one big mistake
In retrospect, Haggar supposed that she should have thought a bit more before she had cast the spell. Or perhaps given it some more...boundaries. Like, oh, the Voltron Force, instead of every male between the ages of twelve and twenty. And she probably should have been paying more attention to the jars that she took the ingredients from. Maybe she should have checked the magic cook book before she concocted her spell too; the pages did have a tendency to stick.
Meanwhile, back on Arus, things looked...messy. Allura sighed and blew a strand of sweat soaked hair out of her face. She had known kids were a handful; she'd just never known how much of a handful. Especially kids like these.
No wonder they had been sent to help her. If they were anything like they were now when they had really been children, she would have done anything to get them out of her hair as well.
"Allura! Allura! Pidge got his head stuck in the chair again!" Child-Hunk ran up to Allura and tugged on her dress. The former mechanic's rounded, wide, and open face peered up at Allura in concern.
Allura sighed and detached herself from the sticky seven year old. "Well, I'm a little busy. Why don't you go tell Romelle?"
"'Cause she's tryin' to get Sven to stop picking on Lance," Hunk replied, one arm spastically coming up to cradle his head. "Lance is crying again too. The big baby."
"He's younger than you are. He's allowed to. Can you go get the grease for me so we can get Pidge free before he starts--" Allura stopped abruptly as the piercing wail rebounded off the castle walls. "Never mind. Hurry up." She stood and stalked toward the stuck two year old. "I am never having kids. Ever."
"Ke~ethie!" The sing song voice struck fear into the five year old's heart and he wondered if keeping the book up in front of his face would keep the monster away. "Keith! Stop ignoring me!" Little chubby hands reached down to pull the book out of the other boy's grip, bright brown eyes glaring at him from behind a mop of chestnut hair. "You read too much."
"You don't read at all." Keith reached out for the book, wanting to finish the story. Lance pulled it away and flipped through it, frowning at the white pages, child's face forming into a heartbreaking pout.
"Why d'you read stuff like this anyway. The words are too small. And there aren't any pictures!"
"Not everybody has as short an attention span as you do, Lance. Now give it back."
"No. I want you to play with me." Lance heaved the book as far as his little arms could reach, grinning triumphantly as it flew over the gate that kept them trapped in the room. "Hah! No more book!"
"Why you little--" Keith stood, murderous glare in his eyes. "I'm going to kill you! The world doesn't revolve around you, you know."
"It doesn't?" Lance laughed and dodged Keith's lunge. "Nyah, nyah, nya-nyah, nyah! You canna catch me!" He stuck out his tongue and ran off, high pitched laughter trailing after him.
"I'm gonna get you! Come back here!" Keith pulled his trusty water gun from his pants and ran after Lance, weapon trained on the other boy's back.
"I'm not wearing it." Sven crossed his arms and glared up at Romelle, trying to be intimidating, but failing miserably at only three feet tall.
"But it would look so cute!" Romelle held up the detested pirate's outfit, a pleading expression on her face. "Please Sven?"
"No. It's stupid. I'm not a child! I'm seven years old!"
"I know that, but your other clothes are dirty," Romelle patiently explained. "And if we don't get that jelly you spilled on yourself off, you're going to start attracting bugs."
"Really? Cool!" Sven looked down at the huge purple stain in something near awe. "Will they be really, really big hairy bugs? Like spiders? I want there to be spiders!"
Romelle sighed and buried her face in her hands. Wrong thing to say. Definitely the wrong thing to say.
"Stand still, damn it!" Keith's voice floated to her in the darkness of her hands, and Romelle knew that she should probably do something about that.
"You said the D-word!" Lance's shocked voice soon followed and Romelle sighed, knowing that this couldn't signal anything good. She slowly lifted her head, just in time to get a face full of warm water.
Spluttering, angry, Romelle stood, dropping the pirate outfit. "Keith. Give me the gun." The small boy meekly handed over the toy, before standing with his hands behind his back and head meekly bowed. "Good. Now go sit in that corner. Lance. Go sit in that corner."
"Now you've done it," Sven laughed, enjoying his friend's discomfort. "You've gone and made her mad."
"Sven. Go sit over there."
"But nothing. Do it!" Romelle glared at him with cold eyes, waiting for the child to shamble his way to the corner, muttering under his breath.
Romelle watched him go, feeling frayed and pushing the limits of her patience. She needed a break. Badly. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry... She managed to get out of the room before she broke down completely.
