”

“No, you’re okay. Just got scared when you weren’t there.” Barry managed a smile, holding her gaze for a long moment. “How you doing?”

Lup only shrugged. She hadn’t slept at all last night. Even meditating had proved impossible. Every brush of cloth against her skin jolted her awake, and every time Barry shifted she fell into a panic.

Barry answered with a sigh but didn’t push. "You look good. Where you going?"

She pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. "I owe Koko some Taako Time. Probably nothing exciting, because I know Dav'll give us something to do."

“That’s fine.” Barry pulled away to stretch his arms over his head. "I'm probably gonna go down with Magnus and Davenport and talk to people. Are you still going to talk to Taako about what happened?"

Lup frowned. She hadn’t forgotten about that, necessarily, but it hadn’t been at the front of her mind. “I gotta. We can’t have that happening again.”

“Be kind to him.” Barry leaned against her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and pressing a kiss to her jaw. “I know he tried to poison me, but be kind to him.”

And he punched you in the face,” Lup added, exasperated. “You’re too nice, Barry Bluejeans.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed with a chuckle. "I'm gonna get ready to go. I'll see you at dinner tonight, darling."

She kissed his cheek one last time. “See you later, handsome.”

--

Lup stopped in the bathroom and cast Disguise Self to hide the bags under her eyes. It wouldn’t help anything to have Taako worrying about her, too.

She waved to him as she stepped out on the deck. “Hey, Koko! Ready to meet some locals or whatever?”

Taako turned to her with a relieved smile, his red robe fanning out behind him. “Cap’n’port said we’re on field and forest duty, actually. Finding water and food and all that good shit.”

Lup wrinkled her nose, more to keep up appearances than anything else; mostly, she felt relieved they’d have some privacy to talk. “Damn. Why did he have to give us the boring job?”

"Magnus did it last time we were in a place with a city, and he was bitter about it for like three cycles.” Taako snorted, hooking his arm with his sister’s as they started to walk. "He thinks he's so charming. Told me he's a good asset to the initial ground party."

"Oh? And we're not? Has he seen us?" She rolled her eyes, grateful for the moment of normalcy.

"I mean, maybe I am. I'm charming as fuck. But you can come off a little wild, Lulu. Not the most hospitable."

"Oh really? Because the way I see things, I'm the charming one and you're the one that scares away strangers." They made their way towards the forest neighboring the ship before falling into a comfortable silence. Every now and then, one of them would point out something interesting to the other. But for the most part, they just enjoyed being back in each other’s company.

Assuming things went well in town, this would be a good cycle.

After a while, Lup cleared her throat. "Koko, I wanna talk about what happened while I was gone."

She noticed Taako’s ears twitch ever so slightly, saw him fight off a frown. “Sure. Shoot.”

“Barry didn't even wanna tell me about it,” Lup started. She knew Taako, better than she knew herself, and she could tell he’d already started to get angry at Barry for snitching. “I had to drag it out of him."

Taako let his arm slip out of hers and shuffled over to a plant. "You already know what happened, and my man didn't want to talk about it because it's taken care of. What's there to talk about?"

Lup didn’t move. If Taako needed his space, he could have it. "Because the fact that it still happened at all is a problem?"

Taako picked at a leaf and tore it, sniffing it before letting it fall to the ground. "I dunno what you want me to say, Lu. Shit kind of hit the fan there and maybe I didn't act to my full potential, but…" he shrugged.

She knew he was just playing it cool, that what happened had bothered him, but she still felt the frustration rising. "Koko, I'm serious. What if something like that happens again?"

Taako plucked a gooseberry-looking thing from a bush. "What? Like if your boy toy has to euthanize you again? I guess I'll just do some deep breathing and forget about it." He popped the berry in his mouth and chewed, then spit it out with a grimace.

Lup dug her nails into her palm. "Taako, I begged him to kill me."

He turned to look at her, his face carefully void of expression. "He could've saved you, and you left me for a year."

Lup straightened up. Flames sparked around her fists. "It was the worst pain I'd ever felt," she snapped, "Do you think I like dying on you? Do you think I don't feel guilty the second I come back? You've made it pretty fucking clear how much it affects you!"

Taako stared at her, regret shining through his neutrality. "I didn't mean for it to come out like that."

Lup gritted her teeth. "Believe it or not, Taako, not everything is about you."

"I guess I just forget sometimes." He seemed to mean it as a joke, but it fell flat.

"Yeah. Guess you do." Her voice had no humor in it, and she turned to leave. She was so fucking tired. This was too much. Everything was too much. "I'm gonna head back to the ship."

“We just got out here.” He sounded small. Scared. “Fuck. Listen, Lup, if you want to talk about it... We can talk about it. It just sucks."

