It was strange, seeing someone so human after so long without doing so. The two people before them were in the most beautiful clothing any of the paladins had ever seen before, dressed in colors they didn't even know existed. The woman smiled up at them, her golden hair swaying in the wind, while the man stared at them with a blank expression. When the castle's door opened and the paladins stepped off, the two natives stepped forward.
"Welcome to Latvia," the woman greeted. "My name is Needle, and this is Jacquard." She waved to the man standing beside her, snapping her fingers at him. "Jac, be nice, they're our guests."
The man, Jacquard, grunted out at her in reply, turning to the paladins and nodding at them. "That's the best you'll get from me," he stated gruffly. "We're here to escort you to our elder's tent. This way, please."
He turned on his heel and began to walk away. The paladins blinked at his retreating form in shock. "Please pardon him," Needle said, wrapping an arm around Allura's, "he's not much of a people person."
"Then why is he a part of this guild?" Allura asked, allowing herself to be led away.
"Our business goes through our elder," Needle explained, "and then gets filtered out to us. He never meets with clients, unless they're actually from here. He's not the most...diplomatic of people I'm afraid."
"You seem to know him pretty well."
Needle smiled at Allura's comment, letting a soft chuckle leave her lips. "I would hope so," she replied, "he's my husband."
The sound of machines working reached their ears before they entered the tent. Needle pushed back the curtain in the doorway, waving the paladins in after her. "Don't worry, there's plenty of space for everyone," she said.
"Are you sure?" Hunk asked. "It looks really small."
"We might need some people sitting on laps," Lance joked. "Pidge, ready to be a kid again?" Pidge shrugged in reply, too busy taking in the land around her to care much.
"You seem to have a strategic advantage here," Allura commented as she, too, took in her surroundings. "Mountains protecting you from one side, the sea on the other, and green grass all around you. It's perfect for gardening."
"Yuck!" a voice inside the tent yelled, making Needle laugh. "Grass green, I hate that color!"
"Everyone knows!" Needle yelled back. "That's why you got a green blanket for your last birthday!" She laughed jovially as the voice made the sound of a dying animal, as if he were physically in pain. "Please, come in."
Finally, the paladins did as they were told, stepping into the tent and immediately were amazed. Needle wasn't wrong when she said there was plenty of room for them all, the tent was much larger on the inside than it was on the outside. Several plush couches were arranged around a raised platform, pillows on the ground for larger parties that spilled onto the floor. The walls were draped in fabrics of all colors and patterns, all textures and thicknesses. There were even multiple rooms. A girl around eleven rushed into one of them, revealing where the machine noise came from. It was a sewing machine.
"Patch!" Needle called. The girl stuck her head back out of the room while a person wrapped in gray robes walked into the main area. "Where's our elder?"
"Baby," Patch replied, rushing back into the room. Needle huffed and turned back to the gray-robed person. "Bobbin, meet the paladins of Voltron." She waved her arms to the people standing behind her, some of whom waved a little shyly.
"Ah, I was wondering who you were talking to," Bobbin said. He was the one that had been complaining about the color green. "Hello," he added, holding out his hand for them to shake. "My wife will be out in a moment. She's trying to get our son down for his nap."
"You have a child?" Allura asked, a slight hint of interest in her voice.
"Yes," Bobbin replied, "but he's a bit of a devil. He's walking, though he's still a bit wobbly, but that doesn't deter him from destruction. Destroyed a dress my wife had been working on for weeks just before she was supposed to be done. She cried all night, but the other Seamstresses helped her remake the whole thing."
"Oh." Allura looked a bit crestfallen. "Still, you could let him come out here with us." Bobbin tilted his head a little, but turned when he heard a faint giggle behind him. They all looked at the little baby as he walked toward his father, wrapped in an olive-gold colored robe. He giggled again and reached up to his father.
"Eros!" a woman complained, rushing out of another room to find the boy. She sighed when she saw him in his father's arms. "Ah, you little devil, let's get to bed. Come on." She held her arms out, but the little boy made a noise and wrapped his arms around his father's neck.
"Tailor, the paladins," Bobbin whispered to her, nodding in their direction. She turned and pushed a lock of her brown hair from her hazel eyes, looking tired and worn, older than she probably was.
"Yes, yes," she said and waved for them to take a seat. "I'm sorry, he's been rather fussy lately." She turned back to her husband. "Can you watch him during our meeting?"
"I have to meet the other Weavers," Bobbin replied. "You know how those meetings go."
