Crashes echoing down the corridor was woke Lance up. The Blue Paladin had not been sleeping as deeply as he usually did, his bed missing another warm body in it. His boyfriend and fellow Paladin, Keith, had gotten injured during one of their missions and had to spend the night in one of the Cyro pods. After the last few months of having someone to cuddle in bed, Lance did not have an easy time getting to sleep without Keith there. So when the yelling shocked him out of his sleep, he was on alert immediately.
"Lance!" Four different voices shouted, the Blue Paladin opening his door in confusion. One of those voices sounded like a child.
"Lance! Grab him!" For just being woken up, Lance was surprised how fast his reaction time was. The second Shiro's voice registered in his head, he crouched and locked his arms around the mass that ran into him.
"Jesus!" Lance was suddenly more awake when the mass (What was a child doing in the castle?) struggled in his arms, attempting to bite his way out of Lance's arms. "What the--" Lance registered fluffy purple ears sticking out a very familiar inky black mullet. Only Lance should not be able to lift Keith up and he definitely should not be purple.
"Hold him tight Lance," Shiro instructed, Lance biting back the smart comment as him and the others ran towards him. With the approaching footsteps, Keith struggled more.
"Wait, wait! Approach slowly you are scaring him!" Lance snapped at them, adjusting his grip so Keith was held more securely. Luckily, his family had a slew of young children and he had abundance of experience with struggling children. The others all paused as Lance yelled at them, Shiro and Allura being the only two willing to approach the blue Paladin and struggling child.
"Do you have him Lance?" Shiro asked warily, his own arms outstretched to catch Keith if he decided to run. Lance bit his lip, shifting Keith around in his arms. He discovered that Keith was naked under his signature red jacket and that he had a tail. Sensing the tension in little Keith, Lance twisted the small body around so Keith was facing towards him and did not have to look at the others. Little Keith seemed happier hiding away in Lance's arms, though there were still fangs biting at his neck every once in a while.
"I got him. Now explain how my boyfriend is six years old and purple." Lance asked, rubbing Keith's back as he talked. Shiro glanced between the purple boy and Lance, unsure how to start. Thankfully, Allura took over.
"Why don't you get Keith calm and presentable and we will talk?" Shiro nodded, still looking unsure with the situation. Lance hummed, making sure his grip on Keith was tight before he placed his hand on the touch pad to let him in his room. Lance carefully placed Keith on the bed before crouching in front of him.
"Do you know who I am?" There was a pause before Keith nodded. "That's good. Can I get you dressed in that case?" Another pause followed by a nod. Lance patted Keith's head before getting up and searching for something to cover him with. His boxers would not fit little Keith, but they would have to do. He also grabbed one of Keith's shirts that the other left in his room. Quickly dressing the red Paladin and ensuring his body was covered up. "Do you wanna keep your jacket?" He got a head shake this time, the purple boy squirming uncomfortably. "What do you need?" Lance asked worriedly, he did not want Keith to be in pain.
"My tail," Keith's voice was soft, turning around to show Lance the bunched up tail in the fabric of the boxers. Lance bit his lip, pulling Keith closer and ripping a little hole in the boxers for the tail. At least now the boxers will not fall off his skinny hips.
"Better, amore?" Keith tilted his head at Lance before nodding. Lance smiled at his boyfriend, Keith was an incredibly cute child. Even if he was Galran. The tan man stood up and quickly got changed himself. He should have felt some type of way changing in front of his de-aged boyfriend, but Keith covered his eyes before any skin could be seen. Smart boy. "You ready?"
Keith shifted nervously, yellow eyes glancing around. His little fangs were poked out over his bottom lip and he would not look at Lance. The Cuban man felt his heart swell at the sight of nervous Keith. Big Keith did the same motions when he wanted something but was too embarrassed to ask.
"What do you want, bub?"
"I -…um, can I hold your hand?" Lance's heart felt like it could explode at the soft question. He held his hand out to the small boy, his own lip quivering when the furry purple hand grabbed onto him quickly, small fingers wrapped around two of Lance's fingers.
"You don't have to ask, bub. Just grab, okay?" He reassured. He knew Keith did not have a great childhood, but he never had to be afraid with Lance. Keith pressed himself into Lance's side at the information, his other thumb coming up to his mouth. Lance smiled endearingly, leading the young boy out of the room and towards the lounge.
