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Again, I Awake

Chapter Text

 

Keith has always been lost.

He knows that.

He isn't going to lie if you asked him if he thinks belongs because he knows he doesn't. He hasn't and will never feel like he does. As a child, Keith didn't speak until the age of four and until that age, his father was in a constant state.

“Why isn't he talking, Merriam?” The man had fretted, eyes wide with concern, staring hard at the little boy before him who only stared back. His large eyes, dark and seemingly bottomless, "He should be saying stuff by now, not-not- whatever this is!"

"Shh, Kevin. You know how kids like to stare," His mother had smoothed the brooding man, "Give him time," She'd offered, her voice soft, "He'll talk when he's ready."

Keith made his debut whilst he was sitting in his mother's lap. The woman, pale and fair with long, dark hair falling over her shoulders was reading a book with Keith perched on her knee. When suddenly, little Keith with his chubby little hands pointed a finger at a particular word and read it as clear as day, "Keith!"

She looked at him, stunned, "Keith?"

"I am Keith."

From that moment his mother never looked at him with the same eyes again. She could tell that the child she had given birth to; was beyond her in all ways unimaginable. The disconnect between them happened here and from then to Keith, they didn't feel like his nor did he feel like theirs.

He was confused then, when he had declared his name. Why was she so shocked to hear what he called himself? Were they calling him something else? He wasn't sure and when he listened, he couldn't tell.

He ran away a couple years later at the age of seven, unafraid of the world and its many dangers. It was on the spur of a moment kind of thing. He had been walking home from primary school that day, miserable and tired but triumphant at having successfully escaped Kenzie's cooties. When he felt a tug, then it was a pull, in what direction? He couldn't recall, he just knew he had to be somewhere else. 

The tug told him to look, for what? He didn't know but he knew where it was pulling him. Somewhere with mountainous hills and rocky terrains and where he lived, had nothing of the sort. Only concrete and wooden buildings surrounded him no matter how far he wandered. They found him a week later, four days of travel away, rooting around for food in a garbage can. 

They kept a closer eye on him after that but that didn't stop him from running away once more at age, eleven and then again, at fifteen. All the time, going in the same direction. 

His parents couldn't understand what they'd done wrong and when they asked, the answer they received only baffled them more. 

"I was following the pull."

What pull? They wanted to question but they were more terrified of the answer that they would receive. Keith wasn't a troublesome child, not at all but something about him scared them. Made them worry and because of this, they couldn't connect with him. Not with the way he would stare them with his dark eyes as though they were complete strangers, as if he knew nothing about them. 

"Mom, am I adopted?"

His mother had sputtered and chuckled nervously as those words fell from her child's mouth, "Of course not, sweetie. What makes you think that?"

If his question had worried her, it did nothing in comparison to how his reaction made her feel. Thick brows scrunched up in a frown, a small pink lips pouted and shoulders slumped followed by a bowed head, "Oh… okay."

It hurt her heart the way he walked away, almost as though she had just shattered his hopes and dreams as opposed to lifting his spirits.

Later, when Keith's brother and sister were born, ten minutes apart, Keith wouldn't touch them. He didn't know why and he couldn't place it. Having younger eyes look up to him felt plain wrong but something in him was tremendously excited and somewhat fearful. 

What if he hurt them? 

But in those moments of uncertainty and fear, he would sometimes feel a weight settle on his shoulder, a large hand belonging to... someone. And when he looked, up over his shoulder, eyes lifting upward, no one were ever there. 

"Keith?" The boy found himself on the roof some nights. Looking up at the stars, an awful feel of displacement in his heart because the constellations above him weren't the ones he wanted to see.

"Yes Marcus?" Head bowing to look at the toddler tugging on his sleeve, Keith frowned curiously at his younger brother.

“Why do you look so sad when you look at sky?"

Such an innocent question, the boy had asked but Keith couldn't help the tear that it brought to his eye. "I-I don't know," He sniffed, blinking it away rapidly. Kelly, his sister reached up for him, her small hand settling on his cheek just below his eye as he leaned down to her, "Why are you crying?"

Something tugged at him, viciously and Keith grunted. Doubling over, holding his stomach as he looked at her with confused eyes, "Wha-" His breath left him as his vision whited out.

You crying Keith? You scared?

Vibrant blue eyes accompanied with a wide smile flashed across his vision. 

Keith!

Someone screamed his name.  

Patience yields focus!

The weight of something heavy collided with his shoulder and the boy heaved, jerking back to the present with a deep shuddering gasp.

"Keith?" His eyes snapped down with distant shouts echoing in his mind, to settle on his two younger siblings. Both of them were looking up at him, their concern evident.  

Before they could utter another question, Keith was swooping them up in both his arms, "Time to hit the sack guys." He tried to keep his voice calm but the tremor wouldn't leave him. Moving on autopilot, he couldn't stop thinking about the calls that sounded in his mind, the tug in his stomach, the flash of blue eyes. 

He knew them. They were from that place that he needed to go. 

Overtime, the cries got louder, the glimpses got brighter, sharper. The cause of many headaches, nosebleeds and migraines they were. Giving him glimpses of a craft, large and otherworldly and with them came multiple hues of colours, ranging from bottomless darkness to reds and purples, blues and yellows, sometimes even green. Faces accompanied them, though blurred like those of a dream but what came strongest and clearest to him, was the burst of adrenaline he’d feel.

It started with a tingling at the tips of his fingers, a warmth at his back and the way the slightest breath of wind made his blood roar in his ears. He could feel speed, power, these things belonging to something great and ominous, something far greater than himself. And though it was never clear, it was like the other side of a coin. So close but yet, so far.

It angered him because no matter how hard he tried, he could never grasp it. It confused him. Yet, it set him on the path that he was willing to go. He could feel it buzzing in his veins and a few years later, Keith moved out of his parent's house on a mission. 

Parents. 

He'd never understand why they felt so strange and foreign to him but at the same time, he was glad that they were there for him. They supported him, they loved him and he loved them greatly in return. He was never alone.

Another year or so of wandering, Keith finally woke up on the old, matted excuse of a mattress he had, with a name on his lips for the first time.

Voltron.

The clarity that hit him had never been so clear.

Shiro. Pidge. Lance. Hunk. Allura. Coran. Castle of motherfucking Lions! Space! Fucking Voltron!

I say Vol! You say-

Voltron?

Dammit, Keith!

Keith screamed. Jumping to his feet with a whoop loud enough to cause his neighbours to bang on the walls in annoyance, Keith didn't care because he knew. He now knew who the words,' Patience yields focus,' belonged to; he finally knew what he was looking for! For twenty-one years of wandering, lost and confused with only glimpses and visions, he remembered!

Keith ran from the apartment, stopping only to throw a jacket over his bare shoulders before he was racing up the stairs in his one set of pajama pants. Kicking open the door with bang! Keith hollered as he dashed across the length of the roof of his apartment building, only skidding to a stop just as he neared the edge. He gasped for breath, chest raising and falling as he collected himself and lifted his eyes towards the horizon, just in time to see the first glimpses of the sun rise.

A sun rise that he'd only seen a handful of times in this life and before, when he’d been whisked away into the vastness of space. Keith gasped, remembering the feel of weightlessness as reds and oranges overcame the purple and the blue of the sky, the colours blurring. Blinking rapidly, he wiped away a stray tear before sucking in a deep breath. Enjoying the feel of the wind caressing his hair, flowing across his body and causing the jacket to whip out behind him like a cape.

He could just fly right now.

Keith stepped forward, bare toes peeking over the edge of the rooftop, a six floor drop beckoning below and stopped. Waiting. He didn't know why, but a thought made him do just that. Then he felt it, the tug and then a spark, starting at the base of his spine. 

Tingling, it travelled upward; exploding between his should blades and spreading out along his arms towards the tips of his fingers. He spread them out to his sides like wings and the spark continued. Buzzing at the back of his skull; spreading, searching before making its way back down into his chest.

Red.

The feeling exploded and Keith was shutting his eyes, turning his face heavenward where distant glittering stars could still be seen and bellowed. Deep from within his diaphragm, he screamed, remembering words from a distant language he couldn't remember learning in this life, he yelled. He revered. He praised.

And then it was over.

He turned away from the rising sun, wiping away the tears that refused to cease. Once they started, they wouldn't stop. He collapsed to his knees, feeling the weight of his existence settle in his bones, the feel of the sun hitting the back of his neck and wailed.

He had died.

He remembered that. 

An old dark roof floated in his vision. The expanse of a dark room to his left, pale sunlight, not the yellow that he knew but with a hue of blue, filtered through a small window above his head.

It wasn't violent like how he'd thought it would go but slow and bittersweet, painful and lonely, foreign and awful. He'd died alone. Old and afraid, no one to hold his hand or speak sweet nothingies in his ear. He couldn't remember the name of the planet or the name of its star but he knew why he was there, alone and away from the Castle of Lions. He wondered if it had been worth it then, leaving the paladins, leaving Hunk and Pidge behind.

"Keith, don't do this! We need you! "

"Don't! You can't leave us like this! Keith!"

He closed his eyes, pitching forward until his forehead met the roughness of that rooftop. Was it worth it? Leaving them behind only to die, crippled and fragile because he couldn't take the strain? A sob caught in his throat and more tears overflowed, he could have sworn he felt the warmth of something soft against his lips and a hand around his.

Something or someone hovered over him. He couldn't make them out, his eyes failing him. Something cold touched his lips and liquid flowed into his mouth. 

He coughed. Sniffling, breath hitching. He stayed there; he didn't know how long he stayed on that rooftop, dazed with visions from his past as gravel dug into his knees. When he came to, the sun was well over his head, burning into his scalp. 

"You've been gone a while, paladin of Voltron," The alien voice of that someone washed over him and a large hand settled on his chest, no doubt feeling the deep rumble within his lungs, “It is time you let go."

Fuck. He missed this. Rolling his shoulders, he stood up feeling the touch of a hand on his shoulder. He looked around; no one was there…As usual.

"The princess will find you yet again, red paladin, all you must do. Is wait."

Keith sighed, closing his eyes. Feeling a warmth at his back and another in his hand, he clutched at them, keeping them close. He didn't have all the glimpses and there were still patches in his memory but he wasn't worried. They'd all come back with time. 

But right now, he had a mission to do and for the first time, he knew what had to be done.

Red.

Something fizzled in his mind and he seized it, keeping it intact, "Red." He rolled the colour over his tongue; the name.

He grinned, voice raspy from his tears, "I'm coming for you, Kitty."

Chapter Text

He was tired. Oh, so tired. 

"Hey, can you spend an hour after work?"

"Hey, can you go through these extra files the next time you check in?"

"Oh, you're taking a break? I guess you have time to go through these things for me."

Shiro was just so damned tired. If only the dreams would give him a break. He sighed loudly as he brought his knees up to his chest and rested his forehead upon them. His right arm hurt, he rubbed it, fingers digging deep in the muscle trying to smooth the ache within. It helped sometimes but not really. 

He had a birthmark there, almost like a burn it was but it consisted of ragged lines that stretched across his back and shoulder before stopping abruptly in the middle of his upper arm. Just above the elbow in a smooth line across; it was interesting to see, honestly but the constant throbs of pain it produced in his most stressed moments was harrowing. Unexplainable, even to the numerous doctors he'd been to.

He sighed again, today was just not his day. Maybe, just maybe... he could close his eyes for a minute and rest.

"Tadashi!" The shrill shout caused him to jolt violently, dark eyes snapping open with a gasp, "How long are you going to spend in the washroom? You know you're not going to be paid for time wasted like this!"

Shiro could just scream. Instead he swallowed his wail of sorrow and said in the most cheerful voice he could muster, "I'll right there, Missus Darcy, just taking a minute!"

Yes, he was hiding in the bathroom and he wasn't afraid to admit it. Head resting on folded arms anchored on top of crouched knees; he stooped on the lid of a closed toilet and though, he wasn't a fan of this particular hiding place, considering he worked in the lower levels of a small office firm, it was better than the broom cupboard downstairs and that thing was out of question. 

The lord knew what small critters lived in there and Shiro wanted no part of it, plus that in itself was shocking considering that he'd do about anything to get away from his evil despotic example of a manager. Not that he was a bad employee but the woman was clearly out to get him. She screeched his name again, brutally butchering the pronunciation and he couldn't help the way his shoulders hunched as he inwardly cringed. 

Tadashi Kurogane .

That wasn't his name. Well, it was but at the same time, it wasn't.

Tadashi Kurogane.

It never felt right. 

Huffing, Shiro stood to his feet and flexed his arms, giving his right a lasting rub. It was time to face the fray.

"About time you came out of there, dude. Escaping Darcy like the rest of us," His coworker crowed upon sight of him and Shiro laughed, the sound forced, "Always." 

This wasn't how he wanted to spend his life. He didn't want to die spending his life at some desk job that he could hardly care about, he would rather be- No! He squashed the thought. Reclaiming his seat in front of his business computer, he brought up the old files that he'd hidden.

'Takashi Shirogane, youngest pilot of his age and generation,' The  name had struck a bell in him as he reread the age old article, dating back almost 70 years prior,  'Perished on the Kerberos mission along with two others, Samuel and Matthew Holt due to pilot error.'

Why did those names sound so familiar, so close? He didn't know. He had woken up with the name, 'Shiro' on his lips so long ago and he had just started looking, and he was looking for so long, he could feel the end of his line nearing. The name, 'Shiro' just felt so right for him, an eternal battle his mother would never understand but that; he couldn’t afford to lose.

Now, Shiro was sick of staring at the same article for years now with nothing new coming up. He scoffed; of course, nothing new would come up. This thing was ancient and the only other thing that was interesting was that, there had been an incident at the Galaxy Garrison a year later where three students went missing in a freak accident but there was even less info in that than the first. Their names weren't even released. 

Fuck, he held his head his hands, massaging his temples; he could feel a headache coming on. He needed something to go on and he needed it soon. 

"Ah, I see you're back at your station, Mister Tadashi Kurogane."

Shiro suppressed a growl of irritation as the jarring sounds of nails against a chalkboard that made up his manager's voice, signifying her return to his cubicle. The darn witch of a woman never gave him a break, always hovering like some old crow and if she wasn't taunting him by butchering his name then she was using racial slurs because of his slightly slanted eyes and high cheek bones. He put on his brightest smile and added a bit of a chuckle for effect.

"Heeeeeya Missus Darcy, how can I help you?"

The woman appeared like the devil in the night, attired in all black, body thin and sharp like an old tree. She towered over him, scowling and he refused the want in him to return to it. Instead, he opted for beaming even brighter (Have some sunlight in your day, bitch!) and glee bubbled up in him as her scowl only deepened. Her already red cheeks going to an alarming new shade, it simply set her blood boiling to see him refuse to break composure in her presence. Maybe she was hoping for a slip in his performance, looking out for the perfect opportunity to fire him.

He won't give her the chance.

"Yes, Missus Darcy?" He prompted the woman again and added a flutter of eyelashes for flare.

The woman sputtered at his display, rage evident as she opened her mouth to squawk her distaste- 

"Miss. Darcy?" A voice called from the secretary's office, "There's a call on the line for you, the caller says it's urgent!" The woman's mouth slammed shut with an audible snap and her eyes narrowed dangerously, definitely deciding whether to pelt him with her racist opinions or respond to the caller. She chose the safer option and walked away with a huff, head held high like an arrogant peacock. 

Shiro remained unfazed. He had too many layers, if bringing him down was what she wanted, then that woman would never succeed. He whistled, rolling his shoulders back into a slouch but then someone was slamming their hand down hard on his desk, rattling his documents only moments later. 

Eyes going wide, Shiro cocked a brow as he looked up to a foreign but strangely familiar face, "Uh, can I help you?”

The blonde before him smirked before leaning back away from him, the hand that'd slammed onto his desk coming back to rest on her hip, "Is this how you spend your life these days?"

Shiro looked around, was anybody seeing this? Who was this woman anyway? He scanned her from head to waist, the rest of her body hidden by his desk. A burgundy suit clung to her emphasizing the curve of hers hips and the narrowness of her waist. Eyes going up, Shiro noted her waist length blonde hair held high in a tight pony tail but the most striking thing about her, were her eyes. They were big, almost too big and Shiro was sure that her irises were purple or maybe it was just the light playing tricks on him, he wasn't sure. 

"Um," His eyes darted around once more, "Do I know you?"

The woman's smirk grew wider before giggling softly, "Wow, the carrot head wasn't kidding. You really are kind of air headed, aren’t you?"

The man in question bristled, "Excuse me?"

She tsked, smile disappearing being replaced with a scowl of pure annoyance, "Listen up, Shiro. I was sent here to. Wake. You. Up. " She leaned over, poking him in the chest with each jab, watching as his face morphed from weirded out and suspicious to shocked and confused, "And it looks like I came at the right time. I mean seriously, what the heck are you doing?" She flicked at a folder on his desk causing it to skitter off the edge and scatter its content on the floor, "Wasting your life away in this godforsaken dump, I thought for sure that I'd find you at the Garrison, so why? You long for the sky, so why are you here...?"

Her voice filtered off, her purple eyes narrowing dangerously as she looked down at him, through him. Shiro only gaped her, horrified. How did she know? He clutched at his arm, it throbbed deep enough to make his fingers ache and he hissed out a breath. He had to get away from her; something about her just threw him off. The way her eyes looked into him-

"...You're afraid." She summed up and he flinched almost as though he'd had been slapped, "Is that why you're cooped up in this small place, working in the lower levels so you're close to the ground? Is this why you were avoiding the garrison because you are afraid of the sky, the feeling of flying? Or maybe, it’s about what comes after the flying... space?"

"Shut up!" He didn't recall getting to his feet but in that moment, he was in her face. She didn't know what she was talking about. How could she know what was going on in his mind, his eternal struggle; his fear. 

She laughed in his face, "You've become a shell of yourself, paladin. But then again, you've always been damaged… always been hurt," She reached for him and Shiro couldn't move, too struck by her words.

Paladin? 

What did that mean to him? Why did it feel like a connection crackled in his mind. 

He was brought out of his thoughts when her fingers connected with his arm, his right arm, "You've fought so hard and for so long. Shiro,” Those violet eyes looked up into his, “You’ve done too many great things too be holed up in this place. If Black saw you, I'm sure she would be shedding tears of diesel or gasoline, whatever the heck it is she runs on."

Shiro blinked at that, feeling the connection spark again. 

Black?

"Fuck..." He stepped away from her, rubbing at his temples. His migraine was coming back in full and Black? Something large and ethereal moved in the shadows of his mind, he couldn't grasp it. It was too fast and then it was gone, and in its place, a massive crater. 

Shiro cursed again, feeling something trickle down from his nose and over his lip, he massaged his temples harder. He always knew that he was missing a part of himself; that he wasn't whole but he always had a grasp of who he was as a person... but not like this. 