"I can't do it anymore!" Romelle fell into the kitchen chair, hair scraggly and face worn. "I can't! If I have to put up with one more minute with those brats, I'm going to kill them. I swear I will."
"I know how you feel." Allura didn't even raise her head from the table where she sat, forehead resting against the cool surface. "How many 'toys' did we confiscate from Keith today?"
"Two water guns, a plastic knife, and a packet of balloons." Romelle placed the objects in question on the table. "Tell me, is this obsession with weapons genetic, or is it just a fetish."
Allura sighed. "I have no clue. Just be glad he doesn't have any real ones."
"Excuse me?" The voice was old and screechy; Haggar's voice, if not for the slight hesitance. Both girls looked up, too exhausted to do more than stare at the old witch.
"What?" Allura replied.
"I understand you're looking after children. I have one more for you." Haggar pushed Lotor forward, then sighed and pulled his thumb from his mouth. "Please, take him. I'll pay you well."
"Oh no. Not another one! Five is enough, thank you." Romelle shook her head firmly. "I knew it was a bad idea to put that add in the yellow pages."
"Hey, I though we were advertising for a child care center. Not becoming one," Allura protested feebly.
"Please. Take him. I can't work with him underfoot all the time, and Zarkon would probably kill him." Allura and Romelle both shook their heads firmly. "Listen, if you take him, I'll be able to figure out a cure to this spell sooner, okay? Then everything can go back to normal and there won't be all these damn brats underfoot anymore."
Allura sighed. "Fine. We'll take him. But you had better get a cure and soon. Or I'm killing them all, and consequences be damned."
Haggar nodded. "Yes. Of course. Good-bye Lotor." And with that, Haggar disappeared in cloud of smoke and much coughing. Lotor gazed at the spot where she had been and began to wail.
Allura and Romelle looked at each other in despair, one thought echoing through both their minds: Why me?
The Arusian day dawned bright and hot, and for the most part peaceful. Unfortunately, that peace didn't extend to the Castle of Lions and the six small boys that currently ruled the castle.
The noise began at five, when three small forms burst into Allura's bedroom, chased each other over the bed--and the still sleeping princess--yelling and cussing as only little children could, before disappearing with a suddenness that left the blinking, pissed off and slightly soggy princess wondering if it all hadn't been a nightmare. She would have gone back to sleep right then if it hadn't been for the blue, red and black hand prints that currently decorated her once plain old pink sheets.
Anger was beginning to make itself known to her dazed brain by this point and she wondered whether beating the brats senseless counted as child abuse or not since they were all really older than she was. That was when Hunk appeared in the doorway, rubbing at his eyes.
"Allura, I wet the bed. Can I sleep in here?"
Allura recoiled in horror. A bed wetter? In her bed? No. No way. Never!
Damn it! Damn conscience. Damn maternal instinct.
Hunk crawled into the bed with her, snuggled up close and proceeded to fall asleep, his child's peaceful slumber broken by his loud snores. Allura sighed. She wanted to cry and it wasn't even six.
"What can we do?" Romelle had large bags under her eyes. She looked little better than Death warmed over, and even then it was only because Death warmed over is accompanied by a rather noisome stench.
"Killing them is always an option." Allura's gaze was stuck on the butcher's knife someone had stuck into a block. It caught the light well, sucking it in without reflecting anything back from the buffed surface. Allura bet that it would feel nice in her hands, a comforting, heavy weight that would bite into flesh and bone with satisfying thwacks. "Killing them is a good option. I think we should kill them. We'd be doing the gene pool a favor. A very big favor. Those genes should never be passed on."
"Now now, Allura. I'm sure that your opinion will change once they grow up." Allura just looked at her cousin through sleep-red eyes. Romelle sighed. "All right, maybe not. Still, don't you think it would be a little conspicuous if they all disappeared?"
"That's why you do this sort of thing in stages. If they just drop one by one, it'll be much more satisfying and less suspicious." Allura's eyes were gleaming with an insane light and her hand edged toward the butcher's knife.
"No, Allura." Romelle glared at the other princess, who pouted just like one of their charges, arms crossed across her chest as she sat back in her chair in a huff. Romelle sighed and rubbed her temples. Why did she have to be the mature one?
"But I wanna!" Allura whined.
"Too bad." Romelle looked down at the sadly empty pad of paper before her. They'd been brainstorming for almost an hour in an attempt to find away to occupy the chibi-ized bishonen and all they had come up with was "kill them" and "drug them", neither of which were viable options.
"What if we just tortured them?" Allura mused aloud. "Or made them do hard labor?"
