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“Lance!”

The Cuban boy’s head snaps around, away from where he was jovially elbowing Hunk near Yellow, at Allura’s shout. She’s power walking, almost jogging, down the ramp out of the Blue Lion’s mouth. The smile on his face withers and fades as he catches the tell-tale twitch of her eyebrows, uh oh.

“Lance. Please remove your… creature, from the Blue Lion.”

Lance opens his mouth and then snaps it shut, eyes widening in realization. He smiles, sheepishly, at the princess before speed walking towards the Blue Lion. Holy crow, he’d put kaltenecker in the Blue Lion.

How the heck did I…  Blue hasn’t let him near her in months.

Every time he entered the hangar, down came her shield. She’d let Red near enough, but only if the two of them snuck up on her (like during the Omega Shield, ouch). Considering they were supposed to form the whole right side of Voltron, Lance was sort of shocked things hadn’t gotten more awkward. But then, the Lions were thousands of years old. They’d had a lot of time to learn to compartmentalize. Lance? Not so much. Blue’s rejection… hurt. In a way he wasn’t sure he’d felt before. His lips twisted into a small scowl. He just hoped the rest of the team couldn’t feel anything when they formed Voltron. He hoped Allura couldn’t feel it. She’d been distant since their hug. Maybe that was why? 

A pit of dread opened up in his stomach as his foot touched Blue’s ramp.

Nothing happened.

No shield. No growling, no rumbling, no images flashing behind his eyes. Not that that had happened since the cave back on Earth but... Lance sighed and started walking.

Well, at least she hadn’t knocked him off. The idea that Blue let him near based solely off Allura’s permission curdled low in his stomach. Echoing footsteps had him looking away from his feet,

“W-woah!”

Romelle nearly knocked him off the ramp as she came flying down. Her hair whipped behind her like a blonde flag and, for a second, Lance thought about saying something about her running through his dreams… but the impulse didn’t kick and the line died somewhere between his head and his bruised heart.

Not worth it.

He pulled a hand through his hair and winced at the collection of curls and tangles he could feel even through his gloves. Great. Meanwhile Keith steps off an apparently deserted whale-asteroid looking like he rolled off a cover of Vogue.

He starts to shake his head, but Coran beats him to it. Gloved fingers clamp down on his shoulders and rock him back and forth so violently that the thought actually does shake right out of his head. 

“Lance! Oh, thank goodness.”

“Hey, Coran. So… I hear there was a little mix-up?” 

The ginger altean nodded frantically, mustache twitching spasmodically as he points down deeper into the hold.

“We managed to corral it down there.” 

Lance sighed, a little frustrated with how the Alteans are treating Kaltenecker but mostly rolling with it. He’s not sure, nor does he think he’ll ever be sure, why she freaks them out so bad. But it’d be pretty cruel of him to leave her in there just ‘cause he’s stuck on these feelings for Blue and Allura. Both to Kaltenecker and the Alteans. He clicks his tongue twice and smiles as she moos and begins to lumber after him. She’s a sweet animal. He’s glad he took her with them, who knows what would’ve happened to her if she’d stayed on the swap moon.

Eh, some idiot would probably have mixed her up for a beef cow.

Kaltenecker reaches the end of the ramp and wanders off to rest under the Black Lion, thankfully away from the sudden surge of activity. Lance scanned the camp for a moment before making a beeline for the small huddle of electronics and a broad back in a yellow shirt. 

Hunk smiles up at him and pats the conveniently empty space on his left. Lance can’t help the warmth that wells up in his chest at his best friend’s regard. He leans down and starts to settle in, long legs crouching to bring him closer the asteroids loamy earth,

“Hey, buddy, which line did you use on Romelle? She ran out of the Blue Lion so fast I thought she was being chased!”

and freezes, warmth flickering out. A cold swirl kicks to life in his gut and his knees lock up underneath him. Lance stands back up stares at the side of Hunk’s head, momentarily struck dumb. Pidge’s laughter crashes against his ears like waves in the distance. Background noise. Anticipated and familiar and like everything else he expects nowadays it pulls at the aching swirl of cold inside of him.

