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meet me on the ballroom floor

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Time was different here.

Words filtered in and out before he could process them, light pouring around everything in a golden halo.

Golden.

That was all he could see, all consuming, golden eyes, love that was all-consuming, pouring, melting over everything like a warm gauze. It was safe, silent, beautiful.

I love you, my prince.

And I you, my knight.

✪✪✪✪✪

Something about Keith seemed... oddly familiar.

From the second Lance caught a glimpse of his unkempt mullet at the Garrison, he felt drawn into Keith's orbit. Lance couldn't place it, but he knew somehow deep down that he just had to be close to Keith. At first, it was through their rivalry. Nothing gave Lance more satisfaction than inching closer and closer to Keith on the simulator leaderboards, hoping that one day he could climb high enough that Keith would finally look at him.

His thing ("not obsession, Hunk," he always insisted) with Keith only grew rapidly after he was placed into cargo class. It was around this time that Lance allowed himself to call it a crush, a tentative, fleeting thing, based solely on Keith’s bad boy, mystery persona and Lance’s love of the chase.

He spent most of his Garrison years making out with any girl that would say yes to a date. Running his hands over their Garrison jackets in dark corners, imagining the hair slipping through his fingers to be just a little shorter and a little darker, the form against his a little taller, lips a little rougher against his. But things were good, and as much as he wanted Keith, he was a big boy that could handle not getting the things he wanted.

(Being a big boy that can handle not getting the things he wanted involved so much staring at Keith that he was nearly certain Hunk was minutes away from smacking him upside the head. Truly, he tried to keep talking about Keith to a bare minimum, but he couldn’t be expected to stop his admiration.)

So Lance fought. Every single day, he worked his ass off, studying harder than ever, moving up the ranks in the simulator. Eventually he was at the tippy top of the cargo pilot class, and from there, at the top of this precipice, Lance was so certain that one day he would be able to simply reach right up and Keith would be there. Stupid, beautiful Keith (who Lance was almost certain didn’t even know his name) would one day be waiting outside of the simulator, and he would take Lance’s hand, kissing the back of it, and tell him that Lance was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

So yeah, Lance was a dreamer. Even when Keith dropped out after socking Iverson in the face, (a move Lance will not admit that he found hot, thank you very much) he still consumed most of Lance’s thoughts. His feelings for Keith had grown sharper—a crush laced with cutting edges of anger. Keith had everything Lance had ever wanted, and he simply tossed it aside. It didn’t matter that Lance was now a fighter pilot. Classes were harder than ever, the simulator faster than he had ever anticipated, and now there was no one for Lance to grin over his shoulder at and say, “how about that, mullet?”

At night, Lance lay in bed, running his fingers along his pillow as he dreamt of strange eyes filled with golden pools and soft, strong hands that held him. He dreamt of Keith, what he might look like if he laughed for real, and what Lance’s name would sound like rolling off of his tongue. He dreamt that one day, Keith would look at him and say, “there you are. I’ve been looking for you forever,” and then he would be home. 

At night, sometimes, he wept for the things he could not understand, and the things he could not have. 

✪✪✪✪✪

Shit, Keith’s eyes were purple. 

For all of Lance’s frankly embarrassing pining after Keith, he had never quite gotten close enough to tell if they were just dark gray, or something else entirely. Keith’s eyes were often featured in his strange dreams, Lance’s mind automatically filling in a color for them, and sometimes they even melted away into pure gold. Seeing the depth of them, their rich purple color framed by Keith’s dark hair in the dim lighting of the Garrison bunker, with his hero draped between them, Lance felt like he might have a bit of a gay panic. He would deny thinking that later, but in the moment, he was so, so gay and definitely panicing. Hunk was never going to let this go. 

“Uh, the name’s Lance,” he spat out, feeling sweat begin to bead on the back of his neck. His word vomit was coming, he could feel it, and there was nothing he could do about it. He was going to make a fool out of himself to his crush, his crush who apparently didn’t even recognize him, and damn, wasn’t that like, the biggest blow to Lance’s already fragile ego. 

The annoyance seemed to be radiating off of Keith in waves, but Lance was nothing if not a masochist, so he surged forward, helping Keith drag Shiro out of the terrible Garrison bunker and onto Keith’s (definitely not meant for 5) hoverbike, dragging Pidge and Hunk with him, for better, or for worse. 

Hunk had joked when Keith had first gotten kicked out of the Garrison that Lance should quit too as a big gesture of love. Something about friends and jumping off of a cliff? Hunk figured that Lance had spent so much of his time at the Garrison staring at the back of Keith’s head, it was only fair that he followed it right out the front door. Lance hated how right Hunk had been in his jesting, and Lance secretly knew deep down, he would follow Keith just about anywhere. 

So, he figured he couldn’t be blamed for doing just that. He followed Keith helplessly straight onto the back of a hoverbike and off a cliff. He followed blindly, hopelessly, irreversibly in love with him into a cave with a giant robot lion that could apparently talk to him in his head, and, even though he was technically doing the flying, Lance followed Keith all the way up into space.

Man, the things he did for love. Someday, Keith was going to owe him for this. 

✪✪✪✪✪

When Lance pictured his Life With Keith (name still pending), he absolutely did not expect them to continue being rivals even after having met. Lance supposed it was the romantic in him, but he had always imagined that, since he had done it with Keith, Keith would simply take one look at him and fall head over heels onto his ass for Lance. 

He did not expect to have to continue to fight for his attention, even while they were in goddamn space. Nothing he did was ever good enough for Keith, never strong enough, never fast enough. Even though he was one of five of the most important people in the universe, Keith never so much as spared him a second glance.

Realistically, Lance knew that was probably just how Keith was. He didn’t really speak to anyone besides Shiro, opting instead to train obsessively or stew in his room. Lance had no idea what he was planning on doing the day that he banged on Keith’s door, no plan in sight, but he knew he was going to drag Keith out of there if it was the last thing he did.

“Keith, open up!” he yelled through the door, and he heard a grunt from inside before the door opened just a sliver. 

“What the hell do you want, Lance?” Keith grumbled, and Lance froze. To be honest, he wasn’t fully expecting to get this far, and he panicked.

“Um, do you want to bake a cake with me?” Lance cursed to himself. No, Keith did not want to bake fucking cake with him, he’s so stupid, why did he bring that up. However, to his shock, the door opened fully, and Keith, in all his glory, stepped into the hallway.

“Sure. Cake sounds good right now,” Keith shrugged, and Lance balked. 

“You mean, like, you will actually come to the kitchen with me right now, and spend time with me?”  

Keith just pushed past him, walking briskly towards the kitchen, and Lance yelped, jogging to keep up with him. 

“Okayyyyyy, if you're going to help me, you’re going to have to actually, like, talk to me.”

“I’ll talk to you.” They rounded the corner to the kitchen, and Lance got to work pulling out alien ingredients that looked vaguely like they might make a cake. Keith frowned and began to help.

“Do you have any idea what you’re doing, Lance?”

“Nope!” Lance declared cheerfully. “Now help me make this damn cake.”

They worked in tandem, throwing random shit into a bowl. Lance was certain if Hunk was there, he would kill them (after congratulating Lance on his success in talking to Keith first;he wasn't a barbarian). When the cake finally came out of the oven, it was a misshapen mess, and they played rock paper scissors to see who would have to try it. 

Smugly holding up his rock over Keith’s scissors, Keith sighed, grabbing a fork. 

“Holy shit, this is inedible,” Keith said in awe. Lance looked at him, and smiled. 

“Guess we’ll just have to try again, then.”

And sometimes, Lance had terrible ideas. Most of the time, actually, Lance had batshit insane, absolutely terrible ideas that made no sense. But getting Keith to spend actual uninterrupted time with him, seeing that smile on Keith’s face, the promise of getting to see him again? Yeah. Lance was pretty damn certain this was the best idea he ever had. 

✪✪✪✪✪

"What is this place?"

Lance turned his head towards Keith, giving him a small smile, his chest aching. He had come here specifically for some alone time, but as always, who was he to say no to Keith? 

"The ballroom. Allura was telling me they used to have grand parties here, once upon a time."

"Doesn't look like much of a ballroom," Keith scowled, and Lance laughed, feeling something in his chest unknot itself.

"That's because it isn't full of people dancing, idiot," Lance felt the fondness slipping into his smile despite himself, and reached a hand out to Keith. "Dance with me?"

"Lance, I don't—"

"Come on, Keith. What, are you scared of a little waltz?" Lance waggled his eyebrows, and Keith shifted awkwardly, taking a few steps forward. He finally placed his hand in Lance's, allowing the two of them to drift closer together.

"There's no music," Keith whispered, their foreheads practically touching. "And I definitely don't know how to dance."

"Don't care!" Lance laughed, and allowed himself the simple pleasure of closing the distance between the two of them, gently resting their foreheads together. It wasn't perfect, but Lance would take anything he could get from Keith. Their friendship was tentative, new and fragile, but Lance could tell they were making significant progress with each other.

"This is stupid Lance," Keith growled, pulling away slowly to meet Lance's eyes. Lance allowed himself to get lost in the deep purple for a moment, but suddenly the scene around him began to shift around him, the halls filling up with people, and when he blinked again, where Keith had been stood a tall, imposing-looking Galra with dark hair and the cutest ears Lance had ever seen. Lance opened his mouth to speak, but his head felt a bit woozy and memory began to take over. Lance slipped down, allowing himself to fall into the scene before him.

"Prince Allons, may I have this dance?"

Allons giggled, allowing the Galra guard in front of him to kiss the back of his hand lightly. He was incredibly handsome, and although Allons knew his attention should definitely be directed... elsewhere, it wouldn't hurt to spare this Galra one dance, would it?

"It would be my honor, Sir.Although I am terribly sorry that although you seem to know my name, I am unaware of yours. I do so love to get to know my dance partners."

The Galra straightened, and Allons gasped quietly at the beautiful man in front of him. The Galra caught his gasp and grinned, giving the prince a once-over himself.

"My name is Sir Kethyr, your Grace. Prince Kryv's head of Guard. It is a pleasure to meet you, your Highness."

Allons felt himself blush, his eye scales glowing a very faint blue as he let Sir Kethyr pull him in closer. Their eyes met and as the music swelled they began to dance.

“Sir Kethyr,” Allons began conversationally. “How have you been liking Altea?”

The knight grinned, swiftly pulling Allons into a dip that left him a little breathless. Their eyes locked, gold against brilliant blue, and time seemed to stand still between them before Kethyr gently broke the silence. “I’ve certainly been enjoying the view.” 

Kethyr tipped him upright again, their noses practically touching, Allons’ face alight with a blush still. It wasn’t fair that Lance was the most sought after bachelor in all of Altea, but this Galran had him in a pile of mush with only a few flirty words. 

“We have beautiful gardens and oceans,” Allons prompted. “If you wanted… I could show you some time.”

“I would like that very much, your Highness.”

They smiled at each other shyly, pulling away as the music stopped, and Allons heart beat quickly out of his chest, already counting down the moments until he might see the Galran knight again…

"Holy shit," Lance gasped, pulling away from Keith where they had been resting their foreheads together. "Holy shit, did you fucking—"

"What was that?" Keith growled, deadly calm radiating from him where he stood still in the middle of the empty ballroom. "Lance, what the fuck was that?"

Lance shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself. That had all been so familiar, yet so distant, almost as if he and Keith…

If he closed his eyes, he could still feel the soft, slightly furred hand in his, could still hear the music of the party all around him, the delicate gem of his moon circlet resting against his forehead as he—

Wait. How had he known that the circlet was a moon?

"Keith do you think... that was real?"

Keith's frown deepened, but Lance plowed forward. "Like... have you felt like the castle is a bit oddly familiar? Did you feel a sense of deja vu walking into this room? What if.. we’ve been here before?"

"That's impossible."

"We're on an alien spaceship where we pilot giant robot lions, Keith. I think we have far passed the plane of 'possible' at this point."

"Point, but you cannot seriously expect me to believe that we, what? Lived some crazy past life here once upon a time?” Keith had pulled away from Lance fully, and Lance desperately wished to reach out for him but stopped himself. It wasn’t like that. It never would be like that. 

“I—,” Lance started, then shook his head. At this point, he wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince himself or Keith. “You’re right. We’re probably just tired. I don’t know what that was, but I’m sure it won’t happen again.”

