A Lovely Day for a Picnic
Disclaimers: Voltron and all associated characters are owned and copyrighted by WEP. Original/new characters belong to the author.
Rating: PG for Mild Language
Contains a SPOILER if you've never seen past the first few episodes of Voltron - but I think most people already know about it.
Princess Allura stood at her bedroom window and watched as the sun's glow began to chase away the night. Higher and higher the sun climbed, turning the sky a crystal shade of blue. She watched the glorious landscape below, noting the air of freedom and security that the gardeners had while they began their daily tasks of tending to the castle's grounds, and a soft smile played on her lips.
It was the first time in a long while that the young monarch could count more days each month filled with peace, rather than destruction.
Things had changed so drastically over the past year. Cities were being rebuilt, crops planted and harvested, much needed medical supplies being brought in from other worlds. Most importantly, Arussian citizens were free to move about the land unafraid, for they were armed with the comfort of their mighty defender, Voltron, and the five pilots who brought him to life.
To reach this point had taken more than just dedication, it had taken tireless work and unthinkable sacrifice. . .
It had been months since the evil Witch Hagar had served the blow - it was she who was responsible for the act that took Sven from them forever.
Allura's smile faltered and tears filled her eyes. Sven, the hero who had given his life in defense of her people, her planet. She wished she knew more about his final battle, wished she could have been there to help him. Alas, Sven had stood up to Hagar alone - and that old hag had murdered him. Like so many others Allura loved.
Allura knew with her grief so sharp, that the pain the other members of the Voltron Force must be feeling would be nothing less than torture; she had known Sven a few short months, they had all known one another for many years.
The Princess of Arus sighed.
When she had started flying the Blue Lion in Sven's place, she had known she could never replace him - nor would she want to. She was doing her best, but she knew the others had to work that much harder to make up for her lack of experience.
Her thoughts were interrupted when her bedroom door unexpectedly opened.
"Your Highness," Nanny accused as she stormed into the room. "You missed your breakfast again this morning."
Allura shook her head sadly as she turned away from the window and her gloomy thoughts. It didn't matter how she felt, or what troubles she faced, she was a princess. She had no choice, she had to prepare for her day, and for that she would need a clear head and a strong heart.
"I'm sorry, Nanny." She really hoped she could avoid the impending lecture. "I took a little longer than usual in the shower."
The Royal Governess had held Allura in her arms the very day she had been born. She had raised her, watched her grow from an impetuous child into a lovely young woman. She loved Allura as deeply as any mother loves her child. And so, if anyone knew when something was bothering her, it was her Nanny.
"What's troubling you, child?"
"I don't know what you mean, Nanny."
"Come now," the matron placed an arm around her ward's shoulder and guided her to a nearby couch. "Sit here and tell your Nanny what's bothering you."
As they settled in to the plump cushions, Allura folded her hands in her lap and looked down at them. She remained quiet, considering just how much she wanted to share . . . Nanny could be so over-protective and Allura didn't want to remind her governess of just how dangerous it was to be a member of the Voltron Force.
"Is it that awful group of hooligans?"
The Princess of Arus clenched her jaw as she took a deep, calming breath. She was so tired of the way her friends were regarded - and for no better reason than not being of noble birth. It simply wasn't fair! When she felt her temper begin to subside, she spoke with a commanding air.
"I really wish you wouldn't be so hard on them. If it weren't for those young men, Arus would be in the hands of King Zarkon. My people would all be slaves and I'm sure I'd be married off to Lotor. At the very least, they've earned the right to be treated with respect."
Unfortunately the young monarch's words seemed to fall on deaf ears.
"Yes, and we are all very grateful for that, but zooming-"
"I know, I know!" Allura cut her off. " 'Zooming around in the air is no occupation for a Princess.' "
"What choice do I have?" She was completely exasperated at always needing to defend herself and her decisions. "My planet must be defended and who better to do that than myself?"
"But, Princess Allura, you shouldn't take chances with your life," the governess pleaded. She couldn't help her need to protect the young woman who was the closest thing to a daughter she would ever have. She wished she could find a way for Allura to see that she didn't want to stifle the young woman, she only wanted to keep her safe.