"Allura, we don't have the will to torture them. Can you say 'no' when Lance turns those big eyes on you and his bottom lip begins to tremble?"
"No," Allura conceded with ill grace. "Damn it, he's only five years old! How can he be such a good manipulator?"
"I think some things are just inherent." Romelle tapped her pen and sighed. The short reprieve they had gained from popping in some anime video or another was going to be over soon and the six terrors would come scampering back into the kitchen demanding attention. She glanced at the calender hanging on the wall then back at the paper. An idea slowly began to formulate in her mind. A crazy idea, sure, but one that just might work.
"Hey Allura. Have you ever heard of Halloween?"
"All right kids, we're going to pick out costumes now!" Allura said this with false cheerfulness, still greatly doubting the feasibility of this plan.
"What for?" Hunk asked in mild curiosity.
"Halloween." Her tongue shaped the foreign words oddly, reluctantly. It was almost as if her subconsciousness was telling her that this was a stupid idea.
"But that's at the end of October," Sven replied patiently, as if explaining the concept to a particularly stupid person.
"Not on Arus. So, what does everyone want to be?" Romelle wondered if spanking Sven now would leave any particular impression on him when he grew up again.
Now that could be interesting.
"Hannibal Lector," Sven replied almost immediately. He grinned psychopathically, childish face taking on an expression akin to that of a demonic minion of the Evil One. "'Cause I like to have my friends over for dinner."
Romelle blanched and took a couple steps away. Okay. Don't make any sudden movements. Don't threaten him in anyway.
"Emperor of the Universe." Lotor grinned broadly.
"I wanna be a burrito," Hunk said after a few moments thought.
"All right." Allura looked at her cousin with one raised eyebrow, but Romelle just shrugged.
"I wanna be--" Pidge's high voice--even higher now that he was younger--began, but was interrupted quickly after by Allura.
"A green space mouse."
"No! I wanna be a--"
"Green space mouse." Allura glared at the boy. "Don't you, Pidge."
Pidge gulped and nodded. "Yes'm. A green space mouse."
"The Red Baron! I wanna be the Red Baron. Neerow!" Lance stuck his arms out and zoomed around the room, making strange flying noises and machine gun sounds. Allura gave Romelle a "I-told-you-we-should-have-drugged-his-food" look, but said nothing.
"And what about Keith? What do you want to be?"
"I bet it's lame." Lance skidded to a stop. "He always wants to be something lame."
"It's not lame!" Keith replied defiantly. "It's cool."
"Yeah, right. It's lame." Lance stuck out his tongue. "I bet it's really lame."
"No it's not."
"Well, what is it, then?"
Keith looked down and scuffed his feet, suddenly embarrassed. "The Angel of Death," he said in a small voice. "With big black wings and a scythe and black robes and--"
He was interrupted as Lance fell down and began rolling on the floor howling in laughter. "That is so lame! That's lame and girly! You wanna be an angel!"
"It's the Angel of Death," Keith replied huffily. "It's not lame and girly. It's scary and cool."
"No it's not."
"Yes it is."
"Hah!" Lance grinned widely. "You admitted it! It's lame!"
"You tricked me!" Keith's face was bright red in anger. The four other boys watched the two like they were a train wreck in the making, something gruesome and horrible that only little boys can properly enjoy. "Die!"
"Gah!" Lance fell back onto the ground as Keith leapt at him, little fists pummeling his friend. "Ow! Ow! Stop it, you're hurting me!"
"Not until you admit that my costume is cool!"
"No way! Ow!"
Allura sighed and went to fetch the hose. Romelle rubbed at her temples again, and scraped another plan.
Allura was hot. And sweaty. And her hair smelled like smoke. And her clothes were covered in flour and honey and splatters of milk. Her arms were tired. Her legs were tired. Her hair was tired. And still, she wasn't done.
"Whose bright idea was it to have Thanksgiving?"
Romelle--who was currently extricating herself from the clutches of six screaming, hyperactive, demanding bodies that thought the tray she carried contained cookie dough--couldn't reply but that was okay since it was a rhetorical question anyway. Still, it felt good to vent, so Allura tried another question.
"And what, exactly, do we have to be thankful about?"
"That there are only six of them?" Romelle replied in the extremely rare respite from her struggles. She quickly resumed her battle to keep her balance, however, even if she was losing. Badly.
"And why did we get two turkeys?"
