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Only With You

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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 Junibee.

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.

-xXx-

From: Alfor Altea, Co-founder, and CEO of Voltron Tech
To: Valued Employees
Subject Line: Don’t Cuss Around My Fucking Child.

-xXx-

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.

-xXx-

From: Zarkon Galra, Co-founder, and CEO of Voltron Tech
To: Altea
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.

-xXx-

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.

-xXx-

From: Your Emperor
To: Minions
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.

-xXx-

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.

Well shit.

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.

Chapter Text

“Mama, do I have to stay here?” the four-year-old asked for probably the third time that morning.

It was only 9:42 am.

Takashi looked around the unfamiliar, grand lobby with wide and anxious eyes.Somewhere between breakfast and now, his culture shock had truly begun to seep in, and he began to feel somewhat nervous about his surroundings while they waited for the elevator. Everything around him was so big and different here than it was back home in Japan and he suddenly wasn't so sure how to take it all in.

Including the huge pile of glitter they were currently standing in.

Akio Shirogane ignored the glitter littering the floor for now... but she noticed it. Oh, she definitely noticed the glitter. It was practically a trail of fairy dust they’d been indirectly following ever since they’d entered the building. She put her fairy tale laced thoughts aside and looked down at her son. Even with the baseball cap hiding his face from her view, she knew exactly the look of panic in his eyes. She let out a quiet sigh and readjusted her purse before squatting down to his height.

“Yes Takashi,” she told him gently. She ran her thumbs across his tiny puffed out cheeks. The action slightly calmed him. “We shouldn't be here too long today, it’s just an interview, but if Mama does happen to get this job, you’re going to have to come here every day for a while, okay?”

Takashi moved his face away from his mother’s hands, visibly more irritated than he was just a moment ago. “But I don’t wanna come to work with you every day!” He threw his hands in the air, almost flinging the cap off his head. He quickly readjusted it before it could fall from his head and onto the ground. “Can’t just stay home by myself?” he begged, looking at her with pleading eyes.

She raised an eyebrow. “You’re four.”

“But I’m about to be five!” He used his outside voice to tell her this as he pushed all five fingers of his right hand into her face, desperately hoping to sell his argument. “In like...” he paused to count the fingers on his other hand. “…six months!”

It was actually nine, but he tried and that was all that mattered.

“Okay, first of all,” she lowered his hand from her face. “Being five is nowhere near how old you need to be before I allow you to stay home by yourself. I will not leave my only child home alone so he can burn down the house because he was trying to make some pasta dish.”

“It's Mac and cheese, Mama! And that was one time!” Back goes the hand to the face, just with four fingers less and a very stressed out an index finger. “That was the old me! I’m older now.”

The incident happened less than 48 hours ago.

“I’m a man now, Mama!” He looked so determined to prove his point. He eyes held fire as both of his hands found their way to his chest to emphasize just how manly he was. “I can do this!”

Once again, did her child not grasp the fact that he was only four?

Takashi ignored the look his mother gave him. “…But Mama, Listen. Listen. Mac and cheese is sooo good!” His outside voice was still temporarily in full effect. When the glare from his mother finally reached his soul, he looked away and lowered his voice before he continued stubbornly and crossed his short arms. “If the new house burns down, it was probably worth it.”

“Okay, no, no, no.” Aiko decided to put a stop to her child that was too ready to burn down their fucking house for the sake of cheesy pasta. “And second,” She placed her fingers under Takashi’s chin so he wouldn't look away from her gaze, “I thought you were excited to make new friends? You seemed pretty excited last night. What happened, Taka-chan?” Her eyes held concern as she cocked her head to the side.

The move to the states for Takashi was bittersweet; he had to leave his friends and his mother’s side of the family behind in Osaka, but on the bright side, he got to be with to his dad and now he had both parents. Aiko knew he was going to miss his friends and family, but it was for the good of her family.

Earlier in their marriage, they agreed that she’d stay in Japan to climb the corporate ladder and raise their child with the support of her family.Meanwhile, her husband, Sousuke, would live in the states to become a commanding air force officer at a garrison base just outside of the city. As hard as it was, Sousuke made regular visits to see his family whenever he had the time. When he wasn’t there physically, webcams were a godsend for their long-distance marriage.

Now that Takashi was older, but not old enough to stay home alone, both had agreed they no longer wanted to be separated by an entire ocean. Conveniently, she was now at a point in her career where she was sought after like gold, uprooting herself and her son wouldn’t prove too hard to accomplish with her impressive resumè.

They had arrived in the States earlier in the week and had spent the entire weekend unpacking their new home as a complete family and getting familiar with the surrounding area.

Now, it was time for work and apparently, Takashi was mentally not here for it.

“Why are you afraid, Takashi?” She pressed again but changed the words around to make him more comfortable with the question. He wasn’t naturally a shy child, so his current behavior worried her.

Before he could answer, a high pitched bell caught their attention, signaling the elevator. Aiko straightened up, took a hold of his hand and they both stepped into the elevator car. She pressed the button that led to the floor that led to the daycare. She could feel her son’s tiny hands tighten slightly around hers.

When they arrived at the respective floor, they stepped out and Takashi suddenly felt almost excited as he took in the new area they had found themselves in.

Gone was the elaborate lobby they had walked into just moments ago. Now everywhere his now wide eyes looked, there were bright colors and textured walls. The floor traded in its expensive golden tinted tiles for soft carpet with multi-colored puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together in a repeating pattern across the floor.

The walls were a solid white with different trees and animals he recognized from his books painted along it. Some even held balloons. He noticed that the white color of the walls faded to a light blue that led up to fluffy clouds towards the top of the walls, and he realized that some clouds were actually coming off the walls in a soft, fluffy texture probably made from a multitude of cotton fluff. He was surprised to see the pattern makes its way onto the ceiling as well with some “clouds” physically hanging down above him. Some clouds even had faces on them. He especially liked the darker clouds with funny, grumpy faces with blue streamers hanging down to represent rain.

To say that both Takashi and Aiko were impressed was an understatement. They were absolutely blown away by the decor in the hallway that seemed more elaborate than the main lobby a few floors down. While the lobby looked like it was for the sole purpose of intimidating its intruders with elegant decor, consisting of paintings with price tags that could rival a second mortgage on a house, this hallway was made to welcome its tiny guests with open, welcoming...glitter infested...arms?

“Why is there so much glitter everywhere?” Aiko thought she could ignore the glitter like she had did before, but it was honestly getting ridiculous as she found herself standing in the second pile of glitter within five minutes.

“Maybe it’s a sign that I should go home?” Takashi suggested slyly. “If I stay here, I’ll bring the glitter home with me and it’ll get all over the new house...and it won’t go away...forever.” Takashi thought he was being manipulative, but he was honestly just being adorable.

Aiko rolled her eyes and led Takashi further down the hall before she opened the door leading into the daycare. She took note of the multi-colored bubble font spelling out, “Tiny Voltz,” before she stepped into the spacious, colorful room.

The inside decor had the same concept as the outside area leading to it, with the exception of tables and chairs made specifically for the tiny children. She took note of the kitchen towards the back and the cubbies in the shape of puzzle pieces on the far wall. There was a variety of kid-friendly activities to keep the toddlers entertained throughout their parent’s workday.

“Good morning!”

Aiko hadn’t noticed the blonde woman standing to the side of the door watching them as soon as they had entered the room. The woman extended an arm with a friendly greeting. “My name is Amy, and you must be Mrs. Shirogane.” Amy then crouched down to Takashi’s height with a smile and extended her hand the same way she had done to his mother seconds ago. “And you must be Takashi? Nice to meet you.”

Takashi hid behind his mother’s legs but met the woman’s gaze.

“I like being called Shiro.”

Aiko wasn’t surprised by her son’s statement because he also liked to be addressed by that name back in Japan.

Shiro greatly looked up to his father and wanted to be just like him when he grew up. She could tell that he was already going down the same path of her husband because of his fascination with planes, with dreams of flying them one day. He was also extremely observant of how others treated her husband - with respect and also how they referred to him by a shortened version of his family name, Shirogane. Shiro took those aspects of his father and made them his own.

“Okay, Buddy, Shiro it is.” She continued to smile warmly at him before standing to her full height and addressing Aiko. “I’ve already received the list of his allergies and emergency contacts, is there anything I need to know before you leave?” The caretaker asks.

“No, that should b-”

“Tell her how much I like mac and cheese,” Shiro interrupted in a hard whisper. “It’s important,” he added quickly when his mother sent him a glare.

“We don’t have mac and cheese just yet.” Amy started. “Maybe I’ll take that up with Mr. Altea when I see him.” Her words made Shiro’s eyes light up.

After Aiko confirmed that they were all set with Shiro’s stay here, Amy had left the two to say their goodbyes. Unfortunately, Shiro’s nervousness came back full force. He looked away, not wanting to meet his mother’s dissecting eyes.

“It’s going to be alright, Taka-chan.” She switched her tongue to her native language, with the intent on making their conversation a little more private and making him feel more comfortable.

Shiro’s eyes were still on the ground when he answered her, also in his first language. “What-what if they don’t like me?” He said it so quietly, she almost didn’t hear him.

“Why wouldn’t they like you?” she pressed further. She had the feeling that she already knew what this was about. “Is it because of your birthmark?”

“What if they make fun of me for it!?” His voice just teetering on the edge of panic as his tiny hands gravitated towards the cap on his head with a vice grip.

“Taka-chan...,” Suddenly, Aiko understood his strange behavior. She knew that he was self-conscience of the birthmark that founds its way to his head. She remembered how surprised she was when she gave birth to a baby with a full head of jet black hair except for the shock of white at the forefront of it.

She had never seen a child so beautiful.

She also knew how effortlessly cruel kids could be. Even lighthearted remarks made by adults would leave a slight sting. It took months of teasing for Shiro to build a hard enough shell so words wouldn’t personally get to him. But now-now he was in an entirely new country with an entirely new set of children. It was like he had to start building his shell all over again and so far, he was already off to a bad start.

She pulled his chubby hands on of his cap and held them in hers. “If they make fun of you for your birthmark, then they don’t deserve to be your friend. You are an amazing, brave child and you have the potential to be a great friend.” She raised his head up, so he could look proud. “You are also a Shirogane. Everybody wants to be our friend.” She could feel a smirk appear on her face. “How do you think I got this interview?”

Shiro’s spirits seemed to lighten at his Mama’s words. Most of his insecurities melting away after his small pep talk. She was right. He was amazing and he could be a great friend if they gave him the chance. He just hoped that it wasn’t too challenging to make new friends. He gave his Mama a hug before she started to way to the door.

 

“You be a good boy, Takashi.” She waved him a goodbye before turning her attention to her child’s temporary guardian, her face suddenly deadly serious. “Do not let him anywhere near that kitchen.” And then she was gone.

“Y-Yes Ma’am.” The blonde young woman looked visibly shaken. She didn’t know if the cause was Aiko’s cold stare or the fact that she was watching over a potential arsonist. It was honestly the morbid combination of both. Aiko must be going to work for Galra.

Amy turned her attention to Shiro. She noticed that he hadn’t moved an inch since his mother left. His dark grey eyes scanned the area, unsure what to do with himself. His hands were to his side in tiny fist as if he were willing himself to do something. To do anything. Most of the children had arrived by the time he got there and all of them were paired up, playing with one another. He felt left out already and he hadn’t even taken off his jacket.

“Would you like for me to show you around, Shiro?” Amy’s question snapped him from his thoughts. He nodded his head in confirmation and hesitantly took her offered hand to be led through the colorful center.

Going further into the daycare, he was shown all the different activities they had to offer. Amy did her best to introduce him to as many children as possible, but he had the feeling that she was missing a couple of kids. Maybe on purpose because she knew that some kids were less accepting than others and she could already read him like an open book. He noticed that her eyes kept scanning the area looking for someone something particular.

“Is this the kitchen?” Shiro asked in a seemingly innocent fashion. Amy could have sworn she could the flames from hell enter his eyes. She quickly showed him other parts of the daycare before he decided to fulfill his hellfire desires.

Shiro decided to end the tour when he wanted to play with some building blocks that were off to the side but still in plain few of Amy. He actually chose it because there were no other kids that were playing with the blocks at that time and he didn’t feel like making friends so early in the day.

His mind immediately went to assembling a plane. A big one. One with different colored wings and engines! He started to organize the different building block pieces he wanted into color-coded piles. He wanted the cockpit black and the wings to be red and green, and the engines to be yellow and bl-

“What are you making?” a curious voice interrupted his planning. He let out a sigh because he at least wanted some time to himself before he was forced to be social. He looked up from his play area to see a girl with skin like the earth, hair like the clouds, and eyes that could rival the ocean.

Shiro immediately noticed how she was covered in glitter.

Chapter Text

Shiro had never seen anybody like this girl in his life. Everything about her was almost polar opposite from what he was used to back home.  For the most part, he saw little else outside of black hair, fair skin, and delicate features.

The typical eye color back home were various shades of brown. This girl had the bluest eyes he’s ever seen and the contrast against her dark skin made them glow like sapphire gems.

What struck Shiro as the most interesting was her hair. It appeared to have the texture and color of a cloud on a sunny day, going against the laws of gravity as she had ringlets that stuck out in all directions, spiraling out in defiance. He remembered seeing older kids change their hair color to, “express their individuality” as his Mama put it. However, he’s never seen anyone his age do it.

Shiro often begged his Mama to let him change his hair, but that always made room for a lengthy lecture about, “being yourself”. He felt himself grow jealous at the thought that maybe she was allowed to change her hair. His grandparents told him that their hair turned white after a certain age. He can perfectly remember the embarrassed look on his dad’s face when he pointed out a few white hairs on his chin. However, this girl’s hair was white already and he knew they were just about the same age. So why was her hair white? She couldn't possibly be born like that...could she? Why did he have to “be himself” when she clearly didn’t have to?

Shiro could see the girl’s mouth move, but he couldn't process what she was saying because his head was lost in the clouds. “Huh?”

“I said, ‘what are you making?’” the girl asked slowly, enunciating each syllable carefully. By the impatient tone of her voice, he could tell that this was probably her third time asking and she was starting to get irritated.  “Do you not understand?” she asked in a curious tone with her head cocked to the side. Her white hair following her lead and cascading over her shoulders. Shiro could see her face take on a look of concentration before she asked her question again. This time in fluent Japanese.

Wait, what?

“Wait, you know Japanese?” Shiro asked back in English. His tone was equally surprised as it was curious. Once again, he found himself completely fascinated by this girl within the first 10 seconds of meeting her.

“So you do understand me?” she accused. “Why didn’t you say anything when I asked you the first eight times?” her eyebrows came together in anger as her shoulders raised in question demanding for an answer.

“You asked eight times?” he asked back. He was surprised that he let his mind wonder for so long.

“No, but it felt like eight.” She walked to the other side of him to look down at his pile of sorted pieces. She had clearly lost the very little patience she possessed and decided to take the issue of not minding her business into her own hands.

“Are you making a car?” she asked while picking up the barely constructed cockpit, inspecting it with curious eyes.

“No, I’m making a plane,” Shiro corrected taking the clump of blocks from her hands. His tiny hands were careful not to break apart the pieces he had already assembled.

“Why make a plane when you can make a car?” she questioned casually. “Or a house? Or a giant cube? Cubes are way easier to make than you think. Oh...maybe a barn.”

“A barn?”

“A barn.” She paused, then upturned her mouth in distaste. “No, no, not a barn. It sounds stupid when you say it three times like that.” With each thrown out idea, her hands touched different pieces of his deconstructed plane - a plane that she really didn’t want to be a plane despite the fact that there were plenty of other blocks to play with to make her own giant barn cube. She continued pitching ideas that would get her laughed out of Shark Tank, and she looked around the cluttered table seeking desperate inspiration for her ideas that were destined to take over. Shiro realized that this is her project now.

His plane never stood a chance.

The girl’s hands froze. Her blue eyes suddenly went wide with realization and she let out an excited gasp. All too fast, she was in his face and gave him her full, undivided attention. Her face was now too close and her eyes were too intense, sparkling like the sun on the ocean, pinning him in place. He felt his heart skip a beat at the sudden closeness of her. With her so close, it gave him the chance to get a really good look at her. All of the small details about her that he missed before now became visible. Suddenly, he could see tiny freckles that littered her face, but most concentrated just below her blue eyes. He also took note of her eyelashes...that were the just as white as her hair. She looked almost alien.

Maybe her hair was naturally white. Maybe.

Shiro almost felt threatened by her overwhelming presence. His heart rate failed to return to normal as she stood her ground mere inches from his face. He wanted to break whatever spell she had him under, but then again, he really didn’t want to. One part of him wanted to be far away from her as physically possible, but the other part of him wanted to never leave her side. Her energy was like the tide; driving him away at first only to pull him back in, completely submerging him in a blue abyss.

Her eyes danced as her words came out in an excited hush, “We should make a giant robot!” Her hands were shaking at her sides with excitement as she bounced on her toes, eager for his response.

Shiro was a little taken aback by her idea and a small frown came to his face. “But I want to make a plane so I can make it fly.”

“Robots fly!” she defended. “Robots fly like all the time!” She was desperate to pitch this idea. All she needed was for Shiro to take a swing.

Shiro looked confused for a second, his mind calculating his next words carefully. “But robots don’t have wings.”

Swing and a miss.

The girl let out a long, exhausted sigh as threw her head back to look at the ceiling, her irritation evident at the fact that Shiro couldn’t see her vision. Her beautiful, glorious vision. “They have rocket boosters in their feets. They don’t need wings.” She grabbed him by his cheeks drawing him in closer, whispering, “Don’t you see?”

Shiro stared at her with wide eyes. He could already tell that she was very dramatic for someone who was either four or seventy-four. Her hair won’t fool him. She was probably an old lady stuck in a tiny body. He knows better.

Mama didn’t raise no fool.

He forgot he was slightly being held hostage by this strange girl by his cheek meat. He pulled his face from her hands to regain the leverage he thought he had on the debate at hand. “Then how would they turn if they don’t have wings?” he challenged.

“They just hold their arms out like this!” she gave an over-exaggerated demonstration by raising and holding her arms out to the side. She swayed her body slowly to simulate the flight methods of the robot she was dead set on building.

“But how would they fight crime if their arms are like this?” He gave an equally over-exaggerated demonstration.

Now both children had their arms out like aggressive seagulls that planned on ruining a beach picnic.

Shiro swung arms out as if he were trying to fight another imaginary robot. He made sure to keep his arms stiff so they wouldn’t bend at the elbow. “See? How is it going to defend itself if its arms are way out to the side? See my face? It's defenseless. It’s going to get hit in the face every fight and lose. You ever get hit in the eye? It sucks. You’re done. Fun time is over.”

“Oh,” she lowered her arms and placed them on her face in defeat. “You’re right. I forgot about the high crime rates in space.”

Shiro’s eyes went wide with excitement. “...In space?” he said in an interested whisper.

Striiike two.

A sly grin made its way to the girl’s face. She knew she had enticed him with the idea of a giant, multicolored, crime-fighting robot. But now it was in space? Now, she was getting somewhere. “Yeah, space. That's where robots go to fight crime because of the space pirates.” Shiro looked at her with a conflicted look. She could see the gears mentally shifting in his head, driving him towards a new direction of filled with crime fighting. In space. Her next words were dipped in pure manipulation. “We can put wings on it.”

“Yes,” his excitement was at a solid 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have contact.

The girl’s blue eyes lit up, clearly excited of his choice of going with her choice. She ran off deeper into the daycare without a word to Shiro. He didn't have to wait long before she returned with a different stash of building blocks cupped in her arms. He noticed that these blocks varied more in color and in shape. He could tell that she especially had these blocks hidden away from the other kids for her own personal use. He was sure there was more where that came from, considering her arms overflowed with blocks. His brows came together with confusion.

“You already have blocks. Why did you want mines?”

“Because I wanted to play with you , but you already had blocks” she retaliated nonchalantly, not missing a beat. She then went back to collect more building blocks.

Her response honestly surprised Shiro. He realized that no matter what he would have chosen to play with, she would have found her way to him and completely turn his life upside down in the process. Out of all these kids, what had specifically drawn her to him ?

Was his birthmark showing?

Panic rose within him as his hands immediately went to his head to make sure it was still hidden. His fears were temporarily subdued when he found his cap still firmly in place, hiding his imperfections. Now he was sure his hair wasn’t playing as a magnet for social interaction, he couldn’t understand why she found her way to him.

Maybe it was because he was new? But...he saw two other children Amy was showing around the daycare and both of those kids had already found friends. Why not play with those kids? He didn't think he was anyone special. He wanted to stay hidden in the shadows rather than stand awkwardly in spotlight. This girl not only seemed to bask in the spotlight, but as it turns out, she was the spotlight. Everything about her demanded attention and he knew that if she asked, he would immediately give her all of the attention she desired. Her presence alone was enough to have all eyes on her the second she entered a room. How he had missed her when he first came into the daycare, he had no idea. Now that he thought about it, he was pretty sure that she was the kid Amy was looking around for earlier, remembering the way Amy’s eyes carefully scanned the area when they went on their little tour earlier.

While he continued to think about her reasoning with dragging him into the spotlight, Shiro went to reorganizing the blocks again. He put the new blocks into their corresponding piles, organizing them by size, shape, and color. When he got all of the blocks to where he wanted them, he took a step back to admire at his handiwork.

Then the girl returned and dumped the new blocks dead center of his arrangement, completely ruining the layout.

“I think that’s enough.” She was completely oblivious to Shiro’s slight annoyance with having to rearrange the blocks for the third time since her hostile takeover.

She began to gather all of the blue pieces from the now disorderly pile. “We have to build the legs first because that's how robots work.” She had absolute zero logic to that statement, but she sounded confident and that was enough for him to completely agree. “Plus, legs are the best. Everybody likes the legs.” she continued with her clearly biased opinion. Once she had found enough blue pieces, she then gathered the yellow pieces and pushed them towards Shiro, careful not to let any fall off the table. “Here, you make the other leg.” It was more of a statement command rather than a suggestion.

Shiro didn't think he’d have company so soon and he had gained it without even trying. He had planned on being alone for the majority of the day but this girl had barged into his life within minutes of him entering the building. Even though she had singlehandedly ruined his introverted plans, construction plans, and his most likely his plans for the rest of the day, he looked forward to her company. He found himself once again staring at his new companion. He wanted to know more about her, but he didn’t know where to start.

“My Papa told me it's rude to stare.”

Shiro quickly averted his eyes, embarrassed that he’d been caught. Again. She hadn’t even looked up to address him. The girl was too busy forcefully making two blocks fit that were never destined to be together. Her tongue was sticking out in pure concentration before she heard a satisfying click , then she moved on to the next piece. Out of all of the pieces on the table within her grasp, she wanted the piece clear across the table. She used her half assembled “leg” to snag and pull it through the multitude of assorted pieces. Some fell to the ground to make way for the intruding block to reach its destination. It looked just like all of the other pieces of its shape, but it was slightly special.

Just slightly.

She went to pick up the other pieces that fell to the ground as a result of her quest to get the special identical block from across the table. Her silver curls fanning out as she dipped below the table. Shiro was mesmerized by its movements as light bounced off each ringlet, captivating him.

“Are you staring again?” Her voice was muffled by the table she was under.

“...No.”

“Don't lie.”

“S- Sorry. ” Shiro let his Japanese tongue slip quietly as he turned his body away from her. That reminded him of something, his head quickly turning towards her with newfound confidence. “ How do you know Japanese? ” He asked her in his native language to make sure the first time she had spoken his language, it wasn’t a fluke. Shiro hoped his question wasn’t too assertive, he didn’t want to push his new companion away, but this was the only way he could think of to get to know her more.

“Miko taught me,” she began casually in english. She finished cleaning up the floor of the mess she made and came back up to meet his gaze. “She’s one of my language tutors.”

“One?” he raised his brows in interest. “How many languages do you speak?”

