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Meant To Be

Chapter Text

There once was a time of peace. Oh, it was wonderful! The kingdom of Altea was a wonderful place to live at the time, balls and dinners every night, all to celebrate the success of their rulers. It was on one of these nights that disaster came.

The ballroom was alive with music, dancing, and the laughter of the young Prince Alexander. He was the youngest child in the family, but the most lively. After being put down by his father, he noticed someone.

"May I excuse myself, father?"

Alfor just laughed and ruffled his hair. "Go see your sister, Alexander."

Weaving through the dancers, he caught her just before she left the thrones to join the dancing. "Allura!"

The Princess Allura turned around in just enough time to catch her baby brother. "Alexander! You can't just go run up and scare me." Despite her berating words she couldn't help but laugh.

"'Llura, do you really have to leave? I'm gonna miss you so much!"

Allura sighs, "Alexander, you know I must go, I've stayed here for too long. Uncle Coran is waiting for me in Paris." She gently stroked his brown hair.

"Well, can I go with you then? Uncle Coran loves me, I'm his favorite after you!" Alexander looks up at her with bright blue eyes.

"I wish, but father needs you here. He needs his best Blue Paladin of Voltron here to protect him and the rest of the kingdom. Speaking of Voltron, I have something for you."

Alexander's pout was gone in a flash, bringing another smile to Allura's face. "Is it a ticket to Paris!"

"No, it's a toy." She brings it out from behind her back. It's a toy knight in blue armor with a blue sword. "This is for you to remember me by while I'm gone."

Lance gently takes it with tears in his eyes. His fingers brush over something on the back, and he turns it over so he can read what's carved in it. "Voltron, defender of the universe. What does it mean, Allura?"

Allura laughs gently before kneeling, cupping her brothers face in her hands. "It means that, one day, you'll be this knight of Voltron. You'll be the best Blue Paladin of all time."

"Allura!" Alexander shouts before burying his head in her dress in an attempt to muffle his sobs.

"There, there, it's all right. I won't be gone forever, you know." She pats his head as he looks at her again.

"Yeah, but-" he begins, but he's cut off by a loud slam.

The light and chatter seemed to vanish from the air as everyone turned to the source of the noise. Allura grabbed Alexander's arm and pulled him behind her, as the disruptive person came into sight.

King Alfor stepped forward, hate in his eyes for the intruder. "Zarkon."

Zarkon approaches him, and that's when they notice the haggard woman behind him. "Why, hello, your majesty," he spoke with a disgusting tone.

Alfor takes his staff and slams it down. "What are you doing here, and who is this wench you have brought with you? I banished you after you murdered my wife! Get out, and do not return again!"

Zarkon sent him an amused look before frowning again. "You, banish me? No, I'm banishing you. Let it be known, in a fortnight of tonight, the royal family will all die, and Altea will fall and be mine!"

Alfor draws his sword and charges. Allura runs towards her father yelling for him to stop, for him to wait. As he strikes, Zarkon and the woman are gone. And so it starts.


 

It has been two weeks, and Alexander knows this. He wanted his sister to stay, but not like this. Not because they had an attack to prepare for. Alexander joins his family in the throne room, where they are all waiting for the panicked revolutionaries and Zarkon himself.

Allura told herself she was ready, but when the doors flew open and people came flooding in, she was lost in the mayhem. That is, until he walked in. Her grip on the shaft of her sparring pole tightened. He would not hurt her family anymore. As she stepped forward towards him, she felt her pole being yanked from her hands. Whirling around, she found herself face to face with Alfor. "Father, what are you doing, I'm trying to help!"

He slowly shook his head. "Allura, my dearest daughter, this is my fight, not yours. Take your brother, Alexander, and escape. Should anything happen to me or the rest of your siblings, you two must be alive to restore order. He needs one of you dead, the two of you cannot survive. Now go!" With that he walks past her, drawing his sword and standing at the ready. Before Allura can say anything else, Zarkon is there in front of her, his dark weapon buried deep in her father.

She can barely process her own screams as she falls to her knees. Her eyes can't leave her father, on the ground, in a puddle of his own blood. All she can do is stare. What had he said to her again? It didn't matter. She couldn't save him.

Alexander saw it. He saw it and he nearly ran, but he looked on the ground and saw it. His knight. He needs his best Blue Paladin of Voltron here to protect him and the rest of the kingdom.  Picking up his toy, he puffs his chest out, and he runs. He runs past his sister, on her knees. He runs past his other siblings, the ones who have been knighted, the ones that knew what they were doing. He runs to Zarkon, ready to kill him for killing his father.

Until he's not. "Ouch! Who the heck are you! Never mind, it doesn't matter, I need to go."

Before he can walk past this boy that so rudely ran into him, his wrist is caught. He looks at the face of the boy. His eyes are violet, and they're afraid. His voice is barely a whisper, but whether from fright or disuse is anyone's guess. "Please. We need to go. My brother has her majesty Allura. We know how to get out."

Alexander turns around to see his sister being lifted by a man with black hair with a shock of white in the middle and a scar across his nose. He puts her over his shoulder and then turns to look for presumably his brother. "All right. Just for my sister."

The boy starts to pull Alexander along faster until they're side by side with the man carrying Allura. "Keith. Stay close with the prince. We're going to our secret hideout, okay? We're going there and we're going through the tunnels to get out."

The boy, Keith, it seems his name is, nods his head stiffly in understanding. As they enter a room with no more doors, Alexander starts to panic. Was this all just a trap? Then, the brother walks up to the wall and opens it up. Keith keeps pulling Alexander and pushes him into it after the other boy and his sister. As he does, his toy knight slips out of his hands. "Wait! I have to get my toy!"

Keith turns around and sees it. "You keep going, I'll grab it for you." He runs out of the tunnel, but as he grabs the toy, he hears banging. He whips around to Prince Alexander. "I'll meet you outside." Before anyone can protest, he closes the door and shoves the you in his pocket.

Two of the soldiers grab him. "Where'd they go, boy!"

Keith holds up his hands in submission. "I don't know, I swear! Please don't hurt me!"

As they drop him, Keith kicks out hitting one of their soft spots. He jumps over the guard that fell and goes to run when the other one grabs him by the back of the shirt. He's picked back and then thrown, his head hitting the wall, knocking him out.

Outside, Allura, Alexander, and Keith's brother have all made it out safely. As they keep running, a figure jumps in front of the trio. The boy pushes the siblings out of the way and charges Zarkon. Unfazed, Zarkon chuckles before swinging his sword. Alexander helps Allura stand up and they turn to run, only hoping the boy will catch up with them. Alexander spares one look behind him to see Zarkon cutting off their saviors arm. The yell of pain turns him around, and he runs to help the boy. He jumps on Zarkon's back and slams his fists on both his ears. As he crumbles in pain, Alexander jumps off and grabs the man's remaining hand and pulls him along.

"What's your name, sir?" Allura asks as they weave through the streets.

"It's Shiro."

"Oh, well, th-"

Alexander blinks and then looks around. They were just here. He couldn't have lost them that quickly, could be? As he stumbles through looking for his sister, he gets shoved around. Someone, though, pushes him too hard. He's falling into the street, and before he can get up, he sees a horse carriage coming. He sits up and is about to run, but he's so dizzy. The last thing he sees is a horse rearing its front legs, and it's hooves coming down.

Chapter Text

It's been 10 years since that night. In those 10 years, Princess Allura has fled to Paris with the one of the two boys who saved her life, Shiro, to finally live with her Uncle Coran as she once was supposed to do. The kingdom of Altea fell, and Zarkon swooped in and claimed it for the new empire. His commander, Haxus, was killed for possible treason, and Thace was made his new commander of the Galra Empire. Even though her royal highness has a suitor, she still constantly mourns the loss of her family, her father and youngest brother the most. However, after all these years, there are rumors floating around. A rumor that Prince Alexander is still alive.

"Princess Allura, please, just don't get your hopes up too high. I don't want to see you hurt all over again."

Allura stopped her typing to turn to her suitor, Shiro. "First of all, what have I told you about using titles. You're my suitor, not my servant. Second of all, I know not to hope for too much. I'm just hoping putting out this reward will help things speed along if he is out there."

Shiro walks up behind her and wraps his arms, one of his own flesh, the other made of metal to replace the one he lost to Zarkon, around her and rests his chin on her shoulder. "I know how much you miss him. It doesn't help that you never saw a body."

Allura stiffens a bit underneath him. "Yes, well, I'm not the only one missing a brother. Have you heard any word from Marmora yet?"

Shiro stands up, running a hand through his hair before shaking his head. "No one has heard anything about Keith at all, but they are confident he's still alive. Maybe he's just in hiding. Maybe… maybe he has Prince Alexander with him."

She huffed before standing and wrapping her hands around him, tucking his head under her chin, seeing as she was taller than him. "I can only hope, Shiro. I can only hope."


 

Marmora, the city of rights. It earned its name after the fall of the Castle of Lions, where criminals and renegades come to hide on accountant of the loose military monitoring. You can get away with almost any con or crime if you are careful enough, and it's the best place to get information. Maybe that's why Keith never left after that night. Or maybe it was because he felt like this was just the place to be. After he lost his brother and their royal highnesses, he never left the city. He said he would meet them outside, and he'd hold himself to that, if only to give himself some sort of hope. When he learned that the Prince Alexander didn't make it on the train with his brother and her highness Princess Allura, Keith dove into the shadows and swore that he'd find the Prince if it's the last thing he did.

So that's how Keith found himself in this seedy, dingy bar. His informant was supposed to be meeting him here any second now, but Keith couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. He chalked it up as nerves and tried to put them aside. Try as he might, the feeling wouldn't go away, and it certainly didn't help with how all the residents seemed to glare at him. Finally, 15 minutes past the set time, Kolivan finally enters the bar. Kolivan supposedly has connections to someone who serves directly under Zarkon, and after finding out something that has to do with the Prince, he contacted Keith. As he walks closer to the table where Keith is waiting, he stands up and walks closer. "I see you took your time getting here."

"Getting out of the jail does cause a few set backs, doesn't it?" He holds his hand out to Keith.

"Why bother to set a rendezvous time then," he spits, turning away from the greeting offered to him.

Rather than being offended, Kolivan just laughs it off and takes a seat at the reserved table. "I see that it's true what they say about you." Keith raises an eyebrow in his direction. "You're boiling to the brim with impatience."

After a well placed scowl, Keith just shakes his head. "If you were in my position, you'd want this done, too. So what's this so-called life altering news about the Prince?"

"Right. Straight to the business, I see. Well, her royal highness Allura has put out two big announcements recently. First off, she has taken a suitor. Next-"

"Wait. Who's the suitor?"

Kolivan gave Keith a sly grin, "Not all-business now, are you? The suitor's name is Takashi Shirogane, but insists on being called Shiro."

Keith seems to relax his shoulders a bit at this, nodding his head. "Good. Great. Shiro needs someone like her. Now what else has she released?"

Kolivan raises an amused brow, but continues on regardless of his possible connections to Princess Allura's suitor. "The other thing is a reward. Anyone who can return Prince Alexander safely will be awarded 5,000,000 GAC. She's doing this in hope that if someone is hiding him that this will draw them out. The only problem with her plan is that it's sure to bring forward many fakes. I'm assuming you've heard the rumors?"

Keith nodded, tapping his fingers on the table in thought. "Yeah, a lot of people are positive he's alive, even though he hasn't been seen in ten years. I've just been searching for answers and a body, but now…"

The spy leans forward, resting his body weight on his forearms. "Say, why does this Prince mean so much to you, kid? Is there… a romantic motive behind it all?"

He frowns, not lifting his eyes towards the eager, quite frankly nosy man. "No, nothing like that. I just… I just want answers."

Kolivan nods. "Understandable. Let me know when you're ready to tell me the truth."

Keith's head flies up, and he begins spluttering. "What! N-no. Pfft, what? That! That's the truth. Why wouldn't it be? You know what! Just! Just let me know if you hear anything else on the whereabouts of Prince Alexander."