Hunk detached himself from the swarm that huddled around Romelle's legs and made his way to Allura's side. He tugged on Allura's dress with hands covered in who-knows-what and Allura winced. "'Cause you need to smoke one of 'em. Everybody knows that."
Keith's head popped out of the mass of small heads and he looked over at Hunk. "Smoke? Where's the smoke? If there's smoke, there's a fire. Ooh, wanna play with fire. Where's the fire?"
"No where. Now go away! I don't have cookie dough on this tray!" Romelle tried to take a step without kicking any of the kids. The four remaining bodies who were still in the huddle around her body surged forward. Romelle fell with a scream, the tray of gizzards that she held going flying. Lance, Lotor and Sven rushed the dropped innards. Pidge just giggled and drooled, grabbing Romelle's sleeve and gnawing on it. Romelle sighed and decided that it would take more energy than she had at the moment to move.
Lance picked up a fallen liver and held it in his hands, staring down quizzically at it. He looked up at Allura in confusion. "What's this?"
Keith wandered over and poked the slimy, redish-purple meat. "I think it's a liver."
"Really? Cool!" Lance threw the liver at Sven. It hit the very young Swede in the face. Sven looked up from his examination of the heart in outrage.
"Hey!" He threw the heart at Lance who ducked. The piece of innards hit Lotor, who retaliated by lobbing a neck at Keith. A full blown food fight soon broke out.
By the time Allura became fully aware of the battle, the damage was irreparable. Still hoping to salvage something she rushed over to the four...food warriors and hauled two of them apart. "What do you four think--Oh Goddess! The giblets! How am I going to make gravy now?"
"Gravy?" Lance looked down at the mangled heart he held in his hand. "Y'mean we're going to...eat this stuff?"
"Yes! Well, we were before you four mangled them."
"EWWWWW!!!!" Lance dropped the organ in a hurry, wiping his hands on his somewhat slimy shirt. "That's icky!"
"Hey guys! I found it!" Hunk, who had climbed up onto the counter during the confusion was waving a wrapped bar of gingerbread dough in the air in victory. "Cookie dough!"
He began to totter, suddenly losing his balance and Allura dived forward. "No!" She just managed to catch the young boy before he hit the floor. Hunk bounced out of her hands and ran over to the other five, unwrapping the dough as he went. Allura jumped up, eyes widening in horror. "No! Don't eat that! You'll get sick!"
But she was too late. The dough disappeared faster than money at an after Thanksgiving sale. Allura groaned and slumped to the floor. Romelle looked up from her prone position. "Glad to see you decided to join me."
"I give up. I say we stuff 'em all into a sack and toss 'em into the river. Drown them like a bunch of kittens. It's the only humane thing to do."
"Allura?" Lotor was tugging on Allura's sleeve. "Do you want some help?"
Allura looked down on the former prince, trying to see if she could think of anything that could be entrusted to his five year old hands. "Yeah. I want you guys to set the table. The dishes and everything are on the table already."
"'kay." Lotor toddled off, rounding up the other four as they inspected the cellophane for any traces of overlooked cookie dough. "C'mon guys. Ms. Allura told us to set the table."
Lance sneered at Lotor. "'Ms. Allura told us to set the table'," he said back in a mocking tone. "Teacher's pet."
"Go set the goddamned table already!" Allura yelled. Lance and Lotor jumped slightly before running out of the kitchen, pushing each other as they went and still arguing. Sven, Hunk and Keith followed. Pidge watched them go before going back to gnawing on Romelle's sleeve. Allura sighed and let her head fall back and closed her eyes.
A sharp tinkle came from the other room, followed by a soft "oops". Allura didn't bother to look up. Sven and Keith rushed into the room.
"Ms. Allura, Keith broke the gravy bowl!"
"Did not! You did!"
"Nuh uh!" Keith pushed Sven. Sven fell down and began to cry.
"Keith hit me! Keith hit me! Make him stop!"
"Ms. Allura, I think I'm going to throw up."
"I didn't hit him! I didn't! He fell down on his own!"
The smoke alarm chose that moment to go off and Allura looked over to see black smoke seeping out from around the oven door. The tears began to trickle down her cheeks. Sobbing, she buried her face in her hands as the chaos reigned around her.
At exactly half past six in the morning, Allura locked herself in her room with the last bottle of Tequila and refused to come out no matter how hard Romelle begged. Five minutes later, the six terrors appeared, leaving a wake of destruction and hand-printed walls in their wake. Romelle, in an act of self-preservation, had them bundled up in warm clothing until they resembled small bean bags and then tossed them out into the snow. She then resumed pounding on Allura's door.
