Stepping out into the sunlight on the dawn of a new day was... Unique.
Every breath of wind against his skin reminded him of how real this was. How free.
Shutting his eyes and tipping his head back, Lance experienced the sun over his skin, illuminating every part of his body, every crack and crevice where darkness still resided.
Come, Red. I’m here now. He thought, taking a deep breath of the fresh, brilliant air. It was tainted by dust, but it wasn’t... ruined. It felt like it was being cleaned. Not cleaned yet, but... it was getting there.
When the shadow descended over him, the sunlight’s warmth fading over his skin, he opened his eyes.
Red’s lean body curved overhead, thrusters silent as she spun to face him before dropping to the ground with a remarkably soft thump.
Her body shone where she had clearly been sprayed down with water, burn marks from the crash gone from her ‘fur’. “...Hey girl.” He whispered as her head came down, chin touching the ground as he lay a hand on her nose.
They both turned up when a significantly bigger shape swirled over the rooftop, long claws flaring out as it’s thrusters cut out, back feet landing on the tarmac with a powerful noise, but not enough to break anything.
Grey was massive. At least as large as Blue now, maybe bigger. Not quite Black’s size, but definitely big enough to be intimidating.
His head came down to the ground, fang-filled jaws splitting open as Ru’al stepped out, elegant as the day he met the navy B’hra.
“...I see he got an upgrade?” Lance jabbed a thumb to the Raptor, standing high above them.
Ru’al glanced back to her ship with a smile. “Only thanks to you and Red.” She chuckled as she came closer. “Turns out, your clever girl gave us a Voltron download. Br’tova just about lost his r’ik’in mind.” She shook her head. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired, but...” Lance smiled softly at her. “...better.”
“You look it.” The B’hra laughed, twin tails flicking behind her. “Ready to pull your weight around?”
With a soft nod, Lance started toward Red. “I’ve been trapped in a hospital long enough.”
Ru’al walked with him. “Say that now.” She chuckled, then paused. “Your boyfriend missed you yesterday.”
For a moment, his heart skipped a beat. What... no, I don’t think we are! Not yet?
“I’m kidding, Lance, Chi’var.” She laughed. “Don’t look like I ate your tail.” Her horns shifted as she shook her head, smiling. “Though, he did miss you out here. It was pretty sweet.”
“...So... they’re all ok?”
There was a pause as Ru’al seemed to consider his words, that statement. “...You’re better than when I saw you, Lance.” Ru’al purred out. With that, she raised a hand, Grey’s massive head dropping alongside her as she grabbed a tooth and swung herself inside.
Lance whistled to Red, doing the same with her fangs as he got into the cockpit.
She hummed the instant he was within her, a dull rumble that surrounded every inch of him with warmth and love. “...Yeah, girl. I missed you too.”
A sleek silver body darted up beside Red, barking slightly as Ru’al appeared on the comm. “Link five, Lance.” She informed, before disappearing again.
After switching to the required signal, Lance pushed Red into the air, following Grey toward the city.
And then everyone else started showing up on his comm.
Hunk was first, Yellow standing beside a building, just as Tan came around it. The Raptor was smaller than the Lion, but they gave off no less impression of power.
“Hey! Lance!” Hunk called, grinning as Grey landed on the ground smoothly, Red shifting up beside the big Raptor. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m... I’m good.” Lance nodded with a smile as the others came onto his view.
Black and Indigo were in the air, lifting a net full of debris high above as they transported it safely out of the city. On top of a building, Neon’s white-edged tail flicked side to side, watching Green and Crimson below. Digging out a collapsed tower, Blue stood with Teal, their powerful jaws lifting out various damaged pieces.
“Alright, well, we could really use you on the east side!” Cov’rn called as Orange dropped to the ground. “Follow me! There’s a building on it’s side-“
“Take Lance to the west, I’ve got the building. Send me Keith when he gets back.” Ru’al purred as Grey turned and took off, heading east.
The slightly smaller Raptor turned toward Red. “This way.”
They took off, heading closer toward Green, Neon and Crimson. “Hey Lance.” Pidge greeted as Green leaned down to scan the half-demolished building before them. “Ju’rak, can you fit your skinny ass under the-“
“Yep.” Neon dropped to the ground, slowly pushing his way under the second floor of the building, growling. “Chi’var, this is tight.” Ju’rak grunted as Neon’s claws scrabbled for purchase on the broken path.
