Work Header

Language Barrier

Work Text:

Look, sometimes 'Quiznak!' just didn't cut it, okay?

Really, it was a good word, overall, for swearing in polite company. Or in front of his mama, if Lance didn't want to get hit upside the head with her chancleta. But there were certain instances where it lacked enough force to express the level of his — or anyone else's — frustration.

So when Lance's angry, "God damn it, Keith! Stop almost getting yourself killed!" cut over their Lions' comms, he really didn't think much about it. He was just yelling at Keith, as per usual, during one of their epic space battles.

The Galra fleet lost. Keith survived, despite his determination to do otherwise. And all was well.


In hindsight, Lance really should have thought more about it.

Shiro stood to one side of Allura, looking exasperated and like there wasn't enough coffee — maybe even not enough alcohol — in the universe to make this bearable. And that, Lance considered, was probably a lot of alcohol given that there were entire clouds of ethanol floating in between galaxies.

The rest of the team was in a semi-circle on either side of him. Snickering.

All three of them.

Even Hunk! Lance had never felt so betrayed in his life.

"But, what does... Gawd dam it even mean?" Allura started, slow and uncertain. Coran looked puzzled too. Lance felt his face flush because that phrase should never, ever leave the Princess' perfect mouth again.

"Yes, Lance." And oh boy, he did not like it when Shiro used that particular tone for his name. If Shiro had been his mother... Lance winced at the phantom feel of her sandal against the back of head. "Why don't you explain, please?"

"Er... It's just a figure of speech people use when they're really mad?" he tried. Shiro leveled a gaze at him. "I mean, I don't really why know we use it. It's kinda taking the Lord's name in vain and all, but if I guess if you're not Catholic or anything, it's not that big of a deal? People say it all the time."

Allura was looking more confused, head tilted to the side and lavender eyes blinking.

"It's a religious thing," Lance tried.

"Oh! Humans still have religious tenants then?"

Lance nodded and Allura looked to the others to confirm. "Yeah, it's just... You're asking the — uh, big guy in charge of one of the major religious groups — to curse something you're angry at. In this case," Lance motioned to Keith at his side. "Mullet-head's stupid self for nearly getting killed. Again."


Shouldn't that be the issue they were addressing and not the fact that Lance had cursed over the comms in the heat of battle? Because Keith-almost-getting-killed tended to lead to actual problems.


The second time, Lance thought he shouldn't be blamed. It wasn't even his fault, it had just come out.

And it was a perfectly normal reaction to have when someone — thanks, Coran — had waxed one of the hallways and not told anyone that the floor was drying! So, when Lance's foot hit the slippery surface and he careened down the stairway, he felt like he'd had the right to mutter "Shit" the first time he tried to stand up and promptly fell back down.

He had been disoriented, damn it!

He did not think he needed Shiro, standing in the medical bay with his hand over his face, obviously judging him while Coran clarified, "It means 'feces'? Really?"

"Er, yes..." They'd gone through about four other words until Lance had found one that meant something to Coran. But at least now he didn't have to explain 'crap,' 'poop', or 'deuce' as well. Coran hummed, shone a light in one eye then the other.

"Fascinating," he murmured, running a scanner next. "Why would you humans need to use an expression for that?"

"It's just useful," Lance shrugged. "Everyone knows what you mean when you say that you feel like shit."

Coran looked mildly horrified.

"No, we don't— It's a figure of speech," Lance slumped. "We don't actually— No. When you feel like shit, you just feel really bad. Same thing if something tastes like shit or smells like shit."

"So, it's another way of saying 'really bad' then?"

"Yeah. It can mean other things, but... Context?" Lance glanced at Shiro, hoping for a little help and not getting it. "It's complicated."


Shiro was, thankfully, not present the first time Lance told Keith to 'kiss his ass'.

Allura was. So was Keith.

Keith could leave at any time, so far as Lance was concerned. Instead, the black-haired teen was leaned back on the couch in the lounge, a smirk plastered all over his smug face, as Lance tried to explain to Allura what the expression meant without her repeating it back to him.

Please, just no. He didn't need to hear the Princess say the word ass.

"So it refers to your... Posterior," she questioned, "but you don't actually want him to kiss it?"

"No, no. Absolutely not. No way." Lance shook his head emphatically, waving his hands in the air. "It's an insult, Princess. Really. It's not supposed to be acted on."

Allura glanced between the two of them, unconvinced. Keith laughed.

"You're an asshole, Mullet-head."


Somehow, explaining "pissed off" — which he was. At Keith. — was even more difficult that explaining "shit" had been.

"Yes, it means urine," and why, oh why, was this his life now? What had he done to deserve this? "But it also means angry. Like really, really angry. And no, I don't know how they're related."

Also, this really wasn't a discussion to have at the dinner table.

Shiro's tired expression told him that their leader thought it was a bad idea too. But everyone else? Well, Pidge wasn't even trying to hide their snickers at his annoyed expression; the little sadist enjoyed his suffering, he was sure. Hunk was clearly trying to not laugh, but also to not meet his eyes so he could ignore Lance's obvious plea for some back-up. Which.

C'mon, man. Hunk, buddy. They were supposed to be BBFs, bros forever.

So help a guy out!

Next to him, Keith had shoved his bowl of green goo aside, folded his arms on the table and dropped his forehead to them. He was laughing so hard that his shoulders were shaking. Lance wasn't even sure how the surly teen was managing to breath.

"Oh for— Keith! Would you stop being such an—"

"I know this one!" Allura interjected with a bright smile. "Asshole, right?"

Lance felt his cheeks heat and stole a glance at Shiro, seated next to the Princess. Well, if anyone wanted to know what pissed off really looked like...



Getting shot hurt. It hurt a lot, even with the armor and Kevlar-like material of his flight suit taking the brunt of the hit. And really, Lance was kinda proud that that was the extent of his reaction to the sudden flare of pain in his side, that he'd kept his bayard steady and picked off two more Galra droids before there was break in their formation and he and Keith could run.

Once they were out of the Lions, Keith was all but carrying him to the medical bay and swearing a streak that was making even Lance blush while he was keeping his hand pressed to his bleeding side. "—such a fucking idiot. If you'd stayed under cover, you fucking moron—"

"Okay, okay. Fucking yell at me later!" He waved towards Coran and the open cryo-pod. "I'm fucking bleeding here, man!"

Two days later, after the cryo-pod opened and he'd fully thawed, he looked Allura and her adviser straight in their eyes. "It's slang for 'sex', but it's kinda all purpose and doesn't really mean anything in some cases. Used for emphasis on other stuff, people say it a lot when they're mad. Okay?"

Later, he punched Keith in the shoulder for not explaining it to them when the other had been swearing just as much as he had.


"... son of a bitch, that hurt, Keith," their leader muttered from the training deck floor, hand over the rapidly forming bruise on his side of his face. Lance raised an eyebrow, glanced at Allura, then at Coran, where they stood on the observation deck.

Then back at the sheepish expression Shiro was giving him through his fingers.

"No. No. Absolutely not. No. I am not dealing with this one! This is all on you," Lance huffed, turning heel.

As he left, he heard Keith cackle at the eldest Paladin, "You're such a fucking hypocrite, Shiro. You cuss more than anyone."