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Teddy Bear

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Hunk could often be seen as oblivious, to a lot of things. 

He didn't blame others for this, he did actively try to be perceived like that. Everybody assumed he was cheery and naive, which, okay, he was, most of the time, and with the looming threat of Zarkon somebody had to make the air just a little bit less tense. Sometimes his friends got too much into their own heads; Pidge wouldn't sleep to track down their family or play around with her computers, Shiro would become a mother hen instead of taking time for himself, Keith would train for hours on end until he was forced to leave the room, the Alteans... well he wasn't too sure about what they did but it surely wasn't any better.

Then there was Lance.

Despite the silly and sometimes obnoxious personality his best friend tried to put out, Hunk knew what was really going on behind it all. He was sure the other would've figure it out by now, even Keith, the socially awkward emo from the 70's, but no. Nobody had noticed the far away looks when he thought no one else was looking, the haunted expression when the Galra's army eventual arrival on Earth was mentioned. 

One time he'd catch him right at the start of a training drill, alarms blaring thorough the castle and Allura's panicked voice calling them to the bridge. Lance had looked terrified tripping out of him own room, eyes blown wide and skin already flushed with sweat as if he had been running a marathon. It had surprised Hunk, knowing that Lance liked to keep clean and perfect for the possible ladies almost as much as he loved said ladies. The Samoan knew it was just training, Lance did too, so he didn't understand why he had looked ready to call Blue so she'd crash through the walls in his rescue. He had assumed it was simply the rush of adrenaline that came with the possibility of an attack and being scared awake by loud noises and flashing lights. 

Still, that same night after a day of hand to hand combat with Shiro and then the drones, he'd manage to get Lance alone in the kitchen with the excuse of cleaning. Everybody else had disappeared at the mention of dishes, but one pleading look sent at the Cuban and he knew he had him. Lance would always have his back, even in annoying tasks like this.

"Hey dude, everything okay?" He'd asked, glancing at Lance while he loaded plates into what he believed now was a dishwasher much like the ones at home.

He saw the way the other paused for a moment before giving him another batch. 'They should all start doing their own dishes, how's that for training.'  Hunk thought without any real bitterness, the task gave him something to do when he wasn't fixing things with Pidge or training.

"I'm good man! Pretty full from all the food, like, Coran really, really outdid himself this time," he laughed and patted the small bump on his stomach, and for the first time Hunk noticed how skinny his friend was, "not sure if that's a good or bad thing quite yet."

Hunk hummed his agreement, worried settling throughout his body now. Lance made sure to go around reminding everyone to take care of themselves. He'd force Pidge to sleep without the disapproving stares Shiro gave them when they didn't rest properly. He would go annoy Keith until he left the training deck to sulk somewhere else without overexerting himself or shower. Whenever Shiro started to look like he was overwhelm with all of it, he'd crack a joke, or he'd offer to tell him crazy stories about his family, much like he did with Hunk when he saw his bro trying to hold back tears at the memory of his own family. 

Asking outright if he was taking care of himself would be met with a scoff and a grin, so instead he just asked, "Come hang out with me more often dude, we rarely do anymore... I mean, just because we're fighting crazy purple gremlins and flying giant robotic alien cats, doesn't give you an excuse to have flirt without me! And Pidge and Coran don't wanna keep tasting my new food, which, rude!" For a moment it looked like Lance would say no, but they both knew that they needed it. The need to have some sense of normalcy in the vastness of space won though, and Lance nodded with a broad smile. 

With a big smile of his own and a pat on the back, they went back to their chores, small talk and grins being shared by the two.

Hunk thought back to the not so far away day with a fond smile. He was still worried, but he felt something change between them after such a simple and seemingly normal thing. It felt like something good.

After that everything seemed almost the same.

Lance was still his cocky loud self, and he still flirted with everything that moved whenever they reached a new planet. Of course, that's bow the rest of the team saw him. By now Hunk was pretty well versed in Lance.

Even though they had only met in the Garrison a few years back, that is, only a few if Pidge was correct about how long they've been in space now (almost a year and a half) the two had formed a pretty deep bond during their time there. They would often invite each other to family gatherings during vacations, going as far as learning (trying to) each others first language. 

He had never been so overwhelmed and fascinated at the same time, with noises, smells, people and food!

When Lance had said his family was big, he thought it was like 5 siblings big, but apparently aside from the five other kids aside from his friend there were also grandparents, one aunt and her own four kids, two nieces, family friends, and a dog.

