Lance was not jealous. Shiro seemed like a great guy! He was tall, handsome, and an accomplished space pilot to boot. Sure, he was missing an arm but he had some crazy cool tech to replace it so it couldn’t be that bad, right?
No, Lance was not jealous.
If anything, he pitied Shiro for settling. Keith was… well, not exactly hard to look at per say. But he was annoying. An ‘all holier than thou’ attitude that got him kicked from the Garrison, and a sense of entitlement that just made him into a stuck up brat.
Shiro deserved better in life. The guy had been abducted by aliens and forced to fight in their games! And what had Keith done about it? He’d… he’d…
He’d spent the last year sneaking information from private servers and researching, trying to bring his boyfriend home.
Okay. Maybe Lance was jealous. Jealous of the other pilots' abilities, jealous of how in sync they seemed to be, jealous of the fact that, while they were all now stuck millions of trillions of miles away from home in space, Keith got to be stuck in space with his boyfriend.
The stuck up asshole who always beat Lance at everything in the Garrison now got to have a honeymoon in space. And, yes, those two were honeymooning – Lance was certain of that.
It was by far the most violent honeymoon Lance had ever seen, but it was defiantly honeymooning.
Everyone in the group had to wince when Shiro struck a hard blow to Keith’s ribs with the long pole he was working with.
“How many times do I have to tell you - watch your sides. You always leave them wide open,” Shiro tutted as his teen opponent held his ribs, breath coming out in a hiss.
“You’re an ass,” Keith growled.
Shiro smiled and chirped “Love you, too!” before they were back at it – staffs clashing against each other as they danced a courting ritual of death and pain.
Oh yeah. Lance was doomed.
It took him a while, but Hunk thought he was finally getting a feel for this strange goo they’d been eating for the past two weeks. He’d been out picking more fresh herbs that morning and was planning on a special dinner tonight because they’d been working hard and deserved some variety in their diet.
The only issue was, if he was going to have enough food for seven people ready in time, he was going to need some help.
Hunk walked onto the control deck, looking for a spare set of hands. Allura and Coran were absorbed in the main control panel, evaluating the state of the castle. Thankfully, Keith and Shiro were sitting on one of the couches looking at a data pad.
Hunk had two options then. It was a bit of an internal debate who would probably be most helpful – the red or black paladin. While Hunk really liked Shiro, he had to admit to himself that the guy had been eating alien prison food for the past year and probably didn’t have much of a sense of what actually tasted good instead of just edible. Keith on the other hand, had been living in the desert for a year on his own. He at the very least had to know how to cook the basics.
Well, that decision was easier than previously thought.
“Hey Keith!” Hunk greeted as he walked up to the two. “Would you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen? I need some help making tonight’s dinner.”
The red paladin moved to get up but was quickly pushed back down into the couch by a mechanical hand.
“Oh no you don’t,” Shiro said, moving to stand instead.
Keith looked up at the older man, his face twisted in confusion.
“What? Why not? It’s not like we’re making any ground with this,” he gestured to the data pad.
Shiro looked down at him solemnly. “Do I have to remind you what happened to my favorite saucepan?” His eyes grew distant with the horror of the memory.
“It was only a little scorched,” Keith mumbled, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes.
“You were boiling water!” Shiro seemed downright scarred by the event. “I am not allowing you to ruin our dinner that I’m sure Hunk is putting his heart and soul into.”
Shiro turned to the slightly confused yellow paladin. “Sorry Hunk but Keith is all but useless in the kitchen. I can help you though.”
Deciding not to argue, Hunk simply nodded and headed down to the lower levels of the castle where the kitchen was.
As it turned out, Shiro was pretty good at cooking – year of consuming prison food or no.
“You seem to know what you’re doing,” Hunk commented as he watched Shiro mince some herbs.
The Voltron leader smiled. “Yeah, my mom did most of the cooking in our family but she taught me a thing or two. I did all the cooking for Keith when we were in the Garrison. He’d do the dishes, so it balanced out.”
Hunk took the minced herbs and started blending them with some goo.
“Didn’t you have a meal plan with the Garrison cafeteria?”
Shiro shrugged. “Sure we did, but on weekends – when our schedules allowed – we’d go out to the cabin. Someone had to be able to cook, and Keith has been useless in the kitchen for as long as I’ve known him. It’s a miracle he survived an entire year on his own out there.”