Lance stepped forward, Red sweeping one paw through the debris gathered under Neon’s stomach.
Immediately, the Raptor’s claws sunk into the ground, scraping the dirt as he wiggled underneath the building. “R’ik. We got survivors under here!” He called. “Pidge, how solid is the west wall?”
“It’s load-bearing.” Pidge announced as she slid around the corner to face the wall in question. “South wall isn’t. Lance, punch a hole in the south wall.”
Red’s claws drove through the south wall, just until he could see the white of Neon’s muzzle through the rebar and concrete. “Ju’rak, over here.”
The white nose shoved it’s way through the rebar, jaws slightly parted. “Got it.” Ju’rak smirked, Neon’s mouth cracking open wider. “Guys, be quick! This is shifting!”
Seven or eight humans slid from between his teeth, some carrying others or leaning on each other. “Everyone out!” Lance ordered as Pidge and Cov’rn left their ships to assist the people.
The instant that they were free, Neon’s jaws snapped shut. “A’dajo, bite me. Lance, you might need to dig me out.”
Crimson circled around, Red following, as the Raptor grabbed his teammate by the tail while Red sunk claws into the dirt, helping clear a path free.
Though the building was already ruined, Neon managed to escape without knocking it down. The fact that he was about as large as Green, but significantly thinner helped.
“Let’s go to the next one.” Pidge called. “Cov’rn, can you take the survivors out?”
Orange kicked from the road with a rumble, leaping high above the buildings as he moved back toward the Garrison.
“Alright, form up.” Lance ordered. “Pidge, where’s the next one?”
“I’m getting life signs about two klicks this way.” She responded, turning and trotting toward the next house. With a nod to the Raptors, Lance followed behind Pidge as they went to the next location.
They had a lot of ground to cover before they could stop for the evening.
By the time Red and the others were finally allowed to land, the sun had set and the stars were starting to come out.
Grey’s job was nowhere near done, not when the runway still wasn’t fully cleared, but the other Raptors and Lions were exhausted, as were their Hunters and Paladins.
Even still, Lance pushed Red to pad up to Grey’s larger form, nudging him slightly.
“Lance... Working here.” Ru’al sighed through the comms.
“You should get some sleep.” Lance told her.
Grey’s deep, dark eyes snapped to focus on Red’s, making Lance shiver slightly under his seemingly eternal gaze. “I’m fine, Lance. There are carrier and emergency ships that need to use this launchpad.” Ru’al rumbled. “Go... go sleep. I need to clean this off.”
“...You know I won’t sleep either.”
“Then go see your boyfriend. He’s been looking for a chance to see you all day.” Ru’al said.
And how’s Ques? Lance wanted to question, but technically, she was a higher rank than he. So, he turned Red around to go sit with the other Lions. Even now, her team glanced at her warily, uncertain if she was truly one of them, or would be ever again.
As Lance stepped out of her jaw, Red simply got up, and walked over to the Raptors. Orange raised his head from where he was lying like some sort of cat, pawing gently at Red as she settled with them instead.
Immediately, Indigo’s great tail swept across the dirt to pull Red a little more into the centre of the group.
This was a side Lance didn’t get to see all that much, the Raptors when they were acting like animals. He had seen Red do this a lot, but always alone.
Neon’s head was laid over Crimson’s shoulders, body lazily curled against the bigger Raptor’s chest, while Teal sat upright, like a sentinel, his head cocked at the incoming Lion. Tan stood and slid over, giving Red some room to sit and settle with them. She chose to stay near Indigo and Orange, laying down like the gigantic cat she was.
...That’s fine, girl. Lance thought to her, watching as their lights turned off, movements stopping for the evening.
He turned and padded inside, giving one last glance to his Lion before he shut the door.
The Garrison halls were mostly empty by this point, illuminated only by the nighttime lighting that activated while the majority were asleep.
Memory led him easily on a patrol of the halls, several cadets giving him a soft smile or even a salute as he headed past, their tired, slightly haunted eyes reminding him of himself.
Slipping into the washroom, Lance rubbed his face. It had been a shockingly long day, and his injuries ached. Admittedly, he hadn’t noticed, except for where his body should’ve hurt, and didn’t.