He gasped, blinking rapidly as he attempted to focus on the woman in front of him but the pain that pounded in his skull and rocketed down his arm won't allow it. He'd lost something. Something indescribable, something greater than himself and he suppressed a cry at the thought of never finding it, of not having it. 

He moaned low in throat as his vision blurred and someone was holding onto him, the woman. He flinched as he felt something being pressed to his nose. His body pulsed with pain but he powered through it and catching her eyes once more, he layered her with a glare as he panted, sweat breaking out across his forehead and down the back of his neck. 

"What are you doing to me?" He hissed the words, he had to know. She was the cause of this, this sudden imbalance within him that had he questioning even his sense of reality. What did she know that he didn’t?

She sent him another grin, "I'm doing nothing. The question should be, 'What are you doing to yourself?'" He scowled at her but she stepped back, hands raised in surrender, palms facing outward, "The phone's been ringing your whole your life, paladin, you've just never heard it... and now," She looked away, large eyes going distant as she appeared to listen to something that was beyond him, "It's time for you to answer the call."

Shiro blinked at her, what'd she had just said didn't make a lick of sense to him, "What if I don't?" He challenged. 

"You don't have a choice!” She snarled back, causing him to actually jump a foot and take a step back. He watched her carefully, her eyes suddenly looking too purple and too large for her petite face, there was something feral about her. "Things greater than you know are at work right now! You've shouldered the responsibility of millions on your shoulders, paladin! You have saved so many and helped so many, the universe will be damned to wait for you any longer!" 

She was screaming at him now, eyes wide with a fury so foreign to him that fear froze him in place. The irises of her eyes were huge, taking up most of her sclera and where he was sure that she was supposed to be red, she was flushing a vivid yellow colour.

"You are the leader, Shiro! It is time you believed it and carried it with pride. You are needed, you-you imbecile! Your paladins are lost and scattered and it’s about time you find them, they need your help..." Her voice trailed off but then she was catching his eyes again making him freeze up with a jolt because in them, there was a fire. A blaze and holding him there, she stood to her full height and suddenly it struck him that she was taller than him and the next time she spoke, her words shook him.

 ”Worlds know your name, yours and others, all spoken in whispers and praises, all in fear and awe. The universe has waited long enough. Regain your title paladin and,” She winked, the corners of her lips curling upward, “Chop, chop. Someone is waiting for you."

Swallowing thickly, Shiro regarded her with wide eyes, terrified. Terrified because a small part of him believed her, believed that she could give him salvation of the cloud that hovered over him his whole life. Make him whole. Just maybe, she could give him that. 

Standing tall, chin held high, Shiro gave her the slightest nod before turning away. He ignored the eyes of his prying co-workers, who undoubtedly probably watched the entire ordeal but he could care less and Shiro didn't even flinched when his manager screeched his name again, butchering it as always. That wasn't his name. Shiro was and by gods, he'd find the rest of it. 

Exiting that building was like taking a new breath of life and he'd be damned to go back in. He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath as he pondered on the busy sidewalk. Someone was waiting for him? He didn't exactly think to question who that would be exactly and he sighed at that.  Maybe he gotten ahead of himself this time, letting himself be carried away by charades-

He caught a glimpse of white hair and he froze, his breath halting his chest. That person turned, rich dark skin contrasting sharply with the soft cloud atop her head. She stood out in the afternoon crowd like a beacon. Blue eyes with fuchsia infused pupils caught his and then, something was hitting him like a wave.

Altea.

 Rolling and thundering into him, over him, he stumbled backward, tripping over his own feet.

The Galra .

 The last thing he saw was the sky. 

 

Someone was screaming. Blood was rushing in his ears and the pain- Oh, the pain! It won't leave him, it won't leave him alone. 

"-Shiro!"

The screaming was coming from him, hoarse and torn. He coughed as blood flowed up his throat. 

"- Someone hold him down!" 

His body was thrashing, he couldn't help it. Someone was practically sitting on his legs but their weight wasn't enough to keep him down. He bucked and they went flying but immediately, someone else was taking their place. 

"That bitch! - -Poisoning him--!"

He needed to finish what he'd set out to do! He needed to- “Lance!” His arm ignited, pink light flashed in the corner of his eye-

"No! No no no, don't!

The pain quadrupled and the pink light shuttered off in an instant. His throat was defiantly torn from screaming now; he could feel the blood running down the sides of his face as his back arched in pain, "Lance!" He needed to kill her! He needed to hurt her-kill her-whatever he could do to her for hurting Lance.

"She's dead! She's dead! Oh my god, stop already!"

"Lance!" The sound of his voice was garbled even to his own ears and then it registered in his mind, he couldn't see. He was in the dark, someone- No! More than one was holding him down. They were going to hurt him! Experiment on him! Give him more pain than what he was experiencing! His thrashing increased. He slammed his head into the ground as his body strained in an effort to escape their holds. 

"S-Stop! Hold him!" 

"I'm doing everything I fucking can!"

"Shiro! Shiro, please! Come on, come on!" Something was stabbed into his arm and his body seized up, his cries becoming choked as his back arched even more, his limbs becoming locked, "No, no, no, what's happening?!"

"Oh my go-"

An audible crack filled the air and someone was screaming as his body went limp. 

 

-----

 

"-Shiro, Shiro, no..." Someone was sobbing by his head.

His vision flickered, he didn't know what'd just happened, but he couldn't feel anything anymore. Colours came back into his sight. The pain was gone.

"Pidge?" The colours twisted and warped, the figure by his side lifted their head, "Pidge?" He rasped again; panic seeping into him because he couldn't move. The figure by his side moved into his vision, "Shiro..."

The awe in Pidge's voice almost made him laugh but his throat wouldn't allow it. Instead, he gave her a soft smile as exhaustion replaced the panic, "What happened?" He couldn't help but question at the sight of blood splattered across the girl's face, tears having cleared paths through it. 

Her lip trembled as her eyes shone with tears, "You- you don't remember?"

He tried to shake his head but found he couldn't do it. He couldn't find the energy. Someone was moving beside Pidge, "Shiro?"

He couldn't see them, someone else was moving around him. He was surrounded, "Guys?"

"We're here," Someone spoke, leaning over him, "Allura..." She too was crying and looking across, Keith was by her side, his eyes red, face drained, "Keith?" The boy only shook his head, giving a watery smile as he reached down, holding Shiro's flesh hand. 

He wondered at that, why didn't he feel it?  What happened to his other- Someone's hand blocked his view, "Don't look."

"Hunk..." Looking up, Shiro could see Coran hovering behind the boy; he looked around, looking at all their faces. They were all teary eyed, exhausted. Bags under their eyes, blood splattered along with cracked armour. Someone was missing.

"Where's Lance?" Hunk swallowed, turning away, his tears falling. Shiro frowned at that, he looked at Keith; the boy only shook his head. Shiro swallowed hard and he blinked harder, the exhaustion was pulling at him, "Where's Lance?" He asked again, forcing the words up from his throat. 

Pidge sobbed and turned her face into Allura's shoulder. Behind her, Coran came forward, "He- he-" Keith caught the altean's eye, his own violet hard and steely. He gave a harsh shake of his head. 

Shiro rasped at that, "Keith," He coughed and his vision blurred. Panic set back in and the exhaustion pulled harder. His breaths became ragged.

"No, no, no..." Hunk was in his vision again, giant tears flowing down his cheeks, "It’s okay, it's okay, Shiro,” He swallowed hard, "Lance is coming, he's just- he's just taking a while, okay?"

"O-okay," Shiro rasped at that, it was becoming harder to speak. 

"Stay awake, Shiro. Lance is coming, just stay awake. We're-We're gonna-" They were moving him, Keith's voice stayed with him as purple lights flashed overhead. Where were they and why couldn't he remember?

His vision whited out, "Guys!" He couldn't help the sharp yelp that ripped up his throat. 

"We're here, we're here-" Someone was saying, talking frantically, another voice said something then that was fading away too. They were moving him faster, he could feel it. Something wet but warm dripped onto his face. 

"Guys?" He was sinking, the exhaustion taking him under. Another wet but warm thing dripped onto his face, he clung to it. The warmth, what was that? It was- he couldn't feel it.

He wasn't moving anymore. The movement had suddenly stopped and he was floating. Darkness was all he could see but how could he see when his eyes were closed. He pondered on it a moment, his thoughts rushing. Slowing, trickling, oozing until they too, disappeared. 

 

He surfaced with a cry.

 Blue and fuchsia eyes looked into his own. He gasped, shuddering, shaking as he took in that unearthly hue. Then he was looking beyond them, upward to the sky over them then downward, there was movement all around him. The sound of traffic and people assaulted his senses, he blinked rapidly. 

He was back on the street and someone was holding him in their arms. Arms that felt familiar. He looked back into the blue and fuchsia. 

"Allura?"

The woman smiled through tears before touching her forehead to his, "Do you remember?" Her voice was like the clinking of ice in a glass, sharp and clear as day. 

"Yes."

"Then are you ready?

He didn't spare a thought, he let her take him.

Chapter Text

Pidge knew from the time she was a child, she was destined for greatness. 

Creative. Smart. The child prodigy.

 All these things she was, all these things that made her, her. These things, all of which she believed but it wasn’t enough, as great as she was. She couldn't get rid of the nightmares, the terrors that plagued her dreams as night. 

"No!" The girl bolted awake in the darkness, her cry low and choked. Her hand stretched out in front of her, grabbing, reaching for something. 

She was too late, she couldn't save them.

A shout left her lips as she saw the apparition still as clear as day in her mind's eye. 

"Leave!" They had screamed. Blue and brown eyes in two different faces overlapped, merged and then flickered apart, the hand they had reaching for her doing the same. Almost like a screen on top of another, they wore the same expression. The same look of pain, of desperation and of hope. 

They hovered and wavered before her and though having left at different times, their motions and words mirrored each other. Even apart they were in sync, "I have to do this, Pidge! I have to save them; I can't just leave them to die!"

"Don't be a hero!" She had screamed, a hypocrite to her own cause, her feelings coming first and foremost. Tears streaming down her face in both situations, "You'll die if you do this! You can't do that to us, we need you!" 

They had both looked at her the same, the latter repeating the former though their actions were years apart, "It's okay, Pidge... Everything will turn out fine."

They lied. 

"No!" Strong arms were wrapping around her as she lunged forward with another scream, "No, don't leave me!" The arms pulled her back into a chest, "Don't leave!" She pleaded, her voice falling into a soft whimper. 

"Don't leave..." She fell back into that chest, her body shaking with dry sobs. 

"It's okay, Pidge. I'm here, I have you." A soft and steady voice whispered into her ears and hands guided her onto her back as she slowly calmed, the buzz in her mind fading. 

There was a moment of silence. Pidge listening to the sound of her breathing as she blinked back tears in the dim light, she refused to cry. Not for them, she won't shed tears for those who left her, again and again. Why? She didn't know. Who were they? She wasn't sure and the sense of loss they left her with, it was too great to be ignored. Too great to be buried and she hated them for it. But still, that didn't down the curiosity inside her; she had to know who they were. What they were and why was she connected to them?

"I thought you said you weren't getting them anymore," The voice that was once steady, was now short and clipped. Pidge jolted as it harshly, brought her back to the present. 

She heaved a sigh, rolling away from them, "They’re just terrors, Jeff. No need to worry."

"No," The hand that was holding her before brought her back. Dark, stormy eyes meeting her light ones, "You told me the medication was working! Why would you lie?" They paused for a moment, their face then becoming the epitome of pain, "Were you- were you even taking the medication?"

Pidge scowled, pulling away from them again, her defenses coming up. Why did they have to be so sharp? Why did they have to nick-pick at everything she did? She turned her back on them. 

"Pidge!"

"Shut up!" She snapped back, her eyes glaring daggers into the bigger being, “I don't have to tell you everything, Jeffrey!"

"B-but Pidge..." The pain in their face tore her apart but Pidge kept hers blank but underneath, she was simmering. With pain, with anger, she wasn't sure. Why couldn't they just trust her, why was it so hard for them to do that.

Jeffrey sighed, catching the conflict within her. They huffed, running a hand through their shoulder length hair before sighing again, "Look, I'm sorry, Pidge," They reached for her, fingers lingering lightly over freckled skin, "Come back to me...please?"

Pidge couldn't help the way the tension slipped from her bones as she felt those fingers dust over her shoulders. She turned, catching their silhouette in the dim light of the room. Watching as the splashing of moon-light dusted across their features, highlighting the green in their eyes. 

It was sharp, striking. She stared intently as it reminded her of something. Something she couldn't quite grasp and she longed for it. Looking away from those eyes, her own drifted down past high cheekbones to a small button nose and a full set of lips before settling on a jawline so sharp, she was sure it could cut her. 

"I'm sorry," She murmured, eyes becoming downcast as she swindled up back up to them. Slotting her body long side their own, stealing their warmth for hers. Jeffrey reached for her, holding her smaller hands in theirs, "I'm the one who should be sorry, I shouldn't have shouted at you."

Pidge said nothing, only shaking her head as she buried her face in their chest, feeling the soft molds of their breasts. She clung to them, feeling their form beneath her, listening to the soft pound of their heart. She needed to know that they were with her. She needed to know that they were real, "It's okay, Jeff. There's no need to be worried."

Jeffrey shook their head, not bothering to hide the concern that was now blooming over their features. They hugged her closer, "It was one of the bad ones this time, wasn't it?" Pidge hesitated, the tension returning to her curled form before she was giving a slight nod. Jeffrey hissed, giving her a brief squeeze, "You wanna tell me about it?"

Pidge shook her head, refusing to show her face which only gave Jeffrey a downward perspective of wild hair ruffling. They stifled a laugh at the mess of bed hair before abruptly clearing their throat and going back to the matter at hand, "Remember that time when we were kids-?

"Jeffrey no." 

"...And we found that old Pokémon game in your dad's stores."

"Jeffrey..."Pidge gave an exaggerated whine as a blush worked up her neck, "If you say anymore, I gonna punch you in the nuts."

Jeffrey wheezed, drawing their legs together instinctively but they pushed on regardless, "I remember your declaration in class the next day."

"Jeffrey!" Pidge was shooting up, teeth bared, blush radiant. They were immediately rolling away from her and were up on their feet, dancing away to the other side of the bedroom out of her reach before striking a ridiculous pose. Long legs spread wide in a stance, one hand on their hip and the other on their brow in a salute. They grinned maliciously. 

"No!"

"Listen up, dimwits! My name’s Pidge now!"

Pidge growled at the ridiculous high note in Jeffrey's voice, "I don't sound like that!" The girl practically screeched, scandalized as she darted after them with the intention of murder. Jeffrey danced away from her, screeching with laughter before mimicking another much deeper voice, "What the heck is a Pidge?"

"Jeffrey!" The bigger being yelped as they were practically bulldozed by the shorter- by a head gremlin. They moaned in pain, hissing lightly as they cradled their jewels, "Oh my god, why did I get into this relationship with you?"

Pidge cackled, beaming down at them fondly as she straddled their side, "Because you love me, jackass." 

They returned the beam, though not as bright because-pain, "…Do you still think you're connected to something greater because of these dreams?"

Pidge arched a brow at that. She wasn't expecting that and she would have missed the slight hesitation in their voice if she wasn't so intone with them right now, "You mean like in my conspiracy stuff and theories... the ones you always made fun of me for?" Jeffrey only grinned, "Fuck you!" The grin stretched wider, now accompanied by a shrug of shoulders.

 "You're such an ass," She sighed, laying her full weight on top of them and taking a deep breath before looking them in the eyes, "Yes; I believe I'm connected to something greater. These dreams... they-they aren't normal, they show me things I've never seen or could even comprehend in this life and- and... Those people in my dreams..." Jeffrey watched the shadow of pain fall over her face, "I long for them so much, I've never met them but I remember them. I remember them so clearly but as soon as I think I do, I don't," Her hands balled fists into Jeffrey's shirt, her eyes becoming distant and hard, desperation showing up there, "And it hurts- it hurts so much. I need to find them."

Jeffrey stared at her for a moment, taking in her pained features when something suddenly dawned on them, "You're going to leave me, aren't you."

Pidge smiled sadly at that, her voice thick, "You knew I wasn't going to stay."

Jeffrey barked a laugh, looking away from her. It was harsh and sarcastic, Pidge flinched from the coldness of it, “You knew this, Jeffrey."

They laughed again, "I know..." Then they were looking at her, their face pinched in pain, “And I still pursued you despite knowing that, didn't I." Pidge’s smile wobbled, "You did."

They huffed, looking away from her, still cold, “You could be using your genius for something useful but instead you're going on a trip for self-discovery- as always."

Pidge recoiled as though she'd been slapped before narrowing her eyes at them, "My genius?" 

Jeffrey cringed, not prepared for the bitterness and coldness that rolled off those words, "I was declared a child prodigy because I could understand math and science better than my own teachers, things put there- Obstructions to stutter or direct the growth of a human being, knowing that, I still followed those paths and discovered something I liked. Building machines and tech and because of that, I was declared genius, a prodigy, “Her words were mocking and cold,” Because I learnt and put together some simply equations a little too early in life. So don't talk to me about my genius. I will not become a decoration to be displayed on the sleeves of greedy old men and fool even more sheep-"

"Pidge- you know it's-

"Not like that?" Pidge finished the sentence for them with a scowl, "I am my own being and I will use my genius as I see fit." She got up off of their chest, glowering daggers into them, "Of all the things I've told you, of all the things I've help you through," Her eyes lingered on their chest where breasts had recently developed, "I thought you would understand my plight, clearly I was wrong."

"Pidge no!" Jeffrey cried out, reaching for her once more, "I'm sorry!"

"No..." She stepped out of their reach, tired of playing this push and pull game," I'm the one who should be sorry."

 

 

That was approximately 17 hours ago. 

No? Pidge frowned. That wasn't correct.

 She looked at her watch again, frowning at the numbers. It was 18 hrs, 47 mins and 17, now 18 seconds since she'd left. She had left them many times before but she could certainly make this the last and it hurt her to do so. It hurt her so much to be alone but she ignored it and pushed on. 

She found herself at the Galaxy Garrison again. Out in the dessert, in the middle of nowhere, she had snuck in. This wouldn't be the first of her doing so either; she'd done this many times prior since she had found the cases of the missing students. Firewalls and coded entries were no troubles for her; she broke through it all with ease. She was sitting on the roof where she was sure she wouldn't be found, a sense of nostalgia in her bones, looking at the familiar faces. 

The first photo flickered up on the screen of her laptop, the words, 'Pidge Gunderson' labeled underneath. The girl herself had almost freaked out upon seeing their face, an almost perfect replica of hers reflected back at her and the name, it struck her. That very same name, she had chosen for herself all those years prior just became a little more interesting. She stared at the photo more. What was it about this particular student, besides the fact that she looked just like them, that drew her attention?

