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Strong Grip, Tiny Fingers

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"Um, Allura?" Lance entered the kitchen, eyes wide in what looked like the beginning of a panic attack. "I need your help. Like, really need it."

"What happened?" Allura asked absently, frowning over the steaming pot she's been tampering with for the past hour or so. It was about her twentieth attempt at making Ajiaco soup based on her mother-in-law's recipe, and she had sworn to get it right this time (without burning any part of the kitchen on the way).

Lance gestured with the small bundle of blankets he was cradling in his arms. "You need to save me from our child before my finger falls off," he said tightly.

Allura turned away from the pot with a puzzled expression. "Before you finger what?" she quickly closed the distance between her and Lance and looked down at her baby daughter, whose small, round face was the only part of her visible under all the blankets. She seemed to be sleeping soundly, safe and content in her father's arms. One tiny fist peeked out from beneath her chin, wrapped entirely around Lance's left finger.

"Awww," Allura cooed and brought her hands to her chest. "Look how she grabs your finger! This is too sweet, I must bring our camera – "

"Please don't!" Lance nearly screamed. Allura looked at him with raised eyebrows, and Lance continued, flushed, "I was feeding her when suddenly she did that – and at first I was like, oh, that's adorable, human babies do the exact same thing – but her grip was strong, I mean, really strong, you know? So I tried to shake her off, but apparently I can't, because she's just too damn strong and she wouldn't wake up and it hurts real bad so please, please help me."

Allura's jaw twitched and she nearly burst out in laughter, but Lance had actual tears in the corners of his eyes, so she swallowed hard, taking a deep breath to compose herself. "Alright," she said. "Hold still." She reached out and pried the small, brown fingers – skin tone just between Lance's light mocha and her own deep chocolate – off Lance's with little effort. The baby mumbled a few incoherent sounds but luckily did not wake up.

"Oh thank God," Lance sighed, blinking away tears of relief. "Here, take her. I need to make sure my nerves are still intact." He carefully passed the baby to Allura, then set about shaking his left hand and massaging the finger with his right hand. Allura grimaced at the purplish tinge of his left finger. He had truly asked for her help in time.

"Are all Altean babies this strong?" he asked desperately.

Allura tilted her head in thought. "Well, I do not have a lot of experience with them, but Coran always likes to tell how I almost ripped his moustache off whenever he was babysitting me, so I guess that makes sense."

Lance threw his hands in the air. "Unbelievable. I'm living with two women who are capable of incapacitating me if I so much as breath wrong at their direction. What have I gotten myself into."

"Well, if that is the case, you better behave yourself." Allura looked at her lap and tickled the baby's chin with her thumb. "Now, this is not a very nice thing to do to your daddy, is it, Melenor?"

Melenor yawned in reply, then blinked open a pair of sapphire-blue eyes, staring at her mother sleepily as if not understanding what all the fuss is about.

"There you are," Allura smiled, feeling her heart swell. She was pretty sure she'd never get over how perfect their baby was. She had her mother's jeweled eyes and pointy ears and her father's brown, smooth hair, and while she had yet to develop Altean markings on her cheeks, Allura had a feeling this will happen too in the future. Either way, Melenor was, without doubt, the best gift Allura could have ever asked for – even though she'd doubted she could ever handle a child until the very moment she was born.

And she was all hers. Hers and Lance's.

Lance, who has grown from an easy-going, flirtatious, teenage boy to the love of her life and the father of the wondrous creature she was currently holding.

Funny how life could go sometimes.

"She doesn't look particularly sorry about nearly giving me necrosis," Lance said flatly.

"Oh, relax already," Allura raised Melenor to lean on her shoulder and patted her back. "I'm sure she did not mean any harm. Am I right, my angel?"

Melenor cooed weakly, then burped out yellow-brown goo all over Allura's shirt.

Lance snorted. "Very angelic."

Allura huffed out a breath. "Well, this is unfortunate." She deposited Melenor on the baby seat they had in the kitchen and went to fetch some towels. "Trust me, she got this habit from you. Coran told me Altean babies don't burp."

Lance rolled his eyes. "Okay, I get it, you guys are perfect. You don't get brainfreeze, you don't burp, you have an iron grip at the age of two months… what can I say, I really am sorry for passing my inferior human genes to our daughter!"

Allura put the towels away and approached her husband. She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him on the cheek. "I love every single one of your human genes," she said and placed her palm on his chest. "Please make sure to pass as many of them as possible to our next children."

Lance's ears turned crimson. It was a wonder how she could still make him blush after all these years. "Even if they get my hideous ears?" he asked with a crooked smile.

"If that happens, we will make them grow their hair."

"Hey!"

Allura laughed and kissed him again. "Come on. I need to get back to my soup before I burn it again. Can you watch Melenor for a bit longer?"

Lance sighed in acceptance. "Fine. But if she catches my finger again…"

"Call me for rescue."

Lance kissed her head. "You're the best." He raised their daughter from the chair and started to blow raspberries into her belly. "Who's a little freak with a death grip that daddy loves so much? You are! You are!" he said in a high-pitched voice. Melenor shrieked in delight, waving her short arms in all directions, and Allura was so mesmerized by the sight she barely noticed the stove behind her, casting it a distracted glance only to see the water flow over the edge of the pot in an alarming pace.

"Oh dear!" she cried out and lowered the fire.

"Don't destroy the house," Lance called as he walked out of the kitchen.

"Don't get overpowered by an infant," Allura called back. She stirred the soup several times, the heat coming from it matching the warmth in her chest.

After more than ten thousand years in exile, she was finally home. And she had a family, the best, most precious family in the universe.

Honestly, she couldn't ask for more.