"You can't do this to me! I'm your cousin for crying out loud!"
"You were the one who wouldn't let me drown them." Allura's words were slurred through the door. "S'your own fault. You want them to live so badly, you take care of them."
"At least give me the Tequila. It's cruel and unusual to make me care for them sober!"
"Nu uh. My Tequila."
"Come on, Allura, let me in. I don't know how much longer I can stand them."
"Fine." The door opened and the tipsy Arusian princess peered out. "But only if you get some salt and some limes."
As Allura and Romelle proceeded to get as wasted as possible, four of the six children--sans some of the more cumbersome clothing--trooped back into the Castle, covered in partially melted snow and little strands of frozen snot. Of the two missing children, Lotor was currently bound, gagged and entombed in a snowman (the rational being that his already blue skin meant that he was immune to frostbite) and Hunk had gotten into a fight with a gang of squirrels over a cache of nuts. However, with Pidge collapsed on the floor of the main foyer in childish exhaustion, that left only three of the currently chibi-ized Voltron Force members left to wreck havoc on the castle. Unfortunately for the castle--and for Arus in general--the three remaining children were unbelievably close to being classified as natural disasters.
After Lance and Sven had dented several of the steel kitchen cabinets in search of hot chocolate and Keith had started a small fire in an attempt to heat up the milk, the three children made their way into an out-of-the-way study that Keith had found. Once there, Keith started another fire--this time in the grate--and the three settled down to enjoy their cocoa in silence. This lasted for all of a minute--a testimony to just how much energy had gone into building Lotor into a snowman--before Sven got up and began to examine the contents of the room's little used desk.
"Hey guys, it's almost time for Christmas!"
"Really?" Keith's eyes lit up. "That means presents! I wrote to Santa and asked him for a really, really big gun." Keith frowned suddenly. "Do you know if he visits Arus?"
Sven shrugged. "I dunno. I hope I get the pony I asked for. Or the knives."
"Hey, I have a great idea for catching Santa!" Keith was bouncing from side to side in excitement. "We need to string some steel wire across the front of the grate an' when Santa comes down the chimney, he'll trip an' cut himself an' be helpless! Then we pounce an' hold him hostage until he promises to do whatever we want!" Keith's eyes had taken on a vaguely malevolent gleam. "I want one of his elves."
Sven snorted in disdain. "Stupid. You need more than one elf. You need a whole army. Then you can take over the entire world!"
"I just want one," Keith replied sullenly. He shifted his attention to Lance. "What about you? What did you ask Santa for."
"I didn't ask him for anything. I don't believe in Santa."
Keith fell over in shock. "Don't believe in Santa! Are you sick? Did I hit you too hard in the head with that snowball? Don't believe in Santa." He stood up and walked over to Lance, placing one hand against the other's forehead, frowning slightly. "You don't feel like you have a fever."
"'Course I don't!" Lance waved Keith away in irritation. "I'm Jewish. I don't celebrate Christmas."
Keith patted Lance's head consolingly. "I'm sorry. Can we cure you?"
"It's not a disease, stupid, it's a religion," Sven said smugly, lording his two extra years over the other boys. "Jewish people don't believe in Jesus."
"Really?" Keith swung back around to face Lance, eyes wide. "Then what do you do for Christmas?"
Keith frowned, suddenly mad. "This is a joke, right? You guys are playing a joke on me! Don't believe in Santa. Don't celebrate Christmas. You're joking and I don't think it's funny at all!" Keith whirled on Lance. "I bet you're not really a Jew! I bet there's no such thing as a Jew! Don't believe in Santa Claus..."
"I am so a Jew! I'm circumscribed an' everything! See?" Lance stood up and pulled down his pants. Keith leaned in close, then looked back up at Lance.
"Why's your pee-pee funny lookin'?"
"It means I'm a Jew. They cut off a bit of my pee-pee when I was born to show that I celebrate Chanukah instead of Christmas."
"It's a holiday were I get to have eight days of presents instead of one."
"Really?" Sven leaned close. "Eight days?"
"Uh huh. And we light candles in this special candle holder that's named a Menorah and eat pancakes made out of potatos. With apple sauce. And you get to play this game called Dreidel for chocolate money."
Keith had taken on a speculative expression. "There's fire? I like fire. I really like fire."
"If you don't believe in Santa, who gives you presents? God?"
"Nu uh. Your parents do, an' they give you a present every night for eight nights." Lance pulled up his pants, tongue sticking out in concentration as he tried to do up the buttons.