Keith gave him a small smile, clearly satisfied with Lance’s dismissal, and nodded. “Exactly. I’ll see you at training in the morning, Lance.” 

Lance let out a small noise of disapproval, but Keith was already gone. He shivered, wrapping his arms around himself as he sank to the floor. There was no way that he had lived a past life. Those people that he had just seen didn’t even exist; he was sure of it. Keith was right. It was impossible. Resolutely, he nodded, rising from the floor, and left the ballroom. He didn’t look back.

✪✪✪✪✪

“Lance, we should definitely not be doing this. Shiro is going to actually kill us, I think.” 

Lance waved his hand behind himself dismissively, continuing to stalk quietly down the corridors of the unfamiliar castle. They had been on Thorux for several days now, but all of their negotiations had been taking place inside the stuffy castle, and Lance was dying to see the rest of the planet. He was certain he had seen some gardens on their flight in, and he was determined to see them. Keith was only here because he had seen Lance sneak out of his room and was determined to escort him back, but that certainly was not happening. 

“You can turn back if you want. I am getting out of this castle if it's the last thing I do, but if you’re scared of Shiro…”

Keith bristled beside him as they ducked around a corner. “I am absolutely not scared of Shiro. And we won’t get caught. I’m excellent at stealth missions.”

Hook, line, and sinker. The success rate of his escape mission just doubled with Keith there, as much as he hated to admit it. Keith was sneaky, with quick reflexes, and clearly an asset on his extremely covert stealth mission. 

They moved in sync out from behind the alcove they had ducked into, Keith taking the lead as they crouched, making their way carefully to the next alcove in the wall. Keith suddenly frowned, leaning forward slightly, before baring his teeth and putting a hand out to stop Lance. “Go back, go back,” he murmured, and they both quickly shuffled to a smaller alcove than the one they had just been in. It was barely big enough for the both of them, but there was a thick tapestry covering this one. 

Lance heard the voices of guards begin to filter down the hallway, and he sucked in a breath. Keith clasped his hand over Lance’s mouth to keep him quiet, and Lance held his breath as the footsteps came to a stop right in front of the tapestry.

“I thought I heard voices over here,” a gruff voice spoke out. Lance closed his eyes, feeling Keith’s chest rising and falling against his own in the tight space. The people of planet Thorux were very, very strict rule followers, and finding Keith and Lance out of the rooms they were specifically told not to leave could be detrimental to their alliance. 

“Guess it’s nothing. Let’s go,” another voice answered, and neither Keith nor Lance moved a muscle until the footsteps had retreated all the way down the hallway. 

FInally, they both let out the breath they had been holding, and Lance rested his head back against the wall. “Shit, that was close. But hey, that’s why I bring my Galra around, yeah? You have superior hearing.” Lance leaned forward to tug on one of Keith’s perfectly human ears, and Keith blushed very lightly. It was so dark, Lance could barely make it out, but he felt his heart flutter dangerously in his chest despite himself. 

Keith shook his head, peeking out from behind the tapestry to make sure the guards were out of sight. He grabbed Lance’s hand and pulled them out of their alcove, darting down the hallway to the door to the garden. Lance couldn’t help but stare at where their hands met, the leather of Keith’s gloves rubbing against his palm, causing him to blush. Just as Lance was certain he was going to pass out from how much blood was currently in his cheeks, the door in front of them opened, and they were outside. 

Lance quickly dropped Keith’s hand, embarrassed, looking away from him to instead admire the palace gardens. 

“It’s been a while since I was in a royal garden,” Lance mused, and Keith’s brow furrowed. 

“When have you been in a royal garden?”

Lance frowned, racking his brain. When he had said it, he knew that he had been in the royal gardens before. The whole situation was giving him deja vu, and his head was swimming. 

“I just know that I have before,” Lance snapped, turning away from Keith completely, instead moving a ways down the path to begin his walk through the garden. Keith sighed from behind him, reaching around to link their elbows. 

“I’m sorry, Lance. I didn’t mean for you to get defensive. I was just wondering, I swear.”

“It’s okay, I just feel a little… unsettled, I guess. Being here. Like everything is through a gauzy filter, and I don’t know how to unveil everything. Does that make sense?”

Keith stared openly at him for several moments, enough for Lance to begin to squirm a bit defensively. “That’s exactly how I feel. How did you describe it so perfectly? It’s like I’m in a consistent state of deja vu and I can’t get out.”

Lance nodded eagerly. “Do you think it has anything to do with that weird vision we saw the other day in the ballroom?”

At that, Keith pulled away from him. “I told you Lance, that wasn’t real. That was just some shared fever dream because we were so tired from battle that day, nothing more.”

Lance frowned, rolling his eyes. There was something going on between the two of them, something that involved both the Galran and the Altean prince, and those strange, golden eyes he had been dreaming about for years. He wasn’t sure what yet, but when he proved strange things were actually afoot, Keith would be sorry. 

“Maybe I can ask Allura about it. If there was another prince on Altea, it would be her brother, right? She would know who those people were.” 

“I don’t want Allura to know about this,” Keith argued back, and Lance felt himself grow even more frustrated. Of course, Keith would want to keep something this big to himself. He probably didn’t even want Lance to know, even though they were friends, and the only reason he was even entertaining talking about it right now was because Lance had seen the damn thing too.

“Look, let's just go back inside, alright? This planet is nice, but I’m tired and I don’t want to get caught,” Lance said and pushed past Keith, only turning around when he didn't feel Keith begin to follow him. Lance opened his mouth to ask Keith what the hell was wrong with him, but the second their eyes met—

“Oh, your Highness,” Kethyr dipped into a formal bow. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here today.”

Allons smiled, silently thanking the gods that he was wearing formal robes today. Self consciously, he straightened his circlet, and turned to smile at Kethyr. 

"Didn't expect to see me in my own royal gardens?" He teased, grinning when Kethyr flushed purple.

"Maybe I was hoping to see you, Prince Allons," Kethyr admitted boldly, and Allons preened.

"I suppose I do owe you a tour."

"That you do, your Highness."

Kethyr held out his arm, and Allons gracefully took his elbow to begin leading through the gardens.

"Rumor has it that you're to wed Prince Kryv."

Allons hummed. "You shouldn't listen to rumors, Sir Kethyr. They can never be trusted."

"Forgive me, your grace, but us guards have to pass the time somehow, haven't we?"

The grin Kethyr turned on him was rather blinding, and Allons found himself giving in. "The possibility of my union with Kryv is... being discussed, yes," he began slowly. "With the comet here and the rift on Daibazaal, political union between the two planets is of the utmost importance."

Kethyr was frowning now, and Allons bit his lip, loathe that he had put that expression there. "Nothing is settled yet, though. We are only just beginning to discuss. Come, let me show you the juniberries. They're exquisite this time of year."

Allons led the stoic guard through the garden, pointing out the various flora with as much enthusiasm as he could muster, feeling his heartstrings pull every time he got Kethyr to smile. After an amazing, show stopping tour (if you asked Allons), he led the two of them to a secluded bench, where they sat with their thighs touching.

"I never knew there could be so many... colorful flowers."

Allons threw his head back with a laugh, and then let out another soft giggle at Kethyr's downturned ears. "I'm not laughing at you, I swear."

"Isn't it unbecoming of a prince to lie, your highness?"

Letting out a small laugh of delight, Allons began, "And am I not your superior? Should I not report you for calling me a liar?"

"You wouldn't dare, Allons."

They both sucked in a sharp breath, and Kethyr quickly backpedaled. "Your highness, my apologies, it was merely an accident. It won't happen again, I swear it."

"No it's," Allons cleared his throat. "It's alright. You have my explicit permission to call me Allons. I liked it, actually. It made me feel like..." He shook his head. It would probably not be in his best interests to spill all of his inner turmoil to this guard, even if being referred to as an equal had spouted a small, happy fire in his gut.

Kethyr still looked a little unsure, but he nodded. "Alright. I will keep that in mind."

The nod was mirrored by Allons, who leaned down to straighten his robes, brushing the imaginary dust particles off of them. "Well, it's gotten rather late. I should probably return to my chambers."

"Goodnight, my prince," Kethyr spoke softly into the night, and leaned forward to press a kiss to each of Allon's cheeks, right beneath his eye scales. "This has been lovely. Until I see you again."

He pulled away with a soft smile, and Allons sat there, shocked with his cheeks flaming, for several minutes before he gained the ability to move again.

“Holy shit,” Lance gasped, rooted to where he was standing. “I think maybe we should talk to Allura.”

Beside him, Keith nodded sagely, and they began to walk back to the castle in silence. 

✪✪✪✪✪

Lance did not, in fact, talk to Allura. 

Both he and Keith had decided that he should be the one to do it, with some sort of connection between Allons and Allura, and the fact that Keith was... well, Keith.

He put it off for days, worried that somehow he would reveal the true nature of his visit and she would think they were both crazy people, but he knew he was only biding his time. In truth, he was terrified of what this all meant. Lance decided maybe some time alone would clear his head, and made his way to the abandoned ballroom he had been in with Keith. However, stepping foot inside, he suddenly was back at a bright, loud party filled to the brim with aliens he didn’t recognize. 

“It’s an honor to meet you, your highness.” Allons bowed to Prince Kryv, wincing slightly as Kryv looked him up and down. 

“Aren’t you a pretty little thing,” Kryv crooned, reaching out to grab Allons’ hand in a dance. Allons’ smile tightened, but he allowed himself to be led onto the dance floor. 

“Thank you, Prince Kryv. I hope you have found your stay at our home refreshing?”

“Very much so, young prince. I met with your father today and we discussed the possibility of a political union between the two of us.”

Allons felt his heart stop. He knew that as the crown prince he would someday be expected to marry someone of similar royal status. However, knowing that and hearing this slimeball say it outloud were two completely different things. Call him a romantic, but he had always imagined that someday he would marry for love, not someone who only saw him as his crown. He forced a smile onto his face and let himself be pulled into a dip.

“Is that so?” he prompted, hoping Kryv would let more information about the supposed union loose. Kryv, ever the diplomat, just laughed. 

“You don’t have to sound so excited. You will grow to fall in love with me in time, I’m sure, my jewel. The discussion is merely in its early stages, and nothing has been finalized, so there’s nothing you need to worry your pretty little head about.”

Kryv lifted him up eye to eye, that terrible grin stretched across his face, and Allons shivered at the sick parallel to his dance with Kethyr earlier that week. He tried to imagine what it would be like to be Kryv’s husband, and nearly passed out from the sheer force of fear and unwant that flashed through his body. 

“I will look forward to the negotiations, your highness,” he finally settled on, gently pulling away from Kryv the second the dance was finished with an apologetic smile. “It was lovely to meet you, but I really must go entertain my other guests.”

“This dance will not be our last, little prince,” Kryv called after him, and Allons shivered at his voice, and the implications that statement carried. Maybe there was still time for his father to change his mind—after all, no real decisions had been made. 

Well, shit. He didn’t think he could hold off the chat with Allura any longer, and he made his way to the bridge. 

“Allura? Are you busy right now?” Lance tentatively peeked into the bridge, hoping that the gods above would have his back just this once. Allura was seated in front of one of the displays, clearly reading something, but she turned around to smile at Lance.

“I always have time for you, Lance. What is it?”

Lance bit his lip. While he and Keith clearly needed her help, they agreed it would probably be best if she was still in the dark about the true nature of their visions until they figured them out themselves. His orders were simple: find out if Allons and Kethyr were real people, and whether or not crazy Altean reincarnation was possible. 

"I guess I just... miss home. And my family. I miss my family so much."

Allura sighed, pulling away from the console to sit beside him. "I know the feeling, Lance."

"Oh, shit," he mumbled. "Allura, I'm sorry, I didn't—"

"No, no," she reassured. "You are perfectly valid in missing your family. I was sympathizing, not trying to prioritize my pain over yours. Tell me about your family?"

Even though this mission was meant to be recon, talking to Allura about his family was comforting. He launched into an in depth description of each of his many family members, complete with lively anecdotes that had Allura clutching at her sides. In that moment he felt so warm and whole, like a missing piece of himself was complete. He smiled over at Allura, and her eyes caught his. 

“So what about you? Did you have any siblings?” He prompted, hoping to get confirmation in his new discovery. He watched as her carefree expression morphed into one of intense anger, and he recoiled slightly. 

