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The Future in Snippets

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It was too dark to see properly, but Pidge didn’t care.

Fire danced in her veins and her chest heaved with each gasping breath. The cool air of the room on her sweat-drenched skin was a welcome contrast to the warm body nestled between her legs, and strong, large hands held her thighs apart, pinning her hips to the mattress as a hot tongue teased her folds with long, heavy strokes.

Her head was spinning from the sensations, and she couldn’t stop a moan from escaping when the owner of said tongue started to slowly work his way further up, lavishing his attention on the skin around her clit and teasing her with short, precise licks that were never quite where she wanted them to be. The pressure on her hips stopped her from angling herself properly, and Pidge thought briefly that she’d never been this frustrated in her life.

The man between her thighs let out a low chuckle at her squirming and pulled back, lifting his head to look at her. All Pidge could make out in the dark was a flash of light reflected in his eye, but when he turned his attention back to the task at hand the grin she felt against her thigh told her all she needed to know.

He was enjoying himself. Bastard.

A second later he shifted, then blindsided her by plunging a finger deep inside. She let out a gasping cry that morphed into a moan as he crooked the finger and slowly dragged it out, before repeating the motion with another brutal thrust.

“F-Fuck!”

She arched her back, trying desperately to keep her voice down as she squirmed against his hold, one of her hands futilely scrabbling at his fingers on her hips. It wasn’t enough.

“Come on, Katie,” his voice was low and rough as he slipped another finger inside her, eliciting another gasp. “You know that’s not what I want to hear.”

Pidge tried to buck her hips and let out a frustrated whine when she still couldn’t move. “Lance, please!”

Lance let out a pleased sound and leaned down again. Warm lips encircled her clit and the next thing she knew-

---

Holy shit.

---

Pidge’s eyes snapped open and she stared up at the ceiling of her bunk, panting heavily.

What the fuck was that?

When Coran had explained that the quintessence of this planet gave its residents prophetic dreams, Pidge had expected to be seeing flashes of future battles or meetings or even just everyday conversations. Not…that.

And the feelings had been so real. Her heart was pounding and her muscles still twitched, shooting little spasms of sensation down her nerves with every brush of fabric against her body. Her hair, pyjamas and sheets were drenched with sweat, and when she shifted her hips she realised her thighs were coated in sticky fluid. It felt like her entire being was wound tight with want.

She groaned, pressing the heels of her palms against her eyes in an effort to calm her racing heart. She could worry more about it later - right now, she needed a shower.

---

She was half-way through washing the sweat from her hair when she remembered that dreams on Miskira were shared.

She froze in the water, eyes widening in horror as her brain raced through the implications.

Did Lance have the same dream too? What the hell was she supposed to say to him? How was she even going to look him in the eye at breakfast?

Maybe she could skip breakfast, she reasoned, moving to rinse the rest of the shampoo out. It wasn’t like she’d never done it before. She could always find something to work on, claim it was urgent, and act like she’d been working on it all night.

Except Hunk had said he’d make pancakes, and if she didn’t show up for pancakes he normally sent Lance down to fetch her.

Her stomach churned at the thought of walking all the way back from the hangar alone with Lance. Skipping breakfast wasn’t an option, then.

She grabbed a blob of the weird gunk Alteans used for conditioner and massaged it into her scalp, thinking. Her best bet might be to just claim she hadn’t dreamt at all. Miskirans didn’t dream every night, and while they’d said that newcomers to the planet tended to dream more from the initial exposure, perhaps she could claim her quintessence-bond with her lion gave her some weird immunity.

That would mean that none of the others had dreamt either, she realised, frowning. Pidge was more likely to get found out if she was the only one who didn’t have a dream.

She leaned back into the stream and began rinsing the conditioner out. Weren’t the dreams supposed to be prophetic? There was no way she’d ever do that with Lance – or he’d ever do that with her – so it must’ve just been a normal dream. They’d talked about teenage boys having wet dreams in health class, so maybe teenage girls get them too?

Biology wasn’t her strongest subject, but it made sense. She was a teenager and teenagers were supposed to have crazy hormones.

The water cascaded down her back and she let out a sigh of relief. It must have been a wet dream. That would make it a normal dream, and if it was a normal dream, Lance wouldn’t have seen it, so she had nothing to worry about.

Satisfied with her conclusion, Pidge turned the shower off, stepped out and began drying off with a towel. It was just her brain being weird. She wasn’t a fan of Lance being the subject of its weirdness, but she supposed it made logical sense - there weren’t a lot of options on the ship, they’d been living together in close quarters for far too long, and Lance had always been the most objectively attractive one anyway (at least in her opinion).  

It was just hormones.

---

By the time she entered the dining room, Pidge had almost managed to push the dream out of her mind completely.

She flashed a smile at Hunk as she grabbed some of the Olkarian caffeine substitute from the pot on the counter, offering a cheery ‘good morning’ in response to the chorus from Allura and Coran before sliding into the seat beside Shiro.  Shiro acknowledged her with a nod, then chuckled when she had to stand up again to lean across the table to reach the stack of blue pancakes and slide some onto her plate.

Sitting down with a thud, Pidge aimed a kick at Shiro’s shin before ignoring him in favour of the jug of syrup Coran was offering and proceeding to happily drown her plate in the sticky concoction.

So intent was she on getting that first bite of fresh pancake that she almost didn’t notice the sound of the doors opening again, but at least she managed to join in with the chorus of ‘good mornings’.

“Uh, yeah! Morning guys!” Her spork paused halfway to her mouth and her eyes narrowed. Something was off.

There was a weird edge to Lance’s voice, and since when did he come to breakfast later than her? He was normally one of the first to get to the kitchen in the mornings.

She shrugged it off. It’s all in your head, Pidge.

Act natural.

She looked up as Lance settled into the last empty seat at the table, the one across from her. He avoided her gaze, his dark cheeks flushing red as he leaned forward to take the last few pancakes, and Pidge’s heart froze for a second as abject terror threated to stab it with a steak knife.

What if it hadn’t been a normal dream after all?

Ridiculous, she thought, dismissing the thought as soon as it appeared. If it wasn’t a dream then it was prophetic, and if it was prophetic that means that it would have to happen one day, and that was about as likely as her mother turning up in space in a sixth lion.

Lance must have just been having a bad day.

What colour would a sixth lion be anyway?

“So, did everybody else get those crazy déjà vu dreams last night?” Hunk’s question cut through Pidge’s musing like a foghorn, but at least nobody else noticed her jump.

“Shiro and I had a fine old chat about ancient Earthling space probes!” Coran announced cheerfully. “It was quite the spidazzle of a conversation, I don’t know how you lot managed to get anywhere by just burning the big lizard things for energy. Impressive, though!”

Pidge glanced at Shiro and was surprised to see him smiling. “It was a nice dream. I’d love to see how we got onto that topic, though.”

“All in good time, lad, all in good time!” Coran tweaked his mustache, grinning, before turning to Hunk. “I suppose you got to experience a Miskiran prophecy too, Number 2?”

Hunk laughed, but Allura answered for him, beaming. “We dreamed that we were walking along a beach on Earth!”

That got everyone’s attention.

“You guys were back home?” Lance asked, voice quiet.

“Yeah, man,” Hunk joined in. “We were walking along the beach near my house, the one with that giant flat rock? We were talking about some weird dance we’d seen or something.”

Allura smiled. “Yes, it was quite mundane but I still found everything around me fascinating. I must say, if that was Earth then you paladins come from a truly beautiful planet.”

“Thanks, Princess,” Shiro murmured, taking a sip of his coffee.

Pidge frowned. “So if you dreamt it, does that mean that we get to go home?”

“At some point, yes!” Coran answered with gusto. “The Miskirans always say that anything prophesised in a dream will come to pass, you just have to wait for it!”

“And the dreams are never wrong?”

“Never! Or at least, they haven’t been wrong yet, and Miskira was already ancient when I was a youngster!”

Huh. Well. Pidge definitely didn’t have a Miskiran dream last night, then. Weird that the others all seemed to, though.

“So when do we get to go home?” Lance looked to Hunk for the answer, something tense and hungry in his eyes. “Do we win the war?”

Hunk sighed and shook his head apologetically. “I don’t know, man. I only saw that little snippet.”

“If it’s any help, Hunk was quite a bit older. I would hazard that it took place quite a few years from now,” Allura supplied.

Lance stabbed at the pancake on his plate with a dejected sigh.

“Snippets are all we’ll get, I’m afraid,” Coran took a sip of his own substitute as he spoke. “Anything greater would risk throwing the time-space continuum out of whack.”

“Time’s more of a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, anyway,” Pidge muttered, only half-hearing Shiro’s snort of laughter as she tried to force her brain back onto safer topics.

Had Lance been older in her dream? It had been too dark to see.

It was just a normal, crazy, hormonal teenager dream anyway, she reminded herself, shoveling a too-big piece of pancake into her mouth as a distraction.

“What did you dream about, Pidge?”

Shiro’s question caught her off-guard mid-swallow and the pancake got stuck in her throat. She started coughing and hacking, spraying the table in front of her with bits of pancake while Shiro scrambled to thump her on the back.

A moment later and the crisis had been averted. Shiro rubbed her back, murmuring softly, and Hunk worriedly offered her some tissues, which she gratefully accepted. She wiped her watery eyes first, then turned her attention to the bits of food sprayed all over her hands and table, making a face as she started cleaning them off. “Gross.”

“Here.” Lance pushed a water pouch across the table towards her, his long arms meaning that he only had to lean forward slightly to put it in her range. “Have something to drink.”

She smiled at him in thanks but the smile quickly died. He was staring at her intently, his eyes boring holes into her own, and she shifted uncomfortably under his scrutiny.

“Uh, thanks,” she muttered, reaching out. Their fingers brushed together as she took the pouch and she was instantly reminded of the warmth of those same fingers under her own as they pushed her hips into the mattress.

She snatched the pouch away, cheeks hot as she averted her gaze, focusing far too much attention on getting the straw through the little hole as though it would save her from everybody’s questioning gazes. The silence around the table was deafening.

“Did you two dream of each other, or something?” Hunk asked, and Pidge shrugged, risking a glance at him to try and figure out what he was thinking.

To her surprise, he was studying Lance instead of her, his gaze careful and measured.

Lance gazed up at the ceiling, his arms crossed behind his head in the picture of nonchalance. “Kinda. It was too dark to see, really.”

Pidge inhaled sharply, but shrugged it off when Shiro sent her a look.

“What were you doing in the dark?” Allura wondered.

Lance met Pidge’s gaze for a moment, then shifted in his seat to sit properly and picked up his spork again. “I think we were arguing.” He cut a piece of pancake and paused. “It’s not really something I feel like talking about.”

Shiro glanced at Pidge, who was deliberately busying herself with her pancakes, and then shrugged. “That’s fine. Nobody said we had to talk about them.”

Pidge sagged with relief. At least one thing was going her way that morning.

Just then, Coran stood up and cleared his throat, putting on his ‘announcer’ voice. “All right then. Shall we go over the agenda for this afternoon? We’ve got quite an important meeting in a few vargas, and I don’t want anybody to be mistaken for a Swathian meerakeet!”