After doing his business and washing his hands, Lance splashed water over his face, rubbing it in slightly before glancing up to the man in the mirror.
The man with dark circles under his eyes and scars on his face. The man who had found the Galra earlier that day. The man who was unfazed at the look of shock and fear on her face when he levelled the blaster between her eyes.
He had been glad Pidge wasn’t there, simply so she couldn’t see him do that.
’You, Paladin... Fighter... Are worthy of... a conqueror's place.’
Lance winced, remembering the words as he once again rubbed his face, before shutting off the water, and walking away.
He spent the next two vargas patrolling, checking windows as rebel ships carried on their work into the night, bringing supplies and survivors to the Garrison.
In the meantime, he noticed Grey finally creeping over to the group of Raptors, his tail scraping the dirt.
Tan stood up immediately as Grey let Ru’al out, Red even waking to watch the great silver Raptor. Noticing her worry for his exhaustion, Lance attempted to reassure her, but the way Grey flopped to his side wasn’t exactly reassuring. His quintessence is probably depleted. Too much work, not enough time.
Not even the Paladins and Hunters could regenerate quintessence all the time.
After that, Lance went to the room that was now designated as his, but from the instant he opened the door, he didn’t like it.
It didn’t feel like his place.
Plus, Ascua was still out.
After grabbing a pair of sweatpants out of habit and stepping out, Lance moved down the hall, searching for...
Walking up to the door and knocking, Lance waited for a response.
The room was dimly lit, with their fearless Black Paladin lying in bed. The part of Lance that was still a bit of a diva winced at the fact that Keith was shirtless, but still had the pants from his Garrison suit on.
Kosmo was at the foot of his bed, with Ascua half-buried in his ruff, a wing extended down the wolf’s back.
“...Why do you have your pants on?”
Keith shrugged. “I don’t have sweatpants.”
That did, amazingly, seem like a reasonable excuse.
“...Can I stay?” Lance asked after a minute. Uncertainty and wariness ran under his skin, worried that now...
“Yeah.” Shuffling over, Keith made space on the bed for Lance to sit with him, starting to unbutton his shirt and-
His hands froze.
He couldn’t breathe for a moment.
“...I’ve seen it before.”
Those words were all it seemed to take, and Lance, with a shaky exhale, took off the shirt. He put it beside the bed, half-under, and did the same with his pants. Slipping on the stretchier fabric, Lance swung his hurt leg up onto the bed, followed by his ok leg.
Almost immediately, Keith snuggled into his side. It wasn’t the first time they had done this, and the comfort of it was still the same. Just an easy sense of relaxation.
He slept longer that night, waking up on his side, with Keith tucked into his chest and wrapped in his arms. It was... nice.
The insomnia had returned within the first few days, healing turning longer, but then Keith showed up.
After that first night, Lance started sleeping better.
Wait, so are we dating now? Lance wondered.
He had never gone on a date with Keith. He had never gone on a date with a boy.
No. Not yet. Just... cuddles are manly. He thought, shuffling down in the safety of Keith’s warmth.
“So when did you get bigger? You never did tell me.”
It had been a month and a half, so Lance went to visit Adam.
The man had gotten the hang of stumbling around on one crutch and determination, and now was starting to do rehab, and trying to relearn the nasty little habit that was walking.
Particularly, walking with a peg.
That was the way that the leg had been designed.
“I went to war.” Lance said simply, scrubbing his hair back a bit before he glanced to Adam again.
“Yeah, I did that and lost a leg.” The other laughed, then shook his head. “You’re a grade A dumbass if you think that’s gonna be enough for me, Lance.”
“...Not today, Adam.” The murmur clearly surprised the other man as Lance turned and left, unable to tell Adam as well.
His team already treated him like glass. He couldn’t stand it if Adam did too.
“No, no! R’ik, Indi, lift!”
Lance cocked his head at the new voice, but also strangely familiar. It was late afternoon, and most of the Lions and Raptors were called off to get a break, while Indigo, Orange and Yellow had to keep working, helping the Atlas.
Br’tova’s shimmering forest-green body was standing beside an Olkari and Holt, directing Indigo to lift something against the Atlas’ side. “He’s got it!”
