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Chapter 1: Free Day

And we’re all see through, just like glass
And we can shatter just as fast
That’s light’s been burned out for a while
I still see it every time I pass
(Be Somebody – Thousand Foot Krutch)

From a glance, the two looked nothing alike. Their skin, their eyes, their very body language differing until one would have to be an idiot to mistake one for the other. Any Galra could look at Prince Lotor, and wonder why he allowed this one to serve as his general, and anyone could look at Keith, and question how he would follow someone like the estranged Prince.

Ezor would agree, if she was looking through the same lens as they did. Keith argued more than not, questioned orders and strategies until he was certain they would work. He was also someone who would take the game plan and switch it on both his allies and their enemies, improvise in ways that wouldn’t make sense until the outcome was met. It drove Axca crazy at first, even Zethrid who would go in and destroy first, ask questions after, found it irritating. Ezor knew that it was the same fast thinking that had saved him, though. That had brought him to them alive when everyone else in his colony has died, and she kept that in mind whenever he would strategize on the fly.

They had found him among death, a expanse of burnt earth and ruins. It was a small planet, one that had refused to bend the knee to the Empire, and as the fleets had left, Lotor had insisted they check the settlements. Ezor could still smell burnt flesh, charred from lasers and the plasma bombs the Empire favored in mass executions. It was in the last patch of ruined buildings and scattered shrapnel that Narti had sensed a faltering mind, buried deep beneath debris, and between the five of them, they had soon uncovered the half-snapped remains of a panic room’s door.

And they had discovered Keith, his skin littered in scratches and cuts, eyes wide and ears folded back in fear before he bared his teeth at their intrusion. It took both Axca and herself to pin him down when he attacked, and then Zethrid to help drag him out. He had screamed then, a high pitch wail when he realized he could not escape them, and as he continued to panic, Lotor had finally ordered Narti to ease him into sleep.

Ezor was pretty sure, when they had then taken him onto their ship, that the plan was to leave him on the next safe colony. Find a home for him, maybe. She had even begun to pull up star maps with possible areas of reintegration into a normal Galra society. A list was halfway made, when Axca limped into the main navigation room, a bruise forming along the corner of his chin and cheek and a scowl to go along with it.

“He’s no longer in medbay.”

Zethrid laughed, a snide comment coming forth along with the promise to catch their new guest, and Ezor followed in the hopes of seeing it come to fruition.

It didn’t. At all, and soon she and Zethrid also sported large bruises on their cheeks. The two met back up with Axca, Lotor and Narti now standing with them, and with a whine Ezor leaned again Axca,

“I didn’t know he could kick so hard.”

Zethrid joined in the grumbling, her ears folding back, “Or be so difficult to catch. Can’t Narti just knock him out again?”

Lotor had shook his head, eyes flickering with amusement, and as a group they spread out through the ship, following the scent of a fear and anxiety. Ezor wasn’t sure when Lotor had found him, he didn’t think to announce it over the coms, but as a few vargas went by, and the team went to where Lotor’s life signs were shown, the four could only stop at the door, mouths opened in surprise.

Lotor sat there, bruise forming on his cheek, and as he looked up to them, another pair of eyes met theirs. Lotor smiled and then rose to his feet before offering a hand to the other.

“There you are, I think it’s time for proper introductions. This is Keith, and I do believe he would do very well with us from now on.”

Zethrid was not as happy, though Ezor was sure the complaining was just for show, yet together they brought him into their ranks, into what they called a family, and it soon became apparent why Keith had survived. Axca was the first to notice, as she had been scanning through new intel with Keith watching. She recounted later to Ezor and Narti how Keith had continued to ask questions with perked ears and curious eyes, how he became more confident when Axca hadn’t chased him away until soon they had pieced together a reasonable strategy for an upcoming mission.

Ezor kept that in mind when she invited him for training, and she watched for signs of a quick mind as the two tumbled and fought. She admitted later to Lotor, when he asked for updates on their new charge, that if it wasn’t for his lack of training and his younger age, he could have wiped the floor with her.

But it wasn’t until his first mission with Zethrid and Narti that they all saw it. Zethrid was hesitant to admit it, but Ezor knew that Zethrid had gotten to close to losing against a larger alien, insentient yet gifted with enough muscle and density to send her flying. As she had scrambled back to her feet, too slow to dodge the next attack, Keith had charged straight at her before grabbing her feet from under her, launching them both over the edge of a nearby crevasse. When Zethrid had come to, it was with Lotor and Narti lifting her from the edge while Ezor pushed from below, as she took in more of her surroundings, she saw Axca supporting a limping Keith.

She had found out later that she had landed on his leg when they had landed, and while she had hit her head and promptly fell unconscious in his attempt to save her, his quick thinking had kept her from being eviscerated by their enemy.

Lotor had not been amused, more from worry than their poor performance, which Ezor knew was not really their fault, because who expected a multi-ton mash of claws and limbs to suddenly attack? But it marked when Lotor began to join in Keith’s training, and when Keith himself began to show interest in smaller throwing knives.

It also marked when, during their evening meal, that they found out that Keith was almost an adult despite his size, and at Zethrids sudden laugh he had turned bright red before burying his head in his hands as Narti placed Kova in his lap for comfort.

“It explains why you’re good at surviving, more so than thinking a kit could pull off everything you have.” Axca said, trying to bring logic to the conversation. It didn’t really work as the evening was filled with amused bickering. As the five talked, Ezor didn’t miss the happiness the others seemed to radiate, how the table felt more whole that it did before. She hated that they had found Keith in such a way, but she couldn’t regret it.

Months passed then, then a year, before the rumors began of a great white ship being spotted on Arus, along with the return of the lions, though the intel said the Black lion had not been seen flying with the others. Then, in a sudden switch of power, the Red lion had been stolen thought like the Black lion, it had not been seen fighting alongside the others. Keith became more prone to silence then, and in the dead of night Ezor swore she could hear his nightmares return, awakening him with gasping and shrill cries.

His and Lotor’s mock fights became more strenuous, moments where Keith would bare his teeth like he used to, as if he did not recognize Lotor or the others any longer. The fights would end with Keith’s body shaking, and with Lotor holding on to his shoulders, trying to ground their youngest. More often than before, Ezor would see Lotor doing this, embracing Keith with worry etched on to his face.

One night, when Ezor could no longer deny the fact that Keith was waking up screaming, she had made to go to him, hoping to comfort the other, only to see his door was partially open. She had peered in, eyes wide as she saw Keith holding on to Lotor, his knuckles white as they clutched onto the other, his voice wavering, “She keeps on calling, she wants me, Lotor, she wants me.” Lotor only responded by holding tighter, his eyes narrowed as cradled the other until the whimpering died down.

Ezor didn’t know who this ‘she’ was, and as she tried to return to sleep, knowing that Lotor could handle this, she found she couldn’t. Her mind racing with questions, wondering how they could protect their own.

She would never know how, though, when only a few phoebs later Keith disappeared. They had all stood around Lotor as he crumbled into his Commander’s chair, Keith’s datapad in his hands, a small message that only read, I’m Sorry across the screen.

She didn’t know when she would next see Keith, if Lotor would still look at him with adoration, if she and Keith and Axca would join in with Zethrid for games and bets, or if he and Narti would ever be able to sit together again to enjoy evenings with the others. She didn’t know if this was considered a betrayal, that if the next time she saw Keith, she and the others would have to put him down.

She looked to Lotor then, seeing the loss washing over his face. She begged to whatever may be listening that it would not be the case.

Chapter Text

Day 2: Leadership

The places I’ve been, the people I’ve seen
Plans that I made start to fade
The sun’s setting gold, thought I would grow old
It wasn’t to be.
(24-Jem)

The first laser blast had missed their group, a warning for them to scatter, and as Keith twisted to find cover he saw from the corner of his eye as another hit the Blade next to him. Plitek went down silently, only the sound of their body hitting metal, and in a burst of energy Keith skidded behind cargo crates. He heard a scream of pain, cut short by another sound of a blast, and soon only him and only four of their eight-man team was left.

It was slow and bitter, the process of moving away as they all used corners and crates to escape, and Keith had the distinct feeling wash over him that they were being herded and before he darted towards the next hallway, he halted. One of the Blades, a stocky figure, hissed as he also stopped to look back at Keith.

“What are you doing?” His voice was sharp, urgent in its tone as he went to grab on to Keith’s arm. Keith pulled back, almost stepping from their temporary shelter before checking himself.
“Fellok, we can’t go that way—“

The other Blade that was still alive, towered over Keith as she moved to him, not allowing him to move away as she grabbed on to him and began to move. The last Blade watched as he followed alongside them, his shoulders tensing with ever sound of the lasers around them.

Keith scrambled at the Blade’s hold, unable to hold back a frustrated growl, “Syllia, stop, just listen!”

Syllia was about to answer back as they rounded the next corner when Fellok collapsed, holding on to his leg as he let out a high-pitched scream. Syllia dropped him, then, and pulled Fellok back by the back of his suit. The four huddled there, before a clipped, irritated voice spoke,

“Perhaps we should listen to Keith, he seemed like he had an idea of what to do.” Their fourth, Lotor, kneeled by Keith as the other two begrudgingly looked at him.

With a sigh that was cut off with a flinch as another shot sounded near them, Keith spoke as quickly as he could, “They’re herding us, if we can figure out their schematics, then we can use it against them.”

Syllia hesitated before nodding, and as she finished adjusting Fellok’s bandage, she motioned for Keith to pull up the holomap. Together, the two pieced together the route they had made, and with Lotor’s help, guessed the number of sentries they had encountered so far. Keith pointed towards an open part of the map, a round-about route back to the ship.

“Syllia, you’re the strongest of us, we need you to carry Fellok, Lotor and I can run vanguard.” Keith was barely done with the strategy when a sentry rounded the corner, and with a quick movement Lotor launched himself at the enemy, neatly slicing it in half. As Lotor moved to follow them, Keith ran ahead to check corners, pausing at moments of quiet so that they could reevaluate their map. In only minutes, they had turned into the hallways that led to the ship, in minutes they had Fellok situated near the first aid, Syllia rewrapping bandages that had not held as well during their escape.

Keith watched them, leaning his hand against the ship’s wall as the autopilot ran through their designated travel sequence, his shoulders only starting to loosen as he realized they had succeeded, when the ship shuddered, jolting violently as the launching area’s defense mechanism targeted them. He looked out through the pilot window, and with a sinking feeling he saw that a shield had been activated, sealing away their exit.

He looked towards the two, then over at Lotor, and Lotor could see his mind racing before Keith darted towards the rear of the ship, and with a jerked motion opened the door,

“Lotor, with me. Syllia, we’ll make sure you have a clear escape.”

It was chaotic in the launch area, Sentries firing all around and even as Keith maneuvered with Lotor next to him, he found more often than not that he was still exposed to laser fire. Lotor was kept in constant movement, pulling Keith towards debris, or pushing him from a sudden shot, and it was soon obvious to both that it was only them working together that kept them alive.

Lotor could hear their ship’s lifting from behind them, either Syllia or Fellok providing air support, with a final push Keith and Lotor entered the control room, each taking out the sentries that met them. As Keith rushed towards one of the panels, Lotor reached to his side, and with a small noise of shock Keith tried to pull away before realizing that red painted the other’s hand.

“When did you get hit? I was sure you didn’t.” Lotor spoke softly, shocked at the wound he had missed.

Keith turned from him, leaning on to the panel as his body caught up with him, the adrenaline fading even as his heart continued to thunder in his chest, and with a shake of his head he shot back, “We don’t have time, help me figure this out so we can get the team out.”

Lotor huffed, and despite Keith’s protesting he wrapped his arm under his shoulders, holding him up as he began to shut down the system, directing Keith on what to do, and soon the shield was down. Lotor began to move then, dragging Keith before stopping abruptly at the door. With a groan, Keith looked out, his eyes widening at the sentries who had them surrounded. Lotor moved back them, letting Keith go so he could barricade the door. Keith reached out to the nearest wall, hissing in pain as he let his body collapse against it. He realized the wound on his side was bleeding heavier, and as he started to fumble with his pack, pulling out his own medkit, Lotor returned.

He let Lotor take over, before he deactivated his hood. “You can still make it back; the coalition needs you.”

Lotor also lowered his hood, his brow furrowed as he met Keith’s eyes before moving to activate his com-piece, “Syllia, Fellok, launch without us. We’ll find another way.”

As the coms shut off before the other two could answer, Lotor yelped with a sudden snap of pain, looking at Keith in disbelief as the other moved his hand back from where he slapped him.

Keith let out a hiss that would have impressed any Galra, “Why would you do that? They need you!”

Lotor pushed down a bit harder, allowing the liquid like bandages to seep further into the wound before hardening. He moved back after being satisfied that the other would not bleed out.

“They need us both, you mean. Don’t pretend as if your leadership wasn’t the reason they’re alive now.”

“And it’d be your leadership that’ll keep them alive later on.” Keith snapped back.

With a glare pointed at him, Keith tried to move his side, sucking in a breath, faltering for a moment before finally pushing himself into standing. Lotor rose with him, an arm outstretched to help, but the look he was shot warned him that Keith would be damned before he admitted he more than likely needed it.

“What about your plans, you can’t meet them if you die here.” Keith raised his eye brow at Lotor’s shocked expression, “Don’t pretend like you don’t have any, Lotor, anyone can tell that you’re just waiting.” As Keith’s words sank in, the shock became sharped, breath taking in the worst of ways. He moved away from Keith then as his eyes seemed colder, his face more highlighted by shadows until it felt as if he was looking at a mirror’s illusion of the other.

“He does wait, he moves around pawns and makes them suffer before he’ll even step foot into the battlefield.” The voice sounded behind him, and he swiftly turned around in disbelief only to see no one behind him. It had sounded so much like Axca.

Another voice, this one the low rumble of Zethrid sounded back to where Keith was, and as he turned again he saw her standing there, her hand wrapped around Keith’s throat, tightening until claws punctured skin.

“He can only lead to death, all of his plans, all of his strategies. You can’t lead like this one, you won’t put others before you.”

She let go of Keith then, his body crumbling onto the ground as the walls around them expanded, morphing in the lighter purples and silvers of his old ship, and Lotor watched in horror as Keith was replaced by Narti, her body cleaved yet her neck bleeding where Keith’s had been.

A hand wrapped around him, moving until he was cradled against another’s chest, and he heard Ezor, usually so light, but now filled with anger, “What would you give up, Lotor? To fix this? To stop Zarkon? To have a family again? Don’t you want to know how to do that? Fix this, and we’ll tell you.”

With a gasp, Lotor jerked away, the ground giving away below him as everything else faded, becoming darkness that collided against him, yanking his arms and legs and entire body until he was smothering in it, and with a sharp cry he found himself jolting from the floor, his hair damp from sweat and his entire body shivering at what he had seen. It took him more than a few tries to stand, his legs refusing to work, and he tried once more before he found himself supported by a smaller body.

He looked towards Keith, his arm against his back as Lotor’s body slowly began to calm and he found his own strength to stand, and once Keith was no longer needed he backed away until the two faced one another.

“You can’t have both, Lotor. You can’t lead people in your plans and be happy. You have to give this up.”

“I can’t.”

Keith looked at him, unimpressed, before he moved to embrace Lotor, “Didn’t you tell me I was worth the stars, only a phoeb ago, before the trials. I don’t want you to fail them,” he looked up to him, eyes pleading, “don’t hold on anymore, there’s so much more you can have.”

Lotor found himself unable to embrace the other, his hands held out in a failed gesture to wrap around Keith, “If I do, then I can’t become the leader the Galra need, I won’t be able to erase my father’s deeds.”

“Because you’ll only repeat them.”

Keith let go then, his eyes cold. “Your father would give anything for what he wanted, with no care of others. And it seems you’d do the same, you’d do anything to be the leader.”

Keith continued to walk away then, the walls yet again melding into shadow around them, and soon only the purple light from Lotor’s Blade armor illuminated the room. With a shout, Lotor cried out into the void around him, his voice shrill.

“I won’t be the leader my father was, I won’t fail anyone else. I won’t ever allow myself to let them down again!”

In the void, a light broke out, encompassing Lotor, and as he opened his eyes he saw the new Blade in his hand, only recently forged by Marmora, elongate and reform.

“I won’t be like him.”

Chapter Text

Day 3: Role Swap

Ever since I was ten years old
You know that I could feel it
Gasoline coursing through my soul
Light me up like a spirit.
(Outlaws- Delta Rae)

When they first met, Lotor had assumed the other was simply a stuck-up piece of wood who decided to grace his little corner of mud. It had been dark, perfect for the nighttime thieving Lotor and his friends were good at, and Lotor had been on the breakthrough of all breakthroughs— scrolls from a careless Mage. As he had reunited with his friends, a large woman who toward over him named Zethrid, two halflings who went by Axca and Ezor, and finally their tiefling companion Narti, he had shared a proud look with them, ready to reap the reward later once the waters had calmed enough to resell their goods. The feeling vanished, though, as he watched Axca respond not in the happiness he would assume from his triumph, and Ezor’s smug smile dropped into a opened mouthed look of disbelief.

He looked down, then, to see red dripping magic fall from the scrolls he held, and as he looked back he barely braced himself for the twisting in his stomach as he saw the small red line that had traced his path, and even as he dropped the scrolls suddenly, his hand continued to drip red as it spread up his skin until his wrist.

