The fact that the paladins of Voltron were less than close was no surprise, especially considering, the unique circumstances that essentially forced this group of strangers to seek company in each other (like a space war).
That isn't to say, though, that the heroes never found camaraderie and companionship in each other.
Quite the opposite, in fact, as it seemed that the longer they spent fighting this unlikely war, the closer our dear paladins became. And no two in the Castle of Lions bonded the quickest or strongest (or bonded over the silliest stuff) like Lance and Allura did.
At any given free time, one could find the two of them lounging around the castleship, face masks slowly drying on their faces as they talk. It seemed almost as if they had been friends their whole lives; like they hadn't only known each other for the small time the paladins had been in space. It was like their friendship was destined.
And, although it didn’t quite begin so, this was a strong bond- the kind lifelong friends make. The kind that binds strangers like family, the kind that holds the promise of unconditional love and acceptance. This was a bond that, as it survived through numerous trials, became stronger with each passing day. And with bonds like this one, there were bound to be some traditions.
The day was a normal one (or as normal as a day can get on an alien castleship floating in deep space.) The paladins were, as the usual routine, left to their own devices after a morning of brief, but intense team exercises (in which, several fights occurred, not only between the resident rivals, Lance and Keith but also between Pidge and Shiro, who were arguing about a skirmish that happened earlier this morning, suspiciously involving food.) So, as Pidge and Shiro stalked in opposite directions after landing in the hangar, while Keith and Hunk agreed to grab some food in the kitchen, our Blue Paladin had the revelation that he could finally have some (in his opinion) much needed alone time. Or, that was his plan until he came upon Allura in the lounge, sitting on one of the couches staring at something in her hands.
"'Sup Allura?" Lance chirped happily, breaking the princess out of her reverie. "Oh, Lance. Hello. How was training?" Allura said, sounding quite taken-aback with Lance's abrupt entrance, and she quickly hugged the rectangle she was holding. If Lance noticed, he didn’t comment on it.
"Eh," Lance replied, shaking his hand in a swishing motion (which confused Allura, but she waved it off as an Earth gesture), before sitting next to Allura on the couch. "It was kinda intense because Pidge and Shiro were arguing, but at least I wasn't the one getting yelled at by an angry Space Dad." Allura tilted her head in confusion and rose one eyebrow: it was odd, the Green and Black paladins hardly had any discord. "Pidge and Shiro were arguing? Over what?"
Lance smiled and leaned back into the couch. "Heh, I know. I would've never thought those two would be fighting, like never ever. And over food!"
Allura's other eyebrow shot up at this. Lance's head flopped back onto the top of the couch as he threw his hands up in exasperation. "Allura, they were fighting over who ate the last of the breakfast goo." Then he repeated, far more dramatically, "The breakfast goo!!"
Allura shook her head at the boy's antics. "I wouldn't doubt it. I believe I saw Pidge one time rifling through the kitchen late at night. When I tried to turn the lights on, they hissed at me and ran out." At that, they both chuckled with the thought, although, Lance noticed Allura's laugh was a little more dry than normal.
"Yeah," Lance agreed, "Back at the Garrison, Pidge could get pretty obsessive over their food. Oh, man. One time, Iverson kept them so late after class one day that Pidge missed the entire lunch period. They got so mad that they hacked into his personal emails and signed him up for over 700 spam mail promos. Iverson was so pissed. But he never did figure out who did it.”
Allura, smiled wistfully, clearly deep in thought. She still had the odd rectangle pinned to her chest by her hands. She seemed to be reminiscing over what Lance now recognized as a picture frame.
After a few moments of silence, Lance spoke up. “Whatcha’ got there?” he said trying to maintain casualty. Allura smiled woefully and held the picture frame in front of her, as she stared at it. "Allura?" He asked, sounding far more worried this time.
He leaned over to look at it. The frame was a smooth black metal, that had a purplish sheen when it caught the light. The picture in the center showed a family; a beautiful Altean woman and man, both with ivory hair, dark complexion, and colorful triangles underneath their eyes and on the man’s shoulders there was a smaller version of Allura. The man had his eyes crossed in the photo, making the little Allura in the photo giggle, and the woman was smiling fondly at the man and child.
“Your mother was beautiful,” Lance said, after studying the photo a moment.