Tailor sighed and nodded. "Patch!?" Again, the girl popped her head out of her workroom, looking a little irritated. "Can you watch your brother?"
"He's her brother?" Lance asked softly to Pidge. "She looks much too close in age to the Seamstress to be her daughter."
"Probably adopted," the green paladin replied.
"In about three hours, maybe," Patch replied. "We're backed up on orders, with this ball coming up. Maybe you could go ask the hunters?"
"They leave soon," Tailor pointed out. "I can't ask them to delay their return to the Range more than they already have."
"We could watch him," Shiro suggested, finally speaking up. "You don't need us all here, and it might help to have less people here trying to talk." Tailor and Bobbin shrugged, but some of the other paladins protested, Allura among them.
"We should all be here," she said, "You especially. You're the leader of Voltron."
"Yes, but I'm not a designer," Shiro pointed out. "Lance is better with that kind of thing, more than me."
"I'm a design expert," Tailor pointed out. "All I need from you is your measurements and what you need this for, along with payment."
"See?" Shiro said. "Easy. You don't need us all here."
Eros turned around in his father's arms to look at the man who was speaking and held out his arms. Shiro took the child when Bobbin offered him. Eros looked up at him with big green eyes before lightly smacking him in the face with a slobbery hand. Shiro's head snapped back instinctively while Eros giggled cheerily.
"Aww, he likes you," Lance cooed, crouching down slightly so he was face-to-face with the boy. Eros giggled and flailed his arm in a way that resembled a wave. Lance held out his hand and let the boy grab ahold of his finger.
"Alright," Allura sighed, "if you must watch the child, that's fine. But we do need to get on with our meeting."
"Alright," Shrio said, a triumphant smile on his lips. "Keith, Pidge, let's go."
"What?" both of them asked. Shiro just waved for them to follow him.
"Wait!" Keith yelled as Coran pulled him out of the tent. "I'm not even a paladin anymore, don't subject me to this torture!"
"You think I want to go?" Pidge mumbled to him in irritation. "I wanted to see what kind of technology they have here. How did they make their tent larger on the inside than it is on the outside? How do they fight? Apparently, the largest Galra Empire massacre happened here."
"It did," Coran pipped up. "No one knows what really happened because no Galra soldier returned, but I mean, that's quite the accomplishment!"
Shiro turned to face Coran when he heard him talk. "Coran, I didn't ask you to come," he said. "Shouldn't you be with Allura?"
"She'll be fine," Coran replied with the wave of a hand. "I want to make sure nothing happens to the castle with the baby there. You know how they can be. Besides, I am rather fond of children, I wouldn't miss the opportunity to play with one for the world."
Eros seemed to like the words he heard, cooing and giggling, reaching out to Coran. The older man reached out and took the child, holding him up against his shoulder. "You're quite a happy baby aren't you?" he cooed. He continued to speak to Eros like that until they made it to the castle, where they all realized they had nothing to entertain a child.
"We can make something, I'm sure," Pidge said, walking into the castle. Once they were inside, she collapsed onto a couch. "You know what, Shiro? I'm glad you told me to come with you," she commented. "I'm way more tired than I thought I was. Maybe I'll take a nap."
"Pidge, you're here to help watch the baby," Shiro replied. "You could at least pretend to help."
"I've got some things that could be used as toys in my room," Pidge stated lazily, waving her hand around in the air, "does that count as pretending to help?"
"Only if you go and get them."
She huffed and stood back up, heading off to her room to look for something passable as a baby toy. The other three sat down with the child, who immediately pulled himself up onto his legs. He put out one shaky leg, then another, and another, walking from Coran to Shrio, who held out his hands to help Eros from one person to the next. "Yay!" they both cheered while Eros giggled happily.
"Now over to Keith," Shiro said and turned Eros to Keith, who looked nervous. "What? Don't like kids?"
"Never really interacted with them," Keith replied. "I know in theory how to take care of them, but that's theory. Actually doing it is...different."
Eros launched himself from Shiro's grasp and toward Keith, who rushed forward to grab the boy before he fell and hurt himself. A loud laugh left Eros' lips as he was lifted into Keith's arms.
"See, you're doing great!" Coran cheered.
"I don't feel like I am," Keith replied, still looking nervous. "He almost fell!"
"Babies are quite durable people," Coran pointed out, "I'm sure he'd be just fine." Eros wiggled in Keith's grip, wanting to be put down. Hesitantly, Keith lowered him to the ground and let him go, keeping a keen eye on him as he began to explore the area.
