Shiro is cold when she wakes up. She shivers under the thin hospital blanket, and trying to get more warmth she manages to curl up on her side, carefully arranging limbs to prevent more pain from her recovering injuries.
The doctors wanted to keep Shiro in the hospital for few more days, after all she needed to recover as well as the paladins, who are now each lying in their respective rooms, healing.
So many things happened in such a short time- dealing with Galra on their way to Earth, losing Amber, the battle with Sendak, creating a new kind of robot (she still isn’t sure how exactly she transformed Atlas, but it felt good, and Keith sounded so pleased to see her coming to helped them), it all came crashing down on Shiro now, the battle of getting back to sleep already lost.
Becoming the captain was unexpected, but forming Atlas, by combining the Altean crystal in her new arm with the crystal powering up the ship, that felt real and important. Like something she was always meant to do.
She sobs in her pillow, glad that Sendak is dealt with, happy that she can be free of his mind games on her, relieved that Keith was ready to take him down when she couldn’t.
But seeing the paladins fall from the sky was painful. The memory of the helplessness and dread as she watched the Black Lion plummet towards the hard ground keeps repeating in her head.
Keith has done so much for her, and she feels she doesn’t deserve it. Especially after all the clone has done to Keith. She almost killed her, gave her a permanent scar…
Keith tried to explain it to Shiro that the clone was under Haggar’s control. She was just glad she had her Shiro back, she told her that as she wrapped her arms around Shiro’s shoulders, that she would never give up on her, face buried in the starlight white hair of her best friend.
Shiro is the one that can't lose Keith. And she wants to tell her as much. As soon as she wakes up.
Keith's injuries were much more worse than the other paladins. They rescued her already unconscious, with cracked helmet and blood dripping past her lips. Shiro will never get that image out of her head, along with the feeling of absolute cold and dread in the pit of her stomach. She didn’t manage to get Atlas moving again, all the energy was sucked out of it by the enemy robot. She could only leave the bridge and rush on her feet to the place where the Black Lion crashed.
Now cold in her hospital room alone she tries to calm her breathing, but just by thinking about almost losing Keith like that sends a fresh wave of tears running down her cheeks and tremors down her spine.
She cradles her right shoulder, feeling the smooth surface that covers her skin, the part where the Altean technology replaced the controlling weapon. She feels the immense relief of all the Galra parts being gone. With the new arm she might be able to help more others than to hurt them. It’s much lighter than the Galra arm, and the energy around it calms her down.
For a small moment Shiro feels bad that even the break up with Amber so long ago didn’t hurt like this. Like every breath she needs to take is an impossible thing to do.
With her and Amber she was heartbroken and sad for weeks and months, they had planned future together, the small part of future in which Shiro would still live and they would pilot together and race each other. Spent quiet moments in the Garrison teaching and learning side by side.
But Shiro needed to see more and although it hurt to give that up, give Amber up, (and it hurt so much, the everything that came with the Kerberos mission), she doesn’t regret a thing, and she is sure she would have done the same things over and over again.
She didn’t regret anything as she got to see her new friends, and Keith, growing up into their roles of paladins, defending the universe.
Because it all led her to back to Keith.
Keith by her side, her open arms and patient smile whenever Shiro woke up from a nightmare of the time she was captured by the Galra, from the time she had to become the Champion to survive, or later, of what Shiro knew were the clone’s memories. Of the journey from Galra back to the paladins. Or even after that of the battle against Keith herself. She is always there for her.
Being able to reconnect with Keith in the Black Lion’s consciousness after all that time the clone took her place among the team, Shiro felt so happy. It kept her hopes up. And Keith, her beautiful, shining and fierce Keith, who never gave up on her, she found her. Keith and Allura recovered her consciousness, and Shiro will never be able to thank them enough.
With muffled hiss Shiro gets up from her bed, more sleeping isn’t going to happen anyway. It rarely does during nights now. She takes her bathrobe not to freeze completely, pads over to the door and slips into the quiet hallway.
She needs to see Keith. Every cell in her body constantly screams to be at her girlfriend’s side, to see her breathe, to be there when she wakes up. The realistic part of her also knows it will take more time, days perhaps weeks. But she will do her best to be there as much as she can.
She stops at Keith’s door, fortunately the room is only down the hall from hers. It’s dark in the hallway expect for one source of light under the door of the doctor’s office.