“I didn’t say anything to her.”

Pidge leans over Hunk as he starts to mime a kissing face, “That’s right, guess you’re saving them for the princess, eh eh?”

His fingers feel cold. Lance swallows against the lump in the throat and walks away. He’s not sure if his former flight crew call after him or if it’s just more laughter. He can’t hear anything over the roar in his ears.  

He looks down as a hand touches his elbow. He’d almost knocked into Allura. Then he looks up past her concerned eyes and goggles at the number of crates she’s casually balancing on one arm over her head.

“Ah, Lance.”

She looks a little awkward, her eyes avoiding his own, though her smile seems genuine enough.

Yeah, well, so did Nyma’s.

Lance shakes himself as the thought crashes through his head like a bullet. Where the heck did that come from?

“I’m afraid that we’re going to need to rest here for the day. We have a lot of work to get done.” She gestures over his shoulder at where Pidge and Hunk have eagerly camped down in the towering camp of electronics he’s just vacated.

“We’ve begun to make some repairs to the Lions and Pidge has kindly started to unravel some of the data from the,” she pauses and adjusts the boxes. Lance leans in to place a hand on her unburdened shoulder. She covers it with her own, still not looking directly at him but not pulling away either.

“From the rift. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to reuse some of those abilities again in the future.”

“Yeah, that’d be pretty sweet. Some of them were a little weird, thinking on it, but…”

He pauses. There’s something she’s not saying.

He sneaks another look around the camp over her unburdened shoulder. Coran and Romelle have off-loaded an obscene number of crates and boxes, he doesn’t even want to know how heavy they all are, and have now got some sort of three-dimensional map running in the shade of the Yellow Lion’s bulk. It looks sort of like the one from the castle... Allura’s gone completely quiet. 

“Alright, what’s wrong?” 

He doesn’t expect her to blurt out, “Would you mind terribly going after Keith and Shiro? I know he’d never allow harm to befall him,” Lance flinches involuntarily “but Keith was never the most… restful... paladin. And transferring quintessence like that... I’m worried.”

He doesn’t even have to think about it. He’s itching for something to do and if anyone tells him that he “has nothing to contribute” or “it’s just not his thing” he thinks he’ll scream.

“Must be that Galran blood. They just don’t seem to know how to relax.”

He nods at where Korlia seems to be half swallowed by the Altean pod, clearly tinkering with something or another. Lance hopes Pidge hasn’t gotten her hands on that one, he remembers what happened with her modified fuel cell. He glances back at Allura. The joke looks like it fell flat. He hurries to reassure her,

“Yeah, of course, Princess. But if I scream, you come and rescue me yeah? I didn’t last this long to die by angry mullet!”

She chuckles and Lance feels that twist in his gut loosen, just a little. He smiles and shoots a pair of finger guns over his shoulder as he heads off in the direction she was pointing.


 He breaks into the edge of a small clearing and Lance instantly knows that he hasn’t thought this through.

The sound of bubbling water gurgles loudly through the clearing. A series of interconnected pools, varying in depth and color, fill the air with an almost sweet humidity. Some of the bubbling water runs down smoothed rocks, spilling into nearby ponds or puddles in small waterfalls breaking through the odd silence of the forest. 

Sure, he thinks he’d scream and die a bit inside if one more of them reminds him just how little he contributes to the team - but this?

Yeah, he forgot just how much this could hurt him too.

Lance stares at the pile of armor a few feet away, studiously not looking at what he can see of both Keith and Shiro - because there’s a comparison he knows he’s not going to measure up against - before shrugging and shucking his own.

