Lance was sitting there watching Hunk and Pidge tinker with a machine that sort of reminded him of Rover. He was mumbling. He always mumbled when he was beginning to forget things again. Coran said that the druid magic was still in his system and they had no way to get it out so he mumbled to himself. Mumbled all the important things he had done for the day. It helped him remember his castle life without having to go to Red every few minutes. It helped him remember by himself. What he had done today and he wrote things along his hands. Things he could absolutely not forget. Usually, it was missions. Plans that he wanted to make sure he got one hundred percent right. Reminders of alliances and enemies.
He had lost his mumble, instead deciding to look down at his wrists where each Paladin and Coran's name was scrawled across them in big block letters. His notes scattered in light small ink around them. He couldn't remember when he had first started to write their names on himself but he always carried a pen. Whenever he would falter on a name or forget it for a moment he would trace along the names over and over, repeating it out loud and adding a new layer of ink.
"Lance?" He looked up. Hunk was staring at him and Pidge only held out her hand expectedly. "Buddy, what were you saying?"
"Hm?" He thought for a second. Was he talking to them before? He looked down at his hand which still held a tool and placed it on Pidge's open palm. She looked it over and proceeded to work. "I wasn't saying anything," He shook his head. His mumbles weren't helping. The last thing he remembered was eating lunch and according to the now dim light of the kitchen, that had happened quite a while ago.
"Yeah, you were," Pidge said only looking at him from the corner of her eyes. "You were talking about programs that we should add to this robot. Stuff to make it fun," She grinned. Lance liked when she grinned but he couldn't remember what he had said which made his smile drop.
"Robot? You're making a robot?" He looked at his friends. They were looking at him with a sort of sympathy. Pidge set her tool down to mess with the wires inside.
"Yeah... we've been working on it for about an hour," She looked at the time. "And twenty minutes apparently,"
"We should think of names!" Lance smiled. "What does the robot do?"
"Lance..." Hunk stepped closer to him. "Are you forgetting things again?"
"What are you talking about?" He brushed off. "I only just got here,"
"You've been here the entire time," Pidge finally stopped working too. Her eyebrows crinkled together as she looked him up and down. "You were passing us tools and helping us think of stuff,"
Lance began mumbling again. His eyes closed and hands clutched together. "No, I just got here,"
The way Lance sounded so desperate to make it true made Pidge and Hunk drop their questioning. Hunk placed a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe you should go see Red. This is usually around the time you start getting ready for bed right?"
Lance looked up to figure out the time. He swallowed nothing as he dragged himself up and stuffed his hands into his pocket. "Yeah, usually. I'll go see Red," He turned around walking off and mumbling under his breath to go see Red. He walked and walked until he was at the door and he turned around towards his friends watching him. "Good night dorks! Don't go to sleep so late,"
"We won't," Hunk laughed.
Lance was satisfied with that response and turned around to run off into the right hallway. He thought of the Paladins. Allura: white hair, dark skin, purple eyes. Pidge: glasses, light brown hair, pale skin, short... really short. He laughed at his recollection. Hunk: Best friend, he always remembers that first. Dark skin, black hair, comfy. Shiro: Leader, white and black hair, scar, mean. He opened his eyes. Had he always thought he was mean? He had been on edge lately and no matter how hard Lance tried to remember everything something was always missing. He was always barking at him. Maybe once upon a time to his past which he couldn't remember, maybe Lance had considered it counseling but not anymore. He shivered. Definitely, mean. Keith:... He stopped walking. Why was he walking? He couldn't remember where he was going but he kept walking straight hoping to figure it out.
Keith: dark hair. He stopped again. Keith. He wasn't a paladin. He looked down at his wrist and found his name still scrawled across it in dark ugly letters. He was someone. He stared at the name. He couldn't remember his face. When was the last time he had seen him? Maybe he should erase his name; no he couldn't do that. He shook his head. "Keith," He said out loud hoping it would jog his memory. Keith: Dark hair...
He was growing frustrated. He couldn't remember. Keith. Keith. Keith... baby blue. Why had that color popped into his head? Maybe it was his favorite. Maybe he had told him that. Who was Keith to him?
He heard voices just in front of him and he looked up to a door that was labeled as a lab. They had labeled most of the doors just for Lance. Just so he wouldn't forget but despite labeling this one, he wasn't allowed in there. He knew that so he couldn't go inside and ask them about his somewhat blurry memories of Keith. He listened though. He heard Coran's soft voice and Shiro speaking back to him in a much calmer voice then he used on him.
"Really? And they'll really help?" Shiro asked.