"You're fucking right it sucks!" Lup spun on her heels to face her brother again. "It was the worst pain I've ever felt, Koko. Ever. And you and Barry should've had each other's backs. You know he wouldn't lay a finger on me unless he had no choice. So, I come back and I hear that my brother made his life hell because he was upset? That's bullshit and you know it!" She fought back tears. No way in hell she’d let herself cry.

He stared at her with something like fear for a long moment before nodding slow. “You’re right, Lup. You’re right.”

"If you ever do something like that again, I'll..." she shook her head. "I dunno. But I'm gonna be even more pissed."

He nodded, quicker this time. "You have a right to be pissed. For sure. I… this was my bad, okay? All of it. So, sorry about that. Barold and I talked it through, and the captain mediated, so... Like I said, we hung out a lot during this last year. Things are good now."

"I know." She spoke quietly now and wrapped her arms around herself. "Look, Koko... I'm still gonna head back. I'm just real tired. Didn't get much sleep last night."

“Sure, Lu. Whatever you need.” She could feel his disappointment, like a dagger in her heart. “Catch you later.”

“Cool.” She smiled emptily. “See you, bro.”

Chapter Text

A few weeks passed. To Lup’s relief, Barry seemed to be getting better. She still had to stir him from the occasional nightmare, or she’d shift in bed and he’d bolt awake, but each night the disturbances became less and less.

Lup, on the other hand, couldn’t say she’d been handling things that well. She was getting worse, actually, and she knew it. Any unsuspected touch to her shoulder made her jump, and any discomfort or pain she felt sent her spiraling. She'd barely slept, either, because each time she closed her eyes she remembered the agony from the cycle before.

Each morning, she slipped away from Barry and cast Disguise Self to hide the exhaustion etched into her face. She couldn’t have him worrying about her. Not when he was just starting to get better.

She stood in front of the mirror in their room and mumbled the incantation, watching the exhaustion fade away with a dull twinge of relief.

“Lup?”

She yelped and turned, forcing a smile on her face. Maybe he hadn’t seen. “Mornin’, babe. How’d you sleep?”

Barry sat in bed with his glasses on, frowning. “Why'd you do that?" Lup opened her mouth to object, but Barry shook his head. "And don't try to deny it. I saw you cast Disguise Self."

Lup bit her lip and didn’t reply.

"Lup, I'm serious." He held a hand out to her. "We have to talk."

Lup hesitated. "Babe, I really don't want to."

Barry sighed and swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing but not daring to get closer. "I don't think it's a choice this time," he said gently. "I've let you brush it off and avoid it for weeks, and things are getting worse. I love you, Lup. I notice these things."

Lup dropped her gaze from him to the ground and dropped the spell. Barry stayed silent for a moment as he took it all in: her sunken cheeks, the dark bags under her eyes, the dullness of her skin.

“Lup…” He whispered, “Come sit in bed, darling. We’ll take it slow.”

Lup forced her feet to move forward. She quietly sat at the edge of the mattress, keeping some distance between herself and Barry as he sat beside her, and turned her back slightly to him. And she knew it hurt him, when she refused to be touched like that, but she couldn’t help it. Guilt thudded in her chest, but she shoved it down.

Barry sighed. Lup waited for him to reprimand her, to say, “I told you to tell me when it was bothering you.” But when he finally spoke, all he said was, “When’s the last time you slept or meditated?”

"Like for more than a few minutes at a time?" She shrugged. "When that spike hit me."

Barry’s weight shifted on the mattress as he leaned forward and folded his hands together. "Have you talked to your brother at all? Or anyone?"

Lup took a deep breath to steady herself. Taako had tried to reach out to her, but she’d pushed him away. It wasn’t even the anger anymore, though that had been the cause initially. He knew her better than anyone, and he’d notice how bad off she was. "I told him that first day out that I didn't sleep well, but that's it. We haven’t been… great."

Barry held out his hand, palm up. “If you need something to fidget with,” he explained quietly, “Or if you want to hold it. Your call.”

She picked up his hand and rested it on her lap. After a moment, she started messing with his fingers absently.

"Is it about the pain, or the dying? Or something that happened after…?" He trailed off, the question hanging in the air.

"The pain," she whispered, "Dying was a relief, Bar."

He nodded. "I've noticed you've been jumpy. And... And now disguising yourself because you're not resting." Even though his voice stayed gentle, it felt like an accusation. "Lup, I need to know what you need. Whenever you're hurting. I can help however I can. But not unless you tell me how or even just… Tell me that you're hurting."

They’d had this conversation so, so many times. But something about this time felt different. More serious, maybe. More desperate.

She inhaled shakily. Then, “I’m hurting, Bar.”