A feeling tingled at the base of her spine, she wasn't sure. 

She looked at the other two faces that accompanied the first photo and frowned, the feeling lingering. 

'Lance McClain,' she stared at the slim, dark face, taking in the pale blue eyes. She felt almost like she knew him, like he was familiar. But that couldn't be possible because this article was ages old and if she did, she wasn't sure. And she was positive that she would have remembered him if she had ever seen him. Then there was, 'Hunk Garret,' a slightly chubby, dark face with friendly brown eyes looked back her and she felt a smile tug on her lips, hurt brewing just beneath her ribs. How could she even forget these people, how could she? 

She stood up, setting down the old, rustic laptop and looked at the sky above her. She wanted to scream, it was right there beneath her chin, just begging to come out but it won't. She felt choked and stuffed.  She heaved a breath as she even tried to breathe through it all. Why did she hurt so much for these people that she didn't know, that she only ever saw in her dreams and her terrors. Those two faded faces that looked out from her computer screen, she had dreamt about more than she'd like to say and she had seen them die even more. 

She stifled a cry, a hand rubbing at the center of her chest, trying and failing to smooth the pain there. Why did they hurt her so much? How was she even connected to them and it wasn't just them, they were more but they were already dead, weren't they? She stepped to edge of the roof, overlooking the horizon. It was the dead of night, the wind cold and brittle, she hugged her jacket closer to herself and cursed because, why was she wearing shorts? She had even come to this place, even though she had no interest in joining the garrison, not when it was only because they wanted her because of her genius

Her eyes wandered. From taking in the pale moon in the sky in its nest of stars, her eyes fell to the ledge of the building just before her toes. She inched forward. 

She had no idea what she looking for. Just wandering the country, using Jeffrey as a comfort and piggy back to get where she needed go and now, she'd left Jeffrey behind. The little transgender fool, who had no idea of what to call themselves, if only she was like them, she would have the confidence to do what she wanted but no, the universe didn't work like that. Not for her. 

She stared at the ledge just before her toes. If she took another step forward, she would be free of these dreams. These terrors filled to the brim with memories of people that she had never met, that she longed to meet but she had always seen die. Close friends to her, she knew but what exactly was left for her? All she knew was that they had died and had left her behind at some point. 

She laughed at that, reaching up to wipe away a stray tear that had been welling up for a while now. She was always left behind, wasn't she? And the people who didn't leave, she used them as piggy back rides to get where she needed. 

Another tear fell. 

She wasn't needed here. She had nowhere to go and the place she wanted to go, only existed in her dreams, in her terrors along with the people that she longed for but could never be with. She sniffled, the sorrow in her chest becoming much more. It was time for this hurting to stop. She was hurting for so long, from the time she was a child and the terrors had first started until now... And now, it was time for it to end. Maybe she could finally be with them, those people that she'd seen die.

She edged closer once more, the tips of her shoes now dangling over nothing. She stepped forward and fell, allowing gravity to do its work. Her hair whipped past her face, her arms flew up-

"Pidge!" 

Two sets of hands grabbed hers and she yelped as she was yanked back up. 

"What the hell are you doing?!"

"We've been looking for you for so long, why?!"

Two voices assaulted her senses and she blinked rapidly as she panted, trying to calm her palpitating heart. What? What the hell was happening?

"Pidge!" She gasped aloud, eyes going wide as she stared at her saviours, both of whom were staring back at her in obvious concern as they cradled her in their arms, caging her, "Pidge, are you alright?"

She couldn't help but ignore their words, opting to staring at their faces. One, the female who had a beauty that was unearthly with even stranger eyes, Pidge didn't know her but the other. The large grey-eyed male who staring at her with something akin to fear, she'd seen this man before. She frowned, wondering where? Then she was gasping as her vision flickered. 

 

"Shiro! No, no, no!"

The screaming only got louder. The man was thrashing, their efforts to restrain him, fruitless. Blood gurgled up and out of his mouth, skin shiny with sweat, eyes ablaze with pain. His back arched as it got even worse. 

She saw this man die, breaking his own spine as a poison burned in his veins. 

 

"Shiro!"

The couple stuttered, their eyes going wide as Pidge slammed into Shiro, wrapping her small arms around him as best as she could and wailed. Her voice choking and thick with pain, "You're alive! You're real!" She gasped, between her tears, "I saw you die!"

Shiro was speechless but he nodded, only to the girl's chagrin. Who wept harder, large tears blurring her eyes. 

He stepped away from her, allowing himself to see her and she, him. He was different from how she remembered but then of course, she pondered. All the times, she had seen him in her dreams, he was in pain but now, he was alive and he was beautiful. 

She gave him a watery smile and the man smiled back, clearly nervous and concerned with her tears, "I'm glad, you're real..." She sniffled and Shiro gave her a soft smile, embracing her again, "I finally get to meet you." 

He squeezed her, "And I, you." He whispered, his own voice thick. 

Pidge punched him. 

He gasped, his form doubling over as he hugged his stomach, "P-Pidge!"

"You left me!" The girl snapped, her rage now evident through her tears, "You and everyone else left me behind! How could you?!"

Shiro was at a loss of words, this was the first time he was hearing this. He had left second but he didn't know...He looked at Allura, concerned. The princess only nodded at his unanswered question and he gasped, hugging himself harder. 

"I'm-I'm so sorry, Pidge," He winced, edging forward and wrapping the girl in his arms again, "I'm so sorry... Allura?" He looked at the princess again and she inched forward. 

"Pidge?" The girl looked at her with teary eyes, "Do you remember?"

Pidge shook her head, blinking away her tears, "No, I've only seen glimpses of faces and-" Her breath stuttered, "The deaths...I see them in my dreams."

Allura frowned at her, pained, "Do you want to remember?"

Pidge hesitated at that. Did she want to remember? All this time, she was only looking for a way for the pain to end. The pain caused by seeing their deaths over and over again? She didn't even remember them clearly. No, she didn't want this.

"Pidge..." She looked up at the rumble of Shiro's voice, taking in the way even though he was changed, he still looked the same, "I promise you it will be alright. Everything will be clearer. The pain..." He hesitated for a moment, “It won't hurt as much anymore, it won’t be senseless."

She looked at him, concerned then she was looking at the woman, whom he called Allura. That name was familiar but the lady, herself wasn't; Pidge smiled at her despite knowing that, "Yes, I want to remember. I want to remember everything."

The woman relaxed at the answer, the tension visibly melting away from her body as she heaved a breath, "That's wonderful, Pidge. Green is looking forward to meeting you again."

Something flickered behind Pidge's eyes and she blinked, frowning curiously. It was the colour but she said it like a name?

"Green?"

Allura smiled, taking one of her hands in hers and gently, tugged her forward to walk along with them, "Yes, my paladin. Green has been waiting for you for a long time," Pidge couldn't help but smile at that and seeing the fondness spread across both Allura's and Shiro's faces as they looked at her, something lifted in her. Tingling up her spine as she fell in line with them. 

Maybe, just maybe. 

Her time of greatness had arrived.

Chapter Text

The codes are too simple, the equations too easy. 

Rangi is looking at him in awe and he pretends not to notice. Connecting the cables, the engine comes to life with a loud rumble and the boy is fucking ecstatic. Hunk resists the urge to roll his eyes. 

"Oh my god, Tsuyo! Thank you so much, you're amazing!" Rangi practically cries, engulfing him in a hug and Hunk only shrugs before giving him a heavy pat on the back, "Nothing much, bro. Just call me if it acts up again." 

The boy beams and Hunk only smiles and shakes his head, walking away. Heading back to the house, he waits until he's past the threshold to let his shoulders slump and his smile slip away. 

Fuck. 

He scrubs a hand over his face and winces as his finger catches on the headband wrapped around his head. He takes it off, staring at it before grimacing. It was given to him by a family member; he can't remember who but that doesn't answer his question. 

Why does he still have this? Why is he still even wearing it? He stares at it for a moment longer, actually considering throwing it away but something in him holds him back. He can't do it; he's become too attached to the darn thing. With a huff, he stuffs it into his pocket and makes his way towards the kitchen.  

As he nears, he can hear the sound of voices carrying and immediately, he perks right back up as he enters; his smile returning and his posture improving. He catches sight of his tina(mother) and mama cooking alongside with his tinamatua(grandma) and his smile becomes a grin at the way the elderly woman looks at him. Her disapproval is clear.

 “E leai, shoo, shoo, ia o ese mai. E faaleagaina ai le meaai, (No, shoo, shoo, get out. You spoil the food,)” She says causing his tina to roll her eyes.

"Tiiinnnaaa!" His mama whines in clear disapproval and exasperation as she regards the old crone with a mild, irritated look, " Leave the boy alone, e te iloa e mafai ona kuka faapea foi I mafaia (you know he can cook as well as I can.)”

"Yes, tinamatua," Hunk encourages as he eases forward further into the room, hopeful. "Fa'amolemole (please), let me cook." 

His tina only laughs but his tinamatua remains insistent, " E leai, e leai, e leai, tele naua mea manogi e le tatau ai (no, no, no, too many unnecessary spices), he spoils the flavour."

And Hunk only sighs, his shoulders hunching slightly, "Whatever you say, tinamatua." He retreats from the room and his smile now small, slips away completely. They don't see that, he doesn't allow them to. He takes the long way around the house, taking care to avoid any more family members because no one can see him like this. 

He doesn't want them to and he is so tired of pretending. Pretending to be happy and cheerful when all he really feels is complete and utter boredom, he is empty and the world has lost all its colour but wait... He ponders for a moment, did it even have colour to begin with? He can't remember. 

He finds his bedroom and upon entering, Hunk immediately flops down on the bed face first with a sigh. He is so tired! His hands make fists in his bed sheets and he just wants to scream, to just fucking rage but he can't. Because this is a nice family he has here and he doesn't want to ruin that, he can't let them see what he has become. 

This empty creature that sees the world through films of grey. He loves repairing stuff, anything mechanical but that too has become a chore, it's not fun anymore. No longer challenging and the food, the food! He doesn't want to talk about that. It's not his fault he puts in too many spices, everything tastes bland to him. He scrunched up his face at the memory of what he had for breakfast and cringes. He's craving something else, something he's sure he's never tasted in his life but he wants. Something exotic and exploding with flavour but whatever he tries to make, he can't get that and it's so frustrating. 

He screams into his pillow before fishing the headband out of his pocket. Looking at it, he can see the barest hint of colour in it. It's a tan-ish kind of colour he thinks, maybe brown? No, it's lighter than that, brighter. Yellow. 

He smiles at that and something in his spine tingles. Maybe, he stretches it out above his head so he can see the length of it, just maybe... he'll keep this a little longer. 

 

-----

 

Someone's screaming, the noise rouses Hunk from deep sleep. No, there's more than one voice. Multiple people are screaming, "Tsuyo!"

Hunk blinks his eyes blearily as he hears his name in the midst of chaos, " Wha- What's happening?" Before he can even think to investigate, his bedroom door is being slammed open with a bang! 

"Tsuyoshi!"

The sound that leaves Hunk's throat cannot be even registered as a squeak. It's more like a strangled high pitched something that has him stuttering with the thought, what the hell was that! Before he is literally being squashed by the multitude of bodies that make up his cousins and younger siblings, "Oh my god, oh my god, what's happening!?"

He's panicking before he can register what's the cause of all this excitement, "Did someone get hurt? Is the house on fire? Is it someone's birthday? Why- what's-"

A letter is thrust into his face and everything goes silent. 

Hunk's breath hitches and his eyes go wide at the sight of it, "Is that? Toto'ē paia (Holy crow), is that- really?" His eyes go beyond the tiny hand that's shaking it impatiently in his face and over the little heads of his cousins and siblings until they rest on the adults taking up the doorway. 

"Tina?" His voice is smaller than he expected it to be and his tina smiles as his mama gives him an approving nod, "Tatala ai, meli (Open it, honey.)"

In a flash, he has snatched the letter from his cousin and is turning it over in his hands, all the while making googly eyes at it. "Oh man, oh man," He isn't even aware that he is rambling as he looks at it, "Fuck paia." There's a gasp and someone throws something at him but he could hardly care less, the crest is genuine. The crest is fucking genuine, the coats of arms, solid and the words, 'Galaxy Garrison Academy' float above it all. 

Hunk rips it open and a grin splits his face. He doesn't have to pretend to make that grin real because he's been accepted. 'Mechanical engineer' hovers just beneath his name and he is ecstatic because finally, he can be faced with a challenge, he can put his genius to use. 

 

-----

 

Hunk has never had his hopes and dreams torn down so quickly in his life. 

Disappointment is an understatement to what he feels and the urge to scream is strong because nothing, nothing at all has changed. He thought he had finally found his calling, doing the one thing he loved besides cooking but still, it remains a chore and everything is still bland. Still grey. 

He's aced his classes with expert positions, they're so impressed with him that they allow him to skip ahead a year but that does nothing for him. In fact, it just makes their infatuation with him even worst and impatience rears its ugly head within. Hunk has to resist the urge to snap at the constant, blabbering mouths around him, always praising his genius and his work. And he's just sick of it, sick of it all. He just wants it to end. 

Tonight's meeting has been bad, really bad and Hunk feels like he is going to burst. Explode and spew his guts everywhere, he breathes into a paper bag to calm his aching nerves because he's on the edge of his line. He almost let his mask slip in that god awful meeting because the attention had been drawn to him and he wasn't prepared, he ran out of there before they could see his emptiness, his seemingly infinite boredom. 

After wandering, he doesn't know how long he's been doing it but he is sure by now that the meeting is over and it's after curfew but he doesn't care. There is sudden urge within him to go to the roof and he laughs softly at that, he's dead-sure he's scared of heights but something in his egg-addled brain is pushing, forcing him to go the roof.  But maybe that can do some good for him right now; fresh air is always a good idea-

"Oof!"

"Holy crap, I'm so sorry!"

He catches the guy before he can hit the floor and hastily sets him back on his feet. The dude's frazzled, that much is clear by the shake he gives himself before he is looking up at Hunk and Hunk gasps. 

Yellow has always, been the only colour Hunk could ever make out but this shade, this colour. It's new. Hunk squints at the guy, unconsciously stepping closer and getting into his space, just to look at his eyes but the guy stands his ground. He even returns the gaze, his own heavy. 

Blue. Hunk blinks as the word sounds in his mind. He's never seen blue before or maybe, he has but he's never quite seen the shade and this- this is beautiful. Those blue eyes blink and Hunk gasps as he realizes his closeness, "Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" He scrambles back.

The young man only laughs, full bodied and Hunk watches him in awe, "It's okay, my dude," The guy practically chuckles, looking him over again, blue eyes bright, "It's not every day, I have a hunk checking me out," He winks and Hunk flushes at the way he rolls the word over his tongue, his voice thick with a foreign accent. 

He can't help but clear his throat, looking everywhere but the guy because damn, the walls and the floor seem suddenly very interesting right now, "Uh… um."

He jumps as the guy enters his vision, suddenly closer than he was before, "Say, what's your name, big guy?"

Hunk squints at him again, completely looking him over this time. He isn't wearing a uniform and Hunk’s sure, he's never seen him before despite being in the academy for a good while now. 

He hesitates but then, "Tsuyo, Tsuyoshi," He can risk it. This guy, with the way he's carrying himself Hunk's pretty sure he's not a student; he might be visiting but wandering in the middle of night? Maybe this guy can bring a bit of spark into the emptiness and boredom that has become himself and Hunk returns the wink with a bit of flare, "But for you my friend, buddy, pal. You can call me Hunk."

And the boy freakin' whoops, laughing out loud, "Dude!" Hunk gasps as he tries to stifle his own laughter, "You're gonna wake the whole place up!" 

He only beams at him, "Doesn't matter bro, I'm gonna be long gone by the time they do."

And that confirms it. 

A sort of giddiness builds up in Hunk's stomach and he has to stop himself from laughing even more because he's done it. This guy may be a way out, "Oh! By the way," Hunk turns back to him, watching as those blue eyes twinkle in the dim light, "The name's Alejandro!" And then he's gone, disappearing into the darkness the same way he appeared. 

But Hunk can't help but frown. Alejandro? He'd pegged a completely different name for the guy, something easy going; something sharp but whatever, he shook it off. 

After a while, he's found his way to the roof and he sighs as he takes in a deep breath of that beautiful, rich air, his eyes going heavenward. And as always, the night sky is as beautiful as ever with its millions of glowing stars and infinite colours but he doesn't get a chance to enjoy it as long as he would like because strangely enough, he's not alone. 

"Do you recognize me?"

Hunk almost shrieks as a young man, pale but decked out in red suddenly appears out of seemingly nowhere and starts to barrage him with questions. The man's advancing with a speed that scares Hunk and every step back he takes, the guy advances two more. 

"Dude!" Hunk can all but squeak as he finds himself backed against the same very door that he came out off. Curse these outward opening doors! The guy's in his face now and Hunk can't help but raise a brow at how short this guy actually is, "Dude, I'm serious. Back off!" 

This dude grabs his collar and Hunk is prepared to fight for his life but then, "I asked you, "The strange little man literally hisses, "Do you recognize me?" 

Startled, Hunk shakes his head the fastest he's ever done it, "Nope, nada!" And surprisingly, hurt flickers across the little dude's face, "Jeez Louise, I'm so sorry!" Hunk can't help but apologize as he watches as the guy quite literally deflates in front of him, the brightness of his eyes dulling and Hunk can't help but lean down a little closer, "Um, ugh...Should- should I know you, since you seem to know me?" He asks softly, hesitantly and the guy perks back up so fast that Hunk is quite positive that he experiences whiplash.

"Yes!" His voice is loud and his eyes are bright, Hunk can see the violet in his bright orbs as the guy bounces on the balls of his feet almost as if to get closer to him, "You should know me!  It's me, I am-” He flinches, a grimace fleeting over his features, “Was- your teammate, Keith…"

Hunk stares at him blankly, the name Keith doesn't ring a bell and he tilts his head questionably, "Sorry dude,” He gently but smoothly detaches himself from this strange fellow and moves to open the door but then the guy's shouting again. 

"Yellow! Tell me you at least remember Yellow!"

Hunk hesitates there, "Yellow?"

"Yes!" The guy/Keith is jumping again, eager, "Yellow's been waiting for you! Even if you don't remember me, surely you'll want to meet Yellow again!"

Hunk frowns at that and he pulls out his headband out of his pocket, staring at it hard. The colour is brighter now and he shudders as a tingle travels up his spine. Yellow, it's a title, more than a colour and he looks at the raven haired dude again, something about this guy is strange almost like he's met him before, same with the guy he bumped into earlier. He smirks; maybe this guy can give him a spark too. He can risk it. 

"Talk to me."