Huh, that must have been nice, Hunk thought. Getting away from the nonstop bustle of the flight school. Escaping for the weekends.
“Keith’s really lucky to have you, Shiro,” Hunk said, smiling a bit.
Shiro returned the smile. “Not as lucky as I am to have him.”
Pidge was minding her own business, working on a decoding program that would hopefully translate any Galra gibberish into beautifully readable English (or Canadian French if she wanted). She’d started ignoring the clock hours ago but had a vague idea that she should not be hearing the rustle of feet in the hallway at this hour. Or a knock on her door.
Annoyed at the interruption, Pidge got up to see who she was going to have to kill in the wee hours of the morning. When the door slid open, she wasn’t all that surprised to see Lance standing there holding what appeared to be a can with a valve on the top, not dissimilar to a whip-cream can. What she was surprised to see was Hunk standing behind him, bleary eyed and slightly swaying.
“What?” Pidge growled at the grinning Latino. She’d learned early on to stay away from Lance when he had this look on his face. Good things never followed.
“Oh good! You’re up,” Lance whispered excitedly. “I need your help.”
Pidge looked at the control panel for her door and back at Lance, who was strategically blocking said door’s ability to close. Lance took her silent annoyance as a queue to keep talking.
“I haven’t heard a single sound from Keith’s room in the last three hours. He has to be asleep by now,” – his grin grew – “so we’re going to finally get him!”
Pidge did not need to ask what “get him” meant. For the past week Lance had been pranking everyone on the team as a “team building” effort. Currently, the only team building that had occurred was the team’s building annoyance with Lance.
“So Hunk’s already done his part and helped me get this-“ the canister “-from the kitchen. Now all I need from you is to hack Keith’s door.”
He had to be kidding. This had to be another joke. Oh god, he wasn’t kidding.
“No.” She firmly planted herself and tried to shove Lance out of the doorframe. He moved about an inch.
All the joy drained from Lance’s face and became something cold and scheming.
“Pidge, you’re going to open that door,” he said like some old timey mob boss movie. She took a step pack and cocked her head to one side. Did this idiot really think he’d win this?
“Because,” he continued, “if you don’t open Keith’s door, we’ll all take a trip down the hall and see what Shiro thinks of the fact that you haven’t slept in three days.”
Oh shit, he was going to win this.
Pidge was the youngest member of Voltron at sixteen and always in trouble with their leader for not getting enough sleep. It wasn’t her fault there was so much amazing tech around to learn about! But if Shiro learned that Pidge was now pushing hour number seventy-three with no sleep, she’d be doomed.
Without saying a word, Pidge grabbed her laptop and some cables and marched to Keith’s door. If she wanted to, she could have just typed in the door code since Keith gave it to her, but that would mean admitting to Lance she had Keith’s door code. Either way, hacking the door was more fun.
It only took a minute to breach the door’s security system and send the command to open. Lance had plastered himself against the wall by the doorway as to not be seen just in case Keith was still awake.
As luck would have it for all of them, Keith was not awake. As luck would have it for Pidge, Keith wasn’t even in his room. While Pidge was simply relieved no one was getting… whatever was in that can on them tonight, Lance wasn’t standing for the injustice.
He marched into the room, looking around just to make sure the red paladin wasn’t hiding before exiting the room and going down the hall to the next door – Shiro’s room.
They’d all learned quickly that their leader didn’t really sleep. At all. Ever.
Shiro was by far the main consumer of the horrible black sludge Coran passed off as the Altean version of coffee. He admitted that the brew they had in the castle was a bit on the strong side and needed quite a bit of sweetener. It was meant to be watered down before consumption. This didn’t seem to stop Shiro from drinking it, in sludge form, black – much to the horror of both Alteans present.
Pidge occasionally drank some of the stuff after adding water and sweetener. She’d once tried a sip from Shiro’s cup and swore off the raw version for eternity. She hadn’t been able to sit still all day and even when she was moving, she felt like every cell in her body was vibrating. How Shiro stomached it was a mystery.
He claimed it wasn’t that bad. No one believed him.
Because he was up at all hours, Shiro had never seen the point of putting a door code in place. His logic was that, as leader, if anyone needed him, his door was open. So when Lance hit the control panel, the door slid away without resistance.