His hand squeezed hers as he swallowed and nodded. "Let's figure out how we can make things better."

"Every time I start to fall asleep, I start to worry I'm gonna wake up in pain again.” She pushed out the words before she could stop herself. “I've tried meditating, but then I'll feel something brush up against me—like you or the sheets—and it freaks me out. Or I'll be in a weird position and something'll ache or fall asleep and I'll think it's starting all over again.” Those damn tears she'd been fighting off for weeks were back, but this time she couldn’t stop them from streaming down her cheeks.

"I... Lup, you can always wake me up. You can always wake me up, no matter what, and I can help you. You help me through nightmares. I can at least be there to try and comfort you." He answered quietly. "We could ask Merle for something to help you sleep, at least?"

Lup shook her head frantically as she fought off a wave of panic. "I don't want anything that's gonna stop me from waking up. I dunno what else he could do."

Barry’s shoulders slumped. "Lup, I've used what Merle has for sleep a million times when I've been anxious or whatever. It's not powerful enough to knock you on your ass, but helps you sleep. If you're not comfortable with it, it's fine. But we have to think of something.”

“I don’t want him butting his head where it doesn’t belong,” Lup mumbled.

“Okay.” Barry rubbed the back of his neck. "What if Taako or I cast sleep for a while? We could stay by you?"

Lup squeezed her eyes shut. "Not being able to escape was the worst part. Every time the pain started to fade, it would come back worse than before. And now I know that was you trying to save me, which just makes me feel worse."

She heard Barry take in a sharp breath. "I didn't know it was worse when I brought you back. I wouldn't have done it if I'd known."

"I know, and that's why I didn't want to tell you." Lup held tightly onto Barry's fingers. "It was like... The pain was finally starting to go away, and when you brought me back I just started feeling everything again. But I'd been so close to not feeling it any more that it was more unbearable every time."

"I'm sorry," he said softly. "I'm sorry things happened the way they did. But… It's over and we can figure it out now. You're here and safe, and I'm here and safe. Can I hold you? If you can't handle that right now, it's alright."

Lup responded by turning to him and wrapping her arms around his middle. She buried her face in his chest as her body shook with sobs. She hated being this vulnerable in front of anyone—including Barry or Taako. But she couldn't hold it in anymore.

Barry wrapped her in a tight embrace. "I'm here, Lup. I know things aren't okay right now for you or me, but… We're gonna figure it out even if all we know how to do is this."

She sniffled, and Barry carded his fingers through her soft curls. “Is there anything I can do?” He asked.

Lup shrugged into him. “I’m so tired, Bar. And it just keeps replaying in my head. I just don’t wanna think about it anymore.”

“Lup, you have to sleep. Actually sleep.” His voice stayed even and firm, letting Lup know she didn’t have the option to refuse. "Things are worse because you're so exhausted. I don't care how you want to do it, but you have to sleep. I can stay with you. I can stay awake and make sure you're alright. You can’t fall asleep in Taako’s room either?”

Lup took a few deep breaths as she tried to calm herself down. “Haven’t tried. He would've noticed I wasn't sleeping. And like I said, I’ve been avoiding him.”

“I think sleeping there might do you some good.” Barry rubbed her back soothingly. “I can go in and hang out and relax with you while Taako’s there, and just… Try to get you to sleep?”

“You guys have things to do,” Lup whispered, weakly and pointlessly.

“Taako takes days off all the time. And things are going really well this cycle. Dav won’t care if I take a day off. I was just gonna help Merle catalogue fruit or something, but Lucretia can always go.” He planted a gentle kiss on top of her head.

Lup hesitated before finally giving Barry a small nod. She pulled away and took his hand back in her own. “And then if Koko’s room doesn’t work, we can talk about getting something from Merle.”

Barry managed a small, relieved smile. "Can I go talk to your brother? Just to make sure he's okay with me hanging out in there? You get your stuff together room and we'll just go in now and nap."

Lup turned her gaze to their small window. It was morning, but the sun had only just risen. They’d probably be waking Taako up. Her hand tightened on Barry’s. She felt dumb, but she didn’t want him to leave her side, even for a moment.

“C’mon,” Barry added softly, “I can't carry you down the hall. It's been too early in the cycle for me to get buff. Grab some extra pillows and a blanket, some PJ's. We can go down together." He placed a careful hand on her cheek and wiped away a tear with his thumb.

Reluctantly, Lup pulled away from Barry. She kept her gaze trained on the ground as she stood. After picking a pair of shorts and a tank top off of the floor and pulling them on, she gathered up her pillows and blankets and held them out.

Barry took the bundle in one arm the best he could, reaching for her hand with the other. “Come on, dear. Let’s go get some rest.”