According to Rizavi, the Paladins needed a break. What with saving the world several times in one day, they’d more than earned one. Once they’d been discharged from the hospital, she invited the former cadets to join the MFE pilots for some after-hours socializing, i.e. drinking. After more than a year of tasting nothing but Nunvill, Pidge, Lance, Hunk and Keith gladly accepted.
The group gathered in Kinkade’s apartment which was on the far side of the Garrison, away from ground zero Black Lion crash. Liefsdottir brought out her stash of home distilled vodka. If they could grow potatoes on Mars, then they could do it in a war zone, she had explained.
Hunk had insisted on bringing pizza rolls. Pidge had left her computer at home. Keith had arranged the next day’s schedule so they didn’t have to show up anywhere before noon. The paladins were all set to get respectfully drunk and recount various space adventuress.
No such luck.
“I propose we get to know each other better,” said Rizavi, a wicked glint to her eyes. They were gathered in chairs and couches around a low table, Paladins on one side, MFE pilots on the other. “I’ll start. Never, have I ever,” she paused, “gotten a speeding ticket.”
“You always use that one,” grumbled Kinkade as he, Griffin and Leifsdottir dutifully took a shot each.
“Can’t help it if I’m too smart to get caught,” Rizavi replied.
The Paladins looked towards their leader for direction. Keith had a blank look that could come off as disapproving, but in actuality meant he was desperately trying to pick up some social cue he had missed. Pidge took pity on him, “It’s a drinking game,” she explained. “Everyone who’s gotten a speeding ticket has to drink.”
“That means you, Hunk,” said Lance.
The Yellow Paladin took a guilty sip and made a face as the alcohol hit. “It was just after I got my license,” he said, “I didn’t realize it was a construction zone.”
“You too, Kogane,” said Griffin. This may have been Rizavi’s idea, but it was easy to slip back into competition with his old classmate.
“Never happened,” said Keith to incredulous looks. A bit more sheepishly he added, “When you’re underage and the vehicle’s stolen, they don’t bother writing up a speeding ticket.”
“Space heroes’ turn,” said Rizavi.
“Should we be making Earth related statements?” asked Hunk, “because the things that happened to us in space, they’re majorly weird.”
“Weird like how?” asked Kinkade.
“Traveling to alternative universes, shrinking down to the size of chess piece, defending yourself against a possessed spaceship killer kitchen, or that time Cosmic Bob tested us by making us compete in a game show. I’m sure I’ve missed a few,” said Hunk. He either had the world’s best poker face, or he was telling the truth.
“How about you just keep to things that will embarrass your teammates,” said Rizavi.
“Ooh, I’ve got one,” said Lance, nearly falling over himself to get everyone’s attention. “Never, have I ever, passed through the digestive system of a giant space worm.”
“How does that not count as weird?” asked Leifsdottir as Keith and Hunk took a drink. Hunk noticed the drink went down easier if you took bigger gulps.
“Just be glad you didn’t invite Coran,” said Pidge.
“Okay, I think I’ve got this,” said Keith. Looking directly at Lance, he spoke, “Never, have I ever, performed in the Ice Capades.”
The three other paladins blushed and took a drink. “You saw that?” asked Lance.
“The Blades had a movie night, even Kolivan was there,” said Keith, “Loverboy Lance became a code word for a while.”
“Hey, at least we were wearing our Paladin armor,” protested Lance, “Not like you guys, running around in skin tight leotards.”
“For a while Keith was embedded in a clandestine Galra resistance group, the Blade of Marmora, going on stealth mission and blowing things up,” said Pidge as if this explained everything.
“Hey,” said Hunk as he tried to suppress a hiccup, “How about we pick one where I don’t end up drinking.” If things kept going like this, they’d need to call the space wolf to get him back to his room.
“Never, have I ever, been sucked out into the vacuum of space,” said Leifsdottir.
