Matt departed from the green lion behind his sister. The trip to the castle had been longer than he expected, but he was grateful for the time he was able to spend catching up with Pidge. She told him all about the adventures they had been on, saving the universe multiple times in their giant robot. He wished he could share equally as awesome stories, but he didn’t really have anything. He had just been hiding out for a year and a half after escaping Galra captivity, only leaving his self-made base to gather supplies for himself.
Pidge told him all about her team, about how, despite each of them being completely different, they were able to work as one when the time needed. About how each of them shared a common goal to protect those they cared about, and how they came together to fulfil their goal. These words struck a nerve with Matt. They had reminded him of one person, who he owed dearly. The pilot of the Kerberos mission, the mission that started the downward spiral of his life, had saved his life. When Matt had been chosen to fight in the gladiator ring, it was Takashi who had stepped in to save him. “Take care of your father” he had whispered to Matt as he was dragged off to fight for his life, those words still ringing in Matt’s ears to this day. He would give anything to be able to repay Takashi, the only reason Matt was still standing was because of him.
Only seconds after stepping onto the floor, Matt recognizes a familiar tuft of hair in the back of the crowd. He exchanged kind, but brief greetings with each of the Paladins while working his way to the back. One by one he would get closer and closer to this man he was so drawn to, until he was standing directly in front of him. Looking up, his eyes met with the final Paladin. Matt reached out to shake his hand, and Shiro gently smiled as he pulled him in for a hug. It had been over two years since the two last saw each other. Matt stood still as he took in the moment. His pilot, his superior officer, his best friend. After all this time Matt was never sure if he was alive or dead. The uncertainty killed him. And now, after all that time, here he was. Right in front of him.
Matt looked back up to properly look Shiro in the eyes. The smile on his face dimmed however once he was able to absorb the little details of his face. The scar was the first thing he noticed, a large gash across the bridge of Shiro’s nose, signifying he had been to hell and back. Shiro was relatively young, but the tired and weary look on his face said otherwise. Stress is known to age people, and the time he had spent as a gladiator had made him look far beyond his true age. As a result Shiro had been forced to grow and mature at a much faster rate than he should have. The small tuft of hair Matt loved playing with in the past had now greyed so much that it became pure white.
Shiro looked so different from what Matt had remembered. He was once a bright eyed pilot, with a million untold stories just waiting to be experienced. Now he almost looks as if he’d given up. The smile on his face did nothing to hide what he had been through. It had changed him, inside and out. Matt couldn’t help but feel guilty for it. The entire reason this had happened to him was all because of Matt. He could feel his throat close up. He squoze his eyes shut as tightly as possible, burying his face in Shiro’s chest.
“T-Takashi… what did they do to you? I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Shiro placed a reassuring hand on Matt’s head, whispering gently to him.
“Sorry for what? None of this was your fault.”
Matt calmed his breathing as he looked back up at Shiro. He was given another gentle smile from Shiro as he turned and led him into the castle. Shiro gave a quick wave ot the other Paladins as him and Matt departed down a hall. The two walked side by side, silently enjoying each others company. Occasionally Shiro would share a fact about the castle or a battle they had been on. Trying to cheer Matt up, he offered to bring him somewhere he knew he’d like.
Eventually they had ended up in the armory. Matt looked around in amazement at the advanced tech surrounding the room, eyes wide like a child. Shiro grinned at his reaction. There was something so innocent about it, the polar opposite from how he’d been moments ago. Shiro walked up to the capsule to store his armor and placed his helmet in. He figured they’d be in there for a while, and his Paladin armor was uncomfortable. Matt continued scanning the room. He could have a field day in this here alone, all the alien machinery and weapons were beyond anything he’d ever seen before. Being able to analyze this all would be his dream.
He didn’t get to imagine for long though. He glanced over at Shiro, who had removed his gloves and bracers. Matt could see Shiro’s arm reflecting the rest of the room, and at first he thought it was some other kind of armor, though it made no sense to have armor under armor. He took a few steps closer until his face was reflected in the back of Shiro’s hand, it had taken him this long to realize what it was. It wasn’t armor on his hand, it was his hand. The Galra tech was unmistakable. Matt had spend months taking apart whatever he could find, learning how it worked. He followed the metal plated up Shiro’s arm, which ended just after his elbow. Shiro could feel his presence behind him. He turned only to see Matt focused on what was his right arm. He could see tears forming in Matt’s eyes, there’s no stopping himself this time.
Matt stepped forwards and pulled Shiro into an embrace, squeezing as tightly as he possibly could. He tried apologizing again, but at this point he was barely forming words. Everything blended together into an incoherent babble. Shiro returned the hugh, putting one arm around Matt and the other holding his head. He let him cry, gave him the time he needed to get his emotions out.
The two stood like that for a solid few minutes, Matt’s shoulders rising and falling with each sob. Eventually they slowed. Once they did, Shiro moved his hand under Matts chin, gently bringing his face up to his own.
“You don’t have to apologize for anything” Shiro whispered “I’m glad I was able to help you”
Matt tried blinking away the tears, though this only gave room for more. Shiro guided Matt into a gentle kiss, hoping it would calm him down. In time, his breathing slowed back to normal. He rested his forehead in the crook of Shiro’s neck.
Taking a deep breath, he said “I’m glad I was able to see you again”
“Me too” Shiro said softly, touching his cheek against Matt’s head. Now that they were together again, everything would be ok. Or so they hoped.