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Winged Hope

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Lance blinked this eyes open, squinting at the sunlight of a new day twinkling down through the leaves of the canopy he made camp under. The sunlight dancing across his skin. It wasn't quiet, the sounds of forest life echoed around him. Birds sang their songs, wind shook the leaves, and Lance was sure that he could here the faint sounds of a small critter climbing up a tree. He could feel the thrum of quintessence and magic laced through the air, through the trees, and through all else around him.

All of this brought familiar comfort to half awake man. He sat up and rubbed his eyes before stretching, almost cat-like.

He glanced around him, taking in the sight of the greeny surrounding him. His camp was small, nothing more then him and his companion, who was still sleeping after traveling such a far way, and a couple blankets. His pack lay a few feet away too.

Lance got up quietly, as if not to disturb the sleeping form he was leaning against only a few minutes before, and gathered what he could and packed it up. He even went to the nearby stream, not far away from where the two slept and filled his several canteens with water, taking comfort in the small things.

He made his way back to his disassembled camp and shook the shoulder of his sleeping companion.

“Blue. It's time to wake up, Beautiful.” He cooed softly at the big cat, who huffed and rolled over, mindful of her wings that she had stretched out. Lance rolled his eyes and shook her shoulder harder.

She growled at him but sat up and glared.

‘Why?’

Her voice echoed around in Lance's head, in response to their shared bond. He huffed and stood up holding out his arms.

“You know it's dangerous to stay in the same place for too long, we need to get moving.” She glared up at him, her blue eyes practically glowing in the sunlight. He waited patiently as she sat up and stretched, she was about the size of Lance himself.

Until she wasn't.

He watched as she shrank down into the size of a small house cat and jumped into his arms. Lance smiled at her and rubbed behind her soft ears, ruffling her white fur, before moving her so she laid across his shoulder and half on his pack. It was how they traveled; Lance would walk as far as he could with Blue on his shoulders or in his arms, then Blue would grow to the size of a horse and allow Lance to ride her until she could walk no longer, sometimes she flew.

Though they didn't do that too often, it was too dangerous.

Blue was a rarity, actually her kind was regarded as extinct. Though Blue told him that wasn't the case, there were others; though there wasn't a lot of them to begin with. Winged Lions were once considered Gods and worshipped, their powers said to be able to take down mountains in a single blow. Blue couldn't confirm this, she was rather young and grew up in an era where her kind is ‘extinct’. She also grew up alone, though she claims to vaguely remember at least four others of her kind.

Not that Lance also wasn't a reason that flying was dangerous as well, his 'face’ was spread through the empire.

He was a wanted man.

‘Where are we going this time, young star?’

Lance sighed and shook his head. “Same direction, the pull hadn't changed.” He started walking east, as always, rarely having to change his direction much.

It started over a year ago, a constant tug in the center of his chest, pulling him towards something. Or someone. Lance followed the pull, feeling it wane some days, not feeling it at all on others, some days it was so painful he couldn't walk with how harsh it was pulling, but he would make it to the source. He didn't know what it was, neither did Blue, but they both were determined.

Lance honestly wanted it to stop.

Blue his ever faithful company joined him along his journey easily. She did share a bond with him after all. He had her mark on him; a lion figure etched onto his thigh, marking him as hers and connecting their souls. They could feel everything through the other, with express permission.

As Lance walked, he felt a yank on the pull and he sighed. It was something he was getting used too, almost like whatever it was, it wanted him to hurry up.

‘I'm trying’ he thought bitterly to himself as he stumbled over a root. The ground of the forest was uneven and full of rocks and roots, hurting his feet through his boots. He tried to be quiet, not wanting to disturb the life going on around him in the forest. Not wanting to draw attention to himself from dangerous sources either. Lance had enough of fending off wondering bandits, soldiers, and merchants.

The walk, though painful as he stumbled over yet another root, was uneventful. Lance just walked east, towards the pull. He walked for hours like this.

‘Do you want to switch now, young star? You need to rest.’

Blue's caring voice filled his head and he smiled at her softly on his shoulder. She stared at him with understanding eyes, her blues reflected in the sunlight, glowing softly like they always did. He placed her down and watched her grow, climbing on her back once she settled. Her soft fur felt nice against his hands, and his feet ached from his over use.

He settled against her and rarely shifted as she moved, also walking east. Occasionally her voice would grace his head, making sure she was going the right way. He appreciated it, knowing that if she didn't they could end up going the wrong way. She moved faster then he did, going even further. She once offered to carry him the whole way, only for that idea to violently rejected by Lance. There was no way he was going to let his beautiful girl carry him alone.

The two filled each other's heads with light banter as Lance slumped against her, watching the trees pass and animals scuttle around. This was how their days went, relying on each other's company. He took comfort in the peace and familiarity of their situation; traveling with light banter and watching the landscape.

What was not familiar, however, was the loud and sudden hiss ahead of the two. Blue stopped and Lance went to full alert, the two scanned the area around them.

HSSSSSSSKKKK.

Blue flinched and bent her head as the loud noise pierced her ears sharply. She flicked her ears back and growled and Lance jumped off her back and in front of her. The watched as the tree branches in front of them moved away to reveal a large reptile with three heads staring them down. It's fangs gleamed as the sun's dusk hit them, it was half the size of the trees around them; making the thing seem massive. The head to the left snapped at them, thankfully not reaching.

Fuck.

He held up he hands, ready to fight. His mind racing as he tried to identify the creature before him, trying to filter through the old books he read before. He watched as the snake coiled up and hissed again, loudly.

“Hydra?” He whispered to Blue. It was all he could come up with, snakes didn't normally have more then three heads, two if you were in the south part of the kingdom. Though Hydras normally had feet and a body.

‘No, this doesn't feel normal. Or old.’

Lance nodded and watched as it moved to the right, as if blocking something behind it. The snake hissed again, readying itself to strike. Lance hitched his breath and yelled at Blue in his mind to shrink, he dodged to the left as the right head jumped at them, and fell to his knees, just barely avoiding getting his head snapped off by the middle head.

Blue huffed behind him as she shrank and jumped into the trees to avoid the left head snapping at her. The snake was pulled to the left as it's head went after Blue, it's body went with it. Lance's eyes widened and he gasped at the pile of smaller snakes behind the giant snake.

‘Oh. It's a mother.’

Lance jumped back as a head launched at the spot he was just seconds before. He jumped behind a tree right as a second head spit acid at him, melting the forest floor.

‘A very angry mother.’

Blue looked down at him from her perch and both nodded. Lance prepared himself as Blue grew in size.

The snake however seemed to lose its interest in the unreachable Blue, all three heads were now focused on Lance. Lance barely managed to dodge a mouth full of fangs as it reached for him, instead getting a mouth full of bark instead of a mouth full of Lance meat. He jumped back as another head tried to wrap around him, then had to slam his body down to the left, falling harshly on his wrist, to avoid another spray of acid.

He wasn't going to attack it though, the mother was just protecting her babies, it was their fault for stumbling into her nest.

‘Now.’

Blue yelled in his mind as she lunged at him, he scrambled to get up and used her fur as leverage to pull himself on her back. His wrist screamed in pain as he pulled, Blue tried to get them both out of there as fast as she cloud. She flapped her wings and took to the sky.

Not before a rather sharp set of fangs sank into Lance's side, not deep enough for the snake to lock her jaw and drag Lance back down to her. She released Lance once Blue roared and swiped her face with her back claws. Lance gasped in pain and clenched Blue's fur in one hand and his side in another.

He felt lightheaded as Blue soared through the sky, going too fast. The wind whipped around Lance as he gasped for breath, tears fell from his face as he tried to hold in his pain.

It felt as if his side was being ripped into and set on fire. Blood flowed through his fingers as he held it tightly, trying to keep pressure on it. Lance felt his stomach toss and turn and screeched at Blue to land, refusing to puke on her, even in pain.

Her paws didn't even touch the ground before Lance threw himself onto the floor and emptied the contents of his stomach. He felt the bile in his throat catch and he had to cough to force it out, drool dripped off of his lips mixed with vomit. Tears streamed down his face as he struggled to catch his breath through his endless gagging.

He could feel Blue panicking beside him, feel her anxiety through their bond. He knew she could also feel his pain, something he wished she didn't have to endure, their emotions were connected but controlled, at this moment Lance didn't have control over the waves of pain he pushed through the bond. He vaguely recognized her screaming his name though the bond, but was too busy forcing everything in his stomach out. As he heaved he could feel his wound tearing open some more, more blood flowed down his side, more pain stretched through his body and his arms shook as he held himself up. He sobbed as he coughed over and over.

Lance huffed and sat back once he felt like his stomach wasn't trying to escape through his throat. He groaned in pain and squeezed his eyes shut as he gripped his side.

“B-blue. Baby, I need you.” He cried as he pushed himself back into her familiar warmth.

‘I’m here, my star. I'm right here.

Her voice sounded pained, and Lance was sure she was crying without even looking at her. His heart clenched.

She took the back of his shirt gently in her mouth and pulled him away from his pile of vomit and towards a stream Lance didn't even know was nearby. The last thing Lance felt was the cold water surrounding him, and he put his trust in Blue as he let his eyes close.

----------

Lance was awakened to the feeling of a rough yet soft pressure against his side, pushing then disappearing then pushing again. He didn't even have to open his eyes to know it was Blue licking his wound. He could hear her whining softly between each lick. She felt anxious, and upset. She was screaming at him to wake up without words, quietly licking his wounds as he slept.

Alone.

Lance's heart ached and he blinked his eyes open. The sun was long gone and the sounds of the night surrounded the two. He was laid on the bank of the stream, Blue at his side licking his wound softly. His shirt long gone, torn off by Blue so she could reach his wounds. Her spit could heal to an extent, only able to stop bleeding.

Lance's head pounded as he turned it it to smile at her. She was so focused on her task, she hasn't even noticed he woke up. “Hey, beautiful. If I knew this is what would have gotten me to be licked by such a beautiful woman, I would have tried to get bitten ages ago.” he joked softly.

'You idiot!’

She cried for him as she shoved her massive head into the junction between his shoulder and neck. He stroked her fur as best as he could with their position and his hurt wrist. Her tears felt weird against his skin but he wasn't going to tell her that if it meant she was going to move. They laid like that for a while, just breathing in the comfort that the other was okay.

Well mostly okay.

Lance's side still felt like lightning and fire were coursing through it, after all Blue couldn't heal poison. Not that he didn't appreciate her helping with what he could.

'We need a healer.’

She told him firmly, glaring at him like he would argue. He wasn't going too, he didn't have the energy.

“Bring me my pack, I need to wrap this until we can find one.” He told her, and regretted bit once she got up to get it. Her warmth left him and he shivered, whining softly to himself until she returned, holding his bag in her mouth gently. Lance didn't even know how it managed to get here but he wasn't going to worry about it now. He need the medical supplies inside of it.

Blue sat near him, supporting him as he sat up. He dug through his bag, pulling out his box of supplies and pulled out a liquid that would disinfect and prevent infection on his wound. One that stung like hell as he held a cloth soaked with it to his side, his teeth ripped through his bottom lip as he struggled to hold in his cries. Blue cooed next to him and nudged him lightly with her head, her glowing blue eyes filled with tears again.

He knew she hated seeing him in pain just as much as he hated seeing her in pain. So he hurried as he dumped a new pink liquid onto another cloth and dabbed his side, numbing it slightly. This liquid potion was used regularly by Lance to heal his wounds, though he wasn't sure how it would fair against the poison of the three headed snake. It was worth a shot as he wrapped his wound up tightly, and awkwardly, by himself.

‘Get on my back, we need to find a town fast.’

Blue insisted as she crouched down and stared at Lance would didn't move. She glared at him after a bit.

‘What are you doing? You need a healer, get on.’

Lance could hear her exasperation as he continued to sit there, not moving.

“You need rest Blue, we will leave once you rested as well.” Lance told her gently, ignoring her roar of protest. “Blue! You need to take care of yourself too. Now, rest. We will leave soon.”

The lion huffed and growled, but she didn't dare try to force him any further. Instead the rather large cat laid down and held open one of her wings for Lance to curl up under. The two settled down for the night, Blue stayed alert as she rested, keeping a close eye on Lance.

When Lance woke up next it was to his stomach launching and sweat covering his skin. He barely managed to crawl away from Blue, without tearing open his wounds, to yet again hold back from pushing his stomach through his throat. Blue woke up during his gagging and pressed her head gently against his back in comfort. He wiped his face as he sat back and closed his eyes, taking a moment to breathe. His side screamed at him, the pain of it almost making him puke again. He sucked in a few deep breaths and forced himself to stop shaking. The wind against his bare skin a comfort as it's cool breeze soothed his overheated skin. Lance was sure he had a fever.

‘We need to go now.’

Blue was insistent as she got down again for Lance to crawl his way, shaking, onto her back. He buried his face into the fur on her head and pressed a small kiss there. She got up and settled her wings back so they laid on Lance as a sort of blanket. Blue scooped up Lance's pack strap in her mouth and started to hear in the direction she hoped was east. Lance hummed his thanks as he tried to stay awake on her back. He knew if he overrested the poison could take him faster than he meant for it too. If not the poison, then the fever.

'Young star, you should be resting.’

Blue cooed and scowled him softly. Lance shook his head in response but let his eyes close as he tried to hold back the tears at his pain. Though dispute his protests, Lance ended up falling asleep again anyways.

He dreamt of a women.

A bright glow surrounding her, preventing Lance from seeing her face. Her aura screamed of power and beauty. She was smiling at him though, that much Lance knew for sure. He both wanted to worship her and fear her.

She held her hand towards him and Lance grabbed it immediately.

He gasped as he felt a rush of wind whirl around the two and suddenly the scene changed from a room that was too bright, to a field full of the most beautiful flowers Lance has ever seen.

Five guardians stood behind the woman. The light still preventing Lance from seeing their faces, not that Lance needed to see them to feel welcomed. The figures all stood there and Lance observed their builds, which were all different. One was a small girl, she looked weak but Lance knew from her presence that she was anything but. Next to her was a man the size of a bear, strong arms but such a friendly aura that felt comforting.

The next man was tall, shorter than the man next to him, his build reminded Lance of a knight. This man screamed leadership, Lance was sure he'd follow him anywhere. His eyes drifted to the next man, a shorter man with a sturdy but rough build stood there, Lance swore he could feel fire from the man's gaze. He shivered from the intensity of it. The next man made Lance gasp and stumble backwards.

Lance's own face stared back at him.

'Young star, it's time to wake up. You need to eat.’

Blue's voice woke him up from the strange dream and he frowned to himself. He sat up from her back and slid off carefully as he got down. He was still trapped in his dream, confused as Blue nudged a branch of edible berries at him.

'Young star?’

Blue voice broke Lance's thoughts and he jumped. She let out a chuff and looked at him skeptically as he huffed and ate his food quietly, she watched him carefully, snaking on her own dead rabbit. He kept quiet trying to make sense of his dream on his own, but not getting very far before he broke and spilled it to Blue. She nodded along to his explanation and listened intently.

Once Lance finished telling her his dream it was silent. The only noise was the wind fluttering through the leaves and an occasional bird. Lance felt nervous as Blue took a long time to respond.

'I'll be honest, Young star. I have no idea what to make of your dream.”

She told him softly as he got up to nudge his head gently with hers, he closed his eyes and breathed in her familiar scent. She pulled back and looked at him sadly, as if she felt bad for not knowing.

Lance shook his head and petted her kindly. “Don't blame yourself, beautiful. Maybe it was just a dream and I'm overthinking it.”

‘Or maybe it's connected to your pull?’

She huffed at him as he crawled back into her back, and they set off yet again in search of a town. She moved fast but carefully like before, avoiding moving Lance too much. Her wings yet again covering Lance like a blanket.

“No. It has to just be a dream.” Lance rolled his eyes as he settled into her.

'Dreams are powerful, young star.’

And yet at that moment Lance was not in any pain; he couldn't feel the lightning fire in his side, nor could he feel the ache in his wrist, that dull pain in all his bones, or the throbbing headache he had before. His fever broken and his stomach settled. Not that Lance or Blue noticed this, neither one connecting it to Lance's strange dream.

Lance settled back into a peaceful slumber after pointing Blue in the proper direction, the pain nothing but a distant memory as he rested.

---------

When Lance woke up however, the pain was excruciating, the numbness he had before long gone. Lance told Blue to stop so he could empty his stomach contents again. She cooed at him as he finished, and licked his cheek before he crawled back onto her back. He laid on her as she rushed through the forest.

Lance felt like he was being torn open over and over again. His body shook constantly and his fever rarely broke for longer then an hour. He couldn't keep any food down, throwing it back up in a few hours; sometimes immediately. Lance felt like death was at his door, about ready to kick it down, by the fourth day. He felt weak, and his heart felt ready to give out. Lance told Blue as much, apologizing in tears.

‘There's no need to apologise. You aren't dying, Lance. I'm not going to let you.”

She told him as she licked away his tears and pressed her forehead to his. She ignored Lance's protests that that wasn't how it worked. She was determined, Lance felt it through their bond and he used that to hold on to. She was finding evidence of humans more and more and she was convinced there was a town nearby. Lance knew she wasn't going to rest until they found it. Blue was stubborn much like him and he could feel it, he could feel her determination rise every time he coughed. She was going to get Lance to a healer, Lance could feel it.

Lance just felt like dying.

The fifth day they found the town, Blue spotted sign pointing to the west of them and she rushed towards it. Soon they both stood at the edge of the treeline, looking at the town bathing in the moonlight of the night sky.

'Young star, I know it's late. But go find a healer.’

Lance pressed a kiss against her nose and stepped back as she shrunk down to the normal house cat size, she pressed her wings closer to her skin and willed them away. He scooped her up, and held back a cough as he stumbled his way into the small town.

As he walked around it, Lance doubted there was a healer here. Blue echoed his thoughts and insisted he find somewhere to stay instead and to try again in the morning.

He found an inn at the other side of town and prayed to the gods and goddesses that they had an available room. As he entered the inn he noticed it also doubled as a pub, townsfolk and travelers alike sat around and drank.

Lance walked up to a man behind the bar, huffing as the wound on his side throbbed. He smiled at him kindly. “Hello sir, Do you have any available room left?” He leaned heavily on the counter as he felt tiredness seep through his bones. He just really wanted to collapse in a warm bed instead of the forest floor. He didn't want one of his last night's to be on a forest floor.

The bar man frowned at him and shook his head. “I'm sorry, all of the rooms have been taken for the night.”

Lance held back his whine and smiled at him sadly. “That's okay. This is the town's only inn isn’t it?” The barman nodded. “Um, does this town have a designated area for camping? Or do I have to go camp in the woods?” He had to hold back a flinch, his side was aching at this point and his fever was going to return.

The man's frown deepened and he shook his head again. “There isn't one here, I would suggest moving on to Valer, it's only 10 miles to the south of here. Trust me, you don't want to be here.” He dropped his voice at the end of his sentence.

Lance held back a whine, he didn't even have to think to know there was no way he wasn't going to make it to Val-whatever. He about to thank the man and just leave to go camp in the forest with Blue again, when a voice cut in.

“He can have my room.” A man with and incredibly deep but friendly voice startled Lance from behind, making him jerk his wound. Lance bit his lip to hold back his whine as he turned on his heel to face the man.

He stood at least a head taller than Lance and looked as if he could crush Lance easily, his muscles seemed to strain against the fabric of his shirt. The scar marring his face clashed against the friendly smile that graced Lance's eyes. His hair was in a rather neat cut kind of like a soldiers, but a white streak ran through the top fluff of it. He was very handsome, almost god-like with a sharp jaw, thin lips, and slanted storm grey eyes. Lance let himself scan the man, taking in his rather nice build and bandaged right arm; though he had a black cloak resting in his shoulders, hiding his arm from view.

“Are you sure sir? You already paid for it, I can't do refunds.” The bar man said anxiously, almost as if he was scared.

He just smiled. “I'm sure, I'll just share a bed with Keith. Got a problem with that, Keith?” He turned his head to look at a smaller man sitting a table a couple feet away, with a group of people. He was equally as handsome as the man standing before Lance, even though the two were on different ranges of handsome. His frame was smaller but was definitely built, a fighter as well. He had softer facial features, that clashed with the man's gaze. Lance even thought the short bangs but long hair the man, Keith, had was cute.

Keith just rolled his eyes and stared Lance down as he drank his pint. Lance shivered at the intensity of his gaze, feeling as if it was familiar.

“Then it's settled.” The God-like man grinned.

Lance barely managed to remember they were talking about him. “ That's okay sir, I can camp! You don't have to give me your room.” He rushed the words out as he fought down a blush, ignoring how the blood rushing to his head made it pound.

'Take the room, you need to rest soon.’

Blue huffed in his head and he felt bad because he almost forgot he was holding her in his arms.

“I insist.” He smiled at Lance, and Lance almost huffed and glared. He was not no damn damsel in distress that needed saving, he preferred to save them, not be one. Right as Lance opened his mouth to protest another person cut him off.

“Just agree, Shiro is very persistent.” A small girl giggled from behind her pint, her adorable face was framed by a crazy looking pixie cut. Lance blinked at her in surprise “Besides if he hadn't offered, I'm sure Hunk over here would have.” She patted the arm of the teddy bear like man next to her, who smiled at Lance. His eyes shone in kindness, Lance smiled back shyly.

He let his eyes run over the group, pausing in confusion at the two who wore cloaks with their hoods up. He couldn't see their faces, but didn't think much more if it. It was an odd group for sure, but a very good looking one. Lance was suddenly self conscious about his mess hair, heavy bags, and unwashed clothes. Being injured made it difficult to take care of himself; he was going to have to give himself one hell of a spa day if he survived this. Lance looked a mess and he knew it.

“Fine, but let me pay you back for the room.” Lance huffed as he reached towards his coin purse, balancing Blue in one arm and sucking in a soft gasp at the pain that movement brought.

Mr. Handsome, Shiro, frowned at the nosie Lance made, and grabbed his arm to stop him. “Don't. Think of it as an act of kindness.” He tried to shake his head no and pull his arm out of the other man's firm grip. He huffed slightly as another round of pain shocked through his body, and by the gods, did he need to be in a bed right now. The man held on firmly and frowned more.

“Are you okay?” Shiro stepped forward and looked as if he was going to start inspecting Lance.

He stepped back and nodded. “I'm fine, just tired.”

Shiro frowned at Lance as if he didn't believe him and stared at him longer. Once he figured Lance wasn't going to elaborate, he sighed. “Alright fine, follow me, I'll take you to your room.”

Lance nodded and followed him until the small girl from earlier popped up beside them. She was so silent Lance didn't even notice she was there until she gasped softly at Blue. Lance stared at her in surprise, normally he would hear someone walk up. She greeted him, her cheeks flushed. Lance raised an eyebrow, she was clearly drunk, so how did she sneak up on him? Lance ignored trying to figure that out in favour or trying to hold back any gasp and pants in pain as they made their way up the stairs to the rooms of the inn.

“Pidge, why are you coming too?” Shiro asked kindly as they made their way up the stairs. Lance bit his lip again, his side was screaming and he was trying not to let the two next to him know. He just wanted to sleep, not get asked more questions despite how friendly these guys were.

The girl rolled her eyes. “I have to test something out, and I want to do it while I'm still somewhat sober.”

'Young star, you have a fever again.’

Lance smiled down at Blue, she was right about the fever again, Lance could feel the sweat and cold chills starting up. He scratched behind her ears and looked up to the two other looking at him.

“Cute cat.” Pidge said as she held her hand out towards Blue. “Can I pet it?”

Blue told Lance it was okay and he nodded. She cooed at Blue as she stroked her soft white fur. Pidge laughed as Blue shoved her face into her hand. “She's a very pretty cat, her eyes are very beautiful.”

Lance had to hold in the eye roll as Blue preened under the attention. Instead he smiled and thanked Pidge as she turned to go into her own room for the night.

‘I like her.’

Blue all but purred in his mind and Lance smiled down at Blue, it was rare she liked someone other than Lance. He looked up to Shiro who was standing a few feet away at a door holding a key up. Lance smiled and took the key from him, then had to steel himself to hold back a cough.  

“This is you. Have a great night of rest.” He paused. “I never caught your name.” He smiled down at Lance, the dim lights in the hallway covered Shiro in a soft glow, making his eyes seem almost sliver. Lance had to force himself to stop staring.

Lance flushed and looked away. “I'm Lance, and this is Blue.” He said holding up his lion disguised as a cat.

Shiro seemed to blinked back in surprise and started down at Blue, who started right back. He studied her and frowned, as if he was confused. “ Blue's an unusual name, can I ask why?”

The way Shiro phrased his question was curious, almost as if he knew something, but at this point Lance's head started to throb and he just needed to lie down. “Her eyes, they're blue.”

“Oh.” Shiro seemed to frown and slump against the wall. “Seems logical. Anyways I'm keeping you, have a good night, Lance.”

Lance nodded and unlocked the door and bid Shiro a goodnight as he walked back down the hall to the stairs. As soon as Lance closed the door to his room he let out an audible whine and panted in pain. Blue jumped from his arms and grew to the size of an actual lion. She nudged at his hand and bit his sleeve, pulling the weak man towards the bed. He laid down, she laid next to him licking his cheek until he relaxed and stopped shaking.

'Good night, young star.’

-----------

The next morning Lance stumbled downstairs to the bar, where the bar man from the night before was offering food. Lance declined and thanked the man for the night before. Blue was upstairs still sleeping, Lance was going to wake her up after he got information if there was a healer here or not.

Lance felt like shit, his side was burning and thinking of anything else was impossible at this point. His fever broke just before he woke up thankfully, but his head was pounding, almost as if someone was constantly taking a hammer to it. Lance let a whine escape his lips as he sat down at the bar, a little ways down from the inn owner, who was serving food to the group from the night before.

