The sky was starting to turn orange when they finally got outside, and everyone was surprised by just how long they had been in there. Time really flew fast when you were running for your life.
Some of the gang members had gotten away, but with Jake and Danielle caught, nobody was really worried. The police were currently talking to Lance, Hunk, and Allura, while the Holts stood a few feet away, all of them holding Pidge and crying.
Matt eventually broke away from his family, leaving Pidge with her parents. He walked over and stood next to Shiro, a tired but relieved grin on his face.
"See? I knew we should have just called the authorities right off the bat," Matt said cheekily. "Allura is a woman after my own heart."
Shiro chuckled. "Good for you buddy. It all worked out."
"Yeah. Glad it's over, honestly." Matt paused. He looked around curiously. "So, uh, where'd Keith go?"
"He left. He doesn't like being around police."
"...huh. Well, when you can, thank him for me. He really got us out of a pickle. We never would have found Pidge without him."
Shiro smiled. "Hmm, yeah. I'll be sure to pass that on to him."
Meanwhile, the police finally let Lance go, and he immediately made he way over to Pidge and her parents. Sam noticed him first and shot him a smile, then Pidge turned.
She looked happy, but Lance felt a pang in his chest when he looked at her. He hadn't had a chance to get a good look at her during her rescue, and she didn't look too good. She was thinner, tired looking, clothes dirty. Danielle's goons must have barely fed or taken care of Pidge at all, and the realization made Lance's blood boil.
Nevertheless, he put on a smile. "Hey Pidge, you..you feeling okay?"
Pidge sighed. "Yeah, I...I'll survive. I'm glad I'm out, but man, it was rough."
Lance nodded solemnly. "I can imagine. You should go home and get some rest."
"I will. I've missed home....how long was I in there?"
"Just over a month," Colleen responded. Her voice was hoarse from crying, but she held a firm hand on Pidge's shoulder. "But we never gave up on you."
"And you're safe now, don't worry," Lance told her gently. "We won't let anything happen to you again, I promise."
Pidge's smile softened and she looked back up at him, somehow still pretty despite her condition. "Thanks, Lance," she said softly. "And thanks for coming to help me. You even dragged all your friends into it."
Lance scoffed. "Well, I dragged yours in too."
"Anyway, you should get going now. I'll come see you soon."
"Don't keep me waiting long."
Predictably, the wedding was postponed for a while so everybody would recover, especially Pidge. While she usually hated being coddled, she could make an exception this time. After being locked up for who knows how long, getting to sit in bed while everyone waited on her hand and foot was a welcome change.
She'd missed fresh air. And actual food.
It took about a month or two before she started working on Rover again—both because she didn't feel well enough, and because her family wouldn't leave her alone.
Today, though, she finally had some free time. Her dad had left for work and her mom was making some lunch. Pidge was sprawled out on the floor, testing out some of Rover's functions, when a soft knock came at her bedroom door.
Matt peeked his head into her room and strode in, followed by Shiro. "Hey Pidge. What are you up to?"
"Nothing," said Pidge. She turned Rover off and turned to face them. "Just messing with Rover. Shouldn't you guys be heading back to school?"
"Yeah, we're leaving in like ten minutes," Shiro replied. "We've got a lot to catch up on after missing so much class."
Pidge scoffed. "Good luck with that. I'm gonna have to do my own catching up once I go back to work. Gotta make up for all that money mom and dad spent on trying to find me."
"Hey, come on, that's not your fault," said Shiro. "Take it easy on yourself, okay?"
"Yeah, we can worry about the money later," agreed Matt. "If push comes to shove, we might be able to ask Allura for help. She's a sweetheart, I doubt she'd be too anal about paying her back."
"Don't let your uncontrollable attraction blind you, Matt," Shiro argued. "Debt's a bitch, trust me. Keith's gotten pretty screwed over by it in the past."
Matt rolled his eyes, and Pidge tilted her head in confusion. "Who's Keith?"
"You know the shaggy haired guy who was with us when we saved you? He's the one who figured out where you were."
"Yeah? I was wondering who that was. Guess I owe him."
Shiro grinned. "Don't mention it. He's a good friend of mine, he was happy to help."
"Mm, and trust me, he's being compensated very well regardless," Matt added cheekily. Shiro shot him a glare.
Pidge's eyes widened for a second, but she laughed it off. "Alright. If you say so."
"We're just glad that you're okay," Shiro said.
They all took a collective breath, and for a second they were content to just sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
Then Shiro checked his watch. "Yeah, looks like we'd better be leaving."
Pidge giggled. "Bye, guys. I'll see you in a week."
"Take care of yourself, okay?" Matt told her. "Don't go hanging around alone."
"Relax, Matt, she's got her mom with her." Shiro tugged on Matt's sleeve. "Come on, we're going to be late."
Pidge stood to hug them both goodbye, and then sat back down while they went out to do the same with her mother.
Once they left, it was quiet save for her mom's humming from outside, and the sounds of Pidge messing with her robot.
She never thought she'd miss this as much as she did.
A few minutes later, Colleen peeked in to inform her that lunch was ready. She and Pidge soon sat at the table, eating quietly and comfortably enjoying each others' presence.
"You know, Lance said he would be coming over later today," Colleen soon piped up.
Pidge snorted. "Oh, good. I was wondering when that bastard would come to see me."
"Language, dear," Colleen scolded, though she was smiling.
Pidge took another bite, chewing thoughtfully. "Are you...still going to make us get married?"
