Actions

Work Header

Small Fierce Things

Work Text:

Was Pidge right-handed or left-handed? Shiro couldn't remember, and that bothered him. It seemed like a basic thing a good leader should know, but when he pictured Pidge with her bayard his memory wavered, showing it now in one hand, now in the other. She'd been barely awake, coming out of the healing pod, so weak she hadn't even tried to hold the the cup of nourishing goo-broth Hunk had made for her. Hunk had held it carefully to her lips so she could take a few sips.

The stump of Pidge's right arm, severed just below the elbow, was hidden now, tucked away neatly beneath the blankets. The healing pod did good work; the end was smooth and pink, no jagged scar or raw healing burns (Shiro clenched his jaw as he remembered the smell of charred flesh and armor as he'd re-cauterized the wound with his cybernetic arm, the choked-off sound Pidge had made)...but it couldn't grow back an entire hand. It had stabilized her, but it hadn't really replaced the lost blood, so much, from her small body. It was strange to see that expressive face so still and pale, and the fingers of her left hand felt cold in Shiro's grasp. His metal hand could provide no additional warmth, but Pidge's hand was small enough to completely enfold with his human one. She sighed once, deeply, and then was still, and Shiro felt his heart stop until she took another breath, and then another, and another, light but steady.

His vision blurred and he pressed his forehead down against the top of their hands, part exhaustion, part atonement, feeling tears burn behind his eyelids. Her fingers felt impossibly small to be capable of so much, swift and agile and clever as her mind, tapping away, pulling miracle after miracle from alien technology. She was just a kid. All of them were, but especially Pidge. Just a kid, but no longer a child, she had saved his life, all their lives, more than once, and he was so proud of her sometimes he thought his heart might break. She was a Paladin of Voltron to the core and she could more than take care of herself...but he shouldn't have let this happen. He should have prevented it...somehow.

A soft step, and a hand on his shoulder. Keith. "Shiro? Are you ok?"

"No," Shiro said softly to the floor, after a moment. Lifting his head seemed like an impossible feat of strength, and his eyelids felt like lead. "Not really."

"Me neither," Keith sighed, and Shiro wanted to reach out to him, say something reassuring, but his thoughts were losing coherence, a scattering of worry and images and resolve. Running through the castle with a dying Green Paladin in his arms. Coran and Allura watching the readouts of the healing pod with grim intensity, Lance rubbing at the tears streaking his face, Hunk silent and stricken. Keith showing up much later to rejoin their vigil, refusing to say where he'd been, but all the blood had been scrubbed clean from the cockpit of the Green Lion. How were they going to form Voltron? With Pidge down, they'd need to lay low for awhile, maybe for a long while. With his metal arm he'd never had to learn to be an amputee, not really, but whatever he could do he would be there for her, the whole team would be there for her, Pidge was going to be ok, she had to be, whatever she needed...

There was a heavy warmth, pressing against his side, and Shiro tried to mumble something, leaned back to let Keith know he was welcome there. He was so tired.

"Shiro, just sleep," someone said. Shiro's mind tried to rebel, what if Zarkon found them again, what if Pidge took a turn for the worse, but his body took it as the order it was and obeyed.

.....

"Why? Why did you take my hand? What do you want from me!"

Nightmare, part of Shiro's brain realized, a familiar one, but that didn't prevent the horror and helplessness from coursing through his veins. And then it was Pidge on the table instead of him, pale and still as he had last seen her, but her eyes were open now, watching him. A Galra leaned over, her attaching a cybernetic arm that was much too large for her tiny body, and Shiro, looking down, realized his right arm was missing. He faltered, confused, not sure how to feel. Of course he would give Pidge his arm, but...it was Galra tech, what would it do to her, what were they doing to her! He tried to move but his body would not obey.

Pidge watched him calmly from the table, her eyes unafraid.

"Well that's interesting," she said, although her lips didn't move. "It's like I can still feel my hand there, if I don't look."

"But it doesn't hurt at all? You're sure?"

"Hunk, it didn't even hurt when it happened, is the weird thing. Just...well, when I got back to the castle, and it started bleeding, yeah, but now...not that I want to punch anyone with it. Yet. Lance."

"Hey! I said I was sorry, right?"

"Too soon for the 'no arms and no legs' jokes, man. Too soon."

"I'll punch him for you, Pidge, until you're feeling better."