"It won't be for certain until the boy tries it but druid magic is very complicated. If Prince Lotors calculations weren't off, this should help him remember for a much longer time period," Coran sounded just as jolly as he always did.
"Well, it's better then what we have now," Shiro sighed. "Has his memory been disappearing a lot faster to everyone else or is it just me,"
"I'm afraid it's the former," Coran sighed too. "You mustn't blame the boy, however. Ever since he left, Lance has been having a harder time adjusting to his newly found lion. He has no one to guide him on Red." He? Who were they talking about? Was it Keith? "I'm sure he'll be fine in a while. He just needs a little shove in the right direction,"
"A hard shove, I'm afraid," Shiro sounded irritated. What did he ever do to piss him off so much?
He sighed and knocked on the door softly waiting for a response. Coran was the one to fully open the door for him. "Oh hello my boy, what can I help you with?"
"Oh, I was just wondering if you were the reason I was supposed to be walking this way," Lance suddenly felt self-conscious about asking that. He felt like a child asking for directions but luckily Coran made no indication that it was bothering him in the slightest.
"Not that I'm aware of," He thought. "But while you're here I might as well give you a refill." He hurried back inside and Lance took a step towards him only for Shiro to block his view.
"Nu-uh you know the rules, you're not allowed in here. It's too dangerous," he crossed his arms and Lance stepped back.
"I was just gonna follow Coran," Lance argued. "I won't touch anything,"
"No Lance," He slightly growled out as if he was getting irritated simply repeating himself. Lance shrunk into himself. "With your memory, you'd probably forget that rule far too soon,"
Coran had come back and he was trying to push Shiro along so that he could get past. Lance shot him a glance but glared up at Shiro. "I'm not stupid. I can see a glowing pink liquid and think hey that's something I probably shouldn't touch. No matter if I remember your dumb rule or not," He grabbed the small pouch that Coran was holding in his hand and shoved them in his pocket but not before opening it and chewing a gummy from inside. "Thank Coran,"
He looked like he wanted to keep talking to him but he turned on his heel and continued walking the way he was first going. He wanted to ask them about Keith but he was already put off by the way Shiro talked to him. He kept walking trying to figure it out himself until he made it to a split hallway. He could go either way but he wasn't sure which way he wanted to go first. He heard both pathways and heard even more voices to his right so he ignored the continues straight pathway and opted to follow the voices. Turning he tried to make out the voice. A girl and boy both with an accent that reminded him of Coran's. He made it to a door and pushed it open this time. He walked a little further to where he saw Allura playing with a taken apart Galra looking Pod. He got closer to her only to feel a hand on his shoulder. He whipped around summoning his Bayard and watching it form into the altean sword Allura always talked about. It hovered over Lotors neck.
"Wow, hold on," Allura jogged closer to him. "It's only Lotor remember?" Lotor gave him a smile hands up in defense.
Only Lotor? Was he always here? He looked at his wrists. Lotor's name wasn't written on either of them. Maybe this was the first time he had forgotten him. He pulled down his Bayard and turned around to face away from him. "Don't sneak up on me,"
"Forgive me," Lotor smiled at him but Lance couldn't tell as he dug in his pockets for his pen. He had a green and red one. The green one for alliance-related things and red for the Galra or anything that was a threat. He pulled both of them out and contemplated which one to use. He turned back towards Lotor in questions.
"You're a good guy now, right?" Lance looked over at Allura inviting her to answer his question too.
"Yes, I suppose he is," Allura answered with a chuckle. Lotor chuckled a bit awkwardly as well. Maybe he was unaware of the druid magic that affected Lance but it was hard to believe that Allura hadn't told him if they were hanging out together.
"Are you?" He questioned Lotor straight on fidgeting with his pens.
"I don't wish you, nor Voltron, any harm," He started. "I wish to be part of the coalition and put an end to this empire that my father created,"
"Mmhm," Lance hummed holding onto the red pen in his mouth and opening the green one. "A yes or no would have been fine,"
Lotor chuckled as he watching Lance wrote his name on the back of his hand in dark green ink. "Um, may I ask what that's for?"
"Helps me remember," Lance said switching pens and putting a bright red bubble around Lotors green name.
"I've been very open with you until now," Lotor expressed. "I hope you'll come to trust me soon,"
"I mean, hey, you're the prince," He bowed mockingly. Lotor he remembered a bit of what had happened before. Him talking to him so calmly helped him remember. He remembered Shiro leaving without them to help him. "Well, emperor now or whatever,"
"Is there perhaps something you need Lance?" She didn't sound irritated at him despite his clear distaste for Lotor and he was glad she wasn't like Shiro right now or she would have yelled at him.