“I had a brother but I… I would rather not talk about him. Can we talk about something else?”

“Yeah, of course,” he mumbled, feeling immediately off-kilter. He could understand missing a sibling, becoming too choked up to even think about them, but never had he imagined that Allura would be angry at one.

“Yeah, of course we can. Do you want to tell me more about Altea?”

She grinned, relief flooding her features. “I would love to tell you about my home. What would you like to know?”

“Okay, so like, I’m Catholic right, and we believe that when we die we go to a sort of afterlife? Is there an afterlife on Altea?”

“Oh? That is such an interesting question. I suppose, the simplest way to put it, would be reincarnation? When someone dies, their quintessence does not die with them. Quintessence never dies, so after its… host, for lack of better word, passes on, the quintessence has to find a new host, in the form of anything living.”

“And can your quintessence… remember its past life?” 

Allura frowned, tilting her head. “I never thought about that. I suppose that could be possible, but it seems extremely unlikely. No one I have ever met had been able to remember a past life of theirs, but I would hate to rule that out. Lance, thank you, this has been so enlightening. I would love to do more research on the topic.” She rose, and smiled down at him. 

“I hope you’re feeling a little better. I hope this talk has been as illuminating for you as it was for me.” With that, she was gone, and Lance sat rooted to his chair, rather dumbstruck.

“Enlightening, huh. Allura, you have no idea.”

✪✪✪✪✪

Lance was cold.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem at all.He would sling on his jacket and be ready to face the day as if nothing had ever happened. However, his jacket was missing, and the ship was empty and lonely, and therefore, his ass was cold. 

He trudged over to the training room, hoping maybe in his negligence the jacket had just been tossed aside while he was working with the long distance drones that morning. Instead of the empty training room he was hoping for, Lance heard the distinctive clanging of swords and sighed. 

Truth be told, he did not feel like seeing Keith right now. As great as it was that they had finally started a tentative friendship, with the way his not so tiny anymore crush on Keith flared every time he laughed, every time he smiled at Lance, and the way their shared visions seemed to be getting more intense and more frequent, things were hard. Lance wanted to slap himself, tell himself to be grateful for what he had, and leave it be. If he kept pining it could mean the end of their friendship, and that was the last thing he ever wanted.

Steeling himself, Lance stepped into the training room, eyes immediately locking on his jacket that had been discarded in the corner. At least that was one problem solved, and Lance thanked whoever was listening for small victories. His eyes next darted over to Keith, who was vigorously slashing at training bots with a furrowed brow, shirt tight against his chest and sweatpants low on his hips and calm down Lance, God.

Lance let out a little squeak when Keith toppled a particularly aggressive bot, causing Keith to pause and turn to him. Keith smiled, small and soft, and motioned for the training sequence to end so he could face Lance properly. 

“What’s up, Lance?”

“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m sorry for barging in, but I’ll be out of your mullet in just a minute. I forgot my jacket here this morning.”

“Don’t worry about it, Lance. I don’t mind if you stay.”

“Need someone to make fun of you as you train?” Lance couldn’t help but tease, grinning playfully at Keith as Keith looked down at the floor almost—shyly? No way Keith was shy around him of all people. Lance figured he must just be tired from all of the training he had done that morning. 

“Sorry man,” Lance placated when Keith continued to look away from him. “I was just teasing you. I would never, like, actually make fun of you. Not anymore anyway, not now that we’re friends.”

“Friends?” Keith asked quietly, a smile beginning to stretch across his pale features. 

“Yeah, duh, dude. We’re friends, unless you had something else in mind.”

See, Lance was notorious for putting his foot in his mouth in all social situations. When he said it, he truly had meant as a reference to their alleged rivalry. He really had! But still, the moment it slipped from his lips, Lance mentally smacked himself as he realized the connotations of what he just said and got ready to backpedal, but instead of looking angry, Keith blushed. 

And oh.

Maybe Lance should continue to make just-slightly sexual in nature innuendos if it meant this reaction could be pulled from Keith. The pink spread across his cheeks in rapid motion, settling along the high of his cheekbones delicately, and wow, Lance, get a grip. 

“I really didn’t mean it like-” Lance started, but Keith just laughed a little nervously. 

“It’s fine, Lance, I know. I’m happy that we’re friends. I wouldn’t want anything less.”

At the sheer sincerity of Keith’s words, Lance felt himself blush as well, the tops of his cheeks growing hot. Finally, Keith’s gaze rose from the ground, and he reactivated his bayard to continue to train. 

“I really don’t mind if you stay. Maybe you can watch and learn how a real fight looks on the floor.”

They both laughed at that, and Keith turned his face around to grin at Lance. However, the moment their eyes met, as always, the room tilted on its side, and Lance felt the weight of his royal circelt rest against his head. 

Allons stepped into the training room quietly, observing as Kethyr meticulously took out training bot after bot. He couldn't help but grin slightly, and tilt his head to the side.

"Enjoying yourself, Sir Kethyr?"

Without missing a beat, Kethyr turned slightly towards him with a blinding smile. "Hello, your highness. End training sequence," he called to the room, rolling his shoulders before sheathing his blade. "To what do I owe this honor?"

"Royal lessons were becoming increasingly trite this afternoon. I figured my time could be better spent here, brushing up on my hand-to-hand?" He raised an eyebrow at Kethyr, who immediately accepted his challenge.

"Come spar with me, Prince Allons. We can practice your close range, and see if we can't distract you from your... taxing morning."

"I suppose we could," Allons glided into the room, stepping over to the weapons rack to survey the close range weapons that were laid out.

"I much prefer my bow and arrow," he began, selecting a short staff, testing its weight in his hands before turning to Kethyr. "But I'm still confident that I can beat you without one."

“Is that so, your Highness?” Allons could practically hear the smirk in Kethyr’s voice, and he immediately whipped around to face his opponent. They settled into a fighting stance, facing each other for several silent moments before Kethyr launched forward. Allons sidestepped his attack easily, immediately adopting a defensive style as Kethyr took the offensive. 

For what Kethyr had in sheer strength and size, Allons made up for in speed and agility. He was lightning fast, whipping around Kethyr in every which way, blocking every single one of his attacks. 

“Imagine the things we could do if we fought as one unit,” Allons mused as he blocked yet another of Kethyr’s attacks. “Your brute strength, paired with my wit and agility? I fear we would be unstoppable.”

“Are you implying that I don’t possess wit, my prince?”

“If the shoe fits,” Allons quipped, taking Kethyr’s brief moment of shock to mount his first offensive attack, pushing Kethyr back with short, precise jabs, causing Kethyr to grit his teeth. Their blades clashed several times before Allons got a perfect jab at Kethyr’s stomach, knocking the Galran to the ground. Before he could get up, Allons loomed over him, moving to pin him to the ground with his own body. 

Allons panted, settling himself over Kethyr's hips, staff pointed at his face. "I've got you now," Allons grinned.

"Did you know that sparring is a Galran courting ritual?" Kethyr smirked. "If you win, you've proven yourself as a worthy mate."

"And if you win?"

"Then you're mine."

Allons let out a small gasp of surprise at the warmth that rushed through him, and for a second he was distracted enough for Kethyr to flip them, and out of the corner of his eye, Allons watched as Kethyr's blade extended from it's normal size to a large scythe. Kethyr smirk widened, pointing the now large blade at Allons' throat with a triumphant flourish.

"I have you now, little prince. What are you going to do?" Kethyr's hair had fallen into his face, and he was panting lightly, his eyes bright golden as he grinned down at Allons. His fangs were showing slightly from how wide his smile was, and his cheeks had a slight flush from exertion.

Allons thought he had never looked more beautiful.

"Will you kiss me?" Allons blurted out, watching intently and Kethyr's expression morphed into one of shock. "You won, didn't you? Don't you want to claim your prize?"

Kethyr surged forward, their mouths meeting in a messy kiss. The angle was a bit awkward, with Allons being flat on his back in the middle of the training room, but Kethyr's blade dropped next to them and suddenly there were fingers running through his hair, and Allons arched up into the kiss with everything he had.

"Allons," Kethyr said, pulling back, but Allons whined softly, sitting up to chase Kethyr's lips. "Allons, darling. We have to think logically about this. You're a prince, and I'm just..."

"A handsome, charming knight who cares about me? Who sees me as an equal yet still treats me as if I am something to be cherished? Kethyr, I have never loved someone as I do you. Please just trust me, and kiss me again?"

"As if you have to ask," Kethyr mumbled, reaching out to gently cradle Allons' chin and turn the kiss into something sweeter. Allons leaned into it, feeling in that moment like he was the most beautiful being in the universe with all of the love Kethyr was pouring into their kiss. Eventually, Allons pulled back, smiling softly at the look of reverence on Kethyr's visage.

"So what was that fancy trick with your blade at the end there?"

Kethyr grinned, reaching behind them to grab the blade, settling it between them. Allons ran a finger over it and waited for Kethyr to speak.

"It's luxite. Isn't it beautiful? It's a blade of my own creation."

"And it just extends like that? Whenever you want it to?"

"Kind of. It does now. When I first made the blade, I made it with every intention for it to be a smaller, one handed blade. However, I connected the blade to my life-force. I was sparring with one of the generals and as suddenly as I wished I could have a larger blade, it extended. It gave us both quite a fright."

They both laughed, and Allons leaned into Kethyr's side shyly, Kethyr's arm wrapping around Allons’ waist to hold him there.

"What does this mean for us now, my prince?"

"I love you, my knight. Today, tomorrow, and always. I'm yours, if you'll have me. What else could possibly matter?"

"I'm just going to—" Lance awkwardly picked up his jacket from where it had been discarded on the training room floor. Keith was standing ram-rod straight, still holding his activated bayard in hand. 

“Lance, wait,” Keith started gruffly, before clearing his throat. “Maybe, um, we could spar too?”

Lance sucked in a small breath. To be quite honest, he wasn’t sure if he could hold it together in a spar with Keith after such a strong and compelling vision. It wasn’t fair that the past version of himself was getting cozy with Keith while he was stuck pining. In fact, Lance mused, he was pretty sure he had been pining after Keith for longer than his past self had even known Kethyr. 

Lance wished more than anything that he could talk to Allons. He knew it was technically just himself, but maybe there was some crevice of his brain that would remain shrouded from Lance’s memory forever, some secret corner that would hold all of the answers to his Keith Problem. But that wasn’t possible, and even if it was, Allons clearly was no romance expert. Just like him.

“Yeah, sure, we can spar.” Lance dropped his jacket again,grabbing his bayard. He marched over to Keith with a new determination, but before he could activate his bayard, Keith’s lips were on his. 

Lance froze, every muscle in his body locking up as Keith’s lips pressed to his. They feel just like I imagined, a traitorous part of his brain supplied, but he ignored it. There was no explanation for why Keith was kissing him right now, unless maybe his wires crossed, and he was still flashing back, or still disoriented.

After several seconds of Lance being too stunned to kiss back, Keith pulled away awkwardly, looking away shyly. “Lance? Was that okay? Nothing has to change between us, I just thought, well… we’re friends, right? And I care about you? And I wanted to. Kiss you, I mean. If it’s not okay we can totally just… forget it ever happened.”

Lance felt the floor drop out beneath him. So, Keith was looking for some sort of friends with benefits arrangement? Leave it to Keith to do something straight out of a romance book for middle schoolers. Lance took a deep breath, weighing his options. He liked Keith. A whole lot, maybe even loved him, and he had since the Garrison. Here was his crush, offering a piece of himself to Lance on a silver platter. A piece was better than nothing, even if having only a piece would be painful, and leave him wanting for more.

Have Keith, but ache with every step, or continue to follow after Keith like a lovesick puppy dog?

Lance is only human, after all.

“It’s great,” Lance forced out, sliding a hand around Keith’s waist. “I’m sorry, I was just surprised, is all. Kiss me again?”

Keith’s smile was just blinding, and Lance knew that he made the right choice. He thought of the original story of The Little Mermaid, where she was able to walk on land but every single step shot pain through her legs, but it was worth it to be with the one she loved.

Lance smiled back. Great, he told himself. This would be great.

✪✪✪✪✪

“Keiiiiiith,” Lance whined, rolling over to bury his head into the pillows. They smelled strongly of Keith, and Lance once again was reeling at the fact that he was in Keith’s bed.  “Keith, what the fuck, come back here.”

