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This Could Be The Start (Of Something Big)

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“Sometimes I lay under the moon and thank God I'm breathing. Then I pray don't take me soon, 'cause I am here for a reason.” -Matisyahu, from the song One Day

 

There are only some people Lance would proudly say are his friends.

Like the girl he got partnered up with in sixth grade for an important Science project. But the girl usually kept quiet during the time they were together. He remembered constantly trying to get her to open up, or at least speak, by the use of knock-knock jokes or some lame pick-up lines. But the girl would just give him weird looks and one-word answers that makes all his efforts go down the drain. He still considered her as an acquaintance, but he doesn't know if she feels the same.

Or maybe the other girl he met when he was a kid. He didn't much remember the memory clearly, but he did recall with crystal clarity (and embarrassment) how he was crying at a playground and a teenage girl with a blue ribbon walked up to him with a smile to cheer him up. He actually really liked that girl, as a friend of course, because she actually listened to him and his problems rather than telling him to suck it up and quit being a baby. Of course, like a cliché scene written by an author to keep his life interesting, the girl was nowhere to be found the next day. He searched for hours and hours, even asked around town, but no one even knew about this so-called girl he was talking about. Everyone thought he was a crazy kid searching for his imaginary friend which he made up because of his 'family problems.'

That was not pleasant.

Now, though?

He doesn't know whether to consider the people with him as 'friends.' Sure, they had a few laughs and quips, weird conversations and late-night talks, working together and helping one another, but he doesn't know if that's enough for a real friendship.

He doesn't know if Pidge shares the same interest in movies he likes, or if she even found movies interesting at all. She may be a techie expert and a mind-blowing genius, but that doesn't mean she secretly likes the movies Forever is Over or I See You the way he does.

He doesn't know Hunk's likes and dislikes, despite being best friends with the guy for a year. He only knew that Hunk was an engineer taught by his father, amazing at cooking and baking and everything else related to food, and is an amazing teddy bear who gives out hugs no one can escape.

(He remembered trying, once, but then decided that he liked the hug and just let Hunk do whatever he wants. Sometimes, Hunk hugs him because his family used to do that and he misses them. So, on random days, Lance would walk up to Hunk and give him a big hug to remind him that even though his family isn't here, he's here for him.)

But then again, Hunk and Lance were slowly drifting apart as he and Pidge slowly became closer. They never wanted to leave him out, but on times where they would talk about some gibberish he couldn't understand, he decided not to hang out with them altogether. They were still friends though, despite talking only on missions and when one of them would end up with him.

Allura and him are close, but not close enough to talk about their deepest secrets and fears. He knew the responsibility that weighs on her shoulders, and he doesn't want to add up on the pile by telling her how he feels like the seventh wheel even though he recently became the right-hand of Voltron. He flirts with her, yes, but she barely pays attention to what he says except when they're in grave danger or when they have doleful moments about missing the family they wish to see again.

And Keith.

His used-to-be-rival-and-now-leader. He wants to be closer with him. After facing difficult moments from when Shiro was missing, he thought that they would get closer, bond more deeper, or even talk to each other more, but no. Keith still has trouble interacting with them despite being the leader. Lance wanted to tell him that he shouldn't be afraid, he shouldn't be scared and run away from them. They were now a team, probably family, and family always had each other's backs.

But Keith and Lance still had a gap, a tension Lance so desperately wants gone. He wanted Keith to trust him not only as his right-hand, but at least as a friend or family. He knows that Keith and Shiro knew each other the longest, and that they have a connection no one could explain, but Lance wanted to be a part of that too. He just wanted to have conversations with Keith about life, favorite colors, or anything else that could bring them closer. But Keith wasn't ready, and that was okay. Lance could wait.

But for how long? How long is he going to wait like he did years ago? How long is he going to hide behind masks, fake smiles, and a horrible facsimile of laughter? How long is he going to pretend to be alright, to ignore everything that happened in his miserable life, and move on into this war, acquiesce it like he hasn't experienced it before?

He's been through hard times like nobody would expect he would. His selflessness was repaid by unfortunate event after unfortunate event, down from when he was a kid up to the point to where he was now. He struggled greatly, but he's not complaining. He doesn't evade it, he accepts his fate and goes through it the way he knows how.

Moving forward, now as the Red Lion's Paladin.

But take that away and what is he? A helpless, weak, young boy desperate for any innocence he lost when he was a kid. A kid who knew too much, too early. They may be Voltron, but take that away and they're just a bunch of ragtag teenagers finding their place in the vast universe.

 

 

~•~

 

 

Lance was the last one who came into the training room the next morning.

Nobody noticed anyways. Pidge and Hunk were chatting excitedly to one another about a project they were both working on. He thinks it's about reprogramming a sentry to play Thriller all while dancing along to the song, but he isn't sure. Allura and Coran were speaking (or arguing) in Altean, foreign words ringing in the air as they both tried to bring the other down with a topic that's lost to him. Shiro and Keith were talking, solemn expressions on their faces as their voices grew softer and softer, until the words they were speaking became a secret conversation heard only between the two of them.

Lance doesn't know where he fits in with all of this.

Amidst the fighting, Allura looked up and her gaze connected with him. A smile graced her face when she saw him. “Lance! I was wondering when you'd arrive!”

Her sudden speech made everyone stop what they're doing and turn their heads at him. He would've laughed if it wasn't so creepy how in tune the others turned their heads and stared at him with their eyes, varying in color and the sizes of their pupils. Lance ignored how Keith's amethyst-colored eyes brightened with curiosity (probably about why he was late), and relief. Was Lance imagining that? Keith couldn't possibly be relieved to see him, right? Lance shook away those thoughts and focused solely on Allura, conjuring up a smirk and his good old-fashioned finger guns. “Why? Did you miss me, princess?”

Pidge and Hunk rolled their eyes, muttering the words “Typical” or “Classic” under their breaths. Shiro shook his head and Keith huffed and crossed his arms, looking away from him in annoyance.

Good. Lance thought, it's better to let them think of me like this. They don't need to know about my past, they don't need to know who I was.

Allura ignored what he said and walked towards him with a bright look and a strange glint in her eyes, prompting Lance to tense up. Allura was about to tell him something, and he doesn't know if he'll like it.

“Lance.” She started, her smile widening and the excitement of what she was going to say seeping through her words and the way she said his name. “Keith and I had an idea. Since we have been caught up with quite a lot lately, we have decided to use our downtime with some bonding exercises!”

Lance held the urge to groan, not liking the idea at all. And yet, he forced a smile and replied kindly. “Really now?”

Keith stepped up and nodded, his arms still crossed but his face morphing into a neutral one as he made eye contact with him. “Yeah. After getting Shiro back and having Allura as a Paladin, we thought that we should catch up with some bonding that would help improve our bond and 'trust' in one another, as Shiro would like to say.” Keith rolled his eyes, murmuring underneath his breath. “Though we already have perfect teamwork and bond with each other.”

Shiro smacked Keith behind his head and spoke sagely, pretending he didn't hear Keith's squawk of indignation. “Though you all have excellent teamwork and a great bond, you guys never did open up to one another yet.”

Now it was Lance's turn to squawk. “What? But we do too open up to one another!”

Keith lets out a hum of agreement and rubs the back of his head. “Yes! Thank you Lance!”

Shiro groans and and directs a glare at Keith. “You know what I'm talking about. You five aren't just teenagers anymore, you're a team that makes up Voltron. And to be a team is to have faith in one another, know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and trust the secrets you keep with your teammates, despite the coincidences that brought you all here.”

Pidge raised a perfectly good eyebrow. “That sounds like it's straight from a movie.”

Hunk squints his eyes at Shiro, looking at him with suspicion leaking on his features. “It does sound oddly wise.”

Shiro clears his throat, a blush creeping up his neck as he continued on. “Okay, that's all. Allura, you have the floor now.” Everyone laughed, which made Shiro's blush grow deeper, but nevertheless, Allura clapped her hands and derived everyone's attention from Shiro to her. “Everyone! I need you all to sit in a circle to start our bonding exercise!”

Lance and the others followed suit and sat in the middle of the training room, Allura in the middle of Hunk and Keith, Pidge beside Hunk, and Lance next to Keith and Pidge. Lance shot Shiro a confused look, to which he waved off with a reassuring smile. “I'm not joining, sorry.” That wasn't the answer Lance was looking for, but he guess he'll just have to ask later.

Lance turned back his head to Allura, who started explaining what they were about to do. “I contemplated what to do for a couple of doboshes before I reached a conclusion that I liked.” Allura beckoned Coran with a nod of her head, and he brought out a set of the familiar mind-meld helmets they used long ago. “We will be using the mind-melds, but instead of individually focusing on one thing, we will one-by-one focus on a memory important to each of us and describe the memory however we want.”

That sounded like a good idea to everyone who hummed with excitement. Except for Lance, who was floundering and having an internal crisis in his head.

Okay, that was not okay. He barely kept his memories out from when they first used the mind-meld devices, and now he has to focus on a memory without thinking of anything else from his messed-up past? Uh, no. He absolutely could not do this.

He was about to speak out his disagreement, but everyone was already putting on the damn thing, letting the words die bitterly in his throat. Beside him, Pidge held out a mind-meld, a bit of mirth sparkling in her amber eyes. “Stop squandering around and put on the mind-meld, Lance.” She tilts her head at him, grinning in a way that teases him a peek of her pearly-white teeth. “Funny, I though you'd be excited to show your memories to us.”

He shrugs and takes the device from her hand, putting it on his head with agitation coursing through his bones. “Thanks Pidgey, but I'd rather hear more about you.” He leans towards her with a smirk and waggling eyebrows. “What tragic memories have you gone through to be where you are now, huh?”

Pidge laughed, pushing him away with a genuine smile (that he wanted to accomplish) on her lips. “Seriously, Lance? Your theory about heroes having tragic backstories is ridiculous.”

“She's got a point, buddy.” Hunk piped in. “Not all heroes come from sad and depressing backgrounds like you'd expect they would.”

“Oh come on! How about Allura, Shiro, and Keith?” Lance protested, pointing at the said people he mentioned. “Shiro had to go through a year in Galra captivity, and lost his arm in the process! Allura was asleep for ten thousand years and woke up with the heartbreaking news that her planet and people were destroyed by the alien her father once trusted, Keith lost his father, never knew his mother, dropped out of the Garrison because of the Kerberos mission, and after a year found Shiro but was sucked in a war against the race that imprisoned him. Even you, Pidge!” Lance poked her shoulder with a teasing jab. “You went to Garrison to find the answers they weren't giving you for the brother you're missing. And you're still looking for him like the brave hero you are.” He ends his speech with a smug smile.

He turned towards the shocked faces of Allura, Shiro, and Keith. “No offense to you guys, though.”

Hunk turned towards Pidge. “He's got a point, Pidge. Not all heroes come from happy and normal backgrounds like you'd expect they would.”

“Hunk!” Pidge cried out in betrayal. “Whose side are you on?!”

“I don't know! I'm neutral!”

“Can't we just start the damn exercise?” Keith groaned, running a hand down his face. “We're wasting time. Hunk, you start.”

So he did. Hunk's memories appeared holographically and Hunk jovially explained, in detail, how his mother and him would bake cookies simply for fun while talking about how their day was, how he and his father got closer by the love of engineering, and how he used to play with his niece and nephew before he enthusiastically cooks them a delicious meal they deserve after a tiring day. He got teary-eyed when his mind showed him a picture of him and his family, to which Pidge comforted him by placing her hand on his shoulder sympathetically.

The one who came in next was Pidge, surprisingly. After Hunk's brave start, she was determined to come in next. Memories of her and her brother came up and she started to full-on ramble, babble about the times they used to talk late at night, how they communicated with a code only the two of them knew, and how it was hard for her to move forward because of his disappearance. In the end, her mind showed her a picture of her brother (Matt, Pidge states at the beginning of her rambles) standing proudly with his Garrison uniform and posing in a blithely manner. It was a funny picture, but overall it had a heartwarming touch to it. Lance took a moment to stray his eyes from the picture to look at Pidge, who was staring at it with the most huge and hopeful eyes and a knowing smile that reminded him too much of someone. Too much of before.

“Come on Lance! Stop, please!”

Everyone froze at the new voice, slowly turning to the person whose name was said with it. Lance stilled at the familiar voice, his heart clenching painfully at the memories it brought back to him. He felt tears sting and burn his eyes, but his whole body felt cold. Cold with the pain he knew all too well, with the memories he could never forget, rendering him speechless as the scene that was playing in his mind played in a holographic screen in front of him, in front of them, of the past he hopelessly wants to keep locked away.

A girl, with flowing chestnut hair that brushed atop of her shoulders, eyes like a forest that he inevitably admired, appeared. Her face was scrunched up in worry, her eyes that were normally impassive were wide with concern, for him. For the person responsible of the flame burning out those eyes, the reason why her light was extinguished after burning ardently for so long. Him. Him.

Huge eyes, jaw wide, surprised tone. “You're Lance! McClain!”

Unabashed passion, daring smirk, teasing voice. “So, what'd you say Lance? Want to come with me?”

Grim face, closed-off look, serious words. “You promised.”

Tears streaming down, screams all around, face imploding with pain as she held her bleeding shoulder. “I-I can't fight anymore, Lance. I'm sorry.”

“I'm sorry.”

Every memory flashed through his eyes rapidly, hastily, the noises and voices they produced clamoring in his mind, obstreperous in a way that cannot be tuned out. The memories were incongruous with the voices, making the transitions dizzying and confusing and painful and vivid and–

“Lance!” He heard Keith call out, and he looked at him. He was looking back, holding the mind meld on his head with a bewildered look on his face and an array of emotions running through his eyes. “What's happening?!”

He examines everyone else, who seemed to be copying Keith's position of holding their mind-melds with protuberant eyes and panic-filled questions they ask astoundingly.

“What's happening? What's happening? What's–”

“Why is this happening?! What's wrong with the systems?! Allura–”

“Calm down! This has never happened before! Lance, what–”

He doesn't understand why they are freaking out, but then it struck to him like lightning bolting throughout the sky. The pain seared through his bones, his body, from the device that was showing him too much of his past. Too much of her.

He recalls screaming, shouting for the pain to stop, to end already but it doesn't listen to him. It doesn't listen and it just burns his head, his flesh, everything until he feels a sharp tug traversing his mind.

Then he knew nothing anymore.

The pain stops, but it was replaced with dark spots covering up most of his vision, enticing him to unconsciousness. Lance considered that he'd give in to the darkness, in return for it mitigating everything else related to the guilt he kept deep inside for so long. He let the black consume him, conceal him and his thoughts away into the oblivion he welcomed with open arms.

Chapter Text

 “There's method in my madness. There's no logic in your sadness. You don't gain a single thing from misery, take it from me.”    -Lauren Aquilina, from the song King 

 

 

 

 

Keith was not happy when he woke up. 

Granted, who would be after going through a tornado that jumbled-up his thoughts, burned his skin with never-ending scalding heat, and transported him to an entirely new place? Not to mention, but it only happened because there was a girl who called out Lance's name like she was afraid of– 

Keith's eyes widened. Lance! How could he forget about him?! Lance surely must've felt the heat, given that he was screaming while his memories played out in front of him. 

Keith stood up from the ground, but the sudden movement caused his head to spin wildly, a headache forming on top of already being disoriented from whatever the hell he just experienced. He bit back a groan and searched around the place, his nervousness bubbling up his insides as he took in his location. 

The place seemed... 'abandoned' seems like the right word. The skies that Keith once remembered were blue, not gray and dark and ominous enough to send chills down anyone's spine just from looking at it. The dirt underneath his feet was jagged and reached up to a cliff, where the waves were beating up on harshly, the waters reaching up before crashing all the way down. The clouds were large enough to fill up the skies, completely blocking the sun or any type of light that shines through, almost indicating as if it was going to rain or something. 

This place was eerie enough to send goosebumps throughout Keith's skin. 

His head snapped around when he heard a couple of groans from behind him. Relief washed over him when he saw the others, sitting up and holding their heads up in confusion. Keith walked over to Pidge and helped her up by grabbing her forearms to gently lift her back to her feet. Pidge thanked him and fixed her glasses that were sitting askew on her nose. Keith nods and moved on to Hunk, who was also fixing his out-of-place bandana. “Where are we?”  

“I'm not sure yet.” Keith answered honestly. “But I think this has to do with Lance.”

“Oh my.” He hears Allura say. He turns to her as she brushes herself off of the dusk from the ground. After doing so, she connects her eyes with Keith and says solemnly. “This is bad.” 

Keith tenses up, his eyes becoming guarded and his ears perked for the explanation Allura was about to inevitably give. “Why?”  

“I heard stories about this happening before, but I never would've thunk it would happen to us.” Allura sighs, shaking her head ruefully. Everyone shared a glance of apprehension, but only Pidge seemed to have enough courage to speak it out loud. “What do you mean, Allura?”  

Allura took a deep breath and locked eyes with everyone, her voice turning strict and her gaze impassive. “When I was a child, I have heard that when using the mind-melds and a memory becomes... well, too much, the devices will overheat and it will take your consciousness to the person's memories. They cannot escape, nor can they mess with it, but they can only watch as the person's memories fold out.”   

“And you think that's what's happening now?” Pidge inquiries, catching up to what Allura was implying easily. “With the heat and the feeling of being pulled?”  

Allura gives out an affirmative hum. “Yes, I believe that perhaps Lance's memories became too much for him to handle and then the mind-melds took our consciousness to his mind, and the only way for us to return to our own minds is to go through the life Lance lived before he met any of us.”   

Keith blinked once. Twice. The realization of the situation at hand slowly sinking in on him.  

“So... you're saying the only way out... is through?”  

Pidge adjusted her glasses with a small smirk creeping up on her face while Allura cleared her throat awkwardly. “Though how you phrased it is not what I preferred, yes. The only way we can get out of Lance's mind is to go through his memories.” Allura glanced nervously at her surroundings, visibly unnerved at the vibe the place gave out. “And I guess we start here.”    

“I don't get it though.” Hunk said. “We're in Lance's memories, right?” Allura nodded. “Do we go through them in whatever way we want or does it have to be in chronological order?”   

“I think we go through them in a chronological order.” Allura replies, a soft smile curving up her lips. “Is that what you're worried about?” 

“No, no.” Hunk denies, shaking his head briefly. “It's just... if it's in chronological order, then why does Lance's early memories show a scary abandoned place that I myself haven't seen before?” Hunk then gestures to the place around. “That and where is Lance?!” 

“Lighten up, Hunk!” Pidge pats a hand on Hunk's back, prompting him to jump in surprise by the sudden contact. “At least we get to see Lance's embarrassing memories he wouldn't dare share with us! Isn't that cool?!”  

Hunk was about to reply, but a voice rang out, briefly cutting him off. “Leandro! Come back here!” 

Everyone turned their heads to where the source was, and they were surprised when they saw Lance, not that old as he was now, probably around fifteen, in a black suit while running away from an older man who seemed to be too young to be his father.  

So... maybe his brother? 

Lance ran past them, but Keith was quick enough to see the tears streaking down his face as he passed by. His eyes widened when he saw Lance's tears glisten in his eyes and fall on the dirt, his feet pounding on the ground when he ran past them. “Lance?” Keith mumbled questioningly, staring at Lance's retreating figure with a confused look. Why was he crying? And why the heck was he in a suit? 

His brother stopped just in the midst of them, hands on his thighs as he watched Lance sprint farther and farther away. Keith turned his gaze on him, a bit surprised to see the resemblance he and Lance have. They both have undeniably soft brown hair, same jawlines, and they both have the same shape of their eyes. Though they have their similarities, they also have their differences. This guy was a bit lighter in skin color, and had a sharper nose than Lance has. “Oh Lance.” He shook his head and Keith's breath was blown away when he opened his eyes to reveal the same dark blue irises he admired for so long. 

Wow, Keith thinks breathlessly. McClains sure do have stunning eyes. 

Before he could even speak, he felt a tug throughout his whole body. The image of Lance's brother dispersed and was replaced by the scenery near the cliff. Keith blinked unsettlingly at how the memory moved on so quickly. 

“Did anyone else feel that or was it just me? 'Cause I felt like I was being pulled into a portal or something–”  

“My head.” Pidge moans in pain, gripping onto the side of her head. “This sucks.”  

“The first few times might be... uncomfortable, but perhaps after a few more transitions, we will be used to it.” Allura assures, also looking quite uneasy. 

