Spending four days on rest and two more just hanging out, left Tristan feeling better, stronger. He had been told that he was a member of the family but he hadn't realized just what that had meant. Arus was definitely the place he was meant to be. Keith had allowed him to sit in on some meetings and watch practice. He was not just Cady's boyfriend, he was a friend, a brother, and he was loving it. The gang had accepted him and Erik had even taken him up in Black for a flight and a talk.

"So, Tristan," Erik said conversationally as Black circled the castle, performing one last flyover before the party that evening. "You really love Cady, huh?"

He smirked, "Is this some kind of test?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, the twins have started at least three conversations with that exact question."

"It's not a test. I'll be honest with you, Tristan, I like you. I think you you're good for Cady and I think you fit in well with this extended family of ours. My question is, do you think you're ready for what comes with being involved with royalty?"

Tristan furrowed his brow, confused, "What do you mean?"

"If your…if your relationship with Cady goes further, okay, I'll just come out and say it, if you and Cady get married, you will have a lot of added responsibilities. You would eventually become a Prince Consort."

"I, uh, I…I think Cady and I should spend a, uh, an entire month on the same planet before we, uh, we talk marriage," Tristan stammered.

Erik smiled, "I didn't mean to freak you out, man, I'm just looking out for Cady and, well, and for you too."

"I appreciate it, Erik, but I think Cady and I will muddle through our relationship on our own."

"I'm not trying to interfere so much as I am trying to warn you."

"Warn me?"

"Well, the twins' questioning is just the start. And the party tonight is actually going to be an intimate one. I just want to offer my services if you have any questions or problems, I happen to have a little knowledge of royalty."

Tristan gave him a sideways glance, "Have you had this conversation with Sky?"

"That's different, Sky grew up with royalty. The original Force is as much a part of the Royal Family as my family is."

Tristan glanced out over the snow covered hillside of Arus, "Do you…do you think I'm going to have problems fitting in?"

Erik shook his head, "No, I think you'll do fine. Just be prepared for some of the things that are going to be thrown at you. Cady had just been introduced to society when you met. There are a lot of men, Princes, out there who want to marry her. She is the next ruling monarch of Arus, not only is she a great girl, but she has a lot of land, power, and money to offer as well."

"Then I guess we'll just have to let all those guys know she's taken."

"Oh yeah?" Erik smirked as he turned Black to head back to the giant pedestal in front of the castle. "You going to have her tattooed?"

Tristan snorted, "Like you did with Sky?"

Black jolted as Erik pulled back in surprise, "Uh, what?"

He laughed, "Cady told me about it. I'm not supposed to tell anyone."

"It's an inside joke, Tristan, and it's not permanent. You see…"

"Don't worry about it Erik, I won't tell anyone."

"Yeah, I'd appreciate that."

"So, what can I expect tonight?"

Erik brought Black in for a smooth landing and turned to his friend, "It won't be too bad. There will be a couple of reporters there, Aunt Allura has cut down on the media allowed. But as Cady's escort, you will have to field questions and have pictures taken. There will be dancing and a lot of food. It is a good time, especially since it will be a smaller gathering. There have been New Years parties in the past with a guest list of about five hundred that went long into the night."

Tristan nodded slowly, "That doesn't sound too bad. My mother has been known to give some rather elaborate parties."

"Good," Erik unclipped his belts. "Then all I can say is that you don't eat or drink anything the twins give you."

"Why?"

"I'm speaking from experience. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't try to put you through the ringer to test your devotion to their sister."

Tristan rolled his eyes and followed Erik out of the Lion, "I think the fact that I haven't beaten the two of them senseless has proved my devotion to their sister."

"Okay, then they're doing it to be obnoxious pains in the butt."

…………………………………………………………………………………

"Oh, Cady, sweetie, you look so beautiful," Allura declared as she walked into her daughter's room.

Cady stood beside her vanity, examining the hairstyle her maid had just finished. Her long, thick blonde curls were pulled up in an elaborate twist with a few curling tendrils escaping to frame her carefully made up face. "Thank you, Mom, so do you."

Allura wore a cream colored gown with a long, a-line skirt and an off the shoulder beaded bodice. Around her throat was the heart necklace Keith had given her years ago with six diamonds in the center, one for each of their children and on top of her golden head sat a small gold, antique crown. "Are you ready for the party?"