Lance marched into the room with all the entitlement of a five-year-old about to tattle on their big brother. Pidge shuffled in behind him – followed by a still-drowsy Hunk – and almost ran into Lance’s back as the boy had frozen in his tracks. Pidge peeked around him and saw the reason for the sudden lack of movement in her fellow paladin.
Keith was sitting in Shiro’s bed, softly reading aloud a manual for the castle that Pidge had successfully translated a few days ago. It sounded like he was reading it in Japanese. What was more shocking though, was that Shiro was lying next to Keith on the bed, asleep.
Shiro was asleep. And not just half asleep – completely relaxed and fully asleep.
Pidge couldn’t get over how peaceful he looked. She hadn’t realized how tense their leader was until she had this version to compare.
She looked up at Keith who hadn’t stopped reading despite the sudden interruption. He was glaring daggers at Lance while making small head movements for them to scram. It was a wonder he wasn’t just waving them away, Pidge mused, then saw the reason for his limited actions. The hand not holding the data pad was intertwined with Shiro’s.
Careful to be as quiet as possible, Pidge nudged Hunk out of the room and back to her own. Lance did not follow.
Once inside her room, Pidge closed the door and sagged against the wall, suddenly feeling very tired.
“That’s nice,” Hunk said softly with a small smile.
“Huh?” Brilliant response. Brilliant.
“That Keith can do that – get Shiro to sleep. They go through their rough spots but when you see stuff like that, I can’t help but think what a great couple they are.”
Wait. What? Sure, Lance was that dense but not Hunk… no, Hunk seemed to be just as dense as Lance. Huh.
“Well, I’m going back to bed.” Hunk opened her door to exit but was stopped momentarily by the blue blur that was Lance running for his life down the hall, Keith hot on his heels, bayard activated, with murderous intent radiating from him.
Pidge poked her head out the door, watching the boys disappear. She heard a sigh and saw Shiro, fully awake and tense, exit his room to watch them as well.
“I’m going to get some coffee,” he sighed and disappeared down the hall towards the kitchen.
Pidge couldn’t help but feel a burning rage, no doubt similar to Keith’s, directed at Lance for waking Shiro.
She grabbed her laptop and cables for the second time that night.
Sleep could wait. Pidge had a certain blue paladin whose door needed a new entrance code.
Several rules were put in place early on in the team’s adventures in space.
- Don’t fuck with Allura
- If you don’t know what to do, find Shiro
- Don’t let Lance drink Altean coffee
Most important though, was that if Shiro had a panic attack, you got Keith.
This is why, when Pidge was walking down a hall in the castle and found Shiro sitting on the ground, back to a wall, breath coming in shallow bursts, she turned around and sprinted for the training deck.
Keith was in the middle of a training simulation, Lance watching from the sidelines, when Pidge ran in and parked “End session!” in between breaths.
The robot withdrew and returned to its station.
“What the heck, Pidge? The show was just getting good!” Lance whined from his seat.
Pidge ignored the blue paladin in favor of looking at Keith.
“Shiro,” was all she needed to say for him to deactivate his bayard and take off running, following Pidge, with Lance not far behind.
On their way, they crossed paths with Hunk who was on his way to deliver the same message. They almost physically ran into Coran. By the time they reached Shiro’s location, the entire team had joined. They’d all seen this before but that never stopped them from worrying.
As they had in the past, the group stood back from Shiro, giving him wide berth but still close enough that they could give support if needed.
Keith was the only one who approached. He leaned against the wall and slid down to sit by Shiro.
“Sawatte iidesu ka?” he asked softly. Can I touch you?
The response wasn’t a verbal one and barely noticeable to most people but Keith saw the tiny twitch in Shiro’s mechanical hand. Gently, he reached out to take the metal hand in his.
“Kitto daijoubu deshou ne?” You know you’re going to be okay, right?
No response. Alright then, time to go back to the basics.
“Doko ni umarete, oshiete?” Tell me where you were born.
It took a few seconds but finally –
Keith felt like he could finally breath again, a small smile making its way onto his face.
“Iiyo. saishou no kazoku dono toshi de sumu no ka?” Good. Where did your first family live?
“Jya tsugi wa?” And the next?
Shiro’s breathing was evening out now.
They continued going through a list only the two of them knew until they reached the end.
“Jya, ore tachi wa?” And where did we live?
“Ore tachi, Obihiro ni sunde shi masu.” We lived in Obihiro.