"Thanks, Keith, I knew I could count on you."

"Ok, ok, I see how it's gonna be."

The hand in his grip moved slightly, and Shiro realized he was awake, the nightmare fading. Lance's voice had only been pretending to be offended, and something in Shiro relaxed as he listened to the conversation around him, the sheer comforting familiarity of it.

"How were you even flying like that, through a whole battle, with only one hand? We didn't know anything was wrong until afterwards, and even then we just thought you'd gotten a bad batch of food goo or something."

"Me and Green, we worked it out. I don't remember much though, really."

"Well, next time you're mortally wounded, say something for Quiznak's sake, ok? 'I don't feel very good' and 'I think I'm going to be sick' just doesn't cut it. Thank goodness Shiro was worried enough to go right in the hangar after you, or we...we would have been too late." That was Lance, his voice breaking a little.

"Yeah, next time how about 'Shiro, my arm's been cut off and I'm about to bleed to death'?" Keith said.

"How about no next time, not ever. I think that was the most horrible moment of my life, when Shiro carried you in and you were..."

"I'm sorry I scared you, guys," Pidge's voice was a little subdued. "It was either lose a hand or lose a whole planet if we couldn't get the lions free from that force field."

"You were very brave, Pidge. Your sacrifice and quick thinking not only saved the Baltonians and their planet, but Voltron as well." There were high-pitched squeaking sounds, and Allura laughed. "See? Even the mice agree!"

"And you're not the first paladin to lose a limb in the line of duty, Number Five. Why, I remember Raible once, lost her whole head! Dear old lady was a better pilot headless than the other four paladins combined, with their heads still on! Ah, those were the days."

"Your meal is going to get cold, Pidge."

"I know, it's just...are you sure Shiro's ok? I'm afraid if I move I'll wake him up."

"Yeah, he will be. He just really needed a nap." Hunk yawned. "Mm, nap."

"No one got much sleep, we were all too worried about you."

"I don't think he slept at all the whole three days you were in the healing pod."

"M'okaymawake," Shiro said, or tried to, raising his head and forcing his eyes open, blinking blearily at the team. Pidge didn't need to be worrying over him, on top of everything else. Pidge looked worse than she had sounded, her face still pale and tired and her hair sticking out every which direction, more than usual, but her eyes were bright and alert, one eyebrow raised as she watched him a little skeptically.

"You don't sound ok."

Shiro cleared his throat and tried that again. "Pidge. It's good to see you awake. How do you feel?"

"Kind of hungry, actually, but I need my hand back."

Shiro nodded seriously, marshaling his thoughts into some semblance of coherence with an effort. "I know, and believe me, we're going to do everything we can to make that happen. Hunk and Coran have already drawn up plans for an Altean-tech prototype, and it might take some time but I'm sure that eventually-"

"Um, Shiro?" Shiro trailed off, blinking at her. Pidge was watching him with a concerned half-smile. "Sorry, Shiro, and that'd be great, but I meant this hand?" She wriggled it slightly in his grasp. Her fingers were warm now, and slightly sweaty. "I'd rather not have Hunk have to feed me this time."

"Oh! Yes, of course," Shiro said, releasing her hand, wincing as he realized how tightly he'd been squeezing it. "Sorry about that."

"Worried about me or something?" She shook her fingers as if getting the circulation back and grinned at him, and it was so entirely her usual Pidge-grin that Shiro couldn't help smiling back, feeling several anxious knots in his soul start to relax.

"How do you think I got this white hair?" he joked, ducking his head and ruffling his forelock. Pidge giggled, and then an enormous yawn took her and she used the stump end of her right arm cover her mouth. She'd probably been right-handed then, Shiro noted. Hunk yawned again too, and then Lance and Keith yawned in unison. Shiro's eyes watered as he resisted for a moment, and then he gave in and yawned as well.

Allura watched them all with interest, apparently unaffected, despite having a distinct tired slump to her shoulders as well. "Earthlings are so strange sometimes."

"All right, Number Five!" Coran said cheerfully, pulling a lid off of a large bowl heaped with small fluorescent purple-and-yellow squares and scooping generous helpings out onto plates. "I've prepared a special recovery meal, guaranteed to put a spring in your step. We'll have you leaping about like a sprightly globinheffer in no time! There's enough for everyone, dig in now, don't be shy!"