"I think so. Have you seen Tristan? How is he? This is going to be our first outing as a couple, letting everyone know that I have found the one." She twisted her hands nervously.

"Don't even think about that honey, just go tonight and have fun."

"I know, you're right," Cady smoothed her hands over the black satin of her gown. "I am just so excited that we get to go out."

"I am so happy for you, sweetheart, Tristan is such a good man."

"Thank you, Mom, that really means a lot to me," Cady smiled softly before turning and picking her gloves up of the dresser. "Can you please help me with these?"

"Of course," Allura took the long black gloves. "How's your arm?"

"Much better, I mean it's still tender, but I am not going tonight without these gloves."

"Understandable, they're lovely."

"Knock knock," Sky tapped the open doorframe and walked in.

"Schuyler, you look terrific! I love your dress." Allura gushed as she buttoned up Cady's glove. "And I love how you're wearing your hair."

Sky rubbed the back of her exposed neck, "Thank you, Aunt Allura, you look great."

Allura clapped her hands and looked at her daughter, "We will be introduced in about twenty minutes."

"We'll be there," Cady assured her.

"I'll see you then. Now I have to go make sure Nicky isn't trying to sneak the dog into the party."

During the week between Christmas and New Years, the castle's population grew to include two more dogs. Speck was Nicky, Tess, and Charlotte's dog, although, for some reason, they allowed the twins to name him. And Luke and Tori adopted the last dog in the litter, Zipper, as named by Tori. So now, as long as Sky lived in the castle, there were three dogs in the castle and Nanny was ready to retire.

Sky waited until Allura had left before unsteadily crossing the room, "Have I told you how much I hate heels."

"Oh, stop complaining. It won't hurt you to act like a girl for one evening."

"Brat."

"How are you going to spend the rest of your life with the Polluxian Prince, who has a very good chance of becoming king some day, if you are this unsophisticated."

Sky put her hands on her hips and glared at her friend, "That was low, Cadence."

"And I will only become king if Bandor doesn't have a son."

Sky whirled around to see Erik and Tristan standing in the doorway. She grinned at him, as he slowly entered the room, dressed in his dress uniform. "You look pretty hot."

"You're not so bad yourself," he said, taking her hand and twirling her.

"Why thank you, Commander."

Still holding her hand, Erik pulled her close and cupped his hand over the back of her neck, feeling goose bumps rise on her cool skin. "You're beautiful."

Sky licked her lips as an inner warmth heated her cool skin, "Thank you, handsome."

Cady cleared her throat, "Would you like to be alone?"

Erik glanced at his watch, "Not a bad idea, we have fifteen minutes." Clutching Sky's hand in his, he led her from the room, whispering, "I heard you got a tattoo, I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

"They're really cute together," Cady smiled as her friend and cousin left.

Tristan didn't seem to hear a word she said as he looked her up and down, the shiny black gown that clung to her curves and the hint of pink that softened the mature sophistication of her look. He slowly crossed the room and laid his hands on the smooth skin of her shoulders, sliding his hands down his arms until he could lace his fingers through hers. "You are gorgeous," he whispered, bringing the back of her hand to his lips.

Cady smiled shyly and averted her gaze, "Thank you."

He cupped her cheek and turned her face toward him, "I'm so glad we got to spend this time together and I am really looking forward to taking you home and introducing you to my family."

"I am so happy you were able to come for the holidays," she whispered shakily.

Tristan dipped his head and kissed her gently, "So am I. I love you."

"Um," Cady pursed her looks and studied his handsome countenance. "I just want to tell you, um, there will be some media there and uh…"

"It's okay, Cady, Erik warned me. I have to face some journalists and beat off some of your potential suitors."

"You're okay will all this?"

"I'm fine with all this," he assured her.

"Good," she stood on her toes and kissed his cheek. "Shall we head downstairs? We are going to introduced."

"Introduced?"

"Well, after the Force is introduced, the original Force will be introduced, then you and I, then my parents."

"What about the rest of your sisters and brother?"

"They aren't formally introduced until they reach eighteen."

Tristan turned and tucked her gloved hand into the crook of his arm, "I've been to some big society occasions and balls, but I have never been formally introduced before."