"We believe that whatever Keith was hit with had a delayed reaction of de-aging him. Though we are uncertain why his Galran heritage is the appearance he took." Allura briefed, all of the Paladins turning to look at the small boy balanced in Lance's lap. Keith was half-asleep, his tail curled around Lance's calf and his head rested on Lance's bicep. Lance was holding him protectively, not allowing anyone to get too close. While Keith seemed to know who he was, he did not recognize the others and was afraid of them. He was only half-asleep like this because of his marathon run around the castle that he apparently did before he found Lance.
"And he doesn't seem to remember any of us, but Lance," Shiro acknowledged, keeping away from the young Galran boy. Apparently Shiro was the one to visit Keith in the morning and found him in his de-aged stage. Little Keith apparently did not take too well to the robot arm and board shoulders, having bit Shiro's human hand before taking off into the castle shouting for Lance. Lance could not wait to hold this over him when he was big again.
"Keith does spend a lot of time with Lance," Hunk hummed. He was the only one that Keith would allow near him and Lance and was sitting on the same couch as them.
"He spends time with all of us though," Pidge commented, her eyes scanning over her data pad where Keith's vitals were.
"He doesn't know that I am his boyfriend though. He just knew who I was," Lance shifted Keith in his lap, pulling him up so his little head was rested on his shoulder and his arms around Lance's neck.
"Could you ask him?" Pidge pressed, looking up from her data pad, the others' stares joining hers. Lance squirmed under all of eyes, Keith letting out a soft growl into his neck. The tan man patted Keith's thigh to get his attention, tilting his head towards Keith so the others could not hear their conversation.
"Bub, who am I to you?" He asked quietly, knowing that Keith would not want the others to hear or see him be anything else then the surly, human adult he was when he went into Cryo. Keith snuffled against his neck, tail coming up to wrap around Lance's forearm tightly.
"Mate," Lance stiffened at the word, believing he heard wrong. "Mate, safe," Keith repeated, his fangs scratching against Lance's neck and his arms tightening around his neck. Lance held him just as tight, feeling like he was going to be sick. They had never said that they loved each other yet, though it was implied in their actions, but to hear Keith be this vulnerable in this state was scary to Lance.
"He called me… his uh… mate," Lance gritted out, burying his own face into Keith's shoulder to hide his blush. He could already hear Pidge and Hunk snickering, but Allura, Shiro, and Coran were dead silent.
"It had been a myth centuries ago…" Coran whispered, staring at Lance and Keith in such a curious way. If anyone would prove that myth, it would be those two.
"Well?" Coran sighed as the others stared at him like children waiting for a story. And he supposes that they were children and got on with his explanation.
"It was said that Galran people had mate, a perfect half of themselves. This was before Zarkon's time, of course. King Alfor had actually been curious about it himself, but no Galran would translate texts concerning the topic. It was their well-kept secret. I supposed that they never told due to it being a weakness in their eyes. None have ever confessed to having a mate until…" Coran trailed off, his eyes landing on Keith's back. Lance glared back at Coran, his hold on Keith shifting. He would not have them stare at his boyfriend as if he was a freak of nature. So what if he was Galran and had claimed Lance as his mate? It was none of their business.
"Do we know how long Keith is going to be like this?" Lance spoke up, his voice tight. Soft growls could be heard from the small boy in his arms, but Lance did not fear them one bit. Pidge typed on her data pad for a few seconds before letting out a soft cheer. She begun to go into a lengthy rant about her findings that had Lance's head pounding. "English, Pidge!" The blonde sighed in exasperation before starting again.
"My analysis has shown that Keith should only be like this for a little while, no longer than a few days. Whatever he was hit with did not react well with the Cryo pod." Lance nodded his head, absentmindedly stroking the fur of Keith's tail. The soft growls had turned into purrs that melted Lance's heart. Allura stood up after Pidge stopped her rant and clapped her hands together.
"Splendid! Now, I would love to run some tests to see how 'mates' work with Galrans. I feel these tests would be hard to run if Keith was an adult, as a child we will get his unfiltered reaction to the tests." Lance did not have a good feelings about the word tests, but before he could express his reluctance the others were already agreeing. He clung to Keith, wanting to run and hide away in his room.
"Maybe it is like Twilight and you guys can read each other's minds!" Hunk raved, bouncing up and down in excitement.
"Why do you know about Twilight?" Pidge asked in surprise, her eyes narrowed.
"Bella couldn't read minds in Twilight, Hunk! She is a shield! Besides I am sure Keith would have told me if he could hear my thoughts," Lance huffed, standing up with Keith in his arms. The small boy was wide awake now, eyeing the others nervously.
