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Lance was never proud of the one thing that could make him stand out.

(The one thing that made him stand, even in his family, the one thing that destroyed the chances of affection and hugs and attention, the one thing he’d never move past, the one thing that’d always haunt him, the one thing that could get someone killed)

Lance was born with a smooth back, tan skin free of birth marks but full of freckles. Lance was born with beautiful blue eyes, deep tawny hair, and a dazzling smile. Lance was not born with a pair of wings.

Lance was wingless.

Less than 1% of the world was wingless, and that meant those who were….never had good fates. Abandonment, abuse, neglect, suicide rates almost a solid 100….anyone born wingless in this time and age was destined a shitty fate, to die for the lack of something they could not have.

But Lance did not.

His mother hated him with her very soul, but even she wasn’t heartless enough to murder someone, no matter how indirectly. His siblings might laugh with him, might eat with him, but they were never around for more than a few seconds, tossing looks over their shoulder for a parent or aunt or uncle. Lance was hidden away, kept out of sight by his parents and family for his whole life, living in the attic or traipsing the private stretch of beach that had been in his family for years, hearing the voice of the sky but never being able to answer it. (Not like he could without wings, anyway)

But then, he found a way he could.

The Galaxy Garrison, a military school where uniforms over wings were required, where group preening, cuddling, and flying sessions were encouraged but never mandatory. A place he could hide in plain sight and still see the sky. A place Lance signed up for in secret, got a scholarship, and shoved it all at his parents, the father who’d taught him the wingless were useless and the mother who never hugged him. A place that hate crimes couldn’t trace back to and murder his family if his secret ever got out.

It was too good to be true.

And it was. Lance was never the best, always mocked for trying to answer the call of the sky for the first time in his life. It wasn’t like when he’d answered the push and pull of the ocean. The ocean was cool, sometimes cold or freezing, but sage, wise and ready to crash and fall and crest back up. Ready to change, ready to grow, ready to soothe. Content to watch and learn, finding complexity in the simplest things, but brave enough to venture out on it’s own, to try on its own to live up and live past expectations. The ocean was a gentle hand running over his back, swirling him around in currents of fate and past, gentle but wild, pushing but never shoving.

The sky shoved, but in what Lance saw as a good way. Watching gaggles of siblings and uncles and aunts swoop and soar, thrown out into organized anarchy midair, riding drafts. The sky was wild, insane. It could not sit still, it could not listen, it could not be gentle or understand. It was headstrong or helpful, stubborn or relenting. There was no in between. When it’s chicks matured and reached for the air, the sky threw them out, to the ground or the air.

A few chicks crashed, or came close, but they picked themselves back up, flapped with crooked or straight feathers, and chased the others. The ocean did not work that way. It could mimic, but it would never let it’s young crash or drown unless it was the best choice. Lance was glad for that, though he knew the sky would have pushed him faster, harder, to be who he could be, he knew he’d be the rare smashed egg, splattered on the concrete.

If it took years, he didn’t care. He was alive.

Lance remembers the looks at the Garrison at night or on weekends when he wore a bulky jacket and the issued pajamas, instead of snatching the chance to stretch his wings. The stares, the quirked eyebrows that the kid who joked, flirted, and screamed on a regular basis wouldn’t try for more attention.

Hunk, dear god Hunk, had wings big enough for both of them.

Beautiful, mahogany feathers that glowed golden on the ends when light shined on them. Thick, massive wings that he’d drape around Lance’s shoulder, wings that engulfed him in warmth and affection and took away unwanted attention. Too many people saw Hunk’s wings as plain. Lance saw them as a fucking savior, the first thing to treat him nicely and warmly.

But this savior need protecting from the savee.

Which was why Lance never told Hunk, or the team, that he was wingless.

Even Alteans had wings.

Coran’s were a gorgeous tangerine color, white, brown, red, and black speckles slipping between the feathers and coating them like candy sugar. Allura’s were an exact image of Alfor’s, deep, black wings the color of the vastness around them, silver streaks and dots making constellations that shined in lights.

The team’s may have been Earthen, but god, were they ethereal. Shiro, had a collage of slate gray and white, individual feathers breaking layers of colors, proof of the stress of the Arena. They peaked at the top, and were enormous, taller than Hunk’s but not quite as wide or thick. Pidge’s wings were peaked, but they curved out into cute little floofs. They only reached her hips, not past her calves or thighs like everyone else. They clearly weren’t fully grown, but Lance loved their speckled outsides, the tawny, earthy, color so close to her hair but clearly had a more hay-ish tint.

And Keith.

Holy shit, Keith.

His wings were like giant sparrow wings, angular but not peaked, wide burgundy curtains of feathers that fell to his thighs. They were warm, and firm, like a well trained muscle (which they were, technically). The ends were sharp and sleek, but the shy wing touches he sometimes gave Lance proved they were incredibly soft. Lance was always reminded of a wolf when he saw them; built for fast paced marathons. They were no where near as strong as Hunk’s, but Lance had watched Keith carry a Pidge in a simulated rescue. Wings weren’t designed to carry more than the weight of one person, the person with them.

He would never have a pair of wings.

So he reveled in the freedom that lacking a pair of wings gave him. Lance climbed, slept on his back, swam, and learned how to read emotions through little tics. The swimming came easily, like the ocean changed for him, parted and shifted to let him pass or propel him ahead. Lance knew he did. Wings weren’t an instant evolution. Generations of humans developed the genes and mutations of wings - Lance wasn’t just going to instantaneously sprout gills. He could, however, form a thin membrane as a sideways, second pair of eyelids. The same membrane acted as a moveable filter in his ears to hear underwater, and a slight webbing between his fingers. Strategically placed, retractable fangs a little bigger than his front teeth weren’t hard either.

The most notable change was when his legs stopped kicking, his knees disabled, and they swished back and forth. He could easily switch to kicking, but the longer he spent in the water, the more his legs acted as a single mass of flesh and bone. It wasn’t a tail, and Lance sometimes thought he was imagining it, but it was like a snake’s body, swinging side to side to move forward.

Wings were amazingly expressive, every angry twitch or nervous shuffle gave way to a mindscape, a scope of emotions and thoughts Lance learned to pick up on. Hiding your wings was seen as a sign of fear, distrust, and refusing to show them was a red flag in any relationship, platonic or romantic. It was normal to reach out and rest a wing on someone else’s as a sign of reassurance, and to purposely keep your tucked away meant you didn’t trust anyone with them. Your wings were essentially your life - if they got wet or mutilated you were grounded, tied to Earth and water.