Pidge and Hunk walked up to Lance and sat at a nearby table with their food. “Good morning.” He said nicely and had to wince through a smile.

“Morning, Lance.” Hunk said as he scooped some food into his mouth. “Were you not going to eat?”

He blinked in surprise that the man before him knew his name, but smiled awkwardly. “Um no, I'm not hungry.” It was a lie, but Lance really didn't feel like puking again.

Pidge frowned and narrowed her eyes. “Are you lying?”

Lance flushed and looked away. “It doesn't matter, I just can't eat right now.”  

Shiro and Keith joined them at that moment, the two in cloaks following behind them. The hoods were yet again up, hiding their faces as they ate quietly. Lance was going to question it but then had to bite down a flinch as his side brushed against the bar. The pain radiated down his body, flowing into every corner, and even though Lance didn't eat anything he felt like he had to empty his stomach.

He rapidly paled and had to look away from everyone to squeeze his eyes closed.

“Dude, are you hurt?” Keith asked bluntly, Lance huffed and glared at him; only to be met with that intense gaze back. He just pouted and looked away.

“Wait, you're hurt?” Hunk gasped and scanned Lance, as if he could see through clothes and would be able to see his wound. Pidge also frowned at him.

He was confused, they were acting so familiar with him, and as if they cared. Lance doubted they did and that they were just friendly, but that doesn't explain why he felt as if they were familiar as well.

His mind flashed back to a strange dream he had, but he waved it away.

Shiro frowned. “You told me you were fine last night.” Lance tried not to glared at him too, it was getting to be too much work.  He just wanted to crawl back into bed with Blue. He felt the wound in his side throb in tune with his heartbeat, and know the throbbing in head was soon reaching that point as well.

“I am fine.”

“More like suicidal.” Keith mumbled into his food and Lance didn't even try to hold back his glare.

“I just need to see a healer and I'll be fine.” Lance shot back and crossed his arms, chewing his lip as he pouted. He ignored the pain his movements caused.

The bar man walked over to the group and gave them a friendly smile. “I hope you're enjoying your food.”

Hunk smiled at him and thanked him for the meal on behalf of everyone, but Lance.

“Well, let me know if you need anything.” He chuckled. Lance smiled to himself, happy that he had an opening to ask for a healer.

“Does this town have a healer?” Lance asked him, hoping they did. He couldn't take it anymore, he was barely holding back the bile in his throat. Everything just hurt so much.

The man shook his head sadly. “I'm sorry but we don't, the only healer here belongs to the Empire's Galra who run the town.” He said bitterly, but with a hint of fear and Lance felt concerned even through his pain.

He also had to hold back a tick at the mention of the Empire's cruel soldiers, the Galra were a cult like empire that held ‘special characteristics’ that made them believe themselves better than everything. The only ones who opposed their rule were wiped out under Emperor Zarkon's command; the Alteans were all wiped out 12 years ago.

However, that  doesn't mean there still people who didn't oppose the empire. Lance himself was one of them, a well known one at that.

Lance bite back a moan as he felt a burst of fire through his stomach. He needed to see a healer now, and there was no way he was going to the galra for healing. He wouldn't last long enough to make it to the next town either.

Shiro sighed and Lance's eyes went to him. “So there's no healers here? Do you guys even get any healing?” He seemed concerned, the bar man sighed and shook his head.

“We can't go against the Empire. This is just how we live.” He said sadly and Lance knew if he wasn't as hurt he would be helping the situation, but when another wave a forcing down the bile passed he knew he couldn't.

“I'm sorry.” Lance whispered, everyone looked at him confused. Lance flinch again as another sharp pain shot through his side.

The inn owner shook his head and waved his hand. “If you don't want to get involved I really recommend leaving as soon as you can. They're cruel here and won't go easy on you just because you're travelers”

His eyes then glazed over with such a sadness that Lance reached his hand out and patted his arm in a comforting gesture.

Pidge glared at nothing and everything at the same time. “What do you mean cruel?” She all but growled out.

“Yes, what do you mean by cruel?” A voice growled out behind them. They all turned to a Galra soldier glaring at the inn owner. He stood there smugly like he just caught the canary. He was nothing more then a beat soldier, but he held himself like every other Galra soldier did.  Lance held back a whine and a growl. He sneered at the inn owner. “Spreading lies about us, Roderick? You would think a man behind on his payments would be more obedient.”

Keith growled at him, startling Lance. Shiro gripped Keith's arm and pulled him into his side and whispered something that Lance couldn't hear from the bar. Hunk and Pidge glared, but sat quietly.

“I hope you're ready to answer to your crimes of treason.” The Galra soldier said as he pulled out a communications crystal and spoke into it. “Roderick Fram, I hereby arrest you for treason against the Empire. Your punishment will be held in the town square in ten minutes, every living body in Dirk is to attend or will receive the same punishment.”

Lance stood up suddenly and had to hold back a gasp in pain. “What! That's insane.” He glared at the man before him, grasping his side gently.

“Careful boy, or I'll try you too. Though with a body like that your punishment will be different.” He leered at Lance, his eyes roaming his body, and Lance flinched. Keith's growls were very noticeable at that moment, but the soldier seemed to ignore them in favour of handcuffing Roderick and dragging him to the square, where everyone else in the inn scrambled to follow.

Lance and the group were dragged out along with them, Lance gasp in pain as someone brushed his side. His vision vanished and he felt himself stumble, only to caught in a rather sturdy grip of one of the cloaked people from Shiro's group. Lance barely caught a wisp of white hair before Hunk pulled him into his side and told him to lean on him. Lance did so gratefully.

'Blue, wake up. I need you.’

Lance stumbled into the square where the whole town was gathered, watching as a group of Galran soldiers kicked the inn owner around. He didn't hold back his glared as he watched, the soldiers settled down once a rather important looking soldier walked over. Lance glanced at his rank, a general, making him in charge of this town.

Lance called for Blue again.

The Galra soldier that arrested Roderick announced the man's 'treason’ to the whole town. He was clearly basking in the attention, his commander was allowing it, encouraging it even. Lance didn't count that many soldiers, maybe around eight. But they all looked vicious and cruel.

“Well we should give a fitting punishment for a liar that runs his mouth.” The general smirked, twisting his face into a cruel smile, he sneered down at the bruised and bloody Roderick. “Remove his tongue.”

The Galra cheered, the townsfolk screamed. Children hid their faces in their mother's stomachs, women covered their eyes, and the men flinched and looked away. The group he was with all looked ready to pounce, Keith started to unsheath a blade. Lance pushed Blue awake and the moment the tongs were placed in the soldiers hands he yelled.

“Stop this!” his voice carried over the valley, the soldiers stopped and glared at him. Roderick was shaking his head at Lance, who stepped forwards and glared at them, ignoring Hunk trying to pull him back.

“Didn't I warn you of your punishment, boy? I'm sure you'll make a great bed warmer.” The Galra sneered at him and smirked as the others soldiers eyes all roamed his body. The general nodding along.

‘Lance. Don't. You're hurt, you can die! Stop! I'm on my way.’

Lance ignored Blue, instead glaring yet again. “Leave him alone. Now.”

One of the soldiers pried open Roderick's mouth and the general laughed. Lance pushed down his pain, and pulled his on power, not by much just enough to make the square cold.

“And what are you going to do about it, slut?” The original soldier laughed as he once again readied his tongs to rip out the inn owner's tongue.  

He could hear the other behind his shift, as if they were readying themselves to fight. Lance however smiled, he held his hands up.

“This.”

Lance conjured an ice storm and covered the square in ice, sharp ice torn through the air creating beautiful flurry of snow and ice, not a single icicle harming a civilian. The soldiers on the other hand were getting torn to shreds, sharp pieces of ice ripped through their skin, randomly but at the same time with precision. They screamed as one impaled their Commander through his eye, sending him to the ground instantly.

“The Winter Angel!” The townspeople cheered as their side of town was snowing.

“The Winter Devil!” The Galra screamed as their fellow soldiers fell one by one to Lance's ice. “That means!? Get down! He has a God!”  One of the cried out.

Blue roared, her voice echoed through the valley.

Beside him Shiro cursed to himself, his eyes not leaving the glowing blue eyes as they focused on summoning more ice. Everyone else just watched, mouth open mid-gasp.

Lance blocked off the exit the soldiers were trying to flee towards with a thick wall of ice, freezing several soldiers inside. He panted as he pushed himself, he was in way too much pain to be focusing his power like this. He knew he needed to finish this up as fast as he could, before he collapsed. He torn open the wound in his side in his efforts to throw more ice at the soldiers.

Blue roared as she swooped down from the sky, landing gracefully at his side, her white fur contrasted beautifully with the ice storm going on around her. Her eyes glowing.

Lance's eyes next to her glowed the same shade of blue.  

‘You're such an idiot!’

Blue screeched in his head as she pounced on several soldiers and rippled them apart with her claws. Leaving only the soldier who arrested Roderick unharmed in the middle of the square, screaming his head off. Lance let the ice storm disappete, he gasped in several gulps of air, his vision shifted in and out of focus as he watched Blue rip the soldier's head off. Lance's head throbbed as she roared, before turning back to him and all but sprinting to reach his side in time. Lance cried out in pain and held his side, tears flowed down his face as he stumbled and slumped into Blue's fur, staining it red. He couldn't breathe or think past the pain. Blue's voice echoed in his head uselessly as he struggled.

“Let me see him! I'm a healer.” One of the group ran forward; his cloak falling down revealing orange hair, and blue altean marks. Lance barely saw that though, his vision was so blurry he couldn't even tell what was going on anymore. His heartbeat throbbed in his ears he barely heard the man crouch next to him and tear off his shirt.

Lance screamed as his wound was exposed to the air. His vision almost knocked completely out as he felt wave after wave of lightning fire pulsed through his body.

“Quiznack! He was bitten by a Golun Snake! How the hell is he still alive?”

The last thing Lance remembers before knocking out, through everything going on, was Keith's growl.

“Not suicidal, my fucking ass!”

Chapter Text

‘Young star, please open your eyes. I miss them.’

Blue was weeping, her voice sobbed in his mind. He could feel her sadness radiating through their bond. Lance forced himself to blink his eyes open, glancing around the room of the inn. It was empty save for the lion laying on his lap who was shoving her cold nose against his heated skin. Lance reached a shaky hand up and patted her head, drawing her attention.

“Hey baby, miss me?” He cooed at her as she huffed and leaned into his touch. “I'm sorry, girl. I had to do it, they were going to hurt him.”

‘You could have waited.’

She was annoyed. Lance knew her heart was in the right place, however. He almost died, and absolutely would had if Shiro's group didn't have a healer, he after all, killed all of the Galra soldiers including their possible healer. If it wasn't for the orange haired man, Lance was sure he would have died. If not for Shiro's group, he would have died.

‘Young star, promise to never do that again or I'll rip you apart.’

Blue huffed at him and started Lance down until he agreed. Lance sighed and pressed a kiss to her nose before looked over his body, accessing his wound. Or where his wound should have been. Instead there laid a bite-like scar, as if his wound had completely healed. He no longer felt like he was on fire, actually he didn't feel like anything was wrong. His wrist didn't even hurt anymore.

“Blue, how long was I asleep?” Lance panicked, a little worried. A wound like this would have taken months to fully heal to this extent, Lance really couldn't have slept for that long? Leaving Blue all alone because of his own stupid decisions.

‘Only a day.’

Her answer shocked him.

“A day? That's impossible, I'm fully healed.” He cried out. “Blue, you can't be serious.”

‘Are you saying I would lie to you, young star?’

She was smug, knowing that he believed her anyways. Lance rolled his eyes and huffed, he crossed his arms as he pouted and stared everywhere but at the big cat in front of him. If she could smirk Lance knew she would be. He still pouted, filling his cheek with air as he looked away. Blue laughed in his mind before pressing her nose into his collarbone and licked it softly.

“Well it's good to see you're awake.” A man said joyfully behind them, a laugh light in his voice. Lance turned to the orange haired man who just walked in, he smiled kindly.  “My name is Coran, I'm the one who healed you.”

“You're an Altean.” Lance gasped in shock as he scanned Coran, taking in the blue markings under his eyes and the pointed ears. “Oh, and thank you.”

Coran laughed as he made his ways over to Lance's bed, sitting on the edge and holding his hand up to let Blue, who pushed her head into his hand. She purred as he scratched behind her ears, shocking Lance even more.

“Yes, there's a long story about that. One you'll be told in due time, but for now I need to make sure you're okay. Are you in any pain? How do you feel?” Coran asked, as he glanced at Lance's wound.

Lance smiled at him and sat up. “I feel great, actually. I don't understand how I've healed completely in one day though. Normally, even with a wound like this, it would take even the most experienced healers weeks to heal.”

“Well, I'm not your normal healer, my boy.”

‘Tell him to scratch my other ear, please.’

Lance looked at Blue weirdly before rolling his eyes and tell Coran to do as requested. Coran raised his eyebrow and followed instructions, Blue purred louder. “She likes you.”

“Yes, she fiercely refused to leave your side after you collapsed. I allowed her to remind by your bed as I healed you. She's a great listener, I tend to ramble while I heal and she sat and listened to every word.” Coran smiled at her fondly.

‘He distracted me, it was a much needed distraction. I would have gone insane with worry if not for him, young star. You should thank him more.’

Lance cooed at his lion as she spoke to him, pulled her head to him so he could place a kiss between her eyes. She chuffed and pressed their foreheads together. Coran smiled at them and watched the scene. “You distracted her, when she needed it the most. Thank you, Coran.” Lance looked Coran deep in his eyes and smiled at him softly. “Thank you.”

Coran reached out and grabbed Lance's hand and squeezed it gently. “You've thanked me more for rambling to myself while I work then you did for saving your life.”

“I'm thanking you on behalf of Blue, she's grateful for your rambling, it kept her sane.”

“You care for her a lot.”

“More than anything.”

Blue shoved her face into his neck and licked it, huffing out her embarrassment. Lance laughed and ran his hands through the soft fur on her head as she rumbled in approval. Coran laughed along with Lance and released his hand to pet along Blue's back, being mindful of her large wings. They sat there in solitude, the only noise echoing through the room was Blue's loud purrs.

Lance did have questions, of course, but didn't want to break the silence and peace in the room just yet. But, by the gods, did he have a lot of questions.

A knock on the door broke the peace, Coran called for the person to enter as Lance wrapped his arms around Blue's neck. In walked the rest of the group, all of them filing in and settling themselves around the room. In place of the cloaked person, stood an altean woman with flowing white hair. Her markings glowed along with her eyes as she smiled at him. She sat near Coran on Lance's bed, being mindful to not rustle Blue.

“It's good to see you're doing well, Lance.” Shiro smiled at him from his spot leaning against the wall with Keith.

“Oh please, the idiot did it to himself.” Keith snorted. Lance narrowed his eyes and glared at him, Blue, though while she agreed, growled at him.

“I wasn't going to let anyone get hurt in front of me. Especially those who don't deserve it.” Lance huffed out and stared Keith down with the same gaze that was aimed at himself.

“Ah, yes. The Winter Angel.” A soft melodic voice said, amused. Lance looked over to the white haired women, and flushed. It wasn't like he wasn't used to be called that, it was still strange to hear it, even after a year. And especially not by such a gorgeous woman, someone so far out of league; he knew better then the flirt with her like he normally would.

“Oh, yeah.” Lance mumbled and looked away; Blue laughed at him in his mind.

“We've actually been looking for you, you have not be an easy man to find.” As soon as she finished Lance blinked at her in surprise.

“What? You are looking for me? Why?”

“We heard of an Ice mage causing havoc to the Galran ranks, in a pub a little over a year ago; the stories of the Winter Angel seemed too outrageous to believe. An elemental user who could summon ice out of thin air, with glowing eyes. Well it was easy to dismiss those as rumors, stories made up to give false hope to the innocent people of the empire, at first we wrote you off. We especially laughed when they told us you were joined by a God. But then the rumors started increasing and increasing, too vivid and detailed to be rumors anymore. What really made us believe them, was when we a man who escaped from the West told us a first hand account of how he watched you freeze a ship in a lake before it crashed into the port.

We started looking for you; the Winter Angel with a God. I connected a summons spell on you, hard to do from the distance between us, and I pulled you to me.” The woman told him.

Lance blinked at her. “That was you?” She nodded, and smiled sheepishly. “Why?”

Keith snorted and pushed himself off the wall. “Because who wouldn't want a God on their side.”

Lance glared at him immediately and pulled Blue closer. “Goddess, and if you plan of taking her I'll make you choke on the water in your own body.” Lance growled and gritted his teeth; ready to go through on his threat if Keith took another step towards them.

Shiro huffed and smacked Keith's arm. “We have no such plans, Lance. Keith's bad at talking, don't listen to him.” Shiro smiled, ignoring Keith's whine.

“Lance, we want you join us.” The woman spoke again, bringing Lance's attention back to her. She was looking at him hopefully, Lance didn't understand.

“What? I don't even know you, I won't just join you just because you put a summons on me.” He huffed.

She sighed. “Well I suppose not, I apologise for calling you here, but we really do need you.”

Lance snorted. “For what?”

“To take back my kingdom, and to destroy the empire and remove Zarkon from the throne.” She leveled him with a determined stare, as if daring Lance to doubt she couldn't do it. And funnily enough, Lance had no doubt she could. He gaped at her and stared at her in bewilderment.

“What!”

She smiled and squared her shoulder back. “I am Allura Arus, daughter of the late King of the Altean kingdom, Alfor Arus. I am going to take back the kingdom Zarkon stole from me 12 years ago.” Her determination ringed through the room as she spoke.

Lance met her eyes back and stared at her. “You're the Princess?” He leaned back onto his pillows and raised his eyebrow. “And you wish to take your kingdom back, just how do you plan on doing it?”

“A long time ago my great grandfather built his kingdom with the help of five loyal guardians, he named them his paladins; calling them his Voltron Force. I wish to do the same to get my kingdom back.” Allura told him and reached her hand out to Lance, who stared at it. “Join me, and be my paladin. Fight with me.”

Blue shifted next to him and Lance looked at her, feeling her ease her approval through the their bond. He couldn't blame her, Allura seemed trustworthy. He was sure that it wouldn't take him long to gain her loyalty, her aura screamed of empathy and compassion; something rare in leaders theses day. He wanted to see her on the throne. However he had his own qualms; he didn't understand them.

‘She does not speak lies, young star. This is your decision.’

‘Will you be with me?’

‘Always, my star. I will follow you anywhere, down any path.”  

Lance sighed and shook his head before grasping Allura's hand; her nut brown skin contrasted with his golden skin nicely. He prayed to the gods and goddesses that he was making the right decision. She squeezed his hand softly before releasing it, smiling at him.

“I will help you, but I'm not quite sure about joining just yet. I do not trust you, but I am willing to stick around and see how this goes.” Lance told her.

Allura nodded. “I understand. I hope you come to join us later down the road, but it is your decision, not mine.”  

He smiled at her before reaching over to Blue, putting a hand on her side. She smiled at him in approval. “Thank you.”

“Great!” Coran jumped up and grinned. “I was sure you would say yes, good thing I have quite the gut instinct.” he winked at Lance.

“I didn't exactly say yes.”

“Welcome to Voltron, Lance.” Hunk said as he walked over and held out his hand. “I hope we can get along.”

“I'm just a trial member right now.” Lance laughed and grabbed his hand. “I sure we will, with such a cute face as yours.” Hunk blushed but smiled back at Lance.

Keith huffed and rolled his eyes. “Oh great, he's a flirt. Just what we need, a loverboy to chase up women's skirts.”

“I flirt with friendly intentions, so take your head out of the fucking gutter and shove it up your own ass please. And it's not just women I flirt with dumbass.”

Pidge laughed. “Damn, you got a bite.” Keith just huffed and left the room.

“I apologise for him, he's just in a bad mood. He really does mean well.” Shiro told Lance before leaving after Keith, Lance hoped, to go scold the fiery man.

‘I don't like the mullet boy.’

'mullet?’

'His hair style.’

Lance giggled and rolled his eyes, burying his face into Blue's side. He was tired, he felt tired since he woke up, but ignored it in preference to his company in the room. He just wanted to lay back down and sleep, maybe afterwards finally eat something that will stay in his stomach.

He was sick of throwing up his meals.

“You need to sleep, my boy. We normally don't stay in a town for long, too dangerous that way.” Coran told him as Allura stood up.

“Once you are rested, we will leave.” The princess told hold him, looking at him kindly.

'We could leave now, I can carry you, young star.’

Blue pressed, she was always trying to get Lance to rest. Something they argued about a lot, Lance never wanted to just shove all of his burdens on her and just let her carry him. That seemed too much like ownership, something Lance refused, they were companions and friends. So instead of acknowledging Blue's request, he nodded at Allura and she then shuffled out of the room with the other three.

'Really?’

Blue huffed and laid down, her back facing Lance, and he knew she was just being dramatic. He rolled his eyes and laid down as well, curling up under the blanket and closing his eyes.

----------------

Hunk brought him downstairs a few hours later, after he had awoken and bathed, and shoved a bowl of stew in his hands. Lance thanked him, and Hunk told him to sit down.

The inn bar was empty, as Hunk went back to the kitchen, leaving Lance alone. Blue was still asleep, leaving Lance in solitude. He sat at a table and stared off into space as he tiredly ate the stew, which was incredibly good. He wondered what his life would become now, he had a princess he was expected to follow and a team now. This was nothing like he was used too, it was always just him and Blue. Now there was 6 others, one of which Lance wasn't sure he was going to get along with.

'Why did I agree to join a group of strangers?’ Lance thought to himself as he chewed. He knew nothing of them but their names, and yet he agreed to join them. Lance knew he was never quite sane, but this might be the most insane thing he's done.

Lance huffed to himself.

Keith startled him as he sat down in front of him, Shiro sitting beside him, they must have walked in while Lance was zoning out. Keith leveled Lance with a stare, Lance returned it happily.

“Since you're apart of us now, it's best you know how we work.” Shiro told Lance, breaking off their staring contest so he could make eye contact with Shiro. Lance nodded and waited Shiro to continue. “Allura is our princess, we will get her on the throne and you will do everything you can to make it happen; follow her anywhere, remain loyal to her always, trust in her more than you would trust yourself, and protect her. She can fight sure, but she can't use her magic yet.”

Lance frowned and raised an eyebrow. “Wait, why not?”

Keith sighed. “It's a long story. Just know you have to protect her always, her life is more important than yours; and her magic is our last resort. If you do your job right, we won't get to that point, okay?”

He stated at Lance until he nodded. “Okay.”

Keith continued. “Shiro is our leader; respect him, and listen to him. He can fight and is very strong; there's a reason Allura put him in that position. I'm the second in command, Shiro's right hand man. Please respect me too, actually just respect all of us and we'll respect you back.”

“That's golden rule isn't it? Do unto others what you wish done unto you. Don't worry, it's hard to lose my respect.” Lance huffed and pushed his empty bowl to the side, ignoring Keith's eye roll.

“Pidge is our resident genius, she's incredibly smart and tactful. Hunk is our strong arm and proclaimed cook.” Shiro said.

Lance cut him off. “Wait, I have a question.”

Keith huffed. “Be patient, let us finish and we'll answer your questions. Anyways, Coran is not a paladin. He's our healer though and he's Allura's advisor. He's kind, and kind of reminds everyone of an uncle. That's it for everyone else for now. Now you're a paladin, Allura has us named after colours.

Shiro is Black, I'm Red, Pidge is Green, and Hunk's Yellow. You, funnily enough, are Blue. Or well, you will be if you join us” Lance laughed softly at that one.

“We're a team, so we have to have both respect and trust between us. We're kind of like a family right now, having you here is going to be weird but I'm sure you'll come to be apart of our little family soon.” Shiro smiled at Lance as he finished, making Lance smile back.

Keith pressed himself into Shiro's side, confusing Lance as he also glared. “You can ask questions now.”

Lance sighed as he ignored Keith's glare. “What all can everyone do? Coran can heal and that's all I know.”

Shiro chuckled. “Are you asking for an explanation of everyone?”

Lance nodded and heard Hunk walk in, Pidge next to him talking about something. They walked over and Hunk took a seat next to Lance, Pidge sitting on Hunk's other side.

“Hey guys.” Hunk greeted.“What are we talking about?”

“Lance wants an explanation of everyone.” Keith told him and Hunk's face lit up. He smiled at Lance and laughed.

“Oh? I'll go first.” Hunk said. “My name is Hunk Garrett, I was born in a small town in the southeast named Sama.”

Keith snorted but looked at Hunk fondly. “He didn't mean your life story, Hunk.” Hunk blushed in embarrassment and pouted.

Lance was quick to out his hand on his arm and smile at him. “You can tell me your life story if you want.”

Hunk's face lit back up. “Well I don't have a super adventurous life, I grew up with my parents in both of their bakery and blacksmith shop. I learned Metal bending through my mom's blacksmithing, I also trained to fight with all the other boys in my town to protect it. Allura and the others showed up one day and after I helped them take out a group of Galra following them they asked me to join them, so here I am.” He smiled sheepishly at Lance.

“Oh, so you're a MetalBender?” Lance asked.

Hunk nodded. “It's a hard talent, close to magic but not quite. I use it fight and make weapons and such for everyone.”

Lance smiled at him. “Alright.”

Pidge leaned around Hunk to look at Lance. “My turn. My name's Katie Holt, but I go by Pidge. I'm from the Holt family and I am also very proficient in crystal energy, I hack into the galra crystals a lot and interrupt their feeds.”