He ignores Shiro’s look when he stops after the armor. He’s confident the bodysuit will dry out. He’s not nearly as sure how his pride would fair between these two. He stares at the pool like it holds the answers to all his problems within its lilac depths. That's probably a lot to ask from an alien hot spring, but he's beyond caring at this point.

He rolls his shoulders and decides he’s just gonna go for it.

He keeps his eyes set above the others’ heads, still sort of stuck on how white Shiro's hair is now, and jumps into the steaming tide pool, wincing a little at the flash of hot hot hot that lashes up his limbs and leaves them tingling. It’s a nice change from the roiling coil of ice in his insides, though.

“Lance, seriously?”

Water splashes over the rocks as the tanned boy settles in, his arms spreading along the ‘rim’ of the spring. Keith glares at the fingers lingering dangerously close to his shoulder, biting down on the growl he can feel building in his chest. 

“What?” 

The glare intensifies. Lance must have felt it through the silence because he rolls his head to slant a look back at Keith. Shiro sighs soundlessly, certain that his fifteen minutes of peace are at an end.

The halfling’s eyes narrow, pupils contracting and expanding ever so slightly. He jerks his chin between his shoulders and the offending hand.

The Blue, no, Red, whatever, paladin sighs and flicks water off his fingertips into Keith’s face. The expected rage… doesn’t quite ensue. Lance flinches minutely backward, palm quickly opening in the simultaneous gesture for ‘stop’ and ‘surrender’ at the end of the flick in an effort to fend off Keith’s inevitable anger.

Keith snarls, gearing up to rip lance a new one only to halt mid-coil, the older boy stuck blinking in surprise, previously slitted pupils blown wide as his nose bumps into Lance’s spread palm. A flush settles across the bridge of Keith's nose, scattered across high cheekbones. It was hard to tell if the cause was the heat from the bath or…

Lance stares suspiciously at the still Keith for long moments, hand held steady and open. Fingertips flexing gently as the older boy’s hot breath tickles at his damp palm. 

“Guys.”

Shiro’s voice cracks through the silence, guilt lashing at the pair in equal measure. They were supposed to be resting.

Lance grimaced apologetically, not noticing how Keith’s gaze continued to flip between the Cuban’s elbows and still outstretched palm. The calloused hand was still spread wide, palm near the end of Keith’s chin, long fingers able to touch the crown of Keith’s head were they just a few centimeters closer.

He sighs and pulls his elbows in, dragging his arms along the smooth rock closer to his body. Keith’s gaze never waveres, purple eyes blown wide. Lance looks up and flinches beneath his now older friend’s gaze.

“What?!”

Keith recoils backward, the motion jerky as if he’s been snapped out a trance, away from Lance.  

“Nothing…”

Shiro sits up, water rippling around him as Keith crosses his arms and ducks lower into the hot water, lips pressed together beneath the slow bubbles. He swings his grey gaze between the two boys. Lance was easily three, maybe three and a half, feet away from Keith. Shiro’s brow scrunches in confusion as the math points in one odd direction.

“Hey, Lance,”

Said boy perks up at being addressed and Shiro has to swallow a grin at the way the kid lights up under the smallest amount of attention.

“Yeah?”

Shiro mentally re-counts the distance between the two boys across from him. “How long is your wingspan?”

The Cuban looks confused at the question. He drops one arm into the water and stares at his palm. “‘Dunno.”

Shiro scoots a little towards the dark-skinned boy and extends a hand. Lance raises his for comparison, his arm easily meeting Shiro’s across the pool without him having to move. Shiro’s palm was broader, but not by all that much. The oldest Paladin let out a low laugh as Lance wriggled his fingertips, trying and just failing to ‘cap’ his fingers over the top of Shiro’s. 

“You double jointed there?” 

Lance sank back towards his side of the pool with a laugh, “Yeah, there and a little in my spine, I think?” 

He pauses as the water laps at his collarbones. His mouth closes down around his own smile and Lance, the one most likely to gabber in the group, says no more.

