When the McClain family welcomed their youngest into the world, they were all curious to see what his mark would be.
Everyone had a mark. Some had more than one. They were images meant to reveal the future of a person. Some images had different meanings than what's expected, such as a heart could mean a person falls in love or they touch the hearts of many, but the marks always make sense.
But Lance...his marks made no sense. He had strange characters on his right leg in blue, and the same characters in red on his right arm.
His family didn’t mind, he only an infant, maybe the marks would make sense as he grew up and he found his passion in life. They cooed at the baby, excited to see what he would make of his future.
“Maybe he’ll be a surfer, or a swimmer,” Lance’s father said as he watched his six year old son splash in the water with his siblings. “The marks might be waves, and both surfing and swimming need arms and legs.”
His wife hummed, “but why red on his arm?”
“I hate to say it, but maybe something will happen to it when he’s older.” When he was given a harsh look, he held his hands up in defence, “I’m just saying it’s a possibility! I knew someone from high school who had two marks. One was a wrench on his hip because he became a repairman, and the other was a red X on the back of his hand. The hand came clean off in a workplace accident when he was 28.”
Lance’s mother bit her lip and looked back out at her baby boy. She didn’t want to imagine him getting hurt, but she didn’t know what else to think about the red and blue marks that decorated him. She was sure the symbols etched into his skin meant something, she just didn’t know what.
Lance loved space. He felt pulled towards the start whenever he looked up at the night sky. He wanted to go, explore the galaxy and other planets, he wanted to float among the stars.
He didn’t know what his marks meant, he didn’t have the same confidence in his future like all the other kids, so he decided he was going to make his own future. Lance’s version of his future had ‘Galaxy Garrison’ and ‘Fighter Pilot’ in it.
He had the Garrison half of his future taken care of, but he was still shooting for fighter pilot. There was only one thing standing in his way.
The star child of the Garrison. Did well in all his classes, he had a bit of a temper, but he was the best pilot in the class, so the teachers didn’t care.
That is, until the Kerberos mission went missing.
Lance watched in awe from his seat at the back of the class as Keith yelled, and screamed, and swore at the teacher. Telling her that there was no way it was ‘pilot error’, that he wanted the truth and he wanted it now . She ordered him to leave the room, and he stormed out, leaving everyone else stunned in his wake.
They must have expelled him right then and there because right after class, Lance saw Keith storm down the hall and out the door with nothing but the clothes on his back. Everyone started whispering about him, wondering what had happened, but Lance was staring after him, shocked into silence.
The Garrison must have made Keith change out of his uniform, because he had been wearing regular clothes. But instead of wearing his usual red jacket, he just had it clenched in his fist, leaving his arms exposed by his black t-shirt and as he walked past Lance, Lance caught a glimpse of red symbols on Keith’s right arm, popping out against his pale skin. Lance ran his hand up and down the place where he knew he had the exact same symbols, also on his right arm.
Marks weren’t supposed to connect soulmates, some people just end up with the same marks sometimes, but Lance’s marks were so unique, he didn’t think anyone could ever have the same mark as him. He wondered if Keith had the blue marks on his leg too.
He mentioned this to Hunk later that night in their room.
“What is your mark?” Hunk asked.
Lance hesitated for a moment before rolling up his sleeve and pant leg to show him. When Hunk just stared, Lance covered them back up again, “I know. Weird, right?”
Hunk shook his head, “no it’s not that. It’s just- let me show you.” He pulled off his shoe and pulled up his left pant leg to reveal yellow symbols, the same symbols that Lance and Keith had.
Lance’s eyes widened, “woah. Weird.”
“Right?” Hunk rolled his pant leg back down, “I don’t have the red ones, though.”
“I wonder what the different placements and colours mean.”
Hunk shrugged, “maybe the three of us are meant to do something awesome together.”
“But Keith got expelled. How could we do that?”
Hunk shrugged, “I’m sure we’ll find out eventually. This can’t be a coincidence.”
After the conversation with Hunk, Lance found himself thinking about Keith more and more. It was mystery he wanted to solve, but couldn’t. A puzzle that was missing the last piece. Unfortunately, Lance wasn’t able to focus on his mystery. He still had to focus on school. Keith was out, so Lance was in. He joined fighter class, Hunk became his engineer, and the weird little guy known as Pidge was his techie.
They crashed. Again and again. They argued and they crashed and Iverson yelled at them. Lance didn’t mention how he noticed Pidge get mad whenever someone mentioned Kerberos, just like Keith did. Lance didn’t want Pidge to get expelled too, so he would change the subject. Turn the attention to himself, get Iverson to yell at him instead.
Needless to say, Lance didn’t like Iverson. So when he, very loudly and angrily, told Lance that his team needed to bond, Lance decided that team bonding would take place after curfew and off school property.