Keith laughed, looking back at Lance still spread out on bed, and threw the rag at him. "Get up, you lazy shit. We have team training in 10 minutes."

Lance pouted, making grabby hands at Keith, who sighed and leaned down to press a soft kiss to Lance's forehead. "Jesus, you're clingy," he mumbled, stretching back up to throw Lance's discarded pants over to him.

"You like it," Lance preened, making absolutely no move to get off the bed. Keith sighed again, shaking his head. Lance smiled to himself. Nothing lit a fire underneath him more than annoying the absolute shit out of Keith, especially when he couldn't do anything about it.

"I do not," Keith protested, but it was weak, in Lance's humble opinion. Lance could continue to tease him, but he was scared Keith would just shut down. Instead, he sat up, frowning at a strange sense of deja vu.

"This should be reversed, shouldn't it?" He mumbled to himself, looking over at Keith straightening his jacket at the end of the bed. Lance leaned up a bit further, gazing upwards to meet Keith's eyes, and—

"Come here, my Prince," Kethyr mumbled, reaching his fingers out as if to grasp at the fine silk of Allons' evening robes. Allons laughed lightly, glancing back at Kethyr sprawled on his linens, looking a little, well, debauched. "Allons, baby, come back to me. Don't go—"

Allons sighed, taking another deliberate step away from the bed, picking up some of his discarded jewelry along the way. "My love," he started, voice trembling and he began fastening his golden chains to his waist. "You know I have to. If Kryv found out about us, if he even catches wind that something is wrong with me, he would have us both killed and you know it."

"Doesn't make it any easier, does it?" Kethyr rose, gliding over to place warm kisses onto Allons' bare shoulder. Allons melted, his eyes fluttering shut as he tilted his chin to give Kethyr access to his neck.

"Never, my knight. But soon, we will be able to escape—we just have to hang in there a little longer." Allons turned around, tucking his face into the crook of Kethyr's neck, breathing in his smoky scent. Kethyr kissed the top of his head, rubbing a hand along the small of Allons' back, careful not to disrupt the carefully laid fabric.

"Never forget that I love you, darling. No matter what happens in your negotiations tonight, never forget how much I love you."

"I love you too, Kethyr. More than anything in the whole universe."

"Sweetheart, you are my whole universe. The stars, the planets, and everything beautiful in between, all shine for you. No creature will ever surpass your beauty."

Allons blushed despite himself, before very gently extracting himself from Kethyr's arms. "First of all, darling, you clearly haven't met my sister if you're going around saying I am the most beautiful in the universe. And flattery will get you nowhere, I promise. No matter how much I wish to stay here in your embrace I must go. This is the final dinner before we sign the treaty."

"I know you must sign it, but it doesn't make it any easier."

"I must do my duty to my people and to my planet, Kethyr. No matter how much I love you, it doesn't matter. I must marry Prince Kryv. The lives of my people and everyone I love, including (and especially) yours, depend on it and you know it.”

Kethyr sat back on the bed with a frown, rubbing his temples as if the very notion of Allons actually having to do his princely duties gave him a headache. "I know that. Stop acting like I am second class to you just because I am not a prince. I understand duty, Allons. Don't treat me like I do not."

Allons scowled, gliding over to his vanity to reapply his makeup that had been smudged during their romp in the sheets. "I'm not trying to belittle you in any way. It's not that big of a deal, Kethyr! I just don't see how you fail to understand the importance of this treaty, and the weight of what we are doing. If anyone were to find out, it would be a death sentence for you, as well as my people! It isn't something just to be taken lightly! Stop asking me to grant you things I clearly cannot grant you!" He shook his head, gently setting down the perfume bottle he had been holding. Without realizing it, he had absentmindedly grabbed Kethyr's favorite.

"No matter how much I want to, we just can't be together," he whispered, looking down to hide the tears forming in his eyes against his will. "I have to marry the Prince, and you will be free to find love with someone else."

"Oh, darling," Kethyr breathed, moving to kneel in front of Allons. "Is that really what you think? That the moment you are wed, I will just discard you, and move on to someone else?"

Allons shrugged, but he had a feeling they both knew he was lying. Kethyr tutted, moving forward to kiss the tears that had gathered on Allons' eye scales.

"Allons, hear this now. No matter what, my love for you will never die. After you are married, I will either find a way to stay in your life or leave it heartbroken. Do you think I will find someone as wonderful as you? Someone who will laugh at my stupid jokes, someone to pet my ears when I'm sad, someone who fits against me as perfectly as you? Allons. There is no one else for me but you."

Allons felt his tears begin to fall again, and Kethyr cooed, wiping them away. It was several moments before Allons worked up the courage to speak again.

"Kethyr, I am so sorry. You don't deserve any of this. You could be somewhere, happily living a life that you don't constantly need to keep secret if you had just never met me. And I'm sorry for snapping at you earlier. You don't deserve that.This is just so hard for me. Everything in my heart says to pick you, but I cannot. It hurts so much to know I will be trapped in a loveless marriage my whole life. You deserve so much more than what I can ever give you."

Kethyr hushed him, moving up to sit next to the prince on the bench of his vanity so that he could gently run his fingers through Allons' hair. "It isn't like that, Allons. Don't you get it? There is no one else in the entire galaxy that I could be with. Only you, darling. If I had never met you, I would be alone and miserable. I am nothing when I am not at your side." He pressed a kiss to Allons' temple, right above the circlet.

"You have nothing to apologize for, truly. The fault is my own for getting upset with you. I understand the position you are in is far more painful than my own, and I should not be punishing you further than you already have been. No matter what, I love you." Kethyr cooed.

Allons let a small smile break through, and he leaned up to get a kiss from Kethyr before standing and straightening his robes for the final time. "How do I look? Like I was just ravished by my fiance's head of guard?"

Kethyr laughed, reaching up to straighten Allons' circlet. "You, my love, look perfect."

Lanced blinked back to Keith looking at him fondly. Lance blushed, and Keith leaned forward again to peck Lance's lips lightly. "C'mon, sharpshooter. Those training bots aren't going to wreck themselves."

✪✪✪✪✪

"Sir Kethyr!!!"

The prince's sweet voice rang throughout the bay, and Kethyr turned around on the ramp where he was boarding his ship. Allons breathed a sigh of relief, gratitude that he had caught the Galran before he left flooding through his veins. Allons gasped, having run at his full speed to the hanger, and gently motioned for Kethyr to follow him around the back of the ship.

"What is it, your highness? What would your handmaidens think, seeing you run down here in your fine robes like that?" He began teasingly, hoping to gain a smile from his beloved prince. They both knew how hard it was for Kethyr to leave on these missions, months at a time with no communication between the two... And no way for Allons to know if his brave knight would ever return to him.

"I brought something for you, my knight," Allons began in barely a whisper, glancing around quickly to confirm they really were alone, and no stray Galrans were lurking somewhere in the shadows hoping to catch a glimpse of the Altean prince. "It isn't much, but I hope you will accept my gift, Sir Kethyr." He reached into his robes, and pulled out his ring. It had been hastily looped onto a long piece of string, and with one look at it, Kethyr began to shake his head.

"My prince, no. I cannot accept your family ring.This is a gift that is too great, I am afraid. This ring is your livelihood, and without it, all would be lost."

With this, Allons gave an impish smile, and his eye scales glowed faintly in mischief. Without a word, he began to tie the string around Kethyr's neck, the makeshift necklace laying just so that the Altean family royal ring rested just above Kethyr's heart.

"Allons," Kethyr breathed and leaned down to press a soft kiss to the prince's forehead. "Allons, darling, I love you, but you know I cannot leave with this."

Allons smiled again, standing on his toes to press a proper kiss to Kethyr's lips. "I just suppose you will have to bring it back to me then, won't you, oh brave one? This ring is very important to me, and I expect both it and the man who wears it to return to me safe and whole."

Immediately Allons blushed under Kethyr's intense look of adoration. He tried to squirm away, but Kethyr placed a hand on the small of his back to keep them flush together. "It's stupid," Allons breathed when the Galran didn't immediately respond. "If you don't want it, I can just take it back. It's just a stupid ring."

"Darling, I love it. I love you. I will carry this ring and protect it with my life to make sure we both return to you, no matter what. Alright?" Kethyr waited for the prince to nod in confirmation before continuing. "This is a wonderful gift, but you know that I would return to you no matter what, ring or no ring. There is nothing in this universe that can keep me away from your side."

"I know that," Allons sighed, reaching forward to tuck the ring under Kethyr's armor so that it wouldn't be seen. "But, I suppose a little incentive doesn't hurt either. Come back to me, my love. Hurry back into the arms of one who loves you more than life itself."

"This I swear to you, Prince Allons. I will return to you, and with me I will return your family crest. You have my word. I love you— today."

"Tomorrow."

"And always," Kethyr murmured the last line into Allons' soft white hair, and then pulled away. They shared a final, sweet kiss, before a yell for Kethyr reverberated through the hanger.

"Goodbye, my prince. I will return before you even know I am gone."

With that, he turned and left their small alcove, leaving Allons alone, clutching his heart, knowing that despite what Kethyr had said to him, the hole in his chest would continue to ache every day until his love's return.

When Lance woke up from his dream, he realized he had been crying. He sighed, burying his head in his pillow, and did his best not to think about golden eyes or stupid mullets that would never love him back.

✪✪✪✪✪

"So..." Keith began shyly, burying his face into the crook of Lance's neck. Lance could tell Keith was nervous about something, so he just kept rubbing small circles onto Keith's back, hoping he would feel comfortable enough to open up. "I think I might... tell my boyfriend that I love him? Um, what, would you say, are the odds of him saying it back?"

Lance immediately froze. Holy shit. Holy shit. Keith had a boyfriend? Not only had Lance been sitting here pining after someone that didn't like him back, he was a goddamn homewrecker. Lance could just picture it now, Keith with a beautiful Blade, probably someone tall, lavender, strong, able to protect Keith. He felt tears begin to well up in his eyes, but he blinked them away.

What was the saying? If you love someone, you have to let them go?

“I think he would be a fool not to love you back,” Lance whispered, staring steadfastly at the ceiling so he couldn’t see Keith’s face. He felt sick. He was in love with Keith, and Keith had a boyfriend. Why had Keith been so touchy with him if he was in love with someone else?

“Really?” Keith sounded like he was in awe, and then pressed a single, shy kiss to Lance’s collarbone. “That’s good to hear,” Lance couldn’t place the almost teasing lilt to Keith’s voice, so he instead rolled onto his side away from Keith. Keith hummed, languidly stretching out next to him before standing. 

“I’m going to go get dressed to head out for the Blades. Do you need anything?” 

Lance gaped like a fish before managing to close his mouth. Keith was going to drop the boyfriend bomb and then just leave? Lance was determined not to show any disappointment though—he couldn’t let Keith know that his feelings were much deeper than rivals blowing off some steam together. 

“I’m okay,” he mumbled, sidestepping Keith’s attempt to kiss him. He could feel the displeasure radiating off of Keith in waves from behind him, but he couldn't even begin to wonder why. Was he nervous to talk to his boyfriend?

Boyfriend. Lance knew he was about half a second away from busting out into tears, and he needed to get out of here ASAP. No way was he letting Keith see him cry, especially over something as trivial as this.

"I... have fun on your mission, okay? Stay safe."

"I will, Lance," Keith settled for hugging him from behind, placing a few kisses to the base of Lance's neck. Each one felt like a hot coal being pressed against his skin, and Lance felt himself grow heavy with guilt. "I'll miss you while I'm gone. You know I’ll hurry back."

"I miss you already," Lance finally choked out, determined to keep the tears at bay until Keith left. Clearly realizing that he wouldn't get anything else out of him, Keith placed a final kiss to Lance's shoulder, squeezing his waist once again before pulling away completely. Lance swayed slightly on his feet, closing his eyes briefly to let himself have that feeling for what he assumed would be the final time. Maybe Keith would return from this mission with his boyfriend in tow, and Lance would have to smile and greet him like he didn't ache for Keith with every step.

"I'll see you in a week, sharpshooter."

And then he was gone.

