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Where The Heart Is

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Lance pulls his legs up onto the seat and crosses them. It’s a short flight, especially considering the speed of the Blue Lion, but comfort is always a priority. He closes his eyes and lets himself relax into his bond with Blue. He misses this. He doesn’t get to do it nearly as often lately and even though they’re always connected, her presence lingering in the back of his mind, there’s nothing like this closeness. It’s like home.

Technically he’s leaving home behind, however. But when you’re stuck fighting a space war for the end of your formative years your perspectives are very much influenced. The Lance before Voltron had a very small definition of Home.

For him, it was the house near Varadero Beach, in Cuba. Full of people, clutter, noise and never-ending love and warmth. The spot where those he loved most shared a space together, where everyone else would congregate on holidays. Home was with his mama and papa, brother, sisters. It was the glowing waves on a full moon night, the cool sand, but still warm air. It was the bunk bed he shared with his younger brother, his mother’s cooking and his father’s counsel. But then he left. And he couldn’t go back and didn’t see it again for eight Earth years, but who knows how long that was comparatively out in space.

It was out in space that Home’s definition began to change. It became the chef wars between Hunk and Coran, the easy night’s laughter in the common room, relaxing while tending to Blue. It was the harrowing time spent waiting anxiously outside one or more healing pods, the gut wrenching homesickness in the wee hours spent staring at the stars. It was euphoric infinity of flying Blue, the cheer of teasing and bantering with Keith, the undeniable togetherness of forming Voltron. As much as Home was the old house by the beach back on Earth, it also had a place out in space.

Now, after eight years, he has a third home too. He could begin to see it now, a tiny speck among the red dust and dirt, speckled with vegetation. As they drew closer it began to take form into a small, ruddy shack, one he hadn’t seen since his last morning on Earth before finding Blue. Beside it he could see the rundown hoverbike and the Red Lion resting. He smiles, he’s here.

He appears right before Blue lands, racing out the shack, hair a mess and jacket half on in his usual style. He stares up at them with big eyes. He seems to breathing hard, but Lance knows that he wouldn’t be panting from that little dash. Once the bottom hatch opens and his feet touch the red dirt he can see why. When he looks at Keith he has that expression, like his world is about to explode and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Lance saw it way too many times out in space, but he guesses Keith would argue that he risked his life way too many times back.

He’s still smiling as he walks to him. Keith’s eyes are wandering all over him, like he’s shocked Lance is here. It makes him smile wider.

“Hey, mullet,” he says when he’s close enough. Keith’s face drifts towards the slightly put off look he gets whenever Lance uses that nickname, and it quickly shifts to a skeptical expression.

“What are you doing here?” He asks, not even bothering to greet him. Lance wasn’t expecting him to anyway.

“What do you mean? You didn’t seriously think you could go disappear back here and none of us would ever come to find you?” His face pinches, a clear sign that yes, that is exactly what he thought.

“You were busy, seeing your families,” he says in a quieter voice, unsure. Lance bites back a sigh; even after all these years he still thought the same way.

“Don’t you remember? Team is family. Didn’t you listen to Shiro?” He teases and Keith glares a bit. “And I promised I’d take you to meet mine.”

Keith’s face softens and he gets that vulnerable look in his eyes. “I didn’t think you were serious,” he all but whispers.

Lance heart clenches and he walks closer until he can put his hands on Keith’s shoulders. “Of course I was. Now are you going to give me a hug or what?”

For a second he gets a funny look on his face, a mix between how dare you and weak affection. But then it’s gone because his head is buried between Lance’s shoulder and his neck, arms wrapped impossibly tight around his waist. Lance feels something relax inside him as he returns it, face pressed against his hair, one arm around his shoulders, the other his lower back, holding him ever closer.

This, here with Keith, as close as he can be, is his third definition of Home. He can still remember the day he found it after one of the worst fights of his life, overwhelmed with such relief that he was alive and so was everyone else, and Keith, stupid Keith, who risked his life way too many times but still somehow came out unscathed was alive. They’d made it. Back in the castle, when he exited his Lion and he saw Keith and their eyes met, it was like the world stopped. And then they were running to each other, ever in synchrony, and Keith was in his arms. It was then, when he was overcame with such incredible, terrible emotion, such that made want to cry and scream and also never let go because this was it and he never ever wanted to leave. And when Keith moved away and looked up at him with slightly wet eyes and smiled that rare, genuine smile Lance knew it. This was Home and he was never going to leave.