“Four,” she paused, “and a half. You can’t really speak sign language.”

Shiro’s eyes went wide with fascination at this new information. “What other languages do you know?” he asked quickly.

“Mandarin and french.” She passed a few yellow pieces to Shiro’s side of the table. “But I don’t like speaking french, it makes my tongue hurt,” she told him with her face was scrunched up in distaste. She continued to assemble her portion of the leg, forcing more pieces into strained unity. She was so aggressive for being such a tiny thing.

“You look like you have more things to ask,” she said as she continued fidgeting with her project. This girl was strange. Sometimes she would give him too much attention, and other times, she would talk to him without sparing him a glance. Just like she’s doing now. Shiro had to admit that he felt more at ease when she didn’t give him all of her attention at once. He hated when people looked at him for too long because he felt like they were trying to uncover things he wanted to stay hidden. Had she already figured that out about him and tried to divert her attention elsewhere? Maybe she wanted to give him the chance to come out of his shell on his own. 

Shiro had prepared a million questions he wanted to ask this girl, but now that he was given permission to ask them, his mind suddenly drew a blank. He stood silently for a few moments. while his hands fiddled with a random block he knew he didn't need. His mind was scrambling to come up with something. Anything. 

He turned his body towards her and steeled himself, fist clenched at his sides. “Why is your hair white?” It was the question burning a hole in his mind the second he saw her. He had held back long enough and now he wanted answers.

Maybe her hair was something they had in common. 

However, her response was far from what he expected. The girl crossed her arms and her mouth formed a small pout. “You’re supposed to ask for my name first,” she said in a tone that Shiro couldn't put his finger on. She didn't sound offended in the least and her sapphire eyes sparkled with mischief. Her mixed signals confused him. He grew up in a household where people said what they meant and meant what they said. Her serious words didn't match her playful demeanor.

Not to mention it was hard to take her seriously when she was smothered in so much glitter.

“Well?” she pressed. Her crystal blue eyes not losing their sparkle.

He let out sigh. Maybe he should have asked for her name instead about of her hair. “What's your name?”

The blue eyed girl unfolded her arms and a sly grin came to her face. “I'm not going to tell you,” she turned back towards the blocks on the table, breaking eye contact with him. For the first time that day, he wished she had her eyes on him again. “Ask me another question, Takashi.” But she quickly made a correction: “I mean Shiro.”

Shiro’s eyes grew wide. Not only did she know his birth name, but she also knew his prefered name.

Had she been watching him the whole time?

He didn’t like the thought of her lurking in the fake bushes studying him, it just gave her more time to gather information she could use against him. His hands unconsciously went to the cap on his head and began to fiddle with with edges of it. A sudden anxiety coursed through his veins. The thought of someone watching him so intensely put him on edge. He went through most of his short life shying away from the attention of his peers out of fear what they would say about him. What else had she known about h-

“You think too much.” Her words cut his frantic thoughts short.

“What?”

“You think too much,” she repeated. This time, she only gave him half of her attention, careful not to push him away into his own mind. The other half of her attention went towards pushing her hair out of her face. “If you really want to know my name, you have to guess it.”

“What?” Shiro threw his hands up in disbelief almost flinging building blocks away in the process. “How am I supposed to guess your name?” His words came out rushed and loud, grabbing the attention of his peers. “There are like,” he paused to think of the sheer magnitude of possibilities, “at least a hundred names out there!”

Well, he wasn’t wrong.

The girl’s tiny hands came down to slam on the block covered table in front of her. “You can at least try, Shiro!” she scolded him just like you would imagine a four year old to scold another four year old.

“Try?” That came out more high pitched than he planned on. His parents always told him to try his best but, “How can I try if I know nothing about you?”

“You know I speak four languages,” she contradicted.

If Shiro knew how to cuss, he would.

He tried to calm himself by using techniques his dad taught him. Patience yields focus . He had no idea what that meant yet, but he knew it came in handy at times like this. This girl had gotten under his skin so easily. Almost effortlessly. The wicked smile on her face lets him know that she had been under his skin from the moment he laid eyes on her. He took a deep breath to calm himself before continuing. “Can I get a hint?”

Once again, a mischievous grin was sent his way.

“My favorite animals are mice.”

“That’s not a hint.”

“Thats a great hint.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Probably not.” She blinked owlishly at him, deliberately unfazed by his visible irritation with her.

Shiro was at a complete loss. He wished he could run his fingers through his hair in frustration, but at the moment, that was an impossibility. He threw his head back to watch the ceiling, the artificial clouds hanging above mocking him and his frustrations with the girl. He didn’t know how they were mocking him, but he knew they were. They were just hanging there. Slightly swaying back and forth. Being carefree. Mocking him. Laughing at him.

Her voice brought him back.

“You think too much,” she repeated the same words as earlier. He looked over to the girl to find her also looking above at the fictitious clouds. She had a small smile on her face and Shiro couldn’t help but smile along with her, his irritation slowly ebbing away to make room for a new, strange feeling. He felt warm and...light. Like she could take away all of his anxieties as easily as she could cause them. He couldn’t exactly describe it, but he found himself liking these new feeling she brought out in him. However,..

“Can I know your name, now?” he asked quietly.

She let out a light giggle. “No, silly.”

Shiro once again threw his head back in frustration. This time, he threw his head back just a tad too hard, causing his cap to lose it’s grip and tumble to the ground soundlessly. The girl’s giggling immediately came to a halt.

Shiro felt his heart stop, then he felt it start to race. His eyes were wide with panic as he watched his cap, the one thing that helped him feel normal, rest on the ground. He didn’t have the courage to look back up at the girl, who probably no longer wanted to be seen with him. She was going to make fun of him like everyone else when they saw the white streak in his hair.

Shiro’s hands went white as he balled them tightly in a fist as they started to shake at his sides. He could feel tears begin to gather at the edge of his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. He wasn’t going to humiliate himself further by crying in front of her or anybody else because that would just give them more ammo to hurt him with. He had been through his fair share of bullies in Japan and he was sure he could handle a lifetime more. If his mama wanted this job so that his family could stay together, then he was willing to sacrifice his comfort for that to happen. It was a big daycare, he could easily isolate himself from the other kids if the bullying became too harsh. He was never going to let anyone hurt him again, he was sure of it. 

His lip quivered as he stood his ground while he braced himself for the onslaught of petty words to leave her mouth. 

“You dropped your hat,” she said casually. “Are you going to pick it up?”

His eyes immediately snapped to her, his vision blurry from unshed tears. Out of all the words he was prepared for, he had not been expecting that . “What?” Shiro wasn’t sure any words had left his mouth considering he couldn’t get the lump out of his throat.

The girl bent down to retrieve his cap from the ground and offered it to him. “Here. Why do you want to wear it? That sun is fake,” she said pointing to the giant paper mache sun in the corner of the room. “It doesn’t make it too bright in here.” Shiro took his cap from her hands, but made no effort to put it back on. He really wished that this girl could get her verbal abuse over with. Usually when people saw his hair, it was followed by less than kind words.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” he asked in a tone, sounding almost angry.  

“Say something?” her head cocked to the side in confusion. “...about what? Your cap? It’s not as cute as it could be...maybe if you added some glitter...” She took the cap back and proceeded to rub some off some glitter from her dress onto his cap. 

He snatched his cap back. “Not my cap!” he cried, then angrily pointed to the white patch on his head. “This!”

His words it came out more harsh than he had meant them to. His outburst made the girl flinch slightly, but she put no distance between them. The feeling of regret immediately set it at seeing the slight look fear in her eyes that he caused. However, witnessing her ignore the issue he had spent the last two weeks agonizing over made him lose control his temper. 

He was only four, but he prided himself at being able to get a good read on people. However, this girl went against every social standard he knew. Her words contradicted her body language, her body language contradicted her eyes, and her eyes -  those gorgeous eyes, contradicted everything else. Almost every single thing about her seemed so alien. He could not make sense of it and he did not like being left in the dark.

“Your hair?” she started. “You look like you don’t want me to say anything about it, so I won’t….Do you want me to?” she added quickly. Her voice took on an edge of excitement as she leaned slightly towards him. It was a small movement, if it wasn't for her hair slightly shifting, he wouldn't have noticed her move at all. She made sure to maintain eye contact with him, careful to not let her eyes wander to gaze at his hair.

“You..you’re not going to make fun of me?” he asked quietly in disbelief. Shiro was conflicted. His emotions were all over the place and he didn’t know what to think of the situation he found himself in. No one in the daycare had seen his hair yet, only her, and it seemed to not bother her nearly as much as he thought it should.

If it didn't bother her, then would the other kids feel the same way? Could he possibly make friends here? 

“Poke fun of you...because of your hair?” her voice raised slightly in question as she raised her hands above her shoulders, clearly upset.  “Has anybody poked fun of you here?” Those words came out in a whisper, not in a dramatic sense like before, but more of genuine concern. The girl narrowed her eyes dangerously as she scanned the area for anybody stupid enough to cause her new companion distress.

“No, not here ,” Shiro told her. “But they probably will. You don't think I’m weird?” His eyes once again fell to the ground, scared of her response.

“Weird? Shiro, my hair is white, too.,” she said with a half smile on her face while grabbing a handful of her silver locks. “My papa told me that I had yellow hair like Amy when I was born, but it turned white a year later, I think. His hair is white like mine, too! We match.” She grabbed one of his hand with both of hers, “and now you match with me, too. So now you have to be my friend....it's only fair,” she teased. “Plus, I think your hair is cool. Cooler than our space robot.” 

Shiro’s eyes lit up. “Really?”

“No, I lied to make you feel better.” she said immediately, her eyes still shining brightly, “about being cooler than the robot because a robot is really cool. Like...really, really cool. But your hair is cool, too!”

This has never happened before and Shiro was at a loss for words. He didn’t know what to say, so he just stared at their conjoined hands with a look of disbelief. He’d been called many names in the past, but never has anyone called him cool.

“So...you still want to play with me?”

“Yeah!” Her excitement had gotten the best of her and caused multiple eyes to look their way.

Immediately, Shiro felt small and exposed by being the center of attention. Shiro felt the girl release his hand and felt his heart drop. He knew she would leave as soon as she got the chance and join the others with tormenting him.

However, he didn’t expect for her to stand in front of him, shielding him from the curious eyes of all most of the children that caught her outburst. “Amy said that she had fruit snacks! But she only has five, so whoever gets there first, gets them!”

A stampede towards a clueless caretaker was the immediate result.

The girl made sure all of the children’s attention was no longer on them before turned back towards Shiro. “I’m sorry I made everybody look,” she apologized. “but I think they will like your hair.”

“Do you really think so?” Shiro asked with wide eyes. The girl replied by rapidly nodding her head, her silver ringlets going wild. Shiro thought long and hard about it. What if she was wrong? What if they were meaner than the children back home? He didn’t know many customs here, so what if they didn’t stop? What if the adult made fun of him, too? What if-

“Oh my gooosh!” For the second time that day, he found his face in her hands, her eyes burning into him. “Shiro, you think too much! If you don't want to, I won't make you. But you can't hide forever.”

He let out a sigh. She was right, he couldn't hide under a hat for the rest of his life. If he was going to be a great pilot like his dad, then he needed to be brave. If he only had her as a friend, he could deal with. He didn't think she was going to leave him alone, anyway. He was probably stuck with her for the rest of his life.

He wouldn't mind that at all, actually.

“Allura, what is this I hear about fruit snacks?” Amy was suddenly behind them with her hands on her hips and a look of disapproval on her face. Behind her stood several kids, all with looks of disapproval on their faces.

All staring at Shiro with wide, curious eyes.

Even if he wanted to prolong his secret, they would have still found a way to him.

Reaching behind her, Allura grabbed Shiro’s hand and gave it a light squeeze, keeping him grounded. She ignored Amy’s question and directed everyone’s attention towards Shiro, using her natural spotlight to her advantage. “Everybody, this is Shiro, he’s from Japan! Isn't his hair cool?”

Shiro closed his eyes, bracing himself for the worst. He couldn't run now, not with his hand held so tightly. He was hoping they would go easy on him, seeing how this girl was fairly popular. If she could fit in, then so could he. Right?

When the harsh words never came, he slowly opened his eyes to face the judging crowd. They didn't looked freaked out or disgusted, they looked at him with something he’s never seen before. Amazement.

Then all hell broke loose.

They all gathered around him, shouting kind words.

“Wow, thats so cool!”

“Why can’t my hair be like that?”

“You look like a superhero!”

“Can I touch it?”

“You look like a road! I wish I looked like a road with a white stripe in my hair!”

Wait, What?  Shiro didn’t think he wanted to be that kid’s friend.

Shiro didn’t know how to react to the sudden, positive attention. The only people who ever gave him this much praise was his family and he knew they were just doing it to be nice to spare his feelings. He’s never felt so idolized in his life.  

The girl leaned closer to him. “Told you they’d like it,” she teased while bumping his shoulder with hers. “And you were worried.”

Shiro felt his cheeks burn slightly, “Yeah, you were right.” He turned to look at her. “Thank you...for helping me.”

“Allura.” she said.

“What?”

“You wanted my name,” she answered. “It’s Allura.”  

“Thanks, Allura.” Shiro said honestly. He never thought he’d never be able to accept his hair, but with her help, he finally did.

Allura tugged his arm away from the children still fawning over him. “Let’s go finish our robot, so we can fly him around the castle.”

“The castle?”

“Yeah.” She let go of his hand and he immediately missed the contact. “This is my castle...well, my papa’s castle. He’s the pretty prince king.”

Shiro’s eyes widened. “Your dad’s a king an-”

“A pretty prince king,” she corrected.

“Right, so your dad’s the pretty prince king and this is his castle?”

“Yup! My Uncle Zarkie is the other king, but he’s not as pretty as Papa.”

That would explain why it was so big and fancy downstairs, because he was in castle and his mama was going to work for the king. But wait...if her dad was the king, “Then are you a princess?” Allura only giggled in response.

“That’s why your hair is white!” Shiro exclaimed. “Because you’re a princess! Only royal people have special hair.” He’s watched plenty of disney movies to know what a princess looks like.

The giggling didn’t stop as she turned back to look at him. “But your hair is white, too.”

“But only a little white! Yours is white-white. Like all the way white,” he argued. He gave himself permission to stare at her silvery locks again, noticing the shimmer it would give when the light bounced off of it.

“Maybe you’re only half a prince?” she suggested.

Shiro shook his head. “But I want to be a pilot, not a prince.”

“You can be both!”

“Maybe…” his voice trailed off in thought. This time, he reached back and took her hand in his and began to lead them back towards their almost forgotten robot. He wanted to be a pilot like his dad, so he could fly above the clouds to see the heavens and much more.


But then again, princes got to marry princesses.

 

Chapter Text

Shiro looked up towards the clock with his brows drawn together in confusion. It was analog clock so he couldn't exactly read it, but the tiny sticks were in different places than what he remembered when he looked up at them not too long ago. It also didn't help that, at his age, he had no perception of time. How much time had passed? An hour? Four hours? 78 minutes?

He had absolutely no idea.

Not that he was complaining. The time which dragged on wasn’t such a nuisance because he actually enjoyed playing with Allura. That was because she wasn't embarrassed to be seen with him and made him realize that none of the other kids were bothered by his white forelock.

But even with the surprising acceptance of his peers, he still didn't prefer to be the center of attention. Everything was still new to him - his newfound confidence, new country, a new friend - he was still testing the waters and his place in it. Sometimes the other kids would wander into their play area wanting Shiro's attention and he would cautiously give it to them.

Kids are naturally drawn to new things and Shiro was the newest addition to the daycare, so unsurprisingly they flocked to him like moths towards a flame. However, they tended to overwhelm him with their endless questions about his hair and origin and they constantly probed him about his life. When their enthusiasm started to draw in too much attention, he would become visibly uncomfortable and began to sink into himself. When that happened, he unconsciously reached towards his head only to meet his hair. He was left wishing he had his cap back on for a safety net. Allura immediately picked up on this and a cold look from her towards the poor kids would silently send them on their way.

They had moved on from building a space robot to constructing a castle. They had a solid game plan; hoard as many pieces as possible. Well, it seemed like a solid game plan at the time until their greed almost caused a mini-revolution by a mob of angry toddlers demanding their fair share of building blocks. Amy quickly dismantled the toddler uprising by suggesting a reasonable compromise that split up the blocks evenly amongst the children. The compromise immediately resulted in Allura wanting to abandon construction because she said there weren't nearly enough building blocks to do it right. "Go big or go home," she had told him sternly with her arms folded stubbornly before she dragged him somewhere else.

Now they were in a rather secluded part of the daycare, away from probing questions and the proletariats, coloring in artbooks, courtesy of another one of Allura's personal stashes. Shiro decided on an animal-themed book while Allura was still looking for the perfect flower to fill in. She laid on her stomach while she lazily flipped through the pages, her head resting on her open palm. She looked up just in time to see Shiro check the clock. Again.

"Why do you keep looking at the clock?" she asked in a bored tone. "It's not like you can read it. Papa changed it from the glowy numbers to the sticks a week ago." She paused on a page, made a face, then continued to flip through them.

"I can so read it!" he defended with puffed cheeks. His outburst made him go slightly over the lines of his lion picture.

"Oh, yeah?" she challenged with a smirk on her face. "Then what does it say?" Oh, she was so ready to prove him wrong.

Too ready.

"...1:23," he said slowly with shifty eyes, avoiding her gaze. He honestly just counted from one to three and made it sound like a time. Allura wouldn't know if he was lying because it's not like she could read the clock. She couldn't tell time, either. He could get away with this.

Allura looked at him then looked at the clock with squinted eyes then back at him once more, her blue eyes studying him carefully searching for the lie he set out. She set aside her coloring book and sat up, looking around the daycare. She didn't believe Shiro. Not one bit, but she didn't have the knowledge to call him out on it, but she knew someone who could. "Amy, what time is it?!" she yelled across the room when she spotted their caretaker.

"Allura, you know I'm not allowed to tell you that," Amy answered from across the room. She was busy cleaning up spilled juice from the floor. Her back was facing them, so her reply sounded muffled and strained.

Allura rolled her eyes and let out a loud, exaggerated sigh out of spite. While she fell with her back on the ground she threw her arms above her head and entwined them in her silver hair. She began to speak in a nagging, mocking voice, "Allura, you can't know the time. Allura, you can't take all the blocks of your super awesome castle. Allura, no, you can't keep a bee farm." Her shoulders shook with each syllable that left her mouth.

"I can hear you, Allura," Amy warned in a light voice.

"I trained those bees! They were ready for the circus, Amy!" Allura pouted and rolled over onto her stomach. "Whatever, it doesn't matter." It did matter. She could never do anything fun. "Why do you keep looking at the clock?" she asked Shiro again, only this time more curious. Her sudden anger of her bee farm was a distant memory.

Shiro raised an eyebrow. There was so much he wanted to ask her but her attention was already focused solely on him. He was starting to get used to the intensity of her stare, but he couldn't say it didn't leave him feeling funny.

He let out a sigh and continued to color in his lion before answering her. "My mama said that she would be back really soon, but it's been forever since she left me here," he confessed. Shiro knew that this interview was important, but how important was it that she abandoned her child with complete strangers for 5 hours? "She said that she was having an interview with her new boss today and if he likes her, we can stay here."

Allura was suddenly off of the floor and in his face. She snatched the black crayon from his hands and threw it across the room. Shiro's mouth fell open in shock then his face took on a look of anger, "Why did you do that?!"

"I had to."

"No, you di-"

"Yes I did," she interrupted. She really didn't have to throw his crayon across the room, but it felt right and she didn't know how to express herself without harming others. She was pretty sure that crayon was gone forever because it rolled under the cubbies where no fingers could reach. Oh well.

"I can never finish this picture, now!" He pushed his hands towards his incomplete black lion. Why did she always ruin his creative plans? He couldn't build a plane because she wanted to build a robot. They couldn't build a castle, because it had to absolutely have every single block in the entire daycare, and now he couldn't even finish coloring in his awesome black lion.

Allura rolled her eyes at him. "There are plenty of other black crayons, Shiro," she assured. "See? Look." She picked up another crayon from the box and offered it to him.

"That's brown!" he whined as he looked over in the box searching for a replacement. "You threw the only black crayon way over there and I don't even know where it went."

"It went under the cubbies," she informed blankly. "You can’t reach it and no one else can either. It's gone forever, trust me. But listen!" She tossed aside his irritation the same way she tossed aside his crayon, ignoring his dismay as her voice was getting more and more excited. "Your mama is talking to my Uncle Zarkie. I heard them talking about the inter-interview earlier," she stumbled over the word. It wasn't foreign to her but it was the first time it had left her mouth.

"Okay…" he said slowly, unsure where she was going with this. He was still extremely bitter about his lost crayon.

"Shiro." He lost count of how many times her hands found his face, but here he was again. Face to hand contact. "Why should we wait for her, when we can go to her?" The look in her eyes scared Shiro. He didn't know why, but he knew every instinct in him told him to put distance between them.

"How?" His eyes were narrowed as he looked at her up and down, still at a loss.

She looked around carefully, her blue eyes taking in as much detail about their surroundings as possible. When she was finished, she turned her gaze back to Shiro, her voice low. "Do you trust me?"

"No, not even a little," he answered at a lightning speed. "How can I trust you when you threw the only black cray-"

"Shiro, forget the crayon!" she hissed while shaking his face. "This is important. We can go find your mama. I know where they are!"

His eyes lit up with delight. "You do!?" he said. His face then took on a look of confusion. "But...how are we gonna get to her? We're stuck in here."

"We're not stuck, Shiro," she said slyly. "I can get us out of here." The look of mischief once again found its way to her face and Shiro once again found himself afraid of her and the trouble he was sure to get in.

Shiro looked at her for a minute with questioning eyes before realization hit him like a bus.

He stepped back away from her, shaking his head rapidly. "We just can't leave!" he shouted. Allura hurried and put a hand over his mouth before he caught Amy's attention.

"Shh!" she hushed him angrily. She looked over her shoulder to see if Shiro's outburst had drawn attention and luckily for her, it hadn't. She was getting out of here, with or without Shiro. She was lying to herself because she knew Shiro was definitely coming with her.

Shiro moved her hand from his mouth before he continued in a hushed tone, "Allura, we'll get into trouble."

"Only if we get caught."

Shiro frowned.

"C'mon Shiro! I do this all the time, you just gotta trust me!" Shiro folded his arms over his chest, frown cemented in place. He duplicated the pose he'd seen his dad do dozens of times when he disapproved of Shiro's actions. It was the ultimate dad pose.

Turns out, Allura was the absolute worst person to hit with the "Dad Pose". She was completely unphased by it. Instead of backing down, she puffed her bottom lip out in a frown and somehow made her blue eyes wider. She brought her hands together in front her in a silent plea as her voice took on an innocent tone. "Shiro, pleeeease? I'm trying to help you get to your mama and I'm tired of being in here. Let's go on an adventure."

"We'll get lost..." he tried to reason with her. He was never one to break the rules and he didn't want to get into trouble his first day at the daycare. However, he knew that Allura was determined to drag him down with her.

"We won't get lost," she promised. "I know every part of my castle."

Shiro thought it over. Allura seemed extremely confident in her jailbreaking skills to the point where she was almost cocky about it and he did miss his mama. She said it would be a short day, but he was starting to get worried about her. She was gone for what? 9 hours, now? What if something bad had happened to her? What if she had tripped down the stairs? What if her new boss was being mean to her?

...What if she didn't get the job?

What would happen, then? Then his family couldn't stay here and his parents would have to split up again and he'd have to move houses. He and Allura could no longer be friends if he left. He pushed these thoughts from his head and sucked in a huge breath. "Let's do it." His voice full of determination.

Allura couldn't contain her excited squeal at Shiro's approval and she threw her arms around him in a brief hug. The way her eyes lit up made Shiro's heart sing. If he could make her look that happy for the rest of his life, he would do whatever it took. If that includes breaking out of daycare, then so be it. Allura straightened her posture, eyes lit with determination as she scanned the area once again. She was looking for a certain someone.