The guy, Keith grins. 

Chapter Text

"How much do you remember exactly?"

Shiro blinks as Allura's voice draws his attention away from the Castleship. He knows he's already seen it, been inside it and explored it to his heart's content but looking at it again with new eyes is mesmerizing. It brings to the light how truly magnificent the alien structure is. The architectural design of it is stunning. The way the metal effortlessly and smoothly locks into place without even forming seams besides for the five towers it has, it is truly a beautiful machine. 

He swallows thickly at the thought of having to go inside and what comes after they've settled. He jolts as a warm hand slides into his own, dark fingers interlocking with his light. 

"You know that you are completely safe the moment you set foot inside this ship, Shiro. I assure you, there is absolutely nothing to fear."

The man in question ducks his head, hiding his face as he laughs nervously, the sound a little too high pitched to be humorous. Allura frowns at that, stepping closer, she cups his cheek with her free hand and raises his head, "Look at me, Shiro." 

He instinctively snaps to attention at the commanding tone of her voice, all his focus on her but as the princess looks at him, she doesn't like what she sees. This man is drowning in fear, fear grown and created from past trauma and horrible memories left to fester. It pains her to see what her paladin has become or rather, shown what was hidden beneath the shell all along. 

"Do you want to fly again?"

His eyes widen at that and he stutters, his body going stiff. His mouth gaps, opening and closing, the words refusing to flow and then his eyes go downward, a shadow falling over his face as he gives into his inner turmoil.

 "I-I don't know... I mean," His eyes flash back up to hers and there, she sees a little of the man she used to know, "I remember how this happened, how all of this began but it doesn't feel like mine... This feels like some kind of fairy tale and I'm caught up in it! " He grasps the hand that she has cupping his check and her eyes widened slightly, to find him shaking, "...It doesn't feel real, I feel like I'm dreaming and that I'm going to wake back up in that godforsaken office... A-And-" His grip on her tightens, his face going as grey as his breaths become shallow. 

"Allura!" 

The princess already knows what is it by the time he gasps her name and she is already swooping in, holding him close. One of her hands cup the back of his neck and the other remains on his cheek, an attempt to ground him.

"Look at me." She commands once more and immediately, those wide fear-filled grey eyes snap up to meet hers, "I am your center, I am everything you need to pay attention to, your stronghold. Focus everything on me, until you can see I and only I..." She waits a moment as he breaths deeply, blinking hard to settle himself, “Can you see me?" 

A slight jerk of his head signifies a bare nod and when Allura speaks, her voice smooth and fluid like the trickling of water. "Your name is Takashi Shirogane and you are the pilot of the Black Lion," She says and watches his eyes widen at the name of his lion, recognition flickering there, "You are the black paladin of Voltron, the head and the body. Standing before you is Allura, the princess of Altea and behind me is the Castle of Lions, and I assure you, you are awake... Alive with new eyes and you are not dreaming."

A shudder goes through him as he takes in the information, something solid settling in him and he jolts once more, to the feel of a hand pressing against his sternum, "Can you feel this?" Shiro gives a quick nod, his eyes not for one second, leaving those of the princess, "Does it feel like a dream?" And immediately, his brows are furrowing, his lips parting slightly and the hesitation he shows, worries her greatly but then he gives another nod, this one slower than before and she frowns, "Tell me, describe to me how it feels."

Shiro can't help but blink rapidly at that, confusion marring his features. 

Can you feel this? 

Of course, he can feel it. It's a hand against his chest and he's half-tempted to ask the princess what kind of question is that when he catches himself. 

Describe to me how it feels? 

He gapes again, the confusion is heavier than before, thicker because what does her hand feel it? It feels like a hand, how can he possibly describe that? But then, another question rears its ugly head and Shiro is left scrambling. 

Is it real, though? 

 Define real but for the life of Shiro, he can't. He doesn't know what that is and then suddenly, he is internally cowering from pain, in fear. Pain from where? He doesn't know but then a sharp bolt of it shoots down his right arm and he's flinching away, gasping harshly as he grabs at it. Trying and failing to smooth the pain that aches even within the joints of his fingers. 

He whimpers, "I-I don't know."

"Shiro!" He flinches at the sharp sound of her voice and it pains her to see that, but she needs him to focus. There's a darkness. No, a hollowness in his eyes that she doesn't like, "Shiro, look at me..." It takes longer for his eyes find hers again and in them, she sees fear and pain swimming in their depths, "What am I?"

He licks his lips and blinks hard, an effort to ground himself, "You-you are my center and my stronghold." He stammers, his voice shaky.

A small smile graces her features and she gives him a small nod, "Good, good. Now," She brings his attention back to the hand on his chest and worry flickers in those dark eyes, "Tell me, how does it feel?"

Is it real, though? 

The question is back full force and Shiro brushes it aside as he attempts to clear the muddle and the dark chaos that have become his mind. Of course, it's real; he knows that, it's painfully obvious. It has to be real because it attached to Allura and he can see her and hear her, he knows she's there but-

He loses his train of thought. Something large and dark moves in the corner of his mind, separate from the chaos and the muddle he is trying to eliminate but before he can acknowledge it, it collides into him. Over him and then everything is swept from beneath his feet and he is floating, weightless. Oh my god, oh my god!  He can't do this, he's felt this before but the panic is sweeping in full. He thrashes, he's going to fall, he's going to fall!

"Shiro!" 

Ice clinks in a glass full of water.

He surfaces with a gasp, feet connecting with solid ground and before he knows it, his form is crumpling and he's being held up by strong arms... strong arms that he can feel. He latches onto them and they burn hotter than anything he's ever felt, he shudders. The last time he was in the darkness, there was nothing, he felt nothing. No thoughts, no anything. Just weightless and numbness. 

"It's warm." He breathes, his eyes flickering open. 

"Shiro?" The princess looks at him, concern evident but that's short lived because-

"It's real and it feels alive." 

She engulfs the man in hug, faster than she's ever done before in this life or the last and she fights back tears. Her paladin's back and leaning away, she looks at him again and she can see it. The man she used to know in those grey eyes that crinkle now at the corners as he smiles at her, his laughter pure and rich. 

"Welcome back..." She breathes wetly and a silver tear falls from her eye, he wipes it away with a thumb, "It's good to be back," and he hugs her again, feeling her smaller body slot up against his almost perfectly. 

Just like old times. 

He hugs her tighter, "I am sorry... for back then."

The princess nuzzles her face into his throat, "Sorry for what, paladin?"

"I'm sorry for how I...for how I went last time, for how I died." Allura felt her breath hitch here and a pain welled in her chest, far greater than before and her eyes are streaming with silver tears once more, "Don't apologize for what you couldn't control, Shiro-"

"But I-"

"You went after Haggar for what she did to Lance," She pulled away from Shiro, taking care to look him in the eye and he gasps at the heaviness and fury within her gaze, " And you made her pay for it, you brought her down and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that you should be apologizing for."

Shiro looks at her hesitantly, his brow furrowing, "But Lance..."

"You avenged him."

"But-"

"Enough of this," Allura pulls away from him fully this time, using the sleeves of her attire to wipe her tears and he reached for her, 'Allura."

"There are other matters at hand, Shiro," She turns back to him, her smile sad but vibrant. Awe swelled in his chest, he couldn't resist the urge to smile back and he watched as the princess flourishes a hand in the direction of her vessel, "May you do the honours?"

Laughter bubbled out of him from her flare and he steps forward, reaching for the hand that she had out stretched for him. He doesn’t hesitate, his fear though not gone, lingers but he was whole now, more so than before and he knew what his reality was. 

"I may." He takes her hand and she leads him towards the unearthly vessel that been hidden on the outskirts of his city, magnificent as the first time he saw it and his eyes go to the princess. 

The smile that graces her face is blinding and her signature marks are glowing. She doesn’t look like she has aged a day and a thought in his mind begged to know about that but he restrains it, remembering the sensitivity of asking a woman her age. 

Shiro sagged visibly as he crossed the threshold of the Castle of Lions, settling a hand on its walls as she led him inside. He could feel it, the familiar hum of the ship, the sharp freshness of its sterilized oxygen. The feeling of wholeness struck him in his core. 

It was real and it was alive. He'd found what he was looking for. He was home, right where he needed to be. 

Pearls of laughter fell from his lips and the princess gazed back at him, curious, her own smile widening as she saw the bashful blush that rose up in his cheeks. He looked alive and for that she was glad, her paladin had come back to her. 

Her paladin was home

"Shiro, my boy."

Shiro's movements faltered to a complete stop at the sound of that voice. Shock evident on his face as he turned slowly, his hand falling from Allura's as a sense nostalgia washes over him.

 "Coran?"

The awe in his voice did nothing for what he felt as the male altean stood proud and graceful before him, his arms flooded behind his back and his face, melancholic happiness. Before the man could even say anything, Shiro was stepping forward and sweeping up the altean in his arms liked he weighed nothing. 

"Goodness, I missed you so much," Shiro gasped as Coran wrapped his arms around him, pulling the man closer in his hug, "And I, you, Shiro."

He stepped back, looking over the paladin once more, "Why, you look the same last I saw you, perhaps even younger!"

"Coran!" Shiro laughed, a small smile slipping onto his face, "I could say the same for you."

The altean preened, "Of course I do, you airhead! I am a gorgeous man!" And Shiro gasped, suddenly remembering that word from somewhere, "You sent that woman after me." 

Coran smiled, almost mischievously, "That I did, paladin."

Shiro scowled, "Who was she?"

"You don't remember?" Coran asked, clearly befuddled and then he frowned, layering Shiro with a dull look of his own, "You really are air-headed."

"Coran!"

But before the paladin could say anything more to defend his honour, Coran was stepping closer, his hand coming to rest on Shiro's shoulder, his face still joyful but now showing relief and determination, "The Black Lion led us to you, Shiro and for that, I-" He gestured to the Allura, "The princess are grateful but this is only the beginning of our reconciliation, our revival." 

He stared deeply into Shiro and Shiro stared back, "Will you help us with the awakening of our fellow paladins?" 

And immediately, Shiro was dipping his head in nod. He knew the meaning of what was at stake, what Coran was really asking him and he remembered what the princess had asked him earlier. 

Do you want to fly again?

He raised his head, looking Coran in the eye, grey meeting vivid violet, "Of course."

 

 

-----

 

 

Not long after they found Pidge. 

Shiro had been dozing at his station, looking up into sky full of stars that he had longed to explore once more with a bout of hesitation wondering why? When a deafening roar was sounding through the ship and the vessel in its entirety shuddered.   

With a yelp, Shiro was instantly upright, grey eyes wide, "Was that?"

"Yes, it was!" Coran shouted as he raced onto the bridge and Allura was facing him with a bright smile full of wonder and excitement, "Does this mean?"

Shiro's concerned expression gave away to awe as realization settled in him at what had just happened and the screen before him flickered alive. Showing the Green Lion in its hanger, very much alive, not dull as it had been before, emitting beams of light from both its eyes and mouth. 

"Pidge."

 

 

------

 

 

Thank you... for being real. 

Pidge couldn't stop those words from floating around in her head at the sight of Shiro standing before her. She couldn't stop herself from staring at him either, nor did she want to detach herself from the warmth of his hand or of his embrace around her. 

Thank you...for being alive.

The princess and he had led her away from that dark, lonely, isolated roof top to the far side of the building hidden deep within shadow. And hovering above in complete silence, save for a constant hum so enchanting, the little hairs of her arms rose to attention. Her entire body tingling as it reverberated through her. Her path to greatness was revealed and the vessel, now shivering in and out of transparency above her, proved it. 

"Oh wow," The words of awe fell from her lips as she regarded the castle, her eyes blown and bright with excitement. She didn't remember much and what she did, did not make up for the craft before her, "It's amazing..."

 "Ah?" The small noise that left Shiro's throat had her looking at him in question and seeing her questioning look, he relented, "You don't remember this either..." She frowned but he was already pointing at the vessel, "You see those ripples?" She nodded, still curious, wondering what he was getting at, "You did those, Pidge... That's the aftereffect of your self-modified invisibility cloak."

The expression on her face must have shocked him because immediately, he had thrown a hand over his mouth to stifle obvious laughter but soon, he looking at her again. The same expression as before, curious. 

She squirmed under his searching look. She had forgotten how intense his gaze could be, heavy and authoritative, he could quite possibly see right through her, "What?" She quipped, wondering what was churning in older man's head but that did nothing to prepare her for his question. 

"Why were you going to jump?" She immediately regretted prompting him and something nasty slithered through her, making her shudder. She let of his hand, her own falling to her side. 

Don't touch me, you'll be tainted.

"Why did you stop me?" She countered, stepping away from him so that he could see her. See her properly. 

Look at me. 

His brows dipped slightly, his gaze still heavy, curious. Prying. "Because I wanted to..." His reply shocked her and her eyes widened slightly as she looked at him, the way he looked at her. He didn't have to, he wasn't obliged to but he wanted to, "I wanted you to be alive."

And beneath that curiousness, that heavy gaze, there was a pain; writhing deep in the shadows. 

She looked away shrugging, "Sames, I wanted the same thing you wanted,” Then her eyes were meeting his again and he frowned, there was a dullness there that he didn't like, "I wanted to live, to be alive..." Her gaze slid away from him then, dull light eyes going to the sky, "To die to be alive... to feel alive," Those dull eyes glazed over, becoming shiny, “I just wanted to be alive."

"Pidge," Shiro reached for her, he wanted to feel her, to ground her. He had just gotten her back and already, he was losing her. They hadn't even gotten in the damn ship yet, "Pidge, look at me."

Large tears pooled in those shiny dull eyes, "All I've seen... were your deaths. Yours, Lance's, Hunk's... my own." She sniffled and she reached for him, fingers longing to take the hand he had out-stretched to her, "And funnily enough, in those deaths, I felt the most alive... So the answer's pretty obvious, isn't it?" 

Her eyes caught his as he dragged her back into a hug, never disconnecting as they held each other close, looking into each other.

See me. 

"You had to die..." He answered her question for her, repeating the words she'd known all along and something, almost like a cord, snapped in her mind. The tears overflowed, the tears she'd held, holding back, hidden for so long. She held onto him and wept. 

Allura stood a distance away, allowing them privacy as she looked on with sad eyes. Oh, how her paladins had fallen. There was only one thing left to do, one thing that she could do. Shiro caught her eye above the weeping paladin's head and she nodded to him. Without hesitation, he responded, catching her drift. 

Shiro carried Pidge across the threshold of that ship and upon that crossing. Pidge sagged, the tension and pain draining from her body all at once. Her calling was answered and exhaustion finally caught up with her as the feel of familiarity washed over her. 

She closed her eyes letting it take her. 

 

 

----

 

 

"How's she doing?"

Shiro looked up to find Coran standing at his station as he entered the bridge once more and he had no doubt that the male altean had seen everything from the interior of the ship, "She's resting but I'm sure, she'll be better when she wakes up, " He paused for a moment, a thought crossing his mind, "In fact, I think it'll be good for her to see Green."

"Interesting..." Shiro frowned at the tone of Allura's voice as she stepped up beside him from behind. He looked at her questionably, "What's interesting?"

Coran harrumphed and Shiro's frown only deepened, "What?" 

What did they know that he didn't?

"It's amusing, how you think that Pidge should see her lion upon immediately settling but you've been here for almost four of your earth days. In and out of sleep, familiarizing yourself with your surroundings once again but not once, have you gone to renew you connection with Black."

 Shiro couldn't help but tense as those words flowed from Coran's mouth and he looked away, eyes looking anywhere but the altean, "I'm not ready yet."

"What are you saying, Shiro?" He swallowed thickly as the princess stepped into his vision, "I understand if you are uneasy but Black has been waiting for you for years, how much longer do you want to extend that wait?  Don't you want to know why?" There was a roar in his mind and he flinched, turning away from her, "I'm- I'm not-"

There was a sound. 

Almost like a dial- tone, sharp and crisp, effectively cutting through the tension in the room. 

"Um, Princess!"

They both looked up automatically at the strangely, frantic tone of Coran's voice and Allura's pale brows arched, momentarily impatient, "What is it, Coran?"

The altean swallowed, his adam's apple bobbing in his throat as he regarded them with wide eyes, "We're being hailed."

"Excuse me?" The princess frowned at those words, did she hear him wrong? The ship was well hidden, cloaked from all foreign life and if something was hailing, it couldn't possibly be from Earth because after all these years, they've never been advanced enough-

A screen flicker into creation above the bridge and all three of them started in surprise as two distinct but agitated voices filled the room. 

"Dude, I'm telling you this isn't going work-"

"No, look- just trust me-"

 

 

-----

 

 

Hunk was going to pull his hair out. 

This guy/Keith was going to be the death of him, literally and figuratively. They were both huddled together in his dorm (A single person room, thank you), perched in front of a small telly, one that Hunk had disgracefully, still regrettably decided to borrow(steal) from the garrison cafeteria for said guy. 

And even though, said guy/Keith allowed him to see red (his jacket was like a freakin' beacon) once again both literally and figuratively, like the yellow in his headband. Hunk was thoroughly convinced that this guy/Keith was absolutely crazy. Dog-gone, apples and bananas with the way he sprouted about past lives and alien, cat-robot space ships. 

Hunk sighed; this was not what he had in mind when he told this guy to talk to him. He pinched the space between his brows, his eyes becoming dazed with sleep as Keith rambled on about nonsensical nonsense, watching as he fiddled with the communication device. 

The communication device that made absolutely no sense to Hunk what so ever because really, the thing was a mess of wires and cables held together by a piece of scrap metal and something that vaguely resembled a camera and a light. He cringed just at the sight of it, something in him itching to just fix it and another part of him, strongly wanting to just toss the damn thing. 

He stifled a yawn, "Dude..." Keith connected the thing to the telly, cutting out unnecessary cords with his butterfly knife that he brandished with obvious skill, watching as the screen erupted with a mess of grey static and Hunk sighed, he should have followed the other guy. The blue- eyed fellow, surely that would have definitely left him in a better position than being with this knife-wielding maniac. 

"It isn't going to work." Hunk tried again, irritation didn't at all cover what he was feeling and he was tired of being nice, even if this Keith felt familiar. He was grumpy at the tingling feeling that throbbed along his spine, that feeling that refused to desist. 

"Hunk-"

The male in question looked up but was assaulted with a sudden flash of white light that erupted from both the device and the television. Hunk yelped, jumping in his seat as all the hairs along his arms and the back of his neck stood up from his skin, reacting to the static and the strange buzzing sensation that suddenly filled the room. He ran a tongue over his teeth, squinting as it faded and something steadily came into focus on the telly.

"What the hell?"

"It works."

Keith couldn't believe his eyes. The screen had cleared and he found himself, looking at the interior of some advanced craft, an advanced craft he knew. And in the craft, were the people he had been looking for. 