Lance sank down onto the edge of his bed, letting out a single sob. How was he ever meant to compare with a Blade? Of course Keith wanted to go out and forge his own destiny, of course the visions and all of their kissing and cuddling meant nothing to him. Lance wouldn't give himself a second glance either if he were Keith, which he supposed might have been a really sick way of thinking about it.

He allowed himself a whole fifteen minutes to sulk in his bed, which is far longer than he would normally dare. He figured finding out that you were the side chick of the love of your life deserved just a little extra stew, and he planned to cash in every minute of that wallow in his own self pity. Furiously, Lance wiped away the gathering tears, taking a steadying breath and standing.

He could do this. He could stop fooling around with Keith. He could stop homewrecking, and he would get over his stupid crush. Yeah. It was that easy… 

✪✪✪✪✪

"Do you remember when you asked me about my brother, the prince?” Lance nodded, and Allura adjusted where they were sitting together on the couch after dinner. “I think, if you are ready to listen, I am ready to talk about him.”

Lance sucked in a gasp, forcing himself not to react to Allura's words. "Yeah?" he prompted, both eager and dreading the words that Allura was about to say.

"His name was Allons and I loved him dearly," she began, taking a deep breath to steady herself. "He was older than me, and he was always so much better at diplomacy. He was supposed to marry off-world to strengthen our alliances while I, one day, would rule Altea. He was very bright, and a natural at making people laugh and smile." She turned to Lance, and he felt his chest ache with the weight of her words. Was? ‘Lura, I'm right here.

"He sounds wonderful."

With this, she scowled, pulling away from where they had gravitated together on the couch. "He betrayed Altea. He is the reason Coran and I are the last Alteans alive."

Lance balked, racking through his scattered memories of his past life for any reason that could have caused this. Yeah, he had been totally cheating on that Galra scumbag, but he would have remembered if he had caused the downfall of an entire planet, right?

"Um, how so?" he prompted, still attempting to put together the missing pieces. All of this was starting to give him a headache.

"He left us. He abandoned us right before the fall of Altea, in our hour of need. He was engaged to a Galran prince, and in the final moments before Altea was destroyed, he abandoned us for that... that scumbag! He escaped to live a lavish life in the empire while our people, his people died," she stood up, clearly overwhelmed, and Lance was suddenly standing in front of Kryv.

"Let's run away and elope now my little jewel," Kryv smiled, reaching out to caress Allons' arm. “With Zarkon dead there is nothing stopping our love now.”

Allons sidestepped as subtly as possible and gave Kryv his best diplomatic smile. "I don't think that would be wise, your highness. Our wedding is to be a symbol of connection between our people, and with all of the terrible things that have happened on your home planet, I truly believe that a public union would be in our best interests. I cannot wait to marry you either, but we must keep in mind what is best for our people."

Kryv scowled, but pulled away from him, giving him a calculating stare. "Very well, Prince Allons," his tone sent shivers down Allons' spine, and he quickly looked away from Kryv's gaze. As Kryv moved away from him, he had to strain his ears to hear Kryv's next words.

"I wouldn't worry so much about the union. Soon you will be mine, and nothing else will matter."

No matter what he did, Allons couldn't shake the sense of foreboding that coursed through his veins at those words. Quickly, Allons pulled out his personal comm, opening up a channel with Kethyr.

"Your highness? What is it?"

"Sir Kethyr, are you alone?" Allons was moving back to his room quickly, carefully beginning to pull off his circlet, ring, and any other identifying accessories.

"Yes, my prince. Is everything alright? Do you need anything?"

"We're leaving tonight."

"What do you mean? Leaving?"

"Kethyr, I..." Allons took a deep breath, steadying himself. "I love my planet. I love my people. But I cannot do this anymore. Kryv asked me to run away with him and elope. I can no longer pretend to be okay with his advances, my love. I must escape. I am hoping you will come with me, but you do not have to. We will have to hide our identities, and if we get caught..."

"Darling. Of course I am coming with you. Are you in your room? Kryv called his guard to his ship, but I could sneak away."

Allons looked up from the small bag he was packing with a frown. "He called his whole guard? Kethyr, I think he might be planning something. Can you stay a little while longer to try and figure out what is going on? As long as we escape tonight, a few extra minutes should not affect our escape."

"Of course, my prince. Don't leave your quarters, okay? Is your guard outside your door?"

"Yes, I know I will be safe here. Hurry though, my love. We don't have much time."

"As soon as I catch wind of Kryv's plan, I will come to you, Allons. I swear it." With that, the call ended, and Allons sighed heavily, dropping onto his bed. This wasn't a decision he had made lightly, and still, abandoning his people like this…

He stood, steeling himself to go speak with Allura before he left. He wouldn't be able to tell her where he was going, but he loved his sister, and she deserved to know the truth no matter what.

No sooner than he had risen, the door behind him began to open, and Allons smiled. "Well, that was quick," he began, turning around, excited to see Kethyr.

It wasn't Kethyr standing in his doorway.

"Oh! Prince Kryv," Allons stuttered out, then frowned slightly. "As... excited as I am to see you, you are not supposed to be in my private quarters. My guard should not have let you in."

Kryv just continued to stare at Allons, and he felt his discomfort growing with every second.

"Your highness, you really cannot be here. If you do not leave, I will be forced to—"

Kryv suddenly lunged at the prince, grabbing him with all of his brute Galran strength. Allons was caught off guard, beginning to fight against his hold to no avail.

"Guards! Help!" He called out, still trying to struggle, but Kryv only grinned.

"There is no one out there that can help you, little prince. We could have done this the easy way, but now we are doing this the hard way. You are coming with me now, and you will watch as your planet burns."

Allons' eyes widened as Kryv covered his mouth in a cloth, and then suddenly everything went dark.

Lance blinked, and suddenly he was back on the couch facing Allura. He blinked back tears slowly and tried to take a few calming breaths. That was the most intense vision he had ever experienced. How could he have forgotten…

"Lance? Are you alright? I am sorry that I dumped all of that on you with no warning."

Lance shook his head, trying to clear his head. Fuck, he would have to talk to Keith about that one as soon as possible. "It's okay, Allura. I just spaced out for a second there. I'm sorry about your brother. But maybe you're missing a piece of the story?"

Allura scoffed. "What is there to miss? He left. And now he is dead, just like he deserves, for abandoning our family." There was a slight tremor to her voice, and Lance bit his lip hesitantly before putting his arms around her.

"I am so sorry, Allura. It's okay to miss him, you know. Even if he hurt you, he was still your brother. Losing people that you love is always hard, no matter how upset with them you are."

"I hate him," she sobbed into his shoulder, and Lance felt his heart breaking as he ran fingers through her hair. "I never want to think of him ever again, Lance. It hurts too much."

"Shh. I've got you. I'm so sorry. I am so, so sorry."

Allura cried for several long minutes while Lance held her close, and he looked up at the ceiling in despair.

Someday. He would tell her someday.

✪✪✪✪✪

"How far out are you right now?"

"I'll be back at the castle in half a varga. What is it, Lance?"

Lance sighed, looking down to avoid Keith's intense gaze over the video comm. "I had a really bad one today," he admitted, wrapping his arms around himself. "I want to tell you about it in person because, well..." Lance swallowed. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. Even if Keith has a hot, Blade of Marmora boyfriend, he still cares about you, and you're in this together.

"I know you had other plans for when you got back but... I think I might need a hug?" Lance forced out in one breath, grateful that Keith didn't immediately lash out against him.

"I probably stink, Lance. I'm fresh off this Blades mission," Keith scoffed, but Lance could see a bit of worry behind his eyes. He couldn't help but feel guilty, but shook his head. Lance could totally keep this platonic. He didn't need Keith to kiss him, or hold him, or...

"We can spray you with something. I don't care. Just hurry!" He sing-songed and cut the connection. Lance scrubbed a hand down his face and curled up on his bed in silence. He wondered if Keith had confessed his love to his boyfriend yet. Had they kissed? Made love? Had Keith told his boyfriend about Lance, and what they had shared in the past? He stewed, feeling sorry for himself until the door swung open several minutes later.

"Oh, baby," Keith mumbled, and he quickly stripped off his outer armor so he could spoon up behind Lance on the bed. "Sweetheart, what happened?"

"I remember the fall of Altea," Lance whispered, closing his eyes. "Kryv was so obsessed with me that he kidnapped me right before Zarkon destroyed the planet. He was upset with me, and sadistic, so he made me watch the destruction of my home from the window of his starship. He told me that I should be grateful, that our love had saved me. And Allura hates me because she thinks I chose to go with him, that I willingly abandoned our family and I—"

Lance was cut off by a small growl from behind him. "I'll kill him, Lance. How could he..."

Keith cut himself off, tightening his arms around Lance, nails digging into his side. Lance let out a small hiss but didn't protest, allowing Keith to continue in silence.

"I'm serious, Lance, I'm going to be sick. We knew he got you onto his ship, but to kidnap you and watch... that is so beyond sickening, L. I can't believe he did that to you."

Lance hummed, snuggling back into Keith's hold. Just being in his arms was enough to begin to clear his head. "That was one of my final puzzle pieces, I think. Obviously neither of us can remember our deaths, but I feel like I almost have everything now. We are so close."

Keith just hummed and began rubbing soft circles into Lance's arm. "I can't remember anything from later in my life. Anything past Kryv's ship. Do you think we both died there? Maybe Kryv found out about us and had us executed."

"Maybe. Although I doubt he would execute me, he was too obsessed with me. I haven't been able to remember anything after that either, although maybe those memories are somehow just more... distant? I refuse to believe we died without properly getting to be together."

"And what if the only reason we got a second chance is because we didn't get a happy ending?" Keith joked, and Lance reached back to swat at him. Keith squawked, making Lance grin.

“Hey, do you want to do something fun?” Lance asked, deliberately changing the subject. “I totally remember where my old room is. I bet we could sneak in.”

“Oh my god, Lance, and do what? Rob your past self?”

“Shut the fuck up, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.” 

Keith just sighed, allowing himself to be pulled along by Lance. He led them through several winding corridors, eventually ending up in front of an imposing white door. Lance froze, and Keith squeezed his arm.

"It's okay, Lance. This is your room, isn't it? It's not like you’re breaking in somewhere."

"I know. It just feels weird, doesn't it? Like a dream."

"A distant dream," Keith murmured, running a finger along the door. "I don't think I've seen the outside of it yet, but it still feels familiar."

Lance looked over at Keith, gaze softening. In the dim lighting of the corridor Keith looked beautiful, and Lance was infinitely tempted to run a hand through Keith's hair or pull him close. He had to remind himself it wasn't like that.

"Let's do it."

"Yeah?" Keith grinned. "Nothing like a little breaking and entering to get you hot under the collar."

"Stop!" Lance laughed, placing his palm on the scanner by the door and praying it opened so he wouldn't have to ask Pidge for help. He did not want to have to explain why the hell he was breaking into the room of some Altean noble in the middle of the god damn night. Luckily, however, the door slid open, and Lance let out a little whoop of joy.

"Thank god. Was a little worried that wouldn't work!" Keith chuckled behind him, and Lance hesitantly stepped into the room. He sucked in a gasp, eyes roving over the dark room that was exactly how he had left it that night that Kryv had...

Keith hummed beside him. "Looks the same, doesn't it? Bit crazy."

"I'll say."

"So... we did the breaking. Are we going to enter?"

Lance swatted at his arm, laughing. "We didn't break anything!" Nevertheless, Lance drifted into the room, and immediately was drawn to his bedside table. His ring and circlet were sitting there, and Lance hesitantly reached out to touch them, reverently reaching down to pick up his moon shaped royal circlet.

"Holy shit."

"I know right. I can't believe it's actually real," Lance breathed, lifting the circlet up, feeling the weight that was so familiar, yet new.

"Do you want me to tie it for you?"

"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly—"

"It's yours, isn't it? Let me put it on you." Keith lifted the circlet up, resting it on Lance's forehead before his fingers deftly tied the silver ribbons in the back. It was immediately clear to Lance that this was not the first time they had done this.

"How do I look?" Lance joked, turning around to make eye contact with Keith. He expected Keith to snip back at him, make a joke about Lance still looking like a bean pole even with a royal crown, but he was not prepared for the intense stare Keith was giving him. Lance opened his mouth to ask Keith what had crawled up his ass and died, but Keith beat him to it.

"Lance," Keith breathed, reaching over to run a finger over his circlet. "Lance, you look beautiful."