Lance had to hold back his gasp, the Holt family was infamous all across the empire, once the kingdom, as the main crystals producers. They supplied the world with communications and technology, but two years ago they disappeared. The empire claimed them treasonous and no one knows what happened to them. But here was Pidge in front of him, claiming to be the daughter of the Holt family.

“I don't have super fancy magic, but I do use crystal energy as a weapon. I can create currents within the crystals and electrocute anything, sometimes I make power surges.” Pidge continued her explanation.

“Crystal energy manipulation is a hard skill to master, that's amazing Pidge.” Lance told her, and she met him with a grin. “Is that how you fight?”

“I use a crystal infused gadget I built, it can create a sort of whip, only it's tiny and I use it kind of as a grappling hook more often. It also has a blade.”

“Badass.” Lance nodded, she laughed.

“Hunk and Pidge both create weapons to form to us, Allura jokingly calls them bayards.” Shiro cut in amused. “They made Allura a whip of her own that she uses to fight. Coran has a small crossbow, though he doesn't fight often.”

“Allura has a whip? Does she use her magic with it too?”

Shiro shook his head. “Allura doesn't use her magic, but she does use her Altean abilities to help us out. Her super strength and mimic shifting is very useful.”

Lance nodded and felt Blue call for him. He told her he was downstairs and few moments later she came down, the size of a housecat, and jumped onto the table. “Hey beautiful, nice of you to join us.”

She mentally rolled her eyes at him and allowed herself to be petted by Pidge.

“Hello, Blue.” Shiro told her and held out his hand. Keith started at her, watching as she rubbed her head on Shiro's hand. Everyone was silent for a second as they greeted Blue with pets. Hunk got up and mumbled he would be back.

“Alright. Well I guess since it's sharing time I think it's important for you to know, I'm half Galra.” Keith broke the silence, shocking Lance. He blinked at Keith.

“That explains the sharp teeth, then.” Lance said, making Keith looks at him in surprise.

He raised his eyebrows and frowned. “Wait, that's all you have to say to me being half Galra?”

Lance snorted. “What else would I say? I can't blame you for the Empire simply because of your race. Not all Galra are apart of the Empire, it wouldn't be right to assume they all are.”

Keith stared at him shocked, his eyes were widened; Lance had to force himself to look away from the hypnotic purple. “So you don't care I'm half Galra?”

“My neighbor back up north was Galran, and he was the sweetest man I've ever known, he hates the Empire.”

Shiro smiled. “See I told you, Keith you worry too much.”

Keith huffed and looked away, glaring at a wall. “Whatever.”

Keith moved his arm so Lance see two handles sticking up from his hip. “I use my blades to fight, one of them was passed down through my family and can change size. Pair those with my Galra abilities, I'm quite the fighter.”

“Shiro, it's your turn.” Hunk said, as he came back. He was holding a rather large bowl of stew and placed it in front of Blue. Who happily purred as she scarfed it down.

‘I like him too.’

Shiro sighed, and Lance could swear he almost looked sad before he wiped it away. “Well I was a knight before everything, not to the Empire, but to a Lord in the west.”  He paused, taking a second to breath and Lance felt concern flow through him. “Until my Lord was deemed treacherous and was hung. I was forced into the Galra ranks, but I wasn't a soldier. Instead they made me fight in arenas for entertainment, pitting me against all kinds of monsters.”

“Oh Shiro, I'm sorry.” Lance said frowning. Lance knew the Galra were cruel and what Shiro endured must have been hell.

He smiled at Lance softly. “Thank you, Lance. But that's not all, they also experimented on me. The Witch herself conducted most of them, but I managed to escape. I ran into Keith shortly after and then we found Allura and Coran.”

Lance's frown deepened, he's never heard of the Galra experimenting on humans. If they were, the gods only know what kinds of horrors they've done. He looked at Shiro and felt horrible, thinking of what he must of gone through. Blue whined in pity in Lance's mind.

“They did make a few mistakes though.” Shiro said as he held up his arm covered in bandages. “They took my right arm, and replaced it with a dragon's and infused it with quintessence. I use it to fight, I'm using their own experiments against them.

“I'm sorry.” Lance said again as he looked at the bandages arm.

Shiro shook his head. “Like I said Lance, I'm using it to take down the Empire. Might as well, not like I'll get my old one back at this point.” He joked and earned himself a huff from Lance. “The Empire will regret what they did to not only me but many other humans as I turn their most successful weapon against them.”

“And you're doing great, Shiro.” Hunk told him smiling.

That still didn't make Lance feel any less bad for Shiro, though he didn't voice it. He was sure Shiro didn't want pity for it. Blue, however, decided that human emotions were stupid as she crawled her way into Shiro's lap and pushed her nose into his neck, licking it in pity.

'I will rip that witch up for him.’

Blue told Lance as Shiro looked at Blue surprised. Lance laughed at her message, everyone's eyes fell on Lance as he laughed.  He was glad Blue was taking to everyone quickly.

“Blue's offering to rip the Witch apart for you.” He told the table. Everyone looked at him strangely.

Pidge shrieked and jumped up. “What? Blue can talk?”

“Well, yes. She speaks to me.”

Hunk stared at Blue. “So like telepathy? She can use that? Can she say something to us?”

Lance shook his head. “It's like telepathy but only with me. I've bonded with her, we are intertwined.”

Keith frowned. “What?”

Lance sighed. “We can project thoughts and emotions to one another, but that's not all. We both each have our own quintessence, but we can use the others if needed.”

“Do you share abilities?”

“Of course not, I can't change my shape and she can't use ice.” Lance huffed. “Just our energy is shared, not our powers. Trust me, if anyone had Winged Lion abilities, they'd be a God.”

‘Are you saying I'm a Goddess?’

Blue said amused as she curled up in Shiro's lap, purring as he absentmindedly petted her. Lance pushed his amusement back at her as he continued. “She's powerful, though she might not be as strong as the Lions of old, but she is strong. Blue is a water Winged Lion, making her proficient in water based areas. She can use water to her advantage, like she can create tidal waves and control water currents. She doesn't control water, per say, more like she manipulates it's order. Um, Blue favours her claws over her teeth as she fights.

The group was all giving Lance their full attention as he explained. Lance couldn't blame them, Winged Lion abilities weren't really known about, not much was known about them.

“Blue also said that all Winged Lions share certain abilities. All Winged Lions can change their size at will, they can hide their wings though they don't do it often because it's like they're hiding who they are. All Winged Lions can form a bond with someone, but they only bond once in their lives.”

“How long have you two been bonded?” Shiro asked.

Lance laughed awkwardly and looked away. “Little over a year and a half. We actually bonded by accident.”

He heard Hunk make a noise in confusion at that. But before Lance would elaborate more he was interrupted by Allura and Coran entering the room. “Oh good, you're up. We need to leave now, we've stayed too long.” Allura told them, and the other scrambled to get up, Shiro picking up Blue from his lap and holding her. Hunk grabbed the two bowls and brought them to the kitchen, as everyone quickly went to go gather their stuff. Lance followed them, heading into his room and picking up his already packed bag, from the floor.

They met again downstairs where Allura was waiting with the inn owner. Roderick thanked them and even gave Lance a huge hug, as they returned their keys. Coran wasn't anywhere to be found and Lance frowned.

'Open your arms, young star.’

Lance did as Blue asked without thinking, catching her as she jumped gracefully out of Shiro's arms and into his. He kissed her nose. “Thanks, beautiful.”

Allura looked at him amused before moving to stand next to him. “She really is a beauty.”

Lance smiled at her before looking back at Blue. “Yes, she is.”

“I gathered the horses, everything is ready to go.” Coran spoke as he entered the inn, holding the door open for everyone as they walked out. Six horses all stood around, each saddled up and with packs attached. “I'm afraid we don't have one for you, Lance”

“He can ride with me.” Shiro cut in as he walked over to a rather large horse. Lance blushed, if it wasn't so dark he was sure the others would have noticed, just thought of being curled against that man for hours as they rode made his heart race.

Lance was never any good with gorgeous people.

“No it's okay, I can ride Blue.” He stuttered out way too quickly as he shook his head. Blue cheered in his head as she jumped out of his arms and grew in size, reaching the size of the horses that surrounded her.

Allura gasped as she let her eyes roam over Blue in her full glory, the white lion with large wings. “Wow. I've only ever heard rumors of Winged Lions, they used to be the symbol of power in my kingdom.”

Lance smiled at her as he mounted Blue. “Maybe they can be your symbol of power again, Princess.”

Her eyes widened and she looked at him gratefully, her blue and purple eyes shone, almost as if she would cry. Instead of crying, however, Allura made her way over to her own horse, getting on it gracefully, smiling softly the whole time.

“We are heading south, I have an old contact I would like to see.” She told everyone. “Kolivan can help us arrange where we need to hurt the Empire and can give us back up.”

Keith grunted to the side of Lance. He looked over and took in how Keith shifted on his horse, his black cloak with a red lion head sewn into the fabric moved as he did. “How far south?”

“Not as deep as where you're from.” Coran answered, he then started to nudge his horse, leading everyone. Keith sighed in relief as he followed.

'The south is too hot for me.’

Blue whined as she followed the others, she stuck towards the back and kept in place with Keith's horse, so the two were almost side by side. Shiro rode the front with Coran, Allura was in the middle of Hunk and Pidge, while Lance and Keith took up the rear.

'I'll keep you cool, beautiful.’

He could faintly hear Pidge and Allura discussing so something in front of him, Hunk offering his thoughts in as well. The path they walked along was surrounded by fields of grain and soy, it was peaceful. Lance breathed in the soft air and let his eyes fall shut, taking a moment to himself. The air was crisp in the early morning, and dew was just starting to form on the leaves. .

“So where in the south are you from?” Lance asked Keith after a while of silence between the two, at this point the sun was starting to rise over the hills.

Keith glanced at his before letting his eyes fall back on the road. “Yorak. It’s near the edge of the old kingdom lines.”

Lance nodded, he's heard of Yorak before. Yorak was a city that used to lay in between Zarkon's Empire and Alfor's kingdom. The city was known for producing skilled fighters and it's trade lines between the two rulers. It was also the first to fall when Zarkon spread his Empire into Arus.

“Oh, I'm sorry. Were you there when it fell?” Lance asked carefully.

“Yes.”

He didn't speak much more after that, instead seemed to glaze over as he stared at the road ahead. Lance felt bad for bringing it up, Keith shouldn't have to feel obligated to tell him things just because he asked. So the two rode together in silence, the only noise between them was their breathing.

“Where are you from?” Keith startled Lance as he asked. Lance raised an eyebrow as he looked at him, Keith didn't really seem like the type dig into other people's lives. However, Keith just started at the rode ahead and Lance could swear he saw red dusting the paler man's cheeks in the light of the dawn.

“I was born and raised in Varadero, after the fall we moved further north and I lived in Olkarion.” Lance told him.

“Varadero, are those the island in the west?”

“Yeah, let me tell you the transition from warm sunny beaches to snowy mountains was insane. I thought I was going to die” Keith laughed at that.

“I bet.”

'Mullet boy is confusing.’

'Why do you say that?’

'One moment he's insulting you and the next step he's acting as your friend.’

'Keith is just strange.’

'All humans are strange, young star.’

Lance chuckled and leaned forwards, scratching at Blue's head. She chuffed and leaned into it, flapping her wings before letting the settle around Lance like a barrier. He rolled his eyes at her protective nature, but smiled at her anyways.

Hunk slowed down his horse so he was on the other side of Lance, he smiled at the two. “Shiro said we're stopping for a break soon.”

Keith groaned. “Thank the Gods, I really need to piss.” Lance giggled and shook his head, Keith really was fucking strange. He watched as Pidge pushed ahead of Shiro and Coran, her horse in a steady run.

‘Where is the small girl going?’

Blue asked in confusion, and Lance just sent his own confusion back to her. Though, he could guess she was scouting ahead for enemies and/or a place to stop. The stayed trotting along until Pidge returned and spoke to Shiro, She led them to a clearing, not far from where they were. It was small, but had enough space so their horses could graze while they ate a few feet away.

Blue huffed as she shrank down once Lance hopped off of her. She then bolted into the nearby forest to hunt herself a snack, she didn't stray far though, making sure to stay in range of Lance. Lance rolled his eyes and joined Hunk who was handing out some fruit to everyone.

“Here. It's not poisonous, just really bitter.” He smiled at Lance as he handed him the food.

“Thank you, Hunk.” Lance smiled at him as he took a bite and held back a gag as the bitter taste spread over his taste buds.

Pidge joined them with Allura and they each took a fruit from Hunk. “Ugh, Baadas again? I hate these.” She whined as she took a bite, making a strange face afterwards. Lance had to stifle a giggle.

“I'm sorry, it's all we have for now Pidge.” Allura said as she ate her own fruit.

'I found some benut berries, want me to bring some back?’

‘Can you bring enough for everyone? Hunk has a gross fruit.’

'I'll be there soon, young star.’

“Blue said she can bring us some benut berries.” Lance told the three around him. They all looked at him in surprise, Allura still mid-bite. “It's a small but good berry, it's really sweet.”

Pidge cheered and laughed. “I love Benuts, so much better than this shit.” she said holding her Baadas away from her.

“Language.” Shiro's said as he started at Pidge whirl he walked over with Keith. Lance laughed and watched as Blue walked back into the clearing, a squirrel hanging from her jaws, along with several branches of berries.

Lance rushed over and helped her, grabbing the branches and thanking her with a kiss on the forehead. “Here, have some of these.” He handed the berries out as evenly as he could between the seven people.

Hunk sat down, and everyone followed suit. They say in a semi-circle as they ate, Blue laid across his lap, eating her squirrel. “So Lance, you should tell us about you now. You know about most of us.”

Lance snorted. “Well, what do you want to know?”

They all spoke at once.

“How did you meet Blue?” Pidge rushed.

“How did you learn magic?” Hunk wondered.

“Where are you from?” Shiro asked.

“Why are you fighting the Galra Empire?” Allura said.

“How did you get involved with a Golun Snake?” Coran laughed.

“Okay. Okay. One at a time please.” Lance laughed. “My life isn't really all that guys.”

Keith rolled his eyes. “Sure. Whatever you say, Winter Angel.”

Lance glared playfully and rolled his eyes. “Fine, it's kind of all that; but really I'm the son of some farmers, just a boy from Varadero island. We moved up north after the fall, my parents wanted to avoid areas with tons of trade and to avoid confrontation with the Empire, so we moved to a small snowy town in the mountains. I already knew some ice magic, it runs in my family though it's rare someone is born with it.” He paused.

Keith nodded.

“Anyways, once we were up north and I had more ice to train with my powers soared. I learned how to control it better and soon learned how to use the water in the air to make ice.”

“Wait you said your family used to be prominent in ice magic?” Allura cut in surprised. “That's rare, magic users were wiped out 300 years ago.*

Lance sighed. “I don't know how my family managed to escape, no one really does. I guess I'm just blessed by the gods? Magic is rare, elemental magic is the rarest of all.”

Coran sighed tiredly. “I remember the magical massacre, so many lives were unnecessarily lost.”

“What exactly happened, Coran?” Hunk asked.

“No one knows for sure. One day, nearly all mages suddenly collapsed and most died.” Coran shook his head. Lance flinched and looked down, as a mage it was terrifying to think about the fact no one knows how nearly all magic was wiped out. Of course there was still magic users, rare but still there, but the world adapted to use crystal energy and quintessence to survive. Magic just wasn't apart of the world like it used to be.

Blue huffed and pushed her way into Allura's lap, sensing the discomfort in the air, who stared at her in surprise. She kept nudging Allura's hand until she pet her, purring in content.

“How did you meet Blue?” Allura asked as she stared at the lion on her lap.

'By being the dumbass you are.’

Blue snorted in his mind and he glared at her. “It was an accident, I was traveling away from my family. I left them to keep them safe once word of my ice powers reached the Empire’ ears. After taking down several Empire camps in the north I headed back towards my old island, figuring I could lead the Empire away from my family. I literally slipped and fell into Blue's nest, breaking my ankle.”

Everyone laughed and Lance blushed.

“Anyways, she nearly killed me at first, but ended up nursing me back to health. She was so hostile in the beginning, not used to human contact, but after weeks of being together we grew close.”

Pidge blinked. “You said you bonded by accident.”

Lance nodded. “You bond with a Winged Lion by naming it, with it's permission. I named her Blue after spending weeks talking to myself alone in her cave. She overheard me and thought it was a fitting name for herself, not knowing that's how her kind bonded. Next thing with of us knew we could hear each other's thoughts and share emotions.”

“That's very anticlimactic.” Keith snorted.

“Shut it, Mullet boy.” Lance shot back, making Keith gape at him and everyone else laugh.

“How did you get the name Winter Angel?” Hunk cut in after everyone caught their breath.

Lance blushed and looked away. “A friend of mine said it as a joke in front of the entire town. Somehow it followed me when I left.”

Coran laughed and stood up. “Well I think that's almost enough share time for right now. We need to get going after you answer one more question for me.” Lance nodded as he stood up with everyone else. “How did you run into a Golun Snake? And how did you survive for so long?”

Lance laughed. “Oh me and Blue were following the summons spell and we ran into her nest. She was only trying to protect her babies so we feld but not before she managed to get a bite in. As for how I survived, Blue's spit can stop bleeding and I have a few potions that help heal wounds.”

Everyone gathered to their horses and mounted them, Lance jumped on Blue's back once she grew. “Blue can heal?” Coran asked confused.

“No. She can only stop bleeding.” Lance told him. “She just need to lick the wound.”

‘If you think I'm licking one of these guys for a small cut you are wrong.’

Lance laughed at Blue. She rumbled back in amusement as they started to walk again, falling back into position. Keith still refused to look at Lance after his mullet insult. He pouted off at the trees, which Lance found strangely adorable.

Lance sighed, thinking back on the past couple of days.

'Young star, what are you thinking about?’

Lance huffed and adjusted himself on Blue, scratching her head slightly.

'Nothing really.’

‘Liar. You're always thinking of something.’

‘There really isn't hiding anything from you, is there?’

'Nope. We are bonded; you are mine, and I am yours. I can tell when you're thinking too hard, tell me what's on your mind, young star.’

Lance shook his head and sighed, not noticing Keith's eyes landing in him from the movement. ‘I worry I may have prematurely made my decision, I know nothing of these guys and they know nothing of me. I joined because I agree with their motives; I have no idea where they will lead me, or how we will get there. They told me they were strong, and they might be, but what if they're just using me? I mean I am well known for rebelling against the Empire, I could be nothing more than a pawn to them.’  

'Young star, you are not a pawn in any way. I will not let you be used. We will wait and see what happens, and I am prepared to defend you no matter what. We are loyal to each other, not them.’

‘I am supposed to be loyal to the princess.’

'Loyalty is earned, my star. Remember, we are a good example of that ‘

Lance huffed again and looked towards the fields around him. He missed the mountains.

“Hey.” Keith called his attention. “Shiro thinks you two should switch spots.”

Lance blinked at him surprised but nodded, looking up at Shiro and meeting his eyes. Blue sped up as Shiro's horse slowed down, making the two switch spots. “Hello, young boy.” Coran gleefully greeted him, as soon as Lance acknowledged him back, the erratic man jumped into rambling about the most random things. Lance nodded along and spoke in turn, finding the older Altean very good company.

They traveled in similar ways for days with no interruptions; stopping occasionally for rest. Lance got to ride along each of his new companions and learned about each of them slowly. He still couldn't tell for sure if they were just using him or not, but he could tell they were kind enough. He could see himself within the group, but yet he held himself back.

Lance feared that he would get comfortable, only to end up being used. Lance feared being a pawn.

‘Young star? What is on your mind?’

'Would they toss me aside when they're done using me? Or would they rid of me?’

Chapter Text

 

It was Lance's turn for night watch. 

They've been on the road heading south for little over a week, and something told Lance that there was much more traveling to be done, avoiding towns and detection. Sticking to back paths that not many would know about, covered by trees and hidden by rocks. Blue carried him the whole way, worrying Lance that he was using her, despite her disagreement. 

‘Young star, I would walk for years upon years for you.’ 

The lioness laid behind Lance, acting as a kind of prop for the man as he watched over the area everyone slept in. Her warmth brought Lance comfort from the cold night. 

He yawned, but stayed alert. They all took turns keeping an eye out, and tonight it was Lance's turn. Something not everyone was comfortable with, based on the rigid way Keith rested a few feet away. His body was tense, as if ready to jump into battle at the slightest of sounds. Lance knew it was because of him, Keith rested much more peacefully when the others took watch. 

'He doesn't trust me.’ Lance thought to himself, but not to Blue, she needed her rest. He couldn't quite blame them, Lance himself slept very similarly to Keith, not quite wanting to place his life into everyone's hands just yet. 

Keith moved in his sleep, and Lance caught a flash of Keith's hand near his sword. 

'Yeah. He really doesn't trust me.’ Lance sighed as he looked around the trees surrounding them. Keeping both an eye and an ear out for anything, though hearing was kind of hard thanks to the snoring of his travel companions. He had gotten used to the noise by the second night. Allura breathed loudly, Coran hummed in his sleep often, Hunk moved a lot, Pidge talked occasionally, Shiro snored softly, and Keith slept prepared for anything but with heavy breathing. Everyone had their strange quirks as they slept, making Lance work twice as hard as he would if it was just him and Blue.

 Lance would cheat and use Blue's enchanted hearing to his advantage. She slept just as ready to battle as Keith did, occasionally waking up when she heard a noise. She offered to stay up with him but Lance insisted the lion get her rest. She did tense up at any noise though, which helped. 

By the Gods, was night watch quite slow. Lance was tempted to find something to do, but refused to move afraid to make a noise and end up with Keith’s other sword impaled into the tree trunk behind him. 

Right next to the one he threw after Lance sneezed. 

Keith really didn't trust him. 

Which was kind of a bummer at the moment, because Lance was getting bored. He would practice some light magic but he wasn't sure he could do so without making too much noise. The glow from his magic also held him back, fearing that someone would see it.

So Lance finally decided to meditate in the way his older sister taught him when they were young. She told him to open his sense and feel the world around him with his magic, something she had none of. She did however push him to expand himself to use his magic to recreate his surroundings in his mind. 

Lance always figured Veronica always overestimated him. She constantly thought Lance could do more than he actually could. 

He couldn't though, no matter how much Lance tried he couldn't use his quintessence to map out things. But that didn't mean he would stop trying, mediation helped him rest without resting. Even if he didn't meditate now he could while he rode Blue later on, but he wanted to make a good impression and stay alert and ready to guard the Princess while they traveled.

Lance let his breathing disappear and his hearing and other senses picked up, taking in the world around him. He felt the world around him but could not tell how far away Keith was from him. 

He could tell, however, when a branch snapped softly from the woods. Lance let his eyes flutter open and he glanced around. Branches snapping meant two things; animals or intruders. 

He nudged his elbow back into Blue, hearing a few leaves crunch, and hit her harder. 

'What?’ 

Lance rolled his eyes at her harsh tone, she was almost as picky about her beauty sleep as he was. 

‘Do you hear something? Or am I going crazy with boredom?’

She huffed but woke herself up, her ears perking as she listened around them.

'Yes. I hear huffing? Loud huffing. It's close, be alert young star.’ 

Lance nodded and shifted himself, so he could jump up and fight easier. He let his eyes roam everyone sleeping, he knew he should wake up but didn't see the point in it. If it was a threat he could wake them, and if it wasn't he would lead the animal away and let them rest. Keith grunted from his spot and Lance rolled his eyes as yet another twig snapped. He wasn't as much of a guard. Blue however was just as strung up as Lance. She was tense behind him, ready to pounce. The nosies slowly grew louder as they drew closer, Lance stood up suddenly as a rather loud breath startled him from behind, it was not Blue. The lion, also startled, jumped up and growled. Only to be met face to face with a rather huge bear. 

The bear just stared at them, and the two just stared back. Lance hated attacking animals, especially if he was in their homes, much rather prefer to run away. He was about to ask Blue to lead it away from everyone, not seeing the point in waking them up for this. Not noticing the gaze on his back from the previous sleeping red paladin. 

Lance out his hands up not threateningly and smiled at the bear, it really didn't seem hostile. “Hey cutie, you look a little lost.”

The bear just snuffed at him and adjusted itself. 

‘Really?’ 

Blue was unamused but Lance chuckled softly. “We don't wanna hurt you, you're too cute to harm.” Lance spoke softly, not wanting to startle the bear in front of him, or wake up the sleeping forms behind him. Blue stayed ready to pounce next to him, after all this was a wild animal, even if he was calm, there was still a chance he could get hurt. 

'Do you think you can lead him away?’ 

'What do you take me for? Of course I can.’ 

Lance rolled his eyes and nudged Blue in the side. “Why don't you do me a favour, cutie? Would you mind following my girl here? She'll be sure to take you home.” Lance spoke again to the bear, who just huffed in his face before nuzzling it, making Lance and Blue both freeze. The bear sat back and stared at them. Blue huffed and walked over to him, before nudging his side with her head, prompting the bear to follow her away from the others. 

'Thanks, Blue.' 

'Just stay safe until I get back, young star.’ 

Lance sighed and turned back to the sleeping group, running his eyes over everyone. He met Keith's eyes, and rolled his own as he sat down again.

“You have a big heart.” 

“I'm not going to hurt an innocent animal.” 

“What if it attacked us?” 

Lance huffed and finally met Keith's eyes back. “I wouldn't have let that happen. Anyways go back to sleep, I don't want to deal with your cranky ass tomorrow.” 

Keith glared. “Fuck you.” 

“Go to sleep.” Lance scowled back and closed his eyes, reaching for Blue in his mind. He wanted to make sure she was safe. Lance could vaguely hear Keith lie back down, settling to go back to his half awake, half asleep mode. 