The grip on Keith’s hand strengthened. The two just sat like that for maybe seconds, maybe hours. Sitting next to one another, breathing in sync, holding hands like a lifeline.
“Wanna tell me what set this off?” Keith tried to be as subtle as possible, but the team – who were still standing and waiting – needed to know if everything was good or if the list of ‘things you don’t talk to Shiro about’ just got longer.
Shiro took a deep breath in and exhaled. “Tup and Kim.” He closed his eyes. “My kids are on Earth.”
It probably wasn’t his finest moment using the English language, but Keith had seen worse. He was almost afraid to look over at the team but he had to when he heard the muffled squeaking inhale sounds that – most likely – Lance was making.
Hunk was struggling to keep Lance in place and silent with the help of Pidge, who had dutifully donated a sock to the cause. The look on Allura’s face was priceless. Oh, if Keith had a camera… but he didn’t, and he needed to do damage control.
“Pidge.” The kid looked over to him. “Go to my room, grab my backpack and bring it here.”
She nodded and ran off. Now to settle things with the rest of them.
“Hunk, you can let Lance go.” Though it would have been fun to watch him choke on Pidge’s sock a little longer.
The yellow paladin did as he was told and set the Latino free. Lance immediately pulled the offending sock out of his mouth and went straight into yelling questions.
“You have kids? Since when? Why wasn’t this mentioned over the last two months? I think this should have been mentioned!” He was pacing and waving arms in the air, expression a mix of panic, fear, annoyance, and anger.
Keith looked over to Shiro who was a bit taken aback. He could see the wheels turning in Shiro’s head as he put together how he had used his third language. When realization hit, he hid his face in his hands. Shiro was a genius, but Keith couldn’t help but revel in these moments when he was a complete idiot.
And of course, he had to make them worse.
“Yes,” Keith replied in Shiro’s place, “he has kids – two of them. And combined, by the time Shiro left for the Kerberos mission, they had over forty successful visits to the International Space Station, and five trip to the moon.”
He really shouldn’t screw with Lance like this but it was too much fun. The look on his face was a thing of beauty. He should stop. But Keith wasn’t going to. Insult had to be added to the injury.
“The Garrison trusted a two and four-year-old on space missions more than you. Man, your pilot skills must have really sucked.” The words had the desired effect on both Lance and Shiro. The logic of the statement flew right over the Latino's head, leaving him in a state so taken aback, so insulted, he just stood there, mouth opening and closing but no sound came out. Shiro on the other hand was trying not to outright laugh.
Thankfully, before Lance could recover, Pidge reappeared with the requested backpack in hand. She handed it to Keith who took it and started digging through pockets. When he pulled his hand out, he was holding an envelope.
“I know you wanted me to take care of them until you got back, and I did… at first.” He sat down again by Shiro, “But after I got kicked out, I didn’t really know when or if I was going to get caught and be arrested. I didn’t want to leave them without a home.” Keith handed the envelope to Shiro.
He opened the envelope. Inside was a handwritten letter and a picture.
“I left them with Andy. She promised to take good care of both of them. And with her, they can continue going on missions.”
Everyone crowded around to see what the picture was of. There was a girl with dark, tan skin and short, dark hair. She was beaming in the picture. On either side of her was a dog with her arm wrapped around it. The smaller of the two canines had ice blue eyes and a mix of rust, black and white fur; it also had a tennis ball happily between its grinning jaws. The other was a German Shephard sitting at full attention.
“Team Voltron,” Keith said, a small amount of mischief sparkling in his eyes, “meet Kim and Tup – proud members of the Shirogene family and certified aerospace therapy animals.”
“Is that Commander Ramirez?” Hunk asked.
“Andy’s a friend,” Shiro replied.
“You’re friends with the Garrison’s personal ice quee-” a glace from Shiro cut Lance’s question short.
Shiro looked at the picture and stood up.
“Do you mind if I…” He held up the picture, clearly hopeful to keep it.
Keith nodded. “It’s yours. Sorry I didn’t tell you about it sooner.”
Shiro ruffled Keith’s hair as he headed back towards his room.
Once their leader was out of sight, Keith was left to the mercy of the team.
“He has dogs that are space certified?” Lance whined. It was hard being assigned animals that were trained and capable of exiting the atmosphere, let alone two.
“Yes, Lance. We have space certified dogs,” Keith groaned.
“I thought they were his… dogs,” Allura said carefully.
