“Yo, Shiro! What’s wrong, man?”
Shiro yanked off his helmet, gasping, and pushed the button on Black’s dashboard to immediately exit his lion. He buried his face in his hands and then ran them through his hair, not caring about the cold sweat that was left coating its strands. Couldn’t his damn chair lower faster? Maybe he should have pressed the emergency button… But no, that would be a breach of protocol, and Allura and Coran would be even angrier at him than for just aborting the training exercise.
Finally, the chair hit the bottom of the pilot elevator, and Shiro rushed to the exit pod. He could hear the other paladins landing their lions in concern. They would be exiting too, and Shiro wanted to be out of here and as far away as possible before that happened.
“Ugh… Hurry UP,” Shiro whispered exasperatedly. He dashed out as soon as the pod opened and sprinted towards the door at the far end of the landing bay.
“Shiro, wait!” Keith yelled.
DAMMIT. Shiro didn’t expect the red lion to exit its paladin so quickly. Its speed was crucial to the team’s survival, but now, Shiro hated it. He could see Keith sprinting at him out of the corner of his right eye, and Shiro ran faster, breath catching, side hurting, willing himself to make it to the door first.
“Shiro?” Allura called out, approaching him with Coran from near the door.
The door opened when Shiro got within range, and he zoomed by them through the threshold. With a loud screech of shoes against floor, Shiro stopped his momentum and pivoted towards the control panel. Keith was almost there.
“Come on, COME ON!” Shiro pounded the lock button, but he was too late.
Keith leapt through the door just in time and tackled Shiro to the ground. Shiro slammed his helmet into Keith’s shoulder and dislodged Keith’s grip, and Keith grunted as the side of his head hit the floor. Shiro scrambled away from Keith, kicked his helmet aside, and rushed up the stairs, heart pounding.
Shiro reached the landing and shot towards the kitchen at the end of the long corridor. He could hear Keith coming up the stairs and tried to run faster, but sharp pain stabbing through his right side slowed him down too much. He wasn’t going to make it.
He made a last-ditch effort for the door, but Keith quickly caught up to him and tackled him a second time. This time, Shiro stayed down, admitting defeat. He lay still on the floor.
“Shiro. SHIRO.” Keith kneeled by Shiro’s side and rubbed him reassuringly on his right shoulder. “It’s ok,” Keith gasped, trying to catch his breath. “It’s ok.”
Shiro closed his eyes. “No, it’s not.”
“No one will care that you’re gay.” Keith said. “I mean, they’ll care, but in a good way! We’re your friends, Shiro.”
“That’s not it,” Shiro looked away. He wished he hadn’t told Keith earlier about his sexual orientation, that they hadn’t disclosed their queerness—their otherness, and Keith’s love for both Lance and him—to each other the last time the team couldn’t form Voltron. Sharing their secrets only with each other had removed their internal guilt for a time, the guilt of keeping truths entirely locked away. But it wasn’t enough anymore; Shiro’s heart was full, and his fear, sorrow, and longing spilled over its walls and left as hot, dripping tears.
Keith wiped Shiro’s tears away with his glove. “Shiro,” Keith whispered softly. “Tell me. What’s wrong? Why are you so afraid?”
Shiro exhaled slowly and turned towards Keith. “I didn’t tell you everything.”
Keith bent down closer, smirked, and gave Shiro a playful shove. “Yeah, I can tell.”
Shiro gave a small smile in return.
“C'mon,” Keith said, reaching out an arm to help Shiro up. They sat facing each other. “What is it?”
Shiro looked down at the floor in hesitation and gripped his knees. He was shaking. He had promised… But if they couldn’t form Voltron, then they wouldn’t be able to stop the Galra. And then the universe would be doomed. Which meant that he would be doomed as well. He would understand.
He closed his eyes and inhaled, gathering his courage. Then Shiro looked Keith squarely in the eyes, with shoulders straight and body and will aimed forward. Like the soldier—no, paladin—that he had trained to be.
“Back when I was held prisoner by Zarkon,” Shiro said, “with the Holts… Matt and I… We had been together since before the Kerberos expedition. I wanted to come out with him and embrace our relationship publicly, but Matt was afraid for our future. He was afraid that I would lose out on missions and that he might not be treated seriously in the lab. That whatever potential we had to help humanity would be gone.”
Shiro sighed. “After we were captured, Matt and I were separated from his father, and we only had each other. We promised each other that we would survive the gladiator pits, rescue his father, and leave together. But you know how I had to injure him,” Shiro said. “Before he was shipped out with his father to the work camp, I promised Matt that I would come back for them, and that… And that maybe, if we got back to Earth, we would marry each other.”
Keith gaped at him.
“I know it was really sudden! And I know that we’re young! But we love each other!” Shiro gripped his knees and bent his head down to avoid Keith’s gaze. “What will Pidge say? What will everyone say?”
Keith scooted forward and put a hand on Keith’s shoulder.
“You know what I think they’ll say?” Keith said solemnly.
Shiro looked up nervously at him.
Keith broke into a huge grin. “CONGRATULATIONS!”
Shiro groaned, and Keith smacked him on the back. “Pidge’ll be so happy, you’ll see!”
“No, really! Look, here they come.”
Shiro’s eyes went wide with panic. “Oh Quiznak.” He got up frantically and stumbled towards the kitchen. “Tell everyone that I died of food poisoning.”
Keith grabbed Shiro and directed him towards the oncoming footsteps, laughing. “Come on, I’ll help you tell them!”
“Nope. I’d rather face Zarkon head-on.”
“Come ON! Fearless leader! You got this.”
Now it was Shiro’s turn to give Keith a shove. “You’re right. I got this.” He chuckled and brushed a hand through his hair. Now that he was calmer and could properly assess the situation, Pidge probably would be very happy—shocked, but happy—and the others would be happy too. And Black would be relieved that the cat was finally out of the bag. Haha, cat.
Shiro saw Pidge and others round the corner, and he ran up to them with Keith to tell them the happy news.