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In Too Deep

Chapter Text

It was a normal flight. At least, it was supposed to be. Shiro and I were on a regular patrol, making sure there were no galra in the Altean lands. Allura, Coran, Matt, and Pidge were back at the home tree, doing their daily chores, waiting for our return. Our territory ended at the beach, no further than that, which was a huge problem considering there have been reports of a fleet of galra ships nearby. Avians avoided the water at all costs. Once our wings are thoroughly soaked, we become too heavy and we drown. Very rarely will we fly over large bodies of water. If we can, we go around it. But thankfully, the sea was mermaid infested. The mermaids and the avians never interacted with each other, but we both had a common interest, and that was the imminent demise of the galra and Zarkon’s empire.

We were flying over the beach, the sand bright and blinding because of the afternoon sun, when I caught a glimpse of something shining that wasn’t white sand. It was blue. Squinting, I could barely make it out, but I could tell it was a body. It was lying half in the water and half out. I glanced over at Shiro, who nodded, and we dived to the beach in order to help out if they needed it. As we got closer, I noticed that it was a mermaid. I instantly wanted to draw back, fly the other way, but Shiro kept going, and so did I. We landed softly on the warm sand and slowly approached the still body.

The merman’s white hair was plastered against his head, and his chest fell in ragged, labored breaths, as if he was having a nightmare or in pain. His scales were different shades of blue, merging together in a pretty collage. Several gold hoops attached along his ear, and a gold circlet around his head, a blue crystal fastened in the center. There were scars on his tail and torso, and I could only assume that they had come from a net. They were pale white, a stark contrast from his tan skin and vibrant blue scales. It just made him even more attractive, alluring. What the hell was I thinking? This was a mermaid for fucks sake! Possibly a siren! They were dangerous creatures, known to drown avians and galra alike if they thought us a threat. This was insane.

However, Shiro hummed in thought, and approached the unconscious water creature. “Keith, he’s hurt.”

I huffed. I didn’t want to help him, but I couldn’t just very well leave him to die. Actually, I could. I hated mermaids. “What do you expect me to do? We don’t have medicine for mermaids.” I snapped, wanting to leave.

“Pidge does. He’s friends with several of them remember?” Shiro ignored my negative tone. “I’ll bring him here while you stay and make sure nothing happens to him okay?” Shiro stated, not even asking me what I wanted to do. I opened my mouth to protest, but before I could even get a word in, Shiro took of, his black and white wings propelling him through the sky with great speed.

I let out a sigh of agitation, sitting down on the dry sand and watched the ocean. There were no galra ships or other sides of the merman’s pod, so I was safe. The mermaid was safe. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. Seconds dragged into minutes, nothing happening until I heard a low, pained groan come from the white haired merman. I watched as his webbed hand clutched his side where the wound was. He slowly lifted his head, and hissed when he glanced at the cut on his side. The merman swiveled his head around, looking at his surroundings, before his eyes landed on me. They narrowed slightly, light blue eyes piercing me like a knife as he stared at me. When I said and did nothing, he sighed, laying back down on the sand.

“At least you're not galra.” He said, and I knew exactly what he meant. At least an avian had found him. If it had been our common enemy, he would probably be dead, or possibly tortured. It was no secret the galra wanted the siren’s power, but the rare mermaid always died before they could figure out the secret. All of them always committed suicide. Wing flaps came from above, and I looked up to see a large figure followed by a smaller one. Pidge’s golden wings folded on his back, and began to run towards us.

“Lance!? Oh my god are you okay??” Pidge cried out, the smaller avian running down the beach, kicking up sand as he ran. Before I could grab him, he had brushed past me and crouched beside the barely conscious merman.

“Do I look like I’m okay? I’m fucking peachy.” The stranger said sarcastically, glaring at Pidge. So Lance was his name. I watched over my flock member, hand brushing against the hilt of my knife.

“You know who this merman is?” I asked Pidge, eyeing the hurt merman warily.

“Yup! Guys, this is Lance, Lance this is Keith and Shiro, my flock members.” My younger flock member replied, opening up his satchel before grabbing a few leaves out of a smaller bag and shoving it in his mouth, chewing it. Shiro smiled warmly at the creature while I just continued to glare.

The merman frowned at me with distaste before saying, “What’s your deal? Did someone get stung by a jellyfish this morning?”

“No, I just don’t like your kind.” I said without hesitation. Hurt flashed through Lance’s eyes before it quickly disappeared. I didn’t care if I was being rude since it was the truth. I despised his people, maybe even more than the galra.

Shiro cleared his throat and quickly changed the subject. “So, Lance… how did you get hurt?”

The merman’s eyes visibly darkened, as if he was recalling what had happened. “There was a galra ship a few miles out and my sister was being reckless as usual. They tried to catch her and I pushed her out of the way and got hit… and then I sunk their ship. Fucking showed them who was boss.” He said with a growl, baring his sharp teeth

Pidge grimaced, spitting out the green leaf and pressing it onto the wound. “Which sister?”

“Layla. I swear she’s going to be the death of me.” He complained, wincing as Pidge spread the poultice on the wound.

“What did you put on the wound?” Shiro asked, peering down closely at the green mush that Pidge had smeared onto Lance’s body.

“It’s the leaves from the Sea Poison Flower. It’s supposed to help heal the wound. There are several islands too far away for me to fly to, and that’s the only place it grows, along with a few other medicinal herbs.” Pidge replied immediately, a small smile on his face. “Which reminds me, Lance, you need to bring me more herbs. I’ve been running into a lot of wounded sea life.”

Lance nodded. “I’ll bring you some in two days. All of the blood have been attracting sharks and… ma doesn’t want us to leave home for a while until a few of them clear out.”

I frowned. I thought all sea creatures like mermaids since they can communicate with each other. “Mermaids don’t like sharks?” I asked curiously.

Lance shook his head gravely. “They like to bite chunks out of our skin and they always hunt our little ones. We stay the hell away from them. I’ve gotten into a few skirmishes but they don’t out to well.”

So that explained the bite marks on his arms.

“Could Shiro and Keith come back in 2 days as well?” Lance asked, turning his attention back to Pidge. Pidge looked at Shiro, who nodded after a second, again, not asking if I wanted to do that or not.

I glared at our flock leader but he just looked back calmly. “We should head back home. Will you be okay all by yourself?” Shiro asked in concern.

“Yeah, one of my pod mates is coming to get me. I’ll be fine.” Lance assured us. Shiro nodded, satisfied with the merman’s answer. Without another word, he spread his white and black speckled wings and took off the ground with a powerful thrust. Pidge gave his friend a farewell before before following Shiro, and I looked back at Lance. His sky colored eyes were unwavering as I stared at him with a cold glare. I turned away from him sharply and made my way back home.

Ψ

“Shiro, I don’t want to see that merman again!” I growled, fluffing up my feathers angrily as I paced our room in irritation.

“Lance seems nice though. You know Pidge wouldn’t befriend someone unless he could trust them a lot. Maybe you should give him a shot. It’s wrong to stereotype him.” Shiro replied calmly, a thoughtful look in his grey eyes.

“Don’t you remember what his kind did to me?” I shouted, glaring at him.

Shiro sighed, pulling me towards our nest. “Of course not but… that was a different pod and that was years ago. It’s unhealthy to hold a grudge for that long for an entire species. We all hate the galra, and I have a piece of them. You should hate me, but you don’t.” Shiro let put a deep breath. “There are villages with galra outside of our border… peaceful galra, and we don’t hate them.”

“I have also known you for a long time. We just met him today!” I insisted. I could never despise my boyfriend like that. He didn’t have a say in being tortured, having his arm cut off and then replaced with galra tech. “And those galra have proved that they’re not the enemy.”

“So let Lance do the same, okay?”

I sucked in a breath. He knew that I couldn't argue against that. “Fine! But I won’t like it.” I said roughly, burying my neck into his soft wings. Shiro’s fingers combed my long black hair, and he hummed as if he was thanking me. We stayed like that for what seemed like hours, just Shiro petting my hair and me breathing in his scent.

Everything was fine until he said, “He’s pretty too.”

Chapter Text

I was awake when the avians approached me, but I kept still, wanting to know what their reaction would be. One of them, Shiro, I later found out, had a voice that was calm and deep, like the ocean on a clear day. The other one, Keith, was cold and angry, like a ice so cold it burns. He didn’t like me, wanted to leave me for some reason, and I could tell it was for a personal reason. After Shiro left to go get Pidge, who happened to be my only avian friend, I knew I could trust these strangers. I could trust Pidge’s flock… but it was sad that I couldn’t say the same about mine. My family wasn’t against me being friends with the golden winged boy, but there were some who opposed it because I shouldn’t be swimming around, cavorting with other species and that I should “care about my own”. I ignored the advisors, since mother herself had been friends with humans before they passed away… she had even mated with one.

It was custom to give gifts to express our gratitude. It was a way to pay our debt. I was thinking about giving them each a kiss, which would allow them to breath underwater in case something bad happens, but Pidge told me that the action had a deeper meaning to their kind.

Shiro was extremely nice. I knew I was going to give Keith a knife made from the bone of a baracuda I had killed myself. In its hilt I planned on putting either a balmera crystal, or a pearl that glowed when there was no light. Hm maybe not a pearl. That would give him away. I wanted the weapon to be practical, not decoration. The balmera crystal was a better choice anyways, capable of healing simple wounds like cuts, bruises, and stab wounds like mine.

For Shiro, I wasn't so sure what I was going to give him

While I thought about what to give the flock leader, I waited for my friend Hunk, who was practically my only friend in the pod. He was big, but not like, fat wise. He was a literal, large, strong merman. He was a few inches longer than me, with yellow scales. He constantly wore an orange band around one of his arms as jewelry. Hunk acted as my bodyguard, something that I refused to have. It was an invasion of my privacy, and completely unnecessary. Sure I could be a bit reckless from time to time, but most of it was not life threatening.

I sighed heavily, sitting up slowly so that the wound wouldn’t become agitated. Brushing my bangs out of my face, the sun finally drying most of it. I brushed the sand off of my face and arms, and waited for Hunk to find me so he could help me back to the castle. Ma was going to livid when she sees me. Then, a little ways out, I saw a flash of yellow, and I grinned. Hunk emerged several yards away, a worried crease in between his brow as he swam towards me.

“What happened to you man?” He exclaimed, noticing the poultice packed onto my wound.

“The galra happened.” I grimaced. “Didn’t Lala tell you?”

Hunk nodded. “But not the specifics. Just that you got hurt and then told us your general location.”

“Come on your majesty.” Hunk gave me a mocking bow. “Let’s get you back to the palace. The queen was close to panicking when Lala

I scowled at him. “Stop calling me that. You know I hate all the formal stuff.”

Hunk laughed loudly, taking my arms and carefully dragged me back into the water. Once we were under, the medicine washed away, and he got a clear look at the galra’s handywork.

“Good news, this should be held up by tomorrow.” Hunk informed me.

“Awesome! Pidge needs more herbs so I need to go to one of the islands and get some for him.”

“Well let's get you home to rest. You’re mom is not going to be happy. This is the second time this month that you’ve gotten hurt.”

Seeing no point in arguing, even though I knew he was wrong, I started to swim out to sea, heading deeper and deeper towards home, a place where only mermaids could get to.

Ψ

The palace was brilliant, with white walls, gold roofs and blue tinted windows. The whole place was lit up with crystals and pearls that glowed brightly in the clear lanterns. Every time I looked at it, it took my breath away. Our pod was small, consisting of maybe 30 or so merfolk. Most of them were out in the town square, trading goods that they had collected and made. As I swam by, they waved, smiled, or bowed in respect and I smiled in turn.

As soon as I entered the palace, the guards escorted me and Hunk to the throne room, where my mom was waiting.

“Lance! You’re okay!” She exclaimed, swimming over to me quickly, her dark blue tail slicing through the water smoothly. Instead of bringing me in a crushing hug like she usually did, she grabbed my shoulders in a crushing grip. Her long, white hair was up in a simple braid, and her gold crown sat on top of her head, fancier than my simple circlet that I wore. Her skin was lighter than mine, smooth and unmarked. Her eyes were a piercing dark blue that demanded respect authority.

 

“What happened to you?” She demanded, eyeing the bandage around my waist.

“The galra spotted Layla when we were heading out to one of the previous shipwrecks, and they spotted her. They tried to catch her, and they threw a spear at her, but I pushed her out of the way and I got hit instead.” I explained to ma, watching her eyes darken with cold rage. “But I sunk them, so everything is okay.”

She smiled in satisfaction. “You need to rest okay? You’re not allowed to leave your room until tomorrow, and I want Hunk to go with you from now on until there aren’t so many threats in these waters.”

I nodded, glad that she wasn’t going to look me up like she would have done several years ago. She let us go, and we swiftly went my room to talk about what had happened after I had got hurt. My room was at the top of one of the towers, a large suite My satchel was still hanging from the peg in the wall where I had left it this morning. There was a large, round bed positioned in between two, tinted windows. On the opposite side of the room was a large desk with shelves that contained different objects that I found or Pidge had given to me, items that mermaids don’t use. On the desk itself was just a bunch of beauty products, like eyeliner and perfume that I only used for special occasions. In the drawers was jewelry that I made, bought, or was given to me as a courting gift. Rings, bracelets, arm bands, ear rings, head dresses, crowns, necklaces… But I only usually wore my balmera crystal necklace, my simple gold circlet, and my gold ear rings bands.

Tiredly, I laid down on the soft bed and began to tell him about Pidge’s other flock members, Shiro and Keith, our conversation, and I told him about the little things I had learned about them.

“You like Shiro, don’t you?” Hunk said with a grin, causing me to scowl. I honestly don’t know if I liked him or not… it was confusing. There was also Keith, who I felt I had to please, even though he had been nothing but a complete ass towards to me. His comment about hating my kind had stung deeper than I would have liked to admit. It was also very obvious that they liked each other, might even be together… and if that was the case I needed to get rid of these feelings.

So, I simply denied it. The truth was just too complicated.

“He’s just a nice guy.”

“Okay, but you never, and I mean never talk about someone this much. Not even the girls you flirt with have captured your attention like this.” Hunk pointed out, crossing his arms as if he was right.

I waved his words away. “It doesn’t mean anything. Besides, even if I did like him, it would never work. I’m supposed to produce an heir, and we live in different worlds. He lives on land, in the sky, and I live in the water. It’s too dangerous.”

I couldn’t afford to fall for him. I would only end up getting hurt. To find a love so sweet it feels forbidden. Shiro… was attractive, and that somehow seems insulting. He was lean and muscular, a pink scar running across his nose. He had grey eyes, almost like a dull silver, but full of life. His hair was black with white forelock and a grey undercut. Sure, I didn’t know him, but I can tell he cares about his family. He’s a nice guy with nothing but good intentions. And he has strength. It’s obvious Shiro had experienced something no one should go through. I only met him briefly and I felt like I know a lot about him.

“Lance… you’re the prince. You can do whatever you want, just remember that. Whatever you decide to do, I’ll be right behind you.” Hunk said, putting a comforting hand on my shoulder. “You can live on land if you want. You can court whoever you want… well, as long as it’s not a galra.”

I scrunched up my nose in disgust, agreeing with him on that one. “I would rather die.”

Hunk nodded in agreement.

“You know what, since I can’t leave my room, you can help me make a gift for him and Keith. I have to pay my debt for their help.”

“What did you have in mind?” Hunk asked me excitedly, eager to help. I smiled at his enthusiasm and told him what I had planned.

Chapter Text

Two days passed quickly, and we had 2 hours before we would go to the beach to meet Lance again. Pidge decided that he would tell us about his pod. He explained to us how Lance was actually the prince and heir to the throne. A few of his people could talk to animals and a there were only 3 sirens total. His pod couldn’t shapeshift like one of the pods we ran into… the one that caused Keith so much grief. They were all immortal, however, they could still die from wounds and disease, but they could slowly heal themselves. The poultice along with the crystal’s help would be able to heal the wound up in a day. Without that, his body could heal itself in 2-3 days. Our bodies would have taken a couple weeks to heal.

Pidge also told us that Lance’s pod prided themselves in their peaceful life, and disliked scars and disfigurement. It made my stomach knot uneasily, since the merman had clearly been in a lot of trouble. Other pods find pride in gaining scars. It shows that you’re strong and that you can protect and provide.

“Does Lance have any abilities?” I asked curiously once we were able to ask questions.

Pidge shook his head. “You will have to ask him about his powers. That’s a personal thing and it took me months for him to tell me.”

“But he can’t shapeshift, right?” Keith asked urgently, and I wrapped my arms around

“No, but he can shift into a human permanently. If he does that, then he will have to give up his immortality, but he’ll be able to keep his abilities.” Pidge answered. There seemed to be a lot of gains and losses here.

“Speaking of immortality, how old is Lance?” I asked. He didn’t look much older than Keith.

“Oh he’s 19. He’s very young. His mom is like, a hundred years old.” Pidge stated.

I was about to open my mouth to ask him another question when Coran shouted from the kitchen, “Boys, lunch is ready!” That ended the conversation about merfolk quickly as we scrambled to our feet and ran to the dining room. Allura was at one of the nearby galra villages, and wouldn’t return until later that night. We ate quickly, mouths to full to talk, which allowed me some time to think.

Mermaids, as I understood, are supposed to be beautiful, especially the sirens. But he was mystifying with his smooth, tan skin, resplendent blue eyes, and unusual white hair. His scales was something the sky would be jealous of, unable to capture the shades of blue that Lance had. His scales was like the ocean, surging and ripplin like the waves itself. Even though the scars marred his tail and waist, he was still beautiful. It was obvious that he loved and hated the scars, something I could relate to well. I had originally thought that I found all of him attractive because he was a mermaid, but Pidge had told me that everyone isn’t drawn to their bodies. The only thing that could captivate everyone was a siren’s song, and only those compatible wouldn’t be as affected. Their biology stopped them from killing their mates, which was quite useful. Even knowing this, it did nothing. I wouldn’t be able to do anything unless Keith likes Lance as well… and at the moment, I can’t really see that happening.

“Shiro, we gotta go now!” Pidge whined, and I quickly finished off the sandwiches Coran had made, and hurriedly put the dishes in the sink before following Pidge out of the tree and onto the branch that we used as our landing and takeoff deck. I motioned for Pidge to lead the way, since I didn’t know where he usually met with Lance and his other mermaid friends.

Ψ

We followed Pidge along the beach until we reached some cliffs where Lance and one other merman that I had never seen before was waiting. The white haired prince was resting his head on the rocks, looking at his companion, listening to whatever he was saying. The water was a clear blue, and when we landed inside the cove, Lance waved at us, while the darker merman eyed us suspiciously. They both ducked under water, and swam over to us, resurfacing in front of us. Lance pulled his satchel from around his shoulder and gently placed it on the rocks in front of him before hauling himself out of the water.

“Guys, this is Hunk, my best friend. Hunk, these are Pidge’s flock mates, Shiro and Keith.” He introduced us, pointing at me and Keith when he said our names. His friend grinned suddenly, his sharp teeth gleaming as he looked at us. Keith shifted his weight uneasily, but didn’t say anything as he took in the Lance and his large friend.

“Okay, now that introductions are over, it’s time for the gifts! Keith, you’re first.” Lance said happily, gesturing for the dark haired avian to step forward. Pidge had mentioned that he would give us something to show his gratitude for helping him, even though the only thing we did was get Pidge and made sure nothing tried to kill him while he was unconscious. My boyfriend did so hesitantly, and Pidge snickered behind his back. Lance handed him a package, and Keith took it, and started to unwrap it slowly, unsure of what was inside the fabric. It was a knife with a white blade and a deadly point and I couldn't help but grin. This was something Keith would definitely want.

“The bone’s from a barracuda… if you were wondering. It’s not human or avian or anything.” Lance added hastily, as Keith continued to stare at the finely made dagger. It shone a brilliant white, and it’s hilt was a metal I had never seen before. In the center of the hilt was a small crystal, similar to the one the merman wore around his neck.

“Thank you.” Keith said tightly, running a finger along the flat of the blade. “It’s… beautiful.” Lance beamed, watching the dark haired avian fasten the sheath to his belt, right next to his other knife. It would be a nice addition to his knife collection.

“Your turn Shiro!” He handed me a little box and I took it nervously. I opened it and my breath caught in the back of my throat. It was a grey white seashell with streaks of grey that I was sure matches my eye color. In the curve of the seashell was a pearl. It was white, but slightly clear, as if it was made out of glass.

“The pearl glows in the dark. Pidge told me they don’t have pearls on land so, um, I wanted to give you one. I didn’t know what else to make you.” Lance explained, his entire body blushing as I slipped the silver chain over my neck without a word. Pidge was staring at us with wide eyes, and I cocked my head in confusion. He quickly shook his head before Lance continued, “And here are your herbs Pidgeon.”

Pidge took the jars out of his hand and grinned like a kid on his birthday, looking at the various flowers, leaves, and seeds that the merman had collected.

“You guys should get in the water.” Lance spoke after Pidge finished his rant about what each herb did. I had tried to listen, but I didn’t really need to know what they did. Pidge and Allura were the experts for a reason.

“We can’t swim. If our wings get wet we’ll drown.” I replied.

“You don’t have to swim. You could just wade.” Lance smiled, lowering himself back into the water. Pidge was bouncing on the balls of his feet, herbs already forgotten as he towards the water. I slowly followed, stopping when we were a few yards away from the shore. Keith declined about swimming, sitting down on the sand while me and Pidge stripped off our clothes until we were in our boxers. Keith glared at Lance, who was swimming idly in the shallow water. I leaned down, kissing him on the lips quickly before saying, “Don’t be jealous. It does ugly things to your face.”

Keith huffed in aggravation, his violet eyes meeting mine as he said, “He likes you, you know that right?”

I raised an eyebrow. Keith was always the jealous type, snapping or glaring at anyone who looked at me, seemed to think about me, or touched me. God forbid if they did that. They would be missing an arm.

“Are you jealous because you hate him, or because you like him?”

When he didn’t say anything, I kissed him again before heading out into the water. If was the perfect temperature, cool and warm all at the same time. The sun was hot this afternoon, but it felt nice I stepped deeper into the cove, water lapping at my kneecaps. The sound of the lazy waves was strangely soothing mixed with the soft hum of the wind. I sighed in content. Avians naturally disliked water, but this was okay. As long as we didn’t fly during a storm or over vast bodies of water, we were fine. Through the clear blue water, I saw sea shells littered all over the sandy floor. I picked the nearest one up, a white shell with red lines, almost like the one I was wearing. I held onto it tightly in case I accidently dropped it. Lance swam up to me a second later, a bag in hand, and offered it to me.

“Thanks.” I said , gratefully, placing the single seashell in the bag. When I saw one that I wanted and it was too deep for me to get it, I asked Lance to retrieve it. We did that for awhile. Me picking up sea shells while Lance just swam on his back, floating beside me as I filled my bag up.

“What does it feel like to fly?” Lance asked me suddenly, in a voice so quietly, it was almost lost over the sounds of the waves.

“It feels like freedom.” I said truthfully, and he looked at me with sparkling light blue eyes. “There’s no one up there but you. It takes away all your worries, and the wind feels amazing. You’re weightless.”

“Maybe I’ll be able to be up there one day.” He whispered mostly to himself, but I heard it.

I stopped picking up seashells and looked at him in confusion. “Can you do that? I mean, you are the heir.”

“One of my sisters can take the throne. I never wanted it in the first place.” Lance said heatedly, as if it was a sore subject for him. I wondered if he got into arguments with the queen or the advisors because of his dreams.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your life, you should be able to do what you want with it.” I said and he gave me a wistful smile.

“We’re not that simple.” He said softly, looking up at the sky instead of looking out across the water.

And in that moment I understood he was trapped, and he wanted a way out.

Chapter Text

I stuffed the salad into my mouth, ignoring the disapproving look mom gave me as I ate. Since I could talk to animals and fish, feel their emotions and thoughts, I became a vegetarian. I still ate meat, just not anything that came from the sea. I didn’t kill sea life either, unless there was a threat and I absolutely had to take care of it. Me and my 4 sisters and brother were all eating lunch together, a rule we had to follow. I wasn’t close to any of them except for Solis and Layla. My other 2 sisters were the definition of cruel and bitchy.

“So Lance,” Esmeralda started to say, giving me sidelong glance. “Where have you been going to for the past 2 months? Did you find someone that’s finally interested in you?”

Esmeralda was a year younger than me, with black hair, grey eyes, beryl green scales, and pale skin, unlike my dark tanned skin. She was a sneaky little bastard. We didn’t really get along that well. She was a constant reminder of what my mom expected of me. She wanted a son, a prince that was mature and responsible, someone capable of leading the pod when she gave me her crown. My hand froze briefly before it reached for the bowl in the center of the table, putting more food onto my plate. She wasn’t too far from the truth. I had found not one mate, but two. These past two months I had spent getting to know the two avians I had fallen for. I knew that they were already mates, but Pidge told me that avians and humans sometimes had two mates. He said it was called polyamory.

“I have just been hanging out with Pidge and his flock members.” I replied calmly. It wasn’t a lie, I was just avoiding the truth. If mom found out… if anyone found out, they would lock me up in the castle, maybe even go as far as killing Shiro and Keith. I wasn’t lying because I was ashamed of my feelings, I was doing it because I wanted them safe. Mom would rather kill me then let history repeat itself.

“If you say so. But every time you ‘hang out with them’ you have this look on your face.” Esmeralda continued unconvinced. Mom was watching us intently, and so were the others.

“What look?” I demanded, hoping that it was something that could be passed off as stupid.

“Like you found peace.” She said softly. When she said things like that, it was hard to hate her. She understood me more than the others, and because of that we didn’t get along.

“You all know that it is against the law to fall in love with an avian or a human. It’s punishable by banishment or death.” Mom said coolly, glancing at everyone but I knew it was mostly directed on me.

“We know, Mom. You remind us everyday.” I replied, slightly annoyed. Her first mate had been human, but had died in a galra attack. Her father was the one who passed law, forbidding anyone in our pod to love anyone that wasn’t a mermaid. And Mom agreed to it with a broken heart. But mine was whole, and I wasn’t going to let it shatter before I can even be with Shiro and Keith.

“Excuse me. I’m going out with Hunk now.” I pushed back my chair and swam out of the massive banquet room. We didn’t actually have plans to go anywhere, but now I needed to leave. When Mom said stuff like that, it irritated me. Did she forget about the person she loved? Just because she made a “mistake”, doesn’t mean it would be one for me.

Even though the ocean is vast, wide, deep, it still felt claustrophobic. I was confined to the waters. I was jealous of Shiro and Keith and all the other avians because they could walk on land and live in the sky. Esmeralda was right. I had found peace. Because if I loved them, then I could live everywhere. Sea, land, and sky. Because I knew I would always be with them.

Hunk was in his room, as I had expected, and he looked up as I swam in. “Is something wrong?”

“When is it not?” I sighed. “We’re going out for a bit.” I told him before swimming out of his room, knowing that he was already following me out of the palace. 

Ψ

The months had passed comfortably and my days were now more exciting, thanks to Shiro and Keith. Two days a week, one random and every Friday, I would meet with my new friends at the cove to hang out. Last week, Pidge got me something called a telescope, which was really cool. I could see the stars clearer and more up close even though they were far away. Pidge promised to bring me a book about the stars so he could teach me all the different constellations. He would also bring me food to try, which made me really really happy. Just different types of meat or bread or cheese, and on the occasion some candy. If I had extra I would bring it back for Layla and my other siblings.

Hunk’s fin grabbed my attention, a flash of yellow as he swam ahead to look for danger. I didn’t like it when he did that, but everyone’s been cautious ever since I got hurt. It would probably last for another week or two until the incident was pushed into the back of their minds, still there but forgotten. We were swimming past coral reefs and kelp forests when the ruins came into view.

The old city was cool, yet petrifying all at the same time. A few schools of fish swam by as we made our way over an arch, the little creatures bidding me hello when I waved. This city used to be our capital, a happy safe place until the galra figured out how to make bombs explode under water. Now, the once clean, polished stores and holes are now covered with moss and flowers, underwater vines, and other plant life. We made our way cautiously through the destroyed city.

“This place is creepy Lance, can we leave now?” Hunk whined as we swam underneath the dull blue arch, flowers and moss growing on the swirls of designs.

“We just got here! Besides, I want to look for something to make for Keith.” I told him, ignoring Hunks request entirely.

“As a courting gift? Do they know that you like them?” Hunk asked curiously, glancing at our surroundings warily.

“No.” I said softly. “But, I get rejected all the time so it wouldn’t matter if they did or not.” It had only taken me a week to admit that I felt something for Shiro. But it had taken a month to stop denying my attraction to Keith as well.

“That’s not true Lance. You fucking love them. You’re always happy when they meet you at the cove, a lot happier than you are at home.” Hunk disagreed, stopped in front of me, and placed a firm hand on my scarred shoulder. “I also think they will return your feelings. They care about you, too.”

“You think?” I asked, hope shouting inside of me, pounding furiously against my rib cage.

“Definitely. What do you think me and Pidge talk about when you’re trying to show off?”

“W-what!?” I sputtered, taken aback that Hunk and Pidge knew about my feelings even before I knew about them. Accepted them. Hunk just laughed and swam ahead, making me catch up with him. Okay, so maybe I show off a little too much, but Keith likes it! He smiles!

“Why y-you fucking bastard!” Keith spluttered, his clothes and wings completely drenched. Pidge pointed at the dark haired boy, laughing his ass off while I grinned like a maniac, pleased that I had managed to make someone laugh, and Keith pissed all in one go. Keith wanted to see how high I could jump out of the water, and he said I wouldn’t be able to lift my, and I quote, “fat ass 2 feet in the air.” So, this was payback for even doubting me in the first place.

“You wanna say that again birdy? I wonder how high you can go right now.” I said with a smug grin. Keith just continued to glare at me, silently telling me that the first chance he gets, he’s gonna strangle me to death.

“Fish boy.”

“Fluff brain.”

“Guys! Seriously? Get along for fucks sake! I just want a few hours of peace and quiet.” Pidge shouted at us, and we immediately quieted.

There was a small smile on Keith’s face when he looked at me again.

Hunk suddenly grabbed my arm, jolting out of my thoughts. I pointed, a large fin disappearing around a corner. We darted into a nearby building in refuge as the hammerhead shark swam around the corner and in our direction. We ventured deeper into the abandoned building, looking at all of the damaged items.

“How are you and Shay doing? Have you decided where you’re going to take her for your anniversary?” I asked as minutes ticked by. Hunk was looking at

He gave me a big smile at the mention of his mates name. They had been together for 3 years now, meeting each other when they were both 18. It was still a month away, but Hunk liked to make sure everything was order, especially where Shay was concerned. “Yeah. I was thinking about taking her up to one of those caverns with the glowing moss. She’s always wanted to see them.”

“I bet she’ll love it. Do you remember that one time you gave her that bottle filled with the stuff? She might actually faint when you take her there.”

Hunk laughed. “She really might.”

We both smiled and continued looking for objects I could use for Keith’s courting gift. I thought about doing something sharp to match his attitude, but then I got worried about him falling on it and accidentally stabbing himself to death. The thought horrified me, so I decided to not use teeth or sharp edged bones.

After about an hour of lazy chatter, I found a bunch of gems, beads, buttons, and chains… and soon I was enjoying myself, Mom's words from earlier mostly forgotten. The next room we entered had glass littering the floor. It was a mix of colors but the red caught my attention.