But of course then when they got the opportunity to return to Earth, Keith up and disappeared, and as much as Lance wanted to go find him, he knew that Keith probably needed his Keith Broody Time as Lance calls it. And Lance, he couldn’t leave his family and longer.

As soon as he could leave though, he was gone. He thinks his mama could tell he needed to go. He could see it in the sparkle in her eye. He promised to come back soon though, and he meant it. He loved them too much to leave again so soon, but he needed to get Keith. As much as he missed the rest of the team, the empty hole where Keith’s presence used to be was too overbearing to ignore.

When they pull apart ever so slightly and he sees Keith’s warm eyes and that smile he only shows Lance, he’s happy he didn’t ignore it. “I missed you,” he says in a warm voice, and he makes a note to tease Keith about how his cheeks grow pink later.

“I missed you, too,” he says back and Lance’s heart tightens further. He has a feeling he is full on grinning at this point and he hides it in Keith’s hair once more. He rocks them slightly, so content to just be here with him again. There’s a rightness that comes along with Keith that he has never found anywhere else and he revels in it.

“Are you gonna let me fulfil my promise now?” He questions into his hair. He feels Keith’s hands tighten their grip on his shirt for a second.

“Yeah,” he responds before pulling away. “Gimme a sec to grab my stuff.” He has that face he would get when they’d go on solo missions together, explorations and supply gatherings, just the two of them. Lance loves that face.

Keith pulls away and jogs back to the shack. Lance feels that rightness settle in his chest, and he leans against one of Blue’s legs. He can feel her amusement at his affection and he mentally nudges back at her. When he comes out he’s holding a small rucksack and his luxite blade is at its place on his hips.

“Good to go?” He calls out to Keith, and he nods. “Just follow me.”

They set off together. It’s peaceful flying like this. After all their years in Voltron there’s always a lingering connection with the other paladins, but it’s always stronger in their Lions. They fly in companionable silence, Keith probably preparing himself to meet Lance’s family. He smiles; they’re going to love him.

When Varadero, and then his house, comes into sight the feeling of rightness grows. Two of his Homes together is like a dream come true. Plus, it’s reassuring to have another team member there. Someone who understands what the past eight years were like, who bears similar scars to him. It would make the disconnect Lance would experience occasionally much easier.

They land a bit off from the house and he guesses his family heard, because his mother is already rushing out, beaming. He leaves Blue with a goodbye and meets up with Keith, already out of Red with an anxious look on his face.

Lance wraps an arm around his, a common gesture after all these years. “It’ll be fine. I’m sure she already loves you.” The skeptical expression returns and Lance laughs and pokes his nose. Keith pouts and glares in response before Lance is dragging him along to his mother.

“I’m back, Mama!” He calls out and she rushes forward, cupping his face and kissing each cheek.

“I wasn’t expecting you back so soon!” She exclaims and Lance smiles mischievously.

“I did say I would be back soon!” He counters before bumping Keith with his hip. “Mama, meet Keith, red paladin and resident emo in space.”

Keith shoots his an exasperate glare, not even bothering to deny it anymore, but is interrupted by Lance’s mother greeting him in the same fashion she met Lance.

She leans back after kissing his cheeks, hands still on his face, and says, “It’s nice to meet you, Keith.”

He’s blushing once more at the knowing look in her eyes and stumbles over his words as he says, “It’s nice to meet you too.” Lance can’t suppress his giggle even when her eyes are turned on him.

“Come on,” he says. “You gotta meet everyone else!”

The rest of his family are just as surprised to see him back so soon, barely away for an hour, but not surprised to see Keith it seems. The carryon over his introduction takes about the same time and when it’s over he collapses, exhausted, on the couch in the now empty room.

Lance settles beside him and kisses his cheek. “Welcome home,” he says softly, but the look Keith has when he turns his head makes it look like he shouted. A cheeky grin takes over
Lance’s face before Keith is tackling him against the cushions, poking at his stomach in embarrassment. It’s adorable how after all these years of expressed affection he still gets so bashful when it was shown.

Eventually Keith settles, resting his head on Lance’s chest, eyes meeting his. His cheeks are still red. His eyes are content and full of love when he smiles and Lance thinks back to himself, ‘Welcome Home.’