And water drowned.

To his team, Lance was a hallow corpse without emotions. He was jello before it froze. They could hear his laugh, see his smiles, hear his cheers. But without his wings, the team couldn’t read him clearly. It was like they had lost their glasses, and Lance was the blurred board they couldn’t see, couldn’t guess, couldn’t decipher more than a few letters from.

They didn’t know, so they couldn’t understand. Lance wasn’t sure if he ever wanted them to understand.

Chapter Text

“How long until they know?” Lance shifted and sighed. How long until they know?

He was perched up in the team nest, worriedly watching the team pass by underneath him. Keith had ran to, and then back, from training a while ago. Hunk had been carrying gizmos and do-hickeys when he stumbled past hours earlier. The last group he had seen was Shiro, Allura, Coran, and surprisingly, Pidge. He had snatched just what they were talking about as they passed. Pidge would be going down to the next planet they were visiting, alone, to test it with scanners for the mission.

The plan was a basic search, raid, and scavenge mission they did every so often. Search for survivors, Galra rebels, and alliance. Raid for resources and information. Scavenge for materials, culture and history. Lance liked to call it the SRS plan - the first two parts were the complicated, and the last one was usually as boring and depressing as the real SRS. This planet wasn't occupied by natives, or they had been wiped out by the Galra base that had been set up. It was mostly a work camp surrounded by oceans. Islands dotted to planet here and there, small, but big enough you could spend years there before you had walked and seen it all. 

Every time they planned an SRS, they had one paladin go down, alone, and scan the entire island with their lion, or by hand on ground level. Because it was confirmed for Galra activity and there were no natives to blend in with, they were sending Pidge in with Green - to do a cloaked scan, then to investigate on foot if it was required. This way, if they were separated, needed medicine, or food for themselves or the aliens they had rescued, they wouldn’t pick the planet’s most painful poison.

Lance sighed again. Funny how many people would want me to pick the poison. An amused huff passed his lips as his eyes looked down at his feet.

The nest was made of blankets, fibers, hay, straw, and a metal basin nailed into the beams. Alteans apparently had designated spots for nests, but the others had pushed to put one where they wanted. Which, had been the center pole in the common room closest to the training room, where dozens of beams filled the open ceiling. Lance had insisted with the others on the impromptu spot, even going as far to mention the main support would be the safest place, based on all the rafters he could climb. Yes, Lance climbed slippery metal poles 40 feet up in the air without wings. All the training of climbing high places to catch up that Lance called a childhood, left him without a fear of heights when he was in command. Some of his favorite memories were diving and jumping off those heights, sometimes into the ocean, sometimes to the ground, sometimes to more rock or another branch. The others got a thrill from flying. He got his from falling.

He had broken his arms quite a few times from that.

The unmistakable sound of flapping wings took his attention, causing Lance to look up at Keith, who was gently landing in the nest in front of him. His wings looked cleaner than normal, softer and neater, and his lips weren’t scowling as darkly as usual. “You missed the group preening session again.” Ah. That explained it.

Lance didn’t say anything, paying more attention to the piece of straw in his hand instead of Keith’s calm face, the little smile on his lips, the concerned glint in his eye. Keith’s skin always looked so clear after grooming, Lance grumbled internally, like he had just stepped out of a hot shower. He fiddled with the straw more, ignoring the sharp pricks the ends gave his fingers. Keith seemed to sigh internally, a little slipping out of his mind and nose, before kneeling down to Lance’s height. “You never come. You know you can if you want to, right?”

Ha. As if he could. (They wouldn’t want him then.)

“Yeah.” He says, tucking a lock of hair behind his ear and shifting to push his back into the nest subconsciously. He blinks up at Keith, whose hand is hanging over the bend of knee with his weight. It’s turned down, but ready to be outstretched and taken in Lance’s if he grabs it. He notes the way Keith’s slim fingers seem to cup themselves. He wants to grab it.

He doesn’t.

Keith’s gaze is level and steady, an almost uncharacteristic look from impulsive, crazy Keith. It holds patience, and focus, and makes Lance want to give him a sign, let him know he isn’t staring at a blurry board, he’s looking at the notes taped to it. His wings are held up and arch out, raised to fly while he crouches. He must look like an angel from some old-fashioned painting. Lance’s hands itch to reach out and run his fingers through the burgundy feathers.

He doesn’t. Just waits for Keith to pull back and stand up.

He does, but not without clapping and rubbing his hand on Lance’s shoulder. “Okay then. His wings lower a little to catch an imaginary draft. "I’m going to go talk to Shiro about battle formations. You can come to me if you need it.” Lance lets his smile pull back, knowing inside it was a bright, sadistic, white streak against a midnight canvas. He hopes it’s convincing to Keith. “I will.” He says, then Keith is flying away with another small smile, though this one is a little sadder, a little more resolved.

Chapter Text

The nest always felt so empty without Lance. 

Keith knew his wings flickered with the thought. The soft nest of blankets hidden in the corner of the common room was well rounded with seven out of eight of the team cuddled up inside, but without Lance, it felt like there was a desolate spot, a blank filled with grey longing and melancholy. Keith frowned. He wanted Lance to fill that space.  

The others did too. Pidge sat in Shiro’s lap, and Allura leaned against Coran like always, but this time everyone stared at the empty spot next to Keith. The spot Lance would fill.  It was normal, expected even, the cuddle a teammate or family member before they went off to do something dangerous by themselves, like Pidge was going to, but Lance still hadn’t come. Did he still feel unsafe with the team, distrustful and unsure, lacking trust in them to show his wings? He never let them out either. It wasn’t healthy, for Lance or for their relationships. Keith was so surprised when it hadn’t hindered them forming Voltron. Was it like the first time on repeat for Lance, all about survival and having to or die?  

Lance hadn’t come, even after Keith had caught him in the nest after he skipped a preening session. He always skipped, or was pulled away, or was sleeping. Keith was hoping he had reassured the other, at least enough for him to come and have his wings cleaned and cuddle a little. Apparently, he hadn’t. There was no way they weren’t filthy. Was Lance, who loved skincare and being clean, deliberately leaving his wings dirty so he wouldn’t have to show the team, show Keith? Was he really that suspicious and uncomfortable, did he have so little faith in them, even Hunk?  Keith wasn’t sure to be hurt or concerned. 

Deep down, he knew. He was both. 


“Lance, c'mon! we’re going to fly with Pidge before she leaves!" 

He sighs at Hunk’s call. Just how long until they know? 

He pokes his head in the doorway.  

