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Keep Me Dreaming

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“I don’t want a brother,” a young voice groaned. A brown haired boy scowled as he bounced his head from side to side.

“Shush Matt, yes you do,” an amused voice chuckled from behind a newspaper. “Besides, we don’t know if you’ll have a sister or brother.”

“But dad, I don’t want to share my ice cream!” Matt continued. His father just shook his head, not willing to argue with a child over this.

A loud but meek cry stirred Matt from his boredom. His father lowered the newspaper he was reading and peeked over to see the source of the sound. The last few times had been a false alarm and he was tired of getting his hopes up. Through the doors to the hospital waiting room a nurse pushed an exhausted woman in a wheelchair. She clutched a small green bundle in her arms.

Matt blinked a few times before realizing that tired woman was his mother. He quickly but carefully hopped off a chair too high for his tiny legs to touch the floor.

“Mom!” He excitedly spoke.

A tired smile was her only reply.

“Honey, how are you feeling?” Mr. Holt asked, following his son’s lead and walking over to his wife.

“You know, just peachy,” she joked. Her gentle smile did little to hide her current state from her husband.

“Did you make it?” Matt wondered as he ran over to her side. He tried to see what she was clutching in her arms. The result of a very long labor process.

“Yes, honey. Your dad even helped,” she rolled her eyes, freezing her husband in his steps.

“Colleen!” His face was a deep shade of red.

“What? It’s true. He’s gonna be at that age soon enough,” she shook her head. Mrs. Holt did her best to ignore her son’s attempts to climb the chair but it was futile. To satisfy his curiosity she lowered her arms so Matt could see what cried earlier. “Say hello to your new sister, Katie.”

Matt stuck his head over the green blanket to get a better view of his new sibling. A pair of light brown eyes stared curiously at him. A frown crossed his face as he analyzed Katie. “She’s so tiny.”

“Of course she is, she was just born,” Mr. Holt chuckled. He bent over to see the newest member of the Holt household, giving his daughter the warmest smile he could muster. He planted a hand on his son’s head and messed his hair up. “Hello, Katie.”

“Dad!” Matt complained as he tried in vain to push his father’s hand away.

“Son!” Mr. Holt teased back, enjoying tormenting his boy. While Matt tried to fend off one hand Mr. Holt placed the other one near his daughter.

A tiny hand reached up and tried to grasp the tip of his index finger. An excited sound escaped the baby, catching Matt off guard. He paused his fight to watch his sister interact with their dad. His heart slowed as he began to understand his new role in his family. Trying to copy his dad, he poked a finger in front of Katie’s face. Only a few moments later did Katie’s hand leave her father’s and switched to her brother’s.

Maybe giving up being an only child wouldn’t be too bad.

---

“Katie, hurry up and open your present already!” Matt urged his sister.

She replied by simply sticking her tongue out at him while she purposefully skipped his present in favor of opening another from some relative across the country. The wrapping was easily dispatched, revealing another clothes box. Her brother’s grin returned when she opened it to find another dress.

“Mom! No more dresses please. I have too many. I don’t even like ‘em.”

“I try but you know your aunts,” Mrs. Holt shrugged, taking a sip from the birthday print paper cup in her hands. She frowned at bit at the grape soda in the cup but it’d have to do until the kids were in bed. “Now be a dear and open your brother’s gift. If only to make him stop jumping.”

“I’m not jumping,” Mat denied as he bounced back and forth on his heels.

“Fine, but if it’s another dress-” Katie shook her head as she picked up the round gift. Curious, she shook it only to hear nothing move. If it was a dress it’d be the first she ever received in a cylinder. With a wicked a grin she tore the paper off and instantly brightened. “Oh my God Matt thank you!”

He smiled from ear to ear as he sister hugged the telescope in her arms, cradling it back and forth. “Now you won’t have to sneak into my room to use it.”

“Matt, are you sure? She’s only seven?” Mrs. Holt wondered.

“Colleen dear, she already uses it quite frequently. She more than old enough,” her husband interjected from the couch. He rubbed his chin fondly as he recalled his early birthday. “Why when I was her age I already-”

“Had your first chemistry set and you accidentally set your room on fire. Yes Sam, I know.”

He quirked an eyebrow at his wife for deflating the fun in his story. “If you’re just going to ruin all my… wait, where are the kids?”

Both parents scanned the room and found both Matt and Katie already gone.

Outside in the field in front of their house, Katie and Matt already set up the tripod and attached the telescope to it. Matt stood back to watch his sister successfully adjust the telescope to begin looking for stars and planets.

“Hey, Matt. I think I found Jupiter,” Katie said, excitement still evident in her voice.

Matt casually strolled over and nudged Katie. “Let me see, pipsqueak.”

“I’m not a pipsqueak, you’re a pipsqueak!” His sister huffed as she stood straight up, trying to make herself bigger. Matt simply shrugged as he glanced through the lens. He focused the image a bit more for his angle, trying to see if his sister was right.

A toothy grin appeared on his face as he pulled back. He pressed a hand to his sister’s head and messed up her hair. “Good job, you found Jupiter real fast.”

Katie took the abuse with an equally wide grin. “Told ya. I’ll find Saturn next.”

“I believe you. Just try to do it before I leave, alright?” Matt challenged her.

His sister frowned at the thought but nodded her head anyways. “Make sure you call us every night when you’re gone. It’s no fair you’re gonna go to space first.”

“I’m not going to space,” Matt laughed. “I’m just going to the Galaxy Garrison to fly. Maybe I’ll go to space though. That’d be fun.”

Katie laughed as she punched her brother’s side from jealousy. While she wanted to explore the stars so much, she refused to let her envy get the best of her. Matt loved space as much as her so she was very happy for him. Plus he gave her his prized telescope so she couldn’t complain too much.

Before she could inquire more, Matt began waving wildly at something behind her. She turned to see a figure on the horizon waving wildly at the two. Matt glanced at his sister, then to the figure, then back to his sister. He looked worried about something.

“What? Is it Shiro?” Katie squinted.

Matt placed clasped a hand over her mouth and made a shushing sound. “Quiet! I don’t want mom or dad knowing we’re hanging out after dark.”

His sister glared at him before licking his hand with her tongue. He recoiled from disgust, immediately trying to wipe her saliva on his jeans.

“Go. It’s our secret,” Katie tried but failed miserably to push him towards the hill Shiro was still standing on. When Matt looked down at her, Katie made a zipper gesture over her lips.

“Thanks, sis. Remember to find Saturn!” he reminded her before he took off towards the hill his best friend was waiting for him on.

---

“You lied,” Katie frowned while she kicked her feet back and forth on the side of her brother’s bed.

“I didn’t technically lie. How was I supposed to know we’d be selected to go to Kerberos?” Matt defended himself. He opened another drawer in his dresser to pull out more clothes for the space mission. How much underwear would he need?

“You still lied. And you’re going with dad. And Shiro. You’re so lucky,” Katie complained more. She fell backwards onto his bed with her arms outstretched. “You get to actually be among the stars.”

“Well I’m sure by the time you go to the Garrison space travel will be a thing and you can do this too.”

“I wanna go now though!”

Matt rolled his eyes, not that his sister could see from her position on the bed. The drawer slammed close and he walked over to the bed to sit down next to his sister.

“Look, I know you’re jealous. What I’m doing with dad and Shiro is very cool. Like really fucking cool. It’s going to be great,” Matt smiled the more he thought about it, earning a growl and the ire of his sister. “But someone has to be here for mom. Dad and I are going to be gone for a while and Gunther isn’t going to be enough for her. Take care of mom until we return and then you’ll get your chance if you go to the Garrison. Pinky promise?”

An annoyed sound escaped Katie. Matt held out his right pinky and waited patiently for his sister to clasp it. Seeing no other choice, her tiny pinky wrapped around his and they shook on it.

“Fine, but you better call once in a while,” She demanded.

“I’ll call when I can. Now go brush your hair. It looks like a Pidgey.

A wicked grin crawled onto Katie’s face as she shook her head wildly.

“Never! And you’re just made I beat you with it,” Katie bragged.

Now it was her brother’s turn to let out annoyed huff.

“You just got lucky. Stupid bird with a critical hit.”

“You lost to someone half your age.”

“Pidgeys shouldn’t be able to beat Onix!”

“You’re just jealous of my Pidgey’s swagger.” Katie teased, stoking her brother’s rage even more.

“At least I get to go into space,” Matt glared back. That shut his sister up quickly. He chuckled at the easy victory, but could only savor it for a few moments until she tackled him onto his bed in a fit of jealous rage.

---

Katie’s head rested in between two balusters on the stairwell, her eyes glued to the news playing in front of her. Her blood already froze in place when she accidentally caught the headlines when going up the stairs. Now her stomach twisted itself in knots over and over as footage from the Kerberos launch played on repeat as some pundits discussed the current state of the spacecraft.