"I wanna be Jewish!" Lance and Sven looked up, startled by Keith's sudden outburst. "I wanna play with fire and eat chocolate money and get eight days of presents an'--an'--an' everything else." Keith bounded over to Lance. "How do you become Jewish, Lance?"
Lance shrugged. "I think you need to cut off some of the skin on your pee-pee."
"That's all? Can you do it, Lance?"
Lance shrugged again. "Okay."
Sven frowned. "I don't think you guys should do this."
"'Cause I bet it's really, really, really going to hurt. 'Sides, I think there's more to being Jewish than just having your pee-pee cut."
"So? I can take the pain. I bet it's not going to hurt that badly. Will you do it Lance?"
"Okay. We need a knife, I think."
Keith nodded. "Back to the kitchen."
Keith sat pantless on the stainless steel counter, shivering slightly as the cold metal chilled his flesh, his legs spread wide to give Lance decent access. Lance held a knife uncertainly, his former confidence in the procedure suddenly gone. Sven merely looked on disapprovingly, paper towels clasped in his hands.
Lance looked up at Keith. "Do you wanna bite on something?"
"Nah. This doesn't hurt too badly, does it Lance? I mean, when they did it to you, did it hurt a lot?"
"I dunno. I was just a baby."
"This is a stupid idea, guys. What if Lance slips and cuts Keith's pee-pee off completely?"
"I'm not gonna slip. I don't think."
"So you just cut, right? That's it? An' then I'm Jewish an' I can celebrate Chanukah an' everything?"
"Well, I think I'm supposed to pray or something, but yeah, that's about it."
"Okay." Keith took a deep breath, then gripped the counter tightly. "Do it."
Lance looked dubiously at his friend, then at the knife before sighing and reaching forward. "All right. Here we go. I'm gonna circumscribe you now."
"Don't do it, Lance. You're gonna get in really big trouble." Sven bounced slightly, nervously eying the door.
"Don't listen to him, Lance. Do it. I'm ready." Keith closed his eyes tightly, clenched his teeth and spread his legs further.
"Okay. Okay. I'm gonna do it."
"How could you run out of salt?"
Lance jumped at Allura's voice, spinning quickly to face the door, small chest heaving in something nearly hyperventilating. Sven eeped and dove under the table. Allura and Romelle entered, leaning heavily on each other. They stood for a moment, carefully surveying the scene before them, taking in the knife in Lance's hand and Keith's tensed form. Romelle frowned and tried to straighten up as much as possible.
"What, exactly, is going on here?"
Keith opened his eyes, frowned slightly at the intrusion. "Lance was gonna circumscribe me. He was gonna make me Jewish."
Romelle shook her head slowly. "He was going to what to you?"
"He was gonna cut Keith's pee-pee," Sven piped up. "I told them that it was a bad idea, Ms. Romelle. I told them that they were gonna get in trouble. They're gonna get in trouble, right?"
Romelle turned to Allura, frowning in confusion. "Do you understand what's going on here?"
Allura nodded slowly. "I think that Lance was going to circumcise Keith."
"Ahh." Romelle looked back at the three boys, frowning. "Okay. New rule. No one is allowed to cut or mutilate anyone else's body parts, especially anyone else's geni--uh, pee-pees. Understood?" Three heads nodded slowly. "Good." Romelle grabbed a salt shaker and glared at the three boys again. "C'mon, Allura, I think that Coran keeps a bottle in his study."
Allura grinned and the two girls stumbled out of the room. Lance looked down at the knife in his hand before carefully putting it back in its proper place. Keith stared down at him.
"What're you doing?"
"You heard Ms. Romelle. We aren't allowed to muta--muta--muta--cut anyone else's body parts."
"So? Now we gotta do it! It's a Rule! It needs to be broken!"
Lance shook his head. "Not this one. I'm gonna go watch T.V now." He turned and left. Sven glanced quickly at Keith before shaking is head and following Lance. Keith stared after his two friends before hopping off of the counter. He grabbed his discard pants and rushed after them. "Wait you guys! I wanna come too! I wanna know if I can still celebrate Chanukah! Well? Can I? C'mon guys, wait for me!"
Overnight, the Voltron Force became teenagers.
Allura and Romelle didn't notice this fact for several weeks, however, as they had locked themselves in Allura's rather roomy suite with a shipment of homemade Gin, some olives, and the Food Delivery section of the intergalactic yellow pages.