"How do YOU know what happens in Twilight?" Pidge gasped. Shiro shook his head and sighed as he followed his teammates (that were now arguing about Twilight) out of the room, not even trying to attempt to explain to Allura and Coran what Twilight was.
"Lance, can you get him to stay with Shiro?" Allura instructed over the sound system of the training deck. She had gotten them all - minus Keith - dressed in their jumpsuits for this exercise. No one had told Lance what they would be doing, but he got the sneaking suspicion that he would not like it. He shrugged his shoulders and begun to lead Keith to Shiro. The small purple hand was in his once more, but no thumb was pressed between those fangs like before.
"Bub, can you stand with Shiro please? He won't hurt you," Keith eyed the robot arm for a solid minute before slowly making his way over. He clung to Lance's fingers until he was too far away, looking lost without the touch. Lance's heart throbbed, wanting to go scoop the little boy back into his arms.
"Now Lance, walk away." Lance scrunched his face up in confusion, taking a few steps back. Keith made to follow him, but Shiro grabbed his shoulder before he could follow Lance. The Galran did not like that, but did not snap at Shiro like he had done earlier. "Keep going Lance," Allura instructed, Lance continuing his trek backwards. His eyes were focused on Keith and his nervous squirming.
"Lance!" The Cuban paused when Keith called his name. He had made it about ten feet and Keith looked like he was close to crying. Lance was about to make his way back, but Allura's voice halted him.
"Hell no! He is upset," Lance shot back, taking another step towards Keith, but Hunk grabbed him by his elbows and yanked him back. "What the fuck!" Lance shouted, his feet dragging across the floor as he kicked them. Keith was struggling in Shiro's arms now, only to be held in place by the mechanic arm.
"Lance! Lance! Lance!" Keith called over and over again, his yellow eyes wide with fear. Lance was going to kick Hunk and Shiro's asses. They made it to the far side of the training deck before Keith was full out sobbing and Lance had tears trailing down his face.
"Please Hunk! He needs me!" Lance begged, legs still kicking out but Hunk only held him tighter. Pidge made her way towards Lance, her face showing her discomfort for the situation, but determination as well. "Pidge, please! Please!" He begged, hoping maybe she would have mercy on him.
A sickening crunch sounded through the training deck as Pidge threw her fist into Lance's face, his nose instantly dripping blood. Lance let out a cry of pain, his legs giving out underneath of him and his knees hitting the training deck hard.
"Hey!" The sound of a body hitting the floor followed Lance's cry of pain, Hunk and Pidge turning to see Shiro sprawled out on the floor, holding his human wrist and an angry Galran boy charging towards them. Hunk immediately dropped Lance and grabbed Pidge, getting them both out of the way of the tiny war machine. Keith looked like he wanted to go after them, but Lance conveniently let out a whimper capturing his attention.
"Lance!" Keith cried, his furry feet pounding over to the injured man and holding him tightly. Lance's face was on fire, but the second Keith touch him, he was holding him as tightly as he could, hands threaded through the black mullet. Big Keith would never have allowed something like this to happen.
"I'm sorry, amore." He whispered, kissing as much purple fur as he could while Keith nuzzled his neck. Lance found it a bit unsettling when Keith licked at his neck and scraped his teeth against the taunt flesh, but right now he could care less. Keith could give him the biggest hickey right now and he would allow him. Lance lifted himself off the ground, arms holding Keith to him. He whipped around to look at his 'teammates', eyes narrowed. If Lance was Galran, his eyes would be glowing yellow.
"What the fuck was that?" He shouted, hand coming up to cover Keith's ear so he did not deafen him. Keith did not seem to mind the raised voice, nuzzling Lance's neck with silent tears running down his face. Lance was going to kill them all for simply making Keith cry.
"We wanted to see…"
"I don't care what you wanted to see! He was scared without me at his side and you thought hitting me would make it any better?" Lance was vibrating in anger, his eyes narrowed and hand holding the back of Keith's head. He did not hate any of them for doing it, it was a test after all, but they did not need to use such harmful methods to test their hypothesis. Could they not just tell Lance what they wanted to test and he could have not scared the little boy out of his mind?
"We wanted it to be authentic," Pidge explained, remorse thick in her voice, but Lance was not feeling very forgiving at that moment.
"Save it. I'll let you guys know when big Keith is back, and God help you if he has his memories," Lance turned on his heel with that last foreboding message, not even bothering to change out of his jumpsuit before going to his room.
