The feeling had come back. First as a little tingling in the back of his throat, which slowly became more frequent until it was a wave of nausea. The feeling had grown so strong that eventually it was basically all he could feel.
It started again one day after long hours of harsh training and they were eating dinner, Lance must've been eating a lot because one of the Paladins had made a joking comment about his weight. Lance laughed it off of course, before changing the subject, hoping the others wouldn't notice that he had stopped eating.
Later that night, before he took his shower, he stood in front of a mirror in his bathroom, staring at his figure. 'Have I really gained that much weight?' He thought to himself, turning around a bit to examine himself more.
He frowned as he looked at his stomach, feeling as though it looked chubbier than it should. He sucked it in, seeing his chest puff out and his ribs become visible. He let out a breath and he faced the mirror again, arms crossing over his stomach.
He felt sick as his throat tightened and his stomach felt queasy, flip flopping anxiously like he had eaten something bad or like he was about to puke. His throat tickled and his breath hitched. He felt like he couldn't breath.
Quickly, without thought, he kneeled over the toilet, dry-heaving as he tightly gripped the seat. He coughed as he felt a familiar burning sensation in his throat. Eventually, he managed to rid his body of the dinner he had eaten not too long ago.
His arms and hands shook as his grip on the toilet loosened and he was breathing hard and sweating, looking down at what was his dinner, looking the same as it did before.
Lance's nose crinkled in disgust, lip curling up at the sight before flushing the toilet and shutting the lid.
He remained there on the floor, enjoying the cold feeling of the bathroom floor before standing back up.
The feeling in his throat and stomach was gone, he felt empty, yet light and refreshed, he felt so much better now. He continued with his routine, taking a shower and brushing his teeth before applying his nightly face mask and robe.
Lance headed back to his room, laying down on his bed and putting on his headphones, allowing the music to lull him to sleep.
That night he dreamt about his family, he dreamt about his parents, and the beach, and eating at the pizza shack on warm summer evenings. But the pleasant dream quickly turned into a traumatic nightmare, as memories of teasing and taunting returned. All those kids insulting him and his weight, all the horrible, anxious feelings crashing into him like a wave, until he felt like he was drowning.
The teen awoke suddenly, gasping for much needed breath; panicked breaths slowing down back to normal as he gulped. He sat up, headphones falling to rest around his neck as he could still faintly hear music playing.
He looked over at the clock beside his bed, which Pidge and Hunk had built so they could all be able to tell what they guessed would be Earth time. At the moment the clock said it was around 5:45 am, a few minutes or so before they usually woke up.
Now usually Lance would go back sleep till it was actually time to wake up, but he was too awake and brain-active now, so he settled with getting ready earlier.
He returned to the bathroom, removing the mask and washing his face as he changed into his regular clothing. Just in time for the wake up alarm to blare as the others woke up.
Lance quickly headed to the kitchen, where Allura and Coran were waiting, they looked up in surprise to see Lance, who usually was the last to arrive, awake and all dressed and ready.
"Lance," Allura spoke, sounding a bit shock and confused, "You're up earlier than usual."
He simply shrugged and hummed, "Yeah," he headed over to the table and sat down, "I just felt like getting up early today I guess."
The princess nodded as she went to sit down. "Well, I'm glad to see you ready for the day," she smirked a little, "Today's training is going to be pretty grueling." Her eyebrow quirked up, "Are you sure you're prepared?"
Lance grinned back at her smugly, "I'm ready for anything you got to throw at me," he added a wink for good measure as Allura chuckled a bit, just as the others arrived.
Like Allura and Coran, they were surprised to see him arrive so early, but didn't question it as they all ate breakfast, not even bothering a glance at the uneasy Lance who poked around his food.
He was okay, he convinced himself, it was a one time thing, he was past that now.
He was fine.
Allura really wasn't joking when she said training would be harder now. They had been going at it for hours now, and still hardly any progress, they were getting exhausted at this point.
Surprisingly, Lance didn't mind it as much as usual; anything to burn off the calories he had consumed earlier, anything to be fit. He had to stay in shape to be a paladin of Voltron.
