Alfor Altea, despite his meek outer appearance of being a man with gentle blue eyes and a soft voice to match it, was nothing less than cutthroat in the business world.
As the co-founder and one of the active CEOs of Voltron Technology, he had to have the ideal characteristics of a natural born leader; tough, determined, and intolerant of any bullshit. He was one of the youngest CEOs to run a billion-dollar company to date, and he didn't get there by being soft. It was imperative that his rivals feared him, his investors trusted him, and his employees followed him.
Just because he was considered cutthroat in conference rooms does not mean that he wasn’t a humble man. He respected his employees and considered each and every one of them a valuable part of his team.
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what’s expected.”’ His late grandfather’s words churn in the back of his head as he makes his way through the grand lobby of his building. He had always made sure that he heard with an open mind each and every one of their suggestions regardless of how small they may be.
Alfor made his way to the luxurious elevators. He stood at an impressive height as he pressed the elevator button and waited for the car to arrive. He gave a small nod of a greeting to the security guard as he waited for his morning espresso to kick in. In his tired state, he missed the small snicker the security guard made before he swiveled in his chair back around towards his desk to hide his face.
Alfor was never a morning person.
He never got used to it even after these last few years of waking up at 5:45am daily to start his work. And he probably never will. He was in the middle of letting out a well-deserved yawn, only for it to be cut short when tiny hands painfully jerked on his facial hair.
“Papa!” the four-year-old in his strong arms yelled. “Stay still so I can finish!” The toddler continued to pull and twist at the sensitive white hairs on his chin and neck. He wasn’t able to fully see what she had been up to because of the close proximity to his body she was propped up on, but he could tell from the look in her eyes that she was on a crash course to fuck him up.
“Of course, Junibee, my mistake,” he winced out an apology as she continued to manhandle him any way she saw fit with her tiny fingers that lack the fine motor skills to actually do anything immaculate.
At that moment, here in the lobby of his billion dollar company, her hand’s sole purpose was to tangle and mesh. Tangle and mesh beyond repair. He knew that Head and Shoulders wasn’t going to be enough. No, not this time.
Enter Allura. She was the co-CEO’s sole heir as well as his pride and joy. His central source of happiness. His personal, toddler-sized alarm clock because the good Lord above knows that she wakes up every morning at the ass crack of dawn ready to take on the day with the intensity of any given machine in a candy factory that runs purely on spite.
She was almost a spitting image of him. She had wide, crystal blue eyes that twinkled with constant sass and mischief and she possessed long curly, white hair that defied the laws of gravity as it spiraled out in random directions before falling past her shoulders.
Her physical features were all inherited from him, but that fiery personality? That was all her mother’s.
He missed Lobelia immensely. She had fallen ill shortly after Allura’s birth and didn’t live long enough to see Allura’s first birthday. Even with her gone, he could see his wife in their daughter every day. In even the simplest of things, such as the way she cocks her head to the side when she’s confused, or how when she shakes her tiny fist when she’s frustrated. He even sees his wife in her now as she bosses him around with the hands of a fucking lumberjack.
His precious, beautiful, aggressive, Junibee.
Chubby hands suddenly grabbed him by his cheeks snapping out him out of his thoughts.
His precious, beautiful, aggressive, rude Junibee.
“I need ribbons,” she whispered seriously. “You did remember to bring the ribbons, didn’t you? Her blue eyes narrowed. "Papa, answer me.” She questioned his competence as if though those ribbons held the Pentagon's top secrets.
He shifted her in his arms slightly before carefully setting her down on the ground. Alfor swung the teeny tiny pink and orange glitter backpack over his shoulder so it rested on the ground in front of him. He saw tiny pieces of glitter dwindling around them onto the floor and he was more than sure that his black, expertly tailored suit was bedazzled to hell.
“Of course,” he started as he searched the tiny backpack with his large hands. “What kind of father would I be if I didn’t remember to bring the ribbons?”
He honestly forgot the ribbons that morning and made up an excuse to go back into the house to retrieve them, but he’d be damned if Allura actually knew that. He would take this secret to his grave.
He fished out three ribbons of different colors and patterns and held them to her eye level so that she could choose. “Which one would you like, Junibee?”
Allura grabbed the green one with a lace trim with her left hand and the blue one with spots in her right hand. She then held it up to Alfor’s beard. Her head cocked to side -Ah, there she goes again- as she seriously thought about which one would complement her Papa best.
