Barry yelped and scrambled to stand up in the hot sand. Lup emerged from behind a rock, covering a snicker with one hand and clutching a bottle of wine with the other.
He let out a relieved sigh. “Oh, jeeze, Lup. You scared me. Thought you were Magnus.”
“Nope.” She flashed him a crooked grin and took a swig straight from the bottle. “Do have a surprise for you, though.”
“Is it… Wine?”
“Course not,” she snorted. “That would be kind of a shitty surprise. This is the good stuff, though. Stole it from Dav’s office. You want some? Brought it to share!”
She held out the bottle, shaking it slightly in her hand. He took it without a second thought and chugged as much as he could. Whatever Lup was planning, he was probably going to need it.
“Okay. Come on.” She grabbed his wrist and tugged him along the beach.
“You, uh… Want any more wine?”
She shook her head. “Already got a good buzz going. Rest is yours if you want it.”
And they kept walking.
Barry was starting to wonder if the ‘surprise’ was a walking tour of the entire planet. Not that he minded. Lup’s fingers still had a tight grip of his wrist, and he’d had enough wine to make himself a little tipsy. He felt light and carefree and happy.
Finally, Lup let go of him and scrambled up a tall rock. She disappeared from view, and he frowned. “Hey, Lup? I’m not good at this whole climbing thing. Could you—”
Her head popped out from the top of the boulder. Her curls, wild from so much time spent in the water, hung around her face as she flashed him a grin. “Yeah. Here you go, Bluejeans.”
She reached a hand down, and he clasped it in his own. It hovered right at eye-level. And Barry realized it would be so, so easy to kiss it.
So, with the wine urging him on, he did. He pressed his lips softly against her sun-kissed skin. She was so warm, and—
The full force of what he’d done hit him, and he dropped her hand. He turned his chin up to her in shock, an apology on the tip of his tongue.
But Lup was flashing him a crooked, goofy grin. And maybe the red in her cheeks was from the wine, but maybe she was blushing. “You coming?”
“Y-Yeah. Yeah, sorry.” He dropped the empty bottle into the sand and grabbed her hand again, this time using it to hoist himself up on top of the rock.
“Okay. Almost there. I promise.” She lowered herself off the other side and dropped down, once again out of sight.
Barry followed her easily this time. His bare feet hit solid ground.
And when he looked up, he realized they were in a cave. The walls arched high above them, sparkling with granite and drops of water. Ocean filled all but the little border of stone they stood on. Gentle waves pushed against the shore over and over, echoing louder and louder through the caverns.
“Holy shit,” Barry whispered.
“Right?” Lup wasn’t watching the waves. She was watching him, that goofy smile still on her face.
“Yeah.” Reality came back to him slowly, and he cleared his throat. “So, is this for some science experiment you wanna do? Or…?”
“No,” Lup chuckled, her voice quiet enough that her words almost washed away in the waves. “Just thought you’d like to see it.”