Oh great. Now Keith was screwing up his English. It couldn’t be helped if Keith got a little pink over it.
“Well, yeah, they’re technically Shiro’s on paper but they lived with both of us. When Shiro got the offer we both agreed to take them in. I’m pretty close to Kim. Shiro let me go with her on her first trip the ISS so she wouldn’t freak out.”
Lance rolled his eyes. “Has everything you own been to space?” sarcasm was practically dripping off his words.
Well, no… wait… actually, “Everything living.”
They all stared at him.
“The dogs, obviously, but all the plants I had at the cabin were germinated in labs on the moon. Shiro brought them back to Earth when they were matured and the experiment they were a part of was over.”
Lance scoffed, threw his arms in the air, and started to walk away. “Why don’t you two just get married already and get it over with?”
Keith stood there for a moment, processing what Lance had said.
“Wait. What? We’re not –” but Lance was already gone and the others were headed in their own directions, leaving Keith to stand in the hallway, thoroughly confused.
Allura could safely admit she knew very little of human courting, but what she had learned from Pidge and Hunk made it sound very similar to Altean practices. Which is why she felt comfortable with asking Shiro and Keith about certain aspects of their relationship to make sure they were following protocol.
She probably shouldn’t have done it at dinner though… oh well.
“So Shiro,” she began, “you lived with Keith when you were on Earth, correct?”
The black paladin shared a confused look with the red before answering.
“Well, yes, but only on the weekends usually. The Garrison was pretty strict about cadets living in the barracks and officers living in the apartments. We went out to a cabin out in the desert whenever our schedules allowed us to get out there.”
The princess nodded in approval. They were testing their compatibility in a living space together. This was one of the major tests on a courting couple in Altea. If they couldn’t get along in a home together for a few days each cycle, a marriage would be disastrous.
“And you raised not one, but two animals together,” Coran commented, getting in on the questioning.
This would be quite a feat for any Altean couple. You raised an animal to see if you would be able to handle a child and to prove your commitment to your community. If these two boys really did raise the two dogs they’d all seen in the picture several weeks ago, Shiro and Keith’s commitment to each other was among the strongest Allura had seen in her life.
“You mean Tup and Kim?” Keith asked, swallowing another spoonful of green goo. “Shiro was assigned them for training and some bio research he was running in one of the Garrison’s lunar labs. Training the dogs was a group effort though. I can’t remember how many times we had to chase after Kim to get back Garrison tools she wanted to use as chew toys.”
Much like when an Altean child teethed. Nothing was safe from their gums.
“And Shiro brought you plants from space?” Allura tried to press for information gently. One thing Hunk had explained that was different between human and Altean couples was that when people started to ask too many questions about their relationship, humans tended to close up.
“What’s with all the questions?” Keith snapped back. Apparently she had pressed too hard. Now she got to flounder for a response.
“Oh, um… We’ve just heard so much about the other paladin’s lives on Earth but practically nothing from you. Do you mind indulging a princess from another planet?” She put on an award winning smile.
Keith seemed to be all for not indulging the princess but thankfully, Shiro seemed more open to it.
“I did bring back plants but they weren’t actually from space. We were growing plants from Earth in labs in space. It was part of an experiment to see what plants would be able to survive conditions on certain planets so we could aid in terraforming. One type we had a focus group for were certain species of cacti. Once the experiment was done, we were allowed to take to plants home. I brought back some of the smaller cactus we grew. This one,” He gestured to Keith with his thumb, “would never tell you, but he’s pretty good with desert plants. Probably because he’s so prickly himself,” he poked Keith in the side, smiling good naturally. He got his hand slapped in return.
Well that definitely confirmed any withstanding suspicions. Gift giving was a vital test within the courting process. It showed that you knew your partner well enough to give them something that would hold true meaning, not just some frivolous present.
This just left one thing.
“You seem to have a wonderful relationship. That being said, both your parents and birth parents must all be very proud.”
The reaction received was not what they had expected. Both Shiro and Keith froze up with very different expressions. Shiro looked absolutely shocked and horrified. Keith looked ready to paint the room with blood.
“What did you just say?” Keith growled.
Both Allura and Coran were taken aback. Maybe Allura hadn’t fully understood Lance when he said Keith was an orphan?