Lance blushed, and leaned in to kiss Keith out of habit. Keith allowed it, running a hand along his back to pull him closer. Lance huffed, leaning forward to topple onto Keith's lap, not breaking the kiss for a second. Lance reached up to cup Keith's cheek with one hand, shifting the angle slightly so they could kiss slower, more languidly. Lance was burning up from the way Keith was kissing him, thoroughly, like Lance was the most precious thing in the entire galaxy. Keith pulled away after several minutes just to look at Lance, and Lance squirmed a bit under his intense, loving gaze.

"What?" Lance asked quietly, starting to get a little self conscious in the silence. No one had ever really... looked at him like that, with that much raw affection. Everything was so confusing right now, Keith with his mysterious boyfriend, Lance doing the homewrecking, and neither of them knowing the true nature of what became of them in the past....

"Why did you stop?"

"I love you."

Lance recoiled slightly, shocked. "Keith? Are you flashing back right now?"

"No, Lance, fuck. You. I love you. I've been waiting to say it because this has all been so confusing, loving you and loving you in the past, but I am certain with everything that I am that I love you. If you aren't ready to say it back, that’s okay, but I figured we've been dating long enough, and you said before I left that you might..."

"Keith. What the fuck are you talking about. Dating? You have a boyfriend."

"Yeah, Lance, we've been dating for months? What are you talking about? Before I left for my Blade mission, I said I was going to tell you that I loved you, and you said that you were going to say it back? Lance, sweetheart, you have to give me something here. I'm lost."

"You said that you were going to tell your boyfriend that you loved him. You know, your hot Galra boyfriend? And what do you mean we’re dating? We've hooked up? Like twice? Keith."

"Holy shit, Lance, you thought..." Keith sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, and Lance suddenly felt like he was going to be sick. "Okay, let me get this straight. We kiss, we cuddle, we have had sex several times, Lance! We literally were together in a past life, so forgive me for thinking we’re dating! You don't have to sound so repulsed by the thought of it."

"Shit, that's not- God, okay, I'm bad at this. Keith, I," he bit his lip, taking a deep breath, and forced himself to meet Keith's eyes again. "I love you too. Have since the fucking Garrison. Thought I was, like, the most obvious but apparently I haven't been. I just thought that you, like, hated me? I thought you were only paying attention to me because of these stupid visions, and then you started talking to me about your boyfriend, and god, I'm an idiot."

"I think we both are. You love me?" Keith breathed, shifting closer again so that he could trace Lance's freckles. Lance sighed, smiling and leaning forward to kiss Keith, pouring everything he had into it. Keith groaned, gripping Lance's chin with one hand to guide his face exactly where he wanted it. Lance gasped into Keith's mouth, allowing himself to be thoroughly kissed for several moments before pulling back for air.

"I'm sorry for not just asking you what was going on, Keith. I should have known you would never make me your side hoe."

"I should have just asked you properly, that first day in the training room. Be my boyfriend? For real?" Keith blushed profusely as he mumbled the last part of the sentence. 

Lance just nodded, overwhelmed. Keith cupped Lance's cheek gently, smiling softly as if Lance was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. They kissed again, liquid slow, and Lance thought his chest might burst open from how full it felt.

"Tell me again?" he asked softly into Keith's mouth, and Keith tightened his grip on Lance's waist.

"You are my everything, Lance. I love you so much, and if I am honest, between our past lives and this one, I don't think I ever stopped." Lance preened at that, pressing several kisses to Keith's neck before pulling back with a grin.

"So now that we're properly in love, should we fuck on my royal bed, for old times sake?"

"LANCE!"

✪✪✪✪✪

They were back on stupid planet Thorux.

Luckily, however, Lance had gotten even better at convincing Keith to sneak places with him since the last time they came here, and so Keith was following him to the garden of his own will instead under the guise of stopping Lance. Keith had been rather silent the whole time, and so Lance pulled him into the same alcove they had hidden in all those months ago.

“What’s wrong, babe?” he whispered, and Keith just shook his head slightly, not meeting his eyes. Lance clicked his tongue, and reached over to force their eyes to meet, sending them throttling back in time. 

"Shh, Kethyr, you're gonna get us caught!" Allons giggled, pulling Kethyr around the corner into a small alcove. Kethyr just grinned, leaning down to capture Allons' lips softly, and the prince's eyes fluttered shut. At this point, Allons had been Kryv’s husband for nearly two years, held captive on his star ship, and Kethyr had been dutiful in his devotion to Allons, never leaving his side.

"Don't care," Kethyr mumbled, running his finger along Allons' eye scales delicately. "I haven't seen you in ages, baby. Not gonna let you go anywhere but my arms."

"You flatter me," Allons whispered, his eyes drinking in Kethyr's face in the dim purple lighting, barely able to contain his excitement at having Kethyr in front of him again after weeks apart. "I thought I might die without you here by my side, my knight. Every moment, my heart beats for you. My lungs take in breaths only so that I may live another moment with you."

"I missed you so dearly, my prince. My heart ached every moment that I did not hold you close to it," Kethyr gasped out, pressing desperate kisses to every surface of Allons he could reach. Allons preened under the attention, turning his face slightly so that Kethyr had better access to his neck.

"I was miserable without you, love. Kryv has been especially unbearable lately," Allons leaned in a bit closer, to speak directly into Kethyr's ear. "Maybe it's time to plan a daring escape, my knight."

Kethyr just hummed, continuing to press gentle kisses along the exposed column of Allons' throat.

"I'm serious, Kethyr. I miss my family, and I miss my planet. I can no longer keep up this facade any longer. I would rather die than spend another moment with this scumbag," Allons gently threaded his fingers through Kethyr's hair to bring their mouths together again in a sweet kiss. "I can no longer live another day pretending every beat of my heart isn't for you."

"Well, isn't this touching," a voice drawled behind them, and Allons ripped himself away from Kethyr in a panic. Kryv was looming over them outside of their hidden alcove, his expression stormy.

"Your highness," Kethyr began, instinctively stepping a little bit in front of Allons as if to protect him. Allons spared a single moment to feel a rush of warmth at the action. Kethyr knew the prince was more than capable of protecting himself but still would do anything to protect Allons…

"This isn't what it looks like, I swear," Kethyr continued, his ears turned down on either side of his head, his fangs visible as he turned to face Kryv head-on.

"I expected something like this from the little slut prince, but from my head of guard? You have always been so loyal, so dedicated," Kryv growled out, stepping forward into the small space. "It is a shame that you will have to die now for your actions."

"NO!" Allons let out a little yell, finally stepping forward. "Your highness, the fault is all my own. Do not punish him for my actions, I am begging you."

Kryv stepped forward, looming over Allons' smaller form. He reached out, running a single claw over Allons' cheek. "You are so lovely, little jewel. It would be such a shame to ruin such a beautiful face." Allons shivered, trying to pull away, but Kryv's grip on his waist was firm. Allons felt sick knowing that Kethyr was watching right now. He was usually very good at keeping the two men separate from each other, so that Kethyr couldn't see the true undertones of his relationship with Kryv. He supposed it didn't really matter now, because either they escaped, or...

"Guards!" Kryv yelled, sliding Allons around so that he was tucked into his side. Allons' heart was beating rapidly in his chest, and he made pleading eye contact with Kethyr, hoping he got the message that there was nothing they could do right now. Their best chance was to be compliant now and hope to escape before Kryv tried to execute them. There was no telling what his next move was, and laying low was their only hope for survival. If Kryv found out how deep their connection went, that they had been sneaking around behind his back, well.

Allons couldn't let himself think about that.

"Take him away," Kryv growled, and four Galra descended on Kethyr on all sides, wrestling him into submission. Allons watched in horror as they began to drag Kethyr away, the Galran kicking and struggling against their hold. Kethyr bared his fangs, growling at one of the guards on his side, and the guard backhanded him in retaliation.

"Kethyr!" Allons called out, feeling the strike against Kethyr resonate almost as if it had struck him. Immediately, Kryv clamped his hand over Allons' mouth to silence him. Allons struggled, reaching up to pry his hand away, but even his Altean strength was no match for Kryv's sheer size. He slumped forward a bit, looking over at Kethyr who was still fighting violently against the guards, and Allons couldn't bear to see him continue to get hurt. They made eye contact, blue and gold, and Allons just shook his head slightly, still trapped in Kryv's grip.

Don't do this for me, Allons begged silently, doing his best to plead with only his eyes. I'm not worth it. Don't get hurt for me.

The message seemed to transmit. Kethyr closed his eyes briefly, taking a calming breath before going still in their hold, allowing the guards to cuff him. They began to properly drag him away, Kethyr turning around as they went to get another look at Allons. Their eyes met again, and Kethyr's gaze softened impossibly.

I love you, Kethyr mouthed . I'll come for you, I swear.

"What's going to happen to him?" Allons asked shakily, once Kethyr was out of sight and Kryv had released him. Kryv stared silently ahead, beginning to pull Allons down the hallway towards their quarters. Kryv shoved Allons in front of him into the room, and Allons turned around to face him.

"Your highness, please. You can do anything you want to me. I will be the obedient husband you have always wanted, and you can have me forever. Just please, please don't hurt him. You have to let him live."

"Oh, my silly little prince," Kryv grinned, advancing towards Allons, closing the door behind them and plunging the room into darkness. "I'll have you anyway. You're mine."

Lance gasped, nearly falling to his knees before Keith caught him. They looked at each other in horror, before Keith desperately wrapped his arms around Lance’s waist.

“Lance, oh my god,” Keith whispered into the darkness. “What did he do to you?”

Lance just shook his head, closing his eyes and leaning into Keith’s solid embrace. “The more we learn the more I think we might not get that happy ending,” he chuckled, and Keith made a wounded noise behind him.

“Don’t say that, baby, it’s okay,” Keith moved down to kiss his neck. “Do you want to go back to our room?”

“Fuck, no. I’m getting into that garden again if it’s the last thing I do. That was like our first date. I have to get back there. We can talk about it there.”

They peaked around the corner together, and Lance thought they must be pros at sneaking out of the Thoruxian castle at this point, because their timing was perfect. The patrol had just rounded the corner to leave their hallway, and Lance grinned. It was a dash to the garden from there, and once they set foot outside, Lance froze. 

“Keith, what’s all this?” In the garden, there was a blanket and picnic basket in the middle of the whole thing, and wrapped around the trees were soft, twinkling lights. Beside him, Keith flushed.

“We never have been on a proper date. So I, you know, pulled some strings so I could come out here and set this up. Do you like it?”

“Baby,” Lance breathed, taking Keith’s hand to pull him over to the blanket. “I can’t believe you did all this for me. It’s perfect.”

Keith grinned and growled playfully, tacking Lance to the ground happily, placing several kisses to his face and neck.

“You’re worth it, Lance. You’re so worth it. I’ll do anything for you. You deserve the universe.”

Lance sighed happily, gripping Keith’s face with both hands to kiss him properly. 

“You’re my universe,” he whispered, causing Keith to groan, and Lance laughed brightly, flipping them over so he had Keith pinned to the blanket instead. 

Kryv was the last thing on his mind, and he and Keith laid under the stars of Thorux until the sun began to rise. 

✪✪✪✪✪

Of course, things couldn’t stay perfect forever. After returning to the castle from their time on Thorux, he was sitting in companionable silence with Allura on the bridge, absentmindedly playing with his royal ring, which he had started wearing on a chain. It helped him feel connected to Allons, but kept it sufficiently hidden.

"Where did you get that?" Allura demanded, advancing towards Lance. Guiltily, Lance dropped the ring, letting it swing back down on its chain. Fuck, he did not want to have to deal with this right now, yet she deserved the truth.

"Okay, shit, not how I wanted to do this. Allura, um, it's mine?"

Her brow furrowed. "That ring is the royal crest of Altea. The only other one in existence belonged to my late brother, and I don't think..."

"The visions started a few months ago,” Lance began slowly, not wanting her to freak out like both he and Keith had when this had started happening to them. “Do you remember when I came to you, asking about the Altean afterlife?”

Allura paused. “And my brother,” she said hesitantly.

“And your brother. At that point, the visions had been happening for a few weeks, and I was desperate to figure out what was happening to me. You said yourself that it might be possible to retain a memory of your past lives, so please believe me when I say that I am Allons.”

