Julia ships it. Hurley and Sloane throw back some beer. Taako scores a date.
Julia’s smirking when the DnD club meets that evening, which is Taako’s first clue.
“What’s your beloved smirking about?” he whispers, elbowing Magnus in the shoulder. Magnus shrugs, too busy staring besottedly at Julia to formulate an actual response. God. Taako places a hand on Magnus’s cheek and shoves. He can’t afford to have Maggie’s sappy shit dripping all over him.
“All right, so,” says Julia, in her best I’m-the-DM-listen-to-me voice, which, honestly, works very well. Everyone shuts up, including Sloane and Hurley, who were chatting in the corner. They’re engaged in a battle of wits against Julia, trying to shove one of their crazy plots center stage, but so far Julia has foiled them every time. Taako’s pretty sure it’s going to end with their characters falling spectacularly in love. Art imitates life and all that. “We’re getting a new guest player today.”
“Who is it?” Angus asks with his adorable tiny pipes at the same time Taako groans, “Fuckin’ a, you’re not letting Lucas back in, are you?”
“Be nice,” says Merle, from the back of the room.
“Fuck you,” says Taako, and flips him off.
“Fuck no,” says Julia, and opens the Player’s Handbook. “Okay, so, here’s the scene: Hurley and Sloane, you two are in a tavern south of Broadsbrook - ”
“Hey, hold up, who’s the guest player?” Taako asks.
“You’ll see when they get here,” Julia says, and oh gods, there’s that smirk again. “I’ll set a different scene when they arrive.”
“C’mon, Jules, just tell me - ”
“Mags, make her spill.”
“Nope,” says Magnus, with the exact same inflection.
Julia beams at him. He blows her a kiss. “You’re two feet away,” Taako points out irritably.
Magnus leans all the way over the table, sticking his butt in Taako’s face, to kiss her. “Oh my god gross gross gross, get this egregious display away from me - Merle, make them stop.”
“You’ve got Magnus’s butt within whackin’ range, take care of it yourself, kid.”
Magnus sits back down very quickly.
Taako finger-guns at him. Then, clearing her throat, Julia picks up narration. For ten minutes, they plod through a couple battles in a tavern south of Broadsbrook. Hurley’s playing a halfling - a joke she made about her own diminutive stature - and Sloane’s playing basically a fantasy Elven version of Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Way, except with a bonus tendency to beat the shit out of anyone who comments on Hurley’s height.
The brawl ends with the four gerblins sprawled across the floor of the inn and Hurley and Sloane toasting each other atop a table. They roll to link arms and drink from their own mugs, the kind of stunt you see idiots do in movies. Sloane gets a fifteen. Hurley crit fails. Hurley’s drink ends up all over Sloane.
Then the door opens, and closes, and a smooth voice says “Hello.”
Taako looks up, and feels his cheeks flame red.