"Well, our names will be called 'Her Royal Highness Princess Cadence Whitaker of Arus and her escort…some guy.'"

"Some guy?" He asked.

Cady giggled, "No, you'll be introduced as 'her escort Lieutenant Tristan Alexander.'"

"Okay, that sounds better."

"I love you, Tristan."

"Yeah, I know," he winked at her as they approached the quickly growing crowd outside the ballroom.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Tristan stopped at the drink table and picked up two glasses of white wine. He smiled and nodded to the young woman behind the table before turning to see if he could find Cady.

When he and Cady had been introduced, they had stepped out onto the top step of the three stairs that led down into the ballroom. They paused a moment to allow their photographs to be taken and moved on to join the others off to the side. It was truly a grand affair and Tristan quickly learned that their idea of an intimate gathering meant over a hundred guests. He had been expecting about fifty, but country club upbringing had him prepared for such crowds.

About a dozen or so couples danced by the small orchestra that played in the back of the ballroom. Several others mingled, talking and laughing while eating the finger foods that waiters and waitresses carried on trays. Some tables and chairs were set up so people could take a load off their feet and snack. Voices and laughter bounced off the walls and Tristan was stopped three times as he moved through the crowd looking for Cady. He nodded and greeted a few familiar people and stopped when he saw the twins, Lynnai, and Brina talking with a few others.

"Have you seen your sister?" He asked Declan.

"Over there," Dec pointed towards the dance floor.

Tristan pushed his way through and rolled his eyes when he saw that Declan had directed him towards Tess who was dancing with Keith. Of course I have to be literal with that moron, he thought, turning back. Two steps later, he saw her. Pursing his lips, he moved a little faster toward the group of five men surrounding Cady.

Smiling politely at the man standing next to her, Cady sent out a silent plea for Tristan to rescue her. Again. She did not want to be stuck in the middle of this crowded room making small talk with the sons of some of her parents' associates, but that was where she found herself. It was like none of them believed her when she said she was taken, as soon as Tristan left her side, at least two guys would appear to take his place. Where is he? She wondered, glancing around.

Cady couldn't help but notice how well he was fitting in that evening, he behaved graciously and barely blinked when he had his picture taken as he ate a bite of shrimp. He was the handsomest man there, dressed in a tuxedo he looked as though he had been born in. He carried himself tall and proud, intimidating any of her former potential suitors without even saying a word to them.

"Your Highness?"

She looked at the man standing beside her in surprise. She couldn't remember his name. "I'm sorry?"

"You were sighing, is everything okay?" He asked kindly, a small smile crossing his mouth but not quite reaching his dark green eyes.

"Yes, I'm fine thank you." Cady grinned when she saw her boyfriend coming toward her, a glass in each hand and grimace on his face.

"Excuse me," Tristan pushed his way in between Cady and the green-eyed man.

"You all know Lieutenant Tristan Alexander, my escort," Cady introduced him, taking the wine he offered and slipping her arm through his.

He nodded to the other men, but they all appeared disappointed at his arrival. They all made quiet excuses and slipped away.

"Excuse me, Your Highness," an older woman dressed in a dark blue silk suit approached Cady and Tristan. "May I have a word?"

Cady smiled, "Of course, Ms. Elens."

"I hope you are doing well, we had heard of your…ordeal on Christmas Eve night. Have you recovered well?"

"Yes, thank you, I am doing much better, thanks to my hero here," she squeezed Tristan's arm.

"Your hero?" Ms. Elens flipped open a notebook.

"Yes, it was Tristan, along with my father and brothers who rescued me. Tristan actually pushed me aside and took two lashings for me."

The reporter turned her look to Tristan, "That was very brave of you."

"I couldn't let her get hurt," he said simply.

She smiled at him, clearly charmed by the Princess' suitor, "How long are you visiting for, Lieutenant?"

"I am leaving next week, after Dr. Audric gives me the clearance to go."

"When are you planning to return?"

"In another month, when my assignment with the Garrison is over and I am free to move here."

Nodding, Ms. Elens made a note and turned to Cady, "As you know, Your Highness, there are many people interested in your love life, you are, after all, the next in line for the throne and are expected to marry and produce an heir. Are we to assume that you have finally found the man you are going to settle down with?"

