Lance is frustrated and blessed when he wakes up. He knows Keith will have to take care of him again, but it won’t be as bad as it was a month ago. He knows that if he had been born a hundred years earlier, he wouldn’t have survived. Even if he had, he would never have been able to walk again. It’s the frelisiel tea and sessions in the pod that help the most, and at least he can dress himself now and make slow, careful steps. He can get himself into the hoverchair that Hunk and Pidge made for him. Keith’s shoulder has made a full recovery, but Lance is going to take a while.
The other five paladins can pilot the lions, and at first, he questions his place on the team. When the five of them go on missions, Ryou stays with Lance and assists from the relative stability of the castle. Nobody doubts him but himself, though, and he feels more connected to Red and Blue than ever, as if either one of the lions is waiting for him once he’s healed. Blue has loved him from the start, and Red has grown spectacularly fond of him. When he’s well enough for training runs, he comes with his mate in Red, and the lion supplies another seat for him. With Keith piloting, Lance aiming Red’s weapon systems, and the two of them perfectly in tune, they’re unstoppable.
And peculiarly, the team has found that they can’t form Voltron without Lance in a lion. They agree without hesitation that Lance is their glue, which is flattering.
He trusts Keith: things will work themselves out.
Keith wakes up early and comes back with frelisiel tea for Lance. He has to drink that bitter shit every morning. Keith helps him stretch, and they have a nice day. The castle has juniberry and frelisiel gardens where they take a slow walk. Keith and Lance race Pidge and Hunk down the hallways on hoverchairs. They sit for a while when Lance is tired, and he plays with Watney while he, Keith, and Ryou read a book together.
Shiro and Ryou have adjusted well to each other, and to the new arms that Hunk, Pidge, and Coran have crafted for them. They're not rivals for a single identity, but brothers. They both have a long way to go in their own recoveries, but as it turns out, Coran was a licensed therapist on Altea along with his countless other qualifications. Both of them are on medication, and they’ve started to laugh again.
Shiro still flinches at certain sounds. He still gets angry and cold whenever Kuro is mentioned. He still savors hugs with the team as if they might be the last he’ll get, so Lance reaches out to him often. Shiro’s hugs are gentle and protective, like a promise that he’ll never let Lance get hurt again. But he’s himself again. His dry sense of humor and his warm smiles are back.
Ryou still blames himself for everything. Lance can tell, though he doesn’t say it. Ryou tiptoes around his sadness with a strong smile. He offers to push Lance around in his chair whenever Keith is occupied, and Lance accepts the help and enjoys talking with him. He’s like Shiro, but more mellow. More cautious, like he’s always afraid of exerting too much pressure and breaking whatever he touches. Ryou is gentle like Shiro, but quieter and less confident.
Kuro… They haven't decided what to do yet with Kuro. He has a cell in the heart of the castle--his own small suite, but a cell--and Keith and Lance are determined to visit him frequently. He behaves when they speak to him. He makes promises of cooperation, tries to strike a deal for them to let him out, but they never do. Shiro refuses to see him, and Ryou follows his example. Kuro hasn't yet consented to medication or treatment for his sadistic and sociopathic behavior, so they are at an impasse on how to handle him, but they take care of him.
They have a meeting on the bridge where Lance is heavily involved in strategy. Lance is involved in the group training exercises, too, with all seven of them working on trust and coordination. Shiro has devised an adjusted training regimen for Lance, and he and Ryou can’t stop checking on him and praising him. Lance doesn’t even mind the hovering; it’s too good to have Shiro back. When Keith stays after to fight bots, Lance stays on an elevated platform to work on his shooting.
After a shower, they come back to their room, and Lance is a little surprised when Keith gets dressed in his dance clothes from Therysia. Keith doesn’t answer his questions, but just smiles back at Lance and then helps him into his clothes as well. He picks up Lance’s datapad, chooses a slow song to play, and then pulls Lance up from the bed to help him stand. Lance is standing alright, and moving his leg doesn’t hurt so much anymore.
“Teach me to dance,” Keith asks, smiling.
Lance laughs, not sure that he can make the steps gracefully, but he sets his hand on Keith’s waist. He has to humor him. There’s an odd lightness in Keith’s heart, tangible in their bond, and Lance knows his mate is planning something.
“This song sounds familiar,” Lance notes. Keith holds onto that small, gentle, hard-to-read smile.
“Xerysi sent it to me.”
“The waltz from the party?”
“Yeah." Keith guides Lance into the first circuit of steps.
“You've been practicing,” Lance realizes a few steps in. Keith is smoother in his motions, attentive and confident, and Lance smirks at him. “Who've you been practicing with?”
Keith is still watching their feet, but he smiles.
“Did you know that Shiro can dance?”
Lance laughs. It's so fitting, and it’s adorable to think of Keith going to Shiro for help just so he can impress Lance. As if Keith needs to impress him at all. “Really? Maybe I should dance with him, too.”
“I think he'd like that," Keith agrees. It does sound fun, and Lance looks forward to it.
“You’re doing great,” Lance notes softly. “You might not be made entirely of left feet.”
“I’d hope not.” Keith grins wider and does a full spin, satisfied that Lance can stand by himself, and then comes back to support him anyway. “I have to learn to dance in time for our wedding.”
Lance nearly falls down. He stares. “What?”
Keith licks his lips, thinking, and looks down at their feet to make sure he gets the next turn right. When he looks back up at Lance, he takes a deep breath.
“I talked to Allura. In two months, we’re going to Earth.” When Lance only continues to stare, eyes wide and filling, Keith goes on more gently. “You can’t get married unless your family’s there to see it, right? And you promised they’ll love me. So… Maybe we can get married at Varadero?”
Lance can’t breathe. When he remembers how, it gushes out of him in a laughing sob. He takes his hand back from Keith’s to wipe at his eyes.
“I think you skipped something in all that,” Lance manages, and Keith smiles, leaning up to kiss his wet cheek.
“Oh, you’re right.” Keith slips something into Lance’s palm. He can feel the pulse in the familiar metal, quick and staccato despite Keith’s soft, steady tone. “Lance, will you marry me?”
“Yes.” Lance is already fumbling with the ring. Keith helps him slip it onto his finger, and then they’re holding onto each other, laughing so hard that at first they forget to kiss. When they do, they’re both grinning into it, and Lance weaves his hand into Keith’s to pull him back into the dance. Keith takes the lead this time, guiding Lance just long enough to take him back to bed.