This one resulted in all four paladins taking a drink. Rizavi refilled Hunk’s glass. “I think Keith should have to take a drink for every time he’s been space vacuumed,” he grumbled, his s’s starting to slur.
“Don’t think we have enough booze,” said Pidge. “Okay, I have one that should be safe one for you Hunk.” She brought her fingers to her chin and bent her head so the lights reflected white off her glasses, causing the Paladins, including the now tipsy Hunk, to brace themselves. The MFE pilots who’d only known her quiet Pidge Gunderson persona were completely unprepared. “Never, have I ever, had sex with an alien.”
She looked over at Lance. He gulped and took a drink.
Hunk cheered up and slapped him on the back. “Way to go, Lance. I had no idea things were going so well with Allura!”
“No!” said Lance, “I mean, yes, things are going well, at least I think they are. But we haven’t- I mean, she’s a princess and we’ve been stuck in our lions and then in the hospital … When it happens, if it happens, it’s going to be somewhere peaceful and romantic and at least one wormhole jump away from my family, Coran and any space mice.”
“But you’re still admitting to sexual relations with an alien?” pressed Leifsdottir.
“Well, yeah,” Lance shrugged nonchalantly and even grinned slightly, “we were in space for over a year and we freed a lot of planets from the Galra. There were a lot of grateful aliens and, you know, stuff happens.”
“Totally,” agreed Rizavi, “stuff happens.” And she took a long, self-satisfied drink. She didn’t get much of a response from the Paladins, her teammates, however, went bug eyed.
“How in the world-” began Griffin.
“World’s a changing, James,” she said with bravado. “Nothing wrong with making the newcomers feel welcome. Don’t tell me you haven’t gotten any offers.”
Griffin cut her off before she could get started -- he did not need to be embarrassed by his subordinate in front of the Paladins, in front of Keith. “Glad you’re doing your part. So, the rest of you …”
“I’m 14,” said Pidge, “and Hunk’s on track for a slow-burn, sweet romance with a Balmeran-“
“Actually,” said Hunk, “Not so slow burning.” He took a drink and got a big sappy drink that was only partly alcohol induced.
“Whaaaat?” said Lance, giving the word three syllables. “When did this happen?”
“When I got discharged from the hospital last week. You know, I almost died and she’s travelled across the universe to nurse me back to health, so, yeah.” He giggled and took another drink.
Now eyes turned to Keith and his glass resting on the table. “Really?” said Rizavi, “These two get laid, no offense guys, and you, the fashionably-scarred, sword-wheeling, bad-assed leader have seen no horizontal action?”
“I didn’t say that,” said Keith, “Pidge said with an alien.”
“You mean … you and Sh-” Hunk was far gone enough to voice what the other Paladins were suppressing.
“No!” Keith cut him off, “with the Blade. It’s … well the members of the Blade could die any time and it’s not like we could leave the base, and um, spandex uniforms. You know,” he shot a competitive look at Lance, “stuff happens.”
“Question,” said Leifsdottir, “are there other humans working for this Blade of Marmora.”
You could hear a pin drop.
“Uh, no,” said Keith. Shiro had thought it best to keep his Galra heritage under the radar. But with Krolia around, it would have come out sooner or later.
“So, for both your statements to be true,” Leifsdottir continued, “the reason you can say you haven’t slept with an alien is because you are, yourself, part Galra. Correct?”
“Half, on his mom’s side,” said Hunk. “She’s your genius teammate? Cool.”
“Oh, it makes sense now,” said Kinkade. “That super tall hot Galra chick who keeps hanging out in your room looks just like you, she’s your sister?” Maybe he should follow Rizavi’s lead and make her feel welcome.
“Mom.” said Hunk. Kinkade made an awkward sound.
“Does Iverson know?” asked Rizavi, “cause if not, I’d pay money to watch him find out.”
“If you’re half Galra,” asked Leifsdottir, “why are you so short?”
Griffin was the one MFE pilot not joining in. He eyed his glass, eyed Keith, and took a slow, deliberate drink.