"I want to, but Blue needs some re-wiring. I promised her I’d do it this morning.”

“You could ask Hunk to do it afterwards.” Shiro kept deliberate eye contact. “Blue probably wouldn’t mind an engineer like Hunk fixing her up so you could fly.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind either. Space ships were going to be my career anyway. It’s no trouble, Lance.” Hunk appealed. His arms were crossed reassuringly, and there was a cocktail of emotions on his face. Lance didn’t miss the fleeting glances out the open hangar doors.

“I would, but…” Lance trailed off, eyes sliding away.

Blue’s commanding roar echoed from her hanger.

Thank you.

“The lion has spoken.” He finished, slipping into the hallway, away from the team, away from Shiro’s disappointed-dad frown, Hunk’s sigh and sad eyes, Pidge’s frustrated huff and scuffling feet, from Keith’s melancholy stare and lonely apathy.

I’m sorry.


Holy hell.

Slicing through a sentry, Keith kicked it down to finish it, letting the others coming at him trample it. The rescue mission hadn’t gone as smoothly as hoped - they had had to clear the hallways and send the prisoners into escape pods through the PA system, instead of straight to the castle when the work camp surprised them with a small fleet of jets crowding around the castle. The prisoners had been ejected around the planet, some floating in the water and others on islands. It had been Lance’s idea, and it made something warm like pride tickle Keith’s chest. It was safe, it was sturdy, it was clever. Better than anything else they had come up with.

Now, they had to finish off the connected hangers filled with Galra robots and soldiers.

A bright blue laser, a streak through the mundane purple ones, cut past Keith, knocking a solider to the ground. He kept hacking and slashing, sword pulling through cold metal bodies, but a small smile was hidden in his helmet at Lance covering him. The fluidity of them working together always brought Keith home from the battle, from the war he was fighting, from the war he wasn’t fighting alone. From the sharp knives and purple fur and screaming aliens.

Lance never left him alone.

Keith sends three hunks of metal crashing to the floor, wings arched high. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see a sentry lining a shot at his wings. He can see the hand pulling the trigger squeeze. He can see Lance jump over him.

He can see Lance get hit and fall to the floor hard enough to bounce, clutching his arm.*

He can see the blood spilling on the floor, not purple blood, not purple, red, red, crimson, scarlet, red, paladin-

The half dozen robots in front of him are done away with a few swift movements, he’s screaming at Shiro and Coran through the coms, and he doesn’t recognize what they’re saying other than “bring him to medical”. Lance is staring in shock at his arm, and then Keith is picking him up. The others materialized from thin air and create an opening that Keith dashes through, and if there’s anything following him, he’s lost it in seconds. Lance is still in shock, but his good arm is gripping Keith. His wings knock the shit out of a sentry when they turn the corner, then the castle is in front of them, and he’s running up the ramp, giving Lance to Coran. He spares a moment to stare at Coran rushing Lance down the hallway, the bright red trail behind them worrying him.*

Don’t leave me, Lance.

He spins on his heel, and heads back into battle.


Coran doesn’t waste time inputting the code for the pod to put Lance in the medical suit when he walks in. The pod rises from the floors, cool steam escaping into the room, and he sets the half-conscious paladin inside. Blood loss out in space without human donors is dangerous, Coran had figured that much day one, so he sets the pod to do a full scan and heal as fast as he can.

“Sleep well, Lance.” He nods, locking the pod closed on the boy he sees as a son. Wistfully, he stares at Lance’s sleeping face, before placing a hand on the glass. With a sigh, he pushes off and strides out into the corridor, heading back to help the princess destroy the Galra who hurt his grandchild.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Lance woke up, his arm wasn’t a bloody mess anymore and he could hear something other than his heartbeat trying to dash out of his body. Exhaling, he scanned the room and realized the quite chatter he heard was from upstairs. It was probably the refugees. He blinked.

The refugees. Wait.

Sleep chamber knees or not, Lance scrambled out of the pod, his armor ruining the impact of the floor when he tripped. Lance kind of needed something to smack some sense in him as he frantically ran for the door.

Keith? Is Keith okay? Is Pidge? Where’s the team? I don’t see anyone in a pod, so that either means everything’s okay or someone’s dead-

Where’s my helmet?

Really, Lance? Now? Of all times?

The itch for to find it doesn’t make much sense until Lance remembers there are communication systems in his helmet. I’m a genius!

After three seconds of looking around the room like an idiot, Lance spots it on top of his folded jacket and jeans. His shoes sat next to them. Someone must have thought to leave them there for him, which was nice, but he wasn’t going to take off his armor until he knew no one was dead or in danger. Picking it up, he pushes it on his head and sighs as it turns on at his DNA signature. “Hello, anyone there?”

“Lance!” Allura’s pleased voice overwhelms him for a second, but he focuses on what she says. “I’m glad you’re awake. All the prisoners are located in the ballroom, and there were only a handful of injuries. Your fellow paladins are safe and doing recon at the moment. You can change into your regular clothes and join them in you wish, but Coran and I wouldn’t mind you hanging back.”

He smiles. Good, everyone was accounted for. “Nah, I’ll go.” He says, shucking off the armor on his calves. He pulls it off while Allura chatters on. “Okay, I’ll send them a message to let them know you woke up and will be joining them shortly. They’re on the coast of this island, which is relatively small, so you’ll be fine walking out the castle door and straight. Rest up when you’re done. We can’t have a paladin tired from battle injuries. Don’t think you can get away with it either. Hunk has a drone with him that monitors the rescue and I will see if you try anything reckless.”

“Okay, Allura.” He laughs, removing his chest plate. She huffs, and says goodbye, the switches off the coms. Lance pulls off his helmet and peels away his flight suit. His back is wide, exposed, and easy to see.

He knows. He knows. He should hurry.


Keith toes a thick chip of metal, flipping it over in a pile of rubble. They’ve just cleared out another jetty, reeling in prisoners with Pidge’s bayard on the floating escape pods, and pointing out the direction they should walk for help. A furry pile of three distinct round mounds hops past quickly, fluffy pastel fur tickling the other colors. It chirps in thanks before speeding up. Cold, dry hands pat Keith on the arm in gratitude as a leathery mix of tree and human walks past, thin legs extending to move the whole body like it’s floating above it.

He huffs. He wants Lance.

Yeah, he could admit it. Lance, was a solid person to have beside him. He always had Keith’s back, he was loyal and funny, and he had just taken a bullet for him. He wanted to make sure he was okay. He wouldn’t stop looking back, searching for a rustle in the bushes and a bright smile, his heart lighter but impatient without Lance.