Keith really hopes so. Because the migraine he was developing was getting worse and the transitions aren't helping with getting it better.  

“What do you want?” 

Keith turned to the voice, knowing fully well who it belonged to.  

And there was Lance.

Lance, who was still in the black suit and was sitting with one of his legs raised. He looked... incredibly young. Sure he still looked lanky, but it was very obvious that this Lance was very much still a teen. A teen who... has a very solemn expression on his face.  

Weird. 

Keith turned towards the person who was behind him, which he realized is the person Lance was talking to. It was the same guy who called his name a few moments earlier, which Keith assumes is his brother. 

“Lance...” The guy starts, his voice deep but had a playful tone to it. His lips turned upwards in a smile, a smile that looks so much like Lance's. “You gotta go back there, buddy.” 

“Why should I?” Lance muttered all while dragging his finger in the dirt. “Anyone else can do it. Everyone else wants to perform, not me. So why do I have to perform it?” 

Keith knitted his eyebrows in confusion and looked at Lance's brother, who sighed and sat down next to Lance, keeping his face forward but his eyes glancing sidewards to look at Lance. “Sorry buddy. But it's gotta be you.” 

“But why?” Lance says exasperatedly, pulling on his hair desperately. “Rachel can perform! Even you can! Why do I have to do it?” Lance visibly deflates, pulling both his knees close to his chest. “It's just... it's so unfair.” 

Keith... Keith doesn't know what to feel. 

Seeing Lance look so small, so vulnerable, it just... it makes Keith want to comfort him, even though he's not the number one person you would go to for comforting. Just looking at Lance's sad face makes him want to cheer him up the way Lance usually does to cheer up everybody; by making a complete fool of himself. 

But Keith has got to admit, that no matter how many embarrassing and annoying things Lance had done, he never fails to put a smile on anyone's face. But now that Lance is the one who's sad, who's there to put a smile on him?  

“Buddy, nothing in life is fair.” His brother sighs while placing an arm over Lance's shoulders. “But you gotta accept it. Remember, mom chose you. Not me, not Rachel, not anyone else but you. You are mom's first choice, and mom wouldn't choose anybody she didn't feel was right to perform. I respect her choice, and you should too.”  

“Wow.” Pidge spoke up, prompting Keith to look at her. She was looking at the scene with huge eyes, as if she just made a sudden realization. She directed her gaze at Keith. “Doesn't that sound familiar?”  

Keith was about to ask what she was talking about, but he could barely get a word out before Lance started speaking, so, so softly. “But... who's going to take care of us now?”  

“I agree with Pidge.” Hunk says, tilting his head as he examined the scene with squinted eyes. “This whole situation... it seems familiar.” 

“I strongly concur.” Allura nods, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “It seems like we have... had this conversation before.” 

Keith feels confused and left out. He doesn't feel any déjà vu about this situation, or anything familiar at all. No matter how much he tries, he just couldn't make a connection. So what are the others talking about?  

“Buddy, you will be the one.” His brother whispered encouragingly. “I have to take care of some things in college, remember? While I'm gone, I want you to take over the role of the 'big brother' for a while.”  

“But!” Lance argues weakly, eyes incredibly wide. His figure was slumped and his face was filled with hopelessness. “But I can't replace you!” 

Keith's eyes widen. 

 

 

 

“I can't replace Shiro. You guys were right, I'm the loner. I'm not the leader Shiro thought I was.” 

“Keith, no one can replace Shiro.”

 

 

  

Oh. 

That's why the others thought their conversation was so familiar. It was the same exact conversation they had before Keith finally accepted his role as leader. 

Did... did Lance feel like he was going to be a replacement too? 

“Lance, no one is replacing anybody, okay?” His brother spoke firmly, placing both his hands on Lance's shoulders while looking at him in the eyes. “But you have got to learn how to move on while I'm gone. You need to know when you'll take charge, and to step up when no one else can. Do you understand?” 

The two brothers shared a look of intense worry and concern. Keith felt like he had violated something private, urging him to look away from the scene. The others seemed to notice as well and directed their gazes on other places, wanting to give some little privacy they could still offer.

This... this actually happened in Lance's life? Keith never thought Lance could be insecure, based on the bravado he always shows. He always seemed so confident, so sure of himself, but... he was wrong. Lance can be insecure, it happened when he approached Keith about the lions and this conversation also proves it. And Keith doesn't even know what they're talking about! All he knows is that Lance was chosen to perform something and he doesn't want to do it. 

“Okay.” Lance spoke, with finality in his tone. Keith glanced back and saw Lance nodding, a brave and determined expression taking up his features. “Okay. I'll do it.”  

His brother grinned at him. “There's my little brother.” He stood up and held out a hand for Lance. “Now stop brooding and let's get this over with.”  

Everything turned black the moment Lance reached out and clasped his hand in his brother's.

 

 

~•~

 

 

Instead of being pulled to another scenery while standing up, Keith was magically poofed in a chair in the middle of a big room. 

Keith blinked uncomprehendingly before looking around to search for the others.

He... he can't find them.

“Hunk?” Keith calls out. “Allura? Pidge?” 

Turns out, there were people behind him. There were people in black suits and dresses chatting with one another, some with serious looks on their faces and others with a bit more of a lighthearted aura around them. But that wasn't what Keith was focusing on right now. 

It was the fact that everyone in the room looked like Lance! 

Everyone in the room share the same qualities Lance has. Majority of them are same in skin color, some have the same striking blue eyes, others have pointed chins and same nose structure, and half of everyone in the room had the same brown hair! It was obvious Lance was related to all of these people, but it was a bit shocking to see many of them look alike. 

Keith turned to his side and he most definitely did not scream when Pidge suddenly appeared beside him. 

“Oh hey!” Pidge greets, either ignoring that Keith screamed or didn't hear it at all. “We're sitting in chairs!” 

“Uh, yeah. Obviously.” 

“What–” Pidge cuts herself off with a shriek when Allura appears beside her. “Allura! Don't do that!” 

Allura blinks and slowly looks around the room. “Are these...” Allura starts in a high tone. She realized her slip up and cleared her throat, continuing. “Are these people all of Lance's family?” 

“Yeah, probably.” Pidge answers, glancing around in amazement. “There's so many of them...” 

“Why are they all wearing black, though?” Hunk spoke up beside Keith, prompting everyone to scream.

Hunk!

“Can you guys quit doing that?!”

“H-Hey! It's not my fault! I didn't know I'd suddenly appear in thin air!” 

“Have you heard of the movie, 'Forever is Over'?” A girl behind them says. Everyone turned to her. “Because I just watched it last night and it was amazing!”

“Oh, that movie.” Another girl chuckles. “That's a great movie. The ending was so unexpected.” 

“Right?! I never expected that Lana and Aaron were actually related!” The girl who first spoke up laughs. “And if it wasn't for Ambrose, they wouldn't have met!” 

“What... what are they talking about?” Hunk pokes Keith, to which he responded with a shrug. 

“If it wasn't for Ambrose, they would have met sooner.” Pidge grumbles beside Keith. Everyone froze. Pidge squints and glares at them. “What? What's wrong?” 

Hunk and Keith shares a look, before Hunk starts talking slowly, a smile threatening to break out off his face. “Pidge... do you know the movie they're talking about?”

Pidge immediately sputters and crosses her arms over her chest in a defensive manner. “S-So what if I do? I-It's a good movie!” 

“The title itself already seems like a cliché.” Keith raises an eyebrow. “ 'Forever is Over'? Seriously?”

“Hey! Don't judge the movie by its title!” Pidge protested. “It really is a good movie!” 

“Then would you care to explain?” 

“It's about Lana and Ambrose, two friends who at first, didn't like each other but became good friends in the end. Th–” 

“Then it's a story about their hardships and how friendship prevails all?” Keith cuts off while rolling his eyes. “Because if it's about that, then it's just another lame movie.” 

Pidge rolled her eyes. “No, you dimwit. Just let me finish.” Pidge takes a deep breath. “One day, Lana overheard her father talking about something Lana should definitely, under no circumstances, not know, which prompts her to be curious. She and Ambrose starts a search on the secret her father was keeping, and Ambrose inevitably fell in love in the way.” 

“So, it's a story about love, then?” Hunk interrupts.

“Well, not exactly, but–” 

“Hola, familia!” They all turned their attention to the stage in front of them to see Lance's brother, standing there proudly with an impassive Lance by his side. And wow, was Keith surprised. Even though Lance definitely looked like a teen, he was already so tall. He was probably as tall as Keith, which no doubt got a little bit on Keith's nerves. 

“So, I found this little rascal,” His brother messed with Lance's hair playfully, making Lance sputter wordlessly in indignation and the audience laugh at the dynamic the two brothers showed. Keith smiled slightly when he saw how Lance fixed his hair while complaining, but still looked at his brother with love in his eyes. Now that's a good sibling relationship, if you asked Keith. “And he's ready to perform the song for our lovely mother! May she rest in peace.” He bowed his head and so did the other people too. Keith was sure he wasn't the only one who suddenly realized why Lance was in a suit, and why everyone was wearing black. 

They were in a funeral. 

Presumably Lance's mother's funeral.

 Oh shoot.

Chapter Text

“I can take so much, 'til I've had enough. 'Cause I'm only human, and I bleed when I fall down. I'm only human, and I crash and I break down.”      -Christina Perri, from the song Human

 

 

 

Keith only ever attended one funeral in his life. 

His father's. 

He... never really was comfortable there. 

All of his dad's firefighter co-workers attended the funeral to pay their respects, but Keith, being the antisocial person he was, just wanted them to leave. He didn't want anyone to see him cry when the casket was being lowered on the ground. He didn't want to sob in public as the men started burying his father's body underground. He didn't want to break down in front of everyone the moment he realized that he was alone. He doesn't have his mother and now he lost his father. 

So, he didn't show any emotion at all. 

That was the only way to shut people out, Keith supposed. To build up walls and not doors, to show people that he isn't willing to let them in. To show others that he doesn't want to be close with anybody and that he's pushing them away. It worked, because nobody dared to approach Keith during the whole time he was there. 

Keith guesses, with Lance's impassive and closed-off look, his guarded eyes and tense shoulders, that he was doing the same. 

“Hunk.” Pidge whispered. “Do you... do you know about this?” Everyone turned to Hunk, who fiddled with his fingers in response. Out of everyone, Keith knows that Hunk knows Lance the longest. Allura never even knew them before they woke her up of her ten thousand year sleep, Pidge didn't know Keith and was so focused on finding her family that she pushed Hunk and Lance away, Keith doesn't even know any of them before Lance barged in and pretty much introduced himself to him, stating that they were rivals or something, which sort of reminded Keith of that cute cargo pilot whose name apparently wasn't Taylor. 

He'll never admit that to anyone, though. 

Back to the point, Keith knows that Hunk and Lance knew each other way before the others did, which may lead to the fact that Hunk probably knows a bit of Lance's past. He probably knows about Lance's siblings, or other stories that he shares, and oh, maybe the fact that Lance's mother is dead. 

Out of all the things Keith expected to see in Lance's memories, it wasn't that. 

“W-Well... he never mentions his parents, so I thought they were divorced.” Hunk mutters, darting his eyes on the floor. He sighed and ran a hand down his face. “But I didn't know that his mother died.” 

Pidge swallowed, looking back at the stage. “That's got to be rough.” 

Yeah, Keith silently agrees in his mind. It is. 

Everyone stayed silent as they watched how Lance's brother give the crowd a big smile. “As you all know, mom... mom was a really great woman.” Nostalgia filled up the face of Lance's brother. “I can still remember her smiling everyday and picking us McClains up after school, every Friday, to go to a diner called Rosa's to buy ice cream and talk about our day.” Lance pressed his lips in a thin line and directed his gaze on the floor. Keith's eyes widened slightly when he saw despair taking up Lance's face before becoming, once again, unreadable. Keith doesn't know what to feel about that. “Those are the moments I truly will never forget. Alas, our mother was gone too soon and for her last wish, she picked Lance to perform the special song she prepared. So I advise everyone to listen in silence until the song is over.” Lance's brother glanced at boy beside him. “Ready, Lance?” Lance gave his brother a tight smile and nodded once, turning and walking, with determination in each step, to something behind them. A piano, Keith realized. 

Wait what.  

Lance's brother smiled sadly and walked off the stage, probably to hand over the spotlight to Lance, who was unbuttoning his coat and taking a seat on the stool. He bent slightly over the piano, fingers on top of the keys as he closed his eyes and took deep breaths. He seemed to be mentally preparing himself, and Keith doesn't know why that makes him feel strangely anxious. Nervous, as he sits on the edge of his seat with expecting eyes and bated breath. Why was he suddenly feeling particularly curious? Was it because of Lance's initial dislike towards what he's about to perform? Or how he said he doesn't want to do it, not can't? Keith furrowed his eyebrows, but Lance's brother seemed to want Lance to perform, no matter what, so Lance must have some talent that his brother knows. But come on, he couldn't be that good– 

Keith stopped that thought the moment Lance opened his eyes and started playing. 

And oh wow, he was good.  

The notes Lance were playing with delicacy and gentle precision were filling up the quiet room; frantic but slow, soft but held emotions Keith knew were close to sadness. Well of course the song would be sad, Keith thought to himself sarcastically, we're in a funeral after all. The moment Lance started playing, the tone itself already seems heartbreaking, and Keith had no doubt the words would be the same. Keith swallowed a lump in his throat because Lance was playing the piano. Lance was playing the piano with that solemn look still affixed on his face and gosh, this possibly couldn't get any more better 

But Lance opened his mouth and started to sing. 

 

 

“I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill 

 

Threw the day-old tea from the cup 

 

Packed up the photo album Matthew had made 

 

Memories of a life that's been loved.”   

 

 

Keith was beyond surprised. He was speechless, flabbergasted, astonished because Lance? Lance could sing. And damn, he has one hell of a voice. He may be boisterous, jovial, but Keith had never heard him speak– much less sing– so softly. The voice Keith was hearing now is so different from the loud, annoying one Keith had grown used to. Lance's teasing and playful tone did not exist here, instead, it was replaced by a mellow voice Keith almost didn't recognize was his. He involuntarily shivered while listening to Lance's low, mellifluous way of singing which made him burn red with embarrassment because Lance was singing for his mother not him so stop getting any ideas Keith. Keith glanced at the others, hoping that he isn't the only one who was feeling this way, that he isn't the only one who's immensely thunderstruck by Lance's talent, that he isn't just imagining and– yup, he was right. 

Allura and Pidge were obviously captivated, if their facial expressions said enough. They were both staring up at the stage with their eyes wide and bright, twinkling with amazement the more they stared. Their jaws were hanging slightly, and their bodies were inching forward in suspense somewhat subconsciously. In short, they were absolutely floored. Keith turned to his right to look at Hunk, who also had a stupefied expression on his face. Keith knitted his eyebrows together and leaned in to Hunk. “Why are you surprised? Didn't you know that Lance was a great singer?” Hunk shakes his head slowly, as if he still couldn't fully comprehend what he was hearing. “No... whenever Lance sings, it's usually all playful and not really taking it seriously. I... I didn't know that he was actually a great singer.” Keith groans and covers his face, feeling it heat up under his palm. 

So far, nobody knows about the things that happened in Lance's life. Allura and Pidge were helpless, Hunk knows some things and yet he doesn't, and Keith, even though he was slowly getting there, wasn't that close with Lance just yet. Overall, none of them knows what to expect. They're literally walking into this blind and Keith doesn't know what to feel about that. Cautious? Indifferent? Keith sighs and shakes his head, whatever they might see, it couldn't possibly be as shocking as this. Maybe Keith will finally see Lance's family (minus, of course, his mom) that he always talks so highly about. Maybe Lance's past consists of him mourning for his mom, moving on, maybe finding a girl (possibly the one who screamed his name when they used the mind melds), and going to the Garrison. It could be as simple as that. 

But no matter how much Keith tried to assure himself, he has this deep gut feeling that it wasn't going to turn out the way he wants it to be. 

 

 

“So I'll sing Hallelujah 

 

You were an angel in the shape of my mum 

 

When I fell down you'd be there holding me up 

 

Spread your wings as you go 

 

And when God takes you back 

 

He'll say, 'Hallelujah, you're home.'”   

 

 

Keith stared along with the others, wanting so badly to speak about their current situation but not wanting to interrupt the spell Lance has trapped them all into. Lance continued singing the song (which Keith realized is about a child suffering from the loss of their mother, but slowly accepting it throughout the song), obliviously oblivious on the impact his voice was causing for everybody. And not just the team, but literally everyone in the room. Keith turned his head and saw some of Lance's relatives look forward with the most rueful, yet smiling faces. Some had tears on their eyes, and the others were wiping theirs away. But one girl particularly struck out to Keith. She was looking down on her emerald dress, her hands clenched on top of her lap, with an expression that was mixed between sadness and anger. She...

Keith softened. She looked like she wanted to cry, shout, punch something, or hide away in an isolated place. She looked exactly as Keith knew he did when he was younger. Mad at the world, mad at everyone else, mad about the loss he feels, and just mad, mad, mad mad mad– 

“Keith.” Pidge pokes him and Keith turns his attention to her. Surprisingly, her face was scrunched up in worry. “Are you... okay?” That question threw him off more than Pidge's expression did. Why was she asking if he was okay? Did he do something? Was it something on his face? Sensing Keith's internal conflict, she added. “You looked sad and regretful. Is something wrong?” Keith blinked uncomprehendingly, before giving a slight shake of the head. “No, there's nothing wrong. I just...” Keith glanced back at that girl and saw himself; back when he was grieving and mad and just, tired. “I saw something interesting.”  

Pidge frowned, curiosity burning in her eyes but giving him the benefit of the doubt and deciding not to push. Pidge went back to talking with Allura, which Keith was gladly grateful for. Keith slumps in his seat and listens to Lance sing, voice smooth and full of emotion as he sang the final lines. 

 

 

“Hallelujah 

 

You were an angel in the shape of my mum 

 

You got to see the person I have become 

 

Spread your wings and I know 

 

That when God took you back 

 

He said, 'Hallelujah, you're home.'”

 

 

Keith didn't think it was even possible to have so much emotion in one's voice, but Lance definitely proved him wrong. Ever since he arrived here, in Lance's memories, Lance kept surprising him completely, and Keith strangely thinks it will happen again. They were still in Lance's early memories, probably around fifteen, and they still have to stay to reach Lance's current age, which was seventeen. 

Silence first descended upon the room, before claps started rumbling everywhere. Instinctively, Keith raised his hands to clap, but then realized that he was just in a memory and retreated his hands back in shame. But he felt less ashamed when he saw the others doing the same; red formed on Allura's cheeks, a sheepish smile crawled up on Pidge's lips, and a cough came out of Hunk's mouth to hide the embarrassment they all feel. At least Keith wasn't the only one who fell for the custom they had all grown accustomed to. Choosing to ignore what happened, everyone focused on Lance, who stood up abruptly after finishing. Keith squinted his eyes at Lance in suspicion; something wasn't right. His breathing was obviously ragged, his fists were clenched, and even from afar Keith can see his eyes become glossy. 

Was he... Keith gulped. Was he going to break down?

Lance's brother seemed to notice right away and jogged to the stage, mic in hand while shielding Lance away in his back. “Okay folks! That's the end of the performance! Let's all move on to go to our house for the family lunch! We'll meet you all there!”

Everyone started speaking to each other all at once, standing up and packing their things to go outside. Keith stood up when he saw Lance's brother drag Lance away. “Guys! Come on! If we follow them, maybe we won't have to go through another transition!” With that realization, everyone scrambled to their feet and followed after Lance, desperately not wanting to feel the painful transition of being pulled and transported to a different place again. They ran around the stage and managed to catch up with them in time, but the scene before them was much more unexpected than before. Because Lance was crying. His emotionless front was gone and was replaced by the reality of a young, inconsolable boy who just lost his mother. 

Everyone froze, their eyes glued to the scene as Lance gripped his brother's shirt tightly, sobs escaping his mouth. His eyes were shut and his body was trembling. If that didn't make Keith's heart break, then it definitely did when he heard how broken Lance sounded. “M-Mom... mom's gone. Mom's dead... she... s-she...”

“Buddy.” His brother soothed, wrapping his hands on Lance's back for a hug. Keith was grateful that he was there with him, because Keith wouldn't handle it if he saw Lance break down and cry by himself. He just wouldn't take it. “It's alright.”