He missed going there, and he knew this was probably torture for Lance. More than once now he'd catch him in the bridge when no one else was around, the holographic map pulled up showing the Milky Way. Sometimes he'd sit with him, sometimes there was small talk or comfortable silence, they never had to explain to each other their reason for being there. Simply sit next to each other on the floor, holding each other as if it'd bring the closer to home.

But sometimes Hunk would stay off to the side and watch his friend.

He'd found himself doing it more often, at the start he had been embarrassed by his blatant staring, but now he just ignored that in favor of memorizing how the blue light illuminated Lance in just the right places. It really did suit him. How his jacket was just big enough to let him pull his knees up to his chest and cover them with it. How pretty his eyes were even when they were a bit puffy and red. He realized just how freaking cute really was.

That night Hunk decided he'd stand quietly instead of joining in. He hadn't even meant to come here, he wasn't even stressed. The next day Coran had promised to cook them up something special and he would rather make something before trying any new Altean cuisine, no hate to Coran. Still, as he passed by the bridge he saw the blue lights coming out into the hallway, and his curiosity peaked.

He was about to greet him when the view made him almost bite off his tongue. Again, he wasn't as embarrassed by the staring anymore, and he had admitted to himself that Lance was really, really nice to stare at.

But for some reason the soft smile on Lance face, open and vulnerable, made it impossibly clearer just how much, and why.

'I'm in love with him.'

Hunk's heart seemingly seemed to stop working, and he clutched his chest over where it was supposed to be as if it would make it come back to life. Lance turned to look at him, smile widening and giving him a small wave that didn't help calm him down too much. The panic most of shown in his face because his expression turned worried and pinched, so he tried to give his biggest smile and waved back, letting go of his chest and apparently getting his breath back. He was pretty sure he was blushing, but it was hopefully too dark with the dim lights to make out that much.

But Lance was their sharpshooter, if anyone could make it out it'd be him, so he took a step back and scratched his chin, "Hey man, it's pretty late, imma go back to my room!"

"You don't wanna hang out for a bit? This quadrant is real pretty, you can see some dope plants from here." Lance asks a bit confused, tilting his head as if that would made him comprehend Hunk's weird behaviour. Said guy only shuffles backwards more and shrugs him off.

"Nah man, I'm pretty beat, I only went to the bathroom and saw the lights, decided to check it out… But yeah! Looks like you're okay, so, I'm gonna head back! Night!"

And with that he had run off before Lance could point out that the bathrooms were in the opposite directions to the bridge and sleeping quarters. He sighed and shrugged it off, Hunk probably just needed some time alone too but didn't have the heart to ask Lance to leave. It wouldn't be the first time he wasn't joined by him when he was out there. He leaned back to get a better look at Earth, spinning slowly and hopefully thriving peacefully still, or well, as peaceful as it had been without space bat-cats enslaving them.

His mind went back to the previous train of thought, images of stupid long greasy hair, scarred body and sweet smiles wrecking him again.

Back at the rooms, Hunk had finally made it to his own, panting but finally out of sight. His heart which had seemingly stopped working a few ticks ago was now working a mile a minute inside his heaving chest. Out of all the paladins, if any of the paladins wore their emotions in their sleeve, it was him, but this was something Lance couldn't know about. Of course he was naive about a lot of things, he liked to approach life with an open heart and hope rather than a frown and mistrust, but he was not a stranger to misplaced affections.

He could see the way Lance looked at girls, and he could see the way Lance looked at guys.

Whenever a remotely female looking alien reciprocated or even looked at him Lance would flush and be completely at a lost. It was endearing, really. Then there were the times when an admittedly handsome male would approach him with praise and he'd be just as embarrassed, though he'd never admit to it and thankfully nobody brought it up. But there were only two people, two men, from whom

Lance would actively seek those things from.

Everybody wanted Shiro's praise, as he was accepted as the 'space dad' of the group. The man was amazing at everything he did, and whenever he acknowledges their skills it made them all feel elated and worthy, but Lance rarely receive those from him. Apparently, it wasn't enough to hear them from Hunk, and while it did sting a little, Hunk didn't let it get to him. He, too, would often seek the encouragement Shiro gave them. Still, the fact that his words mattered less in the eyes of such an important person, a person who he know realized he loved deeply, was nagging at him even more now. 

Then there was the person who, although unknowingly, actually held Lance's affection, Keith. Proud, valiant, strong Keith.