"And then more sleep, I think, before the yawning gets any worse," Allura said as Coran set a plate in front of Pidge with a flourish, and then distributed plates to everyone else.

Pidge twirled her spork experimentally, somewhat awkwardly, and managed to nudge a few colorful squares onto it. She looked up and Shiro realized he was watching her, along with everyone else. "Everyone's going to watch me eat, now?" she said a little wryly.

"Sorry, Pidge. It's...just going to take some getting used to," Shiro said.

"Tell me about it," Pidge said. "I think-" her eyes narrowed, concentrating "-I've got this though." She carefully tipped the bite into her mouth and chewed. Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "Coran, this is...is this peanut butter? It tastes like peanut butter! Rubbery, kind of, but..." she chased another bite around and scooped it into her mouth. "Ibs realy goob," she enthused, mouth full.

Coran beamed and bounced on his feet. Hunk silently mouthed "I helped" behind him and held a finger to his lips and they all grinned and snickered quietly, helping themselves to their own portions. Pidge was right, Shiro thought, it did taste like peanut butter, sort of.

"It's...peanut jello," was Lance's verdict, and they all nodded. It didn't sound very appetizing when he put it like that, but Shiro had to admit it was one of the more palatable meals he'd had in the castle.

The meal finally devolved into bouncing peanut-jello squares off of one another's foreheads (Hunk's forehead was deemed to give the most pleasing bounce; Pidge's aim with her non-dominant hand was still a little off but was rapidly improving) a belching contest (Allura won) and Pidge feeding small tidbits to appreciative mice (the mice won second place in the belching contest with a four-part harmony burp).

"We should let you rest, Pidge," Shiro said, finally, standing a little reluctantly.

"I'm actually not sleepy anymore. I think Coran's recovery meal worked!"

"Well of course it did, what did I tell you!"

She did have some color back in her face, Shiro thought, looking at her closely. He felt quite a bit better himself, now that he thought about it, the ache of weariness had faded, whether from the meal or from whatever cramped sleep he'd managed to get while bent over Pidge's bedside.

Pidge pulled her knees up and crossed her arms over them, rubbing at the end of her stump with a frown. "I was really in the cryopod for three days?"

"About three quintants," Coran confirmed.

"Right." Pidge kicked her covers off and scooted off the bed.

"Pidge, what are you doing?" Hunk asked.

"Going to go make sure I can still fly Green. And I need to get my laptop, anyway."

"What?"

"Pidge, no, you just woke up!"

"I'll go get your laptop for you, Pidge - get back in bed."

"I feel fine, look!" Pidge stood and jumped up and down a few times to demonstrate. "Coran's miracle meal fixed me right up."

"Now let's not be hasty, Number Five," Coran said, looking rather alarmed. "It's more of a temporary boost."

"Pidge, you flew your lion through a whole battle one-handed, remember? It'll be fine."

"No, that's exactly the problem. I don't remember, not really. What if I can't do it again? And what about fighting as Voltron?"

"Pidge, you don't have to figure everything out right this minute," Shiro said, trying for reason, although the stubborn set to Pidge's shoulders didn't give him much hope he'd be successful.

"Yes I do. Three days, Shiro. When have we gone more than a week without needing Voltron?"

"We've been laying low," Lance said, appealing to Allura. "Right?"

Allura nodded, but pursed her lips a little and looked at Pidge unhappily. "We've been lucky," she admitted.

"I don't want to find out just exactly what I can't do when there's an entire Galra battlefleet breathing down our necks. I need to know, Shiro."

"She's right."

"Keith! You're not helping."

Shiro crossed his arms. She was putting up a good front, but to his eyes she wasn't completely steady on her feet. "You're not going to be much help if you overdo things now and end up back in a healing pod."

"Yeah, just nearly died? Remember?" Lance said. "You might catch, like, a chill or something."

"I'll rest better if I'm not worried about this," Pidge countered ruthlessly, turning and heading for the door in a not entirely straight line. Definitely still wobbly. She didn't even have on shoes. "Try to stop me."

"Pidge," Shiro said sternly. She stopped, left fist clenched. Shiro made his way around Coran and Allura and the rest of the team until he could stand in front of her. Pidge met his eyes with frustrated tears collecting in her own. He touched her shoulder lightly to nudge her back from the door a little and then knelt with his back to her. "Climb aboard," he said, patting one shoulder. "I'll take you. The Black Lion's still parked in your hangar anyway."

