Lance had been in that pod for days now, he was showing signs of recovery, but he still hadn't woken up. Coran said their could have been some damage done to his mind during the blast. They all hoped that the pod could heal any damage, but doubt still lingered
Everyone took it hard, in their own ways. But nobody took it as hard as Keith. It wasn't because him and Allura hadn't made it through the partical barrier on time, or that he had been tricked into going away from the palace, it was what Lance had said to Keith when he had woken up for that brief bit of time.
Lance had told him they were a good team, that he didn't actually hate him. It had sparked something in Keith, something he would most likely repress or shove in a dark closet.
Now they were all gathered around his pod, faces pressed close, each asking questions to cover the dreadful question they didn't want to ask. Would he stil, be Lance?
"I can't tell if he looks healthy or not," Hunk said.
"I think he's breathing weird," Pidge commented.
Keith clenched his fists. "Oh come on!" He said, poking at the machine.
"Not yet!" Allura said, batting his hand away. "A few more ticks."
"How much better do you think he's gonna get in a few more ticks?"
"And what is a tick?" Pidge asked.
"You know, a time slice," Allura answered.
"Like a second?" Shiro asked. They all turned to look at him.
"What's a second?" Allura asked.
Pidge pulled out a clock and pushed a button, causing it to start counting seconds. "Like this."
"I'm not sure, I think ticks are bigger," she said. "Coran, do you have a ticker?"
"Right here princess!" He said with enthusiasm as usual. He pulled out an Altaen clock, that started to count ticks. Hunk, Allura and Pidge all went over and looked at the ticker.
"I think ticks are a little slower," Hunk commented.
"I can't tell," Pidge said. "We have to start them at the same time."
"Ok," said Coran and they both readied their clocks. "Ready, go!"
Keith walked over to the time show down, wanting anything to distract him for what might happen when the pod opens.
Shiro made his way over as well, and even tried to find a better view after a while.
"Yes! I think we're winning!" Hunk exclaimed.
"Winning what?" Keith asked. "The intergalactic time measuring competition?"
No one noticed as the pod opened, and Lance stumbled out.
"Hey, where is everybody?" He asked, his eyes slowly opening. They all turned around.
"Lance! Buddy!" Hunk yelled, rushing over to Lance and pulling him in for a tight squeeze. Keith sucked a breath in. What was wrong with his eyes?
"Why is it so dark in here?" Lance asked. "I can't see anything."
"Allura, his eyes-" Keith began. They all looked at Lance, his eyes were not their usual blue color, instead they were a milky and faded silver.
"What's wrong with my eyes?" Lance demanded. "And could someone turn a light on? Why are they off in the first place?"
"Lance, the lights are on," Pidge said. "It's just..."
No one knew how to break the news.
"We think the blast could have done some permanent damage to either your eyes or brain. We think-" Allura's breath caught mid sentence. "We think you may be... blind..."
A long silence streched out for what seemed like hours as they watched Lance take everything in.
"B-blind?" He asked. Shiro put a hand on his shoulder.
"It's going to be alright Lance, I'm sure we can figure something out," he said.
"Why don't we go get you some food and we can discuss this further," Allura suggested. "Can you walk?"
There was no bad flirt, only a silent nod as Lance slowly began to walk out of the room and towards the dining hall. He didn't make it far before he realized he was going in the wrong direction. He kept trying to find his way by himself but was unable to. It was obvious that he was getting frustrated. Keith felt the urge to help him, but it was Hunk, Lance's long time friend who got there first. Keith looked down. It was more appropriate for Hunk to help him anyways, what was he thinking.
The entire group, minus Keith, who hung at the back, joined Hunk and helped Lance get into the dining hall. There were a million thoughts going through Keith's head. He knew he wasn't taking it as hard as Shiro, who he knew blamed himself for the whole thing. But there was something else there along with the guilt and strange emotional attachment. He knew that feeling. That was the feeling he felt anytime Lance flirted with Allura or some other woman, or when he talked about how much he hated him.
Lance walked silently through the hallways of the palace, guided by his friends. His shoulders were limp, and his eyes were wet, thought he kept his head down as to not let his teammates see. Their pity was almost as bad as the hole growing inside of him. It made him feel useless; if he couldn't walk down a hallway how could he pilot his lion, let alone fight Zarkon.
They filled him in on what happened as he ate his green food goo, but there were no snarky comments, not even a single jab at Keith. He felt dead inside, there was no point in the snarky comments anymore if he could never see his family or earth with his own eyes again.
Lance wasn't really listening when they began to discuss the situation with the Balmera. They were careful about their wording, but eventually they had to talk about what to do for Lance's situation. It only made him feel more helpless.
"Is there some kind of medical procedure or way to get his vision back before it's too late?" Pidge asked.
"Perhaps. I'm honesty surprised his eyes weren't healed by the pod," Coran said. "The damage must have been to the vision cortex of his brain."
"I can consult my father on the subject," Allura said. "In the meantime we should work on an alternative, and get some rest before we leave for the Balmera."
Lance was escorted to his room, and one by one his friends left him alone until it was just Keith standing in the doorway.
"What do you want, Keith?" Lance asked.
"I just wanted to say, I'm sorry," he said.
"After all this it takes me losing my vision to get you to admit I'm right?" Lance snapped.
"I just wanted to apologize, you don't have to be a jerk about it," Keith said, probably harsher than he meant. Lance turned around and clenched his fists.