This is where Keith realizes he might've been too loud, as every head in the bar turned to look at him. He feels his blood rush up to his face as he shrieks in on himself. Before he can say anything, a heavy hand lands on his shoulder. A large shadow leans over him, and a hot, sticky breath wraps around his ear. "What is this about you looking for the Prince Alexander, boy?"

Keith slowly turns around, his fear slowly dissolving into anger. "Who's asking?"

The man straightens up and laughs, loud and cocky. "You must be new to town if you don't know me! I'm Varkon, owner of this here bar, the most popular bar in all of Marmora. Now, what is this about the dead Prince?"

At this point, his blood is absolutely boiling. He saw Kolivan slip out before he got involved in anything, but didn't back down. "And how do you know this, Varkon? Did you kill him yourself? Did you bury his body with your own two hands?"

His confident smile began to waver, but he still held his ground. "Well, erm, no, but-"

Keith shoots up out of his seat. "'But' nothing. Until you give me physical evidence of his death, I will continue looking for our rightful ruler!" Keith sneered at him.

Varkon frowns, and before Keith can say anything else to him, the man's fist collided with his chin. "Learn your place, boy, before it gets you killed."

After regaining his balance from stumbling away from the fist, he glares through his bangs, his eyes spelling murder. His hand wraps around Kolivan's untouched drink, and he flings it at Varkon full force. Unfortunately, it would appear he had anticipated this, so he ducks out of the way, causing the drink to hit another bar-goer. Keith's eyes widen, and he jumps out of the way as another fist is swung his way. He runs towards his initial target and spins him around, landing a punch on his nose causing an immediate trickle of blood. As the bastard drunk goes for an uppercut, Keith jumps to the side and starts running for the door, grumbling the whole way. He had jut wanted information, not a goddamn bar fight. That's what he gets for requesting the rendezvous point to be in the midst of a bunch of mindless drunks, he supposes.

He makes it out the door and makes a sharp right. When he turns around he sees half the group after him follow him, and the other half turn another way. Well, shit. Keith keeps running, trying his hardest to lose the crowd behind him. Abrupt turns and dizzying twists were made, but no matter what he did he couldn't seem to shake them. He takes a moment of risk by turning around, and that's when he goes flying into the ground.

He shakes his head, picking himself back up, prepared to fight the large man standing in front of him. As he rears up for the first punch, however, the man cries out, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! Don't hurt me please! It was an accident, I swear!"

Keith blinked before dropping his fist. "So… you're not going to try to attack me?"

The large brown-skinned man raised his eyebrows in a way that might've been comical if Keith wasn't drowning in adrenaline and bad feelings. "Umm, no. Why would I be trying to hurt you, exactly?"

Keith frowned. "Were you not in the bar when the fight broke out?"

This is when the man took a few steps back. "No. No, I was not in the bar, and I was not in a fight. Why were you in a fight? Oh my god, are you a gang member? Are you running from a murder scene? Oh man, please don't murder me, I don't want to be murdered."

He just shook his head, allowing a small smile to creep onto his face. "Calm down, I'm not a gang member, I'm not a murderer, and I'm not going to kill you…"

"Hunk," the man, Hunk, visibly relaxed at this and held out his hand, "and you are?"

He took the hand, lightly shaking it. "Keith."

Smiling, Hunk pulled Keith into a quick hug. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Keith!" He pulls away, and a frown flashes across his face. "Now, what is this about a bar fight and you being attacked?"

Speak of the devil and the devil will come. As Keith opened his mouth to answer him, 5 large men circled the newly acquainted duo. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the trouble maker himself. Oh, and look, a little friend with him, too!"

Hunk felt himself frown at being called 'little,' especially seeing how he was bigger than maybe three of the men. "Umm, who are you?"

The man who had spoken stepped forward, a large grin on his face. "I'm glad you asked! The name's Sal!" Sal snapped his fingers. "Now that you know my name, I can't wait to exterminate you two rats."

Keith wrapped his fingers around Hunk's wrist and ran faster than he did before. It was one thing when he was on his own, but now he's accidentally managed to get another life on his hands. As if sensing his anguish, Hunk took the lead. "Quick, around this corner!"

He pulled them around the corner and then through a hole in the wall, and he ducked down, pulling Keith with him. They stayed quiet until they heard the group run past. Letting out a breath of relief, Keith stood. "Thanks for that, man. It was cool of you to help me, even if I got you pulled into that mess."

Hunk just shrugged his shoulders. "It was no big deal, really. I'm curious, though. What'd you do that managed to piss them off so much?"

Keith recounted the story up to how he managed to barrel the big guy over, and by the end of it, Hunk's eyes seemed to sparkle with amazement. "What are you looking at me like that for?"

In almost a whisper, he rasped, "You. Are such. A badass. Also, how you're looking for the Prince even though you don't have to or have any relations to him, that's a super noble thing to do. You said you're not doing it for the reward money?"

Keith shook his head, "No, I don't need the money for anything. The most I'd use it for is to visit my brother, but even then I won't really have to use it because when I return his highness to Princess Allura I'll see him. He's her suitor."

Hunk seemed to be contemplating something, and then finally swallowed down the lump in his throat. "If… if I were to help you find Prince Alexander, would you maybe let me have the reward money? I need to get my family out of here, this isn't a good place for them. It isn't a good place for me." He closed his eyes, as if expecting a reprimanding.

Thinking about it, he decided he liked the idea. He nodded his head quickly. "Yeah, yeah, of course! I don't need it for anything, and I want it to go to something good, and what's better than helping a family be together? Yes, you can have the reward money."

The large man looked as if he was about ready to cry. "Do you mean it?" He manages to choke out.

Keith laughed a little. "Of course, big guy. Guess we better start looking, hmm?"

Hunk nodded with tears in his eyes, "Mhmm, yeah! Yeah, we should."

And with that, a wonderful new friendship was born, and one that would change the world as they knew it.

Chapter Text

After the siege of the Castle of Lions, many loyal to Altea were killed. The country was devastated in its short life afterwards, before Zarkon took over and claimed the land to the Galra Empire. So many people died that night and so many lives were ruined; so many children left behind without parents to take care of them. This, as sad as it sounds, increased the amount of business many orphanages received. That's what brings us now to Arus orphanage. Unfortunately, the image of a charming building with children playing on the grounds or singing childhood songs in a circle does not apply here. The orphanage is almost hidden from the world from behind its green, vine curtain, and what little of the building you can see is sun-bleached and crumbling. You can't look up and see a child staring back at you through a window, for their dingy windows are in desperate need of cleaning and repairing. You must be wondering why all this matters. Well, here comes the reason.

It's early, a time no child should really be up. Luckily it unlikely, depending on how you look at it, the person who quietly closes the door is no longer a child. The tall figure keeps turning around, but shakes their head. This is Lance, the 18 year old orphan who has decided to run away.

He thought back to the conversation he had with the man in charge of Arus, Haxus. "You called for me, sir?"

The large man, Haxus, turned away from the letter he had previously been reading. "Ah, yes, Lincoln-"

"It's Lance, sir."

"I called you down here to talk about where you're going to go after you turn 19. Seeing as you will be old enough to live on your own, and us needing to house more… excuse my bluntness, important children, we need you to leave our care. Upon discussion with my boss, we have decided to send you to-"

Lance took a deep breath before stepping forward. "Actually, sir, I had an idea for myself."

Haxus raised a bushy eyebrow, "And what would that idea be, boy?"

He darts his eyes down before continuing. "Well, I was wondering if I could be spared some money so I could go and find my family."

He flinched in preparation for the verbal abuse, but nothing came. He was just… silent. Well, until about 1 minute later, where the silence was disturbed by a hacking guffaw, so loud it could've shook the ground beneath their feet. "You, you want t-to go find your f-f-family!" He broke into more rambunctious laughs.

Lance's face slowly started turning red, and he puffed out his cheeks in defiance. "Yeah, what's so funny about that?"

Haxus dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder. "Listen, kid, I know your type. You wanna believe everything is good in the world and that nothing can go wrong. I'm gonna be real with you here, Liam-"

"Lance"

"Your family abandoned you for a reason. They. Don't. Care. If anything I would think they'd have wanted you dead with how we found ya! So do yourself a favor and get your head outta the clouds. Kapeesh?" Lance turned his head quickly so that the large man wouldn't see the tears gathering in his eyes. He heard a heavy sigh come from Haxus. "Don't be like that, kid. Listen, just, you're gonna go to the fishermen's village in 2 weeks, you're gonna tell them your name, Landon McPhee-

"Lance McClain."

"And they're gonna put you to work. I'm sorry, kid, but that's just the way of the world."

Lance shrugged his shoulder out of Haxus's hand. "It's fine, whatever. I'm turning in early, sir."

Haxus stood up and turned away, but paused before walking. "You do that, son."

It was two days since that conversation, and Lance had formed what he deemed to be the perfect plan in those two days. He had played the role of pure innocence, trying to get Haxus to believe there was nothing suspicious happening with him. He did a few extra chores for a little spare change, and he finally finished packing his few items and deemed himself ready for independence. That night, rather than an abrupt good night, he took his time with each of them, letting them know how much he cared about and loved them, and how he was glad to have met them. Most laughed it off, thinking Lance was just being cheesy, but he couldn't bring himself to leave without saying goodbye to them first. At the stroke of midnight, when he was certain no one would be up, he quietly slipped out of bed. Avoiding the stairs that creaked when stepped on and twisting around the aged spots on the floor, he quickly made his way to the front door. Having oiled its hinges for this sole purpose earlier in the day, he opened it with no worries of squeaking. That's what brought us here, to Lance McClain trying so hard to not have any second thoughts while walking out of this door for the last time. As he shuts the door, he wishes luck for every kid in there. He also makes a point to wish a heart upon Haxus in order to spare any other kid from having to go through what he did. He shudders remembering that. Some part of him wants to believe that Haxus truly meant well, but the more rational, sane part of him knows that he's just a man looking for money.

So yes, Lance was leaving Arus orphanage. He was going to go find his family. He's going to find his family and he's going to be happy. Nothing that horrible man said was true. They love you. They don't want you dead. Breath, Lance, breath. His hand reaches into his pocket and he finds himself pulling out the only thing he has from his past. The only thing that gave him hope. You see, when he was 8 years old, he was found early one morning, the sun just barely peeling over the buildings. His head had a long jagged crack starting at the nape of his neck, and crawling up and around his hairline, ending just to where it could peak from behind his ear, and it was resting in a pile of blood-soaked snow. When he was shaken awake and rushed to the nearest hospital, the police asked a flurry of questions, "What's your name, kid? Who are you? Where are your parents, sport? What happened, champ? Can you tell us anything, pal?" The only thing he could tell them was a simple 'I don't know.'

After he was treated, it was easy to see that the nurses didn't want to deal with an amnesiac orphan, so the dumped his clothes into his hands and sent him to the nearest orphanage. It was as his clothes were handed to him that he noticed the nice quality, and as he was about to comment on it, he saw it fall. The little blue sword. Normally, he wouldn't have been too concerned with something like this falling, not having any memories took priority over everyday mundane things, but something struck home to him with this toy. He picked it up to inspect it, and he read the words that would determine his fate. My Blue Paladin. Those 3 words told him that he had a family, that he shouldn't just give up on them, and even though everyone called him crazy, or too much of a dreamer, or anything, he would close his hand around the sword and his eyes to remember the words carved in. When he was older, he finally decided to do some searching on that, because whoever gave this to him must have loved him.

According to all the books and articles Lance found, and let me tell you, there were a lot, there were five paladins of Voltron, and one of them was called the Blue Paladin. Voltron was the elite group of knights sworn to protect Altea with their lives. Lance knows he was found in the former Altea before it was renamed the Galra Empire, so he asked Haxus about that. All Haxus told about the subject was that any Alteans who survived the attack fled to Paris to escape enslavement from the Galra. That was his hint, his sign, his only hope. Paris. If he went to Paris, then he could possibly find whoever had given him his toy sword.

He pulls the sword out again after he closes the door, reading the words he knows by heart. "I will find my family. I will find, my family." He puts it back into his pocket with a gentle pat, and takes his first step away from Arus in the hot, humid air.