On Altea, they had a similar word for children who had been born by one couple but raised by another. It was rare but it did happen. Sometimes a couple couldn’t safely have a child so some close friends would have one for them. The child was raised mainly by their adoptive parents but their birth family was still a major part of their lives as well. When the child started courting, it only made sense that both the parents who had raised them and the parents who had made them take part in the process. The approval of both sets of parents was vital to a successful courtship.
So why would Keith be so upset at the mention of his two sets of parents? Being an orphan on Altea was a gift, so why was he acting like it was a curse?
“Your parents have to have met. You wouldn’t be able to receive their approval for-” She waved her hand between Keith and Shiro “- this otherwise.”
Then a thought struck her. All their parents must have met to approve their courting unless… Oh gods. Unless…
“Did they disapprove?”
It couldn’t be. It was unheard of. No one courted if a parent disapproved of the match.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Keith’s voice was low but you could hear the slight tremor running through it, “but I do not need or want approval from those people. Ever.” There was so much venom in the words, no one moved to stop him when Keith shoved away from the table and began to storm out of the room. No one except Shiro, but he stopped when Keith glared at him. They stood like that, frozen, before Keith gave a bit.
“Naneun hunlyeon gabpan-e su issseubnida.” I’ll be on the training deck.
Shiro nodded and let him go.
Once Keith had disappeared from the room, Shiro seemed to sag into himself. Suddenly, you could tell it had been days since the man had gotten any sleep.
He slumped back into his chair and leaned his head against his mechanical hand.
“Why did you mention birth parents to Keith?” he sighed.
Allura couldn’t answer for a few ticks, still too in shock.
“I… um… it’s- it’s traditional on Altea that a child raised by a family that did not give birth to them receive the permission and approval by both sets of parents for any major life decisions,” she explained, slowly getting a horrible feeling that things were very different in this matter on Earth.
Shiro looked up at her, slightly in disbelief.
“Birth parents stay in contact with the kid and their new family after they’re adopted on Altea?”
That bad feeling was growing worse.
“They don’t on earth?” Allura gasped. “When a child is born, it is born because their parents want it! If a couple can’t have a child, close friends will have one for them. Of course the birth parents know the child and see it grow!”
The chuckle Shiro gave was dark and laced with bitterness.
“Wouldn’t Earth be a better place if we lived like that.”
Allura had no idea how to respond. It was quickly becoming abundantly clear that any idea she had about human family structures in this sense were wrong. Instead of trying to say anything to mend the situation, she stayed quiet and waited for more information to be offered. It wasn’t too long of a wait.
“On Earth, not every child is born into the world wanted. Sometimes parents think they want a kid but change their minds after they have one. Other times kids are born just by accident. Sometimes the kid gets born into a bad family and they suffer for it. I won’t tell Keith’s history, that’s his to share,” he sighed, “but you need to understand at least part of this, so I will tell you mine.”
Any attention that had strayed from the awkward discomfort of the conversations was suddenly drawn back to Shiro.
“My birth parents were positive they wanted a child, so I was born. Turns out, they had both really romanticized ideas of what raising a kid would be like and were not prepared for the actual thing. My father left my mother before I was one year old. She tried to raise me on her own, but I guess by the time I was two she couldn’t take it anymore. She took me to a market in a neighboring city and told me to wait by the fountain in the main square while she did some shopping. I stayed by that fountain all day but she didn’t come back. The police came that evening and took me to the station. They found my mom the next day but when they took me back home, she denied ever having a son. I was put into foster care after that.”
Everyone was silent. Allura couldn’t believe it. Humans would do that? Just leave a child behind and claim that it wasn’t theirs? And what was foster care? Allura voiced this question and was horrified at the answer.
There was an entire system for unwanted or parentless children. This was such a common occurrence, Earth’s governments had systems in place for it. And Shiro and Keith had been a part of it. Bounced from household to household hoping for a single family to decide they wanted to keep them.
If any good came from it, the foster system was where the two boys met.
Shiro stood from the table, saying he was going to go check on Keith. It would seem that mentioning his birth parents put Keith in what Shiro called a ‘bad headspace’. Shiro also asked if he could borrow Pidge’s laptop, which she agreed to.
Allura had to smile a bit at the retreating figure of Shiro. Approval be damned. As long as the team approved, those boys were made for each other.
With Pidge's laptop in hand, Shiro stopped by the kitchen to gap some juice bags and then went to Keith’s room to retrieve his backpack. Now fully armed, Shiro was ready to face a pissed-off teenager.