"No, I guess not," Lance tried to spin his pen around his fingers and ultimately dropping it. He began reaching down but Lotor beat him to it, picking it up and handing it to Lance with a smile. He hesitated, lifting his hand but not directly grabbing it. Lotor was patient though and Allura watched them happily. Lance finally did take it and mumbled out a small. "Thanks,"
"Of course," Lance stared at him. He let out a small gasp that only he heard and stepped a bit closer. Locking eyes with Lotor he fidgeted inside his pockets. For the first time since he had stepped inside here, Lotor seemed uneasy. He opened his mouth to say something but Lance snapped his fingers.
"Purple eyes!" Lance pulled up his sleeve revealing every single note he had made on his left arm. Lotor seemed taken aback but Allura stepped forward in worry.
"Lance, what's wrong?"
"The color of his eyes were purple," Lance smiled. "Keith's eyes were,"
"Keith?" Allura thought about it for a while. "Yes, I suppose they were. He was half galra after all,"
"Was he?" Lance thought for a bit. No, he didn't remember that detail.
"How fascinating," Lotor stepped forward grabbing onto his hand and twirling it around to see every written aspect of it. "Are these simply for you?"
"Yeah," Lance said trying to pull his hand back but Lotor didn't seem to give it up, quickly decoding the green and red coloring.
"The coalition is green correct?"
"Yeah... well not always," Lance did finally grab his hand back and pointed a few people and things out. "It just means good; things that are okay,"
"Yet, I have a red bubble around my name,"
"Lotor..." Allura shook her head and he looked ready to drop it but Lance shook his head too.
"No it's okay, princess," Lance shrugged. "You're green because you're part of us but the red just means that I don't know you very well so it's more so a warning to me than a diss on you," It wasn't completely the truth but it was vaguely why he did it. He wasn't trying to hide it either. If he was then he wouldn't have drawn it right in front of him.
"Why even have notes?"
"I forget things," He said vaguely turning to Allura. "Did you not tell him?"
"It's not in my place to tell," She smiled apologetically. "Of course, I'm also not very aware what is going on in your mind Lance."
"Druid magic," Lance said with wonderous sarcasm. "Your subjects, right, oh mighty Lotor?"
"Druid's are part of the witch's court," Lotor tried to defend. Allura smiled at him. "If they hurt you in any way I wish you a speedy recovery and an apology on my part but I had no part in doing you any harm,"
Lance hated how formally he talked to him. It made him feel guilty for even getting hit in the first place. "I can't just get better. I just lose and gain memories at random and the druid magic messes with the cryo pods so I have to be extra careful during missions," Lance sighed in exhaustion when Lotor looked at him guiltily ready to apologize. "It was that druids fault though. I get that you didn't have anything to do with it,"
"As their emperor, I am responsible for overseeing my people and anything they do I am responsible for," Lotor curled his hand's tight. "I apologize on their behalf,"
Lance stared at him. His head bowed and eyes closed in front of him. He hated the idea of this. He hated everything about the situation. Stepping back he crossed his arms. "You're not such a bad leader, huh?"
Lotor seemed surprised by this, lifting his head to watch the sulking paladin. Allura placed a hand on Lance's shoulder and giggled under her breath. "I'm glad to see you so mature about this, Lance,"
"What? I am mature!" Lance huffed. "I'll have you know I'm like the most mature person here. Well... I'm not last!"
Lotor stood up straight as well. "So do you remember when I was first was welcomed in the castle?"
Lance thought for a bit. He closed his eyes and tried to remember his past mumbles and, although he recognized Lotors name, he still couldn't remember the day he started coming here. He shook his head. "I remember you and I remember you helping us but I don't remember the first time I met you,"
"Well, I hope I made a well enough first impression again," Lotor rubbed his hands together awkwardly. "I know we weren't always on the best of terms,"
"We just don't know each other very well," Lance shrugged.
"Well perhaps you can stay here Lance," Allura offered. "If you wish too that is,"
"Thanks, princess, but I'd probably just annoy you," Lance shrugged with a laugh. "Besides I'd hate to intrude,"
"Nonsense!" Lotor offered. "I'm always humbled to talk to a paladin of Voltron,"
"You guys are nice, really," Lance laughed rubbing the back of his neck. "But it's not like I have anything to particularly say,"
"Let's get to know each other," Allura offered. "Lotor has already recalled his memories from time to time. Why not just speak to us as we work. You used to always sing when Hunk and Pidge stressed themselves out trying to fix something,"
He smiled. He liked singing for them but he never distinctly started just because they were stressed out. They got frustrated easily and when that happened they barely ever talked to him so instead, he sang to block out the silence. They never protested it and sometimes they asked him to do it so he didn't find a problem with it because he was comfortable with them. He knew how they would react. Allura and Lotor were different. He didn't know what songs they hated, what they liked, or how they'll react. He shook his head.
