Pidge was perched on the counter, fiddling with the computer. Her frown deepened as she tapped the mouse again.
“Still giving you problems?” Hunk asked, tugging a few dead leaves off a rose bush before checking the soil.
Pidge glared at him over her glasses. “I keep telling you not to let Coran use the computer. Every time he clicks on anything, BOOM! Virus.”
“Welcome to our world.” Hunk tucked a crystal next to some wilting snapdragons before adding water. “It’s been running slow all week and keeps messing up payments. It was taking so long yesterday, I thought this lady was going to throw something at me. Then it messed up the supply list and scheduled the delivery a week late. Not to mention, half of the plants have been wilting and I can’t figure out why! Worst day ever.”
“What about the time I almost burned your kitchen down?” Pidge asked, tapping the keyboard a few times before groaning.
Hunk frowned. “Second worst day, then.”
The door swung open, the wind chime announcing a new arrival. Hunk turned, calling a cheerful, “Welcome to Altean Gardens! How can I help– oh it’s you. Nevermind.”
Pidge and Hunk both rolled their eyes as Lance saunter into the store. He was grinning, clutching his woven satchel to his side while rainwater dripped from his soaked form.
“I am way too pumped for your negativity! It’s raining!” he cheered, flinging water across the room with each movement.
“We see that,” Pidge answered flatly before turning back to the computer.
“You’re also late,” Hunk added, glancing at the clock. “We’re you supposed to come in early to help with pruning?”
Lance’s smile dropped as his eyes widened. “I thought that wasn’t till Wednesday!”
Pidge snorted. “It is Wednesday.”
“What? Seriously!?” The others nodded slowly. “Quiznack! I’m so sorry, Hunk. I’ve been busy with prepping for a ritual and lost track of the days.”
Hunk smiled. “No worries, man. I did half of the greenhouse. Just take care of the other half and I’ll watch the front.”
Lance’s guilty frown melted into a blinding smile as he reached to throw his arms around Hunk. “You’re the best! We don’t deserve how perfect you are, Hunk!”
“Ah, no! No hugs! Go dry off first!” Hunk shrieked, dodging out of reach and running into the back room. “And you better mop up the floor before someone slips!”
“Fine! You can’t run from my hugs forever!” Lance plopped his dripping bag on the counter as he reached underneath for a towel. Pidge eyed the forming puddle, scooting herself and the computer out of reach as Lance wrung out his shirt and dried his hair.
“So does this ritual have anything to do with you coming in like a half drowned cat?”
“First of all, rude,” Lance sniffed, tossing the towel at Pidge’s head. A hanging ivy vine snatched it out of the air, tossing it in the backroom before dangling innocently again. “Secondly, yes it does. There’s a full moon coming up and I want to take a trip to the beach. I’m almost out of rainwater, though, so I had to get all my bottles set up on the roof.”
“Right,” Pidge nodded, eyes still glued to the computer screen. “And you couldn’t just set up some bottles here?”
“What do you think’s in the bag?” Lance asked, nudging the bag. A tinkle of glass rattled from inside. He set it on a second towel to dry and went to the closet to dig out the mop. “I’m going to add a few things to these, though. Bit of rose here, some lavender there, stuff like that. It might be useful to bring.”
“Is that all?”
Lance frowned, pausing in his clean up. “Well I have some crystals from Hunk, some dried herbs, and I’m going to get some more sea water and shells from Plaxum while I’m there…”
“No, I meant did you need anything else for the ritual? Or in general?” Pidge said, setting the computer aside as it rebooted.
“Uhh well I don’t know. Why? Did you get some new stuff?”
Pidge’s answering grin made him nervous. “Not exactly. There’s a new shop opening up nearby and I can get a good deal if you need something.”
The mop clattered to the ground as Lance rushed back over to the counter. “What? A new shop? Where? Is it across town? What’s it called? What did you do to blackmail them already?”
Pidge smacked Lance’s arm and he shut his mouth against the tide of questions.
“Yes new shop. It’s called the Lion’s Den. I’m not telling you anything about my blackmailing. And it’s across the street.”
“Like down Olkarion? Is it over by Daibazaal Street? You know I don’t like that side of town–”
“No Lance,” Pidge interrupted, grabbing him by his still damp shirt and dragging him to the store window. “It’s literally across the street.”
She pointed to the building opposite of Altean Garden. It was a red brick structure, old but sturdy, squeezed between two other shops. One side had enough space for a fire escape to lead from the third story to the narrow alley below.
Lance laughed, leaning heavily on Pidge. “What?! Slav finally got someone to buy that dump?”
Pidge ducked out from under him, smirking at the following squawk as Lance nearly toppled over a display of herbs and spices. “They’re planning on renovating the place.”
Lance threw her a dirty look as he marched back over to pick up the fallen mop. “This place could use a makeover. Maybe we can hire them here instead of dealing with that lost cause.”
“That’s Allura’s decision, not mine,” Pidge answered, turning her attention back to the computer. “And you better be nice when they get here or you’ll ruin our best chance of getting discounts.”
“Who said I was planning on shopping there anyways?” Lance huffed.
“Because you’re too impatient to wait for anything online.”
“Well excuse me for not wanting to wait a week when I need something. And I sure as hell not going to pay thirty dollars for same day shipping,” Lance said, pointing the end of the mop at Pidge. “It’s highway robbery, I tell you.”
Pidge dodged the spray of water flung her way. “Yeah sure or you can just plan ahead and wait a week like the rest of us. Speaking of; HUNK THE COMPUTER’S FIXED!”
“Thank you!” Hunk’s disembodied voice floated from the backroom as Pidge started tossing things into her backpack.
“And now I have to catch Matt before his shift is over. I don’t like tempting pneumonia unlike some people!”
“You should try it sometime!” Lance called as she jogged out the door. “It might wash away some of your salty attitude!”
One of the hanging vines hovered over and pushed the door open enough for a hand to reach back in, flip him off, then disappear. Lance just laughed, turning his attention back to the mop to clean up the rest of his mess.