Breathless in fear, he turned back to the others, his voice barely a whisper in his panic, “Run!”

He sprinted then, leading a new trail for the Mages to follow and despite the current predicament he faced, he was proud for how far he made it, almost to the edge of the citadel, when he found himself face to face with the Mage who owned the scrolls. The other’s face was nearly purple from the chase and his own rage, and with a angered screech, he launched arcane energy towards Lotor, and he could only watch, knowing he had no chance to dodge it in time.

A mass tackled him then, arms wrapping around his torso, and knocking both of their bodies away from the incoming spell. While lying there with the other sitting above him, his body being shielded by this new person’s own magic, he had been able to see finely embroidered runes and sigils decorating the now dirtied cotton, and well, Lotor never claimed to have manners and therefore did not feel sorry when he pushed the new Mage away with as much strength as he could.

His rescuer had yelped as he found himself on the ground, his eyes flashing with magic as he glared at him before blocking another round from the enemy Mage. With a growl, he righted himself and in a final burst of magic he knocked the other unconscious. Lotor began to stand, ready to run from another threat, when shouting from further up the street reached his ears. He looked up to the stranger then, whose own eyes widened at the noise.

“How many of the Eastern Circle did you manage to anger?” The stranger hissed, before reaching to grab at Lotor.

Lotor moved back, putting as much distance as he could, “You should know, Mage, since you’re obviously one of them!” The other let out a huff of air, lips twisting in a grimace.

“Do I look like one of them?”

Despite the lack of light around them, Lotor could see that the other’s tunic did billow out more than the garbs of the Eastern Circle’s did. It was more form fitting, and Lotor was sure it was probably not even the same color as well. The shouting grew closer, and with a sigh the Mage moved to grab at him again, and Lotor did not stop him as he found his hand in the other’s grasp.

“There’s no point in running if this continues to give you away,” the other grumbled, and Lotor felt his body stiffen as liquid fire moved from the Mage’s hand to his own. The fire burned, though it was tolerable, and in only a few seconds the spell was soon lifted from him. The other moved back, letting go of his hand as quickly as he had grabbed it, and despite the smug smirk on his face, his voice was somber, “Time to run off, then, go back to wherever is safe.”

Lotor nodded, turning away into the nearest alleyway. Just as he went to duck around the corner, he found himself pausing and looking back. The stranger was facing towards were the voices were from, his fists clenched as he prepared for new enemies, and Lotor found himself wanting to call out, to help if he could. It took a moment, one that he knew they didn’t have, before he shouted out to him.

“If you come with me, I’ll share my safe spot.” The other startled at his voice, and uncertain eyes looked back towards him. Lotor continued, “I doubt the Eastern Circle likes people tampering with their spells. Just follow, I know this city well.”

The two had ran together, then, using the shadows of the streets to reach safety.

It had been almost a year since his Mage had saved him that night. Keith, who he later discovered was a traveling Mage, a man who had no ties to any of the four Circles, had joined their small group. It was because of him that they soon found themselves able to travel to other cities, to other areas outside of their once small world. He and his friends guarded his back, kept him safe from threats, and he did the same.

Sometimes he wondered why a Mage would care enough to save someone like him, but when he held the other closer during cold nights, and when Keith slowly became more open and friendly with all of them, his face so open as he shared himself to them, he simply found himself grateful. He wouldn’t question luck or fate.

Chapter Text

Day 4: Abandonment

I love the world
But I just don’t love the way it makes me feel
Got a few more fake friends and it’s getting
Hard to know what’s real.
(Church- Fall Out Boy)

Lotor did not see himself as one who depended on others, if anything he assumed others only stayed near him by orders of another.

Haggar had taught him, early on when he was still learning the rules of their new empire that unless he gave others a reason to stay, the first sign of turmoil would make them flee. Or make them bite, digging in teeth in hopes of providing an exit. When she first taught this, it was by allowing him to take two alien children, around his own age, under his wing. Both were furred Galrans, barely a year younger than him, and she had been calculative as she explained that both had lost their parents in the conquest of their last victory. When he told them that, he found himself first hearing that it was a loss in what was supposed to be a great achievement.

The youngest of the two, 18 Deca-phoebs to Lotor’s 20, had voiced that. Velix, the one who voiced her opposition, had asked him what he thought of his father’s actions. Her brother Anil, while not saying a word, had looked ready to back his sister on it.

Lotor knew the moment he answered, it was not what they wanted— he had been so young then, so convinced he could still please the Emperor, and Lotor knew he only responded in wrongful anger as he listened to Velix’s quiet reasoning. But, they never brought it up again, never said another word. Lotor had thought it over, he made excuses to why their conversations were no longer full of energy. Looking back, he knew he shouldn’t have pretended to not see their hollowness.

Haggar, ironically enough, had saved him from the poison Anil had planted, her hands holding his shoulders as the siblings writhed on the ground from her powers. She then made him watch, as she and her druids killed them. It was a slow process, brutal and callous, and he was not allowed to look away.

Afterwards, with drips of red still falling from her robes, Haggar approached him. Her face was somber, the mask like expression that gave nothing away, and it reminded him of the calculating look she had when she had introduced him to Anil and Velix. She studied him for a moment, before she at last spoke.

“Remember this well, Prince Lotor. Even those we call friends will abandon and betray us at our weakest moments,” she moved away from him, ordering her druids to clean the room before addressing him once more, “The emperor learned this, now you have as well. Do not forget it.”

 

He didn’t, but as the passage of time cast him throughout the universe, the lesson would weaken. It’s potency chipped away until Haggar found new ways to refresh it. The first had been with the colony planet he oversaw. Their leaders taught him so much. About himself, the empire from their own eyes, and about their own culture. He called them friends, and he had thought, that maybe, they felt the same.

When Zarkon found out, as he held his fleet above the planet, he called the leader onto the coms. With Lotor standing to the side, he listened as the colony leader blamed Lotor for the leniency. Zarkon cut the coms off as they continued to beg, and Lotor did nothing as the planet was razed under the fleet’s lasers. As he stood there, the same thread of pain encircling him from when Anil and Velix abandoned him did not feel as strong. If anything, he had anticipated it, even if he constantly wished it would not happen. He did not have to meet Haggar’s glance she directed towards him to know she had an intentional glint to her eyes. Another lesson.

It was thousands of years until his next one, with his generals. With Narti. He had been so far away from Haggar’s influence, and so convinced it was all on her at that point, but as he cut down his friend he knew it was only a matter of time. He was right, as Axca shot him point blank, and he wished that for once he had been wrong. That this time, it would not end with another group abandoning him.

But of all things, he did not expect to find himself within the custody of Voltron. As he spoke to Allura, he saw the same anger that Velix held within her eyes, he saw the quiet rage in the paladins. Only the Blades, hiding their faces while in the light, showed no anger, but their statuesque forms gave away nothing and Lotor could almost assume that the Galra beneath the armor were only spirits of vengeance who clung onto the living world to exact justice on the Empire. He quietly ended that thought though, recognizing it as childish.

One paladin, Shiro, stood for him though, and with his judgment on Lotor, the others followed, and as time passed another of their own returned. The Blade, Keith, was quieter than the others. He was like Anil, Lotor decided after a week of knowing the other, he observed and only questioned when he could not find rationality behind statements of decisions. A budding tactician who had not yet learned patience. It was refreshing, and Lotor soon found himself with his company more than any other.

He wanted to assume Keith found his company just as enjoyable, but as the others questioned it, Allura especially with that cold stare she developed when she was trying to not allow emotions into her judgment calls, he wondered if the other simply tolerated his presence.

He meant to address it with Keith right away, but the moments of quiet they shared as the paladins would chat and play around felt too sacred to upset. Their training felt the same, and Lotor only wanted to focus on the stubbornness of the other when he refused to stay down, or how the smile he barely let through widened whenever Keith landed a successful hit. It was joyous, so different yet similar to the competitiveness he had shared with his generals, and he found himself craving the addictiveness of it.

It took him phoebs before he knew it was time to address it, and as he stood face to face with Keith it felt like a mistake. Keith’s breath was still short pants from the training, and both that and his own were the only sounds in the room as he moved to wipe his brow. Refusing to meet Lotor’s gaze.

Lotor began to count down to when this would end as Keith finally answered back.

“I need to think, about this. Lotor, I—Look, just, I promise we can talk, just give me some time.”

Lotor didn’t think his question was so hard, either he was only tolerated, or he was a part of Keith’s friends. Or his life. It was only until he was back in his room that Lotor recognized the different connotations his question had, ones that for the life of him he had not thought of throughout the phoeb of hesitating. He had spent the night restless, unable to keep his eyes closed for more than a moment, knowing that Keith’s answer would not be the one he needed to hear. Knowing, that yet again he had made another mistake.

Almost like Allura had known, or maybe that the universe was trying to give him more time before the end, she had called for an emergency mission. A local rebel group had been overtaken by a Galran force, one that had at least three druids within it. She and Shiro had argued, before going along with Shiro’s idea of divide and conquer, and while it was so obvious that the others did not favor it as they looked towards Keith to see if he would voice any opinions, they had dropped the argument when he refused to say a word.

The silence continued as Lotor pushed his way in to going as well, thanking the princess for allowing him to come as Keith continued to not look at the prince, and despite knowing what was to come, knowing that soon he would have yet another to cast aside, he placed himself within the Red lion with Shiro and Keith while Hunk and Lance joined Pidge in the Green. It would be a quiet mission, with weaknesses targeted and parts of the station separated from help before the Galra even knew there was an attack.

It went so well as he trailed Keith and Shiro through the base. Even as they encountered their first druid only for it to fall to Keith’s Luxite blade, Lotor saw nothing that would cause worry. He had spent so long worrying, waiting for the next loss of a friend, that he found himself becoming less anxious the longer the mission continued, convincing himself it would not happen yet.

It was quick, though, that Lotor almost didn’t respond when the first inkling of wrong brushed against him. Keith walked in front both him and Shiro, scouting the next hallway, when the black paladin activated his arm. With jerking motions, so like Narti under Haggar’s control, and he went to thrust it into Keith’s back, just below the plated armor. Lotor moved without thinking, slashing across Shiro’s back. As Keith twisted around to look back, eyes wide at the red across Lotor’s sword, Shiro backhanded him, his body crumbling as it collided against the far wall, and Lotor only responded by running Shiro through as the other turned towards him, his muscle gathering together to charge.

Shiro’s eyes flashed gold as Lotor lowered both towards the ground, his lips curling into such an unnatural snarl before becoming frozen as his body jerked still. He had seen this before, the experiments of the druids, likenesses of friends and companions who were sent to destroy from the inside. Lotor’s breath shuddered as he stood, leaving the body face-down in its own blood, knowing he would have no proof of his accusations. Only the dead body of Voltron’s leader. He would have to run, he would flee before the others discovered this, but as he rationalized the next steps, Lotor knew it was not an option. Not with the laughter and companionship he finally found. Not with Keith and his request for time, or the hope in what his answer could be.

A small cry, weak from sorrow, sounded across from Lotor, and he looked towards Keith as the other scrambled to his feet. His eyes were wild, taking in everything yet unseeing in shock. He did not look away from Shiro, did not take a step further, until Lotor called for him.

“I know you do not trust me, but that was not your friend. Haggar has done this before.”

Keith’s eyes became more focused as Lotor spoke, and the wild gaze spread across his face, igniting into a snarl, into the tendons straining from his neck. With a flash, he woke his blade before placing it against Lotor’s throat, his motions so sharp and sudden that it left a trail of red against his skin.

“You killed him, you killed him without even thinking of another way.” It was hissed out, barely comprehensible from all of Keith’s rage, and Lotor knew soon this new cycle was about to end.

“He gave me no choice, and neither did Haggar. Keith, if you would just understand—“

The blade dug deeper, Keith backing him against the wall, and Lotor wondered why he was even trying to justify this.

“I don’t have to understand anything! All of this, everything you’ve said and done, you were just waiting, weren’t you? Waiting to betray us.” His face shattered then, caving in with grief as a sob escaped, “I—I thought,” he swallowed, body shuddering before he continued, “I should leave you here. Let Zarkon and the druids finish you. Anything I could do won’t compare to them.”

As Lotor stared at him, his breath light to keep the blade from pushing further in, he tried again, one last desperate attempt.

“Please, at least let me explain. When I asked, if you tolerated me, it was because for my entire life, I have always been abandoned and betrayed. No one I have ever cared for has stayed.” Lotor felt the blade begin to fall away, and even with the pain etched so deeply in to Keith’s face, he knew the other listened.

“For once, I found something more with all of you, and when I asked you, Keith, where I stood with you, it was because I was preparing myself for another loss. I—I know how much Shiro means to you, I know you cannot forgive this, but believe me when I say that was not him. I do not know if he is still alive, or if he was killed after they sent this spy to you, but he would have killed you. I couldn’t let that happen.”

Keith moved away from him, and with his blade still directed towards Lotor, he moved Shiro onto his back, his body stiffening as he saw the golden glint that reflected against the light. He looked back towards Lotor, and as he finally returned his blade to its dagger form the tears came down. Lotor moved towards him, soft and slow for the other, and Lotor found the tension unweaving its clutch from his chest as Keith allowed to be gathered against the other’s chest. The first sob was silent, a heavy shake against Lotor, before the next was a trembling wail. He could hear the anxious voices from Keith’s helmet being this close, but neither answered as they clung to each other.

“I’m so sorry, we’ll find him. I swear.”

Chapter Text

Day 5: Mythology AU

And what’s small turned to friendship, a friendship turned to a bond
And that bond will never be broken, the love will never get lost
And when brotherhood comes first, then the line will never be crossed.
(See You Again- Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth)

 

It started as such a small thing, namely a polished rock amongst rubble.

Keith was in his fourteenth summer, when he had been hiking along the river’s rocky edge, following it as close as he could back to its mountain source when the rock caught his eye. At first, he thought it was a quartz—so reflective and pretty, one in thousands that littered the canyon, but the color was off. He thought, maybe mica. Or he could have found obsidian, but the closer he came to the rock he realized he was wrong on those accounts as well.

Up close, he saw threads of purple and magenta weaving through the middle, the rest was transparent as if to present the delicate colors within. He reached towards it, ready to explore it more, when the center seemed to brighten and cast an aura around the stone itself. Keith stumbled back, almost losing his footing, before a quiet, whispering voice sent him onto his rear in shock.

…Leave me be…

He had panicked then, stories of mages and demons and of the other supernatural occurrences of the world rushing at him at once in a maddening burst of fear. It wasn’t his proudest moment, and the embarrassment increased once he had rushed back to his small cabin only for his father to catch him by the arm.

“Careful there, why the sudden hurry?” the older man peered down at him, squinting as if he could discern what trouble Keith may have caused.

Keith pulled away, looking away from the other, “Nothing! Just thought I heard some of the Wilds.”

His father stiffened at that, eyes worried as he looked out of the cabin door before closing and locking its deadbolt. Keith knew it was a bad lie, maybe one that would only cause worry, but he had thought of nothing else. But now his father was on edge, looking for the oddly reflective eyes the Wilds had, the ones that burned red even in the light. The creatures, once thought to be aberrations and demons, were later diagnosed as mutations caused by magic. Unlike demons, or other monsters, the Wilds had once been animals, who under unfortunate circumstances found themselves on the wrong side of tainted magic residue. And instead of it just remaining with one creature, it spread from one to another. A disease on such an enormous scale, the only hope anyone had was to shoot and hope it wouldn’t get close enough to tear you apart.

As Keith went to sleep for the night, he decided maybe it was a good thing he did not actually touch the stone. He wondered what would happen if he became one of the Wilds, if he came home only to turn his father, too. Turn his friends, like Shiro or Hunk and Pidge. Even Lance. The four were the only ones who would bother to talk to him and his father. Them and their families. Would he really turn on them? It wasn’t until dawn’s light began to filter into his room that Keith was able to close his eyes.

A few hours later, after his father woke him, the curiosity was still there, only stronger. Morning chores were a constant fight of knowing he should not go back to the stone, yet feeling like he must. He had never heard about Wilds and their corruptions talking back, or warning their victims away.

It took a week, and an awkward discussion about how to please spirits with the Holts, one that he adamantly defended as only being a curiosity that needed sating, that he found himself back along the river—two apples and a charm he had hastily carved in hand. He placed it before the stone, body hunched forward in eagerness as he waited for the voice, but he heard nothing.

Again, the next day he came back. The two apples gone, but the charm still there. He placed another fruit near it, this time one of the pears from the new harvest coming in. He waited, for hours, all the while sorting through the rocks and pebbles until the stone was centered in winding circles of river rock. Still, no voice. No answer.

He carried on for almost a month, each day wandering near his discovery, and each day adding more until a small, handmade shrine hung over the stone. Then, a fence made of driftwood. He hoped, as he worked, that maybe it hadn’t been in his head, that there was a voice he heard, but soon each day became every other, then once a week. As four years came and went, and Keith found himself in the last three months before his birthday, his trips were barely made twice a month. More of a time to tidy up what he had created and leave another offering than to hear the voice again.

The others were curious, of course, wondering where he went off too. Both Pidge and Lance had tried to follow, but the time Keith had spent in the canyon left him with a better knowledge of it. The last time, he had sent them in circles before they decided to leave, grumbling all the while.