Suddenly, Allura grabbed Shiro by the hand and led him to the play area towards a red-headed boy playing with building blocks. Allura suppressed her sudden anger about seeing her blocks being used for a something other than a massive castle. Her castle was going to be legendary, but now it was only a distant memory. "Hi, Reggie." She forced a smile and gave a small wave. Shiro followed suit, waving awkwardly behind her.

The boy looked up at the pair with brown, unimpressed eyes. He looked slightly annoyed. Probably thinking back to the Great Building Block Scandal Allura had put everyone throughout of sheer greed. "What do you want? My blocks? Amy said that no one was to give you any more." he said as he pushed his portion of blocks behind him, hiding them from her.

"I don't want your blocks, Reggie, "she assured him. "But, I do need to get out of here."

"Again?"

Shiro raised an eyebrow. "Again?" he whispered to her. His comment earned him a glare from Allura.

"Yes, again. Are you gonna help me or not?" she demanded. Shiro could tell that she really needed to work on her patience. Almost everything she wanted was something that she wanted immediately with no pushback.

"Yeah…I'll help you, but I want something back," Reggie bargained. He was looking towards the direction of Allura's secret stash of goodies. Allura's eyes narrowed. She knew that no one knew exactly where her stash was because she moved locations every week to not draw in suspicion, but Reggie's gaze was dangerously close. She knew she had to relocate soon.

"Name it," Allura answered. She was more than willing to give up her personal luxuries for freedom. It was something that the entire daycare knew about. Allura was notorious for breaking out of daycare on a weekly basis, but as clever as she was, she could never do it alone. A colorful ball here, a packet of cheese crackers there. They wanted sweets? Then let them eat cake. She had many things to bargain in exchange for the help of the other kids.

"Don't name the crayons because Allura is just going to take them from you and throw them under th-OW!" Shiro's rant was interrupted by an elbow to the gut. He glared at the back of her head and before he could retaliate, Reggie started again.

"I want your animal coloring book," he said. "The one Shiro was using before you came over here." Shiro opened his mouth in protest. Did no one want him to be happy?

"Fine," she agreed, then whispered to Shiro after feeling his disappointment, "I have a better one hidden by the glue sticks." She turned her attention back towards Reggie. "Okay, we're gonna do Plan C."

"What's Plan C?" Reggie asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Reggie! You and me only have one plan," she growled while raising her index finger.

"Then why would you name it 'Plan C' if there's no Plan A or B?" Reggie asked back casually.

"Reggie, I'll throw that artbook under those cubbies so fast…" she threatened through clenched teeth.

"Okay, Okay!" he backed down. He scanned the daycare with the same seriousness Allura possessed earlier before looking back at them. "Get ready," he told them. Allura dragged Shiro to an area that was slightly hidden from Amy's view, her eyes peeking around the corner to watch everything unfold.

Reggie stood up and made his way towards the caretaker, trying to lead her away from the door. "Amy! Amy! Look how fast I can run! See look!" The red-headed boy then proceeded to run as fast as he could up and down the play area. Before Amy could tell him to stop, or at least slow down, Plan C moved on to phase two. With a strategic twist of his foot, Reggie came crashing down onto the carpet, face first. He immediately let out a high pitched wail that only a toddler could pull off. His eyes filled with tears as he made his face alarmingly red. His tiny fist slammed on the floor in a repeated banging motion, selling his charades.

And the Academy Award goes to...

Amy rushed to the seemingly injured child to see if he had truly hurt himself, leaving the pathway to the door open. With the coast clear, Allura ran to the entrance with Shiro right on her heels. She looked back to see if Amy was still distracted. She met Reggie's crocodile tear-filled eyes once more before she aggressively pushed Shiro down to his hands and knees, much to his silent protest, so she could climb on top of him to reach the door handle. "Be the lookout," she told him strictly. No surprise to her, the door was locked. It was a different lock from last time she had done this earlier last week, but she was sure she could get through it. She reached to the far right of her to the check-in desk to grab a long flower shaped pen and used that to reach and slide the piece of metal out of place.

The sound of the lock sliding out of place was music to her ears. She quickly got off Shiro who was taking his role as guarding footstool way too seriously. She helped him up and hurriedly pulled him out of the daycare before she carefully closed the door as quietly as possible. She could hear Reggie scream louder to drown out any noise they may have caused. He was doing a great job. She might just throw in two artbooks; he deserved it.

They were now on the outside of the daycare looking up towards the artificial clouds. Allura turned to Shiro with a smirk on her face and nudged him playfully. "See? That wasn't so bad." She started to walk down the hall knowing that he would follow her.

"I guess not." He stretched his sore back before he followed Allura. "Where do we go now, Princess?"

She cocked her head at the use of this nickname towards her. "Princess?"

"Yeah, because that's what you are," he answered honestly behind her. He was sure that whatever journey he was about to embark on, it was bound to get them in trouble. He honestly didn't care because as long as he was with the princess, he could deal with anything. Mainly because he knew that she could probably scheme her way out of any trouble might get into.

"I need your back again to reach the elevator buttons," she told him when they reached the sliding metal doors.

"What do you use when you don't have my back to reach things?" he asked. He didn't want this to be a recurring thing. Allura wasn't gentle in the slightest.

"I use a broom."

"Then why didn't you bring a broom this time?"

"Because I have you," she said as if it were common sense. "Now get down so I can reach."

Shiro got back into position as her personal step stool so Allura could call the elevator. It came quickly much to her delight and they made their way into the car. She climbed on his back one more time to press the floor they needed.

"What happens when we get there?" Shiro asked as they felt themselves being lifted up several floors. He was not a huge fan of surprises. He liked to know things in advance and wanted to know exactly what was going to happen, when it is was going to happen, and how it was going to happen. He liked to have a solid itinerary before any major event. It was a characteristic he picked up from both of his parents.

He had to admit that he was nervous about what was going to happen when , no if …- actually he was right the first time, so when they got caught. He was absolutely sure that he wouldn't leave this place without a firm lecture from his mama. She was gonna tell his Dad later on when they got home and his dad was going to do the "Dad Pose" and Shiro didn't think he could handle that right now. So much had happened today in such little time. It had only been...15 hours since this morning, right?

"We gotta be sneaky," she told him. "My Uncle Zarkie has a lot of people who work for him. We have to avoid them because if they catch us, they'll send us back to the daycare and then we can't find your mama."

The car came to a stop and they both peeked their heads out in opposite directions to check their surroundings before Allura quietly led them through the lobby. This floor was completely different from the lobby Shiro walked through earlier. Whereas the lobby downstairs had vibrant golds and reds, this area had darker tones. Deep shades of purples and greys were the main color scheme here.

The area wasn't as busy as Shiro thought it would be. He thought it would be littered with adults who were eager to catch them sneaking around, but he was only met with a couple of couches, plants, and a single desk with a receptionist sitting behind it and taking a phone call. The entrance to the Galra Branch was just behind her. Allura knew that the door was locked and the only person that could open it was the woman behind the desk. There was a button that unlocked the door that was incorporated into the woman's desk. Allura was too short, even with Shiro, to reach it. There was no possible way to sneak around the woman to reach the button or to even fashion up something long enough to reach the button that released the lock. She would have to face the woman head-on.

Not that it bothered her.

"Allura, what are you doing?" Shiro hissed when Allura came from behind her hiding spot behind a potted plant. She held her hand out and Shiro reluctantly took it and allowed Allura to lead him to the front desk.

The women didn't seem to be phased by her presence but took on a look a surprise when noticed that this time, Allura wasn't alone. She put whoever she was talking to on hold before she addressed the children. "Good afternoon, Allura," she said her a warm smile. "Who's your friend?" She folded her hands together as she looked over the desk at the children.

Allura put on the same forced smile she gave to Reggie just minutes ago. "Hi, Mia," she responded. "This is Shiro. He's new here and we need to find his mama. She's with Uncle Zarkie, so can you please let us in?"

Mia raised a brow. "Why does he need his mother?" she asked leaning forward more to study the boy over her desk. "Are you alright?"

Shiro let his eyes fall from the receptionist, hoping his white bangs could cover his face enough to hide him. He was not a good liar. If he spoke, he knew he was going to immediately ruin things for the both of them. Luckily for him, Allura chose that exact moment to physically step in, shielding him from Mia's dissecting eyes. "No, he's not okay! He's feeling a little sick and only his mama, who is in there, can help him!"

She continued to look at Shiro with a raised brow. "He doesn't look sick." Her tone was flat. A quick nudge from Allura sent Shiro into a fake coughing fit. It wasn't perfect, but it was sellable. However, if this friendship was going to work, Shiro needed to seriously work on his acting skills. Did he even see Reggie? Now that was acting.

"See?" Allura pointed towards Shiro, who was hacking away, completely over exaggerating the situation. "He needs medical attention...from his mama."

Mia rolled her eyes at their rendition of the black plague. "Okay, Allura. I think it'll just call Amy and have someone escort you two back to the daycare," she said while flipping through a phone book searching for the right number. She had no idea why she didn't have the number on speed dial considering she had sent Allura back to the daycare on numerous occasions this month alone.

Shiro stopped mid-cough, eyes wide with fear. This was it. This is the moment they would get into trouble and he'd get the longest lecture of his short life.

Allura stepped forward. "But Mia, if you call Amy, then that means that you'd have to hang up on your boyfriend," Allura said in a voice that was way too innocent to be considered as such. Mia's hands froze over the pages and stared at Allura with wide eyes. Allura blinked back owlishly with a grin on her face, tilting her head to the side in a silent challenge. Allura didn't know it yet, but what she was doing was definitely considered blackmail.

They stared at each other for what felt like forever. Shiro was nervously looking at both of them wondering who was going to cave in first. From the time he'd spent with Allura, he knew it wasn't going to be her. He knew that if Allura was going to go down, she would sure put up a fight. Mia's eyes narrowed at the girl before her fingers went to the button that unlocked the doors. "Go. If they ask, you came in through the vents again."

Allura broke into a huge smile. "Yeah, sure Mia! Thanks!" She pulled Shiro along with her before she entered the door.

Mia waited until the two disappeared behind the double doors before she turned her attention back to the phone. She almost ran her hands through her hair, messing up her perfect bun. "...She did it again, Gavin...yes again...oh, you have not met Allura Altea, you have no idea…"

Allura and Shiro entered the Galra Branch. In this area, the purple color scheme continued, except it was little darker than it was on the outside. It reminded Shiro of a fortress. It was way busier in here than it was in any other location Shiro had seen so far. There were individual cubicles that separated each employee to help them focus on their work. It was eerily quiet despite the fact that the room was completely crowded. A couple of employees were walking around, however, none of them had noticed Allura or Shiro. The two hid inside of an empty cubicle to go over their game plan before moving forward.

"Okay, so my Uncle Zarkie's office is that big one." Allura pointed the office that was separated with walls from the rest of the area. It had a large door that Shiro was positive that Allura needed to ruin his body for. It also had large windows that were covered with dark shutter blinds so he couldn't see inside.

Shiro expected to see guards patrolling the area, but there were just employees looking for a water break. He memorized their pattern before he moved forward, signaling Allura to follow him. He took the lead on this mission. He was sure Allura's trained eyes picked up whatever he had missed. They stayed low to ground to keep out of sight. They didn't exactly blend in - not with Allura's snow white hair and his bright orange shirt, but they did their best to time their movements perfectly to not draw in attention from the employees.

Shiro was about to take a step forward before he was harshly pulled back inside a cubicle. Allura placed a hand on his mouth before he said anything to give away their position. Not even a second later, an employee walked by with a mug in his hand. Allura removed her hand and Shiro let out the breath he didn't know he was holding. She peeked her head out before she cleared them and let him take the lead again.

As they got closer to Zarkon's office, Shiro took his steps more cautiously. There were more employees here. Each step he made was meticulously planned, careful not to alert anybody. However, as soon as they turned a corner into a cubicle for a hiding break to plan their next few steps, a man was in their path. All three froze in their spots and no one made a sound. Shiro stared at the man with wide eyes afraid that they had finally been caught. Well, they had a good run. Back to the daycare they would go.

The man looked at Shiro then to Allura with a questioning brow. He opened his mouth to address them before Allura narrowed her eyes, placed her index finger over her lips and shook her head slowly. The man sighed and let the single paper in his hands drop to the floor. "Oh no," the man said dryly, almost like a robot. "My paper fell. Let me turn around to retrieve it." He turned his back to them to pick up the single sheet from the floor. "Gee, I hope no one sneaks past me because if they did, now would be the perfect opportunity to do so." Allura took the diversion as the perfect chance to push Shiro into the next cubicle to secure their location.

The man quietly laughed to himself as he picked up his report before he returned to his workstation. He unlocked his computer and quickly sent out a mass email.

~.~w~.~

From: Thace Waterson
To: Fellow Minions
Subject: Code White
Allura is in the building. Watch your mouth and pretend you don't see her.

PS: Whoever stole my lunch, I am coming for you.
~.~w~.~

"That was close," Allura whispered once they were under the desk in the cubicle opposite of Zarkon's office. Shiro was busy trying to catch his breath while Allura scoped the area. He had so much adrenaline running through his veins right now. He had no idea how Allura seemingly controlled that man. Was she magic? That would also explain her white hair. She was a magical princess. "We're almost there. We just gotta open that door." Her words snapped him out of his thoughts and he refocused himself. He looked up at the large door. If he thought it was big before, it looked huge now. From his angle, it looked like it went on forever.

"C'mon, Shiro! Let's go!" Allura yelled at him once the coast was clear. He was immediately on his hands and knees before the entrance to give Allura the height she needed to open the door.

"Hurry!" Shiro hissed when he noticed movement around them. He didn't want to get caught when he was so close to his goal.

"I'm trying!" she growled back. Allura was stretching out as much as she could, but her fingers couldn't quite grasp the handle with enough pressure to pull it. She stood on the very tips of her toes and the action had Shiro clenching his teeth as it added unwanted pressure on his back.

~.~w~.~
From: Michael Ulaz
To: ALL
Subject: Holy Shit
This is the cutest fucking thing I have ever seen.

PS: Thace, I took your lunch. Fight me.

~.~w~.~

Shiro tried to hunch his back to give her more height to work with. He thought it helped when he heard the hiss of the door opening. Joy was replaced with worry when he felt Allura lose her balance at the loss of the one thing holding her up. She fell forward onto the ground with her hands breaking her fall. Before he could ask if she was alright, a huge man stood before them. Shiro looked up to see the scariest man he had ever seen. He was so big and intimidating and his face looked like it had a permanent frown etched into it. He looked on in fear as the man picked up Allura and brought her to his face. "No!" he yelled with reached out hands trying to get her back.

The man looked down at Shiro with amber eyes. He raised his brow before turning attention back towards the captured princess he held at arm's length. "Allura," he said slowly. "Please don't tell me this is Aiko Shirogane's son, Takashi."

"That is exactly who he is and he likes being called, ‘Shiro’," she replied without hesitation or fear.

Zarkon rolled his eyes before readjusting Allura in his arms, dangling her from under his arm. Before he opened his mouth to speak, Shiro spoke up with a brave voice. "Let her go! Where's my mama!?" he demanded before grabbing a hold of his leg and holding on tight. Extra tight.

He had to make sure Zarkon felt his raw strength.

Zarkon looked on with a blank face as he ignored his employees' conjoined sounds of, "Aaaww," and muffled laughter at their display. He heard the familiar sound of a camera clicking followed by a flash and rolled his eyes with annoyance.

Zarkon lightly shook Shiro off his leg then stooped down to Shiro's height when the boy finally let go. "She's probably looking for you," Zarkon answered before up-righting and placing Allura down beside Shiro. His face briefly took on a look of surprise at the way Shiro placed his body between them, staring him down. Was he that intimating?

God, he hoped he was.

Zarkon was unphased by Shiro's silent threat and looked at Allura with a frown. "Allura, I thought I told you not to be a bad influence on him? I specifically said him. Out of all the kids, you choose the one I told you not to corrupt."

"I'm not a bad influence, Uncle Zarkie!" she defended folding her arms in a pout. Shiro's eyes widened. This was her Uncle Zarkie? He didn't think he would be so...scary. "I was showing him around the castle," Allura explained. Oh, she was such a good liar. Everything left her mouth so easily with confidence. Shiro didn't know if he should praise her for her skills, or be terrified of them.

Zarkon sighed before he stood upright. "Let's go back to the daycare, then."

"But I need to find my mama, first!" Shiro said desperately. They didn't come all this way just to go back to the daycare.

"She's probably at the daycare right now looking for you." Oh. Well, maybe they did come all this way just to go back to the daycare.

Zarkon picked up his goddaughter and placed her on his hip and the other reached out towards Shiro who reluctantly grabbed his large hand. He made his way back towards the exit before turning back to face his employees. "Why did no one tell me Allura was here?" His eyes scanned the area wanting an answer.

"I sent out an email." Came the small reply from the back of the building.

"Hmm." He continued his journey back to the lobby. They passed the receptionist before they stood in front of the elevators.

"Hello, Mia, who I am seeing for the first time today." Allura was only a good liar when she felt like being a good liar, apparently. The elevator car came to them they all stepped in.

"Shiro, can you press the 4th floor for me?" Zarkon requested.

"I can do it!" Allura suggested before almost throwing herself out of Zarkon's grip, reaching to press the button. She didn't get far as Zarkon tightened his grip on her and he took a step back putting distance between Allura and her current obsession with ruining his life. He wanted to keep Allura as far as away from the buttons as possible. He didn't want a repeat of what happened this morning. Shiro stepped forward to do as he was asked. He struggled a bit, but he could reach it. Before, they needed to use teamwork because Allura had to press the 11th floor which was towards the top of the panel. Now it the 4th floor was more in reach so the child could press it by himself.

"Are you still mad at me?" Allura asked Zarkon. She was referring to the elevator incident that happened earlier that day. Zarkon turned his hard gaze to her but didn't answer her. "Oh, C'mon! It could not have been that bad."

"It took five minutes to go up seven floors," he informed her.

"Is that a long time?" she asked half interested while toying with his tie. She looked down at Shiro who was staring at the door, anxiously tapping his index finger on his thigh. She started to wiggle her body, pushing against his chest singling that she wanted to be put down. He set her down carefully and watched as she stood beside Shiro cupping their hands together. "We're gonna get your mama back!" When he didn't answer back, she stepped in front of him, lowering her head to make him meet her eyes. "Are you okay, Shiro?"

"What if she's mad at me?" he confessed quietly. He didn't want to disappoint his mama, but leaving to find her was something he had to do. He had to make sure she was safe and he knew that only he could protect her. Well, him and his dad. But his dad wasn't here, so he felt the responsibility fell on him like it always did. For most of his life, he had always just been him and his mom and he always did her best to make her proud. But now? He knew she wasn't happy with him. The thought of his mom scolding him broke his heart. The adventure was fun and thrilling, but now all he felt was guilt.

Allura felt somewhat responsible for Shiro's feelings. "Don't worry, Shiro," she reassured him before giving him a hug, which he timidly returned. Zarkon felt a small smile creep to his face at watching the exchange between the two children.

The elevator came to a stop and the trio stepped out. Zarkon led them towards the daycare quickly hoping to calm things down just in case his new hire was tearing into Amy. Just as he predicted, Aiko was questioning Amy with such intensity. Amy was doing her best to explain the situation. "I'm sure he's with Allura. I know this sounds weird, but trust me, they'll show up eventually."

Aiko raised her voice, "Eventually?! What do you mean? My son is missing!" She slammed her hand on the check-in desk.

Zarkon cleared his voice behind them to signal his entrance. "Hello again, Mrs. Shirogane. I have your son."

Aiko whipped her head back towards her boss, eyes seething before they were replaced with relief when she saw her son. "Takashi!" She dropped her purse right before her arms were filled with the warmth of her child.

"Mama!" Shiro cried into his mother's shoulder, burying his face into her neck. Allura looked at Mrs. Shirogane embrace her son and something dark briefly flashed in her eyes. She looked away, choosing to focus her attention on something, anything but them. Zarkon kept a watchful eye on her.

Aiko straightened Shiro to look at her. "Don't ever do that to me again! Do you understand me?" Shiro winced at her tone. "What were you thinking, Taka-chan?" The use of her nickname eased Shiro's guilt.

"I wanted to find you!" Shiro explained. "You were gone for like 19 hours! I got scared!"

"Takashi, honey. I was only gone for an hour and twenty minutes…" she told him.

"Mama, I can't tell time!" he shouted. "I don't know that!"

"So you did lie!" Allura accused. She knew he couldn't tell time!

For the first time, Aiko saw Allura. She was hiding behind one of Zarkon's legs now, peeking out between them. Shiro left his mother's embrace to go to Allura. He grabbed her hand and brought her to stand before his mother. "Mama, this is Allura. She helped me find you," he introduced his new friend. He hoped his mama liked her.

Allura stepped forward. "Hello, it's nice to meet you," she spoke in Japanese before she gave Aiko a respectful bow. Aiko raised a brow in surprise at the polite introduction. She switched to English before continuing. "I'm sorry I took Shiro out of the daycare. Please don't be mad at him anymore. It was my fault!" she told Aiko, defending her friend.

Aiko looked at the two children who were looking back at her with puppy eyes. Shiro never did puppy eyes before, so he must have learned it from this child. She let out a breath. "I'm not mad at you, Takashi. You just scared me. I thought something bad had happened to you."

"I know, Mama. I'm sorry," he apologized again. Aiko smiled before hugging him again. She then realized something.

"Taka-chan, where is your cap?" After she calmed down, she noticed that she could fully see his birthmark. She read his body language and he didn't seem ashamed of it anymore like he was this morning.

Shiro's gave her a big smile. The biggest smile she has seen from him since they moved from Japan. The sight warmed her heart and all of the anger she felt before completely melted away. "Allura said she liked my hair and told all the other kids that I looked cool!" he told her excitedly. "Mama, I have so many new friends now, but I like Allura the most!"

Aiko looked up at the snow-haired child with a smile. "Thank you, Allura for taking care of my son." Allura smiled back at her and gave a small bow. Aiko then turned her attention towards Zarkon who watched the scenario patiently. "Is Allura yours, Mr. Galra?"

He let out a laugh. "Heavens no. She is my goddaughter. It is with my deepest apologies that she caused all of this." He cleared his throat. "However, I must warn you: this probably will happen again, Mrs. Shirogane. Allura is known for leaving the daycare quite often. She usually ends up in my office or her father's. We do have security all around and throughout the building and Allura knows better than to do things...too dangerous. She knows exactly what is strictly off limits and she will never leave the building. She knows this place like the back her hand, so she will never truly get them lost if that helps ease your worries."

Aiko blinked, taking in what her boss just told her. She didn't exactly like the idea of her toddler roaming this giant building unsupervised with a girl they just met. Out of all kids, he had to make friends with a spy kid. A spy kid who was her new boss's goddaughter, at that.

Aiko grabbed her purse before she stood upright. "That's fine, I suppose. It's strange, but I know Allura could be the one to break him out of his shell." She looked behind her at the children who retreated into the daycare to gather Shiro's things.

"Allura has a tendency to do that," Zarkon spoke. "That girl can bring anybody out of their shell." Zarkon was too proud to admit it, but he knew that his life changed the day he met his goddaughter. He smiled more than he ever did after she was born. He would do absolutely anything in his power to make her happy. Luckily for Allura, Zarkon was a very powerful man.

"You mentioned that she often goes into her father's office," Aiko started. "Is her father an employee of yours?"

Zarkon smiled. "No, her father is Alfor Altea - My business partner and the Co-CEO of Voltron Tech." Aiko's mouth hung open. Not only did her son befriend a jailbreaker, but he befriended the child who was directly related to two of the most powerful men in the western hemisphere.