Crack.

Both Lance and Keith jolted into full alertness. Lance's eyes met Keith's in bewilderment, he watched as Keith reached for his blade. 

'Blue, baby, how close are you to us?’ 

‘Pretty far? Why?’ 

‘So that wasn't you?’ 

‘What wasn't me?’ 

Keith continued to stare at Lance through this conversation, Lance shook his head once Keith raised his eyebrows. Keith growled softly and tensed his body up to strike, his eyes scanning the treeline. Lance held his breathing down and also looked through the treeline, he pulled a little on his magic, preparing himself to use it. 

“Lance, come here.” Keith spoke softly. Lance's eyes flashed back to Keith's, who was already staring at him. Lance heard another noise from behind him and almost jumped. 

“Now.” He growled. With a shiver, Lance realized why Keith wanted him over there. He was isolated from the group, set in a position to watch them. He got up slowly and made his way over to Keith, who pulled him down and into his side almost immediately. Keith's hand remained on his blade as he scanned the area, Lance let his magic freeze the air around them; apologizing in his head to the rest of the group, who mostly shivered and covered themselves more in their covers. 

He closed his glowing eyes and pressed into Keith's side. “Keep an eye out for white fog.” Lance whispered, as he made the air even colder. 

Lance felt the man next to him tense, and adjust himself to face the left slightly. Keith growled softly in Lance's ear, causing the tanner boy to shiver.

“Nine.” 

Lance released his magic and opened his eyes and let his eyes fall to the area where Keith was staring. His sight wasn't as good as Keith's, so he couldn't exactly see them, but that didn't stop him. However between the two and the nine breaths, laid the rest of the group. 

Keith galred the area down, looking ready to pounce at any movement, reminding Lance slightly of when Blue hunts. Lance gripped Keith's arm and pulled him back. 

"If you're not careful you can get the others hurt." Lance hissed at Keith. "We don't even know if it's an animal or not." 

Keith rolled his eyes. "You don't know me, I'm careful." 

Lance sighed but let go of Keith's arm anyways. "Fine. But wait til Blue gets back she's going to sneak up behind them." 

Keith stood up anyways, clearly ignoring Lance, and snuck around the other and over to left. Lance rolled his eyes and stood up as well. He didn't pull on his magic and instead grabbed the dagger he kept in his boot. 

Keith slowly made his way over to the tree, carefully stepping over the bodies of their sleeping companions, who much to Lance's surprise, didn't wake up. Lance tried to follow in Keith's steps but once he almost fell on Pidge, he opted to stay put. He sighed and watched Keith press his back against the tree closest to them. Keith looked over at Lance before jumping into the darkness of the woods. 

Lance figured at this point he should probably rush forward and help, but unlike Keith Lance prided himself on being a level headed guy. Levelheaded enough that he figured at least attempting to quietly wake the others would be the best course of interest. 

Well it would have been if Keith didn't get suddenly thrown back into the clearing and into Lance. 

The two crashed back into a bush and Lance groaned. "What the fuck, Keith?" 

"Galra." Keith growled as he stood back up and ran back towards the trees. 

Lance jumped up immediately and rushed towards Shiro, who was the closest person, and shook him awake. "Shiro! Wake up." 

Shiro woke up almost the moment Lance touched him. Lance would have flinched back from Shiro's glare if he didn't have to immediately duck against him to avoid getting shot. "Galra." Lance told Shiro as he jumped up and over to Allura. 

He shook her awake carefully and pulled her to her feet once her eyes opened. Shiro grabbed her elbow and pulled the very confused princess towards him. "Princess we're being attacked. Lance wake up the others quickly." Lance nodded and stumbled over to the others and devices to wake them all up quickly, by ripping their blankets off. 

He barely explained what was going on before Hunk and Pidge both jumped up and ran towards the trees where Keith was. Coran rushed back to the Princess and Shiro ran past Lance and into the trees as well. 

'I'm on my way back now, are you guys safe young star?'

'Define safe.' 

Lance could feel her disapproval at his joke but felt her worry all the same. He knew she was close though,and that made him feel better about the situation. 

He also knew he should probably go help everyone but he looked back at the Princess and Coran. 

'Is it okay to just leave them?' 

Allura met his eyes and waved him over. "You can stay here with us to protect us if you don't want to join the others. I'm sure they have it handled." 

Lance frowned. "It's not that I don't want to help, I just don't want to leave you." 

Allura smiled kindly at him but patted his shoulder. "Thank you, Lance." Lance smiled back and glanced back at the tree the others went into. "The others will be okay, we've all been fighting the glara together for almost a year now. I'm confident in them." 

"They why'd you invite me?" Lance asked. Then cursed himself for being rude. "Oh I mean, why do you need me then?" 

Allura flinched but looked away. "I can't say we need you, but I can say your help will be appreciated." She said, putting stress on the word need.  Lance held back a flinch and ignored the pang in his heart. 

It's not like he's ever been needed anyways. 

He smiled at her anyways. "Well, I'm glad to be of service." Coran grinned back and looked back to the trees with the princess. Lance sighed and turned away from the others and looked back at the trees behind them. 

Just in time to throw up an ice shield to block a volley of arrows. 

"Get down." Lance shouted as he dissipated his part of the shield and into a bow and arrow. His eyes glowed as he readied his weapon made of ice, it wasn't a very effective weapon in the long run but it would get the job done for now. 

He shot back at trees behind them, shooting down the three soldiers with ease. He looked back at Allura and Coran, who were safely behind the shield, only to meet their eyes. "Are you okay?" 

"Your magic is really beautiful." Allura spoke softly, as if she never meant to say it at all. Lance flushed and looked away. 

'Im here, young star. I see the others fighting so I'm going to help them. Where are you?" 

'Back in the clearing with the princess, we have some that snuck around.' 

'Be safe, young star.' 

'You too, beautiful.' 

He stopped talking to Blue just as another Galran entered the clearing. Lance kept his shield up around the two Alteans. He ducked behind the shield to avoid a shot and shot a couple back. He missed the first two but hit the guy square in the chest with his third. 

"Blue said the others are fighting not far from here and she's helping them." Lance told them as he scanned the trees for more enemies. 

Allura nodded. "Did she say how many there were?" 

Lance relayed the message to Blue, who responded quickly. "She said there's seven left where they are. Keith said he saw nine earlier but I guess it was scouts." 

Coran frowned to himself in thought. "But why are there Galra this far out to begin with? It's very strange." 

Lance shrugged. "Maybe they've caught wind of us? Or they have a base nearby? I don't know, I'm not from this area." 

"You make good points though, Lance. We can try to question one, can you tell Blue to tell the others not to kill one?" 

"It doesn't work like that, Princess. Blue can only talk to me." Lance chuckled. He let his bow dissipate back into water moisture, it was cracking anyways. "I guess we can hope they don't end up killing one completely." 

Coran jumped up and waved his hand. "Unlikely. But boy, does this remind me of the time I got trapped in a Dossen cage." 

Allura laughed. "Now is not the time for your stories, Coran." She smiled and dusted herself off as she stood up and Lance figured he might as well take down his Ice. Just then Blue told him they were finished and making their way back. 

He told Allura as such and she turned back at the direction the other would be coming from. Coran rushed forwards to greet them and possibly treat any injuries they may have. 

Shiro broke through the tree first and smiled at them. "Ah, it's good to see you safe princess." The others followed him in and outside of a slight limp from Keith, no one seemed to be injured. 

"Yeah no thanks to Lance." Keith huffed and glared at him. Lance blinked back in surprise but glared back. 

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Lance huffed back. Sheez, just when he thought he'd be able to get along with the guy. 

"Where the hell were you? Why didn't you follow us instead of cowering in here?" Keith growled out. "We're supposed to be a team dumbass." 

Blue at this point made her way in front of Lance, growling at the half Galran in front of her. 

Lance was about to open his mouth to retaliate but Shiro cut him off. 

"Both of you. Enough. We are supposed to be a team, that means we don't fight each other. " Shiro looked more at Lance then at Keith as he tried to lecture them. 

Keith rolled his eyes. "Yeah, were supposed to be fighting the enemy. Something Lance hasn't wrapped his big head around yet." 

Hunk cut in this time, cutting Lance off for a second time. "Keith, we did fine and no one got hurt. There's no need to get upset." 

Lance bit his lip. Of course they were fine, they didn't need Lance, just wanted him. Lance couldn't even tell what they wanted him for at this point, if they even had a purpose for him at all. 

'Young star.' 

Blue's voice pulled him out of his thoughts and Lance patted her hip before glaring back at Keith. 

"Whatever." 

He felt Blue's worry wash over him as he huffed and turned away, intending on grabbing his pack. He heard Shiro sigh behind him. "Guys, this is silly. Let's just get on the road before more of them show up." 

Coran grinned and patted Shiro on the shoulder. "Well said, young man. Though I do want to know if you guys perhaps left any of the soldiers alive." 

Pidge snorted. "No. Why would we?" 

Allura shook her head. "Figured as much, but none of you guys thought it was strange they would be so deep in these woods?" The others blinked at her as if they just now understood her point. 

"Ah, you make a good point princess." Hunk smiled apologetically. 

Coran jumped in as he handed Allura the reins to her horse. "Lance came up with some good points of his own, even suggested a base camp in the area." He waved his hand over to where Lance was stroking Blue's fur and very visibly refusing to look at them. He was pissed that they didn't think he was any help, after all if he didn't actually plan things through and thought ahead to secure the princess then who knows what would've happened to her. 

Coran sighed and jumped on his own horse. "By the way, if Lance had rushed in like you guys all clearly had; me and Allura definitely would have been hurt." He pushed his horse into a trot and gestured at the four bodies laying on the ground as they passed, each with an ice arrow half melted out of them.  

Lance huffed as he mounted Blue and ignored the others as he took up leading them with Coran. He sent the older man a thankful smile as they all picked their way on the path. 

Lance felt eyes staring him down and burning a hole into his back, but refused to look back. He knew who's gaze it was without even looking. 

'Keith really is an asshole.' 

'Yes. But he probably feels bad at it now, young star.'

Lance huffed quietly. 'That doesn't mean I have to give him forgiveness.' 

'Young Star. I know you're upset but if we have to be working together with them we need to get along.' 

'Blue, baby. I tried. Not my fault Keith is a hotheaded asshole. Besides, I'm thinking of not joining after all.' 

'What!? Why? Did something happen, young star?' 

'I just realized I'm not really needed.' Lance thought sadly. He sighed softly and scratched Blue's ears to calm the wave of worry she sent at him. 

Coran lead them around for a few more hours, and despite how much time has passed Lance never once felt Keith's gaze waver. He elected to ignore it the whole way but he could feel the irritation settle in. 

'Can you growl at Keith to get him to stop?' 

'This is your battle, young star.'  

'So much for always being there for me.' 

Lance sent back amused. He watched the trees blur by and stifled a yawn. He didn't sleep the night before so he was exhausted, he leaned forward on Blue and told her to wake up up when they stopped. 

Lance felt himself drift to sleep right as Blue wrapped him in her wings protectively. 

When Lance woke up he was still on Blue, but they were stopped. He sat up and rubbed his eyes softly as he looked around the small clearing the group gathered in for a break. 

Hunk sat by a fire, making some sort of soup while Coran tried to help. Pidge was on the ground nearby, looking over a crystal tablet. Shiro and allura seemed to be engaged in a conversation off to the side of the clearing. 

Lance slid off of Blue and patted her side. 

'When did we stop?' 

'Awhile ago. I didn't wake you because you looked so peaceful.' 

Lance sighed but pressed a kiss against her forehead before making his way into the trees to answer nature's call. He finished quickly and used water from a nearby stream to rinse his hands. 

"Lance." A voice from behind startled Lance, almost sending him into the water. 

"Fucking hell, Keith. Warn a guy next time." Lance huffed as he stood up and glared at the black haired boy. "What do you want, asshole?" Lance put his hands on his hips and though he wasn't trying too he ended up pouting. 

Keith met his eyes back for a second before looking away, ashamed of himself. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said those things." He mumbled. 

Lance huffed and turned away. "Cool."

Keith looked back at him with a glare. "Cool? Dude I said sorry." 

"Oh? So what? I'm just supposed to forgive you? Just like that?" Lance almost stomped forwards and leveled Keith with a glare. "Do you even mean it? Or are you just saying it because Shiro is making you?" 

It seemed likely, the two men were very close and Shiro did seem like the type to make Keith apologize for things. Lance has been watching them,and though he wasn't quite sure on what your relationship they had, he was sure it was built on mutual respect. So if Shiro told Keith to apologise then Keith would apologize. 

Keith growled and grabbed Lance's arm as he tried to stomp past him. "I'm saying sorry because what I did was wrong, not because Shiro told me too." Keith pulled Lance to him to he could glare into his eyes. "Why the fuck are you so stubborn?" 

Lance snorted and felt the anger bubble up. "I'm the stubborn one? What about you, Mister I'm going to run headfirst into things without thinking? At least I stopped to think about the princess before I rushed into an unknown battle." 

Keith huffed and tightened his grip on Lance's arm. "Fine. I'm an asshole but at least I forgive people when they're trying to apologise." 

"I forgive people when their apologies makes sense."

Keith growled softly but released Lance's arm. "You're so goddamn stubborn. Fine, I apologise for being a hotheaded asshole." Keith huffed and this time he was the one to storm away. 

"Wait." Lance didn't grab him but Keith still stopped. "I forgive you, and I'm sorry too I guess."

Keith sighed. "Me too. Anyways, we need to get back. Hunk's probably finished the food by now." 

'I found a rabbit!' 

Blue's excited voice filled his head and he sent back his amusement. Keith huffed from next to him and grabbed his arm again, this time softly, and dragged him back to the camp. Hunk was serving bowls of his soup to everyone, and waved them over. Keith let go of Lance and sat down. Lance frowned, he didn't even remember Keith grabbing him again. 

"Did you two make up?" Hunk asked as he handed Lance a bowl. He nodded back and started eating. 

Blue happily bounced back into the clearing, holding her rabbit in the mouth with pride. She made her way over to Lance and plopped down on his lap and started tearing into the rabbit. 

Coran laughed. "Blue seems happy." 

"She is. Rabbit is her favorite." 

Pidge snorted. "And you just let her eat on your lap? What if she gets messy?" 

Lance gasped in mock offense. "Excuse you, but my beautiful girl would never." He laughed and patted Blue's head. "She's actually a very clean eater. I wouldn't let her on my lap if she wasn't." 

'Rude. Also do you want some rabbit?' 

Blue looked up at Lance with a bloody face and offered a mangled chunk of meat. Lance held back a gag and tired to not look sick. "Um. No thanks, Blue." 

'More for me then.' 

The others laughed as Blue went happily back to eating her rabbit. Lance scratched her head and went back to eating his soup as Allura and Shiro explained the set up for the last stretch of the trip. Apparently they were close to one of their destinations. 

Lance wondered about their plans; it was never really explained to him on just how they planned to take back Allura's kingdom. He knew that they were going to be taking down Galran base camps and fighting the empire; things Lance himself was sort of doing before they asked him to join. Lance was against the empire and did fight against them, but he didn't deliberately go searching for them. 

It was a miracle he even became known for it, even more that a princess had heard of him. 

Lance never really thought of his feats. Yes, he's taken down a base or two but not enough to get known for it. Stopping a boat in a lake? Easy, all Lance did was freeze the water surrounding it and it wasn't even moving that fast. So the fact that he had rumors about him shocked him. 

Most of them were over exaggerated anyways. 

Way over exaggerated. 

He wasn't even that strong, his ice was strong. After all it's ice. Just ice. Now if he could do water as well, that would be powerful. 

But Lance is just an ice mage, nothing too serious. 

"There's a strong base in the town of Trixs, if we take that down we can take out the main line of travel between the capital and the south." Allura explained. "Next we will go after Visnen, Dahi, and Forax. That'll clear out the south west which will lower their manpower in the south." 

"Are we going to stop by Samoa?" Hunk asked. 

Allura smiled. "Yes, we're planning on stopping at your home town." Hunk grinned back. 

Coran jumped up and clapped his hands. "Well we better get going now, shall we?" He rushed everyone up and onto their horses (Lance got on Blue). "Hunk ride in the back with Lance, Keith and Shiro up front, and Pidge with me in the middle." 

Lance yawned as he pulled the rear with Hunk. Lance had to admit, out of everyone Hunk seemed to be the easiest to get along with. He just had this aura to him that radiated kindness. 

"So where are you from Lance?" Hunk asked after a few minutes of being on the road. 

"I'm originally from Varadero, but I moved to Olkarion." 

"Olkarion? Where is that?" 

Lance frowned in thought. "To the west from the mountain stronghold of Fiore. Do you know where that is?" Hunk shook his head and Lance sighed. "It's the base between the country of Arus and Sincline; the only base in between them, the rest of our boarders are blocked by mountains. The Late King had a treaty with Sincline to avoid conflict, but we never opened our borders to each other." 

Hunk nodded. "The mountains are cold are they not?" 

Lance laughed. "Absolutely freezing, and I get cold easily." 

"But you use ice?" 

Lance winked. "Just because I use an element doesn't mean I'm immune to it." 

"Can I see it?" Hunk asked shyly, confusing Lance. "I've never seen a mage use magic before, unless Coran's healing counts or that stint in the village where we met." 

Lance held his hands up and focused his magic to make a small lion in the palm of his hands. Hunk gasped in amazement and stared at it before looking back I to Lance's eyes. 

"It's beautiful." 

Lance flushed red and dissipated the lion. "It's not all that. Just some ice." 

"No." Hunk interrupted. "It's more than ice, Lance." He frowned, but didn't respond back. "Anyways, why do your eyes glow when you use your magic?" 

Lance shrugged. "I don't know actually, from what I heard no other mage's does." Lance pursed his lips in thought "Though, my mama always said it was because my magic was to be the strongest of them all. But honestly, I just think she said that to get me to train harder. " 

"Your Mom was probably right, she sounds like a great woman." Hunk smiled sadly. "I miss my mom." 

"Me too, maybe talking about her will help." Lance smiled. "Tell me about her?" 

With that the big man jumped into telling Lance all about his family life, his village, and his childhood. They spent the rest of the day reminiscing about their pasts, and by the end of it Lance felt as if he knew Hunk his entire life. 

They traveled for two more days before they reached the town of Trixs. Allura and Coran both put up their hoods and hid in the middle of the group. 

Lance got off of Blue and held her in his arms instead. Hunk offered to share his horse which Lance accepted, he had to sit in the front to fit though almost on Hunks lap. 

When they approached the village's entrance they were stopped by empire soliders, and Blue curled back into Lance. 

"What is your business?" A rather bored looking Galra yawned out. 

Shiro smiled and patted his sack. "We're merchants here to sell some stock." Lance watched as the Galra ran his eyes over them and waved them through after a moment. 

'They smell. Do Galra not know how to bathe?' 

Lance stuffed a chuckle and sent Blue his amusement. 

'Who knows. Maybe we should ask Keith.' 

'I don't think he'll appreciate that, young star.'

Lance scratched Blue's head as they followed Shiro through the town to the nearest inn. He told them to wait outside as he went in to secure them rooms. 

Lance yawned and leaned back against Hunk, letting his eyes tiredly roam the street. Most of the people around seemed to be civilians, maybe a soldier or two. 

He looked over at Allura and Coran, who were sandwiched between a rather fidgety Keith and a bored Pidge. At least they were safe. 

Shiro came back out. "They only had three rooms so we'll have to split. Lion one will stay with me and Keith, Lion two with Hunk and Pidge. Lance you'll get your own room."

Lance frowned in confusion as the others got off their horses. Hunk leaned over and whispered. "One is the Princess and two is Coran." 

Lance nodded and held Blue close as he hopped off Hunk's horse. He took his key from Shiro and they all made with way up stairs to their rooms. 

'I want to bathe.' 

Blue huffed in Lance's mind and he smiled. She loves baths, especially when Lance scrubs her down, and after carrying him all this way Lance couldn't help but think she deserves it. 

Shiro stopped Lance before he entered his room. "We're going downstairs for drinks, you're free to join us." 

Lance shook his head. "Not immediately, Blue wants to take a bath; maybe afterwards." 

Shiro nodded. "Okay. Be safe. " 

Lance easier his eyebrow as he watched Shiro retreat to his room but shrugged it off in favour of entering his own. He placed his pack down and after grabbing a few things he went to go bathe with Blue. 

He ended up not going downstairs after all. 

The next morning Lance woke up to Pidge knocking at his door. He yawned as she entered his room and sat on his bed. 

"Morning?" 

Pidge nodded back and patted Blue. "Morning." 

Lance sat next to her and stretched. "Sorry I didn't make it down last night, Blue took longer to watch then I intended." 

She shook her head and smiled. "Nah, we didn't mind. Anyways I came here to ask you something." 

Lance hummed in response. 

"While you were in the north, did you ever hear anything about a Matt?"  She asked so timidly, and her eyes suddenly looked so far away. 

Lance sighed. "No, I'm sorry. Was he important?" 

"He's my brother." 

Lance's heart squeezed and he put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry." He whispered. 

Pidge shook her head and sighed. "It's okay, not your fault you don't know." She looked up at him with determination. "He is out there though, no way he would go down just yet " 

Lance laughed. "I'm sure he is. What's he like?" 

Pidge grinned and threw her hands out. "He's amazing, and at least twice as smart as me. He could wire a crystalline sequence in under a minute. Matt was once the second smartest man in the kingdom." 

"Who was number one?" Lance smiled. Pidge was adorable when she got excited. 

"My Dad." She had the biggest grin. "My Mom and Dad are okay, they managed to flee as well thanks to my Dad's quick thinking." 

"That's amazing. I'm sure if Matt was number two, he definitely made it out." Lance offered and Pidge nodded along. 

There was a knock at his door and after a few seconds Hunk and Coran walked in. They sat down on the floor and everyone listened to Pidge tell tales of her and her brother's mischief. Blue laid purring between the two on the bed. Everything was calm.

Then Lance's door was practically kicked down and a piece of ice froze less than an inch away from Shiro's eye. 

"Shrio, what the fuck!" Lance huffed as he made his ice dissipate. "Ever heard of knocking?" 

Shiro blushed and looked away. "Sorry, I could find the others and I panicked." He sheepishly made his way inside, Keith and Allura behind him. "What are you all doing in here?" 

Pidge snorted. "Of course. And we're talking about Matt." 

"Oh?" Shiro said. 

Keith raised his eyebrows. "What about him?"

"Pidge was telling us of their childhood." Coran said as he stood up to be next to the Princess. 

"If you really want the dirt on Matt, come to me." Shiro snorted and Pidge laughed. 

Pidge nodded. "Matt and Shiro always did the most, made my Dad so mad." 

"Wait you guys knew each other?" Hunk blinked. 

Shiro nodded. "The Lord I used to serve was Samuel Holt." 

Keith frowned. "I didn't know that?" 

Shiro shrugged. "Never really came up, I guess." 

Allura clapped her hands. "That's great Shiro, no wonder you and Pidge seemed close." 

Shiro smiled. "She's like a little sister to me." 

"Flames will freeze over before I acknowledge you as a brother." Pidge joked back. 

"I can actually make that happen." Lance added and everyone laughed. 

The room felt homey and for the frist time since Lance joined the group he felt like he was apart of the group. 

Allura cut their joking off with a smile. "Sorry paladins, I don't mean to cut us off but we do have a base to take down." 

With that everyone went into discussing a plan in great detail, though Shiro mainly spearhead the plan he did take the others advice in mind. 

"Wait. Lance do you just use your magic? Doesn't that get tiring?" Pidge cut into the middle of Shiro's explanation. 

Coran jumped in. "Using magic constantly tires one out, my I slept for half a day after I healed you." 

Lance sighed and nodded. "Yeah, I get tired pretty fast. I can freeze any exits like Shiro asked though, but that will knock over half of it out." 

Hunk frowned. "What will you do if you get attacked?" 

"We can't fight them off and protect you at the same time, Lance." Keith cut in. 

Lance waved his hand. "I'll be fine, I can fight with minimal magic and I have a few knives as well." 

'Also I'll never let them hurt you.' 

Lance smiled at Blue and kissed her head. " Besides Blue will be with me." 

Allura looked at him curiously. "How much magic does an ice arrow use?"

Lance frowned. "Barely any, it's the bow that uses a lot because I break them easily." 

Allura suddenly grinned and clapped her hands together. "Hunk, Pidge, how kind do you think it'll take to make a bow for Lance?" 

Pidge grinned, and jumped up. " We'll have it done before tonight. Come on Hunk." She practically pulled the bigger guy behind her. 

Keith sighed and walked over to Lance. "Can I see your knives?" 

Lance pulled his two out and handed them over. "They're not much, I buy them cheap because I throw them more then I fight hand to hand." 

Shiro frowned. "Do you not fight hand to hand?" 

Lance blushed. "I'm not that great at it." 

Shiro sighed. "Alright, from now on Keith and I will train you in combat. You need to learn to protect the Princess." Lance nodded. "We'll start after we leave Trixs." 

'Told you needed to practice more.' 

'Oh, hush up.' 

"While we wait for nightfall I need someone to go gather supplies and someone to get information." Allura said. "I'd prefer if Shiro stayed here, no offense you two." 

"I'll get information." 

"I'll get information." 

Lance galred at Keith, who galred back. "What the hell, mullet." 

Keith rolled his eyes. "How are you supposed to get information? You don't even know where to look."

"Yes I do, do you?" 

Keith scoffed. "Of course I do, I grew up in the streets." 

Shiro cut them off before it could get any further. "Guys, enough. Keith you'll get the information, Lance you'll get the supplies." 

Twenty minutes later Lance was still seething, ranting to Blue as he walked around the market.