Cady looked at Tristan and noticed how his cheeks had darkened slightly, but his face was still calm and unreadable. "Yes, I believe I have," she responded, still looking at him.

He smiled softly at her and winked.

"When are you planning to officially announce your intentions?" Ms. Elens asked.

Tristan whipped his head up and glared at the reporter, "I would appreciate it if you would wait until I got to ask Cady to marry me before you printed our intentions."

She smiled and nodded, "Of course, of course. Just do me a favor and give me the exclusive when you do get around to proposing."

Cady grinned, loving the fact that they were discussing their engagement-to-be. "We will do that, Ms. Elens. Thank you."

"And if you'll excuse us please," Tristan pulled Cady closer as the orchestra swelled and couples began to move toward the dance floor. "I would like to take this beautiful woman out for a spin around the floor."

Cady giggled softly, pressing her gloved hand to her lips.

"And what, pray tell, is so funny?" He asked, wrapping his arm around her waist and taking her hand in his as they fell into a fluid dance step.

"I'm happy," she replied honestly. "Do you realize we were just discussing getting married?"

"Yeah, I guess we were."

"I mean, I've thought about it, but this is the first time we ever discussed it out loud."

"And we did it in front of a reporter."

"You did what in front of a reporter?" Erik asked as he and Sky appeared beside them.

"Something you and Sky would never have the nerve to do," Cady teased.

Sky raised an eyebrow, "Is that a challenge?"

"We were talking about our future," Tristan said before the conversation could go any further.

"Oh," Sky looked at her friend in surprise.

"If you're just going to stand there and talk, then get off the dance floor," Gideon teased as he and Lynnai twirled by.

"Good point," Tristan said, spinning Cady away. "How about we discuss our future in private before we bring everyone else in on this."

The Princess' eyebrows shot up in surprise, "I'm sorry, Tristan, I guess I didn't think. Sky and I talk about everything. We're all very close and open about everything."

He pulled her closer and rested his chin on top of her head. He didn't respond as realization dawned on him that he was going to have to learn to let go of his carefully guarded privacy. The media was going to become a regular fixture in their lives, he was going to be in the limelight, he was going to become a member of royalty. Was he ready for that?

Tristan looked down at the golden head resting against his chest.

Yeah, he was ready.

He pressed a kiss to the top of head, ignoring the sound of a camera snapping their picture.

……………………………………………………………………………..

Becca sat back in the comfortable chair Allura had brought in for her and set by a round table, watching the action in front of her. The little one was feeling rather restless, almost like he (or she) was having their own little party inside her. Rubbing her hand over her stomach, she accepted a finger sandwich off the tray a passing waiter offered her.

"Hi, Mommy," Tori appeared at her side, bouncing from one foot to the other, excited about being allowed to stay up so late.

"Hi, Sweet pea, are you having fun?" Becca asked, running her hand over her daughter's long, auburn hair. The little girl wore a white flowered party dress with small, white, lace trimmed gloves that matched the white, lace trimmed socks. Her black, patent leather Mary Janes tapped the hardwood floor. And a small corsage of a yellow rose and white baby's breath that Pidge had given her was pinned to the front of her dress.

"Yeah, Mommy, I got my pi'cher taken!"

"Who took your picture?"

"A man wit' the paper."

"What man?"

She shrugged, "Daddy knew him."

"Oh, well that's very exciting."

"Uh huh, and I danced with Daddy and Erik and Uncle Hunk and Uncle Lance, but Uncle Lance flipped me and I almost threw up!"

"You did?" Becca gasped with mock worry. "You better be careful you don't eat too much if Uncle Lance is going to keep flipping you."

"No, I won't throw up and Daddy let me have a taste of his wine."

"He did?"

"Uh huh. How come you're just sittin' here?"

"I'm having fun watching the party."

"Does the baby like the party?"

Becca smiled, "He sure does, he's been dancing all night to the music."

Tori laid her little hand on her mother's swollen stomach, jumping back and giggling when she felt the baby bump against her hand. "That's my baby in there!"

"Yup."

"Can I get you something to drink? Or eat?" Cady asked as she and Tristan approached.

"No, really, Cady, I'm fine," he assured her as he sat in the chair beside Becca. "I just need to sit down."

"I can get you a soda or some shrimp or…" she continued nervously.

"Cady, sweetheart, I could really use a glass of water," Becca said.