No!” Lance shouts, voice cracking. More tears fell from his eyes and Keith suddenly felt an urge to wipe those away and comfort him in any way he can, but he can't. He can't help him because they're just in a memory, this already happened and there's nothing Keith can do about it. “No... you don't understand! Mom... mom promised! She– she told us she wouldn't leave us like our father did, that– that she wouldn't leave us all alone! But she did, Marco! She died and now everything's falling apart!” 

Oh. 

That... 

That explains why Hunk said Lance never talks about his parents. His father presumably left them and their mother died. Both parents are gone and from what Keith remembers, their older brother (whose name Keith now knows is Marco) is leaving them to go back to college. That sucks. Keith hopes, that after Lance is done mourning for his mother, that he gets the much needed break he deserves before going to the Garrison. “Lance, nothing will fall apart if you don't let it.” Lance's brother lets out a breath. “Yes, dad's gone. Mom's dead, and suddenly you have to take charge when I'm away. I know that's a lot of responsibility for someone who's just fifteen years old, but you shouldn't let that bring you down. Mom believed in you, I trust you, and Rachel is counting on her big brother to take care of her. Lance, your family needs you to be there through this difficult time, and you need to step up and help them realize that you're all suffering through this together. Do you understand?” 

The scene tugged at Keith's heartstrings, causing a wave of emotions hitting him low in the gut. It was impossible not to, just listening to how Lance's brother assure him with the utmost softness and firmness in his voice sparked a warm feeling in his stomach that he couldn't explain what. Keith turns to his side when he suddenly hears sniffling, he then frowns in concern for his teammate. “Pidge? Are you crying?” Keith didn't expect to see anyone to cry, much less Pidge, about this memory, no matter how sad and touching it is. Pidge sniffles once more and rubs her eyes, stammering to explain herself. “Sorry, I– it's just–” She cuts herself off with a watery laugh. “Do all McClains give inspiring speeches like this?” 

“Pidge.” Keith warns softly, worry evident in his tone. Pidge shakes her head rapidly, dismissing his worry and rubbing her eyes harder. “I'm okay, really. Let's just watch the memory.” Keith sighs and chose not to push, in return for the favor Pidge gave him earlier. Keith looks back at the two brothers, just in time to see Lance's bro– Marco, Keith corrects in his mind, wiping away Lance's tears. “Can I trust you, Lance?” Marco asks with a somber look. “To be strong for the family we have left?” Everyone turned to Lance, whose face first shows insecurity, hesitance, but quickly grows serious. Keith immediately sensed the shift in the air. He was sure he wasn't the only one who smiled proudly when Lance squares his shoulders, stands tall and firm, locking his gaze with his brother's with an earnest glint in his eyes. “I can do it.” 

Lance's words ring in the air even after everything went black. 

 

 

~•~

 

 

Keith, more than ever, started to hate the fact that he was here. Because he was yet again thrown into some sort of portal which left him distressed and in complete disarray. His clothes were rumpled, his head was pounding, and his hair (which was not a mullet, thank you very much Lance) was a total mess. Keith grumbled in annoyance and patted his jacket, his shirt, and finger-combed his hair back into place. When he was done, he finally took notice of his surroundings. 

He was sitting on a chair in the middle of a diner, which didn't have that many people considering that it was nighttime outside. Once again, the others were nowhere in sight. Thinking they would appear like before, Keith waited tensely, expecting one of them to suddenly pop up and give him another heart attack from the unexpectedness. 

But... no one was appearing. 

A minute passed, two, three, and now, five minutes passed and the others still weren't here. Panic seized up Keith's chest. “Guys?” Oh gosh, was he going through this memory alone? With no one? Keith doesn't know what to be mad at; the mind melds or Lance's mind for not giving him at least one person to be with. That was just cruel. 

Keith was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't see Lance, literally from the seat beside him. 

Keith jumped in surprise when Lance suddenly speaks. Keith thought that maybe, maybe he can see him and– wait no, he's just talking to someone over the phone. Keith doesn't know whether to be disappointed or hit himself for being stupid enough to even think that. Keith was in Lance's memories, of course Lance couldn't interact with him. That would only cause major difference in Lance's life and lead to numerous outcomes different from the original one. If Lance could see him, his life would change drastically and maybe he won't even become a Paladin. Keith has seen tons of movies of which involves messing with things that shouldn't be messed with (like Numb, or The Last Refuge), and it all turns out horribly wrong. So, as much as Keith wanted Lance to see or talk to him, he has to deal with the fact that he's basically a ghost right now. “I won't take long, okay? I'm just waiting for the take-out and I'll be on my way.” Keith took a moment to glance at Lance's attire, which was still the same as it was earlier. But this time, his coat hung on the back of his seat and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. He sighs in the most dejected voice Keith has ever heard him utter. “She still won't come out of her room?” Lance raises his hand to massage his temples. “I'll– I'll come home and talk to her, okay? Just go to sleep, remember, you still have school tomorrow.” 

Confused and lost, Keith watched as Lance and the person he was talking to on the phone exchanged goodbyes and hung up. What does he mean? The more Keith sees Lance's memories, the more curious he becomes of what's happening or what will come next, like taking an exam and having to wait anxiously for the results. Lance sighed again and slumped in his seat, exhaustion taking up his features. 

For a teenager, Lance already had the face of a stressed out adult, confusing Keith on how Lance became, well, Lance. How did he become as casual as he was now, if he looked so serious and emotionless? How did he decide to go to the Garrison if he had so much stuff to deal with? 

And lastly, why hasn't Keith seen a single happy memory yet? 

Everything was wrong. From what Keith had seen so far, Lance had many responsibilities as the brother of his family. And he was dealing with the loss of his mother as well, so how come... Lance never told any of this to them? Keith frowned sadly, he knows that they weren't close, but can't Lance even open up to them, to him, about the things that happened in his life? They were a team now, and they have all have trust in each other. But why does Lance keep this all bottled up, and never even bothered to say a word? Doesn't he trust them well enough to tell them, “Hey, I don't have a mother.” or, “My father left me and my family at some point.” or even, “I was just fifteen years old and my older brother already trusted me to take care of the family.” 

... it may not seem easy but still. 

Did he not trust them with his past? Or about the things that happened in his life? Did he think that they would think less of him because of his incomplete family? Because Keith could never do that. Sure, they bickered and fought the first time they met, but they moved past that. Lance is his right-hand man, and Keith wouldn't have it any other way. 

Lance and Keith jumped in surprise when a person suddenly exclaims, a sharp gasp coming from them. Keith turns to face the person and saw a girl, whose green eyes were wide with disbelief and Keith suddenly felt like he had seen her before. Lance raised an eyebrow in her direction. “Can I help you?” 

“You're Lance! Mcclain!” 

Keith's own eyes widened in recognition, the memory of the mind meld incident flashing in his mind. 

That's why she looked familiar! She was the girl from Lance's memories that popped up in the holographic screen! Her voice was also the same! She was the one who possibly said all those things that they heard during the malfunction. And this, this was one of them. Freaking out silently, Keith watched Lance raise his eyebrow higher. “Yes, that's my name. Who are you?” 

The girl snapped out of her amazed state and narrowed her eyes at him. “Who am I? Uh, the name's Allison.” 

Wait, that sounds familiar. 

Lance blinked, obviously not knowing who this girl was. The girl– Allison, Keith supposes– blinked in expectation before speaking again. “We were like, rivals in high school before you dropped out.” 

Okay, hold on, what. 

Keith's turned to Lance, shock in his face because Lance dropped out of high school. Why the heck would he drop out– “Rivals?” He said questioningly, not even bothering to say anything about the drop out thing. “Sorry, but I don't think I have a rival.” 

That comment caused the girl's jaw to drop. She then sputtered out anything she could think of to jog Lance's memory. “You did too! Me! 

“I don't even remember you! Or even know you!” 

“We were like, Allison and Lance, neck and neck, throughout middle school to high school!” 

“I don't even care about anyone else during those times.” 

“I was in all of your classes!” 

“Uh, nope. Don't remember, didn't happen.” 

“Oh come on!” The girl groaned, running her fingers through her short chestnut hair in annoyance. Keith watched the whole exchange, his mind blowing because Lance supposedly had a rival in high school, in which he dropped out in.  

Keith still couldn't believe that (the drop out thing, not the rival thing).  

The girl– Allison sat down on the chair from across Lance, the glare permanently affixed in her face. Lance crossed his arms. “Uh, why are you here?” 

“To meet up with an old partner.” The girl replies easily. Lance looks at her with a blank look. “You know that wasn't what I was talking about.” She shrugged, crossing her arms defensively over her chest. Lance sighed. “Look, girly, I think you must have confused me with someone else. Because I sure as hell don't have a rival–”  

“Me! I was your rival!” Allison cuts off desperately. She grumbles and glares at the floor. “That was until you left and I suddenly became number one.”

“Then congratulations.” 

“But...” The girl trails off, biting her lips curiously. She furrows her eyebrows and locks her eyes with Lance's. “Why?” Lance tilts his head slightly, a bit thrown off from the question. “Why what?” 

Keith watched as Allison uncrossed her arms and fiddled with her fingers, gulping before saying, “Why did you... you know, drop out?” 

Keith was very curious as well. 

So far, Lance's life surprised him greatly, but not in a good way. Finding out his mother was dead, he doesn't have a father, and that his whole family relied on him to take charge was definitely not sitting right with Keith. Sure, he discovered that Lance could play the piano, which was good, and that he could sing really, really, really beautifully. But that doesn't really outweigh all of the bad things Keith had seen. “Do you have any ideas?”  

Allison bites her lips nervously before speaking once more. “Based on rumors, it has to do something with your family.” The girl glances at him, confusion and curiosity written on her face. “I understand that your family is a big part of your life, but... you were the greatest student in our school. Teachers adored you and students looked up to you. I know that family is important and all, but do you really have to throw that all away because of them?” 

What. 

What. 

Lance dropped out, not because of some stupid reason like getting into a fight or failing a grade or something (which Keith now knows is impossible because Lance was supposedly the greatest student in their school), but because of his family. Keith cursed at Lance's selflessness, both loving and hating it at the same time. It would've been fine if it was another reason, but the fact that it was for his family changes everything. It goes to show how far Lance will do for his family, and Keith doesn't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. 

Lance face turned dark. “I'm sorry, but I don't think you have the right to ask about my family.” 

Allison immediately backtracked. “N-No, wait–”  

“Look, Allison, was it? I don't think we're close enough to talk about my life, in which you are not apart of.” Both Keith and Allison flinched at the harshness of Lance's voice. “And talk about the reasons why I left that school. I didn't even know you existed until now. So if you're going to be rude, I suggest you leave right now.” 

Keith's jaw dropped in disbelief. Lance... acted like this with new people? But... he could never! He was always so kind and helpful to all those aliens he met, to all those different creatures on the planets they visit on, but why the heck is he acting like this towards another human being? Sure, the girl was crossing the line a bit, but does she really deserve that? No, she doesn't. Keith shook his head, maybe Lance will change. After all, he is just fifteen at the moment, maybe with some time he'll grow and probably be nicer. 

“I-I didn't mean to come off as rude.” Allison frantically explains. “I'm sorry. It just– it was hard. For me, I mean, after you left.” She chuckles forcefully. “Number one was gone so everyone decided to turn to number two, burdening their expectations to someone to become the next number one. Even though all I wanted was to be myself.” Allison's voice became softer and softer as she talked to Lance, and her last words were barely a whisper. 

Keith turns to Lance with a whole new perspective. Did... was that how Lance felt when Keith left the Garrison? He did say that he became a fighter pilot only because Keith washed out, but did he not feel the responsibilities? The expectations of other people? Keith gulped and glanced at the girl, she certainly felt that. And Keith is sure Lance did too. 

Lance stiffened. “I'm sorry. That must be rough.” 

After a few minutes, Keith didn't expect Lance to sigh, slumping slightly afterwards. “Yes, I left mainly for my family. I... needed to step down in order to support everyone. It was simple math. One down so there were less school bills to worry about. And... since my younger siblings are the future, I would always pick their education before mines.” 

Allison didn't look like she was going to give up. “B-But you're the top of the class!” Okay, wait, first the greatest student in their school and now the top of the class what the heck– “You have a scholarship!” 

“Sorry, but a scholarship is not what I need right now.” Lance states blankly. “I need money, and I can't work if I'm sitting in class all day.”  

“M-Maybe– maybe a loan–” 

“Oh no.” Lance laughs humorlessly. “I'm not going down that path.” 

“How about–” 

Lance lets out a harsh breath and slams his hand on the table, surprising both Allison and Keith. “Look, sweetheart, I appreciate the effort, but it's never going to happen, okay? I'm not going back.” 

Keith looks at Lance, not recognizing who he was at all. Was Lance really this cold when he was just a teen? Where did his bubbly, talkative, and social butterfly attitude come from? Where was the Lance he knew now? Allison visibly deflates, hopelessness taking up her expression.  “But... I just want to help, you're my rival and–” 

“Stop it with the rival thing.” Lance snaps, annoyance slipping past his facade. Before he could continue, a woman walked up to Lance and gave him a paper bag filled with food, which Keith assumes is the take-out he ordered. Lance thanked her and then he turned to Allison. “You don't know me, okay? And I don't know you. So I'm suggesting you back off and we never meet again.” 

Keith can see the guilt dripping from Allison's face. “I-If you could listen, I–” 

“I don't want to listen. Why should I?” Lance collects his things and turns around to leave the diner, leaving Keith questioning himself if he even knew Lance at all. 

 

 

~•~

 

 

It has... been a while since Pidge had been in a house. 

(Not a home, of course, because a home is where the heart is and blah, blah, blah, and of course her heart is with her family, which is her team and yada yada.) 

But an actual house, with wooden floorboards, lightbulbs on the ceiling, warmly painted walls, and just a house in total. The last time she remembered being in a house is when she left to go to the Garrison, which her mom is definitely going to ground her for. 

She showed up, dizzy and a little disoriented, but overall fine. The feeling of that washed away when she saw her surroundings and realized that she was in a house. A real house. She looked around and saw pictures hanging from the wall, each one with a person from Lance's family, and Lance with those family members. Pidge walked towards one and saw a picture of him and... his mom? 

Pidge's eyes widened and she took a closer look. Yup. The picture was taken in a meadow, if the grass and streams in the background was obvious enough. In the middle, there was Lance; around seven years old with a wide smile showing off his pearly whites. Behind him was Pidge concluded to be his mother, who had a soft smile and hands on Lance's shoulders. Her mother, unlike Lance, had black hair but they both have the same blue eyes that seems to run down in their family. In this picture, they both looked happy and healthy, so what exactly went wrong with Lance's mother? 

Her thoughts were cut off when she heard a door creaking open, then closing. She turns her gaze to the person who went in, which was actually Lance! He was dressed in the same attire he was wearing in the funeral, but his coat was off and his sleeves were messily rolled up. He was also holding something, a paper bag that sort of looked like take-out food. Pidge followed him curiously as he dumped his things on the couch and places the paper bag on top of the table near that. He then walks up to the room up ahead, breathing in before knocking. 

“Rachel?” She heard Lance murmur. “I... I have your favorite food. Do you want to eat it while watching your favorite movie?” 

No answer. Lance sighs. “Rachel, I–” 

“Go away, Lance.” Came the voice of a girl, who sounds like she had been crying but trying not to. Pidge remembers the name, since Lance and his brother mentioned it, but she doesn't know who this girl was. All Pidge knows is that Lance is probably the second to the oldest child of three? Making him the middle child, Pidge supposes. Or probably not. 

“Rachel.” Lance repeats, unwilling to do what she says.  

“Just go away, Lance.” 

“Rachel.” Lance counters softly. “I know what mom said was very surprising, but you don't have to act this way–” 

The door opens harshly and there reveals Rachel; a girl who was two inches shorter than Lance, in an emerald dress with her hair tied up messily behind her. Her fists were clenched in anger, and her eyes were glossing with tears. “No! I can act however I want!” 

Pidge looks at the girl with surprise. Was she seriously yelling at Lance, her own brother? Pidge looks back at Lance, whose eyes widened, before they softened with understanding. “Rachel, mom wouldn't have wanted–”  

“Well she's not here now, is she?” Rachel snaps back. She glares at the ground in anger. “She's not here, and we have to pay for her mistakes.” 

Pidge's jaw dropped. That sentence itself seems like a low blow, even though Pidge knows nothing about what happened. Lance, on the other hand, obviously knows since he raised his voice. “Rachel!” 

“Don't tell me that's not true! Because it is! She tells us we have a long lost sibling and then she dies! Just like that!”  

“Rachel.” Lance hisses. “Keep your voice down. Alex will hear you.” 

Woah woah woah woah, hold up now. 

Lance has a long lost sibling?! Where... what... why didn't he say anything? Lance had always been open with them about literally everything, so why doesn't he tell them about his family? Or the fact that he has a long lost sibling?! 

“Oh, I'm sorry, Lance.” Rachel replies in a sarcastic tone. “I forgot that I have to listen to you now, since mom's dead and Marco's gone.”  

“Rachel! Don't–” 

“Don't what?! Say the truth?! You know better than anyone else what I'm talking about, big brother.” She emphasizes on the word 'brother', almost as if she was saying it mockingly. 

Okay. This girl was getting on Pidge's nerves. She may be Lance's sister, but she does not have the right to act that way to him! If she dares to say anything mean to Lance again, Pidge will do anything in her technological power to interact with Lance's memories and strangle his sister down to the ground.  

“Yes, mom died, Rachel!” Lance exclaims desperately. “But that does not mean your anger is justified! That does not mean you have to be mad at the whole world! And that definitely does not mean you can go and act like a rude brat!” Though a bit surprised at Lance's outburst, Pidge nods her head in agreement. That was right! Just because one faces a loss, doesn't mean they can take out their frustrations or anger at anyone else. It's not right. 

Rachel's eyebrows were dragged down in anger, her fists slightly trembling on her sides. “Do you even know what's happening in school?” She stops and laughs with no humor in her tone. “Oh yeah, you dropped out. Of course you don't know.”  

Wait. 

What. 

Lance. Dropped. Out?! 

Pidge looks at Lance with protruding eyes, unable to hide the shock from her face. He actually dropped out? And for what? A failed test? A fight? Or something else? Because at this point, Pidge doesn't know what to expect, and she certainly didn't expect when Lance's features became downcast, guilty, and completely heartbroken. His sister doesn't seem to notice, because she continues on, her voice getting higher and higher with every word. “Everyone is saying that our family cannot be trusted! Our father left, for reasons we don't know, Abuelo died, so did Abuela, and now, mom died right after! Everyone seems to know about our mysterious long lost sister, and they're saying our family has a cursed bloodline!” 

“Rachel! Keep your voice down. Alex will hear you.” Lance grits out. Pidge looks at him with sympathy, feeling so bad for him that he had to face this when he was younger. Pidge assumes, from what Rachel said, that their 'Abuelo' and 'Abuela' (what the heck is that?) died and their mom shortly followed. Their long lost sister is probably the Alex Lance keeps on mentioning, since he's so insistent about Rachel keeping her voice down so she wouldn't hear. And Lance dropped out of school, of reasons Pidge does not know about. 

When they get through this, Pidge is going to give Lance a big hug. 

'Stay away from the McClains or their bad luck will come to you!''I sure hope the McClains will move out of this town or else everyone in this town will die!''Your brother is Lance McClain, right? Didn't he drop out? I feel so sorry for you, Rachel.' And that's not even half of all of it!” Rachel was shouting now, with tears streaming down her face and her expression twisted up in anger. Pidge glances at Lance and saw him slumping dejectedly, sighing guiltily. “Rachel... I...” 

“What? You what, Lance?” 

“I'm sorry you had to go through all of that.” Why the heck is Lance the one apologizing?! “But we're family. And family always have each other's backs. Believe me when I say that we'll get through this, together.” Lance places a hand on his sister's shoulder, squeezing it in reassurance. Instead of accepting Lance's comfort, Rachel scoffed. “So you're trying to be like Marco now, are you?” 

Lance pulls back his hand as if he was burned, hurt crossing his features. “I... I would never–” 

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” She mutters. She turns her back and enters her room, grabbing the doorknob and slamming the door on Lance's face. Lance places his hand on the door, looking down as if he was looking through it and actually looking at his sister. “I... I'll leave your food in the fridge. Just heat it up when you're hungry.” 