As before, he assumed it was the two of them, maybe even Hunk and Shiro as well, when he heard rubble shift behind him during his second trip of the month. He turned, ready to tell them off for yet another attempt before freezing, his heart skipping before thundering against his chest.

It earned the descriptions of aberration, Keith thought as a Wild bared gagged and clustered teeth at him. It was once a mountain lion, only recently turned since Keith could still see tawny fur amongst the putrid fluids it was coated in. Sores opened along its back, spines emerging from the center of them, and paws that were once normal were now misshapen with long tapering claws meant for grabbing and tearing. It eyes reflected red, burning as it sized him up, and Keith knew he would not make it back to the town in time.

It seemed like they moved in sync, the monster mirroring him as he turned and began to lunge across the rocks and occasional puddles from the river. It would be near impossible, but he knew the stone was closer, knew it might be his only chance. He was almost at the clearing it rested in when claws gouged through his calf, hooking into the space between fibula and tibia before flinging him into the nearest boulder. He felt more than heard the bones as they popped out of place from the attack before he crashed in to rock, and he lay there, dazed, hearing the hissing and gurgling of the Wild before forcing himself onto his elbows. It neared him, then, the spine tail lashing back and forth, preparing to pounce.

The canyon, already lightened by the late afternoon sun, became blinding. From the corner of his sight, he saw the winding circles of river rock floating from the ground, lazily turning as power radiated over him. The Wild turned to run, but in another flash Keith watched as it disintegrated before his eyes. Once there before him, then gone, and Keith knew if he had blinked he would have missed it.

It was hard to keep his eyes open, the pain in his leg now only a numb ache, and Keith knew he shouldn’t fall asleep, but the light was too much, the Wild was gone now. It was over. Keith fell into unconsciousness, but not before seeing two feet come to stand before him.

--

He woke peacefully, almost convinced that it was all a dream. He was content to think that way, to be honest, but as he found himself more aware of his surroundings he could not ignore the heated presence of the sun against him, or of a hand brushing the hair away from his face.

He convinced his eyes to peek up after a few moments, and he was grateful for the shadow the other casted on his face. The man was an almost off white in the glare of the sun, but in the shadow his skin took a purple shade. His eyes were of a god, golden sclera with royal blue embedded within. His eyes were worried, even though a slight exasperation echoed within them as Keith could only continue to stare.

It took more than a moment before Keith tried to speak. His voice would not respond at first, dried out from the running and the sun and the terror of almost dying, and after another try he was finally able to whisper,

“Why did you never respond back.”

The god frowned then, his hand no longer brushing his hair and instead rested near his jaw, “It is not wise for humans to tamper with the supernatural. Not that it seemed to stop you.” The last part was added as a last thought, making the god’s mouth curl in a wily smile.

With the god’s help, Keith sat up after a few more minutes of laying on the other’s lap, and after seeing his leg scarless and clear, albeit with torn pants, he turned to look back at his savior.

“You didn’t have to do this, save me and everything. I don’t even know a name to honor you with.”

The god moved to help him stand, supporting him as Keith discovered that his legs were not as sturdy as he was used to. He pointed towards the shrine, then. The fence of driftwood, the circles of rock and pebbles he had made as a younger boy. The god led him closer until he reached out to touch the pavilion like shrine Keith had spent so long building.

“I owe you everything. I was cast out, cursed into that form you saw. If you hadn’t built this, I would never have been able to break out of it. You gave me worship, saving you was only a fraction of what I owe. Tell me what you desire, I will make it so.”

The gods’ eyes glittered then, reflecting like the stone had, and deep within Keith knew his answer would hold power, no matter what the answer was. He paused, not knowing which consequence he would earn, whether it would be good or bad, but with sudden clarity he knew what would work.

He leaned away from the god, moving to stand alone even though he had to shift all his weight on to his good leg—still weak despite being healed. He looked the other in the eyes, smiling, and he watched as the other looked bemused by the gesture.

“I’ve only even wanted a friend, someone to be close to. If you will still let me, I just want to continue as we have before,” he hesitated then, looking away, “But, would you be willing to talk to me? I want to know you.”

The god looked shocked, his eyes igniting with a fire as if he had forgotten in the moment to mask his divinity. Keith made to move away as the silence stretched, taking it as a refusal, when the god reached to pull him closer. He smiled now, eyes softened as he looked down at the other, and Keith could only respond in likeness. The god leaned down, resting his forehead against Keith’s.

“My name is Lotor, and for someone like you I am more than willing.”

Chapter Text

Day 6: Flowers Pt. 1

Daffodil—
Unrequited Love,
Forgiveness,
Inspiration.

(Time’s Scar- Battlecake)
Continuation of Day 4

The others turned their pain into a war ground when Keith had returned with Lotor, and the rebels and Blades had offered their own once word had reached them.

Keith did not think they would turn their attacks on him as well, but very rarely did the team ever respond in what he thought was acceptable for the situation. Despite facing Allura’s rage, and Lance’s disgust—Pidge and Hunk’s cutting words— Keith had taken Lotor away the moment he realized his friends would only stand in their way.

Lotor looked at him in disbelief that night when Keith had stood outside the ion barrier of the cell, a pack slung over his shoulder as he entered the cell’s code. It only took a single tug on Lotor’s arm for him to push back his surprise and follow Keith, both narrowly making it to Red. She had been startled, fire prickling against him while demanding an answer on why he decided to now return to her. A Blue aura washed over him as he tried to convince his former lion to respond, Lance’s presence dazed with sleep before jolting into alertness, and Keith could only send out a sharp plea to Red.

Wecansavehimhesstillalivejusttrustmelikebeforejusttrustmeagainimbeggingyouplease

It was more emotion and images, what he sent to Red. Shiro’s gold-glazed eyes, the snarl as he had thrown Keith into the wall. The shrill sense of wrong when he saw the crumbled body, not believing that Shiro was dead, that Shiro tried to kill him, that Shiro was not Shiro. Lance’s aura careened back with the sheer emotion Keith unleashed, mind reeling from what he saw, and Keith used the opening to push once more for Red to listen.

Lance had no chance to call back Red then, and Keith felt the sting of guilt from it. He knew the other’s fears, of losing his place on the team, of being useless. From the ever-increasing distance, he could feel as Blue’s pain for her former paladin woke everyone else, but Keith knew that Red would not allow them to be caught.

As Keith turned his attention back into the interior of Red, he saw that Lotor sat still, his face blank of emotion as he watched Keith, and after a moment Keith went to stand before him. It was only a brief hesitation as Keith gauged the space before him and Lotor before he went to his knees, his eyes looking up to meet Lotor’s own, and with hands shaking from adrenaline and the sheer exhilaration of knowing they could onto continue forward now, Keith interlocked their fingers. The other’s hands were too large for Keith to encompass, but he still tried to cover as much skin as possible, and the other released a heavy sigh before leaning his forehead to rest against Keith’s.

They rested together, Lotor moving until Keith could lay alongside the other, pressing as close as they could while the complexity of their task hit them, of the situation itself. In only a day, both had been uprooted once more, thrown into darkness with only one another to hold on to. Keith knew neither of them knew where this path would take them, if they could even succeed, and Keith knew Lotor was thinking the same as the body next to him would stiffen and shudder before trying to relax once again. He knew his own did the same each time Lotor would place a gentle hand against his back to push him closer.

__

After that first night, neither had allowed themselves to break again. They did not have time. It was only three quintants after leaving the Castle of Lions that they found themselves being caged into an ambush, three Blade ships, and Red’s warning of the other Lions approaching.

It happened three more times, each one becoming more and more difficult to escape, and Keith knew it weighed heavily on Lotor. He knew the same shadows and fatigue that was on his love’s face was also reflected on his own, and as Lotor began to withdraw into himself, his answers clipped and short, Keith could only respond in kind. It was the seventh time they were ambushed with barely two phoebs in to their travels when Keith found himself going for Lotor’s throat, the built up anger and frustration no longer small enough to push away.

Keith knew, as his words escaped, that Lotor had not meant to be cruel. It was a simple question, just like when he had asked if Keith found him tolerable, or if there was more. But just like that one, this new question was just as faceted.

“Wouldn’t it simply be easier to give me to them, it may take a while, but we could perhaps—.”

Keith spun to face him from the pilot seat, eyes narrowed, and he knew that his response was only a reaction, quick to ignite the flames further, to dig in to Lotor. “That’s just what you want, isn’t it? Tired of being chased, so you’re going to give up!” Keith wanted to flinch away as he said it, as he watched Lotor’s barely noticeable flinch, but it was too late when Lotor steeled himself to respond. His patience too whittled away to try and keep peace.

Keith didn’t know when it became too much, when his own words suddenly cut to deep, or even what he had said exactly. His heart had been shuttering in his chest, his limbs shaking and his suit had felt too tight, too trapping. The shaking didn’t stop when he found himself on the floor, nose bleeding and his head ringing from the hit and from his heart beats. Lotor stood above him, his face contorted in rage, and Keith tried to ignore the small hint of concern he could see beneath it.

The two didn’t talk for more than a collection of quintants, and even as Keith landed on the closest space port they could find for supplies, Lotor did not spare him a glance from his sitting area in Red. Keith was thankful, later, that despite the turmoil within him, he had seen their first solid lead on where Shiro could be. A banner, flickering between food sales and pleasure houses, settled on one for a newly opened arena in the Senfama Quadrant. Keith had rushed back to the ship then, with the news of seeing Shiro’s face among the line-up of fighters, and he tried to ignore the bitter taste that tainted his excitement of seeing Lotor trying to respond with equal enthusiasm.

The two worked quietly, so close together within Red, but it felt as if a distance expanded between them, and despite searching, Keith could find no repairable seam for it. He didn’t even know if Lotor would let him if he tried. Or if Keith himself wanted to. True, Lotor was helping him, had saved him before more than once, but after this? After finding Shiro, would he even want to return with them. Even Keith did not know if he could brace himself for working alongside the paladins and their allies again, not after being hunted.

Lotor was the one to break the silence, with barely a varga before they would arrive at the arena’s orbit station. Like before, when he had first questioned Keith after training, it had come as a quiet seeking of information. Almost ignorable, but Keith held on to it like the last failsafe that it was.

He had walked up to Keith’s seat, leaning down until his head was side by side to Keith’s, and he had whispered to him, “After this, will we no longer be,” he hesitated, eyes flickering as he tried to search for words yet failed. Finally, he continued. “no longer this.” He gestured between the two of them. Keith felt the distance become unbearable, his breath shaking as he saw the same loss in Lotor as he had in himself.

He didn’t mean to take so long to reply, the ache throwing his words deep into his throat before he could even utter them, and it was with a desperate gasp that he moved to stop Lotor as the other moved away. Both were surprised as Keith latched on to Lotor’s arm to stop him, both tensing against one another as neither spoke, and Keith searched Lotor’s face then, desperate to see some sign of them being alright.

The moment he felt he saw it he moved forward, pulling Lotor in to what had to be the worst kiss Keith had ever initiated. Keith guessed that Lotor didn’t mind, though, as Keith felt his arms reach to pull him closer until they had no space between them, and Keith couldn’t find any complaints. It was so easy to let Lotor’s warmth soak into his body, to feel their shaking merging together before shuddering to a slow stop. The kisses continued, hands desperately running against the other’s face, pushing back hair and stroking alongside the curve of necks and shoulders before running alongside one another’s backs. What Keith gave to Lotor, he received in abundance, and Keith desperately tried to make sure Lotor knew he received the same.

It was only Red’s presence, alerting to their arrival, that stopped the two, but Keith found that he did not want to let go of the other, so touch-starved after their self-inflicted isolation. It was Lotor that drew them back to the surface, promising that later, later they could continue to re-map what was almost forgotten and lost. Keith couldn’t argue with that.

Getting into the Senfama Station was not difficult. Too many Galra filled the arena’s main floor, even spilling out into the station itself as they watched the holoscreen projections, and their noise and sheer height hid the two. Even the hallways beneath, where fighters were transported and feral creatures were kept were quiet and empty. They had cleared the first half of the holding area when a jarring crash shook the entire station, making both Lotor and Keith stagger and fall. A large roar echoed from where they had come from, the metallic sound filled with a rage that Keith knew only five things could make.

“We must hurry, they’ll stop us if they don’t see Shiro!” Lotor snapped at him, both moving faster, and it was as they neared the last holding cells that Keith allowed himself a moment to think that they would succeed. That maybe, there would be a place again for him and Lotor. That the Shiro they would find would be the real one. Keith knew, if he was, that he would be sure that Haggar would never touch the other man again.

It was too hard for Keith to hear over his harsh breathing, and so it was only Lotor’s quick reactions that saved Keith from finding himself impaled upon a thrown blade. The two turned to face their enemy, and Keith could only let a small curse escape as he saw two Blades stalking closer. He let out a louder curse as he realized he did not recognize them, and with a sharp churn in his stomach, he knew they would not accept any of his attempts to reason with them.

Keith drew his own blade then, his eyes never leaving the Blades as he pushed Lotor away from him. “Go, now! If the others arrive as backup, they won’t hesitate to kill you!” Keith could feel the other’s hesitation, the need to argue, but it disappeared before the other dashed away. As Lotor passed under the door, Keith closed it, then plunged his blade into the panel. He turned to the Blades then, knowing that only Lotor would be able to open it from the other side now.

The fight was accompanied by sudden and random shaking of the lions above them, the hallway lights flickering and chunks of the wall falling around them as Keith weaved and dodged between quick slashes and stabs. He wondered, if he could have outlasted them, if the larger one had not stabbed him through the side, his blade crunching through the top of his pelvis, he wondered if he could have held out until someone who would have listened came.

Instead, he found himself on his back, watching the shaking of the lights with each attack above. He heard the growled-out accusations of traitor, of kin-killer. He wondered if they even had heard about Keith’s attempts of telling the others that the Shiro they knew had been a fake. He wondered if they even cared. The one who had cut him moved to him as he thought this, and Keith found that his eyes could not focus as the other stood above him. It was only another voice, this one familiar, that stopped the Blade from finishing it, but Keith did not know if it was worse or not as Kolivan lowered his mask before kneeling to come closer.

“You’ve dishonored us, little one. The Blade does not allow traitors.” Keith could barely make sense of his words, not until he saw Kolivan awaken his own blade, but even then, he could not keep his eyes open. He felt cold metal against his throat, the look of sorrow on Kolivan’s face imprinted in his mind even after Keith closed his eyes, then shouting before nothing.

__

 

When he jerked back into consciousness, it was to blurred green lights and voices above him. The searing pain pulsing through him as hands held him steady. He saw Kolivan near him, and grey eyes framed by white bangs watching him in worry.

The lights shifted to off-white blue in between blinks, and he caught glimpses of orange hair, then white. Maybe silver. He could not even attempt to piece it together before he slipped under again with a dazed blink. The second time was maybe better, but it was only because the pain was beginning to fade out, replaced by only numbness and cold. He made out the face beneath orange hair, an older man whose eyebrows twisted with worry and grief as they made eye contact, but again Keith was barely able to think before his eyes closed.

It happened again, maybe twice more, and each time he would see the orange hair. Sometimes with white nearby. He saw colored armor, then armor that glowed purple. The flashes of awareness were accompanied by voiced laced with worry, with guilt. One almost sounded hysteric. It continued like this, as the blurred lights above moved around him before a dimmer blue one settled over him, beckoning him to close his eyes and let go. Keith did not fight it.

It did not feel like much time had passed from being under the blue light before Keith found himself waking up cold and stiff, but more coherent than he had been before. He went to move, only stopping when vertigo washed over him as he realized he was not laying down like he thought. Only strong arms kept him from falling, and he sank further in to them as white hair fell onto his shoulders when the other pulled him in closer. The other rested his chin on Keith’s head. The two clung to one another, Lotor’s voice calming Keith until only Lotor’s arms kept him up. The other chuckled, the sound strained yet filled with relief before Keith found himself sitting against Lotor, the two leaning against the healing pod.

“We did it, it was really him. It’ll be okay.” Lotor murmured into his ear, his fingers weaved into the strands of Keith’s hair, pressing so close like Keith would cease to exist if he ever let go.

As Lotor held him, but of their breathing slowing as they finally found peace after so long, Keith found that he believed him. Everything would work itself out now.

Chapter Text

Day 7: Heritage

Sorrow Lasts through this night
I’ll take this piece of you
And hope for all eternity
For just one second I felt whole
As you flew right through me.
(Sorrow- Flyleaf)

Lotor cradled Keith against his chest, willing his body to stay loose and pliant as the other slept. The other needed it so, after the earlier meetings.

It took him a while to rationalize that the others did not recognize the hidden hostility the Speaker used. It was covert, almost untraceable if one was not attuned to the phrases and intentions of a being who held hybrids in contempt. He had hoped when he heard the first red flag, that Keith did not yet know that kind of language. He knew it was a vain hope, that someone who had experienced so much had not seen this yet. Still he had glanced over, to make sure, only to force claws back when he saw the shock then quiet acceptance on the other’s face.

The Speaker saw it as well.

Lotor thought maybe he deemed his actions justifiable, though hee wondered how he justified holding the Galra blood against Keith when his actions as a Paladin and a Blade outshone it. The Speaker continued, though. Small interjections, especially when the conversation would move more towards the Blades and to Keith himself. The Speaker outright ignored Lotor, which normally he would have been fine with. But it came with the cost of Keith being in the center of attention instead, and Lotor knew there was little he could do.