Workers were quick to lock in the thing that Indigo had held, the Raptor stepping away, before turning and walking off.
The Atlas’ damaged hull was slowly becoming one again, one massive, shining beacon of hope.
Or, that’s how everyone Lance spoke to saw it.
Lance spun, and saw Br’tova staring at him with a grin. “Kronos r’ik!” The green scales flashed as Br’tova preformed an odd, limping-skip run to him. “You’re up.”
“Yeah.” Shrugging, Lance turned toward the Atlas. “You’re helping with repairs?”
“Might as well.” Br’tova shifted his weight. “We came here in force, best I can do is offer my abilities.”
With a nod, Lance looked him over, finally noticing why Br’tova was so off. “...Was... was T’branin attacked?”
The B’hra glanced back, tracing Lance’s gaze to his tail. One half of the two-pointed tip was gone, a small, shaven area of pale green skin all that was left. “Oh, uh, no.” Br’tova sighed. “...We attacked a Galra outpost. I defended my ship, and... lost my tail.”
“Hey, at least I didn’t lose my foot.” Br’tova shrugged. “I’ll take that.”
Not knowing what else to say, Lance nodded to him, then Holt. After that, he turned off and slowly walked away into the Garrison building nearby, ducking through a door silently, and vanishing into the constant motion of the pathways.
He felt like an echo in those halls. A ghost, someone who wasn’t really there anymore. The people and aliens inside just let him pass, silent, as he thought to the activities of the day, and why he abruptly felt so awful.
Like a weight was sinking inside his chest, drowning him in endless wave after wave of soft agony.
Maybe it was going through the wreckage of Sendak’s ship. Maybe it was standing on the edge of the ship’s bow and finding the stain in the dirt where he had killed the commander.
Maybe it was standing in the horseshoe, where that ball of light had gathered, and changed his life from something he knew, to something he didn’t.
From seeing freeing Earth and winning the war, to seeing himself and Red, blood spattered and snarling, dying on the battlefield. When he stopped seeing a future, and started seeing an end.
He climbed to the roof.
The stars were already starting to reveal themselves in the dusk sky, gleaming brightly in the orange-violet glow left by the sun. Wind flowed through his hair, over his face, as he shut his eyes and experienced.
This was that kind of thing he would do once upon a time with his siblings, creeping out of Veronica’s window with smiling faces and soft giggles, to watch the stars appearing in the moonlit sky.
Sometimes, Marcus or Lance would bring their guitars up to the roof and play quietly for them, as either practice or otherwise.
It was bad when his fingers flexed for muscle memory, trying to remember his hand over the neck of a guitar, but the only thing that came to him was how to turn the Shin’shi over his palm.
He lay back, and just watched the day melt away into night, nothing left but the twinkling of stars that only seemed distant from where he lay now.
He knew they weren’t that far off.
In some reminisce of a distant day, Lance remembered the steady pluck of a group of strings. Over and over, the thrum under his hands. His fingers no longer moved that way, but his mind still knew.
“...Tell me somethin’ girl... Are you happy in this modern world?” Lance took a breath. “Or do you need more? Is there somethin’ that you’re searching for? I’m falling... In all the good times, I find myself longing, for change. And in the bad times I fear myself...”
His mouth opened to go into the women's chorus, when a voice, so familiar to his childhood picked up on what he was missing.
“Tell me somethin’ boy...” Veronica’s voice was rough with disuse, but she went anyway. “Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void? Or do you need more? Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore, oh I’m, falling... In all the good times, I find myself, longing, for change... and in the bad times, I fear myself...”
She lay beside him, legs hanging off the roof as they both looked up into the sky, slow to continue the song and slow to keep going.
Memories of a time when Lance was still innocent, when Veronica was still home, and when Earth was still whole.
When the song had faded into the air, neither of them spoke. Lance knew there was too much to wonder about and the weight of the questions crushed the air so that none could ever be asked.
It was the quintant before, the rebuilding and the re-launch of the Atlas nearly ready, which would mark their return to the war.
Lance both didn’t want to go to, and didn’t want to stay. He feared that stagnancy would give him...
He stared blankly into the drink that Hunk had put in front of him, finally reaching to stir the spoon, lightly clinking against the sides of the glass in a way that stabbed at the centre of his head, the fucking ache that was steadily edging into migraine territory exacerbated by the noise.