“Having the usual morning fashion crisis, Altea?” A deep voice with a hint of playfulness interrupted Allura’s crucial decision making.
Both looked up to see a tall, well built, olive toned man with a smirk on his face. The man had deep-set amber eyes that held a hidden darkness. He was a good head taller than Alfor and almost twice the size because of pure muscle. He wore a deep blue suit that fit snug over his heavy built body and a black suitcase gripped tightly in his large hand. To say he looked incredibly intimidating was an understatement.
“Zarkie!” Allura shouted, completely shattering his manly image, as she ran at him with her arms spread as wide as she could to embrace him.
Before she could get too close, a large hand landed firmly on top of her curly white hair as it stopped her dead in her tracks. Her small arms still reaching desperately towards him to make any sort of glitter infested contact.
“Not today, kiddo,” Zarkon said as he continued to hold back the way too eager child. “I have an important meeting this morning and I can’t show up looking like I spent the night with Tinkerbell.” Zarkon laughed at his own words as he ignored Alfor’s annoyed look at the adult joke that flew over his only child’s innocent head.
“Could you not say things like that in front of my incredibly observant child?” It was true, Allura was extremely observant and could absorb loose information like a sponge. She had learned her first cuss word at three and learned how to properly use it in a sentence by sundown the same day.
Alfor had not only made sure to watch his language around her but made sure his entire corporation followed his strict guidelines about foul language. He remembered the day he sent out an email to all of his employees after she dropped her first F-Bomb loudly in the middle of the park when tripped and fell on the gravel. When he asked her where she heard such language, she then continued to rat out his entire organization. Doesn’t she know that snitches get stitches? Apparently not, because she threw everyone under the bus that she was driving.
From: Alfor Altea, Co-founder, and CEO of Voltron Tech
To: Valued Employees
Subject Line: Don’t Cuss Around My Fucking Child.
It included all of the words forbidden to be said around Allura and included a helpful chart of alternative ones, including, “Gadzooks”, “Sheet” and his personal favorite, “Good Gravy”. The consequences would depend on the severity of said learned word. It also warned them to look twice before cussing out loud because Allura was sneaky.
She was really sneaky.
She practically grew up in the huge building she now called her Castle. She knew her way around this giant building like the back of her hand. And at only four. What a feat. He could admit that he was indeed proud. It had also set his fears at ease to know that she would never truly be lost in the grand halls of the building. It was her Castle after all.
He also remembered the response he received back from Zarkon within minutes of sending it.
From: Zarkon Galra, Co-founder, and CEO of Voltron Tech
Subject Line: I Read Your PSA and I Realized Something
You got me fucked up. We both know that your girl is going to grow up with a mouth that could rival a sailor that retired to become a truck driver in the southern states. My colorful vocabulary will not stop that.
PS: Remember that we have lunch with Arus Industries today at 11:30. Change your tie because it’s fucking hideous.
Alfor knew it was true. Both about he knew that his daughter would grow up to talk like a drug cartel leader and his tie.
His tie was ugly that day.
It looked good on the rack when he’d bought it. The lighting was so deceiving in that store. They knew what they were doing to their loyal customers; playing them for fools to later be called out with personal emails.
He knew it was a long shot to get his best friend to censor himself around his Junibee, but he knew that Zarkon would never go too far with his language. However, He never knew about the email Zarkon sent out the same day.
From: Your Emperor
Subject Line: Watch Your Fucking Mouth
Anybody caught using filthy language around my godchild will have to answer to me. That is all.
Also, be aware that the company picnic is next Saturday. There will be food to eat and games to win. Win. Second place is just a first place loser. Bring your A Game, Team. Go Wildcats.
Alfor comes back to the present, far away from his ugly tie days. He reached out to pick up the abandoned ribbons from the ground.
“What meeting are you referring to?” Alfor asked Zarkon. He had no time to check his agenda for the morning because of the slight detour of going back to the house to pick up you-know-what, giving him no time to mentally prepare himself for the day.
“I have an interview with a transfer from Osaka,” Zarkon started debriefing his business partner. “She is the top of her branch at Marmora Corp and I want her for my team. I need her for my team, Alfor. Her resume is out of this world, meaning that it’s crucial that she joins Galra.” He checked his phone for new emails as he continued to hold back Allura.