“Keith.” I mumbled, carefully picking up the blood colored shards and placed them inside one of the small jars I kept in my satchel. Keith looks really good in red, and the color represented everything Keith was. Fury. Passion. Strength. Determination. Power. Dominance.

His features didn’t make it easy for me either, with his messy black, girly looking hair, violet eyes, and brown and white wings. His freckled face and alabaster skin.

I loved everything about him. His personality, his body… everything he does. I admired his speed, his combat abilities, and the smiles he gives Pidge and Shiro when he thought no one was looking.

I sighed. Hunk was right. I would care if they rejected me, because for once in my life, I’m happy, and they’re the cause of it. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I don’t want to mate with someone I didn’t actually love. So I decided as soon as I finished Keith's necklace I would tell him and Shiro how I feel.

Chapter Text

Shiro, like usual, was right, and I hated him for it. I knew it was wrong to hate Lance, since he seemed like a genuine, nice guy… but it was habit. I never hated the galran slaves and prisoners, because they didn’t ask to be forced to work against their will. But I always had a deep hatred for mermaids. It was the same for a lot of alteans to feel the same way about the galra. It was just… easy. Forgiving is hard and forgetting is even harder.

At first, I thought I hated Lance because he was just a mermaid, and I felt a little bit better when Pidge told us he wasn’t a shapeshifter. I could trust him just a little bit after that. And Pidge has known him for more than a year, and nothing bad has happened so I knew that he didn’t have any sort of ulterior motive.

Pidge even chastised me to the point I had felt guilty about wishing Lance dead before I even met him, and I realized just how shallow I had become. It took me a month to come to turns with my… feelings, and I still felt restless and agitated. I didn’t know what to do with this new information. I was too embarrassed to ask Pidge about mermaid customs about dating. I knew they were different but I wasn’t sure how to start. Every pod was different. So I didn’t know what I should do. Did I wait for him to tell me how he feels or did I?

Shiro had confessed to me first, knowing I wasn’t good at showing my emotions. But Shiro was a big deal back at the academy. He had the fastest flying time, the best scores in combat… everyone had high hopes for him. I felt intimidated, like I wasn’t good enough even though I was also at the top of my class. And because of that, I didn’t know how to approach him. He had also taken me in when I was 7, so I didn’t exactly know how he saw me. If I was like his brother or friend. Dad would have been down right weird since he was only 5 years older than me.

But Lance made everything slightly easier than Shiro had. He was so carefree with his laughs and smiles, it made my insides all warm and fuzzy the same way it would feel if Shiro wrapped his arms around me or kissed me. And I liked how his eyes lit up every time we brought him a new object or book to read, showing him animals and plant life that existed on land. His curiosity for human things was endearing.

We were at the cove as usual, me, Lance, and Pidge. I had gotten my feet wet a little, but I was still reluctant to get in the water. I trusted Lance, but I was still nervous, the fear of drowning and getting my wings wet too predominant in my mind.

Lance was telling me about the islands, explaining what they looked like and all the plants and animals he could identify because of Pidge’s books. It was amusing to find someone who didn’t know what a mouse was or how forks are supposed to be used.

“You should bring me a monkey.” Lance insisted. Somehow, we had stopped talking about the islands and I was explaining

“I’m not bringing you a fucking monkey. Those things are nasty. They’re really fast and not worth wasting my time.” I rejected, refusing to get my skin clawed off by a tribe of cute, tiny monkeys. I’d rather see them from a distance or in a book.

Lance pouted, his bright blue eyes begging me to reconsider. Why couldn’t Pidge do it? Why did I have to do it?

“I won’t get you a monkey… but I’ll get you a different animal, okay?”

Why was I like this?

“Then I want a-”

Suddenly, he stopped talking. His body was rigid and he whipped his head over to where Pidge was floating on a makeshift raft, legs kicking the water idly as he slowly drifted.

“Is something wrong?” I asked uneasily, noticing how he had stiffened.

“Just, stay here okay? I’m going to go get Pidge just in case.” He said quickly, not answering the question, and got ready to jump back in the water. Wven though the water was mostly clear, I couldn't see whatever Lance had saw  

“What’s wrong?” I asked again firmly, grabbing his wrist before he could leave without giving me an answer. Lance yanked his arm out of my grip and said one word before diving back into the water. One word that made my blood run cold with fear and panic.

“Shark.”

I scrambled to my feet, watching Lance as he swam towards my flock member at a speed that could rival my own. He resurfaced behind Pidge, and started to push him towards the shore, away from the sharp toothed predator. I don’t know how Lance knew that there even was a shark nearby, but I wasn’t going to ask. I couldn’t hear them, but I could see Pidge trying not to freak out as they made their way carefully towards me. They were moving slowly so that their wasn’t any chance of Pidge being pushed into the water, and then the next thing I knew their was a scream. My feathers fluffed up at the sound and my entire body froze. Lance had disappeared underneath the water, and I could see it now, a large, grey shape in the water, right underneath Pidge’s raft.

I jumped off of the rocks and flew towards Pidge, planning on pulling the smaller boy out of the water and onto the nearby rocks. He stared at the red water beneath him with wide light brown eyes, and I quickly pulled him out of the water, flapping my wings with strong thrusts to get us higher into the air and away from the water. I could see Lance wrestling with a large striped shark, clawing, stabbing, and biting when he could. I could see him snarling and shouting, but his voice was silent underneath the surface.

The water was bloody. Too dark and too red. My throat closed up at the thought of Lance dying. There was no movement below the surface until Lance resurfaced, clinging to the rock, letting out shallow gasps.

“Oh my god.” I gasped. There were bites marks all on his side, blood pouring out of the tears in his side. “You’re going to be okay. Just stay awake Lance. Pidge is going to fix you up!”

Hearing his name, the small avian, jumped off of the rock island and flew to shore where his medical bag was. As gently as I could, I pulled Lance up onto the rocks, ignoring the groans of pain that emitted from him.

“Keith.” He rasped, his webbed hand grabbing mine weakly and I held onto him tightly.

“Lance, shut up. You’re not going to die so don’t say my name like that.” I told him fiercely, knowing exactly what he was going to say. He was anything but okay. I knew that the balmera crystal and his natural healing abilities were kicking in, but he would need a lot more than that in order to survive this.

He shook his head weakily. “I need to tell you something.” He said in between breathes. Realizing he wasn’t going to shut up, I leaned forward, and pressed my lips against his in desperation. He squeezed his eyes shut. It seemed like each breath he forced down his throat hurt. Tears streamed down his face.

He opened his mouth anyways, except there was a sad, small smile on his face.

“When I first saw you, I knew I was in trouble. I had never seen someone so beautiful, besides Shiro, in my life… You’re everything I’ve always wanted Keith. Someone determined, strong, and wild. You care about your flock so much it makes me jealous, because I don’t feel the same way about my pod.” He let out a tired sigh before continuing. “I’m not very good at this, but I guess what I’m trying to say is- is that I love you. You, and Shiro.” He finished, staring up at me with a sad smile. Lance reached up with a webbed hand and touched my tear stained cheek briefly before letting it drop back to his side.

“You can tell him that yourself.” I ground out. He was not about to die after telling me that.

“Yeah…” Lance nodded slowly before his eyes closed.

 

 

Chapter Text

For the first few days after the shark attack, I was in and out of consciousness. With each day that passed I remembered more and more of what had happened. I had noticed the shark swimming by, and I had hoped it wouldn’t find any interest in us, but once it figured out Pidge would be small and easy prey, I couldn’t waste any time. Keith wouldn't have been able to do anything since he coulsn't get in the water, and I didn't want to put him in any danger as well. 

They were a part of my pod now, and it was my job to protect them, even if it would have dire consequences  

All the other times had been small bites and scrapes, but this time, this time I actually thought I would die. Sharks liked to twist and tear, so I knew thrashing would only make it worse. It only stopped when I had stabbed it enough times for it to die from blood loss.

Nearly dying gave me the resolve to tell them how I felt.

I asked Hunk to bring me my satchel, which had the necklace I had spent the entire week before the attack working on. The necklace I had given Shiro was still around his neck, which made me happy even if he didn’t understand what it meant. If they both accepted the jewelry, then I would be able to… date them, and do all of the other courting rituals. It’s kinda like how Shiro and Keith hold hands. It’s the same reason why we give our mates something we make for them to wear: it’s a way to let others know they are already taken. Unapproachable.

I had to fulfill certain tasks such as providing food, finding a safe place to live, and then gaining their families blessing. But the food they can eat, I can’t kill. I can feel the fish, hear their thoughts and feelings. Content and fear, panic when they see a hunter. I knew that Shiro and Keith wouldn’t make me do something I didn’t want to do, but it was tradition. Then there was the whole finding-a-place-to-live problem. They can’t live under the sea for fucks sake! So really, most of my traditions were useless. But that’s the beauty of this situation. I can change them. This relationship is different from my pod life. I want to mate with bird people for fucks sake. I think I can alter the rules a little bit.

Hunk came back then with my satchel, and he gave me a reassuring hug before he swam off to probably watch the exchange from a distance. Taking a nervous, shaky breath, I called out to Shiro and Keith, who were just returning from their forest to gather wood. As soon as they touched the ground, the tossed the wood aside carelessly and ran towards me. Shiro’s face was full of worry while Keith eyed the surroundings, looking for danger. I didn’t understand that, since everything dangerous was out at sea. Sharks, giant squids, sea snakes, moray eels, barracuda, and the galra. And that’s just naming a few.

“Everything's okay guys, really, I’m fine.” I reassured them, but Keith was still a little tense.

“Did you need something?” Shiro asked, his shoulders relaxing as he let out a loose breath.

I hesitated, my eyes flickering over to Keith as I remembered the conversation I had had with the dark haired man. “I have something I need to tell you two.” I told him, patting the sand beside me. They did so without hesitation. The ground shifted underneath them as they adjusted themselves comfortably. They looked at me earnestly, and Keith gave me a small smile, and that act alone unnerved me. Before the attack, before my confession, he had never showed me reassurance like he was trying to do now, and it made my heart beat like crazy.

Yet, it was still hard to talk. After a few deep breaths and “Has Pidge told you anything about how we court?” I started off tentatively.

Shiro answered first, his curiosity piqued. “Um. No. Is that what this is about?”

I nodded. “When… when my people start courting, they make jewelry. It’s our way of claiming what is ours. It’s a lot like humans with their rings and hand holding.” My eyes flickered up to Shiro who was already holding the black and white seashell necklace I had given him. Now he understood what it meant, what I had been hoping for since I first met him.

He gave me a warm smile.

Keith was staring at it with wide eyes. I didn’t blame him. I had given his mate something that claimed him as mine without asking him for permission. But at the time, I thought it would be useless. They didn’t know about my customs so I would be able to get away with it.

“Keith.” I said nervously, and his eyes snapped over to mine. His violet eyes burned holes into me as he watched my hand dip inside my bag, pulling out another necklace. He looked as if he was about to cry.

“This is for you. If you want it.” If you want me.

He took it out of my hands, the silver chain spilling out of my webbed fingers. It was in the shape of a diamond, both halves separated and bordered by molten silver. One half of the diamond was larger than the other, and was made out of the red glass I had found while the other smaller half was a smokey black grey. It was simple, like Shiro’s. I knew they wouldn’t want anything flashy like me. That type of stuff could put them in trouble if it shined or sparkled, made some sort of sound while they were doing something particularly dangerous.

“I-Is it okay? Do you like-, ” my voice turned into a startled gasp when I saw several tears spill from his violet eyes.

I panicked, looking up at Shiro frantically, not knowing what to do, but he seemed just as shocked. Unsure, I grabbed Keith and pulled him onto my lap, who let me do so willingly. He wrapped his pale arms around my neck, and I felt his hot breath ghost against the side of my neck.

“Thank you.” He whispered. Keith stayed like that for a few seconds before pulling back and slipped the necklace around his neck. The silver chain gleamed in the light. I had made the right decision. Red looks extremely good on him, and it even matches his and dark purple shirt and white pants. It’ll probably go with everything he has since he literally only wears white, black, purple, grey, and red.

“When I was dying, I couldn’t… I couldn’t handle the idea of loving without you guys. I love you two so much.” I choked.

Shiro instantly wrapped his galra arm around my waist and extending his wing so it would rest against my back.

“I think it’s safe to say that we like you too Lance. You should have seen Keith. He was pining so hard. Pidge thought it was really pathetic.”

“That’s because it was.” Keith said heatedly, crossing his arms.

“I feel loved.” I deadpanned.

“You should.” Keith scoffed.

“You’re such an ass sometimes.” I snarked, and Keith glared at me. He gave me a smirk before nuzzling his face back into my neck.

This was actually happening. Hunk had been right in telling me to try. To risk everything to gain everything. And whatever happens after this, it will be worth it.

Ψ

We were still sitting on the beach, unwilling to go our separate ways and break the comfortable atmosphere. It was perfectly romantic. This moment was everything I had hoped for, dreamed of on countless occasions throughout the year. The sun was setting, red and orange bathing the sky and illuminating the ocean with fire. There was even a soft, lulling breeze and everything. Keith’s fingers traced the scars on my waist and fin, lingering on the new one I had gained a week ago, and Shiro was just looking out across the water, a peaceful look on his face.

Hunk had left once he saw Keith had crawled onto my lap, disappearing with a faint splash and glimpse of yellow scales. I was glad to have Hunk as a friend. If it wasn’t for him convincing me that it was okay to go down this path, then I wouldn’t be here with my boyfriends. My mates.

“How did we ever end up with someone like you?” Keith muttered, a finger trailed down the side of my cheek.

“You almost didn’t.” I said jokingly. “There’s a lot of mermaids out there who would like to be my mate.”

Keith scowled. “I thought you said everyone hated you because you had scars.”

Shiro sent Keith a glare and I kept my face carefully blank.

“Oh! No, not like that!” Keith said hastily, realizing how harsh his words had sounded.

I shook my head, pushing my white hair out of my face. “It’s okay. And that is true, but they just want to sire the next siren. They want the queen’s favor.”

“... you’re telling me, they only want you around so you can have a kid? Not because you yourself is a siren or because they’re your family, a member of your pod? Don’t they respect you?”

“They respect my position.” I said calmly, undeterred by Keith’s aggressive tone. Keith huffed. They knew a lot about my family, but I knew close to nothing about theirs. Pidge only told me that Keith was an orphan, and that his parents had been murdered. He hadn’t said anything more than that. And Shiro… he told me his parents died in a galra attack when he was only 12. I couldn’t even begin to imagine living on my own that young, fighting and trying to survive day by day. It would be suicidal, but Shiro didn’t have a choice.

“But it doesn’t matter, because I have you two.”

They both blushed, clearly happy by what I said. Shiro’s necklace was glowing dimly, and Keith noticed as well.

“We should get going.” Shiro said reluctantly. I nodded, not wanting to leave as well, but if I didn’t return tonight, mother would have my tail.

So we finally bid goodbye as the last sliver of sunlight disappeared, and the stars appeared more vibrantly in the sky. I blushed as Shiro squatted in front of me, one hand resting on my face, and kissed me on the cheek. “We’ll see you in a few days love.”

My heart jumped at the nickname, and I felt like I would just explode with all of the new feelings. Today was probably the best day of my life, and would bed.

Keith did the same thing as Shiro, bending down and kissing me on the cheek, but blushed a little harder as he drew back. He turned on his heels sharply and Shiro chuckled at his embarrassment. He gave me a final smile before taking off, his large black and white speckled wings blending with the night sky.

I watched them fly off, imagining them bathed in starlight and cloud dust, heading back home to their flock. I imagined the feeling of the wind whipping through my hair and the smell of fresh, cool air… Once they were out of sight, I slipped into the cold water, mentally bracing myself for the questions Hunk would ask me when I returned to the castle.

Chapter Text

Sweat slid down my face as I dodged Matt’s sword, a wild grin on his face. Matt mainly focused on defense, but I’ve been trying to get his offense to be just as good. I spun around, sweeping my foot in an arch, but he jumped back with nimble feet, and immediately raised his staff to block my sword as it came crashing down. He knew me well enough to anticipate certain moves, but most of the time he was too slow to block them… like now. We’ve been fighting for only a few minutes, but he wanted me to push him

I was holding back a lot. Keith was a lot closer to my level, but that was only because he trained as if the world depended on it. Most of the time he didn’t know when to stop, and I had to come in and stop him before he passed out from exhaustion.

Matt was doing well though, and I could see signs of improvement. He lasted a lot longer than what he used to, and his offense was a fraction better. We all learned basic combat and such at the academy but I had a lot of teachers, and knew more techniques, making me more advanced than most of the of the flock leaders.

His breathing was becoming labored, and his blocks were becoming slower so I decided to push his boundaries a little harder. All I had to do was wait for him to become sloppy, and I would finish him off. But before I could launch another attack, the door flew open with a bang, causing Matt and I to turn at the sound.

Pidge was standing in the doorway, pushing his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose before saying, “Allura wants us to meet in the common room for a briefing. You’re going out.”

“Thanks Pidge. We’ll be there in a minute.” I replied and he left, leaving the door wide open.

I tossed Matt a towel, and he wiped the sweat off of his face and arms, with a relieved sigh, glad that training was finally over. I usually train with them for an hour a day and we only got through half of that time. He got lucky.

Matt let out a breathy laugh. “I forget how good you are at this. You’re so intense.”

“Yeah… no one stands a chance huh?” I said tightly. I knew it was just me, but how can I not think about it? The arena was where I hones all of my skills, because there was no room for mistakes. I had to kill so many innocent people just so I could see my family again. The only thing that got me through the year, was the promise that Keith would be waiting for me, that he would rescue me.

That arena had ruined me.

“I didn’t mean it like that Shiro.” Matt’s voice was soft and understanding. I knew that Matt felt guilty about letting me take his punishments, and that’s the problem. I ordered him to step aside. It was my choice, not his, and I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s my job to protect him.

“I know, it’s just… it’s hard to not think like that.” I said finally, looking at him. He looked a lot like Pidge, accept taller and more muscular. His jawline was sharper and he didn’t wear any glasses. He had the same light brown hair and light brown eyes that looked like molten gold when he got really upset. There was one scar on his face, running vertically down his cheek. It was a constant reminder that I had failed once to keep him safe.

“We should probably see what Allura wants… but are you sure you’ll be okay?” He asked again,

“I’m sure.” I replied, opening the door and following Matt as we made our way to the common room where we usually met for any announcements. There was a large table in the center of the room with a mal sprawled on top of it.

“There is a galra ship about 30 doboshes away from our border,” Allura started as we peered down at the familiar map. It showed all of Altea and the Empire, and the sea that stood in between the two warring nations. “It’s a small fleet of about 30 galra so we should be able to take them out without any problems.”

The galra had taken something from each of us. They took the healer's father, took the brothers father away from them, my arm, and Keith almost lost me. They killed countless alteans throughout the years, raiding villages and bombing cities with no real agenda besides crippling us.

“I’ll take Matt and Keith with me then, unless you want to come with us?” I asked politely. I knew she wouldn’t want to, but I felt like I had to ask anyways. Allura handed me a compass so we would be able to find the galra easier using the coordinates and said, “There won’t be any survivors so I won’t be needed.”

“Let’s get going then. I want to be at the launch docks in 5.” I told Keith and Matt before we quickly made our way to our rooms.

Our suits were white with a certain color to identify our position in a flock. I was Black, which meant I was the leader. Keith was Red, the fighter, while Matt was Yellow, the defender. Allura was Purple, the healer, and Pidge was Green, the apprentice. Most of the time the healers didn’t engage in the fighting themselves, though they were perfectly capable of running a sword through their enemy. And the last position was Blue, a novice, an extra member that could specialize as anything. Blue’s didn’t have to go through the academy. They just just had to pass a fitness exam and some tests to see if they were literate and could do simple math. Some flocks had one to two Blue’s, but a lot of them didn’t have any at all. They were unneeded.

As soon as we reached our room we started to change, quickly pulling the uniform out of the closet and stripped

“Should we send Pidge to tell Lance we won’t be able to meet him today?” Keith questioned as he practically threw his clothes onto the floor, putting his uniform on.

I shook my head. Hell, I wanted to. I didn’t want Lance to think we changed our minds or to worry unnecessarily, but once we explained what had happened he would understand. “I don’t want anyone to leave base until we get back. I’m not going to risk it.”

“I just hope Lance doesn’t do anything stupid.” Keith added, turning around so I could zip up the back of his uniform.

“He’ll be alright. He’s supposed to be at the cove right now so he will be safe.” I reassured Keith, amused that Keith was worried about Lance.

Once we were both dressed we went to the launch docks, where Matt was already waiting.

“You ready?” Matt asked us grimly. His shield was fastened onto his arm, a small round disk just a few inches round, but when he activated it, it would extend up to 2 feet long and wide.

“As ready as we’ll ever be.” I replied, taking the lead.

Ψ

Flying for 30 minutes was like a warm up lap for us. We could fly for hours before we tired. The compass was in my hand, following the coordinates Allura had given us. We used the clouds as coverage, and as we drew closer we started to descend. I pocketed the compass and let out a low whistle, letting Keith and Matt know that we had reached the ship.

Shouts came from above the deck and I could see them readying the cannons and spear guns. Rage was an easy thing to get lost in, a nasty monster to have free reign with your mind and body. Those spears were the reason why we met Lance, and even though I wasn’t mad about that, I was mad that they had harmed him.

The cannons glowed faintly before purple lasers shot out, and I dodged them with ease. They tried, I’d give them that, but they shouldn’t have tried to invade Altea. My flock would be the first to fall, and the galra village behind us would be recaptured and returned to the Empire as slaves. They had to die, I couldn’t show them mercy.

Keith and I were the first to land with Matt not to far behind. As soon as my foot touched the planks, I withdrew my sword and started to cut them down one by one with ease. All it took was a flick of my wrist and the galran soldiers bled to death. 30 galran soldiers had been a rough estimate, so there could have been more or less, and I hooed that it was the latter. Me and Keith could easily take 10 soldiers, but Matt had only fought five at a time, so I made my kills as efficient and clean as possible so I could help cut down Matt’s numbers down.

I glanced at Keith to make sure he was okay, and my breath caught in my throat. His eyes were intense as he spun and dodged the slashes and stabs like an acrobat. His necklace was out of his uniform,and I watched as one of the galra tried to grab onto it, which consequently became the last thing he did. Keith growled darkly at the dead body before turning around and finding another opponent.

Matt was doing well on his own, using his shield to block the heavier blows before disarming his opponent and stabbing him in the chest with the end of his staff. Everything was going well until a larger galra came up behind him while he was preoccupied.

“Matt!” I shouted, running towards him as he pulled his sword out. His eyes widened at the form behind him, and he started to raise his shield up to protect himself. With an angry shout I stabbed the galra through the stomach, twisting it with a venom they had injected me with. The galran let out a gargled choke before crumpling in between us.

“Are you okay?” I asked urgently, looking him up and down, making sure that the blood on his uniform wasn’t his.

“I’m fine Shiro, really. I’m not hurt.” He tried again, but I barely heard him, patting him down just to make sure that. He could just be running on adrenaline and hadn’t realized he had gotten stabbed somewhere.

“Shiro!” Matt shouted, grabbing my wrist in an attempt to get my attention. I looked up at him, chest heaving even though I hadn’t fought long or hard enough. “I’m fine. You protected me. I’m okay.”

I nodded vehemently, taking deep breaths in order to calm myself. We needed to get home. “We'll set the ship on fire and then we can go back home.”

“Already on it.” Keith called from below deck, and a second later he emerged with a barrel of oil they used for the lanterns. He made quick work of it, spreading it all across the deck, leaving the front of the ship untouched where we would fly off of.

We all gathered around, and Keith struck the match tossed it as far away as possible, and the instant it touched the oil it spread, engulfing the entire deck in flames.

One year worth of bad memories had resurfaced during the fight, and I felt pathetic about it  

The battle barely lasted ten minutes.

Ψ

Keith was skeptical about letting me leave the home tree. The night after the battle, I had another nightmare. It wasn't the first time Lance was in there, but it had still torn me up. Most of my nightmares were the same, but with a few different details each time I dream.

This one had been completely new.

The entire ocean had been lit on fire, and Lance couldn’t get out. Keith and I were above, flying endlessly, unable to land. The only thing beneath us was the sea. We kept searching for a way to get to each other, but the more tired we became, the closer the darkness got. There were screams coming from the thick black fog, consuming the sky and extinguishing the flames and everything else it touched. But right before we could reach him, to pull him out of his prison, the darkness enveloped us.

The nightmare had made me extremely edgy. I had woken up in a panic as usual, but it wasn’t as bad. I just needed to make sure that he was okay.

And so that's where we were right now. We weren’t expecting Lance to come, if he was coming, for another few hours. But when we arrived, we saw already waiting for us on the rocks in the early morning. And I instantly felt relieved. He was fidgeting with strands of wires and some purplish pink beads, connecting the two together before fastening them to the gold chain he had in his lap.

“Lance!” I called out, raising my hand up in a wave so he could see us. His head jerked up at my voice

Before we could start apologizing about not standing him up, Lance practically threw himself at us. Keith shrieked as he tumbled into the sand, his clothes instantly soaked through. Keith didn’t have enough time to start cursing when Lance started to talk.

“I’m so so so glad you’re okay! I saw the smoke, and I figured that was you guys, but you never know right? It could have been one of those shape shifting pods that destroyed the galra ship. Or their ship could have had a malfunction or something weird like that.” He ranted,

I chuckled. “That was us. I’m sorry we couldn’t send someone yesterday to tell you what was going on. I had everyone stay on base until the problem was taken care of.”

Lance nodded vigorously. “I understand. Heck, Mom does the same thing.”

Keith finally pushed him off with a loud huff, straightening up while Lance looked at him slightly wounded. I pulled him onto my lap I trailed a finger down Lance’s tail, marveling at all the shades of blue, some of them were colors I didn’t even know existed. I traced my finger along one of his bigger scar, marveling at the stark whiteness of it. It matched his white hair and it went well with his dark skin.

“I was worried about you too, and Keith was the one who thought about sending Pidge to tell you we wouldn't be able to come.” I told him after a few seconds of silence.

“You were worried?” He asked confused, looking up at me with round sky blue eyes.

“You’re a bit too curious for your own good.” I explained. “I know for a fact that as soon as you saw the smoke you wanted to go see what it was.”

Lance cringed, looking a little guilty. “That’s true. But I didn’t! I swear, so you don't have to worry. I promise I won’t go anywhere near the galra ships unless I’m going to sink them.”

I hummed in satisfaction before I kissed Lance’s forehead. “So, what do you want to do today?”

“Can we collect more sea shells?” Lance asked hopefully, pulling out the bucket I usually used from his satchel and held it out to me.

One nod and Lance was already in the water. Stripping off most of my clothes except for my boxers, I turned to ask Keith if he was going to get in, only to find him staring at me hungrily. He had no shame, eyeing me slowly up and down, admiring my scars and muscles. I blushed, which only caused Keith to smirk at my sudden bashfulness.

“Don’t worry Keith, I’ll bring back sea shells for you to decorate your sand castle with.” Lance called out teasingly, jerking our attention back to him.

“I change my mind. He can go die for all I care.” Keith glared at him as he stood up too.

“You could always join us.” I suggested as we walked away towards the more sandy part of the beach so Keith could start building his castle.

Keith shook his head. “That shark incident is still fresh in my mind. I won’t be going in there any time soon.”

“Keith.” I said in a low voice and he I pulled him flush against my body. I wrapped my arms around his waist, tilting my head down so he would be able to reach me better, before kissing him deeply. His lips were soft and pale and pliable as usual. He tasted like strawberries and vanilla and I moaned softly into his mouth. I reluctantly pulled away only when I knew he had to breath.

He gasped for air, looking a bit dazed and I couldn’t help but smile at him smugly.

“If you stare at me like that something might happen.” I said, watching Keith blush darkly. I turned away from him and padded into the ocean. When I stood beside Lance, he quickly looked away, and I noticed that he was sporting a full body blush. I grinned when he started to stutter, his words and sentences making no sense and I decided I should make it my mission to make the merman more flustered a lot more.

He thrust the bucket into my arms with a dignified huff before swimming away, which only made me laugh harder.

Coming here today had helped drastically. Even though we hadn't slept that much last night, we were still in a good mood I knew Keith was happy when Lance had expressed just how worried he was. And I felt better after I made sure that he was real and alive and safe.

Tonight was going to be a lot like yesterday night. Keith wouldn’t be getting much sleep. I’d make sure of that.

 

Chapter Text

I promised Mom that I would take all of my younger siblings out after lunch for the day since I hadn’t spent a lot of time with them lately. Besides hanging out with Shiro and Keith, I’ve been making objects and jewelry for anyone who came up to me with a design. It was nice, to feel somewhat needed, even if it was a trivial thing. I finally had some free time, and since I was going out later today, I decided to spend my time more valuably. Layla, Marcy, Delta and Solis were with me today. Esmerelda was locked up in the library, studying to be queen in case I died or something else happened to me. We were gathered outside of the castle, where we would play whatever game they wanted. It was Solis’s turn to pick, and like usual, he wanted to scavenger hunt, and it was Marcy’s turn to pick the three items we we would be looking for.

“Whoever finds a blue seashell, a crab, and a flower wins.” Marcy told us, her dark pink tail flicking through the water in barely contained excitement, and all of their faces lit up once they knew what they were supposed to find. I smiled adoringly at them. Even though they were a pain in my tail, when they acted all nice and innocent, it was hard to hate them.

The flower and crab were easy enough to find, but getting the crab to cooperate would be hard. They were very edgy creatures and didn’t like to be man handled, like Keith. Maybe I should just catch him since he’s always being crabby, I mused as I carried the crab in my arms. It grumbled and complained nonstop, threatening to pinch me if I swam too fast for its liking. The blue shell I found in my room with my seashell collection I used to make things with. And the flower I found in the garden, and I suspected that the others had done the same thing.

The game had lasted for maybe an hour, and Marcy actually ended up winning. Usually Delta or Solis would win, since they were the most competitive out of the four. I escorted them back to the palace and then left to do my own thing until I had to go meet Shiro and Keith.

I swam back out of the palace and headed to a secluded reef that no one ever went to, since it was on the edge of our territory. The fish swam towards me happily, asking me how my day was and if I brought any food. I shook my head, my white hair floating around me in the water. They were a little disappointed, but quickly brightened up when I pet them with my webbed finger. They swam through my hair

They asked me if I was still seeing those two bird people, and I laughed. It was nice to talk to someone about them besides Hunk. I had to do it in hushed tones, but with the sea creatures, I could tell them without worrying about anyone overhearing. No one in my pod could talk to animal except for Layla and one of the gardeners, so I was safe.

Yeah I’m still seeing them, I replied, watching a small purple fish swim around my tail. They haven’t gotten into any more fights with the galra in the past 2 weeks so that’s good.

Are you going to live with them?

Maybe. I want to. I clearly wasn’t made to live in this place.

But don’t they live in trees? How are you going to get up there.

I don’t know. I admitted with a shrug. But they’ll figure it out when the time comes.

They were about to ask a few more questions when a few of the fish swam away, and I instantly asked what had spooked them. They said that a few mermen were headed our way. I wasn’t to worried about them. They would just be passing by. I coaxed the fish back out from their hiding places, but the second they came out they swam away again.

I turned around to see three merman approach me. One of them was a guard I had seen at the castle frequently but avoided since he always gave me these harsh looks and snide comments, and he made sure not to do it in front of the Queen, or near Esmeralda. His scales were white and red like a koi fish, and his two other companions had dark purple scales and a plain green tail.

“If it isn’t the prince. ” The guard sneered at me, and I gulped nervously. Did they follow me out here? Did Mom send him to come get me?

