As midnight drew closer, maids and butlers moved through the crowd, serving champagne. The dance floor was full and a feeling of anticipation filled the air. Keith and Allura returned to the ballroom, hand in hand and were surrounded by curious bystanders, wondering how Cady was doing.
"Really, she's fine, just tired," Allura assured them with a small smile.
"Less than five minutes to midnight!" Koran announced.
The din of conversation rose excitedly, fueled by the flowing champagne.
"You gave me an idea," Allura whispered to Keith, leading him to the head table.
"What do you mean?" He whispered back.
"What you said in Cady's room, it gave me an idea." She picked up a spoon and tapped it against a glass, waiting for the gathered crowd to look her way. As silence fell, she spoke, "After so many years of living in fear, we are finally free to live our lives. We are so lucky to be here tonight, safe and sound. As we watch midnight approach, bringing with it a whole new year, I think we should all take a moment and think back on this past year. Take a moment to remember what you're thankful for, your loved ones, your health, your safety."
Throughout the room, people bowed their heads, a few smiled, a few wiped away tears. Some exchanged hugs, while others closed their eyes and quietly reflected.
Darcy stood to the side of the dance floor and closed her eyes, thinking about Schuyler and Lance. She felt Lance as he leaned close to her, lowering his voice so she was the only one who could hear him.
"I'm thankful Lotor got what he deserved," he whispered. "And that we have Schuyler and she's happy and healthy. But most of all, I thank God every day that after everything that has happened, you're here with me now and we've got many years left ahead of us."
She turned and looked at him, a little surprised at the serious expression he wore. The humor that normally sparkled in his eyes and the half-smirk that was always on his lips were not there. For a split second before he blinked, she thought she saw tears in his eyes.
Swallowing around the lump that formed in her throat, Darcy wrapped her arms around him, laying her cheek on his shoulder. Lance pulled her close to him and kissed the top of her head.
Pidge and Becca had been talking to the president of the University and now stood, quietly, facing Allura and Keith. He reached over and laced his fingers through hers, pulling her a little closer to him. Becca looked up and he winked at her.
She leaned closer and lowered her voice, "I'm thankful I came here this summer."
He smiled at her, "So am I."
Keith smiled at Allura, pleased with her speech. "I don't know where to begin," he admitted. "I guess I can wrap it up by saying I'm thankful for everything in my life since you entered it. As for this year, I'll have to go with the boys and the downfall of Doom."
She returned his smile, "I couldn't have put it better."
"Thirty seconds to midnight," Koran announced.
Everyone turned to face him, glasses in hand.
Excited chatter once again rose from the gathering.
"10…9…8…" Koran called out, soon joined by everyone else. "7…6…5…4…3…2…1!"
"Happy New Year!" Everyone shouted.
Keith turned to Allura and kissed her softly.
Throughout the room, hugs, kisses, and handshakes were shared, as well as good wishes.
Pidge leaned down and kissed Becca gently before pulling back and whispering, "Happy New Year, Love."
"Happy New Year," she whispered back, pulling him back down for another kiss.
Lance cupped the back of Darcy's head, capturing her lips in a kiss that showed they had both forgotten there were other people in the room.
The quartet struck up another song as balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling and guests 'oohhhed' and 'ahhhed.'
Lance lifted his head when someone beside them cleared his throat. Howard and Lucy Barlow had come over to wish them a Happy New Year and had gone unnoticed.
"You finished?" Howard asked.
"Not quite," Lance responded, turning back to kiss Darcy again.
"Lance," Howard warned. "There is a time and a place and this is neither."
"With all due respect sir, I am madly in love with your daughter and I am so glad to have her, there are times I just can't help myself," Lance told him over Darcy's head as he held her to him. "And we are married."
"Oh, it's the New Year, Howard, let's not start it with a fight," Lucy told him. "Happy New Year Darcy, Lance."
"Happy New Year, Mom," Darcy disentangled herself from Lance so she could hug her mother and father.
"That was an amazing party," Allura said as she sat on the edge of their bed, pulling her heels off.
"Yes, it was," Keith shut the door.
It was almost 2:00in the morning and the last of the guests had just left. After checking on the children, the two of them retired to their room.
"It's so strange to think that this is the last year we're all going to be together in the castle," she commented, wistfully.
"No one is going to be that far," he told her shrugging out of his jacket and removing his tie.
"I know, but it just won't be the same. I've become so used to having everyone around. Lance and Darcy will be out of the castle in a few months, after the wedding Hunk is going to be moving into Paton's house. Caleb and Dante are still work for the Garrison and if it's clear for a year, they have a very good chance of being reassigned and I know Pidge has mentioned to Hunk about moving out and getting a place of his own. I just don't know how I'll ever get used to a big, empty, quiet castle after they've all gone."