Her mom sat on the couch oblivious to her daughter watching over her shoulder on the stairs. Mrs. Holt’s hands trembled with the remote in her grasp. Unlike her daughter she was only able to read the headlines, not processing the discussion on the television.

Kerberos Mission Failure: Pilot Error

Gunther, the family dog, whined as he tried to lick Mrs. Holt’s free hand. She quickly retracted it as she stared at the screen.

“Not now, Gunther,” Mrs. Holt softly replied.

A loud knock at the door startled everyone in the house. Katie hit her head on the wall when she pulled back from the balusters while her mom curled into the couch momentarily. Taking a deep breath, Mrs. Holt regained her composure as best she could before attempting to go to the door. Her wobbly steps lead Katie to believe she would fall at some point.

“Hello?” Mrs. Holt asked as she pulled the door open.

Standing in the doorway were two men in military uniforms: the Galaxy Garrison Uniform. While Katie didn’t recognize the two men, her mom seemed to know them.

“Mrs. Holt, we’re here to inform you of the loss of Samuel Holt and Matthew Holt.” One of the men greeted.

“No…” Katie’s mom clasped a hand over her mouth.

“Both men gave their lives so that humanity could push the boundaries of our knowledge and world. We’re sorry for your loss.” He continued.

“No!” She reacted as tears began to form in the corners of her eyes.

“We believe it was pilot error… I’m so sorry Colleen,” the other man began before laying a hand on her shoulder.

She recoiled away from his touch as she began to sob. “I don’t want your apologies, I want my husband and son!”

Katie’s eyes began to tear up as she ran up the stairs and into her room. She slammed the door behind her before jumping onto her bed. Clutching her pillow for dear life, she started sobbing loudly into it. She didn’t care that she left her shoes on or was positively filthy from taking apart her father’s old equipment in the garage. How could her brother and father leave her and her mom alone?

“Matt, you pinky promised!” Katie shouted into her wet pillow.

She lost track of the time as she wept. Eventually she pulled away from her drenched pillow, sniffling loudly as she looked around her room. In the corner she saw what she was looking for. Quickly she retrieved the object and propped open a nearby window, escaping onto her roof. Carefully she adjusted the tripod so her prized telescope wouldn’t slip.

She stared at the variety of celestial bodies around the night sky, jumping from one object in hopes of calming her torrent of emotions. Not really processing the different objects as she saw them, she finally came to a rest when she found the red giant of their solar system. At the sight of Jupiter her eyes welled up again once more as she recalled something.

She still needed to show Matt Saturn.

---

A loud knock at the door earned loud barking from Gunther, compelling him to run to the door. Mrs. Holt stirred from the couch, groaning a bit as she flopped around trying to get into a more comfy sitting position. Her body ached from the awkward angle she passed out in. As she moved around, her leg kicked over and empty wine glass on the coffee table. The knocking persisted until she finally called out.

“Just a minute! Sheesh,” She practically growled. She pushed her dress down, trying to remove the wrinkles as she got to her feet. When she looked over at the clock, she squinted her eyes to see the time read well past 2 in the morning. Who was knocking this late?

She slipped her feet into some slippers on her way to the door. She cracked the door open to see two men in Galaxy Garrison uniforms with stern looks on their faces. She glanced in between them to see them holding her daughter as she struggled to get free of their harsh grasps.

“Hello Mrs. Holt, we believe this is yours,” one of the men said as they pushed Katie forward.

“Ouch, let me go!” Katie demanded.

“What’s the problem, sirs?” Mrs. Holt yawned as her daughter was finally released. Katie ducked into through the doorway and hid behind her mom.

“We found your daughter trespassing in the Garrison attempting to hack classified information. Normally this is a serious felony but in lieu of your sacrifice-”

“Stop right there!” Mrs. Holt glared, shutting the man up immediately. “If you’re quite done, I’ll deal with my daughter. Do not invoke my late husband or son as justification for any reason. You took them away from us so don’t lie to me anymore.”

“But-”

The soldier tried to interrupt but the door was immediately slammed on his face.

Inside, Katie smiled at the display in front of her until her mom turned towards her. Her grin dropped as the color drained from her face. Her mom was pissed.

“I can explain,” Katie began but a raised index finger from her mom stopped her in her tracks.

“No excuses. What were you doing in the Garrison?” Her mom crossed her arms, clearly displeased with her daughter’s behavior.

“They’re lying! Kerberos wasn’t pilot error and they’re covering it up!” Katie instantly said.

Mrs. Holt’s eyes widened at those words. “Katie, please just let it go.”

The defeated tone from her mother muted Katie’s emotion. “Mom…”

Glancing at a family picture propped up next to the television, Mrs. Holt let out a heavy sigh. “I’ve mourned your brother and father. I’ve let you mess with your father’s belongings hoping it’d help you move on like I’ve struggled to. I’ve also overlooked your misdeeds with the Garrison long enough. You’re grounded.”

“But mom!” Katie complained.

“No. No more inventions, no more sneaking into the Garrison. Tomorrow we’ll talk about what we’ll do for the future. Let it go, honey.”

Katie frowned as her mom lumbered passed her, clearly exhausted. She watched as her mom reached the couch crash on it with a loud snore. She only stared with sadness at her mom’s defeatist attitude. There was more to Kerberos than the Garrison let on.

Balling her fist up in rage, Katie sprinted up the stairs to her room. She pulled an old gym bag out from under her messy bed. Determined to get to the bottom of this conspiracy, she threw all her clothes and treasured belongings that’d fit into the bag. Once she packed what she could, Katie then walked into her brother’s room.

The door creaked open. Katie shivered a bit as she flicked on the light. After the Kerberos incident her mom and her refused to enter this room or even her parent’s room. Most nights Katie could her mother asleep on the couch in a well-worn corner. Dust covered most objects in the room but Katie knew what she wanted. She strolled over to her brother’s nightstand and grabbed a filthy framed picture. Using her elbow, Katie cleaned the layer of dust from it to reveal a photo of Matt with an arm around her shoulder. Both of them were smiling.

Just as she was about to retreat from Matt’s room, one last object caught her attention. She grabbed a pair of dusty glasses from his nightstand. Content with her findings, Katie left. She returned to her room and threw those two items into her bag.

Next Katie grabbed a pair of scissors. Knowing what needed to be done to complete her mission, she then went to the bathroom. She quietly stared in the mirror at herself trying to think of the best way to accomplish her goal. Swinging her head around, she clutched her precious hair in her hands and brought the scissors up to it. All she had to do was snip and she’d be free to continue her goal. However she found herself unable to do so.

“Come on, Katie. Do it for them.” She tried to motivate herself as she let the scissors go. Gravity carried them down, letting them bounce around the porcelain sink.

Suddenly an idea hit her and she sprinted back to her room to retrieve the picture from earlier. Katie ran back to the bathroom and set it against the mirror. Quickly she recovered the scissors from the sink and grabbed her hair once more. She stared at her brother’s smiling face before taking the first snip.

As silently as she could, Katie slowly shortened her hair, making adjustments as best should by looking at the picture as a reference. It only served to steel her resolve until she was content with her new hair cut: her brother’s hair style. The haircut was quite rough but it’d suffice. Done with the task at hand she threw the hair into the trash and took it back to her room along with the picture. She stashed the photo into her backpack once more. She then emptied the trash into her own, only to tie the trash bag up.

Finally she snuck downstairs to retrieve her father’s only laptop and some of the electronics she had grown quite attached to. She carefully placed them into an old backpack as they’d likely come in handy for her plan.

Swinging the backpack over her shoulder, she climbed the stairs back to her room to grab the gym bag. Katie tossed it around her shoulder before grabbing the trash bag. She took everything with her downstairs.

Waiting at the bottom of the stairs with his tail wagging sat Gunther, clueless but curious about all the movement Katie had been doing. She bent down to pet his head.

“Good boy. But I gotta go. I’ll be back soon enough, I promise. Take care of mom for me though, alright?” She requested. Gunther merely wagged his tail some more and licked her hand. “Ew.”

Katie dropped all her stuff by Gunther so she could say one last goodbye. She walked over to the couch, quietly bending down next to her mom. She was careful not to bump the half full wine bottle or the empty glass on the coffee table.

She placed a gentle kiss on her mom, catching the aftertaste of wine on her lips.

“Bye mom,” she said as tears formed on the edges of her eyes.

When her mom’s eyes cracked open a bit, her blood ran cold. Mrs. Holt’s mouth trembled as she stared back.

“Bye Matthew,” she replied before closing her eyes once more, silent tears falling onto the throw pillow Mrs. Holt’s head rested against.