“Yes, she was.” Allura responded, voice lilting desperately on the last word. The room filled with the quiet sound of sadness.
Sadness. That was a word Lance was all too familiar with. He recognized Allura’s tear-laden stare and melancholic half-smile. It was the same expression he wore when he stares into the mirror every night before bed and allows himself to feel homesick. Just for a moment. He tells himself, I can only allow myself to be sad just for a moment. Before I have to smile. Before I have to be strong for my team. Before I must protect the universe.
Lance opened his mouth, about to offer Allura some comfort and empathy. But then, Allura said, “Well, no time to sit here in silence. I must get to the bridge and help Coran monitor for Galra threats.”
Lance’s jaw audibly snapped closed.
Allura stood up, still clutching the picture frame like it was the only thing tethering her to the present moment. Then she turned to leave.
“Wait!” Lance said. She lingered for a millisecond, obviously internally distressed, seeming to want to say something, but unwilling to offer the words. “Allura…”
Allura didn’t give him the chance. “Goodbye, Lance.”
Lance relinquished and let her leave. He understood where she was coming from, the loss of a loved one is no trifle thing. Still, he wished he could talk to her, make her open up about it. He and everyone else had noticed that she seemed to become more closed off about the topic of the late King Alfor, and even Altea recently. Even becoming visibly downtrodden when Coran would launch into an old tale of his glory days at Alfor’s side.
But she refused to talk to anyone about it. Even Coran; he had secretly confided in Lance that Allura was becoming more distant.
Lance wished to help the princess, but he did not believe that they were close enough, nor did he feel it was his place to start consoling Allura about the loss of her family and her entire race.
He mulled over this predicament for a few more moments, before Lance’s thoughts were broken by Hunk’s appearance in the lounge.
“Hey, buddy.” Hunk said, his warm personality already brightening Lance’s train of thought. Lance smiled in return, “Hey, Hunk!”
Hunk always knew how to improve Lance’s mood just by being in the same room. For Lance, it was quite nearly impossible to be upset if Hunk was nearby. It was like the guy was a battery made of happiness and good feelings.
“Lance,” Hunk continued. “I was just looking for you. Pidge’s called an EFM. We gotta go.” Lance’s smile fell into a more serious expression.
EFM (or Emergency Friend Meeting) was a ritual that the three had created from their time at the Galaxy Garrison. When one of the trio was having an issue or problem, they could call an EFM, and the other two would have to be there, guns blazing, willing to do anything to avenge the affected friend (conditions for EFMs have ranged anywhere from Hunk being petty to Lance almost getting expelled.) This was the most sacred and time-honored tradition for the three, and even more so now, because neither Lance, Pidge, nor Hunk had called an EFM during their time with Voltron.
This meant circumstances were dire.
Lance grimaced and looked up at Hunk. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with that fight that Pidge and Shiro have been in, would it?” He said.
“God, I hope not.” Hunk replied. “I can’t remember the last time Pidge was pissed off enough for them to call an EFM.”
Hunk and Lance both shivered. It took a lot to piss Pidge off. And once you got on their bad side? It’s over.
Sighing, both boys left to deal with their spitfire best friend.
Calming Pidge, and convincing them that no, launching Shiro out of the airlock would not be productive or helpful, nearly took until dinnertime. When they finally got them to think rationally again, Hunk left Pidge’s quarters to begin making dinner. Lance, however, stayed behind, to make sure that Pidge wasn’t going to kill, their leader.
“Are you sure you are okay, P?” Lance asked his small friend. He had no doubt that they could hold a grudge against the tiniest injustice, but Pidge also had a terrible habit of bottling up their emotions instead of dealing with problems. And, to Lance, this seemed more than just a simple fight over food.
Pidge smiled at their friend. “Yeah, Lance.” They responded. “I’m good.”
That didn’t convince Lance. He gave Pidge his best bitch face.
“I’m fine now, Lance.” Pidge squeaked. “Really, really! I promise. Shiro just gets on my nerves sometimes, and the food goo this morning pushed me over the edge. But, I am 100% feeling much better thanks to y'all.” At this, they punched Lance in the shoulder, causing him to squeak.
“Blech. I can’t believe you just said ‘y’all.’” Lance said, making a disgusted face. “That’s the worst word in any language.”