 

Whoever decided to create the sun needs to be stuffed into a shoebox and thrown up into it. Lance is dying. He is a little lost. He is more than a little frustrated. He's been sitting here, at this goddamn crossroad for 7 stupid hours! "Give me a sign! A hint! Anything!" He threw his hands up in the air and flops onto his back, willing the sun to go down.

A shadow fell over his closed eyes, and he sighed in happy relief. Then he stopped breathing. There are no clouds out. There are no clouds out. His eyes jump open, and he flings himself up, only to find his path of motion interrupted by a solid object and an undignified yelp from both parties. "What the quiznak, dude! This is what I get for making sure you weren't dead!"

Lance scrambles backwards, hoping that whoever this is isn't a murderer. That'd be just his luck, wouldn't it. "Who are you? Why are you here? Who are you? Don't kill me!" he whimpers, throwing his hands up to shield his face.

The boy, Lance thinks at least, gives him an unimpressed look, but one that also doubles as a wary look as well. After a long, hesitant pause, a clearly female voice says, "Pidge."

"Gesundheit?"

The girl, because that's what she clearly is, rolls her eyes at him. "No, Pidge. My name is Pidge. What's your name? Make it snappy, pal, I've got things to do, places to be, and people to see."

Lance cocks an eyebrow at her strange behavior. "The name's Lance. Now, what are y-"

"There she is!"

"Get the rat!"

Pidge's eyes get wide behind her glasses and she whips around, just as a pack of men with no shortage of testosterone come into sight. "Oh, shit! No time to talk, we gotta get outta here!"

Before Lance can say anything else, he feels his hand snatched up and next thing he knows, he's being pulled along by a Pidge. As they're running across the path, dodging behind trees and creating obstacles, he asks the first thing on his mind. "Wh- Jesus! Who are those- watch out! Guys?"

Pidge spares a glance behind herself to look at him. "Those big, boorish brutes? They would be Galra soldiers."

"Wh- please stop trying to pull me into trees! What did you do to make them so mad?"

She offers a short, clipped laugh. "I asked too many questions. Now, are you about to do the same or are you going to be pulled along silently?" Lance only blinks at her in astonishment. How could such a small person be so feisty? Pidge, however, seems to take it as an answer. "Perfect!"


 

After what felt like hours of running, they finally stop in front of a sign telling them the closest town is the city of Marmora. "Okay, now, ask me questions. You get three. Any more than that and I leave you behind."

Lance gives a nervous laugh, running a hand through his already mussed hair. "Well, shit, you sure mean business, don't you?"

"Yes. Two questions left."

He throws his head up. "Wh- no! That does not count missy! Who gives you the right?"

She gives him a bored blink. "Myself. My questions, my rules. Last question, think carefully now." She offers him the barest of smiles at this.

He huffs in frustration and thought. "Fine. What were you asking them about that made them so mad?"

Pidge gives a little head bobble in thought. "That's a good question, Lance. I can't answer that."

Lance furrows his brow, and makes a high-pitched noise of indignation. "Umm, no, missy! You dragged me along, you answer my one question!"

Pidge sighs in defeat. "Fine, I don't have the energy to spare on this. You seem harmless anyway-"

"I'm bigger than you!"

"That means nothing at all. Anyways, I was asking about the refugees of Altea."

At this, Lance perks up. "The Who of what now?"

Pidge frowns. "The refugees from Altea after the siege of the Castle of Lions. My family was part of the first group to flee with the Princess Allura and her now suitor Shiro. I need to find them."

He sends a quick prayer to the ones up above before he gathers his nerve. "Would you, by any chance, be going to Paris, my Pidge friend?"

"Umm, yes? Why?"

Lance grabs her shoulders and begins shaking her in excitement. "Pidge, I'm going to Paris, too! We can stick together! This is perfect!"

She raises an unimpressed eyebrow. "I'll let you tag along on one condition. You promise to be my parental guardian."

Lance waves a hand to brush it off. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm going to Paris!"

With that, the two headed off to the station in Marmora, ready to find their families.

Chapter Text

"Two tickets to Paris, please!"

The man behind the ticket counter gives the scraggly children before him a once over before deciding that money is money. "Exit visas."

Lance gives a glance to the short girl beside him. "Umm, exit visas?" That was, apparently, the wrong thing to say.

The man grabs at the window furiously as if he had offended his grandmother than repeated what was said to him. "No exit visas, no tickets!" With that, he slammed the window shut, sufficiently cutting of anything the two might've said.

Pidge turns away from the window, kicking her feet on the ground. "Well, that worked out great." After escaping from the soldiers chasing her, she had dragged this boy, Lance, to the town of Marmora with her. It wasn't the best of town's, but if that was what she was looking for she wouldn't have been on the run in the first place. No, while Marmora was a shifty place at the very least, it was also one of the few towns where one can leave the country. That's why she's here, but apparently she's going to have to try another goddamn town across the Galra Empire, which puts her ridiculously behind schedule.

Lance holds up his hands. "Look, you can't blame me. This is my first time off of Arus property, for heaven's sakes. What else did you expec-"

He realizes now he must really have a penchant for getting cut off, and he really hates it. "Did you say Arus? As in Arus Orphanage? Were you a worker there or something?" The look on the short girl's face was slightly unnerving, but he figured that he's not dead yet, so what the hell.

All he could do before answering was raise an eyebrow. "Umm, no. Why would anyone want to work there by free will? No, I don't have a nice family to run home to if I don't get out of here. I'm an orphan, never knew them." He didn't mean to, but he could hear the bitterness that came with his tone.

Pidge let a shiver run through her back. "Abandoned that young, huh? At least it was before you could remember them. Separation after that is worse." And you know what, sue her. She sucks at emotions, okay?

He belts out a short, stiff laugh, before shaking his head. "Yeah, before I can remember them, exactly. Whatever. Let's just figure out how to get this damned paperwork."

Before Pidge can ask anymore questions, she feels a hand on her shoulder. She whips around, taking out a small handheld item. She pressed a button, and suddenly it was buzzing with electricity, much to Lance and the perpetrator's surprise. "Who the hell are you. Speak now or this-" she briefly waves her weapon, "finds its way into your throat. Tick, tock, bucko."

The man of interest was tall, freakishly so, and had large ears and strange, purple eyes. Seeing this put the girl even more on guard. Dominant traits of Galra natives. The Galra slowly raises his hands, and takes a few steps back. "My apologies, child. I just happened to overhear that you were looking for a way to get travel papers, and fast. If you'll allow me, I could be of some help."

Before she can tell him to skedaddle while he actually can, Lance speaks up. And with an oh so great response, too. "Anything you can do to help would be strongly appreciated, please."

Pidge shoots a quick but heated glare to him before turning around to face what the still unnamed Galra has to say. "Thank you. My name is Ulaz, and I am part of a secret rebellion against the Empire, so authorities will not be notified by me. If you seek travel papers quickly and uncaring of the means, go to the abandoned Castle of Lions. There you will find a boy, almost the same age as you. His name is Keith, and he may be able to help you. Tell him what you were telling your young friend here about. The orphanage. You. Your memories. He can help."

Lance's eyes are wide while his eyebrows scrunch, clearly shocked by the amount of information and desperately trying to remember it all. Before Ulaz can turn away, he grabs his arm. "Wait! Thank you. I'll let this Keith know you sent us and-"

"No! No. Don't do that. Just, you didn't hear it from me, all right? Please." If not for the pleading lilt of his voice and the look of fear in his eyes, Lance would've thought he was being set up, but the guy was too genuine for it to be anything like that.

With a final nod, Lance agrees. "All right. Good luck, Ulaz, and thank you for this."

With a final sad smile, he gives a nod goodbye and turns away. Had Lance and Pidge still been listening as he walked away, they would've heard his last words to them. "Good luck, my prince. May you find your family and your memories." But perhaps that's for the best. Perhaps that is what will make this adventure go where it does.

 

As they walk through the streets to the palace, Lance and Pidge allow themselves to enjoy the impromptu tour around the city a bit. Everything looks so friendly, it's almost hard for Lance to believe this town could ever have any crime. That is, until he saw the two boys barrel past them, followed by a bunch of mean looking thugs carrying guns and sticks. Honestly, if that doesn't scream trouble, Lance doesn't know what will. As a matter of fact, "Hey, Pidge, do you think we should help those guys out?"

Pidge just gives him a bored look before shaking her head in answer. "Never get involved in anything that isn't directly related to you in Marmora. That's one of the best ways to get yourself killed. Besides, at the speed those two were running, they're bound to lose those Galra cronies quickly. Let's just keep going, the sooner we find this Keith character, the better."

Although the town wasn't large by any means, it definitely felt like it by the time they finally made it to their destination. "Jeez, when he said it was abandoned he was not kidding at all." Despite the fact that the Castle of Lions still stood tall and majestic, the age was clear. The once-pristine white walls were stained, and the beautiful stained glass windows were cracked and broken. The duo made their way to the place the grandiose doors once stood, now replaced with planks of wood to board it up, sealing its fate. "How do we get in?"

Pidge ran her hand along the boards, looking for weaknesses in the wood but finding none. "I'm not sure. You try taking these boards off, I'll see if there's another way in if you can't get it."

Lance gives a joking salute before turning back to the problem at hand. "Okay, soooooo. Wood. It's wood. You can break wood, right, Lance? Sure you can. No problemo. Let's do this." He gives the barricade a quick once over and rubs his hands together. He walks over to it and puts his hands on top of the rotting planks and pulls experimentally. Feeling the slight give at such a weak pull, his face splits into a bright grin. "Nice! Hey, yo, Pidge." He waits for the small girl to come around the corner. "Pidge. Pidgey. Pidgeot? Pidgeotto! I can take this down!" Despite his calls, she did not round the corner, causing Lance to worry some. He steps away from the barricade and rounds the corner, looking for the mop of brown hair he's come to recognize as his friend. When he sees nothing, he goes back to the wood and grabs it once more. He lets out a breath and pulls. Seeing as it only bends some, he grips tighter and pulls harder. Still not breaking, he decides to give it one more go, deciding that if it doesn't work he's going to search around to see if he found where Pidge might've entered at. He didn't want to think about what happens if he can't find an entrance she'd have gone through. He plants his feet, and gives the final tug. He finds himself falling backwards, not having anything to anchor himself on. After landing sort of harshly on the ground, he gives a little laugh to celebrate. He pops up and dances his way around the larger pieces of debris to the entrance he made for himself.

He steps inside, and his breath is taken away. Much like the exterior, the age shows on the inside, but it's also so magnificent that you could almost think the dust and cobwebs were not there. Lance made his way deeper into the grandiose building, following the gilded carpet. He tried, he really did, to pay attention to how he was getting where he was going, but his eyes kept being drawn to gorgeous paintings and vases that decorated the otherwise empty halls. He halts to a stop when he hears a rattling coming from behind him, and he reaches for something to defend himself with, but finds nothing. He gives it a few seconds, and then he whips around, ready to jump his attacker before they have a chance to do him any harm. Before he can do anything, Pidge jumps out of the way before glaring at him. "Hey, dickhead, how about you don't try to kill me, huh?"

"Sorry," he mutters, giving a sheepish smile. Before he can say something else, though, he starts leaning to the side. Stumbling over his own feet to catch himself, he rubs his eyes and gives his head a shake. Pidge walks over to Lance, staring at him in confusion, half trying to make out his incomprehensible mumbling, half trying to figure out if he's doing this on purpose. She lays a hand on his shoulder to turn him towards her, but before she can say anything, his face drains of blood and all he says to her is, "Dios mio, my head," before crumpling on the ground.

Forgetting all precious worries about someone finding them, Pidge grabs his shoulders and sits him up before yelling for help. "Someone! Please! My friend, I don't know what's wrong with him!" Before she can yell anymore, she hears a groan of pain. Whipping her head back to Lance, she starts raining questions on him.

His eyes are mostly closed and his head won't stop throbbing, but he's coherent enough to find Pidge's mouth and to clap his hand over it. "God, Alicia, don't scream so loud."