"It's alright princess," He said. "I think I was heading somewhere else anyway,"
"You think? Have you forgotten?" Lance nodded solemnly. "Well then perhaps your were heading towards the lions,"
"Maybe," Lance thought for a bit. Red usually didn't call for him as Blue did. Looking up at the clock he noticed that it was usually around this time he started going to bed. They had moved his room to be closer to the lions so he'd pass by there first. "Well, you guys finish up. I'll just find my way around,"
"Maybe one of us should walk you," Allura stepped forward. "I wouldn't want you to get lost,"
Lance thought about the castle in his head. It was rather big but he always managed to figure it out. "I'll take him," Lotor offered as well. "You stay here and finish up the main base of the ship and I'll work on the engines once I get back,"
"No, no, no, no," He shook his head frantically but smiled trying not to hurt their feelings. "I'll really be okay. I don't think I'd be comfortable with Lotor just alone anyways,"
"Well, perhaps we can learn a few things about each other while we walk,"
Lance was ready to reject the idea again but Allura was looking so enthusiastic about the idea that he couldn't find it in himself to put the idea down. He supposed he would have to talk to Lotor sooner or later. He was conflicted with himself but he was sure he wasn't far from his lions so he swallowed down his discomfort. "Alright, but only to my lion,"
"Of course, and feel free to walk alone if you get too uncomfortable along the way," Lotor was trying to ease himself as well. Trying to make it okay if Lance backed out and he appreciated that.
Lance smiled beginning to walk out knowing Lotor would walk behind him. Facing the door he heard the patter of feet along the floor as Lotor caught up to him and began walking by his side. "Goodnight, Princess. Don't try to sleep so late,"
"Goodnight to you as well," she called back.
Lance passed just outside the door looking over at Lotor who had paused as well. "So~" He made a motion for him to go forward. "You're my lead after all,"
"Ah yes, of course," Lotor took the lead walking more sideways than straight to make sure Lance was following him. "To the lions then?"
"Yeah, even though I have a room I don't like to go to sleep completely empty," He knocked on his forehead. "Going to sleep while remembering memories usually tends to help me remember in the long term,"
"Can't you simply go back to her once you wake up?" He turned a right and Lance followed after him on instinct.
"She's less patient then Blue was," Lance fidgeted with his nails. "She hasn't said anything to me nor do I think she ever will but sometimes I feel like I'm annoying her,"
"I'm sure that's not true," Lotor chuckled and Lance began noticing his quickness in pace. Not purposely but he took more casual steps--longer ones-- that Lance wasn't used to so he found himself walking faster than he normally did. "They're not entirely machines so they might have felt but I'm sure she'd be glad to help you. We all would if we could,"
"Not all of you," He mumbled. Lotor stopped a bit to look at him and Lance took that as an opportunity to grab onto his shirt.
"Forgive me am I going too fast?" He stopped laughing a little when Lance nodded eagerly. His smile dropped, however. "What did you mean before?"
"You said not all of us would help you if we could,"
"It's nothing Lotor," His hand on his shirt gripped a bit harder.
"It couldn't possibly be nothing," He turned completely around. Facing him and making his hand drop from his shirt. "If you don't wish to talk about it I won't force you but know that I'll listen,"
"You know..." Lance looked at the floor. "For some Galran prince, er emperor, who I thought was gonna kill us all at first, you're actually pretty nice,"
Lotor didn't take it harshly and instead laughed at his forwardness. "Why thank you, paladin. I don't wish to follow in my father's footsteps,"
"Of course not, who would ever want to be like that. I don't think Zarkon even wanted to be like that," Lance shivered but smiled alongside Lotor. "Is it cool if I vent to you?"
"Vent?" Lotor tilted his head.
"You know, just like complain to you for a bit to let it all out," Lance shrugged. "I think if I told anyone else they might either tell someone else or they won't take it seriously,"
"And you expect me not to do that?"