“You say it.” Pidge retorted.
“Yeah,” Lance said. “To be ironic. I’ve never, in good conscience, used that word to address anyone.”
“You’re ridiculous.” Pidge smiled.
“I may be ridiculous, but at least I have class.” Pidge snorted at this. “But seriously,” Lance continued. “You will work things out with Shiro won’t you?”
“Yeah,” Pidge said, softly.
Satisfied with his work, Lance makes a beeline for the door, hoping to relax and shower before dinner. He manages to make it all the way to the door before turning back around to address Pidge, face the most stoic and serious Pidge had ever seen it.
“And, Pidge?” Lance paused before continuing, “Keep in mind that ‘y-you were disrespecting a future US Army soldier’ when you were fighting with Shiro.” He says, cracking up halfway through as he elevates the pitch of his voice to mimic the quote.
Lance yelps as pillows are flung at his head and laughs his way to his room.
Lance’s good mood lasts until he goes to dinner. Upon walking through the pristine, futuristic doors, Lance noticed something off about the people and the general atmosphere in the room.
There he saw Pidge, Keith, Hunk, Shiro, and Coran sitting down, lightly discussing the events of training earlier. Shiro looked up at him as he entered the room, smiling, “Oh, Lance. Good. We were waiting for you to start eating.” Lance smiles at this and then takes his seat at the table.
“Let’s eat!” Pidge exclaims digging into their food with vim and vigor.
Lance decides to follow their lead and stuffs a spoonful of the green food goo into his mouth. However, as he dug into the bland goop, he noticed the princess was nowhere to be found.
"Hey, Coran?" Lance asked sheepishly, "Where's Allura?"
"Oh!" Coran exclaimed. "The Princess is feeling a little under the weather, so she's resting in her room. But, I'm sure she'll feel better by the morning!" The man said with enthusiasm. But Lance knew better. This was the third time this movement the Princess had skipped dinner.
Suddenly, he wasn't as hungry anymore.
If anyone at the table noticed Lance's change in mood, they didn't comment. They continued to laugh and chat as if everything was normal. Shiro and Coran were discussing something about one of the training exercises. Pidge and Hunk seemed to be trying to figure out how to make the goo into more palpable food, in between Pidge literally inhaling what was on their plate.
Lance should've been happy about this since it was very rare that the team got to be so relaxed, however, he couldn’t bring himself to fully enjoy it knowing one of them wasn't here.
Lance sat sullenly for a few minutes longer before picking up his plate and getting up from the table. Finally, the others stopped their individual conversations and looked up at him as he grinned sheepishly and said, "Oh, sorry guys, but I'm not that hungry. I'm going to take the rest of my food to Kaltenecker. She really likes it. Of course, it's not as good as grass, but it turns out that the goo has a lot of vitamins that'll keep her healthy out here." He rambled off.
Shiro gave a small smile, and Pidge turned back to their food.
"Of course, my dear boy!" Coran said, jovially. "Be sure to tell her I said 'Hi!'"
Lance left the dining hall, heart in his chest. He wasn't really going to Kaltenecker, obviously (although, the lie he just told his friends made him realize that he would need to go visit her soon. She liked it when he visited, or he liked to think that she liked it. Even if she was a cow without emotions, Lance felt like the two of them had a good connection.)
In reality, Lance was going to visit Allura, not Kaltenecker. Lance wasn't sure why he'd lied about where he was going to his friends, it's not like it mattered much if they knew where he was going, heck they would have even encouraged it (although, maybe with a few more barbs about crushes than Lance would like.) He couldn't quite explain why he felt the need to hide such information from his team, but Lance felt like this conversation he was about to have with Allura was best left as a private one.
As his thoughts wondered off- mainly on the train of how to handle this conversation- Lance quickly found himself in front of the Princess's door. He swallowed the feeling of dread that was thick in his throat and raised a shaky hand to knock on the hollow metal.
"Yes?" A sleep-drenched accent called out from the other side.