Chapter Text

“That must have been some argument you and Lance had in your dream, huh?”

Pidge glanced sideways at Hunk as they walked from the meeting room back to her lab.

Hunk shrugged.

“It’s just, you know, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you guys tend to sit next to each other a lot? Like, a lot a lot? And you guys were way on the other side of the room from each other, and it was super weird.” Hunk illustrated the point with a flourish of both arms.

Not knowing what to say, Pidge kept walking. She didn’t get far before a gentle hand on her shoulder made her turn around.

“Look, Pidge,” he began, concern in his eyes, “I don’t know what you two saw, but it was a dream. And no matter what you might have said to each other, I know you both care about each other a lot and I’m sure that’s not gonna change ten years from now.”

Pidge felt her cheeks turn red as she looked away, scowling, but Hunk was immovable as he waited for her response.

Eventually, she turned her gaze back to his. “I’m not hurt or anything, Hunk. It’s just…awkward.”

Hunk narrowed his eyes in scrutiny, then jumped back, pointing at her with wide eyes. “You were lying! You guys didn’t argue at all!”

Pidge huffed. “I’m not the one who said we were having an argument.”

“Yeah, but—” he waggled his finger in front of her nose “—you didn’t contradict him.”

Pidge turned and started walking again, Hunk tagging along behind her. “It’s embarrassing, okay?”

“Why, were you guys making out or something?”

Pidge barely managed to keep her grip on her laptop, saving it from an untimely meeting with the ground.

“O.M.G., you guys were making out! I knew it!”

“We weren’t! We were just— argh!”

She spun around to face him, slapping a hand to her forehead in exasperation. Hunk grinned back at her.

“So does that mean that you and Lance—”

“Look, Hunk,” Pidge interrupted. “I really don’t want to talk about it. Can we… Can we talk about something else? What did Shiro want us to find out from the transmissions?”

Hunk raised one eyebrow at her but allowed her to drop the subject. “We’re meant to be scanning to see if we can find transmissions to the Miskirans who are colluding with the Galra.”

Pidge nodded, sighing with relief as they walked through the doors to her lab. “But they don’t know how the Galra are communicating with the collaborators at all, right? We might not even find anything.”

“Yeah, but it’s a good place to start,” Hunk agreed, pulling out his chair and sitting down. “It’ll take us what, a varga? To change the frequencies, try a couple of different number cracks and then see if they’re using space radio. And if they’re not we let the Miskiran Council know so they can cross it off the list.”

“Let’s get started then, shall we?”

Pidge pulled up the first frequency, and the pair worked in silence for a few minutes, Hunk inputting the new frequency and Pidge checking the number cracks they had. The task was mindless but Pidge welcomed the chance to focus on anything but Lance and that stupid dream, and she was glad that Hunk had let the subject drop when he did (even if he had hit a little too close to home with his questions).

She wasn’t surprised that he’d noticed, though. Pidge hadn’t realised how much time she spent with Lance until she started actively avoiding him, and Hunk knew both her and Lance the best out of anybody on the ship. The tension between them was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and Pidge had to admit that she felt weird sitting at the other end of the table or going out the other door — and there was no way that Hunk wouldn’t pick up on that.

“Hey, Pidge? You okay?”

Startled, Pidge jerked her head to blink owlishly at Hunk. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just…out of it.”

Hunk frowned. “Is it that dream again? I’m sorry for bugging you about it. You don’t have to talk to me about it if you don’t want to.”

Pidge smiled. “Thanks.”

“Besides, I can just ask Lance about it later.”

“Hunk!”

 

---

 

Pidge’s mind was half-elsewhere, but she could feel everything. The cold wall against her back, the heat of Lance’s body pressed against her front, the strength in his hands on her ass, the roughness of his jeans against the soft skin of her thighs, and the tingles of pleasure that came with every breath from where they were connected.

Fuck. She didn’t want to forget this moment — it could be the last one they shared.

Any moment could.

Lance shifted against her, letting out a soft groan as he pinned her between himself and the wall, lifting one hand to caress her face.

“Katie,” he whispered, kissing her softly. “Katie, I love you. I love you so, so much.”

Pidge threw her arms around his neck and yanked, pulling him back to her and kissing him deeply.

She let herself get lost in the kiss, almost forgetting what they were doing until Lance’s hand dropped back down to her ass, his lower half moving away only to thrust back into her hard. He quickly set a harsh pace, and Pidge moaned into his mouth, unable to do much more than cling to him desperately as he drove into her again and again.

Needing to be closer, she wrapped her legs around his waist, digging her nails into his shoulders and burying her face in the crook of his neck. She didn’t want to let him go. Pidge never, ever, ever wanted to let him go.

 The thought was cut off when he worked one hand between them, his thumb running frantic circles over her clit and making her cry out and jerk backwards. She wasn’t sure if it was fear or relief but every movement was amplified tenfold, and she could already feel the beginnings of her orgasm.

Lance’s lips dropped to her throat, to where he knew she was sensitive, rhythm faltering as he peppered frenzied kisses on her skin.

She gasped out his name. Everything about him was perfect.

Another pass of his thumb and something inside of her exploded, shattering into a million pieces as the pleasure became too much to bear. Lance’s hips surged forwards, thrusting into her hard enough to hurt as he followed her into oblivion.

It didn’t matter, though. The pain was worth it.

They clung to each other, breaths intermingled, foreheads pressed together, each trying to stay as close as physically possible while they came down from their highs.  The moment stretched on for ever, blue eyes gazing into brown, and Pidge had never felt closer to Lance in her life.

Reality crept over them slowly. Pidge moved first, shifting away to try and get her legs on solid ground again, but Lance grabbed her tighter, pushing his body back against hers as he desperately buried his face in her neck.

“Lance…” she breathed, embracing him tightly.

“I’m sorry,” he said, voice muffled against her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

Tears stung at Pidge’s eyes and she blinked them back, running a hand through his sweaty locks. The action seemed to comfort him, for he soon fell quiet, breath steady against her skin.

Pidge spoke first. “I thought you weren’t coming back…”

His fingers dug into her suddenly, hard enough to bruise.

“I know.” His admission was whispered against her skin. “I thought I wasn’t coming back either.”

Pidge grabbed his cheeks, forcing his face up so that she could look into those deep, blue eyes.

“I love you.”

Lance smiled, his first real smile since he’d left.

“Yeah. I know.”

---

Pidge opened her eyes to a dim room and an empty bed.

Her body felt hot, but the blankets were cold against her skin. It was like she was missing a heat source that should have been there - that she could swear was there just a moment ago. Her heart was pounding and tears were wet on her cheeks, and for a moment she didn’t know why…

Then she rolled over and it hit her.

Where was Lance?

Panic welled up in her throat and her feet were carrying her out the door before she had time to think. Seconds later — or maybe minutes — had any time passed at all? — and she was standing at the door to his room, pounding on it and calling his name over and over and over because what if he’s not in there he has to be in there he can’t be anywhere else

Distantly, she heard one of the other doors in the corridor slide open, but she ignored it. She just needed to make sure he was okay, but why was he taking so long to answer her?

Had something happened to him?

What if he hadn’t actually come back?

A hand landed on her shoulder. “Pidge! Answer me, what’s wrong?!”

She spun around to face Hunk, grabbing at his hand. “Hunk, didn’t he come back with you?! Or did I just dream that, and he didn’t come back at all?!”

“Come back from where?! Pidge, what are you talking about?” Hunk’s eyes were wide with alarm. “Did Lance sneak off somewhere in the middle of the night or—”

The sound of Lance’s door finally sliding open cut him off.

“Pidge, are you– ”

Pidge launched himself at him with a cry, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. Lance tensed for a split-second before he almost collapsed forwards, slumping over her and enveloping her tightly in his own embrace.

He was okay. He was okay.

Thank goodness.

Pidge let out a watery laugh, burying her face in his chest and inhaling.  He smelled sweet, like peppermints and the ocean, though the clean smell she normally associated with Lance was muddied with heavy, heady undertones. It didn’t matter:  his scent was still a balm to her racing heart, chasing away the panic clouding her mind and letting her breathe again.

“Pidge…” His voice shook with emotion, warm breath brushing her hair.

Lance rubbed her back soothingly and Pidge leaned into him further, closing her eyes as a wave of exhaustion overtook her. He’d come back and he was fine, and that meant everything was okay. They could stand like this for as long as they wanted, because he’d come back to her.

“Uh, guys? Is everything okay?”

“We’re fine,” he answered, quietly. “We just had… an… uh, emotionally intense prophecy thing.”

Prophecy…?

Pidge’s eyes snapped open.

Shit. The prophecy dreams. None of those emotions were real. Lance hadn’t died.

She’d been dreaming.

She flung herself backwards, out of his embrace. What in the universe was she doing?

Lance stared at her in shock, eyes wide and breathing heavy, but he soon reached for her again, thumb gently brushing the tears from her cheeks. “Pidge, are you okay?”

She flinched away from the touch.  Hurt flashed across Lance’s face. Then his eyes became guarded and he took a step back, regarding her quietly.

Pidge suddenly felt as though he was very, very far away.

“O…kay…” Hunk said slowly, making them both jump. “I’m just gonna go to bed now… Leave you to it…”

Pidge nodded and watched him disappear behind his door before turning back to Lance, who stood in his doorway, arms crossed.

An uncomfortable silence filled the corridor.

“I, uh…”

“Yeah, I guess we should…”

Pidge shivered, suddenly realising that she was clad only in a sweaty tank top and boxers. She wrapped her arms around her upper body — she hadn’t even put socks on before her panicked dash to Lance’s room, and the metal floor of the castle was freezing beneath her bare feet.

Not to mention that she’d never normally let any of the other paladins see her wearing so little. Though if the dreams were shared, he’d just seen her completely naked…

Her face flushed at the thought and she looked away quickly. “I need a shower,” she said, partly as an excuse and partly because it was true.

“Oh, yeah. Uh, me too,” Lance admitted. One hand came up to scratch the back of his head and he flushed faintly, but then his gaze fell on her again and his eyes narrowed. “Hold on a second, okay?”

Pidge nodded, biting her lip and bouncing on the balls of her feet to keep warm as he disappeared into the room. A second later he reappeared carrying his jacket, which he quickly draped over her shoulders before stepping away again.

She stared at him in surprise. “Lance, I can’t—”

“Take it,” he said, voice firm. “Just looking at you is making me feel cold. You can give it back to me at breakfast, okay?”

Her cheeks were hot as she studied him for a moment further before gratefully slipping her arms through the sleeves and zipping it up. The jacket dwarfed her, hanging down to her knees and completely hiding her make-shift pyjamas from view. Despite the bare legs, it was the warmest Pidge had felt in a long time.

“Goodnight, Lance.”

“Night, Pidge.”

The warmth in her chest had nothing to do with the jacket.

Chapter Text

The incredibly talented Foxieafic drew the smut scene from the last chapter! You can see their work on Tumblr here - it should go without saying that it's very NSFW.

 

---

 

The mission was excruciating.

The atmosphere in the small room was tense, and had been tense for…going on three vargas, now. Really, it had been tense since everybody’s questions at breakfast, but being stuck in a small room together with nothing to do but wait had just made everything worse.