Pidge draws her eyebrows together in confused thought. Who's Alicia?

 

Keith is thundering down the halls with Hunk following closely behind. "I knew it! I knew I heard something, but what did you say to me? 'Shut up and eat your food, Keith!' Now look where we are. We're looking for an intruder, who needs help no less! This is just spelling serial killer, and if we die because of one, I'm. Blaming. You." Okay, so maybe he was being a little dramatic, but he's been stressed lately. His number one informant has gone missing, he's being pressured into just getting a fake Prince Alexander, and, to top it all off, his brother is probably getting married and he won't be there to see it. God, what was he thinking, disappearing for all these years. He can't go back though. He can't go back until he finds the Prince. The real one.

Hunk gives the fuming boy an exasperated sigh, rolling his eyes. "Keith, chill. No one goes in the Castle of Lions ever, they're too scared. They don't want to be haunted by the dead residents."

He slows down and turns to look at Hunk, a look of mild terror drawn across his features. Hunk loses his scowl to a small smile, "Dude, did you really not hear about that at all? Are you sure you lived in Marmora your entire life?" He decided not to share that one of the most frequently mentioned spirits is actually believed to be the young Prince playing pranks on those who he finds interesting. He starts to think about it, how odd it is that Keith is so desperate to find him. It's not that he doubts that he's a good person, but to go the lengths of which he has gone? To swear to never see his family again until he has returned the Prince to his own? Keith Kogane has had to have met him before, that's the only reason he could have such a personal attachment to him. The real question is of whether it was romantic or not.

Hunk was so lost in his thoughts that he wasn't aware Keith had stopped until he was barreling into him. Keith turns around, "Dude, what are you doing, trying to get us caught?" Sure enough, when he was quiet enough, he could hear the voice of the girl shooting of questions in rapid fire and a groggy male voice who seemed to be answering none of the questions given. He shares a look with his companion, and sees him mouthing numbers. On three, they throw the doors open in hopes of catching their intruders by surprise.

Well, they certainly managed to surprise them, so much that the girl who appeared to be cradling the boy's head jumped up and consequently dropped her acquaintance's head in shock. "Quiznak! Don't startle me like that, by the Lions. Who are you? Don't get close to me if you're here to hurt us. I can and will attack."

The boy on the ground grabs her shorts and tugs weekly. "Wha's happenin' Alicia? Who is it?" He begins to roll over towards Hunk and Keith, and he sees the girl, Alicia?, protectively step over him as if they were going to hurt him. Keith makes eye contact with her and locks down on it, hoping to communicate that he means no ill harm.

Before anything can be said between the two, they hear a sharp gasp from the ground, and all three give the boy their panicked attention. He's staring directly at Keith, skin pale and eyes huge with pain and what looks to be almost recognition. He's about to say something when he collapses. Alicia jumps immediately into action, checking his vitals and making sure he didn't damage anything during the, admittedly very small, fall. "Who the hell are you."

Hunk is the first to recover from the full on soap opera scene they've walked in to, and so therefore he answers. "I'm Hunk, and this is Keith. We-"

"Keith. He hasn't mentioned anything about a Keith. When have you met Lance. You must've known him for him to have reacted to you like that. So how do you know him? What did you do to him?"

Keith's eyes were just getting progressively wider with every accusation she made, and he wonders if they're family with how protective Alicia is of him. "Umm, no. I mean, we-I. We've never met. Not that I'm aware of. I'm sorry, was it Alicia?"

Alicia frowns and turns to look at the unconscious resident of the group before turning back to face the duo. "No. It's Pidge." He opens his mouth to ask her why Lance called her Alicia, but Hunk ends up beating him to it. "I… I don't know. We came in here and he collapsed, and he just started calling me Alicia. It must be someone from the orphanage or something."

"He's an orphan?" Smooth, Keith, why not just ask for his identity while you're at it. "I mean, not that it matters, it's just, like I didn't-"

Pidge sighs and pinches her nose and holds up her other hand in the universal stop gesture. "Please, just shut up. I don't know shit, I met him a few hours ago, any questions you have can be answered by the man himself. Now, you said you were Keith, right? Does this mean you can help us with travel papers?"

He shares a look with Hunk, one of concern. If people know enough about their con to be telling strangers to come looking for them, this could be even more dangerous. "Umm, maybe, can I just, go look at your friend Lance for a second? Hunk, talk to her, tell her what's up." For the love of Altea please understand I mean not our plans. He walks past Pidge and kneels down beside Lance and grabs his chin to turn his face towards him. Keith almost falls backwards when he sees his features. His face is long and thin, but not obnoxiously so, and the color of a wet beach, a tanned brown color. His eyelashes aren't very long but they're thick and just a little darker than his short, wavy chestnut hair, and his eyebrows are thin and long. His nose is a long, narrow slope that ends with just the slightest upturn, and his lips are thin but not chapped. Keith sucks in a gasp, hands hovering over one of his freckled cheeks. Not only was this boy beautiful, he has an uncanny resemblance to the Prince. If he could just see his eyes…

"Hello? Earth to Keith? Dude, pay attention." He slowly turns away from the gorgeous boy to pay attention to what Hunk is saying.

He sees Pidge snickering, and he asks what she's on about. "I just can't believe you've already got a crush on little boy blue."

Keith feels his face going red, and fast. "I- I don't! I wasn't! He was just- what makes you say that?!"

Even his own companion gives him an unimpressed look. "Dude, you literally almost fell on your ass when you looked at him. It's pretty obvious."

He narrows his eyes at them both before huffing out, "Whatever, guess I won't tell you guys who I think he is, that's cool."

That certainly seemed to catch their attention, seeing as they both scrambled over to him. Pidge was the first one to get her question out, "What do you mean you think you know who he is, he's Lance. Do you know who his family is, is that what you mean? Come on, share already!"

"Do you really think he's…?"

He gives a firm nod. "I need you to not freak out, but see, Hunk and I are looking for the lost prince of Altea, his royal highness Alexander. I think… I think Lance could be him."

Hunk and Keith prepare themselves for the tell about how incredulous that idea is, and that it's impossible for him to even be alive, but instead they just get silence. Pidge almost seems to be, dare he hope, contemplating the idea. "Quick, Hunk, go get me a picture of the Prince from in here." Rather than asking questions, he just runs out and gets her what she needs. "Holy crow, I think you could be right. Oh my, this is, just, wow! I helped out the long lost, presumed dead Prince of Altea! Keith, Hunk, do you know what this means?" The two just share a look before shrugging. She rolls her eyes, "It's almost like I'm the only one in this room with a brain. It means that Lance, erm, Alexander, still has a family! He's not actually an orphan!" Hunk scratches the back of his neck, stepping up to explain the little problem to the girl he'd apparently befriended in the two minutes it took for him to look at Lance. Speaking of, he walks back over and sits beside him, opting to wait right there for him to wake up.

It's been hours. Four hours, and Lance has still not shown any sign of waking up. Keith, reasonably, has already grown beyond impatient and is now pacing the floor in a circle around their unconscious friend. "Oh my lion, how much longer does he need to sleep?! Can't I just, I don't know, wake him up?"

Pidge looks up from her spot on the ground frowning before shaking her head. "That wouldn't be a good idea. Seeing as he passed out he isn't in control of his body and possibly his mind, and we don't want to trigger anything in him that would harm him mentally or physically. It's best to just leave him be." At least she has the decency to look a little bit upset about this, too.

Now see, the thing you should know about Keith is that he has, like, zero impulse control. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. It's nonexistent. Coupled with his impatience and annoyance with the situation, he does a stupid thing. And what stupid thing might that be, you ask? Well, he takes his pale, clammy finger, and he jams it into Lance's forehead. Hard. Repeatedly. He just, keeps going until, finally, it seems he's waking up. He just assumes everything is fine after that until he hears it. The heart-wrenching wail and the bloodcurdling screams that followed. What had he done?

 

Lance had been fine. At least, he thought he had been. Then again, he can't remember much before falling asleep, and these nightmares just kept coming back to torment him no matter how much he sent them away. Eventually, though, something else approached him in his dream. It was hazy, definitely not focused enough to identify exactly what it was, but he tried. It looked to be… a boy. A boy with long, raven hair, tied back in a ponytail. He reached for the wall and grabbed something and then he…

Lance's eyes flew open to the real world, and before his sleep-addled brain could process what he was doing, a shriek tore its way through his throat into the silent air. He just kept going until his breathe ran out, and then he started panting. Heavy, wet pants that hinted that he was about to begin bawling like he used to at the orphanage every night. He was about to just let loose until he saw a pair of gorgeous violet eyes looking at him worriedly, and he chokes down the sob that almost runs through him. He sits up to have a better look, and boy is he glad he does. The boy was, if he were to guess based on how he was sitting, on the shorter side, but it was obvious he was in no way weak or scrawny. You could see the muscles pressing against the fabric of his red cropped (strange) jacket. His face was pale as the sand on a moon-washed beach. He has full, pouty lips, set in an almost intimidating frown, and his nose was round and basically adorable. His hair was midnight and, god, he ruined it. He ruined his perfection because he has, of all the horrible things in the world to have, a mullet. A bonafide, disgusting mullet. So maybe Lance was exaggerating a bit, sue him, his poor gay heart couldn't take Mr. Perfect here being so perfect. In all honesty, though, he kind of wants to run his fingers through it, wants to see if it's as soft as it looks. The most beautiful thing about him are his eyes. God, his eyes, he feels like he could describe them for years. They're wide and expressive, but also well guarded. He had gorgeously long eyelashes that Lance was a little jealous of, but the real treat was the color. Calling them navy or violet just didn't cut it. It was, they almost seemed to… change, every time you looked at them again. They sparkled like the galaxy, like the stars above them on a clear, storm-less night. Just his luck, of course, that he processes all of this as his head is flying towards Mr. Perfect's. He fleetingly realizes he's still screaming like a moron, and then their heads collides.

 

Keith only has time to back away some before Lance's head is hitting his, and they both fall back to the ground groaning. Before Keith can apologize for waking him up so roughly, however, he decides to open his eyes once more, give Keith a quick look over, and says, "What the quiznak, Mullet?"

He isn't sure what he's more stunned by, the gorgeous pools of blue that are his eyes, or the incredibly rude tone he used on a complete stranger. He just kind of sits there, jaw on the ground, staring. Before he can remember what a filter is, he decides to respond with a classic, "What the flying fuck?"

He can feel Pidge and Hunk's confused gaze on them, but all the two can really do are stare in wonder of the salty forms that are each other. This gives Keith plenty of time to have his internal battle about whether or not this is the Prince Alexander because, come on!, the resemblance is uncanny, but at the same time, what the flying fuck? How could a Royal be so rude? Thankfully, before either of them can some how spontaneously mess this up anymore, Pidge decides it to be a good time to jump into the not-conversation. "So, what's the diagnosis, doc," she laughs nervously. "Is he our guy or not?"

Keith turns to face the short girl as Lance rises in curiosity. "Are you serious? You think this skinny little brat could actually be him? No, it's not." He frowns hard and turns to go get Hunk and bid the duo good bye, but he notices Lance is no longer on the ground behind him. He looks back to Pidge and sees him chatting up a storm with the two of them. "Hunk, let's go, we've gotta keep searching."

He's still not listening, too intrigued by what the lanky boy is saying to pay attention to Keith, so after a few repeats of his name, Hunk finally sighs and walks over. Instead of grabbing his stuff, he grabs Keith's are and pulls him out of hearing range of the other two. "Listen, dude. I get your poor gay heart is having a hard time dealing with this Lance guy, but you've seriously got to hear his story. When he was eight, he was found on the streets of Altea with absolutely no memories. He's trying to go to Paris because he thinks that's where his family is. Dude, that's where Her Highness is staying."

Keith puts his hand up to his eyes and rubs, hating to burst this big guy's bubble. "Listen, Hunk, while that's all fine and dandy, I really don't think that that's hi-"

"No, you listen," he interrupts, jamming his finger into his chest, "I have a family here that struggle to survive. I'm the eldest, and I need to make sure they can have a good life, but I can't do that unless I have money. If this isn't him, this is the closest we're getting. I don't care if you only want the real deal, because I need to take what I can get, and if a fake is what it takes, so be it." Having said his piece, he finally removes his finger from his chest, and settles into a stubborn, cross-armed lean.