The Princess looked at her aunt and hesitated a moment before nodding and hurrying over to the drink table.

Becca looked at Tristan and smiled sympathetically, "How're you feeling, Tristan?"

"I'm fine."

"I am your doctor, are you feeling stiff?"

He nodded, "Yes, Ma'am, my back is achy and stiff."

"How long have you been on your feet?"

"Uh, I guess we're going on a few hours now."

"You're still healing, Tristan, don't push yourself."

"Yes, Ma'am."

Cady returned to the table with a glass of water and set it on the table in front of Becca, "You are in pain, aren't you? I knew it."

"I'll be fine Cady, I just want to sit for a few minutes."

"I could…"

"Cady," he interrupted sternly. "I'm fine."

"Ahem."

Cady turned at the sound of someone clearing his throat. Her father stood behind her, a slight smile on his face.

"I was hoping I could get a dance in with my oldest daughter before midnight," Keith said, offering his arm.

She glanced at Tristan and saw him smile and nod. "Of course, Dad."

"I can get you something for the pain if you'd like," Becca whispered to Tristan.

"No, thank you, I'll be fine. How are you?"

"Oh I'm fine, I have my little helper," she ran her hand over Tori's hair. "And as long as I can dance with my wonderful husband at midnight, everything will be just perfect."

"So this is where the real party is moving to, huh?" Sky asked as she sat beside Tristan.

"No, this is where the pregnant and infirmed are moving to," Becca corrected her.

"Aw, Tristan, when are you due?" Erik asked as he pulled another chair over.

The Lieutenant patted his stomach, "Any minute now. We're quite excited about the baby."

"Boys can't have babies," Tori insisted with all the intensity a five year old could muster.

"They're just being silly, sweetheart," Becca told her.

"Are you picking on my girls?" Pidge asked, appearing behind his daughter and scooping her up.

Erik shook his head and sat back, slinging his arm across the back of Sky's chair, "No, we're getting an education in reproduction from your daughter."

"Excuse me?"

"Tell Daddy what you just told them," Becca said.

Tori looked at her father and said seriously, "Boys can't have babies."

"And thank goodness for that," Pidge replied.

Becca snorted, "You couldn't handle it."

He leaned over and kissed, "No, we couldn't."

"What's going on here?" Hunk asked as he and Paton found their way over to their little gathering.

"We're having our own little party," Pidge told him.

"Is it just my imagination, or does it always seem like we break away from the rest of the party and make our own?" Erik asked.

"No, that always happens," Sky agreed. "We just know the cool people to hang out with."

"This group isn't cool until we join," Lance said as he and Darcy pulled up a couple of chairs.

Hunk rolled his eyes, "If only we were all as cool as Lance thinks he is."

Pidge and Erik laughed out loud as the others had the decency to snicker quietly.

Lance glared at his daughter's boyfriend, "Keep laughing, pretty boy, and we'll see if you can continue to date my daughter."

"Are you threatening my son?" Sven asked.

"We're going to need to bring over another table," Pidge said as Sven and Romelle joined them.

"What time is it?" Sky asked.

Erik checked his watch, "It's quarter after eleven."

"Already? Wow, I didn't think it was that late. It's almost the new year."

"You going to be up for a midnight dance?" Pidge asked his wife.

"Just try and stop me," she grinned at him.

Tristan looked around as the group around him talked and laughed. He was an only child, but he came from a large extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. But their gatherings were never like this. Never this laid back and informal. They didn't tease each other or kid around. He could get use to this, they really were a loving, fun group of people.

A woman screamed causing everyone at the table to stop and jump to their feet, well, except Becca who struggled to her feet.

"A rat!" Another woman shouted.

"There are three of them!"

Voices rose and a few more people screamed as feet clattered and a handful of people jumped up on chairs.

"What is going on?" Lance mumbled as he and Hunk, Pidge, Erik, Sky, Darcy, and Tristan hurried forward.

"They're not rats!" Nicky shouted. "They're our dogs!"

"Figment!" Sky bent down and scooped up her terrified puppy.

Nicky hugged the struggling Speck in his arms as Zipper raced around, pausing only to piddle on the dance floor. Hunk bent down and picked up Zipper in one massive hand.

"Nicholas!" Allura rushed over to her youngest. "Did you let the dogs in here?"