Keith sighed and crossed his arms, smiling tiredly.

Yeah, he really couldn’t wait to have his sharpshooter by his side again.

After all, a good team takes two.


Lance tugs on the waistband of his jeans and slips on his shoes.

His armor is a heap on the floor in front of the pod - he’ll have to come pick it up later. Anxiety twirls around by his feet and dances up towards his back. His exposed back. There’s a problem. He needs to cover his tan skin immediately. But he hadn’t been left a shirt. He’d have to wear just his jacket and not take it off.

They did “salvage” in casual clothes for a reason. The armor, as protective as it was, added weight. It might have been light and flexible, but it still got in the way of some maneuvers, and if someone fell in water, it would weigh them down. Even if the helmet had life support, it only lasted so long. There were too many “what if’s” when it came to the armor and water. Their best chance at surviving was getting to the surface as fast as possible. Unnecessary weight would slow them down.

Funny how Lance was only physically light. He sunk like a rock everywhere else.

It was ironic how many people would want him to drown when he was the only one who could swim.

Stuffing his arms inside, Lance shrugged on his jacket, and zipped it up. He passed through the halls like a ghost, the survivors busy chattering around him. Demon held inside his jacket, he walked out into the semi tropical rainforest.


 

It was the worst possible situation.

Lance had just brushed past a leafy bush to have the sea roar in his ears and salt hit his lips. The team was hovering over the rocky coast that disappeared into the blue ocean, craving to save the pod tittering on a small cliff of rock, but unable to risk crossing the water. The pod was absolutely trashed , the spike of obsidian piercing the buoyancy - if it fell, it’d sink to the bottom. Flying out would get them both killed - the pod could fall and take one of the team down, trapping them in the waves, and both the prisoners and them would drown. But what made it horribly, horribly worse was who was in the pod.

“Dad! Matt!”

Two recongzinable faces peered out the door way, the door probably having been ripped off in the crash. Matt was gripping the edge, bracing himself and using his leg to hold back a weary Samuel Holt. He was definitely injured, unconcious, the small trail of dark blood dripping off into the ocean. The sea rocked and churned underneath them, an incomplete death sentence, and the pod creaked ominously, ready to give in and crash at any second. Dread sat heavy on Lance’s tongue.

“Katie…”

Shiro was grasping Pidge by a hand, his face terrified but trying to gain control. Pidge wasn’t struggling against Shiro- she was struggling against herself, desperation written in her features, but the menacing roll of the ocean warded her away. All she wanted was to save them, Lance could tell, but her body was screaming to flee the water, to fly, to escape being dragged from the sky, dragged to a heavy, wet death. Hunk and Keith looked like a watered down version - scared, cautious motions back and forth, unsure and scared.

Lance’s hand was already playing with his zipper.

Everything about Matt screamed tense and near frantic. Tensed like a cat, his body locked against the open air, sagging like an acrobat on ropes, Matt clearly was trying to find a way out of this without killing himself, his dad, or his sister. But he hadn’t found a possibility. If he moved, the pod would tilt with his weight, or his dad would fall into the water. No one could fly out to them - he’d have to get off himself. But he couldn’t move, the floor of the pod wrecked with a spike behind him and Samuel supported by his leg.

Lance could be that possibility.

Like a sick bird that had finally had enough, the pod plummeted in the water with the screech of torn metal.

Pidge’s heartbroken scream matched it.

Lance was tearing out of his shoes and jacket, tossing it in the sand, head leaps and bounds ahead of him. Sand kicked up from his sprint sprayed the droid and the team as he raced past. Lance could feel their incredulous stares go from the flooded hunk of metal to his bare back, but it didn’t freeze the determination in his veins. He dove in the water with a splash.

Calm was the first word in his mind when the swirling blue washed over his head. It was calm here, the gentle roll of the current miles below him. He was light, weightless. The second word was control. In water, Lance was in command, a quiet authority. He pushed and pulled himself along, arms scooping out his way. Quick, strong kicks brought him to the submerged metal ship, and he pressed two hands to the metal, looking for the window. This ocean wasn’t his, wasn’t their’s. They needed to get out soon.

Gliding in through the empty window frame, Lance slinked up to search over the jagged metal and broken, dead wires. Matt’s transfixed face meet his. His eyebrows furrowed, and for someone who should be drowning, he was doing remarkably well at staying calm.

Matt stared at him as if he was a mirage almost, but Lance could tell Matt was the kind who didn’t care as long as they didn’t die. Tapping the roof of cramped pod, Lance waited for Matt to nod before reaching over and working Samuel over the barrier with him, pulling the older man into his arms. A cut craved out a thin line across his calf, a blood came from a smaller one of his head. He was clearly passed out and needed to be brought to the surface ASAP. Lance smiled and held up one finger, then two. Realizing Lance would come back for him, Matt nodded sagely and floated back.

Propelling off the wall, Lance left water dragging behind him. The weight in his arms was incredible - the man wasn’t much shorter than him but had to weigh almost twice as much with his wings.

Thick and waterlogged, they curved and looked fluffy like Pidge’s. Lowered with age, his wings dragged behind him like a pair of broken airplane wings. Streaked with brown and gray darker than Pidge’s, they’d ironically cause the man they made light to drown like an anchor if Lance let go.

He doesn’t dare tempt this new ocean.

Breaking past the surface with a gasp, Lance clutches Samuel to his chest and awkwardly swims to shore with one arm. Scrambling up the loose, wet clumps of sand, he ignores the stricken staring of them team and flips Samuel on his back.

He starts pumping Samuel’s chest.

Come on, come on.

He’s on a time limit, damn it!

He pushes harder, and Samuel suddenly jerks against him, coughing water out of his lungs. Lance takes the second to arrange him on his side so he doesn’t choke on his own vomit, then dashes back into the ocean. His kicks are a last-ditch effort that pay off, literally almost ramming himself into the pod. He yanks himself through the window and nearly slices his hand open on the broken metal wall. He might not be able to fly, but he can swim and save someone drowning. He can. He can, no matter how worthless he is. It is called a trash can - not a trash cannot. (He thinks that’s a line from some anime, but he doesn’t have time to really ask himself if he made a refrence while saving someone drowning. He probably did).

