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On the Ledge

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At first, they didn’t know what Keith had almost done.

Hunk surmised it was probably the same for Keith as well, that he didn't know of the fear and desperation that coursed through the paladin's veins. He and the others had been so desperate trying to escape Naxzela, and even thought he had ran the entire fight through his head again and again, he could only remember thinking about how scared Pidge’s stuttered breaths sounded. How he could hear a small whine from Lance as they all pushed Voltron as far as possible. He hadn't even thought of the rebels, of the Blade agents. He couldn't remember if he had thought about Keith.

They never had a chance to ask Keith when the coalition regrouped afterwards, the process of questioning and just even meeting with Lotor for the first time took so much from what was barely left after nearly dying. Kolivan stayed nearby, and maybe Keith had as well, but it had been so long since they talked, and like the rest of the team, Hunk was just so tired to even try.

It wasn’t until a phoeb later, when Matt returned for a brief respite in the castle, that Hunk wished he had tried to find Keith. He wished he had dragged Lance and Pidge and Shiro with him to hunt down their friend.

Pidge had noticed it first, the morose silence that Matt wore beneath the wide grins and jokes, and Hunk could tell that she put on a bigger act of being a little sister for him. The four sat in Hunk’s lab, Lance sitting far away from the tech after Pidge had threatened him, and while Hunk could feel the tension Matt had, he didn’t want to ruin the smile Pidge had made, or the look of wonder Lance would shoot the rebel after random stories.

But when Matt became quiet, eyes lowered, Hunk felt his entire body sink as if a stone weight rested on his chest.

“Have you heard from Keith?”

Lance was the first to respond, and even as he dismissed Matt’s question, Hunk saw his frown, saw how his eyes darkened. “Well, he never talks to us. The Blade have been silent since the last battle, apparently, they’ve gone covert again.”

Matt’s voice rose, and Pidge moved back with a startled jerk “What about after the fight, did you talk to him at all?” Only silence met Matt’s question, and Hunk watched as Matt pressed his fingers against his temples. Hunk didn’t know how to answer, and neither did the others as the silence continued. It took Matt a while before he could speak to them, and when he lifted his head Hunk could see streaks from where tears had fallen.

“I listened to his last words,” he stuttered then, fumbling over words as shocked filled Hunk, “Almost last words. He- I watched him try to ram his ship into the ship’s defense barrier.”

“He did what?”

All four looked towards to door where Shiro stood. His hand, which rested against the frame, was lax, his mouth slightly open. Shiro’s eyes were dazed, unfocused as he processed what Matt said, and Hunk wondered if he looked the same. Matt spoke then, his voice shaking as the joint turmoil from the others hit him, making an already distressing revelation so much more potent.

“He was ready to die, Shiro. Are you sure you haven’t heard from him? At all?”