He looked up at his mom sheepishly, "It was an accident. Luke and me were gonna show Nat and Casey the dogs and they got out."

"But how did they get in here?" Keith asked.

"It was an accident," he whispered again.

"You say you're sorry to everyone here and then we're going to take the dogs back to their room," Keith said sternly.

With a trembling voice, Nicky apologized.

"So they can hear you."

"I'm sorry," he said louder, his face red and his lip trembling.

"You too," Pidge told his son as Hunk handed him Zipper.

"I'm sorry," Luke said, ashamed.

"Come on," Keith held his hand out for Figment. "I'll take her back."

Sky kissed the top of the dog's head, "You don't look like a rat, you're adorable, don't listen to those mean, stupid people." She handed the little puppy to Keith.

The hysteria gave way to embarrassed laughter. Conversation and music returned as a maid quickly cleaned up the mess Zipper had made.

Cady, her dance with her father rudely interrupted, returned to Tristan's side. "Tristan?"

He smiled down at her, "Yes, Cady?"

"Are…are you okay?"

He slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, "I'm fine, Cady, really."

"Don't get angry with me for asking. You can tell me if you're in pain, it's okay."

"I don't want you to worry."

Smiling softly, Cady turned and slipped her arms around his neck, "You know, honey, my mother sat me down a while ago to have a heart to heart talk. She told me how difficult it was to be involved with a military man, the fear, the worrying. She told me that's all part of loving him. And I do love you, Tristan, and I am going to worry about you, so get used to it."

"Oh, I suppose I could get used to that," he said, wrapping his arms around her waist.

She studied his face a moment, not really believing what he just said. "I know this all very different for you, Tristan, but you are a member of our family and that means that I am not going to be the only one who worries about you. Just take it easy, you won't be disappointing anyone."

He leaned down and kissed her gently, "Thank you for worrying about me."

"Hey, save it for midnight," Declan said as he walked past with Brina on his arm.

"What time is it?" Cady asked him.

Tristan looked at his watch. "11:30."

"I am so happy that I am going to be starting this new year with you."

"So am I."

……………………………………………………………….

At five of midnight, Allura stood on the top of the steps leading into the ballroom. The orchestra finished their song and set their instruments on their laps as Keith joined her. She tapped a spoon on the side of a crystal goblet and waited for everyone to quiet down so she could give her annual New Years speech.

"First of all, I would like to thank you all for joining us tonight," she said loudly, a smile on her face. "This has been an exciting, sometimes scary, year for us on Arus. We confronted a new foe and defeated him with our new Voltron Force. Led by my wonderful husband, Commander Keith Whitaker, and the new pilot of Black Lion, Erik Johansson, the new Force, Red pilot Schuyler Collier, Blue pilot Declan Whitaker, Yellow pilot Gideon Whitaker, and Green pilot Brina Morrigan have once again shown how truly safe Arus is."

She paused when the applause drowned out her voice.

"It has become a tradition at our New Years party to take a moment," she continued. "And remember back on all that has happened this past year. Think of what you're thankful for and for what you hope to happen this coming year."

Heads bowed around the room as memories were filled with loved ones and happy memories. As happened every year, a few tears were spilled as hands were squeezed and hugs were shared.

With less than two minutes until midnight, the waiters and waitresses moved swiftly around the room handing out glasses of champagne. The din of voices rose slowly as the New Year approached.

Keith cleared his throat and said loudly, "Thirty seconds to midnight!"

Pidge helped Becca to her feet and gently touched her stomach before pulling her close. All around the room, couples drew closer together.

"Fifteen seconds!"

In anticipation, Cady wrapped her arms around Tristan's shoulders as they stood in a back corner away from media and the prying eyes of friends and families. He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers.

"Ten! Nine! Eight!" The crowd joining in with Keith and Allura's countdown. "Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!"

The orchestra struck up a song as confetti was tossed and kisses were exchanged. On the top step, Keith and Allura shared a longing kiss before stepping down to join the throng to share New Year wishes with their children and friends.

"Happy New Year," Tristan whispered, pressing a gentle kiss to Cady's lips.

"Happy New Year," she replied, hugging him tightly. "And thank you for coming for me. Thank you for being my hero."

