Rule 2: Shiro, much as we acknowledge your weird love of shitty Garrison mac and cheese, please just eat the good mac and cheese Hunk made for you. Don't make Hunk cry, Shiro.

"Lance, do you know what this means?"

Four of the Paladins of Voltron were gathered in the grass-filled area of the Castle of Lions Allura had graciously donated to house Kaltenecker, recently picked up during their trip to the Space Mall. Lance and Pidge had stormed in after their attempt to get their hard-won video game working had run into an… obvious in hindsight snag. Keith, curious, had followed them in. And Hunk?

Clearly, Hunk had been brainstorming.

"Well, unless you're suddenly getting a craving for beef-" Lance answered, only to be interrupted by Pidge jumping in front of him with her arms crossed.

"Which we're not doing!"

"Yeah, which we're not doing, I got nothing."

Grinning like a madman, Hunk tsked and waggled his finger at his teammates. "I've been fiddling around with the Castle's food goo machines, and I can have it make…" He paused, clearly in thought. "A lot of ingredients. Like, say, pasta."

No response.

"C'mon, guys, do I have to spell it out for you?" Still no response. Growling, Hunk threw up his hands. "Alright, fine, I guess I will spell it out for you: dairy was one of the things the castle can't produce. But now that I have a milk source, I can make cheese. And if I can make cheese…"

Lance and Pidge's eyes widened, the light shining off of unshed tears. "You mean…" Pidge breathed reverentially. "You can make your special mac and cheese?"

"Got it in one!" Turning to Keith, Hunk added, "You might wanna cover your ears."

And indeed, Pidge and Lance grabbed each other and squeed. There was no other word for the soundless squeal of unadulterated joy they let out.

"Huh, didn't know Lance could go that high…"

"Why are they so excited?" Keith cut in. "It's just mac and cheese."

Hunk whirled on the red paladin, and he took a step back. With the blazing fury the other paladin was showing, you'd think Keith had just insulted his mother or something.

And then, it was gone, replaced by joviality. "Keith, my man, I know you lived out in a hermit hut in the desert for who knows how long-"

"Hermit hut?!"

"But that's okay. It means I get the chance to correct your appalling ignorance."

"Look," Keith replied. "If Garrison mac and cheese is-"

"Wait, you've only had Garrison mac and cheese?!" Hunk incredulously interrupted.

"Er, yes?"

Before Keith could react, Hunk grabbed him and pulled him into a bear hug, sobbing quietly. "Oh, you poor deprived soul. It's even worse than I thought!"

"Get off of me!" Keith growled, shoving away the larger paladin. "Also, how are you going to get the milk? Do you even know how to milk a cow?"

"Of course I-!" Hunk began, only to droop. "Oh." Then he perked up again. "Well, how hard could it be?"

"Hard enough that you should step aside and let an expert handle this!" came Lance's smug voice.

Hunk and Keith both turned around in surprise. "Really?" Keith commented.

"My dad was always the one who got me a summer job, and he always picked a local farm," Lance said proudly, before shuddering. "Trust me, milking cows is a lot better than detassling corn. Never again…"

"Ugh, farms," Pidge spat. "Everything I hate about nature, except worse."

"Anyway, just let the Lanster handle this!" Lance declared, rolling up his sleeves. "Hunk, go get the rest of the ingredients ready! And Pidge, educate Keith on the glories of Hunk's mac and cheese!"

"Yes sir!" the two paladins barked, before grabbing Keith and dragging him out.

"Hey, let me go!"


"Oh, I can't wait!" Princess Allura said excitedly, rocking back and forth in her chair. "Earth foods are so interesting, even the basic ones, and this dish actually has Lance and Pidge excited!"

Coran nodded, fingers twirling one end of his mustache. "Quite right, Princess! Though I do hope it's not a repeat of the burritos."

Both Alteans shuddered at the memory; capsaicin was a chemical weapon, not a food flavoring, dammit!

The door to the mess slid open, drawing them both out of the traumatic memory and allowing Shiro to walk in.