No reply. Not even a simple hum. Lance opens his mouth to say more, but he decided against it and just sighed in resignation. “Good night, Rachel.” 

He slowly retracted his hand and walks away, looking as miserable as ever. Pidge crossed her arms and glared at the door. “Lance doesn't deserve any of what that girl said. Right, guys?” 

Pidge expected mumbles of agreement from behind her, but there was nothing. Furrowing her eyebrows in confusion, she turned around and saw no one. 

“Uh, guys?”  

Wait, was she all alone?! 

“Guys?”  

Chapter Text

“You, where the hell did you come from? You're a different, different kind of fun and I'm so used to feeling numb. Now, I've got pins and needles on my tongue, anticipating what's to come; like a finger on a loaded gun.”      -Kelly Clarkson, from the song Heartbeat Song  

 

 

 

darkness. black. the complete absence of light. there was nothing lance could see.

but there were sounds. many of them. from every direction; left, right, up, down, everywhere. what was happening? lance asked himself as he floats in the vastness of nothingness, not sure if he was conscious or even alive. he doesn't know. he can feel himself drifting, moving, but he can't feel his hands. he can't move his legs. he's not even sure if he has his body, but all he knows is that he can hear them. the voices. they were getting louder, and louder, and louder. 

“That's got to be rough.” he hears. what was it? who said that? all he could see was black, and all he could hear was the various voices all around him. 

“Ready, Lance?” he knows that voice. he looks up to person who owns that voice. but why is he hearing it again? what was happening? 

“I... I didn't know that he was actually a great singer.” were they talking about him? were they? why? why would they? 

“She died and now everything's falling apart!” that was his own voice. he knows it. he remembers saying all those lines from before. but why is he hearing it again? where is he? is he missing something? 

“You're Lance! Mcclain!” 

he remembers now. he recognizes that voice. who it belonged to. 

allison. 

that can only belong to allison. which meant he was hearing other people watch his memories, without permission, not stopping, intruding him and his mind from the privacy he holds desperately dear to his heart. there was no stopping them now, whoever they were. they're going to find out. who he was. what he did. what he let happen. 

they're going to find out everything that happened and he can't do anything about it. 

 

 

~•~

 

 

Other than engineering, cooking has always been Hunk's passion. 

He loves the tingling adrenaline through his bones when he turns on the stove to make a dish. The sound of sizzling oil popping 'till it's hot is music to his ears. He relishes the feeling of pride that swells up his chest whenever the person or people he's cooking for enjoys his dish. Exhilaration courses through his blood when the cooking needs to be faster the more the fire gets hotter. If he didn't go to the Garrison, he would've dedicated his full-time to being a chef. 

But if he didn't go to the Garrison, he wouldn't have met the people he now calls his friends. 

Like Shiro, but he was more of a mentor and father-figure than a friend. Or maybe Keith, even though he's still socially awkward interacting with them. It was a given that everyone liked Coran, no questions asked. He was steadily getting closer with Allura, and he's becoming more closer with Pidge. But his friendship with the others couldn't beat the connection he and Lance have. 

He knows Lance only for over a year, but that didn't mean they weren't best friends. They were practically inseparable throughout the Garrison, they talked about nothing and everything, they hung out and bonded together, they just clicked. 

But after the whole 'going-to-space-and-being-defenders-of-the-universe' thing, they didn't really have the time to talk anymore. Hunk noticed. Lance was pulling away discreetly, making excuses for not hanging out, or being impossible to find anywhere. He was avoiding them, but he still talked to them enough so the others won't notice. He still cracked jokes, made flirty attempts, but he was also distancing himself away. And that's what Hunk didn't like about him. The fact that Lance still didn't trust them enough to actually become closer, that Hunk was still trying to break down his walls the way he did for over a year. But nothing was working. 

When Hunk thinks he knows Lance, something happens that surprises him completely. 

Like his singing. And that he didn't have a father. And that he lost his mother. And now, in another memory, Lance still surprises him with something he never told him. 

The fact that he could cook. 

When Hunk arrives in the memory, seemingly alone (what's up with that?), he can already smell the aroma of fresh-made eggs and bacon right away. And it didn't just smell good either, it looked good as well. There were scrambled eggs, which looked incredibly soft and delicious to eat. The bacon on the side looked crispy and crunchy to bite into and devour. There were two plates of food, now three as Lance entered with the third plate of eggs and bacon. He places the plate on the table and runs his fingers through his hair, closing his eyes and letting out a breath. He opens them again and calls out. “Rachel! Alex! Lucas! Breakfast!” 

Two little kids ran to the dining room immediately after Lance's calling. The girl, who looked around the age of eight or nine, had short curly hair and unlike Lance, had striking green eyes. The other kid, which was a boy, was probably around six or seven, a tad shorter than the other girl and had the same green eyes as her. Lance smiled and crouched down to their height. “Hola calabazas, ¿habéis dormido bien?” 

Wait. 

Lance can speak another language? Specifically Spanish? Since when?! And why doesn't Hunk know this?!

Both the kids nodded their heads. “¡Sí!” 

Lance laughed and led the kids to the table. “Eso es bueno. Ve a comer ahora.” Hunk looks at them, completely lost and surprised that Lance could speak Spanish. He could speak Spanish and he didn't say anything to him.

Hunk was hurt. He thought that with all that happened with the two of them, Lance would trust Hunk as he does with him. But he doesn't even trust him enough to tell him about his mother, who died, or his father, who left him, or that he can speak another language, or that he can cook. 

No, Hunk shook his head ruefully. It wasn't that. 

It was Hunk's fault as well. He never did push Lance to talk, to open up, when he knows he should have. He didn't ask him, “What's wrong?” every time Lance freezes up when someone asks about his family. He didn't try hard enough to assure Lance he could trust him with his secrets, or his past. He should've, but he didn't. And that makes all the difference in the world. 

When the two children were seated, Lance inspected the room and sighed again. “Rachel! It's time for breakfast!” Oh. So the two children were Alex and Lucas and the one who hasn't come yet was Rachel. Hunk stares at Lance with wide eyes, how the heck can he handle three younger siblings by himself? And how did he decide to leave them for the Garrison? It doesn't make sense. Who took care of them after Lance left? More questions rising, Hunk watches as a girl, who looked older than the two children but younger than Lance, walks into the dining room. She had long, brown curly hair loose on her shoulders, and her sharp blue eyes were quite alike with Lance's in some ways. Though the four of them didn't have the same features or eye colors, they all had one thing in common; their skin color. 

You can just tell from their skin color that they're all related. I guess it runs in the McClain blood, Hunk hums thoughtfully. Lance tenses up slightly when seeing the girl, nonetheless, he gave her a curt nod and smile. “Good morning, Rachel.” The girl– Rachel– rolls her eyes and ignored Lance's greeting, walking pass him to sit on the table. Hunk didn't miss the way Lance's expression turned sad and disappointed, his shoulders slumping down in exhaustion from the reaction he got from the girl. But as soon as it arrived, it left. Lance straightened up again, his face becoming blank as he walked off to the side. 

Hunk stares back and forth at Lance and his sister, is he... missing something? Or was this usually how Lance and his sister interact? Hunk doesn't know, and he desperately wants to. One of the kids, Lucas– Hunk thinks– looks at Lance with a confused pout. “¿Hermano?” Lance turns his head to his small brother, question in his eyes. “¿No vas a comer?” Hunk looks back at Lance, not understanding what they were talking about but trying to tell from their facial expressions and tone. Lance laughs softly and shakes his head. “No, lo siento, Lucas.” 

Hunk guesses that means "I'm sorry" or something. 

Before Lance could walk away, the Rachel girl spoke up. “Lance.” The said boy froze, his back turning slowly before facing his sister. “What is it?” Rachel pushes her plate away, her gaze permanently affixed on the ground. She crosses her arms after. “You can have it. You need to eat.” Lance's eyes widened, before they glance at the side. “No, um– it's okay. Just finish your food. I'm– I actually have somewhere to be.” 

Hunk lets a out a breath of relief, finally, English; the language he understands. Rachel's eyes brightened with curiosity, her head tilting slightly towards Lance's direction. “Are you going to work?” Hunks's jaw dropped at that statement. Lance has a job?! In his young age?! What the heck– “No, not yet. I– there's some things I need to take care of. I won't be back for a while, so don't wait up for me.” Lance grabs a jacket and his keys. “Rachel, do me a favor and take Lucas and Alex to school. After you guys eat breakfast, there should be some money in the living room somewhere so you can buy lunch.” 

“Okay.” Rachel mutters. For a moment, she bit her lip in thought. She then looks up and locks her gaze with Lance's. “Lance, I– it's about– I'm–” 

“Yeah, Rachel?” Lance hums while putting on his signature jacket. 

Rachel opens her mouth, before closing it with a sigh. “Never mind. I'll see you later.” Lance gave her a small smile and nods. “Yeah, okay.” He waves goodbye to Alex and Lucas then walked out of the front door, leaving Hunk curious of what Rachel was going to say to him. 

What was she supposed to say? 

 

 

~•~

 

 

lance knows they're watching. he knows that they're listening. but what he doesn't understand is why can't they hear him. why can't they see him. 

there were four of them, four people watching his memories. finding out little by little about the past that he wants to keep locked away. slowly seeing who he was before, before he grew into the persona he had today.  

do they see now? lance thinks. do they see how different I acted before? 

do they hate me now? lance doesn't know what to say. 

 

 

~•~

 

 

Keith, though a little dizzy, got used to the feeling of being transported and pulled to a whole new place. 

He never thought he'd see the day. 

Looking around, he noticed that he was alone. Again. And worse? There were teenagers everywhere. Keith doesn't know what's worse; being alone or being surrounded by many people. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, taking in a deep breath while doing so. 

That's when he noticed the lockers. 

He tilted his head in confusion. Why are there lockers? Before he could take a step forward, Lance– Lance walked right through him. 

Yes, right through him. 

Keith stumbled back, holding his stomach in surprise. He can do that?!  He glances back at Lance and noticed that he was tense with...  anger? Wait, why would Lance be angry? Keith jumps when he hears a voice echo through the halls. “Oh look everybody, Lance McClain is here!” 

Well, that answers Keith's question. Keith supposes, that Lance was in his school, for some reason. 

Lance gritted his teeth in annoyance. “I'm not looking for a fight, Ray.” 

The guy– Ray– laughs and takes a step forward. From his attire alone, Keith can already tell that this guys was rich, but a complete ass. He was wearing a varsity jacket, which means he was probably one of those cliché jocks in every movie ever. He obviously cared a lot about his looks, if the hair and clothes were any sign. “Oh, but I am. Hey, everyone!”  People started to surround them, closing in on the two of them (three if you count Keith) and leaving no space to escape. Lance's jaw clicked and he turned around to face the guy with an annoyed expression on his face. “What do you want, Ray?” 

The Ray guy ignored what Lance said and smirked, arrogance leaking through his features. “You've got some nerve showing up here, McClain.” 

“Please forgive me, your royal assness.” Lance replies sarcastically. “For I have done a sin of bestowing my presence upon your school.” 

Keith's bit his lip to prevent himself from laughing, but he couldn't prevent the chuckle from slipping past his lips along with the other people who couldn't help themselves as well. Ray balled his hands into fists and he gave Lance a tight-lipped smile. “Hey, how's your mother?” 

Lance went stiff. 

Ray smirks, knowing that he had strike a nerve. “It must be awful, dying that way. Leaving you and your siblings to fend for themselves.” Ray lets out a laugh. “How sad and pathetic, little Lance McClain taking care of his siblings and dropping out of school because he can't balance it all out.” 

“I will be going now, goodbye.” Lance states in a monotonous tone, with an icy glint in his eyes. He turned around and was about to walk through the crowd, but he didn't get to before Ray spoke up again. “I feel bad for your siblings!” 

Lance stopped, fists clenched and teeth gritted in anger. Ray scoffs. “Rachel must be, what? Thirteen? And she's already facing the harsh reality of losing everyone in her family.” 

But how about Lance? Keith desperately wants to exclaim. Doesn't he face that as well because it's his family too? 

“She must hate you so much.” Ray laughs mockingly. “After all, who wouldn't? Her family is a joke; no father, dead mother, drop-out brother, and now, a long lost s–” 

“Oh, I didn't know you have such a perfect family, Cooper.” Lance interrupts. Keith looks at him and notices that he was smirking, but his eyes show no emotion. “Tell me, other than giving you money, did your parents ever tell you that they love you?” 

Ray's face twisted in anger.

Lance turns and faces the guy, the smirk not leaving his lips. “All they do is work all day in their business, so you must be really lonely if they treat you like you don't exist.” Lance tilts his head. “Or is that your interpretation of 'love'? Ignoring your family because work is more important?” 

“Shut up, McClain.” Ray grits out. 

“And here in school? I think you're forgetting your place, Cooper. Because as I recall, I am the greatest student of this school. I am the top of every class. I could come right back and claim my crown, but I see it has gotten filthy on your head.” Lance scoffs, inspecting Ray from head to toe. “What are you pretending to be? Strong? Cool? Important? 'Cause you're not.” Lance takes a step forward. “When I was here I didn't have to pretend to be someone, but I was still noticed by everyone and liked by everybody. You, on the other hand? You're trying hard to be the coolest, self-centered jock I can ever imagine, and yet, nobody cares about you.” 

Keith's jaw dropped. 

Wow. He never thought he'd ever hear those kind of words coming from Lance that hits below the belt completely. It was... sort of cool and surprising? 

Keith snapped away from his thoughts when he noticed that Lance was looking at his side, his shirt being gripped by an angry Ray with a fist held up near Lance's face. Wait, did he just punch Lance?! “You really are a piece of trash, McClain!” 

Keith was taken aback when Lance suddenly laughs, his voice echoing through the halls. Ray furrows his eyebrows in frustration. “Why the hell are you laughing?!” 

Lance looks back at him and grins. “So when we go to the principal's office, I can say that you were the one who threw the first punch.” 

After that, it was chaos. 

Lance slams his fist into Ray's face, making him stumble back in surprise. Before he had the time to recover, Lance, as quick as Keith had seen him, grabbed Ray by the collar and thrusts him to the wall, caging him against it and punching his guts repeatedly. The students around them started moving, swarming around them but not that close to be hit by either of them. Some took out their phones, and some were either screaming, questioning, or cheering. 

Keith doesn't know which of the three was he doing. 

“Stop!” Someone yells. It took Keith a moment to realize that was his own voice, in a tone he doesn't recognize he had. But it was useless for him to scream, to plead because this already happened.  This already happened and once again, Keith can't do anything but watch. 

The fight was a blur of hands strangling each other, throwing punches and kicks non-stop. Something gets shattered the moment Ray's body crashes down on the ground. Lance topples over him, his fists repeatedly striking Ray's face. Ray clamps his hands together, blocking his face from the punches, and kicking Lance on the stomach, knocking Lance off him. 

Lance, with determination hidden in his features, didn't give up. He tackles Ray again, directing a punch towards his jaw. 

Unfortunately, Ray caught his fist before it could make contact with his jaw. He kicked Lance off him, which was a hard kick that sent him flying across the hall. Lance recovers quickly, probably ignoring the pain on his back and ran towards Ray, raising his fist up for a punch. But this time, Ray was prepared. He smirks and caught Lance's fist again, twisting his arm and pinning him to the wall. Lance screamed in pain as Ray starts to taunt him. “I wonder what hurts more,” Ray twists his arm harder and smirks when Lance lets out a grunt. “This, or the loss you felt when you lost your mother?”

That seemed like the last straw for Lance. 

His eyes bulge out for a second and Keith has no doubt that he's thinking of his mother. 

Lance makes a pained sound, but he acted fast and decided to switch their places. Lance sneers and clasps his hands around his neck, choking him. Ray claws at Lance's hands, but he wasn't letting go. “You don't get to say that.” Lance hisses, pure rage and anger laced in his tone. “You don't deserve to speak that way about my family.” 

“You're so pathetic.” Ray breathes out, a cocky smirk still on his lips. “You've finally shown your true colors. Underneath your blasé attitude, you're actually a psycho. A family-obsessed maniac. I wonder what Rachel will think when she finds out that her big brother got into a fight because of her. Will she be embarrassed? Angry? For having such a horrible brother like you?”

Lance's arms shake uncontrollably, but he doesn't release his grip. 

“You don't deserve the attention you're getting, the title you have.” Ray coughs out, spitting blood on Lance's face. Lance growls in anger and pushes him against the wall harder. “Rachel, on the other hand, deserves more. Do you know the criticism she faces everyday? The judgement she has to accept because you're her family? Do you know that she has to face the consequences of your actions?”   

“Don't listen to him Lance, please.” Keith pleads, but that does nothing as Lance's eyes shimmer with tears. 

That was the only vulnerability Ray needs before he pushes Lance off of him. Lance landed on the ground, his eyebrows drawn together in fury. Ray stumbles on his feet as his hand flew to his neck, which had an ugly red mark. “What now, McClain?” He taunts mockingly. “Was I too out of line?” 

Lance wipes the blood from the side of his mouth as he stands up with ease, as if he didn't feel anything at all. His tone was stone-cold when he spoke. “At least I have a family, unlike you, who don't.” Ray's eyes flicker, and he opens his mouth to retort. But before he could even have a chance to speak, a loud voice boomed through the halls. “What is happening in here?!”

The students all turned to the voice, who belonged to a man– around his thirties– wearing a suit. He walks in the middle of Lance and Ray, and he shouts once again. “Students, go back to your class!” The teenagers dispersed and a minute later, the only ones left in the hallway was the man, Ray, and Lance.

The man turns to them both with hands on his hips. “I'm sure you both know the rules of this school, and one of them is no fighting.”

Lance and Ray stood in front of the man, hands behind their backs and shame written across their faces. Keith assumes, that this man is probably the principal of their school. “Yes sir.” Lance answers with no emotion in his voice.

The man sighs heavily and rubs his temples. “Tomorrow, I will have a talk with you both so I expect you two to be in my office. For now, Cooper, go back to your class, and McClain, please don't disrupt the students.” The principal walks away, leaving both of them. Ray scoffs and passes Lance, intentionally bumping into his shoulder.

He stops and tilts his head to the side. “At least I have parents, unlike you, who don't.”

The memory fades away as Ray walked away and Lance's head looks away, a tear falling from his eye.

Keith... doesn't know what to feel about this. 

Lance, the selfless and kindest person he ever met, got into a fight. Not only that, but he was also harsh with his comebacks and retorts. Sure, that Ray guy deserved it, and the punches, but Lance was the last person Keith expected to turn to violence. Keith thought that Lance was more of like a words-man rather than a fists-man, but it turns out that Lance was a deadly combination of the two. He can throw a punch and spew words that cuts. Watching the fight, Keith almost couldn't tell that Lance was the one who was in it. That Lance, who was so helpful and kind, was this cold and cruel and harsh to other people. 

If he was like this, then how the heck did he become so open and flirty? What changed him to be the person who he was today? 

Keith knew one possible person who was capable of doing that. It was that girl– 

Allison. 

 

 

~•~ 

 

 

lance doesn't want anyone to see. he doesn't want anyone to know. 

he wants them all to go out before they can find out. he wants them all to stop before they see how messed-up his past is. how screwed-up he was back then. he doesn't want them to know allison; how her name brings him pain, and how just a memory of her can make him cry in seconds. he doesn't want them to see how she build him up and tore him right down, leaving him with nothing but the painful memories of when they were together. 

he doesn't want them to change how they look at him. but it's inevitable. they have to find out sooner or later. 

but they just have to find out in the worst way possible. 

 

 

~•~  

 

 

Keith was transported, yet again, to another memory of Lance's. His eyes fall on Lance, who sat on the side opposite to the man he saw earlier who stopped the fight. Lance was sitting with a blank look, staring at a random part of the wall. Keith already knows that this was probably going to end horribly, like all the memories he had seen so far. The man sighs, placing down a folder and clasping his hands together. “McClain.”  

“Sir.”

“Recently, you dropped out.” The man started off slowly, as if he was talking to a kid rather than a teenager who's in charge of taking care of the family he has left. “Which means you have nothing else to do with this school anymore. Yesterday, you were only supposed to collect your things and go. But what did I see? I see you and Ray Cooper bruised and bloody on the school hallways, seemingly from a fight, which is strictly not allowed in this school.”  

Lance sighs and drops his head slightly. “Yes sir, I'm sorry.”