She was still going strong. A Trooper.
Even though the company as a whole is Voltron Tech, the two CEOs had two very distinct thoughts on leadership on how to run a team. Alfor saw it as an opportunity for open minds to come together to let their creativity flow, creating new ideas out of the combination of different ideas. Zarkon saw it more like a chain of command. True, he did believe that teamwork was crucial; however, he thought productivity would be better if there was a central voice of command to create unity - unlike Alfor’s free range, free-thinking hippie chickens. Their opposing ideas led them to separate Voltron into two branches: Altea and Galra.
It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions they’ve ever made.
Where one branch lacked one a crucial element, the other picked up effortlessly. Altea’s strong suit was coming out with new ideas rapidly but lacked on ways to produce it at a cost-friendly rate. That’s when the Galra Branch would come in with a solution that benefited both the company and the consumer. Galra was astounding with the financial aspects of the company but severely lacked with creative, style designs of products and the Altea Branch would take over.
Once a week, the two branches would come together for a board meeting where each CEO would have their best minds come together to propose new ideas and solutions. Separate, the two branches were strong, but when they came together, they were impenetrable. They were Voltron.
Alfor listened to him closely as he zipped up the tiny sparkly backpack. “Osaka, huh?” He looped his arm into the sling and swung it over his shoulder. “That’s quite the distance. Is she moving here just for the new job opportunity?”
He bent down to scoop Allura back up into his arms before she threw a royal fit of not being able to have physical contact with her godfather. Her attitude changed immediately when Alfor offered her the ribbons he had tucked under his arm. She then continued to play with the abused hairs on his face trying in vain to intertwine the colorful pieces of fabric into his beard.
Zarkon was still scrolling through his emails when he answered. “No, her husband is in the American Air Force. She wanted to move closer to him because she wants her son to have both parents a stable part of his life. Her son is about Allura’s age, if not a tad bit older.” He finally looked up to see Allura’s fully concreted face trying to braid her father’s beard.
“What’s her name?” Alfor asked, suddenly curious about the possible new hire.
“Aiko Shirogane,” Zarkon answered while tucking his phone away in his suit’s breast pocket. “I told her she can bring the little guy to the daycare if she didn’t already have a sitter. She seemed pretty elated that we had a free daycare on site. Great idea, by the way. I think that already swayed her into joining my team.”
Alfor couldn’t take all the credit for the daycare idea. Allura had been a huge factor in the thought.
When one of his top employees kept coming in late, he had asked him about it when it began to take a toll on his patience. The employee had explained that every morning, he takes his daughter to a daycare clear across town in the middle of rush hour. The commute in this city was atrocious at the wrong time of the day. Alfor had questioned why he didn’t just take the girl to one of the many daycares around this area. “We simply can’t afford it. These are all incredibly expensive daycares, sir,” the employee explained to him slightly embarrassed having to admit that he couldn’t afford child care services.
Allura, being the sneaky child she was, overheard the conversation and suggested that Voltron should open a daycare. That way, he and the other parents don’t have to drive so far and they wouldn’t be too late to work if the child actually came to work with them. It actually wasn’t a bad idea. It would save all of the parents in the company so much time and money. Plus, he would love to be closer to his daughter and even take some of his lunch breaks with her. Alfor could easily get the credentials to open one on site. There were a few rooms on the fourth floor that could have their walls knocked down to create a room on big enough for a dozen or so toddlers.
He changed that employee’s clock in time for the time being so he could get his daughter to daycare every morning. Within a month, Tiny Voltz opened for business. It was free of charge for any parent that needed a daycare if they chose to use it. The new staff he and Zarkon hired was incredibly friendly and highly qualified for the job. Allura, to say the least, absolutely loved it. She now had a place where she can play with other children her age every day. He hadn’t realized that she was such a social butterfly before then. He supposed that it was good for her too, to keep her busy and from roaming the halls of the building.
Most of the time.
She still snuck out anytime she pleased. He’d never forget the look of fear the daycare employee gave him as she had to tell him that she couldn’t find his daughter. “Oh yeah, she-she does that. She’ll show up eventually.” He reassured her while rubbing the back of his neck. The look of confusion on the poor girl’s face was one for the cameras.
“Quiznak, how long does this frackin elevator take?” Zarkon was beginning to get frustrated because he realized how long he’d been standing there, holding back aggressive children and checking emails.