"Would either of you ever have kids?" Coran asked as he watched Eros take careful steps, scared in the unfamiliar environment with no one to help him. He turned around around and rushed back to Keith, who wrapped his arms around him comfortingly.
"He really likes you," Shiro commented.
"Yes, you're a real baby magnet!" Coran cheered. "It must be because you're the closest in age to his parents here."
Keith's head snapped around to face him. "How old are they?" he asked. Eros squirmed in his arms, so he let the little boy go, wandering the room again. He made a noise of distress, looking around for his parents.
"Eighteen," Coran said. "Almost nineteen!"
"They're eighteen?" Keith asked. "Eighteen with a ten month old baby?"
"Mama?" Eros asked, looking around for her. He looked back at Keith with scared eyes and, Keith assumed, a little pout. He couldn't see the baby's face under his hood.
"Mama's not here," Shiro replied. "She's working."
The three men exchanged a confused look, unsure of what baba meant. "Baba?" He walked over to Keith again and flailed his arms. "Baba! Mama!"
"I think Baba means Dad," Keith said. "I think he wants his parents."
"But they're not here," Coran replied. Eros looked between them all, mumbling out "Mama" and "Baba" as he wandered around again, trying to find his parents. When he couldn't find them, he stopped walking, looking at them all again.
"Maybe he understands they're not here?" Pidge asked softly as she entered the room again. Just as she was about to hand Eros the toys she found for him, he started screaming as loud as he could.
"QUIZNAK!" Coran yelled, jumping up high in the air.
"Hey, hey," Shiro tried to say over the screaming, but his voice was barely audible over them. Eros walked back over to Keith, no longer screaming, just crying very loudly. Confused, Keith let the boy hug him, looking to the others to tell him what to do.
"Looks like you're doing great Keith!" Pidge announced and ran out of the room.
"I'm going to go see if there's anything we can make for dinner," Shiro said, also rushing out of the room. Keith turned his eyes to Coran, who looked just as lost and confused as the younger man felt.
"I'll go get his parents," he said with a sigh, leaving Keith alone as he left to go find Tailor and Bobbin. Inexperienced and an only child, Keith didn't know what to do to calm the crying baby.
"I can't believe I'm about to say this," he mumbled to himself, pulling Eros closer if only to muffle the cries, "but what would Lance do?" Lance had younger siblings and was apparently really good with kids. He groaned when only one idea presented itself.
"Hey, Eros," he cooed, mustering up his best his best baby voice. "Mama and Baba will be here soon, okay? So let's stop crying and play a game!" He reached over and grabbed one of the toys Pidge left behind when she'd come in earlier. He stopped crying, only a few sniffles coming out as he reached for the toy. "That's right, this is fun." He sighed in relief when Eros started giggling again, throwing the toy around the room.
When Eros got bored of the toys he turned to Keith again. He watched him expectantly, wanting him to do something. "I got nothing," Keith said, as if the child would understand. Eros flailed his arm toward a blanket haphazardly thrown across the back of the couch. "Are you cold?"
He pulled the blanket down from the couch and moved to wrap it around Eros. When it was between them, blocking Keith from the baby's view, it slipped from his hands and fell. Eros giggled cheerily and clapped his little hands, not knowing that Keith's heart and stomach just sank. "Oh no," he muttered. Eros wanted to play the ultimate baby game.
Grow up and just do it Keith thought to himself. Eros is a baby and you don't want him screaming at the top of his lungs again, do you? He shivered at the thought and raised up the blanket again. "Peek a boo!" he said when he dropped it again, much to the delight of the baby, who giggled loudly and clapped again and honestly, it was infectious. Keith couldn't help but smile and laugh along with the baby. He picked up the blanket again to continue playing.
Keith wondered how long a baby could enjoy round after round of such a boring "game", and the baby voice he was using was beginning to grate on his nerves. "Don't you want to play something else?" he asked, baby voice gone, and reached for one of the toys Pidge had brought. Eros made a noise in the back of his throat before he started crying again, loudly.
"Okay, okay, we'll keep playing peek a boo!" Keith cried out in shock, picking the blanket up again and dropping it, his voice sickeningly sweet and annoyingly adorable. Fatigue marred his face, but Eros didn't notice, or even know, instead clapping and giggling each time.
On the end table, a phone-like device began to ring, shocking the room's occupants. Keith reached over and picked it up, greeted by the annoyingly smug face of Lance in another sub-par selfie. "Hello," Keith answered, keeping up the baby talk voice.