And Lance kept looking at her. Like her, his focus was on the screen showing the street below them, but she’d seen him watching her out of the corner of his eye more than once.

Pidge felt like a fool for ever being excited about stupid prophecy dreams. Now, she hated them. She hated the dreams, she hated the things they left behind, and she hated what they’d done to her relationship with Lance.

Just two days ago she would’ve looked forward to the prospect of a stakeout mission with him. Lance would make dumb cop movie jokes, she’d tease him about how the plots for those movies were impossible. They’d make up backstories for the people walking down the street, they’d exchange gossip about the other paladins, they’d swap embarrassing stories about their childhoods and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

God, how had she never realised how much he made her laugh? Now he wouldn’t even talk to her. They’d barely exchanged more than two words in all the time they’d been there, and that had been about the mission.

It hurt.

Even worse was that she wasn’t entirely sure how many of her feelings were actually hers. She’d woken up that morning swamped with emotions she hadn’t earned, and the intensity of them had left her feeling shaken and confused. Would the weird tension between them be so upsetting if she hadn’t felt so in love with him earlier?

Sighing, Pidge scanned each of the small screens they’d set up again; the hovercraft hadn’t moved, so the Minister was still inside the building. All was good on that front — but that also meant that she would be stuck there for longer.

Lance glanced at her again and she felt a flicker of irritation. Her palms itched with an urge to do something. Anything. A part of her wished that the Galra would break into the building and assassinate the Minister already, just so that she’d have an excuse to leap into action and stab things. Getting shot at would make the tension disappear. Electrocuting aliens would be soothing. At the very least it would distract her from feeling so goddamn lonely. She really, really hated feeling alone.

Matt was due to come in tomorrow, though. That was the one bright spot she could see on the horizon, and Pidge clung to it like a drowning man. Matt might even be able to give her some advice about the dreams. Pidge couldn’t talk to any of the others about what was going on — it was way, way too embarrassing — but Matt? After teasing her some more about her (nonexistent thank-you-very-much) crush on Lance, he’d help her sort through her feelings and figure out what went where.

What would she even say to him when he got here, though? It’s not like she could just tell him she’d been having sex dreams. Shared sex dreams. Pidge didn’t think Matt was the over-protective type — he’d been more than fine with her fighting with Voltron — but she’d never really had a boy problem before, so who knows?

Her eyes widened at the implication. Was this a boy problem? Did it count? There was a boy involved and the issue was feelings and kissing and… Wait. Had she had her first kiss? Did that count? She’d never been kissed, but she knew what Lance tasted like. She knew what his lips felt like on hers, she knew how warm his hands felt on her body, and she knew what he felt like moving in her.

The memory made heat curl in her belly and she bit her lip, annoyed at the sudden flare of arousal. She shouldn't have memories that made her feel like that — she still hadn’t had her first kiss! When she finally did kiss a boy, would it still be special? Did she even count as a virgin anymore?

Pidge didn’t give a shit about purity, but the idea of having experience thrust upon her chafed. She’d rather do things in her own time. The way things were going, she felt violated.

And if she felt violated, how the hell would Lance be feeling? She doubted he even thought she was attractive. Plus he was head-over-heels for Allura — he was probably heartbroken to find out he ended up with Pidge instead. The thought made her gut twist bitterly and she slumped forwards. No wonder he didn't want to talk to her.  Stupid planet, stupid dreams, stupid Lance...

Lance glanced at her again and she snapped.

“Look, I’m sorry, okay?!”

Lance jumped in surprise, then looked at her with confusion. “Uh, sorry for what?”

Her anger dimmed as quickly as it had flared. “I’m sorry for… I guess I’m sorry for this morning, and I’m sorry you’re having those stupid dreams about me.”

Lance frowned. “It’s not like they’re your fault.”

“Yeah, but you’d rather be having them about someone else,” she scoffed.

They both fell silent for a moment, then Lance straightened and looked at her. “Pidge, I think we need to talk about this,” he said, his voice low and serious.

The screens forgotten for the moment, she hugged her knees to her chest and rested her head on them, looking away. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Lance snorted. “Obviously you need to.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Whatever.” He sighed, then drummed his fingers against his thigh. “Okay, so… What makes you think I’d rather be dreaming about someone else?”

Pidge snapped her head up to stare at him, incredulous. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m serious.” He scowled back at her, eyes narrowed. “Just answer the question.”

She lifted her hands to her forehead, momentarily lost for words. “I… Just… Lance, I’m not your type!”

His scowl deepened. “Who the quiznak said that?”

“Me! Everyone!” She replied, hands in the air now. “You like girls like Allura! Definitely not girls like me.” Lance liked every girl but Pidge. She curled back into herself at the thought.

Lance snorted and sat back. “The last two times I dreamt of you I woke up with the biggest hard-on of my life, Pidge. I think you’re very much my type.”

Heat flooded Pidge’s cheeks and she whipped her head away, unable to meet his eyes. A second later her heartbeat sped up as the implications of what he’d just said sunk in.

“What? Don’t you think it’s a bit late to be shy about that?”

Bitterness dripped off his words and she turned back to him, eyes narrowed. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to be comfortable with it.”

Lance shrugged and looked back at the screen. Pidge copied him, checking that the Minister’s hovercraft still hadn’t moved (it hadn’t), and then started to turn his words over in her mind. Was it too late to be shy about…that? He’d already seen her naked. She hadn’t seen him naked, though, and the thought made her frown. That wasn’t fair.

“Have you never thought about it before?”

The quiet question jerked her out of her thoughts and she turned to blink at him owlishly. “Uh… thought about what?” Lance naked?

Lance shrugged. “Us. Together.”

“Uh… Together? Like…Like in the dreams?” She still couldn’t bring herself to be more blunt about it out loud.

“No,” he said, shaking his head slowly. “Just…together. Like, a couple.”

Oh. She blinked at him again. This wasn’t a conversation she’d ever expected to have. Had she thought about it before? Did fleeting daydreams count?

Lance must have taken her silence for an answer, because a second later he deflated and looked away. “Look, just forget it, Pidge. Obviously you haven’t.”

She reached out and knocked her fist against his shoulder, making him look at her again. “Maybe a little,” she admitted, a blush rising to her cheeks as she moved her gaze to the side. “It’s just… It’s not like it’s something that could ever happen, so I always thought there’s just no point in thinking about it too much.”

“Oh.”

Silence stretched between them again. The hovercraft on-screen still hadn’t moved.

“What about you?” Pidge asked, breaking the silence. “Did you ever think about it before you dreamt about me like that?”

He paused, deliberating over his reply. “By ‘it’ do you mean together-together or like in the dreams together?”

Pidge’s cheeks felt hot when she answered: “Both.”

“Okay. Yes.” His answer was swift and she looked at him sharply. He shrugged. “What? Yeah, I’ve thought about you like that before. Uh, once or twice.” At least he had the good grace to blush about it, bringing a hand up to scratch the back of his head before he continued. “You’re amazing. Like, completely amazing — I can't think of a single week we've been up here that you haven't made my jaw hit the floor. And then you’re kind of gorgeous, you know? Totally hot.”

Pidge snorted. “Yeah, right.”

“Yes, you are,” he insisted, frowning. “Have you even looked at yourself?”

“I look at myself every day!” She exclaimed, gesturing to herself. “And I see this!”

“Yeah?" Lance met her gaze, sincerity in his eyes. "Well I look at you every day and I see a pretty girl dressed like a boy wearing someone else’s glasses. And you still manage to look beautiful.”

Pidge looked away, blushing. What was she supposed to say to that? Why was Lance even saying things like that to her in the first place?

“Has nobody ever told you you’re pretty before or something?” He asked, concerned.

“Uh…” Pidge slowly turned back to him, blinking. Had anybody told her she was pretty before? “Does family count?”

Lance deadpanned. “No.”

“Then no?” Lance’s expression dropped and she hurried to quantify it. “I knew I was pretty, though! I used to have hair down to here —“ she tapped mid-way down her back — “and I was never really into the whole make-up and fancy clothes thing — I was allergic to most of the make-up I tried anyway — but, you know, I did dress nicely and I liked to braid my hair and stuff?”

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “I — thanks. For telling me you think I’m pretty. It is kinda nice to hear from someone else.” She smiled at him and he grinned back, but she cut him off before he could respond. “That’s not the problem, though. I don’t think I look pretty. I look in the mirror and see a boy and sometimes... I wish I didn’t.”

They lapsed into silence again, and Pidge wondered where that confession had come from. She'd always told herself that she couldn’t afford to care about how she looked, not when Zarkon was still running an empire and her dad was still missing. Clothes shopping would have to come later.

“Hey.” Lance bumped his shoulder against hers gently. “If you don’t like how you look, Pidge, you can always change it.”

She bit the inside of her lip, mulling over his words before speaking. “I wouldn’t know where to start,” she confessed. “I was kind of preppy before, but I’ve been wearing disguises and armour for so long that I don’t think I even have a style of my own anymore.”

“Hmm.” Lance looked her over thoughtfully. “Have you thought about growing your hair out again? That’d be an easy place to start.”

“It’d be a pain,” she said, shaking her head. “I’ve thought about it. I might, still, but it’d be annoying to deal with, especially when it’s in the in-between stage.”

Lance smiled. “I’ll braid it for you, if you want. I’m good at braiding hair.”

He waggled his long fingers to demonstrate the point, and Pidge laughed. “I might take you up on that.”

“Good,” he said, reaching out to grab a tuft of hair on each side of her face. “I’ll french braid it for you when we get back from this mission. You’ll look like you’re about ten years old, it’ll be adorable.”

“Great, just the look I was going for,” she groaned, poking her tongue out at him in response.

Lance laughed and pulled his hands from her hair before leaning back to study her with a critical eye. “I bet Allura would have some old clothes that would fit you, too. Why don’t you ask?”

Pidge shrugged. “Believe it or not, I actually have?”

“Really?”

“Yeah. But Altean fashion is very…modest. Everything starts at the wrists and ankles, and it’s just too showy for me.”

“Huh,” Lance hummed in surprise.

“Plus…” She continued, looking at her gloved hands. “My clothes are some of the only things I’ve got from Earth. I don’t want to just throw them away.”

“I understand that,” Lance replied, smiling. “Why do you think I dress like a homeless person when I’m not wearing my armour?”

Pidge laughed. “Ah, so you admit it?”

He grinned sheepishly. “My clothes have seen better days.” Stretching his long limbs, he tapped at the breastplate of his armour. “I really wish they’d let us wear a suit or something, though. I miss looking dashing.”

He struck a pose, something obviously meant to be a suave smirk on his lips, and she laughed again. “The Coalition Ball is in a few days, isn’t it? Why don’t you ask Coran for a suit to that?”

“Hmmm…” Lance looked at her and waggled his eyebrows. “Do you think he’d give you a dress?”

Pidge grinned, completely forgetting about the tension of the last few days as they slipped back into old habits. “After seeing what’s in Allura’s closet, I’m not sure I’d want a dress Coran chose.”

“You’d look like a cupcake. One of those $8 ones no-one can ever afford. D’you think Alteans have sprinkles for hair?”