“Why are you here?” I asked stiffly, but my voice cracked and I mentally curled inward.

“Aw look at that, he’s scared. You should should just run back your mother. That’s all you’ve ever done.” The green one said, his lip curling as if he had tasted something rotten.

“You’re fucking disgusting.” Another sneered, openly staring at my scars in disgust.

I hadn’t asked for any of these. Did they think I wanted to look like this? That I liked having pretty scales and a powerful voice? All it’s ever done was give me unwanted attention.

The green scaled merman pointed a webbed finger at me quizzically, “Why did the Queen keep you as the prince anyways? Esmeralda would make a lot better ruler, and a prettier one at that.”

I was used to the words, since I had heard them a lot, but they still bit into my skin like sharp glass.

And the other one hadn’t talked at all was the one who instigated the fight. I was fine with the verbal abuse, but I didn’t think  they would go as far as to hit me. No one’s been bold enough to do that.

The first few punches didn’t hurt, and the dark purple mermaid must have realized that because he poured more power behind his punches. The other two held me by the arm, a lot stronger than me. I thrashed in their grip, and they only tightened their hold. They continued to say harsh things. Telling me how useless I was and that whoever I ended up mating with would just throw me away because of how I looked. Their voices were merged with Rolo’s, and it was then that I snapped. He was back and this time I he wasn’t going to leave. I had managed to forget about him completely in the past year, but something they had said made him come resurface to the front of my mind.

The fear overwhelmed me, taking over my instincts, and without permission, I sang. It was a harsh command, telling them to leave me alone, to go away. Any longer, and I would have told them to die. Their bodies went rigid as soon as they heard the first note, and their bodies shook with fear and submission. They swam away as quickly as they could, away from the still reef and lonely waters.

There was nothing against using our powers against one another, but I avoided it at all costs. Even if they treat me like absolute fish shit, they’re still my people.

I cried harshly, sobbing into my arms. All of that progress, all of the time Hunk had spent making sure Rolo never ruined my life… it was wasted.

He was back now, and I had no idea how long he would be staying.

 

Ψ

 

For a good hour I waited in the cove. I needed them to hold me and tell me that everything was going to be okay. I needed Shiro’s soothing voice and Keith’s hug because he didn’t know what to say in these types of situations. Keith trying to calm me down by talking is like giving someone an awkward pat in the back in a sad attempt to consolidate them. They glided down gracefully from the cloudy sky, brown feathers and black and white wings filled my vision as I marveled at the very limbs that Mom forbid me from loving.

I admired their clothing choices, eyeing the parts where the clothes fit more smoothly than the rest. Keith wore a loose red, long sleeve tunic that was open in the back, hooked together with a small black belt. Around his waist was a bigger belt with a small satchel attached on one side of his hip, and on the other was a sheath for his two knives. He had black arm guards on both hands that wrapped around his middle finger. Shiro wore a tight fitted short sleeved grey shirt. He also wore the same tight, black arm guards as Keith, and they both wore the same black pants and black boots. They screamed dangerous and wild. Wind warriors and guardians of Altea. And they were mine. 


Despite what had happened earlier, I grinned as they approached me. But it quickly vanished when Shiro’s eyes narrowed at the ginger shaped bruise around my neck. I rested my head atop my arms silently, wishing I had clothes so I could cover up the bruises and the scars. I wanted to hide them so that they wouldn’t know what had happened. No questions would be asked and I wouldn’t make them worry. They couldn’t do anything to help me, not when I didn’t live with them.

“Lance… what happened to you?” Shiro asked in concern, reaching a hand to touch my neck and I instantly recoiled.

“It’s nothing!” I snapped, and Shiro flinched away from me. I froze with guilt, my eyes wide. I didn’t… I don’t want him to be scared of me. I knew I must look like a wild animal, eyes blown wide and my sharp teeth bared at him as if I was going to attack. I lowered more of my body into the water, eyes round and teary and said, “I-I’m sorry. I swear I wasn’t going to hurt you. I just… earlier today there were some mermaids a-and they said some things about me. About my scars.” I swallowed tightly, eyes burning as I tried my best not to cry. Just because I was a prince didn’t mean I would be protected and treated like one. As far as anyone was concerned, I shouldn’t be King and I wholeheartedly agreed.

“So they did this to you? They hit you?” Keith spoke up, a snarl on the edge of his tongue.
“Yeah…” I said a defeatedly. Shiro lifted me out of the water, droplets cascading down my body as he sat me down in front of him. Keith sat down beside me, glaring at the new bruises that would be gone in a few hours. Shiro gently wiped the tears from my face, his grey eyes filled with relation.

“How did you get these?” Shiro asked hesitantly, looking at the stark white scars on my tail and waist. It wasn’t an easy story to tell, but they deserved to know for a lot of reasons. In about five months, he would become a big problem, and I would need my mates help getting me out of their safely.

“There is a shapeshifter merman called Rolo,” I started off, Shiro’s arms wrapped around me comfortingly while Keith sat in front of me, holding my webbed hands. “And he tried to kidnap me. He threw a net over me, and I resisted. The rope cut into me, and thrashing around had just made it worse. If Hunk hadn't shown up, I would probably be his mate right now. Mom wouldn’t have tried to stopped him. We’re allies with his pod so everything would have worked out for the better. Hunk and I lied and said that a galra ship tried to catch me.”

I still remember the burning sensation as it cut through my scales and clawed against my skin. I can still hear the finality in his voice and I could see the possessive gleam in his eyes.

“God Lance, I’m so sorry.” Keith said, his voice clipped with anger. 

“The mermen today, they reminded me 

of him. They were rough, and they said a lot of the things he did.” I explained further.

“There’s something else to.” I spoke softly. “On my 20th birthday, there will be a ball. Every pod that we are on good terms with will attend it so I can find my mate. They’ll be immune to my song.”

“You don’t want to go through with it right?” Shiro spoke slowly, as if he was unsure.

 

“No, I don’t.” My throat felt tight as I fought back my tears. Rolo would be there. He would be waiting for me.

“We’ll protect you.” Keith said, his voice fierce and I smiled slightly because I knew they would. They would always be there for me. I was a part of their flock now.

“I want to leave before then… in four months.”

“Wait, how?” Shiro asked confused, his hands still running through my hair.

“I can shape shift.”

Keith stiffened slightly, his eyes tight and guarded. Shiro just looked confused.  

I knew all about his dislike for the shapeshifters, and I didn’t blame him. Rolo could follow me on land and get me back if he wanted me badly enough. 

“I can only shape shift once.” I added hastily. “It’s a permanent and painful process. We only do it as a last resort… it hurts a lot less when we're human and being tortured by the galra. They’re not as creative.”

Shiro’s hands  faltered for a second, but kept combing through my hair at a soothing pace. “How painful is the transformation and how long will it take?”

“It’s pretty painful. My tail will split in half and form legs. My body will grow new muscles and bones. I think it will be like one of your bones shattering completely.” I replied with a grimace. I was not looking forward to that. “And it could take anywhere from an hour to 6 hours. That’s the longest record.”

“We’ll make sure you’re safe. I promise. Nothing bad will happen to you.” Shiro swore, and I believed him.

His scars were proof of that.

Chapter Text

After Lance left covered in bruises, I didn't get to see him for a week. I didn't want him to go back even if his bruises had faded by the time he left to go back home. But I couldn't really do anything about it. It almost seemed like we spent all of our free time with Lance. We were always at the cove. I bet if we could, we would live there, just so we could be closer to the siren.

Today though, instead of waiting for us on the rocks or sandy beach like he usually does, he was in the water. There little flashes of color swimming around him, and as I got closer, I realized that they were fish. His mouth was moving, so I assumed that he was talking to them. Lance suddenly tilts his head in that cute adorable way when he’s listening intently to whatever you are saying. He looks up, and his face breaks apart as he grins madly, waving a webbed hand at us enthusiastically. He turns his attention back to this fish and grabs a basket that was at the bottom of the cove. He waves his hand and his mouth is moving again, and one by one the fish swim into the basket, staying at the bottom.

Shiro and I watched in awe.

Lance finally lifted the large basket above the surface, and Shiro leaned precariously over the edge, pulling it out of the water. Lance is looking at us with what can only be known as pride. Shiro just looks at it curiously, unsure what Lance was doing. I had no fucking clue either. 

“Um…” I started uncertainty, looking at Shiro who only shrugged. We had no clue what he was doing.

“They are for you.” Lance clarified, eyes flickering between me and Shiro expectantly.

The basket was filled with small fish. There were a few clown fish, cardinals, angelfish, along with a few aquatic plants. I stared at the pretty fish in awe, their vibrant colors a clear indication that they were poisonous to eat. So… was he giving them to us as pets? I’ve seen pictures of them in some of Pidge’s encyclopedia and briefly at some pet stands, but never this up close. Lance stuck his hand inside the basket and hummed to himself, smiling fondly at the little creatures.

“They were pretty nervous about the idea of living up in a tree, so make sure you take good  care of them.” Lance told us. “I promised them they would be well looked after.”

"Well um, I actually have something for you too." I said uneasily, shifting my weight from foot to foot. It had taken me a week to make, but I finally finished it. It made me admire Lance’s patience when he made our necklaces. I had blisters on my hands from holding my knife to hard as I carved a whistle out of the white wood I had bought at the market.

Digging into my pocket, I grabbed the leather chain and pulled it out. I handed him the necklace with the wood carving of a mermaid fin, blue and gold colored beads tied expertly onto the leather chain beside it. Lance took it carefully, and stared at in with awe, tears glistening unspoken in his eyes. He peered at it, running his finger over the holes in the carving questioningly.

“It’s a whistle,” I explained. “If you ever need help, blow it, and we’ll hear it. It will make a special sound that will identify you as Lance.”

Shiro was constantly worried that something might happen to Lance when we weren’t around, so I decided to actually do something about it. When I told Shiro what I was making, he had kissed me happily, so I knew I had chosen the right thing.

“Thank you Keith.” Lance told me, smiling fondly up at me. My heart squeezed. I watched with pride as he slipped it on around his neck, the blue beads making his eyes pop, and the gold went along with the rings in his ear.

Shiro was still making Lance’s piece, but he had given their mate a rose a few weeks ago, despite Pidge’s warning that he may not know what he meant.

I chuckled at the memory.

I watched as Lance looked at the plant quizzically, the rose that Shiro had given him. Pidge had told him that the merman had no clue what the flower was or would mean, but Shiro insisted on giving it to him anyways. Lance held the flower gently, and lifted it up to his face to sniff it. His eyes closed, and he inhaled deeply before sneezing.

“It smells really nice.” He said before nibbling at one of the petals, his nose scrunching up in distaste. I laughed as he glared at me, and Shiro hid his smile behind his hand.


“Why didn’t you tell me these weren’t edible?” Lance cried out in betrayal.

I snort. “I thought you knew that.”

“Some plants are and aren’t. How was I to know if I could eat this red flower?”

“All roses are actually edible.” Shiro cut in. “Some just taste better than others.”


“You don’t know what this is do you? What it means?”I said amused, looking over at Shiro with a smug ‘I told you so’ look. He certainly didn’t give the flower for Lance to eat.


“No! And if I did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation fluff brain!” He cried out, throwing his hands up in the air, fed up.

“It’s a rose,” Shiro started to explain, shoving aside his embarrassment. “Land people give them to their partner or, er, mate, to show their affection.” He blushed deeply and I had the urge to poke his cheek.

Lance looked at it again, a lot more thoughtful. “It’s really beautiful, thanks Shiro.” And then he put it in one his small jars, smiling at it with a tenderness that could rival any mother.

“What are you laughing at?” Lance asked curiously, arching an eyebrow.  

“You ate a rose.” I said with a smirk.

“Maybe I should have brought you a puffer fish instead and let you eat it. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.” He threatened. 

 

Lance, don’t poison Keith. If he dies then who is going to annoy him.” Shiro said with a playful warning.

I punched him in the arm and he let out a yelp, rubbing the spot I had hit. He pretended to look wounded but there was still a playful smile on his face.

“I’ll remember this.” I said darkly, directing it to the both of them. They both protested, Lance blaming me and Shiro pointing fingers at Lance.

“You do that.” Lance replied, before frowning a little. “You should really get going.” Lance said, looking at the fish. “They’ll need fresh water and everything soon… and don’t fly too high, otherwise they’ll die.”

“We’ll take care of them, don’t worry.”

 

Ψ

 

We had no clue what to do with them.

Once we got back home, everyone wanted to see what was in the basket. We knew that Lance had given them to us, but once we saw Pidge and Allura and Matt’s reaction, we decided to set it up in the living room.

“He gave you this?” Pidge said grinning almost as wildly as Lance had when he had given us the basket of colorful fish. “You have no idea what this means do you?” 


“No, so can you spit it out and tell us already?” I said heatedly, and Shiro shot me a look that was supposed to rebuke me. Lance hadn’t exactly explained the other rituals to us for some reason, and whatever he had done,Pidge knew it was important.

Pidge chuckled to himself. “He’s showing you can depend on him. It’s very important amongst merfolk. If they can’t hunt, then they can’t defend or provide for their mate. Also, getting food that the other likes shows that they care but… I’m not surprised Lance didn’t go hunting. This was actually very creative of him.”

“Why is it so surprising?” Shiro inquired, raising an eyebrow.

“Lance can communicate with animals, feel their emotions and hear their thoughts. So if he kills one, he can feel their pain. He doesn’t eat any sea life. That’s why I always bring him meat every once in awhile.” 


Oh.

“Well uh, what should we give him?” I asked, fiddling with the glass necklace around my neck.

“Try fruit. He’s never tried any of that yet.”

“We have to buy him strawberries.” I said urgently. Strawberries were my favorite fruit besides peaches, and I had to know if he liked it as well. “And banana’s.” I added, since those were Shiro’s favorite.

The door opened and we all turned to see who had walked in. Allura looked at all of us, tilting her head in curiousity, and sauntered up to us. And like the others, she enamored with the fish.


"These are so pretty!" Allura exclaimed, smiling down at the skillfully woven basket. "Did your mate get them for you?"

She looked at me and Shiro quizzically.

"It's one of his courting rituals." Shiro explained, sticking one of his metal fingers inside of the basket. The fish swam away from it, but after a few seconds, they came back, brushing up against it as if they were a cat.

“We should have some spare tanks I used to grow some of my saltwater herbs in.” Allura said clasping her hands together in excitement. She grabbed a hold of Matt’s hand, who let out a feeble protest before he was dragged down the hall. Pidge snickered at his older brother as he begs for help.

“We’ll be right back!” She shouted over her shoulder before they disappeared around the corner, ignoring Matt’s protests.

Coran’s orange mustache curls up as he too, examines the fish happily. “They must really like Lance if they agreed to live with you.” He remarked, watching the poisonous pets swim around and around.

“Well, Lance is very likeable.” Shiro replies, his smile pained as he glances over at me. We like him, and cared about him well being more than his own people did. His people hated him. If they weren’t narrow minded, everyone would love him. His kind disposition, selfless character, playful banter, and protective streak. What was there to not like about him?

I couldn’t believe I had been just as shallow 3 months ago. I was still sometimes disgusted with myself. I had said a lot of hurtful things to him, making sure that he knew I hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. I wondered if the fish knew what I had said to him. Did Lance talk to them as if they were a diary or like friends?

Allura and Matt came back, carrying a large, heavy looking tank. Allura seemed to have no trouble carrying it, but Matt was struggling big time. Pidge teased him, commenting how a girl was stronger than him, and Matt cursed at his brother.

“Language Matt.” Shiro said sternly, talking the fish tank out of Matt’s hands.

“Don’t be a hypocrite Shiro. You cuss too.” He replied, stretching his cramped fingers.

“Yes but not in front of the child.”

Pidge protested. “I am not  a kid! I’m 18! 18!” He cried out indignantly before walking up to Allura to help prep the tank.

They poured the sand in first, made sure the filters worked properly, put the coral and anemone Lance had provided, and then poured the pre-made salt water in. We waited until the sand settled before finally putting the fish in their new home. They swam around, purple, red, white, and yellow colors swimming around in obvious confusion, bumping into the glass a few times before they calmed down, their swimming a lot less chaotic.

“Is it just me or do they seem happy to you guys?” I ask, squinting at one of the clown fish looking at me through the glass. Well that’s really creepy. Why did you give us this fish?

“They definitely look happy! Look, that one is smiling!” Allura exclaimed, pointing at one of angelfish. It didn’t really look like it was smiling, but I nodded anyways.

For the rest of the day we stared at the fish. We pulled up chairs and ate snacks, marveling at the gift Lance had given to Shiro and I. We were really fucking lucky.

Chapter Text

It’s the first time in weeks that I’ll be able to sink a ship and sing. The name Zarkon has grown more frequent above our home, and Mom was getting restless. There were a lot of rumours going around about a witch that was immune to our songs, and was making a weapon that could possibly wipe us out completely. We are the only thing standing in their way of getting to Altea. Get rid of us and every galra, avian, and human in Altea will be subjected to Zarkon’s armies.

Esmeralda would be joining me today‍ on Mom’s order. My sister was a ruthless savage. Even though she's a siren, she finds more joy in dragging our victims down, down, down into the deep or slitting their throat open with a sharpened nails. I didn't exactly enjoy killing but I did like serving my kingdom and keeping my pod safe. If that meant drowning 50 galra, then so be it.
She's fearless, confident, commanding, and mothers prodigy. She's everything I'm not. Two years younger and she still acts as if she is more superior than me… which is probably true. When I'm gone she'll become queen. Everyone will be happy that the disappointment of a prince is gone, and I'll be happy too.

It didn’t take us long to reach the ship. It was approximately an hour swim from shore and even further from the palace, but the battle fleet was anchored, possibly waiting for orders that the captain would never receive. There would be at least a 100 or so galran soldiers on board, which weighed heavy on my heart. They were fighting a war they couldn't win and now they would die because of Zarkon’s persistence in adding Altea to his own lands.

“So, I’m going to assume I am going to be the one singing again?” I asked, as we swam underneath the bottom of the ship, which was just a long, large shadow above us. She gave me a jerk of her head, telling me that I was correct.

The water became a lighter blue the closer we got to the surface, and we finally inhaled the sea salt air. I turned away from my raven haired sister, focusing on the sound of the waves lapping at our skin as we stared at the impressive ship in front of us. It was long and wide, able to carry up to 100 galran soldiers.

“You ready brother?” Esmeralda asks in anticipation. The galra still hasn’t spotted us yet.

I let out a deep breath. “I’m ready now.”

Closing my eyes, I weaved a song of flying and diving, dancing and twirling through the boundless sky. Freedom and wind tussled hair, and flight above the clouds and swimming in starlight. Dreams about belonging and being loved like the moon always holding the sea.

We can't just open out mouth and sing. We have to have inspiration, imagination. It's not something that we can come up with automatically. We sing about what we want most, because then that's when our power is the strongest. What we want is what they want. It was never about what they wished to see like the human myths said about us.

It didn’t take long before loud splashes were heard in the background as my voice reaches the galra’s ears. My mouth moved all on its own as I got carried away. I slowly opened my eyes into slits, to see a blur of purple and a streak of gold smear across my vision. Curiously, I opened my eyes even more, and I immediately I cut my voice off in horror as I see Pidge falling from the sky. My stomach plummeted. He crashes into the water with a loud splash and I have a heart attack as I dive back underwater. He was sinking fast, his feathers wet and heavy. His wings were a lot bigger than usual, and he had a scar on his cheek that hadn’t been there before.

Oh shit. This is Matt, not Pidge.

I quickly pull him up towards the surface, flicking my tail with powerful thrusts as I propelled us and make sure he’s still breathing. He was unconscious, but okay.

Holy fuck. I-I almost killed Matt.

My sister had take over singing, a lullaby of death, and I was forced to wait until she was done singing before I called out to her. I was struggling to keep his head above the water and I needed help now. “Esmerelda! Get your fucking tail over here!”

“Why do you care about this avian? Do you know him?” She asks musingly, swimming over to me slowly. Matt’s head dips under the water for a second and I pull him back up with as much force as I can.

“Yes, now help me dammit!” I hissed at her angrily in a low tone. She looked at me in shock before picking up her speed begrudgingly. She took one of his pale arms, slinging it over her smooth, markless skin and together we carried Matt towards land.

Ψ

It took us about 2 hours to get to the beach with the extra weight, and once we reached the shallow water, Esmeralda lets me drag Matt all by myself towards the shoreline.

“Just leave him and let's head back to the palace. He can find his own way back home. He’s not our problem anymore.” My sister tells me, a webbed hand around my wrist, eyes not on me but on the forest behind us. The only danger was out on the sea, and in the sky, if she considered avians a formidable species. Humans were more of a threat than the bird people, but I knew that they didn’t live anywhere near this part of the coast. I yank my wrist out of her grasp angrily. He was my problem though. I’m one of his flock members and I had to look after him. I had always protected the people I cared about, and even though I didn’t know Matt well enough, Pidge and Shiro and Keith cared a lot about the avian laying on the wet sand beside me. Would she not do the same for me, or someone she cared about?

I shook my head. “I can’t do that. I have to go make sure he's okay.”

Esmeralda stares at me, her green eyes analyzing me as I stood my ground firmly. If she tried to get me to go with her, I would pull the prince card, which always made her angry considering she had more influence than me. “Mother wants us back before dark.” She says to me as I drag Matt out of the water and onto shore. “And be careful okay? Mom will have my tail if you get hurt on my watch.”

“I can take care of myself.” I tell her irritably, a small anger flickering inside of me.

Her eyes rake over the scars on my torso disbelievingly. “Sure you can.”

“You can go now.” I tell my sister coldly, turning my back to her and she does. It still bothered me that she was willing to just let him drown, and it made me hate her even more. Once she was gone, I drag us painfully away from the water so that Matt’s wings wouldn’t get any wetter. I pull Matt onto my lap, wrapping my arms around him in an awkward embrace in an attempt to keep him warm. Even if the sun was still up, it wouldn’t be long until it was dark. Satisfied with the distance, I put the white, mermaid tail whistle Keith gave me against my lips and blew into it. It gave a loud, shrill sound, and my eyes widened in surprise. I waited a couple of seconds and waited before blowing it again, making the same sound. Keith told me to only call them if I was in danger, and even though I wasn’t, I didn’t know what to do with Matt.

What if they didn’t want me anymore? What if they think I’m a threat? What if they hate me, never want to see me again? I wouldn’t blame them. I am dangerous. I have a voice that can kill people if they hear it, I have sharp pointy teeth that resembles a shark, and I live in a place no avian can follow me into. I didn't want to be considered a danger to my mates flock but I almost killed Shiro’s best friend and Pidge’s big brother.

I sat on the wet sand tiredly, completely exposed on the open beach. My entire body was exhausted from hauling Matt from so far away from shore. What had he been doing all the way out there? Was he just scouting or was he headed to one of the islands Pidge has me go to in order to get him herbs?

Questions and fearful conclusions pop into my head, until 10 minutes later, they arrived with loud wing flaps. Their facial expressions tear me apart. There’s fear and panic is written clear on their usually stoic faces. I didn’t like seeing like this. Keith’s face is murderous and Shiro looks determined. As they ran closer, they realized that I wasn’t the one who was hurt, and that it was Matt who was in trouble. They’re faces morphed into concern.

“What happened to him?” Shiro exclaimed when he saw Matt laying in my lap, still unconscious. I swallowed thickly.

“I-I am so sorry!” I started to tell Shiro frantically. “I didn't know he was there and if I had then would have stopped singing sooner.”

“You were singing?” Shiro asks, his eyes looking over at Matt's limp form and pale complexion.

“Me and my sister were sent to take care of a ship of galran soldiers and I didn’t know Matt was there. I’m not aware of what’s going on when I’m singing, and I stopped too late.” My voice turned into a whispered as Shiro knelt down beside his friend, pulling him off of my lap.

“It’s okay Lance. It isn’t your fault. Matt shouldn't have been flying over the ocean by himself anyways. I’m just glad you saved him in time.” Shiro tells me smoothly, wiping the sand off of Matt’s body and feathers.

I stare at him, my mouth dropping in disbelief. Keith scowls when he sees my look of shock. “What did you think would happen? That we would hate you?”

I look away, slightly embarrassed because yes that was exactly what I had assumed would happen. “W-well you’ve known Matt longer than me, and I am completely different species. You could have realized we were too different or thought it wouldn't work out or something. I wouldn’t have blamed you if you did.”

Keith scoffed at me. “You seriously thought that?” He walks up to me, garbed in black and red, and kneels in front of me.

“What else am I supposed to think? My people doesn’t like it when I hang out with Pidge, and if they found out I’m courting the two of you, …” I trail off, not wanting to think about that.

“Well that’s never going to happen.” Keith told me fiercely, grabbing my chin and forcing me to look at him. “You were willing before to go through a shit ton of pain in order to live on land with us, so nothing is going to change. It takes more courage to suffer than to die.”

His violet eyes were bright as he stares at me, and he's about to say something more when Shiro interrupts him.

“Can you look after Matt for a little while longer so Keith and I can go gather some firewood and other supplies?” The black and white winged avian directed the question at me. I nod, since it’s the least I can do after causing all of this trouble.

It doesn’t take long until there is a large pile of wood and a fire is going. The sun is just a few hours from setting. When that is taken care of, Keith heads back to their home tree to get supplies for Matt.

“It's amazing how one merman can do the job of an entire ship crew.” Shiro told me after awhile when neither of us spoke. He had, at some point, pulled me into his lap, his galra arm wrapped around my waist, and his other arm was propped up behind him

I flinched at his words. “I kill, Shiro. It’s nothing I’m proud of.” I said harshly.

He blinked at me before his arms tightened around my waist. “Well, we do what we have to for those we care about.” His voice was unusually distant, and I glanced over at him, only see a phantom pain in his eyes. Shiro’s never told me about his experience at the galran prison camp. I only knew that he and Matt had been captured… the witch Haggar cut off his arm, and that he had nightmares and ptsd as a result. It made me feel bad that I was letting Shiro worry about me when he had his own problems to deal with. I grabbed his hand in an attempt to comfort him, even if he didn’t openly express that he needed it. We both knew he did, and he didn’t say anything about it.

But what he said was true. I have and will always be willing to do anything to protect everyone I loved. If the Garre got passed me, then they would invade Altea lands and Shiro’s flock could be the first casualties in the war. I would do anything to make sure that happens that didn't happen even if that meant drowning hundreds to thousands of enemy lives.

I sat in silence, mulling over his words and sitting in his lap, watching the fire flicker. Matt was still asleep, which wasn’t unusual. He’d be out for a good 24 hours. Right before the sun started to touch the horizon, I turn to Shiro and mumble into his shoulder, “I have to go. Otherwise Mom will skin me alive.”

“You’re not mad at me are you? For what I said?” Shiro asks me tentatively.

“What? God no! Mom just wants me back at the palace before dark.” I tell him with wide, blue eyes.

“Oh… will you be okay then?” He asks, sounding relieved. I know he doesn’t want me blaming myself for what happened, even though I was the reason why Matt almost drowned; so I would try my best to not blame myself too much.

“Yeah I'll be fine... will Matt?” I inquired, peering over at Pidge’s brother.

“Once his wings dry he’ll be all right. We’ll be able to go home in the morning.” Shiro smiled at me warmly and my throat closed up at the sheer tenderness of it. I didn’t deserve them.

“You'll tell him I'm sorry right? And that I wished we had met on different circumstances?” I asked worriedly. I didn’t want Matt to hate me for what I did, even if it was just an accident.

He kissed my lips gently before picking me up in his arms, and I let out a startled yelp as we walked away from the fire lit portion of the beach, towards the ocean. I make my blue tail curl up so it wouldn’t drag or make Shiro trip in case he didn’t see it. He wadded into the water until he was knee deep before setting me down.

“I love you Lance, not your mistakes.” He tells me softly, kissing me a little more roughly before pulling away. “Remember that.” He turned around, leaving me alone with my burning lips and flushed skin.

“I love you too Shiro.” I whispered behind his back but my words were lost amongst the sea.

 

Chapter Text

The galra village wasn't some quick, put together refugee camp. Coran had spent the most time at the growing village than any of us, and Allura frequented the place quite often as well to help anyone who was sick. We had spent months building houses and shops that would be able to withstand heavy rains and damaging winds. We paved roads that connected with the other ones that led to other human and avian towns all throughout Altea. All of the galra and human villages had tall walls surrounding them with a gate in order to keep out dire wolves and any migrating predatory cat that stumbled upon the towns. Living on the ground was dangerous. All along the roads were avian outposts, set up to protect the Altean citizens from it’s own habitat and creatures.

The galra households were a lot bigger than the humans to compensate in size. And of course, us avians lived in the trees itself or in treehouses connected to others making a treetop community. The Garrison is probably the prettiest out of all of the avian buildings. It has man made waterfalls cascading from the trainee quarters and decks, pooling into large ponds at the bottom, and impressive bridges and obstacle courses are scattered all throughout the thick tree branches.

We were visiting the village since we needed supplies, not as a routine check up. Matt ran off as soon as walked through the gate with a list of items Pidge, Allura, and Coran needed. Pidge needed a new tool, Allura asked for some more salt for the fish tank, and Coran just wanted more food.

Keith and I walked past shop after shop, not really knowing what we were looking for. Keith had just wanted to get out of the home tree and so we decided to tag along with Matt. We were also planning on meeting him tomorrow, so I decided that this would be the best opportunity to get him another small present, though this time I would make sure he knew the meaning behind it, instead of being hopeless romantic.

“What should we get for Lance since he’ll be living with us in about… 2 and a half months?” Keith calculated, counting the weeks remaining on his fingers.

“Well, we can’t get him clothes since he doesn’t have any legs yet and we don’t know his measurements…” I thought aloud, looking at the shops as we passed by. “But we can definitely get him the basic stuff, like shampoo and all the other hygiene stuff.”

We were walking down towards the end of the street, where we were going to get Lance’s items, when I saw Thace. The galra had been a prisoner, a spy against his own kind. Pidge and Keith had rescued him while Matt and I were in a prisoner camp. He had been sentenced to be executed for treason. He found someone to love and now he has kids. Life in Altea has fared him better here than in his native home.

“Thace! How are you doing?” I called out smiling warmly at the large galra exiting the bakery entrance. The purple creature turned around, his yellow eyes lighting up in recognition, and when he smiled, his sharp teeth were revealed.

“Great actually! My wife gave birth to twins last week and I haven't gotten a lot of sleep lately.” He laughed amusingly, rubbing one of his paws on the back of his head tiredly.

“Allura told us about that. I suppose congratulations are in order.” I clapped him on the shoulder.

“Hm thank you. How are you two doing though?” He asked, eyes flickering in between Keith and I. “Has your other mate moved in with you yet? The one you two never stop talking about?”

I laughed, looking down at a blushing Keith. “No not yet. We still have about 2 months before he joins us.”

“How is he going to get up in your home tree without wings? Are you going to make a pulley system or something?”

“Actually yes.” I told him, impressed that he had guessed it correctly. “Pidge, Matt, and Coran have been working on it a lot. In fact, it should be ready in about a week or two.”

Thace nodded his head. “Next time we come, we’ll bring him with us.” Keith spoke up,

“That would be great. I want to meet this siren soon… and I should get going. I only came to get some of my wife's favorite pretzel bread and she doesn’t like being home alone with the twins.” Thace said, looking at the brown bag he was cradling in his large hand.