Shiro frowns and tries to exchange a glance with Keith, but the other seems to be off in his own little world. “You alright, Lance?”

“Wha- uh, yeah. Thanks. Heh, guess this means Hunk’s got the largest mitts.”  

Shiro smiles a little, subtly trying to catch Keith’s suddenly elusive eyes. “Uh huh, guess so. Hey, Keith-”

A concussive blast erupts overhead. The trees around them shake, the water goes choppy, and distantly the screeching crack of an earthquake scrapes down their spines.

All of which pales compared to the horror above their heads.

The sky looks fractured.

Flashes of distant stars streak the daylit sky, peeking through jagged lances of white energy. They pulse, growing and shrinking in place, before another cacophonous boom rattles the planet. The lines disappear with a blinding flash, only to reappear seconds later, tearing through the fabric of reality. Sections of the sky seem to sag, blue spilling into black as though the seams of the atmosphere were ripped open.

They dash for their armor.


 A morose sigh echoes down the comms.

“Lance,” Pidge bites his name out in a mix of exasperation and irritation. “Cut it out already.”

Keith winces in expectation as he picks up on the tanned boy’s unsubtle inhale. 

He cut across it, “It’s been a long day-” and winced again as Shiro’s hand pressed against the lingering bruise on his shoulder. He hopes the others haven’t picked up on that. The audio comms were more sensitive than he’d realized.

Maybe they’ve always been crystal clear through the lions. He was used to only utilizing them mid-battle, was all. The sensitivity must be enhanced by the lack of vid screens, a side-effect of trying to conserve the lions’ power. It had nothing to do with those flashes of clarity he’d had fighting not-Shiro. Nothing at all.

“Oh come on, we go through all this and what’s waiting for us? Right! More work! It’s not-”

Lance,” And that was Shiro. Somehow commanding, disappointed, tired and resolute all at once. It was such a relief, having him back. Keith scowled, trying to avoid biting the inside of his cheek. Shiro had been dead. It didn’t matter how many bizarre references and weird accents everyone kept throwing around, he’d died trying to keep them all safe. And here they all were, getting him riled up when he should be resting. If Keith could bear for his surrogate brother to be out of his sight for more than five minutes, he would have left him back down on the planet. 

He has no idea how Shiro made himself walk back into Black. Maybe next time, he’d see if Pidge would keep her video comm up and take Shiro in Green. That’d solve a few things with one stone. Green and Pidge tended to fight from a distance, were moderately quick, and as Voltron’s Shield they had surprisingly tough armor - second only to Yellow. Shiro’d be about as safe as he could make him and-

Aurgh! He was getting distracted. Really, they just need to get out there, take a look at the remaining quintessence residue around Diazabaal, and get going. Why did Lance feel the need to make a production out of everything!

“I know this isn’t what any of us want to do, but it’s our responsibility to make sure those rifts don’t reopen once we’ve left. The castle…” There was a catch in Shiro’s voice. No one needed the video comms up to visualize Coran’s flinch. “Most likely did the job. But we need to be certain.”

“With that many quintessence rifts…” Allura seems to struggle with the memory of Lotor and that bland white world.

Keith’s knuckles tighten over Black’s controls. Yeah, he could relate. There was just something wrong with that place, the quintessence field. Why the Galra, and the Alteans for that matter, were so obsessed with it was beyond him.

“Let’s just get this done.” 

The lions wheel around and soar towards their destination. The comms blessedly silent, filled only with soft breathing and occasional moo from the kaltenecker. Then,

“Great pep talk, Mullet. Really missed having our fearless leader around to build us back up.”

This time every comm went off at once, “Lance!”


 The lions hung suspended in the darkness of space.

“Okay, that’s…”

The zone ahead of them flashed, almost as if in warning. White lines of energy pulsing before disappearing. They reappeared about a dobash later, fading and flashing like strokes of lightning across the star-laden sky. It looked sort of like a jigsaw puzzle, if you tilted your head to the side and ignored the absolute chilling terror the image inspired.