"They'd fall out as soon as I shook my head, though."

"Maybe we could glue them on with magnets?"

"That doesn't even make sense!"

The Minister’s hovercraft still hadn’t moved.

 

 

Chapter Text

Pidge hesitated at the door to the lounge, fiddling with the object in her hands as she considered just giving up and going back to her room.

Lance hadn’t been in his room, so he was probably here, but… What if he wasn’t alone? She wasn’t sure that she really wanted to do this with the others in the room — they’d given her weird enough looks when she’d returned his jacket at breakfast, and this felt infinitely more intimate. And what if he didn’t want to do it? He was probably busy reading or something. He might be annoyed with her interrupting his downtime for something so silly.

Pidge shook her head, dismissing the thought angrily. Why was she being so stupid? Lance was her friend. She slammed her hand on the button to open the doors quickly, before she could change her mind.

Lance looked up at the sound of the doors. His eyes landed on her and he smiled. “Hey.”

No going back now.

“Hi,” she replied, taking a few steps into the room and hearing the doors shut behind her. He was alone, sitting on the lounge in his pyjamas and dressing gown, an ankle hooked over his knee and a tablet on his lap. Reading again.

Lance read a lot, she’d been surprised to discover. Mostly fiction. What was he reading this time?

“Uh, Pidge?” The question jolted her out of her thoughts. Lance was looking at her expectantly, one eyebrow raised in consternation. “You okay? What’s up?”

“Um…” She turned the brush in her hands over again before holding it up sheepishly. “Do you remember how you said you’d braid my hair?”

Lance’s whole face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Really?!”

A giggle escaped her lips and she smiled, nodding. “Really.”

“Okay!” he exclaimed, shuffling backwards and tossing the tablet aside in his eagerness but getting it tangled in his dressing gown instead. Pidge didn’t bother to hide her laugh as she approached. He was a dork. It was kind of adorable.

Straightening up, he grinned and patted the space between his knees. “Sit here. You’re little enough that we’ll both fit.”

Pidge laughed and sat, handing the brush to him over her shoulder. “I’ve got some hairbands and bobby pins in my pocket, too.”

“Excellent,” Lance replied, and set to work brushing her damp hair.

Pidge closed her eyes, instinctively leaning into the touch, and a comfortable silence fell over the lounge. It had been a long time since anybody had brushed her hair for her; she’d forgotten how nice it felt. There wasn’t much to brush, though, and soon enough Lance put the brush down and started running his deft fingers along her scalp, separating the strands into sections.

His breathing was quiet and even as he worked, and it tickled the back of her ear when he began weaving the strands around each other. Lance had been right – the sofa was big enough for both of them, if just barely. The heat radiating from his chest warmed her back, lulling her into a sense of peace, and she had to actively remind herself that she couldn’t just lean back and let herself be wrapped up in it.

She was so comfortable, though. Why not?

A sharp tug on her hair roused her from her blissed-out daze. “I swear to quiznak, Pidge, if you don’t stop moving I’m going to cut it all off.”

“Mm? Cut what off?”

Another tug, this one gentler. “Your hair, stupid!” Lance laughed. He had a nice laugh. “You keep swaying all over the place.”

“Oh,” she said, slowly coming back to reality. Right. Her hair. “Sorry. It uh… It just feels really nice.”

Cheeks hot, she looked away, suddenly aware of his face right next to hers. Lance let out a yelp of frustration and tugged her back. “Pidge! Stop moving!”

“Sorry!”

“I swear, you’re worse than my niece.”

“Ow!” Pidge scowled at him out of the corner of her eye. “Are you always this rough when you do this?”

Lance leaned forward to glare back at her. “No, because other people can stay still. Be better behaved and I’ll be more gentle.”

An awkward cough interrupted them. “Guys, I’ve got my eyes closed just in case but please tell me you’re not doing what I think you’re doing.”

Pidge yelped and jumped, almost sliding off the sofa. “Quiznak!”

Lance quickly threw an arm around her waist and pulled her to his chest. “What the cheese, Hunk?!” he yelled, far too close to Pidge’s ear for her liking. She pushed his face away and turned to look over his shoulder, wondering when Hunk had even come in.

“Are you dressed or not?” Hunk stood patiently by the door neither had heard open, his eyes closed as he waited for an answer.

Pidge frowned. “Why wouldn’t we be dressed?”

Hunk cracked first one eye, then the other, and then his face broke into a knowing grin. “Welllll… With what you guys have been dreaming about and what you were just saying, I think I can be forgiven for assuming you were up to something kinky on the sofas.” He jumped over the back of the sofa nearest to the door and sprawled out, one eyebrow still raised in their direction. Pidge’s mouth dropped open. “But it’d be nice if you could keep that out of public areas. The rest of us have to sit here, y’know,” he added, as an afterthought.

“Hunk! We were talking about my niece!”

“Okay, gross.” Hunk made a face, shrugging. “I missed that part, obviously.”

“Yeah, seriously, that’s--”

Pidge smacked her hand against Lance’s chest as her brain finally caught up to the situation. “You told him?!”

Lance switched his attention to her, one hand raised in defence. “Only ‘cause he told me you already told him!”

“I didn’t tell him squat!”

“I kinda gathered you guys were making out or something but I didn’t think it was that interesting,” Hunk chimed in, diplomatically. His grin widened as he eyed them. “What were you guys up to when I walked in, anyway?”

"I was braiding her hair," Lance answered, his arm around her waist tightening reflexively. "I've lost my place thanks to you now. Quiznak."

"Oh?"

That grin of Hunk's was really starting to get on Pidge's nerves. "He offered to do it during the stakeout earlier," she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

That just seemed to make Hunk more gleeful. "I wonder if Shiro's gonna braid Allura's hair when they come back in the morning?"

"The mice do Allura's," Lance muttered, repositioning Pidge on his lap and weaving his fingers through her hair again. She closed her eyes, partly to avoid seeing Hunk's infuriating face and partly because she was tired and Lance's ministrations still felt really nice. Plus, it was just Hunk.

Hunk watched them for a moment longer before shrugging. "Okay man, whatever. But you gotta forgive me for getting the wrong idea, 'cause when I opened my eyes all I saw was you guys cuddling."

Pidge's eyes flew open at the same time as Lance pushed her off his lap. "Argh!" He caught her before she hit the ground again and yanked her backwards, settling her between his legs like they had been before Hunk scared the life out of them the first time. Pidge smacked Lance's chest again, harder this time, eliciting an 'oof'. "What the quiznak, Lance?!"

"I'm sorry! I just reacted!" His eyes were wide, his hands held up in apology as he grimaced. "Look, you're not the only one on edge because of those stupid dreams, okay?"

"What's it matter?" Hunk offered from the sofa. "You guys are gonna end up married eventually anyway, right?"

"Wait, what? Who said anything about getting married?" Pidge asked, frowning.

"Uh, we were engaged in the one last night," Lance answered before prodding her shoulder, making her turn around so he could start on the braid for the third time.

"We were?"

"Yeah. You had a ring, it uh...kept getting caught in my hair." Hunk snorted and Pidge blushed. "Plus I was thinking about how I almost died a month before my own wedding, so..."

"Oh..."

What was she supposed to say to that? The logical part of her brain told her it made sense — her and Lance had a strong friendship and complemented each other well, so if they were going to get together they had a good chance of 'making it'.  Still, the emotional part of her felt like she was a few amps from an overload. She wasn't dating him. She wasn't even 100% sure that she liked him like that. Bar the occasional stray thought or daydream, she'd never even considered him romantically. And they were going to end up married?

"Look, you guys know you're gonna end up married and happy, so why fight it?" Lance's grip tightened on her hair, forcing her to keep still, and she side-eyed the bigger man instead. "You might as well just kiss already. I'll admit, I was kinda surprised at first but then the more I thought about it the more I thought, y'know, you guys would work well together. I totally ship it."

Pidge shrugged and trained her gaze on the floor, head perfectly still. Lance gave a non-committal grunt.

"What?"

"It's not really a question of fighting it, Hunk," Lance replied as he tapped her shoulder and held his palm out for the hairband. She gave it to him and he finally began tying the first braid off. "It's just…weird. Like, last month I was going ‘Holy quiznak, I think I like Pidge— ” Wait, what? “—but there’s like, no chance in the universe that she’d ever like back’ and now it’s like ‘well apparently…’” he trailed off, oblivious to Pidge’s wide-eyed blush, and finally let the hairband snap into place with a sigh. “I don’t know how to deal with it. I kinda don't wanna sleep."

Oh. Pidge could sympathise with that.

Hunk made a face. “Still, a happy ending’s a happy ending, right?”

Lance hummed absently in response and shifted to start work on the other braid. Pidge stared at the floor, not knowing what to think as melancholy settled over the room. Lance’s focus was on her hair, his breaths steady and warm on her ear, and she found herself envying him for having something to do. These were her best friends. Why did she have to feel so out of place around them?

"I wish we hadn't had those dreams,” she confessed suddenly, her voice quiet.

Hunk shifted uncomfortably on the sofa before blessedly changing the topic.

"You guys wanna play cards when you're done?"

 

--

 

“Flattery will get you nowhere and you know it.”

“Oh, I’ve been married to you long enough to know that flattery will get me everywhere, bella,” Lance grinned, sliding his hand up her waist to tease the bottom of her bikini top.

Pidge bit her cheek to suppress a smile but made no effort to get off his lap. “You have no proof.”

“I do so.” He leaned forward until they were almost pressed together, his hands moving around to her back. Pidge arched an eyebrow at him and feigned indifference, but Lance didn’t seem to care. Instead, he lowered his head, lips brushing against her ear as he whispered: “The proof’s here.”

A snap of his fingers and her top came undone. Pidge shrieked and thumped him on the chest, splashing water at him. He threw his head back and laughed. “Lance!”

“What?” He ran his thumbs over her nipples under the loosened top, eyes glittering with mischief. “Not so loud, Pidge. Someone will hear you and come investigate.”

“Yeah, which is why this is a really bad idea,” Pidge repeated for the umpteenth time, hands pressed against his abs as she looked out at the sea and tried to calm her breathing. The waves were calm, and the reflection of the late afternoon sunlight had turned the water’s surface into a shimmering gold that was arguably one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen. They were sitting in a deep-ish tidal pool hidden behind boulders in a small cove, the only sounds the breeze, the birds and the gentle lapping of the waves. It would have been perfect…if it weren’t for the fact that their little hidey-hole was at the edge of an extremely popular beach. Oh, and the long list of Very Important People who would have their asses if they got caught doing it in public — anniversary or no.

Still, his hands were very distracting…

“Aw, c’mon babe…” He flipped her hair off her shoulder to expose her neck and started kissing his way down, adding tongue and teeth to the mix to make her squirm as his beard tickled her skin. “I’ll make it quick.”

“Exactly what every woman wants to hear. It’ll be quick.” He laughed against her collarbone, his chest rumbling until she pushed him back and teasingly trailed her fingertips up the line of his throat to slowly trace his jawline. He swallowed. Pidge smirked before continuing. “Imagine. The Green and Blue Paladins of Voltron, Defenders of the Universe, making all the front pages for obscenity charges and it wasn’t even good.”