“We’ll see you next time then.” I reply, and we bid each other goodbye, going our separate way. We passed the blacksmith, the small Inn, a bookstore, and a couple of clothes stores for all galran’s, humans, and avians. We ended up going to a shop for home decor, and for some reason, Keith was the one who dragged me inside. Usually I was the one who bought items to fill up our space with, so it really surprised me. Then it came to me. Keith was just excited about Lance coming to live with us, and felt motivated about something besides winning a battle or making a good wood carving.

The shop owner greeted us warmly, and told us that if we needed any help then we shouldn’t be scared to ask. I thanked her and we walked slowly through the store. The ceiling was covered in mobiles, rain chains, and wind chimes. There were animal mobiles, flower mobiles, origami mobiles, but none of them screamed Lance. We walked through the aisles, admiring all of the hand made figurines and sculptures, until we unconsciously drifted over to the ocean section. Lance would probably want colors that reminded him of home, so blue or green would work. Most of the mobiles didn’t stick to specific color, but they all had great designs. Then, one in particular caught my eye. There was a small, polished piece of driftwood, and hanging off of it were the whitest seashells I had ever seen. They were separated by green beads and smooth, green rocks. The lowest string had a stone carving of a dolphin on the end.

“We’re buying this one.” Keith demanded, carefully lifting it off of the hook it was one, and walked over to the other shelves. The place had a lot of variety. Books, globes, vases, throw pillows, etc. In the end we bought him a soft blue blanket, a few encyclopedias, and some more jars for Lance to put his little charms and beads in. We also bought him a hooded cape, thinking that unwanted people might become attracted to his unusual white hair. Allura was the one who actually suggested that, since she also has the same white-silver hair as Lance.

“Let’s go in there.” I told Keith, pointing at the jewelry shop, and Keith pulled the door opened, letting me go in first. I smiled at his attempt at being “romantic”. Lance, would have loved this place. In one section of the store, there were shelves of containers filled with all sorts of beads and buttons of every color and style imaginable. Wires, chains, clasps, and hooks were also present. In the other half of the store was pre-made jewelry, or half finished ones sitting out on display on top and in glass cases.

I grabbed some flexible bronze wires, calculating how much I would need, and then some more in case I messed up. I also got some white crystal and aquamarine beads to match. The last thing I got was a few leaf charms. I wanted it to be a mix of both of our world's, sea and land, open space and towering trees. The design I had in mind would match the whistle that Keith had given Lance.

“What exactly are you going to make for Lance?” Keith asked quizzically, peering at the items in my hand as I placed them on the counter. The shop owner slid the beads into a small bag before sliding them back to me, telling me how much it would cost to buy everything.

“Ear cuffs.” I replied simply as I dug into the money pouch attached to my belt. “It’s going to be my courting gift to him. I saw Allura wearing one the other day, and I thought it would be perfect for Lance, even though he only wears those same gold ear bands all the time.”

We bid the galran goodbye and left the village with our purchases secured firmly in our arms and headed home, planning on working on the jewelry piece for Lance as soon as I got back our room.

 

Chapter Text

Hunk and I were resting in my room, keeping each other company since he didn’t have any important plans for the day. The room, as usual, was bright and comfortable, the only safe place in the palace except for the gardens, but that was only when nobody was there. The best thing about living at the top of a tower, is that I could see everything. From the gardens and courtyard below, to the caverns and market place beyond the palace gate. This place, supposedly peaceful and thriving, was an illusion. Not everyone is happy. Hunk and I knew that. The galra were getting more bold, sending more and more ships than the royal family could handle. Soon we would have to ask the shapeshifting pods to help. Recently, Mom doesn’t care if I get hurt or not. It’s suddenly all about protecting our people, and for me, it’s about protecting the others, the ones on land. Which, is what I ever wanted. To be used unchained, allowing me to do what I had already been doing my entire life. Keith and Shiro didn’t know of course. They had asked me not to get into any trouble, and I was practically doing the exact opposite. But it wasn’t something I couldn’t so, just like I couldn’t ask them to fly to battle because I didn’t want to be in front of danger.

With those thoughts, I was about to set my work down and get ready to go see Shiro and Keith when someone knocked on my door. I sighed heavily. Who was it now? First, it had been my siblings, who wanted to play with me, but then I told them I would do that later. Next, it had been a servant who had brought us food, which Hunk couldn’t complain about. Me on the other hand, I just wanted to concentrate on what I was doing. Food would waste precious time. Whoever it was, better be damn important because I was about to explode and order the guards to stop anyone who wanted to talk to me.

“Come in!” I shouted, twisting my body partially to see who it was. The door opened immediately, and a messenger emerged from the entrance, his face stoic as usual, giving nothing away.

“The queen would like to see you immediately, your highness.” He informed me hastily and then promptly bowed, closed the door, and left. I sighed, setting down the bracelet I was working on for Marcy, and turned to Hunk, who was already looking at me. "Will you tell Shiro and Keith that I won't be coming today?”

"Of course. Do you want me to tell them you will meet them tomorrow?" Hunk replied, getting off of my bed. His yellow tail flicking smoothly as he made his way towards the door.

I shook my head, my white hair floating across my vision. "I have to look after my siblings again, so I'll see them in three days if they're able to." I had been looking forward to hanging out with them. “On second thought, the little troublemakers might just be the death of me, so I’ll see them when they join in the afterlife.” I said jokingly.

"I'll go right now." Hunk laughed, shaking head, the yellow ribbon tied around his head floating around him.

"Thanks buddy, you're the best." I told him with a wink. Once he was gone, I checked my appearance in the mirror, making sure my gold circlet was straight on my head, and that my earrings weren't crooked. I smiled fondly at my mates necklace, brushing my fingers across the whistle briefly before I dropped my hand back to my side. Deeming myself presentable, I quickly made my way to the throne room. The hallways were mostly empty except for a few servants that swam past me, giving me a bow of their head briefly before they continued what they were doing. Pillar after pillar, I swam, passing pots of plants that were deemed beautiful to adorn the palace corridors. Lanterns with glowing balmera crystals and pearls sparkled, giving off a nice gleam. The massive, white and gold doors finally came into view, and the guards pushed it open as I neared. It opened slowly, revealing Mother. She was sitting stoically on her light pink coral throne chair, posture straight and regal, as usual. Her hair was up in an intricate bun, pearls tied in her hair expertly by her own hands. She had never been one to let the servants do that since she enjoyed doing it herself. She had taught all of me and Esmerelda how to make complicated braids and buns, and my younger sisters would often come up to me and ask me to fix their hair.

“You wanted to see me Mom?” I asked politely, even though I was a little irritated that I had to change my plans for the day. Over the last few years, whenever she asked to me see, I figured out that it wasn’t because she wanted to spend time with me like she did with her other children, but rather she needed me to do something. Most of the time, it was for things she knew I would dislike.

“Lance,” she began, her eyes hardening a little. I recognized that tone all too well, the one my sister would use when she ascended the throne, the one I would have used if I had become King. It demanded to be heard and listened to, commanded respect. I didn’t like it at all. “As the royal family, it is our duty to make the decisions our citizens cannot make. Which is why I have decided that we will hold your ball tomorrow night, so you can find your mate.”

Neither of us spoke as I stared at Mom. Was she being serious?

"Are you serious?” I tried to keep my voice from rising. You couldn’t have waited 2 more months to do this?” I couldn’t help but feel betrayed and hurt. I always knew that Mother’s were supposed to support their child, let them decide things on their own, meet people on their own terms… but mine didn’t do that. If she didn’t have that, then why should we?

"You will, son," she growled. "It is your duty to find a mate. I am sorry that you have to go through this so unexpectedly, and earlier than intended, but our allies are stressed. There are more galra ships in our waters lately, and this ball will distract them. Besides, this is a good thing. You get to be with the love of you life sooner than you expected.

"Just because this person will be my mate, doesn’t mean I will love them. A lot of the pods would only want to be with me for the titles and recognition. Don’t kid yourself mom. We both know that I won’t find love." I sneered, because if she actually thought that way, then that was just pathetic. It was even sadder, considering she herself had found actual love, but with a human. That was years before I was born, but I heard stories.

“I am queen and this is my decision.” Her voice had become cold and her vibrant gold crown turned dull as soon as those words slipped past her lips. “You will do as I say.”

Your decision. Right.

Before I could argue, before I could really fight against her, Mom waved a hand at the guards, signaling them to escort me back to my room, ending our discussion. I turned around sharply, and with angry flicks of my multi colored blue tail, I exited the throne room as quickly as possible. I didn’t care if my display was rude. As we were heading down the enormously open hallway, one of the guards grabbed my arm upper arm in an attempt to steer me in the right direction, which was a big mistake.

“I can fucking find my own way to my room!” I shouted at the guard, lips curling in the beginning of a snarl. He let go of my arm quickly, but stuck close to me to the point it felt suffocating. When I finally got back to my room, I slammed the door behind me. Saying I was angry would be an understatement. I was murderous. Did Mom really think I was going to let this happen? I have always followed her orders, but only because I wasn’t losing anything by doing what she requested me to do. If I obeyed her this time, I would lose everything. Pidge and Hunk, because Rolo would never let me see my friends. I would never be able to return to the surface just to look at the stars. Then there was Shiro and Keith, who I had silently sworn myself to. They were my mates. Not some possessive, hungry power merman. Rolo couldn’t stop me. Yet, how when his very name shoved me on the verge of panicking?

Hours passed like this. Negative thoughts and curses running through my mind in an endless loop. Until Hunk returned of course. When he returned, I told him what had happened, and I tried to give him my necklace so he could call Shiro and Keith, but when he left again, the guards stopped him and informed him that no one was supposed to leave the palace until the queen said so.

His pod was the first to arrive in the late afternoon.

I saw his light purple tail and white hair, which was prominent underneath the light of the lanterns. I sucked in a breath and held it, as he looked up and towards my tower. I knew he didn’t know where I was, but the fact that he looked and smiled, made me freeze. He looked away after a second, and swam along with the rest of his pod.

The effect waa almost immediate. My breathing became erratic and as I tried to breath, the struggle only made me panic and light headed. My body shook as I watched him swim inside the palace I was in, and I was worried of what he might do. Would he tell the queen we were compatible? Would he come to room before the ball? Was he coming now?

I stayed like that for a long time, shaking, crying, panicking, until Hunk came and found me sitting on the edge of my bed with my head resting tiredly in my hands.

Ψ

Hunk stayed in my room the entire night. We didn't sleep at all. I ended up swimming back and forth, across the room in agitation while Hunk watched me pace with evident concern on his face. After tonight, I would be a disgrace, a crownless prince. I would be nothing to my family, to my people, to the waters. But they were worth it. This place never accepted me or my scars, so I had every right to leave, to be with people who did. I stopped every once in awhile, watching every mermaid and man arrive for the ball I wouldn’t be attending. I sat on the window sill, staring at the glowing lanterns in the courtyard below. There were a lot of guards today, which would make my escape almost near to impossible.

“I’m leaving tonight Hunk. I can’t stay here and go through with this.” I told him, nervously running my hands through my hair, a crownless head. “Fuck! Why did we tell Shiro and Keith to meet us tomorrow?” That would have solved part of my problem.

“Do you need me to do anything?” My best friend asked, watching me quickly pack my satchel with the things that I wanted to take with me. My jars of materials I used to make jewelry with, the rose Shiro gave me, my makeup, and the knife I had but never used. Most of my belongings I didn’t need. The box of rocks and seashells… gifts, Layla and my siblings gave me over the year, would be coming with me as well. Making sure it was tightly sealed, I slipped it into my satchel. That was everything.

“If you can cause a distraction or something so I can get away safely… that would be great,” I started. “But I don’t want you doing anything stupid. Helping me could mean treason.” I had no idea what though.

Hunk nodded. “Just leave it to me then. You’ll be out in no time.” He gave me a quick, tight hug before leaving.

He was gone for maybe five minutes, when my sister entered my room, not bothering to knock. The first things she says makes me stop in my tracks. “Would you like to explain to me why Hunk was trying to slip some sleeping tonics into the punch?”

“He tried to do what?” I gulped, trying to pretend like I knew nothing. My voice sounded as if it was shrill and shocked because when I meant distraction, I didn’t mean drugging anyone. I thought he was going to cause a scene or something along those lines. And how did he get the stuff so quickly?

“Don’t try that shit on me Lance. What are you up to?” She replied, her green eyes piercing me as she swam deeper into my room, trapping me inside.I took a deep breath. What was there to lose? She was here, she found out. Most likely, she would tell Mother and that’ll be the end.

“I’m going to go live with my mates.” I told her, flicking my eyes at her to see her reaction. Nothing. She didn’t blink, didn’t start shouting me. She just… stared.

“Mates.” Esmeralda echoed, looking at me with calculating eyes.

“On land.” I added, because I felt like I had to. Esmeralda, despite our extremely different personalities, knew I never joked about stuff like this. She always knew I took my duty seriously. I never laxed, I was never lazy. My wounds always proved that. Today was supposed to be the day I found a mate, promised to produce an heir, and seal the rights to the throne. For me to want to run away, on such an important day, I figured she would know that this was my last option. It wasn’t, but there weren’t any others I wanted to make.

Her eyes narrowed, and we stayed there for a few minutes, just looking at each other. Me, scared and wanting flight. Her, cold and unwavering. “I can buy you a few minutes, but you have to be quick. Everyone is in the throne room waiting for you, so no one will see you leave. Just be careful of the guards. Get past them and you’ll be in the clear.” She finally said, moving to the side so I could leave.

“You’re not even going to question me?” I asked disbelievingly.


“I argued with Mom… about this.” Esmeralda began, and those words shocked me because I wasn’t expecting them. “I told her that you should have the two remaining months. You’ve seemed happy these last few, and I didn’t want to ruin that. I guess your mates are the reason why you’re so happy?” She inquired with the tilt of her head.

“Yeah, they are.” I smiled. Never before had I thought she would be on my side. Though I shouldn’t really be that surprised. She would become queen after I left, so it was a win-win for the both of us.

“Well then, go for fucks sake. I’ll keep the guards and anyone else away. Just go through the garden and you can get to wherever you’re going safely.”

She left the bedroom first, and waited while she gave the guards new orders, leaving me unguarded. I crept down the hallways and down the staircase, my sister's voice barely sounded a whisper as I attempted to escape. I swam through the fields of water lilies and seagrass, rushing to get out of the palace grounds before someone spotted me. There were a lot of guards around, and it would take pure luck and calculations in order to get out of this without any more setbacks. Then, of course it didn’t happen. A flick of a lilac colored tail confirmed what I hoped I had just imagined. I froze in fear, my hand shaking slightly as Rolo swam confidently in front of me, his pace agonizingly slow. “I thought you might try and do this, considering how our last encounter went.”

“You can’t really blame me.” My voice shook, as I looked for a way out. I could ask the fish to help me, but I knew for a fact that Rolo would just tear them apart before he let me escape. I couldn’t ask someone to get involved with my problems when they weren’t even my same species.

Rolo’s hand shot out suddenly, grabbing onto my wrist and pulled my body to him with a harsh yank. He wrapped his other arm tightly around my body. I was pressed up flush against his smooth, marless skin, and it felt disgusting and wrong. Without even thinking, I sank my teeth desperately into his hand, and he let out a scream that attracted a few of his pod members. He let go of me, holding his bleeding hand close to his chest and I shoved him away, hard, before I made for my escape. The kelp forests, sea chasms, and reefs were a blur as I swam faster than I had ever pushed myself, until I reached the shallows. No longer able to swim as quickly and fluidly, I practically dragged myself the rest of the way when I could push myself out of the water.

I pulled myself out of the water, shouldering my satchel before I started to beach myself. Once I was several yards away, I took a moment to just breath. Putting the whistle into my mouth, I blew air through it desperately, trapped on the beach. I found myself praying that my mates would arrive in time. I only had a few minutes head start on Rolo and his pod, but I’ve seen how fast Keith and Shiro can fly. They’ll get here in time. I debated weather or not I should start shifting but it would just make the situation worse. In the beginning, I decided to become human when Shiro and Keith were around so they could look after me.

Those minutes passed by quickly. I blew it again when I saw the them emerge from the waters, 5-10 shapeshifters in all, a few of Rolo’s podmates. He was the first to emerge, walking out of the water completely naked and shameless. There was only a wild gleam in his eyes.

"You are coming back with me, and you will be my mate." Rolo snarled, his sharp teeth bared unforgivingly. I shook my head fearfully, dragging myself further up the beach in an attempt to get away from him. Humans, are faster than a beached mermaid though. He grabbed my tail roughly, and started to drag me back to the dark waters, a place I had once found comforting and had called home.

Now, I wanted nothing to do with it.


“No.” I attempted to snarl, but it came out as a weak growl. I trashed my tail experimentally but his hand just tightened painfully around me. His nails were digging into my scales, and Rolo smiled at me as if he had already won. He didn’t care about me or my problems. Mom was wrong. I could never love him.

Get away from him.” A voice said darkly, and I whipped my head around, watching as Shiro stalked over to us. His galra arm flared, a purple glow illuminating the beach, and Rolo's grip just tightened around me. Keith's knives were already drawn and slicing through the shapeshifter closest to Rolo. There was deafening silence as the body hit the sand before Rolo and the others roared in anger, rushing forward. I watched, helpless as they're sharp teeth and elongated nails gleamed in the moonlight. I was enraptured in Shiro and Keith's movements. They seemed flawless and deadly, precise with their sword and knives. Shiro's arm was just a blade of purple light, and the fear that was visible in their eyes made me proud.

“Prince Lance belongs to me.” Rolo snarled, gesturing at my cowering form on the ground with a red stained hand, where I had bit him. “So if you will, bring him to me and no one else will get. We don’t want anymore blood on our hands, now do we?” He directed that last part to me, his eyes boring into mine mercilessly.

He ignored the deaths of his own people. 

“Are you Rolo?” Keith asked tightly, taking a step forward while Shiro walked over to me. His wings flared aggressively as he eyed the clothless figure in front of him.

“Why do you want to know?”


“Lance told us about someone called Rolo, a shapeshifter, who was supposed to be his mate. He was the one that gave him those scars on his tail… and me and my blades would love to meet him.” Keith’s voice dropped to a low purr, and looked at Rolo with inferiority. Rolo said nothing, did nothing. He didn’t know what I knew about my mates. That they were the best graduates the Garrison had ever seen; but he could tell that they were soldiers, and that they were good at what they did. Rolo was smart enough to figure out that fucking with these guys would not end well for him.

Keith’s fingerless gloves revealed his white knuckles, gripping his knives too tightly as he if we didn’t say anything, he would kill the bastard. Which was what I wanted, but it would be a huge mistake on our part.

“Don’t… Keith. As much as I want to see him dead, killing him will be an act of war. And they are the only things standing in between Altea and the Empire.” I said, my voice wavering as I looked at the merman who had scarred me, physically and mentally. Shiro had sunk down into the sand behind me, his arms wrapped around my slim waist protectively, looking at the remaining shape shifters.

“You’re safe. We won’t let them take you. Keith won’t let them get anywhere near you.” Shiro whispered, planting a kiss on my cheek. Keith stood in between them and us. My small mate glanced over his shoulder at us, his black hair tied up in a rushed ponytail, and his entire face was dark, reminding me of the waters I was abandoning. I sucked in a breath, suppressing a shiver that threatened to take my body.

“Lance is going nowhere.” Keith said coldly, pointing a sharpened blade stained red at Rolo. “So you better leave right now, before I change my mind.”

“I’m coming back for you, no matter what form you are in, merman or human. You will be with me.” Rolo promised, before he signaled to the remaining shifters to follow him. When they were gone, I finally let out the breath I had unknowingly kept inside.

“Are you okay Lance?” Shiro

“What the hell happened? Why were they chasing you?” Keith stressed, pacing in front of me a bit before crouching down in front of me.

“Mom decided to hold the ball tonight instead of on my actual birthday so… I couldn’t exactly leave peacefully.” I responded, eyeing the dead bodies on the sand. “What’s done is done though,” I continued. “So I guess I should start the shifting process, right?”

Shifting wasn't easy. It wasn't something that someone else could trigger or force me into doing. I had to do it consciously.There were two strings, basically, in my mind or soul. I don’t really know where, but it’s there, and in me. One defined me as a merman, and that was the one that kept me from becoming human. The other, was what I wanted to have. All I had to do was cut that first string and I would being the painful, permanent process of shifting. I read accounts of other mermaid experiences at shifting, and none of them were good. It was rumoured that the reason why the process was painful was because we weren’t supposed to want to be anything else than what we were. Yet the choice was given to us anyways. It almost seemed like it was saying that being human was a sin. It struck me though, that some did it anyways. They found that living in their condition wasn’t worth it, and that experiencing the burning and crushing sensations was well worth it.

“This is still what you want right?” Shiro asked, his eyes full of obvious love. I liked how he questioned my decision beforehand.

“Of course.” I replied, everything else completely forgotten. After all of this shit, how could I say no?

“We’ll be here when you wake up.” Keith sa, running his fingers through my hair comfortingly. Did they know that when I wake up I will be completely naked? I wanted to laugh at their reactions. Shiro’s eyes would probably go big and wide, and his cheeks would flush in embarrassment. Keith, he’d just be flustered.

Taking a deep breath, I nodded, and cut the string. It was simple and quick. One second it’s whole, and the next it falls, withers, and disappears like it was never there. At first nothing happened and I was left to hold my breath. Then my waist down went numb, slowly becoming replaced with a slight burning sensation. At least, I thought it was a burn. I’ve never touched fire before, but I’ve felt it’s heat, and it was hot and scalding. It felt like a gods unforgiving wrath. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes as my sharp teeth dug into my bottom lip, drawing blood. I wanted to scream. I probably was screaming. My throat felt sore and my cheeks felt wet, but those senses felt dull compared to the agony on my lower body as it reconstructed itself. My mind felt like it was being bashed in with a rock, and I couldn’t process anything. All I knew, all I felt, was tearing, crushing, burning, cutting.

The only thought I could process before I passed out, was if I would have nightmares after this, if my mind was still be whole when this was over.

 

 

Chapter Text

Legs.” I heard Lance whisper to himself in awe. “I have legs.”

“Yes, you do.” Shiro said endearingly, looking at the human in his bed. Our bed. Their bed. This was going to take a while to get used to.

Lance made grabby hands at Shiro, “Help me up. I want to walk.”

His shift had lasted for four hours. Four hours filled with agonized screaming, crying, cursing, and begging. I had never felt so helpless before. I couldn’t get rid of his pain. It had been weird to watch his tail disappear, and surprisingly, there had been a lot of blood. I didn’t know if Lance just didn’t know, or didn’t tell us, but either way, it had been out of our hands during the shift. Shiro had freaked out really badly when he saw the blood, but we weren’t going to tell Lance that. That was after Lance blacked out from screaming his voice raw. He slept deeply for 2 days, he’s finally awake. Since the pulley system Pidge and Coran are working on wasn’t complete, Shiro had to carry his naked ass back to the tree. I couldn’t believe the shit head didn’t tell us he would be clothless. For some reason I wasn’t expecting him to be nude. I thought clothes would magically appear out of nowhere, but no. Instead, I got an eyeful of his dick and ass… and maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. His body was fucking gorgeous. He still had the same white hair, bright blue eyes, tan scarred skin. He just doesn’t have a tail anymore. Everyone had been awake and waiting to move returned the clothes lamps in a shirtless Shiro carrying our unconscious mate. Allura and Coran visibly gawked at the lanky boy in my mates arms, taking in the pale scars on his legs and his stark white hair. Once we got to our room, we bathed and dressed him in a clean shirt that fell down to his knees, and my shorts that wasn’t visible, covered by Shiro’s shirt. When he had woken up and realized that he was wearing clothes,he had been ecstatic.

I smiled as Lance traced the scars on his legs, wiggling his toes in amazement.

“I can wear clothes?” Lance asked excitedly, watching Shiro walk back over to him. He looked like he was about to cry. I sat up in bed, untangling our limbs before I sat in front of him, grabbing his now human hands, threading our fingers together. I couldn’t help but notice how soft and smooth they were.

“Don’t cry okay? What’s wrong?” I asked worriedly, thinking that maybe we did something wrong, but I couldn’t think of anything. Did he not like what he was wearing?

“I can finally hide my scars. Do you know how long I've wanted to wear clothes?” He whispered with a smile on his face.

Shiro frowned a little at that. “People here won’t judge you for being scarred Lance. A lot of people have scars. It’s a part of our world. Alteans aren’t like the merfolk.”

“That’s true. I’m glad, then. So… do I have to wear clothes all the time or can I be shirtless?” Lance inquired, feeling the material of the shirt and pants. Whatever he wanted to feel

“You can be shirtless but most people don’t go out in public without being fully clothed. Usually only mates get to see each other naked like that.”

“Oh.”

Now, I was sitting on top of the table in our room, watching a very flustered Shiro look down at Lance, who was still making grabby hands at him. Unsure, Shiro hesitated until Lane let out an irritable huff, a look of hurt flashing in his eyes. Shiro quickly reached for Lance and I had to stifle a laugh. We both didn’t want Lance to be upset about anything, and since being human was new to him, we didn’t want this experience to be bad for him. Shiro lifted him up off of the bed and started to slowly let Lance’s barefeet touch the floor. He must have started to loosen his grip on Lance too much because he freaked out.

“Don’t drop me!” Lance shrieked, wrapping his arms and legs around Shiro’s body quickly.

“I won’t! I won’t!” Shiro quickly promised, startled by the reaction. Lance clung to Shiro for a while until Shiro coaxed him to get down. He slowly unwrapped his limbs from around Shiro He let out a loose breath as his feet touched the ground, and his legs were wobbly as he held onto Shiro’s arm for support. Shiro stretched his firm, muscular arms, putting some distance between the two of them but still held onto Lance.

“Now, just move one leg in front of the other. Concentrate okay?” Shiro said patiently, watching Lance intently. I held my breath as Lance’s eyebrows furrowed, and his feet shifted, moving forward. He smiled when he didn't fall, and it continued to grow into a grin that threatened to split his face in half. It was strange teaching an adult how to walk for the first time, but it was extremely adorable. Lance’s enthusiasm and determination was tenfold whenever he did something new. It looked kinda awkward, but he finally figured it out, and it didn’t look like he was shuffling his feet or waddling anymore. When Lance began to walk more steadily, Shiro loosened his grip on our white haired mate experimentally.

“Can you try it on your own?” Shiro asked, his hands hovering over Lance’s arm in case he fell or something.

He nodded eagerly, glancing over at me and bit his lip. He shifted his lip and walked towards me, and my eyes widened. When he reached me, I felt his soft lips melt mine as he put a little pressure into it, and without even thinking, I smacked his ass. Lance let out a startled squeak, lost his balance, and then crashed back down into the ground with a surprised curse.

Snickering, I jumped off of the table smoothly and helped him. “Now we just need to teach you how to skip, jump, walk, and all that other fun stuff.”

“Skipping?” Lance asked, tilting his head in confusion. He seriously didn’t know what skipping was?

“Pidge can teach you how to skip.” Shiro added, amusement gleaming in his eyes.

“I think we can show him the rest of the place now.” I told Shiro, who nodded. Lance followed us out of the room hurriedly, obviously excited to see our home.

We showed him the kitchen, our library, the training room, leading around by hand. I wondered briefly, what role Lance would play here. He had always been the protector, but things were different now. He was a lot more vulnerable now. I didn’t say it out loud because I knew that he would fight with me about it, but we all agreed that we needed to look after Lance. He could live here, but if he decided to join us on missions and such, he would have to go to the Garrison and get tested to be a Blue. And that could get… pretty intense. Some avians didn’t like humans in our squads or flocks. They seemed weaker, but I’ve seen some Blue’s and they can fight hard and nasty. They make up for what they “lack”.

“Aw, isn’t that cute. He’s your wearing your clothes!” Pidge emerged from around a corner with Matt in tow, both of their light golden eyes laughing as they took in the scene.

“It’s not cute!” I snapped, looking away as Lance looked down at his clothes. He probably didn’t even realize what it meant to wear someone else’s clothes.

“But it is.” Pidge insisted, winking at a confused Lance. I gave the smaller boy a warning growl but he didn’t even blink at the sound. Finally, we entered the large living room. There was a large table in the center of the room with large, long gray couches that everyone could fit on. And right across the room, was the tank of fish Lance had given to us. It was the first thing he saw when we walked in.

“My friends!” Lance exclaimed, pulling me and Shiro behind him as quickly as he could over to the tank. Pidge laughed at him, while Allura and Coran watched with fond smiles, who had also joined the group at some point. He stood in front of the tank, baby blues sweeping over the anemone and other aquatic plants that waved at us from inside. The fish swam around around, but the same creepy fish seemed to notice Lance first, swimming up to the tank and stared at him through the thick glass.

“Thanks for taking good care of them.” Lance beamed, giving us a side glance as he dropped Shiro’s hand and dipped his fingers into the water. The fish seemed to recognize Lance through the glass, because they immediately swam up to meet his fingers. There mouth opened and closed as if they were talking, but I knew that they were just breathing. They rubbed their bodies against his fingers a little as they slide through his spread palm. His smile vanished a little and I heard him say, “I can’t hear them anymore.”

I rubbed little circles into Lance’s back, copying the same thing that Shiro did for me when I was upset or too tense. “Well, at least they’re here?” I tried to comfort him, and it worked. Lance smiled, his teeth showing white, normal teeth. I had to admit, his sharp teeth before had unnerved me. It didn’t really seem to match Lance’s mostly docile, fun personality. His shark like teeth had been to savage and predatory for Lance to have. It just didn’t match him.

“That’s one reason why I had asked them to come live with you.” Lance admitted, withdrawing his finger from the water. He seemed a little more down than earlier. When we had went into the library and the kitchen he had been ecstatic. He couldn’t stand still. Now, he barely moved. Shiro and I shared a look, and Pidge must have noticed the sudden shift in mood because he started to wave his hands to get our attention while Lance was still focused on the fish. The short avian pointed towards the door, and then made a sharp left gesture, which was followed by his arms making an up and down motion, followed by a hand spreading above his head in a sweeping motion. Pidge isn’t good at playing charades.

Shiro turns to me with a smile on his face and mouths, “He wants us to take him outside.”

Oh.

“Can I take Lance outside for a little bit?” I directed the question to Shiro, pretending as if no one had suggested it. Lance whirled around, hope spooling in his blue irises. Our leader, my leader, nodded his head in consent, and Lance grabbed my hand with a squeal and almost ran out of the room. When we exited the living room, he just stood there, not knowing where to go.

“I guess you should be taking the lead, right?” Lance chuckled nervously. I hummed in agreement.

I walked Lance to the platform that we leaped off of, looking at the ground where we walked warily. If Lance fell from this height... I shivered at the images that popped into my mind.Stepping closer to Lance protectively, I guarded him from the edge as we neared the end of the platform. I stopped us when we were only a few feet away from the drop. I planned on asking Shiro if we could put a rope fence or something out here for Lance because I had a feeling that he would want to come out here often. There was always a small breeze, and I could see wisps of white hair from the tiniest gust of air being tugged lightly.

The rustle of the evergreen leaves, the clouds peeking through the branches, and a mixture of blue and green, the colors of the sea. That’s what I wanted him to see, that home could exist out here as well. Is that what Pidge wanted him to see as well?

“This is beautiful.” Lance breathed out with awe, his eyes sweeping at the canopy and I tensed when he leaned forward a little, peering over the edge. Below, was grass, something I knew he had never felt it before, and it made me happy that I was showing him this for the first time. I could only imagine how he would react to the sunrise, sunset, moonrise, the stars, a storm… literally anything could captivate Lance’s attention right now. And that, was a little scary. He could pick up a flower that was dangerous and not even know it. Or he could catch a lizard or a frog, or something poisonous. We would have to teach him everything about our world, things we were taught when we were children. Pidge had done a little of that, but he had only answered questions that Lane wanted to know, not what he needed to learn.