Hunk wouldn't have a chance even if his friend were to know. The way he looked at Keith when he thought nobody was paying attention had always made Hunk's insides churn. At least now he had a name for it… he'd been jealous. Only Shay had looked at him like that, and it had been brief and sweet, nothing long lasting, nothing that hurt nor panicked him. 

His infatuation had been short lived, and his attention had immediately shifted back to getting better so he could help more in missions, making new inventions in the kitchen, and… Lance. Always Lance.

He let his body fall on the bed, cringing at the thud that followed. Who would want him when even his bed protested against his body?

It didn't matter how many hours he spent practising and exercising by himself, how much heavy lifting he did, how healthy he tried to keep himself, he'd never have a body like the others. He'd never be as hot or fast as them.

'I'm disgusting,' he thought angrily, curling up on himself, 'and he's so perfect, they all are, and he should be with Keith and get all the praise and..and...' He knew he was crying, he had been for a while now. Probably even since he escaped from the bridge and Lance's curious gaze. Hunk pushed his face into his pillow to smoother his sobs, he wasn't shy about crying in public or loudly, but at that moment if felt almost too private a moment to cry aloud. Even if nobody could hear him there, the thought of someone popping in uninvited made him paranoid, specially cause he knew that if they asked what was wrong at that moment he would cave and tell.

Around half an hour later Hunk was crying quietly as he looked up at the blank ceilings. At some point he had dimmed the lights down so they wouldn't hurt his sensitive eyes and laid back down, unable to sleep. 

“I'm so pathetic...” He whimpered, bringing a hand up to his face, it was a mess, he was a mess. Runny nose, puffy eyes, red face, and these would stay for the next day. He knew he'd have eye bags too because he couldn't fall asleep, the others would ask and Hunk couldn't stand the thought of it. Right now he felt more useless and worthless than he ever had before in his life, he missed home more than ever too, and he wished his little sister and parents were there with him to cheer him up.

Immediately a memory of when he was younger and bullied popped up. He had come home that day bruised and crying about mean classmates, not much older than 10 by then. The warm presence of his mother had instantly calmed him down enough to explain to him what had happened, and he swears he's never been hugged so tightly in his life.

"Loʻu atalii e (my son), you are kind, you are strong at heart, and that means you have more than those who hurt you, aua lua te faanoanoa pe fetagisi... (do not get upset or weep...)" She whispered to him,  her voice soft but firm.

Whenever life got tough, those words comforted him and alleviated the weight on his shoulders. Still, at that moment it did little to sooth him, but it did fuel him with reluctant acceptance. Hunk's thoughts had cleared and tears stopped, mostly, and he knew what he had to do.

Lance was still his best friend, and his dumb feelings wouldn't chance that. He would continue to be by his side and laugh at his jokes and hopefully get him to be comfortable in his own self, enough that he'd ask the guy he liked out. Hunk would be the best friend ever, to the whole team, and he'd keep his emotions in check so that nobody got hurt or awkward.

The only problem would probably come when forming Voltron, yet he was sure that they would be okay. The others couldn't exactly know nor understand his thoughts, it was more like… they'd maybe sense it, it was like they fed off each other's energy while they were together like that. But, there was no shortage off homesickness and doubt between all of them, so he wouldn't have much trouble masking them. Pidge and Hunk would see he was off, but he'd assure them he was fine, and nobody would ever know that Hunk was really just in love with the blue paladin.

Chapter Text

Hunk didn't get the chance to prepare himself, as the next time he woke up it was to Allura's voice calling them through the intercom. The panic in her voice was real, it made his body fill with adrenaline as he got up and made his way to the bridge. This time he didn't get a chance to look over at the other rooms as he pushed himself to go faster and to be ready for anything.

The ship was shaking and things were falling all around, and he wondered why they hadn't just been ordered to go to their lions. When he saw those small, purple light, triangle drones floating around the corridors, probably looking for the team members. It was difficult to get pass them, but he somehow managed to do so undetected, seeing everyone already there, but Lance and Keith, fighting off Galra robots and drones.

Somebody, Pidge, he'd find out later, threw him his bayard, which immediately turned into his cannon. He was weighted down by it, but he was focused on dodging and firing to pay much attention to it.

Fortunately, there weren't that many, and they didn't seem to be heavily armed or smart either. Maybe they had simply stumbled upon the Castle of Lions and thought it'd be a good idea to ambush them unprepared. He didn't have much time to dwell on how dumb the Galra were as he shoot down the robots and got to Pidge's side.

