“Keith, you’re his soulmate!” Allura gasped.
Keith peeled his tear-stricken face from his forearms and peered up, confused. The glowing light wasn’t coming from the healing pod but rather himself. A few gasps followed all around him, from his fellow paladins to Coran and Romelle, and even Krolia.
“Whoa!” Hunk said as Pidge hopped off the large crate she’d been perched on to get a better look. Kosmo whimpered from his place high above the team. Krolia’s eyebrows furrowed as she studied her son.
“What’s going on?” Keith asked. “Why am I glowing?”
“It’s your quintessence responding to Shiro,” Allura explained. “There’s something else too, some sort of energy linking you to him—I don’t know if the rest of you can see this.”
Lance shook his head.
“Must be your alchemy making you see this, Princess,” Coran suggested.
“Keith, I think you’re the reason Shiro is still alive,” Krolia said as she joined him by his side. She offered a comforting hand on his shoulder.
I’m the reason he’s still here…?
“Krolia’s right,” Allura said. “I’ve exhausted everything that I’ve learned on Oriande to keep Shiro alive, but it appears there’s one thing remaining. He needs someone to anchor him to this world, and it has to be you.”
She smiled up at him. “I’m sorry to ask this from you—I-I mean, I’m sure you’d have preferred a more, um, traditional route way of this this, but…”
“What do you need me to do?” Keith asked. Somehow, the revelation that he and Shiro were soulmates didn’t surprise or affect him as much as the need to keep him alive. It was like he had always suspected as much, given the way their lives entwined; the fact they were soulmates was simply factual. But there was a far more pressing matter. “What do I have to do to keep Shiro alive?”
“I’ll have to perform a marriage bonding ritual,” Allura explained. “Connect your spirit to his. It’ll create a sort of life support.”
“Then do it!” Keith said without a moment’s hesitation.
Allura nodded and took Keith’s offered hands, positioning them over Shiro’s heart. Excited chattered erupted behind him—“We’re gonna have a wedding!” someone shouted, but the meaning of the words were lost to Keith as he studied Shiro’s pallor face.
Allura’s determined expression fell.
“Erm, I’ve never officiated a wedding before,” she said apologetically.
“Doesn’t have to be anything fancy,” Keith insisted. “I just need to save Shiro.”
Allura’s eyes shone with sympathy as she met his gaze. “You love him so much. I’ve seen it, all the times I saw you both embrace, talk amongst yourselves during training breaks, the way you shattered when he disappeared—”
“Best to do it now, Princess!” Coran called out. Romelle squeaked next to him, her eyes glued to the readings on Shiro’s pod. “We’re losing him!”
Keith tensed, eyeing the heart monitor before looking back up to Allura, begging. Determination filled back into her steady gaze.
With a nod, Allura stepped back. With one hand entwined with Keith’s and the other placed over Shiro’s heart, Allura closed her eyes and searched through what she had learned on Oriande.
Their bodies lit up before the onlookers, figures in pure white, violet, and red. The violet and red stretched tall, appearing like a pair of double-helix. Unraveling, one strand from the violet and red merged before the figures took shape again, and Keith, Shiro, and Allura reappeared before them once more.
“Did it...work?” Hunk asked after a few moments had passed.
Allura’s only answer was to clasp her hands together and watch them in trepidation.
Silence carried like a tense, ringing bell, until—
The monitor on Shiro’s pod flashed from blue to yellow. The lid of the pod flew open as Shiro coughed heavily, then his eyes fluttered open. “Keith!”
“Shiro!” Keith gasped and fell to his knees as he scooped Shiro into his arms. The others around them watched, some with tears in their eyes and some applauding.
“Thank the ancients!” Coran cried out and embraced Krolia, taking her by surprise.
Allura placed her clasped hands over her heart, weeping freely as she watched them. Romelle ran over and hugged her so tightly she lifted her off the ground. Pidge, Hunk, and Lance were alternating between hugging one another and punching the air with their fists.
“Good to have you back,” Keith said softly to Shiro who glanced about himself, a little confused.
“What happened?” he said, his voice a little raspy. “I remember coming back, but…was my clone trying to reject me?”
“I think so…but you’re okay now.” Keith blushed. “I can feel it.”
“Kiss the groom!” Lance called out.
Pulling away from one another, Keith and Shiro regarded each other sheepishly.
“Groom?” Shiro asked in a whisper, half-amused.
“Yeah,” Keith chuckled. “It was the only way to save you. I…hope you don’t mind?”
Shiro smiled. “I have my clone’s memories. I know what you said to my clone—to me. The last thing you said to him—”
“—to you,” Keith insisted.
Shiro’s expression softened. “I love you too.”
Sharing a smile, they noticed that things had gone quiet around them. Glancing at their audience, then back at one another, a laugh bubbled, as awkwardness and shyness gave way to daringness. The silent expectation, then the mutual agreement, passed between them.
Then, sweeping in, they captured one another’s lips in a tender and deep kiss before all who watched. Applause filled their ears along with Lance whistling and Kosmo howling and Coran bawling happy Altean tears (complete, as it turned out, with a traditional Altean wedding ululation). Ignoring the annoying whistle from Lance or Coran’s emotional outburst, Keith laughed and wrapped his arms tighter around Shiro, his Shiro.
Shiro was alive. From the depths of death Keith had found him and brought him back alive, and now he was here. Though the Castle of Lions was gone and they were stranded on the Dalterion Belt, they were together, this little family of Voltron, and come what may, they could face anything together.