“Hey Keith?” Lance’s words sounded heavy, yet light all at the same time.

“Yeah?” I move my head a little so I can see his profile. His face is relaxed and happy, pure content.

“Thank you.”

 

Chapter Text

Keith.”

“Keith.”

Keeeeeith.”

“Keith?” I shook his shoulders gently, not wanting a knife in my throat. Last night I found out that he always slept with one underneath his pillow, and Shiro warned me not to startle him. I wasn’t going to, but he wouldn’t wake up! “Keethy boy, wake up.” I tried again, moving onto the nicknames.

“Don’t fucking call me that.” I finally hear him say. His voice is gruff and hard from sleeping, and my cheeks flush at the tone. He rolled over onto his side so he could look at me. His black hair was curly and messy, and his violet eyes were barely opened, but the purple irises peeked underneath his long, dark eyelashes.

“What, Keethy boy?” I grinned, and his eyes flashed with annoyance.

Yes.” He grabbed the pillow from underneath my head and threw it across the room while I let out a wail of protest. I scrambled out of bed, and grabbed my pillow, giving Keith a hurt look before I sat down beside my boyfriend.

“So why’d you wake me up this early?” Keith grumbled, shifting a little so he could see me better. He stayed buried underneath the covers.

“You and Shiro said that we would go to that galra village to get me clothes.” I said with a soft chuckle. I was excited to get my own belongings, new ones, considering I left most of mine at the palace. Plus, it would be my first time outside. I’ve never felt dirt or grass before, just sand. I had no idea what my mates culture was like… I had never thought to ask Pidge about it. I never thought I’d live here.

“Where is Shiro?”

“He went to make sure that the roads are safe today. He should be back in a few minutes.” I told him. I wasn’t sure what was so dangerous that the flock leader had to go check if we would be safe to walk an hour away. Altea was peaceful except for the frontlines, and even then we were well protected and stable. To me, it didn't really make any sense for Shiro to do all of that, but it wasn’t my decision.

Keith gave a grunt of acknowledgement before throwing the covers off of his body, and slid out of the king sized. He walked over the closet, pulled out his usual red shirt and blank pants, slipped them on, and then handed me my clothes. He handed me one of Shiro’s black shirts, along with the only pair of gray pants that he himself owned. I put them on, struggling for a second with the pants before I glanced at myself. “I look ridiculous.” I commented, looking myself over in the mirror.

The door opened with a click, and Shiro stepped inside. He glanced at Keith and I, who were now fully dressed and gave each of us a kiss.

“So, can we go today?” I asked as soon as we broke away from the kiss. My eyes flickered down to his hands once I noticed that he was holding a silky looking fabric in his hands.

Shiro nodded and walked up to me after giving a quick look to Keith. “If we’re going to go out, you’re going to need to wear this. It’s going to take us at least an hour, maybe two to get to the galra village. And I don’t know how anyone will react to your… exotic looks, and Allura recommended this, since she gets a lot of unwanted attention.”

I eyed it warily, but nodded, knowing that Shiro wouldn’t put me in danger, and it only looked like some type of clothing item. I already knew what type of people would try to come after me. He unclasped the gold chain from the front and wrapped it around my shoulders, and started to position it more comfortably before he hooked the chain to a clasp. He pulled something over my head, and he pushed my hair further into the clothing.

“It’s called a cloak. It’s supposed to keep others attention away from you.” Shiro explained, gesturing to the blue cloak I was now wearing. “And these are also for you!” He continued, picking up a bag I hadn’t noticed. He held it out for me shyly, and Keith was shifting his feet nervously as I took it out of their hands. It felt a little heavy, and I could hear a faint, clicking sound. There was another wrapped package in Shiro’s hand, but he didn’t give it to me.

I opened the bag hesitantly, unwrapping the smaller items first. There were several small jars, and an extremely soft, blue blanket. The jars, I immediately placed on the shelf that had been designated for me, next to all of my other jars. Next, I opened the largest wrapped gift. This is the one that made the clinking sound. There were strings coming off of a stick, and there were white seashells and green rocks tied onto the clear string. On the end of the longest string, was a figurine of a dolphin, and I smiled as I graced my fingers across from it. I wasn’t so sure what it was. But it was pretty. There was a hook on top so I knew that it would go on the ceiling.

“Do you know what this is?” Shiro asked, slightly amused as I turned it around in my hand, trying to figure it out on my own. I sighed in defeat and shook my head.

“It’s a mobile. It’s supposed to spin around when there is air, or you can make it move yourself.” Shiro explained. “Keith picked it out for you.”

I turned to Keith and said, “Thank you,” in a soft, fond voice. “It’s very pretty.”

A cherry red blush consumed his face before his face twisted into something sour. “You give him your gift.” Keith said with a wicked grin, smiling at me as if I was in for a treat.

“Here.” He said nervously, handing me the more carefully wrapped package. It was extremely light, and small. I unwrapped it with as much care as it had been wrapped it, and gasped when I saw what it was.

I was speechless.

“Can I-can I put it on you?” Shiro asked hesitantly, and I nodded. I took off my plain gold cuffs and placed them in a jar with my other ones. Shiro wordlessly attached the ear cuff to my ear. It had bronze wire, shaped like a sharp finned animal. Blue beads were threaded through the wire to make it look like they were scales, and on the ends were little leaf charms that fit perfectly.

When Shiro was done, I looked back in the mirror and marveled at it. The bronze went good with my white hair, and the beads made my eyes even brighter. I hadn’t been expecting this. I had thought Shiro would have gotten me a bracelet, another necklace, or a ring. But not an ear cuff. Those were hard to make, and it must have taken him a long time to make it. It takes me a full week, maybe two to make if it was a complicated design.

This,” I began. “Is better than what I can do. It is really pretty Shiro.”

Shiro blushed at my praise. “U-um, thank you.”

“Can we get going now?” Keith butted in impatiently, but he was smiling at Shiro’s flustered face. My attention immediately went back to our plans for the day. I picked a spot on the ceiling for the seashell mobile they bought me, next to the window. Keith drilled a hook into the ceiling and then attached the mobile to it while I put my other gifts away. Once everything was put away, we left to go to the village.

Ψ

Going down for the first time made me realize that I was still scared of something. Before, I feared abandonment, worthlessness, sharks, Rolo… those things still scared me, but now I was scared of heights. You can’t fall when you’re in the ocean. On land though, you could die. Break bones, lose limbs or become paralyzed just from falling. So I clung onto Shiro as tightly as possible as he flew me to the ground. It was smooth and quick, but it still terrified me. The entrance to the tree was hundreds of feet up in the air, and a fall from that height would kill me.

Once Shiro put me down, Keith landed silently beside us. He quickly closed his wings, and watched as I squatted down, feeling the grass through my fingers. It was surprisingly soft underneath my bare feet despite its pointed look, reminding me of the sea grass we had back at the palace. And the dirt was a lot softer than mud and sand. I looked up and my eyes went wide with amazement. I knew how big the trees were, but they looked even bigger when you’re standing directly beside one of them. I felt small and pathetic underneath the giant, Altean trees. I never felt like this in the water unless I was swimming through the caverns or I was alone in the open water.

While we walked to the village, Shiro pointed out the different types of flowers and birds we saw. It surprised me how much he knew about the flora and fauna of Altea. There were a lot of different species. There were a few butterflies and squirrels, and this is the first time seeing them up close. I've only seen them in books before. The creatures looked even smaller as they flitted or climbed up or around the trunks of the trees. I wanted to go catch one, but Shiro promised me I could do do that on another day.

So far, we were the only travelers on the road, and I wondered why I had to where the hood. That was until I saw them, perched in the trees like sentries. There were other avians in the treetops, watching us walk down the road. They were wearing red or yellow suits like Keith and Matt, and every once in awhile I would see a black one. Swords, spears, or bows were sheathed on their backs or on their hips, weapons I didn’t think they needed. They gave off the same air as Shiro. Commanding and serious, strong and dangerous.

Finally, a gate came into view along with a large, high fence surrounding the stone and wood houses and shops. There were no platforms in the trees and Shiro and Keith seemed to be the only avians in this area.

“Shiro, Keith! You’re back already?” Someone called out, and I watched as my mates turned to look at a large galra making their way towards us. I stopped my body from stiffening, refusing to be wary of someone who was obviously their friend. I had to remind myself that this was a galra village, and that they were refugees and citizens of Altea. They posed no threat.

“Yeah… this is Lance.” Shiro said, not going into a deep explanation as to why they were back already.

Lance, Lance? Your mate?” The galra asked, clearly surprised. “Didn’t you just tell me two days ago that he wasn’t going to be here for another two months?”

I looked over to Keith quizzically, surprised that they had told someone about me. He refused to meet my eyes, and he ran his free hand through his hair, pushing his bangs back.

Shiro nodded, and placed his metal arm against my back. I pulled my hoodie off, figuring it was safe now, and I made sure it didn’t snag on the ear cuff. The galra’s eyes widened as he took in the white hair. “There were a few complications and he was forced to leave early.”

The galra nodded, turning his yellow gaze over to me. “You didn’t tell me that your mate was the prince though.”

Shiro shrugged. “I didn’t think it was that important. Lance doesn't like his title anyway.”

“The names Thace, by the way. Pidge rescued me last year.” The galra introduced himself, holding out his large, purple hand out to me, and I took it. This was one of the first things Pidge taught me when we met, which was also a year ago. Even though I wanted to talk to their friend, I also wanted to look around.

“So besides bringing him to meet me, why did you come here? Because I know that if this was the only reason, you would have waited two months to come see me.” Thace stated, looking in between the three of us.

“Lance just needs some clothes and some other things as well.” Shiro replied.

“Well, I guess I’ll go then. It doesn’t look like he can wait much longer.” Thace said amused as he watched me fidget in my spot. The only reason why I was still here is because both Keith and Shiro were holding on to me. He left after saying exchanging another few words with my mates before he left.

“If you see something you like, say something and we will go in there.” Shiro said, turning to me once Thace was out of sight. I nodded and we started to make our way down the street. We window shopped for a few minutes before I suddenly stopped and pointed.

Shiro looked at the shop curiously. “It’s an avian clothes store, you know that right?”

I shook my head. “But can we still go in there?”

“Of course! The style might be a little different though.” Shiro said, as if I would care about that. This was my first time looking at clothes, so I didn't know what my style was, but their clothes looked a lot like it. I always liked what they wore.

“Try these on.” Keith demanded, pushing blue, green, and purple shirts into my hands. We barely walked into the shop when he went off and pulled off clothes from the shelves and racks. He was acting as if he had thought about this for a long time. “If they don’t fit, tell me so I can get them in a different size.”

He steered me into a room that I could change in. Once the door was shut behind me, I looked the clothes over that had been shoved into my arms. Some of them had sleeves and others didn’t. A few had strings on the back and others had buttons. The back of the shirt I had in my hands now was open for the wings, but since I was wingless, it didn’t really make sense for me to wear it; but it still looked really good. I quickly slipped the pair on top of the pile. When I was done, I reopened the door and stepped out. Keith made some weird sound once he saw me.

“Turn around.” Shiro asked, not being as demanding as Keith, but just as desperate to see me. twirling a finger in the air, signaling for me to spin. I turn around slowly, watching Shiro and Keith’s reactions as they eye the outfit they picked out for me. It was a sleeveless blue shirt with the collar circling completely around my neck. There was a large gap in the back, and I wondered if I should even be wearing a shirt. The white jeans were a little tight, but they were comfortable.

The process was repeated for a while, trying on different colors and styles. When I tried on the last one, a green tank top with loose black pants, Shiro and Keith both hummed their approval. I had a feeling that Shiro and Keith would enjoy me seeing me in these clothes more than I would enjoy wearing them… and that was saying a lot.

“We’ll get this one too, along with with the others.” Shiro informed the shop owner, and they began sorting through all of my outfits. Two pairs of shoes, boxers, socks, a week's worth of pants and shirts, and a hoodie for the colder season. Shoes, were perhaps the weirdest, and they said I didn’t have to wear them unless I had to. They could see the discomfort when I tried them on, but it was bought just in case. My fins had never been confined and I didn’t like the idea of my feet being trapped in whatever the shoes were made off. It just didn’t sit well with me. That was the only thing I didn’t like. I was just happy my scars were now covered. The vine like pale scars that wrapped around my legs were now away from prying, curious eyes. I was happy.

After we bought the clothes, we went to another shop with shampoo and such, and they let me pick out what scent I wanted. There were a ton of choices, but I loved the Lavender and Vanilla smelling ones the most. They all smelled extremely nice, and my boyfriends approved of my choices as well. Human bodies seemed to need more care than mermaids. I had to get toothpaste and deodorant, something we didn’t need since we didn’t really sweat.

It was new, but I welcomed it. Seeing all of these new places and walking through foreign nature, was an experience I never wanted to forget. New had never been something bad to me, even though everyone every single mermaid would say otherwise. New was dangerous, unpredictable, and a bringer of death… but how can shampoo and butterflies kill people? That just sounds stupid and ridiculous. Sure the butterflies were poisonous, but as long as I didn’t eat them I would be fine. And as long as I didn’t consume the shampoo or get it in my eyes, I’ll be fine as well. New won’t kill me.

New set me free.

 

 

Chapter Text

Lance was laying on top of me, head resting on my chest, fast asleep. He had been chasing butterflies and other little critters that he found in the bushes and flower fields on the ground earlier this morning, and when we went back inside, he feel asleep as soon as his head hit my chest. He had mumbled about it being like a pillow or something. One hand wrapped around his side so he wouldn't fall off of the side of the couch, and with the other I held a book, reading as I listened to his soft snores. Matt and Keith were on patrol, and Coran and Pidge were finishing up the pulley system. They were installing a railing system on it, so that Lance wouldn’t fall off of it on accident. Keith was extremely relieved about that, especially when we did the same thing on the landing decks as well. It has only been 5 days since Lance has been here, and the tree is a lot more livelier now. There are a lot more jokes and teasing, a side of him we hadn’t really seen before. When he was still a merman, he had been a lot more reserved, but he constantly teased Keith. It’s nice seeing him like this, relaxed instead of worrying about what his Mom would think or about that fucking shape shifter Rolo. In the past five days, Lance has grown a lot, and has learned a lot as well.

He still has to be introduced to our customs, such as preening and what the different sounds we make mean, or our body language. He’s in our world now, and he can easily get hurt. What if he didn’t submit when another avian flared their wings at him? Or if he missed a warning call because he didn’t know what it meant? There were too many possibilities, but I knew we had time to teach him. Pidge told us to make a list of all the things that we needed to teach him, and it just keeps growing and growing. We are on our third page now.

Yet, there are a lot of things he still has to experience, not just food. He still has to see myepisodes. I know Pidge has told him about it before. My nightmares and panic attacks… I don’t want him to see me like that, but I can’t change anything about that. I know he won’t see me any differently. It’s just, sometimes I feel pathetic and unworthy to be flock leader. Sometimes I’m unstable and that can really hurt everyone if I can’t pull myself together. No one blames me or thinks less of me because of it though.

Lance’s sigh pulls me out of my thoughts, and I turn my attention back to him. Lance was to distracting. His breath came out softly against my neck, and I could feel his chest move with every breath he took. If I thought he looked adorable early, then I was clearly mistaken.

Shiro! Shiro what is that?” Lance called out to me, pointing at a bush full of blackberries.

‘That’s right,’ I thought. ‘We never did get to show him fruit.

“It’s called a blackberry.” I informed him as I walked over. I plucked a few off of the bush, pulled out a bottle of water, and poured it over the black fruit. I handed him one and he took it, squishing it lightly between his fingers experimentally. He brought it up to his nose and sniffed it before popping it into his mouth. As soon as I saw his jaw bite down, I looked at his face, and smiled. His ocean blue eyes lit up, and there was a wild grin as he reached for the others in my hand. He popped all of them into his mouth, and I quickly picked some more, repeating the same motions.

“Don’t put too many into your mouth. You might choke.” I scolded him as I grabbed his wrist, stopping his hand from his mouth. When he didn’t say anything, I let go of, making sure that the look I gave him was stern and serious. He did it anyways.

“Lance!” I said exasperatedly, but I couldn’t actually be upset with him. I would be if he started choking… but he didn’t. After he had his fill, which meant the entire bush, he ran off with a full stomach, continuing his chase after the white and yellow butterflies. Lance found a few bunnies, but he quickly found out that he would never be able to catch them.

I took my eyes off of him for one second, one goddamn second, and when I find him again, he is several yards away looking at some other red fruit. I headed towards him, peering at the round cherries.

“No!” I shouted, slapping it out of his hands. He looked at me, stunned and hurt but I couldn’t worry about his feelings right now.

“You can’t eat everything you see! Those are dead cherries. They are poisonous.” I explained to him, and he stared at the fruit in horror. “Ask me or someone else that’s with you if you can eat it, okay? I’m sorry if I scared you.”

“N-no I understand.”

Besides Lance almost poisoning himself, it had been a good start. I wish Keith had been there, but I’m pretty sure this would happen again. We could have a picnic and have a bunch of food Lance has never had before. I could get Pidge to make a list of all the food he has had, so that we can actually give him something he has never tried before. My biggest concern about giving him new food though, is allergies. Pidge is allergic to peanuts, so I already carry an epipen with me at all times in case he eats something with traces or chunks of it. He can be careless if he’s been working on a project for a few days and forgot to eat. He will literally grab whatever was in sight, and I walked into Matt freaking out because Pidge almost put an entire spoonful of peanut butter into his mouth. We put all of the food he was allergic to on a higher shelf after that.

A second later, I heard and felt Lance took in a deep breath before exhaling, his eyes fluttering open slowly as he woke up.

“Did you sleep well?” I asked, setting my book down on the edge of the couch. I wasn’t even reading. Pushing Lance’s bangs out of his face, I lean in and kiss his lips briefly before pulling back, enjoying the sleepy blush that crawls over Lance’s entire body.

Lance nods, his face still resting on my chest. “Thanks for letting me get out of the tree for a while.”

“It was nothing. I had fun.” I said, giving him an unsuppressed warm smile. A few seconds pass in silence before he speaks again.

“When is Keith supposed to be back?” Lance asked, his ocean eyes peering up at me and my heart flutters. God he’s so beautiful.

“In at least an hour… I don’t know how long we’ve been here.” I heard myself tell him. He shifts, adjusting his arms a bit more and his fingers accidently graze my sides. Without meaning to, I suck in a breath. Lance notices. His hands freeze, still touching my sides as he gives me a thoughtful look.

“Hey Shiro, are you ticklish?” Lance said with a smirk, a sly glint in his eyes. Only Keith and Matt know that I’m ticklish, and I ended up having to blackmail both of them so they wouldn’t tell the others. I have no blackmail on Lance, and I know for a fact that he will blab to Keith, and then Pidge will over hear, make a big scene, and then Allura and Coran would know. There would be one, big chain reaction, and I did not want that.

I make my face impassively blank before I say, “No.”

“Keith is the one that’s ticklish.” Keith, if this works, I’m sorry.

Sure.” Lance drawled out, giving me a disbelieving look. Shit. He moves his fingers a little in experimentation, and I give him a warning growl but then he pushes them harder into my body and out of desperation, I grab his hands and push him off. He laughs as I stand up. He gets off of the couch and chases me out around the living room and I quickly turn towards the door in an attempt to get out and away from my attacker. Lance was fast and nimble, and it surprised me. He tackled me to the ground, and I let out an undignified yelp as he crashed on top of me. I laughed loudly, trying to push Lance off but I didn’t use that much force. I didn't want to accidentally hurt him. I should have though, because I heard Matt and Keith land on the deck, and them the front door opened.

Lance froze and I groaned, resting my head on the floor. Did this really have to happen to me? They were never going to let this down.

“Shiro… what’s going on?” Matt said, light brown eyes flicking playfully between

“Nothing.” I ground out, staring at my two flock members standing in front of the open door.

“This doesn’t look like nothing. I didn’t know you were submissive. By the sounds Keith makes I always figured he was the one on bottom.” Matt snickered and Lance blushes a red I’ve never seen before. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t breathing.

“I-I, just shut up Matt!” Keith shouts, embarrassed.

“Are you talking about sex?” Lance asks. “Is that… how you do things?”

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. How, did we go from picking berries, tickling, and then to talking about how we have sex?

“Uh, well, um… yes?” I replied uncertainly. I wasn’t sure what he was asking. And honestly, I would rather let Allura talk to him about it than me. That was one thing I never wanted to talk to with my flock members. It was bad enough I had to talk about that with Pidge.

“Huh. So… would I be on the bottom?” Lance inquired looking down at me with his head tilted to the side. No. I didn’t want him and Allura to talk at all. I wanted him to stay innocent; but Matt had to ruin everything.

“Yes, Lance. You would be on the bottom, and Keith would be on top while Shiro-,”

“Okay that’s enough!” I shouted, hoping that it had been loud enough to drown at that last part. “Lance, why don’t we go back to our room so Keith can shower?”

“Yeah, he does smell bad.” Lance said in agreement, his nose wrinkling up in distaste. Keith frowns but doesn’t say anything. He knows it's true. Lance scrambled off of my body, and I quickly stood up. My sides hurt from laughing to hard. Matt walks away, laughing softly to himself. Keith, Lance, and I head back to our rooms while Matt went off to take a shower. As we reached the bedroom, I remembered something that I wanted to bring up to Lance.

I’ve always noticed the way Lance looked at us when we flew, when we expanded our wings and defied gravity. He wants to be a part of the flock that but he can’t. This morning, had been it for me. The look of want and impossibility on his face broke me in the same way he told me he wanted to be land, but couldn’t. When Keith and Matt left, I could tell he wanted to fly and do I have decided to buy him something to at least help dampen his… quiet depression. They made hang gliders for humans, and I know it wasn’t exactly like flying, but he would still be in the air. Altean tech is more advanced than the Empire’s, so it was only a matter of time before Pidge could make actual, working wings. He had been working on prototypes for years now for the Garrison, in hopes to expand our army and integrate humans who wanted to be than foot soldiers or Blues.

“Hey Lance… how would you feel about flying?” I asked suddenly, and I mused at the confusion and disbelief on his face. Keith shot me a rebuking look, as if I was giving Lance false hope. I wasn’t, Keith just forgot about the hang gliding.

“H-how?” Lance stammered out, sky blue eyes wide at the possibility.

“Well… we have something called hang gliders. It’s looks like a staff, or a long stick, and then you push a button, and the wings unfold. You can’t actually fly though. You just… glide.” I explained, giving Keith a smug look. He lets out a little huff and glares at me.

“How do we get one?” Lance demanded, grabbing onto my arm tightly

“Well uh, I’ll have to put an order in for one… but I should have it in a week?” I replied a bit uncertainty. As long as the shipment goes well, I should get it in a few days.

“Really?” Lance asked, his voice tight and raspy, as if he was about to cry… and he was. Fuck.

“Yes, really?” I told him, pulling him into a tight hug, and I felt a tear hit my arm.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” He repeatedly said through tears. His grip tightened around me and I pressed his body closer to mine in response.

Anything, for you.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Little yellow dots blinked from down below, as if the stars had crawled down from the sky and was saying hello. Keith had trained until he passed out, and Shiro told me that if he trained for more than 2-3 hours, then I should drag him away to cool down. Shiro had carried their smaller mate to their bedroom, and stripped Keith of his sweaty clothes before putting some boxers on him. I watched, eyeing Keith’s slim waist and pale skin. You would think flying underneath the sun or running around shirtless outside would make him tan. Yes Keith, I saw this morning. He should have went deeper into the forest, but it was nice seeing that side of him. Carefree and unguarded. He always has his guard up, though it is slightly lowered when we are around the rest of the flock, and they are completely gone when he is with Shiro and I.

I stare at the lights for a long time, debating whether or not if I should go check it out. I wanted to see them up close, touch them if possible. Would they be hot or cold? Would they feel like anything? Without even thinking, I was heading to the platforms outside and climbed onto the pulley system, and lowered myself to the ground. I was wearing some shorts and a blue tank top, clothes that I usually wore to bed. It was a little chilly, but it was something I couldn’t handle. Land was more beautiful than the ocean. There is more light, more life, more freedom. The sound of birds in leaves rustling cost difference on the ground it wasn't as loud but it was clear and it was still comforting. The yellow dots were brighter, and now that I could see them up closer, I realized they had a hint or shade of green. With a big grin plastered on my face, I made my way over to the clearing where most of the strange stars were clustered.

It reminded me of a city, except the lights wouldn’t be moving or winking out of existence for a second before reappearing in a different spot. If these little stars existed above the surface of the ocean, then that would have been one of the most amazing things I could ever see.

I forgot to bring my jars, but that was okay. I was pretty confident that they would be here another day. Fallen stars can’t back in the sky, so it seemed like they would be staying. Feeling giddy, I carefully ran through the grass, the grass cool and soft underneath my bare feet. Blue flowers were finally blooming, their petals open and soaking up the moonlight. I remember Pidge bringing me one of them for me a long time ago, and it’s nice to see them growing naturally. The one I had seen before had been dying. Turning my attention away from the flower, I finally started to actually try and catch one of the small, floating lights.

Again and again, I missed, but I kept trying, wanting to catch one and show Keith and Shiro because handing them a star is better than any pearl, necklace, or flower I could ever give. I wasn’t sure how long I had been running around, chasing lights that vanished in front of my face before reappearing a few feet away. One would think I would be able to catch at least one out of hundreds. My excitement was short-lived when a sound I had never heard before pierce the air in an unwelcome greeting.

My head shot up, gaze torn from the yellow and yellow small orbs, and stood as still as I could. I saw nothing. I could hear it though, getting closer and closer, a call that sent shivers down my spine. That was the terrifying part, being able to hear but not see what is coming for you. It was a predator, I knew that much. In the sea, I would have fought the shark or at least out swam it if I thought ai couldn't defend myself. Sharks don't normally go after mermaids if they managed to slip away. The animal let out a second call, and another answered soon after. It was deep, dark, and… scary. At least when I was a merman, I had sharp teeth. Here, I am completely defenseless without my mates or flock. I hated that. I didn't hate them for being protective, I hated myself for being so pathetic.

I didn’t know anything.

I didn’t know what it was, but instinct told me that I had to get out of there. I looked up, searching for the home tree but I couldn’t distinguish it from the other tall, now forbidding trees. It was a forest, how the hell am I supposed to find home? I was beginning to panic. However, I was frozen. I had a feeling that if I ran I would only end up being chased. It was too late now. It found me. With shaking hands, I grabbed the whistle around my neck, and quickly blew into it. I should have woken up Keith. He would have taken me down here. Shiro and Matt were on patrol, but I had no clue when they would be back… I knew Shiro had heard the whistle though. He would be able to hear it from the beach.

The animals finally came into view. I didn’t recognize them from the books Pidge showed me. They were covered in fur and they had a bushy tail. The creature was massive, reaching my shoulder in height and it had broad shoulders and large canines that snapped in my direction, their eyes were beaming yellow, but not like the stars I had been chasing. This color was malicious, had ill intent in them. The one with tawny fur was closer than the rest, and it looked to be the smallest of the group. Instead of reaching up to my shoulders, it was a few inches shorter in stature, but I could see the muscles underneath its thick coat. It also happened to be the fastest. Letting out a snarl, it darted towards me and snapped its teeth at my weak body. I went to turn my body away, but I was to slow, and my brain was like sinking sand.

I screamed.

Pain radiated through my entire arm, and on instinct, I went to bite the predator in response. I stopped myself once I realized that I didn’t have my razor sharp teeth, and I instead used my arm hand to punch it in the face. It only got angrier. It was nothing like a shark. Sharks tore and bit through limbs cleanly if it was a direct bite, but this… it just dug and dug and dug. It was toying with me. Predators were sadistic. I wasn't sure what I was screaming at this point. Probably fuck, shit… names. Keith. Shiro… And more swearing. I wanted it to end.

I didn't see him until I heard Keith’s angered screech which caught the beast's attention, and it let go of my arm, sensing a greater threat. Keith’s body was like a spear, barreling straight into the animal’s body, shoving it off of me. They rolled and Keith recovered first, already on his feet. beside me he didn't fold his wings. Instead, he fluffed them up so he would appear twice as big, spreading them out in a show of aggression. My mate let out a long, forceful shriek, a sound I never heard him make before. Anyone could have realized that he was more than just a little upset.

I steeled myself, breathing raggedly, and looked down. By the amount of pain I was in, my arm should have been bitten off. Instead, it was just a deep mark, flesh gouged out and bleeding heavily. It burned. Why did this have to hurt like a bitch, and a fucking barracuda or shark attack felt numb and sharp? This felt like venom dripping on my skin. I whimpered pathetically as Keith kicked the animal in the throat, and it let out a guttural sound full of pain. Good.

"Keith," I breathed out, trembling as the large animals circled us. "I'm scared."

"It's okay. Shiro and Matt are coming." He said reassuringly, feathers brushing against my back briefly before he hissed at the large predators. They backed away warily, but they didn't leave. Their teeth flashed white in the darkness. He couldn’t take his attention away from the threat, but his eyes roved over my body, searching for injuries.When his gaze settled on my arm, his dark eyes went round in horror, and maybe panic, but that was quickly pushed away. “Put some pressure on your wound okay? You ron’t have your healing powers anymore, so we have to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.”

One of the beasts snapped forward when Keith diverted his attention back to me, and he jammed his knife into its neck. It whimpered and backed away, shaking its head as if to clear its head of the pain.

“O-okay.” I sobbed out, raising my uninjured arm and pressed it into my arm. The blood felt hot underneath my fingers, and the pain was even worse when the wound came into contact with my own hand.

I shouldn’t have gone looking for the stars.

It seemed like hours passed as I sat on the grass, and suddenly I was looking into a pair of worried grey eyes. I didn't know what was happening anymore. All of the motions were fast, deadly, and precise. They were trying to kill each other. There was a flash of darkness, a blur of purple light, and gold wings that protruded the night air.

I was safe. Keith was safe.

Finally, it was quiet. I heard feet running towards me and I looked up to see Shiro crouched down in front of me, gently grabbing my arm Shiro made sure no one else was hurt, he ripped up his shirt and quickly tied it tightly around my arm in an attempt to staunch the bleeding. He then picked me up off the ground gently and carried me bridal style.

“Shiro.” I groaned, and he shushed me, murmuring sweet words, telling me everything was okay. Human bodies had less pain tolerance than mermaids. I wished I didn’t have to figure that out.

The black winged avian took off without a word, now that I was in safe, capable arms. With a last look, Matt quickly followed behind. Keith's wing beats were filled with uncontrolled anger and it was all I could hear as Shiro still held me as we stepped onto the pulley. I was feeling extremely lightheaded, and my vision swayed and the edges turned black and fuzzy.

I wanted to go to sleep.

Shiro talked to me, trying to keep me awake the entire time as we rose up and up until we came to a stop at the platform. When we entered the home tree, I saw that everyone was gathered, looking at me in concern. They were a blur. Pidge was biting his fingernail, and I could see that there was nothing left of the short nails. I haven't spent that much time with a Allura and Coran, but I knew that they cared about me as if I was family. Their open concern proved that. Their mouths opened and all I got was fragments.

“What happened-... him?”

“- needs stitches.”

Allura?

“-ay awake.”

That was Shiro. I would recognize that deep, soothing voice anywhere. I shook my head slowly, and I gave in and closed my eyes.