"What's going on? How did they get in here?!" He couldn't keep the fear from his voice as he asked them. If this pack of idiots had managed to make it inside, were they at risk of getting attacked like this by stronger, more capable troops?

"I don't exactly know either, Keith said something about Lance being too stupid and letting them in before he left to help take out a small ship outside!" She shouted back over the noises of space guns and Coran's weird ones as he took down what looked like a commander with hand on hand combat.

Shiro was screaming something into the microphone in his helmet, probably at Keith and Lance, because soon after the two were there with them. It didn't take too long to get rid of the remaining ones with Keith and Shiro finishing them off together.

Their bayards deactivated when there weren't any enemies left, but they were still on high alert. This was a first, and it proved how unprepared they were compared to the 10,000-year-old advantage the other military had on them. Hunk was about to ask again how it all had started but Shiro answered for him with a shout.

"What made you think it was a good idea to leave the hangar open!?" He basically screamed, angry, probably the first time at one of them. The whole team was shocked into quietness, looking at the two with wide eyes. Lance was red with obvious embarrassment as he just stood there and took it. "You endangered all of us by being reckless and absentminded!"

"That was completely unacceptable Lance! We are in the cusp of a war!" Shrieked the princess, having to put her two cents in the matter. "They could've taken the lions, or hurt one of the other paladins! How do you suppose we'll form Voltron without them?" She rubbed her forehead before straightening up, looking down at him with an ugly, disappointed glare. "The blue Lion might have an easier time finding a new paladin, but we do not have time to seek one for the others, as they are not so amiable."

At that Lance gasped, eyes watering. He looked down with shame and nodded. Hunk was about to say something, he had to defend him, but Shiro beat him to it.

"What the princess means to say, Lance," he says, softer now, but still giving him a pointed look, "is that you need to be more careful… We wouldn't be able to protect the galaxy, Earth, if one of us got hurt."

Allura turned and sighed, looking at the damaged and metal bodies cluttering the damaged bridge. "Lance, clean up this mess." She told him, and he went to it quietly, shoving Shiro's hand away from where it had come to lay on his shoulder. "Pidge and Hunk, please help Coran on the repairs. Shiro will accompany me to the hangars to see how bad it is there and to scout out any other intruders we might've missed…"

Then her whole demeanor changed when she looked at Keith. "You did very good, Keith. Your reaction was immediate, and quick. Please check and then patrol the upper rooms." She smiled softly at him before leaving the room with Shiro at her toes. He would probably try talking to her about how rude her comment to Lance was, and if he didn't… Well, Hunk had a few choice words for the Altean.

Keith stayed for a while more after the two left. The mullet boy was glaring at Lance, but didn't approach him. "Good going Lance," he said instead, loud enough for said man to hear, "didn't think you could get worse." He finished with a glare when Lance had looked up at him, then walked, more like stomped, out of there.

The chubby man was about to go comfort the still silent Lance, but was swept away by the overly excited Coran. The redhead was talking with Pidge about how they could finally update the ship's security. He wanted to go over to Lance but he was already being pushed to his knees in front of a panel with Pidge giving him instructions on what to look for. There was no way he would shake them off then, he'd just have to go over to him later.

Except, he totally didn't get an opportunity to look for the Cuban as the day progressed either.

As soon as Coran and Pidge told him he could retire, he turned to look for Lance, but found the man was gone already and the bridge was almost spotless. It would probably be impossible to get Lance open up to him, that is, if he even managed to be let inside his room (where he most likely was).

He felt the tiredness start to settle in now that he wasn't distracted anymore. Instead, he opted to just go to his own room to rest. He'd be no use to anybody if he was falling asleep on his feet. Of course, first he got a green goo snack from the kitchen. 'Nothing like food to lift the spirits!'

With a somewhat satisfied stomach and heavy heart, he flopped onto his squeaky bed, cringing at the sound of it again. This time he didn't have too much trouble falling asleep, though his dreams were plagued by broken hearts, a sad Lance, and rotten foods.

Allura let them take the day off. Keith, of course, went to train, though he was accompanied by Shiro that time. Pidge and Coran were still dealing with updating this and that, so that made him their cook for the night. He didn't know where Allura was, and everyone just tended to be left alone by everyone.

