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Birthday Blues

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When Lance awoke, it was on the freezing floor of the castle ship. He sat up to see both of his boyfriends cuddling in his bed and he couldn’t help but smile. They were adorable, and it was nice to see them both free from nightmares for once, so he let them rest while he got dressed. It was natural for one of them to fall out of the bed every now and then due to the small size of the beds, so Lance wasn’t upset. The blue paladin glanced back at Shiro and Keith before heading out, a location set in his mind.
~
Coran was pleasantly surprised to see Lance up early and it showed in his face.

“C’mon Coran, I get up early sometimes!” the brunet laughed, but stopped at the dubious raised eyebrow look the elder was giving him. Lance huffed. “I do, I had to take care of younger siblings back on Earth to help get them ready for school.” Coran went back to looking at the screens. “If you say so Lance. Was there something you needed?”

The teen rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah actually. I was wondering how long we’ve been here.” He hurriedly added, “In Earth time.” The blue paladin did not need Coran confusing him with Altean time. The alien nodded and brought up more screens. It took a few ticks before Coran shot a quick look back at Lance.

“It looks to have been a bit over a year. Earth is in late August? You Earthlings have silly names for things.” Seeing the dismayed appearance on the teen’s face, Coran felt concern swell in him. “Is everything alright Lance?”

The teen visibly gulped before nodding and forcing himself to look casual. “Totally Coran. I’ll see you later, yeah?” Before the redhead could answer Lance was gone. Coran crossed his arms as he stared at the door. There was something wrong, and Coran knew that the only ones able to find out were Shiro and Keith. Work could wait, the Altean uncle figure needed to make sure his little Earth buddy would be alright.
~
Lance was next found in the kitchen of the castle by Hunk and Pidge. He had managed to find ingredients similar to the ones needed for pancakes and had proceeded to make as many as he could. Lance was not the most competent cook, but he was not horrible either. While the three began to eat as much as they could, Hunk turned to Lance and saw a nostalgic glint in his blue irises.

“What’s the occasion buddy?” Lance grinned at Hunk before stuffing his face with make-shift pancake. “Does there need to be a reason Hunk?” he asked, mouth still full. Pidge snorted out a laugh, “Chew your food, you gross pig.” Hunk could see that there was a problem, but didn’t want to push Lance to speak if he didn’t want to. The blue paladin saw that Hunk was letting him off easy and gave him a genuine smile. The yellow paladin was too good, too pure for this galaxy, let alone Lance. Pidge gave him a wink and Lance was reminded that they both were the greatest friends anyone could ever have.

Shiro and Keith both stumbled into the kitchen and Lance gave his boyfriends a dazzling smile. They both looked him over with concerned glances, and Lance realized that Coran must have gone to them worried. The sudden reminder of why he even made pancakes in the first place made him not hungry anymore. Lance made a show of patting his stomach and groaning as he stood up.

“Well I’m full. I made some alien pancakes if you guys are hungry.” He went over and kissed both of their cheeks before taking a step in the direction of the hallway. “I’m gonna go train a bit. You’re welcome to join me after breakfast.” The blue paladin winked at his boyfriends before jogging down the hallway. He had deliberately made sure neither of them could get a word in before he took off, and instead of heading to the training room, Lance went for Blue’s hanger.
~
Shiro and Keith shared a worried glance before turning to follow Lance. Coran was right, he was acting a bit strange.

“Wait guys. Lance might just need some time alone. He’d go to you if he wanted to talk, right?” Hunk asked, gathering the plates from the table to clean them. Keith frowned at him.
“Not always. Sometimes he has a bad habit of ignoring his own needs because he doesn’t want to be a burden. It’s the dumbest thing about him.” This time it was Shiro frowning.

“As rude as he put it, Keith’s right. As hard as it is to see, Lance has some self-esteem issues, and sometimes it’s best if we address it immediately.”

Pidge who was silent until then, looked up at them from their seat. “I’ve got a feeling this is not a self-esteem issue. I think that it would be best if you give him a few hours to himself before you find him. Have some breakfast like he said, his pancakes aren’t all that bad.” Keith looked at Shiro before nodding. Maybe some training would help Lance feel better. Both paladins sat down and indulged in their boyfriend’s cooking.
~
Lance walked up to Blue and pet her metal paw. “Hey there Blue, mind letting me in?” She purred as she lowered herself for her paladin to enter. She could feel his nostalgia and sadness and let out a questioning hum when he collapsed in the pilot seat. He let a sad smile slip.

“It’s nothing to worry about bud.” He could feel her prodding and let his head hang as he stroked her controls. “Alright, alright. We’ve been here for a bit over a year. I’ve been gone from Earth for a long time Blue.” A few tears slipped down his face, but Lance didn’t notice. “My birthday was a few days ago. I’m 19 now, and none of my family probably even thinks I’m still alive.” Lance cries out and curls into himself on the seat as he stutters through his tears. “I want my mama to make me her special chocolate pancakes, I want papa to wrap my present so badly I know what it is before I open it. I want my sisters to wake me up by jumping on me and my brothers to play sports unfairly until mama yells at them. I know that I can’t go back yet, but I miss them so much Blue.” Lance sobs, his breath catching.