The principal shakes his head. “Sorry doesn't cut it, McClain. You already dropped out, and then you fought with one of our students–” 

“Woah, wait, what?” Lance interrupts, jaw wide and disbelief in his tone. “I– he– Cooper was the one who threw the first punch!” 

“Oh, McClain,” The man sighs regretfully. “It doesn't matter who threw the first punch.”

Keith strongly disagrees. 

Keith has read tons of books, has watched tons of movies to know that whoever punched first always matters. The number of injuries comes in second because the one who punched first is the one who really started and ignited the fight. Keith knows, he's been there, he's done that, he got the t-shirt, he learned his lesson. So why is this situation any different? Lance was right, Ray was the one who punched first, not him. So why was this principal defending that guy? Is it... 

Keith gulps. 

Is it because of Lance's skin color? 

Keith shuts down that idea faster than it arrived. 

“What do you mean it doesn't matter?” Lance asks, hopelessness in his tone and facial expression. He leaned in towards the desk and points his finger repeatedly on it. “Cooper hit me first, that's the only thing that should matter.” 

“I'm sorry McClain, but that's not how it works.” The principal crosses his arms over his chest and leans back on his chair. His expression was closed off, unlike Lance's desperate one. “It would've mattered if you were still a student in this school, but you're not. And since you're technically not part of this school anymore, it means you just– based on what Cooper said– physically and verbally attacked him. Which you have no right to do considering your recent drop out and the rising reputation of your family.” 

Lance shifted, his eyebrows furrowing together in slight anger. “What about my family?”  

Oh shoot. He did not just go there. The tension in the air changed. From what Keith can tell, this talk is definitely not going to end up well if Lance's family is involved. And from what he can see– Keith glances at Lance– that Lance was either going to snap or swallow the words the man was going to say. 

The principal lets out a laugh. “Don't tell me you don't know.” He picks up a folder and opens it, taking a piece of paper from it and reading the words out loud. “Unnamed father, deceased mother, older brother's off in college in another country, currently has a long lost sister, and a thirteen year old sister who used to have good grades but unexpectedly started to fail at every test she has.” He places the paper down. “And if you add this fight to the list, I'd say that the reputation of the McClain family has gotten quite notorious.” 

Okay. 

Keith knows about the father, and the mother, and the brother, but he doesn't know about the long lost sister. What the heck? How did Lance handle all of that in the age of fifteen? Just how? 

The hands on Lance's lap slowly balled into fists. 

“Are you saying that you're blaming me for everything,” Lance mutters darkly, sending chills down Keith's spine. “Because of my family? Because I'm not a student here anymore and I don't deserve to be defended?” 

Keith tenses at the level of vitriol in Lance's tone. The principal doesn't notice and scratches the back of his neck, visibly becoming uncomfortable. “You don't have to put it in such a harsh way.” 

“But that's what you're implying, right?

“McClain, if you keep up this attitude, the school will be forced to place a restraining order on you.” The man threatens with promise in his tone. “And not only that, but your siblings will be dragged into this as well. Do you want that to happen?” 

For a minute, Lance grows quiet. 

Thinking that he had won, the principal breaks into a fake smile. “I'm guessing you know what to do now, right? You have to write a formal apology to Cooper's parents and personally apologize to Ray Cooper. After that, you–”   

“I can't believe this.” Lance grumbles under his breath. “This is complete bullshit.” 

Wow Lance. That definitely shouldn't sound hot but it did

The principal frowns in disapproval. “Excuse me?” 

Lance looks up, and Keith almost looked away from how cold Lance's normally warm blue eyes were. They were narrowed in annoyance, making his eyes shinier than they were supposed to be. A twisted sneer was on Lance's lips, and he looked like a completely different person. He was the definition of pure anger and exasperation, far from the playful behavior he always had when he was with them. “You actually accepted it? I expected better of you, Principal Winston.”

What? 

“What do you mean, McClain?” The principal crosses his arms, annoyance slipping past his emotionless facade. “This is not the time to speak about nonsense, so I suggest you–”  

Me? Speaking nonsense?” Lance scoffs. “You should hear yourself.”  

“You need to watch it, McClain.” The principal warns. “That is not the way you should speak with your principal.” 

Lance levels his eyes with the man. “You are no principal of mine, especially with what you're doing now.” 

“What are you talking about?” The principal groans in frustration. 

Don't tell me you don't know.” Lance berates harshly. This Lance... this Lance was different. He was harsher, bitter in a way that Keith had never heard him before. This was a whole new side Keith didn't know that Lance ever had. His fists were trembling, and his eyes were unwavering. “Because I do. I know what's happening and I know what you're doing.” 

“Then please, pray tell, what am I doing?” The principal raises an eyebrow at Lance, clearly displeased with how Lance was acting. 

Lance's lips curl up in a snarl. “You're being bribed, and you're accepting it.” 

Say what now. 

The principal makes a disbelieving sound, eyes impossibly wide at Lance's conclusion. “That is– that is completely atrocious! How– how dare you accuse me of something so horrible–” 

“Is it not true?” Lance snaps. “Because I have more evidence of proving that I'm not wrong.” 

The principal's face went red with embarrassment and anger, and he opens his mouth to speak of the accusation. He doesn't get that chance as Lance presses on, his face crazed and his tone harsh and leaving no room for argument. “You have the decency to bring my family up into this and threaten me. How can you still call yourself a principal if you did that and accepted a bribe?

Lance laughs, humorless and bitter. “You think I wouldn't notice? You're giving yourself too much credit, Principal Winston. Don't you remember? You begged for me not to leave this school because I was the role model of our generation, I was a straight-A student, with remarkable charisma and amazing skills in sports. You yourself told me that I shouldn't waste such a reputation, and now you're telling me that I'm not part of the school anymore?” 

“McClain.” The principal warns, a dangerous glint in his eyes. 

Lance ignores him and continues, smirking in disdain. “You think I wouldn't notice how you told us that you would talk to us today rather than yesterday, when you clearly saw us and stopped the fight yourself?” Lance leans back and crosses his arms. “I wonder why is that. Can I make a guess?” 

“Now McClain, you should stop before you make things worse.” The principal grits out. Keith turns to him and sees that he was sweating, obviously nervous and furious at the same time. Suspicion started to rise in Keith as Lance speaks again. “After you sent us off, you called up Cooper's parents, seeing as they were rich and powerful.” 

Lance's face turned impassive. 

“You told them about the situation, and seeing as their son was involved, they would definitely do anything to cover it up.” 

“McClain, I'm warning you.” 

“So you offered a solution; money for defending Ray. They agreed easily, of course, since they wouldn't want any tarnish in their family name and business.” 

“Stop, just stop!” 

“I'm guessing you didn't even talk to Ray at all.” Lance scoffs, tilting his head and rolling his eyes. “You only called me late so I would think that your 'talk' with Ray took long and it just finished. You probably only asked him what I did and said so you'd use that against me. And now we're here,” Lance gestures his hands around, smiling with no real emotion. “With you pretending I wasn't an essential part of this school and blaming me for a fight that didn't even start with me.”        

“You're going to regret saying that, McClain.” The principal says darkly. Lance raises an eyebrow and keeps the knowing smile on his face. “Oh really, now? I will?” Lance stands up and slams his hands on the table, a wild glint in his eyes. “So you're telling me, that if you open your drawer right now, there wouldn't be an envelope with, say, a thousand dollars stacked there?” 

“You're crossing the line.” The principal cuts in, having nothing more to say since he was obviously caught, by Lance and his keen attentiveness. 

“Open your drawer.” Lance demands. “And let's see if I am.”

Keith doesn't know who to believe. He wants to believe Lance, but he also wants to believe that maybe, maybe the principal was innocent. But the more the man denied it, the more Lance was leading to be true.  

A beat passed. And the principal looked down in shame and guilt for having been caught. Lance steps back and looks at him with a gaze that's hard as stone. “I won't tell this to anyone, I won't even tell this to my siblings. I'll walk out here with the knowledge of this conversation hidden in my brain. I won't speak a word of what you've done or what happened, but I hope that your conscience haunts you every time that you're reminded of this, of me. I hope you realize how much of a scum you are, and how you lost the loyalty of an invaluable asset to your school. I hope you know that even if you apologize, or plead, or beg, I don't forget or forgive easily.” Lance turns on his heel and walks towards the door, grasping and opening it. He stepped out. 

He glances back. “Thank you for the talk, Principal Winston.

He slams the door, leaving behind an angry and guilty principal, and Keith; who's surprised and baffled and confused with the scene that just unfolded before his eyes.

What the heck just happened? 

 

 

~•~ 

 

 

lance floats meaninglessly, wondering what was the purpose of having people read into his mind, peeking at his memories, and intruding private moments he keeps hidden away. 

Stop! he screams helplessly into the void. Please stop!

no one can hear his shouts, his pleads, he can't even hear his own voice. all he can hear are the voices. the voices that won't stop, that won't leave him, that reminds him that everything will be revealed and he can't do anything but listen. 

but he doesn't want to listen. he doesn't want to wait. he wants them out. he wants them gone. but how? how can he do that if he doesn't even have his body, his voice, or anything useful to use against them? how will he get them to stop from watching the cruel punishment his mind is giving him? he doesn't know what to do. he doesn't know. 

he doesn't know. he doesn't know. he doesn't know. 

Help, please. he cries. 

 

 

~•~

 

 

Keith arrived at another memory, and Keith remembered the place as the diner he had seen before.

Lance really must have liked this place. Keith thinks as he walks around. Unlike before, there were more people in this memory which made his search for Lance a bit harder. He squeezed around the tables, even though he knows that he can walk right through them, thanks to Lance doing it earlier. But it was still proper etiquette to avoid bumping into other people as much as possible, memory or not. Keith finally spots Lance on a seat near a counter, in the attire he was wearing earlier with a face that was thinking out loud.

Keith stopped walking.

He... he wishes to talk to him, or ask him what's wrong, but once again, it was just... impossible. If not him, can someone at least approach him? Or comfort him? Lance looked really tired and frustrated; practically the only expression Keith had seen on him the whole time he's here. Well, Keith couldn't exactly blame him. With his mother's recent death, the news of having a long lost sister, and discovering that the principal was only blaming him because of a bribe is not exactly anyone's ideal fifteen year old life. Keith is surprised that Lance handled that at all, if Keith had been the one to face those things, he would give up at everything completely. It was just something Keith doesn't want to face at all. He'll probably run away if Lance's reality came crashing down on him.

Keith approached Lance, noticing that he was holding a guitar, and that he was with someone. A girl.

Wait. She looks familiar.

Keith's eyes widened in recognition, she's the girl he saw at the funeral! The one who looked mad and angry at the world! Why is she with Lance?

“That was a good performance, Lance.” The girl congratulates. Lance nods and smiles, albeit a small one. “Thanks.”

A minute passed. Two.

The girl sighs and glances at him. “Lance.” She says softly. “I know something happened at school. My friends told me.”

Lance sighs and turns to his guitar, tuning it with a focused glint in his eye. “You don't have to worry about me, Rachel. I just got into a fight, that's all.”

“Obviously.” The girl– who Keith now knows as Rachel– points at his face. “As if the fresh bruises and scars on your face didn't tell me enough.” Rachel squirms in her seat, directing her gaze on the ground. She fiddled with her fingers. “But why? You're not typically the one for getting into fights. I know you, hermano. And you don't normally start fights like people say you do.”

Lance stops, before running his fingers through his hair. “Now people talk about me?”

Rachel shrugs, a sympathetic look on her face. “They say all kinds of things about you, really.”

Lance raises an eyebrow. “Oh yeah, like what?”

Keith's eyes widened at what Lance just did. Did he... did he just subtly change the subject? That... that was actually impressive. Keith knows that Lance has a way with words and people, but he didn't know that he was this good. Is it some gene or a personality trait that he naturally has? Because Rachel didn't even notice as she listed off the things people say about Lance. “They say that you're as impossible as a Rubik's cube.”

“I disagree.” Lance speaks up. “They just don't have the time to get to know or understand me.”

“They say that you're an unapproachable loner, making it hard for other people to be friends with you.”

“I'm not making it hard for other people to be friends with me, I just don't want them to be friends with me.”

“You're always acting superior, like you're above everyone else and that you don't need them.”

“Ha!” Lance laughs. “That's what they think! They're just putting me on a pedestal in their minds, and then they automatically think that they're below me. That's their own doing, not mines.”

“Seriously, Lance?” Rachel deadpans, a blank expression on her face. Lance shrugs and goes back to tuning his guitar. A moment of silence passed, and Keith noticed that Rachel looked nervous. Tense, as if she wanted to speak up about something but can't find the right words to say it. Lance, without looking up from what he was doing, asked, “Is there something you'd like to tell me?”

“What?” Rachel sputters, her cheeks becoming red when she realized that she was caught. “What do you mean?”

Lance sighs and turns to her, seriousness filling up with posture. Rachel stiffened. Lance knits his eyebrows slightly. “Rachel? You've been acting weird since yesterday morning. And not to mention, Principal Winston told me that you're failing too. Is something wrong?”

Rachel shakes her head rapidly, hands up in the air. “N-No! Nothing's wrong, I promise. I... it's just...” She lowers her head and murmurs, “I don't know if I should tell you.”

“What?”

“Nothing.” She squeaks. She stands up from her chair and grabs her school bag, flinging it over her shoulder quickly. She manages a small smile and wave. “I'm going home now. I'll tell Alex and Lucas that you won't be going home today.”

Lance nods slowly, displeased with what Rachel was keeping from him. “Okay. Don't forget–”

“–to cook them dinner, yeah, I won't.” Rachel interrupts with an eye roll. She turns and sends Lance a worried look over her shoulder. “You too, big brother. Don't work too hard, you need to eat too.”

Lance gives her a sad smile. “I'll try not to.”

Rachel left. The moment she did, Lance's smile was wiped off of his face. He sighed for the umpteenth time and slumped over his seat, exhaustion oozing from him. Keith bit his lip and reached out a hand to Lance's face, yearning to give him any sense of comfort he can offer. To assure him that he's not alone, that he doesn't have to be so sad.

But he can't.

And that's what Keith hates the most.

Lance had been there for him, through the lion switch and from when Shiro was missing. He had comforted him, assured him of his place in the team. He had become his impulse control, he has done all those things and Keith can't even do one good thing back. He didn't even assure him properly back when Lance confronted him about his insecurities. He can't give in return what Lance has given to him. Keith sighs, if Lance was here, he'd–

Keith froze.

Wait.

Lance.

Where was Lance?

Keith was so focused on the memories playing that he didn't notice the man who owns those memories himself wasn't here. He and the others were too preoccupied by what was happening that nobody stopped to think of where the heck did Lance go. The Lance in front of him was obviously just a memory, but the Lance who was with them through the mind meld incident is missing. The Lance whose screams Keith can still recall in the back of his mind is nowhere to be found. Actually, ever since they got here, Lance wasn't with them. So if he isn't, then where is he?

“Lance?” He calls out tentatively, looking around for some sort of sign of a much more older, lanky, caramel-skinned brunette. He tried calling out again, but much more braver. “Lance, where are you?”

Where did Lance go during all of this? Where was he when Keith and the others were first transported here? Where? Keith scans the diner, and there was still no Lance, other than the one beside him now. Keith slumps in dejection, a million of different scenarios playing in his mind. 

Is Lance hurt?

Is he lost?

Or is he just separated from him like the others?

Keith hopes desperately, that wherever Lance may be, he's safe and unharmed. 

For hours, Keith just watched Lance serve and take orders. He watched him work with an unchanging smile on his face, which was impossible to achieve with the amount of people in the restaurant. Keith was surprised that Lance was working, but he had seen so many weird things happen to Lance that he sort of expected this to happen. Lance was the perfect server; kind, charismatic, and calmed down any customer before they could start a fight. 

As Lance worked, Keith's mind drifted off to the team. Where were they? Are they alright? Keith guesses that they were all scattered on Lance's memories, and he doesn't know when they'll meet again. Keith sure hopes that they'll meet soon, because he was getting tired of being the third wheel in every memory he arrives in. When he and the others will meet again, he'll tell them all that he knows and saw so they can plan to talk after all of this is over. 

(But Keith has this gut-feeling, that this was far from over.)

After a few more hours, the afternoon sun descended and the moon rose up high. Small, shiny dots slowly appeared on the black sky, painting it beautifully with their sparkle and light. Lance cleans the last table before wiping the sweat from his eyebrow. He sat down near the counter once more, taking off his apron and throwing it off to the side. He poured himself a glass of water and ran his fingers through his hair once more. He was drinking comfortably before someone called out– much more yelled– his name.

“Lance!”

Lance choked slightly on his drink and Keith snapped his head to turn to the voice, who belonged to Allison; who was making her way over to them. Keith tenses, knowing that the last– or first– time that they met, they didn't exactly leave on good terms. Keith glances at Lance beside him, who places his glass down and look at person who called out his name. He groaned and looked up in slight annoyance when he saw that it was Allison. Soon, she was in front of him, unfolding her arms and placing them on both sides of her hips. “Why the heck would you fight with Ray Cooper?!”

Lance raises a perfect eyebrow at her direction as he wipes the water on his chin. “I don't think this is any of your business. And why the hell do you care?”

Allison scowls. “I'm serious!”

“And so am I!”

“Lance.” She repeats, locking her eyes with his in all seriousness. “You and I both know what Ray is like. He knows exactly what nerve to touch, and what buttons to push. He always had a way with words, whether if it was to flirt or to make someone really angry. He knows how to get under your skin, he knows the right and yet, the wrong thing to say.”

Lance's eyes widened in shock. 

Allison lets out a breath and crosses her arms over her chest, stubbornly avoiding Lance's gaze. “Yesterday... you do know that Ray was fueling your anger, right? He brought up your family so you could fight with him. He...” Allison coughs, eyes darting nervously around the place. “He brought up your mother.”

Lance swallowed visibly, his tense posture slumping. 

Allison glances up at him with her bright green eyes that shone in the light. “I'm telling you all this so the next time you see him, it's better to walk away than let him break you down.”

“Like you would know.” Lance scoffs softly, running his fingers through the strings of the guitar that he was holding. Allison's face scrunched up in despair. She directs her gaze back to the ground and takes the seat beside him. She lets those words linger a moment longer in the air before she speaks up. “I... I understand that it's not always easy to do something you've never done, like defending your family.” She faces him with an earnest look. “But, instead of letting that bring you down or anger you, you... you gotta let those comments fuel you up.”

Lance was intrigued now. He leans into the girl. “Oh yeah? How so?”

She tilts her head, her lips curving up into a soft smile. “You just gotta have a little more faith in your family. If you just believe in yourself a little more, and in your family, then maybe those comments won't be as bad as you'd think they were.” She shrugs. “It's hard, yeah, but you can prove those people– you can prove Ray– wrong by showing them that the McClain family isn't all that they say it is. That Lance McClain is more than a drop-out, and his family is more than what they know.”

Gratefulness, and a bit of joy, spread across Lance's face. Keith was relieved that Allison was there to talk with him, because honestly? Lance needed to hear those words. He deserves them. Lance leaned back on his chair and took a sip from his glass of water. “I never thought of that.” He smacked his lips together and placed the glass back down. He then looks at Allison, curiosity filling up his eyes. “Tell me, why are you helping me?”

Allison's eyes widened and she sputtered out gibberish. “W-Well, I– you're my rival, of course!” Allison rambles, embarrassment hidden in her arrogant tone. “And I always have to make sure that my rival is in tip-top shape before I challenge you to something that you will definitely lose at!”

Lance raises an eyebrow. “Again with the rival thing?”

“Hey!” Allison narrows her eyes. “Don't think I don't know about you one-upping me since middle school.”

Lance raises both of his eyebrows. “Me? One-upping you? Sorry, but I really think you have mistaken me for someone else. I don't remember one-upping anyone in middle school, and I don't even remember you from middle school.”

Allison looked very annoyed with Lance's reply. “Oh come on! Are you telling me that all those projects and reports, you didn't once know me? You didn't remember us butting heads for the first spot of the class? We were even partnered for a Science project once! You were distracting me discreetly so I wouldn't do my part, but guess what? I noticed that! You thought you were being sneaky with your jokes, but you're not–”

Lance was fighting back a smile as he stood up, cutting Allison off of her rant. He takes his signature jacket and puts it on. After doing so, he places a hand on her shoulder. “Sweetheart, I thank you for your encouraging words earlier. You can say all the things you want, but just know, that Lance McClain does not have a rival.” Lance smiles sweetly and pats her shoulder, walking past her and slinging his bag over his shoulder. 