“You did read the PSA…” Alfor gave him a teasing sideways smile while keeping his head faced forward so Allura can continue to impress only herself.
“Can’t have my little truck driver here make a bad influence on the potential new hire’s kid, now can we?” Zarkon said in a voice that was higher in octave towards Allura rubbing his large hand over her already frazzled white hair. Then he lowered his voice deeper, “Don’t ruin this for me, Kiddo, or else.” He lightly threatened.
Allura turned her head slowly, her fingers coming to a slight halt. “You don’t scare me.” Throwing him a glare then continuing to manipulate maul her current project.
Zarkon's raised an eyebrow. “That glare is going to ruin lives, Alfor. You hear me?” he was slightly shook that a four-year-old could muster that much animosity with just a look effortlessly.
The elevator car finally arrived and they all stepped in. Alfor shifted Allura to one arm while he pressed the button for the 4th floor which the daycare was on and also pressed the button for the 11th floor for Zarkon’s stop.
The elevator stopped on the 4th floor and Alfor moved to step out. He turned to him, “Good luck with the interview, Zark. I trust your judgment on this one.”
Alfor turned to step out, but not quick enough because Allura was able to mash her whole hand all over the keypad, effectively highlighting all of the buttons. Zarkon was doomed to ride the rest of the way with a stop on each floor.
“You should have given me a hug, Zarkie,” Allura yelled over her Papa’s shoulder as he carried her out.
Son of a fucking bitch.
“I censored myself for you, you little sh-!” The elevator doors cut him off before they went up one floor. Alfor laughed as he could hear Zarkon yelling in frustration from the floor above them.
“That wasn’t nice, was it Junibee?”
“Probably not,” Allura answered with not a single drop of regret on her face.
That’s my girl.
Alfor made his way to the brightly colored doors that led to the main lobby of Tiny Voltz. Opening the door, he was greeted by the friendly employee, Amy. He thanked her when she relieved him of the tiny backpack and placed into one of the many cubbies.
None of the other children had gotten there yet. She was usually the first anyway because of how early Alfor usually arrived to work. He was sure she’d be alright until the other kids filtered in over the next hour. He glanced down at Allura. “You almost finished, Junibee?” He smiled when she stuck her tongue out in concentration, adding the last touches to her monstrosity masterpiece.
“Done!” His face must have been tiny hand magnets because he once again found his cheeks with her glitter jazz hands on them. “You are now beautiful. You are now a pretty Prince King.”
“A ‘Pretty Prince King’? he raised a white eyebrow. “You mean a pretty Prince or a pretty King? Because Junibee, you can’t be bo-“ she put her entire hand on his mouth to silence him. Glitter mustache too? Fuck me.
“Yes, you can….if you believe.” She once again did that whisper shit that slightly scared him.
“You’re absolutely right. I need to believe more.” He was not about to explain the hierarchy of a monarch to a four-year-old.
He removed her whole fucking hand from his face and set his sunshine on the ground then crouched down at her eye level. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. “I’ll see you later, Junibee. If I get out too late, I will send Coran down here to get you, okay?” He knew she hated when he worked too late. It made them both cranky. Maybe the thought of Coran, Allura’s favorite employee, could soothe her temper.
“Coran!” Her attitude slightly perking up. “Okay Papa, I love you.” She stepped up to him to give him a hug goodbye, burying her face in the crook of his neck.
“I love you more, Junibee,” he said back lovingly. He stood up to his full height and turned to leave.
“Goodbye, my sweet pretty prince king.” She loudly whispered in the creepiest way possible. Amy gave her a weird look, obviously psyched out by the awkward exchange.
Allura, what the fuck?
“Be good, Allura!” he called before he’d have to answer to Amy’s judgmental eyes. He stepped into the elevator and pressed his floor. He silently hopes that Zarkon was still on his way up, one floor at a time.
When he was in the elevator before, Allura’s body completely obscured his view of his reflection in the shiny doors. But now, with nothing but his shame and misfortune, he could fully take in his appearance. His white beard was twisted up, poking out in all different directions with flashes of color running through them made by the ribbons. Not to mention there was just glitter. Everywhere. Not only on his face but all over his suit and shoes as well.
He checked his watch. He still had time before the rest of his team arrived to fix himself up to avoid the embarrassing revelations. He knew deep down that glitter doesn’t come out. But he could believe, he just had to believe.