"Shiro..." Hunk protested, as Shiro stood easily with Pidge on his shoulders.

"Everyone to your lions, we'll make it quick. If it gets to be too much I'm pulling the plug, got it?" Shiro tapped one of Pidge's knees for emphasis.

"Got it." There was a slight sniffle.

Hunk grabbed the cover from Pidge's bed and reached a little to drape it over her shoulders.

"Hunk," Pidge protested, attempting to fend off the blanketing.

"Yeah, yeah," Hunk said, tucking it around her despite her efforts, thoughtfully removing the portion that had covered Shiro's face. "Humor me."

Pidge rolled her eyes but subsided, patting Hunk on the head. "This'll be fast, I promise. Then naps, ok?"

They headed out, Coran and Allura to the command center to monitor, Hunk and Keith and Lance to their lions, and Shiro-with-Pidge veering off towards the Green Lion's hangar.

"Everyone else is tired, too," Pidge said after a moment. "I'm sorry, Shiro, I wasn't thinking."

"It's all right, we'll live." Shiro patted her knee again. "And anyway, you weren't wrong. It'll be good for the rest of us, too. We've slacked off training the last few days."

When they got to the zipline, Pidge reached out her hand to grasp it, hooking the stump of her right arm over the other side experimentally, leaning her weight on it a little. "Hmmm."

"I'm not sending you down like that," Shiro warned her. Maybe she could manage to hold on all the way one-handed, even not fully recovered, he wouldn't put it past her, but he didn't want to scrape her off the floor halfway down either.

"I know, just...figuring things out."

She shrugged out of the blanket and clambered higher on Shiro's shoulders to hook a leg over it instead, dangling by her left hand and leg for a moment while Shiro held on so it wouldn't go yet. "Not the most graceful solution, but this would work in a pinch, I guess."

"Pidge, how do you even grab hold of this thing in the first place?" Shiro asked. He'd never realized how high up the ziplines would be for her - even he had to stretch to reach them.

"I jump," she said, shrugging, squirming easily back around to his shoulders and then sliding down to cling piggy-back so Shiro could grab hold instead. "Took me about five tries the first time," she admitted, laughing, "but I got better."

"Pidge, you're amazing," Shiro chuckled, before launching them both down the tube.

The Black Lion's deep, familiar rumble filled his mind as they approached the hangar, but Shiro was surprised to feel Green as well, like being pummeled gently with curious paws. Bright images and impressions flitted through him, almost too quick to catch: Pidge, himself, the other paladins with their eyes made of stars, a canopy of green and purple trees full of Altean symbols, equations and elemental forces written in the sunlight through the leaves, a complex network of multi-colored light that was somehow also Voltron, swift gratitude and welcome. It was like listening to Pidge ramble sometimes, full of wonders he could only half comprehend.

Green lowered her head as they approached and Shiro bent his knees to let Pidge slide off of his back.

"Whoa, Black's...I think he's saying hi?" Pidge said, blinking. "He sounds a lot like you, kinda...like..." Pidge's face crinkled up in concentration as she tried to put it into words, "like listening to a fuzzy rock."

"Like what?" Shiro asked, startled into laughter.

"You know, strong. Leadery. Like a rock. And nice, at the same time. So, fuzzy!" She grinned up at him, and Shiro felt Black's amusement at the image. "Remember when I was worried if I'd be able to pilot a lion and you told me what my dad said, about not missing out on a chance to do something great? Like that."

Shiro smiled as he draped the blanket over her shoulders again, feeling rather undeniably touched and, yes, maybe a little fuzzy. "Ok. Let's not keep the rest waiting."

He watched as she headed up into Green steadily enough. "Fuzzy rock," she yelled over her shoulder.

"Let's not share that with the team, Pidge? I'll never hear the end of it," Shiro yelled back. He thought he heard a faint "in your dreams" as a reply. He shook his head and headed to Black Lion, where he was enveloped by images of Pidge cuddling a small fuzzy catlike creature with a white tuft of fur on its head that was somehow both himself and the Black Lion. "Is that your idea, or hers?" he asked, laughing softly. The Black Lion did not dignify that with a reply.

The Green Lion's exit from the hangar was slow and somewhat wavering. The other four lions hung back to give her space.

"Hang on guys." Pidge's voice was distracted but confident over the comms, and Shiro tried to channel patience and support her way, though he wasn't sure how much got through when they weren't actually Voltron. "Just gotta...get...in the right zone here."

