She still misses him. She's learned to appreciate the others, and Shiro being there makes things easier, but none of them are Matt and even though her logical side knows they can't replace him, her heart's still looking for the same closeness with the others and finds them lacking. And she feels awful, because she knows it's not their fault. All they can be is themselves.
One night, Keith of all people knocks on her door, holding a magazine she recognizes.
"You play Pokemon?" Keith blushes, rubbing the back of his head.
"Not for a while. I had Yellow and SoulSilver as a kid, but I stopped playing when I went to the garrison," he says. "I kinda miss them, even if I bet they won't even play anymore. Outdated tech." Pidge smiles.
"I had SoulSilver and White when I was little. Matt had the other versions, so we'd trade back and forth or battle each other," she says. Keith offers a crooked smile of his own.
"I used to throw Pikachu or Blastoise at everything and win." Pidge's smile becomes a grin.
"Blastoise, huh. You've got good taste! Here, wanna sit down?" She moves over on the bed, and Keith spreads the magazine in front of them. They're trading battle strategies, each trying to sell the other on their favorites, commiserating over the misery that was Whitney's Miltank. She's never seen Keith talk this much before, or look this relaxed.
He can't replace Matt, but he doesn't need to. No one could replace him, either.
His parents must be worried sick. They worried about him when he enrolled in the garrison, about his fear of heights and airsickness, but at the same time hoped the flight simulators would help him get over it. Most parents whose kid had a weak stomach for that kind of thing would keep them in bubble wrap, but they'd always gone on about how someday he'd beat it, they knew he could do it.
It's really Yellow who's helped him get over that. When was the last time he puked his guts out because of a tiny jolt more than a foot above ground level? And the team's been really nice about it, too, most people would've treated him like a liability. Then again, it's not like the rest of them haven't had their moments.
They've come so far, though. Hunk realizes this with every successful battle, every time they form Voltron as easily as breathing, every time they bond over a stupid joke or squishy asteroid fight. He's come so far, everyone says, and it's hard to argue with that when he remembers the Balmera still lives because of him.
He wonders what Mom and Dad would think. Pidge is sure there's a way to send intergalactic e-mails to their families, and Hunk hopes she's right. He doesn't even care if it takes more than a movement to send the message, he just wants to let them know how he's doing.
He's just finished taking stock of their herb supply when Shiro wanders into the kitchen, and Hunk realizes how late it is.
"Sorry, I know we've gotta train tomorrow," he says. "I'll go to bed soon."
"It's okay, I don't think any of us can sleep anyway." Shiro smiles. "Something on your mind?"
"Nothing, really. Just a little homesick, but I'm used to that." Shiro puts a hand on his shoulder, Hunk instinctively turning to face him. "I wish I could tell Mom and Dad about everything. The Balmera, the Weblum, cooking at the Space Mall, all the tech stuff I've helped Pidge with."
"I wish you could, too." Shiro smiles. "I know they'd be proud of you, just like we all are." Hunk's eyes water, and he can't help throwing his arms around Shiro. Shiro hugs him back, and it's as strong and warm as a hug from one of his parents.
He totally gets why Lance and Pidge call him their hero, why Keith follows him around like a puppy. Shiro's a rock, and they never would have gotten as far as they did without him.
It's been over a movement since Shiro disappeared, and even as she's tried to keep a brave face for Keith and the others, to Allura it almost feels like losing her father all over again. Even if Coran's been a second father more than Shiro was, he's been there for her as much as he has the other Paladins.
And deep down, she can't help but blame herself for his loss. If there had been more she could to to protect the team, if she and Coran hadn't nearly died at one point, if she'd been able to put a stop to Haggar's magic sooner, maybe Shiro would still be with them. They could still form Voltron, Keith wouldn't look seconds away from bursting into angry tears, the others wouldn't be panicking so much.
The weight of being the last Altean royalty is heavy at best, crushing at worst. Right now it's almost suffocating, she can barely breathe for the guilt she feels. Losing her father twice, the loss of her home, her people, Thace's sacrifice, and now Shiro. How many more lives will be lost before this is over.
"How many more will I fail?" she wonders aloud, before she hears the sound of footsteps. She turns to see Keith standing behind her, and he looks so beaten-down it breaks her heart. He's been crying, she can tell by the red of his eyes, and it's clear he hasn't slept well for the past few quadrants.