“The big day!” Hunk said abruptly, his words finally reaching Lance’s ears. “It seems like it was forever ago when we piled into the Blue Lion and blasted out into space. Man, we had no idea what we were getting into!”
“Yeah.” Lance murmured blankly. He was tired.
“But now it’s different. We’ve seen it all!” Hunk proclaimed.
No you haven’t. The Red Paladin wanted to snap in response.
“We’re rugged veterans now, going back into battle one last time.” He said.
“Mhmm.” Lance hummed. Stop talking.
“Guess that makes us heroes, or something? Like, the type of heroes that would have their own TV show?” Laughing like he had made a joke, Hunk kept going. “Did you watch it, Lance?” He pumped a fist. “Ah, it’s so cool! It’s so cool. They got you spot-on, but...”
Lance tuned out. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to hear, it was just... It just wasn’t comfortable, right then.
“Plus, I think they’re hinting at some romance between Keith and Allura.” Hunk finished.
And that got his attention.
“Really?” He raised an eyebrow, dropping the spoon. “Keith and Allura?”
“You thinking Lance and Allura? Good. A love triangle, I like it!” Hunk smiled.
“...Sure.” Lance chuckled. He and Allura were close, but as friends. He had stopped flirting with her a while back.
He and Hunk talked about lives, about space and the future, as the Yellow Paladin dreamed of home, and cooking.
Lance just thought of an end.
“Everyone!” Shiro began, trying to call attention to the group at large, various aliens and humans filling the briefing room. They were all slowly starting to come to focus on him, but it was clear they didn’t want to hear this last announcement, not yet wanting to head into the sky again.
“Listen up, fives,” A voice boomed effectively across the room. “A ten is speaking!”
That got everyone’s attention, Adam sitting up and glaring at the group. He was assigned to one of two helm pilot spots on the Atlas, and Lance had forgotten exactly how loud he could shout.
“Thank you, Adam.” Shiro said professionally, but it was clear he was smiling slightly. “Everyone, welcome to our final briefing here on Earth.” He stated. “It’s been several months since we began to rebuild and tomorrow, we launch and continue our liberation efforts across all planets still under Galra rule. Commander Holt, what’s the latest from your team?”
Glancing to the mentioned man, everyone listened as he spoke. “We’ve confirmed that there’s still no Galra activity within several galaxies of the Milky Way. It appears Earth was Sendak’s only target.”
Shuffling down slightly in his seat, Lance looked away from the commander. Sendak was a bitter seed.
“Where are we with Earth’s defences?”
“I’ve finished my check-in with all the Garrison facilities around the globe.” Keith began steadily. “All defences are up and running. Earth has everything in place to keep itself safe.”
“Great. And Atlas preparations?”
“Repairs to the IGF-Atlas were completed early last week and it has since passed every test protocol we’ve put it through.” His sister nodded.
“Good.” Shiro nodded. “Any updates on the Altean pilot?”
“Still unresponsive.” The Princess spoke up. “But she could wake any day now. Perhaps if we had a little more time, we could find out who sent her.”
“There’s no way to know when or if she’ll regain consciousness.” Keith comforted, though it wasn’t great comfort. “We can’t wait any longer. We need to get back out there and end this war before the Galra can reorganize.” He sighed at Allura’s fallen face, before turning back to Shiro.
“Keith’s right.” Shiro confirmed. “We’ll be in constant communication with Earth. When the Altean wakes up, we’ll know. I have one more item to discuss.” Turning back to the room at large, he went on. “It’s our last night on Earth and we’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us. We may not be back home for years. So I’m ordering you...” Pausing for dramatic affect, Shiro glanced around the room. “To take some time for yourselves. Be with the ones you love. You’ve earned it. Dismissed!”
As the room erupted into chatter and chaos again, Lance stood up. It was early. He wanted to go home, even if it didn’t feel like home, just for a while.
“Hey, Lance.” Keith called behind him, the pair meeting in the hallway as Lance stopped. They fell into step as Keith caught up, walking smoothly away from anyone else.
After a while of silent travel through the halls, otherwise quiet and calm, Lance turned toward Keith and opened his mouth, speaking words he had been uncertain of since the start. “...You know how I said we should... go out?”
“Yeah?” Keith glanced at him.