She gently opens the door, sighs as she steps in, breathing in the clean smell of the room mixed with fresh flowers someone from the Garrison brought here earlier, notices the steady beeping of the monitors keeping track of Keith’s vitals.
Shiro closes the door and for a moment just stands there, watching the small figure of Keith in the bed. She’s painfully still, IV attached to her arm but breathing on her own. That’s a progress from the previous day.
There’s a chair beside the bed which Shiro slowly brings even closer to Keith’s bed and sits.
“Hey” she softly says, taking Keith’s hand into hers. “I miss you.”
She watches Keith breathe deep and slow, hopefully in a dreamless sleep. After a while she adds: “I want to tell you so many things. But most importantly.. come back to me. Please.”
She watches Keith for a minute as if she might seriously wake up only from Shiro’s plea, but nothing changes.
There’s tears running down her cheeks again. She doesn’t bother wiping them away, there
would be new ones soon after anyway. The hollow feeling in her stomach slowly disappears every minute she spends close to Keith, knowing she’s here and in one piece.
Keith’s scars on her face have started to heal. She’s quick on healing, this one. Probably something with the Galra blood in her veins. Shiro sits up to reach over to cover the scar on Keith’s right cheek with the palm of her human hand.
Shiro has seen all the memories of what the clone has done. Most of the recent, latest memories, are hazy, like seeing something through a fog. Only one thing had gone clearly through the mind control. A sentence Shiro heard only few times before in her life and cherished it each time. A sentence she can't wait to tell Keith when she wakes up, because after all this time Shiro really was the oblivious one. In love with Keith for numerous years without even realizing it.
She wanted to laugh at how ridiculous this situation seems to her. But not now. There will be time for that later. When all the paladins are awake and alright. When Haggar is defeated, and the rule of the Galra empire ended. Then she can laugh with Keith about how stupid they were for each other for so long.
For now Shiro leans over Keith and kisses her forehead just below the bandage wrapped around her head. Shiro smiles at her, thinking that even now she’s the most beautiful woman she has ever seen. Her will to keep on going is what makes Keith who she is. Determined and strong.
Shiro lowers herself back in the chair and leans her head down on the space next to Keith’s hand, fingers gently interlacing with Keith’s. And for the first time in a while she doesn’t feel cold anymore. Shiro is aware of closing her eyes and with Keith’s steady heartbeat pulsing under her fingertips it’s easier to let herself rest.
The next time Shiro wakes up is few hours later. Through the curtains the light of the rising sun slowly fills the room with gentle warm glow. Shiro's neck is sore from sleeping curled up on the cheap chair with head buried into Keith’s side, she straightens it and frowns as her neck cracks, stretches herself and goes over to the window. The place around the hospital is quiet, although it’s already mid-morning.
She opens the window to let fresh air in and breathes in the crispiness of the new day. Shiro checks on Keith before she leaves the room, kisses her forehead again and fixes Keith’s hair carefully around the bandage.
That day Shiro still isn’t discharged from the hospital. The doctors let her check upon the others, but insist on taking things easy for few more days. She spends her day visiting her teammates. Hunk being the first one to wake up, it was good to see a friendly face smiling at her when she entered his room.
Although he crashed into hard and cold surface after the battle, Hunk didn’t fortunately suffer as many injuries as the others. It probably had to do with the Yellow Lion being the most resilient and sturdiest one, it took lot of damage instead of its paladin.
Hunk and his parents were happy to see Shiro and especially Hunk’s mom insisted on Shiro taking some of the baked goods they brought for Hunk.
Shiro was pleased to see them all together and happy after all this time.
The other paladins haven’t waken up yet, but Shiro is sure in few more days they will all be up and about. She is trying not to think how much time would Keith need for her recovery. Shiro needs some distraction, to occupy herself so her thoughts won’t wander into the dark nooks of her mind, in which she know she can get easily lost.
With having been ordered to stay in her bed as much as she could to let her injuries completely heal, she asked for some work to go through over on her own.
Coran later that day brings her some reading he found in the Garrison library. He was excited about all the books and invention the humans worked for centuries, and laughs as he describes how much complicated those things are when with some bit of Altean magic it all
could be improved so quickly. Shiro smiles at his enthusiasm and gladly accepts the books.
They are few handbooks on navigation and piloting. She feels nostalgic, as she remembers how many times she went through these for countless exams back in Garrison.
“Do you need anything else?” asks Coran when she stares at the old book covers quietly. “I helped Commander Holt with directing the signal for letting know the Blades of Marmora about the situation here. If everything goes well they should arrive soon.”