A minute passed before Allison realized what Lance had said. She turns, frustration clear on her face. “Me! Me! I am your rival!”

Lance laughs and exits the diner. Keith followed after him and he involuntarily shivered when he felt the cold air outside. Lance stops walking and looks up at the sky, soft words falling from his lips. “One day.” He whispers to himself, determination strong in his tone. “One day, I'll get through this. I swear I will get through this.”

Lance turns his head over his shoulder, a small hint of a smile on his lips. “She's really interesting. I wonder when we'll meet again.”

The scenery fades to black when Lance looks back at the sidewalk ahead of him, walking away from the diner with purpose in every step, much more upbeat and livelier than he was a while ago, as if nothing had gone wrong in his entire life. 

Chapter Text

“Nothing seems to clear my mind, I can't forget, get this out my head. So I drive, chasing Malibu nights, nothing seems to heal my mind. I can't forget.”      -LANY, from the song Malibu Nights  

 

 

 

lance remembers the first time he meets allison.

he was sitting in a diner, alone, and then she suddenly appeared and introduced herself as his 'rival', even though he doesn't remember about having one.

he remembers everything after their first meeting.

how she helped him.

how he helped her.

how they helped each other.

all the fights, the deep conversations, and the pep-talks they had. the strong chemistry and teamwork they shared. the playful battles, and the bonding moments. lance remembers all of it.

he remembers, so... what will happen when they see it? when they see how pathetic and horrible he was? how will they react when they finally get to the memory where everything becomes screwed up? the memory where everything becomes so messed up because of him? because of his selfish, cruel, and idiotic behavior?

how will they react when they see... how the lance from before, is so different from the lance they know today?

 

 

~•~

 

 

Pidge woke up to someone poking her cheek.

It was annoying. So she groans and begrudgingly opens her eyes. She shrieks when she saw Allura's finger come in contact with her eyeball, making her shoot up in pain. But that seemed to be the wrong move because Pidge's forehead slammed with Allura's with a painful thud.

“Pidge!” Allura screamed in her British-like voice as her hands flew up to her circlet. Pidge rubs her eye repeatedly, even though she knows she shouldn't, to somehow lessen the pain. She feels a bump forming in the middle of her forehead from the head slam she had, which hurts so much. She glares at Allura with her one good eye. “What the hell, Allura?!”

She smiled sheepishly and held out a pair of glasses. Wait, those were her glasses. “I was trying to wake you up to give you this, but I see my way of walking you up was incorrect.”

Pidge takes her glasses from Allura's hand and puts it on, feeling guilty for having yelled at Allura like that. Allura fixes the circlet on her head once more and stands up, reaching out a hand for Pidge. She took it and was hauled up on her feet by Allura's inhuman-like strength. She dusted herself and muttered quietly. “Thanks.”

Pidge looked around and noticed that they were in some sort of diner.

Why the heck are they in a diner?

Allura tapped Pidge's shoulder, prompting her to look at her. “I think Lance is over there.” Pidge followed Allura's finger, which lead to a table that Lance and another girl was sitting on. Pidge thanked Allura for her keen eye and they both walked towards the table, slowly hearing the conversation Lance and the girl were having.

“Seriousy, Lance?!” The girl– who Pidge recognized as the mean little sister, Rachel– exclaimed. “You need to stop working! I know you haven't eaten yet!”

Lance sighed and dragged a hand down his face, obviously tired. “Rachel, I can't do anything about that. I need to work if we want to keep living.”

“What if you pass out from the lack of food?” Rachel points out, not backing down from the fight. “Then how can you work? Huh, Lance?” Lance and Rachel engaged in a stare down, icy blue eyes against sharp blue ones that hardened with anger.

Oh boy it was tense.

Allura leaned towards Pidge's ear. “Do you know who this girl is?”

Pidge nodded, recalling the fight she and Lance had. “Yeah, she's Lance's younger sister, Rachel. They fought about their family before, but now, I guess...” Pidge sighed. “It's about Lance not taking care of himself.”

Pidge suddenly feels guilty for having judged Rachel too early. Sure, she was a bit mean at that time, but she's still human. A human who faced through grief and loss and doesn't know how to take it.

Just... just like Pidge.

Pidge was snapped out of her thoughts when Lance spoke. “I'll eat later. Just go, Rachel.”

Rachel softened, but she still held her gaze. “Lance.”

Lance waved off her concern while standing up from his seat. “It's alright, Rachel. I'll see you later.” He glanced at her. “Do you have anything else to tell me other than berate me for my decisions?”

Rachel looks away, her jaw clenched tight.

“No, nothing at all. Goodbye Lance.” She stands up and took her belongings, turning on her heel and leaving Lance behind. Lance sighed, his shoulders slumping in exhaustion. He looked oddly tired, frustrated, and angry; something Pidge hadn't seen on him before.

(Well, other than that time in the funeral and in the memory where he and Rachel fought.)

Nevertheless, it was a weird look on him and Pidge didn't know why.

It wasn't often that she saw Lance with a negative expression on his face, and when she did, well, those times were really rare. He usually wore a grin on his face, a pick-up line or a joke on the tip of his lips. Other than that, he would have a soft expression on his face on times when he would listen to Hunk talk, an attentive face whenever Shiro was speaking, a small smile whenever Allura or Coran talked about their home planet or family, a teasing grin whenever Keith would open up, and… and…


A face not filled with pity or judgement, but with understanding and openness and voice filled with compassion and comfort. “We will find them, Pidge.” Lance whispers to her ear once, his arms wrapped around her as she cried on his shoulder. “I promise. We'll find your family.”


A twinge of something spiked at Pidge's chest. She didn't know what it was, but it was something that she couldn't quite place.

The Lance Pidge was seeing now is so different from the jovial, silly Paladin she always sees. And that's saying something because this is Lance's past. Who knows what else she'll see?

“Hey, McClain!” A person behind Lance yelled. Lance turned his head to look at the girl. “It's time for you to perform!”

Pidge's eyes widened as she stared at Lance. Perform?! Again?!

Like that time in the funeral? Where he sang so amazingly and was super cool? Lance conjured up a smile and nods. “Yeah, I– I'll be right on that.” He walks towards the girl as she handed him a guitar, a concerned smile on her face. “I saw Rachel storm out. Is everything alright between you two?”

Lance smiles again and shakes his head slightly, taking the guitar from the lady's hand. “Everything's fine, you don't have to worry.”

“If you say so.”

Lance places on the strap and starts to tune the guitar, oblivious to Pidge's wide stare and dropped jaw.

So… not only could Lance sing and play the piano, he can also play the guitar?! That's just… that's amazing. Why hasn't he told them anything before? Unless he wasn't proud of his skills, which seemed so unlike Lance because Pidge is sure that he would've boasted about having cool skills by now.

Pidge froze as a sudden realization dawned on her.

Actually… what had Lance told them?

He just jokes around, listens to people, always loud, but he never tells them anything. He doesn't tell them anything about his family, or his past. He… Pidge doesn't even know his favorite color!

Guilt gnaws at Pidge's stomach, and she started wondering if she even knew Lance at all.

Lance walked up the stage near the counter, and he smiled and put his lips near the mic. “Hello everybody.” Pidge was a bit surprised as the people in the diner started cheering and clapping for Lance, who was just chuckling at the attention. “Thanks for the cheer.”

Lance took the mic from its stand. “So, this song goes out for those who misses their best friend or their lover or their family. I hope you can be reuntied once again!” After Lance was done, he returned the mic to its stand and took a step back with a grin. “Here I go.”

Lance closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Pidge realized that she too, was holding her own breath. She exhaled the same time Lance did, and then he started singing.

 


“Friday night beneath the stars,

 

In a field behind your yard.

 

You and I are paintin' pictures in the sky.”

 


At Lance's voice, Pidge feels a strange nostalgia. Nostalgia of her father's fingers running through her hair. Nostalgia of her mother's lullaby whispered through her ear. Nostalgia of her brother and her staying up late at night, at their rooftop, staring at the stars and talking about technology and codes and everything.

She felt her heart squeeze as tears sprung up to her eyes.

 


“We will find them, Pidge.” Lance assured softly. “I promise. We'll find your family.”

 


She misses them. She misses them so much.

 


“And I know everything about you

 

I don't wanna live without you.”

 


She misses her father and his overly-long stories. She misses her mother and her soft and gentle and calming voice, no matter how angry she is. She misses her brother and his dumb jokes and his lame pick-up lines.

She misses her family.

 


“I'm only up when you're not down.

 

Don't wanna fly if you're still on the ground.

 

It's like no matter what I do.

 

Well, you drive me crazy half the time;

 

The other half I'm only tryna let you know that what I feel is true.

 

And I'm only me when I'm with you.”

 


She misses the times where she used to play with Matt and her dog. She misses the times where her mother would cook her breakfast in the morning and tell her to eat because she was too thin. She misses the times she used to watch her father build things in his lab, in complete awe and curiousity.

“Pidge?” She heard Allura ask softly. “Are you alright?”

 


“And I don't try to hide my tears,

 

The secrets or my deepest fears.

 

Through it all nobody gets me like you do.”

 


Tears started to stream on Pidge's cheeks as more memories flashed in her mind.

Memories of her mother telling her, “Katie, don't stay up too late.”

Memories of her dad's proud voice as he says, “Good job, Katie.”

Memories of her brother's teasing voice as he tells her, “I love you, you little gremlin of a sister.”

She…

God damn it, she misses them so much.

She turns on her heel to leave, but Allura gripped onto her wrist. She looked at her and saw Allura's face filled with worry. “Where are you going?”

“I'm going to find my family.” Pidge rushes. “I'm going to get out of here and find my family.”

Allura's face softened. “Pidge–”

“I– I don't care about going through Lance's memories. I– my father and my brother needs me. I need to find them. I–”

Her arms started to tremble.

“I– I have to get out of here–”

“Pidge–”

 


“When I'm with anybody else,

 

It's so hard to be myself.

 

And only you can tell...”

 


“They're out there, waiting for me, and I can't waste my time being here. I– I need to get out– please, Allura–”

Pidge!” Allura yells, causing Pidge to quiet down. Allura puts her hands on Pidge's shoulders and looks at her directly in the eyes. “Your family will be fine. If they have the same spark as you do, I'm sure they're still alive.”

 


“That I'm only up when you're not down.

 

Don't wanna fly if you're still on the ground.

 

It's like no matter what I do.”

 


“Pidge, believe me when I say that as soon as we get out of Lance's memories, we'll search for them immediately.”

Pidge feels more tears leave her eyes. “Allura…”

Allura gives Pidge a soft smile and wipes her tears away with her thumbs. “It's alright, Pidge. We will find them.”

 


“We will find them, Pidge.” Lance's voice echoes in her head.

 


A sob slipped from Pidge's lips.

 


“And I'm only me

 

Who I wanna be.”

 


“I swear it, Pidge.” Allura promises vehemently.

 


“I promise. We'll find your family.”

 


Pidge lets out another sob and wrapped her arms around Allura, burying her face in her shoulder. She screamed, not sure why, but it made her feel better.

So she screamed. And she screamed. And she screamed and she screamed and she screamed.

 


“Well, I'm only me when I'm with you,

 

With you.”

 


She screamed, in Allura's comforting embrace and with Lance's voice echoing in the air.

She screamed, as people clapped and cheered for Lance as he thanked them back.

She screamed, yearning to see her family again.

Just one more time.

 


~•~

 

 

Shiro stares at his teammates's unconscious bodies, jaw wide.

“What…” he sputtered out in disbelief. “Coran, what happened?!”

“It appears that they're unconscious, number one.” Coran replies easily, taking Keith's arm and then dropping it.

Shiro wanted to face palm in frustration at Coran's reply. “I see that, Coran, but why?

“I think…” Coran trails off, tapping his chin thoughtfully. “I think number three's memories took the better of him.”

When Coran said that, Shiro looks at the teen, whose eyes were shut and expression was lax. It was strange seeing him like this, after screaming for so long and looking in complete agony. Shiro looks back at Coran. “What do you mean?”

Coran cleared his throat and tapped away on a pad, muttering in Altean while tapping buttons which had weird symbols on it. “I have heard… stories, of this event happening before. When a memory takes over and becomes difficult to control, a bug sprouts from it. Due to that bug, the mind-melds solve the problem by transporting the minds of the users to the holder of the memories until it can be fixed and so that it won't spread to their minds.”

“And how long does it take to fix the bug?”

“Not for long, I suppose.” Coran assures, still tapping away on his pad. “But the others would have to stay in number three's memories for a while. While it won't take long to find the bug, it may take a while to meticulously get it out of the systems. One wrong move could cause another bug to appear and spread into their minds and mess with number three's memories.”

Shiro nods. He then took a step towards Lance and was about to take the mind-meld off, but Coran instantly yelled, “No!

Shiro stopped, and looked back at the older man. His eyes were wide and his expression was full of panic. “Don't do that. Who knows what will happen to him and the others if you remove their mind-melds. They might end up stuck in number three's memories forever! We wouldn't want that, would we?”

Shiro shakes his head and takes a step back. He sighs and runs his fingers through his hair.

Seriously? He just came back and now he has to deal with another problem? Can't he have one regular, team-bonding, problem-free day?

He guesses that it's just too much to ask.

“So?” Shiro asks, glancing at his unconscious teammates with worry. “How will we get the bug out?”

Coran went silent for a couple of minutes, before speaking again. “We may need a third person to help us with this task. I don't think us alone can get this bug out.”

“Okay.” Shiro nods, understanding Coran's point. “So, who do we need? An Olkarian? A Balmeran?”

“Actually…” Coran gives Shiro a big smile, which actually gave Shiro a bad feeling that he wasn't going to like who he was going to suggest. “All we need is someone simple.”

“Oh yeah?” Shiro asks, nervousness growing in the pit of his stomach. “Who is it?” He's starting to have a good idea who it was, but for the love of god please, anyone but

“Slav!”

No!

 


~•~

 


lance can't stand listening to the voices anymore. he doesn't want to listen to it anymore. to the sound of how he failed everyone. he can't take it anymore. he wants to escape.

he doesn't want to see his past again.

he wants out of here.

please, he pleads desperately. i don't want to be here.

please.

 


~•~

 


Keith arrives at Lance's house. Alone, again.

He looks around for a moment, before turning his head to look at Lance, who was talking with a much more younger girl, who looked similar to him. Keith walks towards them, and started to hear what they were talking about.

“Okay Alex.” Lance starts off slowly, a smile on his face. “Tell me something in English.”

The girl– Alex, Keith assumes– grins. “I am the best!”

Lance laughs and ruffles the little girl's hair. “Good enough.”

Keith looks at them with a small smile, actually finding the scene a bit touching. It was actually pretty domestic of Lance to do things like this. It goes to show how much of a good big brother he is.

(Keith immediately shook away the thought of him and Lance, raising a child and being together after the war is over.)

Keith shrieked in surprise as someone walked through him.

Not again, Keith groans.

Keith grasps his body and glares at the person who walked through him; who was actually Rachel– the one Keith recognized as Lance's younger sister. She sat down on the couch and put her hood over her head and crossed her arms after. “Ugh. Fuck school.”

“Rachel!” Lance reprimanded, which vaguely reminded Keith of Shiro of when he would berate them for cursing. “Alex is here! And she will hear you!”

“So what if she could hear me?”

“She can speak English now, Rachel.” Lance tells her, a matter-of-factly. “She can understand what you're saying now. If she hears you saying bad words, she'll pick it up and start saying it too. So please be careful of your words from now on.”

“Whatever.” She mutters as she continues looking down while fidgeting with her fingers. She glances at Lance. “Lance–”

Lance looks at his watch and abruptly stood up from the couch. “Well, it's time for me to go. I have a gig today.”

Rachel deflates visibly, and her voice came out as weak. “This late?”

Lance shrugs and takes his guitar, holding it by the case strap. “As long as I get money, I don't care what time.”

Rachel sighs. “Lance, I–”

“Don't worry, Rachel.” Lance assures. “I'll be back before you know it.”

Rachels shakes her head. “No, it's not that. I–” she bites her lips and sighs in resignation. “Never mind. Just make sure to be careful, okay?”

Lance had a question in his eyes, a question he wanted to speak up about. Worry about what Rachel was trying to say, but didn't want to. But Keith saw as he sighs and nods, pretending to ignore what happened. “Sure, I will.”

Lance leaves, not before glancing back at his sister while whispering, “What has gotten into you, Rachel?”

After he said that, Keith appeared in another location. This time, in the middle of crowded people who were dancing their asses off. Keith, uncomfortable, tried to squeeze his way through the crowd and later on gave up being nice and deciding to walk through them instead.

Keith finds Lance, who was having a conservation with someone before another person tapped his shoulder. “Hey, you're up.” Keith wondered what the guy meant by that, but Lance just smiled and nodded. “Yeah, thanks.”

Lance and some other people walked up at the stage, immediately capturing everyone's attention. He puts on his guitar strap and took the mic from its stand. “Hello everybody! Having fun so far?”

The crowds of people cheered, and Keith pieced everything together.

Lance has a gig.

A singing gig. In a party.

What the actual heck. Lance is going to perform? Again? Like what he did in the funeral?

Like how he looked so hot with his melodous voice and soft blue eyes and how his pinkish lips sang the lyrics

Yeah.

Keith doesn't think his heart can handle that sight again.

Lance smiles and winks at the crowd, causing them to cheer again and Keith's heart skip a beat. “Well then, this song is for all you party people!”

The crowd cheers louder, too loud that Keith actually has to cover his ears. When they were done screaming, Lance finally started to sing.

And oh god, Keith is captivated.

The beat started off as loud, pop, and as soon as it did, Lance grinned to the audience and started singing.

 


“I try to brush it off

 

Keep calm and collected but it just won't work

 

They tell me read a book,

 

Learn to cook, anything to keep your mind off her."

 


Keith was once again bestowed by Lance's amazing voice. This time, instead of a slow and soft tone, he was singing much more upbeat and lively. Well, they are in a party. Of course the song would be upbeat.

But Keith couldn't help but stare in awe as Lance sang, while playing the guitar (when can he do that?!), with a grin on his lips and an expression on his face that made Keith feel all weird and tingly inside.

Wait. What?

Keith's look of awe vanished in his face as his eyes widened in realization. “Oh no.”

His heart beat faster.

“Oh no, no no no–”

 


“I wanna make out with the perfect stranger

 

Get loud, need a mind eraser

 

Drink up, tonight, I'm on a mission;

 

To get you outta my system!”

 


Keith started to panic.

This can't be happening.

No, no no no no!

He thought… he thought he buried his feelings for good. Why… why was it being brought to the surface again? Why was he feeling like this again?

No. He can't have these feelings right now. He– he can't.

 


“I try to be mature

 

Stay polite but I'm really thinking what's it worth

 

When deep inside of me,

 

I can't breathe, I'm a victim of a love sick curse

 

And now I'm so-o

 

Tired of taking it slow-ow

 

Seven weeks in a row-ow

 

I don't wanna hear about

 

Don't wanna think about you.”

 


Keith can't worry about this right now.

He's the leader.

He's the Paladin of the Black Lion.

He… he can't be pining. And for his right–hand, no less!

Keith holds his left chest, breathing in and out unsteadily.

He thought that he was past this. That even as he saw Lance after staying in a shack for a year, he would not let his– his crush grow. That he wouldn't let his feelings of admiration blossom as he stared at Lance under the light of the particle barrier of the Blue Lion as they stand in the cave.

That he wouldn't let his hope grow as he clasped Lance's hand and they stared at each other with Lance saying they were a good team.

That he wouldn't let his appreciation for the brunette double as he checked him out back when they were in the elevator, heading towards the pool.

He held it back all those times.

Why is it all coming back now?

 


“It's been so long since I've been myself

 

Talking like, walking like someone else

 

Feels so good to get back to me

 

Rid myself of this misery

 

Now I'm here coming back to life

 

Turning my wrongs all back to right

 

I was way down, I was locked up

 

Now I'm free.”

 


Keith tries to calm his breathing, placing both his hands on the sides of his head and falling to the ground, trying to block out all the noise. The noise of the speakers, the cheering crowd, and the loud thumping of his heartbeat.

Keith grits his teeth and holds his tears back. He knows, even if he does accept his own feelings, that Lance wouldn't feel the same. He…

He doesn't feel the same.

He doesn't feel the same.