“...We should do that.” Lance murmured.
There was a long pause. “...Tonight?”
“...I have to do some training, but I’m good at... seven?” The half-Galra’s smile was shy.
Nodding, Lance glanced to the floor as he agreed. “I have to see my family anyway. Seven?”
“...Meet me on top of Black.” Keith said softly.
Their hands brushed, and for a moment, Lance could only watch as Keith turned away and headed off, vanishing into the crowds in the hall.
Their family had been allowed to go back to their mostly-intact home after the rebuilding started to slow. Many families had been allowed the same luxury, providing their homes were still standing.
Marco, Luis and his dad had been working their hardest to rebuild the one area of the house that had been partially hit, and the ladies had all been actively trying to get the house clean.
When Lance stepped inside, he was careful not to bang the door shut. It was almost an unconscious movement by then, just simple things to be quieter.
Walking through to the living room, he wasn’t expecting Nadia to jump slightly at his presence. “Uncle Lance!” She exclaimed, once she had gotten over her now-automatic fear. Getting to her feet and darting over, she hugged his side tightly, leaning into him a bit.
Lance ran a hand over her hair. “Hey, Nadia.” He murmured gently, waiting until she had her hug before she went back to her toys.
Movement through the halls of his childhood home, familiar in a sense of old memory, was swift and silent. Passing the kitchen to catch a glimpse of Lisa and his mom, Lance kept moving quietly. He wanted to remember, not talk right now.
There was the steady ring of tools from down one hall, where a plastic, zipped-up sheet covered the passage. Beyond that, Lance knew that Luis was somewhere, probably the one currently using the saw he could hear.
Turning a corner, Lance felt memory wash over him as he stepped into the corridor that held the rooms his siblings used to share.
Well, before Lance and Veronica had moved into the Garrison, and then he was blasted into space.
“Ok... Book, my phone charger, clothes, uniform... do I have my toothbrush?”
That got Lance to stop, and glance into the room where Rachel was clearly packing a Garrison bag. “...Rachel?”
“Hey! Lance!” Rachel spun around, grinning. Then she paused. “...When did you get here? Mom’s been calling you for hours.”
Right. The phone. With that realization, Lance pulled out the small phone that the Garrison had provided him, and noticed it was out of batteries. “It uh... died.”
“Yikes. I’d let you use my charger, but I’m not unpacking.” Rachel smirked.
“...Why are you packing?”
She turned, giving Lance a confused glance. “...Same... as you?” She shook her head slightly, like he was being silly.
Lance had it figured out in a second. “...You’re aboard the Atlas.”
“Yep.” Rachel nodded. “One of the higher-ups invited me. As a Cadet, I can come in training.”
“But... Rachel...” It’s dangerous. You could die. I don’t want to see you dead. I don’t want to have to live like that.
“What, it’s crazy dangerous? I know, Lance.” Rachel grinned. “That almost is the fun part!”
His chest rang with an low throb of pain, reminding him that he had thought the same once upon a time.
“...You sure you want to?” Lance questioned softly.
“Yeah, I do!” Rachel laughed. “Can’t let you and Ronnie have all the fun!”
She pushed his shoulder. Lance forced a smile to his face because he didn’t know what he would do if he lost one of them.
Six-forty-five, and in the nicest thing he could escape the house in without being questioned, Lance slid out with Ascua gliding above.
The edge of the sun had touched the horizon, painting the Garrison in fire-reds and oranges that gleamed beyond the simple yellow of the normal sun, alight in potentially, the last sunset that Lance would see in a long time.
Black was seated, facing the glowing orb in the distance as it fell past the edge of the world. Lance could feel the heat on his skin as he climbed up the Lion’s side, finally noticing Keith.
Keith in a red button-up and black pants, leaned on the bridge of Black’s nose, Kosmo beside him. Carefully stepping onto Black’s muzzle, Lance slid down to sit beside Keith and Kosmo, Ascua immediately taking the Black Lion as a challenge to her flight skills, leaping from his nose without a pause.
Standing, Kosmo ran to the end of Black’s nose and watched Ascua as she spun brilliantly through the air, illuminated by the fire of the sky beyond. “...So.” Keith began slowly. “...What do you want to do?”
“I... I don’t know.” Lance shrugged. “...We could stay here for a bit. Then get some food. What do you want to do?”