Katie’s own tears began to fall as she turned tail and powerwalked to the door. She strapped on her belongings and grabbed the trash bag of evidence. She’d deposit it in some nondescript dumpster on her way to the Galaxy Garrison. One last whine from Gunther sent her off as she quietly shut the door behind her. She needed to know the truth, for her sake and for her mom’s sake. Walking away from her house Katie determined what she needed to do to accomplish her goal.

From that moment on Katie Holt was gone. She’d come up with her own identity in order to solve this mystery. What did people do for fake names? Some combination of street name and pet names or something special to her? She thought about it as that seemed to obvious.

“Pidgey Gunther?” She thought about the name aloud as she began the long trek towards the Galaxy Garrison. “Nah, I got time to smooth it out.”

Chapter Text

“Screwdriver,” Pidge requested, leaving an empty hand in the air.

“Screwdriver,” Hunk repeated back, dropping the tool into his partner’s expectant hand.

Pidge unscrewed a few unnecessary fasteners, loosening the panel on the mysterious box she brought to Hunk and Lance’s room to work on. Using the tool as a lever, Pidge pried the panel off. She smiled deviously at the content of this technological masterpiece. Or as Lance called it, scrap.

“Pliers,” Pidge spoke again, sticking her hand out once more.

“Pliers,” Hunk replied with the tool in hand.

Lance watched from his bed with a bored expression on his face. He rolled over onto his side to try and find a more comfortable position on the military grade bed. It was a vain idea but he could hope.

“What are you even trying to do with that?” Lance wondered.

Snipping at a few wires before acknowledging her unreliable partner, Pidge removed a circuit board from inside the box. She carefully inspected it.

“Something to help pass the currents around our model Kerberos ship, duh.”

Lance narrowed his eyes at the blunt rely but he was used to this by now. Several years as partners with Pidge and Hunk was enough to get him used to the brash replies from their smaller friend. He rolled onto his back and heaved out a sigh. Pidge ignored the melodramatic attempt at attention. However Hunk took the bait.

“What’s the matter, Lance?” Hunk asked.

“Hunk, what does a man gotta do to get a woman’s attention?”

Pidge paused momentarily to roll her eyes. Of course it was girl issues.

“Uhh, you talk to her?” He guessed. That only made Lance sigh even more.

Pidge crawled over to an abandoned ship on the floor, grabbing it for further building. She pushed her glasses down and surveyed the insides of it for where the circuit board needed to go. She placed the ship on the ground and held her hand out one more time.

“Tweezers.”

“Tweezers,” Hunk dropped them into the waiting hand.

“I tried that! But she kept walking. I even had my uniform on and stuff! I thought girls liked a man in uniform,” Lance complained a bit. That last part earned a chuckle from Pidge. “What’s so funny?”

Pidge carefully set the circuit where she deemed it needed to go before responding. “It’s gonna take more than uniform to get a girl’s attention. Besides, I’m pretty sure that’s a violation of Garrison rules. Soldering iron.”

“Soldering iron,” Hunk rolled it over next to Pidge’s thigh.

“I know it takes more than that,” Lance shook his head. “But I have more than enough. Looks, charm, personality. I mean, I’m me! Have you met me?”

“Unfortunately,” Pidge rolled her eyes, earning some laughs from Hunk.

Lance, however, took offense.

“I’ll prove it. Next person who walks by this door I’ll woo!” Lance brashly declared.

As if on cue, a flash of black hair passed by. Before anyone could even respond Lance was already halfway out the door and shouting.

Hunk groaned while Pidge sat there and stabilized the new part. A few well-placed solder left Pidge grinning. She closed the door to the model craft and pressed a panel at the top of craft. The ship slowly levitated a bit off the ground.

“Nice,” Hunk offered a thumbs up. His compliment was temporary as an audible slap could be heard from the hall. “Sounds like another rejection.”

Pidge winced when she heard the impact. She nodded and frowned, “Hunk, you’re the only person I respect here.”

---

It really was him. Pidge slowly took off her helmet, just as astonished as the other paladin next her. Standing in front of them with one arm through a Galra robot and another singlehandedly jacking its rifle and launching suppressing fire at the oncoming horde of Galra guards was the missing black paladin. Shiro was alive.

“Sh-Shiro?” Keith mumbled first.

“Yes, it’s me. But we need to go. Now!” Shiro shouted as he pulled his mechanical arm out of the dead robot. They came onto the Galra frigate looking for more information on Lotor’s plans, not for prisoners.

“Uh, Allura? We’re leaving now. Get back to the castle and prepare for warp,” Keith alerted the current red paladin.

“What? Why? We still haven’t gotten the intel we needed,” she replied back clearly shocked by the change of mission.

“Maybe but we got Shiro. Don’t ask, we’ll discuss it later,” Keith informed the rest of the paladins.

“Shiro?!” A collective shout came across the comms. “Ouch?!”

Keith lost his balance from the sudden and loud audio coming through the communication channel. He braced himself against the metallic wall as he regained his senses. Pidge and Shiro both winced at their friend’s reaction. As soon as they were able, the three retreated back to the Green Lion and blasted away.

Back at the Castle of Lions, the celebration of finding the beloved black paladin was equal to the shock of finding Shiro alive. Pidge chose to quietly watch as Shiro was interrogated by everyone while simultaneously enduring emotional outbursts and hugs from those circling him. Bless his tired soul for putting up with all of it. Rather than join in Pidge simply tinkered with small metal cube on the couch as she caught bits and pieces of the adventure. Rover hovered quietly nearby, occasionally flying over to the group of paladins and back.

Eventually sleep seemingly beckoned most people away, giving Shiro a much needed reprieve until the morning. Pidge continued to work on metallic cube until she felt the couch sink a bit. Another weight had joined her.

Shiro stretched his arms over his head, letting out a content sigh.

“Sitting never felt so good,” he commented as he finally took notice of the green paladin

“Mhm. Glad to catch a break?” Pidge wondered with a smirk, already knowing the answer.

“Yes,” Shiro admitted as he glanced over at the cube in Pidge’s hands. “Kinda surprised you weren’t interrogating me too.”

“I’ll leave the hounding to the others. But I heard enough. Spirited away to a random Galra ship and taken prisoner for just short of a year? You had me worried…”

Before he could come up with a cocky retort, Shiro’s eyes widened when he saw Pidge’s hands trembling. A few tear drops landed on her shaking hands. She let the cube roll off onto her lap.

“I’m sorry, I had no way to contact you guys. But I knew you’d come find me eventually.”

He had little time to react when Pidge latched herself onto his side.

“I thought I lost my brother again!”

The comment momentarily stunned Shiro but Pidge couldn’t see the surprised look on his face. He carefully placed his mechanical arm around her. There were no words to describe what hearing those words felt like to him so instead he offered to comfort her until she could regain her composure.

---

Ducking underneath a swinging arm, Pidge aimed her bayard and hit a Galra soldier in the chest. She followed through with an intense shock that had the enemy shouting gibberish until the electricity ceased. As Pidge retracted her weapon the soldier collapsed into a graceless heap with static popping along its fur. That trick never got old.

Another soldier was already approaching Pidge but a stray shot from across the battlefield already put him down. Pidge glanced over to see Lance with the smoking gun giving her a thumbs up. She returned the gesture with a smirk until Lance turned his attention to the Galra charging him and Keith. Pidge focused her attention on the mission at hand and pushed forward towards the rebel base currently being pinned. While she knew little of those stationed there, a distress call caught by the paladins out in space brought them to the nondescript planet in the middle of a dying system. No distress call went unanswered, especially those fighting the forces of Zarkon and Lotor.

Climbing a steep hill, Pidge prepared to fight her way all the way to the ruined fortress. At the top Pidge let her guard down. The recently rescued black paladin was already half way there. Shiro’s mechanical arm glowed a ghastly purple and already put down most of the Galra crowding him.

Shaking her head from annoyance, Pidge ran towards the mosh pit. Just as a bunch of soldiers jumped on Shiro, they all came flying off. Pidge took the opportunity to sucker punch a few with her bayard. Shiro simply curb stomped them into the ground.

Before Shiro could take off, Pidge flagged him down. “Hey, wait up!”

Shiro took a fighting stance until he saw who called out to him. “Come on, we’re almost there.”

“I know, I know,” Pidge rolled her eyes. She panted as she came to a stop next to the black paladin. “Would it kill you to use your bayard?”

Shiro’s eyes stared at the weapon on his belt before he shrugged. “Force of habit.”

“Well force that habit away. We just got you back.”

Shiro frowned but nodded. “Come on, let’s rescue whoever is out here. They’ve held up a long time so let’s give them some relief.”