"Keith?"

The breath that left him was alleviating and he couldn't stop his body from sagging with relief at the recognition on Shiro's face.

"Shiro..." It had been so long since he had last breathed the man's name or heard his voice, "Coran... Allura, you're all there." 

Shiro smiled then his eyes wandered, surprise taking over his features, "Is- is that Hunk?"

"Sisi i luga le areto! (Cheese on bread!)"  Keith turned just as Hunk ducked away from the telly, sitting on the floor with his hands over his head, rambling, "Toto'ē paia, o loo latou moni ... sa ia taʻu atu le upu moni, tagata ese e moni ... oi le Atua e, oi le Atua e… (Holy crow, they're real... he was telling the truth, aliens are real... oh my god, oh my god…)”

"Hunk..." He placed a hand on the bigger male's shoulder, tenderly shaking him, "Hunk... they want to see you..." Almost as if surfacing, Hunk lifted his head with a gasp before abruptly shaking his head. Understanding the shock the male must be facing, Keith turned back to the screen with an apologetic smile, "Sorry guys, he doesn't remember, not yet."

Shiro shrugged through the small screen, a familiar soft smile going across his features, "Figures, Pidge doesn't remember either... not much anyway."

Keith's brows jumped, "You found Pidge?"

Shiro and Allura agreed simultaneously but then the princess was stepping forward, effectively drawing Keith's attention to her, "You remember everything?" He nodded, watching as her brows drew in confusion, "And did you-" She paused for a moment before shaking her head, "Never mind, that's a discussion for another time. Where are you, Keith?"

He frowned for a moment, "Galaxy Garrison," and then, his frown deepened at the looks of surprise that crossed their faces, "What?"

"We were just-"

An alarm blared. 

 So loud and sudden it was, that Keith was instinctively ducking low, grabbing onto a very startled Hunk to get him even lower. 

"What's going on-?"

"Kei-!"

Shiro's and Allura's concerned voices were forcible cut off as the alarm sounded again and Hunk whined deep in his throat as they both cringed from the noise assaulting their eardrums. Then it stopped, allowing them a breath of relief before a bout of harsh static and then-

"Attention, all students. You are advised to stay in your barracks. Stay in your barracks. There is an intruder on the premises, I repeat, there is an intruder. Our personnel are doing what they can to capture him, please, do not attempt to intercept him. He is armed and dangerous and I repeat. Stay in your barracks."

"Holy crap..." Hunk paled as his eyes went to the Keith, the figures on the screen enquiring to know what was wrong but Keith was already shaking his head, knowing full well, it wasn't him. He had been there too long for them to be suddenly tracking him down, "Can you hack the feed?"

Hunk squinted his eyes at him, "What?"

"Can you hack the security feed?" Keith raised his voice, ignoring the voices coming through the telly. 

"I can but I-I can't, they'll know- it's protected-" 

Hunk's phone pinged. The sound and vibration so sudden, it caused him to jump. 

"Hunk?" Keith couldn't help looking at him strangely as he whipped out his phone with a surprising amount of speed, the screen coming to life and Hunk sucked in a breath. 

"What? What is it-?"

Keith paled, his breath leaving him as his eyes locked on the image floating on the screen, holographic words floating underneath. 

"Keith?" 

Hunk flinched as Keith came back to the present with a curse to the sound of... Shiro? He think it was, calling his name. 

"We need your help," The raven haired boy snapped in the direction of the telly and then Keith was turning back to him, "Do you recognize this guy?" He all but spat and Hunk was hesitatingly, nodding his head. 

Keith sputtered his hands gesturing, "H-How? You remember him but you don't remember-"

"I bumped into him earlier."

Keith looked at him dumbfoundedly, "Are- Are you serious right now?"

"He said his name was Alejandro?"

"Keith!" The boys jolted at the authority of that voice and Keith's body was turning automatically to the screen to where Allura and Shiro were looking at him expectedly, "Yes?"

"What the hell's going on?" Shiro deadpanned and Keith compulsively gulped, loud.

"It's Lance."

There was a moment, "What?"

"It's Lance, he’s infiltrated the place somehow, probably the same way I did but not as good as I did because the place is on lock down and the security is out to get him. They have his face on camera and everything-"

"Keith!" 

Keith took that moment to regain his ability to breathe, "I'm sorry, but we need your help."

Allura nodded, fuchsia infused eyes bright with excitement and determination, "Of course, Keith," and then she was turning to Shiro and Keith couldn't help but notice the way Shiro's body stiffened momentarily under her gaze, so fast he almost missed it before the words were falling from her mouth, "Get to your lion."

Without hesitation he compiled and then Allura was turning back to the screen, "And Keith, Hunk?"

Both Hunk and Keith couldn't help leaning forward, their eyes stuck to the screen as they waited in anticipation for this powerful, authoritative woman.

 "Find Lance."

Chapter Text

"You're alone."

The whispers come in rapid succession. All anonymous, though familiar, one after the other.

"You've always been alone."

The same voice repeating things he's heard over the years. This is nothing new.

Blue eyes snap open in the darkness with a gasp.

“Mamá, mamá, no quiero más... (I don't want to anymore...)" A soft voice sounds beyond him. It's small and gentle like a child, but pained and wounded in a way that a child should not be. They are crying.

The room he's in, is empty. The far side of the bed he is in, is also empty. The covers tossed and ruffled like that of a rushed escape, he's not surprised. He's seen this sight far too many times already and like all the times before, his eyes are attracted to the soft line of light that peeks from the bottom of the bedroom door.

"Janeva..." An adult voice asks over the soft sobs, patient and giving, yet tired. Very tired, “Que pasa, cariño? ¿Por qué no estas durmiendo?(What is it, honey? Why are you not sleeping?)"

There is a pregnant pause, stifling and heavy. The blue eyed child tenses beneath his sheets, a tightness brewing within his chest at what he knows, is happening behind that door. His eyes slam close as the silence only lengthens and he envisions a chubby dark finger pointing to the door that he is concealed behind.

There is an exasperated sigh, "It's Alejandro, isn't it?" Another bout of silence, "You know he can't help it, cariño. Everyone has nightmares-"

"NO!" The sob that was once so soft before becomes hitched and desperate. He recoils as though he's been struck, blue eyes squeezing shut again as guilt takes a grasp on his heart, "¡No me importa, mamá, grita y se agita, habla con cosas que no están ahí, ve cosas que no están ahí, no es normal, mamá, ya no quiero dormir con él, yo ¡No quiero estar con él nunca más!  (I don't care, mama! He screams and thrashes, he talks to things that aren't there, he sees things that are not there! He's not normal, mama! I don't want to sleep with him anymore; I don't want to be with him anymore!)"

It's the last straw. This has continued and has been repeated so many times, there is only so much a child can take before feeling- knowing that they don't belong and in the blue-eyed child's case, he's never belonged. Not once. Not one single time.

He rips the blankets off of himself and strides across the room, to open the door with Janeva mid-rant. When he does, her eyes find his and their breath hitch in a way that is uncanny. He looks away.  His eyes instead, going to Mother Benita, the woman who has come to comfort the sobbing child. The woman, not his mother, but the mother of the orphanage looks at him with pity in her eyes and she frowns curiously at the sight of him.

"I'm leaving."

It is all he says.  He's experienced this for far too long and he's tired, far too tired for a child his age and size. The woman tries to stop him, even going as far as to attempt to placate his needs but she fails. He slips away like a shadow in the dark of the night and it does not faze him. The world outside of the orphanage does not scare him and once again, he is alone.

Alone and unbothered.

Untouched.

The world sinks from beneath his feet.

 The scene changes.

Lying sideways in a bed, he comes to. He's older and the first thing that strikes him is the feel of said bed, soft and comfortable. He groans as he shifts, smiling dreamily at the feel of sinking into it but then he freezes, arm stretching out to the side, fingers spread tentatively. Searching.

He's not alone.

Blue eyes flicker open, blinking weariness away to see the source of warmth that he's stumbled upon. Pale skin greets him, hues of soft yellows and pinks, so very pale that they almost match the white colour of the sheets and the contrast between his skin and theirs as he lays a hand gingerly upon their arm, is striking.

The person shifts, a mass of black hair falling over their freckled shoulders.

Something flickers in the darkness of his mind.

A resounding groan and he blinks, the sound reminding him of the events from the previous night. The long torso moves and he wonders male, until they push themselves up on their forearms and small breasts come into view. Female, then.

"Good morning, sweet heart," They all but purr, voice husky from sleep as striking, brown eyes with flecks of green and grey settle upon him and he can't help but stare. The shape of that face is so strikingly familiar, from the sharpness of that jaw, the highness of their cheekbones, to the gravel in their voice.  What would they look like with warm, solid chocolate brown eyes along with brown skin and a much bigger frame?

There's a sharp throb of pain in the back of his skull.

Violet eyes instead, piercing and intimidating.

The throb increases.

Eyes, hazel and green like forests or maybe, solid greys that would remind him of high winds and lightning storms.

The pain flares-

With a wince, he smiles softly. His face half-smushed by the pillow, he reaches up, hand trailing from their arm up past their shoulder, to palm their cheek, " Good morning, sweet heart," He echoes their words, taking them in, smiling warmly and then the moment is over, his hand falls away,  "I'm leaving..."

The sweet smile on their face disappears in an instant and brown eyes, with flecks of green and grey become frantic. Flickering back and forth, taking in every inch of him, dark brows furrow in confusion. They sit up so fast, their form wobbles, "What are you saying?" They snap as they stare at him.

He only stares back, smile gone. Blue eyes, flat and empty. The way he stares into them is almost condescending, almost as if they should know.

"Don't look at me like that, Alejandro," They say heatedly.  Pale, pink lips pull back in a scowl.

They remind him of someone else.

"What are you saying? What do you mean?"

His smile returns, eyes crinkling at the corners but it's not like before. It's almost as if he's reassuring a child. Practicing patience, a key feature in making them understand, "You know what I mean..."

The scowl disappears, pain taking anger's place. Pale lips pull down at the corners, "You said you'd stay."

 

Her voice overlaps with something else.               

  It's a                                                                                            

"You said you'd stay..."

scream.

A cry of desperation. It's pleading.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pain burns like liquid fire-

 

Stagnant blue eyes blink, "I lied..."

The slap they give him is surprising. A sharp burst of pain so sudden, he barks out a stunned laugh as it throbs through the side of his head. He's still nestled in the sheets but his view tilts, darkness at its edge. The female disappears and he sinks through the mattress. The sheets are fluttering as they rise above him, surrounding him before it's all replaced by a sudden, blank darkness.

It engulfs him and he is not falling.

Rather, he remains unfazed as the feeling of weightlessness grips him and he finds the darkness... seems to be filled with thousands, upon thousands of stars. Planets. Nebulae. The infinity of space. He frowns as he finds that he can't move, stretching a hand out in front of him, he only floats. Going nowhere.

Stagnated.

The fingers on that outstretched hand splay as wide as they can go and he feels nothing. No wind, no air, no particles. He hears nothing and in return, he is nothing. His clothing; a large shirt and small pair of boxer shorts, they float off of his skin, his hair; around his scalp, almost like a halo. Nothing to tether them to him.

He feels as though he's beneath the ocean. Drifting and ignored. Nothing to haul him back to the surface. His breath leaves him in a gasp; he's forgotten and is surprised that he can still breathe even though there is no air. He's even more surprised to find bubbles erupting from his mouth even though there is no water.

"You are alone..."

A voice speaks from within the void of space. It echoes around him but what concerns him is that, it seems to sound even in his mind.

"You are but a mere shadow..."

"Who's there?" His mouth opens but no words flow... only bubbles, large and small, racing to reach a surface that doesn't exist. Something tightens in his chest and his breath catches as a bout of something grips him. It's new and it's horrifying. It feels as if ice has settled itself in the center of his chest and it is cold and heavy, yet burning, all at the same time.

There is the flash of something bright in the corner of his eye and curious, Lance turns his head to view it. Dark brows furrow, it's a star. A mass of pure, white light and it is moving. Moving towards him, gleaming and flickering at a speed that should concern him but strangely enough, he's not bothered.

He's seen something like this before or so it seems. It's closer, this star or maybe, this comet. Whatever it is, it's large and its light is swallowing all things within its circumference as it steadily approaches and he can only watch as he too, his entire being, piece by piece is consumed with a numbing roar. Nothing being left behind. He is gone.

 

Bereft.

 

Blue eyes snap open in the darkness with a scream. 

Hands claw at dark hair, tears spring to wide eyes. He is awake and he wishes to god that he wasn't. Clapping a hand over his mouth, he suppresses a sob; an attempt to not wake his neighbours with the noise that he's making but then he blinks.

The thin walls that make up his apartment are now old and falling apart, revealing dried, decayed wood underneath. There is the rustling of wind and he looks up behind him to find a wide, cracked window with a tattered sheet in place of a curtain and-

"What have you done?" Lance's voice is a croak as he takes in his surroundings with wide, mortified eyes and his hand falls from his mouth, making a fist in ratty, aging blankets that he knows are not his, "What have you done?!" He can't stop the scream as he springs to his feet. 

He almost crumbles as he realizes that he has no shoes and his feet are sore and bloody, bare legs; scratched. He's only wearing a large shirt and boxer shorts, the very same clothes that he went to sleep in and the floor he's now standing on is of aged, rotting wood; littered with a thick film of dust and old belongings. His bloodied footprints the only remnants of someone being there.

I moved us...

He doesn't know whether to scream or not and scrubbing a hand across his face, he exhales then inhales, taking a moment to calm himself. You don't get anywhere if you lose your cool with the voice; he's learnt that the hard way. Plus, this isn't the first time that this has happened. 

"Why?"

There is a moment of silence. The voice always takes time before it verbalizes its thoughts and Lance has to admit he has always been mildly curious about that. Either it requires a lot of energy to speak or it's taking its time sorting out its vocabulary. Lance picks the latter; the English language is fairly complicated after all. 

...There was a calling...

There is another pause. He waits for it to say more, it doesn't.

"And? That's it? You heard-" His hands take the form of finger quotes, "'a calling'...  Are you serious right now!? You drag me out to the middle of nowhere," He looks out the window to confirm this, sand is the only thing in sight,” To the middle of nowhere- I have no idea how I'm not dead right now! And you have nothing at all to say or show for it, except that you heard, ‘a calling?'" He's snaps in irritation because in all ways, this. This is ridiculous. 

Do not doubt my claim, my paladin.

He bristles, fury making its way into his blood, "I. Am not your paladin. Do not assume-"

Lance-

"My name is Alejandro!" He shouts furiously into the air of this old, rotting shack located in the middle of fucking nowhere, in the middle of a fucking desert, "You know this! Why do you insist on calling me Lance, why-" He cuts himself off, exhaling loudly as he pinches the space between his brows with one hand. He's done, so done. 

This has happened far too many times to recount and defeated, Lance simply sinks back down onto the old sunken couch, sneezing lightly at the dust in the atmosphere as a heaviness settles on his shoulders, " What-What do you want? Please, just tell me what you need so that you can disappear from my life, so that you can stop replaying my memories and making me see things every time I close my eyes to sleep."

He isn't above begging the voice and seeing oneself grow up and feel oneself die constantly in his dreams is enough to bring him to his knees. And even though he begs, he is sure that this creature- spirit- whatever it is, isn't going to change its mind. 

Until you remember...  It says and Lance frowns, thin brows arching high. 

"Remember what?" He exclaims, hand gesturing out from his sides, exasperation taking its hold on him. He winces as the moth eaten couch creaks beneath the shifting of his weight but he continues on regardless, "Remember the shit that I went through at the orphanage and the shit after that! How many times must I see myself repeat my actions until you are satisfied because as far as I'm sure, that there is nothing to remember before the experience of childhood!"

He's panting by the time he finishes, raising a brow at another bout of eerie silence before he's hunching over, hands grasping his head as he gasps in pain. An immense pressure brewing in the back of his skull and behind his eyes, slamming them closed, he loses his breath as impatience floods his system. It's not his. 

...Then I must try harder. The voice is back and it's colder than before, harsher. 

Lance's vision whites out and with a scream, he pushes it back, "No! Not again!" He's on the floor, the pain of scraped knees not even fazing him as his vision doubles viciously, "Please! Give me time, give me a break, I need- I need-"

Apprehension seeps into the impatience and Lance chokes, "Stop it!" His voice is a broken cry, weak and trembling. He curls into himself, arms braced over his head like a shield but it's useless. This thing is stuck to him, has been for as long as he can remember. His forehead bangs against the floorboards with a dull thud and he gags, the smell of dust and decay overtaking his senses. He sobs, "Please! Just-Just let me rest, just let me have myself back, let my mind rest-" His tone is pleading, exhausted-

The foreign emotions retreat. The weight is lifted off his shoulders, the pressure within his skull elevated. He collapses into the dust and sighs, tears making it stick to his skin, “Thank you,” They keep falling, “Thank you.”

I'll leave you be for the time being... my paladin.

And then it's gone and Lance releases the breath that he was holding because finally, he is alone. Alone by himself, in his mind for the first time in a while and the atrocities that his body has been through finally strike him. 

Water. 

He needs it badly. Painkillers, he definitely needs those and clothes, he could do with more clothes. He's in the middle of the desert but the breeze coming through the cracked window above him is freezing and faintly, he is aware of himself trembling. Whether it's from the cold air or the horrible strain his body's been through, he doesn't know and covering his eyes with shaking hands, he exhales a breath. 

"I'm fine...I'm fine..."

He doesn't know how he stays there on that dust coated floor. 

 

-----

 

"Pump the water slowly... don't consume until I decide otherwise, my paladin."

The voice is back but unlike before, it seems keener on the state of his wellbeing whether than mentally scarring him, which he greatly appreciates. He's found a pump, courtesy to his mind partner; in the back of the shack where he assumes are the remnants of an old bathroom. There's a hole in floorboards where he assumed a toilet used to be judging by the pipes that stick up from it and a gap in the wall where he's sure used to be a sink but it's also long gone.

 He sighs, his limbs still ache but the pain of his body isn't as severe as it was before. A small part of him thinks the voice has something to do with it but he isn't sure. 

Taking the pump with both hands, he lifts and brings it down slowly, wincing at the screeching of old rust and metal grinding after years of abandonment.  For a moment, he thinks it isn't going to work but then a deep gurgling sound groans up from the pipe and Lance's eyes go wide. 

He narrowly avoids being doused in dirt and moss congealed, foul smelling water that stinks so badly, it has his eyes watering. But he keeps up the pumping regardless, either the water will clear at some point or he'll simply die of thirst in this old shack thanks to the voice in his head. 

After almost an entirety, it begins to clear and Lance? Lance can't stop himself from shedding tears of gratitude. He hates the voice in his mind but he knows without it, his life would have ended a long time ago. He tentatively sips the brown tinged water, grimacing slightly at its taste. 