As the clock struck midnight, Sky took Erik's face in her hands and kissed him gently. "Happy New Year," she whispered, kissing him again. "I love you and I am so happy we finally made our relationship work."

He cupped his hand over the back of her head and grinned, "I'm just glad you couldn't resist me."

Sky found her quick retort stopped when his mouth captured hers. Any smart remark she was going to make was quickly forgotten as she slid her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss.

Declan dipped Brina back as far as he could and gave her a loud, smacking kiss in front of two photographers. Pidge and Becca joined others on the dance floor for a slow dance. Hunk and Paton were interrupted during their New Year kiss by their youngest, Natalia, who wanted a kiss too.

By 12:05, all the kissing was done, the hugs exchanged, and the champagne drunk. The tempo of the music had picked up and the number of dancers on the floor had doubled. By 12:30 the younger children were all put to bed with Hunk and Paton's three children sleeping over with Whitaker kids. The night continued on until conversations were regularly interrupted by wide yawns.

It was after two in the morning by the time the castle had cleared.

Tristan escorted Cady to her room, her arms wrapped around his arm and her head on his shoulder.

"This is our year," she whispered.

"Our year?"

"Yeah, we started it together and it will be the first full year of our relationship. We have many years ahead of us, but this one will be the best, the one we remember the best."

Tristan stopped in front of her door and looked down at her, "That's a good theory, but I feel I have to disagree with you, my beautiful Princess."

"Why?"

"Because we do have many wonderful years ahead of us, but I think this one will be the one full of first fights, awkward meetings of the family, learning each others annoying quirks, having to impress each other's friends…"

Cady interrupted him by leaning close and pressing her lips to his. "First fight means first make up, my family and friends already love you so all the pressure's on me to impress your family and friends, and as for annoying quirks, I think that if you can handle my brothers, any annoying quirks I have will seem almost nonexistent in comparison. Getting to know each other better, getting to actually be together, and learning to love each other despite our annoying quirks is what this year will be about."

Tristan chuckled, "Okay, okay, this will be the best year of our relationship so far."

"And why don't you really think this will our best year?"

"Because," he kissed her quickly, "this won't be the year we get married, I figure that will be the next year," he kissed her again, "and this won't be the year any of our children are born," he kissed her one last time.

"I didn't realize you were such a romantic," Cady sighed. "See, this will be a year of wonderful discoveries."

He shook his head and smiled, "I love you and your optimism and your sweetness."

"And I love you and your hidden romantic side and your kindness and your beautiful eyes."

Tristan gently cupped her cheek and studied her face a moment before leaning down and kissing her gently, longingly. "Good night, my love."

"Good night, darling, happy New Year," she whispered, holding his hand as he stepped back.

He allowed her fingers to slide from his as she opened her door, "Good night."

Cady fell back against her door and closed her eyes. Without giving it another thought, she whirled around and slid open her door to see Tristan still standing there, almost as though he was waiting for her.

In one step, he had her in his arms and was ravishing her mouth with his own.

"I don't want to start the new year alone," she breathed as he moved his lips down her throat.

"Neither do I," he murmured, his breath hot on her skin.


AN: Once again, thank you all for indulging me in this fluffy little piece of writing. If nothing else, I just wanted to write a story showing how Cady and Tristan are growing closer.

My plan was to write the next story about the trip to Terra, but that will take some time and a lot of thinking. I'm afraid that the story about the four of them and their trip will be too far of a departure from the original Voltron Force to be considered fanfic. So I will have to take the bits and pieces of this story that I have already started putting together and work on how I am going to make it fit in better with my series.

Thank you all for your great reviews, they really mean a lot to me and always bring a smile to my face.

C-Town Chica, RedLion2 – As always thank you so, so much! You guys are awesome! Your support and reviews mean so much to me

MustangAce – I'll forgive you this time for not reviewing more. Don't worry, I plan on doing more actiony type stories, I just have to get my act together.

Lillehafrue – Thanks for your review. I understand what you're saying about Keith allowing her to go. But keep in mind, Cady is twenty now and can hold her own, not to mention the fact that she will be escorted by three trained soldiers. And I have a feeling Allura had a quite a bit to do with allowing Cady to go, she realizes a little better that their eldest is an adult now and needs to be treated as one. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Thank you all!

See you all next time!
Failte