Keith sighs and runs a hand through his hair, before dropping both by his side and looking at his companion. "Fine, you have your wish. We'll use him as a fake. I'll teach him everything he needs to know, and you can have the reward money." He tries to seem unaffected by the decision, but he's devastated. His entire life had been dedicated to protecting the young prince, whether Alexander had known it or not, and he had failed. He had the chance to make it right again, but now that he's accepted to use a fake, he's failed again. Regardless of this, he walks back over to Lance. He holds out his hand in front of him, and decides to properly introduce himself. "Hi, it's Lance, right? I'm Keith, Keith Kogane."

Lance looks at him oddly, and slowly reaches his hand out to shake with Keith's. "Yeah, it's Lance. I'd like to say it's nice to meet you, but circumstances say no."

Lions, give him patience. "Yeah, sure, whatever. I'm just going to cut to the chase here. Do you know who Prince Alexander is?"

"Yeah, he's that kid that everyone is either looking for or claiming to be dead." He knows that Lance can see him clench his teeth at the mention of his death, but he wisely doesn't question it.

"Yeah, him. Well, my pal Hunk and I think you're him. I'm assuming you have all of your things, so I would say get ready, but you don't need to. Wait here while Hunk and I go get our shit, and then we'll leave for Paris." He's about to go get to the room they're staying in, but is stopped by a pull on his jacket and turns to face a flabbergasted Lance. "What?" he asks exasperatedly.

The look being sent his way is still very much befuddled, but the reasoning why is quickly realized. "Do you seriously expect me to believe I'm the Prince Alexander. The long-lost royalty that was prim and proper with his big ol' family? That Prince Alexander?"

Running an exhausted hand down his face, he's about to answer when, bless, Hunk and Pidge step in, both wrapping an arm around his back and shoulders, walking towards to the painting of the Prince. "Think about it, Lance," Pidge begins, "you don't know what happened to you before you were found-"

"-and no one knows what happened to him."

Pidge nods, "Yes, and you're looking for family in Paris-"

"-and his only family is in Paris!" Hunk finishes for her.

She settles a half-annoyed look on him. "Thank you, Hunk."

Keith joins the trio and gestures to the portrait, "Haven't you ever thought about it?"

Lance scoffs, "What, that I was the Prince Alexander?" All three of them nod eagerly. "Well, I don't know, it's kind of hard to think that you're royalty when you're sleeping on the floor, but sure. I guess every little boy out there wishes he could be a prince."

Keith nods, "So what do you say, Lance? Do you want to come with? Or are you still convinced you're not him?" He's still looking at the painting, frowning in thought, but he still answers, a murmured I don't know. "All right, well, I guess we'd better head on our way then. Hunk?"

The confusion from the sudden change has him following Keith, and he quickly catches up to ask him something. "Dude? Why'd you walk away? We nearly had him!"

Keith gives him a sly smile, one that normally meant trouble on him. He says nothing, merely holds up three fingers, putting one down, and then a second. When he puts his last finger down, they hear it. "Keith! Wait! Keith!"

Hunk does a little cheer as Keith turns to look at the staircase they'd just descended. "Hmm, what was that, did you say something?"

Lance is visibly out of breath, panting like he'd just finished sprinting a marathon. "I don't remember anything, so who's to say I can't be the duke or prince or whatever he is?"

"Mhmm, go on."

"And if I'm not, well the princess will surely know, and it'll all just be an honest mistake."

"And either way, you get to Paris."

"Yeah!" Lance grabs Keith's hand to shake it again, but Keith pulls away at the force.

He turns towards Hunk and Pidge, who has managed to somehow show up beside him, and gives a grand gesture to the duo. "May I introduce, his royal highness, the Prince Alexander!"

Lance is bouncing on the balls of his feet, "Pidge, we're going to Paris!"

Chapter Text

"Pidge, we're going to Paris!"

 

Thace has been in this palace for days now, not for the first time, but this is the first time he's become intrigued by someone claiming to be the Prince. For some unknown reason, hustlers, bandits, and other various criminals have decided that the old abandoned palace, that was abandoned during the Fall of the Castle of Lions, would be the best place to plan and go through with treasonous acts. As if the Emperor doesn’t have at least one of his men posted inside at all times. This is one of those not so uncommon times where Emperor Zarkon had requested that just one of his men be patrolling the halls of his former battleground, and Thace was the unlucky man chosen for the job.

 

The vast majority of the time he is not keeping strict surveillance on the property, not is he arresting the criminals who trespass almost daily. Before the Alteans fell, he had been one of the peaceful Galra who had lived among them, and he still considered this is home despite the unnerving lack of friendly faces from his past. The day the Princess Allura fled to Paris was the day that Thace had sworn to protect the inhabitants of Marmora.

 

So yes, he has seen his fair share of men and women come in to broker deals with each other in order to fool the Princess. Every time, he would roll his eyes and walk towards the next hallway. This time, though, he found himself drawn in, unable to look away. Perhaps it was because of the events that took place, or maybe it was because of the boy, was it Lance he heard his name to be? Whatever the reason, he knew that this boy was special, but he was unsure of what yet. Regardless of what it was, he had already decided that he would remain silent once more. Though he had only seen this boy once, he knew there was something about him that seemed fierce but… pure.

 

Before he could rise to his feet and follow the group who caught his attention, he felt his hand being tugged back by… something he couldn’t feel. He looked down to see what it was, and his eyes widened

in fear. He opened his mouth to call out in fear to her, but she appeared in front of him and silenced him with her hand. “Hello, Thace.”

 

Physically and metaphorically unable to respond, his mind began to wander. The witch Haggar hasn’t been seen since the Fall of the Castle of Lions, so why was she here now? The only reason she would have to reappear, and now of all times… Thace ripped her hand away from his mouth. “He can’t be.”

 

The hood covered all of her face but her mouth, letting Thace see the cruel, thin smile gracing her lips. “Shall we go and finish the mission, or were you planning to take a different course of action?” He mentally grimaced, knowing that she would not let him go if she knew what he was originally planning.

 

He steps back, trying to compose an air of confidence, “As a matter of fact, Haggar, I was going to take action. I was planning on reporting to Emperor Zarkon."

 

The witch's smug smile doesn't falter. "Why not just kill the cub and be done with it. You know that is his fate anyways."

 

"You know as well as I do that he is as indecisive as the changing winds. You don’t yet know his plans for this child.”

 

“But he does not yet know of his existence. How can he have plans for a boy who’s supposed to be dead?”

 

Thace swallows thickly. “My lord has plans for this empire as well as plans for that brat of a princess. The young prince could be a useful pawn in fulfilling those plans.”

 

“What makes you so certain he will?” Damn this retched witch and her knowing smirk.

 

“What makes you so certain he won’t. After all, you haven’t been by his side for the past ten years. Things can and have changed, Witch Haggar.” This was it. This was how Thace was to die. He would be killed by the witch after sassing her. He always imagined a more noble death for himself. Maybe something like sacrificing himself for someone else, deflecting a bomb and whatnot.

 

Haggar narrows her eyes, and it’s very clear that Thace has managed to strike a nerve. Rather than submit to her glare, he puffs out his chest and gathers an air of confidence, hoping she couldn’t tell it was fake. “Very well. Let us go, then, shall we?”

 

He is confused for a moment, but as realization dawns on him he is unable to protest. He is already being caught in the sweeping magic of Haggar, transporting him to Emperor Zarkon himself. He blinks once and he is suddenly on the floor of the palace and he can do nothing to stop the bile that rises to his throat. “What, pray tell, is so important that you had to disturb my peace?”

 

It takes a moment for Thace to recognize the booming voice addressing him, but as soon as he does he is scrambling up to his feet. “My Lord! The Witch Haggar has brought me here, to pass along some information I have stumbled upon.” If he could see Zarkon’s eyebrows, he’s almost positive they’d be raised and unimpressed. “It’s about the Lost Prince, my Lord.”

 

Zarkon straightens out the smallest bit, something most would not notice. Thace does. “Where is she?”

 

Before he can answer, the woman herself appears. “I’m here, my Lord,” she croons as she makes her way towards him. “This man has found the Prince Alexander.”

 

Thace has no time to formulate a response before the emperor is whipping his head towards him, anger plain on his face. “If he is the real boy, why did you not kill him! Do you realize what this could cost us? If that Altean brat Allura hears word of his survival, everything we’ve, I’ve built will be for naught! Why isn’t he dead?!”

 

He takes in a shuddering breath. He could do this. “My Lord, I believe his survival could be beneficial to us. He could lead us directly to where the Princess Allura is hiding, and we will be able to kill her along with him. If you wish to kill him sooner we can track him down, but we cannot bring someone back to life. I only wished to provide you with something I saw to be beneficial.”

 

It is disturbingly quiet for a very long period of time. That is, until Zarkon speaks up. “You are smart, boy, I will give you that, but that is not what we will be doing. I refuse to go on a wild goose chase with this prince and his sister. No, we will bring her to us. Haggar.”

 

“Yes, my Lord?”

 

“Kill the boy, but bring me his body. I want his death to be visible.”

 

Thace feels his face draining of color. “Sir, what are you planning.”

 

Zarkon turns and gives him an eerie smile like he was the cat who got the canary. “Why, I’m going to draw the princess out of hiding. What better way than broadcasting her dead brother’s body all across the nations?”

 

“Sir, you really don-“

 

“Do not fail me a second time, Haggar.”

 

She gives one last cold smile to Thace before turning to her master. “Yes, my Lord. Vrepit sa.”

 

Thace’s voice has turned to just a whisper as he responds with his own vrepit sa.

Chapter Text

After much arguing over whether or not Pidge could join them, the quartet was off to board the train. Despite the infectious excitement being emitted from the two oblivious tagalongs, Keith feels the waves of nervousness thrumming through him. He’s nothing but a conman who lacks a real job and livable income, he can’t afford actual train tickets. With the worry threatening to drown him, he shuts his eyes to try and regain his calm. He felt a large, strong hand warmly grip his shoulder, and he opened his eyes to see Hunk’s caring and anxious smile aimed at him.

He released a shuddering breathe he was unaware he was holding, and he stretched out the hand holding their forged paperwork. With wordless grunts, the papers are exchanged for train tickets. Before they leave to board, he could swear he saw Lance blow a raspberry and Pidge make a funny face at the man in the ticket booth, but the only sign it happened was the man frown deepening. It was probably nothing anyways.

They all boarded the train, starting with Lance, followed by Pidge, then Hunk, and lastly Keith. As Keith went to sit down next to Hunk, he got kicked out of the way by Pidge since he hadn’t seen her there at first. He turns to sit in the opposite window seat, but, lo and behold, there sits Lance, fiddling with his toy sword absentmindedly. Turning to Hunk, he starts to complain. “Hunk, you gave the gremlin my window seat?! She’s not even supposed to be here!” All he got for his efforts was a bored shrug and a raspberry blown in his direction. Frowning, he took the last seat next to Lance, who still seemed lost in thought. Keith lightened his frown to a more thoughtful one, turning his thoughts over in his head. There was something about Lance, and he didn’t know what it was, but there was something there that made him want to believe he was the prince. It wasn’t just his remarkable physical features, even though his are practically identical to how the prince looked at a young age, but it was his nature. He definitely had a childish, immature air to him, don’t get Keith wrong, but there was also an ocean of grace and unfounded loyalty beneath that. If Keith were to guess anything he’d say that the guise he puts up front is just a mask to hide everything else behind. Imagine, not having an inkling of an idea of what the first eight years of your life were, just suddenly being woken up into a world where you know nothing, not even your own name. It wouldn’t surprise Keith if Lance acted the way he did to hold all of that back. He shook his head lightly, enough of that. There were definitely a few things hinting towards Lance not being Alexander as well, and his posture was definitely part of it. Keith leans his head towards Lance and lightly whacks him with his papers to get his attention. “Sit up straight, princes don’t slouch.”