 

---------

 

Left...

Lance ducks behind the flap of a tent, taking care to keep his head low. Garrison troops are nearby. 

Continue right... Then keep straight ahead.

The voice accompanies him as he snoops, on the lookout for food and clothing. It's more energetic than usual, brighter...and Lance can't decide whether it's a good thing or not. Regardless, he pushes onward. 

Cadets and officials are gathered on the other side of the camp, for an assembly or something of the sort and even though these people plan to pursue a career in space, he understands why they're set up out here in the middle of the desert. Pre-trails of either surviving a possible, hostile planet or colonizing one and for these things, the desert seems to be a suitable answer. Void of life along with life threatening terrain, it is ideal for roughing up young cadets. 

He doesn't know why the voice brought him out here.

Take the tent to left...

Lance ducks under the flap, eyes peeled for any other humans in sight. He hasn't seen another in days until he spotted the dust clouds in the distance signifying vehicles and life and more importantly resources. Waiting a couple hours after the dust had settled, he decided to set out with bruised legs, clothed with the clothes on his back and a pair of old boots he found in the shack. He's amazed they haven't fallen apart yet. 

...Water's in the back.

He doesn't waste time, ripping apart the packages; he guzzles the water as soon as he finds it. It's clean and pristine, so much better than the dirt-riddled water that he has been drinking over the past few days. Splashing it over his head, he gasps, and the idea of a bath is extremely appealing but time is of the essence and he's just spotted a box of protein bars. 

Lance doesn't know how many he eats but soon, he's nursing a slight stomach ache and he's ready to go with a change of clothes and a bag filled to the brim with bottled water and protein bars. He isn't sure how long they'll last but at this moment, those are the least of his worries. He needs to get out of here, fast. The cadets are coming back. 

"Hey, hey, I need some help here." Lance doesn't know if the voice is going to respond to him but he makes a break for it anyway. Ducking out of the tent, he stays close to the ground, keeping to the dark corners to stay out of sight, "Oh my god, you- whatever your name is, talk to me," Lance hisses, as he narrowly avoids being spotted but then, there is the sound of shouting and he curses. 

For a terrifying moment he thinks that he's been spotted but then another shout rings out, alarmed and surprised. Keeping silent, the noise of the shouting rises followed by the sounds of scuffling. It's leading away from him much to his relief and his brows perk, Lance peeks out from his hiding spot curiously only to duck back down as an explosion rips through the air. 

"What the fuck!" Not wasting a second, Lance bolts for it. The explosion is followed closely by four or five more, all along the border of the camp and Lance can't help but think he's seen something like this before. The flashes of light as they illuminate the night sky, a red haze of ash and fire merging with stars. 

Something glints in the corner of his eye and Lance screeches to a halt. It's a hover bike, alone and abandoned. With a whoop, Lance hops on the thing, claiming it as his own. 

Wait my paladin.

The voice has suddenly returned and Lance refuses to snap at the thing, only to settle glowering at the handle bars of his new bike, "Welcome back sunshine, how may I help you this fine day," He all but seethes through clinched teeth. The shouting is returning, getting louder as the cadets retreat his way. It's only a matter of time before he's spotted. 

"Can you hurry it u-"

Follow the red one; he'll lead you to where you must go.

"Excuse me-" He's about to brawl but something flashes past the dark corner he's in and his words get caught in his mouth. The thing bleeds red or rather, the person he should say. They leave a ribbon of red behind him, streaking like a one toned rainbow and stunned, Lance does the only thing his mind supplies him with. 

Follow it. 

 

----

 

"Hey..." His words get lost in the wind zipping past his head but he's sure the voice will and can hear him regardless. He's been doing what it told him to do for the last several days and his resources are drying up even though he's done his best to ration them, "After I follow this guy or whatever... you'll leave me right?"

I can never leave you...

"What!" Lance nearly crashes the bike as he curses himself. He knew this, he knew this but yet still, he had to open his big mouth and ask. The leather handles of the bike creak beneath his grip and he has to make an effort not to grind his teeth as fury boils within him, "Why?" He seethes, "Why can't you leave me?"

Hatred is a strong word but at this moment, despite whatever kindness that voice has ever provided him with. He despises it. 

You are connected to me as I am to you... I can't and will never leave you.

Lance stops the bike with a screeching halt, sand flying in the air around him, "Why?!" 

You seem to think that I am but a burden, my paladin.

Lance bristles-

But I assure you that the experiences you have had in this life, are not all on me...But partially of yourself. All of what I have done has been done for you Lance.

"Alejandro-" The voice doesn't allow him to say more. 

I understand your anger and your pain, but listen to me just this last time and you'll find your questions answered once and for all. This is all I ask of you and hopefully with the result, you'll come to understand. But for now, what I will tell you, is that the voice that echoes in your mind is not mine but of yours... You are not alone, my paladin.

Stunned. 

Stunned for words. This is the most the voice has ever said to him and Lance doesn't know what to say, he can only stare blankly into the distance at the fading beacon of red as his anger and hatred just... melts away. 

"You're alone... You've always been alone..."

That was his voice? His own voice all along? Why would he- Missing. Something belonging to him was missing, a part or maybe-

Lance gasped, the feeling of clarity hitting him like a semi-truck. All this time... Shame flooded his being. All this time, he was reaching for something and he only realized it now. Of all the times he reached out to people only to reject and push them away once they got close, upon realization that they didn't have what he was looking for.  He was searching. 

With a groan, Lance dug the heels of his palms into his eyes. Why was he such an idiot? The voice had a reason, even if he didn't know what, that would never explain his behaviour towards it. Fuck! 

Licking his lips, Lance reached out for it, hesitation and penitence making themselves known. Hopefully it would answer. 

Yes, my paladin.

Lance gulped, swallowing loudly. He hadn't expected it to answer.

 "Um..." He knew he owed it some form of apology but how?

 "All this time," He started, blinking away the sweat that was finding its way into his eyes, despite the scarf around his head, "I've been calling you it or thing... or sometimes, the voice but you've never given me your name, what is it?”

... I-I am not sure...

 Lance's eyes widen, for the first time the voice sounds unsure of itself and he isn't sure what to think.

I remember a voice...your voice, specifically…

Lance frowns at this,

Calling out to me but I can never remember what you say, it is blurred and distorted... But your tone, it was of pain, of desperation and of hope.

Compassion flows into him and he arches a brow. 

You saved me... a long, long time ago and I thank you for that.

Silence reigns after that and without a word, Lance restarts the bike, following the beacon of red at a safe distance away. 

There was more to this situation than he was seeing.

 

-----

 

"Oh wow. Yes. Follow the dude that glows red, they say, because apparently normal humans do that. Follow him until he leads you to one of the most dangerous places on earth that you literally have no business with!"

Lance can't help but snark as he watches the glowing beacon of a man sneak into Galaxy Garrison. The one place that undoubtedly has a shit ton of security, officials licensed to carry firearms and Lance wants absolutely nothing to do with it. He's quite literally walking with the clothes on his back and an almost empty pack of water and food. He wants nothing to do with this place and-

Oh shit, he lost red. 

The man has slipped through the defenses with the slipperiness of an eel, disappearing instantly from sight, not even sounding a single alarm and fear grips Lance as he frantically scrambles after him in an effort to keep up. 

"Oh my god, he's gone," Agitation grips him and Lance flinches, "I'm sorry!" He yelps but follows the guide that sounds in his mind. He'll find red... eventually. 

Instead, he finds someone else entirely, if only for a moment, they almost knock him clean off of his feet. His name is Tsuyo, Lance learns but Hunk seems way more fitting. 

He's a huge man, board shoulders and long legs. His hands are the size of dinner plates and his smile is like that of the sun even though it's in the middle of the night. He shines gold and Lance is captivated. 

Never has he seen someone shine like that and a pain radiates from the back of his skull at the encounter. He wants to stay, to entertain and entice this beautiful being and that in itself shocks him, evoking him with a fear that makes him wants to flee but for his own safety. Being this close to this person feels as he though he's standing on a landmine and its seconds away from blowing him into smithereens. 

He doesn't want to but he does. He flees like there is no tomorrow and it pains him. It pains him so badly; he is shocked to find tears seeping out of his eyes without his permission. He's missing something and Lance can't quite ignore the feeling of being scoped out, of being hollow. He's forgetting something important, something large and phenomenal. 

 It reminds him of when he first lost sight of Red and like then and even now, the voice is screeching in his mind as he leaves the miniature sun behind. It fades however, descending to a constant buzz that fills his head as he puts distance between himself and the golden man. 

It is frantic in its tone, excited even but now, Lance knows that it's not talking to him but to something far beyond his understanding. It hasn't paused to take any breaks, only becoming a constant ramble as the language it now speaks is too fast and too complicated for Lance to decipher, though it is familiar. The wavers and dips in its vocalization, Lance has heard before but for the life of him, he can't remember where.

He takes a moment, stopping at a corner to catch his breath only to find his face wet. Confused, he tentatively wipes away his tears, staring at the wetness on his fingers as a foreign emotion floods his being. It's his for once and it is heavy and thick settling in his chest so suddenly, that it has his breath hitching slightly. 

"I'm fine... I'm alright," He covers his face with his hands as he murmurs to himself, feeling his shoulders becoming hunched. Just a little longer, just until he finds Red again and hopefully, everything will finally make sense. Hopefully, he’ll get the answers that he so desperately requires as the hollowness within him grows even more. It’s a black hole, steadily eating away at him and with the voice? He doesn’t know how long he’ll last.

"What the hell are you doing, cadet?"

A sharp voice has Lance jolting out of his mid-mind ramble to find himself face to face with a garrison official. The man is tall, decked out in full uniform with badges and crests that Lance doesn't have the faintest idea what they mean and he instinctively scrambles back. This wasn't part of the plan; he wasn't supposed to get caught.  

The man's face darkens, emphasizing the wrinkles that signify years of hard labour and experience, "I'll ask you again, cadet-" Lance can't help but flinch at the harshness of the word, "State your name and your business. Why are you wandering after curfew?"

Quick! He needs a solution. Thinking fast, Lance does the only thing that comes to mind. He snaps to attention, legs together, back straight, "Lance McClain, sir!" It's the first name that comes to mind but Lance doesn't have the time to question it, he just rolls with it, "Was taking a midnight walk, sir. Ya know, just trying to work off some stress."

The official says nothing and for a moment, Lance relaxes until the official advances, his frown deepening. 

"First of all cadet, wrong arm," Lance instantly switches the salute, "Second of all, that sounds like a very convincing argument but I don't think I've ever seen your face around here and-"

He rests a heavy hand on Lance's shoulder. Lance doesn't allow him to continue. The next moment passes in a blur, because with strength and skill unknown to him, Lance has the official scat out on the ground and he is running, fear making his heart jump into his throat. 

A shout rings out behind him and Lance's panic skyrockets the moment alarms start blaring around him. 

Out. He needs to get out. 

He forgets about the voice buzzing in his mind. He forgets about gathering resources to renew his small stock. He forgets about finding Red. All he knows is that he has to get the fuck out of here and all the exits are shutting down. 

More shouts ring out and after some corners, Lance finally finds the way he came in. Not sparing a moment, he breaks for it, a tremor of joy passing through him amidst the bright lights flashing around him and the voices shouting. 

Out of the corner of his eyes, he spots two pillars. One gold, the other red and something in him tugs, hard. 

"No!" Lance shouts as he stumbles, he doesn't have the time for this. He has to get out here. The voice in his mind is screeching once more, bright lights continue flashing, voices are screaming. His head might just burst right about now.

Anguished filled tears flood his eyes and his chest heaves but finally, he spots the hover bike-

And it's in the hands of two garrison officials. 

He doesn't waste time. Lance sweeps the floor with them and he doesn't know how because never in his life can he remember fighting like that. His mind is a complete haze but moment later, all he knows is that the machine is rumbling beneath him and the dry, desert wind is whipping his hair back away from his face as he books it out of there. 

If they're following him, he doesn't know and he can’t bear to care.

All he knows is that he's going to make it. All he can hear is the sound of his own engine and the wind in his ears and-

Suddenly, it's not the only thing he can hear anymore or see for that matter.

The bike wavers, lights beam and the earth is shuddering as a roar sounds from the sky of filled with thousands of stars. For a moment, his attention is snatched from his path of escape and in that moment, something hits the back of his bike. 

The world tilts on its axis. 

The last thing Lance sees before his head connects with the ground as he is thrown through the air is the enormous maw of a machine bearing down on him and pillars of gold and red.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Faintly somewhere, Hunk was aware of someone screaming.

Oh right... That was him.

“They’re right behind us, man!” He cried, tone straggled and desperate. His arms throbbed as he held on for dear life as Keith raced across the desert, Garrison patrols tearing after them.

This was not part of the plan. As a matter of fact, that plan had been thrown out the window the very moment Alejandro, now apparently known as Lance had decided to flee the Garrison Compound. Only to be immediately snapped up in the jaws of a giant mechanical lion.

Hunk’s scream became a shriek.

“It ate him!”

Brown eyes were wide, refusing to believe what they’d just seen but Keith was hollering. A gloved fist punching the air as his excitement became palpable and Hunk was left with ringing ears, watching thunderstruck as Lance’s hover bike was left to pin-wheel from the collision only to crash hard in an explosion of sand and debris making Garrison vehicles scatter. Keith’s whoop descended into a full-on cackle, his grin wide as exhilaration burned in his veins. Hunk’s grip became a death snag as the lion overhead now roared.

Powerful and awe-striking, the creature above simply took Hunk’s breath away. Capturing all his attention as the sound it produced was so deafening and piercing, he couldn’t hold back his whimper of fear as he felt it resonate deep within his very bones. And then it was rising, colossal in form; head towards the black sky and suddenly, they were blinded as its thrusters activated. Pure white light blazing before it was shooting high, way up into the cloud cover where something enormous glinted in the pale moon light.

“…Wow,” Hunk’s jaw dropped in awe, his mind stilling; rushing as he tried to take in all that he was seeing, all the whilst a part of him was refusing to believe it. There was a hum, a pressure in the air, and fear and amazement penetrated him right down to the core at the experience of encountering the unknown.

 The pressure lifted and a tingle ran up his spine in the same moment as his stomach lurched, the sudden feel of weightlessness engulfing him and Hunk clung to Keith even tighter. His presence being a source of warmth and feeling; Keith became an anchor. A sense of realness and Hunk’s eyes remained on the sky as he felt a hum resonate from Keith through him. A vibration and through the midst of everything happening around them, Hunk could have sworn he heard a faint whisper on the wind. A plea…

 “…Come back to us, Shiro.”

His eyes closed and the feel of weightlessness lifted; the rev of a particular and close engine snatched Hunk’s attention back to earth and-

“Whoa!” He yelped just as Keith yanked them out of the way of narrowly being rear-ended by a Garrison vehicle, “What the heck! They’re trying to kill us now?”

Keith snorted as he wrenched the bike into a spin, sand flying up in a mist around them, “Must be,” and then he was shooting out of the dust spray heading from sand towards solid terrain, Garrison vehicles refusing to give up.

“Where are you going? We have to lose them,” Hunk shocked himself as he found those words leaving his mouth and surprisingly enough, to him, he didn’t regret those words. Not one bit. This, he squinted as a ledge came into view, felt right.

“Keith!” Hunk’s large fingers dug into Keith’s sides, “Keith, don’t you dare!”

Keith only shot him a huge grin over his shoulder, purple eyes practically blazing with dangerous delight, “Hold on tight!”

Hunk screamed as he sped up and then they were airborne. The wind hitting their faces, hair forming hallos, they flew and laughter bubbled up in the air about them.

 

---

 

Lights were flashing; alarms, blaring.

The Black paladin of Voltron swallowed the bile in his throat. He couldn’t bring himself to move, not as his bloodied hands shook.

The ship was tethering on its last legs and the last Shiro had ever laid eyes on Lance, the young man was covered in blood. Blood that was not his; purple and tacky, the blood of the Galran prince and he was smiling, victory clear in his crystal eyes.

“I got him, boss man,” He boasted, smile wide as he panted, heavily leaning into Keith’s side. His exhaustion was evident but his voice was strong and his blue eyes, shining. Keith tsked at his side, violet eyes rolling playfully as he jostled him, “You mean just barely.”

Shiro couldn’t resist the soft smile, watching as the two before him descended into a babble of bickering before Lance was jabbing Keith in his ribs, making him keel over with a hiss followed by a small bout of cussing. Pride swelled in his chest.

They’d both been set to infiltrate Lotor’s ranks and take it down from the inside after the prince had betrayed their alliance, an attempt to take advantage of Voltron. It was a risky move but it had to be done; Prince Lotor knew far too much and with that thought, Shiro’s eyes settled on Lance.

They were close as far as he could tell; a seemingly genuine friendship and often, Shiro wondered on how Lance felt about having his trust betrayed so cruelly. He closed his eyes because who was he fooling? The answer to that question had made itself abundantly clear when Lance presented himself to take on the mission with Keith at his side. Two equals, they were, standing before him with an unbreakable resolve. Shiro had no choice but to back down.

With fire in their eyes, they’d been driven and as Shiro looked at them now, he could see how much they’d grown, both mentally and physically. They were stronger, bloodied and exhausted but triumphant and joyful; the heaviness of giving these two the task of killing a specific man wavered and Shiro knew he had made the right choice if not without consequences. They’d come back to him alive and standing, and looking them over now, Shiro couldn’t help but raise a brow at what looked like a ragged, bite mark on Keith’s neck.

“Uh, Keith?” He gestured at his throat and catching his line of sight, Keith gave him a dull stare as Lance descended into a bout of breathless snickers.

“Lotor got desperate,” He deadpanned causing Lance to wheeze as he held his side. Shiro only sighed as he shook his head. They never ceased to amaze him and he smiled as the constant gnawing knot of tension within his chest, uncoiled.

“I’m proud of you,” He stepped forward, arms lifting to draw them in close, “Proud of you both,” He hugged them fiercely, squeezing as he felt their heat, their warmth. They were with him and they were alive.

“You did well but more importantly, you came back.” And almost in sync, at those words, Shiro felt them both relax into his arms, their own wrapping tightly around his form.

“We did,” Lance pressed his face into Shiro’s bosom, shoulders shaking as he laughed the words softly, almost unbelieving. Keith hugged him tighter and practically snarled; his words firmer, “We did.”

Shiro sucked in a breath and it struck him hard on just how close he had come to actually losing them and he squeezed harder, holding his breath before he was releasing them on his exhale. Blue and violet eyes pierced into him worriedly as he pulled away but he smiled, steading himself where he stood. Time was not their friend and there were still tasks to be done.