Zarkon laughed at her expression. "Don't worry. It won't be so bad," he told her. "Coran plans the best playdates."

"Coran?" she asked. 'Please don't let it be anybody important.' she thought.

"Coran Smyth, our advisor." Fuck. Another powerful person Allura had a direct correlation to.

"Don't look so frighted. We're actually decent people outside of work," he told her. "Now, I must head back to work. It was a pleasure meeting you Mrs. Shirogane. I'm pleased to know that the Galra branch met your expectations." Zarkon turned to leave before Allura ran up to him, holding her arms up demanding to be lifted.

"Can I come with you?" she asked when she was lifted to his eye level. "We can get ice cream."

"If I remember correctly, you didn't eat your vegetables last night and your father told you no more sweets for the rest of the week." he paused taking in her fallen expression before smirking. "But I won't tell him if you don't, kiddo." He was rewarded with a squeal of delight and a smothering hug from his sunshine.

Allura turned in his arms to wave back to Shiro. "Bye, Shiro! I'll see you tomorrow, right?" she asked him.

Shiro looked up at his mom in question. "Yes, Shiro will be back tomorrow, Allura."

"Yay! I can't wait to have adventures with you, Shiro! We'll be friends forever!" Shiro couldn't help but smile because he wanted nothing more to spend forever with Allura.

"Bye Princess!" Shiro waved goodbye to Allura before looking up at his mom. "I like it here, Mama," he told her as he grabbed her hand as they left to leave.

"I know you do, Taka-chan. I like it here, too." She squeezed his hand affectionately before they left the daycare.

 



In the elevator, Zarkon trusted Allura enough to let her press the elevator button this time. "So, kiddo, tell me: How did you get past Amy this time?"

"Plan C."

"Oh, that's a good one. That Reggie kid has a natural talent." Zarkon's tie kept Allura busy. Her natural tendency to touch things that didn't belong to her was taking over. He pulled out his cell to text Alfor that he had his daughter and that they were going to be in his office for probably the rest of the day. A second later his phone chimed with Alfor's specific text tone.

"Who is that child on your leg?"

Zarkon looked at the picture his best friend sent him. It was when he first foiled the toddler's plans of breaking into his office. He had Allura in his arms, while Shiro gripped tightly at his leg, face in a frown full of determination trying to protect his friend. The picture was taken by one of his Minions and was probably circulating the office by now. Zarkon smirked before saving the picture and replying.



Allura's new partner in crime and probably your future son-in-law.


EXCUSE ME?


Zarkon only laughed as stepped out of the elevator.

Chapter Text

Aiko Shirogane considered herself fortunate enough to never feel the economic burden of society. Having come from a well off family gave her that privilege. Even now, with her and her husband’s combined income, they were able to live comfortable lives in their new home and city. They never had to worry about utility bills, surprise expenses, or even their child’s future education. She was always grateful for her possessions and even more grateful for her family. She never once questioned her financial status because she knew that she made the middle class her bitch.

But Holy Shit.

What was once confidence turned into humility. As she drove up the driveway of the Altea household, she never felt so underprivileged in her life, and that was just by looking at the house that could technically classify as a mansion.

The two-story house wasn’t as grand as the other showboating houses that surrounded it, but it was still pretty damn impressive. It was exactly the kind of house in which most American kids dreamed of growing up in. Dark bricks expertly layered with stone made up the exterior of the house, while wooden beams added an offset accent and the side of the house was covered in a thick veil of vines. The house had beautiful high arched windows each framed with dark drapes drawn back, allowing the afternoon daylight to flow in. Three steps made of stone led to a front door tall enough to accommodate a family of giraffes.

Aiko couldn’t stop her jaw for falling open in amazement. She looked into her rearview mirror to see her son looking just as impressed as she was. His stormy eyes sparkled with amazement as he took in the massive house. He craned his neck as far as it could before his car seat harness prevented him from leaning up any further. When he could no longer hold his stressed position, he slouched back into his seat and began to kick his legs in excitement. He was eager to see Allura for their first playdate outside of the daycare. Aiko laughed to herself at her son’s display. He could barely contain his excitement.

Three months passed since her first day at Voltron Tech and so far, she was extremely happy with her new job. The hours were good, the benefits were amazing, the morning commute was a bitch, but her overall satisfaction with her new job exceeded her expectations. When her eyes met Shiro’s in the rearview mirror, she knew that she wasn’t the only one happy with their new life in The States. She could physically see her son’s patience thinning as his excitement overflowed. His tiny hands gripped at the harness over his chest and his feet continued to shuffle. The action produced a steady drum on the bottom of his car seat. Aiko had never seen him so excited.

For literally anything.

Aiko was overjoyed to see her son so happy. Over the months, she could see that Shiro and his “princess” develop a friendship that ran deeper than any friendship Shiro had back in Japan. The two were inseparable in the daycare. Where one was, the other was sure to be close by.

Zarkon was right when he told Aiko that Allura frequently left the daycare and now that she had Shiro, he was always dragged along with her. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence. However, they left the daycare often enough for other parents to warn their children about the dangers of leaving adult supervision out of fear that Allura’s rebellion would also rub off on their children as well. They all saw the picture circulating the office of Zarkon tangled up with two toddlers - one in his arms while the other tugged at his leg. Aiko was mortified that her son’s first impression to her boss was him trying to tussle him up.

Aiko knew that Alfor had given Allura the same speech about leaving the daycare multiple times before the incident that almost tarnished Zarkon’s intimidating image. She was sure that Alfor had given up trying to control his daughter’s thirst for adventure. Instead, opted to lecture her on the dos and don’ts of Voltron Tech. #1 was to not take any other children with her. A rule she had broken as soon as she laid eyes on Shiro.

On his first day.

Within an hour.  

Aiko remembers the lengthy apology email Alfor had sent her later that day. It wasn’t how she planned on ending her first day at Voltron Tech, but she was happy with the outcome of it. Her son found a friend that gave him the confidence to be himself. She’d never seen him smile as much as he does now. The snow-haired child left adult supervision whenever she saw fit, but she kept Shiro happy, which was more than she could ever ask for. Each day they left the daycare, her son would fill the commute home with details about his day with his friend.

Both parents knew of the strong bond between their children. A play date was set and here she was, contemplating her life choices while her child was close to losing his fucking mind in the backseat if he wasn’t unbuckled soon.

Everything was perfect.

She parked her car behind the dark SUV in the curved driveway she immediately recognized as Zarkon’s. She had no idea that he would also be in attendance. She felt her nerves begin to bite at her fingertips. She had no idea why she was nervous.  She was just dropping off Shiro and leaving for lunch date with a couple of coworkers. But still, the thought of Zarkon in...casual clothing made her uneasy.

She fixed her hair before she got out of the car. She then made her way to the back to unbuckle Shiro, who was shaking with excitement. If he had a tail, he’d be wagging it like a dog getting a pat from its owner. She quickly unbuckled him before she set him down on the ground. Just as she closed the door, Shiro grabbed her by the hand and made his way up the steps to stand in front of the towering front door. He eagerly reached towards the doorbell that he knew he was too short to reach. Aiko roller her eyes before she rang the bell herself.

A sweet, although muted, melodic tune could be heard behind the door, only to cut short by a loud, high pitched squeal. “Allura, hold still!” Zarkon’s voice roared over the controlled chaos. The pair could hear rapid footsteps before the door swung open to reveal Alfor. He was wearing tan slacks and a powder-blue golf shirt. Typical dad attire.

Alfor greeted them with an exhausted smile, which was weird because it was only 12:32 pm. “Good afternoon Mrs. Shirogane,” he addressed Aiko before he stooped down to Shiro’s level and ruffled his hair. “I am so glad you’re here, buddy,” he sighed before running his hand through his silver hair. “Allura has been bouncing off the walls since 8 am.”

“Papa!” Allura yells from somewhere in the house. “Is Shiro here?! Papa!” Aiko could tell that she was giddy with excitement just as much as Shiro. Her son always had a way of concealing his feelings, although those emotions tended to seep through now and again, especially now that he met Allura. The child wore her heart on her forehead and painted it purple. 

“I’m here, Princess!” Shiro answered her call with a screech. The excitement in his system finally got the best of him and without waiting for his mother, he bolted into the house using Allura’s laughter as a guide. His rapid footsteps echoed off of the polished wood floors as he disappeared deeper into the house. 

“She’s on the right!” Alfor called after him. Shiro either didn’t hear him or he did not know his right from his left because he definitely made the left that filtered into Alfor’s home office.

“That’s a left, Taka-chan,” Aiko called after him with her hand over her mouth to project her voice. “Make a right.”

A flash of black and white rushed passed their vision again in the opposite direction. “I knew that!”

Alfor shook his head with a light laugh before he stepped aside to invite Aiko inside. “She’s been raving all morning, Mrs. Shirogane. And by the looks of it, Shiro has too.” Aiko nodded her head confirmation while laughing along with her boss before she entered the house. “Allura naturally has the sleeping schedule of a farmer. She woke up earlier than usual this morning just to ask me what time Shiro was coming over and has not stopped asking me since. I’ve honestly never seen her so excited for a playdate. Not that she’s had many - she’s never taken a liking to anyone as much as she’s taken to Shiro.”

Aiko sighed lightly and smile tugged at her lips. “Takashi wasn’t any better. I could barely get him into bed last night, he was so excited.” Alfor shut the door behind Aiko and led her through the foyer.

Aiko let her eyes roam the room she found herself in. If she thought the exterior of the house was amazing, then the interior was exquisite. The walls were a warm, inviting color moderately covered with oil paintings and various pictures. She recognized some of the people in the pictures as some coworkers at company gatherings, some even had Allura in them. There was a family photo with Alfor, an infant Allura, and a woman she didn’t recognize. She knew about her boss’ late wife, so she didn’t let her eyes linger on it for too long, afraid that it might cause Alfor some discomfort.

As she continued to follow Alfor through the house, she allowed her fingers to trace over a graceful banister that curved up towards the second floor. “Your home is lovely, Mr. Altea,” she said in awe still taking in her surroundings. A high ceiling that effortlessly bled into a mosaic, sculptures embedded into the walls protected behind glass, a gorgeous low hanging chandelier that made the room dance when the sun hit it just right. He was truly a man of great taste.

“Thank you. Although I must admit that Zarkon handled most of the decor.”

Or maybe not.

“And please, refer to me as Alfor outside of work,” he requested the drop of formality with a smile. He could hear Allura’s excited laugh along with a shout of her friend’s name. Shiro must have found her. “Besides, if our children are as close as I think they are, then we’ll see a lot of each other outside of work.” A thought suddenly came to Aiko. Her, Alfor and maybe Zarkon, could actually become friends. She was sure there was some rulebook somewhere that prohibited this exact type of relationship between employees and their superiors. However, something was bound to form because of their children.

“Then you must call me Aiko,” she countered evenly, putting her mental rulebook aside.

Alfor let out another chuckle. “Fair enough, Aiko.” He turned down a wide hallway that led closer to the giddy laughter from the pair followed by an annoyed grumble.

It wasn’t long before they entered a spacious room of what looked like the living room. This room just as grand of the area she saw before, just without many of the priceless, easily breakable items. This must be on purpose considering he had a bossy, hyperactive toddler roaming the house on a daily basis.

She saw Shiro sitting on the floor on his knees in front of Allura. He talked to her in a breathy explosion of words while she listened closely to every word as her eyes shined brightly. They were most likely going over their plans for the day because Allura would nod her head enthusiastically every few moments and she would lean in closer to catch every detail of their day.

To see Shiro talk so much surprised Aiko since her child preferred to be a listener rather than a talker. Seeing him openly express his thoughts without the fear of being annoying or saying the wrong thing pulled at her heartstrings because she knew it was Allura who gave him that confidence.

Allura tried to lean in closer before she was firmly, but gently pulled back by her silver locks. “Allura, can you hold still for just... two more minutes?” Zarkon’s tone walked the line between desperation and irritation - a tone solely reserved for his godchild. Asking Allura to sit still when she was this excited was like asking a fire not to burn. The child sat on the floor between Zarkon’s legs while he sat on the couch hunched over her. He was in the process of wrangling her thick, curly hair into two neat braids that ended with a floof of her silver hair. The braids were far neater than Aiko would have expected from him. He must do her hair quite often for him to be this good at it.

“Uncle Zarkie, hurry!” Allura stressed out the last word so it could tug at the last ounces of Zarkon’s nerves. She threw her head back so it rested on the edge of the couch as she peered up at him with folded arms and impatient eyes.

Afraid of losing his grip on the braid and having it unravel, Zarkon’s hands followed her movement. His hands now at an awkward angle pinned between her head and the couch. Zarkon felt his eye twitch. Allura always tended to wear Zarkon’s patience thin, but never thin enough to break.

Zarkon took in a deep breath to steady his voice. “Listen, kiddo,” he said sternly with stiff shoulders. “Do you want the sparkles in your hair or not? Because the first one is already finished and if I don’t finish this one, it’ll look half done. You’ll look stupid and the neighbors will see and then they’ll think that we do things halfway. Do you want that? Do you want the neighbors to think that we do things halfway? Hmm?” Zarkon questioned her with raised eyebrows waiting for an answer. He felt his left hand going numb because it was wrapped in her thick hair while being simultaneously pinned to the couch.

Allura looked unnerved. “Depends on which neighbors.”

“The Wilsons.”

Blue eyes widened a fraction. “The Wilsons?”

A smirk. “The Wilsons.”

The fucking Wilsons. Allura has absolutely no reason to dislike the Wilsons, but her Uncle Zarkon didn’t like them, so neither did she. Allura was only loyal when she wanted to be. She was a ride or die. She immediately lifted her head to an angle Zarkon could easily work with, straightened her back, and sat as still as her hyperactive body allowed her. “But hurry...please.”

“Then keep still.” Zarkon knew he had exactly 2 minutes and 14 seconds before Allura would start to fidget again, so he immediately put all of his attention into finishing the braid before brushing and smoothing out the back.

This was surreal. Aiko had never seen Zarkon look so focused. Not even at the office when they had a serious deadline approaching, did he look this focused. He was her incredibly powerful, ridiculously wealthy, and downright intimidating boss. He was respected by most and feared by all. And yet here he was, racing against time to avoid a tantrum. Aiko knew that Allura wasn’t going to throw a tantrum. Zarkon knew that, Alfor knew it as well. Hell, even Shiro knew that she wasn’t going to throw a tantrum.

Allura Altea was too good for that.

There were plenty of ways to get what she wanted and a throwing a tantrum was not one of them. Aiko didn’t know if that was something she should commend Alfor for or be terrified that a child had mastered it.

Zarkon let out an exhausted breath before he slouched back against the couch. He finally let his shoulders relax and began to flex his aching fingers. “There.” His tone was flat but content. “I’m finished. Go. Be free.” He waved her off with his hand.

Before he could finish relieving her of the sweet torture of patience, Allura was already launching forward. “Yes!” she squealed out before she tackled a surprised Shiro to the ground in a hug. She was always so aggressive. He wrapped his arms around her before his back met the carpeted ground. Over the months, he grew accustomed to her surprise tackles and took her weight like a champ. There were times at the daycare where Allura would often turn a game of hide-and-seek into a game of cat and mouse. It always ended with a crushed, floored Shiro and a giggling Allura who didn’t know how strong she was. “C’mon Shiro! We have so much to do!” She scrambled to her feet before she used both of her hands to tug a winded, but smiling, Shiro up to stand beside her.

Before she ran off with Shiro, she climbed onto the couch to stand next to her somewhat exhausted uncle. He glared at her with an empty threat. “What?” he said slowly in a hollow voice. “You want me to paint your nails too, brat?” His voice was laced with obvious sarcasm but knowing Allura…

“Yes, but after Shiro leaves. We can match. We can do pink this time - no, purple because it looks good on you.”

Fuck.

“Thank you, Uncle Zarkie!” She beamed at him like a full moon before she planted a firm kiss on his cheek. She then hopped down be with Shiro. “Let’s go! I want to show you my room!” Zarkon tried to look annoyed, he really did. But he couldn’t help the ghost of a smile that inched on his face at his sunshine’s actions. She was going to be the death of him, he just knew it, and he accepted his fate.

Aiko smiled warmly at the exchange between the two. Allura brought out a whole new side to Zarkon that she nor any other employee at Voltron Tech ever saw. She once heard a rumor that Sendak caught the pair having a tea party in his office during the lunch hour. At the time, she laughed at the idea thinking it of it as blasphemy. However now that she witnessed her boss execute a hairstyle that border lined perfection, she thinks otherwise. She knows for a fact that they had a tea party.

She could also bet her left pinky finger that Zarkon’s toes are painted.

A flash of white interrupted her inner betting pool and she found herself being tugged down to her son’s height. “Bye, Mama!” Shiro said, in a rushed breath. His arms encircled her the best he could in a tight hug. “Have fun with your friends and don’t hurry back, okay? Okay.” And then, in a blur, he followed Allura up the stairs.

“Bye Shirogane-san!” Allura yells politely as possible, already halfway up the stairs with Shiro hot on her heels.

“Goodbye Allura, you two have fun,” she calls after them. “Shiro, you be good!”

“Yes ma’am!” Came the distant reply. They were already in Allura’s room.

Aiko turned to Alfor. “I should head out. You think you can handle those two?” she questioned him playfully. Her son was easy to handle, but with Allura, he was more likely to follow her lead...regardless of what it was. He just couldn’t seem to tell that girl no.

 

Alfor scratched the back of his head and let out a hearty chuckle, “Let’s hope so. I think I’ll be okay. Zarkon is here for the day and Coran will be arriving soon to go over numbers.”

 

Before she turned to leave, Aiko bid her goodbyes to Zarkon, who waved an exhausted hand somewhere in her general direction. “Allura was more of a handful than usual today. I blame your son for that.” Aiko laughed before Alfor led her to the door then walked her to her car.

“I’ll be back to pick him up at 6,” Aiko informs Alfor while fastening her seatbelt. “Hopefully, he won’t put up a fight.” They both knew they were destined for groans and whines when Shiro had to leave, or even worse...hide-and-seek. Normal children giggle while they are hiding because they were unable to contain the exciting thrill of the potential of getting caught. Allura and Shiro weren’t normal children. If they didn’t want to be found, then that’s exactly what was going to happen. It usually took bribing or security cameras to find the missing duo.

“Alright Aiko, I’ll be sure to have him ready for pickup. Wish me luck.”

“Will do.” Alfor waved goodbye to her before she drove off towards her lunch date.

///

“Wow, Allura!” Shiro says as he looks around the room wide-eyed. Her room was as bright as she was, just as Shiro expected from a princess. The bedroom was very spacious. It had pale pink walls with white accents. The white shelves had a variety of books and small trinkets she enjoyed. Toys were hastily put away in a chest in the far corner of the room next to a neat closet. Next to her wardrobe, there was a queen sized bed with a variety of stuffed animals and pillows over a yellow comforter. Large windows flooded her room with the warm afternoon sunlight.

Shiro’s favorite part of her room were the crystal butterflies hung from the ceiling. Their glass wings caught the sun’s light making them sparkle and reflect on the walls. It made her room look enchanted.

Shiro was too busy admiring her bedroom to notice that Allura had left his side to retrieve something. When he came back to reality, she was standing in front of him with her hands behind her back and a sly smile spread across her face. Shiro narrowed his eyes. Nothing good ever came from that smile. “What are you hiding?” he asked cautiously while shifting to peek behind her.

Shiro was quick, but Allura was quicker. She ducked out of the way, using her body to continue hiding whatever it was behind her back. Her eyes shined their usual brightness and she flashed him a smile. “It’s a surprise for you.” His eyes lit up and his shoulders stiffened. “But you have to guess,” she told him playfully.

All of his excitement drained as fast as it came. Shiro dropped his shoulders and let his head fall back. “You know I’m not a good guesser,” he groaned out dryly. Almost every surprise she had for him, he had to guess it in order to get it. Problem was, like he said, he was a horrible guesser and Allura never took that for a good enough reason to just hand things over. No, always he had to work for it.

“But you’re a good tryer,” she countered. “So try.” It was no longer a request.

“Fine,” he said with his tone flat as a board. He looked around her room for a clue. Maybe he had somehow spotted it on his first take of the room and whatever she hiding was something that was now missing. He scanned over the area quickly, using his memory to his advantage to spot the difference. His eyes landed on the bed behind her. He noticed that her stuffed animal collection lost some of its volume that it had before, but couldn’t quite pinpoint what exactly was missing.

“Did you get me a toy?” he asked. Allura nodded her head rapidly in confirmation while rocking on the balls of her feet, but she still hid the item.

“Keep going,” she urged.

“Is it a pillow?”

She gave him a look. “What? No. A pillow is not a toy, Takashi.” She only called him by his birth name when she was disappointed in him.

“It is if you like naps a lot,” he argued back.

“You don’t even like naps!”

“I do too like naps but you never let me take one.” He folded his arms. “You always want to do something.”

“Fine.” She rolled her eyes with a pout. “We’ll take a nap on Monday.. but I won’t like it.” Even when she let Shiro have his way, she did it in the bossiest way she could manage.

“I want 45 minutes, Allura!” Shiro bargained.  

”Okay, alright, fine!” Allura yelled. “We can take a 45-minute nap. Now, can you pleeease go back to guessing your surprise? My arms are getting tired.” Her feet started to move in place showing how she was she growing impatient.

Shiro couldn’t believe that he won. Then he realizes that he never actually tried to go up against the princess. He could have gotten so much more if he just asked for it. A nap was a small victory, but he’ll take it.

He placed his finger against his chin to show that he was thinking. After a moment he said, “Is it a stuffed animal?” She nodded again, barely holding in a giggle this time.  

She shook her head then leaned towards him. “Okay, that’s good enough,” she told him before she shoved the plushie in his face. Lucky for him, these guessing games never lasted long because her impatience always got the best of her.

His eyes crossed for a moment before he took a step back so his vision could focus on what exactly it was she had given him. It was small black lion plushie. His eyes widened and his cheeks took on a pinkish hue as he took his gift from her.

Allura watched his face carefully, searching for a positive reaction while her fingers fiddler with the hem of her dress. “I thought you would like this since you never got to finish your lion picture...for some reason,” she said, dropping last three words of her sentence to a grumble. They never did get that black crayon back.

Shiro stared at the plushie for some time. He looked back up to Allura to see her eyes averted as if her socks suddenly became the most interesting thing in the room. “Allura…” he started in a small voice.

“Its okay if you don’t like it. I just thoug-”

“I love it.” He spoke the words in a hoarse whisper. He crushed the stuffed animal to his chest determined to never let it go. This was the first time he ever received a gift from someone who wasn’t his immediate family and he was going to treasure it forever.

Allura’s eyes sparkled with joy before she darted off towards her bed. She soon came back clutching her own lion, however this one was pink. “Look, I have one too! We match!” she told him, holding her pink lion out towards him. “They can be best friends like us, Shiro!”

Shiro looked at her frozen with disbelief. Had Allura just called him her best friend? When did this happen? Had he been her best friend from day one, or did this just happen today? He never had a best friend before. He didn’t know what to do differently with this new information. What if he messed it up? Sure, they were basically inseparable at the daycare, but out of all of those kids, she had chosen him to be her best friend. He must be dreaming, because there was no way that she ha-

“You’re doing that thing again,” she said cutting off his racing thoughts with a bored tone.

“What thing?” he asked clutching his lion harder than you wanted to.

“That thing you do,” she told him as she gently pried his fingers away from his new toy. He reluctantly let it go and she took his lion from his arms and placed it beside hers on the bed. “Where you think too much. You’re my best friend and I want no one else to be. I want you. Unless…” She looked bashfully down at her feet while she put on a fake pout, knowing exactly where she was taking this conversation. “Unless you don’t want to be my best friend.” Her eyes watered over with false sadness. Now she was doing that thing, where she was getting her way.

Like always.

And Shiro was going to let her.

Like always.

“W-what, no, no, no!” Shiro stuttered. “I want to be your best friend!”