Her flying straightened and steadied after a moment, and the Green Lion looped and dove, then joined the other five.

"Ready?"

"Ready!"

"Form Voltron!"

"Yeah!"

They came together seamlessly, and Shiro put Voltron through its paces. Pidge lagged a little once in awhile, but through the paladin bond it felt more like fatigue than any difficulty working with her lion, her concentration slipping here and there. He felt Pidge's fierce determination and relief, as well as the growing weariness from all of them. Whatever boost they'd gotten from Coran's peanut-jello seemed to be wearing off. Flying as Voltron was not particularly taxing, physically (unless they were being electrocuted or blasted or thrown around by robobeasts), but it was mentally wearing over the long term, though their stamina seemed to be increasing the more they worked together. What Pidge was doing, controlling her lion as much with her mind as her body, had to be especially draining. It was good information to have; he'd need to keep an eye on her energy levels in the future, but it looked like otherwise Voltron was back in commission.

"Good job, everyone. That's enough. Back to lions and back to the castle. How are you doing Pidge? Think Green will mind sharing a hangar a little longer?"

"I'm fine, but if someone doesn't carry me back then I'm sleeping right here," Pidge admitted around a yawn.

"On it," Shiro told her, Black following Green, while Hunk and Lance and Keith argued about which of them was going to get carried back to their beds.

Pidge was sitting wearily at the bottom of her lion when he got to her, holding her laptop.

"Thanks, Shiro. That helped."

"I'm glad," he told her. "And I'm confiscating this," he added, taking the laptop. Pidge only sighed and offered no other protest, which meant she was probably asleep with her eyes open. He tucked the laptop securely under one elbow and picked her up, draping her over his chest and one shoulder this time, since he wasn't sure she'd stay awake enough to hold on to his back or shoulders. She mumbled something and tucked her head up against his neck.

He started the long trek back, Pidge only sleeping this time, not dying, not...he hugged her a little closer.

"Shiro?"

Or maybe not so asleep.

"Yeah?"

She lifted her head from his shoulder a little. "What's it like? Having your arm?"

"It's handy for lugging around tired paladins," he quipped, hitching her a little higher. She huffed in his ear, and he was silent a moment. She deserved an honest answer. "I don't even think about it, most of the time. It feels natural, like part of me. And sometimes, when I realize that, it...terrifies me, and it's...it's hard to stop myself from trying to just...tear it off." Pidge's arm squeezed him a little harder. It dismayed him, how difficult it was to talk about, even that much. Pidge was trying so hard to be all right though. She needed to hear it was ok to admit you were a little broken (a lot broken, his mind whispered) more than she needed him to be a rock.

"Sometimes...I'm not ok," he added softly. They all knew, he knew that, but he'd never managed to say it out loud before. The Champion. Our greatest weapon. He felt a cold sweat break out on his brow and knew he'd better stop there.

Pidge put her head back down on his shoulder. "Fuzzy rock with cracks, huh?"

He laughed despite himself. "Exactly. You all help hold me together though." Pidge squeezed him tight again.

"I want to show you something..." she murmured after awhile, her voice trailing off.

"Hmm?" he ask after a moment, when she didn't continue, but she seemed to have fallen asleep. He came across the other three shortly after, Keith and Lance red-faced and panting they carried Hunk between them. Lance had hold of Hunk's legs, and Keith, walking backwards with his arms wrapped around Hunk's torso, looked to have gotten the harder end of the deal. Hunk gave Pidge a worried look as look as they went by, as best he could with the back of his head squashed against Keith's chest.

"Is she ok?"

"Pretty wiped out, but hopefully that'll keep her out of trouble for a little longer. Which is more than I can say for you three."

"I...told...you...we...could...doit," Keith panted out.

"We haven't done it yet, Mullet. We've still got a corridor to go."

Keith growled and took several more backwards steps, Lance stumbling after him.

"Hey hey hey, my butt's dragging again," Hunk protested. "I'm gonna get butt burn. Next time I'm getting Shiro to carry me."

"Don't...don't hurt yourselves," Shiro called after them, probably uselessly, as they wove and staggered down the corridor. Pidge's room was just up ahead. He carefully slid the laptop out from under his elbow onto the bed, and then Pidge, realizing as he did so that all the covers were probably still back in the Green Lion. Pidge clutched at him convulsively when he tried to lower her.