“Agreed,” Pidge said. She straightened up and prepared to run into the fray with Voltron’s fearless leader. However Shiro was already several paces ahead of her. “Hey! You said together!”

She sprinted once more and caught up to Shiro. Dispatching the Galra proved almost too easy for the two seasoned paladins but it still took time. After much effort they broke the ranks of the enemy. Watching Galra soldiers flee was becoming a favorite perk of job in Pidge’s eyes.

Once they approached the base both paladins could see multiple Galra fighting a diverse pack of aliens. Another perk of fighting a singular enemy was the ability to immediately identify friend from foe. Pidge didn’t even wait for a signal from Shiro to engage the enemy.

“Mo- What?” Shiro reacted once he realized Pidge wasn’t next to him “Pidge!”

“Come on, slowpoke,” Pidge teased back.

Shiro rolled his eyes as a smile came to his face. Some things never changed.

The aliens paused only momentarily as two unknown soldiers dressed in black and green approached. Their doubts were quickly quashed when they saw Pidge’s bayard conk a Galra in the head. There was no time for cheering as more Galra from the battle opted to join the fray instead of flee. Their pride be damned.

The brawl lasted longer than any side wished but ultimately the Galra’s numbers began to thin out. Despite fighting tooth and nail, even the Galra knew the battle would be lost and the aliens began to push back.

“You, new people. Go inside and help the leaders. They’re outnumbered!” An alien pleaded.

“You got it,” Pidge answered. She turned to find Shiro already in the doorway, running towards the sounds of a fight inside. “Damn it, Shiro!”

Pidge tried to catch up but Shiro lost her. She ran around the base trying to follow the sounds of combat, cleaning up leftover Galra and checking on those lying on the ground. She continued following the noise but it got noticeably quieter the longer it went on. Eventually all that could be heard were clangs and thuds. One last loud thud caused Pidge to wince. She picked up the pace, turning the corner in time to see Shiro standing in the doorway to the control room. He remained motionless as a Galra went flying over his shoulder.

The sight had Pidge confused until a metal staff went flying next to Shiro’s head, but he deftly dodged the pole. What he didn’t dodge was the person that sprinted after the stick. The flash of brown hair pinned Shiro to the wall across from the room and he was seething.

“Are you with them?” The bloodthirsty person demanded to know, his heavy breathing a sign of a hard-fought battle. Shiro remained speechless at the person seething with anger in front of him. Pidge scanned the rebel leader some more. His uniform was in tatters and his hair a mess, but this person was clearly alive… and human?

“Of course not. We’re with Voltron,” Shiro finally spoke. His voice did little to simmer the person’s temper but the mention of their team seemed to have struck a chord.

“Voltron? Oh thank God,” the person seemed relieved. At that comment they fell over onto Shiro, but the black paladin easily scooped the leader. When Shiro turned to face Pidge, her blood froze in her veins.

Laying in Shiro’s arms was indeed a human. And a familiar one at that.

“M-M-Matt?” she asked, her voice much softer than she intended.

Shiro offered her a gentle smile but nodded. “Yes, but I think he’s exhausted. Let’s regroup with the others.”

Rather than rush out, Shiro stayed in place as Pidge shuffled over. Her legs shook with each step since one of her goals was finally in front of her. She reached out, tracing a hand over her brother’s bruised and bloodied face. When she reached him she also saw the control room of the base. Multiple Galra soldiers were splayed out over computers, overturned furniture, and one even through a monitor.

“Did he do this?” She wondered.

“I believe so.”

“I didn’t know he could be a bad ass,” Pidge mumbled as she hugged her passed out brother tightly.

“If you’re impressed with this I can’t wait to see the reaction on his face when he finds out his sister is a paladin of Voltron.”

---

Sitting in the main room of the Castle of Lions, Pidge tinkered with same metal box from before. She needed something to take her mind off the fact her brother was the healing chamber recovering and this was something she had to finish as soon as possible.

Multiple aliens were discussing plans and strategies for countering Zarkon and his son as other alien soldiers opted to lick their wounds. All of this was white noise to Pidge who kept to herself. She even refused to change out of her green suit and helmet, still in shock.

A distinct voice stirred her from the countless thoughts bombarding her brain.

“The paladins of Voltron are human!” her brother exclaimed as he entered the room with Hunk and Lance in tow, still wearing his tattered uniform. Now that she knew it was her brother she quickly realized the tattered clothes he wore was from the galaxy Garrison. “Did we finally begin exploring beyond the solar system?”

From what Pidge heard her brother peppered the other paladins with questions until he was beckoned to join the other leaders around Allura’s console. Up there Shiro nervously bounced on his feet. He too remained dressed in his full armor. As soon as Matt approached the fearless leader of Voltron stiffened.

“Welcome, we were just discussing possible ideas for attacking Lotor’s right flank now that we’ve overcome them on your planet. He’s vulnerable and it’d be the perfect opportunity to do some damage,” Allura quickly filled in Matt. She blinked a few times until realized something about this leader seemed suspiciously familiar.

“Thank you… Princess Allura was it?” Matt offered a wide smile. Allura nodded before glancing between Matt and Pidge several times. Matt took little notice of this behavior before walking right up to Shiro. “I hear you’re the one who found me. Sorry for throwing my weapon at you. I was caught up in the heat of the moment.”

“It’s alright,” Shiro replied. Matt quirked an eyebrow when he saw the leader of Voltron biting his bottom lip. He squinted a bit at Shiro, trying to pick up more details on his savior.

Pidge could see her brother’s face slowly switch from confusion to pure shock as it dawned on him who he was standing in front of. “Shiro?!”

“H-hey,” Shiro nervously chuckled. He finally pulled his helmet off to reveal his face and messy hair. Shiro braced himself for something, but managed to be completely caught off guard when Matt embraced him and a tight hug. “I’m so-”

“Don’t. Don’t you dare apologize,” Matt interrupted, still embracing his childhood friend. He ignored the stares of everyone around them, including Pidge. She watched as he began to shake. “You’re alive. I can’t believe you’re alive. And the black paladin of Voltron.”

“And you’re a leader in the rebellion,” Shiro countered back. He slowly hugged Matt back until Matt had a sudden realization.

Matt pulled back very quickly and coughed a bit, finally noticing those staring at him. “Uh sorry for interrupting. I just… haven’t seen my friend in a while.”

“You have friends?” One of the aliens seemed surprised by the thought.

“He found another of his species. Of course they’re friends,” another chimed in.

“I thought he was the loner type,” a third teased, earning a groan from Matt. That got his fellow rebels laughing heartily.

“I’m still here you know,” he frowned at them.

“Yes but you should be catching up with your friend. We’ll discuss tonight and fill you in tomorrow. Catch up with your friend. Now shoo,” the first alien pushed Matt away from the table.

Before Matt could contest it, he found Shiro shoved away alongside him by Allura and some of her mice. That image caused Pidge to snort. A glare from Shiro stopped Pidge in her tracks.

“Follow me this way, I know a more private place,” Shiro gestured to the door. Matt took one last look at his friends who all pointed at the door. With an exaggerated shrug Matt walked out the door. Shiro started to walk behind him but he stopped to look at Pidge. He pointed with his head to follow but Pidge remained glued to her seat. It was then she noticed Allura, Lance, and Hunk all looking at her. Their uncomfortable staring convinced her to jump off the couch and follow Shiro. She pocketed the metallic cube as she got up to leave.

It didn’t take a genius to realize Shiro was taking Matt to the bay that held the escape pods. Pidge lagged behind and arrived to see Matt enthusiastically questioning Shiro.

“What kind of test was there? All the aliens ever said was that only the mightiest or something could be a paladin.” Her brother seemed excited by the prospect of personally knowing a paladin. “Ooh, could you show me your lion?”

“No test, the lions simply pick you. And sure, later though.” Shiro chuckled at the enthusiasm.

“Why not now? Would you get in trouble? It’s just us so I won’t tell,” Matt said as he pressed an index finger to his lips.

Pidge shook her head when she realized her brother had not changed as much as she thought. Rather than watch him potentially embarrass himself, she forced herself to enter the room. With one last deep breath she made her presence known.

“That’s not it,” Shiro laughed as he heard the distinct sounds of Pidge’s steps.

Matt looked over Shiro’s shoulder to see the smaller green paladin approaching. His face immediately turned to panic.

“Uh, we definitely weren’t talking about boarding a lion in secret. Totally just discussing fighting the Galra,” Matt began to word vomit, earning an internal groan from Pidge. “You know. With Voltron and stuff.”

“Calm down, Matt. That’s not why Pidge is here. She helped me rescue you,” Shiro informed Matt, not spoiling the surprise.

Matt’s disposition immediately eased up. “Good to know. Thank you, Pidge was it?”