Lance was in his room, didn't even go out of it for dinner. Hunk was tempted to knock on the door, instead of just barging in.

He stands there with a plate of… something that smells vaguely of steak. They really needed to make a stop at the space mall again to get more cooking items. Hunk shook his head, 'No time to think about that, Hunk!' Sighing, Hunk simply left the food in front of Lance's room, and then left after knocking once.

With nothing to do, well rest and fed, he decided to go train.

Maybe he was stockier- 'Fatter'- than the others, but he wasn't as strong or flexible or fast. If he managed to get better then maybe he'll be able to protect the team, protect Lance, without his lion or bayard!

So, he went on to train. He trained alone for two days, ignoring offers from Keith and Shiro to help him. He had to do it alone, and it's not even like he was in speaking terms with them anyway.

Coran, much to his satisfaction, was in charge of making the paladins and princess their food. Suffice to say, nobody but Allura was enjoying it. Hunk would make it up to them after he worked the stress out of his system and got better. He'd make them the most earth like feast he could muster with their wavering alien ingredients.

Lance still hadn't accompanied them to their meals, not that he blamed him, but after the second day of everyone training and fixing the ship Allura got tired of waiting for him. She had stormed to his room, muttering dark works and glaring holes into the metal floors. Nobody went after her to make sure she didn't kill him, they all valued their lives. The Samoan was playing with his bandana nervously, brown eyes looking around his teammates who were standing awkwardly in the training room waiting for his blue paladin.

Whatever she did or say, she came back with Lance walking with his head down behind her. They gave each other looks full of pity before going back to stare at the princess and wait for their orders for the day. Usually Shiro would plan their training outside of the bonding exercise,

Hunk assessed his crush, noting the guarded way he was standing with and the wide smile he sent the group. It was painfully fake, but if any of the others noticed anything, nobody mentioned it. Again, Hunk felt a tug at his heart, and wondered if he was getting heartburns from all the weird green goo Coran had forced on them.

'At least he's here with us again… Now I just gotta feed him,' He thought, then promptly looked away when said brunette made eye contact with him. His cheeks turned red at being caught staring, even if it wasn't unusual of him to do so, his feelings were making him act weird.

"Today I want you all to do some bonding exercises and then some time with the training robot at level 4 before dinner. Pidge and Shiro will be the first to pair up in the maze-" She went on giving instructions, obviously making Keith and Lance pair up to 'bond as real paladins of Voltron should'. 

With their 'bonding' assignments complete it was time for the robots to come out. Allura didn't really give them any directions as to what to do and who to pair up with, so Shiro took over from then on.

Pidge was with said man fighting off a training robot, while Hunk was shooting down drones. He was busy with trying to hide behind his shield, bayard held tightly in his hand as he waited for a good moment to strike back with his cannon. The noises were drowned out by his helmet, but he was vaguely aware of the two hot heads of the group bickering with each other as they fought.

'Who decided it would be a good idea to put those two together again? With weapons!'

It went on like that, the two growing louder as time went on. Their tiny techno freak had already shouted at them to quiet down and work together. Hunk would go there and separate them himself if he wasn't cornered by three flying little pestering drones.

There was a moment of silence before it all went to space hell.

"Gosh Lance, I really wouldn't be surprised if your family is actually relieved you're gone," Keith said, almost shouting in his annoyance, "If we manage to survive this and make it back I bet they won't even remember who the fuck you are!"

His mouth closed shut the moment he realized what he'd said and he caught a look of Lance. Keith didn't think somebody as happy go lucky as Lance was even capable of making such a betrayed expression. The training room had grown quiet, even the fighting robot had stopped moving. His teammates were looking at them, Pidge looked annoyed at them as once again their session being interrupted, Shiro looked disappointed and ready to head over to reprimand the two of them.

Ever since Lance's little slip up they've been giving each other the cold shoulder, not ready to confront the problem between them. Keith had been quick to judge, and he knew that if he ever hoped to get on Lance's good side, he'd have to be the grown up one. Still, he wasn't used to having to make up with anybody, so he just awkwardly scratched his neck, nervous, knowing he'd probably just crossed a line with that comment. At moments like these, he really hated how impulsive he was, everyone knew the brunette's family was a touchy and important subject for the guy.

"I-I'm sorry Lance, I- Uff!" But he didn't get a chance to finish apologizing as a fist connected to his chin and knocked him back to the ground. Keith felt his muscles tensing to brace for the impact on impulse. He looked up to see a teary-eyed Lance glaring down at him with so much fear. Keith expected hatred, maybe annoyance like his had shown earlier, but not fear. Why was Lance scared?