They ran out of alcohol sometime in the middle of the second week, but their hangovers kept them inside the barricaded suite for a few more days. When they emerged around noon the following Tuesday, blinking and clothed in a mix of padding and safety equipment, they were greeted by an eerily silent Castle.
Allura cautiously looked around. The hallway in front of her room was, oddly, peaceful. And clean. Very clean. So clean that it managed to squeak, even though all it was doing was existing in its state of cleanliness. She could actually see the original paint on the walls. There wasn't even the slightest hint hand prints or jam smears or --and here Allura took a deep, but cautious, breath to make sure-- the odd piss stain. The dirt and mess that had controlled her life for the past six months was gone, washed and wiped (and in some cases, spackled) away.
She took off her hockey helmet and put her hands on her hips. "Well."
Romelle peered out from over Allura's shoulder before joining her cousin in the glistening hallway. "Indeed."
"Do you think they killed each other?"
Romelle sighed, somehow expressing her hopes, dreams and fervent prayers in one breath. "Wouldn't that be nice."
There was coffee and danishes of some form or another, and a kitchen that sparkled and gleamed in the winter sun. It was like a scene straight out of Martha Stewart Living and it made Allura want to gag.
"What the fuck is going on here?"
"I haven't the slightest." Romelle picked up a danish and sniffed it carefully before taking a tentative bight. "Mmm. Strawberry."
"Romelle!" Allura said, shocked. "That could be poisoned!"
"So? I just drank, like, a gallon of moonshine in one sitting. If that hasn't killed me, nothing is going to."
Allura thought about that for a moment. "Point."
She sat down at the table and looked around. "Okay. So. I think that the first thing we need to do is figure what, exactly, has been damaged."
Romelle swallowed her mouthful of danish and licked the crumbs from her lips. "Shouldn't we see if there are any bodies to dispose of first?"
Allura shook her head. "Look at this place Romelle. It's sickeningly clean. I think Nanny's finally snapped and this is the result. Besides, did I ever tell you about the first batch of Space Explorers to come to Arus?"
Romelle mutely shook her head.
"Well, let's just say they had a little...accident. You know, I never did find out what Nanny did with the bodies."
"Really, Cuz," Romelle said. "You need to learn how to control those homicidal urges of yours."
"Eh." Allura shrugged and stretched. "So. Feel like heading to the control center yet?"
Romelle grimaced. "Let me have some more coffee first. Or better yet, about a fifth of southern comfort."
"Check behind the ice-cream in the freezer. I think there's some Vodka hiding back there." Allura twisted her body about in the chair. She was really beginning to enjoy this newly returned freedom.
On that note, the most beautiful man Allura had ever seen walked through the kitchen doors.
He was wearing almost nothing. Well, no, that's not true. He was actually wearing a muscle shirt and shorts that would have looked more appropriate on a bushwhacker in the Australian outback. Not that Allura was complaining, mind. Those shorts showed off quite a nice bit of well-muscled leg and were slung low enough on his hips that whenever the man raised his arms a delicious sliver of flesh and well-defined abs peeked over the top. He was thin and lithe and full of sleek muscles that flexed in ways which made Allura feel all kinds of hot and bothered.
The man paused at the sight of the two girls and smiled shyly, running one large hand--
(Ooh, large hand, Allura thought. Very promising.)
--through his unruly mop of dark, curly brown hair.
"Hi, Allura," he said.
Allura blinked and would have opened her mouth to say something if it wasn't already open and full of drool. Still, the confusion on her face was eloquent enough that the beautiful young man expounded on his statement.
"It's me. Hunk."
Allura blinked again and felt a dramatic shifting in her thinking. This was Hunk? This was the same hefty mechanic who stashed chips and dip and frozen pizza in the mechanic's bay (and hard liquor and weed too, but Allura didn't know that), who made heavy handed jokes and tended to throw monkey wrenches at people when he was in a bad mood? This was the same Hunk who, as a child, had terrorized her and wet his bed?
"Wow," Allura said. She hadn't ever really thought about screwing Hunk, but, damn. If Hunk stayed like this for at least a day, Allura was going to make sure he knew about the side benefits to being a member of the Voltron Force.
"Allura?" Hunk waved a hand in front of her face and Allura snapped back. "Hello?"
"How old are you, Hunk?"
"Seventeen, I think. We've aged. Quite a bit, actually."
Romelle nodded. "You mean, you remember being a child? Do you remember anything before?"