Ψ

"Why the fuck did you go down there in the first place!?" Keith shouted at me as soon I had fully woken up. My body trembled as Keith took a step forward, and I bit my lip in an attempt to not cry. I’ve done enough of that, and I was sick and tired of being weak. It was afternoon, and I was lying in bed, the room absent of Shiro, if only for a brief second as he went to get me some food. You would think it wasn’t my arm that was wounded. Apparently I shouldn’t be moving around that much because of the blood loss and I could faint easily, so I would had bed rest for a few days. My arm was wrapped with gauze, and their was a dull, throbbing pain in my right arm.

"Keith." Shiro said sternly, shooting him a disapproving look as he entered the room. Neither of us had heard him come in. He sat the tray of sandwiches and fruit down on the bedside table and sat down beside me while Keith continued to stand.

“What?!” Keith snapped at Shiro. “I want to know why he thought it was a good idea to go to the ground at night without telling anyone.” Keith ignored Shiro, turning his attention back to me.

I know I fucked up. He didn’t have to keep reminding me. I know that more than the others.

“I-I didn’t even know they existed.” I tried to explain, pulling the blanket up to cover my body more.

“It’s okay. We should have, no, I should have told you about them and everything else when you first shifted. For that, I’m sorry. I failed you when you needed me the most.” Shiro said, the light in his eyes wilting a little as he spoke.

I shook my head. He was anything but a failure. I was.

They were smarter and more reactive than the predators in my old home. My hands were trembling slightly as I remembered last night. I looked into Shiro's dark grey eyes and found concern and relief, and something else I couldn't put my finger on. "W-what were those things?"

"Dire wolves." Shiro told me, rubbing comforting circles on my back. It helped but I was still shaken up. I should have assumed that there would be sharks on land. I was stupid to think otherwise. The walls, the gates, the avians guarding the roads… it all made sense now.

“They live in some mountains not far from here… but every once in awhile they will come out to the forest, mostly at night. It’s easier to kill prey when they’re asleep than awake and ready to fight.” Shiro went on.

“But… what were you doing down there?” Shiro asked after a while as I digested the information.

“I… I was trying to catch stars.”

“Stars?” Shiro echoed in confusion, staring at me as he tried to figure it out.

I nodded hesitantly. “The yellow blinking lights on the ground.”

Keith groaned in frustration, finally sitting on the bed. He crawled over to me and sat in my lap, careful not to brush against my arm. “You make it so hard for me to be mad at you, do you know that? You are so fucking cute.” Keith practically growled before kissing me hard. It was fevered and out of control, full of desperation. It felt like forever, like I could breath underwater again, like I could forsake and abandon oxygen. Finally, too soon, our lips broke apart. Mine were swollen and Keith’s face was flushed as he sucked in a deep breath. His heartbeat was beating like crazy.

“Those were fireflies you idiot. Not stars.” Keith answered after a few seconds. His breathing was still a little rough. I ran my fingers through his mullet hair and I stared at him.

“I’m sorry for scaring you. Next time I’ll… come and get you.” I said, eyes flicking in between my mates.

“You better. You scared me and Shiro shitless.” Keith replied, looking at the wound on my arm.

“I’m sorry.” I apologized again.

“Just don’t do it again.” Shiro added, linking his arm around my shoulder, fingers playing with the end of my sleeve.

“I won’t,” I promised. That was the end of the conversation.

For the rest of the morning we just rested, enjoying one another’s company. We ate in bed and they told me more about the dangers in Altea, something none of us should have put off. There were giant birds in the mountain that could carry humans away as if they weighed nothing. There were giant cats that lived in the trees and in meadows and mountains. The snakes I was used to, and there were other poisonous creatures, like frogs and lizards that I had never heard of that lived in the area.

In the afternoon, they handed me over to Pidge, and we talked for hours. Apparently Shiro and Keith had made a fucking list of all the things I needed to know in order to live here… and it was 5 pages long. Avian behavior was one, and cooking was another, which kinda made sense, considering that most of the flock would be gone all day or busy, and I would have to fend for myself until one of them got back. There was one thing that I did not want to do. It would make me do something I gave up when I lost my long, blue, multi shaded tail.

The sea wasn’t welcoming anymore. There was no more comfort from the waves or from the wind. All I saw were hands reaching up from the dark surface, like they do in my nightmares, and drag me down, down, down, like my sister does with the galra soldiers.

I had to learn how to swim again.

 

Chapter Text

The first thing I did once Lance wasn’t in danger from fainting of blood loss, was take him to the training room. We all had came to an agreement that our boyfriend was going to join in our training exercises. We weren’t going to train for a few days since no one wanted him to pull his stitches. Lance still had his balmera crystal, so it should speed up the healing process significantly, cutting out about a week's time of healing. Once he was in the clear, he would train for 2-3 hours every day before lunch. After lunch Lance would study with Pidge for two hours,

“Did you use any weapons when you lived in the ocean?” I asked as we walked through the hallways. We held hands, and Lance’s were soft and calloused, smooth and rough in different places. A sign of a prince living the life of a soldier. He wasn’t pampered or kept in a cage for safe keeping. He actually did something with his life.

“Uh, I had a few spears, knives… do my teeth count?” Lance replied, glancing over at me uncertainly as he waited for my answer.

“No?” I had almost forgotten that Lance had had sharp teeth, and it was weird imagining him attaching someone like a godforsaken animal.

“I don’t think that is an answer you should phrase as a question Keith. That’s concerning.” Lance said disapprovingly, a smile displayed on his face. I could tell he was trying his damn hardest not to laugh. I didn’t know why he thought it was that funny.

“What?!” I asked defensively. “You have the ability to rip out people’s throats, but it’s very barbaric and frowned upon, even in defense.”

I wondered what he was thinking when we were face to face with those dire wolves. Obviously he was scared, but what else? Was he irritated because he couldn't fight? Did he want to run? Fight? I hoped he regretted going to the ground all by himself, that way he would never do that again.

“Well… I’ll just have to get used to not doing that anymore then. It was a common thing to do. All animals go for the throats, and even though we aren’t one, I guess we still have those instincts.” Lance explained just as we reached the training room.

There was no door, so we simply walked through the arch and into the large, open space. The floor was covered in mats, and hanging from the ceiling were punching bags and targets that could move when a string was pulled. Lance’s blue eyes followed me as I opened up the closet, exposing all of the weapons organized and resting on the racks neatly.

“I don’t have to learn all of these, right?” He asked me, looking at all of the blades and different weapons in horror. He glanced at me, and I knew he thought I was crazy. I knew how to use all of them, but some of them I just wasn’t cut out to use.

I let out a chuckle. “No, you only need to learn a few.”

“Okay, so what do you think I should use?” Lance said,

I stared at the racks silently, weighing all of the pros and cons of each item before coming to a decision. “I think… it would be best if you used long distance weapons.”

It was the safest positions. He would be out of the line of fire, but still a part of the fight. The flock also needed a sharpshooter, since we were all mostly trained in close combat.

Lance nodded. “Spears?”

“Spear, knives… and a bow.” I corrected, and his eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

“What’s a bow?” Lance inquired, and I instantly picked up a small one, which Lance would start off using first.

“It has the same concept as a spear, except you’re not throwing it. You would be projecting the arrow. It takes a lot of patience to use one, which you have.” I notched an arrow in demonstration and pulled the string back but didn't release it. I let him observe my stance and weapon itself before I lowered the bow and arrow. “Would you like to hold it?” I offered, withdrawing the arrow from the string and holding the bow out to Lance.

He takes it, his sky blue eyes looking the weapon up and down, marveling the cold metal and tight bowstring. Then, he lowered it, a frown on his face. With one hand he raked his hair back. I followed the motion, and notes that his hair was getting longer. It now reached his cheeks. He looked really good with his long, white hair. Maybe he would let me braid his hair…

“Keith… do you think I’m useless?”

I blinked in surprise. His mood had shifted so suddenly. I’ve never seen him look so sad. Upset, frustrated… but he’s been nothing but content since he has been here.

“What do you mean?” I asked, taking the bow from his hand and putting it back onto the rack. Lance rung his hands as he stood before me, his ocean eyes dancing around the room. He looked liked he regretted saying anything at all.

“I-I just… I’m always getting into trouble and making mistakes. I’m useless. I can’t even fly. How am I supposed to help the flock out if I can’t patrol and shit? If I can’t get away from predators or enemies fast enough?”

“You’re not useless, and you can’t change the fact that you are wingless, so you shouldn’t feel bad about that. And even though, yes, you get into trouble, Shiro and I like being your knight in shining armour.” I told him lightly, hoping that was enough to quell his doubts. But apparently not.

“Yeah well, the knights usually die for the princess so…” Lance trailed off, his blue eyes staring at the floor.

“It was supposed to be a cute analogy Lance.” I deadpanned, glaring softly at my mate.

“I know, I know... and every princess would be jealous to have you as their knight. You are fucking hot.” He looked at me, a playful smirk now on his face. There was still sadness in his eyes though. It was irritating sometimes, knowing that Lance needed comfort or gentle words and Shiro wasn’t here. He was better equipped than me in this area. Don’t think, just speak. That was the advice Shiro gave me, so that’s exactly what I did.

“I thought I was useless too, at one point.” I began, and that got Lance’s attention. He seemed shocked by what I just said. “Shiro taught me how to defend myself when I was just a kid. He didn’t approve of it at first, but it did help me. I learned to control my aggression and I was able to defend myself and protect people. I didn’t feel weak or useless anymore. I felt worthy.”

Lance was listening to my every word with rapt attention.

“I also blamed your kind for killing my parents. You were a murderer to me Lance, simply because you had gills and a tail. So if anyone was making mistakes, it was me.”

When Shiro and Matt was captured, I was just a push away from going insane. My mate was gone and everyone had told me he was dead. But I knew he wasn’t. I could feel it, and I knew Shiro would come back to me; or at least if he couldn’t, then I would go to him.

“He was Black and I was Red. We can’t be useless. But there are times when we both feel like it. Especially Shiro, since we follow his commands.”

“What you mean by that? Why are you Red?” Lance questioned. The depression was gone, and now there was a softness in his eyes, like he was glad someone finally understood him.

I was surprised that despite living here for 2 weeks, no one had explained to Lance why Shiro wore a black suit and I wore a red one. I informed him about it thoroughly, telling him about the 4 years of training at the Garrison and all of the courses we had to take, and then I told him about our placement. I explained to him what our roles in the flock were and what Blacks, Reds, Yellows, Purples, Greens, and Blues meant. I told him how we were selected for the positions and how even though our roles were chosen for us, we got to decide who we fought beside. Avians got to choose their own flocks, since it was a bond that couldn’t be forced.

As Lance listened, I got an idea. Since he didn’t feel like an actual part of the flock, this would enable him to feel like he meant something, even though he already was.

“You could become a Blue.”

Chapter Text

I have been dedicated to a lot of things. Making jewelry. Helping people. Forgetting about Rolo. But this was a whole different type of dedication. It was almost on the borderline of obsession.

I can hit a moving target perfectly with a spear. I’m not a better fighter than Keith when it comes to knives, but I can throw it with a good aim and hit my target. Archery however, was in my blood. I felt more connected to it, even though I have used the spear more. More patience was required, and then when I let go of the string, I fell in love with the sound of it shooting through the air. It made that nice thwump and humming sound as it flew the air and hit it’s mark.

I knew hand to hand combat, but since I wouldn’t be on the front lines, they didn’t think I should focus on that. I just needed to be perfect these three weapons. I needed to become the flocks sharpshooter.

I wiped the sweat off of my forehead with the back of my hand before taking a deep breath in. Raising the bow again I raised my sore muscles and took aim. It was a 7 ft replica of a galra, something I would most likely see on the battlefield if the galra made it past the mermaids and Shiro’s flock. Clenching my teeth in determination, I ignore the tiredness in my arms before I released the arrow.

It hit the galra right in the head, and then another arrow immediately followed, hitting it in the heart.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Some days I’m worse than Keith. When everyone was gone, I am in the training room all day. At least when Keith trained, someone was there to stop him after a few hours.

I had a reason for working myself to death though.

In two weeks, I had to go to the garrison to take the test in order to become an official part of the flock and recognized as a Blue in the Altean army. This, was something I had wanted to achieve my whole life, and my scars proved that. All I wanted to do was fight and protect. My pod denied me that and now my mates, who can be very overprotective, is letting me risk my life for them and everyone else. It made me extremely happy knowing that they had pushed past their concern in order to make me happy.

That wasn’t the only thing they did that touched my heart.

Shiro and Keith were also giving me time to explore my own body, letting me decide what I liked and disliked, which was thoughtful. I wasn’t embarrassed or humiliated in front of them due to my inexperience with the human anatomy. Now though, I wanted them. Shiro and Keith, touching me, kissing me, doing all the dirty things that I have been able to conjure up for the past four months. It doesn’t help me any when they come back from patrol, muscles bulging and sweat rolling off of their faces and necks on a particularly hot day.

Like right now.

When I heard the familiar sound they made when they land, I turned around in time to see Shiro and Keith enter the training room. The first thing I noticed was their wings, out in the open and folding neatly onto their backs to cool off instead of retreating back into the slits in the backs. Keith’s black and purple hued feathers and Shiro’s beautiful black and whites… even though I’m not avian and aren’t exactly turned on by the sight, I could still appreciate their beauty.

Shiro walked up to me, a stern look on his face and something akin to disappointment. I hated that look. Lowering my eyes, I stared at the floor because I knew I had done it again. Not only did he have to worry about Keith overdoing it, he had to worry about me passing out from training all day long.

“I’m sorry.” I apologized as Shiro walked back over to us. Keith’s hand was already threaded with mine, so Shiro kissed my forehead.

“It’s okay.” Shiro said, and I can tell that his words are genuine. “Let’s just get a shower before we get in bed and relax.”

“How was the patrol?”

“Quite.” Keith said, taking my hand in his while we walked back to our room. I nodded. For the past three weeks there had been no sign of the galra ships, no matter how far the flock flew out. It was uncanny, but we were hoping we would get some sort of news soon.

The bathroom was enormous, enough space to accommodate the three of us. On the left side of the bathroom was a large shower, with tiled flooring and walls, along with a glass sliding door to keep the water inside. There was a basket for towels between the shower stall and tub as well so we wouldn’t drip everywhere and possibly slip and fall on our asses (which may have happened already). On the right side of the room were the two vanity sinks. Shiro’s seashells were sitting on the corner as decoration along with several potted plants. Ivy’s and ferns I recognized from Pidge’s lessons. Then lastly, there was a floor to ceiling wall on the far wall.

Clothes dropped to the floor and I followed suit while Shiro adjusted the temperature so that it would be warm, but not to high in case one of us would faint from it.

Scars littered Shiro's body, which I had seen before multiple times, but it still made my cheeks flushed to see him so bare. Keith too, with his lean muscles and 6 pac.

Once we got in, we all took turns washing our hair and body, and while Shiro washed his hair (which didn’t take long), Keith decided to press my body flat against the cold wall, making me gasp in delight at the stark change in temperature. His lips were on mine in a rush as he hooked his arms around my neck, and I opened my mouth a little bit wider to give him more access. The kiss was heated, like Keith. He was always bold about what he wanted and impatient too, but he was nice about it. When I finally pulled away, both of our lips red, I looked behind me to see Shiro smiling endearingly at us.

“Can I wash your body?” Shiro asked, his eyes earnest as he held the body wash I used in his hands. I mulled it over in my head for maybe a second before nodding. He smiled down at me, then surprised me by turning my body around so I would be facing Keith. There was a smirk on his face, and I reached to him, pushing a few wet, black strands away from his eyes. I heard the bottle cap pop open, and then his hands were on my back, making me hum in approval.

His hands slid over my scarred shoulders, my arms, then my sides and chest. He was gentle as he washed me, making it even more enjoyable. The steam was thick and heavy, hot and amazing, the lavender scent mingling with it. His hands, I noticed, started to dip further and further. I said nothing, just leaned back into him until his hands rested teasingly on the inside of my thigh.

“Shiro,” I breathed. “If you’re finally going to touch my dick, don’t be such a fucking tease about it.”

I heard Shiro choke behind me, and I turned around a little to get a glimpse of Shiro’s flushed face. I gave him a half hearted glare before turning back around to kiss Keith. Shiro moved his hands again, but only moving his fingers in a circular, burning motion. His touch was hotter than the god damn water.

Shiro …” I said in warning, which earned me a deep chuckle. It made my dick twitch in anticipation because man that was hot. He finally touched me, moving his fingertips up and down my length in light, feathery touches before his hands gently wrapped around my length, stroking it experimentally before setting an actual pace. It was slow but not slow enough to drive me insane. It was perfect.

If I thought I was hot before, I felt like a furnace now. I was now fully hard and erect, panting softly into Keith’s mouth as my mate proceeded to give me my forst hand job. Any sort of fear had disappeared when lust took its place. I wanted this. Wanted to feel their hands on me, exploring me on a more intimate level.

His hand brushed over my head a few times while moving his hand along my shaft. “You feel so good Lance.” Shiro whispered hotly, his words almost lost in the loud noises the shower spray made. His other hand was busy playing with my over sensitive nipples, making them hard and pointy.

“Oh fuck…” I bit my lip, trapping the moan between my lips, but the sound was amplifies by the shower stall? Oh god, what of Pidge heard me? That would be so traumatizing and awkward.

“Don’t hide it love.” Shiro muttered, adding more friction to his movements. “I promise you they can’t hear you. Keith’s a screamer.”

I blushed at his words but did as I was told, letting go of my lip and panted freely. A second later I let out a loud moan before I came into Shiro’s hand, which was quickly washed away by the water beating down on us. I leaned back onto Shiro’s chest, closing my eyes in content. Fuck, that was amazing.

“Does it get any better than that?” I asked, because I had never felt like that before. Pleasure was served in a tonic in the merfolk world. Up here, there is bonding and trust. We didn’t have that down there.

“Just wait till Shiro hits your prostate. You’ll be able to see stars.” Keith said with an amused laugh, stepping out of the shower and handing each of us a towel.

“What’s a prostate?” I asked innocently because I had no clue what that was.

“We’re not having that conversation right now.” Shiro said, looking at me with a small blush on his cheeks.

I tilted my heads, staring straight into his grey eyes. “Why not? Is it something bad?”

“I- no,” Shiro shook his head. “You’re just not ready for that Lance, trust me. It’ll be a while before we cross that line.”

He shot a glare over to Keith, probably for even getting the idea in my head. I was curious now. It was obviously sexual, so I’d probably have to talk to Pidge when my mates weren’t around.

“Well, you made Shiro come with touching himself.” Keith said, almost in praise, handing me a brush. “I think you did pretty good.”

One thing I found out, was that Keith loved it when someone played with his hair, so whenever we took a bath or a shower together, I would brush it, braid it, or put it up into a bun. His eyes would close in content and his face would become smooth and relaxed. The only time it looked like that was when he was training, when he was asleep, or if someone was brushing his hair. He was like a cute, temperamental kitten.

After we got finished cleaning up and got dressed, Keith went and got us something to eat, a loaf of bread, chicken, and rice, which I ate in comfortable silence, while listening to Shiro and Keith talk about their day. Once we were all done, Keith took the dishes to the kitchen and then came back to find me and Shiro already lying in bed, pressed up against each other.

Shiro liked to sleep mostly nude since his clothes made him feel constricted and confined. Keith had explained to me that the first few times Shiro had worn clothes to bed, he had literally ripped them off of himself. Blankets could be pushed aside blindly, but clothes were a lot harder to take off. Limbs got in the way and when you couldn’t think, it was almost like you didn’t know how to take a shirt off. It was hard to take off if you’re scared, still asleep, and panicking.

“How do you feel about going to the beach tomorrow?” Shiro asked me, his arms wrapped around me. I could feel Keith’s breath on the back of neck and his arms snaked over my waist, pulling himself flat against me.

“I-”

A part of me was thrilled at the idea. I missed Hunk. I missed my siblings. Esmeralda, Layla, Marcy, Delta, and Solis. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. I didn’t tell Shiro or Keith about my homesickness, because they couldn’t do anything about it. We had no way to contact Hunk without my Mom finding out. I knew that Esmeralda would keep Hunk out trouble for helping me escape. Even though she was just a little ways from becoming queen, she held a lot of authority. Besides, everyone adored Hunk.

However…

Some nights I’m plagued with bad dreams of Rolo taking me away from my new home. Every single time Shiro and Keith aren't fast enough. The last thing I always hear are the wing beats, my name being shouted across the water before their hands are the last thing I see… reaching out to me before I’m gone forever.

With that in mind, I replied.

“That would be great.”

Chapter Text

Once we had the food and the blankets arranged for our day at the beach, we set out. With the backpacks and the sturdy basket secured in my hands, we started to make the trip. Lance was ecstatic as he was lowered to the ground, carrying the small wakeboard Pidge sometimes used in a small pond close to the home tree. Keith and I flew above him in case something happened, which was unlikely. Most of the time, the forest was dangerous at night, and Lance had already learned that it wasn’t okay to go to the ground after the sun set. Now, Lance was capable of looking after himself but it is also our job as his mates to protect him.

“You tired yet?” I shouted, flying a bit lower so he would hear me. His tan hand waved me away, giving me a thumbs up before pushing himself into a full on sprint. To prove his point he picker up the pace, racing on ahead of us. We let him, and he knows we can easily catch up to him with ease, but we lagged behind, enjoying the way his muscles flex and how he vaults over some of the smaller trees. A sigh of content comes from Keith, and I smile softly at him. When was the last time we were able to enjoy flying without being exhausted after a mission, and being burdened with the gravity of finding and destroying any spotted galran ships? The fact that I didn’t know, was enough to tell me that we needed this small vacation, a date to just enjoy each other's company.

Once we got to the beach and we landed without any complications, Lance was already by our side, grabbing the backpack with the large blanket we were going to sit on. He picked a spot not too close to the water, but still a few feet away so our stuff wouldn’t get wet. He unfolded the blanket before spreading it across the sand. He stuck the board into the ground beside the blanket so it wouldn’t get picked up by the wind.

“I can’t wait to see Keith with little sun kisses all over his face. It’ll be so cute” Lance teased, booping Keith’s pale nose. The look he gave Lance told him that he did not appreciate the gesture. He was acting as if being called cute was the most offensive thing he had ever heard in his life. I had learned a long time to use other words like beautiful, gorgeous… pretty was walking the line, but Keith tolerated it. Cute was a word used to describe a baby animal, not a full grown avian.

Lance called freckles sun kisses, which was something he wasn’t going to change. I didn’t mind at all, because it sounded adorable coming from him. It was like he had a childlike innocence about him, despite being a young adult.

“I can’t wait to see your face when I shove it into the sand if you call me that again.” Keith growled in response, setting his stuff beside the blanket.

“We both know you’re just using that as an excuse to get on top of me.” Lance grinned playfully, his head tilted to the side a little. “But it is true. I could kiss every single one of your cute-.”

Keith dashed forward without any warning and Lance yelped, jumping a little before turning away and running as if his life depended on it. Keith would definitely catch Lance, but I knew he wouldn’t actually shove I heard a shout, and I laugh as they start to walk back to us, Lance pouting while completely soaked through.

“I didn’t want to get my clothes wet Keith!” He whined, trudging behind Keith.

“You should have thought of that before you called me cute.” Keith smirked over his shoulders. I chuckled lightly, leaning back on my arms. Watching the pair bicker, I realized just how far Keith had come in terms in accepting Lance. He was cold, distant, and made sure that Lance knew that he disliked the former siren. It still amazed me how Lance ignored it. It showed how interested he was in being our mates, how strong he was, and that he was a good person.

I watched as Lance strip his shirt and shorts off, revealing his blue, shark printed swim trunks. He smirked at, hands trailing down his sides teasingly before he said, “Like what you see?”

“Very much.” I said smoothly, which turned the tables. Lance’s tan face turned red and he mumbled something about me being ‘hot’ and how it was ‘unfair’ of me when I use my voice like that.

“Good. T-that’s good. I’m just gonna go now.” Lance stumbled over his words, pointing at the ocean before grabbing a bucket and racing away. Keith snorted, sitting down beside me on the blanket. He ruffled through one of the bags before pulling out some sunscreen and handed it over to me. I squirted a good amount into my hand before I distributed on his exposed shoulders, neck, and face. My fingers smoothed it into his skin, pausing every once in awhile to just enjoy the feel of his skin on my fingertips. I ran my fingers through his hair as we watched Lance walk up and down the beach idly. Every once in awhile the white haired boy would bend down to pick something up to put in his bucket.

“What happened to teaching him how to swim?” Keith asked, bending his head back to look at me. My body blocked the sun out of his face, but his violet eyes still had to squint. My hand paused, before starting to massage his head again in lazy circles.

“I didn’t want to bring a human down here on such short notice. Plus, this is his first time being at the beach since he turned. I wanted him to enjoy it. He needs a little break from Pidge cramming all those books down his throat.” I replied with an amused shake of my head. I didn’t tell him about Lance being uncomfortable with being in the water because if Lance didn’t bring it up, then it wasn’t that big of a deal. Lance would tell us in time, he usually did after the incident in the woods.

Keith just scoffed. “That’s an understatement.” Pidge could talk for hours and sometimes I worried if they even took a second to just breath. “As long as they don’t teach him about the sexual things, I think we’re good.”

About half an hour later, Lance came back with a half full bucket of seashells, and grabbed the small wakeboard. “Are you two lovely men going to join me?”

“Sure. You coming?” I replied, turning to Keith to see if he would be as well.

“No. I’m gonna work on my tan.” Keith said, dismissing us with a wave of his pale, calloused, slender hands.

“You’re sun kisses, you mean.” Lance corrected, smiling wide with his perfect teeth.

“Just go get in the fucking water.” Keith huffed, looking away with a faint blush on his cheeks.

Lance hastily bent down in front of the dark haired avian and kissed him tenderly on the cheeks before straightening back up. I grabbed Lance’s soft hand and led him to the shore, the cool water lapping at my feet. A few minutes later, I was waist deep while Lance was sitting on the Pidge sized board, straddling it with both legs hanging over each side of it. I was standing beside him, making sure he didn’t drift too far away from me when the waves pushed or pulled at the board he was sitting on. It was low tide, so the water was fairly calm and the waves weren’t huge or billowing, curling and creating seafoam every time it crashed into the water. While we were in there, I was expecting teasing, jokes, water being splashed into my face… but all I got was silence. Lance was being uncharacteristically quiet, and it slightly worried me.

"I never thought I would be scared of the ocean." Lance finally said as he stared across the water with sadness and pain evident in his eyes. His hands rested in his lap as he straddled the board. We weren’t that deep in the cool water, the waves barely brushing against my waist. "Every time I even think about going out there, I can’t help but imagine their hands grabbing me, dragging me back down and never letting me go. I'm scared Shiro. I don't want to be scared of the water. It's apart of me. I can't live without it."

Those words hit home and he didn't even realize it  

"I know what you mean. When I was in the prison camp, they clipped our wings so we wouldn't be able to fly away and escape." I said, before taking a deep breath and continuing. "Of course, exhaustion and wing wounds would ground us before we made it out, but it was a pain to round the prisoners up. That alone was torture. We could see the sky but we couldn't be in it. We couldn't even feel it. There was no breeze, no fresh air... I don't know if I'll ever be scared of something like that, since the sky is my refuge; but try to think of this as your home now. Your eyes are oceans alone Lance. The ocean is you. It's in you, not the other way around."

Lance glanced over at me, a look of doubt on his face but he said nothing. He just offered me a small smile before looking away. “I’m glad you and Keith are my mate.”

It was such a simple sentence, but it held a lot of unspoken words and emotions. Gratitude, happiness, and admission. I was just about to reply when someone other than Keith shouted. It immediately put me on guard, my hand resting protectively on Lance’s lower back.

“Lance!” A foreign voice called out behind me, and we both turned around to see who it was. My eyes searched the tree line, looking for a figure so I could put a voice to a face, but I saw no one.

“Shiro…” Lance’s voice was tight as he climbed off of the board and stood beside me, his hand tightening around my arm. “That’s Rolo.”

Anger bubbled up inside of me, and I forced my legs to move forward, taking Lance with me. As we got closer to Keith, who had also stood up and turned around to face whoever had shouted, I was able to recognize the shapeshifter, Rolo, standing alone and confident. At least, I thought he was alone until more figures appeared behind him, shapeshifter and galra alike. They emerged from the giant trees, weapons in hand, and I knew that the date was officially over. I let out a silent stream of curses. Part of me wanted to get Lance out of here, but he would hate me if I ordered him to fall back instead of doing what he has been training to do. He wasn’t a Blue yet so he wouldn’t be required to fight. I knew what was going to happen. There were galra soldiers on Altean lands, and it was Keith and I’s job to defend it. I watched as Keith hastily tossed Lance a knife before turning his attention back to the problem at hand. Keith apparently didn’t think Lance should leave, and if he did he didn’t show it.

“Lance, I am here on behalf of the queen and my own as your mate, to bring you back to the pod.” Rolo declared formally, his smug grin twisting his face in a hideous way.

“Over my dead body.” Lance spat, his ocean blue eyes gleaming with unrestrained anger. “I am already mated.”

“That’s not true.” Rolo sang as he walked forward in slow but steady steps across the shifting sand. “I don’t see a mating mark. Courting gifts, yes, but not a bite. Now why is that? Do you think it’s because they aren’t right for you? You need to be with your own kind, not fucking these winged freaks.”

“My life is no longer your concern, and it was never yours to begin with.” Lance said coldly, his hands tightening around the hilt of the knife. “Shiro and Keith are my mates, and I wouldn’t fuck around with them because they don’t like games like you do. This isn’t a game you to play.”

The silence was tense as the shapeshifter and the ex siren stared each other down. The only thing I could hear was my heartbeat and the wind that barely existed. Everyone was waiting for Rolo to say or do something, and when he sighed in exasperation, my muscles tensed in anticipation.

“Capture the Champion, and kill the other guy. He’s of no use to us.”Rolo said, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly before motioning his hand towards us. “Lance is mine.”

With a harsh growl, my hand started to glow purple, and I rushed forward, meeting them in the middle. I was surprised that even though they knew who I was, they were still going to try and fight me. A few minutes passed, and we were able to stand our ground without being overwhelmed. Lance was agile on his feet as he slashed his knife across a shapeshifers throat. He barely stepped over the dead body before another took his place. I turned my focus away from him as I tackled a large galra, crashing into the ground with an animalistic snarl. There were a lot of them, but it wasn’t anything Keith and I had faced before. Everything was fine until Lance started screaming for help. I whipped my head around, my eyes narrowing down on him.

Lance.

The Lance I knew to always win a fight, was being restrained by five soldiers, galran and shapeshifter alike.

“No, no! No! Shiro! Keith! Don’t let them take me! Don’t let them! Please!” His voice was growing louder in volume and more frantic with every step put in between us. “Shiro, help me. Get the fuck off of me!” He screamed, desperately digging his feet into the samd to slow them down so we could get to him.

Snarling, I slammed my hand against the galra's neck, breaking it instantly. I rolled off of him and lept forward, my wings fluffing up in rage. There was only the flash of purple, fear, and blood as I made my way steadily back towards the beach. This was not going to happen again, especially to Keith. Then, a ship came into view, coming around the cove, and I understood why we hadn’t noticed them. The galran soldiers and shifters had snuck through the forest to surround us and keep us distracted until the purpled flagged ship could reach us. Even with the entire flock fighting, the odds of us succeeding is low. That ship, is a god damn battalion ship. The ships we usually sink, are just brigades. We usually have to call in reinforcements to take these down. I watch helplessly as a small boat is lowered into the water, and it started to row towards shore, where Lance was being dragged.