"Easy, you're back in your room. Go back to sleep."

"Laptop," Pidge said, letting go of him and diving for it.

"Hey, no! Let go of that!" Shiro tried and failed to keep it out of her grasp. Quiznak, how could she be so fast when she was still half asleep? "Pidge," he said, letting a warning tone creep into his voice. Pidge mantled over the computer like a dog protecting a bone, stabbing at the keys with her left hand.

"I want to show you something, then I'll give it back, I promise." She turned the screen around so he could see, and then hit another key so the computer projected a 3-D image into the space between them (which he was fairly certain was not in the original design specs for that laptop). A prosthetic arm and hand rotated slowly, black-armored, touched here and there with yellow and red and lit from within with a bright blue tracery of circuitry. A cloud of notations and symbols surrounded it. His first stunned, confused thought was that she'd managed to design a new arm for herself in the few seconds she'd had the laptop, but it was the whole arm, not just a forearm, and it was far too large to be in proportion.

"I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it, but I've been...well, I was thinking that someday, when we don't need your arm to interface with Galra tech, maybe we could give you a new one. Or as a backup in case yours got damaged. It's mostly Altean design, but I've been incorporating some elements from what I learned from the Olkari, so it would, in a way, be a living arm as well. There's also an innate complexity and flexibility to the Olkari systems that would make it much easier to adapt if we need to change it down the line, and there's a surprising amount of raw power in the quantum circuitry although I haven't quite figured out how to fine-tune the atomic resonance, I think if I just tweak the crystal alignment a little..."

Shiro let her talk, looking at the arm in awe. When had she found time to do this? Someday, this could be part of him, this work of art, made with such love and genius by his friend instead of...he made a noise like he'd been punched, sinking down to sit on the edge of the bed.

"Shiro?" Pidge hastily hit another key and the image blinked out. "I'm sorry...is it...are you ok?"

"Pidge," he said hoarsely. "Don't apologize." He leaned over and hugged her, pulling her close, laptop and all.

"So...do you like it?" she asked a little shyly, into his chest. "You can change...well, anything you like, really, but I wanted to have something to start with."

"Yeah. Oh god, Pidge, yes. It's..." There weren't words enough in the universe to express it. "Yeah, I like it. It's perfect." He had to clear his throat a few times to continue. "Work on an arm for you takes priority though, ok?" Although by all the stars he wanted that arm and he wanted it now; the urge to claw at his Galra one was almost a physical ache, and he took a deep breath and sat back, quelling the impulse with an effort. Patience. Focus. Someday.

"This'll be great!" Pidge waved the stump of her right arm a little. "I'll be able to test out prototypes on myself, so by the time we make yours it'll be the most kickass one in the whole universe. Er. Or should that be punch ass? Most punchass arm. Yeah."

Shiro snorted. "Sleeeeep," he said, tousling her hair. "Give that brain some rest, it's earned it. I'll go find you another blanket."

She flopped back onto the bed with a tired huff, eyes already closed, so she missed his pointed Look when he tucked the laptop safely away on a shelf, out of reach. "I hope you have back ups for that," he murmured.

"Of course!" Pidge's voice was sleepy but still capable of sounding deeply offended. "What am I, a heathen?"

He was half afraid he'd find her on the laptop again, when he returned with the blanket, but she was well and truly asleep, curled on her side and snoring very faintly. He tucked the blanket around her and watched her for awhile, tiny lump under the blanket and bit of unruly red-brown hair against the expanse of the bed, before firmly ordering himself to his own bed. Pidge didn't need him hovering over her, she was fine, he'd trust her to ask for help when and if she needed it (but keep an eye out in case she didn't ask). Keith poked his head out of his door as he went by, but seemed satisfied by Shiro's smile and trajectory to his own room, withdrawing quietly. Hunk and Lance were also quiet, wherever they were, hopefully asleep.

Shiro was tired, too, physically and mentally, but it was a good tired. It felt good to lie down, to let gravity pull him down into the bed, to let it take the weight of his metal arm for awhile. To put aside the fate of the universe, if only for a moment. Sleep claimed him quickly, and his dreams were the Green Lion's dreams, of sunlight through forest. He stretched out his hand and it was beautiful, made of space and starlight, and fearless small fierce creatures flew down to perch on his arm, trailing fire and joy behind them.