"Yes. Kind of. I think." Hunk paused, face twisting into a grimace as pain lanced across his forehead. He put out hand to steady himself, and when he looked back up his face was pale and his eyes were scared. "I think there's something dreadfully wrong."
Keith slid his lotion slick hand over his cock, eyes trained on the movie playing on his computer screen. He had the sound muted, so he couldn't hear the grunting, rutting noises of the fucking men, but he had a good imagination and he didn't think he was missing out on much. His mouth hung open, tongue lolling, eyes closed to slits as he tried to breathe around the lust that lay heavy on his chest.
He was so close. One more minute and then--
Oh fuck. With the fluid ease that came only after years of practice and paranoia, Keith closed the window with the gay porn and brought up the one with the gun specs. A quick push with his feet sent his chair across to the window and the fan, which were opened and turned on to clear the room of the heavy smell of sex. He zipped himself up, wiped his hands clean and was opening the door just as his visitor began to knock. He had a hundred excuses on the tip of his tongue even though he hoped it wasn't his father--
(No, that's not right, Keith thought. I haven't lived with my parents for years.)
--because he didn't want to get yelled at today, but it was just Lance. Good old Lance who played a significant role in Keith's wet dreams.
(That's not right either, I think. I didn't. I didn't know Lance when I was fifteen. And I certainly never had wet dreams about him.)
He was staring, mouth open to say something and Lance raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Keith?"
Keith shook his head, cleared his thoughts. "Yeah? What d'you want?"
"Nothing." Lance looked down and scuffed the toe of his sneaker against the carpet in the hallway. "I mean. Wanna go do something?"
Keith thought back to the bottle of lotion and the gay porn waiting for him on his computer. Then he thought about Lance, and maybe leading him down to the lake--
(Arus? When did we get on Arus?)
--and getting him to take off his shirt.
He was getting hard again, and blessed whatever god might be listening for the fact that he was wearing baggy shorts.
"'Kay." Lance fiddled with the cuffs of his regulation Academy uniform--
(Where's my leather jacket? Why don't I have my leather jacket? Goddamn it, I paid good money for it. And why am I wearing Academy duds?)
--but didn't move.
"Well?" Keith said.
"What're we going to do?"
Lance shrugged and grinned. "I dunno. I was bored and hoping you'd come up with something." His heart was pounding, and he was proud of the fact that not an iota of lust--
(No, no. I'm not lusting after Keith. I'm already with him. I think.)
--seeped through and tipped Keith off to the kinky designs Lance had on his friend's body.
"Great. Well. We could always play basketball."
"Sure." Lance stepped aside, bowed low. "Lead the way, mon capitanne."
The words were out before he thought about them, and the sounded right, which was strange. But that shouldn't be strange. Because they had memories of the award ceremony and--
A wave of pain swept over them, locking the questioning voices away in a dark, lonely place, clearing the memories from their heads.
Lance blinked his eyes past the tears, watched Keith shake his head as if he were confused about something. What were they just talking about?
"What--" Keith paused, frowned. "Basketball. It's. We're playing basketball today. Because it's Saturday."
Lance nodded slowly. Right. They were going to play basketball. They always played basketball on Saturday. Lance was ahead, slightly, in total number of games won.
"Right. I'm going to kick your ass today." The words sounded strange, foreign in his ears. They sounded like hollow echoes of words already spoken.
"Hah. You've just been lucky lately." Keith's bravado was flat, almost as if he was forcing himself to say these words. "I'm better than you and you know it."
"Just put the ball where your mouth is."
"Hunk?" Allura touched the man's arm, almost not noticing the tight muscle in her worry. "What's wrong."
"I. I'm not sure. It's like. It's like I can remember being seventeen, and I can remember being eighteen and nineteen and everything past that, and coming to Arus and Voltron--" another spasm of pain crossed Hunk's face "--but it's like I can't at the same time. And there are. There are these memories. Like, I remember going to the senior prom a couple of months ago. But that can't be right, because a couple of months ago I was here. I was fixing a lion. And it hurts. Oh god, it hurts so much every time I try to hold onto my real memories." Hunk grimaced again. His eyes were closed and a tear slipped out to wend its lonely way down his cheek. "I'm. The real me is being covered by these, these false memories. I'm losing myself!"
"What about the others?" Romelle asked. "Do you know if they're experiencing this too?"
"I don't. I don't know. Sometimes, I think so. Sometimes, they say something, something about our future, about Voltron and Arus. And then they forget what they just said."
"Hmm." Allura looked grim. "Haggar. We need to get in touch with Haggar."