“No problem,” Pidge finally talked. Matt didn’t seem to notice too much, but he tilted his head in confusion.

“Please remove your helmet, Pidge. You’ve waited longer than me for this,” Shiro instructed.

That statement only served to make Matt even more puzzled. Pidge didn’t touch her helmet right away though, instead choosing to walk closer. Once she was within arms’ reach, she took off her helmet. “It’s been forever, bro.”

Watching Matt’s face go from a look of distinct confusion to utter shock was a sequence Shiro committed to memory. Matt’s mouth dropped as his eyes widened. He looked the green paladin over from head to toe, allowing his arms to fall loosely at his side. With one shaky step he got close enough to place his hands on Pidge’s shoulders. He brought his hands to her face, inspecting it from a few different angles before finally replying in a soft voice. “Katie, is that you?”

“In the flesh,” She replied with a tiny smile. “I-”

A tight embrace cut off her words as Matt squeezed all the air from her lungs. She dropped her helmet from the anticipated yet sudden hug. She swiftly returned the gesture with equal strength. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes, not taking long to fall into her brother’s dirty shirt. She had so much she wanted to say but couldn’t find the words to say them, nor the air to fuel it. When a damp spot began to form on the shoulder her brother leaned into she realized she wasn’t alone in that situation.

They hugged each other in silence with the occasional sob breaking the quiet. Ultimately Matt was the first to finally speak. “I thought you were on Earth with mom.”

“And I thought you were dead,” Pidge sniffled, finally pulling away from her brother.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Matt smiled as he pulled away, his tear streaks shimmering from the hangar lights. “But you’re a paladin? What did I miss?”

“A lot,” Pidge snorted. Pidge’s laughter got cut off by another hug.

“My God you’ve grown up so much. Your hair is short. And those glasses… wait are those mine?”

“Maybe,” Pidge pressed her lips together, blushing like a toddler getting caught with her hand in a cookie jar.

“Well you look good. Because you look like me,” Matt commented.

“And you do too. You actually have muscles instead of sticks for arms,” Pidge teased back.

“I take it back, you haven’t changed at all.”

Pidge scoffed at the thought. “I have thank you very much. But there’s something even more amazing I wanna show you when you got the time.”

“And what’s that?” Matt wondered, barely catching Pidge’s hand fishing a metallic cube out of her pocket. She placed it in his hands for him to inspect. He flipped the small but warm cube around his fingers. “What is this? Wait, is this metal from the Galra drones?”

Pidge cracked a wide smile and nodded her head. “Yeah, turns out it’s a surprisingly good conductor for heat and electricity.”

“Where did you find some this small?” Matt wondered as he analyzed it further. “Hold on, these are cut from scraps! Did you salvage this?”

“Also correct. I made a plasma cutter so I could get the shape right.”

“You know how to make a plasma cutter? Where did you get the materials to make a plasma cutter in space?!” Her brother seemed baffled by the thought.

“Well Green Lion has a powerful weapon system so with some slight modifications I easily jerry rigged a plasma cutter out of its lasers.” Pidge explained. Matt nodded his head as it made perfect sense to him.

Neither seemed to notice Shiro slowly scooting away from their technical talk.

“That has got to be a gross misuse of their powers,” Matt shook his head, earning a shrug from Pidge.

“Meh, but that’s not why I’m giving that to you. Place it on the floor and press the panel with the diamond etched into it.”

Following his sister’s instructions, Matt set the cube on the ground. He flipped it around several times until he could find the diamond design Pidge mentioned. He pressed the metallic button until he heard a satisfactory click. A flash of dark blue light momentarily blinded him as it erupted from the cube. He recoiled backwards and landed on his butt as he saw spots.

When he blinked the spots away he saw stars. Literally.

A projection displayed prominently in the center of the hangar, showing countless stars and distant galaxies. After being in space for so long it took a moment for Matt to realize what particular portion of the universe his sister’s cube was projecting. The stars were beautiful, but the planets took Matt’s breath away. The red giant Jupiter circled one end of the projection, its atmosphere swirling as it hovered near an escape pod. On the opposite end a cool grey and blue Uranus spun on its side.

The centerpiece of this hologram was truly what left Matt speechless. He slowly got to his feet as he faced a rather large projection of Saturn. Pale yellow and orange gasses made up the body of the planet while icy meteorites and space dust orbited around it in a thin disk. Matt reached for an edge of the ring, watching the cosmic debris phase through his hand. A gentle smile formed on his face.

“It’s beautiful, Katie,” Matt finally commented.

“It’s not the real Saturn but its close enough,” Pidge smiled from ear to ear.

Matt’s eyes widened before an equally wide grin came across his face. He placed a hand on his sister’s shoulder as he watched the projection. “Katie, you’ve made me so proud.”

Pidge leaned her head into his side and relaxed. “I know.”

Neither had noticed Shiro’s disappearance during their emotional reunion, nor had they noticed the small crowd hiding by the entrance to the hangar. No one had any idea what the cube Pidge worked on this entire time was for. Nor did they know the significance of the projection of Saturn had for the Holt siblings.

Hunk, Keith, and Shiro all had tiny but proud smiles on their faces while watching Pidge’s and Matt’s exchange. On the other hand Allura, Coran, Lance along with several of Matt’s alien friends were on the verge of tears.

Two of the Holts were finally reunited.

Chapter Text

Stress was an unavoidable fact of life. Whether because of work, family, school, friends or any of the other many facets of life stress could be found. In Pidge’s case most of time it was a direct result of her family and school but now in space there were many more causes. Fighting the Galra wasn’t exactly a vacation so she and the others had their ways to cope. Pidge experimented on the variety of tech and scrap she acquired during their travels, Hunk cooked new and alien foods, Keith practiced refining his skill in the training room, and Lance took advantage of various machines in the castle to make personal things like his blue lion slippers. Shiro though remained a mystery.

It was during one of her early morning trips to the kitchen that Pidge learned her brothers preferred method to distress. Turns out he had something in common with Keith.

Pidge was passing by the training room when she heard the unmistakable sound of metal on metal clanging. Rather than barge in, she instead snuck over to an observation room above the training area to get a better view. From there she saw Matt practicing his fighting skills with the metal staff they recovered from the planet along with him. He had insisted on bringing it along when he joined their entourage as a liaison for the rebellion.

Pidge watched as he mercilessly conked one of the sparring bots in the head. She recoiled as it went straight to the floor. Pidge lost track of the time as she found herself unable to look away from Mat’s display below. His fighting prowess was greater than she had anticipated. He singlehandedly defeated each of the robots, but even with them down he continued beating on them. While impressive, it left Pidge concerned.

The look on his face reminded Pidge of a similar expression she was used to seeing on the ship. Her brother was acting like Keith when they first met. That was something she’d have to inquire about later.

---

“You know, when I said I’d help Voltron I wasn’t quite expecting this,” Matt commented over the comms, earning a groan from Pidge.

She rolled her eyes as she cut some wires in the branch of the tree below her. At least on the outside it looked like a tree but this thing was clearly mechanical. She closed the bark and jumped down onto the forest below. “None of us imagined this, Matt. Trust me though, this is far from the weirdest thing we’ve had to deal with.”

“Yeah, we sent Keith and Hunk into a space worm’s belly once,” Lance chimed in.

“A what?!” Matt reacted exactly how Pidge expected.

“You heard him,” Pidge said, annoyance still evident in her voice. “Now keep them distracted. I still got a few of those tree things left before we shut her down.”

“Easier said than done,” Lance retorted. “Oh shit!”

“Ah, there you are,” Keith’s voice joined the communication channel. Pidge frowned upon hearing uncharacteristically confident voice. It was now too dangerous to discuss their Plans over their comm channel anymore if they managed to hack in.

“Hey, Keith, buddy, friend of mine…” Lance nervously greeted.

“Friend?” Keith sounded positively amused by the prospect. “What kind of friend tries to shoot their other friends from across the forest?”

Pidge picked up her pace until she found another tree. She pulled a device she had acquired from the native population of the planet and started scanning the giant plant for its access point. Besides being poor design by not having a standard entry point, these seemingly random designs just irked Pidge’s OCD.

“Oh you know, just showing you my sharpshooting skills,” Lance chuckled.

“Well you missed.”

“Because I missed you?”

Pidge groaned at the weak comeback until the device in her hand beeped repeatedly. She smiled once she found the entry point to be on the back side of the trunk. Quickly, she shuffled around the tree and felt for the hatch. Soon the circuits inside were exposed and ready for Pidge’s meddling.

“Oh I missed you too,” Keith replied. “Just stand still and I promise I won’t this time.”

“Now just wait a moment. Put the sword down. Keith-!”

“Running away won’t save you.”

“But it will buy time.”