Allura’s charades immediately let up and her eyes lost their glossy look. “Good! Now c’mon, I think Coran is here!” she told him before she left the room and headed down the hallway. He took one last look back at his black lion sitting on the bed next to her pink one before he followed her downstairs.

He made it downstairs just in time so see Allura tossed into the air by the eccentric red-headed man. She let out a giddy laugh as she was set down on the ground. “Hello there, Shiro my boy!” he addressed Shiro with his thick kiwi accent. Before he met Coran, he’d never heard anything like it. Sure, Allura and Mr. Altea had an accent, but it was not as...lively as Coran’s. “Now, your father informed me that you two already had lunch, so that means that we can have some dessert, yes?” As expected, both children nodded their heads eagerly at the promise of sweets. “Alrighty-o then, what do you two say to my famous lollies?”

Allura’s face immediately faltered while Shiro continued to beam up at the man with wide sparkle filled eyes. Shiro has no idea what they were in store for. She couldn’t let these lollies see the light of day. “No, no, no,” she mumbled so softly that her mouth didn’t move, but her words were loud and clear enough for only Shiro could hear.

Out of the corner of his eye, Shiro saw Allura barely shaking her head in protest. He didn’t understand what was the big deal. Shiro’s parents were pretty strict when it came to sweets. He rarely got to enjoy them and if he did get candy, it was often, if not always, sugar-free. Free of fun. He couldn’t let Allura ruin his one chance. He never told her no, but it felt like today was going to be the day.

“Yes, we want candy, Coran!” Shiro shouted over Allura’s mumbled protest excitedly. His shoulders were stiff and his fist shook like the wings of a hummingbird. He could feel the heat coming from Allura, her glare almost cutting his excitement short.

“Yeah, great,” Allura said through clenched teeth, still giving Shiro a wicked side eye. “Coran we would love your famous lollies.” Each syllable left her mouth in separate parts, emphasizing how much she didn’t want any part of this.

Coran flashed them a toothy grin. “Splendid! Now you tikes scurry along while I prepare the lollies. They should be ready faster than you can say ‘sprightly globinheffer’!” And then the man was off into the kitchen to gather ingredients.

Shiro didn’t even begin to try to repeat what he had said. Although slightly terrified, he gathered his courage to turn and fully look at Allura. Her eyes held an emotion he couldn’t decipher. Probably betrayal. But it was for the good of candy - a treat he hardly got the luxury of enjoying. She’d understand.  

To Shiro’s surprise, she broke into a smile before grabbing his hand and leading him into the living room. “Let’s watch a movie while we wait for those famous lollies.” Her tone was still slightly off. It was laced with mischief and something else he couldn’t understand.

He put his worry aside and let her pick a movie. While she filtered through the list, Shiro went upstairs to grab both of their stuffed lions so they too could enjoy the movie. Allura settled on Beauty and the Beast and they both sat on the couch with their respective lions in their laps while Coran worked his magic in the kitchen.

They both sang along to the songs. Allura knew every song word for word, however Shiro had only seen most, if not all, of his Disney movies in Japanese. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the songs, he just didn’t know them in English, so he opted to hum them instead in time with the harmony.

Halfway through the movie, just when Belle and Beast entered the gorgeous ballroom, Coran appeared in front of them holding what appeared to be translucent blue disks with white sticks embedded into them. “Ah, here we are, children,” he said offering one to each child.

Allura reluctantly paused the movie and took her candy with scrunched eyebrows and a forced grateful smile. Shiro’s approach was undiluted eagerness and his craving for candy came back full force. He all but snatched it from Coran’s gasp, movie and lions forgotten. Both stared at the candies in their possession, but with complete opposite reactions. “You can have another one after dinner,” Coran told them before he ventured back into the kitchen where Alfor and Zarkon were holding a conversation.

Shiro looked at the strange candy in his hand. He’d never seen one that looked like this before. It was a clear light blue disk and it was almost as big as his hand. He could feel Allura’s eyes on him, waiting on him to make a move. He hitched his left knee on the couch so he could easily face her. She had made no effort to enjoy the treat Coran had given them instead, she continued to stare at Shiro with the same expression she’d given him earlier, just as unreadable as before.

A small smirk came to Allura’s face as she watched Shiro. “Go ahead, Shiro,” she urged. The look in her eyes was telling Shiro that she was holding something from him. “Try it. It’s really good. Go on! Put it in your mouth.” Her tone had a bitter edge to it. Shiro narrowed his eyes at her then at the alien candy in his hand. He wasn’t going to let her ruin this for him with whatever game she was playing. He wanted so little in life.

Shiro tentatively brought the candy to his mouth giving it a small lick. He couldn’t exactly get a taste from the sample, so he took a more confident taste. His eyes bulged before they shut tight and his face scrunched up. He jacked the candy from his mouth just as a shiver ran down his spine.

When he opened his eyes, he met Allura’s once again. She had the smuggest grin on her face. “Isn’t it the nastiest thing you’ve ever tasted?” Shiro now understood the look she gave him from earlier.

It was pettiness.

Because he didn’t follow her lead like he always did. Well, he wasn’t going to let her get the best of him. No. He could make his own decisions...and his own mistakes. This candy, if it should even be called that, was probably the grossest thing he’s ever tasted. If Coran wanted candy to taste like toothpaste, soy sauce, and orange juice with just a dash of disappointment, then he nailed it. If this is what real candy tasted like, then he never wanted it ever again.

It was his biggest regret of the week. He hoped his face didn’t reflect his bad decision because there was no way Allura was going to give him the, “I told you so,” speech. He witnessed his dad get that speech time after time and that was the one thing he didn’t want to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

“Well, do you hate it or do you really hate it?” Allura asked, leaning towards him waiting for his answer.

“...No,” he said slowly trying to hide his disdain of the abomination Coran dared to call a famous lollie. “It’s good...really good. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.” He stuck the sucker into his mouth hoping to sell his fabrication. He felt he eye twitch but he hoped that she was buying it.

Allura watched him again, her eyes dissecting every sentence. Her eyes narrowed slightly and a wicked grin took over her. She scrambled to her feet to look over the back of the couch towards the kitchen and she yelled out, “Coran! Shiro says that he just looooves your lollies and wants you to make them for his birthday party next ye-ah!” She was cut off by the sudden weight of Shiro tackling her to the couch with his hand over her mouth. If this is what Shiro went through with all of her sudden tackles, then she might have to let up.

Just a bit.

“Allura, don’t,” he begged in a hushed whisper. His ears strained to pick up any movement from the kitchen, just in case Allura’s outburst alerted them. There was no way he ever wanted anything to do with those candies ever again.

She pried his hand from her mouth, and her tone became threatening. “Then admit it.”

As stubborn as he wanted to be, her eyes pierced his soul and reluctantly brought the truth forward. “Fine, it was the grossest thing I’ve ever licked. I never want to go through with that again. Ever.”

“Ha! I knew it!” She was elated. Shiro didn’t know whether it was because she knew she was right or because she made him admit that he was wrong. Knowing her, it was probably an equal combination of both. “You have to make it up to me now. For lying.”

“You lie to me all the time.”

“Not all the time,” she argued back. “Just when I know that you can’t lie for yourself.” She pushed him off her before she sat up. Maybe she pushed him a little too hard because he almost lost his balance and fell completely off of the couch before her hand quickly reached out to steady him. Once he was steady, she took the blue abomination from his hands and took them to the farthest downstairs bathroom. She didn’t bother to turn on the lights while she took the toilet paper and wrapped it around both of them. She then disposed them into the trash, hiding their lies away.

Shiro sat on the couch waiting for her to return. When she came back, she stood in front of him, giving him a look that told him that she wanted his full attention. He raised an eyebrow in a question and got down to her level. She grinned before she grabbed the remote to unpause the movie. Belle and the Beast revealed themselves dressed like royalty. Belle in her famous yellow gown and Beast in deep blue coat. The characters began to cascade down the steps towards each other with gentle steps. It was Allura’s favorite part of the movie. “You owe me a favor, remember?”

Shiro was confused to what she wanted. They weren’t at the daycare, so there was no breaking out of the house considering they had so much space to play with. He eyed her skeptically before he asked, “What do you want me to do?” If it had been three months ago, he would have been terrified to ask her that question. To ask her what she wanted was like signing a waiver to sell his soul because she always had a way of shaving years off of his life with her stress inducing ideas. He grew accustomed to her antics and started each day mentally prepared to fully submit to her wishes. He’d put up a fight for show, but that’s all it ever was - for show.

Unlike her other ideas, her eyes always gave away the level of trouble they’d get into. But now, her eyes were gentle and they etched away all doubt of a future lecture. She reached out towards him at the same time Belle and Beast met each other. Her crystal blue eyes met his stormy grey ones before she said in an even voice, “Dance with me.” She took a curtsy at the same time Belle did behind her. It was only then that Shiro realized that he was wearing a yellow sundress.

She had this planned the whole time.

Shiro continued to give her a look, unsure of himself. He’s never seen his dad dance, he didn’t think it was something boys should do.

Allura tugged at his arms and pulled him towards her. “How about we take an hour nap instead of 45 minutes?” She always knew exactly what to say to get what she wanted, didn’t she?

Shiro thought it over he gave her a warm smile. “As you wish, Princess.” Shiro never danced before, but if it was with her, now was the perfect time to learn. Behind her, he saw Beast do a deep bow with his arm across his midsection. Although far from perfect, he did his best to mimic the jester.

He led her more towards the middle of the room then he let Allura take over. She moved his left hand to her waist while she took his right hand into hers. Shiro was still skeptical and kept his limbs stiff and unyielding. She then began to move them in a circular pattern throughout the wide room. She’s had plenty of practice by herself, but never with a partner.

Soon, Shiro got the hang of dancing and he realized that it wasn’t that bad! He didn’t feel less masculine and he was starting to have fun. Their movements were awkward and clumsy, with the occasional step that landed on a toe that was always followed by an apology. However, both were too busy laughing to be embarrassed by it. They took turns spinning each other under their arms. However neither barely made the turn considering how small they both were, but they managed to make it work.

They continued to dance long after the movie ended, too wrapped up in the world they created. They only focused on each other and the joy that came along with it. Allura’s eyes shined brightly and her smile made Shiro’s heart skip a beat. He didn’t know how to describe the new feelings she gave him whenever he was around her. It was like the crystal butterflies in Allura’s room found their way to his stomach and made it their new home. Maybe he should ask his mama about it later.

Aside from that horrid candy Coran had given him earlier, this was the best day he’s ever had. He received a new toy that he planned on keeping for the rest of this life and he danced with his princess. This day was absolute perfection. He hoped his mother took her time to pick him up because he wasn’t ready to go home just yet. There was no place he’d rather be than here with his best friend dancing in his arms.

///

“Do you think next week they are going to have a pretend wedding, Alfie?” Zarkon teased cooly. He was leaning against the counter in the kitchen with his arms folded over his chest with a smirk on his face. Beside him, Alfor stared fondly at the two through the opening in the kitchen.

“As long as they don’t play house, then they can do whatever they want to do,” he chuckled lightly, eyes still glued to the children. Maybe Zarkon was right that Shiro would be his future son-in-law. Of course, it was too soon to tell with being only children in all. However, he was great potential for the idea to become a reality.

“Shh!” Coran hushed them waving his arm behind them in a flapping motion. “They are going to spot us if you two keep yapping your mouths away.” He kept the camcorder steady while he secretly recorded the two children as they spun around the living room with laughter chasing them.

“I’m going to go throw the rest of those poison sticks you call candy away,” Zarkon told him. “Actually I won’t. Lotor likes them. He comes back with Honerva on Tuesday.”

“You think he’ll like Shiro?” Alfor asked finally taking his eyes off the spinning children.

Zarkon let out a snort. “Absolutely not.”

Chapter Text

Shiro was a boy of order. Like his parents, he preferred to follow a set schedule and changes, regardless of how small they were, did little to impress him. For four months, he followed the same weekday routine: he woke up at an ungodly hour, ate his favorite oatmeal for breakfast, hugged his papa goodbye, then he traveled to work with his mama where he would spend the majority of his day with Allura in the daycare.

He liked his life. He liked his daily routine even better. He liked the fact that he knew every day he would get to spend time with his best friend. Most importantly, he liked that Allura would rather spend the majority, if not all, of her time with him. Wherever she would go, he would be sure to follow.

Their bond was the strongest in the daycare and Shiro didn’t want anything to change that.

So it’s safe to say that the first time Shiro met Lotor was probably the worst day of his short life. Not because he was a new kid in the daycare but rather because it changed everything.

It started out like a normal day with Allura and himself playing as they normally did, before He showed up, everything was perfect.

“You did not!”

“Yeah huh, I saw it.”

Unconvinced, Allura stared at him with folded arms. “You did not see the Mystery Machine.”

Shiro shook his head. “How do you know?” he asked her casually, calm as ever. “You weren’t there. You don’t have my eyes.”

Shiro laid stretched out on his back beside her on the floor. He shifted until his left arm was folded so it could support his head while the other was used to help him count all of the artificial clouds that hung from the ceiling. His stuffed lion was tucked into his side with Allura’s own propped up next to it.

Allura and Shiro were the only two children in the daycare. Well, the only two who were awake. Because of a quickly approaching deadline, the workdays started much earlier than usual. It was a small change Shiro had a little trouble adapting to. Unlike Allura, he was not an early riser.

The new schedule left the daycare full of cranky, sleep-deprived children. The few who couldn’t quite shake the sleep from their eyes, lay undisturbed on the other side of the room resting on soft mats in a deep slumber. The lucky few whose parents didn’t have to clock in at the crack of dawn would filter in slowly one by one over the next couple of hours.

With Tiny Voltz in this somber state, now would be the perfect time for Allura to hoard toys from the other kids, or at least rotate the hiding places of her secret stashes scattered around. But with no one trying to catch her in the act, the idea quickly lost its joy. There was no challenge.

And where was the fun in that?

Shiro felt her shuffle beside him before darkness filled his vision. “Was Freddy driving?” she asked after a minute of silence, leaning over him. Her silver curls fell from over her shoulder and surrounded him in a curtain of starlight. He let a small giggle and scrunched his face when the ends of her curls tickled his nose. She blocked his view from the clouds but her hair effortlessly replaced it. He honestly couldn’t tell where the clouds ended and she began.

He blew her locks out of his face with a puff of air. “No, I didn’t see any of the gang. But there was this super old man driving.” He recalled the memory, then made another face Allura dubbed as his thinking face. “He looked really mean...and sneaky...like he was up to something.” As soon as the words left his mouth, his eyes widened a fraction and his expression of realization was in perfect sync with hers.

“Old Man Jenkins,” they whispered together in unison.

Allura sat back on her haunches. “We have to save Scoobs and the Gang, Shiro,” Allura said with determination. “He stole their van and only we can get it back. Because if we don’t, then who’s gonna catch the bad guys?”

Shiro yawned. “The police.”

She shook her head. “No, no, no, it has to be us.”

“But Allura...we can’t drive...” he tried to reason. He was just as tired as the other children but he didn’t want to leave Allura to roam the daycare without his company. It was way too early for this.

She snorted. “But you can complain.” She looked off towards the daycare door and a familiar spark came to her blue eyes. Before Shiro could comment on the look of adventure, the spark was gone and boredom quickly replaced it. She let out an exaggerated sigh then she sprawled out next to him, careful not to squish the stuffed lions at his side.

Mimicking Shiro’s position, she placed her hands behind her head before speaking, “Eh, he probably just went to put gas in it because they don’t make enough monies solving mysteries to get their own gas.”

The influence of being raised by business savvy men along with spending most of her time in a billion-dollar corporation. This trained intelligence was clear to see in her economic reasoning to why an old man would steal the Mystery Machine. She blindly reached out to grab her lion and hugged it against her chest then she looked up towards the clouds. Unlike Shiro, she didn’t bother to count them. Instead, she opted to stare blankly past them. Her gaze was miles away and focused on nothing in particular.

Shiro turned towards her with a frown. “Are you okay?” Allura was never one to back down from an adventure regardless of how small it was. Any reason she came up with to leave the daycare, for any reason at all, she took it without hesitation and dragged him along with her.

Allura let another sigh as she continued to look past the clouds that hung above them. “I don’t know,” she said truthfully. “I feel like something bad is going to happen.” Her fingers started to fiddle with the mane of her lion.

Shiro raised an eyebrow. “Something bad?” he repeated with confusion. Shiro was always the one to say something bad was going to happen in direct relation to their actions, not her. He could feel their roles reversing and had no idea how to stop it, or at least how to deal with the changes.

The clouds above swayed carelessly with the light breeze the vents brought into the daycare. Allura’s gaze never left them, even when she answered his question. “Yeah. I don’t know how to explain it. Like my tummy hurts but I don’t think medicine can help it. I just feel weird.” She did her best to explain the gut feeling of impending doom, however, she couldn’t quite form the words into a sentence to make him understand her.

Shiro frowned. He had never seen Allura struggle to express herself. She always knew exactly what she wanted to say in every situation she found herself in. She even knew what Shiro wanted to say before he could find the words himself. Like the times when he would only give her a look and she understood exactly what he wanted to say as if though he had said the words out loud.

Shiro continued to watch Allura as she watched the clouds. He didn’t know what to say or what to do to help ease her mental dilemma because she was usually the one who helped ease his. He shifted until he returned to his original position, laying on his back to watch the clouds with her.

He thought to himself for a minute before an idea came to mind. He raised his hand to point at a cloud in the far left corner of the daycare. “That one in the corner looks like a puppy,” he told her suddenly, snapping her back to reality.

He turned to Allura to watch her reaction. She shifted her gaze to followed his finger and her eyes landed on the cloud he pointed out. She made a face then turned to him, expression riddled with confusion. “That cloud?”

He nodded. “Yeah, that one.”

She raised her brow and she looked at the cloud again. “But a puppy?” She didn’t understand what he wanted to look for. Puppies don’t fly. They can drive but they can’t fly.

Shiro gave her a goofy grin. “Yeah! C’mere, you gotta look from here!” He pulled her to lay closer to him so she could see the shape-shifting cloud from his perspective. “If you squint your eyes and tilt your head like this, it looks like a puppy. One with pointy ears like Balto! See?” He gave her a demonstration of what she needed to do to see what he saw then waited patiently for her to do the same.

Allura did as she was told. She squinted her eyes, tilted her head slightly to the side and stared at the cloud for a long moment trying to see the hidden pup. Within seconds, her look of concentration twisted into one of annoyance. Shiro rolled his eyes because he knew what was going to happen next.

Sure enough, she pouted with furrowed brows. “Shiro, I don’t see a p-” In the middle of her would-be rant, Shiro reached out a hand from under his head to tilt her head to the opposite side. Her eyes suddenly widened and she let out a gasp followed by a giggle. “Ah! I see it! I see it! Aww, it’s so cute!” she cooed as hugged her lion tighter to her chest. Eyes beaming, she turned to him. “Let’s do another!”

Shiro smiled when her fire returned. She searched excitedly for another cloud and when she spotted an animal shape that she was familiar with, she pointed it out. “Look! That one’s a bunny!”

Shiro pointed to another cloud. “And that one over there looks like a T-Rex!” he half shouted, careful not to wake the slumbering children. Allura agreed before she directed them to another cloud followed by a fit of giggles.

How much time had passed was lost to them as they laughed along with the rising sun. Most of the children were finally able to return to the land of the living and some even joined them in their game.

Over the laughter, Shiro vaguely heard the door opening in the distance along with Amy’s usual morning greeting, although there was a slight surprised edge to it today. He disregarded the slight change in her demeanor to focus his attention back on the clouds.

He craned his neck so his eyes could focus on a cloud they had yet to identify. From his position, the world was upside down. He squinted his eyes and tilted his head to get an angle that he could work with but no matter what he did, the cloud refused to be anything other than a misshapen wad of cotton attached to a string.

He turned to Allura for help. “What about that one, Princess?” Maybe she could identify what he couldn’t. “Because I think it looks like a clown or a car...but one of those weird cars. You know the ones with the wrinkly top? One of those.” He thought for a second then suddenly snapped his fingers. “OH! I know! It looks like a-” A shadow suddenly filled his vision, cutting off his thought process.

“Lotor?”

Huh? 

There was suddenly silence in the daycare. It was probably the quietest it’s ever been. The children playing along with them stopped to give their full attention to the scene. Towards the entrance, Amy also watched them carefully. They all knew something Shiro didn’t and it put him on edge. He didn’t like being left in the dark.

Shiro narrowed his eyes to focus on the figure hovering over them. He blinked as his eyes finally adjusted and he took in the stranger that disrupted their game with questioning eyes.

There stood a boy about their age. His complexion was slightly similar to Allura’s and his hair was almost as white as hers except it was cut short and it lacked the curly texture she possessed.

Shiro’s eyes widened. ‘A prince?’  He shifted his gaze to meet the newcomer's stare...or was it a glare? He couldn’t really tell from his position but he could see that the stranger’s eyes were a familiar shade of amber as they narrowly peered down at him with a sense of superiority. The boy’s gaze went from Shiro to Allura then to the two matching stuffed lions set between them. Something dark flashed in his eyes before they shifted back to focus on Shiro, his glare still in place.

The surrounding children continued to watch their every move and Amy took a step closer. She pretended like she wasn’t watching them by masking her curiosity with the task of folding the discarding blankets scattered around, but she was definitely watching.

A sudden movement from Allura caused Lotor’s hard gaze to leave Shiro and flicker over to her again. The look in his eyes going from masked aggression to warm in an instant. “Allura,” he greeted her with a posh accent that sounded more refined than hers. He took a small step back to give her room to stand. Mere moments later, his arms were full of her. She embraced him deeply but he made no move to return her hug.

Shiro saw the way Allura’s face lit up when she saw this boy and he felt a sense of uneasiness in the pit of his stomach watching the two. Sure, he received hugs from Allura daily but with each day that passed, they became less and less enthusiastic. He couldn't remember the last time he was tackled to the ground because of her overexcitement.

Was she getting bored of him?

Watching her hug this boy the way that she used to hug him planted something resentful deep within him and it began to take root. It was an emotion he’s never felt before until now. Was this the bad feeling Allura was talking about? Because he thought it was supposed to happen to her and not to him. Who was this person and where did he come from? And why couldn’t he stay there?

Far, far away.

The other kids remained silent. Their eyes constantly shifting from Lotor to Shiro as if they were watching a tennis match unfold.

Behind her, Lotor’s eyes once again found Shiro’s. If Shiro wasn’t sure that Lotor sent him a glare earlier, he was more than positive that he was now. He threw Shiro a ghost of a smirk before slowly returning Allura’s hug as he made sure not to break eye contact with him.

Shiro had enough. He pushed himself onto his elbows. With tense limbs and his mouth drawn into a frown, he sent Lotor back a glare of his own. It was a glare he had picked up from studying Allura when she watched the other kids touch the things she was forced to share. He couldn’t help it but there was something about this boy that set Shiro’s teeth on edge and he didn’t even know him. One thing he did know was that this boy was trouble and that he was going to ruin everything.

Lotor only snorted at Shiro’s pathetic attempt at a glare. Grabbing at her shoulders, he then tried to peel a reluctant Allura away from him. He let out a sigh when she didn't budge and held on tighter. She was being stubborn and all three of them knew it. Sometimes, she would get excessively clingy when she felt the need to. It was one of Allura's character traits that Shiro had learned to live with. She would let go when she felt like it and from the look of it, it wasn’t going to be anytime soon.

Shiro’s frown deepened at the thought.

Lotor frowned. “Allura, let go,” he commanded with no aggression behind his words. She shook her head in response and he rolled his eyes at her in annoyance. “You hug me now, but last time we had a sleepover, you told me that you couldn't wait for me to leave.”

Shiro grumbled. Allura didn’t have any sleepovers with him.

Allura smiled up at Lotor with a fake innocence. “Well, you shouldn’t have told Coran that I wanted a bunch of lollies for my birthday.”