She kissed the tip of his nose on the last word, smiling sweetly, determined not to show the way the fire in his gaze made her stomach clench.

Lance’s hands tightened on her waist under the water. “Pidge.”

“Yes…?’ she drawled, leaning in to kiss his neck and grinding down hard for good measure.

Satisfaction bubbled in her chest at his answering groan, but it vanished a second later when he yanked her backwards and kissed her hard. His tongue delved deep into her mouth, making her moan at the rush of desire, heat pooling in her belly as his other hand slipped beneath her bikini bottoms to rub circles on her clit. Pidge tangled her fingers in his hair and kissed back with equal need, suddenly desperate to see where this would go despite being acutely aware that they were on a time limit.

His lips were red and swollen when he pulled back for breath.

 

--

 

Baths — particularly communal baths — really weren’t Pidge’s thing, but she had to admit that the hot water always did wonders for her tense muscles.

Despite how modest their clothing was, Alteans were surprisingly open about nudity and were…enthusiastic about public bathing. Pidge still remembered when Coran had first shown them the baths back on Arus — Lance and Hunk had been pretty excited, and Shiro’s eyes had lit up like a kid on Christmas (apparently baths like this were a big thing in Japan?). Their enthusiasm had quickly turned into a panicked explanation of human cultural norms when both Alteans began to strip in front of everyone.

Neither Coran nor Allura seemed to see what the big deal was but they were happy enough to accept that humans did things differently and didn’t push the issue, though once Pidge came out to the team Allura had immediately started dragging her to bathe together once or twice a week. At first Pidge had hated it, but she quickly got used to being naked around her and now she kind of looked forward to it (for the one-on-one time with Allura, not the nakedness. They were so busy they barely had time to hang out otherwise, and Pidge had only ever had one female friend before so it was nice to have another). They got around the privacy issue by sending messages to the team — if one of the boys was going to bathe, the girls knew not to come in, and vice versa. Shiro seemed to make use of the baths once every day or so.

This was the first time she’d come alone, however, and the first time she hadn’t bothered to send a message out. It was about 1 a.m. when she’d decided to come down but on the off chance that Allura was still awake she really didn’t want her to join her. She’d typed up a message to Lance to let him know — figuring the odds were that if she was awake, he’d be awake — but her thumb had hovered over the ‘send’ button for several ticks until she’d decided to delete it and just go. What if he got the wrong idea, and took it as an invitation? That would be awkward, and Pidge was getting really sick of things being awkward between them.

She leaned her head back against the stone siding with a sigh and stared up at the steam swirling around near the ceiling. The logic was sound, but still. Not texting him felt tantamount to asking him to walk in on her. He'd had the same dream; it wouldn't surprise Pidge if he'd also woken up and thought 'Hm, a bath would be nice.' The soft blue light of the clock on the wall told Pidge she'd been there for 40 minutes already, though, so it looked like she was safe.

And despite the way her gut twisted, she was not disappointed.

Absolutely not. There was no damn reason for her to be disappointed.

Needing a distraction, she half-turned to run her fingers over the small bumps in the floor behind her. The baths were very different to the rest of the ship: the walls were a light blue, instead of the grey metal she'd grown accustomed to; rough white stone covered the floors; and the blue glow that illuminated everywhere else had been replaced with soft white lighting from somewhere between the ceiling and the walls. One wall had been replaced entirely with a giant viewscreen, offering a spectacular view of the glittering vastness of space (and mild heart attacks the first few times one of the lions had flown past on patrol while she was in the bath). The bath itself was more like a shallow swimming pool sunken into the middle of the floor, and showers were placed around the walls at intervals so you could wash before getting in — that way you wouldn't contaminate the water everybody shared with your dirt.

Shiro had said it was a lot like the public baths they had in Japan, albeit a lot fancier, which was probably why he came down here so much. Pidge wondered how often Lance joined him. Which shower did he use?

Ugh.

She spun around fully and slammed her head down on her hands, instinct the only thing saving her forehead from a nasty meeting with the stone. That last dream had been different.

One: Dream-Lance had been... Lance. The smile he'd worn, the way he'd been teasing her, the banter they'd been exchanging...all of it was as familiar and comforting as her windbreaker. In the last few dreams he'd been essentially interchangeable — she wouldn’t have recognised him if she hadn’t seen his face — but this last one made it harder for her to separate the man in her dreams from the boy who'd braided her hair before bedtime.

Two: Dream-Lance was hot. The short beard had suited him, and he'd really filled out over the years. Then again, Now-Lance was pretty broad and she knew he was just as defined, she'd just never had the chance to run her hands over him like Dream-Pidge had been doing. A part of her wondered if he'd mind...and that was a thought that led into—

Three: the first thing she'd wanted to do once she got her bearings was go and see if she could get Lance to look at her like that again.

The memory of his gaze sent a shiver down her spine. Dream-Pidge had revelled in the desire in his eyes. Here-and-Now-Pidge was surprised to realise that she recognised it.

Lance had been watching her for a while. Much longer than a month, Pidge thought, as she tried to figure out when she'd first spotted him giving her that look. She couldn't remember exactly, but the first time seemed to be somewhere between Beta Traz and killing Zarkon for the first (or should it be second?) time. That was well over a year ago, which meant that Pidge, Green Paladin and the smartest member of Team Voltron, had been completely oblivious to the feelings of one of her best friends for well over a year. Maybe it was time for her to hand that ‘smartest member’ trophy over to Hunk.

He hadn’t even been all that subtle about it, though every single time she'd actually caught him staring at her he'd looked away immediately, leaving her to figure out what the weird look on his face was about. Normally she dismissed it, but sometimes she'd surreptitiously locate a mirror and check to see if she had something on her face. She'd had no idea that it was because he wanted her.

The sound of the door opening startled her out of her thoughts, and she whipped her head up to see a half-asleep and very naked Lance mosey into the chamber, a towel slung over his shoulder.

He looked around and froze, staring at her like a deer caught in headlights. Pidge stared back.

The only sound in the room was the slow swishing of the water, and then...

"Holy-quiznak-Pidge-I'm-so-sorry!"

The door whooshed closed behind him, jolting Pidge out of her stupor and sending her scrambling to get out. He'd sounded mortified. Why hadn't she sent him that message? Stupid, stupid, stupid...

She grabbed her towel off the rack and quickly wrapped it around her before running to the door, pool safety be damned.

"Uh, Lance?" she called out through the closed door. "Are you still there?"

A moment later the reply came back, his voice strained and harried. "Ah, yeah, I am. Sorry Pidge, I seriously had no idea you were in there, I'm just gonna get changed and—"

"No, no, don't get changed!" Lance made a choking sound and Pidge suddenly realised what she’d said. "Ah, I don't mean that! I mean, uh, I was about to get out anyway!" It was a lie, but in all honesty she should have been thinking about getting out. She'd been in there for almost an hour.

"Oh..."

He sounded confused, and she couldn't blame him. "Could you give me my clothes? I'll get changed in here and then we can swap."

"Uh, okay!" There was a rustling sound, and then the door whooshed open again. "Don't worry, I've got my eyes closed."

Pidge definitely didn't have her eyes closed. Lance leaned through the open doorway, one hand holding her pyjamas in front of him like an offering and the other holding a towel awkwardly around his waist. As she stepped forward to take the clothing she couldn't stop her eyes from roving over every inch of his exposed skin, every line of definition, every twitch of his muscles. Her face flushed when she realised the towel looked so awkward because he was trying to hide the bulge in his crotch.

Had she done that to him?

Well, he didn't have that a second ago, so... Her thighs clenched together with need and she all but snatched the fabric from his fingers. Lance nodded and stepped back out through the door, none the wiser; Pidge started hurriedly pulling her clothes on, almost shoving both legs through the same hole in her underwear in her haste. Quiznak.

Lance was fucking beautiful, and she wanted him.

The feeling was as familiar as That Look. One late night in the Garrison library, a few times after training, way more than once when he leaned against her while they played video games… She just hadn’t been able to put a name to it before. The dreams had nothing to do with it, and the realisation was almost as disorientating as the fact that he was standing buck-naked no more than 10 feet away on the other side of that door, wanting her too.

Pidge tilted her head back and took a deep breath. It didn’t matter. It didn’t. Lance was her friend. She was going to go out there, avert her eyes like a decent person, bid him goodnight and go back to bed. Morning training was going to be hell as it was. With that thought in mind, she opened the door to the changing room.

“Pidge, I am so, so sorry.” Pidge stopped short just inside the room and looked around in confusion. “You know I’d never walk in on you like that on purpose, right? I seriously had no idea you were in there! I would never have come in if—”

Ah, there he was. Standing facing the wall opposite the exit, his shoulders hunched and looking much smaller than someone almost six feet tall had any right to look.

“—but still I’m so sorry Pidge, seriously, because I should’ve guessed that you would have wanted a bath too and—”

“Lance, it’s okay,” she cut him off. He froze, the muscles in his shoulders tensing. “I didn’t tell anyone I was in there, so you couldn’t have known. It’s fine.” Besides, she definitely saw more than Lance did.

Lance slumped forwards, leaning his forehead on the wall with a sigh. “No, it’s not okay. Things are weird enough as it is, and now I’ve made it weirder again.”

“Hey,” Pidge said, frowning as she strode towards him and tugged on his bicep. “Lance, look at me.” He turned reluctantly and she suddenly found herself face-to-face with his bare chest. She blushed and averted her gaze, trying hard to make her mind stop thinking about what his towel was meant to be hiding before risking looking him in the eye. “It’s okay, all right? Don’t beat yourself up over it,” she said, her voice gentle. “I don’t mind. It’s fine.”

He didn’t reply. They stood in silence, less than a foot apart, searching each others’ eyes — for what, Pidge wasn’t sure, but she couldn’t look away. It was like there was some magnetic force between them, drawing her to him; it was taking all she had not to move closer. Her blood was pounding in her ears and she hardly dared to breathe, scared that it would ruin whatever was threatening to happen.

What was she even doing here? Wasn’t she supposed to be leaving?

“Pidge,” Lance murmured, reaching for her. His hand stopped just short of contact to hover near her shoulder, but she could swear she still felt the heat from it. He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing, and her gaze flicked down to follow the motion before returning to his eyes.

And…there it was. That Look. The smoldering embers, the undisguised want that made her lids lower and her stomach clench and had her leaning in to touch him before she really knew what she was doing.

Her hand moved of its own accord, her fingers trailing up his chest to trace the line of his throat and curl under his jawline. She watched in fascination as he shuddered, his eyes fluttering closed, every muscle on his stupid, perfect body twitching with the sensation. His hand landed on her waist, his grip strong and warm, and her breath caught in her throat when he captured her gaze with his own again.

“Pidge.” His voice was low and gravelly in a way she’d never heard before, and it slid down her spine like a single drop of molten gold.

“Yes?” she breathed, unable to look away.

“You…” He swallowed and turned to the side, shaking his head before trying again. “I… We…”

“It’s fine.”