"My people's lives are at risk each moment that Zarkon and his forces are out there," Allura stated vehemently. She turned to face her guardian, laying a hand over the older woman's. "I don't want to argue with you. I've made my decision and when we argue it only makes me more determined."
She looked imploringly into Nanny's eyes. After a moment, Allura stood and walked back toward the window.
"All right, my dear child. We won't argue. Now, please come have something to eat so you can start your studies."
The pupil-to-be sighed wistfully as she looked out the window. It was a terrible shame to waste such a beautiful day. She smiled suddenly. Hmmm...
Nanny knew that tone. It meant that Allura was going to do her best to get her way and the matron steeled herself before responding.
"I was just thinking about what a lovely day it is. It would be perfect for a picnic." Allura turned to face her governess and as soon as Nanny opened her mouth to reply, the princess rushed on. "I know I'm supposed to spend the day studying, but I promise that I'll spend tonight studying instead of spending it with the boys in the rec room. . .please?"
Nanny hid a small smile. She was about to tell Allura that a picnic was a grand idea, before she had been cut off. But she decided this was even better. It never hurt to let her young ward think she had won. "Well, I don't know..."
"Oh, Nanny, please?"
"You'll go straight to your studies as soon as you finish your dinner?"
"Hmm..." Nanny said. "You'll have to help make the preparations."
"Of course," Allura agreed without pause.
"Well then, we had better get busy."
"Voltron Force, report to Castle Control immediately." Coran's cultured voice announced over the loud speakers.
Keith and Lance stopped their sparring and pulled off their helmets.
"You heard him. Let's go."
"Yeah, but what does he want," Lance frowned. "I don't hear any alarms."
"Only one way to find out." Keith shrugged his shoulders. "Pidge, Hunk - let's go!"
Pidge jumped down from the balance bar and Hunk set his weights back into their stand.
"Right now, Chief?" Hunk asked as Pidge tossed him a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow.
"Might as well get it over with," Keith replied.
Keith and Lance ran into Castle Control, followed by Pidge and Hunk. The young men came to a halt and found themselves facing Coran, Nanny and Princess Allura.
"What's going on, Coran?" Keith asked, looking around suspiciously.
"The Princess asked me to summon all of you. She has an announcement," the Royal Advisor replied cryptically.
They all turned expectantly to the lovely vision in pink who graced them with her brightest smile.
"Princess?" Keith asked, feeling more than a little confused.
"I have a surprise!" Her smile widened. "Nanny and I have planned a holiday for all of us."
"A holiday?" Lance questioned, looking at Nanny wearily. He never knew what to expect when she was involved. That old goat seemed to hate them all.
"Yes," the Princess replied. "We've packed a picnic and it's been loaded into carriages! It's waiting for us right now."
"A picnic!" Hunk exclaimed, pumping his fist in the air. "Alright, food!"
"Where are we going to take it?" Pidge asked, his young voice filled with excitement. He didn't get to act like a child very often, but whenever the chance came, he did his best to take full advantage of it.
Allura's heart warmed. She knew the youngest pilot of the Voltron Force would love what she had to tell them next. "I thought it would be nice to take it to the orphanage and share it with the children."
"What are we standing around here for?" Lance asked, smiling broadly. "Let's go."
"You guys go ahead," Keith began, "I think I'll stay behind to monitor things here."
"Oh no, Captain," Allura said, she wasn't about to miss an opportunity to spend a leisurely afternoon with the handsome pilot. "I thought of that too. I have had Coran double Castle security."
Keith looked at the advisor, who nodded.
"Indeed. And I would like you to go as the Princess's personal security officer, Captain."
Lance, Hunk and Pidge erupted into laughter at the look on Keith's face.
"Looks like they've got you all figured out, Skipper," Lance's tone was filled with amusement.
"Yeah, Chief. You can't get out of this one," Hunk added.
"Very funny, guys," Keith said dryly. He turned to face Allura and bowed deeply. "After you."
Keith, Lance, Hunk and Allura all sat on a blanket as they watched the children at play. Pidge had joined in and was teaching some of the older boys a game.
"Well, Princess," Lance began, "this was a great idea."
"Thank you, Lance. But I couldn't have done it without Nanny's help. She had all this food prepared so quickly."