Blue feels his sadness settling into her wires and tries to calm him with her reassurance that everything was going to be alright. He and the rest of the paladins would defeat Zarkon and be able to go home and then he would be allowed to stay with his family for the rest of his life. He’d never have to leave them again. She could still feel his grief as he tried to stop crying and then felt his panic as he realized he couldn’t. She gently asked if he wanted the black and red paladins and he nodded frantically. She contacted her sisters and begged them to get their paladins quickly.
~
Shiro and Keith had just finished breakfast when their lions informed them to get to Blue’s hanger now. There was no hesitation as they jumped from their seats and ran as fast as humanly possible towards their destination. Within minutes they had reached Blue and she was already waiting for them to enter into the cockpit.

Both paladins got inside to see Lance in the middle of a panic attack. They raced over to his side, Shiro kneeling in front of him while Keith stood to his right with tense body language.

“Alright sweetheart, breathe with me, okay. In, out. In, out.” Shiro repeated the breathing motions with Lance while Keith praised him from his side. “You’re doing great buddy. You can get through this. I’m proud of you.” It took a long time, but Lance was able to get his breathing back to normal and stop crying. Both of his boyfriends sighed in relief and carefully pulled him up into a gentle embrace.

Shiro leaned back a little to look at Lance’s face. His eyes were red and puffy and his face was still a little flushed, but he didn’t look seriously hurt. “You doing better now honey? Do you want anything?” The blue paladin shook his head. “I feel a little better, but I only want you guys. Can we just go cuddle?” Shiro nodded and lifted his tiny boyfriend into his arms. Lance looked up at Blue before they left. “Thank you for getting them Blue. You’re the best Lion ever.” He felt her purr in his mind and gave her a small smile before the door closed.
~
Keith waited until they were all settled in Shiro’s bed before he let his curiosity take hold. “Lance, do you want to tell us what caused it, or do you want to nap first?” Lance, who had started to fall asleep opened his blue eyes to his red paladin. “Do I have to talk about it?” Keith glowered at him. “Yes. Otherwise you might have another panic attack.” The blue paladin sighed before taking a deep breath. “It’s been over a year, and my birthday passed. I miss my family and they all probably think I’m dead.”

Both Shiro and Keith were speechless for a moment before they registered what he said. “Lance,” they sighed sympathetically. Keith kissed his forehead while Shiro rubbed Lance’s stomach. “I promise you darling, we will bring you home to your family. When Zarkon is dealt with, we’ll go your family and you can introduce us and we’ll stay there as long as you want.” Shiro swore to Lance and pressed a kiss to his collarbone.

“But what if I never want to leave them?” Lance questioned, a slight tone of fear in his voice. “I don’t want you guys to leave either. I love you both so much.” Keith scoffed. “As if. If anyone dares to take us from you there would be hell to pay.” He softened a little. “We love you too Lance, nothing’s going to change that. Not Zarkon, and definitely not you wanting to be with your family.”

Lance nodded a little, grateful tears in his eyes. “Thank you. I’m so lucky to have you both.” Shiro and Keith both gave him another kiss each and then settled down. “Sleep now dearest. You’ve had a tough day.”
~
When Lance awoke, it was in Shiro’s warm bed in the castle ship. He looked around the room and noted that neither of his boyfriends were with him. However, there was a note on the table and he reached over to read it.

Dear Lance,
We are sorry that you are waking up alone after yesterday, but we have a surprise for you. Come to the kitchen after you are ready please.
Love,
Shiro and Keith

Lance smiled at the signatures at the bottom. His boyfriends were adorable and the knowledge that he was going to get a surprise made him not upset at waking alone. The blue paladin got dressed before leaving the room, the kitchen a set location in his mind.
~
Lance peered into the dark kitchen, confusion clouding his mind. Was he too late? Too early? This was strange, and Lance turned on the lights just as everyone jumped out from various hiding spots.

“Surprise!” They all shouted and laughed, a bright grin coming to Lance’s face. There was loads of pancakes covering the counter, colorful decorations hung from the walls and there were small presents on the far table. Coran came up to Lance and gave him a hearty pat on the back. “I hope you enjoy this celebration of your birth Lance.” He leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, “My gift is the lilac one in the middle. I do think you’ll like it very much.”

Then Allura came over to him and clasped her hands in front of her. “I heard of your troubles yesterday and I’m sorry that I was not more aware of them. From now on I will try to celebrate more of your Earth’s customs to help make this feel like a home to you. Remember that we are also your family Lance, you can come to me for anything.” She smiled gently at him before he was lifted into the air by Hunk.

He squeezed Lance tightly before putting him down. “I’m sorry I didn’t notice earlier dude. You even told me about the birthday pancakes thing, so I tried my best to make lots today. Happy belated birthday bro, here’s to many more awesome moments!”

Next was Pidge’s turn as they punched him gently in the arm and smiled up at him. “Happy birthday Lance. I think you’ll like my present best, not Coran’s, because mine is an upgrade on your bayard and he can’t beat that.” They shook their head and then peered at him seriously. “You know, if you want me to program some calendar thing so that we don’t miss anything important, I’ll do that.” Lance smiled and nodded. “That would be great Pidge, thank you. Just make sure to add dates everyone, including you, think is important, alright?” They nodded before walking off with a bounce in their step.

Finally, Shiro and Keith walked up to him with smiles on their faces. “So?” Keith asked, a smug tone to the question. Lance jumped, wrapping his arms around their necks to tug them into a hug. He felt tears stinging his eyes, but knew that these were good tears.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice choked up, “I love you both more than any ocean is deep.”

Tears now stinging in their eyes, Shiro and Keith hugged him back just as tightly. “We love you too Lance,” they both said, “more than you will ever know.”