He didn't get to ask, more like he couldn't open his mouth without tasting blood, before Lance was out of the room and Allura and Shiro were calling after him. The young man scoffed and looked back at the floor, hand coming up to touch the surely now bruised skin.

A pair of feet appeared in front of him, and he looked up again to see Hunk's bulky form. He extended his arm, expecting his friend to help him up but instead his hand was just slapped away.

"What the fuck is your problem man?!" Hunk shouted, surprising everybody with the curse. He didn't wait around for a response though, instead running after Lance, leaving an even more confused and stunned Keith.

However, Lance was nowhere to be seen. He wasn't in his room when he ran there. Or in the Blue Lion's hangar, thought the giant robot was standing up and looking straight at him as if she knew her paladin was distressed. She probably did.

"Don't worry Blue, I'll find him…" He promised before turning and running out from where he'd come.

There weren't too many places to go sulk despite the castle being enormous, and Lance had gotten far too scared to roam around alone after the building had tried to kill him. Hunk didn't blame him, he also started to double check the Goo Machine wasn't aiming at him before approaching it. So after searching for what seemed hours, panting from running from room to room and almost shouting Lance's name, he was about to return to said guy's room to double check.

This time he walked, surely Lance hadn't decided to take an escape pod and leave, unlike some mullet jerk and princess he knew. 'He can't be that torn up about it…' It was empty still, thought, no loud Cuban inside, and he frowned. He took a moment to actually look around the room and examine his surroundings.

He didn’t get to be in here too often, as Lance rather spent time in his room or… The bridge!

'I'm such an idiot, of course he's there!' Hunk facepalmed before taking a deep breath. Before he left the room, he took one last look around, only then noticing something sticking out from underneath his pillow. He approached the bed and shyly took the object, a feeling of guilt settling in his belly as he invaded Lance's privacy.

It was a wallet, blue, worn, and made of leather, perfect for Lance. Beautiful, resilient and damaged at the edges. He snorted at comparing Lance to a wallet, knowing he wouldn't appreciate being equated to such a trivial thing. Hunk knew he was much more than that, and he so badly wanted to tell him, drill it into his head that he was just as capable and admirable as Shiro or Keith, as smart as Pidge of himself, that he was needed by the team, and most selfishly, he was needed by Hunk.

Lance was much like the water he represented, like the oceans back home. He was beautiful and strange and new, so full of mysteries nobody had even come close to understand. People didn't give him enough credit, often took him for an obnoxious kid who couldn't do much with his talents, but those people didn't study with Hunk until morning, didn't see the tenacity and compassion in those blue eyes. For every bad quality, he more than made up for tenfold. No matter what Lance did, rarely did anyone ever see Lance as more than superficial, and no matter how many times Hunk told him he was a great person, the other wouldn't believe him. Instead just giving him a forced smile and a short hug before changing the topic.

He'd end that today, he assured himself. He would finally be blunt and truthful with the lanky dude.

The wallet almost slipped from his hands, pulling him from his thoughts and back into reality. He looked down at it with nervousness, and opened it. It was almost too easy, then, to understand why Lance kept it so close to him. It was basically empty, it wasn't like they had a need for money at the Garrison, some faded movie tickets, and at the other side was a picture, a family photograph from the day he left to become a pilot.

It was obvious that Lance took it out of the wallet a lot, the edges were a bit fried from reoccurring touches and if Hunk wasn't mistaken… there was some water damage too. The mental picture of Lance clutching a slowly decaying picture as he cried alone in his bed makes Hunk's heart break just a bit more. It made him remember the nights he himself couldn't sleep without an image of his sister and parents popping into his head and torturing him. He had baking and projects with Pidge to keep him occupied during long days, but Lance… well, he didn't really have a thing, did he? Aside from the weird upside-down pool, there wasn't anyone who would really spend time with him and keep him grounded.

Cleaning the pods with Coran did not count.

The Samoan sighed and pocketed the wallet and picture, words coming together in his mind in what he hoped would be a good enough cheer up speech. Usually he wouldn't need to think ahead to at least relieve a bit of the tension, but after figuring out how he felt and noticing how deeply affected by things Lance was, his usual easiness was being put to the test.