'I can't fucking believe him. I'm a great information gatherer but of course let's choose fucking Keith.' 

'He probably trusts in Keith's ability.' 

'And yet he won't give me a chance to showcase mine.' 

'Now while I agree, you're getting too heated over this. Maybe next time, young star.' 

'Fine.' 

'Great, I'm glad you agree because your methods are a little….. unorthodox.' 

Lance huffed and rolled his eyes. He nearly growled at a poor woman who bumped into him, which forces him to cool his head. 

No use crying over something small. 

Lance finished filling up his basket with fruits at a stall, he gave his basket over to the lady to pay. 

She looked tired, but she was kind and even gave Lance a discount after he complimented her work ethic. Lance kissed her hand as he left, making her laugh. 

He sighed; the people of Arus deserve to smile more. 

He made his way to the next stall to pick up some meat. He greeted the butcher with a smile and started naming the meat he would need. 

"That's a lot boy, are you sure you need all of it? You're pretty small, and it'll be hard to keep a figure like that after all this food." 

Lance laughed and waved his comments away. "I'm gathering stuff for my group, it's not all for me. Though I do ask, is there a fish stall here for my girl?" 

Blue pushed her nose against his cheek and licked it. 

The man smiled sadly. "I'm afraid not, fish don't make their way up these parts that often. She is a beauty though." He held out a chunk of the beef he was cutting for her and Blue ate it happily as he finished up. "Here's your lot, that'll be 72 GAC." 

Lance smiled and thanked him, handing over the amount. "I would give you a tip for being such a sweetheart, but I'm afraid these aren't my funds and I left my coin purse." 

He shook his head. "It's alright. I hope you have safe travels." 

"Thank you, you be safe too, sweetheart. Keep on smiling, it's quite handsome." Lance winked and left with the sound of the butcher's laughter behind him. 

Lance glanced down at the list Coran gave him. He almost had everything outside of a few herbs. Which he bought quickly from a rather sweet old potions maker. Who he spent half of the time making her giggle as she gathered the herbs. 

She patted his cheek as he left and Lance kissed hers. 

If there was anything Lance loved more than Blue, it was making people laugh and feel good about themselves.

'I love coming to the market with you.' 

Lance kissed her cheek as he made his way back to the inn. Shiro sat downstairs with the Alteans, drinking a pint. He walked over and Blue jumped off his shoulder and onto he table, immediately going to purr against Shiro and ignore Lance's betrayed look. 

"Pidge and Hunk are upstairs, they want to see you." Shiro told him as he pet Blue. Coran stood up and followed him upstairs and took the food from him. 

Lance smiled and thanked him as he walked into Hunk's and Pidge's room. 

Pidge dragged him over to a table and suddenly Lance understood how she managed to drag Hunk out earlier, damn that girl's strong. 

"We finished the bow but I want to make sure you can shoot the ice arrows without them shattering." Hunk explained as Pidge shoved the bow into his arms. 

Lance laughed and help the bow up and fell in love with it. It was beautifully made, pure white with glowing blue accents, it reminded him of Blue. 

"Thanks guys, I love it." 

Pidge rolled her eyes. "Try it out first." She gestured to a row of hastily made targets on the other side of the room. 

Lance held it up and summoned an ice arrow to lay in position as he pulled his arm back. He released and the arrow shattered, and so did Lance's heart. 

Pidge pulled it out of his arms and mumbled to herself as she fiddled with it. Hunk patted his arm and smiled. "We figured that would happen, we're trying to find the right strength and crystalline sequence to be able to withstand both your magic and the fragility of the ice." 

"Damn near impossible." Pidge whined as she reconnected some lines that Lance didn't even know where they came from. "But if you need a bow by the damned, I'll give you a bow." 

Hunk laughed. "Of course you will. But have you tried to reline the D-58 string to the string F-150? Maybe that will work for the fragility, puts less stress on the hair of the bow while not changing the strength of the arrow's velocity." 

"You're brilliant, Hunk." Pidge smiled as she worked. Hunk moved away from Lance and grabbed a crystal from the table. "If I infuse another crystal in-between the others it could infuse his magic as well." 

Lance just watched them work, he knew very little about crystals and even less about metals. They had him fire the arrows a few more times, each time either made the arrow shatter immediately or it shattered on the target. 

It took seven tries to finally get it. Hunk cheered and lifted Lance off the ground in excitement. Pidge joined in by jumping on Lance's back. 

"How good of a shot are you?" Pidge suddenly asked as Hunk out him down and she got off him. 

Lance pursed his lips. "I don't know how good I am with this thing, but I'd say I'm pretty good."

Hunk looked out the window and pointed at an apple lying on top of a barrel about a good 65 yards away. "Can you shoot that?" 

"Sure." Lance walked over to the window and opened it. As he was leveling his shot he didn't hear Shiro's group entering the room. He summoned an arrow and shot the apple straight through the middle. 

"Good shot, Lance." Allura grinned and patted his arm. "We finally a ranger." 

He looked at her surprised that she was in there but waved it off. "I don't think I'm a ranger." 

"Then what are you?" She tilted her head and Lance flushed, it was adorable. He shrugged as he folded the bow down like Pidge taught him. 

"How about sharpshooter?" Shiro grinned as he clasped a hand on Lance's shoulder. 

Lance went bright red. "O-okay." And prayed to the Gods no one would comment on it. 

"Where's Keith?" Hunk asked. Yes. 

Shiro helped them clean up. "Sharpening his blades." 

Lance held back a laugh at that, because of course that's where Keith was. 

He glanced around the room and frowned. "Where's Blue?" He glared at Shiro, after all he left Blue with him. 

"With Keith." Shiro shrugged. 

'Now, why the fuck.' 

Lance sighed and grabbed his new bow and left. He went to Keith's room to gather his lion. He knocked and waited to hear Keith ask him to come in before entering the room. And low and behold, Blue was on his lap purring as Keith sharpened his swords. 

'Traitor.' 

He sent to Blue as he glared at her. She sent amusement back. 

"Hey." Keith said as Lance walked over and sat next to him on his bed. 

"Hey." Lance said back as he started to pet Blue. 

They sat like that in silence as Keith messed with his blades. It was calming, Keith didn't need to communicate to make Lance feel at ease. So after a while Lance started to yawn. 

Keith raised an eyebrow at him but continued to polish his blades. Lance ignored him and focused on petting Blue, the steady strokes rocked her to sleep. And before he knew it he was falling asleep on Keith's shoulder. 

When night fell Allura had everyone gather in Lance's room once more. Which confused Lance, after all it was his room. 

They went over the plan once more before Shiro had them depart. Shiro was going with Pidge and Hunk to the main rooms to gather Intel from the crystals and to wipe out the main forces, Lance and Blue were going with Keith to take out the perimeter forces and block the exits. Coran and Allura were staying back to both be safe and delegate from a distance. 

Pidge handed Lance what she explained to be a crystal communicator. It connected to everyone's frequency and they could all hear each other when it was activated. 

Then she activated it. 

Shiro was in the back, looking like he was having a quiet but rather heated conversation with Keith. Lance would rather not get involved, so he walked with Pidge and Hunk. 

They made it to the base and Shiro walked over to the trio, looking ruffled. Lance raised his eyebrows at Pidge and Hunk who just shook their heads just as confused. 

"Alright. Let's go, stick to the plan and don't forget to talk to each other." Shiro demanded before sharply turning on his foot and leading Pidge and Hunk away. 

Keith huffed and grabbed Lance's arm, dragging him in the opposite direction. Lance looked back at Hunk who was also pouting his way. Looks like he wasn't the only one who didn't want to be in this situation. 

Lance let Keith drag him and Blue for a little while before he pulled his arm back. Keith rolled his eyes and grabbed his arm leaving Lance to struggle to walk with him. 

After they reached the first point, Lance literally put his foot down, forcing Keith to stop and glare. 

Lance sighed but turned off his communicator' mic and reached over and turned off Keith's. He figured Keith needed some time away from Shiro's listening ears. Keith let him. 

"Lover's quarrel?" Lance said half serious. 

Keith went bright red but glared. "We're not like that." 

Lance raised his eyebrows but put comforting Keith ahead of teasing Keith. "Then what is it?" 

"None of your business." Keith huffed back and turned on his foot and glared at the exit. "Anyways, hurry up and block this." 

Lance rolled his eyes and did just that, his eyes glowed as he blocked the doorway. "Fine. Don't tell me." 

Keith huffed and stomped away once the wall was finished. Blue jumped off of his shoulder and bountied after Keith, leaving Lance to follow. They made it through a few more exits and ice walls before they ran into some soldiers. 

Keith drew his blades and chucked one straight at the nearest soldier before rushing forward and slashed another down, he ripped his sword out of one's head as he passed. Lance swore if he blinked he would have missed it. 

Keith was amazing. 

The half Galran huffed as he took another one down and Lance shot the last one behind Keith in the head. 

He nodded at Lance in thanks as they rushed down the hall faster. Blue trotting next to Lance to keep up. She grew to the size of a regular lion at some point. 

Keith reached his hand up and turned his mic back on. "We ran into the empire."

Shiro's voice cut through the earpiece next. "Stay safe. Pidge is connecting to the crystals now."

Lance stopped and froze another exit shut and jogged after Keith to catch up. Keith had already taken down two more by the time Lance reached him again. 

'Blue start staying with Keith while I stay back to freeze things.' 

Lance told Blue as he started to shoot the rest down as Blue bit a head off. She huffed in agreement and they ran forward again. The process continued, Keith and Blue would run forward and fight while Lance froze the exits. They others told they had company of their own but they could handle it. 

Lance was in the process of freezing another exit shut as he felt the fatigue of using too.much magic at once hit him. He still could keep going though, so that's what he did. 

Blue pushed against his mind, asking if he was okay. He confirmed he was and they kept going. Keith took down enemies with practiced ease, but even after taking down so many he was starting to get tired as well. 

"I got all the information, let's blow this place up. How many more exits do you have left Lance?" Pidge's voice cut through Lance's concentration and the wall of ice dissipated, making Lance have to start again. 

Lance sighed. "We're about five away from the rendezvous point." 

"Be careful and be safe." Hunk said. 

Keith growled from where he stood from the left of Lance, who just finished the wall. Lance looked over and saw Keith struggling with a group, Blue had her own group to deal with. 

Lance lined down shots with his bow and got a few off Keith's back, helping him get the upper hand. Lance struggled to breath through his fatigue but never let a shot miss. 

They made it through the rest of the walls, each of them tired. The others were fighting off the main force as they arrived. Blue jumped and landed on the back of a soldier trying  to stab Hunk and dug her claws in. 

Keith rushed forwards and joined the fray, Lance stood back a little and fired shot after shot. 

"We need to get out of here now." Shiro yelled over everything and everyone rushed towards the only accessible exit. Lance started freezing it shut as the other fought the Galra that ran out after them. 

Lance finished the last of it and nearly fell back from exhaustion. He definitely over used his magic. 

But the fight wasn't over, a good chunk of the Galra had made their way out before Lance managed to close off the exit. 

So with that, Lance kept firing his arrows. 

"Paladins, we have an emergency! A group of Galra is making their way to your position." Allura yelled into the comms. "Get over there now!" 

Blue grew once more from her position in the middle of the group, she was soon the size of elephant. She continued to stomp down on the Galra as the others fought around her. 

'Tell everyone to get on me once I crouch down, young star!"

Blue's voice boomed in Lance's ears as he rushed towards her. "Everyone get on Blue!" He shot another and felt a ping in his chest. 

He was on the edge of being empty. 

Just then another group of much stronger looking soldiers rushed into the area. At the head of them looked like the meanest Galra Lance had ever laid his eyes on. 

He was missing an arm and was covered in scars, with one even running through his eye; an eye patch covered the eye itself. But the worst part was the sneer that fell across his face, which turned into a cold grin hen his eyes landed on something in the battle. 

"Sendak." Shiro shouted over the bodies of the battle. 

The Galra huffed in amusement. "Hello Champion." He waved his hand and the Galra around him rushed forwards. 

"Blue now!"

Lance shouted at her and grabbed Pidge and Shiro's arms as he ran past them and threw them against Blue's side. Hunk and Keith rushed over and started to climb onto blue with Pidge.

"Lance we have to fight them." Shiro yelled and pushed against Lance as he tried to get Shiro to climb up Blue. 

"Get on Blue, we won't survive if they reach us." Lance cried and had to turn around to kick back and shoot down another Galra soldier. 

"No!" Shiro shouted. 

The new troops were reaching Blue's hind legs and started shooting. He threw up an ice shield over their heads with labored breathing. Lance shot as many as he could from the new group but it wasn't much help. He was running on empty. 

Shiro glanced at him and them back at the approaching group before signing. 

Lance didn't know what went through his head at that moment but he was thankful Shiro started to climb on Blue. He followed as fast as he could but even then he could barely breathe, which made getting on Blue hard. 

 Once he was at the top Blue stood up and started booking it towards the forest. Allura and Coran both were waiting there in a clearing with their horses. 

"Allura we're coming in hot." Pidge told her and looked behind her. "Holy shit, they're pursuing." 

Behind Blue, the troops that were on horseback where chasing after them as fast as they could. 

'I can't hold this form for long, tell the others to get in their horses immediately.' 

Lance nodded and blinked away the tiredness seeping over him. That can wait. 

"Get in your horses and be ready to ride, Blue can't hold." Lance told everyone. They mad with to the clearing and blue shrunk down to her cat form the moment everyone's feet touched the ground. She groaned in his head and Lance scooped her up. 

Everyone rushed into their horses and Lance ran forward, right as Sendak's troops entered the cleaning. 

"I'll kill you guys! Archers Fire!" Sendak's booming voice echoed over the plains and into the trees. 

Lance struggled to run forward when suddenly he was scooped off of the ground and plopped down onto Shiro's horse. 

"Thanks." Lance huffed out as he tried to catch his breath. 

Everyone pushed their horses into the trees, dodging arrows. Shiro grunted as he pushed his horse harder. Lance had to cling to him with his free arm. Sitting on a horse practically in someone's lap was hard when you were running for your life. 

Blue whined in tiredness, practically knocking out in Lance's other arm. 

Still the others kept pushing their horses, streaming past trees and over rocks to escape the troops closing in behind them. 

"There has to be a way to escape! How can we stop them?" Hunk shouted into the comms as he pulled his horse to the left, narrowly dodging an arrow. 

Lance sat up and prayed to the Gods and Goddesses for help. His eyes fell on a cliff overlooking a path in the distance,a cliff with rather loose rocks. 

Lance sent his thanks to the Gods and Goddesses. 

"Head to that path!" Lance shouted and pointed, everyone turned their horses in that direction. And he pulled out his bow. 

"An open path can be dangerous! Are we sure this is a good idea?" Coran's scared voice filled Lance's ears and he sat up. 

"So are falling rocks, now go faster once they start falling they won't stop." Lance placed Blue in-between himself and Shiro, then lined a shot. 

It would take the last of his magic. 

So he couldn't miss this shot. 

Shiro sped up his horse and grunted as Lance practically straddled him to shoot behind him at the rocks. Lance ignored Shiro's breath against his neck and realigned. 

He summoned his ice once last time and let it go. 

He didn't even see the damage he caused as his eyes fluttered shut and he slumped against Shiro's warm chest. He tried to regulate his breathing, at least long enough to stay awake, a hard battle as he was finding Shiro was the most comfortable thing ever right after Blue. 

"You okay?" He felt Shiro's chest rumble as he spoke. 

Lance struggled to nod. "Too much magic." 

Coran repeated Shiro's question through the crystal but Lance couldn't even gather the energy to answer, so Shiro did for him. "He over used his magic. We need to stop soon." 

Allura huffed next. "We'll have go deep into the forest and find a good spot before we can rest, they could still be pursuing us." 

"Do you think you can hold on a little bit longer, Lance?" Hunk practically cooed. Lance nodded slightly against Shiro's chest and struggled to open his eyes. 

He watched tiredly as the trees passed almost knocking out immediately. Lance whined softly as he struggled to fight the sleep, and barely acknowledged Shiro moved him so he was no longer straddling him but sitting in his lap rested against his chest. Shiro had one arm around Lance to hold him in place and the other on his horse' reins. Lance whined again when they turned into the trees and onto the uneven ground of the forest floor. 

Lance kept his breathing in time with Shiro's as he stared at Keith's back, who ended up leading them somehow. Keith's hair actually looked really pretty from this angle, Lance felt hypnotized while Keith's hair swayed as he rode his horse. 

Blue suddenly shot up with wide eyes and jumped off of Lance's lap. Lance found energy to shoot up after her, Shiro's arm was the only thing keeping him from nose diving off the horse after her. 

"Blue!" Lance whined after her. 

She ignored him and grew to her full size and roared to the side of them. Right before she bolted that direction. 

"Blue!" Lance yelled as Shiro and the others had to haul ass to keep up with her. Lance swore he heard her roar echo back. 

But that was impossible. 

Until it wasn't. 

'There's other of my kind! Young star, I'm not alone.'

 

Chapter Text

Blue ran through the forest and lead everyone over creeks, rocks, and deep creaves. She made sure she ran at a pace where everyone can keep up, but she didn't stop. Everyone struggled to keep up, and the horses were even starting to slow down themselves; they were being overworked after all.

Shiro huffed as he has to steer his horse around yet another tree in his way as he rushed her after Blue. Lance felt Shiro pull him closer to him, practically covering the islander with his own body. Lance was already on his lap, he didn't even think he could get closer to the larger man.

"Sorry." Lance mumbled out into Shiro's neck as he had to get his horse to leap over a fallen log.

Blue suddenly stopped up ahead and roared again.  The others all rode up and stopped their horses around her. Everyone looked tired, their horses all looks ready to collapse, but no one made a move. The stood there as Blue seemed to belt her lungs out. Her roar felt as if it was shaking the trees around them, filling the air with her desperation. It disrupted the peace of the forest, animals skittered away and the river not far from them seemed to vibrate.

Lance wiggled against Shiro and sat up, he reached his arm out tiredly and cooed at his longtime companion. She ignored him, and Lance's heart pained. He tried to wiggle completely out of Shiro's grip to get over to her but Shiro held on to him, with no signs of letting him go.

Blue whined and kept staring ahead, Lance understood her desperation, he really did, but he didn't like seeing her like this. Blue thought she was one of the last of her kind and hasn't truly seen another winged lion in over a millennium, so if she thought she heard another Winged lion's roar, Lance couldn't blame her for wanting to find the source. But he was tired, Lance doubted he could keep his eyes open for another five minutes. Shiro’s warm and inviting chest definitely didn't help in this fact, Lance had to practically force his eyes to stay open. Allura shifted next to them and raised her eyebrows at lance.

“Is she okay? What happened?” Allura rushed out. She looked frazzled and Lance really couldn't have blamed her, afterall Blue spoke in Lance’s mind, not theirs. Lance didn't, however, get a chance to tell her what was happening.

Blue leaped forward and chuffed softly, her tail twitching in interest, as something broke through the treeline. Everyone watched in awe as not one, but two winged lions entered the small clearing.

Blue chuffed again and looked like all she wanted to do was rush forward and greet the new Lions, but she didn't know how they would react. However the three lions stared each other down, ears twitching and it seemed as if they were communicating.

Lance whined and reached for Blue, he had no idea what was going on but he was scared that the other lions would hurt her. He once again tried to get out of Shiro's grip, only to fail once again. Shrio seemed to huffed and readjusted his grip. Lance was just too tired, he doubted he could keep his eyes open any longer.

Blue turned her head and looked back at her bond, Lance tiredly met her eyes. She flushed her concern through their bind and looked back at the other lions again, talking to them once more. Everyone watched the interaction quietly, they didn't quite know what to do in this situation. Lance huffed and leaned against Shiro again and closed his eyes.

This was taking way too long .

And Lance was tired.

Too tired.

With that Lance slumped against Shiro and blacked out. He did use too much magic after all.

------------

He's warm.

That's the first thing Lance notices as his eyes blink open, as he tries to wake up. His body was still pretty exhausted but that was what he expected. Lance huffed as he looked up at the ceiling of a cave.

Just where is he?

The last thing Lance remembered was Blue's desperation. He vaguely remember what his beautiful girl was desperate about; she found more winged lions. Lance sat up and rubbed his eyes slightly, glancing back at his pillow and pouted that it was just that. He loves using Blue as his pillow.

Lance looked around him, taking in the magnificent cave. The cave looked more as if it was its own biome, greenery covered the walls and Lance could hear the telltale skitters of small animals running around through the cave. The cave walls that weren't covered in plants glimmered in the flickering firelight, from the fire that laid a few feet away from Lance, the walls seemed damp; though from the stalactites that hung from the ceiling dripping water all over the place, the damp walls seemed natural. He could even hear the sounds of water running somewhere in the rather large cave.

Lance sighed and stretched his sore body, glancing around the cave for any sign of the others; not even Blue was in his sights, which worried him.

'Beautiful Baby? Where are you?'

Lance reached out to his lion as he stood up, determined to go found at least someone. Rather rude they just left him here, if you asked him.

He was startled as he heard the sounds of rushing feet running to him, he didn't even get the chance to brace himself before a large white mass plowed into, sending both to the floor. Lance huffed under the weight of Blue and reached up and scratched behind her ears in comfort.

'You need to stop randomly passing out, young star.'

Lance felt her huff against his neck and he pressed a kiss u see her jaw where he could reach.

'But where's the fun in that?'

While he was teasing Blue, Lance didn't notice the others who entered the room; until a huff that sounded similar to Blue's sounded next to him. Lance looked up at the beautiful blonde lion next to him, gasping in awe at it gorgeous golden mane. The new lion looked down at him in curious amusement.

Blue crawled off of Lance and pressed her head against this new lion's jaw, and Lance smiled. He held his hand out to the male lion and cooed.

"Hey there handsome, you're gorgeous." Lance told the new lion and grinned as he pushed his head into Lance's hand for Lance to scratch him; which Lance did happily.

'Excuse you. I'm right here.'

Blue pouted in his mind, but left a note of teasing. Lance laughed and reached his other hand out and pet his girl as well. "Don't worry beautiful, you're the only one for me still." The golden lion huffed similarly to how Blue would in amusement. And Blue suddenly looked at Lance and licked his cheek.

'He approves of our Bond, young star.'

Lance grinned and kissed her forehead back. He heard a cough to his left and turned to find Hunk and Allura, who were watching the three.

Allura stepped forward. "How are you feeling? I know we made you over use your magic and I'm so sorry about that." She said sheepishly. "We'll be more mindful of your limits in the future."

Lance smiled and walked over to the two. "It's okay, I knew what I was doing and still did it."

"That doesn't mean you have to endanger yourself, Lance." Allura huffed before putting a hand on Lance's shoulder and meeting his eyes seriously. "I don't want you to get hurt."

Lance blushed and out his hand over Allura's. "Thank you."

Allura smiled at him and squeezed his shoulder before letting go. "I'm sorry we haven't had a chance to talk much Lance, but I want you to know I think of everyone as my family. You're now included in that." She blushed bright red, before stuttering in. "I-I mean if you agree to join."

Lance laughed and patted her arm. "I'm still on the fence but thanks Princess." He enjoyed seeing her blush like that, made her seem more normal then the formal princess he's been seeing for the past few weeks. Allura smiled back and grabbed his hand before squeezing it and before she walked out of the area, Lance made a mental note to himself to talk to her more.

Blue whined behind him and Lance whirled around, only to hold back laughter. Blue was pouting at the golden lion as he seemed to be giving Hunk ass of his attention as the big man scratched his head. Lance grinned and walked over, leaning on Blue as he petted her.

'Look like they're getting along.'

'If you think they get along you should see how well the small girl and the nature lion get along.'

Lance raised his eyebrows and vaguely remember there being three lions in the field before he passed out. He wondered briefly if there any more, though he wouldn't doubt it. After all; Blue and Lance both thought she was the only one anymore would ever meet.

"Lance, you must be hungry. Coran made food but I wouldn't recommend it." Hunk said as he walked over, the yellow lion following him like a lost puppy. "I can make you a kind of sandwich real quick if you want?"

'No. Let me hunt for you, young star.'

Blue whined and pressed her head into his back and Lance looked at her amused. "Blue wants to hunt, so I guess not Hunk. Thanks though." Blue cheered in his mind once he agreed. She licked his cheek and took off to the right of the cave, Lance assumed that was were the entrance was. The gold lion bounced after her happily.

Hunk raised an eyebrow but grabbed Lance's hand gently and led him in the opposite direction. "Okay, well let's go over to everyone else while we wait." He led Lance gently through the cave, and into an even bigger room then the one he had slept in. It really made him wonder just how big this cave actually is.

Lance's eyes first fell onto Pidge, who was being coddled by a blonde lion, with beautiful green eyes and slim white wings; made for agility. As Lance checked out the lion he saw her mild differences between his girl and the new one before him. Blue was bigger; more muscle but still slim. Whereas the one acting as a guard dog for Pidge was slim but very fit, she was still a beauty though.

The lion huffed and looked up at Lance, her eyes held care in them as they glanced him over. Lance cooed at her and walked over to pat her head, the blonde leaned into the touch before moving to wrap her tail around Pidge's waist.

Pidge seemed undefurred as she continued to ticker with a crystal in her hands. She did look much more content and comfortable, however.

Hunk laughed and walked over. "Gods, Lance. Do you just happen to make every lion fall in love with you?"

Lance was about to answer when Keith snorted, joining in the conversation even though he was on the other side of the room, sitting against the wall. "Oh please, more like every animal. He got a fucking bear to leave us alone once." Hunk gasped and looked at him with wide eyes.

Lance flushed. "Not my fault I'm loveable." He joked as he flattened the fur around the lions eyes.

Keith raised his eyebrows. "Are you sure about that?"