"Which reminds me," Hunk said as he stood up. "I'm going back for seconds."
Keith laughed. "Why am I not surprised?"
The pilot of the Yellow Lion ignored the comment and walked over to a table laden with all the wonderful foods that had been prepared for the picnic.
"Hey guys!" Pidge called, "Why don't you come play?"
Lance looked over at Keith with upraised eyebrows. "Wanna?"
"I think I should stay here with the Princess," Keith said. "You go ahead."
"Suit yourself," the lanky pilot of Red Lion got up and joined the group of kids now playing a version of kick-ball.
Allura smiled to herself. She really liked the prospect of spending some time alone with the Captain of the Voltron Force. She and Lance had become fast friends, she thought of Hunk as a big brother while she saw Pidge as a younger brother. But Keith alluded her. They were friends, close friends even, but she deeply admired and respected him and more than anything wanted them to become closer. There was just something about him. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
Keith watched the lovely pilot of Blue Lion from the corner of his eye. He never knew what to say when he was alone with the Princess. He didn't understand why, but she made him nervous. He cleared his throat. "So, did the picnic turn out the way you wanted it to?" he asked, while chiding himself, ~'...that sounded so lame.'~
Allura looked at Keith, still smiling, as his question brought her out of her own thoughts. "Yes. It turned out very nice." She paused and looked at him thoughtfully. "I hope you've enjoyed your time away from the Castle. You know too much work isn't good for you."
"I've enjoyed the day very much. Thank you." He smiled.
"You're welcome! But, I think I'm going to get some of that cake before Hunk eats it all." She teased.
Keith stood and reached out a hand to help her up. "I think that I may just have to join you."
Lance was so busy watching Keith and Allura that he never saw the ball coming. He doubled over as it hit him right in the stomach.
"Hey Lance," Pidge called as he ran toward him. "You alright?"
"Yeah," Lance said, picking up the ball and tossing it back to one of the boys.
"What were you doing?" Green Lion's pilot asked as he looked around for whatever had distracted his older friend. His gaze came across Keith and Allura and he grinned. "Hey, you think the Chief has a crush on the Princess?"
Lance looked from Pidge to where Keith and Allura stood. "I dunno."
"I think he does. I mean who wouldn't? She's so pretty, super smart and has the kindest heart."
Lance laughed as he reached out and tousled Pidge's hair. "I think you're the one with the crush on the Princess."
The youth turned a deep shade of pink as he exclaimed, "No, I don't!"
"It's okay. I won't tell," Lance teased. He watched Keith and the Princess. Honestly, he was beginning to think that the Captain may very well have a thing for Allura. There was just this way the pilot of Black Lion looked at the Arussian monarch, especially when he didn't know anyone was watching - his eyes would soften and his smile came so much easier.
Then there was the way the Chief reacted whenever any of them said anything about her. If anyone said anything even remotely suggestive, Keith would just about lose it.
But what topped it off was when Keith had given Allura those diamond earrings at Christmas. . .
~'I think maybe Keith does have a thing for the Princess.'~ Lance thought as a plan began to take form. His smile widened. "Hey, Pidge."
"I want you to do me a favor. . ."
Keith and Hunk laughed as Allura recounted a childhood tale.
"After Nanny said I was too young, I was just even more determined to have my way. Well, I will never forget the looks on Nanny, Coran or Father's faces when I walked into the dinning room that night." The Princess giggled as she continued, "I had taken the brightest, reddest lipstick I could find and it was smeared all over my face. I took my seat beside Father as if it were nothing out of the ordinary."
"I bet it was priceless," Keith said between chuckles.
"Oh, I'm sure it was," Allura continued, growing serious. "But when Nanny got through with me, I couldn't sit for a week."
Keith and Hunk continued to laugh. They turned, their mirth still evident, just in time to see Pidge approaching.
"Hey, Keith," the youth called. "Lance wanted me to give this to you." The youngest pilot handed his Captain a small piece of paper. "He said for you to read it right away."
Keith looked confused as he took the piece paper, then quickly looked around in hopes of spotting Lance. After a moment, he saw his friend standing on the far side of the field where the boys were playing their ball game. The pilot of Red Lion waved and his Captain suddenly felt very nervous. He opened the folded note and began to read:
"Man, just get it over with and slap a big wet one on her!"