“No amount of time will save you from our mistress. She will encompass all, Galra or Human.”

“I’d prefer not.”

“She has no need for you, just your lion. You’re inconsequential.”

Pidge snorted at that.

“Inconsequential? I’m too much for her to handle.”

“Please, she has all that she needs with the others and I. Brain, brawn, and skill. Why would she need a self-conscious man child who can barely command the respect of his colleagues?”

That comment stopped Pidge in her tracks. She blinked a few times until Matt’s voice came over the comms. “Damn, bro.”

“Shut up, Matt!” Lance spoke, cracking a bit.

Pidge actually felt sorry for Lance after that barb. Despite being brainwashed, Keith knew where to hit Lance where it hurt. Pidge hurriedly grabbed some wires and ripped them out of the trees. She left the hatch open as she sprinted for the central tree. They couldn’t risk wasting any more time if the other two brainwashed paladins were on their trail.

Running through a bush, Pidge plowed through the shrub and straight into someone’s leg. She bounced off and fell backwards, landing on her butt. She grabbed her bayard but found a metal pole pointing at her face. She looked up to see her brother prepared to fight. Both swiftly lowered their weapons and exhaled together.

“Don’t scare me like that, Katie,” Matt requested as he offered a hand to his sister.

She took it and was quickly brought back onto her feet. “Sorry, we just don’t have too much time. I’m worried for Lance.”

“For his emotional or physical well-being?”

Pidge shook her head. “Both probably. Keith is the only one of us to have commanded two lions and his hand to hand skills are impressive.”

“Indeed, as are mine,” another malevolent voice agreed. Pidge and Matt stared into the brush to see orange eyes piercing through the dark of the jungle. A dull purple glow accompanied the fierce gaze. A flash of the purple split the bush separating the eyes from the Holt siblings. Shiro stepped into the clearing, a wicked grin on his face. On his cheek, a faint outline of green lipstick could be seen. “Resistance is futile.”

“Futility is my specialty,” Matt smiled as he readied his staff. He spun it around him skillfully, trying to intimidate his childhood friend.

Shiro laughed loudly at the show before him. “What kind of pathetic display is this? Do you think you really can beat me, the black paladin of Voltron?”

“I can hold my own against you, Shiro,” Matt looked back at his sister and inserted himself between her and Shiro. “Quickly, go finish this.”

“Alright,” Pidge nodded before running off towards the biggest heat source on her visor.

“Sending your sister to her death? You really are shitty sibling, Matthew,” Shiro taunted.

“I believe in her,” Matt said as he and Shiro began to circle each other.

“That’s just so like you. Unable to believe in yourself so you always put your faith in someone else. It’s truly disappointing because you’d make such a good leader if you didn’t. First it was your dad when trying to negotiate with the Galra, then it was me in the prison to protect your scrawny ass, and now it’s your little sister. I think your history speaks for itself.”

Matt paused and lowered his staff a bit, trembling a bit at the words being spat his way. “What do you mean?”

“Do I really have to spell it out for you? Look at what happened to your dad! Look at what happened to me! This is all your fault for putting your faith in others. I wonder what will happen to your sister when our mistress finds her?” Shiro accused his friend, his words poisoning Matt’s head.

“You’re lying…”

“Am I though?”

---

Standing like a giant, moss covered beacon in the center of the jungle was the tree that was the source of “the mistress’s” power and control over the men of this peaceful planet. Pidge brought out the scanning device to begin looking for the hatch to the gigantic piece of flora in front of her but it simply was too big for the machine’s abilities.

“Shit,” she cursed as she started tapping on the tree for any indications of a hatch or any other entry point. It sounded solid though. “Double shit.”

“Oooooooh Piiiiiiiidge,” Hunk called out.

“And triple shit.”

A battle with the possessed yellow paladin was not a fight Pidge wanted nor did she think she could win. With little choice, she scurried up the tree as stealthfully as she could. She had just pulled herself onto the lowest branch when she caught a glimpse of Hunk slowly circling the tree. He took careful calculated steps like a hunter searching for its prey. Going back down was no longer an option.

“If you show yourself I promise to make your death swift.”

“As if,” Pidge scoffed at the notion. “Think Pidge, think.”

She forced herself to revise their current strategy. They needed to shut down the techno-nature system in the forest in order to free the possessed inhabitants but that’d be impossible with Hunk stalking her. If she couldn’t shut it down perhaps she could hack it? Remembering the lessons from the Olkari, Pidge pressed her hands against the branch and tried to peer into the device.

Her mind went blank as she slowly delved into the nature of the metallic tree. As she peered deeper, a fuzzy feeling came over senses.

“Impressive, there is one such as yourself among the paladins of Voltron. The legends of the pilots must be true if you’re among their ranks,” a feminine voice spoke into Pidge’s conscious.

“Get out of my head,” Pidge ordered as she continued to push further into the tree.

“All your efforts are for naught. These men are mine. One such as yourself cannot break my hold over these thralls.”

“They aren’t your thralls or puppets, they’re my friends.”

“Incorrect, they are merely pawns and stepping stones in helping me claim what is rightfully mine: the universe.”

“Yeah, no. Now let them go and I won’t fry your circuits,” Pidge offered as she suddenly hit a mental wall. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t penetrate any deeper into the tree.

“False claims. Your friends are mine, forever and always. And soon your remaining ones will be slaughtered by the ones they hold dear.”

Undeterred by the mental barbs, Pidge did the next best thing and started exploring what she assumed was the inside of the tree. The mistress’s hold over the tree was too hard for her to break, even as the green paladin. However, she could find her original purpose. And within a few moments she found the weak point she was looking for.

“You can’t say I didn’t warn you,” Pidge smirked.

“What are you-”

Pidge pulled herself up from the tree, breaking mental contact with the creature possessing her friends. She surveyed the treetop until she saw the branch she was looking for. Using her bayard as a grappling hook, she shot herself further up into the tree. She didn’t even have to feel around to find the access point for the tree. She ripped the bark open to find the circuit board that was the source of her troubles.

“Fry bitch,” Pidge smiled with a devilish grin as she brought her bayard to the circuit and pumped maximum voltage into the techo-tree. A shriek pierced the silence of the forest as well as lots of masculine shouts. Pidge peered over the edge to see Hunk grabbing his head as he yelled, eventually falling to his knees.

Calmly, Pidge repelled down from the tree top to check on her friend, finding him slowly shaking his head.

“You feeling okay, Hunk?” Pidge questioned.

“Yeah, what happened? I remember walking through the woods with Shiro and Keith when everything went dark. “And why does my mouth taste like dandelions?”

---

After the unexpected mission on the techno-jungle planet the Castle of Lions became incredibly awkward. While it didn’t necessarily affect Pidge, Lance avoided Keith and Matt ignored Shiro. None of the brainwashed people had any recollections from the adventure but the other three bared the scars, whether physical or emotional.

Pidge quietly walked along the corridor to the bathroom, ready to wash off the sweat and dirt from the mission. She paused when she heard bickering from the boy’s area.

“Lance, I’m sorry,” Keith said, almost like he was pleading. Pidge sat by the locker room in silence waiting for a reply that never came. “At least say something.”

“Like what? It wasn’t your fault, well it was your fault but not really,” Lance finally spoke up.

“I wouldn’t cut your face open on purpose.”

“Wouldn’t you?” Lance accused momentarily. Even Pidge could feel the icy chill of his words. “I-I didn’t mean that. You just got to me on the planet is all…”

Pidge heard some footsteps as someone walked across the room. “I’m sorry the med bay couldn’t prevent the scarring but if it’s any consolation I think the scar looks cool.”

“Hey, no touching. It still stings,” Lance said as a slap echoed from the bathroom. Pidge winced at the sound.

“Ow, I was complimenting you!”

“And I said it still hurt! But thanks. Maybe it’ll help me pick-up someone. Aliens have got to dig scars, right?”

“Hell if I know,” Keith sounded irritated at the question.

What was Lance getting at?

“What? You can’t be that dense. I mean Shiro gets all the attention whenever we meet rebels and resupply. Maybe I’ll get some attention finally. What do you think?”

“I said I didn’t know.”

He wasn’t…

“…God you’re dense.”

He was…

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“I keep asking if you think I’m attractive or not!”

Pidge covered her mouth as her cheeks flushed at the question.

“W-Where did that come from?” Keith sputtered back, understandably caught off guard.

“You said it on the planet. After you sliced my helmet off. You apologized for injuring ‘my pretty face’ among other things. So I wanna know. What do you think about me? Am I attractive to you, even with this scar?” Lance finally spilled the beans.

The silence had butterflies flying in Pidge’s stomach. Her skin crawled as she waited for the answer, unable to fathom how nervous Lance had to have been if she felt this way. After what seemed to be an eternity a soft but discernable answer was heard.