“That’s not closed. Or sealed. Or really even gently shu-eet!” Hunk let out a squeak as one of the flashes ripped open next to the Yellow lion. The leg’s massive bulk rolled smoothly over Green and Blue, nudging into Red for reassurance out of what looked like sheer habit. The smaller lion rocked into space before Lance corrected her path.

“Woah! Cool your jets, Hunk! I’m sure there’s a way to fix this!”

The entire area seemed to flash and pulse at his statement, white lines of energy appearing and fading seemingly across their entire horizon. Lance cleared his throat and finished his comment,

“...So, uh, is there a way to fix this?" 

Bizarrely, the sound of frantic clicking poured through the comms from Green.

“Well, based on the energy signatures, I think most of these happened earlier on in the fight.”

 Lance jumps in, voice surprisingly dry, “Oh, so from Lotor, you know, kicking us around.”

 “Right. These all opened up before we went into the quintessence field. But on the upside, Lotor’s ship was designed to slip in and out. So even though there are more of them, these rifts shouldn’t spill open like the one we had close once Voltron tore back through.”

 Allura hums, thoughtful then pleased, “Lotor was using Voltron’s quintessence as a target in order to travel through the rifts,”

 Pidge jumps in “Sort of like a homing beacon,”

 “Yes, as such, while these rifts are not keyed to Voltron’s quintessence, we should be able to match the residual tellarum and seal them shut!”

 “What, like, matching their energy frequency? Create destructive interference? Can we do that?”

 “Exactly Hunk!”

 “So… we can just fire on the rifts and that should close them?”

 Keith was privately glad Lance had asked the question before he had to. He had a feeling that-

 “No, Lance.”

 Pidge pauses, sighs, their voice dropping back into more level tones, “Here, I’m sending the appropriate frequencies to your lions - now.”

 -it was a little more complicated than it first sounded. 

Still, his eyebrows raise at the harsh tone.

He cuts a glance to the side at Shiro, but his brother seemed unconcerned, if not in agreement. That was... interesting. As far as he could tell, Lance had cut to the quick of it.

The data from Green and Pidge rolls up on Black’s view screen and sure, they needed to be firing for certain lengths of time and at specific frequencies, but for the most part? They needed to fire on the rifts to close them.

Keith slants one last look at his brother and shrugs, deciding to let it go. He’d been gone for… ok, well, a few months from their perspective he guessed. Whatever. They had work to do.

Purple eyes rove over the many jagged tears. A lot of work to do. “We’re going to need to split up. Let’s divide the area into quadrants and,”

A bark of laughter zips through the comms from Red.

“Lance, seriously-”

“No! Sorry, sorry - it’s just. There are five of us, right? So wouldn’t that make them quintants, not quadrants?”

Allura sighs, sounding mildly amused. “Lance, a quintant is a measurement of time. Not distance-”

“Actually Princess, back on earth there’s an archaic language for numerals that-”

Keith tunes the conversation out as Hunk and Pidge eagerly start up about time metrics and record keeping. He guides Black through those deep looping turns the lion seems to prefer and sets away at a comfortable pace. He’ll choose his zone and wrap up whatever the others end up leaving.

“It’s good to hear them all getting along.”

His eyes slide away from Shiro’s soft look out into space. He sees Red’s tail out of the side of Black’s view screen. Lance has already flipped around, away from the now cluster of Yellow-Blue-Green, and started off in the opposite direction. At least he won’t have to worry about Lance starting up some ridiculous competition.

He just wants to get this done and get moving. 


 Once the frequency was uploaded, which admittedly took some guessing, button pushing, and muttered pleads to Black for this to just work, dangit, the task turned pretty monotonous.

Keith knows it’s not just his own focused nature either, because the comms flash with idle chatter.

Hunk is already making plans to practice with the rocket boosters on Yellow.