Keith's smile faded as his face first paled then turned a deep shade of red.
"I'm gonna kill him," he said, searching again for his second-in-command and spotting him just as he was rounding the far side of the orphanage.
"What is it?" Hunk asked.
"I dunno," Pidge answered. "Lance promised me if I gave it to Keith, I could have his dessert tonight."
"Keith?" Allura asked. "What does it say?"
Hunk reached for the note just as the Captain of the Voltron Force began to chase after Lance.
"What's he doing?" The Princess cried.
Hunk quickly scanned the piece of paper then covered his mouth as he began to make a noise that sounded like something between a cough and a laugh. He quickly stuffed the note deep into his pocket. "Uh... it's an old Terran game, Princess."
Pidge looked up quizzically.
"Right, little buddy?" The Big Guy nudged his little friend.
"Uh, yeah, right. They always do this..."
"Oh," The Princess said, looking from one to the other before turning her attention to where Keith was just chasing Lance around the corner of the orphanage and back out into the open. The pilot of Black Lion was quickly gaining on his prey and when he finally got close enough, he tackled him. Hunk, Pidge and Allura all burst into laughter.
"What the hell's the matter with you?" Keith growled.
"Hey I was just kidding," Lance said, laughing nervously. "It was just a joke."
"Yeah, well as usual, you're not funny."
"Aren't you overreacting, just a little? I haven't seen you this upset since we were kids and me and Geni were teasing you about her little blonde haired friend - remember the one that you had a crush on. . . what was her name again?"
Keith's cheeks pinkened as he stood up and brushed at his clothing in an attempt to dislodge any stray particle of dirt or such that had managed to adhere itself to his person. "Yeah, well maybe I did overreact. But you cannot joke around like that when it comes to the Princess. We could get into real trouble."
"Okay, okay, You're right," Lance said as he picked himself up off the ground.
The two young men began walking back toward the others. Both were quiet as they considered their actions. Finally Lance decided enough was enough - and he knew he was quick enough to close the distance between where they were walking and where the Princess stood before his friend could.
"Well, maybe you're right - maybe you weren't overreacting."
"I'm glad you see it that way," Keith answered, his tone one of relief.
"Yeah," Red Lion's pilot continued. "Your reaction's understandable when you take into consideration that you really do have a crush on the Princess."
Without waiting to see Keith's response, Lance took off at full speed. When he realized there was no one in pursuit, he paused to look back, but upon seeing the murderous look on his friend's face, he set back out at a full run and made a beeline for Allura. Once he reached the Arussian monarch's side, he put an arm around her shoulders and asked, "So, did you have a fun day, Princess?"
Allura smiled sweetly at him and responded, "I certainly did, Lance, and I hate to see it end, but we really should get back to the castle."
"I couldn't agree more, Princess," Keith said as he joined them, his eyes locked with Lance's and held a promise of pain. "Why don't you go ahead? Lance and I will take care of all this. It'll give us some time to talk."
"Oh no, Chief," Voltron's second-in-command was always quick on his feet. "It'll take us half the night to clean this up and we don't wanna make Nanny upset by missing dinner. Especially after she went to all this trouble for us." He paused, the perfect argument rolling off the tip of his tongue. "Besides, I'm sure the Princess is enjoying her freedom today. Wouldn't want to cut her short. Right, Allura?"
"Right," she answered, oblivious to the tension that filled the air. "We'll all help clean this up."
"That's fine," Keith said as he smiled wickedly at Lance. "We'll talk another day."
And so the day ended.
But just to note, later that week, Lance rushed into the medical wing, screaming for the doctor. Apparently his hair was falling out!
The doctor could find no medical reason for this, and so ordered a test run on anything that Lance had put on or around his hair.
It was discovered that somehow, a hair-removal cream had been placed in the young man's shampoo bottle.
No one ever did figure out how it happened.
Well, no one except three space explorers who were not willing to incur Keith's wrath. You see, underneath all that self-control. . . Beneath all that goodness. . . Our beloved Captain Keith does, indeed, have a wicked sense of humor.
And the only one who didn't laugh, was Lance.