He had to stay in shape to be attractive.
Eventually they all decided to take a quick lunch break, in which Lance finally agreed to and settled down with his fellow sweaty Paladins to eat. Even if the act made him feel gross, well, grosser than before. Memories of last night returning as his nose twitched in disgust, feeling although he was literally eating his own bile. But he knew the others would make him eat anyway, and he could always exercise it off during training anyway.
Once they all finished they were sent to finish their former training/task. This time, Lance was way more awake as he managed to complete the task first, before anyone, even before Shiro! The others congratulated and complimented him, making Lance feel truly confident and boosting his self-esteem, allowing him to momentarily forget all his negative feelings for the time being.
They finished off the tiring day with a nice celebratory dinner, one that Hunk baked.
Lance didn't necessary want to eat, but he didn't want to seem impolite or rude to Hunk and the others, so he joined along them, eating as much as he could despite the nausea and queasy feelings.
The others chatted as they began to grow tired, Lance leaving almost immediately as he excused himself and rushed to his room, not wanting to worry or alert the others to his illness. Especially not Hunk, he'd feel so bad if his friend thought his cooking was the fault that Lance was sick.
The blue paladin practically bolted into the bathroom, shutting the door as he groaned and fell back into it, clutching his queasy stomach. He tried to steady put his breaths to become slower and deeper, in hopes to relieve the pain, but it proved to be useless as he hurried over to the toilet to puke.
Once he was done he didn't even bother looking at it, already feeling sick enough as it was, and the smell wasn't helping it at all. He flushed the toilet and stood up to clutch at the counter, arms feeling shaky as he took multiple calming breaths.
It must be a stomach bug, he concluded, before going to step into the shared showers, that's why I feel sick. He reasoned to himself as he did his nightly routine, returning to his room and falling into yet another restless sleep.
The next day he hardly ate anything for breakfast, as the thought of merely eating was enough to make him feel sick. He simply poked around his food with the spoon, listening to the weird squishy noises it made as he played around with it.
"Lance, you've hardly eaten at all, are you alright?" Coran asked behind him, snapping the Cuban boy out of his daze and he turned around to look at the older man.
"O-oh! Yeah! Just a bit tired is all," he spoke, hoping that they'd buy it.
The Altean chuckled a bit, "I'd imagine so after the training the princess put you through yesterday, I'll try to convince her to go easy on you guys today."
Lance managed a small smile in return, "Thanks Coran, that'd be awesome!"
"Anything for my favorite paladin!" He smiled cheerfully as he patted his shoulder and leaned down, "Don't tell anyone I said that though," he whispered, adding a wink.
Lance chuckled softly, "I can't make any promises."
"But do try to eat a bit more, you'll need the energy." The orange haired man added.
"Sure thing." Lance replied, giving him his signature grin as the man nodded and headed off.
Lance didn't eat any more for that meal.
Lance suddenly remembered how much he hated eating in front of other people. It felt although everyone was staring and judging him, commenting on how much he ate and his weight, their whispers felt like sharp knives, even though it was mostly all in his head.
They had visited a neutral planet to form an alliance with them.
The conference went without mishap, as they managed to form a successful alliance with the alien species. And in celebration for that, a banquet was served as they dined along with most of the townsfolk and higher ups and such.
Everyone was excited to finally eat something that didn't look like lumpy green yogurt, even Lance was looking forward to it, hoping that maybe if he ate and kept it down, all the negative thoughts and feelings would disappear.
The others had already begun digging in, Lance was about to as well, until he saw two of the generals whispering to each other, one casting a brief glance at him. 'They're probably talking about the alliance or politics,' Lance reasoned to himself, 'They're not talking about you.' And yet, his appetite had disappeared, instead replaced with a feeling of queasiness at the mere thought of food. But he didn't want to appear rude so he took small bites, chewing on them for a while in hopes it would satisfy his hunger for a while at least.
"Lance?" Hunk's voice spoke up as Lance faced towards his friend, who looked a bit concerned, "You've barely even touched your food, are you okay?"