Matt’s lips are turning blue when Lance arrives. His jaw is set and cheeks ballooned out, precious oxygen held inside. Quickly, he reaches out to Lance, who helps him over the wreckage. Wrapping his arms around Lance’s neck, he tucks himself against his body. Lance latches an arm around him, careful to hook it under his wings. They are near replicas of Pidge’s, though clearly entering the final stages. Less childish, more rectangular in design, with darker hints of brown. The tops poke Lance gently in the face, but the bottoms are pressed to Matt’s knees.

Using the smooth sheet of metal as a boost, Lance rushed up to the surface, leaving the pod to sink even faster than before. The distance was greater, the weight heavy, and the time less, but he’d have wings before he let go of Matt.

Bobbing to the surface, he gulps in air. Matt is sucking in giant breathes against his neck, giggling and trembling with relief. He even happy kick-spams to shore with Lance.

But relief is far, far, away from Lance.

The weight of a wingless world crashes on his back, so, so much heavier than Matt or Samuel.

His shoes are too far away.

Shit.

He doesn’t wait for the team to ask questions, doesn’t give the anxiety and self hate a chance to strike, snatching up his jacket. There’s a quick “Hey-” before water is filling his ears again, and he’s swimming out, swimming away. Desperation and adrenaline sing in his veins, overruling this sea’s temper. This isn’t his ocean. The pushes and pulls are closer to shoves and yanks, semi-aggressively telling him to leave, but Lance makes his way through anyhow. Currents a similar shade of blue to the ones from Earth twirl around him, tiny air bubbles decorating them like stars. It’s frigid, a cold, agitated embrace that makes Lance burn in a satisfying way. He wasn’t like the others, he couldn’t be. No one wanted a wingless. Nothing was ever permanent, not even love.

Lance comes up for air, swallowing a lungful before smoothing back down into the deep. The few seconds he’s up, he hears the team, incomprehensible , but they’ve figured out he’s leaving. Fear pounding at the brittle door calm forces up in his head, Lance dives deeper, the water turning darker without the sunlight. He can still see, but the water is a murky, dusty blue, not the clear, aqua where the light reflects easily. His speed is probably breaking any records he’s had before. Nothing like the people you came to love hating you to make you have a lighting fast exit.

Rocketing through the water, Lance left giant disturbances in his wake. Air bubbles burst out of existence behind him. He had already shifted when he came up for air - his hands curved out his path with the webbing, and the water pressure boxed gently on his ears. His knees weren’t knees anymore, just two long, flat masses of flesh and bone that shot him through the water. The second pair of eyelids he had blinked out any grime in the water, the rhythm different and more pronounced than his first pair. His tongue pressed against the sharp eyeteeth in his mouth, the threat of nicking his tongue grounding him.

He doesn’t know how long he swims, limbs throbbing with fluid energy. He goes until rocks start to spike up, some gentle curves and other sudden daggers slicing through the water. Miles below, he can spot the muddled, bright light purple and galaxy red glow of underwater volcanoes in the darkness. Lance hasn’t seen anything alive yet, but he knew better than to test it by exploring near lava.

Gliding up against the smooth rock, Lance spots the openings to caves, pretty corals fanning out from them and shells dotted here and there. Clutching his jacket tighter, he twists through one. It’s small, and hallow, the water pooling much lower than the majority of the rock. The roaring of the waves crashing washes over the cave, but the cave shelters him. Coal black rock juts out here and there, blocky, but gorgeous in the way only sea caves were. Soft colored crystals lit up small patches of shadow, a handful clustered around an alcove.

Carefully, he clambers up the dry rock to the opening and settles back into it, his knees pulled to his chest, cheek resting against the even rock. The anxiety coils up inside his neck.

Now they despise you.

I mean, why wouldn’t they?

Even you despise you.

Useless, ugly, waste of space. Wingless.

Just drown in that goddamn ugly water you call home.

It suits you.

Nothing but extra weight.

God, why do you exist?

Chilly air pricks at Lance’s bare feet. He tucks himself tighter, wriggling his toes. His jacket is drenched, but he drapes it around the exposed parts of his back. He clings to the rock, hoping the warmth will come back. He’s not freezing, but numb, like rain soaked pavement.

Leave already!

He could stop here, lulled by the tune of a sea that wasn’t his, void emotions filling up his silhouette, abandoned by himself, half asleep in a crevice with a mundane storm brewing over head.

Yes, this would make a good rest stop.

 

Chapter Text

Lance hadn’t broken down crying yet.

Needing to survive on your own did that to a person. Or, you know, the exact opposite. But Lance had gone nearly 17 years without someone finding out he was wingless. He was a master at delaying the inevitable.

He had already found a stream, collected shells, and used them as jars for the water to distract himself.

Hence why he was multiple stories up in a tree.

Well, there was fruit up here. That was part of the reason. Diverse trees sprouted up to the sky, the thickest wider than Blue herself and the thinnest the width of his pupil. It had felt like it was made of stone, but the fruit growing high, high above convinced him it was not. He had picked this tree mainly for it’s trunk. It was solid and thick, but he could securely wrap his arms and legs around it. Spikes adorned the bottom of the fruit, an armor for the flesh, but not the top. There weren’t many branches, so he’d be relying heavily on the trunk and the strength climbing had given his core over the years.

“Oof” Lance’s hand had scrambled to hold on to the bark of the trunk so he didn’t fall off the branch. It had been just high enough for him to have to launch himself at it. Huffing air through his nose tiredly, Lance worked himself into a standing position. Already, the greens of the leaves where shifting with the light. He grinned. There was the satisfaction, the freedom, the breathlessness he had been waiting for.

Now, who-knows-how-many miles up in a tree, he was kinda breathless. Groaning, he reached back further. His legs flexed reflexively when his back muscles shifted to stretch lower. Tighter than a New York subway system, Lance held on to the tree trunk with his legs and arched his back to hang upside down. Every part of him was tense with concentration, the open air under him making the drop apparent. His hair swayed minutely with the movement. Teasingly, the fruit hung just out of his reach, the smooth part clouded with pastel orange. He pushed a little harder towards his goal and nudged the fruit.

Yes!

Plucking it decisively, he swept himself up into a sitting position, stomach aching with the sudden sit up. The air up here was cool and misty, and he breathed it in to make up for the burn. Shades of green spilled over the trees, splotches of purple and orange breaking it up without taking aesthetic. Up here in the treetops, alone, Lance doesn’t have to think about wings or the ocean that wants to spit him out. Climbing was cold, hard work. It was dull and adventurous, the sensations calm and dim, but the heights and movement invigorating. Stretching from place to place, a deadly drop below him, clinging to a bigger mass were all things that made Lance feel alive. The ocean may have been motherly, a supportive hand guiding him down the path, but climbing was the ravine he had to overcome in the middle of the path.