Allura had warned them in the beginning that the Speaker’s planet, Ultyra, was a center point for the Rebels. A piece of territory within the universe that not only contained resources for weapons and armor, but food and medicine as well. Lotor knew the value of it, same as the other paladins, and after Keith briefly met his gaze, a small shake of his head accompanying it, Lotor stayed silent.

It wasn’t until near the end of the meeting that Lotor realized that the paladins had become tenser than they had once started as, muscles coiled in preparation to hunt down and defend, and he watched it increase as the Speaker’s insults were no longer covertly veiled. As if he recognized that they coud do nothing despite wanting to. It was sickening for Lotor, the amount of power this stranger held over them, and he wondered who would snap first. He knew that if Zethrid had been here, if he had still held the position of Prince, the Speaker would no longer be a thought. He could see the anger building up with the glances Allura consistently shot to Coran and Shiro, how Hunk rested his hand on Lance’s shoulder.

He turned to Keith then, who stood near Pidge only for his brow to raise with surprise as he saw that instead of Pidge comforting Keith, it was Keith instead who held her back. Her hands were gnarled together, like the vines she called forth in her Lion, and Lotor thought that either the Speaker was incredibly stupid, or just incredibly entitled to not take into consideration the anger in the room.

Yet, despite the others, Keith’s usual markers of his anger could not be seen. The other’s shoulders were hunched down, though more defensively than not like he was trying to limit the space he occupied in the room. The other’s own anger seemed to dissipate with it as Keith’s remained unseen, and he knew that they also wondered when Keith had learned to calm himself like this. It was only until the Speaker left and Keith turned to leave through the door next to Lotor that he could piece it together. Keith was angry, there was no doubt when he saw the glints of purple fire that always sparked alongside his temper. But there was also acceptance. Like Ezor’s own eyes before he and Axca had finally convinced her that what she had endured was barbaric—the actions of monsters who took their anger out on the innocent and defenseless. It made Lotor’s skin prickle, like thorns scrapping against him, and he found himself reaching for the other, even as he moved to avoid him.

He turned to the others, ready to lash out. Wishing that it was what was needed to fix all of this. He held it back though, though not before shooting a glance at Shiro as he moved to follow Keith.

“I do believe this is a conversation that should be from one half-Galra to another.”

He did not wait for Shiro’s response, and instead went to check first that Keith was intending to work himself raw in the training room. It was a brief relief when he saw that the other was not there, though it quickly ran dry when he realized that it meant that not even a thing of comfort like training could provide relief for the other.

The next was Keith’s room, but after opening the door to nothing, he all but ran to his own.

Keith was simply sitting, eerily quiet as he stared at the Marmora blade in his hand. He did look up at first, before using the shadow cast by the room’s lights to hide his face. Lotor paused for a moment, he could feel the blood rushing in his ears. It felt so long before he felt air from the closing door push against his back, and with it he decided to no longer wait. He would not let the other hide from him.

He stood before Keith before reaching to unwrap white-jointed knuckles from the knife’s hilt. Keith let out a small noise, almost a rebuttal, but Lotor did not allow him to go further. He knelt between the other’s thighs, forcing them to spread just as he gave Keith no other choice but to look at him. He watched Keith, letting his hand move until it rested against the bend between leg and hip, and with a sigh Keith moved his hands to frame Lotor’s jaw.

“You think you deserve it.” It wasn’t a question, and Keith’s eyes flickered, lashes lowering.

“Don’t we? Ultyra has been warred upon for thousands of years. They lose so much, all the while supporting us.”

Lotor pulled Keith closer, his other hand moving until it was positioned like his other. “You are not their conqueror. The others know that, I know it. You do not have to spare them your anger.”

Keith frowned, leaning away from Lotor. “Don’t I? I know what it would cause, and we couldn’t risk that.”

Lotor moved to join Keith on the bed, and the other shuffled back to make room. Lotor knew that as he moved to rest above Keith that he was boxing the other in, but after checking to see if the other objected, Lotor was relieved to only see acceptance and even relief. As if Lotor being over him sheltered Keith from not only what had happened, but from the anger and hatred of billions. Without a word, he lowered himself farther down, letting himself cover the other. When Keith’s hands reached to hold on to him, he did not mention the trembling. Instead, he only focused on the silent plea Keith gave.

Lotor brushed his hands over skin, his mouth running along the delicately fine hairs that humans had, and he hoped it was enough to make Keith love himself. To make him see that he owed no one his self. Soon, the silent gasps turned loud, desperate and demanding of the love that Keith deserved, and Lotor gave without hesitation.

It took Lotor countless deca-phoebs to learn to accept loving himself, and the generals he knew took the same time, or maybe they had still battled with it when they had parted ways. Lotor was driven though, driven mad with the need to make sure Keith spent as little time as possible in knowing that he was not shameful. He wrote it across his skin with raised skin from gentle nips, and with the reddened skin caused by claws.

Lotor hoped that worshipping the body under him proved it, and when Keith gasped, his breath shifting into small keens of pleasure, he imagined it was also from hope. From knowing that there was more to life than being hated and being alone. As it came to the end, Keith limp yet almost restless beneath him, Lotor retraced the marks he made, recalling what they meant, and Keith’s body moved alongside his again as if it wanted to evoke it as well. Lotor did not deny them, and instead allowed Keith to flip them over, the other’s eyes bright against the shadows that brushed against the angles of his face, and Lotor let him take.

He let him etch his own markings and reminders into his skin until both would look later, and only see the love each held for the other.

Afterwards, Lotor cradled Keith to his chest, eyes softened by the trust he was given each night when Keith allowed them these lessons and reminders.

Chapter Text

Day 8: Free AU

You and me could move a mountain
You and me could calm a war down
You and me could make it rain now
You and me could stop this love drought
(Love Drought- Beyoncé)

It was such a quick thing, dying for a cause. Lotor thought, maybe it would be enough. The pain felt like it would be, but from the corner of his eye he could see other bodies. Some were half covered by the bracket of the forest, others strung across branches and tree trunks.
Lotor’s own was in a single, if broken, piece. It didn’t matter, though. Not with the sound of Galran roars and human screams. Not with the sound of pistols and explosives sounding too close, not with the feeling of dirt falling against his face as voices were cut short in the middle of their battle cries.

Lotor knew that he was only another body here, bloodied and unable to move, and he wasn’t sure if he had enough time to decide if his death would be worth it.

His thoughts were cut short, then, when he realized that as he had chased after the answer the forests had grown silent. Instead, he heard steps softened by muddied leafs and churned earth. It was hard to center his gaze, but he could recognize the purple glow of a Hunter’s weapon. Blessed by the patron goddess of protection, it would kill anything tainted by Galran blood. Even one such as himself who could claim partial heritage to the great wolf like beasts that now plagued the Eastern Lands.

The hunter toed his side where a slew of slashes parted leather and his cotton shirt. The numbness kept him from whimpering, but it only cemented the severity of his situation. Even if this hunter did not kill him here and now, it would not take long before his body would fail.

Perhaps it would be better. He and his companions had been searching the nearby ruins, hoping for hints, maybe even relics, that could put an end to the cruelty that latched on to and drove the Galra to the monstrous deeds they were now infamous for. They had been so close, but first Ezor’s eyes, once human like began to glint yellowish gold. Then, Zethrid being unable to calm herself after battle. He and Axca had forced her away from a body she had almost torn in two, and she had not even realized what she had done. It did not take long until he found them spirited away one morning, answering the calls of the witch that seeped in the night air and swindled its way into victims.

But this hunter did not know this.

Lotor was sure, as his eyes closed that the shadow of the over that loomed above him would be the last sight he’d ever have. Needless to say, he did not expect to wake up. His fingers took in the furs he was wrapped in, softened by use and dedicated care, and he could not piece together why he would be allowed this.

He also did not expect the small cabin, once he willed himself to look away from the bed he rested in. It was barely more than a large closet, and the bed itself took almost a quarter of the space. A fire smoldered across from him, and there the hunter sat in a lopsided chair, his angled away from the warmth.

Lotor made to move from the bed, his eyes focused on the other, and with a smooth push the hunter moved to stand.

“You shouldn’t move yet, even you can’t heal that fast.” Lotor grunted as his legs took his full weight, glaring at the figure when he realized he was right.

The figure watched, unmoving until Lotor lowered back down to the bed. He stayed there for another moment, as if to press the idea of Lotor staying put, before moving to reach for a bowl. If Lotor thought the cabin and bed were a surprise, knowing that a hunter would willing come close to him with food was another entirely unexpected occurrence. He held the heated ceramic, before looking up with the dirtiest look he could muster. The hunter snorted before moving for another bowl. He then took Lotor’s and poured half of it into his own.

The smirk he received as the hunter sat back down and sipped from the bowl was smug, and for a moment he thought of tossing it at him. The growling of his stomach forced him to eat, and he pointedly kept his gaze away from the other. It was only until the hunter took the bowl from him that he spoke again.

“I didn’t realize there were still untouched Galra left in the Eastern Lands.” His voice rasped, as if unused, and with how softly he spoke Lotor barely caught his words. After a moment, when the words sunk in fully, he responded.

“There isn’t.” It was short, he knew, but the less he played friendly the better. This hunter may have fed him, may have healed him, but it wouldn’t be without a price. The hunter seemed to catch this, his eyes narrowing, and Lotor was too tired to tell if it was from anger or not.

“We’ve been trying to contain it, but not even white magic can suppress it. Not even the ruins give much.” The voice was hesitant, searching and prodding. Lotor couldn’t help but snort, his lips peeling back in a sneer.

“Then you must not be trying hard enough hunter, though I doubt that isn’t very unusual to begin with.”

There was the spark of anger, the frown becoming a cutting line as the other pressed his lips together. “We’d have better luck if your kind weren’t massacring everyone.” It was quick, but it left Lotor feeling even more wrong than when he had been bleeding out in the forest.

He hissed, hoping to cut as deep as the hunter, “Your order was the one to allow it, letting their own play with black magic. If only those you protected knew, they’d hate you as well.” It worked, the hunter’s eyes widened before looking away.

The silence was deafening, until Lotor could hear ever groan and shudder of the wood cabin. The last of the fire’s embers were fading when the hunter spoke again.

“We didn’t know, but now we can only try and fix it,” he held Lotor’s gaze then, and did not allow him to look away, “I hope that you are trying the same? Not everyone has the honor of being hunted down by a pack.”
“And why would you trust me? You just compared me to one of them.” Lotor knew this would be an unsavory choice, one way of another, and yet he wondered what the other could offer. The hunter moved then, to sit near his feet, and Lotor could not stop staring as his skin pricked and his mouth hung open in shock.

The other’s eyes melded into the thin pupil that all Galrans had, his eyes taking on a slight glow, and unlike Ezor’s there was no golden taint that smothered the purple of his eyes. Lotor gathered himself as the eyes shifted into a more round shape, but he still did not look away from the other. It took a moment, but the hunter finally answered back.

“Because you are the only Galra I’ve seen who hasn’t been. I’ve watched you piecing everything together, and if you’ve lasted— If you lasted this long, then maybe there’s hope for me, too.”

Chapter Text

Day 9: Soulmate AU

Once upon a time, somebody ran
Somebody ran away saying
“Fast as I can, I got to go, I got to go.”
(Princess of China- Coldplay)

Lance did not like how Keith always covered his mark, and it wasn’t only because of the loss of opportunity one had when their future soulmate couldn’t see it. It was because Keith didn’t hide it well.

The wristband barely covered the entire thing, and more than once Lance had seen the purplish-blue swirls of the mark, maybe even the beginning of the words that ran across his friend’s wrist. Lance knew the other had met his soulmate, when he finally realized it was letter he saw. It made it all the harder to explain the hiding.

It hadn’t happened yet for Lance, but he had seen it when Hunk had first met their friend, Pidge. It was only a week after he had met the other during orientation, but he was convinced she and Hunk would get along. It was to both of their surprise when her first words to Hunk, golden green swirling around black letters, “I hope you have better taste in music than Lance.”

Hunk smiled, eyes widen and blurred with the tears Lance knew were barely held back, and he held onto Pidge’s wrist, watching as he answered back,

“Right back at you.”

It had been a beautiful moment, despite the words now etched permanently into Hunk’s wrist. He could live with it, though, knowing that the other was happy. It was why he couldn’t understand why Keith never even talked about his first meeting, or why he hid his words. He didn’t talk about it with the others, but their occasional glances gave them away.

Keith was hesitant though, willing to run at the first sight of being cornered. Or worse, willing to fight back if he felt trapped. He rarely did it with them, especially after Lance realized most of their fights happened when Keith reached that point, but after knowing the other for more than five years, it almost felt like an obligation to get to the center of it all.

It started with small questions, mostly when Keith was left unguarded while working on homework, or distracted by the T.V. Pidge had the most luck at remaining undercover with them, and Lance was almost always shot a suspicious look. Ironically enough, Hunk was as good as Pidge if he kept his baking out of it.

It wasn’t until their third April in college, when Pidge finally joined them in drinking age, that Lance finally got his answer. The bitter aftertaste made him wish he hadn’t.

Keith sat with his back against Lance’s leg, all four of them lounging against the couch they had managed to fit though their apartment’s door. Pidge was mostly gone, especially after the last three tequila shots Lance made for her, and Hunk was quickly following. Keith had been mostly silent the more he drank, and so it startled Lance when the other tilted his head to look up,

“Would you hate me, if I told you about my mark?”

Lance sputtered through the alcohol in his mouth, his jerking leg forcing Keith to move back. Lance looked in disbelief as the other pushed himself to look him in the eye. Lance coughed again, mouth agape, before responding.

“Why the fuck would I hate you?”

Keith simply lifted his shoulders, a small noise leaking from him. He wasn’t looking at Lance now, and it took everything for Lance to not reach for him. He knew, from all the years of being around Keith, that the moment he did this would be over. He waited, instead, holding himself back.

Keith tried, more than a handful of times to begin, before mumbling, “He did.”

It was a painful thing, watching Keith pull away his wristband, and Lance wished the others were conscious enough to help him shoulder it, because there on his wrist, surrounded by purple and blue, were words that not even Lance could decipher as anything less than cold.

“Someone like you is my soulmate?”

__

It took almost a month, before he, Hunk, and Pidge could weasel the entire story from Keith, and most of it came from partial pieces that they all had to connect.

His name was Lotor.

They had grown up with one another, two states away and with a family orchard between them.

Keith had always hoped that maybe, Lotor would be the one. Keith never told him, but he had waited for when the words would finally show.

Keith described it as the worst day, when Keith’s words had bloomed onto Lotor’s skin. He had looked up in excitement, the heat of summer against their backs, and he remembered being thankful that it had happened on a beautiful day.

Keith wouldn’t tell them about what happened after that, though. But Lance could fit in the pieces. He wondered if this was why Keith never went home between semesters, why he refused to go to harvest events for pumpkins, or for apple pickings. He wondered how long Keith felt unwanted.

It was only a few months later, when his own mark came from a woman with the lightest hair he’d ever seen, that he thought up a way to make sure Keith would not be alone anymore.

(continue in Day 10!)

Chapter Text

Day 10: Confessions

Once upon a time, we fell apart
You’re holding in your hands
The two halves of my heart.
(Princess of China- Coldplay)

Seeing Allura again was something that Keith didn’t know if he yet needed, and he wondered if his hesitance was obvious when he decided t. If Lance knew that the mere presence of his soulmate made Keith want to scream, or cry, or even demand answers on why she was here, if she remembered growing up with him and Lotor, if Lotor was still the same person he remembered, or if the person Lotor became that one day was now the dominant presence.

At first when she barely spoke to Keith, he wondered if he messed up with her, too. He failed once, what's one friendship more to that list. Sometime, it was like he was born on a great clock face, each hand moving closer and closer, the spacing between narrowing, and he could not jump over them. They would meet eventually, always consistent, always when he thought it would not happen again. When they met, something new would be taken. His parents, his old home, Lotor. Now, he wondered if it was Allura’s time. Like all those years of not talking after he left was a sign leading to this. After, it’d be his new friends. Maybe Pidge first, then Lance and Hunk. Then Shiro.

He wondered if maybe Allura was just giving him space, her eyes looked full of worry whenever they would accidentally exchange glances, but his doubts made that unbelievable.

However, Allura’s patience was not a long-term thing, and it crumbled before Keith’s resolve of staying at a distance. Lance had been away, Hunk and Pidge in their rooms—sleeping or studying, he didn’t know—and Shiro was passed out on the couch across from them. Lance swore he’d only be gone for an hour at tops, needing to run for groceries, but it was enough time for awkwardness to coat the entire apartment in a generous film.

Allura had played with her nails at first as Keith managed to corral one of the cats onto his lap. The clicking of acrylic was louder than it had the right to be, and not even running his fingers against Red’s chin was enough to calm his nerves.

The clicking grew louder before stopping abruptly, and instead a sigh replaced it. “All this time without hearing from you, and I thought you just needed space. I didn’t realize it wasn’t because we were no longer friends, Keith.”

Red didn’t appreciate the sudden pull of her fur, and with a small hiss she bolted away, tail and ears lowered. Keith couldn’t find the time to feel bad about it though, his wide gaze focused on Allura. He hated this feeling in his chest, the tightening of muscles until his back ached and his ribs felt like they could barely hold in his lungs and heart.