Fuck, fuck, fuck! Lance can’t swim. If he got on that boat, he wouldn’t be able to get off if it, and we won’t be able to get him out without drowning ourselves. Lance seems to realize this, because he starts to thrash even harder and scream even louder. By that point, I was gone. I remember seeing Rolo’s triumphant face morphing into indescribable pain, and then I felt something hot and wet coating my hand.

Just as I got ready to jump into the air, I felt a hand grab my shoulder, holding me down.

“Shiro! Shiro, stop! You’re going to get us killed if we go after Lance right now!” Keith yelled at me, grabbing onto my wrist with a vice like grip. He pointed towards the galra ship aggressively and said, “We have to go and get Commander Iverson. We don’t stand a chance against that. That is a fucking army.”

After a couple of deep breathes, I nodded, although the adrenaline and anger was still there. I caressed the cut on his brow gently, wiping away the blood that had started to trail down the side of his lips. I didn't fail to notice the pain and fury lurking in Keith's eyes, and I felt guilty that I had let this happen again. First me, now Lance. Not only was Lance hurt, but Keith as well  

If we didn’t get Lance in time… if I failed in saving him…

I would never be able to forgive myself.


Ψ

“The fuck do you mean you can’t help? Lance is our mate.” I spat at the general, frustrated and trying not to grab the man by the throat and force him to help us. After several hours of flying, we finally made it to the academy, where Iverson was currently stationed. Iverson was a general for a reason, and I knew deep down that it wasn’t his fault for our mate’s kidnapping, but he had the power to do something about… and I currently wasn’t getting what I wanted.

“I am sorry about that, but since he hasn’t officially registered to be in your flock, or recognized legally as a citizen of Altea, we can’t help you.” Iverson said. I wanted to ask him what his excuse was when Matt and I got captured. We were one of the best soldiers in the Altean army. Blacks were hard to train because not everyone was born to be one. “And if you said that the Battalion ship left, then I’m not going to waste men and resources to destroy it if it’s not going to try to invade Altea.”

“Fine,” I gritted out, turning my back to the man before I stalk out of his office. The trainees took a few step back as I passed them, and I heard Keith rushing to catch up to me. I knew what Iverson made sense, but I didn’t give a single flying fuck. Lance was going to become a citizen. He had the test date and the documents all set up too.

“We’re going to get him okay? We don’t need that asshole. I was able to get you out of that prison camp, and we can save Lance.

“I was lucky Keith. I was a fighter, that’s why I was able to survive that long. And-and I know Lance is too, but you know what he’s told us. He didn’t have a lot of pain receptors as a mermaid, so when they torture him, it’s going to hurt ten times more.” I stressed, turning my body slightly to look at him. “He won’t last as long as I did.”

“Shir-”

“He won’t.” I said coldly, daring him to say anything.

He sighed, shaking his head in disagreement. “Let’s just get back to the home tree. We need to tell the rest of the flock and let them know what happened so we can develop a plan.”

All I knew was that the only way that galra ship could have gotten to our side of the coast, was either because the flock stationed down the shoreline had been killed, or the galra had made some sort of pact with each other. That was the only reasonable explanation as to why the shapeshifters and the galra were fighting side by side. The main question was why they had been working together, and we were going to find out why.

Chapter Text

Groaning, I opened my eyes to see a dark room with red glowing on the lights on the wall. Everything was pitch black and unwelcoming. Rolo’s success of capturing me came to the forefront of my mind, and I hoped that he died on that beach. My head throbbed from where the soldier had hit me, and I started to lift my arm up to feel for a bump, but it was stopped short. I looked down to see that my hands and feet were chained to the ice cold table beneath me. I jerked my arms harder, trying to break free but all it did was cause it to bite into my wrist.

I stilled, keeping myself calm as my mind shifted through all the questions that had been bombarding me since I regained consciousness.

Was Shiro and Keith okay?

How long had I been out?

Where was I?

Was I on a ship or did we already reach the Empire lands? I couldn’t tell if the room was shifting or not.

I let out a long sigh as my heart thumped mercilessly against my ribcage.

If I was bonded to Shiro and Keith then I would have been able to tell if they were alive or not. That was only if I was able to bond to them. As a siren I would have been able to… but as a human, I wasn’t too positive I could.

If I hadn’t been so weak then I wouldn’t even be in this situation. The only reason why I was captures was because I recognized one of the shapeshifters, a boy that my sister Esmeralda hanged out with. She thought she was so smart when she snuck away from the castle, but she forgot that I did the same too. They were cute together and he clearly made her happy.

If I had killed him and he never showed up… I didn’t want to chance it that he was her mate. But in my moment of indecision another shapeshifter was able to grab me and the rest was history.

As I stared at the darkness above me, the door finally creaked open and I turned my head quickly to see who it was. It was a tall female galra, with dark purple robes lined with gold. The face I could see told me that this one was ancient and experienced. Panic was the only thing I felt when I realized who and what this galra was. Shiro once told me to avoid any galra with robes on, because that meant they were druids, galra capable of killing hundreds of soldiers with a flick of their fingers. They could use magic. From Shiro told me, and proof from his hand, he told me they liked to experiment on prisoners to better the Empire’s technology, to make the perfect soldier. A few times on rare occasions they would wear a soldier's uniform to blend in, which had resulted in thousands of casualties behind Altean lines.

“W-who are you?” I demanded, jerking at the chains around my wrists and ankles.

“You don’t know who I am?” The hooded figure said slowly, as if I should.

I stared at her blankly. “Why would I? You’re clearly not as reputable as you think you are.”

The druid chuckled, but it came out more as a dying rasp. God she sounded awful.

“I’m surprised Shiro never told you about me. We were close, me and him.” The witch said in a distant tone, as if she was recalling her time with the black and white winged avian. That pissed me off. The fact she could talk so blatantly about it despite the long lasting effects she left on his mind and body, was disgusting. My lips curled up in the beginnings of a snarl, and it didn’t die even when she glanced over at me and started to laugh again.

“Only animals snarl and growl, Prince Lance. But then again, you were half fish.” She said with an amused gleam in her eyes.

“Can you cut the shit and tell me why I am here?” I asked in a wavery voice. I knew I was going to be interrogated, but for what I wasn’t sure about.

“Where is the Champion?” She asked, picking up a knife off of the small table beside the one I was chained too. There were whips and collars, gags… I didn’t know what she was planning to do, what would come first, and I couldn’t believe that I was already making a least of the preferable torture methods she might use on me. “Rolo was supposed to bring him with you, as part of our bargain. He gives me our Champion and I fix you and send you back to your pod. I have an idea of where he is, but I don’t know the exact coordinates. Altean forests are ridiculously huge.”

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.” I replied, looking behind the galran witch and at the lantern hanging from the wall. I knew denying wouldn’t really work, but it was a worth a try if it actually did. How stupid could she be if she believed me?

“You’re mate, Shiro, was our gladiator, our Champion. He belongs to us.” She said smoothly,clearly not buying my lie. “I made him into what he is. I made him stronger than any other man in Altea. He could have become one of Zarkon’s greatest generals. Shirogane was the best Champion, and the perfect specimen I ever had my hands on.”

“I know where he wouldn’t be… and he’s not up your ass.” I said with a snarl, thankful that my voice didn’t quiver. Shiro was his own person, and this galra witch had nothing do with that. Shiro would want me to be strong, to have hope, so that is exactly what I was going to do. I would see their grey and violet eyes soon. Feel their arms wrapping around me. Hear them whisper my name. Her eyes darkened considerably as she eyed my body up and down.

She then turned her hideous face away from me and inspected the small tray beside me. “I would refrain from using that tone with me boy. Don’t try and be heroic because it’s not going to get you anywhere.”

“Now, this is how it’s going to go. I will ask you questions and it would be in your best interest if you answered them correctly because if you don’t, well…” She gestured to the tools beside her with the knife in her hand. “I’ll have to resort to other methods.”

I eyed the tools with dreaded anticipation, physically and mentally preparing myself for what was bound to happen. Everything was lined up neatly, and they shined exactly like Keith’s knives. They were clean, sharp, and I knew she took care of them with the same passion my mate did. There were knives of various sizes and with different purposes. Some were used for cutting and stabbing, others were designed to hook into my flesh. There were pliers and syringes with bottles of liquid beside them.

“Now lets try this again.” I looked away from the tray sharply and stared at her in panic. “Where is the Champion’s nesting site?”

My voice wavered as I spoke. “I’m not going to tell you.” I wasn’t ashamed that I was scared. Anybody in my position would be. It was their right. She was a Druid, handpicked by Zarkon himself. That said a lot about Haggar. What and who she was. How dark and corrupt her old mind was.

“If Rolo had been successful in capturing your mate for me, then you wouldn't even be in this position to begin with.” She said as she started to press the knife deep into my skin. I let out a choked sob as my flesh tore, the feeling of fire deep in my skin as she dragged it a little before pulling it back out. My body shook from the pain and the realization that yes, this was real, and my mates weren’t here.

Hours went by, and the only way I knew that was because my voice was hoarse. It cracked every time I told her to go fuck herself or to go jump off a cliff. She asked me questions about the pods, where they resided and where they would most likely be. She asked me for the location of my nest, and how many flocks were positioned close by. I told her nothing, and eventually she was done with my silence. Haggar cleaned the tools efficiently and then placed them back neatly onto the spotless tray. When they were back in their original positions, she strode out of the room without a single glance.

Ψ

Weeks seemed to pass as I sat in my silent cell. My chains clinked against each other as I slowly moved my arms, testing for any injuries. I felt none. The only evidence that they were ever there were the white, thick scars on my arms, legs, and stomach. If I thought I was scarred before, I was marred now. I grimaced. Would Shiro and Keith still love me even if I looked like this? Would they want to kiss every scar that Haggar gave me? Maybe. We kissed Shiro’s, but he got those protecting Matt. Me? I’m strapped to a table, helpless and broken.

It was the same thing everyday. I would be given “food” which was basically a slice of bread and meat along with a small cup of water. It got to the point where I knew my stomach had shriveled because I couldn’t even eat all of it without puking. After I ate, an hour or two later, I would be tortured. The sessions could last from an hour to the end of the day, depending on Haggar's mood. Most of the time she was just downright pissed, but there was a rare dare when she was all shits and giggles, which had been a very… arduous experience. I never want to see her like that again. After the sessions, I would either be taken to a healing chamber or back to the cell depending on how life threatening my wounds are. Healing meant more pain, more torture and experimentation. I don’t know how long I’ve been locked up and chained.

Time is warped when I’m dragged out of my cell, down the hall and strapped to that cold, familiar table. Except this time it’s different. I’m strapped with my stomach pressed against the surface, and they add a neck restraint as well. I hated it when Haggar introduced something new during her “play time”. As I jerk weakly against the cuffs I hear the door open and the clicks of Haggar’s boots as she enters the room. I can’t turn my head far enough to see what tool she picked up, all I hear is the sound of metal sliding against metal. It made me shiver. Not knowing what tool she selected was always the worst. I didn’t know what type of pain to expect. Pain that felt like teeth ripping my flesh, like fire melting my body, bone breaking agony. There was no way for me prepare myself.

“Oh Lance, you haven’t even seen my bad side yet.” She purrs, running a sharp point down my arm, a thin trail of blood running down my arm. So it was a knife. It didn’t even hurt anymore. Is that bad? That I’m already used to pain? I know I should be freaking out about the small beads of blood slowly crawling down the side of my arm but I can’t. How did Shiro do this? How is he okay? Then I realize that he isn’t. He has ptsd. He lost an arm. I held him at night while he recovers from his nightmares. He didn’t escape the galra untouched. 

“Go fuck yourself.” I hear myself snarl, and I instantly regretted talking. Pain consumes my entire body and I choke back the tears. She shoves the knife into my arm roughly and twists , smiling down at me as my body thrashes on the table. Screams bounced off of wall, amplified by the echoes.

“Nothing will get better for you until you learn how to submit and realize that fighting me isn’t a good idea.” She said in an infuriated tone. “You would actually be really dangerous, if you didn’t need anyone. I would have fun replacing you as the new Champion, but I have other plans for you. You’re too emotional to be a Champion. You let your emotions drag you down. Your homesickness, that love you have for the Champion and his mate, guilt, shame… do I need to continue? If you weren’t weighed down by it you wouldn’t even be in this situation.”

I just closed my eyes. Sure, those emotions got me at times, but it made me human. I’d rather feel something then nothing at all. While my eyes were still closed, I felt a needle press into my neck, and I jerked away from it. I tried to open my mouth to ask her what was in it, but my jaw felt heavy. I couldn’t open it, I wasn’t able to talk. I started to freak out. Were they going to cut bones out of my body while I was still awake? What was she going to do?” My muscles wouldn’t respond and I became sleepy.

“The next time you wake up, you’ll be like the Champion. Better, stronger, perfect. You can thank me later." Her voice purred and I recoiled from it. I sunk deeper and deeper, my breathing shallow from the cuts littering my body. My eyes were straining to remain open, but after one final, harsh tug from the black undercurrent, I fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Watching Shiro break down as the days passed was one of the hardest things to witness. Everyone was suffering, but he was experiencing the loss the worst. Coran and Allura had even come to accept him as part of the flock. Lance had adjusted nicely as a human in the past months, but I wish we had taught him better. We should have made him run for backup. We should have fought harder. We should have protected him. I failed as his mate, and I knew Shiro felt the same way. However, it wasn’t our fault. Or maybe it was, but we were not to blame. It was Rolo, who thankfully is dead. It was also the galran’s fault, who made a deal with the mermaid shifter in order to recapture Shiro as their Champion. It pissed me off, how Lance's kind could betray him so easily, but the mermaids who betrayed him got what was coming to them. They shouldn't have tried to take our mate from us without knowing what the repercussions would be if they failed. 

Lance was being dragged towards the boats by several soldiers, galran and shape-shifters working together to get the former siren away from us. 

“No, no! No! Shiro! Keith! Don’t let them take me! Don’t let them! Please!” His voice grew in desperation with every second that passed. “Shiro, help me. Get the fuck off of me!” He screamed, digging his feet into the sand to slow them down to buy himself some time. I watched as he grabbed a blade and jabbed it into the soldiers arm, earning him a painful scream. Pride surged through me as I slit someone’s throat, urging myself towards him. I heard Shiro’s animalistic snarl, and I turned to see him thrust his hand into Rolo’s body, tearing his heart out of his chest. My stomach clenched at the sight but I refused to throw up. Instead, I helped clear a way for Shiro so he could get to Lance.

However neither of us were able to make it as a bigger ship came into view, and I knew that it would be suicide to get any closer.

“Shiro! Shiro, stop! You’re going to get us killed if we go after Lance right now!” I yelled at him, grabbing onto his wrist tightly. I pointed towards the large battleship aggressively and said, “We have to go and get Commander Iverson. We don’t stand a chance against that. That is a fucking army.”

After a couple of deep breathes, Shiro nodded in agreement. There was this wild look in his eyes, and I knew he was fighting the urge to go and defy logic, but I didn’t give him the opportunity to do so. I tugged on his arm and we ran into the woods before we took off. I refused to look back, knowing that I would regret my decision even though I knew it was the right one. The link between me and Lance was still strong, so I knew he was alive. And as long as it stayed that way, I knew that everything would be okay eventually.

As I went over the events that went down a few days ago, a whimper caught my attention. I turned in bed, wincing as Shiro’s arms tightened painfully around my waist. It was another nightmare. I let out a soft sigh before I raised my hand to shake him awake. However, I didn’t have to. Shiro suddenly shot up in bed, his eyes round and large, mouth open in a silent shout or scream. He grabbed the covers frantically, moving them across the surface in search of something.

“Keith!?” He shouted, his voice cracking slightly as he says my name desperately, causing my heart to clench. I quickly position myself in front of him, gently touch his arm so I wouldn’t scare him.

“I’m right here Shiro, everything’s okay.” I said softly, my throat tightening as I tried not to cry in front of him. 

His head whipped towards me, and my heart shattered when I noticed his bottom lip quivering. Fuck, why did this have to happen? “You’re here.” He said in relief as I pull him into my lap.

“Of course, I’m never going to leave you.” I told him, closing my eyes so I wouldn’t see the doubt I knew was in his eyes. Nothing would be better until Lance was with us. We wouldn’t know what normal was until we found him and bond with him. The urge to do so was strong. My instincts was telling me to go and find him, abandon reason and just search for him. Yet I couldn’t because where was the sense in that? There was none. I could only stay and follow Shiro and Allura’s plans and orders.

“I left, Lance is gone… I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again.” He muttered. I unfurled my wings and promptly wrapped them around him in a comforting cocoon while he settled down against my chest.

“I won’t.” I promised, planting a firm kiss on his forehead. We laid together, with his head resting on top of my chest.

It hurts to see you this way, were the unspoken words that ran through my brain. Imagining what he had went through, what Lance was going through at this very moment, made me sick. We were sleeping, holding each other while Lance was most likely being tortured and kept in a cell all alone… I could understand how Shiro felt at times, but I would never know the full depth of blame he felt. I couldn’t begin to comprehend the horrors he is reliving, imagining all the things he went through being used on Lance.

We laid together like that for hours, unable to go to sleep. Shiro’s breath was now steady and hot against my bare chest as we let the silence envelope us. Once our alarm went off for us to get up to meet everyone for breakfast, I threw the covers back and observed Shiro as he slid out of bed. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to eat properly. Instead he would make plans, trying to figure out where the galran ships could be. He refused to take medicine, mainly because some part of him thought it was poison. I watched as he stripped out of his grey shorts and tank top, stepping into his black uniform. His body was well toned and scarred. The material clung to his skin amazingly, and if Lance wasn’t missing, if everything was okay, I knew exactly what we would be doing right now. I slid out of bed as well and began to put on my uniform, not having to take off any of my clothes since I didn’t really wear any. Once I got most of it on, I turned my back to Shiro and asked if he could button it up. There was a small gap on the back for my wings in case I ever needed to use them. It was also the only uniforms weakness, which is why we are taught to never turn our backs on our enemies. One shot to that vulnerable area and we wouldn’t be able to escape. We could fall into the sea and drown, be captured, become unable to fly if they hit our spinal cord. The galran's always take advantage of this information. I mean, it was no different than me stabbing them in the heart or throat. We fight to win and protect, whereas they do it because they love it. It's a sick competition to see how many of us they can shoot out of the air as if we were flock of ducks that they would be serving for dinner...

Shiro's hands lingered on my shoulders lighty, giving me goosebumps. His calloused hands slid down my arm and tugged me against his chest. He burrowed his face into my neck and breathed in deeply.

“We’ll find him soon.” He said, holding me tightly. I knew he was trying to convince himself of this as well, so I said nothing of it. I turned, giving him a light peck on the lips before I took his hand, extending my wings so they would rest against his back. The sky was very cloudy, dark clouds invading the usual sunny beach.

“Is it going to rain today?” I asked, my eyes narrowed at the storm closing in on us.

“Looks like it will soon.” Shiro said, eyeing the clouds in trepidation. “We can only hope that it moves past us before it gets to bad. That will set us back a day or two at the most.”

It was only about 8 in the morning, and I knew it was going to be a very long day.

“Thanks Coran,” I said to the other member of our flock as we took our seat and trays so we could eat. I forcefully pushed the plate into Shiro's lap. He looked as if he was about to argue but thanfully he didn't this time. After I saw him take a bite off his eggs I turned my attention to the others.

“No problem kiddo! You gotta have your strength if you’re going to be staying up at such ungodly hours of the night.” He told us, his orange mustache moving as he spoke.

“We don’t stay up that late.”

“Sure, and I’m deaf. I can hear you in the training room; and Pidge is always swearing and throwing books, which I have to pick up in the morning.” Coran continued, finishing up his buttered toast and bowl of fruit.

“What are we going to be doing today?” Matt asked as we all sat down in the living room, watching the fish Lance had given me and Shiro as a courting gift. Most of us were already dressed, save for Pidge who was still in his clothes from yesterday. Did he not sleep that well either?

We were finally able to get word to Hunk that Lance had been taken, who promised to relay the information back to his family.

“Pidge just got back with word from Hunk that we will meet Princess Esmeralda at the same pool Lance used to swim at.” Allura informed us, her intelligent eyes lingering on me and Shiro. We knew that the female siren only wanted to speak to her brothers mates. There was no doubt in mind that she would try to kill us for letting him get captured.

“When?”

“At 10, so in less than an hour.” Allura said, glancing at the clock on the wall.

“Everyone gear up. We fly in 20.” Shiro told everyone, and we watched half amused as Pidge scrambled to get dressed.

 

Ψ

 

When we arrived, the first thing I saw was a very angry mermaid swimming back and forth and across the cove. The waves were a little choppy, mainly because of the storm brewing above us. Hunk was lounging on the rock beside her, where Shiro and I used to wait for Lance. He raised a webbed hand, flicking his yellowtail on the surface of the water in an attempt to get his princess's attention.

Matt stood close to us, his hands on his staff in case Lance’s sister tried to attack us or make an attempt to drown us. The mermaid that surfaced looked nothing like our mate. I vaguely remembered Lance telling us that she was his half sibling. She had long black hair, and grey eyes like Shiro. Her scales were green, and her skin was pale whereas Lance’s was tan. Water cascaded down her face as she floated in front of us, her arms propped on top the rocks. Her eyes were full of fury, as if the storm was inside her as well.

“Where. Is. Lance?” Esmeralda demanded, glaring at us hatefully as we stood on top of the rocks in shame. “All Hunk told me was that he was missing.

“We-We’re not sure,” I told her hesitantly. “A shapeshifter named Rolo was working alongside the galra. In exchange for Shiro, they would turn Lance back into a siren. Their plan failed, but we believe that the witch Haggar has him, since she has been searching for Shiro.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!” She hissed, baring her sharp teeth at us. “You are his mates! How can you not know where he is.”

“He’s alive, we know that much; but since we didn’t bond we can’t get a better reading on him.” Shiro informed Lance’s younger sister. His lips were set in a grim line, and it was clear he was struggling. If the bags under his eyes weren’t evidence enough, then I don’t know what is. His nightmares, the sobbing fits?

“Why didn’t you bond with him? He is a good merman, man I mean. You should have bonded with him instantly!”

“Lance had just shifted into his human form,” Shiro said calmly, though I knew he was struggling to keep his anger in check. “It would have been inappropriate to do anything while he is getting used to his new body. We weren’t going to take advantage of him.”

Esmeralda scowled in disapproval but she said nothing else about it. Was that normal for them? To have sex with their mates almost immediately after meeting them? It took Shiro and I a long time before we did anything physical, mainly because I wasn’t ready for it. Shiro was extremely patient and willing to wait for me unlike a lot of people that we knew at the Garrison.

“I have sent scouts out to find the galra ship that has Lance. However, it will be near impossible to figure out which one Lance is on. Usually we would sink it but since he’s human it’s a risk I am not willing to take. I can also send out my personal guards, but since he is not a part of the pod anymore, our mother can’t send out an army to find him.” Esmeralda told us, changing the subject after only a few seconds of uncomfortable silence. “Has he learned how to swim yet? If so, then I can sink ships and search the ship before he runs out of air. ”

“No not yet. We were planning on teaching him though.” I replied, my lips turned downwards in a scowl.

“And are all the shape-shifters in Rolo’s pod dead?”

“Yes.” I said proudly, smiling triumphantly despite the fact that we wouldn’t be able to figure out where Lance was.

“I call dibs on the galra when we get there.” Her sharp teeth exposed as she gave us all a grin.

“I suppose that’s fair.” I reply cooly, mirroring her smile with my own. My hand drifted down my blades, one of them being the bone knife Lance had made me.

I couldn’t think about killing the galra if we couldn’t get to them in the first place. Once the scouts found Lance though, how would we get there? The merfolk wouldn’t be able to fight and we wouldn’t be able to fly that far out of the ocean. The Garrison had refused us any type of help since Lance wasn’t a member of the Altean army. It was a pile of bull crap. I mean, this was Shiro’s mate for fucks sake. He is the very image of the Garrison and he gave the military information no one ever could. And this was how he was being repaid, his request for rescuing his mate, our mate , being rejected. It made me hate the Garrison down to my very core.

“How are going to get there though?” I asked with a frown. Allura and Coran shared a glance while Hunk and Esmeralda furrowed their brows in concentration.

“We have a friend who has a ship though.” Pidge pipes up, his eyes practically gleaming.

“Who?” Shiro demanded hopefully.

“Thace.”

Chapter Text

Shiro kissed my face lazily as we rested in our bed, waiting for Keith to return with the soup and medicine. Getting sick was rare among merfolk, so you can imagine the shock I had when I got a cold. It was a simple cold, or at least it was supposed to be. However, since my body wasn’t used to fighting off bacteria, it was worse than it should have been.

“I’m going to get another cold rag for you okay?” Shiro murmured against my flushed skin. “I’ll be right back.” With that, he retreated, unfurling his large wings from around me and headed to our bathroom. I could hear the sink turn on, and I waited patiently for him to come back. At the same time, our bedroom door opened and Keith walked in. His violet eyes roamed over my flushed face, concern evident on his face. He carefully shut the door behind him with his foot, the bowl of soup and cup of water balanced precariously in one hand.

“Why did you think staying outside for several hours in the cold would be a good idea?” Keith asked me with a small shake of his head, as if he couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea.

“I figured you and Shiro would be to busy to come with me, and I forgot that my body can’t retain heat that well.” I breathed out sickly. I felt disgusting, hot, and sweaty.

“You’re going to stay inside during the winter,” Keith said seriously.

“Or we can just take him to the doctor and get him some shots.” Shiro butted in, returning with a fresh, damp rag. The cold cloth was placed on my forehead, and I sighed in relief. It felt refreshing.

“You’ll be so cute, bundled up with a shit ton of blankets on our bed. And you would have adorable bed head like usual.” Keith told me after he blew on the hot soup, making sure it wouldn’t burn my lips or tongue.

“I’m not cute. I’m sexy as fuck.” I said stuffily before turning my head to cough harshly into my arm.

“Yes you are.” Shiro agreed, wincing lightly at the coughs. It felt as if they could slice my throat up, it hurt so bad. As if reading my thoughts, Shiro grabbed the glass of water Keith had brought and helped me take a few sips out of the straw.

“Next time you want to go outside in the cold, wear a jacket or ask one of us to go with you. We could turn it into a date and-”

BANG.

BANG.

BANG.

I jerked awake, my eyes wide from the sudden noises. For a second, I actually thought I was in bed until I felt the odd sensation of something on my back. Then I remembered. Haggar gave me wings.

Haggar stood a little off to the left, opening cabinets in a rush.

“Oh, you’re finally awake. I thought you would miss the finale.” Haggar rasped, turning her head slightly to look at me. “It’s a shame that you’ll never be able to fly with your mates. Next time I get my hands on the Champion I’m going to cut off his wings.” Haggar said as she looked my body over. I was still strapped onto the table, but I didn’t feel like crap. I felt healthier, and I knew it was because the witch had let me heal. “They will make a nice addition to my collection. The crown at of our Emperor's throne. How does that sound?”

I glared at her, fighting the urge to spit on her. “That’ll never happen.”

“Oh I think it might. Him and your other pathetic mate will come for you, and I will break him to the point he won’t even know he exists .” Haggar let out a disgusting, dry cackle, the wrinkles by her eyes prominent. How old was this bitch?

“I wonder, would they fight each other to save you?” She said with a sadistic smile. “This will be the first time to have someone who has a bond with not one, but two people. The science will be revolutionary.”

“You are a sick bastard,” I glared at her, hating the fact that she was saying these things so casually. It was as if she had moved on from physical torture, and decided to mess with me psychologically. Making me feel worthless and weak was almost as bad as having a hot knife dragged down my arm.

“I am aren’t I?” Haggar chuckles, taking my insult as a compliment. She walks over to me, her long, dark robes swishing as she walked over to me, a needle in her hand. It pricked my neck, which was still sore from all of the other injections I previously had.

“I’ll see you when you wake up. You’re mates will be joining you here soon.” Haggar said as she placed the needle down on the small table beside me with a small clank. “Even if they succeed in rescuing you, you won’t be able to get off of this ship. You don’t know how to fly, and you’re wings are to heavy, so you will drown.”

“But I don’t plan on that happening. It would have been such a waste of my time.”

I was barely listening to her after she told me that they would be here soon. I wanted to cry in relief, but I held them back.

Haggar was betting on the fact that Shiro would come and fight to retrieve his mate, but she was underestimating the ferocity that he would fight with and an iron will to get me back. Plus, Keith would be with him. I would have prayed for the people on the ship if they hadn’t have tortured me. The galra were going to get what they deserved.

Haggar didn’t understand how important we were to each other.

Shiro and Keith hadn’t just been a ripple, a small change in my life. They were a tsunami, washing every negative thought I had with a force that literally reshaped my world. All the damage my pod had done was gone, replaced with a new world that me, Shiro, and Keith created. Shiro and Keith weren’t just two avians I had met on a morning beach. They were no longer strangers. We were mates, they were special, and no would ever be able to replace them.

I would honestly die before I put them in a situation where they had to fight each other for me. I was the new addition, I was the one who went after them. Why should I be the one to ruin the perfect bond they had between each other, just so I could feel loved?

I wondered how deep that love reached, because it felt like I was able to simultaneously reach it and never hold it all at the same time. It seemed to stretched all the way from our home tree and far out sea. It would continue to grow longer with every second that passes. There was no measurement for how deep our bond was. I knew that they would follow me to the end of the world, and even beyond that, to a universe that was still being developed.

We were all in too deep, but that was okay.

I closed my eyes before the drugs kicked in, anticipating sleep. At least in my dreams they would be here. Haggar wouldn’t be able to touch me in my dreams, because Shiro and Keith would be there with me.

Ψ

I awoke from my slumber, still chained onto the table. Haggar was nowhere in sight which made me relieved. I hated seeing her ugly face when I wake up. I furrowed my eyebrows, straining my ears to hear anything. Usually I could hear the faint chatter of guards outside of my cell door, but there was nothing.

A loud bang made me stiffen as the entire room shook with the force of an explosion. That was when the lights on the wall flashing with urgency. It was the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve seen them do that, so I knew it wasn't a drill.

They were here.

There was a small seed of doubt, telling me that maybe something inside the ship exploded, but I could feel how close Shiro and Keith were. It made me hot and agitated, and I let out a small whine of frustration.

“Shiro! Keith! Is anyone out there?” I shouted, pulling against my restraints even though I knew it was fruitless. I continued to shout, hoping that they would be able to hear me. I had no clue where I was on the ship, and I figured I would be somewhere on the bottom of the ship, away from the top of the deck and freedom. It could take them hours to find me.

There was a loud bang, a lot closer this time and there were two voices, hushed and urgent.

“Try this one,” one said, and the next thing I knew the door swung open with tremendous force. Keith and Matt stood in front of the doorway, and a frown came over my face as I wondered where Shiro was. Keith rushed ahead of Pidge’s brother, eyeing the room in distaste. He was furious, his wings fluffed up in anger as he observed the tray of tools beside me. The scars on my arm were visible and I tried to twist so he wouldn’t see it. Not yet at least.

“Do you know where the keys are?” He asked, fingers touching the cuffs around my wrists lightly.

“Haggar has them.” I told him, my throat closing around my next words. “Keith… I-I’m so glad you’re here.”

I wanted to run my fingers down his soft feathers, feel his warmth and smooth skin.