Lotor narrowed his eyes. “That’s because you told me to wash off my cotton candy after I dropped it!” Lotor argued back, his voice almost breaking. His tone held anger that wasn’t there before. It was like he suddenly remembered how his heart broke when his cotton candy disappeared within milliseconds after touching the water. Allura’s malicious laughter still haunts him whenever his mother gives him the whimsical treat. It was like he could still hear it.

Maybe because she was still laughing.

Right now.

“Allura, it wasn’t funny!” he yelled at her while trying to put distance between the two. “You melted my cotton candy!”

She continued to let out a few more giggles before she could properly form the words. “But I gave you half of mines,” she told him, still trying to stifle her laughter. Was it really that funny? Lotor didn’t think so.

He sent her a hard look before he once again tried to push her away. “That’s because your father made you,” he grunted out trying to shake her off.

When she showed no intention of releasing him from her tight hold that would make Hulk Hogan jealous, Lotor reached behind her and pulled on a few strands of her silvery locks. Her laughter was immediately replaced with a pained sound before she jerked her body away from him. Her hands shot to her head and her fingers began to rub soothing circles around the abused area.

Shiro was on his feet in an instant and took a protective step forward ready to avenge his friend. Lotor folded his arms with a smirk. “I told you to let m-ah!” He wasn’t able to gloat for long before Allura reached out and grabbed a fist full of his short white hair in retaliation. Unlike Lotor, who let her go the second she withdrew from him, Allura was taking no prisoners. So why should Lotor? Within seconds they had each other’s hair in their grasps, both whining in pain but both too stubborn to cave in first.

Shiro was torn. On the one hand, he wanted to help Allura but on the other, he knew that she was far from helpless. She was a fighter without hesitation or fear. He honestly felt sympathy towards the boy because he knew Allura’s grip was painful because there were times where she didn’t know how strong she was. By the looks of it, she knew exactly how strong she was and used every ounce of her strength to make Lotor pay.

The children, previously silent, let out a collective sigh before returning to their own forms of entertainment. With the tension broken, there was no reason to pry.

Allura continued to pull at Lotor’s hair until a voice crashed over them.

“Nooope. Nu-uh. No, no, no, no. We are not starting this again. And especially not this early, you two.” All three looked up to see Amy standing over them with her hands perched on her hips and she did not look happy. “Allura. Lotor. Cut it out. Now.” Her voice held an authoritative tone that Shiro didn’t know she possessed.

Turns out, the grumpy, sleep-deprived children weren’t the only ones affected by the earlier work hours.

The feuding children looked up at Amy, then glared at the other, but neither moved from their gridlocked position.

“But he started it!” Allura was the first to defend herself while tightening her grip on his hair.

“Me? I did nothing wrong!” Came Lotor’s hissed reply, trying to edge away from her clutches.

“He pulled my hair!”

“Because she wouldn’t let me go.”

Her grip tightened. “I’ll never let go!”

God, she was so stubborn.

Before Amy could respond, muffled shuffling followed by a whine could be heard on the other side of the daycare. All four looked over with wide eyes at the heap of blankets that came to life on the cot closest to the window as it continued to move around.

They stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the shuffling to subside. Even the children who were awake froze where they stood. Crayons in the middle of coloring sheets halted mid-stroke. Juice boxes seconds away from being punctured by straws left children thirsty. A parent in the processes of zipping up a backpack also stopped in his tracks to eye the moving pile of blankets. Time seemed to stand still as everyone waited for the child to stop her rustling.

“Does she still do that thing?” Lotor asked quietly as he tried to keep his voice just above a whisper. His hand was still entangled in Allura’s hair and her’s in his.

“Yeah,” Shiro answered, eyes still glued to the shifting blanket.

Out of all of the children in Tiny Voltz, there was one child who should never be woken from a nap.

Megan Plaxum.

She was the main reason why most, if not all of the children, including Amy, did not like early work days. Megan was an absolute nightmare to ease back to sleep. Why? Because she was cranky, fussy, and most importantly, she was loud.

Mercilessly loud.

Whatever misery she went through to shake off her sleep, she made sure to drag down everyone within a two-floor radius down to suffer with her. Putting her back to rest was like easing a sensitive bomb into a Barney blanket made from fiberglass. There was no way anybody was trying to wake up her before she was ready to do so on her own accord.

Cautious not to move too fast to wake the child teetering on the edge of premature consciousness, all eyes slowly shifted to Allura and Lotor in a death glare. Shiro’s included. Sure Allura was his best friend, but he was absolutely not in the mood to deal with Megan. He was not in the mood for any of this.

Not today, not ever.

Amy took a deep breath before she spoke in a stern voice, “Allura...Lotor...if you two wake up Megan…” The caretaker left her threat unfinished because Allura knew what it implied.

Exposure of her secret stashes.

And judging by the look on Amy’s face, Allura was sure Amy was going to expose every single one of them. Or even worse - distribute them out to the other kids. Allura looked to Lotor and their eyes met. She was never one to give up, especially not first. But while Lotor had nothing to lose, Allura had everything. She refused to go from riches to rags, it was simply not an option. She gave his hair one final squeeze out of spite before she reluctantly let go. He did the same and both slowly backed away from the other.

The child continued to rustle for a few more seconds before her whining stopped and she settled back into her heap of blankets. The entire room let out a collective sigh of relief at the close call. The parent who wandered in at the absolute worst possible moment quickly zipped up the small backpack and kissed his child on the forehead goodbye then left without looking back. He was extra careful not to slam the door on the way out.

Amy still remained over them with her hands placed firmly on her hips. “Apologize to each other. Now.”

Allura folded her arms and gave him a pout before she mumbled out a quick half-assed apology. She had clearly run out of excuses for her behavior. It’s not like she regretted her choices, she just wanted to pretend like she did.

Amy pointed to her eyes then at them. “I’m watching you. The both of you.” The young woman gave them a final warning before she left to tidy up the discarded blankets.

Allura stuck her tongue out at Amy’s back before she sat back down beside Shiro, who was confused about what had just happened between the two. One second, Allura was drowning Lotor in the affection she hadn’t shown him in days and the next, she had him by the hair in one of her death grips.

So were they friends or not?

As if they weren’t just fighting moments ago, Allura reached up and pulled down Lotor to sit beside her. Her forceful nature took over and she pulled him just a tad too hard and Lotor came tumbling down.

Allura ignored his annoyed glare and turned to Shiro. “Shiro, this is Lotor,” she introduced him like he didn’t already know his name. “He’s my god brother and Uncle Zarkie’s son.” Shiro’s eyes widened with realization. So that’s why the boy looked slightly familiar to him. He had the same eyes as Zarkon’s. And Allura had a god brother? She never mentioned him before. What other secrets was she hiding from him?

Snapping out of this thoughts, Shiro noticed that Lotor was watching him again with an unreadable expression. Over time, he had somewhat of a grasp on what Allura was thinking when she chose to communicate only with her eyes. With this Lotor kid, he felt like it was his first day all over again. It made him feel uneasy the way Lotor’s eyes inspected him. Whereas Allura’s intense gaze was inviting and riddled with curiosity, Lotor’s gaze was corrupted with a sense of dominance and mystery. Like he was looking for the tiniest chink in his armor for the sole purpose of exploitation.

Shiro took a deep breath. Maybe he was being too harsh because he didn't actually know Lotor. He only knew what he saw on the outside. And so far, the outside was completely uninviting. However, his mama always told him to never judge a book by its cover. He decided to try a different approach - one that wasn’t as aggressive as Lotor was being. But why should he make the first move? He wasn't the newcomer here, Lotor was.

Shiro swallowed his pride and extended his hand. He tried his best to mimic the way his parents held out their hands as they initiated handshakes. “Hi,” Shiro greeted somewhat stiffly, his tone barely qualified as friendly.

Lotor eyed Shiro’s hand for a few seconds, then eyed Shiro before completely ignoring him altogether. He turned to Allura. “Allura, I want to go watch a movie," he announced in a bored tone before he stood up and waited for her to join him.

Shiro slowly dropped his hand as he felt his eye twitch. He tried to be the bigger person and get to know Lotor, but he would only do so much before he decided to move on. Sure, his mama told him to never judge a book by its cover.

Too bad Shiro couldn't read.

Allura didn’t stand, instead she pulled Lotor to sit back down again. “Be nice,” she hissed in his ear.

Lotor folded his arms across his chest and stared blankly ahead. His attention was elsewhere as he half ignored Allura’s threat and fully ignored Shiro’s presence. A jab to his side caught his attention and he winced in pain.

Lotor started to speak after a moment with a slight smirk. “Allura, let’s go watch a movie. Please.” He was being sarcastic and it resulted with another hard jab from Allura. “Fine.” Lotor huffed then turned towards Shiro with an unimpressed look. “Hello, Shiro. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He spoke the words through his teeth as if they were acid. Unlike Shiro, he made no effort to shake hands. Or look approachable.

Shiro figured this was the best he was going to get from him at this moment. Allura must have felt the same because rolled her eyes. She grabbed both of their lions and stood. Shiro joined her and took his black lion from her arms and held it to his chest.

Lotor eyed the matching lions with a look of envy. His eyes traveled up further and landed on Shiro, who had a not so hidden triumphant look plastered on his face.

Take that. 

Feeling confident, Shiro pulled Allura’s arm towards him. “We can’t go look at a movie because we’re playing Cloud Shape Guessers.” Allura gave him a look at the name he chose for their game. Obviously, he was bad at naming things because Mystery Clouds was obviously the superior name choice for their game.

Lotor eyes flashed before he stood and pulled at Allura’s other arm. “I saw you play that game and it looks stupid,” he said with a frown, tugging at her arm harshly. “That is why we should watch a movie. But just us, not you. You can go watch fake clouds and guess what dumb animals they look like.”

Shiro’s grip on Allura tightened. “It’s not just animals! There are other things clouds can be, too! Like planes and spaceships!” He was offended. “And why can’t I watch the movie?” He was offended and his feelings were hurt but he wasn’t going to tell Lotor that.

Lotor rolled his eyes. “Because you want to watch dumb clouds that aren’t even real. If you watch the movie, you’ll probably just point at all the clouds in the background.”

“Nu-uh! But if it looks like a turtle, I’m going to bring it up. There’s like 7 different kinds of clouds in The Land Before Time!” His argument was solid.

Lotor’s lip twitched.. “That’s why you can’t watch it with us because then you’ll watch the wrong thing,” Lotor sneered. “Allura let’s go.” He pulled at her again until Shiro’s grip on Allura loosened. Lotor took the opportunity to pull at Allura again, edging her in his direction.

Shiro saw the look on Allura’s face and it was not one he liked to see often. He let go before he felt her wrath and watched with amusement as Lotor pulled on her once again. Not a second later, she jacked her arm away from him. “Don’t pull on me!” she yelled before her leg lashed out and made contact with Lotor’s shin. He immediately let her go with a look of pain and betrayal.

“Sometimes, I hate you,” he told her through clenched teeth while he nursed his bruising shin.

She smiled down at him. “You don’t mean that.”

He met her smile with a glare. “Yeah, I do.”

She laughed. “I’m your sister, so you can’t hate me!”

“God sister,” came the swift correction. He corrects her now, but there were plenty of times he’s referred her as his sister when she wasn’t around.

Not happy with his response, she pounced on him and smothered him under her weight. “It’s the same thing, Lotty.”

He frowned. “Well, sisters don’t kick their brothers in the leg.”

She gave him a toothy grin. “Only when they deserve it.”

Lotor wiggled under her. “I didn’t deserve it and get off, you’re heavy.”

“Get off, you’re heavy,” she mocked as she made her accent heavier. She folded her arms. “Are you calling me fat?”

Lotor smirked. “I can’t breathe so yes.”

She gave him a light smack, then got off of him. She reached a hand out to help him up. Just before he took a hold of her hand, she snatched it back. “Sike!” she laughed but it died down when Lotor gave her a frown. “Aw! Don’t make that face! Get up.” She pulled him up into a standing position.

When Lotor finally got to his feet, he dusted himself off and narrowed his eyes at her. “I’m going to watch a movie. Are you coming or not?” He walked with an exaggerated limp towards the TV and she rolled her eyes before she followed.

Shiro’s eyes widen, then his expression fell with heartache. His head hung and he turned to walk away holding his lion loosely by one of its paws. It was like she had forgotten that he was standing there the whole time. She’s never done that before. It was always just the two of them and never had her attention focused on someone else for so long.

“Shiro, where are you going? C’mon!” Allura almost shouted, still mindful of Megan the Screecher. Shiro turned around to see her with her hand stretched out towards him and an annoyed Lotor standing impatiently behind her with his arms crossed over his chest. Shiro smiled in relief before he ran to catch up with them. He grabbed Allura’s outstretched hand and let her lead him towards the TV. Lotor rolled his eyes but stayed silent.

Amy put on a movie long ago and it was set to loop again once the majority of the children were awake. They had no idea what movie was going to play, so they sat in silence as they waited for the credits to finish.

Allura had no interest in knowing who voiced what character. She has turned to Lotor with the intent to start drama. “Did you miss me when you went at London?” she asked, breaking the silence.

Lotor snorted. “You don’t go at London, you go to London,” he corrected her with a roll of his eyes.

Allura gave a wicked smile. “...Did you miss me when you were to London?” She knew what she was doing. She just wanted to get under Lotor’s skin the same way he got under hers and simple grammar mistakes were a quick way to do it. A bored Allura was a dangerous Allura.

Lotor smirked. “No, I didn’t miss you,” he told her. “Not even a little since you want to go around kicking my legs.” Almost immediately he was bombarded with a stuffed lion to the face. Lotor didn’t mean to laugh but he did anyway. He guarded his face when she took aim at him again. “Okay, okay,” he yielded, using his arms to block her onslaught. “I missed you. But just a little.” Shiro didn’t miss how he scooted a little closer to her.

She stuck her tongue out. “That’s what I thought.” She turned back to the tv and was surprised that the credits were still scrolling. How long were these things? It felt like an hour. Or 2 minutes. She didn’t really know the difference.

It wasn’t long before her legendary impatience got the best of her. “I’m going to go ask Amy to make it go faster.” She placed her lion in Shiro’s lap then stood to go seek out Amy.

Her departure left Shiro and Lotor alone together for the first time. They sat in silence for a moment, each not bothering to speak to the other.

To pass the time, Shiro fiddled with the two lions in his possession. He checked their seams for any rips or snags that might develop into holes. His lion was a gift from his best friend and he was going to do his absolute best to take care of it. He took longer to go over Allura’s lion because he knew that she was unnecessarily aggressive with all of her possessions. While Shiro took pride in being gentle with his lion, he was sure Allura liked to practice wrestling moves with hers.

It wasn’t long before Shiro felt Lotor’s hard gaze on him. With a roll of his eyes and a heavy sigh, he turned to the boy. “What?” It came out harsher than Shiro had intended. “Allura wanted me to watch the movie so you can’t make me leave,” he told Lotor as he continued to inspect the lions, moving on to go over the paws.

Lotor didn’t move. He started to pick at the welted areas in the carpet in a bored fashion. “Allura is only your friend because I wasn’t here,” he said the words so casually that it took a second for Shiro to understand the dark meaning behind them. “Now that I’m back, she’s going to forget all about you. So you should go away before she does so you won’t get your feelings hurt.”

He dealt with bullies back home and the easiest way to deal with them was to simply ignore them. However, this boy was different. There was something about him that makes Shiro’s skin crawl and his fingers twitch.

Shiro’s eyes snapped to him and his hands gripping the lion tightly. He shook his head rapidly before he answered. “That’s not true! She told me that I was her best friend. She even got us matching lions,” he said desperately, shoving the two plushies in Lotor’s face as proof.

Lotor eyed the lion darkly before he pushed it from his face. “Because she felt bad for you.” Lotor was just as manipulative as Allura.The difference was that Allura’s clever wit was for defense, but Lotor specialized in offense. “Why do you think she wanted to watch the movie and not play your stupid game? Remember, she followed me and not you. She only invited you because you have no one else to play with. She wants to be my best friend. Not yours. You were just filling in for me until I got back.”

Lotor stretched his arms above his head and accompanied it with a bored yawn. He peeked at Shiro from the corner of his eye to make sure he was hitting his target. He turned his attention back towards the TV just as Allura returned with their guardian.

Amy rolled her eyes as she approached the television and grabbed the remote that was just out of reach for a very good reason. "There are only two minutes of credits left, Allura," Amy said when she noticed how quickly she skipped through them.

Allura shrugged her shoulders. "Two minutes too many, Amy." She took her lion from Shiro and set it in her lap. Reaching into both of the pockets of her dress, she pulled out several treats. She must have gotten from one of her stashes while she was away. She handed Lotor a box of raisins because he knew that her godbrother’s taste in snacks should be a crime, and she gave Shiro a sugar-free brownie. She pulled out and opened her own resealable bag of grapes her papa prepared for her this morning. She hummed happily and did a little dance before she popped one into her mouth.

Shiro mumbled out his appreciation softly. He looked down at the treat in his lap with an empty look. The movie began to play but he paid it no mind. He told himself that Allura was his best friend because she wanted to be his best friend, not because she felt bad for him. The longer he sat, the longer he told himself Lotor’s words had no effect on him.

Except that they it did.

For the majority of the movie, Lotor’s words were all he thought about. What if what Lotor had said was true? Had Lotor been there on Shiro’s first day, would Allura had even forced her way into his life? Everything they had been through seemed out of her own self-interest now. She only needed him because she didn’t have Lotor. Maybe he was a just a temporary replacement for something better.

For the first time since he had met her, he doubted her loyalty to him as well as their friendship.

Allura turned to Shiro with a frown. “What’s wrong?” she asked in between bites of her fruit, snapping him away from his thoughts. She eyed the unopened brownie in his hands, then focused on him. She finished chewing before she spoke again, “You don’t want the brownie? It’s sugar-free. Papa also gave me strawberries too if want those instead?” She offered her grapes to him. “Or do you want these?” She popped one more grape into her mouth in just in case he did want them. Sure, she was willing to share, just not completely ready give them up.

Shiro looked at Allura. Behind her, Lotor ate another raisin. His eyes were still glued to the screen but Shiro knew it was just a facade. He knew that Lotor was listening to every word exchanged between the two. He fiddled with the mane of his lion again. Its fur wasn’t as soft as it was just a few minutes ago.

He declined the fruit she offered with a shake of his head before he spoke in a soft voice, “I’m...I’m okay.” He wasn’t okay. “I-I think I want to take a nap.” And he wasn’t tired. He just wanted to get away.

Allura examined Shiro’s face carefully. He didn’t look tired. When Shiro was tired, he got cranky. He would roll his eyes and fold his arms and sometimes drag his feet as if they weighed a ton.

But he was never quiet.

This was a new expression he hadn’t shown her yet. The way he wouldn’t meet her eyes. The way he would bite at the inside of his lip. The way he held on to his lion like it was a grudge. It was all new to her. He looked distant, nervous, and full of self-doubt. Like he was unworthy or…

Allura’s head snapped to Lotor so fast, she threatened to break the sound barrier. “What did you tell him?!” she demanded as she snatched the box of raisins from his grasp.

Lotor didn’t flinch. “I didn’t tell him anything,” he lied smoothly while reaching for his goods that shouldn’t qualify as a treat.

Allura turned back to Shiro. “What did he tell you?” Her tone lost its sharp edge when she addressed him but it was still firm and demanding. Behind her, Lotor’s eyes pierced him into silence.

Shiro weighed his options for a moment. If he wanted to know if what Lotor had said was true, then he needed to see it for himself. He needed to see who Allura would choose if it came down between Lotor and himself. He started to fiddle with the packaging of the brownie again.

He mustered up the straightest face he could and looked her in the eyes. “I’m okay. I just...I just really want to take a nap,” he told her again in a steady voice.

Allura’s eyes narrowed, searching for the lie. She didn’t believe him but she didn’t want to push it. If he didn’t want to tell her what was wrong now, then that was fine, because she would definitely find out later. She had her ways.

“Fine,” she finally said after a moment of soul-searching. She turned back to glare at Lotor because she just knew that he had something to do with the way Shiro was acting.

Lotor rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why you think I would do something to him.” He reached for his raisins again and once again, she pulled them just out of his reach.

She rattled the box in her hand. “Because you’re a bully,” she told him before she took one of his raisins into her hand. She examined the dehydrated grape with a look of disgust.

Lotor looked offended, not that he actually was. He brought his hand up to cover his heart in a semi-dramatic display of deceit. “I’m not a bully. If anyone is a bully here, it’s you.” He pointed to his leg where he was sure a bruise had formed under his pant leg.

Shiro had the feeling that Lotor was the only person to talk to Allura in such a manner. She looked at him for a moment, her face void of emotion. It was the same face she had when she agreed to let Coran make them those nasty lollies. Shiro immediately recognized it as her, “Petty Face”.

Allura decided to temporarily put aside her distaste for the snack and popped one of his raisins into her mouth. Then another. And another. It wasn’t long before she started to shake the box to get the raisins that were stuck to the inside walls loose enough to fall into her open hand. Still chewing and without hesitation, she dumped them on the floor, effectively tainting them.

Lotor reached for his raisins before she could ruin the rest of them. “What are you doing!?” Without breaking eye contact, she stuffed more into her mouth. Lotor almost growled before he lunged at her trying to take back his treat. “You’re gonna call the ants!”

Another raisin met the ground. “Ants don’t have phones!” came her bitter reply. “And plus, we won’t get ants because no one even likes raisins.” Not true. Her papa adored raisins, but she wasn’t going to tell Lotor that. Plus, her papa was old. Old people liked raisins because raisins were just old grapes. They had no choice other than to bond.

But Allura had a choice and she chose to be petty.

“Then why are you eating them if you don’t even like them?!”

“I like the taste of you not getting them,” she told him aggressively before she continued to shove more raisins into her mouth. She chewed them fast and aggressive so she wouldn’t have to taste them before she swallowed. Lotor reached over her again but she used her legs to keep him away. She narrowed her eyes and casually tossed another raisin behind her.

She reached out behind her, trying to pass the box to Shiro. “Shiro, here! Eat some!”

Sometime between yesterday and today, Shiro finally learned how to tell Allura no. “I’m not eating that.” As much as Shiro disliked Lotor, he couldn’t bring himself to eat his raisins. It wasn’t a moral thing, he just didn’t like the texture of them.

“Allura, that’s not fair!” Came the shallow whine as Allura’s legs took Lotor’s full weight. His arms hung loosely to his side in a defeated fashion. He didn’t understand why Allura was being this way. After all, she didn’t know what he had told Shiro, she could only assume it wasn’t nice. She wasn’t wrong but she had no idea she was right.

“Then tell me what you said to Shiro!” she demanded. Lotor huffed before he tried in vain to reach for the box.

Shiro decided to put an end to their bickering. “He didn’t tell me anything.” Their dynamic became more confusing than anything ever before. Once again, they were civil one moment and the next, they were at each other’s throats, egos, and food.

Even though the fight had started over Shiro, they both completely forgot he was present. They both paused in their ministrations. Lotor hanging over Allura’s locked, outstretched legs while she held a nearly empty box of trash fruit just out of his reach.

Allura eyed him but didn’t say a word. Shiro took the box from her hands and handed it to Lotor. “Really,” he reassured her again, hoping to calm her rage.

Lotor snatched the box away from Shiro and he almost screamed when he discovered that only two raisins survived her rampage. “Allura!” he whined. “They are all gone!”

Allura looked into the box and dug her fingers into them so she could get them out. When she realized that she couldn’t reach them, she shook the box violently until they fell into her hand. “They aren’t all gone. There’s two left. See?” She held out of the lonely pair of raisins. She moved to give them to Lotor, but “accidentally” dropped them in the process. She only shrugged her shoulders. “Whoops.” She was completely unbothered by her actions.