Lance looked at her sharply, his hand on her waist tightening, conflicting emotions warring on his face. Pidge raised herself up on her tiptoes, cupping his jaw and tugging him down towards her. “Lance, it’s fine.”

In truth, she had no idea what was fine. Her brain had switched off several heartbeats ago, but she couldn’t really find it in herself to care.

Lance’s gaze met hers, and she barely registered that he seemed to have come to some sort of conclusion before his lips were on hers, hot and desperate and somehow a little bit too hard. Pidge tangled her fingers in his hair and kissed back with equal fervour, but she couldn’t help wondering distantly why it seemed to feel better when she was asleep. Was there supposed to be teeth involved? And what the heck was she supposed to be doing with her tongue?

Their breathing was harsh when they pulled apart, noses somehow bumping together in the process, and Pidge suddenly giggled.

“What?” he asked, wide-eyed and affronted.

“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head with a smile. “Do you want to try that again? Maybe…slower?”

Lance blinked, taken aback, before leaning back in with a murmured ‘okay’. The second kiss was little more than a brush of his lips against hers before he pulled back to check how she was doing. On the third one they managed to avoid bumping noses, but Pidge felt such an absurd burst of pride at the accomplishment that she burst out laughing against his lips and they had to break it off again. Lance raised an eyebrow at her and Pidge shook her head, letting her mirth die down before saying: “Again.”

When his response was too slow she leaned up, tugging him down again to press her lips firmly to his.  She tilted her head — since that was what they seemed to do in the movies — and opened her mouth experimentally, running her tongue against his lips and trying to figure out what felt best. Lance returned the pressure tentatively, his movements gentle, slow, and testing, and his hand left her waist to cup her cheek tenderly as the kiss gradually deepened. This one — the fourth one — was nice. Warmth was spreading through her body, little tingles shooting down her spine with every slide of his lips, but it was just enough to leave her wanting more.

This time when they pulled back for air they were both smiling. The break didn’t last long, though; Pidge captured his lips again before he could say anything.  Lance responded immediately, his thumb smoothing her cheek, his other hand grasping her hip to pull her closer and she pressed herself against him, wanting to get as much of him as she could before reality came knocking again. Lance kissed her harder, his hand running down her throat and along her collarbone and making her shudder as her knees went weak. He let out a sound of satisfaction at her response and suddenly she was sure he’d only known to do that from those damn dreams.

Well, two could play at that game. She touched her palm to his neck, firmly tracing the line of his throat before smoothing her fingers along his jawline, like she’d done in the dream, smirking against his lips when froze.

Time stopped, and Pidge wondered what was going to happen next.

“Fuck it,” he muttered.

She gasped as Lance spun them, picking her up as though she weighed nothing at all and pinning her against the wall. A heartbeat later he was upon her, kissing her with an intensity that stole her breath and made her heart pound and set every nerve in her body on fire with need. She tangled her fingers in his hair, pulling and tugging as she tried to match his passion, pouring years of confused frustration into her lips and hoping he somehow felt it.

It wasn’t enough. Lance seemed to have reached the same conclusion because the next second he had pressed his whole body against her, freeing up his hands to run up and down her sides as they kissed again and again. Pidge had long since lost count of what number they were on. Her hands explored his back, her instincts warring between needing to feel every inch of his perfect skin and needing to hold him even closer and never let go. His hard length rubbed against her core, hot and thick even through her pyjamas and she couldn’t keep the moan down.

There was a part of her that knew they were going too far, but maybe it was the lateness of the hour because she just didn’t care. Instead, she wrapped her legs around his waist and angled her hips, trying to create more friction where she needed it.

Lance groaned, his lips leaving hers to work his way down her throat, teeth tugging and teasing as one hand reached up to knead her breast. Pidge tilted her head and arched her back, gasping at the sensation and needing more more more and Lance stilled.

“You okay?”

“Don’t stop,” she pleaded, too far gone to care how needy that sounded.

“Pidge,” he breathed, burying his face in the hollow of her neck. “Katie

And just like that, the moment shattered. Pidge shoved him away from her, shaking her head over and over as if she could shake away the wrongness. “Stop!”

Lance backed off immediately, almost dropping her in his haste to step away. A hand shot out to steady her shoulder when she wobbled and she murmured a ‘thanks’ as she ducked her head to avoid his gaze — but then quickly changed her mind and looked up at him instead when she realised that his naked crotch was directly in her line of vision.

She stared up at him, wide-eyed and panting heavily, less than an arm’s length apart in a room that suddenly felt much too cold, a million thoughts and feelings swirling in her head.

“Katie, I— ”

“No, no, no, no, no!” Pidge cut him off, shaking her head violently again, her voice rising dangerously high on the last word. “You never call me that!”

“I—”

“You don’t even know what it’s short for!”

Lance paused. The hurt in his eyes cut through the fog in her mind and Pidge’s stomach sank. Oh God. She’d done that to him. She hadn’t meant to hurt him, she just… Tears stung at her eyes and she wiped them away angrily, biting back a sob. Fuck. A warm thumb wiped a stray tear from her cheek and she glanced up again as Lance took a step back, giving her space to leave. They stood awkwardly for another moment before Pidge sidestepped around him, gesturing at herself and the door and back and hoping he got the message because she didn’t trust herself to speak without bursting into fucking tears.

“Yeah, okay. G’night.” He turned away from her and bowed his head, leaning against the wall again as he waved her off. Pidge paused at the door. His back was to her, but the way his shoulders drooped and his head hung made her heart ache. What the hell was wrong with her? It was just a stupid name. It wasn’t his fault, either.

Decision made, she walked back towards him. Lance turned to her in confusion, but before he had a chance to do or say anything she leaned up and pressed her lips to his cheek.

She stepped away quickly, blushing hotly, and Lance stared at her with red cheeks and wide-eyes.

“Right.” Pidge nodded. “Goodnight.”

A hint of laughter accompanied the reply, and that was good enough for now.

 

--

 

Pidge smacked his hands away. “Hey, stop that. No touching the hair.”

Lance narrowed his eyes at her, fingers frozen less than an inch away from the forbidden fruit. “Why the quiznak not?”

“Do you know how long this took to do?” she asked, pointing at the elaborate up-do she’d spent hours corralling her short strands into. “Plus, if my hair’s a mess everyone’s going to know what we were up to.”

With a sigh, he smoothed his hands down her sides to her hips. “Fine then,” he said, lips moving to the hollow of her neck. “I guess I can leave your hair alone.”

Pidge tilted her head back to give him further access, keening against his touch. That spot was just so damn sensitive. Lance ruined it, however, when his hands bunched in her skirt, and Pidge had to quickly smack them away again. “No touching the skirt either.”

“What?! Why?!”

“Because it will wrinkle,” she answered primly, arching an eyebrow at him for good measure. “And, again, everyone will know what we were up to.”

Lance snorted. “So tell me, then. What are we doing in a linen closet?”

“Didn’t say I couldn’t touch you.” Smirking, she ran her fingers up his abdomen, tugging his shirt out of his waistband as she did, then wrapped them around his blue tie teasingly. “You just keep your hands to yourself. Behind your head should work.” A hard tug and his face was at the right height for her to lean in and graze his lips with her own. “Capisci?”

Lance swallowed and nodded, then moved to close the gap between them. Pidge pulled away, giving him a meaningful look. “Hands, Lance.”

Grumbling, he moved them behind his head. Pidge rewarded him with a proper kiss before pushing him away, making him straighten up so she could run her hands over his muscles underneath his shirt. It wasn’t her fault; Lance was just too quiznaking hot in a suit to leave alone. Judging from the looks he’d been giving her all night, she was pretty sure he knew it, too.

Once she was satisfied that he was going to behave she started on his belt and fly, making quick work of both before pushing his pants and underwear down carelessly. Lance sucked in a breath as she wrapped her fingers around his cock and sunk to her knees.

“Pidge…”

She glanced up at him through her eyelashes. “Hands on your head, Lance. Touch my hair and I stop.” He swallowed and stared at her with rapt attention, his eyes dark with lust. Pidge drank it in before planting a light kiss on his heated skin. Tilting her head, she ran her tongue along his length, sending a quick mental thank-you to the powers that be that he’d obviously showered before coming to the gala because that one time after training? Ugh. The taste still haunted her.

Lance shuddered under her and she smirked before taking him into her mouth properly, sucking gently and swirling her tongue around the head once before settling in to suck him off properly. There was no time for teasing. One arm went around his hips to steady herself and the other hand wrapped around the base of his cock, pumping slowly as she tried to take him in deeper even though she knew he was far too big for her to take all the way. Stupid gag reflex. Her boyfriend didn’t seem to care, though, if the way his hips were twitching already was anything to go by.

The way he half-chanted her name under his breath (“Katie Katie Pidge Katie Pidge You Pidge”) and the moans he was obviously trying to stifle were music to Pidge’s ears, and she had half a mind to say ‘fuck it’ and ask him to do her against the door. But they really couldn’t afford to get caught again, so instead Pidge hollowed out her cheeks and pumped harder, trying to bring him closer, faster.

He was almost there when —

Chapter Text

For the fourth time in three days, Pidge woke up wondering how the fuck she was going to face Lance.

Especially since the last thing in her face had been his—

She cut her thoughts off with a squeak and buried her face back in the pillow, cheeks burning.

Frustrated irritation washed over her a moment later. Why was she still so embarrassed about this? Last night she’d been rubbing against it. (‘It’. His dick. D-I-C-K. She was at least going to think the damn word, even if she couldn’t say it.)

It was definitely too late to play the shy card, so if her cheeks and morals and whatever the hell kept making her want to run away giggling like a grade-schooler could just get with the damn programme that’d be great. Whatever the programme was.

She was still blushing when she forced herself to the sink, but she ignored it to frown at her half-undone braid instead. Sighing, she began work on undoing the other one, making a mental note to check her bedsheets later for the missing hairband.

Being shy about it didn’t have to be a bad thing, she reasoned. Maybe she just wasn’t the type of girl who could be straightforward about things like that. Then again, Pidge had never thought she was the type of girl to lose her virginity against a wall, but...

Her fingers stilled, eyes going wide. Was that where it had been heading last night? If Lance hadn't said her name and freaked her out, would they have gone all the way?

Yes, a little voice whispered. Just thinking back to his touch was making shivers dance across her flesh, her breath catching in her throat and heat curling in her belly at the ghost of the sensation. The way his fingertips had roved over her skin, leaving fire in their wake. The strength of his body pressed against hers. The passion in his lips.

...The clumsy sweetness of those first kisses. The way he'd blushed when she kissed his cheek, as if that had meant more than the frantic making out (foreplay, she forcefully corrected herself) just minutes before. The way he'd given her space the picosecond she'd said she was uncomfortable.

Those memories stirred up a very different kind of warmth, and a smile tugged at her lips.

She used her fingers to comb her hair out into messy waves, still smiling as she studied her reflection in the mirror. If Lance had been the one to yell stop, would she have had the self-control to back off that quickly?  Somehow, she doubted it — all she’d wanted was to be closer.

But Lance had, and she'd always heard it was meant to be harder for guys. That had to mean something, right?

She reached for the toothbrush almost absently. That had to mean something might be a redundant question when he'd flat-out admitted to liking her in the lounge.