“…yes,” Keith replied.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it,” Lance all but shouted as pacing footsteps echoed around the locker room. “You could’ve mentioned that before you tried to cut me to ribbons in the forest. There are easier ways to undress someone you know.”

“W-what?” Keith sputtered once more.

“I’m saying,” Lance spoke as the footsteps came to a halt. “Next time ask instead of using your sword. Now if you excuse me, I need to wash this grime off. You can join if want.”

“I-I-I…”

Pidge’s face went crimson upon hearing those words and jumped to her feet. She power-walked back to her room. While the conversation interested her, the aftermath was something she didn’t need to eavesdrop on. Dropping her toiletries off, she decided to instead go to her hangar to work on some tech until she knew the showers would hopefully be free. The mission had her and everyone so wound up she blow some steam off.

On her way to the hangar, familiar grunts were heard from the training area distracting Pidge from her original goal. She stopped by the observational deck to look down to find her brother swinging his staff into the sparring bots. Despite being on a higher difficulty setting than his usual, Matt was still systematically dismantling the robots. He looked real pissed too. As soon as he dropped the last robot, clapping could be heard echoing around the training area. Pidge glanced over at the entrance and saw Shiro approaching.

“Good job, even Keith has trouble fighting that many by himself,” Shiro complimented.

“Oh, thanks.” Matt glumly accepted the compliment.

Shiro’s arm started to glow when he stopped a few feet short of Matt. “Mind if we spar? Robots have nothing human skills and reactions.”

“But you’re unarmed,” Matt pointed out. Shiro let out a groan as Matt realized what he said. “I mean figuratively!”

“Trust me, this is more than enough. At least based off how you looked after we fought on the techno planet.”

Matt’s face fell flat at the accusation before he cast a glare at Shiro. “Ok, you’re going down.”

Neither waited for a clear start and simply lunged at each other. Matt tried to attack relentlessly but all his moves were either parried, blocked, or dodged. Shiro’s arm managed to tear away more at Matt’s already ragged garrison uniform while Matt’s staff always glanced or clanged off Shiro’s metallic arm. The fight ultimately ended with Shiro’s hand at Matt’s throat.

“My win,” Shiro simply declared.

Matt frowned at the statement but nodded. “Of course.”

“Now tell me, what’s bugging you?” Shiro transitioned as smoothly one of Lance’s one liners.

“Excuse me?” Matt’s eyes popped open, caught off-guard by the question.

“Your form and technique were sloppier than your usual. Something is weighing heavily on you and as your ally and closest friend I’d like to know what. Why are you avoiding me?”

If only Shiro were as delicate as he was perceptive. That’d make reaching out to Pidge’s brother much easier.

“I’m not avoiding you,” Matt lied.

“Really? The whole fight you were unable to meet my eyes just as you’re doing now. What happened on that planet?”

Matt’s eyes flicked up to meet Shiro’s for a moment before falling back to the floor. He let out a heavy sigh, crossing his arms as he formed his thoughts. “You said some… pointed things to me on the planet. And they exasperated my current fears.”

“Which are?” Shiro took a step closer to his friend, concern clearly written across his face.

“I’m weak and everyone I depend on gets hurt.”

Pidge’s mouth fell into a frown. She dropped her tools and walked over to the glass to try and get a better view. She saw Shiro shake his head at those words.

“If I said those I clearly didn’t mean them because they aren’t true,” Shiro said softly.

“No, you’re wrong! I mean you were right on the planet,” Matt raised his voice as he started to tremble. A wave of pity went through Pidge as she saw a side of her brother she hadn’t seen in ages: his vulnerable side. “Dad’s still gone, Katie is now a paladin and risking her life all the time, and look at you. It’s my fault your like this!’

Matt gestured to Shiro, unable to pick a specific feature to blame himself for. “You blame yourself for this? Matt, that wasn’t your fault.”

“If you hadn’t fought for me in the arena-”

“They still would’ve done this to me anyways.”

Matt’s weapon fell to the ground with a loud clang as he started to wipe away at the tears forming on the edges of his eyes.

“I don’t know if they would’ve or not! It feels like I cost you everything. Your hair, your face, your arm…”

Shiro finally closed the last distance between them and grabbed one of Matt’s hands. He placed it on his metallic arm and left it there. “What do you feel?”

“Uh, metal?” he replied, somewhat confused by the question.

“No, really. Take your time. What do you feel?” Shiro asked again.

Matt paused for a moment to try and regain his composure. After a few seconds he glanced back at Shiro. “It’s warm. And there’s a little hum.”

“Exactly. It’s not my original arm but it’s just as functional if not better. I don’t blame you for any of this. And Pidge doesn’t blame you for any of the Kerberos disaster.”

Matt’s hand went up from Shiro’s arm to his hair. He spun several white strands in his fingers before moving onto the scar across the black paladin’s nose. “But… so much has happened that I felt like I could’ve avoided if I had just acted sooner.”

“Maybe, maybe not. We can’t change the past. At least not yet until Voltron gets time travelling powers.” Shiro chuckled, earning a curious look form Matt.

“He can do that?”

“I dunno. Probably not but Black Lion managed to teleport me across the galaxy into a Galra frigate so if it happened I wouldn’t be surprised. But honestly, I’d go through it all again.”

“What? Why?” Matt was taken aback by the thought. “After all the suffering and pain we’ve endured…”

“True but if we hadn’t gotten Voltron together so many more would be suffering much worse fates. And besides, we got together again anyways and the other paladins have grown tremendously. Look at Pidge for example. She likes nature now.”

Pidge scoffed at the example.

“True. She used to get sunburned from just walking Gunther. Trying to get her to go camping was impossible.”

Both boys laughed, neither really paid attention to Matt’s hand lingering on the scar until Shiro gingerly touched it. Matt tried to recoil but Shiro’s metallic hand caught it. “Don’t worry, you can touch it if you want. Just know that it wasn’t because of you. All of this is the Galra’s fault.”

Matt’s hand only lingered a bit longer until a tiny smile returned to his face. He withdrew his hand as he spoke again, “Thanks. That helps a lot.”

“No problem. Want to try sparring again? I want to see your true skills.”

“Sure,” Matt said happily. He turned around to pick up his staff and it was then Pidge noticed something curious. Shiro blatantly stared at her brother’s ass. His hand reached out for a second but he stopped himself as Matt faced him once more with his pole. “Round two.”

“Let’s fight.”

Pidge squinted at her leader from the observation box. Did she really see what she thought she saw?

---

Two years. Two years Pidge had managed to keep her presence unknown to her brother and Shiro during their early morning training sessions. Watching them practice while she worked on small projects outside Green Lion’s hangar gave her a sense of bonding with her biological and adoptive older brothers, even if they didn’t notice her. And she planned on keeping it that way until… well.

“P-P-P-Pidge?!” Shiro’s startled expression perfectly framed the compromising position he was in.

Matt’s confident disposition died and went away, only to be replaced by a mix of horror and dismay.

“What. The fuck,” Pidge said, disbelief evident in her tone.

In the training room below, Matt managed to finally get the upper hand on Shiro. During their combat session he tripped Shiro with a sweeping motion of his staff and successfully knocked the black paladin of Voltron onto his ass. Rather than helping him up, Matt pressed one end of his staff against Shiro’s crotch and rested his chin with smug look on the other end of the staff. Shiro was crimson albeit from the training more than the interesting situation in front of him.

Well that was the case until Pidge saw all this take place and reacted appropriately. She accidentally kicked her toolbox across the observation room and one stray screwdriver activated the speakers. Clanging and a shocked gasp echoed across the training room, freezing the two men below in place.

“K-Katie?” Matt stammered, still unmoving. “What a-are you doing h-here?”

She took a deep breath to recollect herself, trying to compose her thoughts on the matter at hand. While she was suspicious of Matt and Shiro she never had concrete proof unlike the red and blue paladins.

“Oh you know. Eating some breakfast, testing a new weapon idea, and watching my brother and leader get it on. A typical morning,” she answered.

“It’s not what it looks like,” Shiro tried to defend himself, earning a dull stare from both Holt siblings.

“Really? She isn’t dense Shiro,” Matt rolled his eyes.

“Give me some credit, Shiro.” Pidge pinched the bridge of her nose as she processed the best response to all of this. “I mean, seriously. You’re flat on your ass with my brother’s pole in between your… Oh God did I really just say those words…”

“Katie!” Matt shouted as his face flushed redder than Keith’s lion.

“You made me say it!” Pidge instantly defended herself. Both ignored the black paladin covering his face, trying to will all his embarrassment away. Unable to have a serious conversation with them from above, Pidge slowly made her way down to the arena.