After that attack to the ship supposedly two days ago everyone was tensed and ready to go at each other's throats. Lance was blaming himself more than everybody else in the castle, and they had all been waiting for him to say something to Keith to start another fight. It hadn't surprised him when Allura and Shiro had given him stern looks and almost ignored Keith's demining attitude.

'Why does he like him anyway?' Hunk asked himself as he finally walked out of the room and to where he now knew Lance to be. He contemplated the answers in his head, looking at the floor and hand over the small bulge the wallet made on his pants pockets. "I mean, I can understand why if its only cause the dude's pretty…" He said aloud this time, the muttering helping him sort himself out, "But Lance isn't that superficial like everyone says, he's just…overcompensating cause people were jerks to him!

And Keith is so…so ugh! He's so blind and mean, but I know he doesn't mean bad most of the time and he's just awkward too and he's…" Hunk sighed dejectedly, "He's great for Lance…" He said softly as he reached the bridge without having found any real flaw in Keith that make him unworthy of Lance.

He looked around to make sure nobody was around first before going in and spotting Lance on his chair looking up at the map as expected. 

With a soft smile and nerves of steel he went over. He didn't make a sound as he walked over. Didn't speak once he was next to Lance, only leaned against the chair and pulled out the wallet to hand it over. Hunk watched for his reactions, needed to be reassured that what he'd done was okay. Lance took it wordlessly and opened it, red eyes immediately going to the picture inside it.

They stayed like that for a while. Hunk was starting to worry that he had messed up royally, but then Lance was throwing himself at him with a loud sob. The nineteen-year-old boys held each other with all they had, both were crying again, too. Hunk wanted to let everything out, but this wasn't about him, it was about making sure Lance understood how needed and appreciated he was.

"You know they miss you right? Your family loves you so much and I'm sure your mom is gonna beat you up for being gone for so long without telling her!" He told him, pulling the blue-eyed man back by the shoulders to look at him. "If it weren't for you we wouldn't be here at all man! That tentacle robeast on the Balmera would've hurt it more if it weren't for you and you saved those mermaids! Keith and Shiro would've been taken out by that weird Sendak dude!"

Lance was looking at him with wide eyes, his body shaking with held back and broken sobs. He was so embarrassed his best friend was seeing him like this! But, he couldn't deny that Hunk words were helping calm the raging storm in his mind. "Y-You're right… She's gonna whoop my ass red if we go back." He chuckled sadly, rubbing his eyes and hugging his friend again.

"No man, When we get back! You're gonna see your family and then we're gonna ask your mom for some of those pastelitos stuff that she makes on Christmas!" Hunk grinned and put Lance down, having lifted him up in their second embrace. He cleaned his own face, now red for more than just crying. 

They moved to the floor to watch the hologram together, shoulders touching and Lance leaning heavily on him.

"You shouldn't beat yourself up for things you can't help, bro, what happened with those Galras was an accident, and we managed anyway…" The browned eyed one said, softly.

"Well it was a really bad accident… I'm not any good. It doesn't matter how much I practice I always fuck up!"

"I call bs on that man, you're my- Our sharpshooter! You're also really good at making plans and, I know for a fact you're a great cook, and I don't say that to anybody!" Hunk said in a matter of fact way, but still, Lance looked doubtful next to him.

"Cooking isn't going to save the universe Hunk! Whenever we try one of my plans we mess up and somebody gets hurt! Pidge is the smart one… They're brave and they haven't stopped looking for their family… Allura and Coran keep fighting even though their planet was destroyed, too. Shiro went through so much man, and he never lets that stop him from doing what's right! He was badass before too!" He said and curled up further. "And Keith… He's so fucking good at everything he does, and everyone prefers him over me, over all of us.. He's so freaking annoying with that- that stupid mullet and his dumb talent…"

'Of course…' Hunk sighed, 'it always comes back to Keith.' He thought with a defeated noise, barely registering Lance kept talking and putting himself down.

"You know, if you keep thinking of yourself like that you'll never be as good as them, Lance." Said man looked up in surprise at hearing his name being said so seriously by Hunk. "As long as you keep saying dumb stuff like that they're never gonna take you for real. We need you, Lance, and you need to realize that. We are going to defeat Zarkon, and we need you with us to do it. You're just as amazing as the others, so don't worry about being better to impress them, do it for yourself."

If only he could follow his own advice.

He wrapped his arm around Lance's skinny frame and pulled him closer, making Lance basically sit on his lap. Some other time he would be wishing for the ship to open up an air lock and send him into space to die of shame, but he needed to make Lance understand.