Keith sat beside her, "Honey, if Cady has any say in it, it won't be that quiet around here and you know that Lance and Darcy will be around all the time, so will Hunk and Paton and Pidge. The guys still work here, they'll be here every day."
"Yeah, but it won't be the same."
He reached up and pulled the combs from her hair, watching it fall around her face, "You won't get a chance to miss them, Angel."
She smiled as she felt him sweep his hair aside and kiss the back of her neck, "You're just trying to distract me now."
"Uh huh," he continued to move his lips over her neck as he slowly pulled down the zipper of her gown.
Pidge laced his fingers with Becca's as they made their way down the hall toward her room. They had almost been run over by Lance and Darcy as they rushed from the party and toward their room.
The last of the guests had left about fifteen minutes earlier, Pidge and Becca had loitered behind, wanting some time alone but not wanting to draw attention to themselves. They had wandered through the halls, past the rec room, Castle Control, and the Observation Deck. Neither really speaking, just being together.
"Here we are again," Becca whispered.
"Huh?" Pidge looked up.
"Here we go again," she repeated. "The night before I leave and we're avoiding talking about it and trying to drag the night out."
"Yeah, well, I don't want to talk about you leaving."
"Neither do I."
"Then what should we talk about?" He asked.
She shrugged, "Nice weather we've been having."
Pidge laughed and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, "Not really, we've been under quite a bit of snow."
"What if we can't take off tomorrow?"
"You'll be able to, the tarmac is cleared and most of the snow has melted."
They reached her door and stopped, both suddenly quiet.
With a hesitant hand, Pidge reached up and tucked a stray curl behind her hair. "You look amazing tonight."
"Thanks," she smiled. "So do you. You should wear a tux more often."
"Yeah, you clean up rather nice."
"You should see me in my dress uniform."
"Oh, I can't resist a man in uniform," she murmured, leaning against him.
"Okay, hold that thought and I'll go change," he stepped back.
Smiling, she grabbed his arm, "Stay with me."
His eyes darkened, "How can I resist an offer like that?"
The door slid open behind them and they stumbled in, attached at the lips. Pidge stroked her back, enjoying the feel of her smooth, warm skin under his fingers while Becca unbuttoned his jacket and tried to slide it off his shoulders. Still kissing, Pidge let her go so she could push the jacket off him and toss it to the floor. They made their way to her bed, Becca tugged at the buttons of his shirt.
When they hit the bed, Becca broke the kiss and looked at him.
"You okay?" He whispered, huskily.
She nodded and licked her lips, "I, uh, I just wanted to look at you."
"See anything you like?" He teased.
"I see a lot I like."
Pidge leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers, "I'm going to miss you so much."
Becca took a shuddering breath and hugged him as tightly as she could, burying her face into his neck, "You could come to Terra."
He sighed, "Don't do that to me, Bec."
"Sorry," she murmured into his throat.
"Come on, let's not make this a sad night," Pidge pulled back to look at her. "Let's make this a night to remember."
Smiling slyly, she told him, "Every night with you is a night to remember."
"No pressure there," he muttered as he lowered her to the bed beneath him.
Since the ship wasn't scheduled to take off until late afternoon, everyone slept in the next morning. Well, not everyone. Allura was up with the children, but happily accepted help from Nanny and Keith's mother.
Lance sneaked out of bed the next morning when Schuyler had wakened, leaving his wife asleep on her stomach. Darcy woke when she felt the baby crawling over her back.
"Wake up, Mommy," Lance said.
"Don't wanna," Darcy mumbled into her pillow.
Schuyler slid off her back and crawled up to her pillow, looking at her mother's face.
"You hafta," Lance told her.
Darcy rolled over onto her side and looked at her daughter, "Well, I can see Daddy dressed you today, didn't he?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Orange and red don't go together, Lance."
"Everything goes with red. It's a bright, cheerful outfit."
"I'm getting a headache just looking at her."
"Darcy," he gasped. "That's a terrible thing to say, you'll hurt her feelings."
She looked at their daughter who was oblivious to their conversation and gnawing on the edge of the sheet. "I don't think she cares." Pushing the covers back, Darcy stood and picked up the baby. "We'll find you something better to wear, sweetie, we're going to see Grandma and Grandpa off."
Lance grinned, "I guess this means you won't let me dress her ever again."
"I'm not that stupid, Lance."
He got up and followed her into the nursery, stepping over Chewie who was lying in the middle of the floor chewing on a knotted piece of rope, "Well, it's still better than the Santa suit."
"I can't believe you're still whining about that," she said, pulling the orange turtleneck off Schuyler.
"So," he leaned against the changing table and toyed with a lock of her mussed hair. "You never did tell me what you're thankful for this past year."