It wasn’t that she disapproved of their relationship. For all her life they had always been best friends, and her brother’s lack of girlfriends should’ve been a sign but she always chalked that up to his undeniably nerdy lifestyle. He had Spiderman bedsheets until he was thirteen after all. Never did she think they liked each other though, at least beyond being best friends.

When she reached entrance of the training area she saw the two boys on the side whispering to each other, still looking like puppies who peed on the new carpet. They acknowledged her as she walked over.

Shiro was the first to speak. “Pidge, we’re sorry for not telling you sooner.”

“And?” She gestured for him to continue.

“Trying to cover it up just now.”

“And?”

“That you had to see that,” Matt joined in the apology.

“And?”

“And… what else?”

“And for scarring my innocent eyes,” she complained, melodramatically shaking her head. That last quip had both boys looking at each other before they broke out in a fit of laughter. Now it was Pidge’s turn to flush from embarrassment. “What?”

“Give us some credit, Katie, please.” Matt struggled to say as he clutched his sides.

“We know you’ve been keeping tabs on Keith and Lance,” Shiro informed her. He rubbed away some tears at the edges of his eyes.

“Wait, you know about them too?” Pidge blinked, seemingly astonished by the idea.

“I am the leader of Voltron, so I make it my job to stay informed about some aspects of my other teammates’ lives. Also Black Lion talks with the other lions. I’m pretty sure Allura and Coran both know too,” Shiro explained.

“How?”

The Lions talking were one thing, but the two Alteans?

“For starters those mice of Allura’s are everywhere. But Lance also hasn’t hit on Allura in quite a long time. She grew suspicious I think.”

“Huh…” Pidge bit her bottom lip as she almost forgot about Allura’s mice capable of being spies.

“So don’t try to feign innocence, little sister of mine. Plus I’ve seen your search history,” Matt followed up. That caused Pidge’s brain to break, leaving her speechless to the accusation.

“H-How?!” She was left in awe.

Matt frowned for a moment, a sigh escaping him. “Actually, I didn’t. But now I do know you’ve seen something unfit for someone your age. Lucky guess.”

“You asshole,” she cursed. If this was his way of revenge, she could play that game too. “At least I was smart enough to clear my search history before I left the planet.”

While a blatant lie, it was worth a shot. When Matt’s face fell flat again, she knew she hit a bull’s-eye.

“What?!”

“Yup. Mom found it,” she continued to lie, her mouth slowly forming a smirk.

Shiro gave her a suspicious squint as he watched this conversation slip further off topic. “She knows?! Oh God I didn’t want mom to know I liked guys that way! Ugh, no amount of therapy will get rid of that…”

“She had wine to help her through it,” Pidge shrugged.

“And several years to process it,” Matt rubbed his temples. “That just leaves dad I suppose.”

While the mention of Mr. Holt usually sent a conversation into areas no party like to discuss, Shiro ignored it in favor of following up on his suspicions.

“You just lied didn’t you Pidge? You were way too surprised to have known your brother was seeing me,” Shiro asked. Pidge’s eyes widened immediately and Shiro figure her out instantly.

“I mean…”

“Katie! Don’t give me a heart attack like that!” Matt yelled at her, clutching his chest. Pidge simply smirked, content with her revenge. “I swear I’m going to-”

“Enough,” Shiro interrupted. “Let’s try this again since now we’re caught. Pidge, we’ve been seeing each other for a while now. Surprise, we’re dating.”

“Define a while,” Pidge crossed her arms, trying to understand how she missed the signs for so long.

“Uh, several months at least? Earth time is kinda lost on us now,” Matt guessed, rubbing his chin as he thought about it.

“Months?! How did I miss this for so long?!” Pidge remarked loudly, albeit mostly at herself.

“Shh!” Shiro pressed a finger to his lips. Matt though, squinted at her.

“Katie, how long have you been watching us?” Her brother’s quizzical look had her laughing nervously.

“I wasn’t watching you two per se…” She started.

“Pidge.” Shiro now joined in the glaring.

“I mean I’ve been watching Matt train since he joined us. Around the time Shiro, Keith, and Hunk got brainwashed.”

“That long?!” Matt went slack jawed while Shiro instead gave an impressed sound.

“I mean I’m our infiltration person for a reason,” Pidge gave a proud smile, only succeeding in receiving more scorn from her brother. Shiro simply shook his head as he laughed about all of this.

“Why do you think this is funny? My sister has been watching me/us for a long time!” Matt seemed peeved by the thought.

“Only for training. I mean there are multiple observation decks so that’s kind of our fault.”

“To be honest I’m more surprised you guys never looked up for the last two years because I wasn’t trying to be stealthy,” Pidge admitted. “And if it’s any consolation, I approve.”

Matt furrowed his brow for a moment as he thought about what Pidge said until it suddenly made sense. “Oh, thanks. I… We honestly didn’t know how to tell you so this solves that I suppose.”

“When we see mom and dad again, I recommend telling them right away so they don’t walk in on you two.” Pidge suggested, earning more ire from Matt. “But I think they’d approve. Mom doesn’t have to worry about any surprise grandkids at least.”

“Katie…”

“Plus they already know and like Shiro. Although he’s like my adoptive brother and you’re my older brother so that’s kinda-”

“Katie!” Matt cut her off. “That’s enough. We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. Hopefully we’ll have our shit figured out by then.”

“Can’t be any worse than this.” Shiro remarked, shrugging his shoulders just as the intercom for the room buzzed on.

“Paladins, please report to main hall. We just received a distress beacon!” Allura’s voice ordered.

The three in the training hall looked at each other before nodding and racing to the main hall. There they found Allura speaking with Coran as the other paladins came in.

Hunk yawned loudly, scratching the back of his head. “What’s up princess?”

“Please watch this,” she said as she pressed a button.

On the big screen a video began playing with everyone’s least favorite scientist already in the middle of the frame.

“Oh hey, it’s Slav!” Lance smiled. Well, almost everyone’s least favorite scientist.

“Paladins of Voltron, I need your help! The Blade of Marmora sent me to an outpost to acquire some technology but it turns out it’s a prison of the utmost importance. I have discovered it is a research outpost for Zarkon and they are holding many of the universe’s brightest minds there including me. I don’t know what they are researching but I had to let at least this version of me get caught to understand. Please come immediately. I don’t want to die in this reality or another!”

A collective groan from the paladins left Matt confused.

“Who was that ferret looking guy?” He questioned. “And what did he mean this current version of him?

“His name is Slav. He’s a brilliant scientist unlike any I’ve met but he’s obsessed with not dying in this reality or any alternative reality. It’s weird but it makes complete sense to him,” Shiro briefly summarized while rubbing his temple. He started mumbling his old mantra to himself, “Patience yields focus.”

“Shiro?” Matt questioned, immediately concerned.

“It’s alright, bro. Shiro saved Slav last time and now he has like zero patience for him. You’ll understand when you meet him.” Pidge informed Matt.

While the paladins bickered amongst themselves, Coran was busy analyzing the video. Besides being a focused shot of Slav in his ship, there were multiple big screens in the background showing a variety of scenes from the facility below. In one of these frames Coran paused the video and enhanced on the screens. It showed a group of non-Galra scientists working outdoors in a courtyard of sorts.

“Paladins, is this another human?” Coran asked, catching everyone’s attention.

In the frame was a pale man with glasses and light grey hair, but there was no doubt about the species to the paladins. The man was clearly human. However, the Holt siblings and Shiro all recognized the face. While clearly more wrinkled than they last saw him and a bit fuzzy, the man was the final member of the Kerberos crew.

“Dad…” Matt and Pidge said together, their blood running cold.

The other paladins as well as the two Alteans gave sympathetic looks towards the two siblings. Pidge processed the new information the only way she knew how: sarcasm.

“Well, Matt. I hope you got a response ready for dad cause you’re coming out of the closet sooner rather than later.”

“Pidge!” Shiro glared at her.

“What? You’re gonna have to help him.”

“Katie!” Matt sounded positively furious.

“Dad was one of the best scientists for the Garrison. He’ll know about you two right away.”

“Pidge, just stop!” Shiro slapped his forehead.

“Know about what?” Lance quirked an eyebrow.

“The fact they’re together,” Hunk yawned one more, stretching his sore shoulder muscles.

“Hunk!” Shiro and Matt spoke together, their voices united but weak.

“Wait, Shiro and Matt. They’re together ‘together’?” Lance seemed baffled by the thought.

“Yes, just like you and Keith.”

“Hunk!” Keith and Lance mimicked the other couple.

“What? It’s not like everyone knows. Cause let me tell you, you both are far from quiet.”

HUNK!

Matt and Shiro were quite relieved that they weren’t the only ones getting caught that day and it made the prospect of finding Mr. Holt a bit easier to process.