"Absolutely." Lance huffed and Keith smirked.

"Where's Blue? She didn't want to leave your side earlier, why is she not at it now?" Keith said, changing the subject.

Lance shrugged and walked over to Keith, plopping down next to him, Hunk following and sitting on his other side. "She wanted to go hunting, something about getting me food. The other lion went with her."

As soon as Lance spoke the lion across the room jumped up, she pressed her face against Pidge's cheek before taking off.

Pidge pouted, though she tried to hide it. "Where is she going?" Lance thought that pout was adorable.

"Maybe she went to go join the hunt with Blue and the other one?" Keith offered.

"Yeah, Blue loves hunting. When it was just the two of us she always get us something." Lance mused. "She stopped when we joined you guys, she didn't know if it was appropriate."

Hunk laughed. "It's definitely appropriate, and would be appreciated. We'd spent a lot less on food. "

Everyone laughed at that as the rest of the group walked in.

"Oh there you are Lance. I was worried when you weren't where I left you." Allura said kindly. "How are you feeling?"

Lance winked and pressed his body more into Hunk. "Better now. I'm sorry for passing out."

Shiro shook his head and waved his hand. "Don't apologise, it's not your fault. We're the ones who pushed you." He said, almost as if he was guilty. "We'll be mindful of your limits from now on, sorry."

Lance smiled softly, thankful for their concern. "It's okay."

"We're just not used to mages, and for some reason I left it get to my head that you're all powerful, and you're not." Allura said before rushing out. "Not that you're not powerful, of course. You're strong Lance."

He flushed. "Thank you, Princess."

Coran jumped in. "Lance, I need to speak with you about something in private later on." Lance raised his eyebrows and almost pushed, but the serious look Coran gave him made him keep his mouth shut. Keith also raised his eyebrows and glanced between Lance and Coran. Lance had no idea what Coran wanted but agreed.

Pidge huffed from her spot on the ground. "Damnit. Hunk can you come help me real quick? I'm trying to tune the crystals but it's not working out like I want it too." Hunk got up and walked over to Pidge, starting to help her.

Lance watched the two from his spot in the ground, Keith was next to him fiddling with his blades. Shrio walked over and was about to sit in the spot Hunk just was, when Coran called out to Lance. "Actually Lance we can talk right now." The joyful Altean scooped Lance off the ground and dragged him out of the room with a smile and a wave to the others.

He pulled Lance into a small part of the cave and his smile dropped. Lance shivered under Coran's intense gaze, and stood up straighter. "Lance, do you know why your eyes glow?"

Lance blinked back in surprise, that wasn't what he was expecting but he still shook his head. "No. No one does."

"I might." Coran said. "But we have to test something first."

Lance raised his eyebrow, expecting Coran to go on but he didn't, instead he just stared at the human. "Uh. Okay? Coran, where are you going with this?"

He sighed and patted Lance's arm before taking a seat on the floor, Lance followed suit. "Did it happen before or after you met Blue?"

"Before. My eyes have always glowed when I use magic, Coran." Lance was still confused as Coran nodded his head like he was confirming something. He stayed silent, making Lance wiggle in his seat. "Coran? What is going on?"

Coran sighed and looked back up at Lance. "Well my boy, as you know I lived many long years, but as my youth was just starting the magical wipeout happened. I was an Altean mage so it barely affected me, but the human mages were all but wiped out." He told Lance sincerely. "If it had not not happened when I was a child I would have been a lot stronger of a mage today."

Lance reached out and patted his arm in comfort. "You're still plenty strong, Coran."

He smiled and grabbed Lance's hand and squeezed it. "Thank you, my boy. Anyways as a child I always was in awe of how strong the mages around me were, human mages could even be a lot stronger than Altean mages if they trained right. Then a mysterious plague wiped out nearly all forms of magic, and mages withered away; very few managed to escape. I was fortunate to be one of them." Lance squeezed his hand again and Coran closed his eyes sadly. "The powerful mages of old disappeared within a year, only a few remained. One of which is the Witch herself."

Lance gasped, he knew of the Empire's witch, but he never knew that she was alive during the wipeout. The Witch was one of the most feared mages in history, and her hand in the Empire distilled the kingdoms fall. Lance was terrified of meeting her.

"That's a story for another time, my boy. Anyways after that ever mage that was born into this world magic was weaker than the generation before, up until mages became uncommon. The rarest being elemental magic, of course."

Lance nodded along, he knew the basic information of what Coran was saying, but I was nice to have more insight.

"Your magic is one of the rarest forms, Lance. And with how strong it is, I have a guess that the plague no longer has a hold in this generation, or at least with you." Coron explained and Lance must have made some noise of confusion, making Coran laugh. "The plague ate at the magic inside of mages, the stronger the mage the faster it ate, even today the plague still exist in mages. But from what I can see in you, the plague doesn't have a hold. Lance, you might just be immune."

"So you're saying my eyes glow because I'm immune to the plague?" Lance said, quirking his head to the side.

Coran laughed. "Oh heavens no, but it does relate to that." He paused. "Lance, I haven't seen a mage's eye glow with magic since before the plague. And only incredibly powerful mage's eye glow."

Lance huffed. "I'm not that strong, Coran." He went to pull his hands from Coran, but the older man just tightened his grip.

"It because you haven't had the proper training, my boy. And if my guess is right, ice is just a part of the element you control." Coran stared into his eyes, making Lance shift. "I may not be adapt in anything outside of healing magic, but I believe I can help you expand your powers Lance."

He stared at the older man, seeing nothing but serious in his eye, Lance agreed to the Altean's proposition. "Okay. But I don't think I'm as strong as you seem to think I am."

"Of course you are, my boy." Coran stood up, pulling Lance with him. "I'll make sure of it."

Lance nodded and dropped his hands from Coran's, looking at the ground. He knew he'd end up disappointing Coran later, Lance wasn't strong. He swallowed the lump in his throat, and smiled at Coran anyways.

Coran seemed satisfied and left the room. Leaving Lance to his own thoughts. He was happy Coran thought so highly of him, he was just scared of how he'd react once Lance didn't fulfil his expectations. After all, Lance never met anyone expectations.

'We're back, young star. We have been victorious in our hunt."

Blue's proud voice startled Lance out of his thoughts. He shook his head, and gathered his thoughts and sent pride back at Blue through their link and made his way back to the others. He told Blue where they were as he entered the room and ran his eyes over everyone. Allura say on the ground next to Coran talking about something lightly, Hunk and Pidge still seemed engrossed in their crystal project. Shiro and Keith sat where Lance left them, but this time Keith's head laid on Shiro's thigh.

Lance smiled and as he met Keith's eyes he winked, making the half-galran blush and glare at him.

Lance moved to go sit near Hunk when Blue and the other lions padded in, each lion held their hunt in their jaws. Blue held a rather large deer, and laid it at Lance's feet proudly. She chuffed and pushed it so it nudged Lance's leg.

As gross as it was Lance blushed and smiled at his girl. "Thank you, beautiful."

The other two lions laid their own prey near Hunk and Pidge. And Lance looked over everything, the male lion got a boar of all things and the other one got another deer.

'Young star, do you accept this?'

Lance smiled confused, Blue had never asked him before when she hunted for him but Lance nodded anyway. He went to reach out and pet Blue but the mass amount of blood around her face and on her chest made him hesitate. He glanced over at the other two lions and saw that they were the same.

"Gods and Goddesses, did you guys decided to slaughter the whole herd? You're all covered in blood." Lance lectured them and even the two other lions had the nerve to look guilty. Lance gasped. "You did! Guys only kill what we need, Blue you know that, what was this about?" He directed the last question at Blue who looked away, pouting.

'I had to prove myself, both to them and you.'

Blue's answer had Lance's heart clench. He understood that she wanted to prove herself a good winged lion to her bethrean, but there was no need to prove something to him. He was already hers.

'Oh baby, you don't have to prove anything to me. Though next time please only kill one deer.'

Blue whined and pressed her bloody head into Lance's stomach anyways, so much for not wanting to get blood all over him. "Okay, okay. Sheez you sure know how to guilt trip a man, even though he did nothing wrong." Lance huffed and pet Blue, scrunching his nose at the blood that now slathered over Lance's hands.

Hunk and Pidge stood up and walked over to the prey the other two lions brought.

"Oh these are nice. If I dry the meat out I can make jerky for the trip." Hunk said happily as he inspected the boar. All the sudden the gold lion thrust himself at the big man and buried his face in hunks neck, chuffing happily. Hunk laughed and hugged the lion back, before suddenly realizing that he now had blood all over him. Lance laughed from where he was in a similar predicament.

Pidge smiled and patted the lion next to her on the back, where there was no blood. She chuffed and leaned close to Pidge, not touching her to avoid getting blood all over the young girl.

Lucky.

The other walked over and joined them, Coran smiled and looked at the hunt. "It's a lot but as Hunk said, we can make jerky out of it. But first you young ones need to wash up."

"But I need to break down the meat." Hunk said from where he was still petting his lion.

Shiro cut in. "Keith and I could do that, you go get washed up." He put his hand and Keith's shoulder.

Allura grinned. "Alright, you guys go get washed up, I'm going to walk around the cave. Coran, care to join?" She spoke, as if she was trying to convince Coran to stay away from the meat. Coran agreed reluctantly, following the princess out of the room.

Pidge huffed. "Alright let's go guys, we got to wash up." She led everyone out of the room and through the cave until they reached a huge spring in the middle of the cave, complete with its own waterfall. Lance gasped as he looked around the room. It was gorgeous.

Blue immediately rushed into the water, making she to splash as much as possible as she bounced around. She looked up at Lance and her ears twitched as she waited for him to join her. He laughed before he stripped, as the other two humans did. The three followed their lions into the water and at first Lance felt uncomfortable, he had never bathed with anyone but his family and Blue, but after a few minutes of splashing around Lance relaxed. Playing in the bath with Hunk and Pidge was rather fun.

Lance gasped in offense as Pidge splashed a rather large wave of cold water over Lance. "Hey!"

She just laughed and tried to paddle away before Hunk splashed her himself. And that's how they started a splash war. Lance teamed up with Blue, Hunk with the male lion, and Pidge with the other one.

They all screeched and laughed as everyone splashed the other, Blue even tackled the other female playfully into the water, sending a wave over Pidge, making her scream. Lance was so busy laughing he didn't realize Hunk snuck up behind him until the large man lifted him out of the water and threw up back down.

Lance screeched until his mouth filled with water. He pouted he surfaced but quickly narrowed his eyes. "Oh? It's fucking on now."

Lance pulled the water with his magic and right before he turned it into ice he threw it directly into Hunk. He blinked back in surprise, he had never done that before.

Hunk laughed as he came back up and friend at Lance. "No fair, I'm pretty sure magic is cheating."

"We never specified the rules." Lance sung back as he dunked Pidge into the water when she tried to sneak up on him. "I win, you peasants stand no chance."

Pidge laughed evilly before swimming over to Hunk. "Not if we team up to take you down. Now Hunk!" The two then advanced in Lance, splashing him from both sides, giving him no chance to fight back.

Lance laughed as he tried to escape but couldn't. "Alright, alright. Mercy, you guys win." Lance huffed as they stopped and grinned at him. "Cheaters"

"We never specified the rules." Hunk and Pidge both mocked him, making him splash them both before swimming over to Blue.

"You ready to get scrubbed beautiful?" Lance hummed at her as she pressed her face into his stomach, her fur tickled against Lance's bare skin. Now while the water took most of the blood out, Blue's white fur still cling to a little of it, making it pink. Lance swam back to his pack and pulled out Blue's soap. He started to work on her fur as Hunk took the soap and started to do the same to the male, before handing it to Pidge for her to do the same.

Lance hummed softly, as he rubbed the soap into Blue's fur as she purred. Not far from him he could hear the male lion's purring as Hunk scrubbed him down.

"Man, you're so beautiful." Hunk told the lion as he washed him down. "Your mane looks as if it was woven if pure gold, your eyes look like they're made of gold nuggets themselves."

Lance hummed and smiled at his friend, completely understanding Hunk's fascination. He looked back at Blue curiously as she chuffed and pressed her face into his neck.

"You're just so handsome, aren't you Golden?" Hunk said and Lance gasped as he looked over at the two next to him. Just in time to watch Hunk gasp and back away from the lion, holding his head. His leg glowed yellow under the water and Lance squealed.

"Oh my goddess! You two bonded!" Lance gasped as he rushed over to Hunk and helped steady him. Hunk stood there silently, holding his head surprised."Hunk, you there buddy?"

All the sudden Hunk launched himself at Golden and wrapped his arms around the large male lion. "Oh my goodness! You sound so lovely." He practically sobbed.

Pidge waddled over with the other lion following her. "What happened?"

"Hunk just bonded with Golden! This is amazing, winged lions only bond for life so Golden must really like Hunk." Lance explained happily.

"Wait, how would this happen? And Golden?" Pidge asked confused as she ran her fingers through her wet lions fur.

"Golden is his name now." Lance explained.

"Oh. So his name is Golden? What is hers?" Pidge asked as she looked at the lion next to her, she chuffed and licked Pidge's cheek.

'Tell Pidge to name her.'

'What?'

'She wants Pidge.'

Lance looked at Blue bewildered through this conversation. Two bonds in one day? And even to two of his friends. Lance grinned and turned to Pidge.

"Whatever you want to name her." He smirked.

Pidge looked at the kind lion next to her. "Jade then, it's my favorite crystal." Lance watched amused as she gasped and her eyes widened as she stared into her lion's eyes. Her arm glowed as Jade's bondmark appeared.

"Remember, Winged Lions bond when they're given a name. It's rare, but these two must really trust and like you two." Lance said softly as he looked at his friends proudly. "I'm so happy for you."

His friends looked at him and grinned, before both of them launched themselves at Lance and pulled him into a hug, which Lance had to admit was rather uncomfortable given their state of undress. "Thank you, Lance." Pidge whispered.

He pulled away from the hug after a bit and smiled at them. "We need to finish up so we can tell the others, but first let me see your bond marks!" Lance said excitedly.

"Bondmark?" Hunk asked confused, but his face went blank as he apparently listened to Golden in his mind. "Oh!"

Hunk lifted his leg out of the water and Lance looked away out of respect until Hunk could cover himself. On his leg, Hunk had a yellow lion silhouette, very similar to the one on Lance's leg. Pidge gasped as she looked at her arm, the green lion silhouette gleamed back at her.

"Oh fuck. My parents will kill me for getting a tattoo." Pidge joked but she looked at the new mark happily, her eyes were filled with love and she glanced back at Jade smiling.

Lance laughed and the three soon turned to their own lions, finishing up with bathing them, before exiting the spring and getting dressed in fresh clothes. Well the other two dressed in their own fresh clothes, Lance couldn't find his extra set of clothes and frowned, he swore he brought them here when they stopped to grab clothes earlier.

"Here, you can borrow one my shirts." Hunk said as he held out a white shirt. "It'll be way too big though."

Lance laughed and accepted it. "Thank. It's okay, it'll be like a dress but shorter."

Pidge looked at him curiously from where she was sliding on her pants. "You've worn a dress?"

Lance shrugged. "My sisters loved playing dress up, and so do my nieces and nephews." Lance said sadly, he missed his family but he left them for a good reason. "I was their favorite target."

He pulled the shirt over his head, and unsurprisingly it fell to his knees in bagginess. He felt ridiculous, but at least he was covered. He grabbed his pack and pulled out his belt and a pair of clean pants, putting it on and tucking in hunks shirt. He used the belt to hold it in place.

"There, easy." Lance grinned at the other two and everyone left the room, their respective lions following behind them happily. The three made their way around the cave before they can across everyone in a room, where Allura was currently helping Shiro and Keith prep the meat for jerky. Coran sat on the other side of the room, pouting. Which looked strangely adorable on the older man.

Hunk immediately went over to go help the others, Golden followed behind him loyalty, while Pidge went to go stand next to Coran, who whined that the others wouldn't let him help.

"Oh guys guess what!" Lance said excitedly, Hunk and Pidge also grinned.

"You're wearing Hunk's shirt." Keith deadpanned as he looked over Lance, who flushed but rolled his eyes.

"Obviously. But that's not it." Lance huffed as he shifted himself to lean against Blue. Everyone raised looked at him waiting for him to continue but Lance just winked at Hunk and Pidge.

"Oh, so I bonded with Golden." Hunk was the first to break the news. "I forgot they bonded through name."

"So did I, everyone meet Jade." Pidge said proudly as she pet Jade's head.  

Everyone gasped and Allura jumped up. "Wait! You guys bonded with these lions?" Pidge and Hunk nodded. "Oh my, that's amazing. Congratulations young paladins." She smiled at them and pulled Hunk, because he was the closest, into a hug.

Lance blinked in surprise at that, Allura always seemed so well put together and so above everyone else, Lance had just never seen her like this.

'She must be starting to trust you, Lance. She does care but she had seemed just as supscious of you as you were of her. '

Blue offered helpfully as he felt Lance's confusion.

'I really do need to talk to her more I guess.'

'Yes you do, young star.'

Lance smiled at her and watched as Shiro patted Hunk's back proudly. Hunk smiled sheepishly and cuddling into Golden. Lance really could see how everyone felt like this was their family now, and it made Lance miss his.

Lance's eyes flicked over to Keith, who was glowering. "Ah, you jealous you don't have a lion Keithy?" Lance teased.

Keith flushed and glared at Lance. "What? No." He huffed and looked away and Lance giggled.

"Sure, whatever you say." Lance teased again and waved his hand. Keith growled and he laughed.

"Alright enough, boys." Shiro interjected amused. "We need to finish this before it gets too late. Come on, all hands on deck. Except you, Coran."

Lance laughed and joined everyone in preparing the meat for curing. He hummed as he worked, Hunk was telling everyone what to do and Pidge especially looked confused. Keith and Shiro worked quietly, minus a few words spoken between them, Allura seemed to be invested in her task. Blue laid curled up with the other two lions as the three groomed each other, she purred loudly.

"So Lance, what can you tell us about being bonded to Winged lions?" Pidge asked softly. Lance grinned and jumped into explaining everyone to them.

Finally he felt like a part of the team.

Chapter Text

It's been three days since Hunk and Pidge bonded with their lions, and Lance and Blue have been showing them how to maintain and work through the obstacles of the bond between lion and bondmate. After all, you couldn't just name a lion and be done with it. 

Well, technically you can. 

Lance did not condone it though, bond links were supposed to be built on trust and loyalty. Not that he thought Golden didn't trust Hunk, or Pidge didn't trust Jade. But it was the idea of them bonding after knowing each other for less then a week, though it took Blue weeks before she even let Lance touch her. 

Nope. Not going down that train of thought. 

Lance sighed for the umpeth time as Pidge yet again failed to properly communicate with Jade. Jade was supposed to roll over. 

Simple right? 

Apparently not, Jade sat down instead. 

"Pidge, she's supposed to roll over, not sit." He told Pidge as they looked down at Jade, she was sitting in the middle of the room they were overlooking. Lance stressed that they had to be able to communicate through a distance, and this distance wasn't even that far. 

Pidge huffed as she closed her eyes and tried to focus again. "I'm trying, I think she's too far." 

"That's the point. You have to be able to communicate even when you can't see each other. Put your trust into Jade." 

Hunk huffed next to him and crossed his arms. "Easy for you to say, you've have Blue for over a year." 

Lance rolled his eyes. "So? You just think we started off how we are?" Lance snapped, Hunk looked away guilty and Lance felt bad. "My point is, I trust Blue with my entire life and she trusts me with hers. She's my other half, in a sense. Blue is my eyes, my ears, and my soul." 

"Wait." Pidge interrupted and opened her eyes back up. "You said you and Blue are connected through your souls. So what if I imagine the connection between Jade and I?" 

Lance frowned in thought. "You know, that might work. Try it. Hunk, you too." 

He watched as his two friends closed their eyes and focused. He looked down at the three lions below them, Blue sat behind the other two training them in her own way. 

Jade rolled over. 

Then Golden rolled over. 

Lance cheered and patted both of them on the back. "Good job. You did it." Hunk and Pidge both cheered. 

"Thank the gods and goddess. I think I would've gone insane if I had to do that any longer." Pidge said. 

"Yep. Now do that again but make them jump." Lance told them and watched as Hunk and Pidge both closed their eyes again. The two lions jumped at the same time. "Good. Now try doing it while your eyes are open." This took a few more seconds longer then when they had their eyes closed, but both loins jumped eventually. 

Lance had them continue on, ordering them to make Golden and Jade roll over, jump, sit, and even shrink. He made them do this until there was barely any gap between Lance telling them what and the lions do the said thing. He wanted to make sure they could communicate before he moved on to other things, like flying or borrowing some quintessence. 

'I think it's time we switched now. I'll have these two tell their bonds to sit.' 

Blue's voice echoed in his mind and he nodded down at her from their perch. After all, the bond had to work both ways. So Lance watched from where he's at as Blue had done the same thing with the lions as Lance had done with his friends. It took just as long before Pidge and Hunk were following their lions instructions just as smoothly as they had unto them. 

'They're progressing nicely. I say later we have them do it from separate rooms.' 

'Good idea, beautiful.' 

'Is something wrong, young star?' 

'No. What would be worng?' 

'Young star.'

Lance sighed as she felt Blue chaste him through their link, she was worried. He looked over at her on the group and she sat there, unblinkingly staring at him; awaiting his answer. 

'Sometimes I think you push into my feelings too much.' 

'Because you are always thinking something illogical. Now what's wrong, my star?' 

'They're progressing faster then we did.' 

Lance closed his eyes tightly as he admitted it to Blue, it felt stuipd after he said it 'out loud'. He just couldn't help himself, it took Blue weeks to even form more than one word to Lance. It took Lance way too long to even get Blue to sit. And here was his friends with their lions, days after bonding and they've practically already connected their link properly. 

It just wasn't fair. 

'My star.' 

Lance gasped and opened his eyes as he felt the wind stir in front of him, Blue had leapt up to the ledge and pressed her face into Lance's neck. 

'You can not compare us to them, every bond is different and no two bonds are the same.' 

'But-' 

'No. We took the time to learn each other; yes not every bond does that but we did and look where we are because of it. My star, I'd die for you in a heartbeat.' 

'I don't want you to die, Blue.' 

Lance felt Blue's amusement as she licked his cheek. 

'Now I'm not saying that Jade wouldn't die for Lance and Golden for Hunk, but what I'm saying is every bond progresses differently and every bond will have their own trials and tributes.Not only that, young star, but they also have some great teachers to show them what to do and what to focus on. Unlike us, they have guidance. We only have each other and no knowledge of what we were doing.' 

Lance laughed at he reached out and hugged Blue close, pressing a kiss above her eye. He thanked her softly and snuggled into her shoulder. She cooed at him and curled her head as well as she could around him, in a sort of hug. 

"Are we done for the day?" Hunk asked sheepishly, as if he didn't want to interrupt. "I need to check on the jerky, unless there was more you needed up to do." 

Lance laughed as he pulled away from Blue. "No, go ahead. Tomorrow if you guys can communicate through from different rooms, we can start on quintessence sharing or flying." 

Pidge jumped up and cheered. "Hell yeah, I can't wait to fly." 

Hunk slapped her arm lightly. "That's not the point, Pidge." He laughed after a second though, and Lance joined in. Blue huffed next to him and shrank down to cat size, Lance scooped her up and held her. Golden jumped up and shrank midair, landing on Hunks shoulders. 

"Alright, so same time tomorrow?" Lance offered and both Pidge and Hunk agreed. "Okay. Well decide what we're doing after you guys get through communicating in different rooms." 

"Just out of curiosity, how far can you and Blue go before you can't hear each other?" Pidge asked as the three left the room, each holding their own lion cats. 

Lance frowned. "Hm. I don't know the exact distance, but right now I could hear Blue from anywhere in this cave." Pidge looked at him surprised, but also with determination. No doubt she wanted to get to that point with Jade. "It'll take time , but with how fast you guys are progressing I would say isn't going to take that long." Lance said as he patted Pidge's back and grinned at her. 

She matched his grin and nodded, before wandering off with Jade; probably going to mess with some crystals. Hunk waved goodbye as well as he headed towards the room they dedicated to making jerky. 

Lance hummed as he wondered the cave with Blue, there wasn't anything he could do really, so he elected to 'secure the perimeter', in reality he was just wondering. Shiro would be proud though, and Lance smiled to himself at the thought. 

He wondered the cave, and even actually checked the perimeter, enjoying the fresh air outside. Lance closed his eyes and let the breeze fly through his hair, and he took a deep breath. He found a fallen log, near the side of the cave and he sat on it, Blue purring away in his lap. He looked around at the treeline near the entrance of the cave, and it was very well hidden. Lance had no doubt that unless you were looking for this cave, you would never had found it. 

It was a good place for a lion den. 

"Hey." A voice said right next to Lance and he jumped, clinging to Blue. And no, he did not scream, thank you very much. 

Shiro, bless his heart, at least tried not to laugh at Lance, but he did smile at him teasingly. "Sorry, didn't mean to frighten you." Lance huffed; and no he was not pouting. 

"Are you done training Hunk and Pidge?" He asked kindly, and Lance felt kind of awkward. He's never been alone with Shiro before and had no idea how to act around him. This last month and a half, Lance had mainly been with either Hunk or Pidge and now he even considered them really good friends. Hell, he even hung out with Keith more then he did Shiro. 

Which was funny considering Lance literally passed out on his lap. 

"For the day, yes." Lance said softly and looked away, flustered. 

Shiro hummed and sat down next to him. Lance glanced over at the taller man as the two settled in. The sunlight flooding through the leaves covered Shiro with an ethereal like glow, as the wind blew the light danced across Shiro's pale skin, and Lance was mesmerised. He watched the light danced across Shiro's sharp jawline, highlighting the scar across his nose. Lance wondered how much more scars Shiro even had, and from what he heard about Shiro's time under the empire he'd say a lot.  