"It's not your fault," he murmurs. "Doesn't matter whose fault it is. He's gone, Allura."
"But...you said you would find him, that you'd never...?"
"It's been a movement. I-I want to believe he's still out there, but..." He swallows, turning away from her, his shoulders shaking. Allura pats the space beside her, so he can sit down.
"I know." Tears gather in her eyes, and when he looks at her again he's crying, too. "Oh, Keith..."
"I miss him."
They embrace, sharing their sorrow, seeking solace in one another's warmth.
In his family, the dishwasher was for regular eating dishes. Pots and pans had to be done in the sink, they were too big and stuff got stuck to them more easily. While most of his siblings hated this rule, Lance didn't mind because washing the pots and pans was fun. Sticking your hands in the soapy water, watching the gunk come off, seeing them all shiny and clean when you were done.
Of course, Altean dishwashers could handle pots and pans just as easily as eating dishes, so all Lance had to do was put everything away when they were done. Easier, but not as much fun.
And the thing he really missed was having soap bubble fights with whoever barged into the kitchen while he was working. Sometimes he'd flick the bubbles at them just to be cheeky, other times they'd stick their hand in the sink and throw some at him. Either way, they ended up cleaning the kitchen all over again when they were done and it was well worth it.
Lance sighs longingly at the pristine, empty sink.
"There's no rule we have to use the dishwasher all the time, right?" Pidge sets her tablet down and looks at him like he's nuts.
"You're kidding, right?"
"Hey, washing dishes is fun!" he protests. Pidge snorts.
"Yeah, if you like your fingers turning into raisins and getting food gunk on your hands," she grumbled. "And the suds take forever to go down the drain!" Lance shakes his head, picking up the bottle of soap.
"Then I'm gonna show you what you've been missing," he proclaims as he starts the water running. He gets a good lather going in the sink before he drops in the dishes and scrubs away. "Look at this. Tell me this doesn't look awesome, it's like a bubble bath for your arms!"
"Except with a bubble bath all you have to do is lie there and enjoy it," Pidge argues, then sighs as she rolls up her sleeves. "But since you probably won't shut up about it until I try it, I might as well." Lance grins.
"Trust me, you'll never wanna use a dishwasher again."
Halfway through the stack of dishes, it's Pidge who starts a soap bubble fight. Turns out she'd had plenty of these back home, didn't want to admit she missed them, and Lance was apparently a better bubble fighter than Matt ever had been.
She's almost as good at this as Veronica was. She just needs more practice.
He takes the name "Space Dad" in good humor, because sometimes he really does feel like a dad in every sense. Keeping the team focused and in line is second nature to him, but it's so easy to give in and join the party, whether it's a goo fight or squishy asteroid fight or bad laser gun noises.
(He still insists his were the most accurate, no matter what the others say.)
But at times, he doesn't feel much like a dad, which is why he's grateful for Coran. Honestly, he's more a dad to all of them than anyone; he's goofy and prone to silly antics, has told a few bad jokes, but when it comes down to it he's as protective and supportive of the team as a real dad would be. Allura's even said he's like a second father to her multiple times.
"All right, that's the last of the healing pods cleaned," Shiro announces. "Anything else?"
"That's it! Every chore's finished, Shiro, you can relax," Coran says cheerfully. "I want to thank you again for all your help. Not that I mind taking on all this work, of course, but any assistance is appreciated!" Shiro smiles.
"Just doing what I can." Then, he gets an idea. "Since it's still early, want to play an Earth card game? I can teach you."
"Oh?" Coran quirks a brow. "I've heard of such games in passing, but don't you need more than two for them?"
"Most of them, but Go Fish is pretty easy." It's one of the few card games Shiro is all that great at, so that helps. He finds the closest thing to a deck of cards on the ship; he can't read Altean that well yet, but it will have to do for now. "First things first, we've gotta shuffle."
"Ah, this is like the Altean card game Dig for Weblums!" Shiro grins.
"You just might be able to beat me, then. But don't think I'm gonna make it an easy win." Coran tweaks his mustache.
"You'd better not."
It's a game full of laughter and ease, swapping jokes and stories. Like the games Shiro used to play with his father before he passed away, and the memory warms his heart.