A memory flashed in her mind: his jacket around her shoulders, and the gentle hands that had put it there. When she closed her eyes, she could almost feel its warmth again, and that realisation gave her pause.

The girl in the mirror had wide eyes, pale skin and messy hair, and for once Pidge didn't think she looked like a boy.

But did she look like a girl in love?

 

------

 

Pidge was still dwelling on the answer when she tripped over Lance on the way to breakfast.

"Woah!" He reacted quickly, abandoning his shoelaces to whirl around and catch her before she faceplanted. "What the cheese, Pidge, look where you're— ah, Pidge! Uh..."

His hands were still on her shoulders, helping to steady her even as his cheeks rapidly darkened. Pidge could feel her own cheeks heat up to match as the memories of the night before -- both the dreams and the reality -- came flooding back.

Shit. He stared at her, wild-eyed, looking as lost as she felt. She had to say something to break the tension. Anything. Anything— "Uh, hi."

Lance nodded, releasing a breath she hadn’t realised he’d been holding. "Yeah. Uh, hi."

"Well, now I know what you two were dreaming about last night," Hunk said, grinning, and they leapt apart.

Lance let go of Pidge (she wasn’t disappointed she wasn’t), punched Hunk on the arm, then shoved his hands in his pockets and started stalking down the hallway towards the dining room. "Shut up, buddy."

Hunk waggled his eyebrows. "Just sayin'." Turning to Pidge with a laugh, he gestured for her to walk with him as Lance disappeared through the doorway. "Seriously, my dreams aren't nearly as interesting. Last night I was talking to Coran about upgrading the castle's system."

“That is interesting, though!” Pidge protested, immediately interested in the word ‘upgrade’. “Do you remember what you were doing with them?”

“No idea. Just something about Planck’s Constant,” he replied with a shrug.

“6.62607004 × 10-34 m2 kg / s?” She frowned. “What do photons have to do with the castle’s systems? The particle barrier?”

Hunk froze, his hand inches away from the door panel. “Okay, look, I’m smart and I’ve known you for about two years now but it’s still scary how you can just rattle things like that off.” Pidge smirked, and he wiggled a finger at her. “Also, the particle barrier would make sense, but I didn’t see that much.”

The door whooshed open. “Okay, but the only thing in this castle that utilises that much electromagnetism is the particle barrier, so—”

“Are you kidding? I leave you guys alone for five seconds and you’re already talking nerd stuff?”

Pidge made a face and flipped him off without even looking, instead edging around the table towards the kitchen. “As I was saying, it’s—”

“—nice knowing some things haven’t changed.”

Both members of Team Punk froze, turning towards the source of the voice as one. Keith sat at the table next to Lance, a grin on his face and one hand held up in greeting. “Morning.”

“Keith!”

The flood of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her caught her off-guard, but the next moment Pidge practically ran at him, tackling him in a hug so exuberant it almost knocked him off his chair. Keith grunted with the impact and tensed up, but a moment later she felt his arms wind around her back as he returned the embrace, murmuring “Are you okay?” against her hair.

Pidge nodded, tightening her grip and breathing in. Keith was the one who’d spent hours teaching her how to fight, who offered her his silent company when she was up late working on difficult programs and always helped her work out her frustrations when she needed to hit things but didn’t want to talk about why.

She’d missed him.

A second later they both yelped as Hunk got in on the action and lifted them into the air, though Pidge’s laughter quickly turned into wheezing when she found her air supply cut off. She wriggled out of the group hug, landing on her feet ungracefully but saved from a meeting with the floor by a hand on her back again.  Surprised, she turned to see Lance watching them, his other elbow on the table propping up his chin.

He returned her grateful smile with a raised eyebrow. “How come I never get greeted like that?”

“Disappear for four months and you might,” she replied, rolling her eyes.

“Okay, one,” Hunk chimed in, releasing a grateful Keith from his hold and wiping his cheeks, “nobody is stopping you from getting in on this action, you just think you’re too cool for hugs. Two, you got a giant quiznaking hug from Pidge yesterday, and I think that counts.”

Pidge froze.

“She was crying! That’s not the same!” Lance protested, and Pidge let out a breath she hadn’t realised she was holding. Right. The morning thing. That dream, and not the...other thing.

Hunk hummed non-commitantly, gesturing for Pidge to follow him to grab some food goo, while Keith frowned at Lance. “Pidge was crying? Why?”

“Uhh…”

“Those two have been having a bunch of dreams about each other,” Hunk offered, saving him from having to think of a reply. “You know, the prophecy ones? From the quintessence on this planet? But trust me, you really don’t wanna know the details.”

I don’t even wanna know the details,” Lance muttered as Pidge slid into the empty seat next to him.

Pidge shrugged and scooped up some of her breakfast, pausing with the spork halfway to her mouth as she felt eyes on her. She looked up to see Keith studying her. “What?”

He frowned. “Are you sure you’re okay? You’re not normally that...happy to see me.”

The question made her think. Was she okay? She glanced sideways for a cue but Lance’s attention was focused on his breakfast, so instead she turned back to Keith and forced a half-smile. “I guess? Life is just really weird right now.”

That must have been the right answer, because Keith chuckled in response, his shoulders relaxing. “When isn’t it?”

Breakfast proceeded fairly normally after that, the sound of sporks scraping plates interspersed with idle chatter as they caught Keith up on all that had happened with Team Voltron and he shared some anecdotes about his time with the Blade until the door whooshed open, admitting Coran.

“Ah, there you are! Lance, I’ve input those designs and the measurements from your armour into the fabricator so we should have those outfits for the ball in two quintants!” He stood at the head of the table, his hands on his hips as he surveyed them, expression brightening even further when his gaze landed on Pidge. “Number Five, I daresay you’ll look like a Groggorian beauty in that dress!”

Her spork landed on the table with a clatter as panic seized in her throat. “Dress?! What dress?!”

“It’s a different dress!” Lance yelled, eyes wide and face pale. “A totally different dress!”

Pidge stared at him, her heart pounding a mile a minute, trying desperately to calm the panic in her mind. Lance stared back, equally flustered.

Wheezing laughter broke the tension — “O.M.G., was Pidge wearing a dress in the last one?!” — and embarrassment hit Pidge like an ion cannon.

“Oh no!” she squeaked, hiding her face in her hands and slamming her head on the table. “Why is this even happening?!”

She heard Lance groan beside her, and the sound of Keith smacking Hunk on the back as his laughter turned into choking (good, maybe then he’d shut up). Her face felt so hot part of her was afraid the table would melt through, but — whatever. Pidge was staying there even if it did. In fact, this was where she was going to live out the rest of her life now, face buried in a hard table until someone developed a cure for abject mortification.

“Did Pidge and Lance dream about each other again?” Coran sounded confused.

“Are you kidding? Pidge is all I’ve been dreaming about! Seriously, I thought I was gonna get all these cool dreams about cool things I’m gonna be doing but no, it’s all Pidge—”

“To be fair, Pidge is pretty cool, Lance.”

—Hunk was gonna die. She’d have to do it when he was asleep, because there was no way she could overpower him, but if she tied him up first and woke him then she’d at least get to see the fear in his eyes—

“They’re together a lot in their free time, so it’s not that strange, is it?” Keith pointed out.

“No, it’s still unusual…” Coran said, slowly, and Pidge looked up from her homicidal fantasies to watch him twirl his moustache. “Normally the dreams are cyclical in nature; we should be ‘taking it in turns’, so to speak…”

“Are all of our dreams these prophecy dreams? And do we only have one a night, or do we have a bunch and just can’t remember most of them? Like how normal dreams work?” Lance asked, his spork pointed towards Coran as he waited for an answer.

Pidge frowned. “Are you talking about REM and non-REM cycles?”

Lance blinked. “I dunno. Am I?”

“I’m not sure what a remming cycle is, but Number Three is right in that you typically only remember the last dream you had before you wake up. And since we’re all new to Miskira, we should each be having three to six prophetic dreams a night, even though we only remember one or two.” Coran studied them, obviously thinking carefully before choosing his next words. “Still, it’s rather strange that you’ve only dreamt of each other. I’ve shared dreams with a different person every night.”

“Come to think of it, I haven’t had a dream with either of them in it,” said Hunk. “Guess they’re too busy—”

“Don’t finish that thought, buddy,” Lance growled, leaning across Keith to brandish his spork at him.

Before anyone could react, Allura’s voice echoed over the PA.

“Paladins to the bridge. Immediately.”

Everyone in the room exchanged a glance, then shuffled to their feet as Coran began herding them out the door, clapping his hands like a kindergarten teacher. “Up, up! Let’s go! You too, Keith, you’re still a paladin!”

 

——-

 

Lance caught her just outside the kitchen, tugging gently on her wrist while waving the others ahead. “Uh, about last night…”

Pidge’s thoughts abruptly screeched to a halt.

Last night. The changing room. The kisses, the touching, the everything. Her cheeks were burning when she squeaked out, “Um, yeah?”

He chuckled, a smile briefly gracing his lips, before glancing away and scratching the back of his neck. Dark red dusted his cheeks, his fingers were warm on her wrist, and Pidge suddenly found his proximity very distracting.

Distracting enough that she was thrown for a loop when he pinned her with a look and asked: “What are we?”

“Uh… What?” Shit. “Um. Friends? We’re friends.” Right?

“I… Friends?”

“I guess…?” Pidge blinked. “I don’t—”

“Pidge, I don’t do that kind of stuff with friends.” He let go of her wrist to gesture between them, and Pidge resisted the urge to grab his hand. “We’re not…?”

Wrapping her arms around herself, she dropped her gaze to his shoes, breathing through her mouth in an effort to ignore his scent and regain some semblance of clarity. “Look, Lance, I’m just—” Breathe, Pidge. “ — I’m confused, I don’t know what I want or—”

“I know what I want,” he said, and the conviction in his voice made her gaze snap up to his.

“What?”

“I do know what I want,” he repeated, voice firm. He lifted his chin, straightened up and squared his shoulders, hands held sharply at his sides as he said, “I want you.”

The breath left her lungs in a rush. “I—”

She what, exactly?

Blank. Her mind was blank.

Lance held her gaze steadily, his entire attention focused on her, and she suddenly felt very, very small.

He was waiting for an answer, but she didn’t have one. Panic began to set in and her thoughts started tumbling over each other in a never-ending waterfall of useless fragments as she searched for something to tell him. Did she—? Yes? No? She had, but, she did—?

“Okay you two, are you coming or not? Cause Allura won’t be happy if you’re late.”

They both spun around at the intrusion, and the tension snapped.

Maybe she’d forgive Hunk for earlier after all.

 

——-

 

The walls were made of space bamboo, and it was making it very difficult for Pidge to keep denying that the Miskirans did kinda look like pandas.

Lance, of course, had been fucking delighted the moment they’d pulled up an image of the hideout. It was probably only the facts that Shiro and Allura were running on zero sleep and already wanted to kill him that kept him silent, but Pidge hadn’t missed the way his features lit up when Hunk said: “Is that...bamboo?”

It turned out there was a healthy chunk of metal in here too, but the middle of a mission wasn’t really the time to dwell on it.