Shrio sighed next to him and Lance looked away quickly, he didn't want to be caught staring at the man. 

"So, how's Blue?" Shiro asked awkwardly, and Lance sighed in relief to himself that this was just as awkward to Shiro as it was to him. 

"She's great, very happy we found more of her kind." Lance said and he looked down at the curled up lion in his lap, he cooed at her as he ran a hand through her fur. 

Shiro hummed. "I see. That's great." Lance nodded back and the two fell into silence once again. 

After a few minutes of wiggling uncomfortably through the silence, Lance had enough. "So. Umm." Lance paused as he tried to think of something to say, and Shiro laughed. 

"Alright. Alright. You don't like silence do you?" He said amused. 

Lance huffed. "I like silence, just don't want it right now." 

Shrio smirked and looked back at the trees. "Okay then; How'd you learn magic?" 

"I was born with it, really. Magic does run through my bloodline, but outside of me no one has it." Lance answered. 

"So how did you train it? I mean, it's not like you just happened to be able to control ice right off the bat." Shiro asked curiously. 

Lance hummed in thought. "You're right, when I was, I think four, I froze my sister's door shut because she wouldn't give me a toy. That was the first time I ever showed I had magic, my parents were overjoyed. They had an old notebook passed down through my family, it had a little bit about how to control my magic." 

"So what did the notebook say?" He tilted his head like a puppy and Lance blushed. Shiro didn't have this much right to be this adorable. 

"Well I can't direct quote it, it has been years since I've read the thing, but it compared quintessence and magic, and explained the connection between the two. Magic is in of its own self, and it is not limitless which is why I have to keep an eye on how much magic I use. Magic is also connected to my life force, my quintessence, so if I'm not careful and over use my magic too much, well, it could kill me." Lance said softly, and Shiro immediately put his hand on Lance's shoulder, concerned. "The notebook taught me how to moderate my magic and separate it from my quintessence, so I'm not pulling on my life force to use my magic." 

"Oh, Lance. I'm sorry." Shiro said as he held eye contact with Lance. "We really should have been paying attention to how much magic we made you use, and we will from now on. I promise." 

Lance smiled. "Thank you." 

 The two smiled at each other for a minute before Shiro asked "But just how did you get so strong in ice magic? Just reading a book about the connection between magic and quintessence doesn't seem like it taught you much." 

"Well, at first I just made ice out of the water around me. On my island I would always freeze puddles and cups of water whenever I could. Then when we moved to the north, and I was suddenly surrounded by much more ice my powers soared. I would train my magic by changing the shape of the already formed ice, and I would even form ice on my own out of the snow. It wasn't until I met Blue until I learned to use the water molecules in the air to form ice in an instant." Lance explained, Shiro looking as if he was interested in every word and Lance had to fight another blush. It wasn't often he had the complete attention of someone; especially someone like Shiro. 

Shiro smiled and squeezed Lance's arm, Lance forgot his hand was even there. "You're strong though Lance, very strong." 

Lance felt the blood rush to his face and he looked away embarrassed. "I'm really not." 

Blue batted his cheek with her paw and growled lightly at him. 

'You are very strong, young star.' 

Lance huffed but patted Blue's stomach anyways. "Wow. I don't really appreciate you two tag teaming me like this." He whined and Shiro laughed. Blue purred loudly as she kept off of Lance's lap and onto Shiro's. 

"Who's tag teaming you?" Keith said as he plopped down on the other side of Lance, startling the islander. 

"Gods, Keith. Give a warning before you come out of nowhere like that." Lance pouted but let his eyes run along Keith; the half Galran looked wet. Keith's hair stuck to his neck and shoulders, dripping a little, drops flowing away in the breeze. "Did you just finish taking a bath?" Keith nodded and leaned back on his hands. Shiro glanced around Lance at Keith, amused. 

Lance stared at Keith, just as he had Shiro. Keith was different though, while Shiro looked like he built from the Gods; Keith looked pretty. His wet hair framed his purple eyes, and though Lance knew that Keith had no skin care, his skin looked flawless. His build was definitely smaller then Shiro's, but he was definitely bigger than Lance ever hoped to be. Lance knew he was slim fit, yeah he had muscles but you couldn't see them through his shirt, unlike the two men next to him. 

He forced himself to stop staring at Keith, too hyperfocused on Keith's wet hair. "Do you even know how to dry your hair? You're dripping." Lance chasted. 

Keith scoffed. "Why should I? The air will dry it just fine." 

Lance let out an offended noise. "Absolutely not. Keith your hair will look much better if you dry it properly." 

Shrio laughed next to Lance. "Yeah Keith, dry your hair." He teased and Lance didn't know if that was aimed at him or Keith. 

"No." Keith huffed and rolled his eyes. "Lance, if you're so concerned about it, you dry my hair." Lance forced down a blush but stood up anyways. 

"Fine. Do you have a towel and a brush?" Keith shook his head and Lance huffed, before he headed back into the cave and grabbed his brush and a spare towel. He walked back outside to Shiro and Keith now sitting closer together, Blue laying across their laps, purring as they both pet her. 

"Alright, let's dry this mullet." Lance said with a grin as he walked over, Keith hummed in response but adjusted himself so Lance could access his hair with no problems. 

Lance worked the towel through Keith's hair, trying to get as much of the moisture out as possible. He hummed as he worked, rolling a few strands through the towel before brushing them straight. Keith's hair was seriously pretty. Not that Lance would ever admit that out loud. But as Lance worked, he found himself using his fingers to comb the hair more then he used the brush.

He was having a hard time convincing himself it was because his fingers did a better job then the brush, and not because he wanted to run his fingers through Keith's hair. 

"Can I braid your hair?" Lance asked, once Keith's hair was as dry as he could get it. Keith jumped and his eyes flew open, Shiro was in a similar situation. Lance raised his eyebrows at both of them, when had they closed their eyes? 

 "Y-yeah. Sure." Keith mumbled out and looked pointingly at the ground. 

Lance hummed happily as he began to braid Keith's hair. He loved the feeling, and Keith's hair was soft, and Lance missed the feeling of longer hair between his fingers. It made him really miss his family. 

"Can you stop humming?" Keith's voice broke him out of his thoughts. Lance blinked at him in surprise as Shiro swatted Keith, rather hard, in the side and glared at him. Keith flushed and looked away. 

"It's distracting." Keith whisper and Lance blushed bright red. 

'Young star, your paladin name should be red with how much you fluster.' 

"Is it too late to break this bond.' 

'Yep. You're stuck with me.' 

Lance fake pouted at Blue as rolled over and looked at him innocently form Shiro's lap. 

"You can keep humming Lance, it's nice." Shrio said and Lance's face once again flared up. Keith snickered but settled back down so Lance could finish braiding his hair. Lance rushed through the rest of it and used a leather strap to tie Keith's hair. He stepped back and let Keith's hair fall back on his back, the braid look amazing on him and Lance smiled to himself happily. 

Just as Lance went to sit back down Keith stood up, knocking Blue to the ground and she growled at him. He sent her an apologetic before he turned to Lance. 

"We need to train you." He demanded. 

Lance blinked back in surprise. "What?" 

"Hand to hand combat, remember?" Keith insisted. 

Shrio stood up as well and stretched, he bent down to scoop up Blue and smiled. "Oh yeah. We can start now, if you want." 

'Oh that's a great idea. Young star, do it. You need to get better.' 

Lance narrowed his eyes at Blue in mock betrayal. She just looked day him smugly from Shiro's arms. Lance sighed but agreed, and Keith grabbed his arm and dragged him through the cave and into a room Lance had see the two training in before. 

Shrio placed Blue down near the wall, and she curled up to watch. He turned to Lance and smiled. "Alright, so what do you know?" 

Lance looked away with an embarrassed look. "Not much. I'm not that good at hand to hand so I never really trained in it." 

Keith sighed and shook his head. "That's why you train. You're not just going to be automatically good at it." 

Lance snorted. "Says the half Galran, with literally centuries of battle hard training in his blood." 

Keith galred but before he could retaliate Shiro cut them off. "And yet I'm human and still am a good fighter. Also, Lance, Keith still had to train to get where he is today."

He flushed and looked back at Keith. "Sorry." 

"It's okay." Keith sighed and put his blades down next to Blue. "Anyways, we'll just start with the basics. How high up can you go?" 

Lance blinked. "Um what?" 

Keith sighed and lifted his leg up, not going all the way but still pretty high, Shrio did the same next to him, going further then Keith. Oh, flexibility. Easy. 

Lance followed in suit and lifted his leg clean against his chest. Shiro and Keith spluttered as they watched him. 

"Oh, you're flexible. That'll make this somewhat easier." Shrio said as everyone out their legs back down. "For now let's do some stretches, then we'll work on easy blocking." 

Lance nodded and followed along with the stretches Shiro instructed him to do. Keith took over the offensive as Shrio told Lance what to do. Keith's hits hurt. He definitely wasn't holding back, not that Lance was blaming him, after all no one would hold back in a real fight. But Gods did Lance want this to stop. 

"Lance. Use your forearms to block, Keith do a left hook." Shiro said from the sidelines. 

Lance huffed as Keith sent his fist towards Lance's chest, he barely managed to push it away. Only to have to repeat for the right side, Keith's fist clipped Lance's side and he hissed. 

"Pay attention." Keith told him as he swung again. Lance grunted as he pushed his fist away again, he never that later his forearms were definitely going to be bruised. They repeated the hits and blocks until Shiro told Lance to dodge them as well as push them out of the way. 

How in the Gods? 

Lance huffed and he leaned to the left to avoid Keith's right punch, he tried to push the arm away as well, but missed. Shiro told them to try again. 

And again. 

And again. 

Lance huffed in frustration as he avoided the hit but once again failed to push the arm away. Keith was also visibly getting irritated, as his hits went fast and slightly harder. Lance had to bite his lip to hide the whimper in pain as he failed to dodge a hit to the side. 

Keith's eye caught it though and he stopped. "Ah sorry." 

Shrio walked over confused but concerned. "What happened?" He asked as he places a light hand on Keith's back. 

"I hit Lance too hard, I want paying attention." Keith muttered and looked away embarrassed. Lance should be the embarrassed one, Keith had to hold back to teach Lance, it was just sad if you asked him.

Lance shook his head. "No it's my fault, I just suck." He tried to joke but was met with Shiro's disappointed look. 

"Lance, we aren't expecting you to pick this up right away. You're inexperienced, we would be the same if we were just thrown headstrong into magic. It'll take time, you'll get there." Shrio said softly. "We should be done for the day, we can continue tomorrow." 

Lance looked away but nodded. Logically he knew Shiro was right; this will take time, but he still couldn't help the feeling of not being enough. He swallowed the lump in his throat and walked over to Blue, and ignored her concerned glance. She shouldn't be dragged down into his problems, Lance felt as if she deserved more. He projected his feelings on to her too much. 

Lance said goodbye to Shiro and Keith and walked out of the cave room fast, he needed to be alone. Blue thought differently as she followed him. 

'Go hang out with Golden and Jade, baby.' 

'Young star.' 

'Please. I want to be alone.' 

Blue huffed next to him but left his side to go find the other two lions. She seemed irritated as she padded away, when made Lance feel even worse.  

He shivered as he continued through the cave before finding another room, far away from where he assumed the others were and sat down in it. Lance just needed to be alone. He forced his mind blank and meditated, connecting to his quintessence and feeling it flow through his body. It was the fastest and easiest way to make him calm down and clear unwanted thoughts. 

Lance sat like that, holding his position and form for hours before he heard someone walk towards his room. He ignored it, figuring they would just keep on walking. 

His eyes fluttered open when Coran gasped, and he dropped his meditation. 

"Oh my, Lance. You can already connect to your qunitessence? That's amazing, my boy. No wonder your magic is so strong." Coran grinned as he sat down across from Lance. 

"What do you mean? I'm just meditating." Lance smiled back, feeling calm. 

Coran chuckled. "Well, when mages can connect their quintessence to their magic that's when they can fully reach even more potential. And from what I can see you're already almost there." 

Lance tilted his head and blinked at the Altean. 

"Have you tired to connect both your magic and quintessence?" He asked and Lance shook his head. "Well try it, it just might work."

Lance sighed before closing his eyes and opening his mind once again, focusing on his life force. Once he felt his life pulse through his body his turned his thoughts to the pull he always felt when he called for his magic. He frowned in focus as he imagined the two's connection. 

After a but Lance blinked his eyes open and looked at Coran. "Sorry but I don't think I can." 

Coran nodded. "I still can't on the first try, how about you try again." 

"But how?" 

"Try imagining a sort of connection; for mine I like to think of my magic flowing like a snake and latching into my quintessence." Coran offered kindly. 

Lance sighed and closed his eyes once more, trying to imagine it as Coran had explained. It was impossible, his magic refused to take the form of a snake no matter how hard Lance tried. Lance tried to imagine a different animal flowing to his quintessence, but every time it faltered. The closest he got was when he imagined a fish. 

Fish. 

Lance mentally cheered as he thought of an idea, he pictures his magic as water. He watched in his mind as his magic flowed smoothly down and through his body, as if it was a waterfall. His waterfall pooled into his quintessence and he felt lighter. 

Coran gasped next to him and Lance's eyes blinked open, his blue glow illuminated the room softly. Lance could feel his magic glow and pool not only into him, but the world around him. After a few ticks, the glow faded and the two were once again just sitting in a bare cave room. 

"Lance, that was…" Coran trailed off, seemingly at a loss for words and he could relate. He wasn't even sure what just happened. 

Coran stood up suddenly and pulled Lance with him. "We need to get into training your magic as soon as we can, Lance you're going to be so powerful." Coran cheered as he dragged Lance out of the room and towards the middle room of the cave. "We'll start tomorrow." Lance grinned as he followed Coran, excited to explore his magic more. What he just witnessed with his ownagic, Lance knew he'd never learn that in his own. He was very much looking forward to Coran's training, just as he was looking forward to his combat training. 

-----------

They spent two more weeks in the cave, getting things ready to travel again. After all, they did have a goal in mind. Lance trained Hunk and Pidge with their lions, then trained combat with Shiro and Keith, then finished off the day training his magic with Coran. 

Lance was seeing vast improvements in every area, he could block and dodge Keith's hits now, his magic seemed to feel stronger, ad both of his two friends could practically communicate from other sides of the cave with their lions. 

Lance was proud and happy. 

Golden and Jade were ecstatic to explore the outside world more, even more so that they would be with their bonds, and another of their kind. Blue was happy as well, overjoyed with the idea of her two new pack mates joining them. She practically purred the entire night they agreed to join them. 

"Lance, you sit in the middle with Allura and Pidge." Coran instructions from his spot in the front, Shrio's horse shifting under him. Hunk rode Golden in the back with Keith, and right behind Lance and Pidge were Hunk's and Pidge's horses, strapped together and led by Allura's horse. They held everyone's packs and made travel feel much easier now. 

Lance shifted Blue to the right side of Allura and smiled kindly at her, and she returned it. 

'This would be a great time to get to know her.' 

Blue mused in his mind as they started moving, and Lance agreed.

"So, Lance how are you liking this?" Allura asked softly. 

"Hm. Everyone is super nice and amazing, I can definitely see how you guys think of each other as a family." Lance smiled back at her. 

Pidge leaned forward and looked over Allura at him. "Yeah and you'd be the baby brother." She teased. 

"Oh hell no. First of all I'm older than you." Lance huffed. "Second I'm not a baby." 

Allura laughed. "Yet you're pouting like one" she teased. 

Lance gasped in mock betrayal. "Princess, I thought we had something." Lance dramatically slumped forward on an amused Blue. The two girls next to him lost it in laughter, and Lance joined in. 

"Alright." Allura said between giggles. "Are you still on the fence about joining us?" Allura asked, shyly. 

Lance pursed his lips. "Kind of. I'm all for it but I'm still lost about a few things." 

"Like what?" 

Lance looked at Allura and smiled gently. "Well, one thing I'm confused about is how you guys are exactly going about this? I know you're trying to get your kingdom back, but how? And why?" 

Allura sighed and looked ahead sadly. "Lance, I'm not going after my kingdom for selfish reasons if that's what you're thinking. I mean yes, I do want my kingdom back but I'm doing it for my people." 

Lance blinked back at her. 

"Emperor Zarkon is a cruel and ruthless dictator, he over taxes the people and he lets his soldiers run rampant and cause harm to my people. The citizens of Arus are hurting, Lance. I just don't want them to hurt anymore." Allura looked at Lance, determination flashing through her eyes. "My father was a fair and kind ruler, he always told me not to rule for the land but to rule for the people. I want to be like him, and I want my country back. My people back. And I will get them back even if I have to chop off Zarkon's head myself." 

Pidge cut in. "Princess, you don't have to do that. I'm all for it." 

Allura huffed in amusement. "You know what I meant, Pidge." 

Lance smiled. "That's a very noble cause, Princess. And I understand, I don't see the people smile as much as they used too." 

Allura smiled back. "I'm glad you see it too, I want my people to smile and feel free again." 

"But how are you going to do it?" Lance asked. "I don't really see much of a plan." 

Pidge sighed. "Well you haven't really seen much of what we do, Lance. It may not look like it but everything we have been doing has been weakening the Empire. The bases we attacked, we steal intelligence from and we stop trade routes between bases as well." 

Lance tilted his head. "What kind of intelligence do you collect?"

"Well, we collect important things, like dates and trade routes. We also look for where the important generals are going to be and what kind of events may be happening." Pidge explained. 

"Oh. So everything you choose to do is already pre-planned?" 

"Yes." Allura said. "I won't have my paladins run into a dangerous situation blind. I care about you guys, and I definitely don't want you hurt." She looked at Lance seriously. 

Lance smiled back at her and patted Blue. "Thanks." 

-------------------

They spent give days on the road heading to the next town, Lance rode next to Allura nearly the entire time. They spent the entire time getting to know the other and Lance could actually see Allura as more of a friend now. As they were reaching closer to the town, Allura and Coran put up their hoods. Lance now rode on Hunks horse with him while both Golden and Blue rested in his lap, Pidge was behind them on her horse with Jade. It was to hide the fact they had lions, and of course it would raise suspicion if they rode in on massive lions. 

It'll be like painting a Target on their back from the empire. 

"Halt." A soldier called to their party as they reached the gate. Lance let himself lean back into Hunk. "What's your purpose here?" 

Shiro smiled at the man and held up a pack. "We're traveling merchants. We're here to sell our trade. " 

The soldier sighed but waved them in with no problems and Lance rolled his eyes. Are all the soldiers possibly this stuipd? 

Shrio led them to an inn, and went inside to secure the rooms. Lance figured they did this a lot, seeing how it's what Shiro did at the last town they were at. 

Lance looked around the street while they waiting for Shiro to get back, there was an unusual amount of soldiers patrolling around. Lance felt Blue's unease at this. 

"Don't you think there's a lot of Galra here?" Lance whispered to Hunk, who hummed in response,scooting his horse closer to Allura. 

"Alright got the rooms, they had enough for us all to have one, Lion 1 and 2 will sleep in the rooms between us." Shiro said as he passed out keys and the group made their way Inside. 

Lance carried Blue into their room and she happily jumped out of his arms and onto the bed, rolling in it to immediately cover it in her scent. He smiled at her as he began to unpack what he'll need for the day, before going down to the pub and meet the others. 

The moment Lance stepped into the pub he could feel the tense aura and his eyes immediately went to Shiro and Keith, who were practically growling at some poor citizen. 

"Hey what's going on?" Lance asked softly as he walked up and put his hands on Keith's arm, and squeezed it. 

The girl in front of them looked bewildered and half scared out of her mind as she looked at Lance. "Oh, um I don't know." 

Lance stepped closer to her and smiled. "I see, why dont we go get a drink and leave these two muscle heads alone." He winked at her and she giggled a bit before looking at the two glaring behind him. 

Before any other commotion could rise, Lance grabbed the girls hand and pulled her to the car and ordered them both beer pints. 

"Thank you." She smiled at him as she sipped her beer. "I'm Zera." 

He grinned back. "I'm Lance, it's lovely to meet such a pretty lady." He cooed at her kindly, and watched as she blushed. "So, what happened to make those two idiots so mad?" Lance asked before drinking his pint. 

She sighed and out her mug down. "They asked why there were so many soldiers in this area, once I told them they freaked out and then you showed up." 

Lance hummed as he leaned against the counter and his eyes found Shiro across the room, he still looked pretty mad. "What did you tell them?" 

"Some Galran general named Sendak is after some criminals, he thinks they're going to pass through this town." She told him as she leaned on the counter next to him, crossing her arms after tucking her black hair behind her ear. 

Lance flinched. "That'll definitely do it." He whispered to himself as he continued to stare down Shiro and Keith across the room. He remembered how badly Shiro reacted to Sendak the first time, no doubt that news freaked him out. 

Zera shifted next to him and regrabbed her drink. "Yeah. I mean I hope they leave soon, I really don't want trouble in my town." She muttered as she looked sadly down at her pint. 

Lance felt his heart squeeze as he looked at her. "Hey, I get it. I didn't like it when the Empire started moving into my town as well." He out his hand on her shoulder and smiled at her. "Just stay out of their way, someone as pretty as you will catch their eye if you're not careful." 

Zera chuckled at him sadly. "Yeah, that's why my dad wants me to stay in our inn. He makes me go to the back once it's nighttime and the soldiers start coming here for drinks." 

Lance sighed and squeezed her arm in reasuranve. "Smart man. I really wish you didn't have to do that though, it's unfair." 

She snorted. "You're telling me." 

Lance laughed. "So what's the hot gossip around here?" He winked and she giggled. 

"Well, Sendak seems to think he has the perfect plan to catch the criminals, buy luring them out with something. No one knows what it is, though." Zera told him. 

"Well I hope it's nothing dangerous. But if it is I'll protect you, darling." Lance winked. 

 They laughed and stood around talking about meger things a little longer, until she got called away by her father. Before she left, Zera pressed a kiss on Lance's cheek. "Thank you for saving me." She winked as she walked away and Lance blushed. 

He could give but not receive. 

Lance fought down his blush and made his way back over to the group, where Shiro and Keith were still fuming. 

"Hey guys." Lance huffed out as he sat down next to Hunk. As soon as Lance sat down Shiro stood up and stormed away upstairs, probably to his room. 

"Just great." Keith scowled as he also huffed and stomped away, going outside. 

"Uh. Does that normally happen?" Lance asked bewildered.

Hunk shook his head and sighed. "No, they normally never fight. Those two have a certain closeness to them." 

Pidge snickered. "Yeah, they've practically been in love with each other for months now." 

Lance gasped. "Oh wow. I knew would've guessed." Lance fake teased and everyone laughed. 

Hunk finished laughing and got up. "Well I'll get everyone something to drink." 

'Young star? Why is your pack leader huffing and stomping around?' 

Lance chuckled at Blue, who was sending him her confusion through their bond. 

'He got into a fight with Keith.' 

'That doesn't explain why he won't pet me.' 

She whined in his mind and Lance frowned. Why so Blue worrying about getting a pet? She's in Lance's room. 

'Ah nevermind, young star. He's petting me now and pouting. It's quite cute.' 

Lance made an offended sound in the back of his throat and stood up before rushing upstairs, ignoring Pidge's and the Altean's strange stares after him. He threw his door open and glared down at Shiro, who was sitting on his bed petting Blue. 

Shiro had the hall the look surprised when Lance walked in, and Lance had to stifle a laugh at that. 

"You're petting my lion." Lance told him as he sat down next to him, Blue crawled over to him and curled up across both their laps. They sat in silence for a bit, just listening to Blue's purrs. 

Shiro sighed and looked at Lance. "Sendak was the commander in charge of the arena I was put in. He was the one who tore off my arm for the Witch." 

Lance balked at Shiro surprised, he was not expecting that. "Oh Shiro." He whispered before he pulled Shiro into a hug. 

Shiro grunted but hesitantly put his arms around Lance. "Keith knows, that's why he's upset. He wants to hurt Sendak just as much as I do, but we can't." Lance frowned and pulled back. 

"Why not?" 

Shiro sighed. "We can't just go on a hunt for him at our own whim, there's you guys we need to be here for." 

Lance smiled and grabbed his hand. "Well he's here now, and he's our enemy. I'm sure we'll have the chance to get back at him soon." 

Shiro laughed and held Lance's hand back. "Thank you, but I'm scared of that too. Sendak, he has monstrous strength, what if he hurts one of you guys?" 

Lance sighed and squeezed Shiro's hand. "That's why we'll have each other's back." 

Shiro hummed and nodded. 

'Tell him I'll personally eat Sendak's eyes for him.' 

'Thats gross, Baby.'

Lance huffed at Blue but kissed her forehead. "She offered to eat his eyes for you, the little nasty. But she'll only eat one eye, right?" 

Shiro laughed and cooed at Blue. "Thank you. But yes, there's only one eye. When I escaped I tore out his other one." 

"Good. An eye for an eye? Well arm in this case?" Lance said carefully. 

Shiro laughed. "Yeah, something like that." 

Blue chirped at them from where she was on Lance lap, demanding pets once again. He laughed and patted his girl, while Shiro did the same. 

Lance thought back to the events of the day, everything leading up to this moment with Shiro and Blue. Frist the soldiers carelessly letting them in, to Zera and her warning of Sendak. It made Lance curious to just what the Galran commander had planned. 

"Shiro, Zera told me something." He said, breaking the comfortable silence between them. 

"Zera?" Shiro asked curiously. 

Lance snorted. "The girl you and Keith half scared to death earlier. Anyways, she told me that Sendak had a plan to lure us out." 