Carefully, he scrapes off the spikes, ignoring the weird crackling sound coming from the fruit. A light blue skin was left behind. Holding the stem with his teeth, Lance shrugs off his jacket and ties it into a basket on a tiny limb above him. He puts the fruit securely inside. Warm, bright light hums under his tan bare skin. He’ll have to be careful to not scratch himself up too much without his jacket as protection. Leaning back, he sighs. The next piece of fruit isn’t too far away, but the sparse amount of thick branches he can stand on make it a balancing act. An act that requires endurance and focus.

He grins.

His favorite kind of act.


 

Lance doesn’t like the disappearing act he has to play.

Dragging a stick with giant leaves tied to the ends, he sweeps it side to side behind him. The steady trail of footprints vanish back into smooth sand with each swipe. Tides dance back and forth, swishing up and away, exceling the roar of the ocean across the water to the shore. The lonely, near empty shore.

But it’s an act he has to play. Vanishing into thin air without the lift of a feather. Ironic, but safe. The act of love (if he could have called it that in the first place) pouring into hate. The counteract of lifting a shield. He doesn’t have wings, doesn’t have a spotlight on stage. He’s just running around in the darkness, bumping into the other actors and props, the audience watching in sick monotone from his shadows. It’s best to just take him out all together. It wasn’t like he was good for much anyway.

Every hide and hair of him needs to be hidden, out of sight, out of danger. Like the tides washing up against the sand, taking away the evidence of everything ever there. Hunk’s brotherly smiles wouldn’t exist for him anymore. Shiro’s nudges and parental lectures wouldn’t make him groan dramatically. Allura’s commands in battle wouldn’t fill his helmet. He’d miss Pidge being a gremlin but simultaneously sweet girl who let him borrow her headphones. Coran wouldn’t tell him anymore stories. He’d never know Matt or Samuel Holt. He doesn’t even want to think about the tight bud of affection for Keith. That bomb was being shoved underwater for today. For forever, hopefully. Washing it all away. Like the sand and waves.

But he’s alone.

Even though they know he’s somewhere here, they don’t know where. That’s something to Lance at least.

But he’s alone. So he does what he always does when he’s alone.

Says fuck everything and starts to play.

This time, he’s dancing. Spinning, forgetting, ignoring, feeling, singing, whooping. He’s switching lyrics and rhythms, drawing them out in the sand, little bits and pieces of his heart.

-the devil in me-

He sways so he can savor the feeling, so he can write it out clearly.

-at my worst-

He steps on it and doesn’t care.

-elastic heart-

He trips. Laughs.

-I feel when you’re next to me-

Dances.

Dances.

And dances.

By the time he’s done, his stomach is grumbling for the crisp fruit in his cove, the damp sand is littered with words and footprints and designs, and grimy wet sand cakes his jeans and skin.

He should swipe it all away. Make it disappear.

Nah.

The tides will come racing up in the night and sweep it all away. Sweep it all away like him. He’ll come back tomorrow, see if it’s gone and possibly do it again.

When he dives in the ocean, his stomach is growling, his eyes and hands switch over, he’s covered in silt, and his heart finally isn’t such a hallow canal.


 

It’s torture.

The silence. The cold. The worry. The humming of healing pods. The hurt.

Keith hates it.

The (un)whole team had been holed up in the living room nest for the two nights and two days Lance had been gone. Two nights and two days since they had found out he was wingless. Two nights and two days since his mind had started to question Lance’s trust in him. Two nights and two days since the hurt had started to gnaw at him. Two nights and two days since Keith had lost the light of his life.

Okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but without the human light bulb known as Lance, the castle was dim and subdued. Guilt and remorse weren’t though. They burned hot and bright.

None of them had ever even met a wingless before. They were rare to begin with, then the horrible treatment they called life…

Keith was suprised Lance was alive.

And there was another reason.

Suprised.

He was suprised.

He had missed every sign, every note, every craving, every regret, every fear, in Lance.

All of it.

The thought hadn’t crossed his mind, hadn’t even been a possibility, that Lance simply didn’t have wings. That he hid. That he didn’t have wings to wash, or feathers to fly.

That no matter what he wanted, he couldn’t approach them, not with the way he must of thought they’d treat him. Must have been conditioned to think.

Months of kind words and nice touches do not make up for life time without them.

And Keith can get it, he really can, having hoped around foster homes and orphanages and schools. He’s felt like he couldn’t approach people. When Voltron first started, he had no idea who to talk to outside of Shiro, and that was another bag of tangled yarn. But he was always a differently shaped puzzle piece because he was an orphan, because he didn’t understand, because he felt uncomfortable.

But those people didn’t carry him to healing pods or fight in a giant-man-lion robot together. Didn’t practice together, didn’t train together, didn’t live and laugh and lose little pieces of themselves to this war together. He can get the feeling and he can fathom reasons why, but he can’t apply them.

Not to Voltron. Much less himself.

It hurts, little knives wedged in his chest, poking a little further every time Keith thinks about all the times Lance would shy away and cover it up loudly. Lance was always there for them. Ready to take a bullet or a knife for anyone. But he was the same person who’d looked at Keith with nothing more than fear in his eyes after bursting out of the waves onto gritty sand, back bare.

The person who’d ran away from him the moment his secret got out. The secret Keith didn’t think of. Little fights and playful shoves. Loudly beating hearts. Late night talks and finding each other passed out on the couch. Screaming down the halls, running after the other.  Things Lance thought would disappear when his back appeared.  But why would they?

Keith thought they were trustworthy of something like this.

They protect each other’s lives daily. What’s a pair of wings got to do with it?

At the same time, he knows. Knows that he doesn’t know enough, that the hurt laced in his mind was warping his rationality. Keith can understand a lot of things, even with his judgement out of whack.

But being wingless?

He can’t. Lance couldn’t bring himself to tell them, hid it so hard and isolated parts of himself from them, from everyone. Keith wished he hadn’t, not from him.

He’s always had the sky. He’s not wingless.

Lance had people there physically, people who’d touch him and people who’d hurt him, but they weren’t there for him. Just silhouettes in his life.  

Days ago, he had wanted Lance to fill the space in the nest.

This morning, he wanted to fill the space in Lance’s heart like the half-gone footprints and words written in the sand.


 

Lance splashed into the ocean.