“'Thanks Coran, that’s very good hear. And no, I don’t need anything else. I will just go through these for a bit.” Shiro points to the books lying in her lap. She’s grateful Krolia will be arriving soon. Shiro is so happy Keith was able to found her mom in the space. She never imagined that possibility.
“Well, then, I will let you to it” Coran salutes and exits the room mumbling under his moustache something about finding out more earth food.
The next day Allura is already awake when Shiro visits around the hospital again. She has a big smile on her face as she’s talking to Romelle and Coran, the mice sitting on her shoulders.
Shiro feels so relieved Allura is okay. She needs to thank her for everything she has done for them, for her, giving up her crystal to save Shiro when her new arm was malfunctioning.
Soon after Allura, Pidge and Lance also woke up, excitedly depicting the battles against Galra to their families, as they are all hugging and crying together.
Each day, with the happy news about another waking up paladin, Shiro goes to check on Keith, finding her sleeping in the same position, monitor beeping the same pattern as the days before. Again, Shiro sits into the bedside chair and holds Keith’s hand.
“Your mom will be here soon,” the older woman starts, drawing soothing circles around Keith’s thumb with her own. “So you need to wake up, Keith. We need you here. I need you back with us here.”'
Shiro lets her head fall into Keith’s side and closes her eyes for a moment. She wants to stay longer but the reasonable part of her knows she needs full time sleep to completely heal up, to be useful and help with fixing the Earth soon. She goes to her room after kissing Keith on her forehead. It had become her new routine.
In her bed Shiro startles a bit when light flashes through her room for half a second and relaxes again after she feels weight settling on her legs. She pets Kosmo behind the ears as he makes himself comfortable around her legs.
She sleeps soundly through night, in peace knowing they will have some real help soon and Keith will have more time with her mother again.
Krolia, Kolivan and few other Blades of Marmora, (who Krolia explained they found in secret bases that were fortunately still hidden away from the Galra), arrives not many days after Shiro is discharged from the hospital.
The past few days weren’t easy on Shiro, she had to quickly adjust spending her time on briefings about the Garrison’s next plan on cleaning Earth, and needing to prepare for the inevitable collision with Haggar, who knows when though. But they had to be prepared.
The Garrison immediately after the battle with the enemy robot started looking for its pieces they could find, to examine it how it worked, and how it transported energy from Voltron and Atlas to power itself.
Plus after living for so long in the astral plane, Shiro feels exhausted more often than not. She starts a routine of spending time in gym again, which helps clear her head and keep her physical body in good condition. Sometimes Romelle joins her, they spar together and practice moves Shiro thought she already forgotten. Shiro tries not to feel nostalgic of all the times she and Keith trained together, first in Garrison, then in the Castle of Lions.
When her mind if too much to handle, and she can’t keep focus on reading the many briefing documents, Shiro finds her teammates, who are, more often than not, occupying each other’s rooms, together telling silly stories, their dreams and fears. Sometimes Shiro also joins them in the game of Monsters and Mana, which even without the holographic table and tablets for keeping track of their characters, got under their skin. So they might change some rule here and there, making up more spells and abilities as they go. It’s fun and good time for all of them.
Nights aren’t easy for Shiro either. She tosses and turns, sleep full of falling lions, laughing monsters and faces of her friends dying before her eyes. Sometimes she wakes up immediately after fear seizes her and she can’t breathe.
Sometimes, like today, she can’t wake up, something holds her in her dream, repeating scenes of battles she desperately wants to forget but it keeps only repeating with more intensity, twisting and breaking the reality of what she knows actually happened.
It’s about her fight, the clone fight, with Keith. She feels the mind control of Haggar, but can’t do anything about it, she tries to fight it, she doesn’t want to hurt Keith. She can’t, she can’t, but she does, and this time, Keith is too slow. Too slow to step back, as the sword formed from Shiro’s hand slices through her chest, foot catches under her knees and makes her fall. Fall, into the dark abyss below them, leaving Shiro panting, standing over the chasm, watching her disappear into nothing.
There’s suddenly a warm hand on Shiro’s forehead. She slowly comes to consciousness, waking up from the awful nightmare, breathing hard and trying to keep the tears at bay. She looks up at the source of warmth and sees Krolia, sitting on her bed, smiling gently down at her. Shiro breathes out, relieved, and surprises herself by hugging Krolia tightly.