Lance gave him a small smile and nodded, "Yeah, I'm okay, just not that hungry is all."
Hunk frowned at that, "That's too bad, it's really good."
Lance chuckled, "Pretty much anything is better than the food goo to be honest."
Hunk laughed as well, smiling warmly, "That's true."
They finished as they made their way off, they would need a good nights rest before training tomorrow. They all could go back to the Castle with feelings of success and full bellies. All except for Lance, who returned to his room that night, feeling insecure and stomach empty.
Perhaps he needed a hobby to distract his mind for a while.
Lance took up on training in the deck for time being, Allura always said he could use the extra training anyways so this seemed like a good time, it was also a great way to lose weight faster and be more fit. He had made it to Level Four in the program so far, in which he felt proud of himself for and decided to take a brief break for a moment, find a way to cool down. And what better way to cool down than to go swimming.
Pidge, Hunk, and Coran had figured out a way to program the pool so it was available for the others to swim in. This was very exciting to Lance as he had been dying to swim again, since apparently most of the water on the planet they visited were either unsafe for humans or they just weren't allowed to swim. He went to get changed as he headed into the elevator, hoping no one else would suddenly join him last minute like Keith did last time, and what fun did that turn out to be.
He hoped he'd be alone, despite being used to being surrounded by people and family almost every second of the day, he liked his alone time as well. He swam much more better and comfortably when no one else was around, as he hated it when other people watched it sometimes, as it made him feel anxious about messing up. He especially hated when any part of his body or skin was exposed to others, whether or not they were family. He always hated his body, and whenever someone else even so much as glanced at it, it only would remind him of how much he hated it and would make him feel extremely insecure.
The elevator doors closed (thankfully not being stopped by anyone else) as it rose upwards, dinging as it made its arrival at the Castle pool.
He stepped out into the cold metal floor, breathing in the smell of a clean room and fresh water. He tossed his towel aside onto the floor and headed over to dip his toes into the pool, testing its temperature. It was surprisingly not as cold as he would've thought and he slowly made his way in, leaping straight into the glistening water, smiling as it surrounded him.
He swam around in laps for a while, going back and forth, hardly stopping to take a break at all, he was in his zone, nothing could break him from it now.
Until Keith decided to barge in.
"Hey," the other teen's monotone voice filled the mostly empty, echoey room.
Lance stopped immediately, jumping in his spot at the sudden noise as he turned to face the red paladin, on instinct he sucked in his gut, hoping it'd appear flatter. "Oh, hey Keith." He greeted back, "Uh, what're you doing here?"
The teen raised a brow as he tossed aside his towel as well, staring down at Lance, "Uhhhh, swimming? This is a pool right? I'm pretty sure that's what they're used for."
"No really?" The blue paladin scoffed in a playful manner, "I thought they were used as a bathroom."
Keith's face twisted in disgust, "You better have not peed in that pool."
Lance smirked as he swam closer, resting his arms on the edge of the upper floor, "What if I did?"
"That's nasty Lance." The shorter male sent a judging look down at him.
The tan skinned boy chuckled, weaving a hand through his wet hair, "What? People do it all the time at public pools," he shrugged casually at the statement.
"Which is one of the reasons why I don't go to public pools," Keith replied.
"And the second reason must be because you live in a shack in the middle of a desert." Lance said, grinning in a playful way as his face turned a bit curious, How do you know how to swim anyway?"
"Shiro taught me," he answered.
Lance nodded, eyes following his teammate as he began to head into the pool. "I bet I'm a better swimmer than you."
Keith seemed to shrug at this as he entered into the pool, "I mean, probably, since you lived on a beach your whole life."
Lance smiled fondly at the memory of hanging out at the shack on the beach, chuckling lightly as he pushed off the wall and floated around. "Yeah, I was top of my class, fastest swimmer."
"Oh really?" the red paladin smiled, playfully raising an eyebrow and his voice turned competitive. "Wanna test that?"
Lance grinned back, "You're on."