The sky was a stirred up grey, a color out of a witch’s pot, rain threatening to fall sometime in the nearby future.  Bobbing on his back, Lance tilts back to look up at the sky, the cool wind chaffing him dry. Clouds of sand trail from where his toes almost reach the ground, mirroring the sky above. He’s lazily pivoting off the ground, almost sitting in the water, staring at the clouds above him. Clouds were perfect to look at and space out while doing it and not feel completely alone.

Most days were hot on his little island, so he wore his jacket wrapped around his waist while he swam. Then, when he’d crawl out, he could put it on and stay cool easier. The sleeves billowed up against his stomach now.

Closing his eyelids, he lets his second pair blink into place, his ear covering slipping over his ears, and the webbing between his fingers growing. Sharp little pricks poke his mouth before his jaw adjusts to his new teeth. Breathing out, he opens his eyes and twists to kick off the sandy coast.

He’s only drifted a little when a giant disturbance echoes through the water.

There’s nothing alive on this planet that big. There’s nothing alive-

Against his better judgement, he shots off to the source, water wicking through his hair. It doesn’t get in his eyes for the miles he swims in seconds or when he notices a big, dark shadow above him on the surface. A human shaped shadow.

FUCKING IDIOT-!

“Dumbass! The hell!” Lance exclaims, rising above the surface, arms cradling Keith up away from the water. Blue waves rock and bob them, and Keith’s wings are stretched high above them. One wrong move and they’d be wet. Wet and heavy, would drag him down to the see floor, oxygen betraying him and floating to the surface. “I knew you’d come.” Keith shrugs, seemingly not panicking about the sea water he’s in. Panic is pushing through Lance’s veins, but deep breathes and focus let him grip it by the handle. The team most likely hates him, so why would Keith know he would come? Why should he have come? Would they have baited him out with Keith to beat him lifeless? Did they?

Something soft and bubbly closes around his wrist.

An inflatable he hadn’t noticed in his angry concern was wrapped around Keith’s waist. Connected to it was a smaller one on his wrist.

They did.

“Lance, you need to come with us-”

They hated him enough to try to capture him.

Now that he was searching he could see the team on the grainy, gritty shore not too far away, hidden in the shadows of trees.

Fuck this.

“Fuck this.” He says, pauses to let his eyeteeth push out, and swoops his head to the plastic.

Tearing into the plastic, it pops with little resistance.

He drops Keith, sinking back down into the current, the cold flourishing in his senses. Kicking back, he retreats a few feet, letting the ocean bloom around his eyes. The blue here is prettier, but the intentions are not.

Keith starts to struggle above him, the shadow distorted . Something’s wrong -

The tube was connected.

Rushing back up, Lance pushes Keith out of the water, legs spinning for extra strength. Soaked feathers drape against his arms and get in his mouth. The taste of foreign salt and pillow fluff fills his mouth. Fear eats Keith’s face, terrified frown sharp against his expressive eyes. The grip on Lance’s arms leaves his knuckles white. His legs trail in the water beneath him and Lance tries not to groan with how heavy he is.

Then, hands are reaching down and pulling Keith up, supporting him, flying away with him. Shiro and Hunk are looping hands under his arms, Pidge’s arms are snaked around his side, Matt’s on his other, Allura and Coran are grabbing his waist, right above Lance’s arms. Grunts and groans echo from the team as they struggle to fly upwards, away from the death rippling below. Stupidly, Keith refuses to reach up and let go of Lance.

Plucking him right out of the sea.

“Hey! Let me go!” He shouts, wriggling against Keith, then rocking his arms. “Never!” Keith yells back, clenching his fists so hard Lance can feel his bones being squeezed. Erratic breaths puff past his lips, his knees clicking in and out of place. He tries harder to shake out of the hold, adrenaline lacing his veins. Hunk’s free hand shoots out and clasped his shoulder, trapping him further. Ear-splitting screams leave his mouth, wordless.

Not fearless.

He gasps, other hands grabbing his body, forcing him still. Without his struggling, the emergency flight that ends up as a crash landing into wet sand goes as a smooth blur. A mess of limbs is what they’re reduced to. Keith lets his forearms go at some point. Lance tries to roll away from the pile of ex-friends.

“OOOOOOHHHHH!” Howling screeches attack his ears, his ear covering pulling back in surprise as Keith descends upon him. “AH!” Rough hands brawl against Lance. Anger radiates off them. Two knees are digging into his sides. Sweat streaks their faces. Lance tries to punch Keith, but he catches the swing. With a fast spin of colors, he’s flipped on his back. Coarse sand sticks to his face. He tries to buck backwards. With a grunt, Keith straddles his back, one hand pulling his wrists back and the other pushing his head down.

The small of his back is prominently empty.

Lance squints his eyes together, trying to keep the tears in and the sand out.

An animalistic scream runs his throat raw.

“Let me go!” It’s almost lost in the guttural letters.

“NO!”

“Don’t kill me, leave me alone-”

His arms spring forward with a thud. “Lance?” is barely more than a whisper.

“I’m not going to kill you.”

His breathing starts to slow.

The hands pull back.

Wet hair drips on the small of his back.

Where his wings would be.

Should be.

Slowly, more wet hair starts to slather his back with salty sea brine. Pidge huddles close under his arm, Matt shadowing over her. Hunk’s short hair and headband take up the space between Keith and Pidge, his legs resting on Lance’s. Coran forces himself between Shiro and Keith, and Allura snorts before curling up and taking his arm.

He’s not sure how long they lay there, silently breathing, covered in sand.

“So, I’m guessing you don’t think I’m the filthiest scum of the Earth?”

“We couldn’t if we tried.” Hunk admonishes, rubbing circles into his skin. “You’ve been a vital part of the team since day one. Don’t you ever forget it.”

“We need our sharpshooter. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have wings.” Shiro adds in. “We’re family, Lance. Your body doesn’t exclude you.”

“Even though it has some freakishly cool features.” Pidge reaches up his arm to play with the blue-tinted skin-webbing between his fingers.

“Two sets of eyelids, an ear flap,  and retractable, sharp teeth.  My knees click in and out, so they aren’t always a joint. Webbed fingers.” He agrees.

“Besides” Keith snuggles into his back “ I have no idea how someone could hate you for your back. It’s smooth, and really warm.” He sighs out tiredly.

Lance doesn’t know how to reply to that.

“Lance, the team quite literally almost fell apart without you. “ Allura says. Lance turns his head to meet her eyes.

“We need you back at the castle, Lance.” Coran smiles.

It’s okay.

They want him.

And he’s always wanted them.

“Okay.” he breathes.

Two beats of silence are filled with smiling from his space family.