"I don't expect anything from you. That's why it'll be so much easier,"
"Do as you wish," He nodded. Turning back around to better face the hallway in front of him but still keeping an eye on Lance. "I'll be glad to listen,"
"Okay but like--" He turned Lotor around so he was now completely facing away from him and before Lotor could argue he grabbed onto his shirt. "Just don't stare at me when I do it. Let's just walk and talk,"
Lotor nodded beginning to walk back towards the lions and feeling the pull that Lance had on his shirt. "If that's what makes you comfortable I'd be happy to oblige,"
"Okay, so where should I start?" Lance thought for a bit, his memories fusing together. "Well, I told you that a druid made my mind all messed up but like back then I completely forgot EVERYTHING that involved Voltron," Lotor cocked his eyebrows in surprise and Lance seemed to sense that because he giggled out. "I know right?! It was crazy. I hated every second of it but everyone else kept trying to make me remember. The kept pushing me to remember but I didn't get why. Why did I have to be the one to sacrifice my life for Voltron? Why couldn't I just go home, cause I sure as hell didn't want to be there."
"Do you want to be here now?"
"Well maybe... I don't know. I feel like it's my job to," He sighed. "Losing my memories brought a lot of doubt that I didn't have before. Even after I got my memories back they still messed with me. They mess with me now. Like, why am I the one responsible for all of this? Am I worthy to be a part of this?"
"Of course you are," Lotor tried to comfort. "The lion has spoken to you for a reason and Allura tells me about how much you've grown,"
"That's the thing-- I haven't grown," Lance shook his head. "At least not visibly. The fame that comes with it is great and all but I don't bring anything to this table. When I got my memories back I was so sure of myself. We were a family and we would go to the ends of the earth to help everyone... Then Shiro left,"
"That must have been hard but he's back now. He's still your leader,"
"But he's not! He's not the same! He-he acts differently. And he hates me. He hates saying things more than once to me. I made this whole note system on my arm because of him. He talked to me like I wasn't ever gonna get it no matter how many times he explained it. He picked favorites and didn't even bother with me. And... and what if everyone else feels like that too?"
"I don't feel like that," Lotor stopped now in the hanger and directly in front of Red. Lance averted his eyes when Lotor turned around to look at him. "I haven't known you that long and I wasn't here to know how far it goes but I'm sure your friends who consider you family wouldn't mind it either,"
Lance smiled at the floor but it dropped once he looked up. "And if they leave too?"
"Why would they leave?"
"Keith did it," Lance rubbed at his arm where he knew his name was etched. "Pidge is always going on solo missions, Allura and Coran usually tend to do their own things, and Shiro... he doesn't even listen to us."
"I can say that if you ever told them this, which you don't have too, they would feel horrible for how they made you feel." Lotor placed a hand on Lance's shoulder, a form of awkward comfort that he appreciated. "I can't speak on behalf of the red paladin but I don't think he ever left to make you feel like this. He simply had his own mission to accomplish. Just because someone leaves doesn't mean they're gone. All of you just need some time and perhaps take some time for yourself as well,"
"Some time for myself is all I get," Lance rolled his eyes.
"Some time for yourself doing things you actually enjoy doing," Lotor looked up at Red. "She's sure to feel your worry. You shouldn't keep her," He began walking off again when Lance grabbed his arm just below his elbow. Lotor looked back around at him searching for an answer.
"Could you not tell Allura about what we talked about?" A smile washed over him. One that made Lance immediately let go of his arm in relief. He smiled back.
"Of course," He nodded. He made another move to leave and Lance was going to let him leave as well but he turned back around and Lance stood there waiting for him to speak. He placed a hand on his head and ruffled his hair in a way that made Lance think of his older brother. "You remind me of a friend I used to have, well perhaps not a friend but someone close. If you ever need anyone to talk to again know that I'm always here to listen. Although I suppose you would want to talk to a closer friend more than anyone else," When Lance didn't answer he dropped his hand and turned on his heel to leave once more. "Goodnight Lance,"
His name sounded foreign coming from him. Lance placed his own hand on his head, the warmth quickly vanishing as he did. He looked down at the red bubble still around Lotors name. He couldn't trust him, he shouldn't . have told him anything. Despite that slight drop in trust, Lance didn't regret it. He doubted it was the wisest decision but he was glad someone listened to him. He was sure if he told anyone else they would listen too but they'd be biased. They'd give him opinions and apologies. He didn't want those. He just wanted to let it out.
With a sigh, he looked back towards red. "Hey girl," She purred in his head. Lotor was right about her sensing his emotions and she immediately dropped her head to comfort him. Lance smiled placing his head on her nose with a smile. "It's alright. I'm fine. Can you help me remember today?"
She opened her mouth to welcome him inside. "And is it okay if I sleep here today?"
She seemed almost offended that he needed to ask. Red sat back up once Lance was safely inside the cockpit. She warmed it like she always did and Lance quickly sunk to the floor and Red recalled his memories to him. His eyes grew heavy as he laid there almost like a story before going to sleep. A story he probably wouldn't remember but was worth listening to nonetheless.