Lance swallowed again and took a deep breath, then he answered, " Allura? It's Lance…" He paused for a minute unsure if he should even be the one to do this. There where a million choices that were better than him: Coran, Shiro, Hunk, Pidge, hell even Keith would be better at this than him- No. He stopped his thoughts harshly, there's no way I'll be able to help anyone if I keep wallowing in self-pity. Get yourself together, your friend needs you to talk to her. It doesn't matter whether or not you are worthy to help, if you can help, then you should try. So Lance pushed down the melancholy that always threatens to burst at the drop of a hat, and said, "C-Can I come in?"
There were a few beats of silence where that melancholy rose back up. And just as Lance was ready to turn around and go sulk in his room, he heard a weak, "Sure."
He pressed his hand unto the glowing keypad, and the futuristic door slid right open. He stepped into the room. Lance was shocked to find Allura lying on the bed, looking weak and drained. When Allura saw him, she gave a faint attempt at a smile and tried to prop herself up using an arm, but it was shaking, and obviously couldn't hold the weight of her upper body up. "Hi, Lance."
He had never seen her like this. Usually, the Princess looked so strong and powerful, with a determined fire in her eyes and a hard set to her jaw that made one believe she was the most powerful person in the room at any given time. With her long elegant hair and kind, but sharply set countenance, she always had seemed like the paragon of strength to Lance, it was never any wonder why she was the face and leader of the Voltron Alliance.
However, as Lance gazed at the Princess upon her bed, all he could see was a scared, frail girl who was in over her head. It reminded him a lot of himself. Too much, almost.
He gave her a weak smile. "Hey, Princess. I didn’t see you at dinner, so I came to check on you…" Lance trailed off. Allura smiled at him, and she had finally been able to get herself to sit up.
"Well," She chuckled, unconvincingly, "As you can see, I am fine. I was just taking a short rest. Coran and I did some extensive repairs to the Castle today."
Lance's smile wavered just a bit. God, it hurt him so much to see his friend in such emotional pain. He ignored the obvious lie in Allura's tone and came to sit at the edge of her bed. "Allura?' He asked hesitantly, "You know you can talk to us- to me- about anything that's bothering you, you know that right? I know we can't really relate to what you've been through specifically, but it sure helps to have a listening hear and a good shoulder to lean on. We are all your friends, so don’t be afraid to come to us with a problem, no matter how small, okay?" He held his breath after his little outburst. He didn't mean to say that much, he'd just wanted to let her know she had people she could come to.
Oh shit, and now Allura had tears in her eyes. Lance cursed himself mentally. He should've just left well enough alone, and ate his stupid dinner with the others. He held up the plate he had brought with him awkwardly and said, "Uhh, anyway noticed you weren't at dinner so I brought you some…" He put the plate down on the bed, next to her leg and made a beeline for the door.
Right before Lance got there, though, he heard Allura call out, "Lance, wait!" He whirled around. She was thumbing the edge of the plate, not meeting his eyes. "Do you really mean that? A-About the talking thing, I mean? Would you guys really be fine with me telling you my problems?" She said, teary-eyed.
Right then and there, Lance's heart melted, and he rushed over to her side of the bed to engulf her in a hug. "Of course," He laughed. "I know better than anyone what it's like when the thoughts in your head get too loud." He squeezed her tighter in the hug.
Allura let out a deep breath, "Thank you." She whispered into Lance's shoulder. They sat like this for a few moments, Lance engulfing the Princess, trying to shelter her from the outside world, like an island tethered in a whirling sea. After a while, they slowly broke apart, both a little red-faced and snot-nosed than before.
Lance smiled widely at Allura, as she obviously looked like she was feeling better.
Right as Lance was about to say something, she gave another deep exhale and said, "Lance, you wouldn't mind if I…" She trailed off.
"Yeah," Lance responded, "Let it out, just don't think that you have to tell me all at once. I don't want you to spill your guts, you are allowed to keep some stuff to yourself."
He laughed when she scrunched up her nose and made a disgusted face. "Well, I don’t plan to 'spill my guts'," She sniffed, "I prefer to keep my entrails, thank you." This made him laugh harder.
Lance urged Allura to turn her back towards him, much to her confusion. Upon seeing the look on her face, he made to explain, "Back home," He said with a wistful expression on his face, "I would always do my sister Veronica's hair when we had to talk about stuff that was bothering us, or when gossiping."