“Two bio-signatures coming up on the right.”

They ducked into an alcove, pressing themselves against the sides as the guards — probably some of the Miskiran rebels — walked past the end of the hallway. Hunk gave the all-clear on the comms and Keith signalled for them to get moving.

She saw Lance moving to bring up the rear with his rifle as she skulked back out into the hallway, following Keith’s lead. The three of them moved swiftly and silently through the dim halls, pausing to avoid patrols before setting off again.

The mission itself was simple. Infiltrate the collaborators’ hideout, find their server room, and steal all their intel. The hideout was dimly lit and heavily guarded, but that was nothing the Paladins hadn’t faced before. It was almost routine by now.

The formation was new. Shiro and Allura were strictly off the mission as they hadn’t slept in over 24 hours; though Allura was waiting in Blue in case they needed an extraction. Hunk was on the comms, providing back-up from a stake-out spot a hundred feet or so away.

“You’re gonna be caught between two patrols if you go that way. Wait where you are.”

Pidge grit her teeth. Lance should have been on the comms, really. His rifle was much more reliable than the BLIP sensors they were using, but the Miskirans had insisted that Lance be in the ground team with her, so here he was. Insisted, as in, threatened to withdraw their support for the Coalition if he wasn’t.

These were the same Miskirans who had point-blank refused to entertain the idea of joining the infiltration, claiming it was ‘too dangerous’. They’d even wanted to pull Keith off the ground team; he was only with them because Shiro was adamant that Pidge have some close-quarters back-up and had sworn to pull the plug on the entire alliance if they tried to send her in with only Lance.

Of course, the Miskirans didn’t really care if Pidge died on the mission. That was probably the point, as Keith had cynically pointed out.

The Minister was dead. Pidge and Lance were the chief suspects.

Though why that made the Miskirans think they were the best choice for this mission, Pidge had no idea. If they really were working with the rebels, infiltrating rebel HQ wouldn’t have been hard for them. Allura said it was likely a test of their loyalty. The idea made Pidge want to punch something.

Preferably a panda-alien.

“Once you turn this corner your target’s straight ahead. No hostiles currently within range.”

“Roger that,” Lance replied softly, and they exchanged a glance as Keith gave the signal again.

The code on the server room door was easy to hack. They quickly ensconced themselves inside, Lance wriggling up into the rafters by the door while Keith took up a defensive position at her back.

Pidge always secretly hated this part. Hacking into the mainframe, finding the data and downloading it was never a problem, but data transfers always took time. And Pidge, as the resident computer genius, had to monitor the download — lives often depended on the download going smoothly — which meant she needed to rely on the others to watch her back.

And they would — this she knew without a doubt. Right now, Keith stood beside her and Lance was watching over them both, and both of them would throw themselves in the line of fire for her without a moment’s hesitation — as she would for them. But there was always this tiny part of her that hated it, repressed animal instincts that flat-out rebelled at the thought of being deliberately vulnerable in a dangerous situation. Of giving up control over her own defence.

Sixty-seven percent. Ten minutes remaining.

“One bio-signature heading towards the entrance.”

A sharp intake of breath from Lance. Keith glanced at her. “How long will that lock hold?”

“Five minutes, max,” she replied, eyes fixed on the screen.

“How long left on the download?”

“Nine.”

A thick silence fell over the room.

Hunk’s voice was quiet. “Guys, they’re at the door.”

The faint beeps of the keypad floated through the door, followed by the sound of familiar cursing and thuds against the metal.

Eight minutes left.

“Second hostile approaching. I think he’s called for back-up.”

“They probably think the lock’s broken,” Lance said, armour rustling as he shifted in the rafters. “How long, Pidge?”

Seventy-four percent. “Almost Seven.”

“Maybe they won’t figure it out and we’ll get out scott-free.”

“Unfortunately, that’s our only exit,” Keith said.

“Unless there’s another way out. Hunk?”

Lance sounded optimistic, but Pidge knew the answer before it came. They’d all studied the blueprints. “That’s the only entrance. I think they know something’s up, there are a lot of hostiles moving in your direction very quickly.”

“Six,” she chanted, answering the question before Keith could ask it.

Nerves threatened at the back of her throat, but she forced them back down as Keith dropped into a defensive stance, his voice steady as he said, “Allura.”

“Yes?”

“Be ready. We might need that extraction.”

“Standing by.”

The sound of metal and wood clashing reverberated throughout the room. Pidge curled in on herself, trying to make herself as small a target as possible without losing the connection. They needed this intel. At the very minimum, it would exonerate her and Lance and save the alliance.

Eighty-five percent.

“Don’t worry Pidge, we’ve got your back.”

There was confidence in Lance’s voice, and Pidge felt a fleeting desire to see him. “I know. Four minutes.”

“How many outside, Hunk?”

“I’m counting ten, with more incoming.”

Keith swore and moved out of her field of vision entirely as the noises through the door grew louder, likely taking up a position at her back. “Get ready.”

Not much I can really do. Fighting the urge to grab her bayard, she inhaled deeply and focused on the screen. Eighty-nine percent. Three minutes.

The pounding grew louder. A single bead of sweat dripped down her brow.

“Allura, get in the air. How long, Pidge?”

“Two minutes.”

She briefly heard Allura’s confirmation, and then all hell broke loose. The door gave way with the sound of splintering wood and an almighty crash, then a roar filled the room as footsteps pounded towards them and Keith yelled, “Get down!”

Hunkering down further, she forced herself to focus on the download. Ninety-four percent. Less than two minutes.

A pop, a heavy thud, and she knew Lance had just taken down someone who got too close. The body didn’t move again. Must be Galran.

“Don’t kill the Miskirans!” Keith yelled, and Pidge found herself hysterically wondering why the fuck they’d sent a sniper and a swordsman in with the instructions to ‘wound, not kill, under any circumstances’. Miskiran lives were precious.

More precious than theirs, apparently.

One minute left.

“C’mon c’mon c’mon…” she chanted. Groans of pain reverberated in her ears, so more than a few of the too-precious-to-die Miskirans must have been littering the floor. Keith was still fighting, Allura was in her ears reporting that she was less than two minutes out, and the bar kept ticking upwards…

Ninety-eight… Ninety-nine…

“Yes! Done!” She slammed the gauntlet down and spun, hand flying to her holster and ready to join the fray.

She didn’t get the chance. Her bayard flew from her grip as she was hoisted into the air, sharp claws slowly digging through her suit and into the flesh of her neck. Pain exploded in her throat and she gasped, struggling to breathe, hands coming up to scrabble at the armoured hand of the Miskiran who held her.

Shit.

Glittering gold eyes glared from a black-and-white patched face, sharp teeth far too close for comfort as her captor hissed: “You won’t get out of here alive. We’ll have—”

The world exploded in red.

 

—-

 

Later that night, Pidge tossed and turned, unable to sleep.

The blood had taken forever to wash off. Her armour was in the steriliser — the last time she’d seen it, it had been more pink than white. At least her helmet had stopped any from getting in her hair. They’d had to check her blood for contaminants, though, as her suit had been compromised.

She shuddered as she brought a hand to her throat. Her windpipe had been crushed, but a quick stint in a pod and now there weren’t even marks.

Somehow that felt wrong.

Pidge was the lucky one, though. She remembered all-too-well the helpless frustration of seeing your teammate lying injured on death’s doorstep. All Pidge remembered was everything going red, and then she was waking up to her brother’s waiting arms.

The pods always made her sleepy, so after that it had been food, a shower and then bed, in quick succession. She’d woken up sometime after dinner, refreshed after her blessedly dreamless sleep, only to be accosted and dragged into a tight, lingering hug by absolutely everybody she came across.

Even Keith had grabbed her and held on tight, raising the number of Keith-initiated hugs she’d experienced to one. She must have looked like death when they got back.

Lance had been conspicuously absent, though, and as Pidge reshaped her pillow for the third time in five minutes she couldn’t help but wonder if that was why she couldn’t sleep.

Sure, she was probably going to see him in her dreams again, but she kind of wanted to see him now. At the very least, she owed him a thank you for saving her life.

Pushing herself out of bed before she could think too much, she slipped on her lion slippers and started gathering supplies. Lance was probably awake as well, and she had a hard drive with 200TB of movies on it. A movie night sounded like a good distraction.

She took a step and paused, computer in hands, as the cool air of the hallway hit her bare shoulders.

First, she had to get changed.

 

------

 

Less than ten minutes later she was settled on Lance’s bed in her Altean pyjamas, leaning back against the wall as she watched him try to hook her laptop up to the screen in his room. Something about the way his brow furrowed as he glared at the wires was endlessly entertaining: she could watch him do that for hours and not get bored.

“You know, I could do that in two ticks, right?” she offered, eyebrow raised, inwardly wincing when the effect was ruined by a jaw-cracking yawn.

“You sure you won’t fall asleep?” he replied, shooting her a smirk over his shoulder before going back to it. “Besides I think I’ve...aha!”

The screen flickered to life and Pidge cheered when he returned to her, grinning proudly as he handed her the laptop. “Check it out, the cable’s even long enough!”

“Of course it is, I brought it,” she said, rolling her eyes. “What do you want to watch?”

“Something light. Family-friendly.” He paused. “Nothing with blood in it.”

The implication hung heavy in the air. Pidge hesitated, then clicked on the folder labelled ‘Disney’. “Have you seen Frozen?”

“I have a niece, Pidge, I’ve seen it a million times.”

“How do you feel about seeing it a million and one?”

Lance laughed, and the tension vanished. “Yeah. Good.”

When they settled back against the wall — laptop safely on the floor and out of accidental kicking range — Lance startled her by wrapping an arm around her waist, his expression sheepish but his eyes haunted when she glanced at him for answers. “Look, I know we still have to talk and you said you were confused, but is this okay? Just...for now?”

She hesitated for only a second before snuggling into the embrace, flopping one of her legs over his as she curled up against his chest. Lance quickly drew her closer, pressing a kiss against her hair, and Pidge couldn’t stop the giggle from slipping out. “Okay. Now watch the movie.”

“Yes, Katie,” he chanted, sitting up a little straighter. “I’m pretty sure I can recite this movie word-for-word, though.”

“Just don’t sing,” she said with a laugh. The ice men were finishing their manly chorus on screen, and as the shot panned out to the stars Pidge was irrepressibly reminded of the view from the baths the night before.

Which reminded her of something else. “By the way,” she said, “it’s Caterina.”

“Huh?”

“My name. It’s Caterina,” she repeated softly, suddenly feeling shy. “That’s what Katie’s short for.”

Caterina?!”

His shoulders began to shake, and she smacked her palm against his chest, eyes narrowed. “Don’t call me that though. Seriously. The only person who calls me that is my nonna, and even then I only tolerate it.”

“Really? Your mom doesn’t say something like Caterina Maria Holt, get down here when you’re in trouble?” Lance pitched a falsetto on the name, eyes overflowing with mirth as he pushed her bangs back off her face.

“Oh my god, Lance.” She buried her face in his chest to hide from him. “I am not telling you my middle name.”

Laughter spilled from his lips, making his entire body vibrate. “Is it really Maria?!”

“No!”