"Oh, well that changes a lot." Shiro sighed. "Looks like we'll have to be prepared." 

"Prepared for what?" Keith asked, entering the room through the door Lance forgot to close. 

"Sendak thinks he has some way to lure us out." Lance told him as Keith leaned against the wall across from them. He grunted but looked serious as he crossed his arms. Shiro sighed next to him before bashfully looking at Keith. 

"I'm sorry." 

"I'm sorry." 

Lance blinked as the two of them apologized at the same time. He smiled though as both of them blushed and looked away from the other, Pidge was correct. Keith made his way over to the bed and sat down on the other side of Shiro. 

"Well as glad as I am you two made up, we need to warn the others of what Zera said." 

"Zera?" Keith questioned. 

"The girl we scared earlier, Keith." Shiro sighed. Keith nodded. 

Lance picked Blue up and stood up with the other two, just as he went to place her back down in the bed he heard a rather loud roar in the air. It echoed around his room and down the hall. The hair in the back of his neck stood up as he recognized it for what it was. 

It was a Winged Lion crying out in pain. 

It roared again before Lance practically flew out of the room and then out of the inn, ignoring Shiro's shout and their following footsteps behind him. He turned and twisted down random allies with Blue whining in his arms. The mystery lion roaring in pain the entire way, and Lance had to blink back tears. 

He made it to a clearing in the buildings, and right before he stepped into the opening he was pulled back against Keith's chest. 

"It's a trap, Lance." He growled in his ear and Lance had to bite his lip. He wanted to help the Lion, but he couldn't exactly do that without endangering himself and those around him. 

He blinked back tears as he looked around the plaza, Empire soldiers armed to the teeth stood around in such a formation that they'd be able to surround them in an instant. In the center stood Sendak, laughing as he jabbed a spear into a cage striking the side of a Winged Lion. 

Lance almost sobbed as he watched it cry out in pain as it's blood started to blend in with its ginger fur. 

Chapter Text

Lance silently cried the entire way back to the inn, Keith held his hand and pulled him through the streets. Lance flinched again as the lion cried out once more, and Blue wiggled in his arms, burying her face in Lance's neck. He felt her tears streak down his neck which nearly made him sob. 

"Hey. It'll be okay, we'll get her out." Shiro cooed at him, putting a gentle hand on his back. 

Lance just kept crying, all the way up to his room in the inn. As soon as the door shut Lance began sobbing, collapsing with Blue in his arms and buried his face in her fur. The hurt lion just kept crying out. 

'I can't reach their mind, to let them know we're coming. They've blocked everything out, young star. I can't help.' 

Blue whined in Lance's mind and he understood her pain as she flooded the bond with it. She sobbed as she pressed herself against Lance as much as she could. Lance felt himself be pulled up and into someone's arms, he shook as they held him, and another pair of arms wrapped around him as well. 

He barely heard his door opening, but he definitely heard the others entering the room. 

"Is that what we think it is?" Pidge whispered as she held her lion close to her chest. Lance nodded and tried to even out his breathing. 

"We have to help it, Allura." Keith said as he patted Lance's back in comfort. "Sendak was stabbing it, we're going to save it." Keith gaze held no arguments as he stared down the princess. 

She sighed and nodded, sitting in the bed. "Of course we are. But we need a plan, Lance you saw it right? Could you tell us the surroundings?" 

Shiro cut in. "We saw it too. Every entrance and exit had at least ten guards, and every two feet was a soldier. In the middle was a cage with the lion and Sendak." He got a serious look in his eyes as he held eye contact with Allura. "If we're going to do this we're going to need a major distraction." 

Allura hummed. "I see, do we want to do a full frontal attack or a stealth attack?" 

"Stealth is our best bet." Keith said as he pulled back, though he kept a hand on Lance's arm. "Two teams, one to distract and pull away Sendak and one to get the Lion." 

Coran nodded. "Good idea." 

Pidge jumped up from her spot on the bed. "I'll do stealth with Jade and Keith. We're the best bet we have."

"Of course." Shiro agreed. "I guess that leaves the rest of us to lure out Sendak. Coran do you still have those crystal orbs? The ones that glow and explode?"

Coran nodded. "Yes I do, let em go get them real quick." He left the room and Lance sighed as he pulled Blue closer and kissed her forehead. 

"We'll have to do this but ear, as much as I would love to have a clear understanding of what's going on, sadly we don't have that. But we will save that Lion, I promise." Allura said as she crouched down in front of Lance and Blue. He held her eyes and reflected her determination. "Everyone will have a hand in it too. Shiro? You seemed to have an idea, what was it?" She asked as Coran came back into the room holding a bag. 

"Well, I think it's best to just show them where we are. Think about it, Sendak is just as determined to take me down as I am him. Why not just lead him right to me?" Shiro explained as Keith glared at him. "Don't look at me like that Keith, there's more to this plan than that." Shiro said rolling his eyes and Lance giggled. 

"Explain then." Keith spat out. 

Shiro sighed but gave him a fond smile. "Well, we do have a sharpshooter, don't we?" He said as he smirked at Lance.  

"Wait so you want me to shoot him once I have a shot?" Lance asked curiously. 

"Not only Sendak, but any others you can. How fast can you make an arrow?" Shiro asked. 

Lance held up his hand and pulled on his magic and within seconds he held an arrow. "Seconds I think. So I'm laying down the cover fire? What are you guys going to be doing?" He asked as he ran his eyes over the others that would be in his group. 

"Coran will be with you with his crossbow, while Hunk and Allura are with me, they'll probably be taking down the other soldiers who show up." Shiro explained. 

"And me and Keith have to call it by eye on how many soldiers follow Sendak. If there's too many one will have to fight whirl the other gets the Lion." Pidge explained as she pet Jade. 

'I want to be on the ground with the pack leader, I promised I'll eat Sendak's eyes.' 

Lance held back a snort as he looked at Blue. "Blue will be on the ground with you guys, she wants a go at Sendak as well." 

Keith snorted. "Get in line." He joked. 

Blue nipped at his hand playfully before purring against it. 

'Tell Mullet I'd watch his back when he sleeps tonight.' 

She teased at Keith as Lance laughed and patted her head and relayed blue's message to Keith, who rightfully joked back and scratched her tummy. 

Allura stood up and then prompted everyone to follow suit. "So we have the plan? Let's go then, I don't want that poor Lion hurting any longer." She said seriously as she left the room.

------------

Fifthteen minutes later Blue dropped Coran and Lance off on a roof overlooking a clearing to the west of the spot where they saw the Lion. Coran finished putting up the crystals and they were set to go off in a couple of minutes. Lance looked down at Hunk and Golden from his perch, the two were positioned around Allura in semi defense and Lance was kind of excited to see the princess fight. Shiro stood next to Blue, and even patted her side when she landed next to him. 

'Now I don't have any reason to be jealous of Shiro, or do I baby?' Lance teased Blue who leaned into Shiro's touch. 

'I'm planning on running away with him, why?' 

His lion teased back but sent her love of him through the bond. He sent his own amusement back before running his eyes over Shiro. 

He was quite a distance away but Lance could see the tension, Shiro was practically radiating nerves. His shoulders were hunched, and his arm moved roughly as he pet Lance's lion. Lance knew if he was closer he would see sweat dripping down Shiro's face, not that he wasn't in the same position himself. 

Lance was nervous, and rightfully so. 

Lance looked down and made eye contact with his girl right as the crystals went off. Leading in a straight line to where the group of soldiers were. 

Coran shifted next to him as he got his crossbow ready. "I hope this works." 

Lance nodded back as he watched to the west, where the soldiers were supposedly going to be coming from. For a moment nothing happened, until Lance watched a rather largeass approaching them swiftly. He had no doubt that was Sendak's group. 

 "I can see them, a large group." Lance whispered to Coran before relaying the message in the crystalline set Pidge had given him. 

Lance watched and waited for a group to break the clearing frist. At the head of them was Sendak, according to their plan, who snarled the moment his eyes landed on Shiro. 

"Champion." Shiro flinched as Sendak called his old title. "Where's the rest of your posse? No matter, they're all dead anyways, just like you." He sneered, his mouth pulled back to show off rather sharp teeth and scrunching his face, making his eyepatch shift. 

Shrio glared. "Doubtful." Lance huffed slightly in amusement, half he could hear the conversation through Shiro's crystal. 

Lance watched in amazement as the fighting began, if he would've blinked Lance was sure he would've missed the first contact between their group and the empire's soilders. His eyes barely able to keep up with Shiro and Sendak's fight. Shiro dodged Sendak's fist almost effortlessly as he activated the crystals in his arm, making it glow a beautiful purple, before he tried to land a hit on the empire soldier himself. Shiro was as graceful and flexible as he was strong and skilled. Sendak fought completely different, he fought with little to no tact but with plenty of strength and bullheadedness. And yet these two fought on nearly the same level. 

Lance gasped as he watched their fight, before Coran shot his own arrow and hit a galran on the ground, knocking Lance out of his trance. 

Right. He was supposed to be laying down the cover fire. 

Lance leveled his breath and readied his bow, pulling on his magic to make his arrows. One by one, soldiers fell when they tried to get one over on Shiro, who was still engaged in a fight against the Galran commander. He kept an eye on Shiro and Allura both closely, making sure no one would even harm the two. 

Lance's eyes fell on Hunk who swung a spear around, knocking back several soldiers, with Golden and Blue tag teaming the soldiers around him and Allura. Allura stood a little to the left of Hunk, swinging around a rather large whip effortlessly, into the legs and backs of the Galra. She looked just as effortlessly beautiful when fighting as she didn't while doing nothing,and Lance was frankly jealous. 

Allura was strong, not that Lance was surprised; Altean's generally were, but watching Allura fight was on another level. She seemed to hold her everyday grace while she swung her whip around. Lance barely needed to shoot the soldiers around her, she did an amazing job on taking them out herself. 

Lance shot a soldier right through his head as soon as he tried to join Sendak in his fight against Shiro. Shiro didn't glance his way but smiled gently, as if he knew Lance would always have his back. 

Sendak scowled as he looked at the melting ice arrow and narrowed his eyes. 

"Oh, where is the Winter Devil? I'm assuming he's around here, after all his precious God's little friend is crying for help." Sendak laughed as he leveled Shiro with another glare. "I made sure to give that one a really nice welcoming. Did you see it, Champion?" Sendak's grin was malicious, and Lance felt a chill run down his spine. 

Blue growled to the left of him and rushed towards Sendak, only to get blocked off by several of fighters. Lance himself felt the rage rush through their bond as he shot down even more than he was before. 

Sendak laughed again. "Don't worry I didn't leave the stuipd cat unprotected, my right hand is watching over her now. Haxus is even more brutal than me, so Gods help anyone foolish enough to try and take it." Lance worried about Keith and Pidge, but knew they would tell them if something was wrong on their end. He trusted them. 

"I nearly pity them, a fight against me would've been easi-." 

Lance had enough of this man's babbling and shot an arrow at his head, only for the commander to dodge and grin. He watched as the man's mouth moved but heard no words come out, and from Shiro's confused face he didn't hear it either. Lance felt uneasy as he looked down at the Commander, feeling as if he was being watched back. But that was impossible. 

Right? 

Lance watched as Shiro rushed forwards and started the fight between the two yet again. Their blows were invisible to those around expect the two delivering them. 

Lance's eyes landed curiously on Coran to see how the older Altean was holding up, and he was surprisingly fine but quickly running out of his arrows. 

He sighed as he went back to laying down the cover fire for his friends below, making sure to focus primarily on Allura, as Coran had ran out of his own arrows, leaving Lance as their only support. Lance shot through many soldiers as occasionally a soldier would sneak up on her, only to be shot down with Lance's ice. The fighting continued, with Shiro fighting toe to toe with Sendak. 

Lance leaned back and took a breath before leveling another shot. This felt rushed and Lance sowre he was missing something important. However with a shot aimed at a soldier who was trying to get one over on his lion he pushed his worried aside. Until a barely immiscible glow to his right shocked Lance into a movement he rarely even felt himself make. 

Lance barely had enough time to cover Coran before a crystal exploded right next to them. 

All hell broke loose at once. 

Lance felt his back scream in pain as he hit his head, but he didn't give himself time to think about it before he pulled Coran with him over the edge on the building, right as another crystal exploded. Lance gasped for breath once he landed roughly on the ground, Coran next to him. The older Altean struggled to breath and Lance wrangled himself off of the ground and over to Coran. 

"Lance! Coran! Are you two okay? Quiznak, please be okay!" Allura cried out into the crystals. 

Lance opened his mouth to answer, but didn't get quite that far as his eyes landed on four Galran soldiers making their way to them. He stood up and pulled his magic to block off Coran, just in time to cover him from a rather strong and painful hit. Lance gasped for breath as he was slammed to the side. His ice covered Coran completely in a cocoon, shielding the Altean away from the Galra. 

"Well well, looks like we found quite the Angel, boys." The soldier to the left spoke and Lance felt a shiver run down his spine. 

The middle one snorted. "Not our problem, let's get him and get out of here. This place is going to blow in a few seconds." He said as he reached for Lance, lifting the mage by his neck. Lance pulled into his magic and froze the guys hand and was dropped to the ground. He crumpled, not able to catch himself, and a kick was slammed into his stomach throwing him to the ground. Lance's eyes blinked heavily as he pulled for Blue, unable to get his mind straight for anything else. 

Does anyone else hear that ringing? 

'Blue. Baby, grab Allura the others now and get out. They're going to blow up this area." 

'What about you, young star? The old man? I can't leave you guys.' 

Lance huffed as he felt Blue rush him with her worry, but he knew blue was doing what he asked as he vaguely caught the sound of Allura yelling in surprise. 

Once Lance felt his mind somewhat organize, he pulled on his magic and blasted the four soldiers into the fray, right as a few more explosions shook the buildings around them. He almost didn't have enough time to cover himself in a cocoon of his own, as bricks fell from the buildings around him, blasted off in the explosion. 

'YOUNG STAR!' 

Lance flinched as Blue yelled in his mind. 

'I'm fine baby, I got my ice. Coran is safe too but he's knocked out. How are the others?' 

'I wasn't able to grab the leader, he was too far. I'm sorry, my star.'

'Get out of here. Now, Blue. Don't argue."

He felt her whine in his mind, obviously wanting to argue the point further but she listened anyways and Lance felt her distance herself from the area. 

Shiro was out there. 

Lance felt his blood run cold like the ice that flowed through his magic. He immediately took down his ice, letting it dissipate as he got up and whimpered in pain. 

Fuck, he forgot he was hurt. No matter, he could still move. And that's what mattered at the moment as Lance rushed back into the clearing. 

He wished he didn't. 

Now he understood the phrase out of the pan and into the fire. 

And he wasn't talking about the fire surrounding him, the buildings covered in flames and the ruins around him. 

 No. 

Lance was referring to the rather large amount of Galran soldiers still standing, nearly all of them minus the ones taken down earlier. He watched as the disabled their crystal shield and Lance felt offended. 

Cheaters. 

He barely managed to cover behind a wall as they glanced his way. He had to but his lip and block back tears as he back brushed the bricks. Okay, so his back was injured. 

He heard movement and peeked around, gasping in relief as Shiro coughed and pushed himself up, bracing himself on his forearms. He looked so tired and Lance's heart clenched. Shiro was just as injured, if not more than him, but the paladin stood up anyways and glared at the army before him. As if he was ready to take them down, even if he was alone. 

Sendak laughed and Lance glared at him. "Well, I'm not surprised. The lone champion stands up once again." He sneered and showed off his fangs. "Too bad it will all be for naught. After all, you can't take on all of us." 

Shiro growled. "I can sure as hell try." 

Lance closed his eyes and pulled on his magic, he still had enough. But he didn't know if he could pull off fighting with just Shiro for long. 

"You are alone." Sendak taunted Shiro. 

Bullshit. 

Lance thought of his friends, how they always had each other's back, no matter who and what. He remembered the bond between them, and Lance opened his eyes and set himself straight, they had each other. But right now, Shiro had him. 

Shiro stood unmoving in his stance, glaring down the men before him, as if being alone didn't even matter. And Keith joked Lance was the suicidal one. 

"He isn't alone, Sendick. " Lance growled out as he stepped out into the clearing, practically spitting out the last word. Shiro looked over and made eye contact and he could see the worry covering those grey eyes. 

Lance waved it off as he joined Shiro's side, the two went back to glaring down the Galran. 

 Sendak huffed as his men shifted uncomfortably behind him. And for once Lance was glad the rumors about him were so crazy, he could tell that these men were uneasy fighting against the Champion and the Winter Devil. 

"You're hurt." Shiro hissed at him and scolded. Lance rolled his eyes, only Shiro would try to reprimand him on a fucking battlefield. 

"You are too. Now shut up old man." Lance teased and felt Shiro huff in amusement. 

He smirked and looked away from Lance. "At least I can tell you're okay." Lance giggled softly and looked back at the man in front of him. 

Sendak did not look quite amused as he watched the two in front of him and Lance felt a weird sense of pride at that. Until Sendak spoke again. "Get them alive. The Witch wants them both." 

Lance's blood ran cold. The Witch? Wanted him? 

Shiro immediately held his arm around pushing Lance slightly behind him and growled. "I won't let that happen." Lance nodded and pulled on his magic, making his glow blue as he stared down the men before them. 

They rushed at the same time. 

Lance couldn't even tell what exactly was going on, but he knew it was a lot. And that he needed to focus. 

He gasped as he had to roll out of the way of some soldier's blade, sending ice straight into his head. Lance fought with a flurry of ice and occasional arrows when he wasn't so busy trying to keep the massive hoard of soldiers off of him. Lance struggled to fight, the pain in his back and at the forefront of his head was pounding, it made it so hard to focus. 

But Shiro was hurt and fighting as well, and God's strike him down if he wasn't going to help his friend. 

Lance dodged another blade and stepped back, his own back touching Shiro's arm, thankfully his flesh one. 

He glanced at Shiro and watched the older man struggled to catch his own breath, he was probably just as tired as Lance. 

Lance huffed. He readied himself to take on more of the soldiers and silently wished he could do more. The two were outnumbered and barely able to keep up. Lance knew there was way more soldiers than earlier, and that Sendak wasn't making this any easier as he primarily went after Shiro, who was struggling to keep up as he fought both the commander and the soldiers atoudn them. Lance tried his best to take down the lower ranks for both of their benefits. 

As he shot down yet another soldier Lance watched closely as Shiro had to turn away from his own fight with Sendak for a split second to take down those around him. Shiro effortlessly tore through their bodies with his crystal enchanted dragon arm, Lance shivered. 

Sendak rushed towards Lance and Lance barely had enough time to throw up and ice shield. He eyes widened as Sendak grinned at him; up close the Galran looked even more terrifying.

Next thing Lance knew something hard hit his back and he cried out. 

"Lance!" Shiro shouted and ripped through soldier after soldier to get to him. There was too many. 

Lance collapsed to his knees and whined, he needed to get a hold of himself. He bite his lip and tried to stand, only to have Sendak drag up to his feet by pulling him up with his hair. 

Lance blinked back tears and cried out. Sendak laughed cruelly and he pulled even harsher on Lance's hair. 

"Give up. This battle is futile." Sendak grinned as he held onto Lance's hair even harder

Gods and Goddesses, how strong is this man's grip? 

Shiro immediately threw the men off of him and growled, glaring at Sendak harshly. "Let go of him, Sendak." 

Sendak smiled and held Lance up and off of the ground. "I don't think so, the Witch will pay me heavily for this mage.-" 

Mage. 

Lance didn't even bother hearing the rest of this man's words as he pulled his magic to freeze the entirety of Sendak's arm. Too bad it was the fake one, but regardless Lance was dropped to his feet and he ran over to Shiro's side. He ran past so many fallen soldiers it was slightly unbelievable to him that the two managed to take so many down, well he thinks Shiro took down most of them. 

Shiro touched his arm lightly while still glaring at Sendak. "You should be the one giving up, you're out of your league and this is way above your paygrade." Shiro taunted and Lance giggled. 

Sendak growled out. "How?" 

"Well you're against a mage, an elemental one at that. And you're against the Champion, I believe I was given that name for a reason." Shrio said smugly, and if Lance wasn't next to him how wouldn't have believed it. Shiro was a sweetheart who cared about others and put them first, he never let his ego or pride get ahead of him. 

The commander laughed. "So? You're still outnumbered, there's no way you'll win with just the two of you." 

Shiro smirked. "But we aren't exactly alone." 

Lance frowned in confusion, lightly as he stared at Sendak. Shiro looked down at him and smiled softly. 

Sendak huffed. "So what? You believe the paper of fucking friendship will save you? What fairy tales have you been reading, Champion?" Sendak laughed out hysterically. 

Only to be cut off by a rather human shaped mass jumping on his back from above. 

Lance balked as Keith sank one of his blades into Sendak's shoulder. He felt his confusion rush in as he watched the Glaran commander cry out and toss Keith off. Pidge and Jade landed a few feet away from them and the two immediately started fighting through the soldiers left. Lance blinked at Shiro who tapped the crystal in his ear. 

Oh right! 

Lance's must have fallen out when he was blasted off of the roof. 

Keith growled and launched himself at the bigger Galran again, and Lance watched slightly fascinated as Keith attacked with a flurry of blades and kicks. He definitely decided he liked the way Keith fought. Sendak was barely able to keep up with the half Galran and Shiro both. 

Wait, when did Shiro leave Lance's side? 

Lance shook his head and huffed softly. There was too much going on, and his head hurt so bad. At least that's what Lance was going to blame his distraction on. 

Lance joined Pidge in taking down the small fry, keeping up with the way she sliced through the soldiers with her crystal blade and sent crystal energy into them. The way Pidge fought was just as mesmerising as well and Lance loved fighting next to her and Jade; who was tearing through soldiers of her own. 

Pidge landed next to Lance after jumping back to avoid getting hit with an axe. "Blue brought Allura and the other lion to safety, she would only let Keith and Blue touch her." 

Lance nodded, relief flowing through him at hearing his girl was safe as well as the other lion. He threw more ice blades out at the soldiers in front of them. "Where's Hunk?" 

"Getting Coran." Pidge said as she jumped back into the fray, effectively taking down two soldiers with a contained crystal energy blast.

 Lance smiled as he continued to fight, but he could also feel his magic depleting immensely. He knew he was going to run out soon. He glanced over at Keith and Shiro, who were keeping Sendak on his toes trying to keep up with the two. But Sendak was also looking worse for wear, not able to block and dodge both of their blows. The end of this battle was near and Lance was so relieved, all he wanted to do was get healed up and nap with his girl. 

Sendak jumped back from Shiro and Keith and yelled at the one thing Lance never thought he would say. "Retreat!" 

Lance blinked back in surprise as the soldiers pulled back on their Commander's orders. He swore Sendak would have never just have given up like this. But here he was, leading his soldiers out, looking just as irritated is Lance felt confused. Maybe he was ordered too. 

But who the fuck ordered him? 

They ran out of the clearing and the group just let them. Everyone was exhausted from the hard battle, Lance still struggled with his breathing. 

Pidge made her way back to Lance, just in time too as the islander practically collapsed. His adrenaline must have worn off and suddenly all Lance could feel was the burning pain on his back, the pounding headache, and the heavy weight of exhaustion in his bones. He blinked tiredly at Pidge who pulled him up and onto Jade, who crouched to let the mage on her back. He looked over and watched as Keith had one arm around Shiro, supporting the older man as he walked over. 

"I'll bring these two back, catch a ride on Golden with Hunk?" Pidge offered as she helped get Shiro onto her lion's back with Lance. 

Shiro was placed behind Lance and Lance immediately leaned back into the older man's arms. Too tired to do anything but seek comfort in the nearest thing, and Shiro's chest was very comfortable. Shiro put his flesh arm around Lance and held him there lightly as Pidge jumped onto Jade in front of them. Lance felt bad for Jade of carrying so much weight, he'll have to ask Blue to hunt something nice for her later to thank her. 

"Where is he?" Keith asked tiredly and Lance let his eyes run over the man's frame. He was injured as well, but not heavily like Shiro and Lance were. His hair was a mess and Lance just wanted to wash the blood out of it and brush it again. 

"Alley right over there." Lance said pointing to where he left Coran. "At least that's where Coran is." He yawned. 

Keith looked at Lance gently and nodded. He reached out and squeezed Shiro's arm before sighing. "I'll see you two in a bit I guess, get some rest." Shiro snorted from behind Lance, jostling him in doing so. His back hurt a little from the movement, but it already hurt so much that Lance barely registered it. 

"You too." Keith rolled his eyes and squeezed his arm again, letting his arm linger as he held eye contact with Shiro, and suddenly Lance felt as if he was intruding on something important. 

Jade shifted and the moment was broken as Keith dropped his hand from Shrio's arm. "Stay safe." 

Shiro nodded back and smiled, Lance shifted uncomfortably. "You too." 

Pidge snorted. "Alright love birds, break it up. We need to get back before Blue flies here herself, looking for Lance." 

Lance giggled tiredly, having no doubt that Blue would do just that. Shiro and Keith both just flushed and sputter, making Pidge laugh and launch Jade up into the air. 

Shiro gasped behind him and Lance suddenly realized he hasn't been on a lion while it flew before. If Lance wasn't so tired he was sure he would've been watching Shiro's reaction, but he did make a promise to himself to take their leader on a flight with Blue. He was here Shiro would enjoy it, flying without a care in the world and feeling the wind fly freely around them. It really was a pleasant experience. 

 Lance relaxed back and closed his eyes as the wind whipped past them, tossing his hair around gently. Shrio tightened his grip and Lance sighed, he felt so safe he didn't even realize he was falling asleep until he was passed out.