As he said this, his fingers gently slid into her silken hair and began deftly plaiting the strands. "Go on." Lance urged, "You don’t have to tell me all of it, or even the big stuff, just start small. What or who around the castle has been annoying you?"
And the night passed with the two like that; Lance braiding the Princess's hair and silently and supportively listening, while the Princess rambled on about anything.
And thus began the foundation of one of the strongest bonds of the Voltron team. The two would have these impromptu gossip sessions/sleepovers nearly every movement (but Allura has been known to drag Lance away a couple of quintants in a row) and both release all the stress that they'd been holding in. Over the phoebs, they grew quite close. Lance would braid Allura's hair, sometimes cursing in Spanish over some of the team's more reckless maneuvers out in the field, and Allura would hold her head and groan over the intricacies (and stupidity) of the Universe's diplomatic world. Lance found himself teaching the Princess to braid his hair, which ultimately made these hangouts that much more fun, since the Princess wasn't very good at braiding and Lance almost always ended up looking like a very ridiculous, very irritated troll doll (although, he was mainly irritated because Allura wouldn't stop laughing at how ridiculous he looked and listen to his problems, damn it.) Those were some pretty good times for the two.
It was during one of these 'decompression sessions' that Lance and Allura had their most meaningful (and tearful) conversations.
Their weekly routine started like any other: Allura tracking down Lance and trying to pry him away from what he'd been doing.
Lance was hanging out with Pidge and Hunk, playing a new video game that they'd gotten from the space mall. It was a game that neither Hunk nor Lance played, but apparently, Pidge had, because they were absolutely wrecking the two boys' asses. It was about halfway through Pidge's character destroying Lance's with some kind of massive sword (Hunk had long since given up) when Allura knocked on the frame of the open door.
Hunk turned his head, as the other two continued to play; Pidge, with an evil smirk on their face, and Lance, with his tongue sticking out between his lips and an intense look of concentration on his face. Hunk sighed at the antics of the two, and said, "Hey, Allura! What's up?"
Allura chuckled at Hunk's exasperated countenance, and responded, "Oh, I was just hoping to talk to Lance, but if he's busy I can come back at another time."
Lance quickly said, "Oh it's cool, 'Lura. Give me 15 minutes and then we can talk, I just have to make Pidge eat my metal first." Allura gave an eye roll, simultaneous with Hunk's and turned, "Alright, Lance. I'll be in my room, come find me when you're done." After Allura had left, Pidge leaned over with the widest smile on their face and said, "So, you and the Princess have been getting quite close recently. What's going on there?"
Lance scoffed, not taking his eyes off the monitor, "Absolutely nothing. It’s not like that."
"Uh huh." Hunk interjected, "Other than the fact that you go into her bedroom, like, every week. That totally sounds platonic, Lance."
"Well, it's true!" Lance defended. He paused the game (ignoring Pidge's shout of "Hey!") and threw his controller on the couch beside himself. Then he leveled Hunk with a deadly serious look. Hunk had never seen his best friend so stoic, and immediately Hunk straightened up. Lance continued, voice as serious as his face, "Honestly, I'm telling the truth. I don't like Allura in a romantic way. I may have had some type of feelings for her, but I doubt it ever went past puppy love. The only feelings I feel for her now are 100% platonic. 'Lura's like my sister." He finished, looking thoughtful, a small smile gracing his lips.
"Well, what about all this time you guys have been spending together? What do you do in her room?" Pidge inquired.
"Yeah." Hunk chimed, "And what is with that nickname? We don't have any nicknames."
"Oh, well the specifics are kinda classified because 'Lura made me pinky swear not to reveal the things we talk about, but basically we hang out and talk. Sometimes we'll talk about philosophical things, or debate certain things, and we talk about things from Altea and Earth, but mostly we complain about things."
Then Lance slipped into a wistful stare. "You know," he continued quietly, "Me and Ronnie would do that back on Earth. We'd sneak in some snacks, put on face masks and talked about literally anything. And as for the name, it just kinda happened. Plus you guys' names are already kinda nicknames." And then Lance shrugged, all traces of thoughtfulness gone.
"Hmmph," was all Pidge said in reply. "Okay." Hunk countered, eyeing Lance suspiciously, "I kinda understand the name thing, but why would Allura and you become best friends overnight. She basically hated you a few months ago."