"Woah, dude, are you alright?" Lance asked. "You sound weird."
"I'm fine," Keith cooed, attacking Eros' cheeks with the toy in his hand to keep the baby occupied. "What do you want?"
"Well, now I just want to hear you baby-talk," Lance laughed in reply. "It's too damn hilarious."
"The last time I stopped with this voice, the baby started crying. Now I understand why Bobbin called him a devil. He may be cute, but he's evil." Keith was rather annoyed by the laughter on the other end of the phone. "I'm putting you on speaker so I can subject you to this torture."
"Say hi, Eros!"
The baby made a noise at the phone and Lance sighed. "Hi, Ewos!" Lance cooed back at him. "You forget yourself, Keith. I have younger siblings and all, I can do this all day!" Eros giggled at the cheery voice on the other end of the phone.
"When you get back here, I'm going to acquaint your face with my fist," Keith sang in reply. "What do you want?"
"Our meeting is over, Tailor said you can come back now. Also, did you notice you were alone on the ship?"
"I was wondering where everyone went."
"Yeah, even Shrio hightailed it back here. Bobbin and Tailor just laughed when he explained the baby had a meltdown."
Keith scoffed. Everyone always thought Shiro would make a wonderful parent, and there he was, running away at the first instance of a meltdown, leaving the most inexperienced person in the universe to watch over a baby.
"Tell him I make a better babysitter than him, anyway," Keith cooed. "I calmed Eros down with a game a peek a boo."
"No way!" Lance yelled, causing Eros to hiccup and start to cry again. Keith took Lance off of speaker, deciding to multitask his way out of the situation.
"What's so shocking about that?" he asked as he pulled Eros in closer.
"I can't imagine you playing peek a boo," Lance replied matter-of-factly. "There's no way the broody Keith Kogane would ever play peek a boo."
"I'm using a baby voice, aren't I?" Keith retorted. "I have more tricks up my sleeve than you can imagine, McClain."
The usual baby talk wasn't working, though, so Keith put the phone down, still in conversation with Lance, and started to hum to the baby. He didn't know any children's songs, at least, he couldn't remember any, so he just started humming some vaguely familiar tunes. He even completely forgot Lance was on the phone as Eros curled up against his chest and fell asleep.
"Keith," Lance said after several minutes of silence.
"He fell asleep!" Keith cheered softly when he picked up the phone again. "Holy shit, Lance, he fell asleep!"
"No way," Lance said, "there's no way you got him to fall asleep. I won't believe it until I see it. Which should be soon, by the way we're all waiting for you to get here."
"Fine, fine, I'm on my way."
Keith hung up and cradled Eros in his arms as he stood, making sure to be careful enough not to wake the baby. He wrapped the blanket around both of them, the temperature having dropped significantly in the hours they'd been on the ship. The walk seemed much shorter on the way back than it had on the way there, and before he knew it, he was back in the Seamstress' tent.
"There's my little boy," Tailor cooed as she scooped Eros into her arms. The little boy's eyes opened and he looked up at his mother.
"Mama!" he cried out and hugged her as best he could. "Quiznak!"
Silence filled the air. Tailor turned to Bobbin, confusion written on her face, while the paladins looked on in horror at what the baby had said. Keith slowly turned to face Coran, who tried to act innocent.
"Oh, Keith, my boy," the older man said, twirling his mustache around his finger, "what have you done to the poor child."
"I didn't once say that around the baby," Keith hissed. "In fact, I've never said it at all. You on the other hand-"
"Don't be preposterous!"
"Excuse me," Tailor interrupted, "but what exactly does quiznak even mean?"
Everyone looked at her, then each other, no one knowing what to say. "It's the Altean equivalent of fuck," Lance finally explained.
"Oh, so you do know what it means," Keith commented. "Bravo."
Tailor and Bobbin looked at each other again before they burst out laughing. Everyone looked at them in confusion before they started to awkwardly chuckle along with them. "Well, I guess the tradition lives on," the seamstress commented, wiping away a stray tear. "My first word was fuck as well."
"I'll put him to bed," Bobbin said when he noticed his son dozing off in his wife's arms. Tailor handed him over and turned back to the paladins.
"Do you need anyone to escort you to your ship?" she asked.
"No, I think we'll be fine," Allura replied, stepping up to shake Tailor's hand. "Thank you for everything."
"Of course," Tailor replied. "You're always welcome here if you need anything."
With one final wave, the paladins set off to the ship once more, watching the scenery behind them shrink as they took off.