“...Watch this sunset.” Keith sighed. “...It’ll be awhile before we see one again.”
“Yeah.” Dipping his head, Lance leaned a tiny bit into Keith’s shoulder. “...That sounds good. It will be a while.”
“That’s why we need to end this war.” Keith murmured, his head falling onto Lance’s. “...We’re going to do it, with the Lance that pilots the Red Lion. The right hand. The Lance who’s always got my back.”
“Where would we be without our fearless leader?” Lance wondered softly, smirking slightly at Keith. “Can’t exactly have a team without the one always willing to fight.”
“...Thanks.” Keith smiled, and they both fell silent.
They sat there until the sun had vanished below the horizon, and the stars appeared high above, in the vault of midnight blue where they’d soon be returning to as well.
Trapped, in an endless universe. Lance thought.
It stung more than he thought it would.
When Keith rubbed his hand though, the thought vanished, and Lance was left just with him, and the stars.
They wandered through the bazaar area of the rebuilding Plaht City, hand in hand.
Admittedly, neither of them exactly looked like the ‘Paladins of Voltron’. His parents had insisted that if he was going for a walk, he have his wallet and charged phone on him, and something that was warm. As a result, he was wearing a scarf, while Keith was wearing a biker jacket.
“Where do you want to eat?” Lance asked. He knew both of them were understandably nervous about the date, and didn’t really want to be recognized at the moment. Lance wanted a peaceful evening.
“...Well, we could go for basically anything.” Looking around, Keith’s eyes strayed over the line of food stalls.
“That man has churros.” Lance commented quietly, nodding his head to the stand with the mentioned item. “We could get churros.”
“Food first.” With a chuckle, Keith glanced to the side, then tugged Lance’s hand. “How about that? Shiro said they were tasty.”
The alien, who appeared to be a Balmeran, worked beside a human who was frying stuff in a large pan. “...Looks good.”
They got their food, bulgogi and spicy squid, with chicken and rice and fried vegetables. After receiving their meals, Keith led him back toward Black.
Tough, hardy grass covered the area where Black had landed, making the dirt softer than the surrounding rock.
Waiting for them were Ascua and Kosmo, rolling in the grass together playfully. Whenever Kosmo teleported, Ascua flew at him with a playful bark, chasing him across the grass.
Keith sat down on the hill, Lance warily watching him before the half-Galra tugged his arm, bringing Lance to sit beside him.
They pulled the food out of the bag, resting on the grass under the stars as Lance stole a piece of spicy squid. Though the fishy taste was a little unfamiliar, the spice reminded him a lot of home.
“Kosmo!” Keith yelped as he came forward to paw at a box with a strip of bulgogi in it. Spotting him, Lance chuckled, leaning over to help Keith shoo the wolf away.
Which was when there was a triumphant howl, and Ascua swooped over his head with two strips of bulgogi in her claws.
Kosmo immediately ran off, chasing her.
“Hey!” Lance called after her, though it didn’t matter. She had already put down one of the strips for Kosmo.
“...Did they just distract and then steal from us?” Keith murmured in disbelief.
With a soft, almost alien chuckle - they were starting to feel more normal now - Lance nodded.
“...We really should start training them together.”
Lance leaned into Keith. The other was warm, safe-feeling, the sense of security Lance was missing in the past years.
Even if he could never bring himself to truly back down from that constant edge of fight or flight ever again, he could manage to find peace in knowing he was protected.
When they leaned back in an unspoken agreement, staring up at the stars, Lance felt a deep pang of something bitter. Fortunately, he wasn’t the only one, as Keith rolled to his side, to look at Lance instead of the sky.
There was a long moment of silence, where a lightly scowling Keith stared deeply into his eyes, a sense of examination staring through him, straight through his skull.
Lance knew Keith’s eyes were grey, but he had never picked up the indigo lines that traced through them, a brilliant, stabbing realization that never quite occurred to him before. It looked unearthly, which was probably exactly what it was.
“...I think I want to stay here.” Keith murmured. “...Right here.”
With a shrug, hands held between them, Lance nodded. “...Sure.” He agreed quietly. He didn’t want to look at the sky.
He wanted to lose himself in the feeling of forgotten safety, and Keith’s violet-grey eyes.