Lance frowns at him and slouches more into his seat. “And how do you know how princes act, huh, Mullet?”

“Plenty, that’s all you need to know about it.” Like he’d give the brat the knowledge that he used to be a servant in the palace.

They sit in silence for a little while longer, and Keith contributed to shoot glares at Lance for his posture. Finally, he sits up and asks, “Keith, do you really think I’m royalty?”

He weighs his options of snide honesty and sweet buttering, and gives a smile that probably looks more like a sneer and says, “You know I do.”

Keith was clearly expecting to hear some sort of relief or another question, but he’s left gaping like a fish out of water when Lance abruptly stands up and all but growls, “Then stop bossing me around!” He stalks out of the car to presumably find another seat, and Keith is disturbed from his gaping by Hunk and Pidge snickering as Hunk makes a quick mark on his book. Keith grumbles and rolls his eyes at the two’s antics, knowing full well it was probably a tally chart of some kind.

A few minutes later, Keith eventually tired of the obvious glares of the two across from him, so he huffs and gets up. "Why am I the one who has to talk to him? It's not my fault he’s being an arrogant prick!” He intensifies his glare at the two’s blank stares. “Fine. Fine! I guess I’ll go and be the mature one here!” He storms off, casually looking in the windows off each cart to try and fine the royal pain in the ass. When he finally spots him sitting and toying with that stupid blue sword he’s been carrying around everywhere. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, he’s going to apologize and be civil, and that will be that. He opens the door and sees Lance’s eyes flicker up to meet his, but they don’t settle there, choosing to look out the window instead. Now or never, Keith. He clears his throat and sits across from Lance. “I thought an apology was in order.”

Lance gives him a bored look from the side of his eyes, still not giving Keith his full attention. “Well, I’m glad we can both agree you were being ridiculous, and I accept your apology.”

Are you serious. Keith can feel his eye twitching in irritation. Sure, he was fully intending to apologize, but that doesn’t give the brat the right to just assume that he is! “Me?! Apologize, what, are you-! If anyone should be apologizing it’s you!” Ridiculous. He’s being ridiculous. If Hunk was in here he’d be getting slapped upside the head.

But look, now he has Lance’s full attention. “Why you-! You know what, no, no, I’m not gonna do this. You can be broody all you want, but I’m not talking to you.” He crosses his arms and slouches down into his seat, pouring like a three year old.”

“You know what, that’s fine with me!” Keith is mimicking Lance’s posture, but he’s going to pretend he’s not for his pride’s sake.

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Lance childishly sticks his tongue out at Keith before returning his attention to the toy in his hands. It’s been about three minutes of blissful silence when Lance goes and ruins it. “Are you gonna miss it?”

Keith swears on every being in the universe that he is going to fucking kill this boy. “You’re talking? No, not at all.” He directly glares at him this time to get his point across.

He makes a distasteful face, like he just tasted something extremely bitter before he spits out his next retort. “No, Marmora.”

“Hah, sure,” he rolls his eyes and leans his head against the window, looking out at the afternoon sun. “Sure will miss the constant attempts on my life, starving unless I steal, and the constant Galra patrols. Why would anyone miss that place?”

He can see Lance furrow his eyebrows in confusion at that and he leans forward in his seat. “But isn’t that your home?”

He can feel himself growing defensive over it, and before he knows it he’s shouting at Lance. “What is it with you and Home?!”

That was a mistake. He can see Lance shut down in front of him, guards being pulled up and a cold look settling in his eyes. “You know, it’s a thing most normal people have, and a family.”

“Yeah, well that place isn’t my home.”

“You know what, I feel sorry for whoever your related to, Keith Kogane! You- you’re just an insufferable bratty bastard! God-!” Before he can continue on, Hunk and Pidge enter their cart. “Oh, thank goodness, someone with a brain! Please remove him from my sight, immediately!” Before anyone can do as he asks, he storms out of the room himself.

Keith throws his hands up in frustration, not understanding why he can’t get along with Lance and hating it immensely. “God, can you believe that-! Ugh!”

Hunk and Pidge look at each other, share a look, and both crack huge smiles. It’s Hunk who eventually speaks. “Ah, an unspoken attraction!”

This is it. This is how he dies. Burnt to death. He can feel his face boiling already. “Attraction?! To that skinny little brag?!”

Pidge rolls her eyes and turns out the door. “It was just an observation, jeez. Come on, Hunk, let’s leave the emo and go look for the food cart.” As the two are walking out of the room, they walk by another pair talking in the hall, and they overhear the worst possible thing ever.

They quickly turn back into the room, and Hunk pulls out his forged passport. “What I hate about this new government. Everything is in purple.” The passports, they’re made with the blue from the Altean reign.

Hunk and Pidge have been charged with gathering their things to take to the baggage car, and Keith is dashing the halls to look for Lance. He finds him in an empty car, sleeping. “Hey. Hey, wake up, we’ve gotta go.”

Lance whips around, hands flying everywhere, and he nails Keith write in the nose. That’s when he completely wakes up and starts worrying over the person he hit. “Oh, my gosh, I am so sorry! I thought you were someone else and- oh, it’s you.” Lance’s (adorable) worried expression falls flat once he realizes it was Keith he hit.

Holding his nose, which is still throbbing in pain, he tosses items around the car to Lance. “We need to go, come on.” As they walk out the door, he allows himself to complain once. “I think you broke my nose!”

He sees Lance roll his eyes, and he hears him mutter under his breath, “men are such babies.” If it weren’t for the rush they were in, Keith might have started cracking up. They met up with Hunk and Pidge, and with just a look they decided the baggage car was the best place to hide out.

When they get there, Pidge and Lance give a weary eye around, and Pidge is the first one to speak. “The baggage car?” Raising a single eyebrow and folding her arms, she asks, “Is there something wrong with our papers, gentlemen?”

Keith let’s out a nervous chuckle, “No! No, we just… we thought it improper for the prince to be mingling with all of those… commoners, is all.” He frowns a bit when he sees Lance start to shiver. Before he can open his mouth to point it out, the quartet are being jerked, almost as if the train was stopping, or speeding up. Before they can recover, they feel another quake. He and Hunk share a look, and they throw open the door connecting them to the rest of the train.

There it is, approximately 100 feet away from them with the connectors smoldering and rattling. Bless Hunk and his lovable heart, he tries making a joke out of it to try and reduce the stress of the situation. “And there goes the dining cart!”

Before Keith can respond to that, Lance speaks up. “Guys, we have a problem! The train is still speeding up!” Keith walks over to the side doors that Lance has opened, pushing him away a bit, and he can see the engine smoking and the land flying by.

He rips off his jacket and hands it to Hunk. “I’m going to see what’s happening up there. No matter what, do NOT follow me.” With that, he opens the door to the coal supply and engine, and he’s leaping for the edge. He can vaguely hear the three he left behind calling for him, but he doesn’t have attention to spare for them. He slowly makes his way through the coal, careful not to lose his grip and fly off of the train, and when he arrives at the engine, he jumps onto the platform. Immediately he’s throwing his hands up to cover his eyes from the sparks flying everywhere. “Hello? Is there anybody here?” Just as he’s about to move closer, the thermometer shatters from the heat, and his eyes widen. He turns from the engine and is leaping for the coal supply again, and then the blast is throwing him to the other end. Reaching for all that he is worth, he grabs onto the ledge of the car and dangles there. He gains his footing and is hurrying into the luggage car. “There’s no one driving this train!”

Lance, oh so helpfully, points out to them, “We’re still speeding up, guys!”

Looking around, Keith sees a chain. “We’re gonna make a jump for it.” As he turns to the door, he’s faced with a canyon, a jump he’s certain none of them will survive.

From next to him, he hears Lance, “Are we sure that’s a good plan?” He chooses to ignore him rather than dignify that with an answer. He can hear Hunk and Pidge trying to pull the emergency brake behind him, but as he turns to go help, the lever breaks off of the stand, rendering it useless. Keith can now feel himself starting to panic, but he’s trying very hard to remain calm right now. Before he can come up with another plan, he hears Lance shouting to Hunk and Pidge. “What if we separated our car from the engine?” When he sees the two smile, he grabs a wrench and hurries over to the door.

Before he gets there, Keith is pushing him aside and taking the wrench. “I can handle this.” He opens the door and finds that he cannot do this. The connector’s are completely rusted over. He takes to banging the wrench against the mass of rust, but starts to freak out again as the wrench head breaks and flies off towards him. “There’s gotta be something else,” he shouts to the trio inside. Lance is searching around for something, but turns his attention to Pidge as she’s thrown into a box. At first he’s only concerned with Pidge, but then he sees what’s contained in the boxes. He taps on Keith’s shoulders, and when he turns around frustrated, he sees a lit stick of dynamite in Lance’s hands. He can feel a huge grin spread over his face, and he jams the stick into the hunk of rust. He pulls the taller boy behind a stack of boxes with him, and he sees Hunk and Pidge have done the same. As they hunch over, he asks Lance, “What do they teach you in those orphanages?” Before he can get any sort of an answer, the dynamite is exploding. When they rise, there’s a massive hole in the front of their car as well as a massive distance between them and the engine. He can feel the smile settle on to his face once more. “Now all we have to do is coast to a stop.”

Pidge, however, points out one very necessary detail to him. “Umm, Keith. I hate to tell you, but it looks like we’re out of tracks.” She was tight, naturally. Apparently, the bridge has decided to no longer be there, and Keith is starting to think there is more out to get him than just plain old karma.

He bares his teeth, as if that would do anything, and growls out a small, “Damnit.” He runs to the back of the car and drops himself to look at the bottom of the car. Just as he thought, there are tons of bars underneath. “Hunk! Hand me the chain with the hooks on the end!” He can feel himself start to slip, but he manages to lift himself long enough to see Lance standing there with the chain. Unable to tame his anger towards Lance, he shouts at him, “Not you!”

Lance just gives him a bored look, but tells him, “Hunk’s a little preoccupied at the moment.” Keith chances a glance at Hunk and finds that he had fallen into one of the boxes when they hit one of the millions of bumps along the tracks. Keith just rolls his eyes and grabs one end of the chain from Lance. He leans himself over again, but he overestimated his ability to reach the bars underneath. He can feel himself stretching and slowly slipping off of the edge of the car. He’s about to hook the chain when he hears a rattling noise, and he can feel panic grip his heart even tighter. He reaches for all he’s worth and connects it. He feels himself struggling to get all the way up, but suddenly there’s a hand grabbing his and next thing he knows he’s face to face with Lance. Before either can comment, the cause of the rattling, a piece of either the track or the engine, goes flying from underneath the train, shooting into a tree. Part of the tree cracks and falls, and Lance looks at Keith. “And to think, that could’ve been you.”

After he’s safely on the car, Keith dusts himself off. He points to Lance and says, “If we survive this, remind me to thank you.” He grabs the other end of the chain, and tosses it onto the track. For a bit it just unfolds, and Keith can feel fear gnawing at his entire being. His anxiety is growing when they are all suddenly thrown forward, and he looks at the tracks to see the chain stretched out and the hook on the tracks slowing them down.

As the tracks are being pulled up and the car is getting closer to the bridge, they gather all their items they can find. They stand on the edge of the side car linking their arms. As an embankment of snow comes in front of them, they all tighten their arms. Before the jump, Lance looks to them all. “Well, this is our stop!” They all leap off of the train into the snow. While recovering from the jump and adrenaline, Keith and the others hear a large, resounding boom and see a massive cloud of smoke rise from the area of the bridge. Keith looks out, and the rest of the crew begins laughing.

Chapter Text

A tinny voice from the surface of magic bitterly bites out, “I hate trains. Remind me to never get on the train again.” It came from that little brat, the one with the long black hair, and Zarkon grits his teeth together in anger. He should have killed him when he had the chance all those years ago. The audacity of his actions, and such a small child, too!   

 

He waves away the image Haggar had summoned for him to watch the events unfold, not wishing to see the nuisances any longer. “Haggar, find me immediately when you have another plan.”  