Pidge wants to update cloaking on the rest of the lions, an upgrade that’s long overdue frankly.

Allura is talking with Romelle about the cultural practices back in the rift colony. From what he can tell, they’re comparing notes while Coran bridges any of Romelle’s confusion with anecdotes from his own life.

Shiro’s wandered to the back of Black’s cockpit and has laid down for a short nap. His soft snores buzz through the small room and blend with the not-quite-purr the Black Lion’s taken up in the back of his mind. The Black Lion is quieter than Red. He pulls the lion along to the next section of his quadrant. Quiet’s not the right word. Reserved, maybe. Not cold, but not the searing warmth he’d grown used to and then missed.

Red’s affection was like a brush-fire; sudden, unexpected, ripping away the old to burn a path for new life.

Black feels patient. Like they could wait out all the stars in the sky, watch them burn into nothingness, if they needed to.

He tried to wrack his mind for what Allura had said to Shiro the first time the Lions had been revealed.

Red’s was easy to remember; “a pilot who relies more on instincts than skill ”.

Not the most flattering summary, but it was accurate. He winces a little as the phantom feeling of wind in his hair and Shiro’s garrison leased vehicle grumbling around him washes through him.

Thanks for peeking, Black.

A nudge pushed his thoughts back to Allura standing in the control room that first day in the castle. At the time, he’d felt the description fit. Attack over defense, speed and instinct over waiting around for someone else to decide his fate. It was nice, too, being a sum of a whole. At having some of that pressure, to be perfect, to be the best, to have to earn his right to breathe the same air, off his chest.

But there had been more to Black’s than Red’s. Something low in his gut pulled ominously just thinking about it. He’d listened, of course he’d listened it had involved Shiro, but the specifics were fuzzy. Something about nobility, integrity, leadership. His stomach still squirmed away at that thought, leading.

He tried not to focus on it, trying instead to recall the cadence of Allura’s even, accented, tones.

Ugh, the words were right there, Black’s humming growing in pitch as he wove between rifts. He shifted gently and fired the cannon, holding it for the slightly offbeat of three and a half. He paused on the trigger, eh, four. The rift closed, someone dropped an idle comment through the comms, Shiro snored and Keith moved on.

Another rift opened. Keith fired.

And again.

Fire, weave, hold.

And again.

Hunk is stressing that they’ll need to prioritize a larder over maintenance parts, especially now that there isn’t a castle to maintai-oh, sorry Coran. Pidge’s dismissal is swift and cutting, something about kaltenecker if things get hard? Lance’s answering squawk is a good accompaniment to his own wince as he wonders about the compatibility of celestial wolves and intergalactic cattle. Probably best to keep the two apart as much as possible.  

And again. Fire, press, hold. Three ticks, four.

Hunk starts comparing Lance to his cow which is, well, a little uncalled for. But Pidge quickly joins in and their comparisons are funny and he can’t really help the chuckle that escapes him at the observations on cud-chewing and Lance’s lamentation of failed bubble gum substitutes.

Weave, fire. And again.

They’ve moved on from the animals, something about Pidge smuggling in knockoff tribbles - whatever that means, and onto one of the fights they’d had with Not-Shiro, as the others have taken to calling him, against the Galran Empire. Lance is leading the rambling over the comms this time, voice annoying clear.

“Dogfights- Huh, no, that doesn’t work, does it? Giant cats. Wait, does that make all of our intergalactic battles catfights? Wow, I’m not sure how I feel abou-”

Another rift, another shot, another breath of counting ticks.

Monotonous.

Eventually, even the comm chatter fades into nothingness. If not for Black’s occasional rumbles Keith’s not sure he wouldn’t’ve given up and joined Shiro in his nap. At this point, it felt like the Lions could practically do this job on their own.

 

Allura!