"Watch her," Darcy said as she crossed to the closet and pulled out a white and pink dress.
Lance bent over and blew a raspberry on Schuyler's tummy, bringing a shriek of laughter from the little girl.
Darcy kissed his cheek, "Go get dressed."
"Not until you tell me what you're thankful for. I told you, you have to tell me."
She smiled at him, "This," she swept her hand in front of her, indicating him and Schuyler. "I am thankful for all this."
His mouth curled up into a small smile, "I love you."
"Love you, too," she gave him a quick kiss. "Go, get dressed."
Pidge woke to find Becca sound asleep beside him. That's how it always happened, though, she was not a morning person and years of early practice had him up at the crack of dawn.
She was lying on her stomach, her face turned toward him, but was covered by her hair. He reached up and gently brushed it aside, revealing her beautiful, relaxed face. It was at moments like this that he felt his resolve shake and he momentarily thought about changing his mind and going with her.
One eye slowly opened and Becca watched Pidge watch her.
"Please tell me it's not morning yet," she murmured.
"Yeah, it is," he kissed her neck.
"Can we turn back the clock and make it last night again?"
"I wish we could."
She lifted her head and looked down at him, "We only have a few more hours."
"So, let's make the most of them."
Becca cocked an eyebrow, "What did you have in mind?"
He ran his hand down her back and leaned in to kiss her, "I think you can read my mind."
Smiling, she ran her hands over his chest and her lips across his jaw. She jumped when there was an insistent knock at her door, "Who is it?"
"Are you up, Becca?" Her mother called out.
Pidge tensed and pulled the covers up to his chin.
"Uh, not yet, Ma, um, I'll, uh, I'll meet you downstairs in a few minutes," Becca called out nervously.
"Are you okay?"
Becca cleared her throat, "Yeah, I just woke up. I'll get dressed and be down in a minute."
"Alright dear, make sure all your things are packed."
"Alright mother! I'll be right down!" Becca yelled.
Pidge groaned and pulled the blankets over his head.
"Come on," she tugged the blankets down and grinned at his red face. "We have to get up and you have to go to your room."
Pidge stood in Becca's room that afternoon, helping her pack her things.
"Did you check the drawers?" Pidge asked.
"Yup, they're clear. I just want to check the bathroom," she left him alone in the room.
Pidge wandered over to the closet and checked to make sure it was clear. Hanging on a padded hanger was the little green nightie. "You, uh, you forgot something," he called out to her.
"No, I didn't," Becca returned to the room, toothbrush in hand.
"What about this?" He held up the hanger.
"Oh, that." With a glance to the open door, Becca walked over and yanked it from the hanger. "I won't be using that on Terra, why don't you hold on to it for me," she balled up the satin and shoved it in his jeans pocket.
His cheeks turned a dark red, "You're a terrible flirt."
"Nah, I rather think I'm a good flirt."
"You're the best flirt I know," he stepped closer, closing the gap between them.
"Let's go see what Aunt Becca's doing?" Darcy's voice was unnaturally loud as she came down the hall.
With a weak smile, Becca turned back to zipper up her bags.
"Oh, there you are," Lucy walked into the room, followed closely by Darcy and Schuyler. "You have all your stuff packed?"
"Yeah," Becca shouldered a dufflebag.
"Leave 'em," Pidge told her. "We'll get them down to the ship."
"Well, this has certainly been a fun trip," Lucy said.
"Yeah, it has," Becca replied.
"Will you be visiting Terra soon, Pidge?"
"I'm planning to come in February," he told Mrs. Barlow.
With a smile, Lucy nodded, "Then I guess we will have to put off your birthday dinner for another time, Becca."
Becca slid her hand into Pidge's and they followed her mother and sister out of the room. The ship was scheduled to take off in about an hour.
"We'll be back when the house is finished," Lucy told Pidge and Becca. "Maybe you'll be able to come with us, Rebecca."
"I'll be back this summer, Ma."
"We're not going to get to see much of you on your time off, are we?"
Lucy sighed, "Just behave yourself, Rebecca, be careful."
"Mother," Becca warned.
"I'm just saying…"
"Mom," Darcy interrupted her. "I think Sky needs to be changed, will you help me, please?"
Pidge pulled Becca into the Observation Deck just as he had when she first arrived.
"I'm going to miss you so much," she whispered as he locked the door behind them.
"I know, I'm going to miss you too," he turned to face her, seeing the tears in her eyes. "Don't, Becs."
"I'm trying real hard not to," her voice cracked.
"Come here," he folded her in his arms and felt her body jerk as she tried not to cry. "It won't be so bad, baby, you'll be so busy with school you won't even have time to miss me."