“That’s not, I, Allura I thought you didn’t want to be.” It was more of a whisper, and Keith desperately wished there was a way to backtrack, to change this. He wasn’t ready for it, not now.

Allura’s answer was louder, drowning out the end of Keith’s whisper, “I didn’t what, care about you? You were one of my best friends, Keith! Why wouldn’t I still want that!”

Keith tried to respond, but Allura cut him off, “No! Just, you and Lotor! Both of you changed that summer, and this happened! And you told me nothing, I lost two friends and I still don’t know why!”

Allura moved to stand, her bottom lip beginning to tremble, “I’ll just wait outside, until Lance comes back. This, this was a bad idea, I shouldn’t—are you crying?”

Keith hated his gut reactions now, because it had to be at this moment that he lost control. After years of hiding his wrist, after years of pretending everything was alright and that he didn’t need things from his childhood. She moved toward him, an arm reaching out, and Keith felt his body moving back. He looked away then, not wanting to see the anger or hurt that would cause.

Lance walked in then, arms full of bags, and Keith could only watch as he also made the happiness leave in him, too. It was probably funny, to an outsider, or maybe even Pidge and Hunk if they decided to walk in now, how Lance just stood there taking in Keith and Allura’s tears because this was the first-time Keith had really seen Lance unable to speak. But nothing about this was funny, not when Keith’s skin itched with the need to put as much distance between them.

So he did.

It was past midnight when Keith finally came back to a dark apartment. With his phone’s light, he could see Lance and Allura on the couch, their bodies facing the door as if waiting for him before sleep took over. Shiro still rested on the other side, but he also faced the same direction. Only Red’s gaze met his own from Shiro’s lap, the cat blinking lazily before yawning. Under the couch, he could see Blue and Green as well.

“You know, running doesn’t help anyone.” Pidge’s voice startled Keith badly, and his keys hit the floor with a loud clang. He watched in fear as Shiro stirred then rolled over, and after a moment he turned to the other with a glare. He should have known Pidge was awake, especially with Green wandering around in their family room.

“It was best if I wasn’t here, Pidge.”

Pidge’s reply was quick, “It wasn’t, and you know it.”

Keith’s arms jerked up in frustration, and he moved to walked towards his room. He was only a few feet away from his door when Pidge spoke again, “She deserved to know, you know that? Whatever happened between you and Lotor, you just left her behind.” Keith turned to her, eyes narrowed, and without looking away she added, “Lance was angry, and you know how he gets. Just thought you’d should know that he told her what happened. Wasn’t his best moment, and Hunk let him know that, but neither was hurting someone who cared about you.”

Keith didn't wait for more of Pidge's words, he didn't wait to see how he'd respond, and he didn’t let himself crumble until his door was closed and locked, and he thanked whatever higher power there was that his anxiety and panic attacks had always been a silent event. Even so, he buried his face into his shirt, dry heaving and shaking, and he did not know when it finally stopped, but when it did he could hear the others moving through their apartment with quiet voices and steps. His alarm clock read 3:00, and he wondered if they thought he was ignoring them now. He wondered if he should, if it would make everything better.

It was an hour later when he could hear them leaving, and only after a few more minutes when the front door closed did Keith dare to venture out. He was relieved that no one had stayed behind, and only Allura’s computer was the only thing left out in the family room. Keith walked by, fingers shaking and head throbbing from the hard night and lack of food, so it was only as he passed by it a second time with his mouth full that he caught the screen dimming then shutting down on what was google maps and directions. Keith stood there, paused in the middle of chewing, wondering if they expected him to join them later, when a small knock caught his attention.

Keith went towards the door, frowning, because he knew the others had enough spare keys that even one of them forgetting theirs wouldn’t be a problem. He prepared himself for a salesman, or a weirdo, and with a response ready on his tongue he opened the door. Blue eyes met his, and a person that was once so familiar to Keith now stood before him.

“Keith, may we talk?” Lotor’s voice had deepened since they were teenagers, but it still had the same lilt he always had, and Keith could only nod. He moved back from the door and deeper into his home, and without looking back he moved towards the kitchen cabinets. He heard the door close and Lotor walking closer, and knowing it would be easier to not look at Lotor he instead reached for glasses.

“Would you like water?”

Lotor’s voice was closer, just behind him, “Yes, please. It’s been a long trip.”

Keith frowned then, mind racing, “Were you visiting Allura?”

Lotor laughed, the sound awkward and stilted, “More like I was meeting her demands. I, she told me If I wasn’t here before dinner, she would chop my hair off.”

Keith stayed quiet, not sure how to respond, or even if he should give that to Lotor, and after a moment he heard an awkward sigh come from the other. Filling glasses with water was a quick thing, though, and soon Keith had no choice but to face Lotor again. The other sat at the kitchen island, refusing to look away, and couldn’t help but stare back.

Lotor took a large gulp of his water, and as he set the glass down his mouth pulled down in a frown, “Are you alright with me beginning?” Lotor waited until Keith nodded, even though he wished the other would stay quiet and he felt so overwhelmed as Lotor continued to look his way.

“I never meant for you to feel like I hated you, Keith. I just, I didn’t know how to respond that day.” Keith went to respond, and he could feel the scowl forming, but Lotor’s face became pleading as he realized he was about to be interrupted, and Lotor continued quickly.

“I didn’t hate the idea of being your soulmate, Keith, but I didn’t know what would happen,” he swallowed, the pleading shifting to discomfort, but still he continued, “you know that at the time, well, everything was shit for me, Keith. You and Allura were the only constants that I had. I didn’t want to lose that. I know I hurt you with what I said, but I—I didn’t know how to respond.”

The chest tightening that Keith had become so accustomed to didn’t lighten with Lotor’s words, and he wondered if his discomfort was so obvious when Lotor let out a pained sound and he moved to take Keith’s hand before stopping himself.

“You know, Allura and I never knew where you went, or how to contact you again. I, I know I had time to talk after what happened. I should have, I wish I had.”

Keith swallowed, and he pushed his hands down into his pockets, “What would you have said?”

For the first time since Lotor walked in, Keith didn’t want to look away as he answered, “I would have told you that I couldn’t believe someone like you was meant for me. Someone who was always there for me, who always made me laugh. Someone I would give anything for.”

Keith didn’t mean for the sob to escape, but it did with an intake of air. Lotor responded in kind, and this time Lotor did not stop when he reached for him, and Keith let himself step closer until he stood next to Lotor and within his arms.

“I should have talked to you, after what happened, I should of but I was so scared.” Keith’s voice trembled, throat thick and rasping, but Lotor simply held him tighter, “I didn’t know what to do either.”

It was a long time before they let go of one another, and even then they still kept close. Keith was the one to break the silence then, for once his voice unshaken as he twined their fingers together, “I think we should get to know each other again, but, I’d like this to continue. It’s… it’s been too long, Lotor.”

The other smiled, and Keith realized just had tired the other looked. He knew the other had to have been on the road for almost a day, not to mention the time awake before that, but despite the fatigue, it looked like Lotor shined.

It was another hour of holding and talking, and simply reorienting themselves around one another once more, before Lotor moved to stand abruptly from the couch they had migrated to, his face panicked.

“I forgot to text the others when it would be safe to come back. I, oh I do hope they stayed entertained.”

Keith laughed, “We can face them together? I think it’s time I apologized. A lot,” Keith sighed, “Especially to Allura, and I guess Lance, too.

Lotor moved to sit back down again, phone in hand, “Then we can do it together, and then you can introduce me to your friends and Allura’s new soulmate.”

Chapter Text

Day 11: A/B/O

Logic forces me to believe in this
And I have learned to see.
And I can only safe what I’ve seen and heard
And only you can choose
(Breathe Today- Flyleaf)

No one wanted to admit that sometimes, two omegas got something done faster than an entire armada of alphas.

Lotor was certainly surprised with just how determined his partner was in winning, and how he’d follow along. It’d been as a competition at first, come and decide who was stronger—omega or alpha. Keith had lit up like the huddled over, half-bald, fire-starting, Christmas tree Pidge and Matt had adopted the previous year and Lotor didn’t want to admit it, but his own eagerness was a close second.

The two omegas were used to being abnormal in a crowded room, even their friends had thought it was a joke when they announced being mates, but between Keith’s side-glares and Lotor’s glass-cutting smiles, they were rarely bothered.

Except now.

It was at least three thousand pounds of alpha before them, all crammed together and nearly ready to go for throats. In comparison, it was only two other pairs of omegas that stood in their waiting block, and when the two approached they were hit head on by the scent of anxiety and worry. It caused Keith to sneeze, which then caused the alphas nearby to take notice, and soon catcalls and small jabs accompanied.

It was moments like this that Lotor admired his mate so much, watching him ignore the others like they were below him. He knew in a way that they were, both were not only raised with alphas, but most of their friends had presented in that way, and Lotor knew for a fact that some of them, like Hunk, would rather drop dead then act like that.

It was alphas like these that Keith loved to knock down a few pegs, either with a well-aimed kick and punch, or with events like these. No one expected an omega to keep up, or to bite back. No one expected that an omega who mated another omega, someone that society loved to label as being soft and insecure and unfit for alpha companionship, could literally land you on the ground in five seconds flat.

Lotor would never tire of it, watching Keith when the siren called and the free-for-all started, and it was always an experience staying at his side when alphas would charge at them. Sometimes, the other omega pairs would last for more than half of the allotted time, others barely the first few minutes. This group was the latter, but it didn’t matter to them. Keith always joked that this was a healthier way to relief stress, pretending to have accidentally elbow a face while yanking off flag-belts.

Lotor would come in then, watching their backs when some alphas decided to get back up—even without their flag-belts. Sometimes the referee would purposefully miss it, like the damn neon orange fabric was camouflage. There wasn’t much that they could do during the game without risking a penalty, or being ejected from the tournament itself.

But, their friends almost always say it. Ezor and Pidge had especially gotten good at keying cars without leaving anything that would point back to them. It was times like those that Keith and Lotor would simply chat the night away with random and repetitive appreciative remarks of how much better it was to have supportive alpha and beta friends.

The game itself was rewarding every time, when shocked cheers of glee arose from the participating omegas and shouts of disbelief were drowned out.

But the best, the best was when Lotor could pull Keith close in, even with dirt and sweat it was one of the best kinds of kisses they exchanged. Knowing it was given in front of already agitated alphas, knowing that some of them had the blessing of getting their asses handed to them by omega mates.

Chapter Text

Day 12: Forgiveness

And I’m steady
Though I’m starting to shake
And I don’t know
How much more I can take.
(This is How a Heart Breaks- Rob Thomas)

Plapsum took their job seriously, to the point that he followed every curve and dip without fail, and Pantheon be praised, he had not failed once.

But this, this was easier than it should be. Guard the prisoners, make sure they couldn’t plan an escape the Elders said. Don’t let them escape. Plapsum was sure that by the time judgment was given and the punishment was served, these two would still be passively bickering back and forth.

It was amusing at first, when Plapsum had followed the beginning of their banter.

“I knew I should have piloted,” the silvered hair one, the Galra Prince, if Plapsum remembered properly, said with a pointed look at his companion.

A huff answered back, followed by an eye roll from the strangest eyes they’d ever seen. The center dots seemed to contract and focus in, like Analix beasts. It made Plapsum’s skin crawl every time the alien would look up, either to catch a glimpse at his companion or to gaze at them. It felt like being sized up, and Plapsum hated it more than their days of apprenticeship.

“If you’d piloted, you would have just ended up letting me down again.” It was quiet, but the words carried a weight that Plapsum themselves saw collide against the Prince like burning debris and shrapnel. The other’s eyes widened, before narrowing.

“Let you down? I wasn’t the one who decided to take matters into his own hands. What did Allura say again, only observe?”

The response was quick, the odd violet eyes flashing, “We were going to lose information!”

“Yet you managed to fail the team yet again, Keith.”

That caught Plapsum’s attention, even as the violet-eyed alien, Keith, shifted away from the Prince. Despite lacking the signals and body language of Plapsum’s people, they could see the sudden discomfort and anger that filled the other. They leaned closer to watch the two, but the moment their body shifted to listen in more the two prisoners directed their attention to them, eyes unwavering and faces blank.

“I didn’t realize allies could be so harsh.” In Plapsum’s defense, they were only trying to fill the silence, but the Prince did not look amused. In fact, without much warning at all Plapsum was met with the sight of the Prince rushing to his feet, his shoulders high above their own, and slowly the prisoner walked towards them.

They knew there would be a good shot at subduing the Prince. The other was still bound, and Plapsum’s spear gave him a few extra feet of reach. The Prince would have Serilin steel through his heart before Plapsum was in any danger. They were so focused on that reasoning that they dropped their spear in surprise as an arm twisted around the metal, locking it against the attacker’s chest before Plapsum found it yanked out of their grasp.

The alien Keith stood before them, his eyes narrowed as he gave a quick twirl of the spear before finding its balance. Behind him, they heard, then saw, the Prince snap his bounds before moving to stand beside the other. It was yet again so odd as Plapsum watched the Prince try to rest his hand against Keith’s shoulder, only for the other to move away.

Keith looked up at him, the frown still present, but something about it made the Prince’s face crunch together in some emotion that Plapsum could not interpret.

“Please forgive me, love. I went too far with our distraction.” His voice was almost too quiet to hear, but it was obvious that Keith caught each word. The other relaxed a bit and let himself lean against the Prince. Plapsum watched as the spear lowered, almost forgotten as the two continued to lean against the other, and for a moment Plapsum went to move away. Maybe, just maybe they would be able to warn the Elders.

It was in vain, however, because before they could even more a step back, they found the spear once again leveled to their chest.

The Prince’s voice was so smooth now, the lilt taking on new emotion, and Plapsum could only shiver has the Prince walked closer while Keith kept the spear’s point against the center of his chest.

“Now then, I do believe you should let us explain our reasons for being on your planet, don’t you agree?”

Chapter Text

Day 13: Supernatural AU

I’ve told a million lies,
But now I tell a single truth.
There’s you in everything I do
(I bet My Life- Imagine Dragons)

(Continuation from day 8)

Keith’s breathing came in short gasps, stuttering with each intake before wheezing away. It was such a horrid sound to Lotor, but what was worse was seeing the glazed yellow engulfing the soft violet he had grown so accustomed to.

They had won, the witch Haggar struck through the heart by Lotor himself. Many had tried to congratulate him, to raise him in praise, but it was not his. Not truly. The knife had been Keith’s, the anger behind the final blow from seeing the twisted and feral forms of her past friends. He had only struck after seeing Keith pinned down by Zethrid, he only finished it when he saw fangs rip in to the man who Lotor now called a close friend.

Coran and the Olkari leader, Ryner, now worked ceaselessly. Coran himself had been next to Keith, Lotor, and the other Voltron hunters when Keith had stumbled and fell. At first, Lotor thought it was a hidden wound, left untended for too long and no longer remedied by adrenaline.

But black had dripped from Keith’s nose, then between his lips. It was scentless, but the mere sight of it was sickening. Keith had looked up then, eyes wide and searching before meeting Lotor’s, and he felt his stomach plummet into a jarring crash as a yellow glint greeted him.

It had been Keith’s idea to be placed in the cells below the stronghold, and his insistence has fierce and sharp. It had caused the other hunters to step away, their hands reaching for weapons before stopping with guilt-filled expressions, but Lotor had been to focused to address it. Instead, he had walked through the marble halls of the Castle of Lions, following Keith until were they rested now.

As the night’s chill had seeped through the cell, the hunter who bound his hair back with yellow cloth had brought blankets and other sleeping necessities, but he hadn’t stayed. Lotor did not know if it was from the growls and groans of pain that filled the cell Keith lay in, or from how Lotor did not let the other leave his sight. Lotor did not care, though. His gaze did not waver from its target, from the trembling form and the yellow eyes that grew more and more prominent has time passed.

It was close to dawn, when Lotor could no longer stay where he was. He eased the cell opened as quietly as he could, but the metal still grated together in the quiet. Keith let out a small whine before trying to push himself away from the other.

“You shouldn’t, Lotor.” It was spoken in-between gasps, Keith’s chest rising quickly in choppy movements.

Lotor only came closer until he could pull the other against his chest. Keith looked as if he wished to fight the hold, but instead melted against the other. As he held Keith, it felt as if the shaking and seized muscles where his own, as if each breath Keith made emerged from his own lungs, and Lotor gripped tighter until there was almost no space between them.

“Please, if—if they can’t stop this, I want you to do it.” Keith let his head fall back, glazed eyes staring at him as Lotor shook his head in response.

“You will not become one of them, I won’t let you.” Lotor bent his head closer until their foreheads met, until he could feel Keith’s breath brush against his skin. “Do not give up yet, my friend. Please.”

Keith gave a small noise, and for a time the only sound was the increasingly heavy breathing from him. Lotor listened as the sounds became wet, the rasping thick, and each time Keith coughed black would coat his lips.

After another series of coughing, Keith reached for Lotor’s hand, fingers weakly grasping until Lotor wrapped them around his own. “I always hoped, I wouldn’t become one of them.”

Lotor’s chest shook with a silent sob, the realization of their time coming to an end when he realized how weak Keith’s voice had become.

“I should, I should have told you.”

