Allura is quite nervous, to say the least. She paces back and forth in her room, stopping only to obsessively refluff her pillows, smooth out her bed sheets, and rearrange random items on her dresser. The mice, who are lounging on her bed, begin squeaking at her when she accidentally dislodges them from their comfy spot in the center.
"Oh! I am so sorry. I just want to ensure that everything is absolutely perfect before he arrives." Chuchule imitates a coy pose and bats her eyelashes, making the other mice squeak in laughter. "Oh hush, all of you. I simply wish to cheer up Keith.” She sighs and crosses her arms. “He has been rather... depressed as of late, which all things considered is understandable."
Between Shiro's disappearance, Keith's promotion to Black Lion Paladin, adjusting to being the newly appointed team leader, and the ongoing hunt for Lotor, the normally passionate young man has been -- as the humans would say -- "running on empty" for a while. He barely speaks unless during a mission and Hunk is often forced to monitor his abysmal eating habits. Coran tells Keith some of his most exciting stories but only gets generic answers and nods in return. Lance and even Pidge try to include him in their own activities to little effect.
Allura was at a loss. As Princess, the Paladins' well-being rests on her shoulders. So she agonized over a course of action alone until finally desperation drove her ask one of the others for advice.
"Why don't you invite Mullet over for a sleepover then?" Lance suggested it so matter-of-fact, she could only stare, until Platt’s light tap on her cheek snapped her out of her daze.
"A sleepover? I do not understand."
Lance picked up Plachu from her shoulder and stroked his fur, the mouse's hostile expression contradicting him leaning in toward Lance's fingers. "Yeah. Me and Hunk do them all the time when we get homesick. And sometimes we make Pidge join in if she gets too wound up. We eat snacks, play card games, do some face masks, talk about cute boys and girls--oh wait, Keith might not enjoy that part and Pidge definitely doesn’t so...."
Allura let that last bit slide, already in deep thought as she considered the possibility. "That sounds nice but. Do you think Keith would agree to such a thing?"
"Well if I were asking him, not really? But this is you. So just butter him up and, you know, bat your eyes a bit and he'll cave in for sure. I know I would." And he winked and blew her a kiss.
Allura rolled her eyes, knowing Lance was merely jesting this time before she lunged at him, nearly toppling both him and Plachu over in a tight hug. She should really watch her strength. "I do not know how butter is related to winning Keith over but I can certainly flutter my eyelashes. Thank you Lance."
Allura felt Lance arms wrap around her middle. "No problem at all. Now go make emo boy happy."
It ends up taking a bit of charm ("did something get in your eyes Allura?" "no, nevermind") and clever persuasion ("please Keith?" "I don't think--" "please just try out, please?" "it's probably not a good ide--" "it would make me extremely happy" "okay, fine") before he finally caves in.
Allura is taken out of her thoughts by a soft knock at her door. Keith soon enter the room at her instruction, eyes wide at the display before him. "Allura, this is. Wow." She is pleased with his reaction -- from the thick and silky blankets and fluffy pillows adorning her bed, to the snacks and drinks sitting on a small table that Lance and Hunk prepared for them, to the multitude of card and board games laid out on her bed -- it is quite the spread.
"I am pleased you like my arrangements. Come here and sit." Allura leads him to her bed and begins mixing the facial creams as Keith settles in, fidgeting in his red lion themed nightwear. She even convinced him to wear the matching slippers, a wonderful bonus! Of course she is wearing her own custom pink version of the same outfit. "Use the headband and tie right there for your hair. I will have this facial cream prepared shortly."
Keith scrunchies his face but complies. He isn't aware of how childish that expression looks and Allura snorts before she scoots closer and leans in once he pulls back his hair, spreading out the juniberry scented purple cream over his face with a small flat tool.
"Are you sure you want to do this with me? I-I'm not really good, uh, company. Lance or Hunk would be better, even Pidge too."
"And yet I chose you instead. I want to spend more time with you Keith and whether you believe it or not, you deserve the care. Now hold still or I might poke your eye out." She means it as a joke but Keith holds ramrod still until she finishes. "Wonderful, now please hold up the mirror so I can do mine."
"Again? How do you keep winning?"
Allura chuckles as she takes the cookies Keith used as betting chips from him. They’re playing a traditional Altean card game which Hunk once likened to something called poker but if it had "snorted coke." Whatever that means.
"Weren't these your favorite of Hunk's cookies? You should try and win them back." Allura taunts him with one between her fingers and she immediately sees the gleam in his eyes, a sign of his innate competitiveness. He deals them both two cards and they start the next round.
She gives back the cookies at the end, after cleaning Keith completely out, and they start on one of her favorite board games instead.
"Ha! You landed on my property, Trasildec-whatever. Now pay up."
Allura tries to be a gracious loser but a groan still escapes, temper getting the best of her. "I cannot believe I am losing to someone incapable of pronouncing such a simple word."
"What is so simple about this word? It has like 50 letters in it!"
"It's clearly pronounced 'Trasildectolxibtiferatordan.' I even went through the trouble of translating through your human alphabet to make things easier." She subtly brings one of the property cards closer to her, hoping to distract him long enough with the argument to um...improve the results. Not cheating of course. It just so happens she chose one of Keith’s properties.
The sound of a clearing throat and Allura looks up to see Keith, arms crossed and staring directly at the card behind her back. "Quiznack," she mumbles and puts it back.
Hours pass and the two eventually decide to turn in for the night, taking care to wash off the mask. Keith lays at the edge of the bed, back turned, and far too stiff. Allura sighs fondly. He's far too considerate for his own good. As if she would ever believe him to do something untoward. Not even Lance would, for all his silly flirting.
"Come here Keith. This is the most important part of the sleepover, the post cuddle."
Keith's head jerks to her, face visibly red even in the darkened room. "Ah, um, I. Are-are you sure? It’s not uh, weird for me to um. Cuddle you?"
"Of course not. I am your friend and want to embrace you." She holds out her arms for emphasis and Keith pauses, then very slowly makes his way to the center where she is. Allura wastes no time in wrapping her arms around his waist and pulling him closer. He tenses and Allura waits, ready to let go if it's too overwhelming. But then he melts and wraps his own arms around her shoulders.
Allura is boneless and content but she notices Keith's forehead is bare, his hair still pulled back, and a mischievous idea forms. "You know, it never occurred to me with those long bangs in the front covering it. But you do in fact have a forehead."
"Yeah, I sure hope I have one." He chuckles and rolls his eyes, missing the grin she can feel forming on her face.
"And now that it's exposed, I can do this." Allura shifts and gently kisses it, before burying her face in his shoulder with a giggle.
Keith sputters and Allura feels the heat radiate from his cheeks. It's peaceful as the two lay. She feels a slight movement, and then a soft kiss on her own forehead. Amid Keith’s snort and her own growing blush she is content. Her dear friend is happy and close by and she'll make sure he always knows how much she cherishes him.