Lance laughed, "Yeah, that's because I was being a total dick to her. I mean, I just stopped trying to flirt with her to get a rise and had an actual conversation. Sometimes, you just gotta approach it like an adult." Lance said, leaning back into the couch with his arms crossed and a smirk.
"Yeah," Pidge snorted, "Cause you act like an adult all the time."
Lance just shrugged, uncharacteristically ignoring what was obviously meant to get a rise out of him. "Anyway, sorry to go in the middle of our game, Pidge, but I don't want to keep Allura waiting. Bye guys, catch you later!" He said, waltzing out the door.
Pidge just stared, dumbfounded at Hunk. "Who is this alien and what have they done with Lance?"
Allura was pensive as Lance walked into her room. Although, at first, Lance didn’t notice the thick, viscous ambiance the room had taken on with Allura's thoughtfulness.
So, like a dumbass, he came in laughing and saying, "Man, guess what! Pidge and Hunk are convinced we're-" At this point, he'd just noticed Allura's quietness. There it is. "'Lura, what's up? Are you okay? Do I need to talk to somebody?"
Lance couldn't help but get a little overprotective of her, after all, like he said, they were basically brother and sister. But, are you sure that's how Allura feels? a traitorous voice in the back of his mind said.
Shut up. He told it.
Allura turned to him and flashed a brilliant smile. "Oh, sorry to worry you, Lan. I was just thinking, but it was nothing bad, I swear." She said, her accent catching on the nickname she'd given him weeks ago. It strangely made him feel warm inside.
"Oh, okay." Lance said. "Great. So, uh, so what is this meeting about?" He asked, a hint of a smile on his face. Allura laughed and said, "I thought you hated to call them 'meetings'."
"No. I hate it when you call them meetings. It confuses me, and I keep expecting you to tell me something about the impending Galra threat or something." He said as the two of them moved into their normal positions; both of them sitting on her bed, with her back to Lance. Lance began to gather her silver locks into a complicated looking plait. Allura's tinkling laugh filled the room, bouncing off the walls like a hyperactive child who'd had too much sugar before bed. Lance thought it was the nicest sound he'd heard all quintant.
Allura looked thoughtful at his question for several moments, then she said, "Tell me about your family?"
Lance was a little shocked. Allura knew how he felt about talking about his family while he was so far away from them. It was unlike the Princess to bring up topics that she knew affected Lance, but regardless he figured she had a good reason to mention it.
So, instead of getting bummed out by remembering he may never see his family again, he told her the stories he thinks about to put a smile on his face in the morning. Lance tells her about Veronica, Marco, Luis, and Rachel. He talks about Marco teaching him to surf. He talks about the time Rachel broke her collarbone by falling off his bunk bed when she spent the weekend as a kid. About Ronnie replacing Luis' shampoo with hair dye, about their animals- Señor Caballo, their horse who had a bum knee; the dogs: Hersey, the happy-go-lucky chocolate lab, and Arch-Duke Rexington V (Rex for short); and the chickens: Kentucky Fried, Orange, Soup, Salad, Pot Pie, Lemon Pepper, and Mary Poopins. He talked about all the silly little idiosyncrasies his family had- how his mom would hum when folding the laundry, or that this cousin Alejandro insisted on opening all doors with his toes when he came to visit.
Lance partly told these funny details in hopes that it would lift Allura from her funk, and partly because he was just so tired of remembering his family, and feeling sad. His family was a joyous bunch, so he figured he could be too.
They spent the next couple of vargas like that, both enjoying the companionship and happiness that comes with talking to a dear friend. However, Allura would occasionally slip into a bout of silence, much like the one Lance found her in when he first walked in the room.
Now, people have often accused him of not being the sharpest tool in the shed, but Lance knows he's pretty smart about some things. Coincidentally, one of those things happens to be reading a person; a skill which he is especially good at if he is close to said person and has spent tremendous amounts of time watching them and analyzing their mannerisms. So, suffice to say, Lance figured out pretty quickly that there was something going on with Allura that she wasn't telling him.
But, being the person he is, he wouldn't just come outright and say something to her. It could make her close up and their fun night would be over. Or worse, a nasty little voice in the back of his head whispered. She'll hate you for trying to pry. She doesn't need you snooping around, and trying to reopen her scars for her.