The Galra warrior keeps her hand in Shiro’s hair, patting it down while she hugs her back.
“Hello Shiro, I just wanted to check in, we only arrived few hours ago. It’s okay, everything is okay. You are safe.” Shiro feels safe in her arms, the feeling so close and familiar as when Keith hugs her. They pull back, Shiro cleans her eyes and gives Krolia a small smile.
“It’s so good you’re back here, Keith needs you here now.” Shiro smiles, the last remnants of the dream leaving her mind slowly.
“I was just visiting Keith, she is still asleep, and the doctors say nothing changed much. I thought I would pay you visit as well. I didn’t want to interrupt your sleep, but Kosmo gave me some hints to come inside.” Krolia gestures beside the bed where Kosmo is lying on the floor, head raised up, looking between them. Shiro is glad he is keeping her company nowadays. If something would change about Keith’s condition, Shiro has a feeling, Kosmo would know and take her to Keith.
Krolia explains what happened on her and Kolivan’s part of their journey. They found other Blades, helped them reorganize, and salvage the few coalition bonds the Paladins had before, trying to direct them towards Earth as well.
Shiro feels immense relief that the coalition planets didn’t all disappeared or perish under the Galra. They still could fight and win this war.
But most importantly Krolia and the help was on earth now.
Shiro visits Keith as much as she can.
Krolia is mostly in her room when she stops by, sometimes by herself, sometimes with Kolivan, keeping watch over Keith. Shiro is glad Keith has someone to be there for her when she’s too busy with other Garrison work.
Sometimes Shiro brings new flowers, tries to put them in a vase while holding back a smile and blush, before Krolia can notice it. Most of the times Krolia shares few words with Shiro and then excuses herself to see what the others are up to, leaving Shiro with Keith alone.
Shiro sits beside Keith on the chair, which basically become an unspoken rule that it is Shiro’s chair.
“Hi, sunshine” she greets the sleeping woman, the words of endearment still new on her tongue, but exciting. The beginning of their relationship was quite recent, after Shiro’s mind was back in the clone’s body, and Keith didn’t want to leave her side until she knew she was okay. That day something changed between them.
Shiro understood slowly with the memories rushing back, how deep their connection was, have always been. She let herself hope Keith wanted more than being friends.
They needed each other more closely than friends, both craving the touch and love that the world so cruelly taken from them.
And after the confession, the one told to Shiro’s clone, Shiro just went for it, all restrains gone. She needed for Keith to know how much she meant to her as well.
She had kissed Keith on the lips, trying to convey everything in that action she couldn’t yet with any words. Luckily for her, Keith happily kissed back, sighing as she parted lips and deepened the kiss, pulling Shiro close to her as much as she could, arms winding around her shoulders and putting Shiro’s hands in her hair.
Her hair had been so soft, Shiro will never forget that feeling, of keeping her close and burying face in her neck, kissing under her jawline and down to the shoulder.
Keith repeating the mantra of I love you’s, and “I’m so happy you’re back here with me”. Shiro replying with ‘It’s good to be back” and kissing her more desperately. Never wanting to let go.
She wants nothing more than to bury her face in Keith’s neck again, feeling her alive under her, but she waits patiently, for Keith to wake up, because that’s all she can do. Shiro keeps the hold of Keith’s hand in hers, and tries to not miss her so terribly even when she is right beside her.
Roughly three weeks after the final battle with and the lions crashing into Earth, Shiro is supposed to give another speech for the people who survived, to give honor to those who didn't survive, and to all the allies that were coming to Earth to help rebuild it.
Shiro fixes her ponytail of long white hair in the bathroom mirror, tugging on her grey uniform that heavily sits on her shoulders and sighs as she repeats the words she, Allura and commander Iverson put together for her to tell the people. It makes her nervous being again in the spotlight.
Its different than when as paladins she helped advertise the vision of Voltron across the Universe to the coalition planets they needed to win over. This is in front of people who knew her before she became the Champion, the Galra weapon. Before she had died.
She wants to stay at Keith’s side forever. Quietly holding her hand and waiting for the younger woman to wake up. But duty calls. And although she doesn’t necessarily love this part of her job, she takes pride in it, that she can help be the symbol for people who need it, to see the light in these dark time. Such as Keith was for her when she was stuck in the astral plane.