Keith was exactly where he had said he’d be – on the training deck, giving the simulation droid a run for its money. In only a few moves, Keith had defeated the simulation and was starting the next level.
“End session,” Shiro commanded before Keith could get started.
The red paladin turned on him in a rage. This is how things were when Keith’s birth parents were brought up. The kid would go looking to pick a fight and wouldn't really calm down until he got one.
“Why did you do that?” Keith growled, stalking up to the team’s leader.
Shiro opted to calmly ignore the enraged paladin in favor of removing his boots and jacket. When both items were neatly placed on the bench along with the things he had retrieved on his way here, Shiro finally turned to face Keith.
“I did that because you and I both know that you’re not going to get this out of your system until you fight something that can actually fight you, unlike that robot that’s programed to not actually hurt you. Now, get rid of your boots, I don’t want to take one of those to the face today.”
Shiro moved to the center of the room and waited. They’d done this countless times before. Whenever Keith’s first ‘family’ was mentioned, he got it in his head that he needed to prove that he could defend himself now. This used to mean he’d beat the nearest living thing senseless. Now though, Shiro was here and could at least fight back. He also happened to be the only living person who could tell when Keith was actually done but his body and brain hadn’t gotten the message yet.
Was this the best method of coping? Probably not, but it was the best Shiro could do for Keith this far from home.
Shiro almost missed Keith’s approach and first strike. If it hadn’t been for the faint rustle of Keith’s pants, Shiro would be nursing a very sore shoulder only two seconds into their sparring. Thankfully, he had heard the warning and was able to turn and block the strike.
The fight was on.
Despite the brutal, unforgiving way Keith fought, Shiro couldn’t help but tease him.
“Wow” – He moved to strike at Keith’s side – “starting a match” – The strike was blocked. He parred another blow aimed towards his shoulder – “without bowing,” – Keith landed a kick to the back of Shiro’s knee, sending him to the ground. – “what would” – Shiro swiped a let out towards Keith’s – “your sensei have” – Keith jumped to avoid the tactic – “said?”
Shiro was back on his feet, blocking a knee headed straight for his gut.
“She would have said” – Shiro’s block had left his upper half open for the jab Keith made deep into the muscle of his right shoulder – “that your opponent” – his foot landed squarely on Shiro’s chest, pushing the other back and off balance – “won’t give you the benefit” – more blows met their target – “of bowing” – another kick towards his legs and Shiro was on his knees again – “before they attack you.”
One last blow to the side and Shiro was laying on the ground on his back. Keith probably would have kept going if that last blow hadn’t been the signal Shiro was watching for. He’d pulled the kick. Now it was time to wrangle Keith back in.
Staying still, Shiro waited for an opening. It came when Keith moved to possible make another kick.
Shiro rolled up onto the back of his shoulders, wind-milling his legs. Before Keith could process it, Shiro had a leg hooked under one of his arms and the other over his shoulder. With a vicious twist, Keith was going down. Shiro rolled them so Keith was pinned with his chest to the ground and his arms behind his back.
“Okay, you’re done,” Shiro panted, putting his weight into holding the other down.
Keith didn’t seem to quite agree.
“What? No I’m not! You cheated and played possum!”
Shiro rolled his eyes. “Another one of Mom’s excellent lessons that you failed to understand: All’s fair in a fight. Your opponent isn’t going to pull their punches for your benefit, so don’t do it for them. If it looks like you’re going to lose, play dead until you can win. Try remembering that one next time.”
With that, Keith’s struggle started to subside until he finally relaxed and decompressed with a large sigh.
“I miss her.”
It was almost too soft to hear, but Shiro did.
“I know,” he replied. Slowly, Shiro released his grip on Keith’s arms and help the younger stand up. “Come on, I have some juice packs and something that might help a bit.”
The team took their time making their way up to the training deck, but after an hour, they all slowly poked their heads in. Shiro and Keith, sitting shoulder to shoulder, barefoot, looking at Pidge’s laptop, was not what they were expecting to find.
Pidge was the first to make their way across the room and take a seat on Shiro’s unoccupied side. Curiousity claimed Lance next, followed by Hunk, Coran, and Allura.
Pidge took the laptop and fiddled with some cables and a crystal that usually was used to project images on the command deck. She’d modified things a bit so it would project her laptop screen. When she plugged everything together, the all got to see what the two boys had been looking at. The image that flared up from the crystal was of two boys, one around eight-years-old, the other in his teens. The younger was sitting on the older’s shoulder staring wide-eyed at a giraffe in a zoo.