"I might not be able to see earth, or my family with my own eyes ever again Keith," he said. "I'm sorry that I'm not taking this well, I'm just afraid I might forget what... somethings look like."
An awkward silence streched between them. Lance himself was surprised at his own honesty.
"I don't care what Allura said!" He yelled. "You and I both know the chance of me getting my vision back is very small!"
It was worse because this was Keith, the man he had hid his giant crush with a forced rivalry and constant bad flirting with almost every girl they spoke to.
"Lance, I'm so-"
"No! Don't say your sorry!" Lance said, walking over to Keith and standing so their faces were almost touching. They stood there for a second, each feeling each others hot breath on their faces. If the argument had been under different circumstances, Lance might have pulled Keith in and smashed his lips against his, running his fingers through that damned mullet like he had wanted to for months. If Lance could have seen Keith's face in that moment, he would have seen the face of a man imagining a very similar scenario. But neither of them were willing to initiate anything, even though both of them deeply needed it.
Lance turned away. "Can you just leave me alone, Keith?" He said coldly.
Keith lingered for a moment, as if wanting to say more, but then decided against it and walked out of the room. As soon as the door was closed Lance's knees buckled and he fell to the floor and broke down. His back shook, and silent tears rolled down his face. He let out a sob as he closed his eyes, trying to remember each and every detail about earth he could. Lance, of course, knew that there was nothing wrong with being blind or people that are blind, he just didn't think he could handle not being able to ever see certain things ever again. He cried because he was already forgetting his mother's face. He cried because he could only imagine the ocean, not see it. And he cried because he hadn't payed close enough attention to Keith's eyes, and now they were lost to him forever.
Keith collapsed against the wall outside, slowly sliding down until he was sitting with his back against the wall and his knees up. He leaned his elbows against his knees and put his head in his hands, cursing himself for being a hot-headed idiot. He had gone in there to apologize to Lance, to confront him about the bonding moment they had had, he had even been debating confessing his feelings. But he had lost his temper instead of explaining that he didn't want to apologize because of his vision loss, he wanted to apologize because he realized that Lance didn't hate him, and that he didn't hate Lance.
And now he had ruined all of it.
Keith heard a muffled sob come from inside the room behind him. He didn't even realize he was crying until a heavy drop hit his hand Why couldn't have things have gone better? He would take the denial and pretend hate over Lance's broken state. Anything but this.
He slowly got to his feet and stood infront of Lance's door for a long while, debating whether to knock and try again or leave. He stayed there for a few more seconds, before turning his back on the door, leaving his tears on the floor along with his pride.
He walked straight past a concerned (and confused) Hunk. Hunk, who had been standing not far down the hall the whole time. He, being practically a genius, was already figuring it out (though it wasn't hard). He let Keith be, knowing that calling out to him might just make things worse, and went to knock on Lance's door with the snack he was brining to comfort him.
Keith continued on past several doors until he stoped at the one he knew to be his. The door opened as he approached it, and closed behind him. He hit a button, hearing the door lock. He sat down on his bed, and just sat there, not bothering to lay down. He wasn't tired anyways.
After a while he got up and decided to go try and explain himself to Lance one more time. He had to remember to keep his head this time. He walked at a brisk pace until he rounded the corner and the door to Lance's room was in sight. His steps automatically slow and as he reaches the door, and as he reaches up to knock, voices stop him.
"I just hate him so much. Did you know he came in here to apologize? Took me becoming blind to get him to feel anything," Lance's voice said.
"C'mon Lance, I'm sure it's just-" Hunk, who had seen Keith earlier in the hallway, started before he was interrupted.
"He's just such an asshole! Can't he just leave me alone? I've had a bad enough day!"
Keith had heard enough. He ran away from the door and back into his room. He was such an idiot.
Not ten minutes after Keith had left, Lance heard a knock at the door. He stiffened, not sure if he could control himself if Keith came in again.
"Lance, buddy, you in there?" Hunk's voice, not Keith's, asked from behind the door.
"Yeah I'm in here," he said. The door opened and he could hear Hunk sized foot steps approaching his bed.
"Are you ok Lance?" Hunk asked.
"I'm fine," he gritted through his teeth. Why couldn't people just leave him alone?
"Yeah, I can tell by the way you practically spat that at me," Hunk said. "Hey, if you don't want to talk about it, that's ok, I can leave. I just thought you might need some comfort and all."
"No its fine Hunk, you can stay." Lance sighed and felt around for his bed, flopping down across it.
"So I saw Keith brood past a little bit ago," Hunk mentioned. "What was that all about?"
"He came in here not too long ago. He was an asshole as usual," Lance grumbled.
"Lance maybe you are taking this the wrong-"
"I am not!" Lance yelled. "I just hate him so much. Did you know he came in here to apologize? Took me becoming blind to get him to feel anything,"
"C'mon Lance, I'm sure it's just-"
"He's just such an asshole! Can't he just leave me alone? I've had a bad enough day!"
"Lance, Keith cares about you," Hunk said. "He was up almost every night infront of your tank."
"What? Why? Keith hates me, we're rivals!" Lance said, taken aback.
"He doesn't actually hate you Lance," Hunk said. "He pretends to because he thinks you hate him."
"Well maybe I do hate him."
"I think we both know that's not true.
Lance groaned and rolled over. "It's not the time to lecture me on my romantic interests Hunk."
Hunk became more like an emotional sponge for Lance to vent to. It was really what he needed at the moment.