Living alone for a long time can change how you remember things. Was that persons’ hair a little darker, laugh a little quieter, hand a little rougher?
The last time Keith saw Shiro he knew it wouldn’t be his last, but still made a promise to himself to commit his face to memory. To have that echo of a person always inside his brain. When he was told the fate of the Kerberos team it became his obsession to never forget a single thing about Shiro. Because he knew he was still alive and he owed it to him to find out what happen. To not let his memories dull and fade over time.
When he was kicked out of the garrison he didn’t really care. He kept his chin up as he walked down the hall for the last time. His only regret was the disappointment he could picture in Shiro’s eyes. And the guilt he felt for letting down the only person who ever really cared about him.
With no home and no family the only place to go was the shack he and Shiro went to when they wanted to get away from the world. The desert was a quiet wasteland. The silence kept his head clear and did not take away from what he remembered.
The roof was where he and Shiro had laid side by side peering up at the vast expanse of pale lights that they dreamed of soaring amongst. That was where, one night, Shiro had taken Keith’s hand in his and held on like he was afraid he would let go. But Keith only tightened the grip, turning his head to meet Shiro’s eyes. He didn’t know who moved forward first. Except that when their lips touched it felt right. It felt like he didn’t need anything else in the world expect where he was at.
That was the night he asked Shiro do you think that there are some places that we were always just meant to be? And Shiro had only smiled, like the whole world was already in his hand.
As the months passed, Keith’s desire did not change, his passion did not die down. If anything, he was more motivated by the thought of Shiro lost, and so far away from home. He knew if Shiro were there he would tell him to slow down, and remember to take care of himself. Eat something, get some sleep that actually rests you.
And for a moment he lets himself get lost in a dream of what if he were here now, what if I could hear his voice, what if I could remember what it sounded like? But it only lasts a second because if he lets himself carry on, it only reminds him that Shiro is not anywhere near him and he can’t be sure of what his voice sounds like anymore. That was the one thing he did not think to memorize.
After a year of searching, wanting, failing, a ship crashes out in the desert. It’s the most promising thing he’s seen in months and it’s difficult to not let that fearful hope overcome him.
The people from the garrison are already at the crash site when he gets there. And patience is not a virtue that Keith keeps close to his heart. After setting up and detonating some explosions he goes into the ship the others had left. Disarming the remaining is a simple task.
And there is a man that looks so much like the one Keith remembers. The hair is a little different, clothes are old and torn, and there’s a bright scar across his face. But while his eyes are closed in sleep, the steady breathing is a comforting reminder. That this is his Shiro and he is alive, as his heart beats and his chest rises and falls. This is Shiro and he is not going to lose him again.
He cut the strap holding him in place and pulls him up, slinging one arm over his shoulder. Abruptly, the weight draped over him is lessened as a few barely recognizable faces move into the ship and one takes place on the other side of Shiro.
While it is startling, there is not much time to question the appearance of some rogue students from the garrison. They accelerate through the desert, crowded together. In the middle of them all Shiro sleeps.
It isn’t until later that they are alone together. There isn’t much to say; just arms around each other held tight.
Soon, Keith begins to speak, whispering in Shiro’s ear. When they told us the team was lost, I knew it wasn’t true. That they were hiding something. I was sure of it. But there was still a part of me that wondered if I was wrong. That I was giving myself false hope, waiting for a dead man to come home…
Shiro was quiet. He pulled back a step from Keith so he could look him directly in his eyes. The days I spent imprisoned by the Galra bled into each other, and even now I can hardly remember them, except that I was there for so long. They tried to take everything from me and I was always losing pieces of myself. Whenever I felt I couldn’t take it anymore I thought of you. That there was you that I could return home to. And on the days I could hardly bear to think of anything but dying, I still heard your voice. Your voice took me home.