 


“Downtown, I'll be up all night

 

Get lost in the flash of lights

 

Drink up, tonight, I'm on a mission

 

To get you outta my system

 

Oh, oh outta my system

 

Oh, oh outta my system

 

Outta my system.”

 


Keith watches as the scenery fades to black, Lance's voice echoing in the air, claps and screams all around, and with one clear thought playing over and over in his mind.

I like Lance McClain.

 


~•~

 


he can see them.

the people in his memories. the people who were violating him, going through his mind like they had his permission.

but… they were a mess.

the pink blur was comforting the green one, whose cries and sobs were growing louder and louder.

the red blur was a drum, a drum that thumped over and over and grew louder with every minute that was passing.

the yellow blur was screaming for some reason, and lance does not know what.

he wanted to tell them to stop. to be quiet. he can't take it.

stop. stop, stop, stop stop stop STOP STOP STOP–

they're so loud. they're too loud. lance wants them to shut up. he wants them to stop screaming, and crying, and making too much noise.

it's unbearable. too much noise, too much sounds, it was annoying.

it hurts.

it hurts.

 


~•~

 

 

Hunk appears in a diner.

He groans and stands up from the ground, dusting his self after. He then looks around for any sign of Lance, and he immediately saw him.

... in a stare-down with another guy.

Hunk tentatively walks towards them, and Lance's voice came, cold and emotionless. “You should leave, sir.”

The guy laughs and pushes the guy beside him to the ground, causing Lance to glance at the guy before looking back at the person in front of him icily. “Sir.

The guy just smirks cockily. “Sorry McClain. This guy,” he points at the person he shoved to the floor. “-owes me. He hit me and he needs to kneel and apologize.”

The guy looks at the other guy he pushed, kicking him. “Hey, do it.”

Hunk felt bad for the guy on the ground, who just clicked his jaw and went into a kneeling position. Before he could utter a single word, Lance's fist came close to Hunk's face.

Hunk screamed and closed his eyes, bracing himself for the impact.

But…

No punch came.

Hunk opened his one eyes and screamed again as Lance's hand went through him. Through his chest and at something behind him. Hunk turns his head and saw the guy holding his jaw, stumbling back and eyes filled with anger.

Lance retreated his hand back. “Oh, look at that, Ray.” He spat out, his tone mocking. “I punched you. So make me kneel too.”

Ray gritted his teeth and turned on his heel to leave, without a word. As he slammed the doors on his way out, Lance turned to the guy on the ground and held out a hand for him. “Hey, don't do that. You shouldn't kneel to a prick like that.”

The guy darts his green eyes– which was actually the first thing Hunk noticed about him– away from Lance, but he took his hand and let himself be hauled up by him. Lance tried to check the guy's body. “Are you hurt anywhere?”

The guy shook his head. “No, I'm fine.”

Lance gestured the green-eyed guy to a seat nearby. “Here, sit here. I'll be right back.” Lance jogged to the counter, before coming right back with an iced tea and a plate of cookies. He put them down the table and gave the guy an apologetic smile. “Sorry. There's really not that much food left when it's night.”

“It's alright.” The guy muttered.

Lance sat from across the green-eyed guy, and Hunk decided to sit down on the chair near Lance. The guy took a sip from the iced tea, and Lance took one of the cookies, biting into it. “So, what'd he do? Why'd you hit him?”

The guy sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “He… he struck a nerve. With me. He knew something about me that no one else does, and he used that against me.” The guy sighed again and put his iced tea down the table. “It's really personal.”

“Okay.” Lance hums, eating his cookie slowly. “You were probably ticked off. But let me tell you what someone had told me; instead of what letting others say bring you down, let what they say fuel you up.”

The green-eyed guy went silent.

Lance gave the guy a small smile. “I've been there, trust me, and I know how angry it must make you feel. But just know– walking away is better than letting people break you down. Isn't moving forward and proving them wrong taste sweeter than punching their face in?”

The green-eyed guy sighs. “I… I guess.”

Lance stands up and walked towards the guy, patting his shoulder. “Whatever you're going through, everything will be okay.” He then started walking out.

Hunk remembered that he was supposed to follow him and he scrambled on his feet to chase after him. He pushed the doors and was greeted by the cold night air. He shivered and ran after Lance, who was looking at his phone with a worried expression.

“Rachel.” Hunk hears him say softly. “What the heck?”

He shakes his head and shoved his phone back in his pocket, walking again. As they walked quietly on the sidewalk, a voice traveled through the street, which surprised Lance and Hunk.

“Hey! Lance!”

They both turned around, and Lance groaned when he saw the girl. Hunk glances at him, he guesses Lance might know her. And judging from the look on his face, he not only knows her– but is annoyed with her as well.

Huh. Just like Shiro is with Slav.

Soon, the girl was in front of Lance with a grin on her face. “Hey! How are you?”

Lance grumbled and started walking. “Fine, until I saw you.”

“Mean.”

“Why are you here?” Lance asks, glancing at her as they walked side by side. “You shouldn't be out so late.”

The girl grins and bumps her shoulder with Lance's. “Aw, are you worried about little ol' me?”

Lance scowls at her as he rubs his shoulder. “Don't do that again. And no– I'm not.”

The girl pouts and holds a hand to her chest. “I'm hurt.”

Lance rolls his eyes at her. “You're so dramatic.”

“At least I'm not too serious and lame like you.” The girl retorts. The girl– whose name Hunk still does not know– looks forward. “And to answer your question, I just got back from work. And my house is just down this road, so we're both on the same path.”

“Really, now?” Lance mutters. “Lucky me.”

The girl hits him, which Lance responded with an indignant squawk. “You're so mean!”

“Yeah, sure, says the girl who is delusional enough to believe she has a rival–”

The girl gasps loudly, and Hunk swore he saw a small smirk crawl up Lance's lips. “How dare you! I do too have a rival! You! But you act like you don't even know–”

“I don't.”

The girl growled. “–which I know it isn't true. We had a project together! I made it with my hands!”

“And yet?” Lance teases. “I don't even remember anyone surpassing my grade before.”

The girl, right then and there, blew up with irritation filling up her face.

“I'll have you know that I have infinite knowledge of everything and I have read everything in the library! Twice! I may have not surpassed your grade, but I have won ten awards for–”

Lance and Hunk chuckled lightly as the girl rants on. She seems really funny and playful.

She seems like a good friend.

Hunk stares at Lance, who was listening to the girl speak with a small smile. He deserves a friend like her. At least he had someone to be with. Hunk would not stop blaming himself if he would find out that Lance was alone all his life before he met him. Thank goodness for this girl.

They continued walking, and after ranting for so long, the girl decided to change the topic. “Do you know the movie, 'I see you'?”

Lance shakes his head. “No, not really. But I heard that was a shocking movie.”

The girl nods rapidly. “Yeah! It is!” She started to explain the movie, like, fully explain. With hand gestures and tone full of excitement. “It's about this girl. Uh– Allie, I think? Yeah, Allie! She lost her parents and she and her little brother got separated in the orphanage. So, as years and years passed, she only watched as her little brother grew older and older. She thought her brother doesn't know her, so she never approached him, only watched him from afar. She grew up as a cop– by the way– so, more stuff and drama happened, and it turns out, her brother actually knew her! The. Whole. Time!

Lance rolled his eyes as the girl emphasized on the words in complete amazement. “So, that's it? The brother knows his sister and they reunite?”

“Nope!” The girl replies. “The brother does know her, but he's actually part of the gang she had been after for the whole time!”

Lance's eyes widened at that, and so did Hunk's. That's… an unexpected twist. “So, then what happens?”

The girl sighs extravagantly and shoves her hands in her pockets. “Well, in the end, Allie had to shoot her brother to protect thousands of lives– but that didn't mean Allie doesn't love her brother anymore. It was just… it's a sad story.”

“Yeah.” Lance murmurs in agreement. “I agree.”

They eventually arrived at Lance's house, after a few more minutes of walking and talking. Lance faces the girl, which prompts the girl to falter from a random story she was telling. “Do you want to stay at our house first?” Lance asks, worry laced in his tone. “It is dangerous at night.”

The girl smiles at him and waves off his offer. “It's alright, Lance.”

“I– I could always walk you to your house?” Lance suggests, scratching the back of his head nervously. “I really don't think you should walk home at night.”

The girl laughs and shakes her head. “Lance, it's okay. I took self-defense when I was six. I can handle myself just fine.” The girl turns on her heel and gives Lance a wave. “I'll be off now, then.”

Lance nods and waves back. He turns and headed for the front door. He took out the keys from his pocket and inserted it to the keyhole, jiggling around before opening the door with ease. As he opens the lights, the sight that greeted him was not a pleasant one.

Hunk jumps when Lance falls on his knees, his eyes wide and his breaths coming out frantic and panicky. Hunk follows Lance's gaze and turned to see to what he was looking at. He wonders what could be so shocking to make Lance look like he had just seen a ghost.

Hunk's eyes landed on the thing Lance was staring at, and he stumbled back.

Wha– what–

T-That– that's–

Hunk screamed.

 


~•~

 


lance has memories that he can never get out his mind, no matter how much he tries.

the day he and his mom went to rosa's before she died, when he first met allison, when he first saw the blue lion, when he and the team first formed voltron…

those were the good memories.

but…

there were also the bad memories.

like that one memory where he had opened the door to his house, and was greeted by the sight of rachel's body hanging from the ceiling with her eyes wide open to him.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Why won't you just talk to me? There's a universe inside your head; constellations of the things you left unsaid. Talk to me.”      -Lauren Aquilina, from the song Talk To Me

 

 

 

“Coran, I'm sure we can find someone else other than Slav. I'm sure of it–”

“My apologies, number one, but we need Slav for his skills and ability to foresee the different realities.” Coran tells him as they stand on the entrance of the castle, waiting for a certain alien with eight arms and an annoying blabbering mouth. “He is essential in taking the bug out in the mind melds.”

Shiro groans and throws his head back. Why does it have to be Slav? Why? There's probably an Olkarian somewhere that could help, why does it have to be that weird, over-compulsive, and reality-obsessed blabber head?

Ugh, he should've joined the others with the mind-meld exercise. That way, he wouldn't have to face that annoying clairvoyant-like maniac.

“Where is he?” Shiro grumbles in acceptance. “He should've been here by now.”

“Now, number one, we're the ones needing his assistance, so we have no right to rush him to be here.” Coran tells him warningly. He glances from side to side, trying to see where the eight-armed alien might be. “Though, he is running a bit late.”

“See, Coran? We don't need him.” Shiro convinces, smiling to persuade Coran to change his mind. “We can find someone else. I'm sure we can find someone else–”

Shiro had cut his sentence short to scream when a sudden body dropped from above him. He stumbled back, holding his chest, his eyes wide as he stared at the body, which twisted and contorted disturbingly until it had stood up to its full height.

Wait. That's Slav.

Shiro groans, just a bit longer this time as Coran smiles widely and shakes one of Slav's eight arms. “We are so grateful to have you here.”

Slav shakes Coran's hands repeatedly with all of his hands. “Oh, it is my pleasure! In six point eight thousand realities, I actually decided not to come.”

This could've been those realities, Shiro thinks sadly.

“Well, we have a problem.” Coran starts. “You see, the–”

“Oh yes, I know about that already!” Slav enthusiastically says. “Let us go! We shall not waste any more time!”

Coran and Shiro looks at each other. Shiro looks at Coran with pleading eyes, trying to convince him that they don’t need Slav.

Shiro mouthed, “Please?

Coran shook his head firmly, causing the Black Paladin to groan once more.

 

 

 

~•~

 

 

 

Hunk screamed as his eyes landed on the body.

What. The. Hell! 

That– that's Lance's sister! Hanging from the ceiling with a rope around her neck oh god

Hunk feels like he's going to be sick.

Lance just stared at her with wide eyes, frozen in place. His breaths were getting short, and his whole body started to tremble. He opens his mouth. “Ra– Rachel–”

Rachel's eyes were as wide as Lance's, and her hands flew up to the noose on her neck, gurgling and choking out words that seemed to hurt her more. “La– Lance...

“Oh my God, McClain! What are you doing?!” The girl from earlier– whose name Hunk still doesn't know– exclaimed as she rushed past him to get to the body. “McClain, if we hurry, she still might live!”

But Lance wasn't moving.

He was still staring, with his eyes wide open and his body shaking from head to toe. He was absolutely frozen.

Rachel's eyes didn't stray from Lance's. “Bi– big… br– brother…

The girl cursed, desperately looking around for something. Her eyes landed on something specific, and she hurriedly runs to get it. She comes back with some sort of stool, and then she places it on the ground and steps on top of it. She went under Rachel's body and puts her thighs on her shoulders, heaving her up with a slight grunt. Rachel breathed in a deep breath as the girl raised her up. The noose around her neck was a little loose, but it was still tight and gave Rachel a hard time breathing. The girl holding her up locked her sharp green eyes on Lance's. “Lance! Come on! Your sister will die!

That seemed to snap Lance out of his stupor.

He rushed towards them and since the stool was big enough, Lance stood on it. He and the girl were face-to-face– but Lance was a few inches taller– and Lance had reached up to his sister's neck to take the noose out carefully, so as to not hurt her. Before he could take it out fully, Rachel had grasped onto Lance's shirt. Lance stopped to look into his sister's eyes with his concerned–filled blue ones. “Rachel?”

Lance…” Rachel rasped out, clutching onto Lance's shirt tighter. “Big brother…

“Your big brother is here, Rachel.” Lance says softly, taking the noose off slowly. “I'm here, Rachel.”

Lance managed to take off the noose, and Rachel took a big breath to make up for the air she had lost. The girl who was holding her stepped down from the stool and kneeled down, letting Rachel's feet land on the ground. As soon as she did, Rachel toppled over in Lance's arms, and Lance embraced her tightly.

They both landed on the floor, embracing each other desperately. Lance wrapped his arm around Rachel's back, and his other hand rubbed the back of Rachel's head comfortingly. “Shh, tu hermano está aquí. Estoy aquí.

Hermano…” Rachel says shakily, tears spilling from her eyes. “Estoy asustado… Estoy realmente asustado…

Está bien.” Lance whispers, running his fingers through his sister's hair. His eyes fill up with tears and he breathes out a shaky breath. Hunk knows that he must have been terrified to see his little sister hanging from the ceiling. From the way he blinks repeatedly and grasps onto his sister tightly with trembling hands, Hunk knows he's trying to hold back breaking down in front of her. “Está bien.

No quiero morir.” Rachel whispers. A sob escapes from her lips, breaking Hunk's heart by how broken and choked up it was. She repeated those words over and over, but no matter how many times she reiterates it, Hunk still doesn't get what she's saying. Heck, he doesn't even know what she and Lance are talking about! But from the context of the situation, Hunk guesses that Lance must be comforting his sister. “No quiero morir… No quiero morir…

No te estás muriendo.” Lance says vehemently. “No.

Rachel sobbed again.

Lance started to cry.

Hunk's heart started to ache by looking at the scene. Two McClains, in each other's arms, after almost losing each other. They were both crying, apologizing, and possibly telling the other assuring words in Spanish. They were both breaking down, and that made tears spring up to Hunk's eyes.

They didn't let go of each other for the whole night.

 

 

~•~

 

 

lance never expected his sister to try to commit suicide. but he should've known. the signs were all there, he was just too dumb to notice them.

if he hadn't cut his sister short from her sentence, then she would've told him sooner.

if he had just listened to her instead of waving her off, then she wouldn't have considered doing such a thing.

it was all his fault.

it's all because he's such an ignorant, dumb brother.

what do they think of me now? lance asks himself.

probably differently. lance becomes sad.

 

 

 

~•~

 

 

 

Katie may not look like it, but she loves her family.

She loves her father's weird knack of collecting broken things and having a way of making them useful again. How he would find all sorts of broken technology and fix them up and making them work like brand new.

She loves her mother's calm and easygoing demeanor, but once Katie or her brother or even her father makes a single mistake, she'll unleash a string of words that makes them regret their actions greatly, no matter how small their wrong was.

She loves her weird, flirty, and joke–loving brother. She loves how he always seems to know when she's down, and always finds a way to cheer her up; through bad puns and horrible pick–up lines. She loves the nights they spend together on the rooftop of their house– even though their mom specifically told them not to– and talk about literally anything.

She loves her family.

That's why… that's why it was so hard on her when she found out Matt and her father were missing.

When she saw on screen, the picture of her father and her brother and another person (which she later realized was Shiro) who went MIA on the Kerberos mission, she didn't know what to feel. What to do. What… what…

She was a mess when she found out.

Katie went directly to her room and started crashing. She kicked the walls, threw all of her things on the ground, broke things that she and Matt are– were working on, and cried and screamed and shouted at the ceiling how it was all unfair. Why did it have to be them, out of all the people in the Garrison? Why did it have to be the only people that she cares about?! Why?!

She wanted to find them, at all costs.

Because it was tearing her and her mom apart.

She remembers, once, when she was finish with dinner and her mother was smiling as she went upstairs. Later on, Katie wanted to drink some water and went back downstairs. The sight before her broke her heart.

Her mother was holding a picture of the four of them, smiling and happy and complete. She was crying quietly, as if she didn't want Katie to hear. Her body was wracking with sobs as she held the picture to her chest, broken and confused and mad and just… just…

Just sad.

Sad because why did this happen to their family? Why did it have to be them? Why did this have to happen to her? Why did Katie and her mother have to be left behind? Why? Why?

Katie didn't know.

She didn't know anything.

She wanted to make her mother smile again. She wanted to be happy again. She wanted to see her father again, with his warm smile and comforting words. She wanted to see her brother again, with his crooked grin and jovial personality. She wanted her family back.

And she was going to take it.

The next day, she cut her hair. Knowing that Iverson would recognize her with her long one. She took a big pair of scissors and started snipping.

Snip. Snip. Snip.

She stared at what used to be her long hair. It was on the bathroom floor, big chunks of who Katie was before. She looked up and saw herself on the mirror.

She was… she was an entirely different person.

Katie felt her eyes go hot when the realization of the situation struck to her. She was really doing this. She was going to find her family.

But… she was going to leave her mom behind.

She pushed back the tears and took the glasses she got from Matt's room. She smiled faintly, running her fingers on the edges. She remembered when her brother would focus completely on his work and his glasses would slide to the corner of his nose until it eventually falls. He always seems to curse and get mad that his glasses don't just stick to his eyes. Katie remembers laughing as their mother slap him on the back of his head and told him not to curse. She remembers laughing at his pouty face and whined about what he did wrong.

She puts the glasses on.

She looked up at the mirror and felt more tears spring up her eyes.

She… she looked like her brother.

Katie shook her head and went out the bathroom, ready to go on with her plan. But she didn't forget to leave her mom a note. She at least deserved that. Katie watched as her mom slept peacefully, unaware of what her daughter was going to do. Before Katie could change her mind, she ran out of her house and went to the nearest bus station. After some walking, and commuting, she finally arrived at the Garrison.

But she was not Katie anymore.

When the registrar asked what her name was, she replied:

“Pidge Gunderson, ma'am.”

She was not Katie Holt anymore.

She wouldn't let her past self get involved, but she was not giving up on finding her family.

As the person gave a piece of paper with her room and schedule, she thanked her and went inside the busy halls of the Garrison. She looked around, unsure, and wondered if it really was a good thing to go here.

She was about to take a step forward, but instead, she crashed into a tall, lanky, brunette idiot.

“Oops, sorry! Didn't mean to bump into you!” The blue–eyed guy apologized. Katie looked up at him and told him it was okay.

(Not that she thinks of it, that guy did look a lot similar to Lance.)

Instead of walking away and leaving her alone, he followed her. “Not to be rude or anything, but are you new? You seem new. I haven't seen you at all last year.”

Katie– no wait– Pidge, swallowed a lump in her throat. She forgot that this was the second year. And she didn't even went here in the first year.

“Well, I went to a different branch of the Garrison.” Pidge replied easily, trying not to show how nervous she truly was inside. “And they– I mean, I decided to transfer here instead.”

The brunette nodded in understanding. Pidge thought that would be enough to make him go away, but he still didn't go away.

(Pidge is sure that was Lance. But a much more nicer, and less annoying than he was now.)

(Which is weird because the Lance in his memories now is cold and emotionless and not that fun–loving.)

(Did he become nicer as time progressed?)

“Well, what a coincidence!” The guy jovially said. “I, too, was transferred here! Originally, I was supposed to go to the Garrison in Cuba. But my family wanted the best for me so I went here!”