Before Lotor could complain about his compensation of her horrid deeds, she gave Lotor her plump, youthful grapes. She always planned on giving them to him, she just wanted to make him suffer first.

Rising to her feet, she stretched her limbs then made her way to the cubbies. It wasn’t long before she returned with a dark blue blanket littered with stars dragging at her feet, a matching pillow piled on top of it and a soft purple mat that was half draped over her shoulder.

It was Shiro’s naptime equipment.

She almost tripped over the mat twice as she approached him. She stood over him with his pillow pinned under her chin and his blanket half in her arms and half on the ground. Stretching her neck slightly, she released his pillow from her under her chin and it fell to the ground with a soft thud. The blanket and mat followed shortly after.

She dropped the mat in her previously occupied area and half of it drooped over Lotor’s leg. Before he could voice out his annoyance, she sent a glare that was strong enough to silence him. He ate another one of her grapes spitefully before he continued to focus back on the movie he had no interest in if she wasn’t going to watch it with him.

Allura straightened the mat out then arranged the blanket and pillow on top. Shiro watched her curiously. “What are you doing?” he asked but still helped her arrange the blanket neatly.

Allura rolled her eyes and pulled back the blanket just enough for her to slip under them. “You said you wanted to take a nap, so we’re taking a nap,” she tells him curtly while settling their lions on the pillow.

She was never one to take a nap. She was the one who had the energy of the fucking sun and the stamina of the Duracell battery rabbit. Shiro honestly doesn’t know how he’s kept up with her all these months. She settled down in the blankets and propped herself up on her elbows so she could still watch the movie comfortably.

Shiro edged closer to her but didn’t get under the blankets. “But you aren’t tired?” He didn’t like the idea of her doing this just to please him.

“Neither are you.” She had spoken the words in Japanese to gain some sense of privacy. The language barrier Allura set up immediately caught Lotor’s attention. Like her, he knew multiple languages, unfortunately for him, Japanese was not one of them. The feeling of isolation was something he wasn’t used to. He ate the rest of Allura’s grapes in cold anger.

At Allura’s words, Shiro looked away stubbornly, his expression just short of a pout. She brought her lion closer to her and tucked it under her chin to support her head. She knew that he wasn’t going to tell her what was bothering him anytime soon. She let out a frustrated breath then pulled back the blanket to invite him in beside her.

Careful not to move around the blanket too much, Shiro slipped under it beside her. She moved over a bit to give him more room but she completely hogged the pillow in the process. Under the blankets, it was warmer than he liked but he quickly grew accustomed to it. Shiro looked to Lotor. The prince’s mouth was drawn into a tight line with his fists clenched in his lap and his chest moved along with his deep breaths. Earlier when he first laid eyes on him, he couldn’t read past the boy’s cold expression. However now, he knew exactly what the boy was thinking. He was seething.

Shiro felt his lips pull into a satisfactory grin at Lotor’s reaction. It was a small victory against a war he wasn’t sure he was fighting but he knew he was winning.

That was all that mattered.

He snuggled further under the blanket and propped himself up on his elbows to finish the movie. After a moment, he let his head fall onto his plush lion and closed his eyes for a second. He lied earlier when he said that he was tired but under the warmth of the blanket and the satisfaction of getting under Lotor’s skin, his eyes started to feel heavy. The early work days finally seemed to have an effect on him. With Allura by his side and Lotor on his nerves, he felt himself drift off to sleep.

 

~•xXx•~

Shiro didn’t know how long he was asleep for but he knew that when he woke up, Allura wasn’t next to him.

And neither was Lotor.

He rubbed the sleep from his eyes before he uncovered himself. He grabbed his lion and set out to look around the daycare in search of his best friend and his enemy in the making. He asked around but no one wanted to give him a solid answer. They always gave answers that could double as questions as if they were afraid how Shiro would react to the truth. Just as he was about to question Amy about their whereabouts, in came Coran through the door carrying Allura over his shoulder and holding Lotor by the wrist.

Shiro’s eyes widen in shock, then narrowed in anger, and finally lowered with sadness and betrayal.

They went on an adventure without him.

She chose Lotor over him.

Lotor was right, he was just a replacement for someone better. Someone that he could never aspire to be.

“Found these two wandering around the 7th-floor break room,” Coran explained to Amy. He let go of Lotor so he could firmly grab Allura from over his shoulder to set her down.

Allura latched on to Coran’s leg and looked up at him with big eyes. “But Coraaaan!” Allura whined. “We wanted to try coffee!”

Coran detached her from him before he bent down to her level. “And have you more hyper than you already are? Ha! I think not, little lady.” He bumped her nose along with his answer. Allura puffed her cheeks out and folded her arms in response.

Lotor spoke up, “But I heard Thace call it, ‘the sweet nectar of the gods!’ If we drink it, we can be super strong and no one can stop us!” There was a fire in his eyes that shouldn’t be there. Coran only brushed it off.

Coran laughed. “Maybe when you two are older, then we can get you that, ‘sweet nectar’.”

He patted Allura on the head and ruffled Lotor’s hair a bit then he turned to leave. Before he reached the door, he turned to Amy. “I noticed that Shiro wasn’t in attendance on this little excursion. Something happen?” Ever since they met, Allura and Shiro were inseparable. It was a little odd to see Lotor back at her side instead of the shy, yet brave child she called her best friend.

Amy shook her head. “Not that I know of, no,” she answered truthfully. She turned to watch the kids go back to the play area. “Shiro took a nap earlier but that’s it. Maybe they wanted to go back to old times?” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. Before Shiro, there was Lotor. The two would sneak out when they got bored, however, they were more like enemies than they were friends. Sure, they cared about each other, but they would tease each other and fight every chance they saw fit. With Shiro, the two got along as if they were made for each other.

Coran narrowed his eyes. “I see,” he said slowly. He brought his hand up to his mouth and ran his index finger and thumb over his mustache thoughtfully. “Well, keep an eye on them for me, will you?. Shiro and Allura, I mean. Lotor is…” he made a questioning sound, “let’s say that Lotor doesn’t exactly know how to share all too kindly.” With those final words, Coran left the daycare.

Amy waved him off then turned back to watch the children. She could only get a glance at the trio before she was dragged away by giddy girls who wanted to play dress up. She saw Allura’s excited face when Shiro greeted them. Lotor also gave the boy a smile. It was the first smile she had seen from the silver-haired child all day. Maybe Lotor was getting along with them well after all. She smiled and was soon whisked away by greedy hands.

Allura rushed into Shiro, wrapping her arms around his frame. “Shiro, you’re awake!” She seemed happy to see him but her previous actions make Shiro believe that she wasn’t.

“Yeah.” He looked emotionally drained.

Allura pulled away to look at him. “Are you still tired?”

He snorted. “No.” His response came out harsher than he planned to and Allura must have noticed because she searched for any indication if he was cranky. His curt response set off an alarm within her.

She brought her brows together. “What’s wrong?”

He took a step back from her. “You went on an adventure without me?” He tried his best not to sound angry, so it came out hurt and vulnerable instead. His adventures with Allura was something that he always looked forward to. Apparently, she didn’t need him now that she had Lotor.

She made a confused face. “You said you wanted a nap!”

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” he questioned. He sounded so desperate and he hated that he felt this way. He was far from a crybaby but he thought that they would at least attempted to wake him so they could all go.

She reached up into his hair to pick out a piece of fabric that must have got lodged in during his nap. She released the fuzz with a puff of air then she addressed his question. “Lotor said that we had to go find coffee to get powers! He said that when Auntie ‘Nerva drinks coffee, she gets stronger! We were going to bring you some back so you wouldn’t be so sleepy!” Her voice was light and void of any malicious intent.

Shiro had stopped listening the moment she had mentioned this was Lotor’s idea. He knew that she wouldn’t willingly leave him. She must have been tricked into it!

Shiro looked past Allura while she spoke to him and sure enough, there stood Lotor. Smirk in firmly in place. “Maybe you can come next time, Shiro,” came the fake attempt at being civil. Shiro knew he wasn’t invited. He knew that whatever Lotor could to try to separate him from Allura, he wouldn’t hesitate.

Shiro wasn’t going to let that happen.

Shiro narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, maybe next time.”

She bounced on her toes and grabbed him by the shoulders. “I’ll make it up to you one day, I promise! Oh! I think I found a way to sneak past Mia! There’s a vent behind the plant by the elevator that goes into Uncle Zarkie’s office!” Allura’s voice once again broke the tension between the two. She was completely oblivious to the storm brewing. “We need to plan our next adventure, Shiro! Lotor, you can help, too because we’ll need a decoy.” She pulled Shiro along and Lotor followed with a scowl.

And just like that, the duo was now a trio. It wouldn’t have been a problem if Shiro had actually liked Lotor. Or if Lotor had even slightly tolerated Shiro. Or maybe if Allura wasn’t so oblivious to the animosity between the two. There was always a first time for everything and it was the first time Shiro was sure that he hated someone.

Maybe tomorrow would be better, he tried to tell himself. Maybe they could get along and play something that they both liked. He already had a couple ideas that would be a fair compromise.

Yeah, tomorrow would be better for sure.

 

~•xXx•~

Well, tomorrow came and Shiro was sure it was the second worst day of his life.

And the 3rd. And of course, the 4th.

Shiro didn’t know exactly how long a week lasted but he knew that Lotor ruined all of it. Lotor was insufferable. Everything about him was designed to test Shiro’s patience. Shiro told himself that he only had to tolerate Lotor for one day. He didn’t know why he believed that. The boy would constantly try to drive a wedge between Allura and him. Every time Allura would talk to him, Lotor would distract her to the point where he took all of her attention away from him.

It didn’t take a genius to realize that Lotor only liked to pick fights with Allura because that meant that the more time she spent bickering with him, it was less time she had to interact with Shiro. It was all a part of his evil plan and Shiro saw right through it. Too bad he knew it was working.

Jealousy was something that Shiro wasn’t used to. He didn’t know how to handle it or even address it. Before he met Lotor, he didn’t even know what jealousy felt like. Now he knows the feeling all too well.

Everything he would do, Lotor was there to one-up him. Every idea he had, Lotor had a better one. Every joke he made, Lotor had a funnier one that made Allura laughed just a little too hard. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Allura wouldn’t constantly choose anything Lotor did over his version of the same thing.

The shift in dynamic changed something within Shiro. He became withdrawn. He talked a little bit less. He smiled a little bit less. He laughed a little bit less. When he did speak, his words held more of a sharp edge to it whenever Lotor would speak to him and on occasion, that edge would carry over when he spoke to Allura.

“Do you need a nap?” Allura asked him for the 3rd time with a raised brow. Shiro had been tense all day. Whenever he spoke, it was like he was speaking at her rather than to her. She noticed it immediately but let it slide considering the company still had an early work day. However now, it was starting to become worrisome. This wasn’t the Shiro she was used to.

Shiro occupied himself with trying to fit an oddly shaped piece into his puzzle but it was more like he was smashing it into places that it didn’t belong. Like Lotor.  He didn’t even look at her when he replied, “No.” His answer showed his irritation. “Why do you keep asking me that?” He moved the piece to a new location and to see if it would fit there instead.

She took the puzzle piece from his abuse and replaced it with one that was more likely to fit. “Because you’re cranky. You’ve been cranky all day,” she told him while she pointed to the location it would fit on the puzzle.

He obeyed her instructions and the piece easily clicked into place. “I’m not cranky.” He tried to be cautious of his tone with her but it was still defensive.

She scooted closer to him and handed him another puzzle piece. She guided him again and pointed to the location it belonged to. “Not just today, you were cranky yesterday, too,” she reminded him. “I think you need another nap. I can go get your blanket for you. Or I can tell Lotor to bring it? He’s close to the cubbies. He can also bring you a snack.”

It was an innocent suggestion but he completely lost interest in the puzzle. His temper flared as soon as he heard Lotor’s name. “Why do you want me to take a nap so bad?” he questioned her. “So you can go with Lotor on other adventure without me?” Or more like interrogated her.

She raised a brow. “What?”

Across the way, the bane of his existence sat eating a snack at one of the small tables. He glared at the back of Lotor’s head then back to her. He took a deep breath in to calm himself before he felt a surge of anger arise within him just at the thought of him.

Frustrated, he pushed the puzzle aside. The sides crumpled in the process. He stood up and pointed an accusing finger at her. “You only want me to take a nap, so you can sneak out with Lotor and leave me here by myself!” Saying the words out loud hurt more than he thought it would. It was like he was finally admitting to himself his biggest fear.

Allura pushed his finger aside with narrow eyes. “No, I don’t. I want you to take a nap because you’re always cranky!”

“I’m always cranky because of you!” It was the first time he’s ever yelled at her.

Allura furrowed her brows. “Me?” She was at a complete loss. “What did I do?” she asked him honestly.

“You don’t want to play with me anymore!”

She frowned. “I’m playing with you now.”

He shook his head. “No, you’re telling me to take a nap,” he corrected her. “Ever since Lotor came, you stopped caring about me.” He folded his arms stubbornly. “You only want to play with him. You only want to go exploring with him. You only laugh with him.

She looked taken aback. How long had he felt this way? “Shiro, don’t be silly. I do care about you.” She held out his lion to him. “You’re my best friend.”

Without thinking, he pushed his prized possession away from him, shoving it back into her. “Well, you don’t act like it.” Her eyes widen a fraction and a look of hurt briefly flashed through them. It was gone within a split second and he continued to speak. “Lotor was right.”

Her shoulders tensed. “Lotor?”

“He said that you liked him better than me and you wanted him as your best friend and not me. You’ve been ignoring me all week so I guess he wasn’t lying.”

She stood causing his lion to tumble from her lap and onto the ground. “Why didn’t you tell me that Lotor told you that?”

“Because I wanted to see if it was true and it was, Princess.” The nickname sounded more like an insult than anything. “You think you can replace me, well not if I do it to you first! I don’t need you as a friend, I can go find somebody else.” He looked around for another kid. “Like Reggie.”

In the distance, the redheaded child stiffened then shook his head stiffly. He wasn’t about to get in between Shiro and Allura.

Shiro stood and began to walk in the other direction far away from both Lotor and the person who he thought was his best friend.

He didn’t get far before Allura was beside him again walking at his pace. “Shiro, stop! Where are you going?”

He didn’t slow down to allow her to step with him easily, opting to walk faster. “Away from you so stop following me,” he commanded. “Go play with your new best friend. You like him better, anyway.”

She caught up to him so she could grab his hand to get him to stop walking but before she could get a solid grip, he ripped himself away from her. “Go away, Allura! I don’t want to be your friend anymore!” The words came out louder than he meant to. Or maybe it was the weight behind them that made it thunder over everything else.

Allura came to a complete halt. Her hand was still outstretched towards him but it soon fell to her side. She watched him with a blank face for a moment but made no effort to continue to pursue him.

“Is everything alright, you guys?” Amy’s voice cut through the tension. Shiro almost forgot about all the people in the daycare. All too fast, he became hyper-aware of all the eyes that were suddenly glued to them. He knew somewhere, Lotor was also watching them, too.

Shiro watched as it took a split second for Allura’s facial expression to change completely at the sound of Amy’s voice. It was almost as if a switch had flipped. It went from completely blank, to the cheerful Allura everyone always saw. He didn’t know she could do that.

Allura’s eyes snapped to the caretaker almost immediately and she forced her lips into a grin. “Yeah, we’re okay, Amy!” Her reply came out too high pitched and way too fast. With a little tweaking, it almost sounded like her world didn’t just crash around her. “We were just talking about our next adventure! But we can’t tell you because then you’d try to stop us!” She flashed Amy a smile that showed too many teeth.

Amy sighed. She heard exactly what Shiro had said. They all did. The way Allura responded to the situation was not at all how any of them thought she would.

The caretaker crouched down to their level and reached out with her hands to pull them both in closer. She wanted the two to make amends as soon as possible. Amy put on a warm smile. “Allura, maybe we should talk about what hap-”

Allura looked away. “Amy, I’m hungry,” she said, abruptly cutting off whatever solution Amy had. With her fist clenched and head held high, she turned and walked further into the daycare.

Shiro watched her walk away with a frown and turned away. She was probably going to go play with Lotor and they were probably going to leave him alone in the daycare. He didn’t care. There were plenty of other kids to play with! Like Reggie.

Wait, no. Not Reggie. Maybe Jakob. The boy had always wanted to play with the duo but Allura always scared him off. Now that he thought about it, there were plenty of other kids who wanted to play with them but Allura was too greedy to share her time and resources.

Shiro huffed. “And I’m going to play with my friends, Amy!” he shouted loud enough so that Allura could hear it. He wanted Allura to know that he didn’t need her and that she was easily replaceable. He wanted to make Allura feel the way he had felt since Lotor came. It was only fair.

He turned in the opposite way of the direction Allura had gone and walked off in search of his new friends. He put on a smile because he knew that he was going to have as much fun as ever.

~•xXx•~

Shiro missed Allura.

All of these kids were...weird. Not too weird but weird enough to place him completely out of his comfort zone. For starters, they talked too much. About absolutely nothing. They asked too many questions. About absolutely nothing. They argued with each other. About absolutely nothing. He didn’t hate them, he just didn’t like them too much and he found his patience thinning rapidly.

And they were so touchy. Shiro didn’t liked to be touched. Allura was the only exception because she loved invading his personal space as much as she loved hugs and he would never deny her one. She invaded his personal space but she was always cautious not to smother him. These kids didn’t care about personal space. They touched him whenever they pleased because they didn’t care about germs.

One thing that really struck a chord with Shiro is that everytime they chose an activity, they simply refused to complete it. On the table in front of him, there were half colored pictures, half eaten snacks, and half-constructed buildings. Was it that hard to complete just one thing?

Allura made sure to always follow through with her plans. Sure, it took a while for her to come up with an idea but when she put her mind to something, she always followed through with it until the end. These kids didn’t have any goals. They didn’t have any aspirations. They only lived in the present and not towards the future. He hated it.

Shiro really missed Allura.

Now that he calmed down and thought over the events of the day, he completely regretted the way he lashed out at Allura. He felt absolutely horrible about it now. Never once had she treated him like he had treated her. When she yelled at him, it wasn’t malicious, it was just because she couldn’t tell the difference between her outside voice and her inside one when she was excited.

He let out a sigh and rested his head on the table in the nest of his folded arms. He wished Allura was here with him. He wished they were still best friends. He wishes he never yelled at her. He felt more alone than he ever did in his life and he didn’t even have his lion to comfort him.

It wasn’t long before Shiro heard the rapid tapping of feet approaching him and it only made him want to bury himself deeper into his arms. He didn’t know who it was but he knew it wasn’t Allura.

“Shiro, come play with hide-and-seek with us!” He recognized the high pitched voice as Marisol’s. He thought it over for a few seconds before he raised his head to give her a small nod. He had been sulking long enough. Maybe playing hide-and-seek would get his mind off of things. He raised his head confidently and followed Marisol to the other kids waiting on them.

So what if his new friends couldn’t finish things to completion? Everybody has their flaws. And besides, you can’t half complete a game of hide-and-seek. This was going to be the most fun he had all week, he just knew it!

Shiro really really missed Allura.

Turns out, you can totally half complete a game of hide-and-seek. How? You just forget to look for all of the hiders. After 10 minutes, Shiro realized that he was one of the hiders that the seeker simply gave up on. He hid under the pile of blankets and thought about where he went wrong in life. Telling himself that these kids could replace his best friend was the first wrong step he took and it was all downhill from there.

He sighed before he pushed himself from under the hoard of blankets. He was done with this game. He was done with these other kids who constantly stressed him out. He was done pretending like he wasn’t beating himself up over his mistakes. He was going to find Allura and he was going to make things right between them.

Looking around, he spotted the kids he played with give their attention elsewhere. He noticed that the group only consisted of half the kids they started out with and he knew there were more kids still hiding forgotten somewhere. That is if they themselves didn’t forget that they were playing.

He walked silently to his and Allura’s favorite play area so he could face her. When he didn’t find her in their little grove, he searched their other favorite places. He checked over by the cubbies, in the reading corner, and by the snack area. He frowned when he realized that she wasn’t in the daycare at all.

A smile tugged at his lips when he saw a flash of white out the corner of his eye. He ran to where he saw the top of her head over by the blocks. His smile was quickly replaced with a scowl and narrowed eyes when he didn’t see his princess but only saw the malicious prince. He approached Lotor and felt his blood boil when he spotted Lotor coloring with his favorite crayons.

He looked around Lotor for the princess but once again, she nor their toy lions were anywhere to be found. “Where is Allura?” Shiro asked in a tight voice.

Lotor only shrugged as he switched between crayons. “Why do you want to know?” he asked Shiro evenly without looking up at him. He started to fill in the grass of the picture with a color that was more yellow than green. Shiro scrunched up his face at Lotor’s horrible choice of his shade of green. If it had been Shiro filling in the grass, he would have chosen a dark green. Because everyone knows that grass is green-green. Not yellow-green.

He sucked in a breath before he spoke. “Because I want to talk to her,” he said stiffly. He didn’t like telling Lotor what his plan was because the boy would just use his words against him like he always did.

“But why?” Lotor asked in a bored tone. “She isn’t your friend.” Lotor started to fill in the sun in the corner of the page an orangish hue. Another wrong color choice and Shiro felt his eye twitch.

“But she is my friend,” he argued back.

“That’s not what you said,” he countered. “You said that you didn’t want to be her friend. You said that you had other friends to play with and that’s why you didn’t need her. If I were Allura, I wouldn’t want to talk to you. Especially not after you yelled at me in front of everyone and made me cry.” He finished with a ghost of a smirk on his face.

Shiro stiffed. “I made her cry?” he asked softly. Guilt swelled up within him. He didn’t think his words had enough weight to make her cry. Now she’ll never forgive him!

Lotor nodded. “Yeah, you did.” He hummed in satisfaction at his finished picture before he flipped the pages to find a new empty page to color in. “She left to go see Uncle Alfor a long time ago. She told me that she was going to tell him what you did to her so he can fire your mother so you have to leave the daycare forever,” he said with a satisfactory grin.

Lotor smiles more at Shiro than he frowns but it’s never inviting. It’s always a smile made of bad intentions and malice. Shiro admits that he is bad at reading Lotor but he doesn’t miss the glint in his eyes.

“You’re lying.”

Lotor’s smile fell and for the first time, his amber eyes met Shiro’s. “I’m not lying,” he said sharply as he flipped through the pages. He was looking for the perfect picture to color in.

Shiro took a step closer. “Yes, you are! You’re always lying to me just to make me feel bad! I should have told Allura what you said but I didn’t because I believed you!” he yelled.

“...So? I didn’t make you yell at Allura. You could have just stayed quiet and played with her.” He pauses to study a page only to flip to another one within the second. “But you didn’t.”

“You made me!”

“I didn’t make you do anything.”

“You made me think bad thoughts! I’ll tell Allura what you did and she’ll forgive me,” he explained.

“Would you forgive you?”

Shiro thought for a moment. What if it had been Allura who yelled at him? He doesn’t think he would talk to her again after that. His fist clenched and he felt tears well up in his eyes but he refused to let them fall. Especially not in front of Lotor.

His best friend was in the castle probably crying because of the mistakes he made and he was going to make it right. “Allura is different. She’s not going to make me leave. She’s still my best friend.” He’s been lying to himself all week. What’s one more lie? Something deep inside him told him that Allura hated him and there was nothing he could do about it. But that wouldn’t stop him from putting up a fight.

Lotor watched him in silence before he closed the artbook and replaced it with another one instead. Shiro frowned when he recognized the new book as his favorite animal artbook. It’s the one Allura bought for him and he knows for a fact that the book was stored in his backpack. So why did Lotor have it?

Lotor flipped through the pages of this book almost in a bored fashion, purposely ripping some pages as he went along. When Lotor finally found the page he was looking for, he gave a wicked grin.