As the words escaped Keith, his eyes glared brighter than before, then rolled back as his body gave a powerful shudder.

It was this that Ryner and the hunters stepped in to, the sight of Lotor holding a convulsing body against the floor. Of jagged claws tearing through fingertips as the plague spread through Keith’s body. Lotor struggled to keep Keith pinned as Ryner administered their serum, and he hoped that the weakening seizing was a sign. He hoped that he was not imagining the yellow disappearing from Keith’s eyes, or that the claws that were forming where now crumbling away.

He hoped, for he too should have told Keith something long ago, and he would not make the mistake of keeping his love for the other a secret any longer.

Chapter Text

Day 14: Trust/ Betrayal

And when the dust is settled down
You’ll be all alone thinking, “how?”
Everyone is singing aloud
(Only One- The Score)

(Inspired by Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce)

When Lotor met Keith, it was along the rat-filled alleys of the Lower City. Even with the sun still glaring brightly over his head, Lotor could see the thieves and crooks darting around those who passed through this part of the city. But Lotor was one a mission, and even as he felt eyes scoping out whatever may be valuable on his person, he did not stop until he stood before a tavern with a Stormwing engraved upon its doors.

When he entered, he exchanged one group of stares for another, but only one was his objective. The other man was slim compared to some of the bodies surrounding him, but only a fool would challenge the Rouge King. Lotor had seen firsthand what happened when only focused on the twin daggers that rested on his belt, and not the flash of magic that occasionally surfaced in his eyes.

Keith had first made his existence known when Lotor was still a Puppy within the Provost’s Guard. He had been only a few weeks from graduating as a trainee when a riot broke out amongst the streets that connected the Lower City and Patten district. Lotor would later reason that it was good to have experienced a riot before becoming a Dog, but that night he had lost sight of the two Dogs he was assigned to.

It had been quick, one moment the blonde hair of his mentor was in sight before disappearing behind a bloodied cracknob. The man had taken a swing, and while Lotor had dodged the blow, he did not see the one that crashed against his back. Lotor knew that once a Dog was strewn across the cobbled stones, it was over, and he tried to raise his baton as a dagger raced towards his face and he knew it would not catch the chipped steel.

Lotor’s baton was still half raised as the other stumbled away, a raw shriek sounding above the roar of the rioters as his clothes burned with fierce flames. Lotor could only watch as the man soon collapsed, unmoving as the fire covered his entire body and he continued to stare until a hand reached to pull him onto his feet.

The other man was shorter than him by more than a head, but he carried himself in such a way that he became the focus of the entire street. Even with the rioters, or the now smoldering remains of Lotor’s attacker. The other left him then, weaving in-between people until Lotor could no longer see him.

He had not known that night that the King of the Rouges himself had saved his life. He didn’t even connect it until more than a month later as he was seeking through his assigned district. The cove he had tailed was a quiet sort, but his lips became loose with the threat of his smuggling being told. It had been easy, that entire interrogation, but Lotor had not thought much of that until the next night.

At first he assumed no one was in his small, one roomed home. As his eyes adjusted, he saw a familiar face staring back at him, eyes narrowed even as a crooked smile greeted him.

“I heard you were looking for me.”

Lotor had not become a dog without his intelligence, and it did not take long before he realized his savior from that night was also the very man that the Lord Provost wanted found and taken down.The other raise smoothly before coming closer until the gap between them was much smaller.

“It isn’t kind to repay someone in this way, it makes me second guess helping a Dog.” His voice was jolting in the quiet of his room, but Lotor still found himself unable to push himself away. The Rouge King continued, his hands moving to rest behind his back and Lotor finally found himself able to move.

“I don’t like ungrateful coves.” This was quieter, more dangerous than his initial greeting.

Lotor moved back, and the other followed. He moved his hands until they almost brushed against the other’s chest. “I would not have endangered you if I had known I owed you my life.”

Eyebrows raised, an unimpressed frown directed at him and Lotor quickly tried again. “I may have been looking for the King of the Rouges, but I was also looking for you as well.”

That caught the other’s interest, and Lotor relaxed slightly as two hands came back into his line of sight.

“Oh, looking for me?”

Lotor nodded, “If it wasn’t for you, I would have missed my own initiation. I owe you.”

The other only blinked before looking Lotor up and down, no doubt taking in every detail he could. “Well, you’ve found me. Now what will you do?”

Lotor smiled them, and it only widened as he saw how it took the other off guard. “If you’d let me, I’d like to thank you as well.”

While their first few meetings after where just as awkward as the first, it did not take long until Lotor was given a name. Then, after more than a season of knowing the other Lotor was shown the tavern that the Rouge Court resided in. Keith had reasoned that it was so Lotor would not stand like a cracknob on dangerous streets while waiting for him, but the blush that accompanied the information was telling.

Lotor did not know when exactly he found Keith’s presence more inviting than his fellow Dogs, or when the tavern felt more homely than his own room. But he anticipated each time he would see Keith’s crooked smile, or how his eyes would lighten when they met his own. Even now, as he walked closer to the Rouge King, Lotor felt the weight of his career lift from him as his sweetheart pressed his lips to his own.

Chapter Text

Day 15: Free Kink

I make my own choice
Bitch, I run this show
So leave the lights on
No, you can’t make me behave.
(Confident- Demi Lovato)

Keith would be the first to admit that an all-nighter before his group led their in-class discussion wasn’t the best of moves. But he had a reason. Said reason had been the man sitting across from him the day before, his voice calm and confidant yet adamant on what needed to be addressed in their group.

He called it good luck that he at least knew the topic enough that the distraction of the other’s lips as they moved through consonants and vowels didn’t take away from his own additions to the presentation. The problem, though, was that while his partner seemed to be cool and collected throughout their preparation period, Keith couldn’t stop thinking about how it’d be like for Lotor to order him in the bedroom. With that voice, even with those lips brushing lower and lower until.

This is why Keith pulled an all-nighter.

He didn’t know if Lotor realized what he did to Keith, and Keith really wasn’t sure when it started, either. Both quite literally stumbled into the other’s lives, on the third level of stairs in the library, and while the books had gone tumbling down in the most pathetic way, Lotor had managed to grab onto the rail and onto the back of Keith’s shirt.

At the time, Keith was too irritated to take in Lotor. Perhaps that was also why it took almost three years of building a friendship before Keith realized that he had a thing for a rich baritone wrapped in a foreign lilted accent. It had been three months since that revelation, and despite it Keith didn’t want to lose someone he had begun to rely and trust.

Really, he should have expected it. He knew Lotor was well-liked, and it was obvious that the high cheekbones and the smirk got to some people faster than the muscles on the football players at their university.

Keith knew he had seen them, too. He could appreciate someone who looked good. But yet again, with almost 38 hours of being awake to attest for it, he hadn’t anticipated the voice being the last proverbial nail.

He knew he was caught the moment Lotor frowned when he came stumbling into the classroom. Keith thought he had hidden the shadows under his eyes well enough, but that’s what happened when someone knew you for a good chunk of your college life.

Lotor didn’t comment though, even when Keith stumbled over their script. Or when he forgot part of the transition into Lotor’s part of the presentation.

His voice got lower though, losing its lighter presence that Keith was used to. Lotor didn’t look towards him, he didn’t narrow his eyes or frown, but Keith was waiting for whatever fallout this would cause by the end of class.

And Keith, because he knew he never liked fallouts or having to be confronted, well he didn’t blame himself for taking off the moment class was dismissed. Keith was always proud about how fast he could move when needed, his fitness was the one thing that stayed a constant in college, but Keith knew Lotor had longer legs. It was moments like this when he felt Lotor’s hand pull him to a stop that he really hated being shorter.

“What was that, Keith? I thought we were ready for today.” Lotor was frowning now, and it felt like his voice was even deeper with worry.

Keith stopped himself from biting his lip, and decided that anywhere but Lotor’s face was safe territory to look at. “I just didn’t sleep well, I think I’m sick.”

Lotor huffed, “More like worried about something. What is it?”

‘I can’t stop thinking about how you’d sound in bed’, Keith wanted to say, and Lotor’s grasp tightened when he didn’t answer.

“You’re my friend, Keith. If something is wrong, please don’t feel like we can’t talk. I, is it something I did?” Keith couldn’t control the blush, then. He felt the heated skin travel to his ears and down his throat, and as Lotor voiced his concern, he tried to push away.

Lotor held on tighter, his other hand coming to rest on his unoccupied shoulder, and Keith was forced to look at Lotor’s worried yet scrutinizing frown.

It happened at the same time, somehow, as Lotor’s eyes widened with realization and Keith’s brain finally decided to say fuck it.

And Keith really did fuck it, probably fucked it up beyond repair as he connected his lips too hard against Lotor’s. The other’s gasp was music to his ears, and he really wished he could hear more of it, but then he remembered he just fucked it up.

He moved to pull back, to start booking it again. He was certain that Lotor’s surprise would give him a head start, but when he moved away Lotor only pulled him back.

He was quiet for a moment, eyes still wide, before whispering. “So let me straighten this out. After almost three years, it takes a presentation for you to kiss me.”

Keith choked at that, “You sound like you were waiting for me to kiss you?”

Lotor snorted, “Since the stairs, honestly. Your eyes always do lighten up so prettily when angry.” Lotor laughed at the indignant gasp Keith made. “Or when you’re embarrassed.”

Lotor laughed as Keith moved to rest his head on his shoulder, “It’s not my fault your voice is hot.”

“If you think it is hot during normal conversations, then I worry about more personal atmospheres, darling.”

Keith couldn’t stop the pleasant shiver, and he knew Lotor could feel it, too. He realized, too late, that he had jumped into the deepest part of the swimming pool imaginable. He didn’t mind if it meant being enveloped in everything that was Lotor.

And well, fuck it.

Chapter Text

Day 16: Spring Flowers Pt. 2

Magenta Lilacs—
sheer thrill
of being alive,
passion.

Do you realize, that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize, we’re floating in space?
Do you realize, happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize, that everyone you know someday will die?
((Do You Realize- Ursine Vulpine)

Lotor felt suspended as we watched the curve of Keith’s lashes close, the purple blinking out for a moment that stretched far too long before shuttering open once more.

Only the small movements, and the puffs of coalesced moisture from each breath against his cracked visor, gave Lotor enough hope to continue breathing with each of Keith’s intakes of air.

He knew they were lucky enough to have survived for so long, after being in the middle of the ship’s hull when the Blade’s bombs detonated. He knew it, or at least he tried to keep it in mind as the cracks allowed air to leak from Keith’s suit.

Shrapnel glided around them, suspended as they were from the ship’s failed gravity system, and while the cracks were not subject to the vacuum force of space itself, the vacuum of air seemed to drag it from each microscopic fissure. They were lucky the shrapnel had only cracked Keith's visor.

They were lucky, the ship kept Keith’s suit from being crushed, it kept the cracks from being rendered farther apart by the vacuum outside of the hull's walls. They were lucky.

Lotor could see the red flashes within the Altean armor, he knew what one could only deny for so long. He couldn’t deny it anymore, but he had tried to call through the comms, he had tried to reach for the Lions. Only once, but he did not know if a second try would succeed.

He had grasped Keith’s hand the first time, trying to find a way for his own mind to reach the Red Lion’s, and he was only greeted with silence. Silence intermingled with labored breathing and gasping breathes, pulsing together even as one was slowly drifting away from the beat they made.

He knew it was only a few dobashes from the explosion, he knew that as he counted each of Keith’s blinks and each of his breathes. With each dobash, they halved. He had only caught the pattern after the third time mark. He could see a trickle of blood rising, gathering amongst the top, near one of the largest cracks.

He held closer to Keith, pulling him into him as if sharing his own being could create a singular one. One powerful to survive what nothing living could. Keith stayed limp, unable to hold back, and desperately Lotor reached out again.

He found the faded brushes of Keith, the red mixed with sunset and violet. Quintessence that burned brighter than it ought to. He saw it as a flicker of candle flame, melting itself down as he tried to pursue it, and as he neared the wick’s base he finally felt a surge of violent and protective red that alluded him before.

It struck towards him, the flow of it all-powerful as it wrapped around what was left of Keith and hissed, and again Lotor reached farther even as he felt his own being begin to smolder then catch alight.

He pushed everything that made up his last few vargas of living, and he felt the red burn it away, consuming it into itself. Each memory, their mission, the fear as he first saw Keith floating next to him, unmoving. Unable to control it, his being drifted closer, away from the wick that was so close to burning out, and as he accepted being fully taken and burned away, a crushing roar pulled him out.

He woke, to see closed eyes and a clear visor before him, with only the pooling of blood above a still face.

He woke to the shock-pale face of the Black Paladin, to fearful eyes of the Green and Blue. He woke to the maw of the Yellow Lion before him, opening a passage from the steel and carbon alloy that trapped them.

With shuddering muscles he knelt before the paladins as they circled their own, the mask now removed yet the cracks still staring back at Lotor from beside the motionless figure laid on the ground, and all watched as Coran’s voice directed the Green Paladin in using the medkit.

Lotor thought he saw a candle flicker, before the wax reshaped, growing until it no longer threatened to burn out.

Lotor saw the flickering of lashes, exactly the same from before he had dived into quintessence, and with only a brief hesitance he reached for it again, his breathe escaping in a small sigh as he felt it embrace his own.

Chapter Text

Day 17: Past/Future

And it’s not my fire, but was forged in flame
Can drown the sorrows of a huntsman’s pain
(The Devil and the Huntsman- Daniel Pemberton)

(A late Mermay tribute)

Beyond the cape’s edge, past wave carved caves and barnacled laid outcrops of pock marked rock rested a small dip amongst the cliffs. It was large enough to house the remains of a sunken clipper, the sides skeleton and splintered from meeting rock during a riptide.

While the small piece of beach and shipwreck was quaint, it was known as only a border marker to the one who called the area home. Like the beach sand filled with fragments of red shells, his tail also glinted rusted brown when the sun met his scales through the waves. The volcanic rock shared the obsidian color of his hair, his eyes like tellin shells. Just as this strip of sea belonged to him, he also belonged to it.

It gave him no name, but only a purpose to reside amongst the coves and shallows, to guard the island that received life from the sea around it.

As decades passed, as stars realigned and the coves spread farther from their original shape. As ships crashed following his voice and the call of land, he had stayed guard. Only sleeping when the sounds of the ocean told him no danger was nearby.

He trusted the ocean’s voice, as it was so akin to his own nature, but only after falling into a complacency did he realize that not even the depths could predict everything.

He woke as the waters turned orange above him from the sunset, and after pulling his tail out from the soft sand of the seafloor, he glided up with the currents, hesitant yet prepared for what may come. It was a small, barely half the size of some of the shipwrecks that dotted the coast, and as the merman came closer he could see the dented wood of the hull, the fracturing planks that barely clung together. He almost came closer, his head about to breach the waves, when an oar plunged down and barely missed his head.

He hissed, the light around him brightening fiercely as pupils dilated, and he shot down under the boat before looking up again. It and whoever resided aboard were closest to shore than anyone else had ever been alive, and he would not allow that.

It was easy to ram the under hull, though his shoulder ached somewhat as he pushed the ship a good few feet above the waves, the bow barely keeping contact with the water, and for a brief moment he thought it would capsize. He hoped that if it did, whoever was on it would drop on their own accord, and that he would not have to do it by hand.

Though sheer luck, the ship landed the same as it had been before, and from below the waves he could hear a shout of panic, desperate in its shrill tone.

He tried again, only to find the edge of an oar cracking against his shoulder. Dimly, he could hear a splash of water, bubbles thundering around whatever had fallen into the water. As the pain cleared, he heard the frantic beating of a heart, the swirling of water from moving limbs brushed over his gills and with a hiss he circled towards the one foolish enough to try and step on his island.

The sandy shore was closer than he had thought, the waves pushing the small boat and its owner closer before he had attacked, and he only managed to rake claws against a hip and thigh before the oar met again with his skin.

As he bushed his head above the water, he was met face to face with a miserable creature, its hair bleached white like dead coral and its skin a red unlike the crimson that was his island’s sand. Its eyes though, they were purple like his own, like the shells that grew amongst the wrecked planks and barnacles below.

It watched with widened eyes, lungs heaving as blood followed the returning water to the ocean, and he felt his gills and fins flare as the scent reached him. It was shocking, how it smelled not unlike his own. He quickly pushed it away, allowing his chin to rise from the water only so the intruder could see him bare his fangs at it.

Its eyes bulged, mouth falling open as it scrabbled farther away, and he could only scoff at the weakness it displayed, but as he advanced towards the drier sand the intruder quickly rose to its feet, the oar raised as he shouted at him,

“Begone! Or I will kill you, I swear it!”

He had been threatened before by swords and sticks, spears that were harpooned and ridged, but not once had he been greeted by anything more than screams and cries. He backed away then, from shock, and for the rest of the night he stayed below the waves, wondering how something that was not of the ocean could have the gift of speech.

Days passed since the day that the intruder had arrived, and he knew it saw him amongst the outcrops just as it must have known that he knew it spied on him from coves and thicket covered cliff edges.

It was under a third cycle of the new moon when he decided to approach again, pushing himself up the small eddy formed by high tide until he rested closer to its resting place. Even from his distance, he could smell the smoke of the fire and he could see as hair dyed silver by the moon moved with the sea breeze. As the night grew longer, and as he felt lulled by the crackling of burning brush and wood, he did not catch the purple eyes that stared at him.