“Go to the hangars, Pidge is there, she has your lions. Get out of here,” He stressed the words to make sure they got the point, “Hunk and I’ll deal with the remaining prisoners and,” He paused, levering them both with a determined glare, “Keep an eye out for the witch.”

Keith’s brows furrowed and then those violent eyes were going wide as he caught the underlying meaning to Shiro’s words. He stepped forward, trying and failing to conceal his wince, “S-Shiro, you can’t,” The man in question raised a brow, not missing the way the both of them shot a glance to his arm.

”Your- your condition, Haggar won’t-”

Shiro raised a hand stopping him, he didn’t need to hear anymore, “I know but I have to, someone needs to do it.” Keith took a breath, cheeks puffing out as if to argue more but Lance was laying a hand on his shoulder, an effortlessly motion that stopped him right in his tracks.

“Keith,” Violet eyes snapped to sky blues with rapt attention, “We need to go.”

“But-“

“No,” With the simple shake of his head, the word fell from Lance’s mouth with ease and then he was layering Shiro with a look of his own, “Shiro knows how take of himself. He’ll come back, he has to.”

Striking; Shiro blinked, surprised at the fire within that gaze, the challenge. Without another word, he was giving them a sharp nod and turning away, hurrying down the corridor to where Hunk was stationed.

He’ll come back, he has to… Struck, in that moment, Shiro decided- promised that he would do whatever it took to heed those words. This was a promise he made to Lance. A promise he made to them.

The Black paladin of Voltron’s breath hitched and tears blurred his stricken gaze.

“Pidge, I have to!”

It was distant chatter but the urgency in that tone caused Shiro to pause, brows furrowing in concern as he could make out Lance’s voice pleading with Pidge, fighting desperately to save someone, someone who was-

“I know they’re galra!” He shouted fiercely, his voice though faint through the comms, “But they’re also children!”

And Shiro’s breath caught because what?

“What?” Hunk’s voice though soft, echoed down the corridor, stating his exact thought and Shiro looked up to see the alien before him looking down at him strangely. Their four pale orange eyes mirroring the troubled unease that they no doubt saw in his own.

What was Lance saying? There were children abroad the ship? Along with the slaves?

His voice drifted in and out over the comms, some words failing to pass because of static interference but overall, there was the sense of urgency and though, Shiro trusted Lance to make the right decision, he couldn’t stop the horrible panicky feeling from forming in his gut because what were they doing? They were supposed to be getting off the ship, so why were they still here?

Hunk shot him a nervous glance and making his decision, Shiro steeled himself. They were taking too long and they couldn’t afford to waste time. Lance should have told them about the children!

The voices rose in pitch, shouting, rushed and frantic. Someone was yelling. Shouting Lance’s name and then, that horrible feeling within Shiro was engulfing him and dread rushed its way through his veins. He opened his mouth to intervene, vowels already forming on his tongue but it was the scream that caught him by utter and complete surprise and then-

Pain.

Crippling, it was a violent lash of pure agony that seared right through him and Shiro screamed. Grey eyes going wide and head thrown back; his scream was bloodcurdling, erupting from the depths of his lungs as he felt his insides burn. Electricity shot up his spine and down his legs as something within him was pulled taunt, stretching, resisting. It snapped.

-pop-

The prisoners around him cried out in horror as they watched the paladin before them fall. His form crumbling as his body seized, convulsing violently and then as suddenly as it had begun… It was over. The paladin stilled but that was nothing, nothing at all compared to what was to come after.

Breaths ragged and body limp, it struck Shiro like a punch in the face and the man gasped. Spine arching as his mouth opened in a silent cry, his vision flashed white and his hands shot up to his chest, jerking and trembling but clawing at his armour to get at what was underneath. To get at what was inside, at what was supposed to be inside. His heart stuttered in his chest at the realization and he keened deep in his throat.

Something was wrong, something was very wrong.

He reached. Calling for her, for them but there was nothing. He felt nothing.

Gone.

The breath that had been punched out of him came back and Shiro choked as he encountered what had been left behind. A horrible gaping hole, an emptiness that yawned, arching wide to swallow him whole, to consume his entire being. Shiro jerked back, retreating.

She and they were gone.

The space she and they occupied; empty.

The sound of someone violently empting their stomach’s content wrenched Shiro back to the present and the man shuddered, a tremble going through him as fear sunk in its claws.

What was that? Just what exactly the fuck was that!?

“Lance..?” He recalled the scream, “Keith? Pidge?” He struggled to his feet, alien hands helping him rise and he ignored them as all he received was silence. His entire being shook, “Paladins!” His voice came out as spat, sudden and violent. With fear came desperation, “Report in, are you alright? I-I need to know.”

He couldn’t keep the tremble out of his voice but the silence was quickly becoming foreboding. Shiro pushed himself to move. Starting at a shuffle, he made his way over to Hunk and hooking an arm under him, heaved him to his feet and even though Hunk was right there, Shiro couldn’t feel him. Shiro couldn’t feel the stability that was him.

His brows furrowed and Shiro set his eyes on the dark corridor ahead. The prisoners instinctively cleared a path but Shiro heeded them not, they were nothing but mere spectators. He had to get to the hangers.

“Keith?” He tried again, “Lance? Pidge?”

Nothing. The silence was stifling but Shiro had to know. Had to make sure that everyone was in one piece, had to see that everyone was alright.

“I-I can’t feel them, Shiro,” Hunk rasped at his side, voice trembling, “I can’t feel any of you,” His voice descended into a sob, harrowing cognisance making his being quake, “I can’t feel Yellow.”

Shiro swallowed his bile and his hold on Hunk tightened. He couldn’t afford to lose him, not when he was so close. Their shuffle became a stuttered jog,

“Sh-Iro-?” It was weak and it was faint but Shiro latched on to it all the same. Hunk perked up at his side.

“Keith! Keith, is that you? Are you alright?” Shiro’s voice shook but he couldn’t let this chance slip,” Come on, Keith, answer me. Please.” Please let them be alright, please let them be fine, It was a mantra in Shiro’s mind and he couldn’t stop it. Not when he’d felt that connection ripped from him. “What happened? What was that?”

There was a ragged gasp and suddenly, a soft cry. Shiro’s heart squeezed as he heard someone, someone who could only be Pidge beginning to scream, the sound tortured and broken. She screamed Lance’s name and Hunk shivered at his side as a choking sound followed.

“Pidge, Keith,” It was Hunk this time and his voice was hard, despite his eyes being shiny with tears, “I-I need to know, is- is Lance okay? That was his scream wasn’t it, just before that-” His breath caught; he didn’t know what to call it and just thinking of it sent waves of disgust crashing over him. He felt violated and Hunk sneered, “That thing.”

A growl reverberated through the comms and when Keith spoke; his voice was cold, filled with pure unadulterated rage, “It was Haggar.”

Shiro jerked. That fucking witch bitch; His lips curled in disdain.

“She came after us because of Lotor and she had her sights set on Lance,” Keith’s voice dropped several degrees, unrestrained hatred dripping from each word, “The Blue Lion took the blow but it still-” His breath caught, voice becoming tight, “It still lashed out, it still hit him but if- if it weren’t for Blue, he’d- Lance would be-” Keith choked on a ragged gasp, “I couldn’t save him.”

“Don’t,” Shiro rasped, “Don’t you go down that line, keep talking, Keith. Give us his condition, is he unconscious?”

The stuttered jog had long since become a sprint. The prisoners struggled to keep up.

“Yes. He-he’s hurt bad, Shiro. He’s not responding to stimuli,” Keith’s voice shook and Shiro cursed, “Stay with him, Keith, we’re almost there. You said the Blue Lion took the blow?”

“She’s down, Shiro. She’s been down since she jumped in front of him and I think-” Keith’s speech hitched, “Shiro, I think she tried to share it, to lessen the effect on Lance but the connection- the bond to all the lions… it’s gone.”

Terror washed over Shiro as he took in what those words meant and the emptiness within him howled, beckoning him to that gaping hole and Shiro ignored it. Blue severed the bonds to protect them and in turn suffered the entirety of the spell along with all the Lions. That witch- Shiro spurred himself on harder, Hunk hot on his hells- She’ll pay for what she’s done.

He urged Keith to keep talking, chest heaving as he ran; their footfalls sounding the approach of a raging stampede and any galra remaining, did well to stay out of their way. But the dread within Shiro’s bowels refused to cease and suddenly, Keith gasped and a sound so faint, Shiro wouldn’t have registered it if Hunk hadn’t yelled Lance’s name. But the reply that came, it shocked Shiro deep down to his very core.

“…B-Blue?”

So soft, almost childlike; Shiro yelped as he turned a corner too quickly causing his footing to slip but Hunk was immediately yanking him up as he passed him, pulling him along.

“Lance!” Relief caused the hint of a smile to bloom across Hunk’s lips, “Lance, are you okay?”

There came a groan, tired and soft but Lance did not respond. Instead he-

“Blue?”

Repeated the name and in his tone, there was a hint of desperation that caused Shiro to shiver. It was faint but its purpose, potent. Hunk shot him a sideward glance, a silent message between the two and Shiro nodded. They had to hurry.

“B-Blue, why-?” Lance’s voice was choked, strained, “What’s-”

“- Lance, no! You can’t-” Keith suddenly yelped, grunting as though he’d been pushed aside and Shiro frowned. What was he doing? From what Keith had said, his condition should be critical.

“Lance-”

“Why can’t I feel Blue?”

Lance cut him off, leaving his words to pile up in his throat and a coldness seized Shiro’s heart. What was he to tell him? Just what was he supposed to say? Silence fell over the comms, leaving only the sounds of heavy breathing, a bit of a shuffle and then-

“Oh.”

A sound of realization, a sense of clarity; and unease intertwined with Shiro’s fear, “Keith!” The man couldn’t help but bark the name, “What’s he doing?”

“He’s- he’s gone over to the Blue Lion.” Keith gasped, voice shaking and whether it was weakness or horror, Shiro couldn’t tell. “He’s touching the Blue Lion.”

Shiro growled, a thick coil of anxiety thumping behind his ribs, “Keep him away from her!”

Hunk shot him another glance, those brown eyes wide with worry.

“Shiro, what are you saying?” Pidge’s voice sounded in his ears, pained but alarmed and Shiro felt a small bout of relief at knowing that she was okay.

“Bad feeling, Pidge!” He gasped, “A really bad feeling!”

He skidded around another corner; almost there, almost there.

“…Hey girl,” Lance’s voiced cooed through the comms, soft but frighteningly unwavering. Shiro’s breath hitched. “We’re gonna fix you right up, okay?”

“Pidge!”

“On it!’

There was a frenzy of movement, a screech of metal. Pidge screamed Keith’s name and then there was a loud, hollow thud. A frustrated scream followed, pure adulterated rage and pain unleashing itself, “Let us in!”

Pidge swore just as Shiro cursed.

“He shut us out! He shut us out, Shiro! The Lion’s down but the barrier’s up!” The girl cried, cursing up a storm. Shiro winced as he could hear a series of dull thuds, no doubt the girl pounding on the shield, “He shut us out!” Her voice rose to a scream before rapidly descending into a sob, “Lance!”

Shiro heaved, eyes slamming shut to push back the pressure, “Lance, please!” He could feel himself beginning to wheeze, mouth becoming dry. The prison bays were far away from the hangars for a reason.

The Blue paladin hummed, seemingly unaware of everything around him, “…Everything’s going to be fine,” His voice was clear, if not slightly wobbly. He laughed softly between his breaths, “It’s okay, I got this… Ain’t that right, Blue.”

“Lance, stop!” Hunk tried his hand. Chancing a glance, Shiro could see that Hunk wasn’t faring any better than he, the sweat on his skin glistened, “Whatever you’re thinking of doing, don’t! We’re almost there, just wait a little longer!”

There was a faint gasp and a whispered, ‘Hunk’. Shiro felt hope bloom in his chest.

“I-I can’t wait that long…”

That hope diminished itself just as quickly as it came, “W-What are you saying?” Stall! Make him talk, distract him! Just a few more corners.

“I have to h-help Blue…” His voice shook horribly, that previous unwaveringness fading. Shiro could feel the tears gathering in his eyes.

“How?” Keith yelled, desperate and pained. A dull thud sounded and Shiro internally cheered. Keep it going, keep him-

Pidge suddenly swore, a flow of words so colourful that Shiro felt his ears burn and then she was hissing Lance’s name as Keith made a choked sound. Shiro’s eyes caught Hunk’s; that did not sound good.

Keith hissed a soft, “No.”

“No, no!” A dull thud sounded with each word, “Lance, I am begging you, please, just stop this! Just let us in!” Keith rasped, pleading, his voice torn. He was fighting tears, “Lance, look at me, I said look at me! You told me that we’d make it back to together; you told me that we were going to be fine and that, we were going to go home, together!”

“Everything’s going t-“

“Don’t lie to me!” Keith snapped, his words harsh, “Don’t do this to me, don’t shut me out, not again. Not again, Lance!” A series of dull thuds followed as he began to sob and Shiro closed as his eyes as Hunk began to weep by his side.

“We’re coming, we’re coming-” Hunk pled as he looked at the map in his visor, static distortion making it flicker, “We’re almost there, almost there.” Shiro sucked in a breath; he couldn’t shake the niggling feeling at the back of his mind that he was too late. That they weren’t going to make it.

“You promised,” Pidge seethed, her tone sharp and filled with venom, “You promised me that you were going to come back, that everything would be fine, so don’t you dare! Don’t you fuckin’ dare-”

Only a corner left to go. Shiro gasped, never in his life had he felt such relief and hope surge within him. The hangars- they were right there! “Lance! We’re here, we’re right he-”

“Thank you…”

The comms fell silent save for the sound of ragged breathing at that voice, that frightening clarity. Shiro’s tears overflowed and Hunk sucked in a breath, waiting, hesitating.

“…For- for everything, you know?” Lance laughed and Shiro could hear the tears in his voice, the pain. He knew that tone of voice anywhere, that resignation. Shiro slammed himself into the hangar’s door, his arm igniting despite the pain. He refused- he’d let himself be damned than to hear such words leave his paladin’s mouth.

“No more! Don’t say anymore-”

“You guys know I love you, right?”

“NO!”

The door gives away just in time for Shiro to hear both Pidge’s and Keith’s scream in and out of the comms as a blinding light erupts, flooding his vision as a deafening roar sounds in his ears. He’s thrown back by an unseen force, tumbling over himself as Hunk goes down with a scream. The ship is shaking and the very air seems to vibrate and through squinting eyes, Shiro can just make out a hint of Lance’s form standing before the downed Blue Lion. The light is erupting from them, both of them encased within it as it seems to shine from within and then suddenly, it truly strikes Shiro on what Lance was intending.

The light shines brighter, pure white and burning and the roar becomes even louder. It drowns out all sound so that Shiro’s ears are ringing and he can’t even hear himself as he wails, a hand lifting and reaching, attempting to somehow prevent the inevitable outcome.

Tears stream from his eyes, pained and somewhat blinded but Shiro can feel it. The hole inside him, that howling abyss, it’s being refilled. Torn threads reconnecting and souls intertwining, Shiro weeps at the guilt he feels. That unenjoyable relief as what’s been ruptured becomes seamed and he can feel them, them and her. They scream along with him, the lions, Allura and everyone else. Lance’s presence fades from the bond and the Blue Lion, revitalized, roars.

 

 

 

To hear such a sound again, the Black paladin of Voltron is jolted back to the present with shuddering gasp. His form shaking horribly as grey eyes blink away tears at the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps.

Shiro? Shiro!” His name is being called but amidst the shudders, something else draws his attention. Blinking his vision clear, Shiro finds his gaze drawn downward and all he can do is stare. Blood drips from a bloodied hairline, the body within his arms shifts and eyes that were previously closed are now opened.

Blue like Earth’s oceans and skies; Shiro gives a stuttered gasp. He’s forgotten just how bright those eyes were and those beautiful, blue eyes blink. Stuck on his face, they watch him intently, confused but curious. For a moment, they stare at each other, into each other and Shiro doesn’t move, fearing that he may shatter the moment but Blue Eyes does it for him.

A trembling but incredibly soft smile spreads across blood speckled, tanned skin and long fingers twitch, “…I could get lost in you.”

Shiro sucks in a breath, sniffling as his vision blurs once more. It’s been so long since he heard that voice; the words don’t make a lick of sense to him but he holds him close anyway, mindful of the head wound that’s already clotting. A part of him is telling himself that he should be carrying him to the med bay but Shiro can’t bring himself to move. He’s too spent.

 “Shiro!” The princess has found her way to him, up the ramp and inside the lion but as she soon as she sees him, she stills and when those blue eyes fall upon her, she gasps, loud and surprised.

“Princess, what’s wro-“ Coran stutters to a halt beside his princess and those blue eyes stare at them intently, studying and searching before drifting back to Shiro’s face, if not a bit glassy.

“Where-” He swallows, tries again, “Where am I?”

His voice is slurred, there’s tremble to his form and before Shiro can even open his mouth to reply, his body seizes and those blue eyes roll up into his head.

“No, no, no, no!” Allura is already up the ramp and by his side, taking him in her grasp, “We can’t lose him, we just got him back!”

As she straightens, Shiro stands with her but then he’s stopped. A hand on his shoulder and that hand pushes- eases him back down until he’s sitting once more and Coran steps forward.

“Princess,” Silver-filled blue and fuchsia snap up and Coran is there by her side, giving her a soft smile. “He’ll be fine,” He says softly, his voice jolly and light. Lithe hands lift the still body from her arms into his, “A quick pop in the cryopods and he’s going to be right as rain, good as new,”

For a moment, Allura stares at him and then she gives him a watery smile, a hand reaching up to wipe her tears, “Thank you, Coran,” She says, silver leaving a sheen on her fingers and then she’s turning to Shiro, “Where’s-”

She stops herself, eyes catching sight of the tremble in his frame and his too pale skin. Her smile falters slightly but she’s easing forward, resting a warm hand upon his shoulder.

“Thank you,” She praises and surprising him, she leans down giving him a quick peck to his brow, “You did well as always, Shiro,” He shakes his head but she continues regardless, “Coran will retrieve them, so take your time. You’ll see them soon,” She steps back, smiling as her eyes are lifting to look at something above him before she’s laughing and turning away, “For now however, I’ll leave you here, someone’s very eager to have you in their presence again.”

He watches her until she exits through the hangar’s door and it’s only then that Shiro allows himself to slump back on the ramp, body going lax as his eyes close in exhaustion and grief. He shudders, giving a shaky exhale as his brows become pinched. Neither time nor death has had any effect on his memories and what came after Lance-

He can still hear her sinister laughter…

He shakes again, suppressing a sob as he reaches across, bloodied human fingers curling around his right arm and he gasps, eyes flying open. Flesh and bone, he squeezes, still flesh and bone, tears slip free of his eyes and he hums. He’s fine, that life, it’s over. The witch is gone; he made sure of that but still- his eyes narrow- he came back. Why?