The next picture was of the same two boys, but younger. They were in a zero-g simulator looking like they were having the time of their lives. With them was a middle aged man, smiling right along with them. Next was a picture in the same room but the camera must have been left to free float on a timer because the angle was weird and a woman and joined the group.
“Hikari and Kaito Shirogene,” Shiro said without prompting. “Our mom and dad.”
Pidge was the only one who didn’t do a double-take. Shiro didn’t seem to noticed, too focused on the picture.
“They first fostered me when I was eleven but finalized an adoption by the time I was twelve. They agreed to find and adopt Keith as well. Took a lot of legal work – some of which I’m now not sure was legal – but it was worth it.” Shiro slung an arm around his brother and smiled.
Lance was the first to break the silence.
“You two are… brothers?”
Shiro looked offended at the insinuation that they were anything else. Keith was just confused.
“Wait… you didn’t know?” Keith asked.
A chorus of no’s replied.
“We thought you were a couple in the final processes of courting,” Coran said bluntly.
“I just thought you must have been dating since before the Kerberos mission,” Hunk added. Lance nodded in agreement.
Pidge looked like she was about to burst a gasket.
“You all thought we were dating?” Shiro’s voice was thickly incredulous.
Everyone except Pidge nodded, which Lance noticed.
“You’ve been suspiciously silent,” he said, squinting at her.
The face must have been what did her in because Pidge burst into uncontrollable laughter. No one could stop it so they all just had to wait it out. It took a bit, but Pidge did get the laughter under control.
“Three months!” She wheezed, whipping tears from her eyes. “You’ve all been going on about the Voltron power couple for three months!” – and she was down in another burst of giggles.
“Oh, like you weren’t in the dark, too,” Lance spat venomously, arms crossed and pouting.
A deep breath and Pidge was vocal again.
“Actually, I wasn’t. I knew. Knew for ages!” She smiled at the disbelieving and annoyed faces.
“This one,” she pointed to Shiro, “Is best friends with my brother. They went through flight training together and worked on aerospace biology experiments together. Do you really think Matt didn’t mention him at least once? Or the fact that he had a little brother in the Garrison? I knew about Shiro and Keith long before I met you, Lance.”
“And you kept this,” He waved his hands at the brothers “from us?!” Lance’s drama dial was cranked up all the way.
Pidge shrugged in response. “It was fun watching you pine. I honestly didn’t expect everyone to make the same assumption.”
Lance was speechless. The only sound he could make were tiny squeaks until –
“I… I… pining?!” he screeched so hard his voice cracked.
The eye roll Pidge gave could have been a visual dictionary's definition of sarcasm.
“You’ve been jealous since day one. I’ve had to listen to your whining, complaining and moping about Keith and his perfect relationship for three months. Yes – you were pining.” Her smile grew more devious. “But the good news, Lance, now they’re both single.”
Lance turned bright red, looked at Keith and Shiro, and fled the room.
Keith stared after him in oblivious confusion.
Shiro tried to mind his own business as he shuffled through the pictures on the USB drive Keith had kept in his backpack.
“So you’re adoptive brothers, not a couple?” Hunk inquired.
Shiro nodded, still looking at pictures. “Though we prefer just brothers.”
“And you are both single? Sorry to ask but I feel like I’m going to have to go through all of this again with Lance.”
“Yes, were both single. One of us wouldn’t be, but someone,” Keith glared at Shiro, who was becoming highly focused on the keyboard of Pidge’s laptop, “dumped his girlfriend before going on a six-month trip to Pluto’s moon.”
The group all looked to Shiro.
“It wasn’t working out,” he mumbled, fidgeting under the curious looks.
“How was it not working? You two were perfect!” Keith sounded slightly like he was in anguish.
Shiro glanced to the side, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Andy and I did better as friends, so we decided to go back to that.”
Keith gave an exasperated sigh. “You are the only human being on the face of Earth I know that can pull the ‘let’s just be friends’ card and actually make it work.”
The brothers continued to bicker as the remaining team departed. The way they were acting, they all wondered how they had every thought the boys could be anything but brothers.
Pidge stored the whole event away as further proof that everyone around her were actually idiots. Brilliant tacticians and engineers, yes, but at the root of it, they were all truly idiots.