He did not realize he was seen until the next night, as he moved towards his previous spot, only to see a small collection of fruit and the fish from farther up the island’s streams awaiting him. He was not proud of it later, but with a hiss he swiped the offering up and threw it directly at the intruder’s face as it had jumped up to look towards the sound.

He heard curses as he pulled himself back into the waves, and he had thought it done until the next sunrise. He thought it was just a trick of light, seeing white looking over the half submerged rocks of the tidepools and into the deeper waters of the cove he had hidden himself in, but with a hiss he pushed himself towards it, a curse almost escaping as his finger only briefly passed through the white strands before the intruder pushed itself farther up the rocks.

“I see you are still trying to drown me, then. I had thought that perhaps it was only self-defense the first time, but now I see it is only because you are murderous. Lovely.”

He kept his face above the water, his tail lashing in irritated swipes as he kept his glare affixed to the other. It was taunting him, simply sitting there with the oar in hand and an eyebrow raised.

“I’d apologize for asking you to be my only companion here, but I don’t think a creature like you could understand. Oh, if only they could see me—” It was cut off with choking and sputtering as he used his tail to soak him. It glared at him before pushing his hair away from his face, “Well sorry for treating an animal like a person.”

He knew he should not have responded, he knew something like this intruder did not deserve to speak with someone of the ocean, but the ire within took control of his words.

“If only an animal like yourself knew when to die.”

He was given yet another treat of seeing shock fill its face, the oar almost slipping from its hands before he caught it.

“A mermaid that can talk!” It was gasped out, disbelief edging every syllable.

He scoffed, “We can all talk, just like all of your kind steal and take.” He inwardly scolded himself, wondering why he continued to answer back, but try as he might he could not find it in himself to sink back into the waves.

“I was only trying to find land!”

He hissed back, watching in glee as a small flinch shuddering over the intruder, “To take it! This island is not yours.”

It gripped onto the oar tighter, knuckles whitening into the same color as its hair, “Is not wanting to die a crime?”

He stopped then, allowing himself to float from the rocks as he thought. If this invader could talk like him, would it be so hard to believe that it did not want to die as well? Did it have the same fear like he had once had, cornered against a reef while a frenzy of sharks loomed overhead. His eyes narrowed, creasing his brow until the muscles became sore.

 

“You only wished to live, not take?”

It nodded, “I take it that you haven’t met with many humans. We tend to drown if left in water for too long.”

His tail lashed, the tip skimming across the top of the water as he neared again, “I know that! I have seen your kind drown from storms and tides.”

“And you didn’t save them? You could have.”

“They were intruders, thieves like you. This island is not for your kind.”

“Are you sure they weren’t just trying to live? Like me?” It’s voice was quiet, and he felt almost hollow with the pit that ate out his stomach before pushing into his chest.

He did not answer, he only kept his gaze upon the purple of the invader’s eyes as he sunk below the waves. No, not invader, he decided. Not now, after what it had said to him. A survivor? He did not want to think further on a new title for it, not now when one thought washed over him like the surface waves during a storm.

Was he like the sharks?

The next time they spoke, it was when it had fallen from a lower cliff. He had not seen it, but he heard the strangled cry from below the waves. He had swam more quickly than he should have, turning into the cove and breaching only to see its body sprawled on the and rock. There was no blood, no smell of injury, but the fall had shook it into unconsciousness. He watched as it laid there, as its hands buoyed with each rise and fall of the waves.

It would have been easy, but he could only remember the words from before. He wondered, would he have been allowed to live if his body was the one laid out across the rocks. He stayed there, even as the sun lowered across the horizon, and it was only as the shadows deepened that it stirred.

It was odd to see the fear in its eyes from so close, but he did not have to fear any oar this time. It pushed itself away quickly, moving to make for the cover’s entrance, but with a quick movement he launched himself between it and its escape.

“You are stupid enough to almost drown, and now you almost fall to your death. All of your kind must be kept safe by strong beings to have survived this long.”

The other coughed, its heart finally calming before it answered, “I assure you, I am not known for being clumsy. Maybe unfortunate, though.”

“If you are unfortunate, then how will you leave my island?” his reply came quickly, and the survivor took a step back.

“Would you try to kill me again if I tell you I don’t know how?”

He scoffed, “The island would end up killing you before me.”

He could not hide the teeth filled grin as it stammered, before taking another step back. It froze then, breath stopping as it felt the waves rush over its feet.

“The ocean is my partner in the hunt, survivor. You are the first to have ever escaped us.” He moved closer then, and even though he had to look up make eye contact, it was obvious to any who held power.

“I haven’t escaped, though. You said it yourself, the island will end up killing me. You and the island, and the ocean.” it responded quickly, refusing to step back farther into the water even as he came closer.

“That will take so long, I do not like to wait.”

The other looked between him and the rest of the shore, eyes frantic. Yet it turned back to look at him, it was as if the early panic had dissolved. “Aren’t you lonely, though?”

That, that caused him to pause. His breath ended with a light chirp, confusion lacing his response. “I have the ocean.”

“But does the ocean ever talk like we are right now.”

He sneered, “You have nothing I value, I do not need your talking.” He tensed his tail then, ready to strike as the other lifted its hands between its body and him.

“What if you gave me a chance, though. Let me show you what it is worth.”

He knew it should have taken him longer to form an answer, or for him to not be convinced at all with the survivor’s reasoning. But it was right, the ocean did not talk like this. It did not fill him with curiosity as it once had.

He laugh to himself before musing aloud, “If it wants to try, then I agree.” He turned then to the quickly forming scowl the other directed towards him. “I will drown you, though, if your talking is not as great as you make it.”

“Oh wonderful, but first I would like to say I am a he, not an it, and my name is Lotor.”

(To be continued on Day 22)

Chapter Text

Day 18: BDSM

 

I found a savior
I don’t think he remembers
Cause’s he’s off to pay his crimes
And he’s got no time for mine.
(Coming Down- Halsey)

The first time had been unsuspected, after a mission that came to close to failing than was comfortable. Keith knew that the others did not see how his skin still crawled, even with the castle around him and Red’s purring echoing through his mind. The only one who looked at him as he stepped towards the edges of the stayed quiet, eyes softened yet calculating, and he tried hard not to meet them as Allura and Shiro sent them off to rest.

He knew the eyes followed him down the hallways, just as he knew that the moment we would turn into his room he would feel hands embrace his shoulders. It was almost clockwork now, how he knew he could relax against the chest behind him once the doors clicked shut. He knew the hands would tightened on the curves there before reaching in front to embrace him.

It was easy then, a newly formed pattern that washed over the two of them. Lotor needed the touching, needed to know that someone who he admired for their bravery was still whole and living. Keith needed it, because even within the walls of the castle, he still felt as his being was scattered in Red and the base they attacked and in every inch of space between where the mission was and were he now stood.

He let Lotor half-carry him, his feet shuffling with the other’s steps, and he let Lotor turn him around until this foreheads and lips brushed together in a desperate gasp of air before being pushed down into the mattress.

It was heavy, almost stifling, but he needed it. The slight thrum of Lotor’s heart hummed against his skin and the shadows from falling hair and connecting lips blocked Keith from everything else.

Lotor held onto wrists, onto the angle of hip and waist, and pushed them farther and farther down until Keith could not move aside from the canting of hips and the heavy swelling of breaths coming and leaving between gasps.

It was so easy to be lost in Lotor, easier than when he fractured and splintered when death came too close, and he knew that once Lotor found him again it would be with every piece back in their proper place.

He knew it would be done with each kiss, with each sacrifice Lotor was willing to give, and he only hoped Lotor found the same rejoining that he gave Keith.

He only hoped that he would never lose this, too.

Chapter Text

Day 19: Royalty

What I would do to take away
This fear of being loved
Allegiance to the pain,
Now I’m fucked up, and I’m missin’ ya.
(Never Be Like You- Flume)

To be honest, it really had been a simple misunderstanding. Yes, he didn’t correct it, but how could he when he had tired eyes staring at him, basically begging him to be what the other thought.

His excuse whenever he’d see Kolivan and the others again was that wouldn’t it be better to be in the Prince’s favor? To be known as the first-time hero that stopped bandits from ambushing a sleeping prince, not as the spy that was about to sabotage and force out answers from his captive. And it only became worse.

Two days after saving Lotor, his four guards caught up with the wayward royal. The tallest, Zethrid, took one look at Keith and asked how Lotor wanted him killed. Not even the party’s laughter at that could sooth the thundering heartbeat Keith had, and for the three weeks after Keith kept that in mind as a motivator to stay hidden.

Those three weeks rolled in to one headache for him, but he couldn’t say that it wasn’t worth it. Like when he realized that despite being the first to threaten him, Zethrid had a soft spot for anyone she considered a friend, and saving Lotor beforehand had somehow landed Keith on that list. It came with crude jokes and even one time finding his sleeping rolled set up and tied to a tree branch, but Keith didn’t doubt that it wasn’t done without love and care.

Ezor and even Axca joined in with it, their additions being sudden spices in his food, or his horse’s tackle being loosened enough for him to fall off while straddling. The last wasn’t as funny when he found himself only inches away from meeting a jagged rock with his head, but it made everyone laugh afterwards. It got a smile and chuckle out of Lotor, and even though Keith was sure that Narti never made a sound, he thought he’d heard a laugh from her as well.

It wasn’t just the quirks he learned, though he was grateful that the small things helped him to fit in easier. He knew that Lotor was sent on a mission from his Lord Father, one that made Axca frown and Zethrid snarl every time it was brought up. Every time it was brought up, he realized why it was met with such hostility. During a supper on the first week, he was told that it was a mission that he couldn’t only return from once it was complete, and hearing that turned the beef stew bitter in his mouth.

The next was only two days later while crossing a small moor. Keith thought it was the worse, because it happened right as a nearby wolf pack started their howls, accompanying Lotor telling him that the last time someone tried this quest, they were only found again as scraps and limbs. The worst, came only within the last four days, three weeks into their trip and with Keith sitting on a mountain of information for Kolivan.

Oriande. Not just a township or a castle named after the legend, but the actual birthplace of magic and the elven homeland.

Keith started to think logistics after that, how to escape at night or maybe even during a moment of confusion. Like the ever increasing monster attacks as they neared their destination. Or maybe if another group of bandits decided to appear. The only thing Keith was absolutely sure of was that following Lotor would be a death warrant.

He was sure he kept it well hidden, though, enough that the others only saw worry and not the sudden need to leave. Yet the longer he stayed, the longer he debated how and when, he realized he found too much comfort around the others.

He looked forward the Ezor and Axca’s discussions and rants, or Zethrid’s loud jokes. He relied on Narti’s presence to watch his back during battle, just as he did with Lotor’s.

And Lotor, Keith couldn’t deny the fact that if it hadn’t been for his quick intervention, Zethrid would have tied him around a tree trunk. Keith fell for those eyes, hard, and after that it was his voice. His command during fights and his calm comments during camping. Keith wasn’t sure if that smile was worth braving Oriande for yet, but every day drove him closer and closer to thinking that it was.

Every day made him wonder if he should just find a way to give the information to Kolivan, then make sure this rag-tag group that he now belonged to didn’t die. He wasn’t ready to share all his secrets, or gods forbid swear fealty to the Galran crown, but he was willing to give it to Lotor himself.

Every day with them, every smile between them and witty remark given only convinced Keith of this more and more. He hoped that maybe if this went well, if Lotor won and was able to rise victorious, he’d find a new place amongst the group. Maybe then, he would have no more need for secrecy.

Chapter Text

Day 20: Conflict

Flash my mind, yeah,
I’ve been captured
By my greed.
I let it all slip, yeah, let it get
Away from me
(Under the Grave- Rozes)

It was easy to feign concern. It was like being wrapped tight and then held, Lotor rationalized. A lack of insecurity for Keith, and Lotor knew just how much the other craved approval and any form of intimacy.

It wasn’t like Lotor just did it on a whim, it took build-up. It took enough desoncstructing of annoyance and irritation during daily conversations with Keith until he could do what he did best, pretend that he had nothing to lose and that his heart now belonged to another.

Lotor could pretend then that he was not the one messed up, that he really did care. Pretend that it was all for one person until even he began to believe it. He’d then convince Keith that he trusted and relied on held no permeance, that only Lotor held a pathway to a strong and stable future. That the only one who now valued Keith was the one before him.

It was easy to set that up, and Lotor did not have to do much sowing when the others did it for him.

In retrospect, it was quite obvious who was manipulating who, and if Keith wasn’t as invested as he was in Lotor’s smile and kind words, then he’d see that. But Keith wasn’t good at ultimatums, no one really was but Keith specifically could not handle them compared to some of the other paladins. He fought to keep what he thought was his best chance at a home, even to his own detriment, and after Lotor played to that tune, it was too easy.

He told him, one night while walking to the observation deck, that he wasn’t sure if he could trust the paladins to not turn on him one day. Keith didn’t answer at first, even refusing to meet Lotor’s gaze, but Lotor knew the schism was already formed.

“Believe me, my love, I wouldn’t say this if I wasn’t sure.”

Keith looked at him, a glare half formed, “You can’t be sure, it isn’t like them to—they wouldn’t do that.”

Lotor drove in the final point then, “Didn’t they do the same to you? You told me how they turned from you when you joined the Blades. Even though they knew you.”

Keith didn’t answer then, but Lotor didn’t miss how Keith walked closer to him after, or how he refused to let go as they slept.

It was easy, after that. Keith almost did everything for him. The arguments between him and Shiro were hotter, more explosive, and Lotor watched as the others picked up on the tension and returned it in kind.

All the while, he gave Keith more comfort, more love. He tried not to feel the remorse when Keith would hide his face against his chest to cry, but he knew it had to be done. He knew the witch had a predetermined fate for the paladins, and even though Keith was no longer one he was still guilty by proximity.

Lotor would be damned if he let the witch take someone else from him, and he knew that Keith would be devastated at the loss, that it would create sleepless nights and so much guilt that Keith could never conquer it on his own, but that was where Lotor would come in. He hadn’t expected to find a distraction, but he had and that couldn’t be changed now.

He’d never let Keith face the future alone.

Chapter Text

Day 21: Domestic AU

When I wake up, I’m afraid
Somebody else might take my place
When I wake up, I’m afraid
Somebody else might end up being me
(Afraid- The Neighborhood)

He never told Keith, but some nights he dreamt of what could be, or what would be. He wasn’t always sure which one was more accurate.

He imagined the shack that would come up in brief whispers and gentle hums, he wondered if they could build their own next to the beaches that Lance always described in bursts of colorful language.

He told Keith, just once, that he’d like to decorate it with everything they’d find in their future journeys. Anything they could find that matched the colors they wore and loved the most. Anything that reminded them how much it took to get to said shack. A lifetime, Lotor told him, a lifetime of knowing that they had an end goal in mind.

He held on to that mirage, as he found himself becoming emperor and when Keith fell farther into the Blades. On quiet nights, he wondered if Keith thought of it too, or if just one night of whispered dreams wasn’t enough to cement it down.

You couldn’t hold on to vapor, so it was obvious to Lotor that you couldn’t hold on to what-ifs as well.

He tried, though. As the coalition tightened their fingers around him then loosened them within the same movements, As Kolivan would side-eye him and the former Galra authority figures would sneer when he turned his back.

The hardest was when he saw Axca and the other two again. Allura had finally defeated Haggar, and only the three had remained. He spoke of mercy, but they didn’t seek it from him. Instead they went to Kolivan, and Lotor could only help but wonder if Keith would find more with them than he did with Lotor.

It was these worries that Keith faced when he returned, a new scar across his face and a limp that would never go away.

He took one look at Lotor, and he wondered if his eyes were just as tired as those that watched him. He wondered if there was too much difference now since the last time they had snuck in a hologram call.

Keith always surprised him, though. He thought he caught a small smile, a quiet chuckle that only spoke of relief as the other wrapped him arms around the taller man’s shoulders.

“Can you tell me more of our home?”

Chapter Text

Day 22: Life/Death

Do you see it clearer?
Or are you deceived
In what you believe?
(Human- Rag’n’bone Man)

 

He hated it’s—Lotor’s, disapproving frown when he had said he had no name.

He had no purpose for it, no reason. The ocean itself had no name, only what others called it. He was part of it, so he did not need one, either.

The entire exchange started more conversations, though. Lotor being so focused on giving him a reason to not kill the human, and the merman would not admit it, but he was already entranced even before learning Lotor’s name.

A job was a job though, his entire life purpose and a single human would not stop it. He’d give him a month, until the current changed with the next season. It was a while away, but it’d be enough to trick Lotor into complacency.

The day after he decided it, Lotor met him on the edge of the tide-pools. Still resting upon the higher rocks, but closer than they usually were.

“If you have no name, can I at least give you one? So I can stop addressing you as merman?” Lotor watched him with his hands tucked beneath his chin.

He didn’t answer.

“I can call you Emmett, or Harrison?”

Lotor didn’t give another sample after the merman splashed him, but the grin never left.

It happened again, and again. The days passed, and even if he did not respond to any of the choices, he realized he didn’t want the other to stop.

The list kept increasing; Miles, John, Keith, Simon, Joseph.

It was horrible, but for the first time he had someone else—and the need to stay isolated, to have only the rush of wind and waves, felt inferior in comparison to what Lotor brought each day.

