For the heck of it, I decided to rewrite and expand on my idea of how Coran figures out dealing with Slav.
The multi-armed alien is curled in a tight little ball under a console in the Lions’ hanger when Coran finds him, having been tipped off by Yellow and the muttered sound of dire predictions.
A strange fellow this Slav may be, but he knows how to deal with the sight of someone having bad nightmares, and very gently taps a hand clamped over an ear with one of the cold bottles he’s carrying. “Easy, it’s just me,” he says when that draws a yelp and a frenzied attempt to curl up even smaller. “Come out of there and rehydrate before you sweat yourself to nothing.”
“I have only a twelve per cent possibility of being able to die of dehydration in my current condition,” Slav mumbles, but slinks out of his hidey-hole nonetheless.
The bags under his eyes are pretty spectacular.
Coran gently waves the offered bottle in front of his face, and Slav eyes it suspiciously before snatching it and cracking the seal, sniffing at the spicy-sweet contents. “Belai? Why would you keep this in stock?”
He shrugs. “It’s a good idea to be stocked for everything,” he says as if that actually answers the question instead of dodges it, and pretends not to notice the very obvious change in the way Slav looks at him.
Maybe he answered more accurately than he wanted to. Oh, well.
He takes a seat on a mechanic’s stool and his slithery little drinking buddy clambers up onto the console and takes a swig. “More bad dreams about other realms?” Coran asks once Slav has had enough that the question won’t send him into a complete frenzy.
“Oh, my, yes. Always. So many. And the percentages of them happening are so high. There is a ninety-eight per cent possibility that our rescue mission on Rurikora will end with seven children dead and ourselves in captivity. Eighty-six per cent-”
“Slav. Have you ever tried not thinking about the likely timelines?” Coran asks, and Slav looks up from his bottle with a head-tilt that reminds him of Allura when she was a toddler.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, try imagining something completely outlandish. Like… Pidge becoming Queen of the Turimonquans.”
Slav blinks at him, then snorts out a barking noise that sounds like a laugh. “But that only has an-”
“Don’t tell me the percentage.”
“W-what? But you said-”
Coran thinks, tapping a fingertip against his own bottle. “Tell me… tell me what her coronation outfit looks like.”
And that, he discovers, is the secret. Never talk about the percentages. Percentages bring anxiety, and an anxious, stressed Slav is a bundle of nervous energy that drives the entire crew off the handle.
So instead, every time Coran gets that itch up the back of his neck that means a certain alien is somewhere in the Castle having a breakdown, he quietly fishes a couple of bottles of Belai out of the cooling chambers, digs Slav out of wherever he’s hiding-
-and they talk.
About other timelines, mostly. Worlds that never happened, or have the slimmest chances of happening. But never in percentages. Instead, Coran always asks for visions, images, what Slav sees as his mind reaches out into those pathways that wind before and behind them.
“There is a timeline where we all really do end up becoming space pirates,” Slav says as he rolls his bottle back and forth between his paws.
“Yeah?” Coran takes a drink. “What are you wearing for your pirating outfit?”
“For some reason, I have many, many earrings. I do not understand. It seems very inefficient to have so many earrings.”
“Maybe it makes you look tough.”
“Hm. I have always wondered what it would be like to be the frightening-looking one for a change.”
“I don’t understand how you can put up with him,” Allura mutters when she notices the alien curled up peacefully beside him in a snoozing lump. “If I have to kick him off the piloting controls one more time, I’m going to scream.”
Coran absently pets an ear, and Slav mutters in his sleep, not about probability, but about energy sails and swords. “Just have to give him the right outlet, that’s all.”