"Whenever I was sad my mom would tell me 'you are kind, you are strong at heart, and that means you have more than those who hurt you, aua lua te faanoanoa pe fetagisi,'" He looked wistfully at Earth, "It means don't get upset or weep… You are the best friend ever man, and the others have basically become like my family, but none of them are as cool as you. You were the one that got in trouble for stopping my bullies back at the Garrison, and you were the one that invited me to meet your family and helped me pass my classes… And that time Iverson was a huge jerk to me you brought me snacks for a whole week to make me feel better. You brought all of us together and you keep us together…"

They stayed quiet for a while, the only sounds in the room were Lance quiet crying again and the hum of the ship. It a much more soothing atmosphere now, Hunk words had obviously helped (at least he hoped they had) and now Lance was just letting the rest of his emotions out.

"Thank you Hunk… I- I really needed that." He says softly, voice raspy, but said man only shrugs and hugs him again.

"We're gonna see our families again, and they're going to be proud…" Lance said suddenly a moment later, after they've gotten comfortable again.

Hunk was reminded of where exactly Lance was sitting and he had to try really hard not to push him off and run. "I-I hope so!"

"Pidge told me you were training by yourself and wouldn't stop until dinner time. You even let Coran cook…" He went on, looking up at him, "You're pretty cool too, you know… Don't push yourself too hard, you're very important to the team bro… You're important to me, and I really don't think your mom would let me hear the last of it if I didn't make sure you were okay."

He was giving Hunk a fond look, smile wide and beautiful regardless of the tear stains on his cheeks or the redness in his eyes. Lance giggled, freaking giggled, and punched his shoulder softly, then looked directly at their home planet, didn't even have to search for it among the others, one last time.

"Yo' man, you're really the best Hunk, I love you bro," Lance grinned and pushed off him to stand up.

The word bro had never been more hunting.

Lance helped him up and they dusted off imaginary off and smiled at each other. "No problem dude, that's what family's for." He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, red still tinting his cheeks. "We should be going now, I bet the others are worried and Coran is probably goin' to make dinner today and I don't think I can stomach that."

They turned off the galaxy map and walked out, heading to the kitchen with Hunk already explaining what he was planning to cook. The halls were illuminated by the soft blue lights on the walls, it made Lance's light brown skin glow and Hunk's stomach tingle. Both laughed and retold stories of their holidays together, they were pretty engrossed with it so it was a surprised when somebody cleared their throat behind them.

Keith stood there, looking off the side and arms crossed. Hunk's expression immediately soured and Lance turned stiff next to him. It must have been very telling how annoyed the Samoan was as Keith stood straighter, guarded just as much as his friends."I wanted to apologize, to the both of you…" He started, and the two looked at each other confused but willing to listen. Lance wondered why Keith would have to say sorry to Hunk as it was he who got yelled at. "I said that w-without thinking, and it was really insensitive of me…"

The blue paladin sized him up and shrugged, "It's fine, I shouldn't have punched you either so we're even, looks like a did a number on you though." He grinned, and Hunk wished Lance hadn't taken back his hit, "You can go tell Shiro you said sorry, actually, tell him I made you beg for forgiveness!"

"How did you- Ugh, nevermind, look, it doesn't matter that he sent me to look for you two, I still feel pretty crappy about it!" Keith responded, flustered and annoyed. Everything was back to normal. "So yeah, I'm sorry I was a jerk to you both! I don't really know what it is to leave a family behind anyway so…" At that he closed off again and huffed, Hunk decided it was time to leave them be so they could straighten everything out by themselves.

"Hey man, don't worry, we all say stuff we don't mean at the heat of the moment," He hoped his smile was convincing enough as Keith stared at him, as is trying to decipher a really tough puzzle. It most have though, as he only gave him a suspicious look and nodded.

"Right, imma head off to make dinner, don't start another war you two!" He yelled over his shoulder as he walked away. In his mind, he was secretly agreeing with Lance earlier words. The guy really was fucking perfect.

The next day, everything was back to normal. Lance seemed happier though, so maybe it was better than before. And if his heart broke a bit when the red and blue paladins paired up for practice, more in tune than ever, laughing and cheering for each other, then he'd keep it to himself. Lance deserved somebody who could protect both him and his heart, and that person was Keith.

If he had to give up his happiness to help Lance build the courage to tell Keith he liked him, well, he'd do just that.