 

Keith’s head snaps up as the hoarse shout echoes through Black. It takes him a few seconds to place the voice as Lance and then his stomach drops out as Blue’s comm line vanishes from his screen entirely. He shouts over the cacophony coming from the other three lions, 

“What happened?”

“A rift opened up on Blue! The energy -”

Keith grimaces, lets Pidge’s report wash over him, and fires two more extended shots into the rifts in front of him. The energies collide and seem to almost lock before the cracks in space snap shut.

He can feel his teeth grind together, the hairs on his arms standing on end because those two rifts took seven ticks to close instead of three.

The pulses had been slowing down. The tears, at least on his end of things, had been showing up less frequently. Three ticks, four ticks, done. He’d cleared a good 70% of his quadrant, stitched space and time back together and welded it shut.

Now they were everywhere. It felt like they were boxing him in. Keith starts to turn Black, growling under his breath as more jagged flashes of quintessence bar his way.

“Keith! Be careful! Don’t move through the rifts!”

It looked like the rifts had other plans. “Hold on,” a wolfish yip cracked through the cockpit as Black rolled around the flashing streaks of energy.

“Pidge! What happened? The rifts over here are going crazy!”

A small grunt, Pidge struggling with the mental and physical recoil of firing the Lion’s beam sequentially.

“Allura… she and Blue were caught in one as it opened. It fried Blue’s comms, and then everything else.”

“I can see her. She’s gone dark.” Hunk, that time. Not that Keith could verify it for himself, the others were all behind him and scattered and the quiznacking rifts were -

“Two more on your left. One on the right.”

Krolia’s level voice helps smooth out the tattoo beating in his chest. She’s not telling him what to think, just where to fire. She’s also not putting pressure on his bruises and he’s more grateful than he really wants to examine for that. He tries to subtly shrug Shiro’s hand off to a more comfortable place. He flicks Black to the side, wincing as Shiro clamps down for balance, and gives it up as a lost cause. He’s got more to do right now, and, anyway, a little pain will help him keep focused.

Two more beams, each held for a solid five ticks, and he can start to move.

“Lance! What are you doing!?”

It takes Keith precious seconds to spot Lance against the dark backdrop of space. A flash from his left illuminates Blue’s position. He feels his hand spasm on the controls as Shiro starts talking down the comms.

The idiot is out of his lion, still out of his armor for the most part. The bulk of white padding nowhere to be seen. Just the smooth black undersuit and blue helmet, nearly invisible in the maw of space. Keith watches him brace against Red’s muzzle before launching out towards Blue’s immobile form.

“Idiot!”

He pulls on the controls. Black turns differently from Red. More of a rotation, like coming out of a corkscrew, than a sharp end-to-end flip.

Lance’s voice is filtering in through the comms, but its just noise against the anger in Keith’s head. He’d always thought the armor had something to do with their ability to go walkabout in space, but it looked like the helmet sealed on its own. Still, if Lance missed Blue he’d have nothing to correct with. No jets to slow himself down or change direction.

He wonders why Red let Lance out in the first place. Wonders why Lance even had the idea to launch out of his lion - the other hates open space. Can’t stand the vacuum since he was nearly sucked out the Castle’s airlock. Another rift flashes open on his far right and he ignores it.

Allura was just knocked for six while inside of her Lion. There’s no telling how Romelle or Coran faired. The field wasn’t supposed to be dangerous. It was a simple in and out mission. One trip of clean up before they headed to Earth. Before he took the others home.

He leans both his will and weight on Black’s controls and it’s because of his deeper turn that he sees it happen.

Lance hangs suspended in the black of space, floating towards Blue hands and head first. One second he’s stretched between the lions, a slightly darker patch of ink against the stars. The next, he’s slightly blurry silhouette. His whole form illuminated by the heart-stopping flash of white energy soundlessly roaring through the gap of Red and Blue.

Keith doesn’t know which of them screams first. It doesn’t matter. Before any of them stop, it’s already too late.

Lance is gone.