Shiro knew that everything Lotor said and everything that Lotor did was to get under his skin, so when he saw Lotor land on the uncolored lion in the artbook, he knew the boy was trying to rile him up. Especially since Lotor knew he was coloring in his book. The book Allura specifically picked out for him, not anybody else and especially not for Lotor.

“Hey, that’s my book!” Shiro told him, taking another step closer.

“Your name isn’t on it.”

“You were there when she gave it to me!”

“Should have put your name in it.”

Shiro’s shoulders stiffened. “My name is in it!” he yelled.

Lotor flipped the book over to the back panel and in Japanese, Shiro had, in fact, written his name on the book. Lotor rolled his eyes and flipped the book to where he left off. “It just looks like squiggly lines to me,” Lotor said while he took the time to spread his crayons out on the floor neatly. He took pride in himself at the way the colors were arranged properly. His fingers lightly dusted over each crayon as he thought about what awful color his lion should be and it directly corresponded to what color would make Shiro the angriest.

Lotor almost laughed when he picked out the perfect crayon to drag its waxy coating over the lion picture.

Shiro felt his eye twitch at the choice Lotor made. “Why are you coloring the lion white?” Shiro almost pulled at his hair in irritation. He wanted to rip the book from Lotor but held himself back. He didn’t

“Because I like white lions,” he told him as he dragged the crayon along the thin sheet. “They are real because I saw one at the zoo once. His name was Steve.” Who names a lion Steve?

“But you don’t need to color it white because the paper is already white,” he yelled. “Just color the grass around it. Wait, no wait, don’t color the grass.” Shiro doesn’t trust him to color anything ever again. And most certainly not in his book.

“Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not coloring, I am. So I get to choose what color I want the lion and I choose for it to be white.” Lotor stuck his tongue out at Shiro. “I think I’ll color the grass purple.”

“No, you’re doing it wrong!” When Shiro’s temper finally boiled over, he snatched the book from Lotor’s grasp. He had enough of Lotor taking his favorite art book and ruining it with bad choices. He’d rather the book be under the cubbies with his long-lost black crayon than in Lotor’s possession.

“Give it back!” Lotor yelled as he stood from his seat. He reached for the book and snagged the edge of the cover. He gave it a tug to try and snatch it from Shiro’s grasp but the boy had a good grip on it.

“No! It’s mine!” Shiro yelled. “Allura gave it to me not you!” Shiro tried to pry Lotor’s fingers from the artbook so he could gain leverage.

“I don’t care! I found it, it’s mine!” When Shiro planted his feet and refused to let go, Lotor decided he was going to end this.

“You didn’t find it! You stole it from my backpack!” Shiro argued.

Lotor didn’t like being called a thief. “If I can’t have it, you can’t have it!” With that, Lotor gripped the half of the pages with both hands and gave it a quick snag in opposing directions, effectively tearing the pages to pieces.

Shiro watched the ripped pages fall silently to the ground in shock and he felt tears threaten the edge of his eyes again. But this time, they were out of anger.

“There, you can have your stupid book,” Lotor told him before he threw the remaining shreds in his hands at Shiro.

Shiro stood still as he took in rapid breaths to calm himself but it wasn’t working. His anger was boiling over and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Lunging forward, Shiro placed both of his hands on Lotor’s chest and pushed him back harshly.

“Why are you so mean to me?” Shiro yelled as he gave Lotor another shove. “I didn’t do anything wrong to you! All you do is do things me to make me mad! You take my toys, you tear my favorite artbook and you took my best friend from me!” With every word, Shiro pushed him, letting his repressed feelings pour out. “You took everything and you still want more! Just stop it!”

Lotor’s eyes widened at Shiro’s words. Just as Shiro was about to give Lotor another hard shove, he was yanked back by their caretaker.

“Shiro! What has gotten into you?!” Amy scolded him. “You know we don’t hit or push anybody!”

“But Amy, he tore my book!” Shiro explained desperately. Surely she saw him rip his book to shreds. He had a right to be angry.

Amy shook her head. “That’s no excuse, Shiro! You know better,” she told him as he pulled him further away from Lotor. “I am very disappointed in you.” Just when Shiro thought she was only going to scold him, she turned towards Lotor. “And the same goes for you! You are not playing nice, Lotor. We’ve talked about this last time. Now you two are going to spend some time apart until you both cool off.”

She guided Lotor to one part of the daycare and Shiro to the opposite side. Amy didn’t isolate the children but Shiro soon found himself alone. He was supposed to be cooling off but he was making himself angrier. First he was at Lotor for ruining everything for him but eventually, he felt more angry at himself for letting Lotor get to him like that. His parents would be disappointed in his behavior and he knew he was in for a scolding when he got home. They always taught him to take deep breaths when he was upset but today wasn’t a deep breath kind of day.

He took a handful of blocks and begin to stack them atop of each other. He didn’t have any idea of what to build, he just knew that he needed a distraction to keep his mind busy. He smiled softly when he thought about the first time he met Allura. He was determined to play alone but she wouldn’t take no for an answer and they were inseparable ever since.

His anger was soon replaced by his sadness.

He missed her so much.

Shiro didn’t know how long he sat there stacking blocks but soon he heard his mother call for him. He didn’t immediately run to her because he knew he was in for a scolding for pushing Lotor. But what if she didn’t know about the incident? He immediately perked up at the thought.

When he approached his mother, her tight frown and crossed arms told him that she already knew everything. He should have known that Amy would snitch him out. He hung his head low enough so his hair could fall into his face to hide his shame. He wished he had his cap back. That way he could have something to hide behind. He hated when his mama was upset with him. The only worse than his mama being upset with him was his dad being upset with him.

Aiko held out Shiro’s backpack so he could loop his arms through it. She cleared her throat. “Don’t you have anything to say to Amy?” she said it as if it were a suggestion but Shiro knew better.

“He lifted his head a bit but didn’t meet Amy’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Amy,” he told her, his tone full of regret.

“Don’t you have someone else you owe an apology to?” she asked, pointing towards Lotor who stood not far from him. Shiro opened his mouth in protest but the look his mother gave him told him that he didn’t have a choice.

Shiro slowly walked over to Lotor who wore the same stubborn face as him. With folded arms and a frown that matched his mother’s, Shiro quickly grumbled out an apology. It was only when Amy nudged him, did Lotor do the same in a muffed grumble.

Lotor looked away with a frown. “There. I said it. Can I go now?” Lotor asked the question but he didn't wait for the answer before he stormed off deep into the daycare.

Aiko held her hand out and Shiro took a hold of it without question. “I’ll be sure to give Shiro a talk. Thank you for informing me, Amy.” She turned to leave with Shiro trotting right beside her, his head still hung low.

The walk to the car felt like they had been walking for ages. He didn’t remember the trip being this long. With each step he took, he felt his heart thump wildly in his chest. And that, combined with the silent treatment his mother was giving him the entire time was not a good sign. He hated when he knew he messed up and his parents wouldn’t say anything. It was like ticking time bomb and he had no idea when it was going to go off.

After Shiro was safely strapped into his car seat and the car was in motion, did Aiko finally speak. “So what happened today, Takashi?” She watched him from her rearview mirror when she stopped at the parking garage exit gate.

Not able to meet her eyes, Shiro looked down at his shoelaces as if they suddenly the most interesting thing in the world. “I don’t know, Mama,” he said honestly with a sigh. “Lotor made me so mad and I pushed him because he ripped my favorite artbook.”

Shiro’s actions today concerned Aiko because she knew her son was a sweetheart. He liked to laugh more than he liked to yell because he wasn’t very confrontational. He was picked on back home, but none of the teasings ever ended in Shiro using his hands to inflict harm on someone else.

Once out of the parking garage, Aiko looked both ways before she entered the evening traffic flow. “You pushed him over a book?”

Shiro threw his hands up. “It wasn’t just a book, Mama!” he defended. “It was my favorite book! The one Allura gave to me!” He folded his arms over his chest. “And Lotor destroyed it!”

“I think you and Lotor could be friends if you tried to be nice to him,” she suggested as she made a right turn on a familiar street.

“I tried being nice to him! He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him! He’s always so mean to me!” Shiro explained.

She raised a brow as she drove carefully down the narrow streets. “He’s mean to you?” she questioned evenly. “Does he tease you?”

Shiro sat back in his chair with a huff. “No.”

“Does he hit you?”

“No.”

“Does he mock you?”

“...Only sometimes,” he muttered, casting his eyes downward.

“Then what does he do?”

“I don’t know, Mama!” Shiro confessed with a growl. “He’s just...mean....and- and he’s annoying. And he’s always either ignoring me or staring at me!” Shiro finishes his rant with a kick of his feet.

“Staring at you?”

“It’s rude, Mama! You said staring was rude! And he does it aaaall the time! Like he can see through my bones!”

Aiko tried to keep a straight face at her son’s comment but couldn’t help the snort that escaped through her nose. “Okay, yes. Staring at people is rude,” she told him. “But that’s all he does? That’s what makes you upset, Takashi?”

“No, it's not just that! He does other stuff, too.”

When she came to a stop at a red light, she could finally look back at her child in the rearview mirror. Shiro had his arms folded over his chest and a grumpy frown was etched into his face. He looked more upset than when they first started the conversation. Aiko could tell that he was riling himself up just thinking about the boy who he thought was his sworn enemy. “Like what?”

“Lots of stuff!”

“Like?” she urged him on.

“He’s always trying to be funnier than me. Or every time I say what game we should play, he always says, ‘Let’s play this one instead, Allura.’.” Shiro tried his best to imitate Lotor’s posh accent but he didn’t do a good job of it. “And he never lets me talk to her without him jumping in and ruining everything. I hate him.”

“Hate is a strong word, Takashi,” she warned. “You don’t hate him.”

Shiro shook his head in stubbornly. “But I do hate him.”
“But why?” She wanted to understand of all of the bully Shiro had to deal, was this kid on the one that pushed him too far.

“Because he’s trying to take Allura away from me,” he finally muttered out.

Aiko made an understanding sound because everything finally clicked into place. Shiro was jealous. This was the first time anyone has ever threatened his relationship with Allura and he didn’t know how to deal with it. “You’re jealous, Taka-chan.”

“I’m what?” he asked confused.

“Jealous,” she repeated. “It means that you want to keep what you have and guard it from other people.” It was the simplest explanation she could think of without confusing him. “In this instance, you only want Allura to yourself and when she’s showing her interest in someone else - someone who you think is a threat to you, you lash out.”

Shiro made a face and clutched and pulled at this shirt. “But I don’t want to be jel-ass. How do I make it go away?” he asked desperately.

Aiko smiled as she made another turn. “It's pronounced jealous and the only way for you to make the feeling go away is for you to be comfortable with who you are and your friendship with Allura.” Aiko paused for a second to see if Shiro had anything to say. When he kept silent, she asked, “Have you talked to Allura about Lotor?”

He fiddled with a loose thread in his shirt. “Yeah, but I didn’t talk to her right. I yelled at her because I was...,” he paused to make sure he could pronounce the new word correctly, “jealous. I didn’t mean to yell at her, I just was so mad at Lotor and I couldn’t help it! I told her that I didn’t want to be her best friend anymore and I had other friends to play with.” he choked on the mumbled words and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands.

“But I didn’t mean it, I promise! I still want to be her friend. She’s the best friend I ever had! And when I went to tell Lotor, he said that she went to Mr. Altea to tell him what I did so he could fire you and I have to leave the daycare. But I don’t want leave! I want to stay here with Allura forever!” He was on the verge of letting himself fall apart and it broke Aiko’s heart.

“Breathe Taka-chan,” she told him gently, hoping her words would be enough to console him. “Everything is going to be alright.”

Shiro took a deep breath shook his head. “No, it’s not! She probably hates me now!” He took another deep breath and threw his head back before he spoke again. “Mama, what do I dooo?”

She smiled to herself before she turned the car into a familiar area. Shiro was so wrapped up in his feelings that he probably didn’t notice where they were. “You just have to apologize to her, Taka-chan. Allura is your best friend and I’m sure she will forgive you,” his mother reassured softly.

Shiro thought it over for a moment. Allura wasn’t the one to stay mad for long, all he had to do was tell her how sorry he was and she would forgive him.

But what if she didn’t?

His eyes went wide when an idea suddenly popped into his head. When his mama was mad at his dad, his dad always bought her flowers. That’s exactly what he had to do, too!

He dried his tears, lifted his head high and started to swing his feet in excitement. “Mama, we have to go to Allura’s house so I can tell her how sorry I am!” he yelled with clenched fists. “But first we need to go to the store so I can get her flowers! And we need glitter. Lots and lots of glitter, Mama. Like a whole hammock of glitter!” Neither he nor Aiko knew just how much a hammock of glitter was so he spread his arms wide to emphasize just how much glitter he was talking about.

Aiko almost laughed at her son’s determination to win his best friend back. She carefully pulled her car into a parking spot before she cut the engine. “That’s a lot of glitter, Shiro,” she told him. She unbuckled her seatbelt and grabbed her purse.

“Allura likes all sparkly things, but she really really likes glitter!” he explained to her. “I need to get her flowers and glitter and cut up grapes because she only likes them when they are cut in halfsies. And we need to…” his voice trailed off when he noticed they weren’t at the store or at Allura’s house. They were in the park.

His mother stepped out of the car and went to the back to take him out of his car seat. He looked up at her confused when she unbuckled him and lifted him out of the car. He squinted his eyes at the brightness he was suddenly exposed to. Shiro clunch to his mother as he looked around to see that they had arrived at his favorite park. This one was the biggest park he’d ever been to. It was in the middle of the city and it had lots of friendly dogs and slide he liked to race down. His favorite part was the big sand pit he liked to dig in. He grew sad when he realized that he usually played there with Allura.

Shiro clung to his mother’s shoulder when she bent over to adjust her purse and lock the car door. He frowned when she set him down on the ground and he looked up at her with furrowed brows. “Why are we at the park?” he questioned. As much as he loved the park, this is the last place he wanted to be. “We gotta go to the garden and glitter store.” He looked around a bit and when didn’t see a garden or a glitter store, his frown deepened. As confused and annoyed as he was, he didn’t resist when she reached out to hold his hand.

He tugged again at her hand. “Mama. I don’t want to be here! It’s not the same without Allura. We gotta go!” he begged as he tried to slow down her pace.

She hid a smile. “I think a little walk will do you some good.” Shiro pouted. He didn’t understand why his mama was being difficult. Every minute he spent here was another minute Allura spent without him. She was probably with Lotor now bad mouthing him. He heard the sound of laughter in the distance and was envious that it wasn’t him having that much fun.

For every step his mother took, Shiro took two. It was a slow pace and as the sun beat down on them, Shiro found it easier to breathe. The wind was gentle as it flowed through his hair and caressed his cheek. The smell of wet grass filled his nose and the sweet sound of song birds in trees put a small smile on his face. His mama was right, the walk did help.

They continued to walk down the path hand in hand. It wasn’t long until he saw the familiar playground in the distance and he suddenly remembered why he was sad in the first place. He tugged at her hand again, a little less harsh than he did earlier. “Okay Mama,” Shiro started with a small voice. “We don’t have to go to the store, but can we please go to Allura’s house?”

Aiko continued to walk a few more steps forward until she came to a stop. She stooped down to Shiro’s level before she answered him. “Why do you want to go to Allura’s house?”

Shiro gave his mother a look. Wasn’t she listening to anything he had said? He took a deep breath and pushed his white bangs out of his hair. The action reminded Aiko that Shiro was overdue for a haircut. “Because I need to go tell Allura I’m really, really, really, really, really-”

Aiko cut him off because she knew that this could go on for a while. She took both of his hands in hers and pulled him in close with a warm smile. “I mean why do we need to go to Allura’s house? She isn’t home.” Her voice was light and held a mystery Shiro couldn’t solve.

He frowned. “But where is she? We need to find her,” he demanded. “I need to tell her that I’m sorry and that I’ll never yell at her again!”

Aiko smiled, gripped her son’s shoulders lightly, and turned him firmly towards the playground. “Then go tell her,” she told him.

Huh? 

When he saw the playground earlier, he didn’t give it his full attention because it reminded him of what he’d lost. Now that he’s forced to focus on it, he sees the world around him. He sees children running as fast as they can as they play a game of tag. He sees a dogs fetching a ball. He sees kites fly high above. Just when he was about to ask what was so special, his eyes caught a glimpse of silver hair peeking out of the sandpit. His eyes went wide and a giant smile plastered his face at the sight of her.

His head whipped back to his mother in excitement. She nodded towards Allura with a smirk. “What are you waiting for?” she encouraged. It was all the permission he needed before he bolted off towards her.

He made three steps before he turned back towards his mother and crushed her in a tight hug. “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” he said rapidly before he was off again towards Allura. Aiko smiled warmly. She was sure it was his first smile all day. She stood up straight and made her way towards Alfor who was sitting on the bench close by.

Alfor looked up from his book to address Aiko. “How did things on your part go?” he asked with a smile. They had this meeting planned for a few hours now. Usually, Allura snuck into his office, but today she was escorted to him by one of his employees with a face that made him drop everything he was doing to console her. It broke his heart to see her so saddened. When he asked what happened, she explained to him the events of the day. He consoled her the best he could with a tea party and a movie he played on his tablet.

A quick email exchange with Aiko brought them both here after work. Aiko took a seat beside him and adjusted her purse to set in her lap. She let out a sigh. “We had a little chat in the car. He understands what he did was wrong and I’ve never seen him to apologetic. He wanted to buy her flowers and…” she drifted to recall exactly what her son said, “A hammock of glitter.” She finished the sentence with a laugh.

Alfor’s laugh joined hers. “Oh man, that would have won her over for sure.” He continued to laugh but stopped abruptly to look at her. “You didn't get her glitter, did you? Because we already have an infestation at the house,” he told her seriously with a tint of fear in his voice.

“And ruin your life? Heavens no,” she said much to his relief. “Your blue suit still sparkles like Edward Cullen when you step out in direct sunlight.” Both let out a laugh at the analogy and continued to watch their children reunite.

Shiro approached Allura rapidly. He ran to her as fast as his feet could carry him. When he reached her, he was out of breath and hunched over. She was playing in the sandpit. Tiny shovels and her lion surrounded her. Her eyes met his for a brief second but didn’t do anything else to acknowledge him. She continued to dig out the hole in front of her so she could look for hidden treasures. Like nickels and pocket lint.

Shiro watched her and she was as unreadable as the day he met her. She had her eyes cast down and her lips drawn tight. “Hi Allura,” he started softly, careful not to raise his voice just in case she was sensitive to him.

She didn’t stop what she was doing. “Hi Shiro,” she said, her voice blank. “Are you doing being grumpy?”

He sat down in front of her and he was mindful not to cause any sand to fall into the hole she was digging out. He fiddled with a pebble he found. “Yeah, I am,” he admitted. “Allura, I’m really really sorry that I yelled at you today. I didn’t mean it, I promise.” He watched her see if she was buying it. “Are you still my friend?” he asked her. He was honestly terrified that her answer would be no and he’d be left all alone again. He didn’t like being alone.

She continued to dig for buried treasure. “Friends don’t yell at friends.”

He leaned forward on his hands. “I know and I’m sorry. I was just so mad and I don’t know what happened. Mama said that I was je- that I was jealous and that I didn’t want Lotor to have you to himself and that I wanted you all to myself. I thought he was trying to take you away from me forever. And you’re the best friend I ever had and I didn’t want you to leave.” It was a confession he didn’t know he had in him. He spoke the truth to her because that’s what she deserved.

She put down the tiny shovel after she found a tiny seashell. She looked at him. “Shiro, remember when I told you that you were my best friend?” she asked him.

He looked at her with uncertainty. Was she going to tell him to go away? His heart clenched at the thought. “Yeah.”

“I meant it. You are my best friend.” He let out a sigh of relief. “But best friends are supposed to tell each other everything. If you are sad then you have to tell me. Because if I don’t know that you are sad, then I can’t make you feel better. I can’t fix it. I’m not pys- I’m not pysch-” she fumbled over the word she saw on TV once before she gave up. “I can’t read minds, Shiro.” She says that now, but there were plenty of times she knew exactly what he was thinking.

Shiro nodded his head. “Okay, I’m sorry. I promise to tell you if I’m sad,” he told her. “I’m sorry that I made you cry.”

She cocked her head to the side. “You didn’t make me cry. Did Lotor tell you that?” He nodded his head and confirmation and she rolled her eyes. “Lotor is always making up things like that. Don’t believe him. He’s always trying to fool people.”

“I wish you had told me that earlier.” Had Shiro known that from the beginning, he wouldn’t be in this situation.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Sorry, I forgot.” She then gave him a smile that he didn’t realize he missed so much. She handed him another shovel. “Here, help me dig for treasure! I think I saw something shiny!” she explained.

Her eyes went wide before she reached behind her to pull out his hidden lion. His eyes lit up with joy. He didn’t even see it behind her when he approached her. “Here, your lion missed you, too!” She handed him his lion with a smile. He took it from her and gave it a squeeze. It wasn’t long before he felt her weight on him and she tackled him to the ground in a hug.

As much as her harsh hugs put a toll on his body, he can confidently say that he missed them more than anything. He finally felt like he had his Allura back. He wrapped his arms around her and his lion and he knows that he’s never felt happier.

~.xXx.~
After the incident and a stern talking to from both of their fathers, Lotor and Shiro’s relationship was less hostile. They were far from best friends, but they could be civil when they were together.

In the Altea household, the trio sat in the middle of the living room. It was another playdate on a Saturday afternoon. They decided have a castle building contest. Whoever had the best castle when Coran’s timer went off would be the winner with the prize of bragging rights. The adults were talked into being the judges.

Allura searched around her for a moment before her eyes caught sight of the block she wanted. “Shiro, can you pass me the green block?” she asked him with outstretched hands. She waited patiently while Shiro located and handed her the desired building block. With the block in hand, she carefully placed on the highest point of her castle.

Just as she placed the block exactly where she wanted it, Lotor came behind her to knock over two of the blocks on her outer wall. He gave a wicked smile before he mumbled out a not so innocent, “Oops, my hand slipped,” he said with a flick of his tongue. Her castle was getting bigger than his and he couldn’t have her brag about it later. He laughed to himself before he placed his own yellow block he imagined as a bush in the garden of his castle.

In the kitchen, Alfor’s felt his red alarm go off. “Uh-oh, I should go stop her before she does something destructive.” He made a move to approach the children before Coran held him back from interfering.

“Now, now. I think you don’t need to worry yourself. Allura is growing and she is learning not to act on irrational impulses. I think Shiro really brought out the gentle side in her. Don’t you think, Zarkon?”

Zarkon flipped another page of the financial report. He looked at Coran over the rim of his thin wired glasses. “Nah,” he said almost boredly. “She’s gonna fuck him up. Remember last time when she drop kicked him because he got chocolate pudding on her dress?” He recalls the memory so casually as if their children fighting was an everyday occurance. At one point, it most certainly was. It felt like they had to break up fights between Lotor and Allura every hour on the hour. Since Lotor’s return, both have significantly toned it down. Zarkon was honestly surprised it took Shiro that long to finally confront Lotor about him...well being Lotor. He knew his child was sort of an asshole. It was being he himself was an asshole. Genetics was a bitch like that.

Coran shook his head in disagreement. “That was the old her,” he dismissed. “I haven’t seen her do anything like that in a quite a while.”
“Lotor hasn’t been here in a while,” Zarkon countered. Can’t have a scheduled fight if the only opponent is absent.

Coran held his head high and turned to Alfor. “I have complete faith that Allura will retaliate in a ladylike fashi-

A crash is heard in the living room as Lotor’s body falls into his castle that was one block away from completion and completely destroys it. Blocks are scattered by the demolition and Allura is seen standing over Lotor’s sprawled out body breathing heavy.

Coran lets out a defeated sigh not only because he is proven wrong but he also knows exactly what she is going to say next.

“Oops, my hand slipped!”

Shiro blinks at the mess, then looks towards Coran and a big smile comes to his face. “Does this mean I win the contest, Coran?”