Colleen paused. She finished chewing what was in her mouth, but still hesitated. "Well...we were hoping you would, yes," she replied finally. "But--we're not going to force you into anything right now, dear. You're still recovering."
Pidge frowned slightly.
"It's really up to you what you want to do now, Pidge."
Pidge turned away and nodded. She didn't want to talk about it more right now, because in all honesty, she didn't know what she wanted. And even now, it seemed that her parents hadn't really changed their minds, just that they'd pulled back a little to let her relax after her scary experience.
And then there was Lance. He'd put himself in harm's way to protect her. For all intents and purposes, there was nothing wrong with the guy, and Pidge liked him just fine. Should she just go with it based on that, or was it a matter of principle?
Lance arrived a couple hours later before she could really decide.
Colleen opened the door and he stepped inside with the same bright smile. He was also holding a bouquet.
"Flowers for the pretty pigeon," Lance announced. He bowed slightly as he handed the flowers to Pidge, who took them and smiled in spite of herself.
"Thanks, you sap," she replied teasingly.
Colleen rolled her eyes and took over the pleasantries herself. "It's good to see you again, Lance," she said. "We've all missed you."
"Yeah, I'm sorry for the delay," he replied. "The police kept calling me in to talk about the crime, and I had a bunch of stuff to take care of with my parents...plus I just wanted to give Pidge a chance to rest."
Pidge snorted, placing the flowers in a vase. "I've been resting for an entire month, you dummy. Kind of a long time to wait."
Lance laughed. "You're right, I'm sorry--didn't realize you missed me that much."
Pidge poked her tongue out at him and snickered.
Colleen shook her head with amusement. "Lance, are you hungry, sweetheart? I still have a couple of sandwiches you can have."
"Aww, thanks, Mrs. Holt, but I've already eaten. I was actually hoping to take Pidge out on a walk, if she's feeling up for it." He looked at Pidge curiously to confirm.
Pidge smiled. "Sure, that sounds nice. Let me go get ready."
They soon said goodbye to Colleen and went on their way. The weather was nice out, another thing that Pidge had learned to appreciate. They passed by the cafe from their first date and continued onward, enjoying the cool sea breeze.
"So you're looking a lot healthier," Lance commented. "I'm happy to see that."
"Heh, yeah. My mom's been feeding me. Boy, has she been feeding me."
Lance laughed. "Why so negative? Your mom's cooking is amazing, I'd love to get to eat it all the time."
Pidge rolled her eyes. "I'll tell her you said that. She'll be very grateful."
"Good. I hope she passed that knowledge onto you, so you can--uh."
He faltered, which was new. Pidge raised an eyebrow at him. "So I can what?"
Lance coughed. "Nothing. Never mind. Sure is nice today, huh?"
Pidge frowned. "So I can cook for you when we're married, right?"
Lance paused, and shot an apologetic grin at her. "Heh. Nothing gets past you, huh? S-sorry, I won't mention it anymore."
"Why not? I mean, if is marriage is happening, I see no reason you can't joke about it." Pidge shrugged.
Lance hesitated again, clicking his tongue and rubbing the back of his head nervously. "Uh, yeah...about that."
He stopped, and Pidge paused as well.
"Pidge do you...not want to get married?"
Pidge straightened in surprise. "What?"
"I mean, if you don't want to, I can help you get it called off. I bet they'd be reluctant to go through with it if we both started fighting back."
"W-wait," Pidge put up her hands to stop him. "Why are you saying this now? What's with the sudden change? Do you not like me anymore?"
"No, that's not it." Lance insisted. "It's just--look, you've been trying to get out of this from the start, and after what happened I...I just don't think it's fair for you. You were put through so much shit because of me and my past, and you don't deserve it." He paused again, wringing his hands together. "I like you, but we don't have to go through with this if you don't want to. We can convince our parents to stop, and then move on. You can meet someone you actually want, like you told me before."
Pidge was quiet, staring up at him for a long time. Lance was being serious about this.
She slowly walks over to the side of the road, where there was a railing overlooking a nearby lake. She leaned down on it, thinking hard.
Lance watched her for a moment before joining her.
"So....what do you say?" he asked quietly.
Pidge didn't speak for a couple more seconds. Then she turned to him. Her voice came out hushed: "You said you love me."
Lance blinked. "What?"
"When we were at Danielle's," Pidge continued softly. "You said you wouldn't be with her because you love me. Did you mean it?"
Lance hesitated, eyes wide. Then he slowly nodded, eyes downcast. "Y-yeah," he replied. "Yeah, I did. That's why I'm making this offer now." He gulped. "I couldn't have cared less before, but now....now I really don't want you to be unhappy."
He stopped, waiting for her answer. When he didn't hear one, he looked up curiously.
And Pidge was smiling, red cheeks pressed against her eyes as she tried to surpass a giggle. She looked happier than Lance had ever seen her.
"Sure," she said suddenly, turning back toward the railing. "We could break up. But then you'll just have to marry me normally."
"I mean, I could go find a quirky, nerdy guy to date," Pidge continued. "But will I know for sure that he's stand in front of a loaded gun for me?"
Lance blinked, then laughed. "Yeah, I guess that would be a tough thing to test."
Pidge joined him, laughing softly with both joy and relief. Pidge stepped closer to him and took his hand.
Lance smiled. "So I guess we don't really have to do break up or anything, right?
"No," Pudge giggled. She squeezed his hand and stared up into his eyes, still smiling brightly. "Let's get married, Lance."