 

Zarkon flipped his cape around as he turned to walk out the door when he heard it, “Just leave, Haggar, this is not worth it.” It was muttered, Zarkon had to strain his ears to hear it, but heard it he did. 

 

Thace turned his head from Haggar just in time for the Emperor to slap his face to the side. Before he could say anything else, Zarkon grabbed the soldier by his throat and slowly lifted him. Calmly, he asks, “What was that, Commander?” If Thace hadn’t known him better, he would’ve assumed the slow, gentle smile creeping on his face was genuine. 

 

But Thace knew him. “M-My Lord, I was just... I was just saying how—how I wish I could take care of the young prince for you! Oh, I would certainly give him a piece of my mind. I’d start with a hah, and a hiya, and a ooh-wah! And I’d kick her, sir.” A wince crossed Thace’s face at the crack in his voice when he said that, but he couldn’t risk being killed. He had to save the young prince. 

 

“Put him down, Zarkon.” The witch, she was still in the room. “I have a better plan of action.” The haunting smile inching across her face promised no good to come to the children. Thace swallowed, realizing he certainly had his work cut out for him. 

 

- 

 

Lance knew his feet were dragging, but he couldn’t very well bring himself to care. After the quartet had jumped from the train into the snowbank, they’ve had to travel on foot the whole way to Germany. Sue him for having sore feet. “Tell me again why we couldn’t take a bus?”  

 

He didn’t have to look at Keith to know the mullet was rolling his eyes. Because, Lance, we are still within Galra territory.” 

 

A raised eyebrow. “Meaning...?” 

 

A huff, and Lance shamelessly let a smile stretch knowing he got a reaction out of Keith. “That means, anyone who can recognize us or asks about our passports will be able to rat us out to the government. If you want to find your family, then that is the last thing you want to happen. Can you stop complaining and pick up your feet? God, this is going to be a painful process.” 

 

Lance rolled his eyes but listened, knowing, deep down, that he wanted to let Keith know he appreciates him. It wasn’t long before Pidge piped up from Hunk’s back, “How long do you think until we get there, anyways?” 

 

He snickered as Pidge was shaken by Hunk, who had perked up immediately. “Oh, not long, not long at all! Do you hear that Shay? Your Hunk is coming back to you!” 

 

Lance shot Keith a quick look, and Keith’s eyes seemed to be pleading for him not to ask. Ergo, “Who’s Shay?” 

 

The look of suffering in Keith’s eyes is worth watching Hunk dance along the trail. “Oh, she is the most amazing woman in the world! She is so soft and round, and she gives the most amazing hugs. Her skin is the most amazing shade of tan seen, and she is stuffed to the brim with nothing but love!” With the last exclamation, Pidge is roughly thrown from Hunk’s back with an indignant yelp. 

 

The blue-eyed boy jogs to catch up with Keith. “Is this a person or a crème puff?” 

 

With a solemn expression that can only equate to bad news, “Shay is a distant cousin of the Princess Allura.” 

 

Lance feels a scowl settling on his face, just knowing something is up, but Pidge is the one to speak up from the ground. “Why are we going to see her cousin?” 

 

That stops Hunk in his tracks. “Didn’t you know?” Both Pidge and Lance shake their heads. “Well, the thing is, no one can really see the Princess until they talk to Shay. That is, until they prove to Shay that they are Prince Alejandro.” 

 

Lance watches Keith’s shoulders ride up to his ears in preparation for what’s coming, and Lance delivers. “Oh, no, no, no, no! No one said anything about proving I was the prince of Altea!” 

 

A sigh from Keith, as if the bastard has the right to be annoyed about this. “Oh, come on, Lance. Sure, it’s one more roadblock, but—” 

 

“No buts, Keith. Did you forget why we met? I’m an orphan. A homeless orphan with no memory. There’s no proving I’m a prince when I am who I am.” With that, he silently huffs and turns to the bridge they were walking towards. Stupid Keith, didn’t he realize what he was asking? Lance, a prince? God, he couldn’t believe he let himself get pulled into this stupid scheme of his. All Lance is is a no-good nobody without a family. And that’s all he would ever be, apparently. He senses a presence approaching him and turns them away flippantly. “Go away, Keith. I’m not your stupid prince. Sorry to let you down, but I’m sure you’ll find another one.” 

 

A low chuckle comes from beside him, and Lance looks up to see Hunk and Pidge. “Sorry, buddy, but it’s not Keith. I thought my bigger size would’ve given that away.” 

 

“Sorry, Hunk. It’s just... why me? Huh? Why did you two pull me from the streets? I’m just a nobody with a streak of trouble a mile long.” 

 

“Lance, look in the water.” He slouches on the rail and does so, a little shocked that the water is so smooth he can see his face. “Do you know what I see?” A shake of the head. “I see a young man who faced the troubles of the world head on. A strong man who decided he would find his family despite everyone telling him he never would. A brave boy who has taking a million chances that could go wrong. I see a prince.” 

 

Lance shakes his head and pulls a flower off the vines on the bridge. “You know what I see?” he asks bitterly. He twists the flower in his hand, and violently throws the flower onto his reflection. “I see a useless, broken kid who needs to learn to let go of fairytales.” 

 

Pidge lays her hand on his head. “Come on, Lance. You can’t give up yet. We’re almost to Germany, and then it’s France. If you’re the prince, you find your sister. If you’re not, well, you’re where you need to be to find them. Don’t let these setbacks turn you around.” 

 

A gently smile is passed between the three. A clap of hands behind them, and then it’s Keith speaking. “All right! Are you ready to become the lost Prince Alejandro of Altea?” All three scowl, and Hunk takes off his boot to throw at Keith’s head. 

 

- 

 

It has been two days, and they’ve ridden carts and horses and bikes. They’ve walked and barely slept, and they made it. They stood on the docks of Germany, and Lance was ready. It was two days of nonstop lessons, learning his past. His relatives, like crazy Uncle Coran; he had a bright orange mustache and was well-versed in engineering, but he was ridiculously eccentric. That was Lance’s favorite lesson, and he hopes he can meet him one day. Two days of hope and crazy preparation, and it was time. 

 

The four friends step onto the gangplank and board the boat. 

Chapter Text

The group is headed to their cabin when Keith decides to stop Lance. “Hey, umm, can you give me a second? I, uh, I got you a gift.”  

 

The wide-eyed , astounded expression he got from  Lance,  he mentally berates himself for being a dick the whole trip . After a few seconds of intense eye contact , Keith fumbled for the bag sitting at his feet. He looked at Lance again, but the taller still had yet to say anything.  

 

Awkwardly, he pulled out a loose, soft fabric and shoved it to Lance’s chest. “It, umm. It’s a tunic. I figured, err, I figured you would like something nice to wear when we meet the princess.” He looked away as Lance gently grabbed it, rubbing the back of his neck. Lance flips the shirt upside down, seeming to be searching for something, when Keith turns to him again. “What are you looking for?” he questions into the neck hole.  

 

Lance looks at him through the other end and cracks a grin. “The  Altean  circus, I think it’s still in here!”  

 

Keith dropped his end of the shirt and lightly slaps Lance’s back. With a goofy smile and an eye roll, he tells him, “Hilarious. Now go try it on.”  

 

Keith smiles as he hears Lance’s giggling down the hall. He goes up to the deck to stand beside Hunk and Pidge and wait for Lance. After a few minutes, Hunk stands up. “Lady and gentleman,” Hunk says with a smile, “His royal highness, Prince Alexander of Altea.” Laughing at Hunk’s ridiculous bow, the two turn to see where he gestured.  

 

Keith’s laughter is abruptly cut off when he sees Lance timidly step into the light. The blue shirt hugged his shoulders snugly and was cinched at the waist in a way that perfectly highlighted his figure. Underneath the rest of the flowy shirt, he found a pair of black leggings that made his legs look even longer than they already were. An indignant harrumph turned his eyes to Lance’s pout and folded arms. “If I look bad, Mullet, just say it already.”  

 

His haughty voice did a poor job hiding the genuine insecurity lying in the background. Feeling flustered from being caught staring, Keith tried to correct himself. “ No ! No, I mean, you look,” he cleared his throat and turned away. “You look good.”  

 

The two boys look away awkwardly, both pointedly ignoring Pidge’s snickering. They both start at Hunk’s booming voice. “All right! Well, Lance, while you may look the part and certainly know the part, a royal of your stature must be able to dance.”  

 

He nodded his head thoughtfully, “Yeah, makes sense. So, who’s my dance partner? You,  Pidgey ?” He waggled his eyebrows, eliciting a cackle from the small girl.  

 

Hunk shakes his head. “Well, you must learn how to lead. I am entirely too tall for that, and Pidge has never danced a day in her life. That leaves us with Keith.”  

 

The boy in question gulped in nervousness but stepped forward regardless. He took the stance of the girl and began dancing, trying to ignore how close the two were forced to stand.   

 

“No, no, no! Keith, you cannot lead, it must be Lance. Try again. And a 1-2-3, 1-2-3...”  

 

Hunk’s counting seemed to fade into the background as the two stared into one another’s eyes. Keith clears his voice and looks down at his feet. “You, uh, your shirt looks very nice.”  

 

Lance, without turning his eyes away, answers. “Thanks, I suppose I have you to thank.”  

 

Keith could tell the tips of his ears were growing pink, and his head was starting to feel fuzzy. “Well, it looked really good on the hangar so I thought it might look nice on you. You should, you should put it on.” At this point he began to raise his head and make eye contact once more.  

 

Softly, Lance says, “I already am wearing it.”  

 

“Right, I guess I just feel a little...”  

 

“Dizzy.”  

 

“Yeah.”  

 

At this point the boys were no longer really dancing, just sort of swaying in place.  

 

“Maybe, maybe we should stop spinning.”  

 

Quietly, Lance leans forward. “We already stopped.”  

 

A few feet away, Hunk and Pidge watched the two with nervous eyes and bated breaths. Pidge whispers to Hunk, “What are we supposed to do when this is all over?”  

 

Hunk doesn’t turn to face her, but she already knows the sad look that is in his eyes. Gently, he shakes his head. “We never should have let them dance.”  

 

The boys are steadily drifting closer, their heads tilting imperceptibly. When Lance’s eyes flutter closed, Keith realizes what’s happening. He steps away and clears his throat as Lance unknowingly leans forward. When his eyes open, Keith lays a hand on his shoulder and does an awkward bro pat. “You’re doing really well, Lance.” He turns to the cabins, not noticing the sad eyes that follow him with confusion.  

 


 

In the cabin, they decide on sleeping arrangements. It’s a single bunk bed, and they decide Pidge and Hunk will sleep on the top, Lance will sleep on the bottom, and Keith will take the floor. Lance tried arguing, but Keith wouldn’t take it. As they started to settle in, Pidge kicked one of the bags as she climbed her way to the top. It was Keith’s, and out of it fell the Voltron figurine.  

 

Keith’s face grew red and he prepared to stand up and snatch it, but Lance got to it first. He had a smile on his face, but it seemed to fade the loner Lance looked at the toy. Keith sighed. “If you’re going to laugh at me for carrying that action figure around, get on with it. Just, please be careful with it.”  

 

Lance didn’t acknowledge his voice. “This toy, it seems so familiar.” Keith raised his eyebrows in surprise. Quietly, he whispers, “Voltron, Defender of the Universe.” He snorts, but Keith noticed he didn’t seem to put a lot of effort into it. “Sounds like a fairy tale.”   

 

Before Keith can say something to him, he turns over and says goodnight.  

 


  

“Haggar, why don’t we wish the Prince sweet dreams”  

 

“Yes, Emperor.”  

 


 

 

Through the storm rocking the boat about, purple creatures seemed to float through the air. They danced their way to the cabin of the quartet and stayed above Lance’s head. They shimmered and turned into shining stars.   

 

In Lance’s dreams, he looks out into the sky and sees the stars begin to dance. He laughs and claps his hands together in glee, but then he notices the stars seem to want him to follow them. He smiles with all his teeth and stands up. He is unsteady, and it feels almost as if he is walking on a rocking boat, but he knows that can’t be true. He gains his bearings and begins to follow the  magnificent  stars.   