Maybe Lotor sensed this as his perch soon resided in the lower rocks until feet brushed against scales. It was a shift that he did not expect, but afterwards it made him want to be more engaging in their talks. He wanted Lotor to know about the ocean, about the underpart of reefs that he slept in, or the pods of dolphins that raced by on occasion.

He wanted Lotor to stay, to even reach out to him. It was when he realized that he wanted to show off his fins that he realized no amount of internal warnings could stop him.

Nights after that were spent going through the names Lotor gave him. Going through the memories of reddened skin and sun-bleached hair. He didn’t want to let go of that smile given so freely.

One day, as the two sat against the rocks. His elbows brushing against Lotor’s thigh as the waves rose and flew around him, he asked.

“If I accepted a name, would you stay?”

Lotor only smiled, and after he was sure that his hand would not be bitten he moved it to rest against the merman’s face.

“I don’t really think leaving was ever an option, not that I’m adverse to that.”

He looked down, away from Lotor. The hand never left. “And if I still wanted a name?”

Lotor let himself be pulled in to the water then, his body balanced so his head stayed above the water, and in response he only lifted his other hand to rest against wet skin.

“I thought you didn’t like any of them?”

He frowned before shaking his head until the other let go. “And if I did?”

Lotor smiled, almost a grin for how excited he was, “Then I’d be happy to know that I helped.”

The two were silent then, drifting back and forth until Lotor began to shiver. He took him back, then, hands pushing as carefully as he could until feet rested on rock once more. Lotor turned to him again, even as the wind brushed against soaked cloth and chilled skin. The merman didn’t leave either, and instead wrapped his fingers around the other’s ankle to trace the curves and bumps.

“I thought, that maybe Keith would best fit.”

Lotor reached down again, his hands cupping Keith’s face to draw it closer to his.

“I think that it fits you beautifully.”

Chapter Text

Day 23: Fairy Tales AU

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory,
You have no control…
(Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story – Hamilton)

Nested within the ancient forest, a tranquil valley stretched between two rolling hills.

Ruined cobblestone and half-decayed walls still stood, metal of half-buried swords and pikes glinted in the afternoon sun, and even though the woods around the valley were alive with sounds and life, the valley itself seemed frozen.

Amongst the wreckage, there were people though. Two figures, a tall broad shouldered man with amber eyes dancing as he looked down at the smaller man next to him. The smaller one’s shoulders where hunched from laughing, blue eyes squinted in mirth. The taller held a spoon of molded wood, barely in the shape it had once been in.

Around the corner, farther down what was once a hall a young girl sat, suspended in air after the cushions weathered away into nothing.

Three other figures gathered around in a circle, in the same room as the girl. A woman with pure white hair, a man with orange, and a man with a scar that lay strewn across his face.

Despite the different appearance, all seemed hunched, as if looking down upon the broken stone table between them. Frowns marred them, looks of concern and exasperation. The one with a scar had his hands curled in to fists.

One would think that it was only these frozen figures that resided in the valley, yet farther along the ruins on a path invested with wildflowers and crumbled cobblestone two men stood in each other’s embrace.

The taller had the other wrapped between his arms, but the smaller stood in front with a snarl on his lips and frozen fire in his eyes. The other’s glare was piercing, accusing at what had once been before them.

The two seemed melded in to one, with how close the stood, with how gloved hands clung to the back of his lover.

Before them, surrounded by a burnt black circle where nothing would grow rested a shattered pendant. Jagged pieces still glinting yellow with the magic it once held.

Chapter Text

Day 24: Realities

Everyone’s looking at me
I’m running around in circles.
A quiet desperation’s building higher,
I’ve got to remember this is just a game.
(a Beautiful Lie- Thirty Seconds to Mars)

I saw you again, without that hairstyle that Lance calls a mullet.

*static, high pitched and shrill before fading off. A part of the transmission lost*

--was, it was humbling to see your valor once more. He called himself Akira, but I knew it was you.

That smirk, completely you.

--

Another one, now. It marks the fifth. I always wondered just how infinite the realities were.

I wish. I wi—

*A low sigh, tired and drawn out as if it were painful*

there’s no use for wishing now.

--

I like to think that this one knew about my version of you. Your punch was almost exactly the same.

I know that it was not you, but it felt like it.

It felt like it when he asked why I had left him.



Would you react the same, I wonder?

--

I had a dream, while floating into the next reality. You had dropped your blade, you didn’t hesitate to reach for my hand.

You walked in to the rift with me, and I—

It was the first time I have let my emotions escape me since we separated. It’ll be the last.

--

In this one, you were dead. Buried in the ground for five years before I arrived.

You were the first one to find the clone, before we even met.

The coalition is gone here, just like you. Only the Blue Paladin was left.

He told me, that everything you’ve ever cared for left.

Do you hate me for that?

--

*only the sound of crashing, a hoarse scream followed by a sob. As the clanging rings out and fades, no other sound follows it*

--

I should have never left, beloved.

I shouldn’t have.

I held you, only a moment ago.

You smiled,

‘I knew you’d come back’

It wasn’t you, and maybe that is a blessing. Because I found you with shrapnel embedded in every part of you.

Would that version of me have come back?

Where was he?

And what of me?

--

I am so tired, beloved. So tired.

--

I thought this would give me what I needed,

After Oriande, after failing as emperor.

Maybe it was best you did not come.

--

If I saved the next version of you, would it change realities?

I am tired of observing.

--

You looked so happy in his arms.

I didn’t realize my face could look like that.

Content.

--

Is this how the creatures of the rift were formed?

Fools who tried to reach too far and became trapped?

Is my mother here? Is the ghost of my father as he once was here as well?

--

I am glad you did not follow,

I only wished I had listened.

You are worth more than this, and I was too foolish to not see that

--

Next time, next time I won’t let you die.

No matter what.

I am so very tired of seeing your body and knowing I could have done more.

I wonder, would this happen to you in our reality?

Are you dead already?

I hope after this, I’ll see you soon.

Just, please. Please wait for me.

Chapter Text

Day 25: Love/Hate

This is a crooked path
I think I was meant to be next to you
We can never come back
I think I was meant to be next to you
(Back to Earth- Fall Out Boy)

“If you do this, I won’t follow. I can’t.”

Lotor looked back at Keith, yellow glinted eyes straining from the light of the rift surrounding them.

Keith shouted again, “You don’t need this to prove yourself, Lotor.” His voice cut short, shrill in pitch.

“But I do, beloved. There is no other way.”

Keith grimaced, moving closer even as the hair pressurized and pushed against him from all directions. His blood felt as if it was boiling, his head like it would burst.

“Please, Lotor, I—we don’t need this anymore. Just,” He swallowed, reaching out to Lotor until he could grab onto his wrists. “We can have something better, here.”

He became more desperate as Lotor shook his head, refusing to look down at him. His hold tightened, voice panicked.

“Aren’t I worth it? Don’t, just. Please don’t.”

For a moment, so brief yet resounding in permanence whenever Keith would brave the memories later on, Lotor had moved to embrace him.

He remembered each breathe that pushed against him, quick and heaving like his own. Lotor’s claws dug into the meat of his shoulder, pinpricks of pain that Keith willing let happen if it’d only mean the other would not leave. He remembered the feel of his chin against his own, of hair mixing against his as Lotor all but collapsed with all his weight on Keith.

He tried to remember how his voice sound, as a small “I’m sorry” drifted over him.

The light faded in a blink, but the air still felt so heavy.

He wondered if he should have said yes, if he’d still have the other if he did.

He wondered how he could love someone so selfish.

Chapter Text

Day 26: Friendships/Rivalry

Something’s missing in me,
I felt it deep within me
As lovers left me to bleed alone
(Missing- Flyleaf)

Keith did not expect to see silver hair again, he did not expect to see it especially while five planets deep in to hostile territory.

He didn’t expect for it to be in between him and a laser blast that would have torn his skull apart.

He had stood there for a moment, like an idiot. He was back, there before him with a burned hole in his shoulder and a pained cry on his lips.

He wondered if he had gone crazy, if a solo mission for the entire month he’s been assigned to it had been too much.

The vision looked up to him, eyes dazed and lips forming slurred words.

“You’re okay, you’re okay this time.”

He abandoned the mission then, with a wounded asshole of a prince against his side and the sounds of shouts behind them.

The cave was an added bonus, a strike of luck when Keith felt he had none, and he made quick work of tending Lotor’s wound before making the cave suitable enough to hide in.

Lotor whispered constantly as he worked, but one caught his attention.

“I usually don’t remain this long, it never lets me.”

“So the rift just decided to return you then? Just like that?” He didn’t look back, not wanting to see if the other was watching him.

“I told myself I wouldn’t watch you die again, beloved. Maybe now it’ll let me fade.”

Keith turned then, and eyes were watching him but instead of the sharp, intelligent glint they were instead glazed and distant.

“This some joke? The rift made you watch me die, and now it gave you back?” The other stayed silent, unmoved as Keith’s voice rose in anger. “So what, you finally made it back and now you’re just done? With everything?”

Lotor managed to blink, and Keith didn’t know if It was from the wound or from surviving the rift itself.

“I told myself, I wouldn’t let you die again. Not another version of my beloved.”

“And fate decided the one you’d save would be me, then.”

Lotor froze, then jolted as his eyes cleared enough to really look and take him in.

“You—you are not one of them, are you?”

Keith swallowed, his voice suddenly quiet and it took all that he could to answer, “No, I’m not.”

Lotor made to move to him, only stopping as a low hiss of pain escaped his lips. He looked back, and Keith wished the dazed look would come back if it meant he did not have to see the pain and guilt directed at him.

“You were right, beloved. You were.” He reached his hand out, the silent plea so tangible, but Keith ignored it.

“You think dying would fix everything? That it’d make me forgive you?” Keith sat down with a grunt, his legs feeling too weak to stay standing, “what if this wasn’t your reality? What then?”

“I would have died a fool, knowing I lost any chance with you.”

“You would have left me with nothing, just like everyone else.”

Lotor did not answer, and Keith was happy for the silence. But as the cave grew darker and the night became older, the other still did not try to restart their conversation. Lotor would look at him, his eyes still staying clear after realizing that Keith was really his, and not another reality’s.

The shadows only reminded him that things would not be okay, that they were still being hunted and that the cave would only last so long. He wondered if Lotor would blame him for leaving, letting Lotor stay behind and take the brunt of everything like Keith had to when the rift closed all those phoebs ago.

There wasn’t any comfort in this silence, not like the kind they used to share.

The light from dawn was just beginning to scatter the darkness when Lotor’s voice rasped across from him. “I thought I would be back, quickly. I thought the only thing you’d be missing would be a wonderful sight.”

Keith whispered back, barely audible, “Coran and Allura told you what would happen.”

“I didn’t want to believe it, I wanted—I wanted to make something better than what our universe had.”

“But that wasn’t what was there.”

Lotor looked up to him, and even in the poor light he could see the sorrow there, “It gave me truth, it showed me what I could not live without.”

Keith scoffed, but even as he felt anger still at Lotor, he began to see the ways on how it could be cast aside and forgotten.

“It took that much then? I thought it was obvious, at least for me,” He paused before moving until his shoulder brushed against Lotor’s. “I know what I can and can’t live without.”

Lotor almost melted against him, muscle loosening and the tension all but fell from his bones. Keith continued, humming in thought.

“I don’t think I can go back to what he had, but I willing to make something new.”

As the dawn light brushed against them, even as they heard the sound of distant ships and hums of weapons, the two allowed their fingers to curl around each other.

Chapter Text

Day 27: Half-Galra

Take me as I am or don’t
Cause I don’t give a damn, no
Take me as I am or don’t,
Cause I don’t give a damn, no
(Who I am- The Score)

Keith didn’t realize how attractive Lotor was when he wore rage like fine silk.

Or how his eyes slit in barely restrained anger, or how he could see the edges of claws that only wanted to bury themselves into skin and muscle.

It had been a simple word, then stringed into a collection of jabs and insults.

At those of partial heritage, of Galrans in general. Lotor had brushed it off with ease at first, the corner of his eyes pinching subtly but that had been it.

Then the alien had taken one look at Keith’s suit, and wondered if all hybrids hid their features out of shame of their ugliness.

Even Lance didn’t make a snide comment on that, he even looked as angry as Lotor did. Hunk fiddled with the silverware before him, but both he and Pidge wore matching frowns. Keith didn’t want to look at the others, he wasn’t sure he could take seeing more people angry for him.

His attention went back to Lotor, then, and his light voice that did not at all match his visage.

“That is a remark of high regard, since your people are known for your fairness.”

He heard a groan, someone from where Allura and Shiro sat. Lotor continued, his grin sharpening.

“Your strands of fins that glimmer with the oils you buy,” The aliens’ were greyed and brittle.

“The shimmer of scales that decorate your face,” They seemed to dull as the alien realized what Lotor was doing.

“And the noble and regal disposition that your kind is known for. Some of the greatest ambassadors since the Alteans themselves, though none could surpass their achievements.”

The alien did not comment further, only dutifully following along with the talk of unity and trade.

If Keith decided to kiss Lotor longer and more fiercely that night, he received no complaints.

Chapter Text

Day 28: School/ College AU

Pictures in my mind on replay
I’m gonna touch the pain away
I know how to scream my own name
(Love Myself- Hailee Steinfeld)

The one thing that Lotor knew how to do best was self-care. How to make a week feel like it was worth every cringe and every moment of anger with simple pampering and maybe a treat.

But Keith, Keith didn’t. didn’t know or didn’t believe in it, Lotor wasn’t sure.

It was heresy, and after nearly half a year after deciding that Keith was a hot enough mess to love, and after Keith decided Lotor’s own mess was hot too, Lotor decided he had enough.

It started simple, when Keith has too tired to fight back. He would have felt guilty, if it wasn’t for the fact that Keith had snapped at him while making dinner.

It was all fair game after that.

It started with a lure of cookies, store bought and packages in plastic, but it was too much for Keith to resist.

One Keith seated next to him, he got the movie playing, and when it looked like Keith would leave Lotor only had to ask who would finish the cookies with him.
Keith didn’t get up after that, contenting himself with half of the cookies, maybe even three-fourths. Lotor didn’t really take count.

The hardest though, was when he reached to rub the tension from Keith’s shoulders. He waited for Keith to become deeply immersed in the movie, and even though he tensed and gave Lotor a side-glance, he did not ask him to stop.

Lotor took his victories where he could, and he was proud to know it was one of those times. Keith rested against him by the time the credits came, silently gesturing for another one to watch. Lotor simply smiled, ran his fingers through his hair, and started the next on their watch-list.

It was barely five minutes into the second movie when Keith stiffened, then groaned against Lotor’s shoulder.

“I hate it when you’re right,” he paused, and Lotor waited for him to continue, “love you, though.”

Lotor simply pulled him closer, smiling, “And I as well, my dear.”

Chapter Text

Day 29: Secrets

If you knew, knew what the bluebirds
Sing at you
You’d never sing along
(Novocaine- Fall Out Boy)

The other were so convinced of Lotor and how they thought he ought to be. Just like they were convinced of Keith because he was one of his generals.

But he hadn’t followed Lotor through everything, from Narti dying to saving the coalition, to let someone treat them that way. Not that he had much a choice, being kept in a separate cell in a separate part of the ship.

He wondered if it was a good thing that they did not trust him or the prince, that maybe it would make the future sundering more simple to handle. Keith didn’t like becoming attached to his targets, and he had heard that the paladins were amiable and kind in their own way.

The cell wouldn’t work though, not when he was supposed to find as much information while Lotor did the same. Not when Lotor needed it for when he’d finally ascend in the Kral Zera.

He never did enjoy lying, but Lotor was right. The others didn’t see it, or maybe they didn’t care after Narti. Maybe someday he’d be like her as well. But he had nothing else, he knew nothing else.

Sometimes he wished he could tell someone else, how intertwined he was to Lotor. Sometimes he wondered if it was so obvious that he wouldn’t have to.

He wondered, sometimes, after the paladins let them out and began to trust them, if they would ever find out before he and Lotor showed them.

Chapter Text

Day 30: Fluff Day

Why do you rub me up the wrong way?
Why do you say the things that you say?
Sometimes I wonder how we ever came to be,
But without you I’m incomplete.
(True Love- Pink)

He didn’t expect finding someone who could love him.

He hadn’t really searched for it, just like he knew the other hadn’t searched for it, but the moment he realized it, he realized he could not have hoped for better.

The other was source of calm, even as the universe cried out of help and shouted for justice and vengeance. He knew he had something to come back to, he knew he could tell him every mistake made and not be judged for it.

He knew, in a way, that everything he was given, he also gave in turn. He knew that the other found the same solace that he did while in the other’s arms.

Sometimes, he wondered if he deserved it. If it was only transient, an empty fix that would not last. Sometimes he saw the same shadows in those eyes, too. Sometimes, he wondered if it would be better for him to leave.

To forget all of this

To recant everything he had said and did for the one that wanted to share love with.

He wondered if he deserved it, if it would save the other from a future that could only ever end in pain.

Most of the time, the other caught it, so trained by his own thoughts that followed so closely to the pattern of his. It was those times that he realized it would not end the way he feared. He wouldn’t let it.

He had come so far, he had lost so many parts of himself.

He refused to lose anymore.