“You betrayed me.” Allura looked ashen, and Lance winced, remembering the contempt Allura had held for her brother. 

"It wasn't like that," Lance choked out. "’Lura, you have to understand that I never wanted to leave you."

"Don't call me that," Allura snapped, moving away from him. Lance swallowed, contemplating how to move forward. This was his sister, lifetimes be damned, and like it or not he had broken her heart. He had been removed from Altea against his will, but it didn't matter because he hadn't been there.

"I'm sorry. I know I hurt you. But if you just let me explain—"

"Hurt me?" she scoffed, turning around to face him head on. "You abandoned our whole planet. If you had been there, maybe things would have ended up differently. But no. You had to go marry the stupid Galran prince, when you told me that you didn't want to!"

"It wasn't like that at all, you have to understand. Yes, I left, but it wasn't—"

"You left. There is no but. Our father died and our planet left, and you just watched!" Her voice was raised now, arms shaking slightly where she had pressed them against her sides. "Did you even care?" Allura's voice cracked slightly, and Lance let out a small breath. "Have you been cheering every time the Galra make an advancement?"

"Allura!" he called, feeling frustrated. "Kryv kidnapped me. I never loved him. He... made me watch as Zarkon destroyed Altea. He got sick satisfaction from it. I-I know it doesn't change the fact that I wasn't there for you, but you have to understand that it was against my will." Lance sighed out a small breath of relief at getting his piece out, feeling his heart pound as the ball rolled over to Allura's court.

Allura froze, regarding him very carefully, clearly gathering herself before continuing. "I'm not sure I understand."

"That night Kryv asked me to run away with him and elope. I... refused, so he took me in the middle of the night. He brought me onto the ship, and forced me to watch the destruction of the planet. All I could think about was if you were okay. I knew the castle was sent away and so were the lions, but the idea of you dying killed me, Allura. He kept me on that ship as his husband for many years, and every second was agony."

She scoffed, and Lance felt frustrated. How could he make her understand? He grabbed her hand, and closed his eyes, feeling energy flow through where they were connected. 

Allons woke to insistent knocking on his bedroom door. 

He blinked sleepily, clouded mind confused as to who could possibly be knocking. Kethyr’s handprint was coded into his scanner for easier sneaking around, and no one else usually came even close to his quarters, except…

“Allons if you do not open this door right now I will start showing Prince Kryv all of your most embarrassing holos as a child!”

Allons groaned into his pillow, taking a few seconds to silently scream before rising and pulling on his robe. “One second, dearest sister,” he called out, stumbling towards the door. It slid open with a soft hiss, and Allura waltzed into the room.

“Yeah, sure, come right on in, ‘Lura! It’s not like it’s the middle of the night or anything!”

“Can we talk?”

Allons frowned but sat on the bed, patting the space beside him. “Of course we can. Come lay with me?” She nodded, and they began to arrange themselves horizontally on the bed. “What’s on your mind?” 

Once they were settled on the bed, Allons cradling Allura with her head resting on his chest, Allura began to speak.

“I don’t want you to marry him.”

Allons shifted, playing with her hair for a moment, waiting for her to continue. “I don’t want you to leave. They’re going to cart you away to Daibazaal after the wedding and I’ll still be here. What then, Allons? I cannot bear it.”

“‘Lura, I am so sorry,” Allons began, closing his eyes so he didn’t have to look his little sister in the eye. He just felt so fucking sorry lately, no matter what reassurances he got that he had nothing to be sorry for. He was sorry to his sister for leaving, sorry to Kryv for betraying his trust, and most of all, sorry to Kethyr. “You know I have to. We need this treaty. Things between Father and Zarkon are getting more tumultuous by the day, and our planets’ only hope at a union, I fear, is this marriage. It doesn’t matter what we want.”

Allura frowned into Allons’ shoulder, shifting up slightly so they were looking at each other once again. “We? I thought you liked the prince.”

“I like him,” Allons quickly interjected, backpedaling frantically. “I am happy to do my duty. I will just miss you, ‘Lura. And my friends, and my planet. My affinity for the Galran prince has nothing to do with it.”

“He is rather dashing, isn’t he,” Allura started, nudging Allons rather aggressively with her elbow. “Although, I suppose, not nearly as attractive as his head of guard. Kethyr, was it?” 

Allons nearly choked, staring at his sister. It was impossible to know if she knew something, or if she was just being a glutton for gossip as well. However, his reaction seemed to delight her, and she let out a bright laugh. 

“You think Prince Kryv’s head of guard is attractive!” 

“I- ‘Lura! I do not!”

“You absolutely do! Why else would you have that reaction!” She was sitting up now, grinning down at Allons still sprawled on the bed like the cat who got the cream. He was still feeling mildly offended by her ability to read him so easily, so he just crossed his arms, giving a little pout that seemed to egg her on even more.

“It’s okay! He is handsome.. He’s so tall, and his hair is so long, and could you imagine how soft his ears are!? Oh, what I wouldn’t give to pet them!”

“Oh my god ‘Lura, you can’t just go around saying that you want to pet Galra ears!” He giggled, but his right hand clenched around air instinctively, hoping to feel the soft fur of Kethyr’s ears beneath his fingers. Allons ached from how much he missed him.

Briefly, he allowed himself to envision a future that he couldn’t have. He and Allura would be sitting at the head of the table, with Allura’s future spouse at her side and Kethyr at his. If he strained his ears, he could hear the sound of children, their children, laughing and playing, and Allura chiding them to sit still at the table. He and Allura are both teasing Kethyr, and Kethyr looks radiant sitting next to him wearing a simple, golden crown. Kethyr could take his hand in public, press a kiss to the back of it, and another kiss to his wedding ring, and the table around them would be full of people that loved them and wanted nothing but their happiness. 

“Allons, are you even listening to me?”

Allons blinked back a few tears, his sister coming into focus in front of him. His chest physically ached from how badly he wanted that future, and knowing he couldn’t have it…

“I’m sorry, ‘Lura. I was just thinking about how much I’m going to miss you, is all.” 

“You’re weird,” she mumbled, moving back down to curl into his side. “Can I sleep here tonight?”

“Of course you can,” he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I wouldn’t want you to be anywhere else.”

His head was spinning, feeling drained from somehow transferring the memory to her too. He hadn’t realized that he had started crying, and when he looked over, he noticed Allura had tears in her eyes too.

“Allons,” she breathed, throwing herself into his arms. “I could see your memories, feel how badly you did not want to leave me. How did you do that?”

“I didn’t realize I was projecting,” he mumbled, adjusting so he was rubbing her back. “I love you so, so much Allura. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, but this is a second chance. We cannot look back on this gift we have been given to be together again.”

“I’m sorry too,” she whispered, wiping her tears. “I judged you unfairly when I shouldn’t have.”

“No, no,” he quickly assured her. “You have done nothing wrong. You had every right to be mad at me. I’m just happy you believe me, honestly.”

She laughed, pulling away from his embrace. “Does Keith know? About all of this?”

Lance winced. “Uh—he doesn't just know.”

“What do you…” realization dawned across her features. “Kethyr.”

Lance nodded, and Allura looked delighted. “Oh my god, you always did fancy him! I can’t wait to give him the proper shovel talk! Father would never let me give one to Kryv, so now is my chance!”

She stood, smiling warmly at him, and Lance let himself be led out of the room by his sister.

✪✪✪✪✪

As with everything that had happened to them in space, this mission was shaping up to be a disaster. Alarms blared on all sides of Lance as he ran through the dark Galra hallway, panting slightly. “Keith? Anyone?” he called into the comms, and cursed when he received no answer. Great, one more thing to worry about. 

The mission was supposed to have been simple. Stupid, Lance thought. Those are like, the most famous last words. The base was supposed to have only sentries, and it was just recon. In and out. He and Keith had been sent down to gather information, seeing as they made an incredibly effective team. However, the base had been occupied, because of course it had been, and in the chaos, he had been separated from Keith. And because nothing in his life was ever simple, he had taken an incredibly hard hit to the head and now his comms were down.

Fuck.

Lance turned a corner desperately, shooting a sentry behind him while still in a dead sprint. All he had to do was find Keith, then he could call Blue over to them, and it would be game over for these Galra brats. Frustrated, he took off his helmet, searching the old fashioned way.

“Keith!” He yelled into the corridor at the top of his lungs, praying beyond measure that Keith’s Galra hearing could pick up his voice. He waited a few seconds, feeling dread overtake him. If Keith couldn’t hear him, he was either way too far away to simply run to, or he was…

“Lance!” Keith’s desperate call came from his left, and Lance immediately turned abruptly towards it, pushing himself to run even faster. 

“Keith, I’m coming,” he shot back, ducking under another sentry, shooting it in the foot so it couldn’t follow him. He skidded around a corner, and there was Keith, fighting off two looming Galran officers. Lance immediately shifted into a fighting stance, sliding under one of the large Galran’s arms to adopt his back-to-back stance with Keith. 

“Nice of you to join me, babe,” Keith said dryly, blocking a blow with a grunt. “These are Commanders Drilax and Snoht. I don’t think they are very happy that we infiltrated their base.”

Lance snorted despite himself. “Commander Snot. This is too good.”

The Galra that Lance assumed must be Snoht scowled, lunging forward at him. Lance grit his teeth, quickly shifting his bayard into Allons’ staff to block the blow. 

“Stupid little paladins,” Snoht grunted out, slashing at Lance’s stomach. He yelped, jumping out of the way, and then groaned. 

“Listen, can everyone stop calling me little?” He slashed out again, getting in a good hit to Snoht’s side. The commander stumbled and Lance grinned. “I’m actually taller than average for a human! It’s not fair that Galra are just so damn tall.”

“Lance, is now really the time for this?” Keith was struggling to hold his own against Commander Drilax behind him, and Lance steeled himself, lifting his staff to wack Snoht right accross the head, causing him to tumble to the ground. 

“Take that, Snot!” Lance whooped, then whipped around to join Keith in fighting Drilax. The man was at least 10 feet tall, with one mechanized hand, and he was angry. 

“The blue one took down Snoht,” he yelled gruffly, and his arm powered up, clearly intending to shoot… something at Lance. 

Lance balked, putting his hands up. “He’s not dead, I just knocked him out, big guy. We can talk about this, okay? No need to go on the offensive.”

The imposing man just snarled, and shook his head. “You come onto my ship and hurt my friend. You will die now.”

Lance yelped as the orb at the bottom of the guy's arm dispatched, hurtling straight towards him. Before he could put up his shield, however, the orb connected with something in front of him, and oh. Stupid, beautiful, self-sacrificing Keith had literally jumped in front of the moving orb to save him. 

“Oh, shit,” Lance yelped as Keith crumpled to the ground in front of him. “That’s not good.”

The commander was clearly thrown off by this turn of events, and looked back at Lance with untapped rage. Lance had to think fast. His bayard was still in the form of a staff next to him, so he quickly switched it to his usual gun before Drilax had recharged his scary robo-arm. One shot, one bullet. The Galran never stood a chance. 

After he was down, Lance ran over to Keith who was still lying prone on the ground, and fuck, that was not good, nothing about that was good. Lance felt tears begin to gather in his eyes, and immediately dropped down next to him. 

“Feeling deja vu right now, L. Can’t explain it,” Keith mumbled, and Lance shook his head, checking for a wound on Keith’s stomach, but strangely there was none. Whatever that bastard had shot him with had really done a number on him without even drawing blood.

“I’m serious. Lance, look at me,” Keith demanded weakly, and Lance met Keith’s eyes with his own teary gaze. 

When Kryv brought Lance into the room, Kethyr was chained in the center of the room, gag strapped around his mouth, eyes lifted defiantly towards the ceiling. The minute his eyes met Kryv's he snarled, tugging against the chains binding his wrists above his head. Kryv just shook his head and chuckled.

"You, Kethyr, have betrayed me, and in doing so, you have betrayed the Galra empire. You are sentenced to death, effective immediately."

"No," Allons whispered, eyes widening. "No, Kryv, you can't."

"What did you think would happen, my jewel?"