 

Pidge shoots upright when she hears the door slam shut, and she immediately surveys her surroundings. She notices Lance gone from bed and runs to the door. She keeps falling over herself, unable to stay on her feet, and soon unable to hold her stomach. She looks over to where Hunk is snoring and immediately turns to Keith knowing she would be able to wake him. She falls to his side and starts shaking him. “What do you  want,  Pidge?” She doesn’t say anything, just points to Lance’s bed and lets her pale face tell the story. Keith’s eyes widen and he hisses out a concerned, “Lance.” He shoots up, opens the cabin door, and starts running down the hall.  

 

The stars are leading Lance down a grassy trail with beautiful flowers, and Lance feels compelled to bend over and pick one up. As he sniffs it, he hears laughter coming from ahead. He crosses a shaky log, feeling incredibly off-balance, but treks onward with the stars. He arrives at a cliff, a gorgeous lake at the bottom. Down below, he sees a man and woman, both incredibly familiar, and waves down to them as they say hello to him. Someone runs past him, a girl older than him, and she jumps in tucked into a ball, white hair flying behind her. She lands with a splash, and everyone laughs at her antics. “It’s your turn, son!” Lance bites his lip; he wants to join them, but he feels nervous.  

 

Keith makes it to the deck and begins searching for Lance. He climbs up another level, and as he sees Lance he gets hit with a wave of water. He resurfaces on a landing and sees Lance teetering over the edge of the boat, one foot lifted as if he was going to step off. Keith looks around and sees a rope dangling near him. He grabs it, jumps off the landing, and swings towards him with his arm outstretched. “Lance,  no !”  

 

As Lance begins to take a step forward, the man at the bottom of the cliff suddenly changes. His brown skin turns to purple, his eyes yellow, and he grows fangs. “Yes! Jump, child! You cannot escape!” Lance took a frightened step back, but he was assaulted by the stars. Right before his eyes, they turned to demonic looking creatures. “The curse will be complete!” The beast yelled bellow, flames rising from the water.  

 

Keith scooped Lance up, and Lance began struggling in his arms. He kept crying things like, “No!” and “Never!” Keith just held him tight until they were on the solid ground, chanting his name all the while, desperate for him to wake up.   

 

Finally, Lance started  awake . He looked Keith in the eyes and immediately buried his head in Keith’s chest, allowing himself to be cradled. He began letting out soft cries, intermixed with the occasional sob. “The  Altean  Curse, the  Altean  Curse,” he cried into Keith’s shirt.  

 

“Hey, hey, what’re you talking about?” Keith questioned gingerly, stroking Lance’s wet hair away from his eyes.  

 

“The man, the curse. It felt so real. The curse, I was so scared!”   

 

Keith pulled Lance  in  tighter and gently shushed him. “It’s all right, Lance. It was just a dream. No one can hurt you now.”  

 


 

 

Zarkon  threw a wine goblet at the image floating before him, roaring with anger. He whipped around to Haggar and stalked closer to her. “Listen here, you witch. You have failed me too many times. Leave! Do not return until I send for you.”  

 

Silently, the robed figure stalked out of the hall.  Thace  was staring at  Zarkon , and he decides to speak up. “Well, I knew the witch wouldn’t be any use to us. We should have gotten the boy while he was still in Marmora. What can you do, I  guess. ” He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, but he tensed when he saw the look  Zarkon  was giving him. “Sorry, sir. Did you have another plan you wanted to speak with me about?”  

 

“Pack your things. We leave for Paris immediately.”  

 

“What?!”  Thace  yelped.  

 

“Do not act a fool  in  my midst, Commander. If you want a job done, you must do it yourself.”  

 

“You don’t mean to say...”  

 

“Yes, Commander. I am going to kill Prince Alexander myself, in person.”  

Chapter Text

“Oh, I remember when you’d chase me around the ballroom, and our silly pillow fights we had every Sunday night, and then the next morning we would—“

 

“We would pack waffles in a basket and eat our breakfast by the bridge.” Allura stood up from her chaise longue, giving the boy in front of her a cold stare. “Young man, have you not anything better to do on a morning like this than break a tired woman’s heart?”

 

The young man in front of her scurried up from his seat, spluttering as she turned away from him. Before he could get any closer to the princess, a cold, metal arm planted itself on his chest, holding him back. “That will be all, sir,” Shiro said to the frantic man in front of him.

 

“But—“

 

“I said, leave.” Gentle enough not to hurt him but firm enough to move him, Shiro pushed the boy backwards.

 

As the door shut, Shiro turned to Allura. Coran, who sat quietly beside her majesty during the questioning, moved quietly around the room, cleaning up the mess from the afternoon tea. “I am so sorry, my dear, I thought for sure he could be the one. Don’t worry, next time, I’ll come up with even harder questions!” The orange haired man both talked and walked with pep, infectious to those around him on a normal day.

 

“No.”

 

Coran’s optimistic mood abruptly stopped. “I beg your pardon?”

 

The white haired woman let out a deep, tired breath. “I’m tired, Coran. How many more imposters will show up at my door claiming to be him? How much more do I have to take? Can I not live out the rest of my days in a sad peace? No, there will be no more boys, no more questions, and no more disappointments.” She walked to the door farthest from the foyer and, without turning around, said, “I shall be retiring to my rooms for the evening. Please send my supper up, as I will be taking it on my own.”

 

The two men in the drawing room looked at each other sadly, each worrying for the broken-hearted princess. Coran gives Shiro a nod, and he followed her through the doors to comfort her.

 


 

Tan hands smoothed down the silk-like fabric for what seemed to be the millionth time in Keith’s head. As the quartet walked closer to the door, Lance abruptly stopped and started walking away to the gate. “Okay, but what if it’s not me?”

 

Keith rolled his eyes half-heartedly, having heard this for the past few hours. He grabbed Lance’s shoulder. “If it’s not you it was all just an honest mistake and you search for your family elsewhere.”

 

A wave of confidence seemed to rise into the lanky boy at those words. His eyes gleamed with hope and he puffed out his chest. One, two… six steps later he repeated his mini breakdown all over again. “Is the shirt nice enough? What if it’s not nice enough? Do you think they can tell I’m poor?” He froze in his steps and let out a dramatic gasp, “Do you think they can tell I’m an orphan?”

 

Keith walked back over to Lance, and this time he wrapped his arm around Lance’s waist, slowly guiding back to the door. “You look fine, Lance. And the rest of that stuff, none of that even matters. All anyone cares about right here, right now, is family, and whether or not you might be it.” He gave the nervous boy his best smile, but it came out timid and meek.

 

“Thank you, Keith.”

 

Knock, knock, knock.

 

The two boys looked away from each other to stare at Hunk, the one whose fist was poised on the door knocker. Keith scowled at the boy who ruined their moment. As he opened his mouth to berate him, the door swung open to reveal a large woman. Dark hair, dark skin, and tastefully bright clothes greeted the four sets of eyes, and their ears were greeted next by a squeal of delight. “Oh, Hunk, mi amour! I’ve missed you so!”

 

Hunk reached forward and scooped up the girl, twirling her on the front step. “Shay, my beautiful darling, the beauty of the universe is nothing when I see you smile my way! How have you been?”

 

She giggled and blushed at the compliment, remaining professional despite the surprise. “Oh, it’s the same old, but, tell me, what brings you all the way out to Paris?”

 

This was Keith’s cue. He cleared his throat and stepped forward, gently pulling Lance along beside him. “Madam, we have found the lost prince of Altea, Prince Alejandro.”

 

As Lance offered a timid greeting, Keith frowned at the look on Shay’s face. She seemed almost sad that they were there. “Well, come inside. I can’t have the guests standing in the doorway all afternoon. Come to the parlor, I’ll fix us some tea and we can get started on the questions.” She smiled at them all and gave a little encouraging wink.

 

As they all seated themselves, Keith saw a man with bright orange hair and a full mustache step into the room with them. “Hello, everyone, I am Coran, the royal advisor of the late King Alfor and Princess Allura. I will be sitting in on the questions and may ask a few myself. Please, do not feel that we do not trust you, it is simply what we do with everyone who comes through these doors claiming to have found the lost prince.”

 

At that moment, Shay walked back through the door with a tray in her hands filled with an assortment of tea-wear. “All right,” she said as she puts the set down on the table and settles herself into a seat, “we shall begin.” She clears her throat, “All right, where were you born?”

 

Lance sat up straight and delivered his answer with confidence. “I was born in the Castle of Lions, at the heart of Altea.”

 

“Very good, next question…”

 


 

“Well, that’s all the questions I have for you.” Several hours had passed, and Shay stood up from her seat and began cleaning up after everyone.

 

“Just a moment please.” Everyone stopped where they were and looked to Coran, who was speaking for the first time since his introduction. “I have one more question I would like to ask you my boy.” He paused, giving the boy in front of him the chance to turn it away. All he received was a look of determination. “Now, you may find this question…impertinent, but humor me. How did you escape the Galra during the siege of the Castle of Lions?” Keith jerked up from his resting place on the wall, panic overwhelming him. He never told Lance how to escape, he never told anyone.

 

“I…well, there were these,” Keith sunk his face into his hands, fully prepared for it all to go awry because of his one mistake, “two boys.” Keith peaked his eye out from their shelter. “One of them grabbed Allura, the other grabbed my hand. We…we were going to the main courtyard, but the boy, the smaller one, he brought us to this room. He…he opened the wall…” By now Keith was outright staring, taking in the faraway look in Lance’s eyes. He didn’t know what to do, how to speak, move, anything, Lance was—is the lost— “I’m sorry, that’s crazy. Little boys, walls that can open.” He tried laughing it off, but Keith saw through it.

 

“So, is he our Prince?” Hunk questioned, standing up to go help Shay.

 

“Well, he did answer all the questions,” she said slowly.

 

Pidge leapt from her seat. “Does this mean we can meet with the Princess Allura?”

 

“I’m afraid not, my children.” All heads turned to the solemn voice of Coran. “Princess Allura, I’m afraid, is not meeting anyone else.”

 

Keith continued to stare at the man as Hunk tried to convince Shay and Coran. The man looked upset that they wouldn’t be seeing Her Majesty, but why would that be? Does the royal advisor know? Keith tucked this little piece away for later. He was walking to the door when he heard Shay. “Do you like ballet? Tomorrow night the Altean Ballet will be here, the Princess never misses it.”

 


 

 

Hunk burst through the front door with Pidge, cheering loudly. “We did it! We actually did it!”

 

Keith called Hunk over to him as the two started a happy little jig. “Hunk, he’s the real Prince Alejandro.”

 

The large man let out a hearty laugh, clapping his hand on Keith’s shoulder. “Oh, boy, I know what you mean, buddy. He was amazing, he even had me convinced back there!”

 

“No, Hunk, I mean he is actually the—“

 

“Shay and Coran are taking us shopping. In Paris! Can you believe it?” Lance had burst through the door with the biggest smile on his face. He skipped down the steps, two at a time, giving little twirls and laughing like a little kid. Maybe shopping wouldn’t be so bad if Keith got to see this the whole time…

 

-

 

Shopping in Paris was hell. They walked into hundreds of shops, stopped at every vendor, and went to every tourist spot available. The night had its ups, like seeing Shay accidentally knock over the male models, or Hunk going to fetch Shay’s shoe from the stage where the can-can was being performed.

 

As he sat in his chair at the restaurant, Keith knew he wasn’t happy. He watched Lance twirl around with numerous men and women through his champagne glass, the curve distorting his vision and enlarging Lance’s smile. He had some hope when Lance slipped a rose into the pocket of Keith’s jacket, but who knew now.

 

They stepped into an elevator going up, and the view was astounding. As the elevator climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, fireworks began going off in the sky. Keith turned to lance and was left breathless from the sight. Colors burst across his skin, highlighting all of his beauty.

 

Keith pulled the rose from his jacket pocket and stared at it. He held it up to the sky, and then he gently released it from his fingers, letting it drift through the breeze. He and Lance, they just weren’t meant to be. Keith had plans all over the world, but Lance. Well.

 

Paris holds the key to his heart.