The behemoth in the shadows of his mind, growls; its large form moves forward and-

Shiro yelps as the ground beneath him shifts and then he’s rolling down the ramp before grunting as he connects to a cold metal floor. His breath rushes out him as the metal beast above him moves, lowering and hovering. Twin suns look upon his form.

Her presence brushes against his mind and sound like the insides of a seashell fill his ears. Shiro’s eyes close and a soft smile lines his lips, he missed this. It’s been far too long.

Hello Black…

He sighs softly as she growls, her presence brushing against his mind once more and he feels her calmness, that steady authority. Why was he so afraid of seeking her out before? He can’t recall, what made sense before is nothing but null and he closes his eyes, letting it all go.  

My paladin, my Shiro… welcome back, I have missed you deeply.

That voice, it reverberates from within and Shiro laughs, the sound pained, “I missed you too, Black…” A pressure builds in his chest and when he speaks, it’s a sob, “I missed you, too… I’m… so sorry, I n-never got to say goodbye.”

Warmth brushes his cheeks to his temples, the phantom feel of hands and Shiro sighs, releasing a breath as he leans into them, accepting what they have to give.  

Apologize not, my paladin. You were taken from me unfairly and now, you have returned yourself to me…

Those hands grip him and rise, Shiro can’t help but follow and the scene behind his eyes change. Starlight and dark space, he’s seen this place before; the astral plane. A black sun shines on the horizon and across from him, that behemoth comes into the light.

Powerful and ethereal, a lion strides towards him, made of darkness and wisps of light. She stands before him, towering over him; she could end him with a single snap of her jaws but instead, those two suns look deep into him and satisfied with what they find, she moves forward, nuzzling his jaw.

Mine Chosen… come, there is much to discuss.

 

---

 

“Whoa!”

Hunk’s legs wobble as he exits the small, flight craft but he refuses to take his eyes off the alien that has introduced himself as Coran because wow, “That old man can fly.”

Keith, looking just as equally frazzled, snorts and Coran harrumphs, turning those blue and violet infused eyes upon Hunk because, “Excuse me, number two? You’ve always said I’ve had quite exceptional flying.” And Hunk only stares at him blankly because hell, he can’t remember saying that and oh-

Coran’s pleased expression falls and Keith winces.

“Oh man, I’m so sorry,” Hunk rushes to apologise and Coran drops a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t apologize, it’s not your fault,” and before Hunk can rush to say anything else, he’s already turning to Keith.

“Allura’s eager to see the both of you, she’s missed you two dearly,” If Coran sees Keith’s wince and the sudden down turning of his eyes, he doesn’t mention it. Instead, he carries on, “I trust you remember the outline of the ship?”

Thoughtlessly Keith nods but then he’s frowning, “Wait, you aren’t- you aren’t coming?”

Coran shakes his head, “No lad, I’m not. You see, I must wake number five,”

At the mention of Pidge, Keith’s brows nearly disappear into his hairline and his jaw drops, “P-Pidge?”

Coran smiles, a couple fingers tugging on his moustache as those purple eyes seem twinkle, “Why yes, number four, she’s been resting this entire time.”

Keith gapes for a moment, those intense, purple eyes filling with such emotion that Hunk can’t help but arch a brow. Just who is this Pidge?

Those intense eyes turn on Coran and before Keith can say anything, the man himself is smirking, fingers tugging knowingly on his glorified moustache as it twitches, “Ah, since you so desperately insist, number four,” His moustache points the way, “Of course you’re welcome to go and wake Pidge yourself, she’ll be glad to see you.”

Hunk almost misses the moment when Keith flinches and then his shoulders are hunching but there is a hint of smile on his lips, if not sad, , “Thank you so much, Coran… I really appreciate it,” Those purple eyes lift, that same foreign emotion swimming in their depths, “Really, I do”

Coran’s smile softens, crow’s feet showing themselves at the corners of his eyes, “I know you do, Keith, I know but there’s a lot to be done,” The male flinches once more but this time, Coran steps forward, laying his hands on Keith’s shoulders, “You did what you thought was right at the time, my boy but not everyone can grasp that, understand?”

Keith looks at him with wide eyes and Hunk’s not sure if he’s imagining things or not because suddenly, those dark eyes are looking a little bit too shiny.

“You…you don’t- you’re not?”

The words hitch as they come out but already, Coran is shaking his head, that small smile still in place, “No, Keith, I’m not angry; saddened, yes but I respected your decision. It… was a difficult time and you knew what was best for you,”

Keith shook his head, his mouth opening to say something more but Coran is pulling away, hands waving as if to shoo them, “Now run along, off you pop, that girl’s going to give you a run for your money. I’ll see you on the bridge, hopefully… alive and intact,” His words fade as he disappears down the corridor with astonishing speed and Hunk gives Keith a questioning look.

“…Alive and intact? Dude, just what did you do?”

Keith gives him a shaky smile and Hunk notices he’s trying not to look at him, “Something you’ll hopefully forgive me for when you get your memory back,”

Hunk narrows his eyes, “That bad, huh?”

Keith snorts, his eyes still have that glassy look to them; shiny, “It was bad at the time; everything was falling apart then.”

They start walking, following the direction given from Coran’s moustache and Hunk hovers behind. He’s itching to ask more questions but there’s a feeling…hovering in the air. This isn’t the same Keith that yanked him onto that hover bike without a moment’s hesitation back on earth, this person standing before him has become secluded, hunched into himself for protection. Looking at him now, Hunk sees that the jacket he carries practically swallows him and the way it’s glowing, that harsh red; it’s telling him to back off. And, so he does and almost as if sensing this, after a few moments of walking in silence, Hunk watches Keith ease out of his shell. 

Hands running along cool walls, foot falls echoing along long corridors, Keith closes his eyes, tilting his head to the roof as he takes it in. It was like a daydream, a wish to walk these corridors again, to feel this lightness in his veins and gods; he didn’t know how badly he missed it until now.

“You really missed this place, didn’t you?” It’s both a statement and a question and Keith can’t help the soft chuckle that falls from his lips at what Hunk must be thinking of him now.

“I did, I do; you have not the faintest idea,” He spins in place for a moment, hand refusing to leave that cool wall, refusing to separate himself from the ship’s hum. Pure untampered alleviation sings in his veins and he’s sighing, those heavy eyes sliding shut.

“I didn’t want to leave,” Those closed eyes clenched tighter and his brows pinch, “But I couldn’t stay, not when- not when-”

Those violet eyes open and Hunk’s stomach drops at the pain swimming in their depths. He steps closer, his fingers closing around Keith’s forearm and the male doesn’t stop him as he pulls him gently, urging Keith to face him.

“You don’t have to say it,” He whispers and Hunk watches, amazed as those purple eyes widen and his hunched shoulders drop. Relief just seems to flood Keith’s entire being and Hunk loses his breath as he gives him the softest smiles.

“Thank you.”

He doesn’t say anything more and Hunk simply returns the smile before falling in line with him and honestly, Hunk doesn’t mind. Keith will open up when he’s ready.

“Here,” Hunk’s starts as Keith suddenly stops at a door, his hand raised to touch something that looks like a keypad and then Keith is looking at him again, those eyes clouding over, that small smile in place, “Her name’s Pidge, previously known as Katie Holt or rather,” He arches a brow, “…Presently? I don’t know but I’ve always called her Pidge. ”

And without further ado, Keith slams his hand onto the keypad and without hesitation, strides in as soon as the door opens. Hunk, however, hovers hesitantly and when he does manage convince himself to enter, his heart squeezes at the sight of the person curled up under a heck-ton of blankets. 

“Oh my god, she’s so small,” He practically wheezes and Keith shoots him a sharp look, “Let her hear you say that and she’ll flay your flesh from your bones. “

Hunk chokes.

“O…kay, I would like to keep my flesh, thank you,” He takes a large step away from the blanket mold which only reveals a tuft of wild, untamed hair and a pale face layered with freckles.

Keith chuckles and settles himself down on his knees, elbows making indents in the mattress close to her face, “Don’t worry Hunk, I don’t think she’ll ever hurt you… willing, that is,” He breathes the words, resting his face on the mattress, his eyes stuck on her face.

Once again, Hunk finds himself questioning the relationship between the two as those purple eyes seem to glisten. He tries to perk him up, “Uh huh, why’s that?”

Keith snorts, “Are you kidding me? Together, you guys were amazing. Two crazy geniuses with all the tech-junk within hands reach and along with Lance…” His voice becomes wistful and briefly, Hunk’s mind wanders to the other guy. Whatever became of him?

“He brought out the best of you. The three of you together was a force to be reckoned with and if it weren’t for him, I don’t think you guys would have met… but me, however, with what I did? Pidge will happily break every bone in my body,” He sighs, “I might even let her, too.”

Blinking at those words, Hunk’s gaze goes from that petite, sleeping face to the dark haired male beside him and looking at him, Hunk can that emotion rising once more. And this time, Hunk recognizes it for what it is. Pain and a deep-set longing that could only be gnawing at him from the inside. It’s similar, no… it’s the same and Hunk’s breath hitches. It’s him all over again.

He stoops by Keith’s side and lays a heavy hand on his shoulder, “Keith?”

Those dark, piercing eyes find his.

“I don’t think she would do that, I mean,” He shrugs, “Whatever you did, yeah, I supposed any good friend would be pissed off as heck about it but… Any good friend would try to understand why you did what you did…” Those dark eyes widen ever so slightly and Hunk smiles, chucking softly, “Annnnd if she’s as bad as you say she is, then she’s gonna have to work off of some steam before that happens, yeah?”

Those dark eyes stay on him, contemplative and shiny. For a second, Hunk thinks he’s going to cry again but Keith dismisses it with a small shake of his head before nodding, his eyes drifting back to the prone figure.

“Yeah…”

Taking a deep breath, he reaches over, pale fingers hovering and then descending. He grazes Pidge’s skin and Hunk watches with wide eyes, an excitement building within him at this interaction between the two. It’s something gentle, intimate; something that he feels he shouldn’t be watching but he can’t find it in himself to turn away.

“Pidge,” Keith whispers her name, hand lifting from her cheek to descend into her mess of curls. She twitches, nose wrinkling at the disturbance but Keith’s hand stays.

“Pidge?” He whispers her name again, violet eyes taking in those knowing features and a part of him is surprised that she still looks the same, if not younger. He wonders how much she remembers but then he’s stilling because amber eyes are flickering open, blinking rapidly before settling on his face.

For a moment she stares, brows pinched together in confusion and then she rasps, “Keith?”

“H-hey Pidge,” Keith’s voice hitches and he swallows, trying again, “It’s me, I’m… I’m back.”

Pidge sits up slowly, staring at his face intently as he sniffs, watching as he tries to hide his pain and then it truly strikes her, “Keith!”

The male hardly has a second to prepare himself before he’s dealing with an armful of wild hair and pale limbs, “Keith!” She screams his name as she throws herself at him, her bronze eyes wide with wonder and amazement. He’s warm; she trembles at the feel of him, he’s alive and he’s… here. She pauses for a moment, frowning. He’s here, now?

She leans back, those striking eyes of her narrowing, “…Keith.”

That tone, the boy stiffens under her hand but it’s inevitable, no matter how many years has past, he could never forget that tone, hard and unyielding, “P-Pidge-“

 He loses his breath, the sucker punch catching him by surprise and behind him, he can faintly hear Hunk hiss in sympathy. He keels over, holding his gut as Pidge bores down on him, her small face twisted with pure agony and rage.

“You fucking asshole!” She screams, shoving him hard as he attempts to get back up before crowding his space and getting into his face, “You good for nothing, piece-a-shit! You left, you left us behind and- and how could you?!”

Her hands find her hair and she pulls. Paling, Keith shoots forward to stop her but she hisses at him.

“I asked you not to leave and what did you do? You-you fucking left!” She gasps it like she still doesn’t it and Keith winces, “Without even saying a goodbye, without even telling us where you were going-“  She sucks in a breath, amber eyes going wide, “Did you- did you even know that we looked for you? Do you even know how long we looked for you, we spent ages! I spent ages and then Hunk went and-“

Her breaths hitches, lips pulling back in pain, “Hunk-“

She choked, a hand reaching up to grasp at her chest and then she’s falling to her knees with a soundless cry. Keith reaches out, fingers splayed to touch her, to ground her but she recoils, tear-filled eyes swimming with such pain and torment.

“Don’t!” She snaps, “You don’t get that chance, you don’t get to pretend that you’ll get off that easy! You don’t get to pretend that you’ll slot right back in like a puzzle piece!” Her voice rises to a shout and she sobs, breathlessly, “You don’t get to pretend like-like what you did wasn’t bullshit!”

Hunk swallows thickly, feeling an itch building behind his eyes; so much misery and in such a small body, his breath catches, it shouldn’t be so. He winces at every moment Keith flinches back but she’s speaking the truth, the cold hard truth and it’s what Keith needs to hear. In all things considered, the right choice will not always be the right choice.

Keith catches his eye and it hurts Hunk to see the pain swimming in their depths but he nods despite that, Keith needs to do this and he needs to do it now.

“No! Don’t- don’t!” Pidge is yelling, face red and miserable but Keith is easing forward, his own expression pinched with his own pain as he slides his arms around her small frame, pulling her against him and despite all of her fight, she melts into him without hesitation, eyes screwing shut as she weeps.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Pidge, I shouldn’t have left,” Keith is muttering reassurances into her hair, his hand sliding up and down her back to comfort her shaking frame but she groans deep in her throat, “I’ll never forgive you, it doesn’t matter what you say, how many lives you live, you’re still a piece-a-shit.”

Yet she clings to him, her fists balling the material of his jacket and Hunk feels a bit of relief, at knowing that she won’t let him go anytime soon despite her words. He sighs, feeling a pressure lift from his shoulders, surprising himself with the amount of worry he feels for-

She’s looking at him.

Hunk freezes, those amber eyes are boring into him.

“Hunk?”

Oh dang, what to do, what to do? He smiles hesitantly, a hand lifting to give her a small wave before Keith is reaching back, grabbing a hold of his shirt and pulling him forward. Internally, he sighs; oh dang.

“Hunk,” She whispers his name again, eyes wide, unbelieving. He doesn’t remember her but the same cannot be certainly said for her. One of her hands unsnags from Keith’s jacket and lifts to touch his face, caressing his cheek.

“You’re… you’re here, you really are,” Her eyes overflow with tears and her thumb rubs circles on his skin as she stares into him, through him. Hunk does his best to stare back.

He knows nothing of her besides the fact that she’s a genius, her fury can boil oceans and that her name is Pidge but not knowing anything else of her than what he’s been shown, is enough to bite at something deep inside him. He would love to know her, not for face value but for something deeper; there’s a pull to her. His hand lifts and he brings himself closer, settling beside Keith, his hand rising and covering the one on his cheek. He holds it tight. 

The girl sniffs, her eyes still roving over his face, “You don’t remember, do you?” Her voice is rough from tears and Hunk nods, not willing to cause her anymore pain than he has to.

She didn’t even ask, she’d stated. Saw right through him the moment she’d first laid eyes on him but he’s still him. He still feels like Hunk. Pidge sniffles, her hand lifting from his cheek to sink into his hair and cup the back of his head. It’s still him, he’s still here; one hand still on Keith, she leans forward and watching her, Hunk accepts her one armed embrace.

“…You always were kind,” She says as his large arms wrapped around her small frame and she feels him shake as she embraces her old friend, “Thank you for trying even though you don’t remember.”

He heaves a breath, blinking away the tears that are suddenly welling up in his eyes. She’s another one, another part of him he’s concluded that he’s found. He squeezes her tight against him, unwilling to let go and soon, another hand descends into his hair; he starts.

Looking up, he sees that Keith is looking at him, those violet eyes finally giving in to the tears and he’s smiling that same soft smile that causes Hunk’s breath to hitch. He does his best to return it and winces as his own tears overflow. 

Keith chuckles but Hunk merely closes his eyes, absorbing their warmth. This- his arms curl tighter around Pidge’s body and his head comes to a rest on Keith’s shoulder- was what he wanted. This is what he lived for. That hole inside him, it’s slowly being filled.

“Thank you…” He murmurs, he barely gets the words out and his head dips as sleep finally catches up with him, “Thank…you.”

 

---

 

Her hand leaves the glass, finger tips tingling as they disconnect and Allura sighs, her head bowing.

“Princess?”

She jolts at the voice, her back straightening reflexively until she realizes that it’s only Coran.

“You’re back,” She sighs, relief evident in her tone and her eyes brighten, “Where is Hunk and Keith?”

The altean smiles at her enthusiasm, “They’re waking Pidge, they… really wanted to see her,” and then his smiles drops. “That boy, Keith, he’s really drowning in his own guilt,” he sighs, running a hand through his hair, “It’s going to take a while to get that off his shoulders…”

Allura sighs, “That is true, he’s always felt more than he should and what about Hunk? Can he really not remember anything?”

Coran shakes his head and the princess sighs, “That’s not surprising… considering the way it happened. I’ll guess that’ll be another thing to add to the list.”

Coran arches a brow as he steps forward to join her in front of the pod, “What else is there, princess?”

And then he catches her line of sight and something cold grips his heart, “Is it- Is it as we feared?”

Slowly, the princess nods and she turns to him with pain-filled eyes, “It is as Timok said it would be…His quintessence is very weak, it’s barely even there at all and… there’s something else,” Her brow furrows, hand raising to rest against the cool glass once more, “A foreign quintessence and… it’s corrupted.”

Coran audibly gasps and Allura frowns, expression pinching as she fights back tears, “It- it could be the Blue Lion as we theorized but if- if it’s not, then we have to move fast. It’s ancient and whatever it is, he can’t support it for much longer, it has- is leeching away at him and I don’t know for how much longer…”

Allura takes a shuddering breath and she moves closer, her forehead coming to rest against the glass, her eyes boring into the still figure instead before closing, “I… really wanted them to decide this time, to take the time to say goodbye but-” Her breath catches, “But-”

“We’re whisking them away again,” Coran finishes for her, feeling Allura heave as his hand comes to rest on her shoulder, “It’ll be alright, princess. We didn’t come this far to lose them again, the Lions know what they’re doing,” He reassures and she turns, her arm coming to wrap around his waist, her head resting on his shoulder. She takes another deep breath and for a moment, they stay like that, resonating. Feeling the push and pull of each other. The princess sighs.

“Thank you, Coran,” She pulls away, eyes blinking away silver, “I really needed that,”

Her advisor nods, dutiful in his service, “I know…” and then he steps back, spine straightening, “Where to now, princess?”

Allura blinks him, and then really looks at him and seeing his challenge; she settles herself, her own posture becoming regal.

“Set a course for Alhinforth.”