Lance hated that voice. So, in an attempt to silence it, he said, "Hey, 'Lura? I know you have a right to your privacy and all, but I know something's bothering you. Will you please tell someone- me, Coran, I-I don't care. If something hurts you that much you need to tell someone before you blow up." He hesitated, and stopped braiding her hair. "I'm sorry if that was too forward or I overstepped. I can leave. I'm just worried about you 'Lur."
At this, he began to get up off the bed and make a break for the door. Suddenly, Allura whirled around and grabbed his wrist. He looked at her brown hand, so much darker against his own tan one, with confusion. Then he moved his eyes to her tear-stained face.
That broke Lance's heart.
Much like their first hang-out, he instantly swept her up into a bone-crushing hug. "Oh, 'Lura…" He said, blinking his own tears back and dipping his head into her neck. Lance rubs her shoulders after a few minutes of silently hugging. "What's been going on, 'Lur?" He asks gently.
Allura takes a deep breath, almost as if to settle herself. Then she speaks. At first it’s so faint that Lance has trouble hearing her, "It's been so hard. It feels like there was no time for me to process… what happened, before we were thrown into this war that began long before any of us were ready."
Lance sat dumbly for a bit, not expecting her to be so forthright. "What… happened.. What?" He said in confusion. But then, "Oh." He said in realization. "You mean… Altea…"
Allura nodded, swallowing thickly. "I don't even remember much of the invasion. It happened so suddenly. One moment, I was sleeping peacefully, then the next the Castle's alarms were going off, and I went to go find Father. He was in the control room, getting ready for… Zarkon, and then he somehow got me into a pod, and…"
"And next thing you know, it's been 10,000 years and Altea is gone." Lance finished quietly.
Allura nodded. "Yes, and when Sendak's consciousness attacked the Castle, and I had to lose Father again, I-" She broke off into a sob, barely contained by her palm.
Lance stayed silent, but rubbed her back encouragingly.
Allura took a deep breath and continued after a little bit. "Family has always been a hard concept for me. Even before the war, my Father loved me, and tried to devote as much time as he could to me, but he was still a king. He couldn't always be there. And my mother… She died when I was only a few deca-phoebs old." She paused, and put a comforting hand on Lance's knee. "I know how you miss your family terribly, Lan. I was just… curious, I guess. I've always wondered what it would be like to have such a big family, and such good memories. But, all I have now is Coran."
Lance's face scrunched up. "With as much love and respect, Allura, that's bull-fucking-shit."
Allura looked up in surprise. "E-Excuse me.."
Lance interrupted her, "Coran isn’t all you have. You have me and the team. Keith, Shiro, Hunk, and Pidge. You may not have anymore biological family left, 'Lur, but you have us, and we are just as much your family as any parent or sibling or cousin. You have a family.”
Allura's eyes widened. "D-Do you really mean that, Lance? What about the way I’ve treated Keith? The way I’ve treated Pidge? The way I treated you.”
Lance smiled at her. "Of course! You are part of our little space family. Keith understands why it was a little harder for you to accept he was Galra, but the important thing is that you did accept him, which is all he could’ve asked of anyone. And Pidge. Well, Pidge just- they have faults of their own, and they’re working on understanding and accepting the fact that they’re sometimes in the wrong. But, we know you, and we know you have a kind heart and a good soul. That’s why we love you.”
Allura gave him a hard look. “You didn’t answer my last question. How can you stand me? How can you sit here and braid my hair and talk to me like I’m not a terrible person? How, Lance??” She said, growing more and more desperate with each question until she was shaking with sorrow.
Lance just smiled once again, to Allura’s absolute befuddlement. “Well, we both did some things that neither of us are proud of. The only real reason I would flirt with you was to get a rise out of you. I know it was stupid and immature, and you had every right to rebuff me. I don’t hold it against you. The important thing is that we stopped being so antagonistic, and now we know that there was no real heat behind it. ‘Lura, I swear that you are just as much my family as Ronnie or Rachel.” He wraps his arms around her and squeezes her shoulders in a tight hug, before loosening his grip. Lance continues, “I love you. And no matter what, you’ll always have a family as long as I’m here.”
Allura smiled, and hugged him back.