"Please, punish me instead, Kryv," Allons begged, glancing again at where Kethyr was wrapped in chains. "Please, it's my fault. Your guard has been nothing but loyal to you for years. I'm the one who betrayed you, not—"

He gasped as Kryv slapped him across the cheek, eliciting a low growl from Kethyr across the room. Allons just shook his head, eyes darting over to Kethyr to begin formulating a plan. No way out of the room with the door behind them locked. No way through Kryv with just him and no weapons. And even if he escaped, Kethyr was still chained up, and he wasn't letting him die. Kethyr had so much left to do in his life, and Allons was just a Prince with no country to rule, no family, and nowhere to turn to.

Mind made up, he closed his eyes, taking a steadying breath. His lashes fluttered open uneasily, and he smiled softly at Kethyr. Beside him, Allons felt the telltale movements of Kryv pulling out his blaster and right when Kryv's claws wrapped around the trigger, Allons calmly stepped in front of the beam.

Getting shot through the chest hurt like nothing he had ever experienced. Which a cry he fell to the ground, laying at Kethyr’s feet, clutching at his wound in pain. 

“NO!” Kryv roared, and Allons struggled to keep his eyes open as he watched Kryv turn to Kethyr. Kethyr was looking down at him in shock, but he quickly gathered himself, snarling at Kryv. 

“You.” He growled, and from his sleeve, his hidden blade extended to its full length, slicing through one of the cuffs as it did so. With one hand free, Kethyr quickly released his other hand, and lunged at Kryv. To his surprise, Kethyr was able to knock Kryv to the ground, pressing the extended blade to his throat.

“You will pay for what you did. The whole empire will pay for what you did to Altea, and what you did to my prince.”

Allons closed his eyes against the sharp pain in his chest, trying to drown out the piercing scream of Kryv in his ears as Kethyr made good on his promise. 

"Allons!" Kethyr yelled, throwing down his blade and running over to where Allons was crumpled on the floor. "Baby," he whispered, falling to his knees in front of the prince. "You have to be okay, you have to, come here." He gently lifted Allons' upper body, desperately feeling for a pulse.

Allons coughed lightly, and Kethyr let out a little sob of relief. "Allons, sweetheart, can you hear me? We need to get you to a medic, come on, stay with me. Let me see those beautiful eyes."

"'s too late," Allons finally managed, opening his eyes to smile weakly up at Kethyr. "You have to get out of here.You are going to be wanted in the Galran empire. You just—" Allons winced, gripping his side, "you killed the Prince, my love. I don't think any medics are going to be eager to help us."

"No," Kethyr said, replacing Allons' hand over the wound with his own, larger hands, pressing down to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. "Allons I won't leave without you."

Allons lifted his hand up slowly, reaching out to cup Kethyr's wet cheek. "I love you," he said simply. "My knight, you must go now. I-I am so grateful to have been loved by you. Being loved by you has been the greatest adventure of my life and I wouldn't change it for anything. You make me feel so beautiful, something to be cherished and desired because of who I am, not because of my crown."

"This can't be happening," Kethyr sobbed, readjusting Allons' limp form in his lap. Allons just smiled weakly, coughing again.

"Kethyr. I love you. You have so much ahead of you. I know you hate how the Galra empire is ruled. Maybe you could gather a resistance, and start to take it down. There is nothing left for me in this world.”

“I will never love again, Allons. Never.”

“I can’t ask that of you,” Allons whispered, his strength rapidly depleting. “I want you to be happy.”

“You are what makes me happy, Allons. No one but you. Please, let me take you to a  medic. We have to try.”

“We both know it is too late, my love,” Allons’ hand dropped from Kethyr’s face, and his eyes slipped shut. “Run, far, far away from here. I will never forgive myself if you are captured. Kethyr, know that I love you. Today…”

“No, no, no,” Kethyr mumbled, but there was nothing he could do. “Tomorrow, Allons, you have to be here tomorrow.”

But there was no answer, and there never would be. Kethyr let out a sob, leaning over to place a gentle kiss on Allons' forehead, pushing his alabaster curls out of the way so his lips could press against the clammy skin.

"And always," Kethyr whispered through his tears, then everything went dark.

Fuck. He rubbed his hand across his face, trying to take deep calming breaths, shivering as he closed his eyes. His chest still hurt with the phantom shot, and when he pulled his hand away from his face, it came away wet. 

Slowly, he looked down to see Keith tossing and turning in his arms, a frown clearly etched on his face.

Lance assumed that Keith was finishing the vision. What had happened to Kethyr after Allons had died? Lance desperately wanted Keith to wake up, to hold him and remind him that this life was real, that they really did have a second chance to be with each other—as long as he could get Keith into a damn healing pod. However, who knew how long they would have to wait to finish the story, and if Lance woke Keith up now…

Suddenly, Keith's eyes blinked open, and he took a moment to gather his bearings before smiling softly at Lance. "God, you are such an idiot.” 

“You’re such an idiot,” Lance sobbed, lifting Keith higher in his arms, mentally screaming for Blue to come immediately. 

“I think we both are. How cheesy are we, dying for each other. At least I don’t owe you one anymore, sharpshooter,” Keith mumbled out, hand around Lance’s dropping limply as Lance tried to adjust them. Lance angrily swiped away a tear, and started moving towards the hanger where they would meet up with Blue.

“No one is dying!” Lance shrieked, breaking into a run. Keith winced as he was jostled, but Lance kept pushing forward. He knew that their only chance was getting Keith into a healing pod, like, now. If it was too late, well… not even healing pods could raise the dead. 

“Lance, if I don’t make it…” Keith’s eyes were closed, but Lance could still tell he was concentrating, wincing in pain with every step Lance took. 

“Nope, we are not doing that. Absolutely not. You are not dying.You will make it. I don’t care, and I won’t hear anything else from you.”

“I just want to say I love you. So much, Lance, and I remember how fucking mad I was at you in that room, where you died so that I could live. But I understand now. To be in the moment, and to think, I would do anything, anything, to save this person because they matter more to me than anything.”

Lance was crying, but he nodded. “I don’t regret what I did for even a second. So I guess I can’t really be mad at you either, huh?”

Keith just nodded, head lolling back from where Lance was carrying him. Lance swore again, and rounded the corner into the hanger where Blue flew into the open hatch. Lance whooped at the sight of her, and she leaned down, scooping them both up in her mouth. She took the reins while they went back to the castle, and Lance held Keith in his lap, mumbling sweet words to him as he tossed and turned.

The three days where Keith was in the healing pod were agony. Lance refused to talk to anyone except Allura, and even when she tried to coax him out of the healing pod room, he sat silently, answering her questions curtly and only when absolutely necessary. He could not let their story end the same way it had last time. 

In front of Keith’s healing pod, he set up a small nest where he spent every single moment staring at Keith’s prone form, his face etched into a deep frown. Every second that passed Lance felt more and more guilty, thinking about how in quintants he would have his Keith back in his arms, but all those years ago, Kethyr would never receive the same luxury. 

When the door finally opened, Lance was there to catch Keith. His eyes were extraordinarily red and puffy, and Keith frowned the second he looked up.

“Shh, baby, why are you crying? I’m right here.”

“I know,” Lance sobbed. “That’s the problem. You saved me, and I still get to have you every day after that. I would have been so mad at you if you died protecting me. I would never have forgiven myself. And then I just started thinking, and I feel so sick that I did the same thing to you without even a second thought.” After saying his piece, Lance turned away, feeling embarrassed. 

“I don’t think of it like that at all, sweetheart,” Keith soothed, maneuvering them so they were sitting on the floor near the pod. “You were so selfless in saving me, and yes, I do wish it had been me instead, I can never be mad at you for the sacrifice you made. Clearly, it was my first instinct to do the same for you, although we are so, so lucky to have healing pods now.”

Lance let out a helpless little sob, throwing himself at Keith. Keith must have been equally affected by the whole ordeal because he didn't even protest as Lance practically climbed onto his lap. Lance made a little noise and Keith caught on quickly, pressing a kiss to his temple as he began to gently stroke Lance's hair. They sat there in silence for several long moments, just reveling in the fact that the other was alive before Lance spoke.

"I still don't regret it, not even a little. Keith, I loved you then and I..." he buried his face into Keith's neck in embarrassment, his words coming out slightly muffled. "I love you now, too. I would do it all again if it meant saving you."

"Lance," Keith breathed, clutching him a little tighter. "I love you too," he started, then cleared his throat. "I know that I’m reckless. I’m always being reprimanded for doing things that are too dangerous, but I always do them anyway for the good of the team. I have never really considered how hard it must be for those around me to watch things like that happen. But you, my stupid, brave, little prince," Lance let out a wet laugh at that, and Keith rubbed his back before continuing.

"I cannot thank you enough for your sacrifice, but you have to promise me that you won't do anything like that ever again. It hurt too much, I..." He had to cut himself off, desperately grabbing Lance's hand to ground himself.

"Yeah?" Lance questioned, turning around in Keith's hold and averting his eyes slightly when he saw that Keith had also been crying. Instinctively, Lance reached over to brush a tear from Keith's cheek, and Keith turned his face to press a kiss to Lance's palm.

"L, I don't think I would be able to handle it," Keith's voice cracked, and Lance felt his heart breaking. When he had made that sacrifice, he wasn't supposed to have to deal with the grief. In that way, he figured he had been incredibly selfish. Kethyr, all those years ago, had to...

"I'm here now, Keith, I'm right here," Lance adjusted their position so that his arms were wrapped around Keith. "I'm so sorry," he pressed a few delicate kisses to every part of Keith he could reach, Keith's face still hidden in his shoulder.

“I’m sorry too. I didn’t want to make you worry, but I also don’t regret jumping in front of that asshole’s shot for you, either.”

Lance nodded solemnly, and Keith smiled, cupping his cheek. “I love you. I would do anything to keep you safe. But how about neither of us die, okay? I like that plan.”

Lance just laughed, and Keith leaned forward so that their foreheads were touching. “We deserve a happy ending, Lance.”

Lance’s heart fluttered with those words. Between their two lives, they had been through so much shit. Keith was right. Even heroes deserved to be happy. He kissed Keith slowly, and smiled into it. 

“I have you. That’s enough of a happy ending for me.”

✪✪✪✪✪

"Keith, wait!"

Lance stepped into the hanger, pulling Keith aside, ignoring Keith's yelps of protest. He dragged Keith behind the shuttle, and then stopped with a massive grin. "Isn't this familiar?"

"Lance, I swear to god if you pull out that stupid ring..."

Lance pouted, and flicked Keith on the side of the head. "It isn't stupid. And if you insult her one more time, she won't even want to come with you at all!"

Keith rolled his eyes, but placed a kiss on the side of Lance's head in apology. "Sorry, darling. Now hurry whatever this is up, Kolivan is going to kill me if I'm late. Again."

Lance let out a bright laugh, pulling the ring with a brand new string out from his pocket. "You should just tell him to go shove it where the sun don't shine," he said, beginning to tie the string around Keith's neck. "Kolivan loves me. You can just tell him I kept you, and he is legally not allowed to be mad."

"Jesus, Lance," Keith laughed, adjusting the ring so it rested right over his heart. "Somehow I don’t think that will work as well as you think it will."

Lance just hummed, straightening the ring to his liking. "There. We don't even have to tuck it in anymore, although I suppose that might be safer. If you lose this ring I don't think I would hesitate to kill you. No more royal ring makers just laying around to replace it."

"You doubt me, your highness," Keith said, giving Lance a teasing grin. "How many times have I gotten this ring back to you safely?"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Lance grumbled, leaning in to kiss Keith. He could feel Keith smiling against him, and Lance sighed before changing the angle to deepen the kiss. Keith allowed it, reaching around Lance to squeeze the meat of his ass, and woah, okay, probably getting a little too frisky for the middle of the launch bay. Lance pulled away with a small grin, playfully smacking Keith's ass.

"Now go do your stupid mission, samurai. I expect you and my ring back in one piece, blah blah blah, terms and conditions apply as always."

"You are so weird," Keith said in awe, kissing Lance one more time before reluctantly pulling away. "I love you, sharpshooter."

"I love you too." Then Lance grinned, grabbing Keith's hand to walk him to the ship where Kolivan was waiting with saint-like patience. "Today..."

Keith sighed, but his smile was the biggest Lance had ever seen it. "Tomorrow."

Lance's chest hurt with how much he loved him. He could hardly believe most days that this was real, and not some elaborate fantasy his mind had created. Keith really was his, and he was Keith’s. 

"And always."

I love you. In this life, and every other.