"It seems that Lance is impacted by whatever bond Keith had laid over him," Allura commented, stepping out in the training deck with Coran behind her. Her face was ashen and she looked like she was going to be sick.
"I have never seen him that mad. Not even when Bella chose Edward over Jacob." Hunk commented, Pidge and Shiro both groaning at the Twilight reference.
"Perhaps we should wait to test their bond for when Keith is an adult and will know that it is merely an experiment?" Shiro suggested, looking pale himself. They had gotten enlightening information from this experiment, but Lance (and Keith if he remembered) might hate them now.
"Yeah, when he can hold his sword and cut us down in one swing, good plan," Pidge shivered at the thought. She had been the one to hit Lance and had Keith actually gotten his hands on her… well, he would probably do something worse than twisting her wrist like he did to Shiro.
"At least Lance came calm grown Keith down easier," Hunk gulped, not exactly ready to face either of their tempers. Training with either of them was going to be difficult for the next few weeks. The others looked just as worried as Hunk before deciding to change out themselves, none in the mood for training after watching a child scream and cry.
"Hurt." Keith prodded Lance's nose, flinching back when Lance winced in pain. Lance had stripped them both down upon returning to his room, Lance now in a pair of sweatpants and Keith in the makeshift boxers. The second Lance had sat down, Keith was in his lap and refused to move.
"It hurts yeah, but I have had worse." That did not seem to make Keith feel any better, his face in a cute little scowl. "I am fine bub, I promise," Lance pressed a soft kiss to Keith's furry cheek and laid back on his pillows, pulling Keith down to lay on his chest. His furry ear was resting against Lance's heart, listening to the beating of it.
"Don't want you hurt," Keith whispered, his tail wrapping around Lance's torso protectively. Lance ran his fingers through the inky hair, the tips brushing over Keith's cat ears.
"Don't want you hurt either kitten," Lance whispered back, knowing Keith was going to gut him for calling him kitten. Little Keith seemed to like it though, butting his head into Lance's touch and doing that weird purring noise again. God, did Lance love him. "Now, let's go to sleep okay? I won't go aware I promise," Keith shifted up higher on Lance's chest, arms looping around his neck and tail squeezing him tighter like he did not believe Lance. The Cuban man fought back a sob that wanted to claw its way out of his throat and wrapped his arms around Keith tightly in turn. It took a minute to fall asleep, sleeping with a messed up nose was not easy, but with the warm weight of Keith on his chest and his earlier exhaustion, Lance was out eventually.
A groan escaped Lance when the weight on his chest tripled and pressed into his rib cage. Cracking an eye open, he noticed no fur and white skin. Keith was stirring, pressing his face into Lance's chest and unwrapping his arms from Lance's neck.
"Lance?" Keith murmured, his own eyes slowly opening to take in the other man's face. Lance did not have whiplash before, but with the speed Keith sat up he was sure he did. "Your fucking nose!" Red Paladin exclaimed, hands on either side of Lance's cheeks and examining Lance's nose. Pidge was not the best hand-to-hand fighter, but the angle she got Lance had definitely broken his nose. How Lance was not in the Cryo pod yet, Keith was not sure. As his memories came back, Keith's nails dug into Lance's cheeks, the Cuban man wincing slightly, but not in fear or pain. "I'll fucking kill them," Keith's voice was deep and his violet eyes were tinted with yellow. Lance grabbed Keith's hips before the other could get up, pulling him close.
"Hey, c'mere. I had to take care of drooling, baby Keith all day and now when I get my sexy, adult Keith back and I want some time with him before he gets himself killed," Lance hummed, reaching up to pinch to Keith's blushing cheeks. Keith settled down next to Lance's side and let his hand trace the lines on Lance's face, careful of his nose. Once he was done, he laced their fingers together, resting them above Lance's head. The act would have seen menacing if Lance did not know better.
"I did not drool," Keith said firmly, his face in a scowl, but it quickly morphed into a soft smile when Lance kissed him.
"No, you didn't. But you did not like to share apparently," he teased, pressing more kisses to Keith's lips and face. Keith allowed the behavior for a few minutes before the scowl was back in place.
"I will kill them for hurting you," Keith growled, his eyes back to violet, but they were serious.
"No killing our family,"
"Hmm, I'll just maim them,"
"Whatever you say kitten," Lance laughed as Keith let out another growl, this time attacking him. The two rolled around in the sheets, theirs fingers still tangled together with wide smiles on their faces and kisses shared between them. Everything else in that moment did not matter other than the two of them.