"I heard there was mac and cheese," he said, a wistful look passing over his face. "Ah, that reminds me of the mac and cheese they served at the Galaxy Garrison."


The wistful look passed, and Shiro looked over at Keith, who was eyeing him incredulously.

"You actually liked the Garrison mac and cheese? It's the only mac and cheese I've had, and even I think it was awful!"

"Er, yes?" Shiro said, confused. "Best I've ever had, actually."

"Food's ready!" Hunk suddenly announced, forestalling any further objections on Keith's part.

Held in the paladin's mitt-covered hands was an open casserole dish, steam wafting out. That wasn't all that was wafting out; Allura, Coran, and even Keith all felt salive pool in their mouths at the smell the dish was producing. Keith knew it as cheese, baked to browned perfection. The Alteans just knew it smelled heavenly and unfamiliar. Lance and Pidge trailing behind Hunk like lovesick puppies was just more encouragement.

Curiously, Shiro did little more than frown.

Soon, the mac and cheese was distributed, along with sporks, and Allura, Keith, and Coran took their first bites.

And immediately rocked back on their heels. The mac and cheese was soft and gooey in their mouth, but also complemented by a browned crust laden with breadcrumbs, or something like breadcrumbs. And the flavor! More than just cheese, it was also lightly salted and sprinkled with black pepper and some other spice none of them could quite identify. In isolation, the flavors were amazing. Together?

A blink, and suddenly the trio found themselves not on the Castle of Lions in the mess hall, but under a blue sky on top of a verdant green hill, a tableau of mooing cows and swaying grain stretching all the way to the horizon. A sense of great peace swept over them.

And then the moment was gone, and their plates were clean.

"Seconds?" Hunk offered with a knowing grin.

"Of course!" Allura replied. "This is amazing, Hunk! I-I don't even have the words to describe this!"

"The poets of old Altea would have a field day with this… mac and cheese!" Coran added. "Hunk, m'boy, I do believe you've- Keith, are you crying?"

"Huh?" Reaching up, Keith wiped away part of the line of tears that had been running down his cheek. "Oh. I guess I am."

"Don't feel too bad, Keith," Lance said smugly. "I cried a bit when I first had Hunk's mac and cheese, it's nothing to feel ashamed about."

Pidge, smugly, "Don't sugarcoat it, you were sobbing in joy."

"Hey, you swore you'd never tell!" Lance howled.

"No, I swore to never share it on the galaxynet. Telling someone in person is totally fair game!"

Chuckling nervously at the burgeoning argument, Hunk turned to the last person at the table. "So, what'd you think, Shiro?"

An odd expression flashed over Shiro's face. "It's… not bad," he hedged.

"Not bad?!" just about everyone shouted.

"It's not Garrison mac and cheese, that's for sure. In fact, I'm not sure I want to finish this."


Dead. Silence. Incredulity at Shiro's utter lack of taste buds warred with concern at the sudden sniffling sound, concern when everyone actually saw the tears brimming in Hunk's eyes.

"Y-You don't like my mac and cheese, Shiro?" he said, sounding way too much like a little kid that had brought home his kindergarten painting.

"W-Well, it's not that I don't like it," Shiro tried.

Allura, though, wasn't having any of it.

"Now you listen here," she said as she loomed over Shiro. "Ah… does anyone know Shiro's full name?"

"Takeshi Shirogane," Pidge intoned, her glasses opaque through the light shining on them and her hands clasped in front of her mouth.

"Now you listen here, Takeshi Shirogane. Hunk worked very hard to make this superb mac and cheese for you, so you are going to eat it. Unless you want to make Hunk cry." She leaned closer. "Do you?"

Sweating, Shiro looked around for some support. Pidge, the traitor, was out, naturally, and so was Hunk. Lance… well, if he could shoot lasers from his eyes, the black paladin would be a scorch mark on the floor. Coran was just shaking his head. And Keith… Keith looked disappointed in him. And that hurt worst of all.

And besides, it wasn't like the mac and cheese was bad.

Sighing, he scooped up another sporkful of the dish. "Alright, I'll at least finish my plate. Happy?"

Very, if the smiles on everyone's faces were genuine.