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Three Ends and a Beginning

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He died. He's gone. He's not coming back.

It's late, most everyone else on the Castle of Lions is fast asleep in their rooms, the lights all dimmed lower. Kolivan lay awake on the bed in the room Allura let him rest in. None of the paladins have left their own rooms much, still mourning the loss of their leader and struggling to come to terms with everything that has happened several weeks ago. The other human, the smallest one who spent the first couple of days coming and checking in on Kolivan, wasn't in his room when Kolivan went to bed, he had been reading in the lounge.

His thoughts drift back to his bodyguard. Antok had been the leader of the Blades before Kolivan even joined and they had been friends prior. After Antok had a bad injury, he stepped down from leadership, passing the position to Kolivan.

He rolls onto his side, his chest hurting. Within the last month he had lost his best friend and two of his closest companions, Ulaz and Thace. To top all of this off, the young man who kept visiting, Leo, had started to grow on him, feelings starting to bloom. If this continues, it'll only end in more ache. Galra live much longer than humans, and Kolivan has already lived a long while. Even so, he still has much longer to live than a young human, if they were to both live out the entirety of their lives.

That thought brings another pain in his chest. This is a war. Even if Zarkon is truely dead, the Galran Empire won't stop, they'll keep fighting. The Blade of Marmora must keep fighting as well and the paladins as well. The longer this war continues, the more likely Kolivan will die in a battle or an attack or an assassination. Leo is in risk too - he's not trained in fighting, he's so small and so gentle. He's a liability.

A low, strangled noise leaves his throat as he rolls onto his other side, facing away fron the door. Just as he settles, another groan leaves his throat unintentionally. The door cracks open. Kolivan tenses, his hand gripping his knife under his pillow.

"Kolivan?"

The voice is soft, quiet, just barely loud enough for him to hear. Kolivan releases his grip on his blade.

"I am awake, Leonardo."

The door opens a little wider, letting a strip of light cast over the room and bed.

"I thought I heard something? I just wanted to check on you."

Kolivan rolls onto his back, glancing at the young man.

All of the humans are in bad shape. They don't sleep well, if the dark shadows under their eyes are any indicator. Leo is no different. Along with the shadows, his eyes are also usually rimmed with red, as if he had freshly been crying. His hair is often disheveled as well.

"I am fine. Thank you."

Leo frowns, "Are you sure? I'm worried about you...r wellbeing, I-I mean, your, uh..." He stutters, his voice cracking and his cheeks darkening a little. Kolivan's face softens just a tiny bit, a strange feeling in his stomach.

"I appreciate it, but there is no need. I am fine, you should sleep. You need it."

"You do too."

Kolivan sighs and closes his eyes, rubbing the top of his nose with this fingers. Leo leans against the doorway.

"Do you want to talk it out? I don't mind listening, your voice is nice, ah-" He cuts himself off again and covers his face with his hands, letting out a small groan. Kolivan sits up, sighing once more.

"It's okay, you don't need to worry about me, I can take care of myself."

"But you shouldn't hold it all in," Leo stands upright again, "I used to a lot, I still do sometimes. It's not healthy and I-" He bites his lips, fidgeting with his hands, "Sorry, I don't mean to go off. I'm just... Worried. You've lost a lot and I don't want you to be alone."

Kolivan rubs his jawline and closes his eyes, "Alright. There's a chair in the corner if you wish to sit."

Leo perks up, his eyes wide, then his face falls into a softer, more relaxed expression.

"Thank you."

He closes the door behind him and pulls the chair closer to the bed, curling up in it with his knees to his chest. Kolivan doesn't speak, he just sits in the bed, staring off at the wall to his side. Leo doesn't speak either, he plays with his fingers, letting Kolivan take his time. After a long while, Leo speaks up gently.

"If you want to go to sleep, I can stay right here if you don't want to be alone, y'know?"

Kolivan glances at the younger male and blinks, his eyes glowing dimly in the dark room. They light his face the smallest amount, just the fur around his cheeks and eyes. Leo nibbles in his lower lip, a fluttering in his stomach. Kolivan doesn't speak, he just looks back to the wall. Leo swallows the lump in his throat.

"Back home, I had this cat, they're uh, Earth animals that we keep as pets. I got her when I was six, and I had her all my life, as long as I could remember. When I was in college, my second year, she got really sick. She was loosing weight rapidly and hardly eating. I ended up taking a week off classes to go to my mum and take care of my cat."

Leo shuffles his feets, rubbing at his cheeks.

"We had to put her down a couple days later. It hurt so much. I lost my best friend. She had always been there for me and then she was just gone. I still haven't gotten over her death."

He looks up in a panic, "Not to compare the deaths of Antok, Ulaz and Thace to a cat! I just... I... don't know what you're going through, I just... thought..."

The small male starts to fidget more and bite his lip. Kolivan breathes out.

"It's alright Leonardo. I appreciate the thought."

Leo looks up, blinking his eyes. Kolivan takes a deep breath and looks across the room.

"Antok was more than my bodyguard, he was my best friend, we had grown up together. Ulaz and I weren't close personally, but he was the youngest infiltrator. Thace and I were closer, since he was close to Antok."

The older male looks over at Leo, "I do not wish to lose anyone else I care for."

Slience falls between them. Kolivan stays still, and after a while, moves to lay down with his back to the smaller. Leo smiles softly.

"Thank you for telling me," His voice is gentle.

Kolivan rumbles, a deep, purring noise. Leo curls up further in the chair, wiggling around a little to try to get comfortable. Kolivan's ears twitch. He shifts and rolls to face the young man and lifts the blanket.

"Leonardo."

The young man looks up and blinks at the other.

"Sleep here. You will hurt in the morning if you sleep in the chair."

A small smile appears on Leo's lips as he gets up and shuffles to the bed, giving Kolivan one last look to assure its ok, then climbs onto the bed. With how large Kolivan is, he takes up most of the bed and even with the human being nearly half his size, Leo's still pressed up against him. With a wall of thick, warm fur, Leo realises how cold he is, dressed in just a thin tank and a pair of boxers.

Immediately, Leo moves in and curls closer to Kolivan, trying to warm himself. The older man tenses, not used to this intimacy since he hasn't be involved with anyone in many years. It takes him a moment, but he relaxes and lets an arm drape over the smaller's form.

Leo's breathing becomes more steady and calm, his body completely relaxed and much warmer. Kolivan glances down at the sleeping man and tries to ignore the warmth in his chest as he drifts to sleep.