Rich and I are generally on the same wave length and we don't keep secrets from each other. So when His Majesty sent me a message on Facebook a few months ago that Rich was due for an award, we had to find a plausible event to attend where he could get it. Defending the Gate seemed like a reasonable day because he normally likes to go to that event anyways to fight. And then my mom got her knees replaced so we didn't want to leave Ian all day with my dad solo if we didn't have to. I had feigned enthusiasm in fighting rapier at the event to explain why I would go, but then refused to attend any fighter practices in the last two months because I can't hear out of one ear. And then the weather forecast became more foreboding. It was getting harder and harder to sell this event to my husband.
Yesterday, he was all, "The weather looks rainy. We might want to check again tonight and re-evaluate?" Travis agreed but I played dumb. Then Rich said, "It looks like rain Saturday. Are you sure you want to go?" and I pretended that my weather app was only calling for showers after 4pm. Then later that night Travis messaged, "So I am seeing a 70-80% chance of rain pretty much all day tomorrow." and I quickly replied, "Oh, but it's not supposed to be cold and we already promised Heidi a ride so that she can see someone get a peerage so I don't want to bail on her. We'll just bring a spare set of clothes."
I'm a pretty optimistic person, but I was really laying it on thick.
We then drove all morning through heavy rain to get to a muddy site where it was actively raining. Rich was worried as soon as we parked that our van was going to get stuck in the mud. Our son was running all over the place and managed to get soaked within 15 minutes of exiting the vehicle. Rich was wanting to know my fighting schedule so that we could be fair about who fights when, but I didn't really have much desire to slip around in the mud. We then had to have a big talk where I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I had just changed my mind at the last minute about fighting and was totally fine with spending the day in the pouring rain watching our son so that he could fight with Travis and his friends. He looked dubious, as if this is all an elaborate trap, but acquiesced.
We made it through all the fighting. Ian was on his second set of clothes and we only had one more dry set left. We were literally pouring cups of water out of his rubber boots and we had retreated to the van to warm up. Rich dropped off his armor and the rain was still coming down hard. The car next to us needed help getting out of the parking lot. I arrived as Rich has already removed his fighting tabard after the neighboring car had striped him in mud. He was down to his fighting undertunic and leg armor. He, Travis, and Jim tried to find safe places to push the car that were not directly in line with her tires. We all reminded her to go slowly and not gun the engine. And in the process of extracting her car, Rich was covered in mud a second time.
Ian was in our van staying relatively warm and dry. Rich, however, was now staring at me with somewhat crazy eyes, covered in mud. There was mud splattered all over his pants, shirt, neck, face. It was inside his right ear. "I ... would like to go home. I am cold and wet and covered in mud." And I just looked at him. We were so close. He has to stay. I also really wanted to wipe the mud out of his ear, but I knew that if I touched him in this state he would spin on his heels and walk into the woods to punch trees because he wouldn't want to lay a hand on me. His eyes were huge in the biggest example ever of the Rich Stryker patented, "I'm not angry, I'm just confused" face I have ever seen. I was frozen.
Meanwhile, our four year old son was hanging over the back of the last seat in our van reminding us that he needed to go poop and would like someone to take him to a potty.
I looked directly at Rich and told him, "I have done everything in my power to not tell you this, but you are needed in court today. I won't tell you why, but we have to stay." He stared at me, blinking slowly.
"I don't have any other clothes. I forgot my chain. I'm covered in mud and look like ass!"
Ian yelled out from the back of the van, "No you don't, Daddy!"
Thanks, bud. We used half a pack of baby wipes to clean him up. I pulled out the secret stash of clean garb I had for him (he hadn't planned on changing clothes since he was just going to fight and then go home). Ian reminded us that he still had to go potty. Travis scrubbed all the mud off of Rich's white belt. Otto loaned Rich his chain. And we went to court.
Their Majesties called Rich into court as the next to last piece of business. They called in the Order of the Golden Dolphin and praised him for his sacrifices for the sake of others. I brought in the medallion that Arn and Terri had driven three hours to deliver that morning on the pretense of dropping off apple pastries for the day shade. My husband smiled in appreciation.
We watched Alyna get her Pelican (much deservedly) as the last order of business and court was over. I walked over to my husband, looked him in the eye, kissed him and said, "Now we can go home."