“Me too,” Keith said softly, giving me a deep kiss. It was gentle, yet it was a kiss given to someone who had been gone for years. He tasted familiar and safe, and we broke away too soon.

“Where is Shiro?” I asked worriedly, wondering if something bad had happened to him.

“He’s here.” Keith reassured me. “He is just making sure that your sister doesn’t sink the ship while we’re on it.”

Matt finally walked inside the room, deeming the hallways clear. He smirked at the both of us despite the situation. “I better not hear you guys fucking when we get back. I want to catch up on my sleep.”

I stuttered, blushing at his implications but Keith didn’t seem to think it was that funny. He shot a glare at his friend before returning his attention to my restraints.

“Wow, I missed you too,” I said to Matt, the older boy smiling back at me.

Matt raised his hands in defense, shrugging his shoulders a little. “What can I say? Sleep is important.”

“Do you know if there is anything that-,” Keith cuts off, a soft cry of surprise leaving his lips. His eyes widen in pain, his hands clutching at his side in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Matt whirled around to fight, when the glara standing in the doorway collapsed to the floor. Shiro suddenly appeared behind him, his sword sticking through the dead soldiers body. All I see is red staining the front of Keith’s shirt, running down his fingers and down his arm.

“S-Shiro you need to help him!”

His metallic grey eyes snapped to me, then to Keith with a hardness I didn’t like. I’ve never seen how he acted during a battle, so this was new and terrifying. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me, but it still unnerved me.

“Matt, take Keith back to the boat and have Coran take a look at it. I’ll get Lance.” Shiro ordered, his metal arm glowing faintly as he walked towards the table. He eyed the metal cuffs in anger before he raised his arm and sliced through it cleanly. He made sure not to touch me, a single touch of his galra arm could decapitate me and slice off divutes of my flesh.   

Once I was free, I sat up with a groan, stretching for the first time in days. Shiro’s arms snake under my bent knees and around my lower back, lifting me into the air. His fingers brushed against the metal wings on my back, but he says nothing as he walks out of the room quickly. I turned my head into his shoulder to shield my eyes from the painful brightness as we finally make it on deck.

“Once we get back on Thace’s ship, Esmeralda will sink this ship. Hopefully Haggar will drown once and for all.” Shiro informed me. I felt him jump, and I squealed in fright, not knowing where the hell we were going. Shiro chuckled, his hands tightening around me in reassurance. There was a loud thump, and I felt Shiro’s body recoil against mine as his feet collided with the boat. I was tense, praying that Keith would be all right. I couldn't tell if he had been shot where one of his vital organs were, but I knew he had been bleeding a lot.

“Why don’t you open your eyes?” Shiro coaxed, his voice smooth and questioning.

I kept my head rested in the curve of Shiro’s shoulder. I could already tell it would blind me, the light piercing me through my eyelids. It would be ten times worse if I opened them. Even though I had been exposed to light, the actual sun was not something I was used to anymore. With a sigh, I slowly opened my eyes, blinking against the harsh light that bombarded my vision.

Shiro squeezed me tightly, saying a million words in that simple hug. He apologized, he said I was safe, that everything would be okay. I clung to him, my hands balling into his fists against his back, his shirt becoming rumpled in my grip.

My words were I love you, a simple phrase I should have told them weeks ago.

Now I was given the chance to say them, yet Keith was wounded badly, and I had no clue if I was going to be able to do that or not.

Chapter Text

The waves rocked the boat gently as the group of worn and tired misfits sailed further away from the sunken ship that they had all just demolished. Keith laid in my lap, deathly pale. Granted, he always looked pale but this just… it was all wrong. Lance sat beside us with a death grip on my thigh, staring at Keith with a terrified look. Everyone on the boat was deathly silent, afraid to say anything that might tip either of us off the edge. Lance had gone through too much shit, that much was obvious. The thick, jagged cuts on his arms and exposed stomach, the mottled bruises that littered his skin… One wrong word or phrase and Lance would break. So nobody voiced their fears or their doubts. We just sat there and waited for Esmerelda to get back with a crystal. Because without it Keith would not make it.

The sound of the waves slapping the side of the boat could not block out Keith’s shallow breathing. My grip tightened on his hand, exhaling a ragged breath. It was eerie, how silent a sunny day could be. Their wasn’t a single cloud in the sky but there was a large, metaphoric dark gray cloud hanging over the flock’s head. Despite the gentle rocking of the boat, it felt like we were going to tip over at any given moment, our legs weak with worry.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it.” Lance suddenly whispers to me. I looked away from Keith’s blood drained face and stared into our mates tear, strained eyes. “You shouldn’t have come for me. Keith wouldn’t… wouldn’t be lying here bleeding to death.”

My heart broke even more at his confession and the idea of abandoning him and losing Keith. He looked serious, as if he did in fact blame himself for what happened. “Keith would have never been able to live with himself if we didn’t search for you.” I told him. “Even now, I don’t think he would have changed his mind. You mean the world to him, to me. To this flock. So do not for a second, think that we would have left you with Haggar. Do you know how he will feel when he learns that you are blaming yourself for something you had no control over, what so ever?”

That did it. Tears streamed down his face silently and his shoulders shook as he tried to suppress the volume of the torment he felt. Without a word, I let go of Keith’s hand in favor of pulling Lance to me. I gently pushed his face into my shoulder blades, unfurling my large wings and wrapped it around the two of them protectively.  

“We’re gonna make it.” I murmured softly, curling a hand into Lance’s sweaty, oily, unkempt hair. “You’re safe now, and we will never let this happen again.”

It was a dangerous promise. We were both in the military, and Lance would soon be an official member of the flock. It was our job to be in danger. We were literally on the front lines, living on the shore where the galra had to go in order to get to Altea. However, it was a promise I would not take lightly. If the battle at the beach was anything to go by, I wouldn’t stop until everyone or I, was dead. I wouldn’t let Keith stop next time.

“I don’t know if I made it yet or not.” Lance confesses breathlessly against me. My hand releases my hold on him before sliding it down his body carefully and threading it around his waist. We stayed like that for several minutes until there was a loud splash and a cascade of water on the back of my wings. “I feel like I’m here but it could just be another dream.”

I tightened my grip around him, silently telling him that this was real. I knew what it was like, not knowing if I was asleep or awake. If it was day or night. If I was alive or dead. With Haggar, reality could be distorted and disconfigured.

Suddenly, without any warning, Esmerelda hauled her slick body out of the salty water, disrupting the silent atmosphere that had taken residence on the boat. Pidge let out a high pitched scream, falling out of their seat unceremoniously. An embarrassed flush was evident on their face, and they frowned as soon as their brother started to chuckle.

“It’s not that funny.” They grumbled, glaring at the older avian. “She could have been one of those mermaids that kidnapped Lance.”

Esmeralda hauled herself into the boat beside me, Lance, and Keith, ignoring Pidge and Matt’s conversation completely. She took one look at Keith and her expression turned grim. She glanced at Lance, taking in the dried tears and blood on his face before raising the balmera crystal over the wound and began to heal our mate without a single word. Keith’s breathing had slowed down significantly, his chest barely falling and rising. There was a high possibility that he could die while the mermaid princess healed him, but I was ready to revive him if necessary.

Everything seemed to fade away except for the bright, light blue glow of the crystal. The wound was slowly sealing shut. The flesh inside the wound regenerating before it would be sealed shut. Pidge had once explained that the body would produce the blood that was lost before it began to heal the wound itself. It increased the person’s health. There would be no point in healing someone if they just died of blood loss.

Half an hour passed before Esmerelda stopped, wiping sweat that had dripped off her chin. “Good news is he will live. Bad news is, I am not sure when he will wake up.” She told me and Lance, ignoring the others in the boat. She eyed Thace in distrust but kept silent as the galra stared back evenly. “I am sorry this happened, Lance. I truly am. I will be stationing a patrol close your flocks base so this won’t happen again. The galra won’t make it back to your shores for a long time.”

“Thank you,” I told her, genuinely meaning it. “I will let our commander know as soon as we are back home.”

She nodded, before slipping back into the water. “If you veer a little to the right, you will come to an island. I suggest you and your friends rest there for the night.”

Thace immediately began to turn the boat in the direction she had pointed at. About another half hour, we saw it.

The island looked massive, with tall, tropical trees and birds flying around the shore. Their cries could be heard several miles away, and they were just little white specks against the blue sky. There were multiple, smaller islands around the bigger of the four.

Pidge would not shut up, going on and on about how they were formed, when, and what the mermaids had used them for. Lance explained that the shape-shifters had used the islands to rest on while migrating. There were very few safe places to rest for the night, especially at night. With new predators swimming from the deep crevices of the ocean to the surface in order to feed; it would be hard to find a safe place. So, they set up checkpoints where they could rest; and the islands were one of those.

As everyone disembarked the ship, Esmerelda called out to me, and I stopped in my tracks.  “Can I speak with you alone?”

I turned to Lance, who nodded hesitantly, never once looking at us. Hunk took Keith out of my arms carefully before following the others, give me and the siren some privacy. Her green tail slapped the water in aggravation, and I knew that whatever she had to say was not to be taken lightly.

“Now, I don’t know what Lance has told you about me… I am sure there weren’t that many great stories he could have told you about our family but I want that to change.”

I considered her words carefully, thinking about how they had practically alienated him due to his scars and self sacrifice. His loyalty to his pod went unappreciative because they valued beauty over bravery. Everything in me screwed at me to deny her request but that wasn’t up to me.  I agreed with her when she said there were not a lot of good stories about the people who were meant to support him.

“I don’t make any promises. That is Lance’s decision.” I informed her, watching her eyes for any sign of displeasement or irritation. There was none of that, just tiredness and understanding.

“That’s all I can ask for at this point. I’ll come by and visit within a week to see how Lance and your mate is doing. If that is alright?”

“If Lance wants to see you, then yes. I will let you know as soon as I tell him. He needs to readjust first though, before I bring up anything serious with him.”

With an affirming nod, she pushed herself into deeper water and swam away. Warily, I turned and found my flock several yards away, a fire already being built. Hunk had already began dinner, and he informed everyone it would take about an hour or so for it to be ready. There were still several hours before nightfall, but  it was better than sailing at night.I found Lance sitting a bit away from the fire with Keith resting his head in his lap. I situated myself beside him, and resumed comforting him. Expanding my wing around him and rested it on top of Keith’s unconscious body.

“I’m glad that you’re back with us.” I told him, sliding my hand up and down lightly on his arm. Goosebumps appeared on his body along with a ragged intake of air. I smiled at his responsiveness and continued to slide my hand on his arm.

“Me too,” Lance’s voice wavered. “ I honestly didn’t know how much more I could take. I just wanted out of there , and that… that was scary .”

I hummed in understanding. Though what he just admitted terrified me as well. “Do you still feel that way? Do you still want to…”

“No,” Lance answered sternly. “No, that was when I was there. I wasn’t sure if you guys would rescue me or not so that was just an option.”

My hand stilled, gripping onto his arm. “We always would. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I left you to the same fate that I had experienced myself.”

Pidge and Matt came over to talk while Thace helped Hunk prepare the food. The conversation the two brothers struck up was light, no mention of what had transpired within the time Lance went missing or what had happened yesterday. Lance talked freely, and I couldn’t help but feel appreciative that they didn’t bring up his capture or rescue. The three talked about the mermaid culture, about training, anything really. It was just to pass the time away while we all waited to eat. Lance leaned up against me while he talked, moving his hands animatedly when describing some of the more intricate jewelry he had made or about a few of the battles he was in.

When Hunk finally called out to everyone, telling us that dinner was ready, Pidge and Matt bolted, causing It made my mouth water, but by the tight line on Lance’s face, I knew he felt differently. I told him to stay with Keith, while I got our food. I didn’t put too much in his bowl, but I made sure he had a good amount before returning to his side. When I returned, his face screwed up, eyeing the bowl and then me with a disgruntled look.

“You have to eat Lance,” I told him, holding out the bowl of veggies and meat to him. “I know you dislike the idea, but you need to gain your weight and appetite back. Even if it’s just a few bites.”

Reluctantly, he took the bowl of food from my hands. He blew on it to cool it down, before spooning some in his mouth. His eyes closed, and a low moan escaped him.

“That good?” I chuckled, watching him chew and swallow before I take a bite myself.

So good. I almost forgot what Hunk’s cooking tasted like.” Lance said, quickly taking another bite.

He finished before me, and when asked if he wanted another bowl, he just shook his head. Lance admitted that he had felt a bit sick eating that one bowl.

Once everyone was done eating, there was no food left. Pidge, despite his small stature, could eat. He ate four rather large bowls where I only had two. Pidge rubbed his belly contentedly, moaning at how stuffed he felt. I could hear him complaining to Matt and Hunk how big he felt. They both laughed, telling the smaller avian that it was his own fault for eating such a large amount of food.

“Yeah well at least I don’t buy and eat a whole cake by myself.” Pidge cried out accusingly, pointing a finger aggressively at his older brother.

That set Matt off, and for the rest of the evening, they bickered, eventually chasing each other around the campsite while the rest of us laughed at their antiques.

 

Ψ

 

When night finally arrived, we laid down our mats by the fire. Lance insisted on being in the middle, and once we had Keith positioned in front of him, his arms latched onto our black haired mate. I scooted up close Lance, wrapping my own arms around him. All three of us were anchored, locked in as there was a hurricane and we had to tie ourselves to the boat, so we wouldn’t be thrown overboard. It was comfortable, relaxing, and familiar. It had been a while since we had done this, and I knew that if Keith was awake, he would have showered Lance with kisses and affection.

The sound of locusts and the occasional bird could be heard, as well as the gentle crash of the waves on the shore. It sounded beautiful, but not as amazing as our forest. With our fireflies and wolves. I don’t know how much time passed. The stars had barely moved and it was still dark, so I knew it was still early in the night. Lance was also still awake, his body shifting every once in awhile, as if he was restless.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked softly, though I could already guess the answer. I didn’t want to tell Keith anything, once me and Matt had escaped.

“She tortured me. What else is there to say?” He said bitterly, a bite to his words. There was a finality to his words, a way of saying that he was already done with the conversation. However, we had to talk about it. He had to get at least some of it out into the open, instead of letting it fester inside of him. Both him and Keith will try to tackle something by themselves, since they were both very independent individuals. Only when it caused a fight, an argument, or began to overwhelm them, would they bring it up.

“Talking about it can help though. But I can’t make you open up. Some things will trigger you, and I would like to know if there is anything we need to be aware about, so we can avoid panic attacks and such.” I told him quietly, so the others wouldn’t be woken up. The silence returned with Lance’s invitation, his absent words reason enough for it to come back. This time, the air felt tense, and he refused to relax in my arms, no matter how much I crooned and let my presence be known. “Just… please answer this one question, okay?”

A minute passed before I felt the tiniest of nods against my shoulder, and I let out a relieved sigh.

“Did she experiment on you?”

The soft huff of air I could hear softly, stopped. He was silent for a long time, again . The fact it was taking him to reply already answered the question; but I wanted to know how she did it. What she changed and manipulated.

What he said was beyond my expectations.

“She gave me wings.”

Chapter Text

There was a storm coming in, and I groaned in irritation as I witnessed another thunderclap. The plan was to go on a lovely stroll through the woods, stretch our wings and kiss in the nearby fields of flowers. “I just want to fucking fly Shiro, that was all I wanted to do today!”

“Well,” Shiro said, drawing the word out. He stepped close to me until our chests were pushed together, and his fingers ran through my hair a little roughly. “I can make something else soar, if you are up for that?”

I blinked up at him, stunned that he had just said that. “,That was so fucking cheesy and just awful.” God knows Lance could have done better than that.

“Yeah, sorry,” Shiro chuckled anxiously, resting his head against mine. “Is that a yes or a no?”

I let out a long, drawn out sigh before shaking my head. “I’m still drained from last night.”

Shiro hummed while sliding his hands up and down my side, a sensation that was on the verge of being ticklish. “I’m sorry if I was too rough, but I do recall you liking it that way.”

I huffed in agreement, “Later, though, for sure.”

A few hours after dinner I found myself thrown on our bed, legs spread while Shiro finger fucked me.

F-Fuck , ” I groaned, slamming my head into the plethora of pillows underneath my head. Another twist of Shiro's fingers had my back arching, and all I could see was a flash of white. With a loud moan, my eyes rolled into the back of my head as I spilled cum all over my chest.

“Shiro,” I breathed out, hands drifting towards him to hold him, scratch his back, grab his hair and tug, anything. Our hands finally connected and I felt his lips kiss the inside of my thigh endearingly.

“You're beautiful,” He murmured, and I finally opened my eyes to look at him. He sat in between my legs, his steel eyes warm and lustful. His face was flushed as he withdrew his fingers from inside me.

“If you keep looking at me like that I'm going to explode.” I warned, energy spent from having Shiro's fingers and tongue up my ass. He slid of the bed, heading to the bathroom to grab a damp rag. By the time he got back, the dirty blankets were tossed on the floor carelessly.

He cleaned me up, gently wiping away the lube and cum before it dried. He made me drink a glass of water to soothe my sore throat after the begging and muffled screaming. He caused my heart to ache in a good way. Shiro was the best thing that has ever happened to me. He saved me once, twice, five times; and every night when he lays beside me cuddling or making love, it reminds me that I have someone by my side forever.

“Are we going to go see Lance tomorrow?” I asked as we laid tucked in bed, a fresh blanket covering us. Shiro's leg was thrown over mine, my head resting blissfully on his shoulder. His large black wing covered my upper body where the blanket was absent , providing me with warmth. I could hear the steady beat of his heart. Against my will, I thought of Lance's snow white hair and ocean blue eyes. His pretty scales and the scars that covered his body.

“As long as it isn't raining heavily, then yes.”

“Allura knows we will be going out, right?” I worried. It was insane, how much Lance got inside my head.

“Of course,” Shiro replies, rubbing his finger in soothing circles on my hand. “What's got you so worked up?”

“I just want to make sure the stupid idiot is still alive.” I mumbled with a huff, recounting the shark attack and the first time we meet him, washed up on shore from a spear wound. It was part of the truth. I wanted to make sure he was doing well; but at the same time I just wanted to see him. That terrified the shit out of me.

×

People think that the worst events happen during a storm, when sight and hearing are drowning in thunder and heavy rain pour. They find it symbolic when war appears beside a monsoon. The rage of the earth and the fury of mankind clashing together, the pure violence of it all makes poets nuts for these natural scenes. However, for me, it is eerie and discomforting when a battle takes place in broad daylight. Perfect picnic weather. When the birds are singing and the entire forest is holding its breath… When your flock mates are hiding with bated breath, waiting for the galra to appear through the treeline… It is one of the worst feelings ever.  

My parents were murdered on such a day. Except we had thought we were safe. We lived by the shore, miles away from the nearest mermaid pod. They always told me they were friendly, Altea's allies. They forgot to mention that not all of them were like that. Some disliked the human and avian race, murdered or ate them depending on the group.

The shapeshifter pod that had been passing through wouldn't have bothered us if they hadn't seen me collecting seashells on the shore. I had finished my chores, and since it had been a lovely day, I decided to gather seashells and pretty rocks for my mom's birthday.

Then suddenly, just off the shore figures emerged from the calm water, wielding knives and swords in their hands. I instantly dropped the bag of shells and rocks, taking off towards the house. It was far enough away from the ocean that you couldn't see it; and I knew that this was my fault.

“Mom! Dad!” I screamed, running as fast as I could. As soon as the house came into view my knees almost crumpled in relief. “Th-They're coming! They have weapons and they saw me and I don't know how many there are, too many, we need to go!” I stuttered, pulling on mom's arm urgently. Dad carried his axe over, a scowl on his face.

“Who, son?”

“Shapeshifters.” I gasped out. Their faces became stony and guarded, both sharing a look before mom nodded. Dad raced inside the house, returning with mom's swords. She stood in front of me, holding a knife out for me take. The weight of the blade was familiar, light, and comforting.

“You are going to run to the nearest outpost and get help, do you remember where that is?” She asked, holding my shoulders firmly.  

“Y-Yeah,” I nodded,apprehensive about going. I knew I would be going a long because of the plan we had made years ago. This has happened once before, but the mermaids had never chased me before.

“Do not stop, no matter what happens, no matter what you hear, understood?” She ordered, and once I nodded she gave me a tight hug. “I love you,” she whispered before letting go. Dad gave me a hug as well before pushing me in the direction of the outpost.

I ran, rushing towards the giant log I always used to help me take off and fly. The trees in Altea were enormous, the top of their canopies constantly covered by mist or think clouds. Most of the trees were evergreen pines and oaks, along with a few scattered weeping willows. Their branches were strong and ancient, yet they failed to protect me.

I could hear yelling, cursing, shouts of pain. I was confident in my parents ability to defend our home, but it still made me anxious. Outnumbered, they hardly stood a chance.

The sound of rushing feet had me glancing behind my shoulder to see how many shapeshifters were chasing after me. Ten. Panic coursed through me as I hauled ass, heading away from home. Did that mean mom and dad were dead? Did they decide to run too? Were they hiding? I ignored all the possibilities, pushing myself until my wings burned with the need to stop. I poured all of my energy into each wing thrust, trying to put ground in between me and the I angled my body to the side to avoid a tree when something sliced into my left wing. I let out a screech of pain, my wings closing involuntarily. Crashing into the ground, I rolled to my right, groaning with pain as I laid underneath the green canopy. Letting out quick gasps of air, I looked ahead, watching the trespassers emerge from the nearby trees. 

“It will be painless if you stop running kid,” the leader growled (or who I assumed was the leader). He took a threatening step forward, sword red and bright. With a groan, I propped my elbows underneath me as I pushed myself off the ground. I hissed angrily as the merman took another step forward, my wings fluffing up in an attempt to make me look bigger.

“Even though you're parents were a tough adversary, I doubt you'll be able to last as long as they did.” He said in a bored tone. Just as the shapeshifter took a step forward, a loud screech filled the air. A warning to stop. We all looked up to see who it was, and watched wearily as a large figure descended from the canopy, black and white flashing with every sunray that hit the figures feathers.

When he landed, he glanced over at me, making me suck in a breath, dumbstruck at how attractive he was. He had gray eyes like a silver blade, fair skin, and muscles that looked as smooth as a temple statue. I recognized him from the year before when our last mermaid incident happened, and I had to stay, he had grown a lot more muscle mass.

His eyes hardened as he stared at me, flickering over the arrow in my wing, the cuts on my arms and my skinned knees. “You shot him?” He snarled angrily, finally removing his blades, spreading his wings out. It was an impressive length, and his black suit told me that he could wipe out every last one of these fuckers. He was a black paladin, the hardest position to obtain in a flock. Only the best at the Garrison was given that role, and only the most loyal soldiers were awarded that title.

I had to suppress the small grin as the black paladin approached the group confidentiality.

This was retribution.

×

The uniform showed off Shiro’s muscles, and he knew how bothered I got when we had to put on our uniforms and go out. Every time the same damn thing happened.

There was a group of girls giggling, eyeing Shiro from the corner of their eyes. It irritated me to no end, how they shamelessly checked my mate out. They weren’t even trying to hide the fact that they were doing it! It also made my blood boil when they did the same to Lance. His hair and eyes made him stand out; but it was his curiosity and worldly innocence that constantly worried me. No one knew who he was. That he wasn't human, but in fact a former siren and royalty. I was certain that if anyone knew, he would attract the wrong type of people. Smugglers, human traffickers, galra spies (if there were any), and girls.

With a low growl, I stalked over to where my mates were, glaring at anyone who let their eyes linger longer than necessary. Which, if it lasted longer than a few seconds, then it was too long.

Shiro turned at my approach, frowning when he saw my fluffed wings and irritated expression. “Everything alright Keith?”

“No!” I hissed in aggravation. “Everyone keeps looking at you guys as if you're some sort of unseen object, and they won't stop.”

Lance smiled, glancing at the group of girls that were in fact, staring. With a faint blush, he slid his arms around. “Maybe they're just jealous that you get to have us all to yourself.”

His lips pressed gently against mine, turning firmer when I press back.

“Would it make you feel better if you mark me next time we go into town?” He whispered next to my ear.

“Fuck yes,” I growled, pulling him back in for another kiss

Chapter Text

My wings would never be as comforting as Keith or Shiro’s. Mine was of light metal that was alive, able to feel sensations like the clothing on my back and the wind that stirred the sand. It was cold and heavy on my back. Foreign. My fingers brushed down Keith’s soft and glossy black feathers. Listening to his soft breaths, I found my eyelids drifting shut every few seconds. Each time I forced myself awake, wanting to be up in case Keith awoke.

The others were already fast asleep- except for Thace who stood watch on a small hill nearby. Even Shiro was asleep, an arm thrown lazily over my shoulder. I welcomed it, relishing in my mate’s warmth. I had grown accustomed to my cold cell, the frigid surgical table I was strapped to for hours every day. This warmth was as strong as the cold that had nipped my skin, bit at the open cuts on my arms and stomach.

I would definitely look at Keith’s knives differently from now. I understood the power behind the weapon now. I usually saw them as something you could stab and cut with; but Haggar showed me a whole other side to them. Keith didn’t even have any curved ones- gut hooks , I was later informed. Those were the worst, the ones that would make me thrash like a fish out of water. The whole purpose of that blade was to split muscle and sever skin. The long white scar along my arm, the one on my legs and the one on my side were products of that session. Haggar enjoyed explaining the purpose of all of the knives. I probably knew as much, possibly more about them than Keith.

I couldn’t fathom how Shiro did it. How him and Matt were okay. One more day there and I would have spilled everything and then prayed for forgiveness.

A low growl came from Keith, turning my attention back to him. He twitched violently against my side, the only warning I had before he flew up with a gasp. He looked around with a wild glint in his eyes, hands flying to his side where his knife was, ready to draw it out and wreak havoc. Problem was, no one here was the enemy. Shiro stirred awake, relief flooding his features when he saw Keith sitting up.

“Keith? Keith! It’s alright, you’re safe!” I gasped, placing my hands reassuringly on his shoulders, tugging his arm away from his belt. Keith stared at me in disbelief, and then hope.

“You’re safe?” Keith asked fiercely, hands sliding up my arms as if to make sure I was real.

“I, yeah. I’m safe now,” I smiled weakly. Of course, he would be more worried about me than himself. Keith nodded in relief, pressing me flush against his body. He released a ragged breath, hands fisting the back of my shirt.

“You are never leaving my sights, ever again.” Keith grounded out. Giving him a light kiss on the lips, I beckoned Shiro over, who scrambled the few inches it took to reach to us. His arms were tight but not too constricting. He was reassuring himself that I was here, safe and whole.

“I’m so glad you’re awake. Are you hungry? I can make you a sandwich,” Shiro inquired after a few seconds of silence.

“A sandwich sounds great,” Keith replied.

We watched in silence as Shiro dug the rations out from his pack and assembled the sandwich swiftly. Keith scarfed it down like a rabid dog, earning a disapproved tsk from our large mate.

“I’m going to laugh my ass off if you choke,” I snickered, watching as his cheeks puffed out from the sheer amount of food he stuffed in there.

“When we get back home you can choke on my dick,” Keith muffled out with a half assed glare.

“Keith,” Shiro chastised, trying his hardest not to smile.

“What? He started it!” he cried out. His words a little more clear now.

Keith’s hands slid down my back, and I watched in horror as a deep frown encased his face, “What is this?” He inquired slowly, hands investigating the mass under my shirt.

“U-Um…” I looked over to Shiro for guidance, not knowing what or how to say it.

He just smiled at me reassuringly before answering, “Haggar gave him wings.”

“What do you mean? She took them off of someone else’s backs and gave them to Lance?” Keith asked tightly, hands stilling at the idea. He sounded sick, and in turn it made my stomach curl uncomfortably.

“No, th-they’re made of metal. We don’t even know if they’ll work yet.” I whispered. I was afraid that if I said the words louder it might be true.

After I had woken up the procedure, I had panicked. I saw it as a permanent reminder of what Haggar and Rolo had done to me. Captured and tortured for information. But eventually I realized that maybe it wasn't all bad. I mean, if I had wings on the beach, we all could have flown away safety, got back up, and whooped some Galra ass. If the wings worked, I wouldn’t be completely useless anymore.

He dropped his hands, staring at me with what seemed to be a mix of disbelief and curiosity?  I knew Keith wouldn’t reject me because of the new add-on feature. He certainly didn’t when he saw Shiro’s glara arm.

“Alright… is it alright if I um, see them?” he asked while wringing his hands together.

“Maybe when we get back home. I’m sure Pidge will want to run tests and analyze them.”

“I can always tell Pidge that you’re not ready, if you’re not up to that.” Shiro pointed out.

Keith took in the bruises and scars painting my arms, his gaze softening tremendously. “I wish I had more time on that ship…” he murmured, “Then I could fuck up every single one of those pieces of shit.”

The fire behind us made the shadows clinging to Keith’s lithe frame even more foreboding, his features became sharper and meaner. Fiercer .

I huffed out a small laugh, “And then you had to go and get yourself hurt.”

“Hey, I didn’t mean to get injured on purpose!”

Clearing my throat, I obtained both of their attentions, “Can I ask you guys a question?”

“Of course,” Shiro said warmly.

“How long was I gone?” I asked hesitantly, not really wanting to know the answer.

It was detrementle that I found out, so I would know how long Shiro and Keith had to worry about their useless mate. I wasn’t strong enough to escape Rolo, which landed me on that Galra ship. The entire flock had to abandon their post to rescue me. My sister left the safety of the pod, to help sink the battleship before it reached the Altean shore. Then, then , Keith almost fucking died. That had been the tip of the iceberg.

They deserved better.

“Almost three weeks.”

I sucked in a harsh breath, because how was that possible ? It felt like it had been months. I let out a high pitched whimper, my throat closing as tears welled up. Shiro cooed reassuringly, the sound vibrating through my skin. I clamped my hand over my mouth, not wanting to wake anyone up.

“I love you guys so much,” I choked out. “You two are my hope. I could feel it. I was so damn close to giving up, but it wouldn’t have been right.”

“We don’t give up on the people we love,” Shiro said gently, squeezing my hand tightly, “If they had taken you across the sea, to the Empire, we would have followed you, damn the consequences from the Garrison. You mean more to us than being the black paladin. You are irreplaceable.”

With my free hand, I wiped the tears from my face, but they still came. “I love you guys so much, sometimes it hurt worse than Haggar’s devices.”

Keith and Shiro shared a pained look. “I should have done more,” Shiro confessed. “I should have flown after you on that boat.”

“And get shot while flying over sea?” I deadpanned. “How would that make us feel if we saw you drop into the water? Sometimes you can be so fucking stupid .”

“You did all you could, Shiro. Shit, we all did. We did the best we could given the circumstances,” Keith consoled.

“Let's talk about something else,” I said a bit drained. I didn’t to dwell on that particular event any longer. We would probably talk about it tomorrow, and the next day and the next. And right now, I wanted to forget all about it.

So, that’s what we did. Forgot.

They told me stories from the time before I came along. I told them how I met Pidge, about my siblings, and asked how the fish at home were doing. We sat side by side, facing the shore, the stars reflecting off of the ocean surface. It was surreal, and a part of me wondered if I was dead because this felt like heaven. This was the embodiment of peace.

What Haggar thought would be a curse was really a blessing. Once I learned how to fly, I won't have to use the pulley system to get to the home tree anymore. I can take part in flying with the entire flock instead of racing to catch up on the ground.


I wouldn’t be picky about the type of wings I have, whether they are small like a hummingbird or wings of a carrion bird. I would be able to fly, and that in itself will be a miracle.