“Alright, my back’s starting to ache.” Pidge complains, pushing Matt back to stretch out her wings. The cuddle pile disengages with that, everyone taking their time to pull away.  All except Keith.

“Keith?” Lance asks, sitting up. His hips are still trapped, so he mimics a seal. Keith had sat up, but he’s still on top of him. The rest of the team was heading back, leaving him helpless. Lance swore Shiro had a little grin on his face as he walked away.

“Don’t you ever run away again.” It’s dark and demanding. A trace of past distress leaks into it. “ I thought you trusted us. Even though you never showed up for group preening or cuddling or flying, I thought you felt supported by us, enough to tell us if something was wrong or you wanted comfort. At least me.” Sadness dulled through the last words.

“Oh, Keith-” He frantically swivels his head to get a better look at Keith. “Done. And I do trust you. If it came down between you or Shiro fighting for my life I’d pick you. I’d pick you for everything. Being wingless and alive though, it’s not safe or simple. I was holed up in my family’s attic for years. The Garrison was my first real social experience. I didn’t know how anyone - you’d react. I was scared.”

“You don’t have to be scared of me.”

“I know.”

“You’d pick me for everything?”

“Yeah. Go ahead, ask.” A warm flower of affection blooms under his heart for this boy. The fear nulling it with brackish water had drained away and it was just as persistent as it had always been.

“Brother?” Keith blurts out.

“Not sure how that’d work, but sure.”

“The person who yanked you out of a cave?”

“I’d think I be worried if it was someone else.”

“Room mate?”

”Hunk snores like crazy, please.”

“Boyfriend?”

Lance tilts back to slot their mouths together.

Chapter Text

"Whoa! A-ah-ahh-" 

The toes of Lance's sneakers seemed to float in thin air beneath him, Allura and Keith's smaller feet hidden beneath his. Greenish-brown foliage waved in the wind what felt like miles below them, though Lance knew they probably weren't more than twenty, thirty feet up. Yidieslaitghater was a beautiful semi-planet used by the Retahgtialseidiyians for a food and water resource with multiple army and art training facilities stationed around on the land masses. They were kind enough to let Voltron dock for a day of fun, the leader even going as far as to say "It'd be an honor to know the mightiest of warriors enjoyed our planet only for the pleasure of leisure in place of the hardship of war!" when Allura asked. A dull, soothing orange twined through some kinda of hillside far in the east, and Lance knew a thin trail of it broke off to form the cliffs they were using as a launch pad to fly Lance around.

Keith kept an arm wrapped tightly around his waist as he and Allura worked in synchrony to manage hovering upright in the air while holding Lance. Allura had brightened at the idea of having to beat their wings at the same timed patterns to hold something precious, (Keith's words, not his) taking the chance to implement training elements into fun. 

Lance was just glad to fly. 

Floating through a clear sky, sensing it as a turbo powered ramp instead of a forceful push, something uplifting and enlightening suddenly made Lance realize why the team was a flock, why they were so close knit, why they wanted to fly so badly that Pidge and Keith often shot around hallways and smacked into walls. It was freeing, and it made you want to share everything about the feeling, even with strangers.

He still loved and preferred the ocean, though he could see a new side to the sky now that he'd actually flown.

Well, he was still technically flying.

Lance peered around at everything, keen to drink in as much as he could. Keith worriedly shifted his arm under him, telling him he wasn't going to be up here for much longer, less his boyfriend turned into a worry-wart. Lance leaned a little further, trying to make out the details of a patch of flowers along the riverbank.

"Lance-"

Never mind, his boyfriend was already a worry-wart.


Lance was wingless, so the team made a few arrangements and rules for him, which included a ladder leading to the nest in the rafters and teaching him how to preen wings.

However, Keith knew Lance was still, well, Lance, which meant quite a few things. He still drank unpasteurized milk when Shiro wasn't looking, still did face masks, still shot his bayard in a way that honestly was so badass, still was a reckless teenager, still goofed during training. 

He also continued to act the ways he had, as in, climbing as high as Keith would fly.

And then fucking jumping off. 

Keith had forgotten that little tidbit, only to be reminded when he spotted Lance at the top of a cliff. A fucking cliff. 

"Lance!" 

The motherfucker took another step closer to the edge, not even bothering to look Keith's way. 

"I swear to God! Lance! Lance, look at me! Stop you dumbass! Fucker!"

Another step. Hunk and Pidge were snickering somewhere behind him. It honestly just made him more frustrated, and a bit distracted. 

"Lance!"

He jumped. 

Keith didn't realize he was in the air until he almost skimmed a rocky outcropping, pulling back to keep from skinning his hands. He flew out in a curve, twirling to dispel energy, and hovering with a few louder flaps. It was almost like he was an anime character. Ignoring that, he started searching the orange water for his boyfriend. The blue of his trunks would stand out against the orange. 

There was that bastard.

Recklessly, he dove towards the water, biting his bottom lip in concentration. The soft breeze sharpened in his ears, but he kept his eyes on the prize. Lance was smiling up at him. Keith was gonna kill him, and he honestly looked too happy about that. 

As soon as he was hovering above Lance, careful to keep his feet a few inches away from the surface, arms crossed, he said such. 

"I'm gonna kill you."

Lance smirked. 

"Stop being so happy about it, you fucker."

"Yeah, but," Lance looked up at him, entirely too smug, leaning close to his shoes. "I'm your fucker."

Keith went bright red. 


Keith sighed blissfully, relaxed now that they were back in the castle. 

Lance's calf stretched and shifted against his hips, softly humming behind him, fingers combing through rows and rows of feathers. Keith's spine tingled with warm ease, the sensitive bases of his feather being gently brushed against was incredibly soothing. Lance had a hidden talent, Keith thought, though it shouldn't surprise him considering his skin care routine. Lance liked to look good, so it'd make sense he'd be good at the process. 

His blankets were pushed back in the corner so the fluff and feathers wouldn't get caught in them. The wastebasket was shoved halfway under the bed so Lance could brush the feathers into the trash with no problem. Occasionally, Lance leaned forward to press kisses in his neck, or at the base of his wings. "You know," Keith slurred out, drowsy "you should show me that cool mermaid-y stuff you can do." Lance smiled softly, leading him to lay in his lap. "Yeah, you think I should?" Keith blinked slowly, obviously half asleep. He took a while to respond. "I'm your boyfriend. I want to see why you can swim so fast. How else can I beat you in a race?" 

Lance chuckled quietly. His boyfriend was so cute. 

"Alright, I'll show you later. Take a nap now."

"Mmmmm.....m'kay."