The crowd with the Lions of Voltron in front of them is quiet. The remains of the best Garrison pilots that could be found were properly buried. Shiro doesn't want to know if they found Amber’s ship, she isn’t sure if it would ease her mind of not. She deserved better and Shiro will always miss her. She tries to remember her by the time they spent together all those years ago.
But what started as a sad and solemn day, turned out soon to be one of the best days of Shiro’s life.
Shorty after she gives the much needed speech, uplifts everyone’s spirits against the fight with Galra and spends few minutes quiet to mourn the dead, Kosmo appears near the entrance to the main Garrison building. Shiro notices the light flashing, in the same time as the paladins. They look curious, but Shiro is already making her way quickly towards the space wolf. “Kosmo! What’s happening? Something with Keith? Take me to her.”
Traveling with Kosmo feels light, one moment she is standing near the square packed full with people, talking about all kinds of things, and before she can register it, she’s standing in a quiet hallway looking at a familiar door.
Krolia appears next to her, Kolivan standing beside to her, hand on her shoulder for support. Krolia looks at Shiro, with gentle knowing smile she motions toward the closed door.
“Keith woke up. Only for few doboches, she heard part of your speech, actually. She fell asleep soon after that and needs more rest, but go on in.”
Shiro doesn’t know what else to say except small thank you, heart hammering in her chest, because finally, Keith was awake. Even for a moment. This meant she will pull through. Which Shiro knew, but never knew how long would it take.
Shiro enters the room and walks over the the bed. Keith is snoring a bit now, mouth half open, she looks better, less green and more like she’s actually sleeping, and is not in a coma.
Shiro takes her hand and squeezes it. She sits in the chair by the bedside and keeps Keith’s hand close to her, kissing it gently and interlacing their fingers.
“I knew you could do it.” she whispers, not wanting to disrupt the sleep. “You came back to us. To me. You are so strong, Keith.”
Now when the adrenaline rush died down a bit, she feels exhausted after the day, the speech, the nerves, but mostly knowing that Keith made it, that she is going to wake up soon again. And Shiro sure as hell will be here when it happens. Something when she’s around Keith makes her feel so secure and calm, she feels getting more weary, so she leans her head on the spot next to Keith, keeping their hands intertwined.
“-iro? Baby, wake up.” Shiro hears a gentle voice from far aways that sounds so familiar, along with feeling like something is poking her cheek. She swats her hand at it and groans. She hears a quiet laugh and then a small hiss. Instantly she’s up and searching where she is.
Keith’s room, Keith’s bedside in the hospital room. She must have fall asleep there again.
Keith is awake! And laughing at her.
If that isn’t the best sight Shiro has ever seen, she doesn’t know what else could be. “Shiro, you need to sleep in a proper bed, you know that right.”
“Keith! You’re awake! Oh, god, finally, you’re awake. You’re okay.” she rushes to hug the younger woman, who is still smiling at her, watching her as if Shiro is the best thing she has ever seen.
“Shiro.” her voice is rough, from not using it for so long. “You’re here. Are you okay? How is everyone?”
“Everyone is fine. That’s just like you to ask if everyone is okay, if you’re the one lying in a hospital bed. You saved the Earth. The others are okay. And your mom is here too. She’s just outside. Well I think she’s there, she was there when I got here, but I’m not sure how much time went by. I’m sorry, I’m rambling. It’s so good to see you awake again. I missed you. So much.” Shiro takes a big breath, stops talking for a second and hugs Keith again. She needs to feel her. To see she is real and not still sleeping. “I love you.”
Shiro feels Keith tighten the hug, squeezing shiro close to her, “I’m okay, I’m here, I- I missed you too. I Iove you so much, Shiro.” Keith says, hands running through Shiro’s white hair, kissing Shiro’s cheek, taking her face into her hands to see her fully, looking right into Shiro’s eyes and kissing her on the lips.
Shiro wants to keep looking at Keith, to remember each eyelash and freckle on her skin but can't help herself to close her eyes and lean more into her girlfriend’s touch. She finally feels warm.
Keith tries to move a bit into side of her bed, scrunches her face when the effort is too much and her injuries make themselves known, but manages to make small room on the bed and gestures for Shiro to come closer. Shiro doesn’t wait for second offer and curls up carefully against Keith’s side, ear placed above the brunette’s heart, listening to her heartbeat. It’s so good to have her back.
“Have I mentioned I love your hair? You look like an angel. Well.. more than usual.” The last thing Shiro feels is a kiss to the crown of her head while sleep takes over again, and after all those years this is the moment when she realizes she’s home.