"That's not true," she mumbled into his shoulder.
He kissed the top of her head and then her temple before moving his lips to her ear, "Marry me, Becca."
Her body shook with quiet sobs.
"I'll wait for you to finish. I want to spend the rest of my life with you and when you're done with school, I don't ever want to be separated from you. After you're done with school and your residency, will you marry me?"
She nodded against his shoulder.
"You won't let some dashing young med student sweep into your life and steal you away from me?'
Becca lifted her head and looked up at him, her eyes red and cheeks wet. "That's about as likely to happen as one of those Voltron groupies in town stealing you away from me."
He smiled at her, "I love you, Rebecca."
"I love you, too, Pader."
Pidge heaved a huge sigh as his communicator went off, "Audric."
"Hey, Pidge where are you?" Lance asked.
"Observation Deck, Lance, what's up?"
"Is Becca with you?"
"Well, her parents are looking for her and they're loading the ship. Say your goodbyes, man, and get down here."
"Yeah, we're on our way." Pidge snapped the communicator shut and looked up at Becca.
Before he could say a word, she was pressed against him, her lips covering his, assaulting his mouth in such away Pidge fell backwards against the door.
"Wow," he whispered when she stepped back.
She took a breath and stood a little straighter, "I just wanted to give you a little something to tide you over until February."
"You already have," he winked and patted his pocket.
Hand in hand, they made their way to Castle Control where everyone was waiting. The entire Force as well as Keith's mother, Lance's parents, the children, Koran and Nanny were gathered to see them off. Nanny had once again packed some sandwiches and snacks for the flight back. Koran shook their hands and wished them a safe flight.
"You're welcome back, anytime," Allura said as she hugged Lucy.
"Have a safe flight and come back soon," Keith shook hands with Howard as he cradled Gideon in his arm.
"I'm gonna miss you, sis," Darcy hugged Becca tightly. "Behave yourself and call when you can."
"I will," Becca promised. "Goodbye, Lance," she turned and hugged him, kissing Schuyler on the cheek. "Goodbye little Sky, make sure you cause lots of trouble and drive your parents crazy."
"Much like you girls have done to us," Howard said, taking Schuyler out of her father's arms. "You're a good girl, Schuyler, you'll have to get your parents to bring you to Terra soon."
The little girl tilted her head and studied her grandfather before trying to grab his nose.
"Take care, Pidge," Lucy told him. "I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you."
"Yes, Ma'am," he smiled.
She hugged him, "I'm so glad we got to know you better and I know you're good for my daughter."
"I love her, Ma'am, and I will do everything in my power to
make her happy."
"I know you will."
"Good luck, Pidge," Howard offered him his hand.
"Thank you, sir, have a safe trip."
Becca stepped up in front of him, her eyes red, and offered him a hand, "Good Luck, Pidge," she mimicked her father.
He smiled, "Thank you, sir, have a safe trip."
"Come on, let's get you on the ship," Darcy took her father's arm.
A moment later, Pidge and Becca were left alone.
"This is it," Becca whispered.
"This time it's only for two months."
"You at a loss for words?"
Becca smiled, "Okay, let's not drag this out. I love you, I'll miss you, I'll see you in two months."
He returned her smile, "Ditto." He took her hand and gave her a quick kiss. "You have a ship to board, babe."
Pidge found it to be even more difficult this time. Maybe it had been because of all the time they had spent together intimately. Maybe it was the fact that every time he saw her he fell a little bit more in love with her. Maybe it was because he had given so much thought into going with her. Whatever it was, watching the ship takeoff was one of the hardest experiences he had ever had.
"Don't worry man, you'll see her soon," Keith clapped a hand on Pidge's shoulder. "And I know just the thing to take your mind off your misery."
"What's that?" Pidge asked, skeptically.
"You're on duty in thirty minutes."
Author's Note: Thank you all so much for indulging me in this fluffy bit of brain candy :) It was just fun to write and once again ended up being longer than I anticipated. I am working on my K&A piece and I promise it will have more action, but probably a lot of fluff too (I just can't seem to get away from that). But alas, the holidays are coming and my free time will be scarce, but I will start posting ASAP.
Thank you so much for the wonderful support and reviews, it adds to the joy I get from writing.
RedLion2 ~ As always, thank you so much. Your support, advice, and reviews mean a lot to me. I am looking forward to reading more from you as well.
Bell ~ I'm glad you've discovered my stories and have enjoyed them. Keep up the good work with your fics!
Queen Merla ~ I know, not enough Sven and Romelle ;) But they will be in my next fic, I promise, I worry about putting too many characters in a story, I don't want to make it confusing. Thanks for your reviews!
QuikerKookie, Anony, ~ Thank you for your faithful reviews, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story.
Thank you all!!!