A wrench was thrown into Lance’s plan when they found Pidge on the roof. Listening for aliens of all things, but it turned out to be legit when a ship entered the atmosphere. Lance grabbed Pidge’s binoculars to take a look, Pidge still hanging off of them.
“Lance, look!” Hunk said.
“I’m looking, Hunk! I see the ship!” Lance said, still staring through the binoculars at when the ship disappeared behind some rocks.
“No, not that! Pidge’s arm!”
“What?” Lance looked down to find Pidge pulling down his left sleeve from where it had rolled up when he was hanging off the binoculars.
“It’s nothing,” Pidge said, “it’s just my mark. Nothing interesting.”
“It’s the same as ours,” Hunk said.
“Wait, what?” Pidge looked over at the two of them.
Lance rolled up his sleeve to show her the red symbols, “I have it in blue on my right leg, too. Hunk has it in yellow on his left leg, and Keith has the same red ones as me.”
“Mine is green,” They stared at each other in silence for a moment. “We should follow that ship,” Pidge said.
“Oh, definitely.” Lance said, helping Pidge shove his tech into his backpack and the two of them running off, Hunk following behind.
A lot can happen in a few months, the paladins of Voltron learned. They bonded with their lions, beat Zarkon once, Shiro went missing so they had to swap lions, they found Shiro, Keith left, they reluctantly joined forces with Lotor who predictably turned against them, the Shiro they found turned out to be a clone, Keith came back, they found the real Shiro and returned to their own lions, occasionally switching again if the occasion called for it.
They were all taking a moment to relax together. Lance had forgotten all about his strange marks until something occurred to him as he laid on the couch.
“Hunk I just realized that our marks are the same colour as our lions and are on the same part that they form in Voltron.”
“Oh yeah, that makes sense.” Hunk said. Pidge nodded along.
Allura and Coran looked between them, confused. “What are you talking about, Lance?” Allura asked.
Lance pushed himself up so he was sitting. He spoke as he rolled up his sleeve and pant leg, explaining the marks to them and how he, Hunk, Keith, and Pidge all had the same symbols.
Keith stared at Lance, “how do you know about my marks?”
Lance shrugged, “I saw it when you left the Garrison-” he paused, “did you say marks?”
Keith nodded, “I have the same writing across my chest in black.”
“I have that too,” Shiro said, “oh, so it really is our lions. Nice work, Lance.”
Lance smiled, proud of himself. “So,” Coran spoke up, “what do these ‘marks’ depict? Is it just an image of the lions?”
“No,” Lance stood up and crossed to the other end of the U-shaped couch to show Coran, “they’re these symbols. We don’t know what they mean.”
Coran looked over Lance’s arm before looking up and around at all of them, “it’s simply the Altean word for ‘paladin’.”
“Really?” Pidge rolled up her own sleeve to look at her green markings.
Coran nodded, “whatever determines these ‘marks’ was quite specific with the five of you.”
Shiro laughed, “but it was clever enough to use an alien language.”
“Everything makes so much sense now,” Lance said, plopping back down in his seat.
The McClain family was just about to sit down for dinner. There was lots of movement in the small kitchen and dining room, but not much chatter. It was the three year anniversary of the youngest, Lance, going missing. Lance’s parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews were all there, and even the youngest were quiet. They knew today was a sad day.
Just as they all got settled at the table, there was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it,” Lance’s oldest brother, Jonathan, said. He pushed his chair away from the table and down the entranceway to the door. He pulled it open to reveal a young man standing on the porch.
The hair on the top of his head was flopping into his eyes, and he had an undercut that was just starting to grow out. He brushed the hair out of his eyes and smiled, “hey, Johnny.”
The young man on the porch had a large scar running down his cheek and other, smaller scars scattered across his face and neck, but Jonathan could recognize that dopey smile anywhere, and only one person was ever allowed to call him Johnny.
Lance flexed his fingers nervously, “I know what my marks mean now.”
Jonathan took a shaky step forward and out onto the porch, wrapping him up tightly in his arms. There was a shout from inside the house, “who’s at the door?!”
Jonathan shouted back, “it’s Lance!”
There was a beat of silence as everyone inside registered the words, then there was the sound of many chairs sliding back at once and people tripping over themselves to get to the door. Jonathan pulled back so he was standing next to Lance with his arm around his shoulders so the rest of the family could see him. They came barreling out the door, almost knocking Lance off the porch.
When everyone had calmed down, Lance explained everything to them. The marks, the war, Voltron, the galra. He said that the war wasn’t over, that he would have to leave again, but he was able to come for a visit because things had calmed down a little bit.
As Lance told them his stories, the house filled up with noise, and warmth, and happiness, and everything was as it should be.