Pidge tries to hide her surprise. “You're from Cuba?”

The guy– whose name Pidge still doesn't know– grinned. “Yup. I'm from Cuba.”

Huh. “Wow. Isn't that… a bit far… from here?” Her knowledge of technology and programming may be expanse and infinite, but her knowledge of where countries and states are located is very small.

The guy smiled at her. “It's not that far, really.”

Pidge smiles back and tries to hide her blush from not being that aware. The guy grinned at her and winked, placing hand on her shoulder. “Okay, I’ll catch you later. Hopefully we’ll be in the same classes.” The guy grinned once more and left her, running through the crowds of people in the hallway.

Pidge reaches her hand out, wanting to call him or anything that would make him stay.

That’s when she realized that he didn’t even introduce himself.

And Pidge didn’t either.

Pidge was left standing in the middle of the hallway, alone, wondering when she’ll be able to meet that guy again.

 

 

 

~•~ 

 

 

 

Keith fell in love with Lance when they were at the Garrison.

He knows that he should be focusing on flying and being more disciplined, to make Shiro proud and achieve great things, but he couldn't held but notice the blue–eyed boy whenever he passes him in the halls.

He first saw him when they were all lined up to find out who had went out of their room at night. The rules at the Garrison was tight, and everything had a strict schedule and time for when to come out of one's headquarters. One of those rules was to stay in their assigned rooms on seven PM and will not come out until it was five AM.

Everyone knew that the culprit was Max; a guy with a lot of fire in him and like Keith, a bit reckless in how he acts. The while day yesterday, Max was caught by the other cadets and Keith himself sneaking out his room at night to go off to god knows where. When they were asked who did it, Keith just wanted Max to step up and admit the truth so it'd be over with.

Instead, the brunette next to him took a step forward.

Keith hid his surprise along with the other cadets who were in line with him. Everyone, and Keith means everyone knows that Max was the one who snuck out. Why was this guy stepping up and taking the blame?

The brunette saluted. “Permission to speak, sir.”

“Permission granted.”

The guy dropped his hand to his side. “It was me, sir. I have no excuse as to why I did it. I will take any punishment.”

Their current commandant nodded. “I admire your honesty, cadet. But you still disobeyed rules. That is not way to act while you're here in the Garrison Give me five weeks of push–ups, move.”

The brunette didn't show any signs of complaining as he bent down and started to do his push–ups diligently and quite quickly. “Sir one sir, sir two sir, sir three sir…”

Out of all the punishments the Garrison gives them, Keith can pretty much speak out for all the guys that he hates push—ups the most. He can do squats, pumping, laps, crunches, anything. But what tires him out the most is push–ups. His upper body strength is hard for him to handle, and he really needs to rely on his arms not to let him fall face–first on the ground if he doesn't want to be embarrassed.

(What Young Keith doesn't know is that his Present Self willingly does push–ups now that he needs to rely on his arms to wield a sword. Man, Keith really did grow from being that kid.)

That's why Keith was so surprised when the guy finished his punishment easily, with little sweat covering his face as he did the last one and stood up, saluting once more. “Sir thank you sir.”

“Carry on.”

The brunette let his hand fall to his side.

“Give me ten weeks of push–ups, move.”

The guy did not complain and went down, starting his push–ups again.

Keith can only say, that after that, everyone's – including Keith's– respect for that guy increased.

Later on that night, Keith was just walking to his room. It was almost seven o'clock, and he doesn't want to be punished just because he's late in going inside his room. When he turned a corner, he stopped and hid behind the wall. There were two guys, around his age, who were talking in the middle of the hallway. Keith peeks over the wall and was surprised to see the brunette talking to Max.

“Just like old times, right?” The brunette– whose eyes Keith can finally see that were pure navy blue– smiles as he leans on the wall. Max sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. “Lance, you've got to stop doing this. I could've took the punishment.”

Oh. So the brunette's name is Lance. Keith pronounces the name under his breath, smooth and made a shiver run down Keith's spine.

“Sorry Max.” The guy– Lance– grins apologetically. He shrugs. “Old habits die hard, I guess.”

They both stood there in silence. Keith took that as his cue to leave, but then he heard Lance's voice cut through the silence. “Leave, Max. You don't need to be here.”

Keith froze in his tracks. What?

“Lance, I'm not leaving you.” Max says vehemently. “You never left my side, why would I leave yours?”

“Max, don't make me command you.” Lance warns with a threatening glare. Max holds his gaze. For a while, they were both staring at each other, challenging the other to look away.

The more Keith watched them, the more confused he becomes.

What the hell was happening?

“Max.” Lance begins, placing his hand on Max's shoulder. “You have been with me through thick and thin. I don't think I can ask for a better friend. But… this is my battle now. This is my choice. You don't have to be here, I can handle it. You have your whole life back home.” Lance gave Max a reassuring smile.

Max finally looks away, his hands balled into fists. “… I'll leave. But don't be afraid to contact me when something happens, okay?”

Lance smiles and nods. “Yes Max, I will.”

“I… I'll miss you, Lance.” He whispers. Lance smiles ruefully and opens his arms wide. “One more time?”

Max nods, and they hug. Max whispered something in Lance's ear that Keith didn't catch. After a few more seconds, they let go and went their separate ways.

Meanwhile, Keith is confused. Like, really confused. But he didn't question what just happened because he just doesn't care about them.

(Now, Keith is wondering if this Max person will show up in Lance's memories.)

The next day, Keith wasn't surprised to hear that Max was gone. His room was completely empty, his valuables were nowhere in sight, and there was no trace of him anywhere. The cadets who were in the same year as him were assembled and Commander Iverson had a stern look on his face as he looked over each and every one of them.

Keith was beside Lance again. In his peripheral vision, Lance didn't look at all concerned. Or even worried. He had a blank face that didn't show any hint of the smile Keith saw him had last night.

Iverson shouted at them who was the last person who saw Max before he left.

Keith knows that Lance would step up, but he was still surprised as Lance took a step forward. He saluted. “Permission to speak, sir.”

“Granted.”

“It was me, sir.” Lance says, his hand falling to his side. “And I did not stop him from leaving. I will accept any punishment.”

There, again. Keith had witnessed Lance's bold attitude and his uncaring personality. He wasn't afraid at all that he would be punished, and frankly, that made Keith attracted to him more. “Oh really, Cadet? Fine. Let's see how far that attitude will get you.”

He made him do ten weeks of squats.

Lance finished it.

He made him do fifteen weeks of pumping.

Lance finished it.

He made him do twenty weeks of push–ups.

Lance finished it, his breathing getting slightly labored and sweat covering his neck and face.

After that, Iverson made him do thirty laps around the huge room. While Lance was running, Iverson warned the cadets that if another had displayed this kind of behavior, their punishment would be more severe. As he droned on and on about punishments, Keith's attention was on Lance– who was running with sweat coating his face and looking as determined as ever.

Let's just say that Lance had earned Keith's full respect.

While Lance was still on his thirteenth lap, everyone else was dismissed and sent off to their classes. As everyone walked out the room, Keith stayed behind and watched in awe as Lance ran and ran, not stopping to take a breath or catch a breath. He was getting tired– Keith had noticed– but he was still going. Running and running and running even though there was no one else in the room but him. Running and running and running even though Iverson left minutes ago. Running and running until the very last lap.

Thirty!” He shouted, before stopping and placing both his hands on his thighs, breathing heavily and sweat covering every inch of his body.

If Keith was in his place, he would just collapse in a heap on the floor.

But Lance didn't do that. Instead, he stood there for two minutes or so, before he wiped his sweat and started walking towards the door to exit the room.

Keith scurried away from the exit door when he saw Lance approaching. He hid behind a corner and watched as Lance walk through the door and go down the other hall normally, as if he hadn't just ran thirty frickin' laps.

That day onwards, Keith's heart practically belonged to Lance.

 

 

 

~•~ 

 

 

 

Pidge and Allura agree on not talking about what happened.

(Actually, Pidge begged Allura not to tell anyone else. Allura complied, but she said, “After all of this is over, I will make sure to stay true to my promise.” She also suggested that she should open up to others about what she feels about finding her family. But instead of doing it herself, they should do it together.)

(Pidge doesn't know what to reply to that.)

After Lance's performance, he had went down the stage and sat down on a table. He sighs and takes off the strap of his guitar and places it on his side. He leans back on his chair and runs his fingers through his hair.

“Hey Lance!”

Lance groaned. Pidge turned to the person who called his name. It was a girl. Pidge raises his eyebrows at him, why would he groan at her?

The girl eventually arrived at the table with a grin on her face. “What're you doing?”

“Something that is now ruined because of your presence.” Lance grumbled.

“Rude.”

“I don't care.”

The green–eyed girl just glares at him for a second, before smiling and taking a seat. Lance raised an eyebrow at her. “Uh, what are you doing?”

“If I 'ruined' something that you're doing, I must as well ruin everything.” The girl chirped. Lance groans again.

He must really not like this girl.

“Are you not going away?”

“Nope!”

Lance looks up and clasps his hands together. “God, why have you forsaken me?”

“Okay, now you're just being dramatic.” The girl rolls her eyes. She takes out a notebook and a yellow pad from her bag, brandishing a pen in her hand. She sighs and starts to go through her notes. Lance, who looked from the ceiling back to the girl, became curious. “What are you doing?”

“An assignment.” The girl replies, irritation within her tone. “To 'analyze' the movie, ‘Numb’, which, in my opinion, is a waste of time.”

Lance looked surprised. “You haven't seen Numb before?”

The girl shakes her head. “Nope. I thought it was boring so I decided not to.”

Lance looked appalled. “Well, then you are missing out! That's the best movie I have ever watched!”

The girl rolls her eyes at him. “Then please, pray tell, tell me what the movie is about.”

A smirk made its way on Lance's lips. “Well, I’d be gladly to!” Lance cleared his throat and started to ramble about the movie with a tone that made him seem like a fanboy. “Numb is a movie about messing with things that you shouldn't and thinking twice before doing something. It's about a girl, named Laura– who recently moved in to another school– met a girl, Artemis. When she first talked to her, Artemis wouldn’t leave her alone. They still became friends, and they fell in love in the way. But throughout the movie, there were hints and clues of something that happened a year before Laura transferred. People called it the 'incident'.”

“Ooh.” The girl says, now intrigued. Pidge and Allura were now too. “What happens next?”

Lance's smirk turned into a smile. “Well, Laura wanted to find out more. She asked Artemis, but she only kept changing the subject or refused to answer. Naturally, she tried to find out herself. She got in trouble. In so many troubles. After much digging, she managed to find a yearbook from a year ago.”

“Then?”

“Artemis wasn't in the picture.”

Pidge was confused. Luckily, the girl Lance was with was too. “I don't get it. Maybe she was just… not there for picture taking.”

Lance shook his head. “No, no. If she wasn't there, the photographer would've edited her in. But she wasn't there.”

“Could you please elaborate?” The girl groans. “I really don't get it.”

“It means that a year ago, Artemis wasn't alive.” 

Pidge's eyes widened. Allura's eyes too. The girl's jaw dropped. “Seriously?”

Lance nodded. “Yup. An idea formed in Laura's mind, but she refused to believe it. So she asked everyone at school about the 'incident' from a year ago. No one wanted to answer her. But one person did- her name was Sheen. She was mean, rude, and a liar, but she told Laura everything she wanted to know. Artemis was her best friend, and Sheen saw up close how Artemis was hit by a car. That's what made her change in the first place. Laura was shocked. The girl who she was in love with isn't even living. She was a ghost. An undead spirit. Sheen gave Laura the place where Artemis was buried. Laura went there, and saw Artemis sitting down in front of her tombstone.”

Pidge is starting to know where the story is heading, but she listens anyway. Even though it makes her heart ache by how tragic it is. 

(When Pidge gets out of Lance's memories, Pidge is so going to download and watch the movie.)

“They talked. Laura asked Artemis why she even bothered to get close with her if this would be the outcome. She was angry, sad, and confused. Artemis told her that she wanted to feel something before she goes, and she's glad she's able to feel it with Laura. They both cried, said their goodbyes, and hugged for one last time before Laura saw Artemis disappear. From the world. In the end, she realized that no one was talking to Artemis every time they're together. No one even noticed her. She realized that she was numb to the fact that Artemis wasn't real. That she messed too much with things she knows she shouldn't have, and loved someone she didn't think twice loving. She regretted the fact that she didn't notice the signs sooner, or made such decisions so quickly. That she let herself fall in love so openly. At first she thought that Artemis was numb to their relationship. At the end, Laura realized that she was numb to the world.” Lance finishes with a sigh, taking a drink from his cup. 

Pidge took a moment to process everything that Lance had said. 

Okay, first of all, wow

That's such a tragic movie.

Second of all, Pidge liked how instead of a heterosexuality romance, they went for a lesbian relationship. It seems that every movie's default couple is a straight one, and Pidge is glad that there are people making movies that represent LGBTQ+ as well. 

(Though, Pidge is sad for the ending that Laura and Artemis had. They deserve so much better.)

“Well.” The green-eyed girl spoke up, after a moment of silence. “That's... unfortunate.” 

Lance nods slowly, sighing once more and putting down his cup on the table. He looks at the girl and smiles sweetly. “So Allison, I told you the movie you're supposed to analyze. Can you please go away now?”

The girl- Allison, Pidge finally learned- frowned. “Why do you want me to leave so badly?” Allison leaned forward and bumped Lance's shoulder with her fist. “Come on! Let's talk!”

“Um, no thank you.” 

Allison frowns. “Why don't you want to talk?”

Lance blows out a breath. “Because right now, my life is going horrible, my little sister obviously has a problem and won't talk to me about it, and an annoying girl keeps following me around and saying she's my rival.” 

Silence. 

Lance sighed. “I'm– I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that.” 

Allison smiles softly. “No, no, it's okay. You can vent to me, if you want. I'm sure there are a lot of things you want out of your chest, and you can talk to me. Right now. I'll listen.”

For a moment, Lance was quiet. Slowly, he started to smile at her. Allison smiled back. Lance leans in to her with that sweet smile. “No.”

Allison pouts, and she crosses her arms over her chest with a huff. “Meanie.”

Lance laughed. “Are you a kid?”

Allison didn't reply. She just huffs again and grumbles under her breath. Lance grinned at her and shook his head slightly, holding up his cup and taking a sip.

Pidge stares at the two of them, back and forth, slightly confused. She's confused of the relationship they both have. Friends? Rivals? What?

Lance didn't like the girl– Pidge noticed– and wanted her to go away. Whereas Allison just wanted to be close with him.

What a weird relationship they both have.

“Pidge?” 

Allura called out a bit nervously. Before Pidge could say anything, black dots started to cloud in the corner of her eyes. Her eyes widen and she looks around to face Allura; who was looking at her hands that were fading away. Allura looked at her one last time, and disappeared clearly from her sight.

Slowly, Pidge did too.

 

 

 

~•~

 

 

 

Keith doesn't think he wants to be here anymore.

It… it was too much.

He's in the memories of the person he likes. Keith's afraid that if he watches more and more of his memories, that his little attraction will grow into something more.

And Keith can't have that right now.

He's the leader. The pilot of the black lion. The Black Paladin. The official head of Voltron. He can't fall in love when there's a war he needs to end! He can't– he just can't.

He needs to get out of here before his– his feelings develop more.

After Lance was done singing a bunch of party songs, he finally went out the stage. Keith walked through the crowds of people, trying to keep his eyes on the brunette. He arrived in front in front of Lance, who was holding his guitar and tuning it with his full focus and attention that made Keith's heart skip a beat a little. He was focused, that was until a familiar voice echoed through the loud crowd.

“Lance!”

Lance's concentration was gone and he groaned when he looked up, giving Allison an exasperated expression. “Oh God, not you again.”

Allison's face went blank. “Don't you know how to be polite?

“Don't you know how to go away?

“Rude.”

“I don't care.”

“What are you even doing here?” Allison asked, taking a seat next to him. She looked at the people in front of her, who were either dancing or chugging down alcohol. “I mean, I don't think this is your kind of scene.”

Lance raises an eyebrow at her. “And why should I answer your question?”

Allison pouts. “You have absolutely no kindness in your heart.”

Lance rolls his eyes and takes off the strap of his guitar and places it on his side. “And you have absolutely no common sense in your brain.”

“Hey! What's that supposed to mean?!”

“It means I want you to go away.”

Silence.

Lance sighed after a few moments, glancing at Allison beside him. “You're not going away, are you?”

She gave him a toothy grin. “Nope! Not until you talk to me!”

Lance lets out a groan. Keith is amused. He can't believe that Lance doesn't like Allison that much. With every encounter, Lance seems to dread being with her and just wants to go away.

(Which, admittedly, at first, Keith was also like that to Lance when they first went to space. They always fought and Keith's attraction turned into feelings of irritation and hate.)

(But now, with all that happened with being the Black Paladin, and Lance being his right–hand man, things changed now. Keith's dislike for him vanished and it became attraction again.)

Fine. I'm here because I performed songs. Happy?”

Allison didn't stop questioning him. “Are you doing this for free, or…?”

“I'm hired.”

Allison grinned and bumped her fist on his shoulder. “That's cool! We should totally do a duet together!”

Lance blinked. He didn't look amused. “Um, excuse me, a what?”

“A duet!” Allison winked at him. “We'd make a pretty good team!”

(Keith's eyes totally did not widen when he heard those words.)

(He didn't silently freak out when he remembered that time when he clasped his hand in Lance's, pulling him up and cradling him gently.)

(His cheeks didn't flush when the words, “We did it. We are a good team.” replayed over and over in his mind.)

(Nope. Totally did not panic at all.)

To Allison's dismay, Lance just laughed and shook his head. “Haha, no.”

Allison frowned. “But–”

“No. Absolutely not.” Lance says vehemently, shaking his head with the same emotion. He looked really against the idea.

Allison cocked her head to the side. “Oh come on! You’re telling me you never had a duet with anyone else before?” She obviously said it as a joke, but Lance's cheeks had flushed and his lips pressed hard when he heard those words. Allison's eyes widened in realization. “No… way…”

“S–So what?” Lance stammers highly, looking away from Allison to hide away his bright red cheeks. “I don't care!”

“You're missing out!” Allison exclaims. “It's fun to sing with someone!”

Lance gives her a glare. “If you haven't realized it yet, I'm not a team player– I'm a soloist. A lone singer. And you're not changing my mind.”

Allison grinned and leaned in close to him. “Is that a challenge?”

Lance answered blankly. “No.”

“So… if I were to sing–”

“No. Whatever you're thinking, no.”

“If I were to sing,” Allison continued, ignoring the groan Lance lets out while she's talking. “And you don't like my singing, I'll leave you alone.”

Lance had shut up when he heard that last part.

But! If you did like my singing, then you, Lance McClain, will do a duet with me, Allison VanDale.” She finishes it off with a grin.

It seemed like a solid deal to Keith. He looked back and forth between Lance's emotionless face and Allison's hopeful expression.

Lance sighs.

“I really don't have a choice in this matter, do I?”

Allison punched him in the shoulder. “Just agree!”

“Fine!” Lance hissed, rubbing his shoulder. “But I highly doubt you'll take my breath away.”

A spark ignited in Allison's eyes, and she grinned again. “Oh! Is that another challenge?”

Lance smirks and raises his eyebrows at her. “So what if it is? Can you do it?”

As the scenery starts to fade to black, an Keith's body starts to vanish, the last thing he saw was Allison smirking back, and said, “Watch me.”

 

 

 

~•~

 

 

 

Hunk stands off at the side, nervously glancing back and forth between the people there.

Lance was sitting across Rachel, whose head was bowed down and had an ugly bruise around her neck. The girl with green eyes was next to Lance, her arms crossed and an uncomfortable look on her face. She tries to stand up from her seat, “I– I think I should go–”

Lance gripped onto her wrist. Both the girl and Hunk looks at him, and he only then realized that even though he already cried a while ago, tears were still shining on his eyes. He gritted his teeth. “Please, stay, Allison.” Finally somebody mentions her name. “I– I don't think I can handle this alone.”

Allison's features softened and she sat back down slowly. “Okay.”

Another moment of silence passed before Lance spoke up again. “Rachel, talk to me. Why–” Lance's voice cracked, and so did Hunk's heart. “Why did you do that?”

Rachel didn't say anything. After a few suffocating seconds, she sighed.

“It's a long story.”